“When you give up Shri Rama, the Lord of Koshala, and put your hopes in others, then you’ll get distress wherever you look, says Tulsi.” (Dohavali, 71)
karihauṁ kosalanātha taji jabahiṁ dūsarī āsa |
jahām̐ tahām̐ dukha pā'ihauṁ tabahīṁ tulasīdāsa ||71||
In this verse Goswami Tulsidas warns of the dangers of rejecting the association of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. On the other side of the decision is trust in things and people who are not God. The mindset is typically the opposite of what Tulsidas says. We think that if we take up religious life in earnest, we’ll lose out on so many things. Responsibilities will get neglected. We’ll miss out on fun. We’ll only find misery wherever we turn.
The material energy is known as maya. The root Sanskrit meaning is “that which is not.” The enticing pizza pie that just came out of the oven is an illusion of sorts. Sure, there is nutritional value. Without eating we can’t survive. The same goes for sleeping. In the Bhagavad-gita Shri Krishna says that the yogi does not eat too much or too little. He is moderate in his sleeping habits as well.
nāty-aśnatas 'tu yogo 'sti
na caikāntam anaśnataḥ
jāgrato naiva cārjuna“There is no possibility of one's becoming a yogi, O Arjuna, if one eats too much, or eats too little, sleeps too much or does not sleep enough.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.16)
The desire to eat the entire pie based on the vision is where the illusion comes in. We think we’ll be happy in the short term, that the taste will bring us satisfaction. What we don’t see are the negative consequences to arrive later on. Indigestion, heartburn, difficulty sleeping, weight gain - these are all unwanted things. The Sanskrit word is anartha, which literally means “that which is not profitable.” A person can only accept anarthas if they are under the spell of illusion.
The fear that approaching God will bring us distress is also rooted in illusion. How can the wealthiest person leave us poor? How can the all-attractive one ever leave us lonely and without anything to appreciate? How can the husband of the goddess of fortune ever fail to safeguard against destitution?
In this verse from the Dohavali, Tulsidas refers to God as Koshalanatha. There is the sacred land of Koshala in which Shri Rama appeared. Not just any person is God. He does not appear at just any time, either. Rama’s divinity is mentioned in sacred texts like the Ramayana and Shrimad Bhagavatam and supported through His deeds. The lives of the devotees also prove that Rama is someone special, a person whose association should never be renounced.
Why Rama and not someone else? Should I neglect my duties? If we put our hopes in Rama, does it mean that other things will get neglected? What about my family? Will they be taken care of? Will they be provided for?
Actually, the living entity is not the doer. For sure the choice for action rests in their hands. We make the decision to get out of bed in the morning. We choose what food goes in our mouth. Yet the results to action are already determined. The laws of nature dictate what will happen when we put our hands together, the act known as clapping. From experience we know that a sound results, but we didn’t create the law responsible for that sound.
guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ
kartāham iti manyate
“The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 3.27)
Higher forces arrange for protection and the lack of it. We are not capable of providing for everyone we care about. It is impossible to give full protection, though we think otherwise. At the same time, exclusive devotion to God does not mean neglect. A person who understands that the Supreme Lord lives inside of all creatures is naturally compassionate. Such a person understands that they have roles to fulfill, but they carry out their duties with detachment. They know that ultimately the outcomes are out of their hands.
If both the religious person and the non-religious person don’t have full control, what is the need to even worship? They are both helpless it seems.
When we put our hopes in someone who is fallible, there is bound to be distress at some point. One of Rama’s many names is Achyuta. This means “one who does not fall down.” He never fails. He delivers what is good for the devotee, even if they don’t realize it. No one else can provide for us in such a way. He showed what He is capable of during His time on earth. Those who went against Rama lost everything. Those who were on His side always kept Him on their side, which meant that they were always happy, no matter the situation.
Of religious life having doubt,
That fun then to go without.
And if in bhakti so quickly to leap,
How my responsibilities to keep?
The Lord of Koshala to Vishnu the same,
Who known to world as greatest to maintain.
Rama’s association benediction the best,
For proof devotees from Ramayana assess.