“Whereas other masters become furious at merely hearing about the offenses of their servants, Shri Rama, seeing the offenses Himself, never keeps them in His heart.” (Dohavali, 47)
sāhiba hota saro।sa sevaka ko aparādha suni |
apane dekhe do।sa sapanehu rāma na ura dhare ||
If you’re familiar with the science of self-realization taught from the bhakti school, which is based off of the Bhagavad-gita, you’ve likely heard the term “Supersoul.” The introductory tenet to students of Vedanta is aham brahmasmi. This translates to “I am Brahman.” Trying to figure out what Brahman is then accounts for the rest of the study and practice. At the individual level, Brahman is the soul. “I am Brahman because I am spirit soul.” This is a factual statement.
The Supersoul is different. This corresponds to Parabrahman. “I am the Supersoul” is an incorrect statement. “Super” is an appropriate prefix because the soul referenced is different from the individual one. The particle of Brahman that is the individual is known as jivatma in Sanskrit. Supersoul is paramatma.
The simplest way to understand the difference is to know that the Supersoul is singular while the individual soul is not. I am not you and you are not me. If I were you, then I could do things within your body. I could read your mind. I could do whatever I do in my body while inside of yours. Moreover, I would be able to do this with every single individual, from all species of life. As I can’t do this, the soul inside of me is limited.
The Supersoul is the same individual within all creatures. The sparks of Brahman are many, while the Supersoul is one. Another way to understand the Supersoul is to know that it is the all-pervading witness. In a criminal trial, if there are no witnesses to the alleged crime, it is difficult to get a conviction. It turns into a “he said, she said” predicament. Anybody can say anything. I can say that you came to my house this morning and tried to sell me flowers. You can deny it, but if there are no witnesses, who will resolve the issue?
The Supersoul witnesses all actions. This is true for the present time, the past, and the future. Karma is fruitive action. The results to that action come about through the laws of karma. If I shout too much at a rock concert, the next day I have difficulty speaking. This is action in karma. I decided to do something and later on there was a result.
The Supersoul is both the witness to this action and the distributor of the result. The Supersoul is impartial. Whatever is done in karma must have its corresponding reaction. The Supersoul does not make exceptions in this regard. From the verse quoted above, however, we see that the Supersoul is incredibly forgiving. By definition, He must be.
We say this with confidence because the Supersoul ultimately welcomes back any soul wishing to connect with Him. The Supersoul is but an expansion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, addressed here as Rama. You can only get Rama through devotion. There is no other way, precisely because in any other way the desire is different. In material enjoyment, I don’t want to be with God. I might pray to Him to clear my path, but after I get what I want I forget about Him. In renunciation, I want to get rid of things. I don’t want any distractions in my life. In mysticism, I want to be able to do amazing things, out of body stuff that relies on detachment from the senses tied to the body.
Only in bhakti do I want Rama. I may not know what He looks like at the beginning. I may not be sure what I will do when I gain His association. I may prefer to interact with His other expansions, such as Narasimha, Vishnu, or Krishna. Nevertheless, I want to be with Him. The desire is the beginning point, and the implementation is through service. Thus His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada nicely translates bhakti-yoga as “devotional service.”
You don’t get Rama through challenging. His favor is not earned through direct combat. There must be service, and it requires submission. Thus you have a master and a servant. Goswami Tulsidas says that other masters get angry simply upon hearing of a servant’s mistake. This is only natural; they want something out of the servant. The relationship is dependent on outside factors.
Rama, on the other hand, sees all the offenses of His devotees and still forgives them. He doesn’t keep them in His heart. He does not see them even in a dream. For Rama to take anybody back, this has to be true. As Supersoul, He’s seen all of our faults. That time we lied to our parents, that time we took home a computer from the company office, that time we cheated on our exam in school - while no one else may have noticed, the Supersoul certainly did. We think that we got away with these things, but the laws of karma are strict.
And yet Rama is so forgiving. He is the controller of karma, so for His devotees He wipes the slate clean. And why wouldn’t He? The person in bhakti-yoga wants only to be with the Supreme Lord. Due to their past bad habits, they are bound to make many mistakes. They are bound to commit offenses accidentally. When the motive is pure, which Rama as the Supersoul can easily judge, then there is great leniency. No other interaction can claim this feature, which is all the more reason to desperately seek out the loving relationship to God in this very lifetime.
The Supersoul in tiny ant and elephant tall,
All-pervading witness to actions all.
Saw that time when to parents lied,
And to cheat on test we tried.
When His lotus feet finally accepting,
Means all past errors Rama neglecting.
Who other to be so kind?
Such mercy in none else to find.