“The many past births you spoiled can be rectified right now, today, if you start chanting Shri Rama’s holy name and renounce bad association, says Tulsi.” (Dohavali, 22)
बिगरी जनम अनेक की सुधरै अबहीं आजु |
होहि राम को नाम जपु तुलसी तजि कुसमाजु ||
bigarī janama aneka kī sudharai abahīṃ āju |
hohi rāma ko nāma japu tulasī taji kusamāju ||
“In a recent reminiscing session, where the family reviewed old photo albums, I was struck by one particular thing. I saw many pictures of myself where I could not remember the scene. Now granted, the pictures are from decades ago, some from when I was very young.
“In other pictures, I was visibly unhappy. I remember the particular period of time in my life, and I am glad to be done with it. I do not look back at those moments fondly. Rather, today I am in much better shape. I feel as if everything occurring right now matters; forget the past.
“Yet those pictures represent moments in time. None of us thought back then that we were living in something outdated. We did not think that the picture we just took would look faded and strange years later. Rather, the present was everything, as it is now.
“While it seems as if I am rambling incoherently in vain search of a meaningful thought, what I am getting at is that we waste so much time in this human existence. We have years and years which we wish we could have over. Take a mulligan. Get a do-over.
“The problem is that no one can recapture the past. It is impossible to move back in time. What can be done to alleviate the heartache over missed opportunities? How do we correct regrets we may have? Is there even a way?”
Not surprisingly, all roads lead to the Almighty. For pressing issues such as these, He has an answer. We may not understand the solution provided, but the shortcoming is due to our ignorance and lack of assimilation within the Divine culture itself. Even that ignorance can be corrected, as time goes by.
Goswami Tulsidas says that everything from the past can be corrected immediately. We don’t have to wait until tomorrow. We don’t have to rely solely on a promise of a better life, one that we cannot experience until after this one is over.
That curtain is closed at the moment, and there is no peaking allowed. The general idea of religion is that it involves another world as the destination. The place of origination is our current predicament. This lifetime. This body. This existence, from birth until death.
We look to God for answers, and we typically hear of a better life in heaven. Be good today so that tomorrow will be better. Think about the long-term impact, paramartha, in the way of eternal living, as the current time period is but a blip on the vast timeline of creation.
The promise from Tulsidas is that we can correct the problems of the past today; right now. Simply chant the holy name of Rama and renounce bad association. This is a rather simple and straightforward formula that any person can implement. It does not require an advanced degree nor admission into a prestigious university.
We do not require tons of money to begin the rehabilitation. The people around us may be unfavorable, pratikula, to the path. Even they won’t be able to stop us, as we can simply ignore their influence. Maintain a respectable attitude, exchange pleasantries, but not become affected by their actions that they themselves will one day regret.
I can chant the name of Rama in the morning, soon after waking up. I can hear the name in the car while driving to work. I can do so later on in the day, as well. The more I chant this name, the further I will approach the person who it represents.
The more I know of Him, the more I appreciate Him. I begin to understand His causeless and endless mercy. I realize why exalted personalities like Shri Hanuman and Mahadeva are solely devoted to Him, who is the husband of Sita Devi, the goddess of fortune. Soon enough, these people are my main association. I develop an allegiance to them that can never be broken, and the many regrettable incidents from the past become glorified and sacred, as they led me to the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord.
Past mistakes glorified,
Since today purified.
By association I’ve found,
Approaching through sound.
Tulsidas formula accepting,
And the unwanted rejecting.
So that Sita and Rama always here,
To their associates feeling near.