“Tulsi says that for one who abandons Shri Rama and puts faith in others, what to speak of happiness and wealth they can’t even find their way to hell.” (Dohavali, 64)
tulasī śrīraghubīra taji karai bharoso aura |
sukha sampati kī kā calī narakahum̐ nāhīṁ ṭhaura ||
Picture this situation. You’re travelling to an event hosted by a family friend. You decide to drive there. As it is quite a distance away from you, you get hungry along the journey. At this time you begin to look for places to eat. You find one spot that seems to meet the requirements. There is plenty of variety. The prices aren’t that high. More importantly, it has immediate seating available.
But in a quest to find something better, you move along. “I’ll remember this spot,” you tell yourself. As you go further and further away, you can’t find anything that seems to be as good. You then decide to retrace your steps and go back to the original spot that you skipped over. The problem is you can’t find it. For this example, we’ll say that there is no navigation system to help you. You even forgot the name of the place.
This situation is roughly analogous to the one described by Goswami Tulsidas in the verse from the Dohavali quoted above. Losing out on a good place to eat is one thing, but the association of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is something entirely different. His company is the height of enjoyment, which can be accessed through something as simple as the vision of His feet. Indeed, even the dust of those feet is enough to make the most of the rare human birth.
na nāka-pṛṣṭhaḿ na ca sārva-bhaumaḿ
na pārameṣṭhyaḿ na rasādhipatyam
na yoga-siddhīr apunar-bhavaḿ vā
“Dear Lord, the dust of Your lotus feet is very wonderful. Any person who is fortunate enough to achieve this dust does not care for heavenly planets, lordship over all the planetary systems, the mystic perfections of yoga, or even liberation from material existence. In other words, anyone who adores the dust of Your lotus feet does not care a fig for all other perfectional stages.” (Naga-patnis, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.16.37)
Birth in any species is not by accident. It comes as a result of work. Just as what you wear today is the result of what was purchased in the past, the type of body assumed at the time of birth came through past “purchases” in the form of actions. Those actions shaped consciousness, which then determined the state of being at the time of death.
The human species represents the most auspicious birth due to the potential for understanding God. One who abandons the Supreme Lord after getting the chance to know about Him turns the auspiciousness into inauspiciousness. Further still, if they become envious of God, they have the worse problem of repeated births in a lower species.
āsurīṁ yonim āpannā
mūḍhā janmani janmani
mām aprāpyaiva kaunteya
tato yānty adhamāṁ gatim
“Attaining repeated birth amongst the species of demoniac life, such persons can never approach Me. Gradually they sink down to the most abominable type of existence.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 16.20)
This fact is mentioned by Shri Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita. He refers to Himself in the verses in question because He is God. He does not mention a generic God because there is no need. He is full beauty, full wealth, full strength, full fame, full wisdom, and full renunciation combined into one person. He is the origin of everything. Others may see Him in different ways, but He is always a singular personality.
Goswami Tulsidas presents the same truth, but in his own way. His worshipable form of choice is Shri Rama, who is also known as Raghuvira. Rama is the same Krishna. They are one, just appearing in different ways and at different times. Tulsidas says that one who abandons Rama in favor of others can’t even find their way to hell.
In Rama is everything. He is the one God who will purposely fail you from time to time. He does this out of compassion. He is not conducting business with the devotees, where each side looks to bargain to get what they want. Rama gives wealth if it is needed. He gives happiness in the form of His association.
One who has the shelter of Raghuvira and then abandons it is most unfortunate. Their only reason for doing so would be to find a quick way towards temporary happiness and wealth. But they actually won’t find either. Their turn from Rama represents envy, for the underlying desire is to compete with God. And as mentioned previously, those who are envious of God have a hard time getting the rare human birth going forward.
Can there be anything worse than hell? For the devotee, heaven and hell are the same. As long as they get to practice devotion, they don’t care where they live. They can be in an area infested with mosquitoes and plagued by scorching heat. They can be some place where winter weather stops necessary travel on a regular basis. They don’t mind since God’s association in the form of His names brings happiness. Their true wealth is devotion, which they practice primarily through a mantra, such as “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”
Abandoning Rama after having found Him is worse than hell, since there can be nothing like His shelter. It is as if one has lost a winning lottery ticket. The person who didn’t purchase a ticket is better off; they didn’t lose anything valuable. The wise therefore hold on to bhakti once they find it. They don’t make the mistake of envying the one who is never envious of others. They don’t make the mistake of searching for elusive happiness from gods and personalities who don’t look out for the welfare of their devotees. Tulsidas, in all his kindness, gives a word to the wise, letting them know that the greenest grass is on the side of devotion.
That from God not everything seen,
On the other side grass is more green.
But this never can be the case,
Futilely rewards from others to chase.
Like person losing lottery ticket can tell,
Such a fate much worse than hell.
Go to Rama and with Him stay,
His loving hand let be your guiding way.