“Meditating on Shri Rama, who has Janaki to His left and Lakshmana to His right, brings all auspiciousness and is your wish-fulfilling tree, O Tulsi.” (Dohavali, 1)
राम बाम दिसि जानकी लखन दाहिनी ओर|
ध्यान सकल कल्यानमय सुरतरु तुलसी तोर ||
rāma bāma disi jānakī lakhana dāhinī ora|
dhyāna sakala kalyānamaya surataru tulasī tora ||
“I guess this happens as you get older. There is that phone call at the odd hour of the night. You know that this person is not calling you for something trivial. Something serious must have occurred. It will warrant your immediate attention.
“It turns out that someone has died. Unexpectedly. It is a tragedy, as they were so young. So many emotions run through you. Shock. Disbelief. Anger. You are not exactly sure what to do next.
“It turns out receiving the news was only the beginning. For the next two weeks you are not yourself. You keep thinking about the loss. It all seems so unfair. Even though you know better, that the soul lives on, that a wise person should not lament for the living or for the dead, you can’t help but be sad.
“How does the science of self-realization fit into this? How is a person supposed to continue with the routine when they have something else on their mind? Isn’t it like going through the motions? The body is one place, and the mind is somewhere else.
“How is worshiping a specific person or set of people going to make things better? How could that object of worship allow the departed to suffer in such a way? What is the point to being good when it looks like only the good die young?”
The recommendation for worship still applies. The need for realizing the principles is even more urgent. The education in that science is meant for dealing with such issues, which are inevitable. To overly lament the separation of body and spirit is an indication of anarya, as described by Shri Krishna.
कुतस् त्वा कश्मलम् इदं
kutas tvā kaśmalam idaṁ
“The Supreme Person [Bhagavan] said: My dear Arjuna, how have these impurities come upon you? They are not at all befitting a man who knows the progressive values of life. They do not lead to higher planets, but to infamy.” (Bhagavad-gita, 2.2)
Moreover, the worship in the preferred way waters the roots of the tree. It is not that something will go unaccounted for. Such worship is the best way to honor the departed, to prove that their impact has made a positive difference in the world.
As an example, Goswami Tulsidas recommends meditating on the image of Shri Rama, with Lakshmana to Rama’s right and Sita Devi to Rama’s left. This image is like a wish-fulfilling tree. The connection will bring all auspiciousness.
There are no exceptions. There is no specific qualification. The auspiciousness is real. If we approach a desire tree and ask for the welfare of the person who left us, the tree will likely respond in the affirmative and without delay.
Shri Rama is the greatest desire tree. If we are devoted to Him, nothing is out of reach. The difference is that the desires fulfilled will be for our ultimate benefit. That is the meaning to kalyana. The result of the worship will be auspicious.
There is no reason to fear. There is nothing lost in the process, and everything gained. As Krishna assures Arjuna, a person who does good is never overcome by evil. Their good deeds create something like a permanent record.
पार्थ नैवेह नामुत्र विनाशस्तस्य विद्यते ।
न हि कल्याणकृत्कश्चिद्दुर्गतिं तात गच्छति ॥
pārtha naiveha nāmutra
vināśas tasya vidyate
na hi kalyāṇa-kṛt kaścid
durgatiṁ tāta gacchati
“The Blessed Lord said: Son of Pritha, a transcendentalist engaged in auspicious activities does not meet with destruction either in this world or in the spiritual world; one who does good, My friend, is never overcome by evil.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.40)
It may appear that the material world got the better of them. It is depressing to lose their association. There is concern for their future wellbeing, but since they were tied to auspiciousness they will not lose any of their progress.
This means that unexpected tragedy provides all the more impetus to continue in the path of self-realization. That path descends to the modern day through parampara. Saintly people carry the torch. They essentially die so that other people can live. They provide the mechanism for eternal living, for meeting the needs of the soul, and such favor can never properly be repaid.
Principles of bhakti applied,
To stay focused tried.
And from guru regularly heard,
But by latest news stirred.
That suddenly my friend gone,
For weeks to dwell upon.
Even more reason steady to go,
With path of devotion so.