“Tulsidas says that the Lord is looking especially beautiful joined with Sita and Lakshmana. The demigods are happily showering flowers from the sky, and the whole place has a good aura and good qualities.” (Dohavali, 2)
sītā lakhana sameta prabhu sohata tulasīdāsa|
haraṣata sura baraṣata sumana saguna sumangala bāsa ||
Prabhu, the Supreme Lord, accompanied by His dear wife Sita Devi and younger brother Lakshmana is looking extremely beautiful. As eternal figures that are undying in their beauty, mercy, kindness, compassion and generosity, the trio of Sita, Rama and Lakshmana can be worshiped at any time and on any day, by any person in the three worlds. Not only can the fallen individuals trapped in the cycle of material suffering brought on by identification with the earthly realm take advantage of this most delightful vision, but even the denizens of the heavenly planets, those who have earned their high posts through dedication to dharma and the accumulation of pious credits, cannot help but gaze at the Lord adorned with His two most beautiful ornaments: the goddess of fortune and the resting place of all the planets. Anyone who is fortunate enough to remember this vision will find all auspiciousness and good qualities.
Saguna is a Sanskrit word that means “with gunas”. A guna can be a material quality, such as goodness, passion, or ignorance, and it can also mean a good quality. When guna is used to reference a good quality or pious behavior, the opposite word is dosha. In this context, Goswami Tulsidas notes that the vision of Sita, Rama and Lakshmana worshiped by the demigods in the sky, the suras, is the resting place of all auspiciousness [sumangala] and good qualities [saguna].
Who is Lord Rama? The Supreme Personality of Godhead is obviously a singular entity, one whose existence is even accepted by the staunchest of atheists at the time of death. Generally, due to the specific circumstances of the time of their inception, the major religions of the world fail to accurately describe the transcendental features of the personal form of the Lord, which is certainly His original and most blissful aspect. Just as every living entity on earth, including the human beings, can attribute their birth to an individual, a body with a personal form and an identity, the creator of everything, the cause of all causes, is also a person, except He has extraordinary powers and abilities.
Just acknowledging God’s presence and greatness represents a step up from the level of intelligence shown by animals, but the true benefit of the Lord’s potencies and His eternal presence within all spheres of life is not received unless and until more information pertaining to His limitless attributes is presented and understood. Along these lines, the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India, put forth the best attempt at enumerating some of these transcendental features and tagging the different forms of Godhead which specific names of address. Just as we identify friends, family, enemies, etc. through specific names, the Supreme Lord, the ever well-wisher of every life form existing past, present and future, is given various names that allow the fallen souls to make calls for divine help.
Every person is a dependent on something or someone, even if they don’t want to believe it. The most powerful CEO, the richest man in the world, is actually one of the most dependent, as his numerous personal staff and business associates make sure to meet his every demand. The company itself is wholly reliant on the patronizing public for their hard earned money. The wealthiest companies are typically those who have been able to produce products that appeal to the masses, i.e. the common man.
“O best among the Bharatas [Arjuna], four kinds of pious men render devotional service unto Me — the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.16)
While there is a level of dependence on other living entities during our time on earth, there is actually complete reliance on the Lord of the universe and His potencies during every phase of life. We may look to our immediate superiors to solve our problems, but a more direct approach is to seek out the superior’s superior. Since no one is above God, it is not uncommon for those in distress to appeal to the Supreme Person for redress of their grievances and the alleviation of their suffering. Yet in order to make this address properly, one must know the Lord’s nature, what His names are, and what exactly He promises to deliver.
From Tulsidas‘ nice poetry, we get an idea of what God looks like and what the benefit of knowing His names and forms is. Shri Rama is the name of the Lord that describes His ability to provide transcendental pleasure to others. Sita Devi is His eternal consort, or His purified energy representation. Shri Lakshmana is Rama’s ever well-wisher, the support system if you will. In terms of the chronological history of the current creation, the trio actually appeared on earth many thousands of years ago and roamed about as ordinary human beings. Since God creates matter and the workings of nature, He can never be subject to their influences. The purpose of the divine incarnation is to bless the pure souls with the direct association of God, whose spiritual potency is so great that one needn’t even know they are in the company of the divine. Just as one who drinks water will be benefitted in their health irrespective of their knowledge of what they are drinking, those who consume the beauties and glories of the Supreme Lord found in the wonderful descriptions etched into sacred texts like the Ramayana and the wonderful poetry of Goswami Tulsidas will also be supremely benefitted, irrespective of their knowledge of God.
