“One who has great love and affection for Rama, whose only goal is Rama, who has attachment to Rama’s feet - to such a person the creator has given the fruit of taking birth in this world, says Tulsi.” (Dohavali, 58)
rāmapremakī mahattā rāma sanehī rāma gati rāma carana rati jāhi |
tulasī phala jaga janama diyā bidhātā tāhi ||
Deep down we know that we’re not capable of doing everything. We know that we’re flawed and that we need help in order to succeed. Under the influence of the false ego, we boast of our accomplishments and take pride in our abilities, but if we had real confidence, we would never envy others. We envy what they have in terms of material success, but in fact the assessment is invalid. The true fruit of the human birth is met in the conditions described above by Goswami Tulsidas.
What are the things that we envy and how does that viewpoint miss the mark? We see someone who is happily married with children and we wonder when that will happen for us. Perhaps we are married already, but the experience isn’t that wonderful. We bicker with the spouse constantly. We expect certain behavior out of them and they seem to fail day after day. We see others getting along with each other and think that they are more fortunate.
We envy those who are materially successful. If they have a nice house, we want the same. If their job allows them to travel to different places month after month, we wonder why we can’t live the same way. We think that the rich have been blessed by a higher power, whereas we have been cursed. Others have won “life’s lottery,” whereas we’re still waiting for our winning ticket.
But in fact, if we are to envy anyone, it should be the person who has love for the Supreme Lord. According to Goswami Tulsidas, they have been given the fruit of a birth in this world. The birth does not automatically bring success. We can take birth among any of the 8,400,000 different species. Each one of those species is a life form. They appear, remain for some time, and then vanish. Some species are larger, some are quicker, and some are more intelligent.
The fruit of the birth is the same regardless. The type of birth is determined by the creator. Picture a painter seated at their easel, with a host of colors at their disposal. This specific painter is known as vidhata, or the creator of destiny. The colors they have are the three modes of material nature: goodness, passion and ignorance. They can mix these colors in so many different proportions, and the result is the variety of species we see in this world.
The fruit of an existence is not to earn a lot of money. It is not to have a happy family life, either. These things aren’t necessarily bad, but the end result is the same even if they are not present. The dog eats, sleeps, mates and defends. It does not know about family life. It does not know about bank balance or high rise apartments. The human being basically does the same things, but in different varieties. The experience is more or less the same, though we don’t know it.
Tulsidas describes three conditions that make the birth truly worthwhile. He says that the person should have great love and affection for Rama. Rama-prema means love for the Supreme Lord. Sneha means “affection” and mahatta means “great.” Rama is the Supreme Lord in a personal incarnation form. You can’t offer service in love to an abstract. We say that we love our country, but that actually means loving each and every citizen, for those are the people who make up the country. When we say we love God, it means that He must be a person. He cannot be simply a light or a concept in someone’s head.
The second condition is having Rama as the goal, or gati. This person is fortunate because they don’t chase after illusion. Money and power are products of maya. They seem appealing at first glance, but talk to those who have them and you’ll find out that their life isn’t a bed of roses. Money is like a magnet. All of a sudden a distant relative whom you haven’t seen for ages gives you a call and asks for financial help. Competitors look to bring you down; they want the power that you have. To chase after Rama as the only goal in life makes a person very fortunate. They have seen past illusion and gone straight to the transcendental light that shines bright for the duration of time and beyond.
The third condition is having attachment to Rama’s feet. This describes the interaction that occurs after Rama has been attained. If we make God the goal in life, but the only reason we want Him is to ask things from Him, the fruit of the birth has not been attained. If we have love for Rama only until He starts giving us things, we haven’t succeeded. To be attached to Rama’s lotus feet is to desire to serve the Supreme Lord in lifetime after lifetime. This attachment is a sign of respect and intelligence as well. Those feet are beautiful and attachment to them will do us the most good.
Tulsidas fails to mention himself in this couplet. A person who has found him is the most fortunate as well. Through the poet’s association, in the form of written word, one easily gets the three conditions mentioned. That love and attachment for Rama is due to the efforts of the Vaishnava saints, and so they alone help to make the rare human birth successful.
Make Rama the goal,
And His virtues extol.
For Him have love and affection,
To serving His feet make your direction.
Then fruit of birth getting,
No more in illusion’s path setting.
The poet who with devotion lives,
For fortunate rest this boon gives.