“Shri Rama personally gave liberation to Shabari, the vulture Jatayu and those who performed wonderful devotional service, whereas the holy name has liberated countless wretches; a fact well-established in the Vedas, which sing of its glories.” (Dohavali, 32)
सबरी गीध सुसेवकनि सुगति दीन्हि रघुनाथ |
नाम उधारे अमित खल बेद बिदित गुन गाथ ||
sabarī gīdha susevakani sugati dīnhi raghunātha |
nāma udhāre amita khala beda bidita guna gātha ||
Friend1: While it is nice to hear of the pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, there is something missing.
Friend2: Which is what?
Friend1: Maybe not missing, but there is another side. The first side is appreciation. There is learning. There is valuable information. There is the stoppage of time.
Friend2: How so?
Friend1: Shastra describes these pastimes, which are known as lila in Sanskrit. Most of the events are from the past; hence the term Purana. Some of the written material describes events yet to occur.
Friend2: Such as for the Kalki avatara.
Friend1: The Puranas are like a historical record, but from hearing it is like you are transported back in time. Think of it this way. Let’s say that I want to send a message.
Friend2: To who?
Friend1: Anyone. I decide to write it down. For whatever reason, that message remains intact for hundreds of years.
Friend2: Which is known to occur, with famous books and the like.
Friend1: A person from the future reading the message has direct access to my words. Through reading they are replaying something from the past. That is how time can stop.
Friend2: I see.
Friend1: I feel that way in reading the Ramayana, for instance. I feel as if I can relate to the characters. Though the events took place hundreds of thousands of years ago, the key elements are the same.
Friend2: Such as?
Friend1: Envy. Righteousness. Being caught between conflicting promises. Dealing with spouses. Dealing with children. Good and evil. Right and wrong.
Friend2: In the avatara of Shri Rama, the Supreme Lord plays the role of an ideal man.
Friend1: We are overjoyed to have the facility to access such nectar-like descriptions. At the same time, there is the lament.
Friend1: Why isn’t Rama here right now? Why can’t He rescue me in the way He protected against fourteen thousand attacking Rakshasas? He made them flee in embarrassment, chased by arrows that looked like serpents.
नैव देवा महात्मानो नात्र कार्या विचारणा।
शरा रामेण तूत्सृष्टा रुक्मपुङ्खाः पतत्रिणः।।
सर्पाः पञ्चानना भूत्वा भक्षयन्ति स्म राक्षसान्।
येन येन च गच्छन्ति राक्षसा भयकर्शिताः।
तेन तेन स्म पश्यन्ति राममेवाग्रतः स्थितम्।
इत्थं विनाशितं तेन जनस्थानं तवानघ।।
naiva devā mahātmāno nātra kāryā vicāraṇā।
śarā rāmeṇa tūtsṛṣṭā rukmapuṅkhāḥ patatriṇaḥ।।
sarpāḥ pañcānanā bhūtvā bhakṣayanti sma rākṣasān।
yena yena ca gacchanti rākṣasā bhayakarśitāḥ।
tena tena sma paśyanti rāmamevāgrataḥ sthitam।
itthaṃ vināśitaṃ tena janasthānaṃ tavānagha।।
“Neither the demigods nor any exalted personalities were there helping Rama, for He acted alone. You should not entertain any doubt on this matter. Indeed, Rama shot feathered arrows, plated with gold, which turned into five-headed serpents that devoured all the Rakshasas. The Rakshasas were oppressed with fear, and wherever they went and wherever they turned, they saw Rama in front of them. In this way, O spotless one, have your Rakshasas been destroyed in the forest of Janasthana by Rama.” (Akampana speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 31.18-19)
Friend2: He crossed the ocean using rocks. He took the side of Sugriva against Vali. He protected Vibhishana and destroyed Ravana.
Friend1: Right, and so I would take anything similar. I am struggling right now. I feel defeated. I can’t find peace. Material nature is really taking it to me. I could sure use the vision of Rama’s beautiful feet.
Friend2: There is something interesting from Goswami Tulsidas for this topic. He says that Rama’s name is superior to Rama.
Friend1: How so?
Friend2: While Rama liberated Shabari, the female ascetic, the vulture Jatayu, and others who performed great service, the name of Rama has liberated so many more people throughout the centuries.
Friend1: That is an interesting way to look at it.
Friend2: Which means you and I already have access to something superior. We can say the name of Rama to have His protection. We can say the holy names of the Supreme Lord, if there is a need for variety: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
With eyes of shastra to see,
That liberated many has He.
But struggling am I,
With torture high.
When for me to come?
Here with savior none.
But holy name power to grant,
With Rama even if seeing can’t.