“Tulsi says that Shri Rama loves His devotee more than His own life. King Rama becomes so much indebted, and the devotee becomes so rich, like Hanuman.” (Dohavali, 111)
tulasī rāmahu teṃ adhika rāma bhagata jiya' jāna |
riniyā rājā rāma bhe dhanika bhae hanumāna ||
I have an important task to complete. Since I am not so naïve, it is understood that some outside help is required. This revealing truth is presented in the Bhagavad-gita, as well, where Shri Krishna explains that the individual is not the doer. They make the choice for action, but the modes of nature, gunas, must cooperate. Without those gunas results would only be potential within the mind, like unfulfilled dreams.
“When you see that there is nothing beyond these modes of nature in all activities and that the Supreme Lord is transcendental to all these modes, then you can know My spiritual nature.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 14.19)
Without even approaching the higher topics presented in Vedic literature, which is like a blossoming tree full of branches representing different areas of knowledge, from everyday experience it is seen that acting alone usually is not enough to get the job done. If I’m driving for a long distance, at the very least I need others on the road to adhere to the rules. I put trust in the auto-mechanics to do a good enough job to keep the car running. I need the food I purchased from the supermarket to be fresh and packed with the proper nutrients.
In this hypothetical situation I look for someone who is trustworthy and dependable. There are several people who are capable, but they might not show up. They may put in half a day’s worth of work and then split the scene. I have to get the job done, so uncertainty is not an option.
The person I choose ends up helping me immensely. It’s like they’ve given their entire life to the task. They don’t have to. It’s just me, after all. In this world everyone is out for themselves. Svartha, or self-interest, is the primary concern. Who can blame them? For some reason this person is different. It’s like they would give up everything to see me happy.
This begins to explain to a small degree what the Supreme Lord is like in the interaction with His devotees. He is Bhagavan, for starters. This means that He has every fortune imaginable. He is not poor in the least. He is the winner in any measuring contest of riches and abilities.
He is also atmarama, which means “self-satisfied.” That is to say the association of others is not required to keep Him pleased. He can hang out by Himself for hours, days and years, if needed. He does not require going out to a nightclub in order to find companionship.
As Goswami Tulsidas remarks in his Dohavali, the bhagata, the devotee, earns a very high stature through their association with Rama. It is like the tables turn. They become rich, while Rama, who is a king on earth, becomes indebted to them.
The only way this makes sense is if the loving nature of the Supreme Lord is understood. In fact, that is the purpose of this couplet from the poet, to help us understand the unlimited mercy flowing from the lotus feet of Bhagavan.
Tulsidas gives the example of Hanuman, who today is worshiped and adored by millions of people. Within the Vedic tradition he is perhaps the most popular and the most appreciated. His stature is due to only one thing: devotion to Rama. Hanuman gave everything to please the Supreme Lord during Rama’s time on earth as an avatara, or incarnation.
Because of that service Rama became indebted, to the point that He feels like He can never repay. Hanuman, for his part, is ready to continue in service. There is no break. There is no false pride. He knows the wealth that he has, and he both safeguards it and shows others how to attain it. He is a symbol of sacrifice, and through the bliss of surrender in devotion that he experiences he shows others the way.
Keep always the Lord in mind,
Who to level unbelievable kind.
Though on earth known as king,
Entrusted to Hanuman the ring.
To safely bring to Sita the wife,
He sacrificing effort and life.
To level that Rama feeling in debt,
Devotee higher stature to get.