“Rama pacified the anger of the sage and took his wrath away. Giving away the Sharanga bow, He left, providing the best fruit for the eyes.” (Janaki Mangala, 178)
rāma kīnha paritoṣa roṣa risa parihari |
cale saunpa sāranga suphala locana kari ||
Having working eyes is extremely beneficial. If you lose your hearing, generally you can still be productive if your eyes are working. If you lose your sight, you will have a more difficult time managing, as others will need to help you out in many instances. The eyes are the gateway to the external world, allowing you to see objects, make identifications, and then act accordingly. So many things thus give pleasure to the eyes, and those things equate to fruits. The fruit is the resultant object of work, and the work of getting a human body endowed with eyes has many fruits in the form of pleasing visions. A best fruit, according to Vaishnava saints devoted in full consciousness, is the sight of a victorious Supreme Personality of Godhead when facing an apparently challenging situation. This suphala, or best fruit, is witnessed by only a rare few, but the descriptions of it are kindly passed on for future generations to relish.
Isn’t God challenged every day? Do not the transgressions of the rules of propriety attack the long established rules and regulations passed on by the Supreme Lord? If such challenges take place all the time, why are the constant victories absent? Actually, the challenges always fail. Whosoever thinks themselves to be God must eventually bow down to the undefeated champion known as death. Death is synonymous with time, kalah in Sanskrit, as time is what goes to work on any gain. I look forward to the Christmas presents my parents will give me this year, but eventually the holiday season will pass and the objects of excitement will lose their value. This is time at work.
The challenger to God loses to time every single day. Otherwise they would have no reason to fear. They would have no need to proclaim themselves the best, either. If they knew their prominence would remain forever, they would be at complete peace. They would be atmarama, or self-satisfied. Unfortunately for them, the only person who is always atmarama is the Supreme Lord, who once appeared on earth as Ramachandra, the dark-complexioned eldest son of King Dasharatha. His moon-like face made Him adored by all in His family.
With His activities, Rama gave the fruit to the eyes. This fruit is for every kind of eyes, even the animals. Yet only the devoted souls relish the taste of the fruit. They recognize it for what it is, and so the Supreme Lord makes it available exclusively for them. He intentionally seeks the greatest challenges, situations which put fear into the devoted souls. These souls worry that He might not be able to accomplish the task. He could be ridiculed afterwards for having failed, which increases the worry.
One such situation occurred when Rama and His family were returning to Ayodhya from Janakpur. Rama had just married Sita Devi, the daughter of King Janaka. He earned her hand by lifting and stringing a bow that originally belonged to Lord Shiva. Rama was so strong that the bow broke when He bent it with string. This raised the ire of Parashurama, who intercepted the group on their path back home.
Parashurama is also God; an incarnation of the same Vishnu who appeared as Rama. So in this instance Vishnu created a challenge for Vishnu to solve. This can only mean that the purpose was to give the best fruit to the eyes. Parashurama is in a different visible manifestation; he also has a different mood. He is always angry. He carried around his axe like the sheriff in town eager to put away the criminals. Parashurama did not like that Shiva’s bow was broken, so he challenged Rama to string Vishnu’s bow. He offered it to Rama, and Rama then strung it so quickly that everyone was amazed. Then Rama said that the arrow now could not go to waste, and it would destroy either Parashurama’s ascetic merit or the regions in the heavenly realm that he conquered. Parashurama opted for the latter.
Parashurama’s pride was hurt, and in the process his anger subsided. Thus Rama did an amazing thing. He withstood a challenge from a person who had previously destroyed the warrior race on earth many times over. Rama then handed the bow over to Varuna, the demigod in charge of the oceans. That bow is called the Sharanga, and it is always associated with Vishnu. It has its own history, being passed on in a chain of famous personalities.
“All the sages said: Dear Dhruva, O son of King Uttanapada, may the Supreme Personality of Godhead known as Sharngadhanva, who relieves the distresses of His devotees, kill all your threatening enemies. The holy name of the Lord is as powerful as the Lord Himself. Therefore, simply by chanting and hearing the holy name of the Lord, many men can be fully protected from fierce death without difficulty. Thus a devotee is saved.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.10.30)
Goswami Tulsidas allows any person to taste this fruit for the eyes, even if they weren’t there in the first place. This makes the saints of the Vedic tradition so kind; kinder than anyone we know. Others can provide different fruits for the eyes, but none of these are the best. The vision of a victorious Rama remains forever, even into future lifetimes. Time can never act against these visions. Time works at the beck and call of Rama, who says as much in the Bhagavad-gita.
“Among the Daitya demons I am the devoted Prahlada; among subduers I am time; among the beasts I am the lion, and among birds I am Garuda, the feathered carrier of Vishnu.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.30)
Rama is the same Krishna, the speaker of the Gita. He is time, which is His impersonal manifestation. As time cannot act against the best fruit of the eyes that is the vision of a victorious God, it means that the impersonal is always subordinate to the personal. The wise take shelter of the personal, which can handle the awesome bow known as Sharanga and then renounce it within a second, not needing any weapon to carry out its work.
Vision of victorious God for the eyes,
Relished by the saintly, the truly wise.
So many things with nature’s gift to see,
But only one the best, forever manifest to be.
Parashurama a bow challenge commanding,
Rama victorious, to Varuna bow handing.
Impersonal is time, which Rama controls,
The personal thus supremacy over everything holds.