“Tulsidas understands that all his shortcomings are due to himself and all his good qualities due to Rama. By knowing this, even in Kali Yuga good things will easily happen for you and you will be fearless in this world.” (Dohavali, 77)
nija dūṣana guna rāma kē samujheṁ tulasīdāsa |
ho'i bhalo kalikāla hūm̐ ubhaya loka anayāsa ||77||
The aspiring student in Vedic teachings comes across several key aphorisms in the beginning. There is the call to rise for the entire human species: athato brahma-jijnasa. This means “now is the time for inquiring into the Absolute Truth, the real identity of everything that lives.” Both at the individual and the collective, there is an intelligent, vibrant, animating force within, serving as the guiding hand, the decision maker, and the real potency. The human being has the potential for expanding knowledge of this kind; so it should make the most of the opportunity.
Another important aphorism is “janmady asya yatah”. This means that the Absolute Truth must be the source of everything. All that we notice around us, both the visible and the nonvisible, the moving and the nonmoving, the living and the dead - there is a singular source from which all have come. Goswami Tulsidas, though highly esteemed due to his prolific and beautiful writing, seems to contradict this aphorism in the verse from the Dohavali quoted above. He attributes only the good things in his character to the Absolute Truth, while accepting the burden for his bad qualities. Upon careful analysis, however, we see that his attitude is just what is needed to fulfill the mission of the human life.
If I’m going to say that the rivers, the mountains, the clouds, the sun, and everything else in nature comes from God, to exclude anything would be illogical, no? Not that the tree is the Supreme Lord Himself, but He is still responsible for putting it there. A person who makes a mistake while driving causes an accident, but ultimately the person who allowed for the cars and the roads to be built must feel some guilt. How, then, can Tulsidas completely exonerate Shri Rama, the Supreme Lord in His personal form, for the bad qualities?
The second part of what the poet says is easy to understand. Vedic literature sings the glories of God. The word “glories” here is a translation of the Sanskrit word “guna.” Gunas can mean any kind of quality. Another translation for it is “rope.” Guna for God can never be bad, however. His qualities are never binding, so they are nothing like a rope. He is all goodness. The dualities of happiness and sadness, heat and light, and birth and death only enter in the shadow creation.
The good qualities in the human being derive from the Supreme Lord. Man is made after God, after all. Man at the core is spirit soul, which is blissful, knowledgeable and eternal. The same is true for the Supreme Lord, with one notable distinction. There is no difference between spirit and body for Him. Therefore He never accepts gunas that are in relativity. His gunas are transcendental. They are always great. Unlike with us, the blissful, knowledgeable and eternal attributes also apply to His vigraha, or form.
The bad qualities we encounter are rooted in God, but He is not responsible for them. It is like when we make the decision to keep drinking even after our friends and well-wishers try their best to get us to quit. They could latch us down to a chair and compel us to quit, but that would change the nature of the relationship. If we slip up, they are not to blame. They warned us.
The bad qualities we possess are because of having turned our back to God at some point in the past. When that occurred we’ll never know for sure, but the turn did take place. Reincarnation, the changing of bodies, continues for as long as the back remains turned. Shri Rama invested the creator with the potency to give bad qualities to individuals, but Rama is not responsible for those qualities being attached to us. They are the result of personal decision.
Tulsidas says that if you know your good qualities are due to Rama, good things can happen to you even in the present age. This time period is known as Kali Yuga, often translated as the age of quarrel and hypocrisy. Real religion is a rare commodity today. Any mention of God has been turned into faith, which is a hope and a prayer that the Supreme exists. Even though He can be scientifically understood, the otherwise intelligent human being has been taught to throw away all logic and common sense in favor of sentiment.
Knowing Rama is important since He is God the person. It’s much easier to know the Supreme Lord through His transcendental features. You can understand His goodness through your own goodness. By knowing Rama you can become fearless in this world. This is because you will no longer fear death, which is nothing more than the changing of bodies.
aśocyān anvaśocas tvaṁ
prajñā-vādāṁś ca bhāṣase
gatāsūn agatāsūṁś ca
The good things will come easily to you. This is the personal experience of Tulsidas, who lived very happily due to his love for Rama. His lone desire, to glorify the Lord throughout his entire life, was fulfilled. Even though he lived in medieval times, where it would seem not much resources were there to spread the glories of the all-good husband of Sita, success came. It can come for us as well, despite the difficulty we face on a daily basis.
All objects in this world have come,
From the Absolute, a source one.
The bad qualities including,
So why Tulsidas his own excluding?
Attitude of knowledge indicative,
Since of past choice a derivative.
Everything good from Shri Rama coming,
In Kali this attitude your savior becoming.