Holy Lake of the Acts of Lord Rama, Part 2
BY: SUN STAFF
Rakshasa Kabandha supporting Rama and Lakshmana
Thirucchipali, c. 1820
Jan 03, 2012 CANADA (SUN) A serial presentation of Tulasi das's 'Ramacaritamanasa'.
[DOHA 1.] As the aspirant, applying to his eyes the magic ointment, becomes adept and wise, and beholds and marvels at many a treasure in hill and wood and earth, [CAUPAI 2.] so the dust of the guru's feet is a soft and pleasant ointment, ambrosia to the eyes, removing the defects of vision. With that ointment I cleanse the eyes of my understanding and relate the acts of Rama that release from birth and death.
First, I do homage to the feet of the Brahmans, who solve all doubts that spring from ignorance. In fair and loving terms I reverence the company of saints in whom all goodness dwells. The acts of a saint are good, like the acts of the cotton-plant, whose produce is dry and white and thread-like. Though he suffer ill-usage, he hides the faults of others, and thus is worthy of reverence and wins honour in the world. The company of saints is joyous and blissful, a living moving Prayaga in the world, where flows the stream of Ganga that is faith in Rama, and the habit of contemplation on the Absolute is the Sarasvati; instruction in acts permitted and forbidden, that purifies the Kaliyuga, is called the Yamuna; and the stories of Hari and Hara that bring all joy and blessing to the hearer are glorious as Triveni. Trust unmoved in one's own religious duty is the banyan, and pious works are those who frequent that holy place, which all may reach with ease on any day in any land, a place of pilgrimage that heals of all suffering those who reverently seek it, ineffable, not of this world, granting immediate fruit, of influence manifest.
[DOHA 2.] The faithful who with joyful heart hear and understand, and with the utmost devotion bathe at this Prayaga of saints assembled, win the four rewards while still alive. [CAUPAI 3.] The effect of the bath is seen at once; crows become cuckoos and cranes become swans. Let no one marvel when he hears it, for the influence of good company is no secret. Valmiki, Narada and Agastya have told their stories with their own lips. All creatures in the world, conscious and unconscious, all beings that swim in the water or walk on dry land or fly in the air, which at any time or place, by any effort whatsoever, have gained understanding and renown, final release, power and prosperity, -- be sure that their goal has been attained by the influence of the company of the good; for no other means thereto is found in the world or in the Veda. Apart from the company of the good there can be no right judgement, and communion with the saints cannot easily be enjoyed without the grace of Rama.
Fellowship with the saints is the root of the tree of joy and fortune; perfection is its fruit and all the means thereto its flowers. Rogues are reformed by association with the good as iron is made gold by the touch of the philosopher's stone. But if by chance good men fall into bad company, they still pursue their virtuous course like the jewel in the serpent's head. Even Brahma, Hari, Hara, poets and scholars shrink from describing the powerful influence of the good; then how can I describe it any better than a vegetable-seller all the merits of a gem?
[DOHA 3a.] I do homage to the saints who regard all alike and know no friend or foe, just as a lovely flower, clasped in both hands, sheds equal fragrance on the two. [3b.] O ye saints of guileless heart who desire the welfare of the world, I know your loving nature; hear then my childlike prayer, be gracious and bestow on me devotion to the feet of Rama!
Hanuman Paying Homage to Rama's Lotus Feet
Varnasi, c. 1885
[CAUPAI 4.] Next, in all sincerity I do homage to the gang of villains who without cause return evil for good; for whom another's loss is gain; who rejoice in a neighbour's ruin and grieve over his prosperity. They are as Rahus to the full moon of the glory of Hari and Hara, and as the valiant Sahasrabahu in doing evil to others. They have a thousand eyes to detect another's faults, but fall like flies on ghi to spoil another's good. Their fierceness is like fire, their wrath like death; they are rich as Kuvera in the wealth of wickedness and vice; they ruin all like Ketu at his rising; well where it did they sleep like Kumbhakarna! They even sacrifice their lives to do harm to others, like hailstones that melt when they have destroyed a crop.