Sita, Rama and Lakshmana are so beautiful and resplendent that wherever they are, the demigods in the sky always shower down flowers upon them. We can think of the demigods, or suras, as residents of the heavenly realm, the place where the pious go. The concept of a heaven is not foreign to theists around the world, but the Vedas more fully describe the nature of this realm, who goes there, and how long they remain there. Under a vague understanding, heaven is considered the destination for the pious entities who spend their “one life” on earth generally adherent to the dictates of established religious law codes. In providing more concrete information, the Vedas reveal that the spirit soul, the essence of individuality, is an eternal entity and thus not capable of ever taking birth or dying. What we deem a life is simply a demarcation of time, such as a day, month, or year. We celebrate the new year by having a party and being with our friends, but in actuality, the occasion simply marks the turnover of a measurement of time whose starting point is relative. Whether one denotes the new year or not has no relevance to the properties of the body or the soul. The delineations of time are there to make the duration on earth within a particular body more understandable and easier to divide into different sections.
In a similar manner, the time the soul spends in a particular body is also easier to understand once the birth and death processes are considered. Yet irrespective of the relative measurement of a lifetime, the soul remains forever fixed in its level of bliss, eternality and knowledge. So what is the purpose to a particular life, one that involves birth, old age, disease and death? Though the soul’s properties never change, depending on the different fruitive activities adopted, i.e. karma, a future outer covering is crafted. This is similar to how working hard in school or putting in long hours in the office eventually leads to a future condition that is sought out. The soul, through identifying with a material body, develops many desires which it then acts upon. These actions must have results, either good or bad. Those who ascend to the heavenly realm perform activities in line with dharma, or the established law codes of God.
However, just as the body of a person roaming the earth is perishable, so is the exquisitely beautiful and blissful outer covering assumed by a resident of the heavenly realm. Though the level of enjoyment in heaven far exceeds that found in the middle or lower planetary systems, the influence of time and space is still present. As such, even the heavenly figures will have to fall back down to earth eventually. Despite the fact that they are presented heavenly opulences that will eventually dwindle, the suras still don’t fail to worship the Supreme Lord and His eternal associates. Wherever Shri Rama is, the demigods - the entities who are eternally endeared to Prabhu Rama - are always watching and appreciating His pleasurable activities.
“Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, offer obeisances and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 9.34)
Tulsidas appreciates the showering of flowers upon the illustrious trio. While the soul that more or less accepts the dictates of religion gets to ascend to the heavenly realm in the afterlife, one who develops a firm and loving attachment to the Supreme Spirit never has to take birth again. This is the promise made directly by Lord Krishna, the original form of Godhead, in the Bhagavad-gita. As such, Tulsidas, as a brahmana and a sannyasi, certainly followed all the rituals and regulations of spiritual life, but he was more committed to bhakti, or the practice of divine love. Under the bhakti mindset, pure love and devotion to God is developed. Moreover, divine love, or devotional service, is the only spiritual practice that never dies, even in the heavenly realm or the spiritual world itself. Above the material planetary system is an imperishable land inhabited by the Personality of Godhead and the liberated souls who cannot live without His association.
Those who adore the image of Prabhu, Sita and Lakshmana can turn their present surroundings into an atmosphere akin to the spiritual world; such is the potency of bhakti. Tulsidas notes that all auspiciousness and good qualities come from the divine vision of the grand trio who were kind enough to have roamed this earth a long time ago. Though the incidents of the Ramayana - the wonderful poem detailing Rama’s activities performed on earth - took place a long time ago, the image of Shri Rama is as fresh today as it was during the Treta Yuga. Auspiciousness can be found by abiding by the stringent rules of spirituality and adhering to the recommended do’s and don’ts, but an even more powerful practice is to always remember Prabhu Rama and His dear associates. One look at Rama’s smiling face, which is always surrounded by flowers falling from the heavenly sky, is enough to make the soul armed with a choice of association forever turn its back on material existence, a life that always brings misery.
Just as we can’t find what we’re looking for by searching in the wrong places, lasting auspiciousness and good qualities can never be found in any place devoid of the Supreme Lord’s personal presence. If the world itself is perishable, how can any result or condition within it be considered superior? Wouldn’t that one entity who never dies be the only person capable of providing real happiness? Attachment to friends, family, society, nation and country do bring about feelings of pride and joy, but even if we don’t want to acknowledge or think about it, these bonds will eventually be severed. Yet Lord Rama and His names and forms are so potent that they continue to be worshiped and adored long after He departs this earth. Moreover, the Lord’s devotees are also celebrated for all of eternity. Goswami Tulsidas wrote his poetry many hundreds of years ago, but these transcendental works continue to evoke tremendous feelings of loving attachment within the heart. The vision of Sita, Rama and Lakshmana being showered with flowers from the heavenly sky is beautiful to gaze upon, and so is the picture of the sincere saint worshiping such a scene. Tulsidas, wherever he is and wherever he goes, always worships Sita, Rama and Lakshmana. As such, he is the most exalted personality, the sweetest, kindest, most thoughtful, generous and humble poet the world has ever seen. Anyone who remembers his worship of Rama will similarly be benefitted with all auspiciousness and good qualities.