“The name, pastimes, form, clothing and ornaments of Shri Rama are all very charming and beautiful. Together with His brothers the children are playing.” (Dohavali, 120)
Goodness, passion and ignorance. These are the three modes of material nature. The Sanskrit word is guna. It’s a particular kind of quality, leading to a particular color, or varna, when applied to the human species.
Some people are known to be intelligent. Others are fearless and have no issue risking their lives to defend and protect the innocent. Some can figure out how to earn a profit in a matter of seconds. Throw them in a particular situation and they will know how to take advantage, quickly identifying which paths will bring a loss. And there are others who are skilled at providing labor. They can do construction on houses, fix different problems around the house, cook and clean, or drive a car and not get frustrated in the process.
The differences are due to gunas, which come in varying amounts and proportions, but one thing is clear: the presence of gunas guarantees rebirth. The material qualities are binding in a sense, like ropes.
At the same time, Vedic literature also describes gunas belonging to the Supreme Lord, Bhagavan. Since they are transcendental for Him, the word takes on an additional meaning. Gunas for Bhagavan are His glories, and hearing about them can be very beneficial.
Bhagavan has a certain complexion. As in the example of Shri Rama, there is the shyama color. This resembles the dark cloud about to pour down rain. On Bhagavan this complexion is stunningly beautiful. We have yet to experience someone with this characteristic, but the information is there for our benefit. We can spend hours contemplating the beauty of the transcendental body of Shri Rama, who grows up in the royal palace of Ayodhya, alongside His three younger brothers.
As Bhagavan is a person, He has activities, known as lila in Sanskrit. Hearing about these activities is pleasurable, and in addition to contemplation there is the option to study. There are documentaries, biographies and lengthy works discussing important historical figures, so why not apply the same to the most important person of all-time?
For Shri Rama the reference book of choice is the Ramayana, composed by the rishi named Valmiki. Then there are other wonderful poets like Goswami Tulsidas who add to the knowledgebase. Tulsidas describes the scene in Ayodhya during Rama’s youth. There the parents dress the children very nicely, and everything about them is charming. Something basic like the clothes that baby Rama wears can be studied for thousands of years.
These gunas can be understood. For instance, the sound resulting from the attempts of an infant to talk is often described as prattle. The words cannot be comprehended, and yet the sound is so endearing. The parents take great pride that their child is learning how to talk.
With Shri Rama we can understand this behavior as another indication of His mercy, which is extended to the pious souls like King Dasharatha and Queen Kausalya, the birth parents. Rama will do anything for His devotees, including appearing as a child and playing the role perfectly.
After His mercy is understood to a satisfactory level, there is no need to move on to something else. How many times can you watch that documentary about the famous president? How many times can you read the same book about the great warrior who helped to earn independence for their country?
There is the boredom factor with anything material, but since Bhagavan’s gunas are transcendental the same defect is missing. Not only can He be remembered all the time, but He should be. That practice changes the consciousness, purifying it. One who remembers up until the time of death no longer has to take birth.
From combination of modes three,
Gunas in individuals see.
Occupation and abilities affecting,
Similar traits in Bhagavan detecting.
But different in one specific way,
Transcendental, so His glories to say.
Contemplate, study and remember,
In end win liberation forever.
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