“The heart which does not melt upon hearing of the glories of Hari is like stone. The tongue which does not sing the glories of Rama is like the croaking of a frog.” (Dohavali, 43)
h।rdaya so kulisa samāna jo na dravai hariguna sunata |
kara na rāma guna gāna jīha so dādura jīha sama ||
It’s a paradox. You have self-realization. This is the awakening for the mind. Through the vehicle of the mind the soul becomes liberated. The mind, intelligence and false ego are material elements; they do not remain. They are as impermanent as the ever-changing body in which they live. The soul is the constant, and it is not meant to be trapped in misery. Self-realization helps to bring a level of freedom never before conceived. And yet this realization is achieved not through mental deliberation, experiment, or research. This awakening, the realization of the self, comes from following tradition, taking instruction that has been passed on since time immemorial.
We can take the above referenced verse from the Dohavali as an example to see how this works. On the surface, the couplet seems like a harsh assessment. Hari is a name for God. It means one who removes the obstacles from the path of the devotee. The devotee in this case is devoted to Hari. They are not devoted to eating well, to drinking constantly, or to their spouse. They may have respect for these things, and they may take enjoyment in them from time to time, but their guiding path is their love and respect for the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The author says that the heart which does not melt at hearing the glories of Hari is like a stone. What are some of His glories? Hari expands into so many forms. In His original form He is all-attractive, and so Krishna is another good name for Him. He is also Rama, which means one who holds all transcendental pleasure. There is the personality Rama as well, who is mentioned in the second half of this couplet from Goswami Tulsidas.
Hari’s glories are endless. As Vishnu He effortlessly creates this and many other universes. As Krishna He lifts the massive hill named Govardhana to save innocent people. As Vamanadeva He assumes control of the three worlds with a few steps. As Narasimha He protects the faithful five-year old boy named Prahlada. As the impersonal Brahman He pervades the entire space. In fact, there is no end to hearing of Hari’s glories.
The heart that doesn’t melt upon hearing these glories is like stone, but if you don’t know Hari so well you might think this interpretation is too strict. Tulsidas doubles down in the second part. He says that the tongue which does not sing the glories of Rama essentially croaks like a frog. We would never want to trade our ability to speak for the ability to croak only. A frog can’t really communicate, though its tongue does make a sound. Tulsidas says here that if we don’t sing the glories of Rama, we’re like frogs. The speaking ability of the human tongue becomes useless.
Hari-guna and Rama-guna are equivalent. Hari and Rama are the same person. One group may call this person God and another may have a different name, but the person is still the same. They are one. We know so many people who don’t sing the glories of Rama. In our youth our hearts likely didn’t melt when we heard the glories of Hari. So isn’t Tulsidas being a little extreme here? Isn’t he exaggerating a bit?
bile batorukrama-vikramān yena śṛṇvataḥ karṇa-puṭe narasyajihvāsatī dārdurikeva sūtana copagāyaty urugāya-gāthāḥ
“One who has not listened to the messages about the prowess and marvelous acts of the Personality of Godhead and has not sung or chanted loudly the worthy songs about the Lord is to be considered to possess earholes like the holes of snakes and a tongue like the tongue of a frog.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.3.20)
You would find it interesting to know that these sentiments come down from tradition. The Shrimad Bhagavatam, a Sanskrit work compiled some five thousand years ago, basically says the same thing. Tulsidas is thus passing along something he has learned, though he wholeheartedly believes it too.
This shows the process for self-realization. There is the respect for the authority figures. They pass down the most valuable information. The recipient then implements the recommended practices. They accept the theoretical knowledge on faith at first. They then get full validation through their realized knowledge. The heart should melt upon hearing of Hari’s glories. No one is kinder than Hari. The feel-good story shown on the nightly newscast is nothing compared to the mercy shown by Hari on countless occasions. He is the best friend of every living entity, so there is no need to be jealous of Him or anyone else. He is ready to show that kindness to every single person.
The tongue which sings the glories of others and speaks of nonsense topics is essentially wasting effort. Kali Yuga, the present time period, is known as the age of quarrel and hypocrisy. Argue about anything. It doesn’t really matter since tomorrow the argument will shift to something else. The argument is a way to pass time; hence it has no lasting value. In this way the comparison to the croaking frog is accurate.
The tongue and the heart are there in the body to be used properly. One can make full utilization of the tongue by regularly chanting the names of Hari: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The heart will gradually soften as a result. It will reach the point where simply hearing a name of Hari will cause it to melt, validating the timeless pearls of wisdom passed on by the Vedic tradition.
Hearing Hari’s glories heart melt it should,
If knew His nature then surely it would.
When spontaneous reaction not shown,
That heart then compared to stone.
Like frog on mundane the tongue is wasted,
When sound of Rama’s name not tasted.
Not a concoction from Tulsidas mind,
In Shrimad Bhagavatam same you will find.
Self-realization not from solo effort to make,
First instruction from valued tradition take.