Five Desired Characteristics For Pure Devotion

[Sita-Rama]“Shri Rama, who are supreme bliss and the resting place of mercy, who can fulfill all the desires of the mind, please grant me pure loving and unwavering devotion.” (Dohavali, 125)

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परमानन्द क्।र्पायतन मन परिपूरन काम ।
प्रेम भगति अनपायनी देहु हमहि स्रीराम ॥

paramānanda k।rpāyatana mana paripūrana kāma ।
prema bhagati anapāyanī dehu hamahi srīrāma ॥

When studied in the formal sense, any discipline of spirituality will have some entryway or means of presentation. Perhaps there is an institution dedicated to following the teachings of a certain individual. Maybe there is a spiritual leader who is particularly fond of a saint or two from the past.

They bring forward the philosophy in a sort of descending tradition, passing the information from one individual to the next. It takes just one or two bad actors to spoil everything. They distort the meanings to suit their own purposes. They say things which are not true. They implement harmful policies based on a flawed understanding of the key principles.

With respect to bhakti-yoga, we may claim that such and such group is not authorized. They are not bona fide. You see, the members are not “pure” devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This demeaning characterization is usually based on a link within the sampradaya to an individual or two. Maybe it is based on the prevailing practices of the time, associated with that group.

In the Dohavali of Goswami Tulsidas, we have direct access to the source. The easiest way to tell pure devotion from impure devotion is to see exactly what is being asked for. If a person has a face-to-face meeting with God, what is it that they want?

In this hypothetical case, the meeting is with Shri Rama. If we are unaware of His identity, there are qualifications and attributes to help fill in the gaps. Rama is bliss personified, paramananda. He is also the resting place of mercy. This means that no one can be more merciful than Rama, which makes sense as the claim is equivalence to Divinity.

Shri Rama can also satisfy any desire of the mind. The speed of the mind is almost impossible to comprehend. We were planning on going somewhere. The coordinates were inputted into the GPS device. We are ninety-percent complete on the journey, when suddenly we turn in a different direction.

This is due to the mind. In a split second a new desire emerged. We decided to act on that desire. The mind operates in a constant flow with this tendency. There is barely a period of rest. Rama is ready to correspondingly deal with the rapid pace of such desires.

[Tulsidas with Rama-Lakshmana]Presented with this meeting, Tulsidas makes a specific prayer. He asks for devotion. He uses the word “anapayani.” We can study different characteristics to this type of devotion to understand whether it is pure or not.

1. Unwavering

“Let me not take a break. A person gets tired of sitting in front of the desk, working at the office. The mother of a newborn child needs some rest, some time to herself, after devoting constant attention. This does not mean there is a lack of affection. It is simply the way of the world.

“Let me always be devoted to Rama. Let me not ever take a break. Let every action be dedicated to Him. Let not the attention be diverted through distractions or external enticements.”

2. Undiminishing

“Let me worship Rama in a way that does not diminish. If I am chanting a certain number of rounds today, let that remain the baseline. I would never want to drop to a lower standard. I do not want to look back and feel regret that I did not fully utilize the potency gifted to me in this human form of body.”

3. Unassailable

“I am not so interested in outside opinion. People can curse me. They can mock me. They can make fun. They can offer the kindest praise. Their viewpoint will not affect my allegiance. I will be with Shri Rama, no matter what.

“At the same time, let not Rama ever be disappointed in me. Let it be so that I do not have any noticeable blemishes in my dedication. I vow to keep my intentions pure, and I pray that my actions will reflect those intentions.”

4. Unbroken

“Let not others interfere. Let this devotion be unbroken. I acknowledge that I have squandered many opportunities already. I have wasted so much time. Who knows exactly how many past lives have been spoiled? Let this one be the last spent in association with maya.”

5. Unobstructed

“I realize that there will always be obstacles. Shri Hanuman leapt over the ocean to reach Lanka. He faced many hurdles along the way. There was like an array of mountains over which he had to climb in order to complete the mission to please Shri Rama.

[Sita-Rama]“I am not at that level of dedication or skill, but let not others obstruct my path. I know that there will be difficulties to face, but I pray that I will have the strength to overcome them. Let me persevere so that my cherished desire of continued devotion will carry forward.”

In Closing:

Revealing my desires true,
This prayer I make to you.

That always close by to sit,
In dedication not to quit.

That everything revolving around,
Support of devotional ground.

That many past desires chased,
But at your lotus feet now erased.

Categories: dohavali 121-160, the five

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