I do homage, as to Sesa, so to those scoundrels who with a thousand tongues maliciously proclaim the faults of others. Again, I do obeisances to those who, like Prithuraja, have ten thousand ears to hear of others' sins; and yet again, I make my prayer to those who, like Indra, ever delight in strong drink and love to hurl harsh words like thunderbolts and spy defects in others with a thousand eyes.
[DOHA 4.] It is the way of villains to burn with rage when they hear of benefit done to neutral, foe or friend; this I know, and as their humble servant fold my hands and make affectionate petition.
[CAUPAI 5.] I for my part have made my supplication, but they will never depart from their ways; train a crow with the utmost care, but will it ever give up eating meat?
I do homage to the feet of saints and wicked men alike; both cause pain, but with a difference; the absence of the former is like the pain of death, the latter torment us by their presence. They are born into the world together, but like the lotus and the leech their qualities are different. The good and the bad are like nectar and strong drink, begotten of one world as these of the deep ocean. The good and the bad, according to their deeds, win fair fame and infamy in full measure; the good are like nectar or the moon or Ganga, the harmful like poison or fire or Karmanasa. All know their merits and demerits, but whatever a man likes seems good to him; [DOHA 5.] wherefore the good man follows after goodness, and the vile man after vileness; nectar is praised for giving immortality, poison for causing death.
[CAUPAI 6.] The stories that are told of the sins and vices of the wicked and of the virtues of the good are like the boundless, unfathomable ocean; so only a few virtues and defects have been mentioned, because unless they are recognized, one cannot aim at the former or shun the latter. It is God who has created all the good and the bad, but the Veda with careful discrimination has distinguished between virtues and faults. Veda, Itihasa and Purana declare that God's creation is a mixture of virtue and vice. Pain and pleasure, sin and merit, day and night, saint and sinner, high caste and low, demons and gods, the lofty and the base, ambrosia and the happy life, poison and death, the world of illusion and the Absolute, the individual soul and God, wealth and poverty, the beggar and the king, Kasi and Magadha, Ganga and Karmanasa, Marwar and Malwa, the Brahman and the butcher, heaven and hell, passion and desirelessness – the Vedas and the Agamas have made distinction of their merits and demerits.
[DOHA 6.] The Creator has formed the world of conscious and unconscious beings, endowed with virtues and defects; the saint lays hold on virtue and rejects the evil, as the swan chooses milk and rejects the water.
Hanuman's Audience with Rama
Pahari School, Mandi, c. 1725
[CAUPAI 7.] When the Creator grants such discrimination, the mind abandons evil and becomes devoted to the good; but under the powerful influence of time or nature or the law of action even the good, subject to illusion, may fall from goodness. But while Hari's votaries rid themselves of sorrow and sin and rise from their fall to cleansing and glory, the wicked, even if by association with the good they do some good, never wholly lose their innate indestructible wickedness. Swindlers are honoured by the world that looks upon their honest guise, for their fair outward seeming; but in the end they are exposed, nor can they carry it through, like Kalanemi, Ravan or Rahu. Though they adopt poor guide, the good are honoured in the world, like Jambava and Hanuman. Bad company is loss, good company is gain; so say the world and the Vedas and everyone knows it. Dust rises in the air if it companies with the wind, but if low-flowing water be its companion, it becomes mud. In the good man's house parrots and mainas repeat the name of Rama; in the bad man's house they cease not to abuse. Evil association makes smoke into soot, but the same may be made into fine ink and used for writing a Purana; and the same smoke, when combined with water and fire and air, becomes a world-reviving cloud.
[DOHA 7a.] Planets, drugs, water, winds and clothes are good things if their company is good, and bad things if their company is bad; men of judgement can discriminate. [7b.] In the bright half and the dark half of the month the periods of light and darkness are equal, but God has given them different names. The world regards the one as bringing the moon to fullness and so honours it, and the other as leading to its decrease and so holds it in low esteem. [7c.] Knowing that all creatures in the world, conscious and unconscious, are instinct with Rama, I ever do homage with folded hands to the lotus feet of all; [7d.] to gods and demons, men and serpents and birds, to ghosts and Fathers, Gandharvas, Kinnaras and prowlers of the night I do homage; all ye be gracious to me now!
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