Holy Lake of the Acts of Lord Rama, Part 7


Sita, Rama and Laksman at the Hermitage of Bharadvaja
Pahari, Kangra/Guler, c. 1775

Jan 12, 2012 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial presentation of Tulasi das's 'Ramacaritamanasa'.

[Doha 35.] Now with my thoughts on Uma and on him on whose banner is blazoned the bull I explain all these topics – what sort of Lake it is, how it was formed, and why it became known to all the world.

[Caupai 36.] By the grace of Sambhu Tulasi's heart was inspired, so that he became the poet of the Holy Lake of Rama's Acts. He makes it as charming as his wit is able, but listen kindly, ye faithful, and correct it. Right thoughts are the earth and the heart a deep place therein; Veda and Purana are the sea and the saints the clouds which rain down praise of Rama's glory in sweet, refreshing and auspicious showers. The sportive acts they tell of Rama as man are the pure cleansing property of rain, while loving devotion, beyond the power of words to describe, is its sweetness and coolness. That rain refreshes the rice-fields of good deeds and is the life of Rama's faithful votaries. Its cleansing water falls on the earth of understanding and flows in one stream through the fair channel of the ears; it fills the holy place that is the Lake of the mind and settles there, a permanent source of joy and cool entrancing loveliness.

[Doha 36.] The four beautiful and noble dialogues, composed with thought and understanding, are the four charming ghats of this pure and lovely Lake. [Caupai 37.] The seven parts are the beauteous steps that delight the soul when viewed with the eyes of wisdom. The majesty of Raghupati, transcending the elements of nature and unimpeded, I shall declare to be the depths of its clear water. The glory of Rama and Sita is its ambrosial flood; the similes are the enchanting play of its ripples; the caupais are the lovely lotus leaves, thick-clustering; poetic skill the lustrous oyster-pearls; the elegant chands and sorathas and dohas gleam like a mass of many-coloured lotus flowers; the unequalled sense, the lofty sentiment and graceful language are their pollen and juice and fragrance; all the meritorious deeds are pretty swarms of bees; knowledge, detachment and thought are swans; allusions, inversions and other poetic devices are many kinds of beautiful fish.

Sampati's wings regrow; Monkeys wonder how to cross the ocean
Ramayana, Kangra School, c. 1775

All that is said of wealth and religious duty, the fulfillment of desire and final release, these four, all thoughts on mystic intuition and scientific knowledge, the nine sentiments, prayer, penance, austerity and detachment – all these are the graceful creatures that swim in the Lake. The hymns in praise of the good and saintly and of the Name are like the varied waterfowl; the saints assembled are like the mango-groves all round the Lake, and their faith is said to be like the season of spring. The various definitions of devotion, forbearance, compassion and continence are creeper-canopies; self-control, morality and religious observance are their flowers, and wisdom their fruit, whose juice, as the Veda declares, is love for Hari's feet; and all the other stories and various topics are like parrots and cuckoos and birds of many hues.

[Doha 37.] The thrill of emotion is a park or garden or grove, haunted by lovely birds of joy; the pure heart is the gardener, who waters the garden with the water of love poured from his beauteous eyes.

[Caupai 38.] Those who sing these acts with careful heed are the skilled guardians of the Lake; and those men and women who constantly listen to them with reverence are like the high gods, masters of the Lake. The villainous and sensual are like cranes and crows, miserable wretches that come not near this Lake; for here are no prurient tales like snails or frogs or scum, and so the lustful crow and crane are disappointed if they visit it, poor things.

The Poet Valmiki, teaching Ramayana to Kusa and Lava
Kangra School, late 18th c.

It is very difficult to approach this Lake. No one can reach it without the grace of Rama. Bad company is a bad road, difficult and dangerous, and the words of bad companions are tigers, lions and serpents in the path; and the various embarrassments of domestic business are towering, insurmountable mountains. Ignorance, pride and self-conceit are impenetrable thickets, and carping criticisms are fearful rivers.

[Doha 38.] For those who have no faith – provision for the journey – nor yet enjoy the company of saints and love for Raghunath the Lake is inaccessible. [Caupai 39.] Again, if a man makes his way there with great labour, and yet when he reaches the Lake, sleep like an ague overtakes him and numbness affects his heart like freezing cold, and though he has come to the Lake, he does not bathe therein, the luckless wretch, having neither made ablution in the Lake nor drunk of its waters, returns with all his old arrogance – then, if anyone comes to ask him about it, he blames the Lake and warns the questioner. But all these obstacles hinder not the man on whom Rama looks with special favour; that man reverently bathes in the Lake and is not consumed by the fierce fire of the three afflictions. Those in whose heart is genuine love for Rama never leave this Lake.

My friend, let him who wishes to bathe in this Lake diligently seek good companionship. If the poet gazes on such a Lake with the eye of the soul and plunges into its waters, his understanding is made pure, his heart is filled with bliss and ecstasy and swells with a flood of love and happiness. Then from that Lake the beauteous stream of poetry flows out, filled with the water of Rama's stainless glory; its name is Sarayu, the source of all that is most blessed, and social and scriptural doctrine are its two fair banks. Very holy is this river, daughter of the sacred Lake, uprooting and bearing away the sins of the Kaliyuga, great ones like trees and little ones like blades of grass.

[Doha 39.] The three kinds of hearers are the townships, villages and cities on either bank; the company of saints is incomparable Avadh, the source of all that is most blessed.


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