2 | Śrī Rāma Carita Mānasa Stotra
By the grace of the Name alone Lord Śambhu (Śiva) is immortal and, though endowed with inauspicious paraphernalia (such as a wreath of skulls), is yet a storehouse of blessings.
Again, it is by the grace of the Name alone that Siddhas (adepts), sages and Yogīs like Śuka, Sanaka and others enjoy divine raptures, Nārada realized the glory of the Name;
that is why, while Śrī Hari is beloved of the world (and Hara is dear to Śrī Hari), he (Nārada) is dear to Hari and Hara (Viṣṇu and Śiva) both.
It was because of his repeating the Name that the Lord showered His grace on Prahlāda, who thereby became the crest-jewel of devotees.
Dhruva repeated the name of Śrī Hari with a feeling of indignation (at the harsh treatment received from his step-mother) and thereby attained a fixed and incomparable station in the heavens.
It is by remembering the holy Name that Hanumān (son of the wind-god) holds Śrī Rāma under His thumb.
The vile Ajāmila and even the celebrated elephant and the harlot of the legend were liberated by the power of Śrī Hari’s name.
I have no words to depict the glory of the Name: not even Rāma can adequately glorify it. (1 - 4)
The name of Rāma is a wish-yielding tree,
the very home of beatitude in this age of Kali, by remembering which Tulasīdāsa (the poet himself) was transformed from an intoxicating drug like the hemp-plant into the holy basil. (26)
(Not only in this Kali age, but) in all the four ages, at all times (past, present and future) and in all the three spheres (viz., heaven, earth and the subterranean region) creatures have been rid of grief by repeating the Name.
The verdict of the Vedas and the Purāṇas as well as of saints is just this; that love of Rāma (or the name ‘Rāma’) is the reward of all virtuous acts.
In the first age, through meditation; in the second age, through sacrifice; and in the Dvāpara age the Lord is propitiated through worship.
This age of Kali, however, is simply corrupt and the root of all impurities, where the mind of man wallows like a fish in the ocean of sin. In this terrible age the Name alone is the wish-yielding tree, the very thought of which puts an end to all the illusions of the world.
The Name of Rāma is the bestower of one’s desired object in this age of Kali; It is beneficent in the other world and one’s father and mother in this world.
In Kāli yuga neither Karma (action) nor Bhakti (devotion) nor again Jñāna (knowledge) avails; the name of Rāma is the only resort.
The age of Kali is as it were the demon Kālanemi, the repository of all wiles; whereas the Name is the wise and mighty Hanumān. (1 - 4)
(To use another metaphor) the Name of Rāma is, as it were, the Lord manifested as a man-lion and the age of Kali - the demon Hiraṇyakaśīpu. Crushing this enemy of gods, the Name will protect the devotees repeating It, even as the Man-lion protected Prahlāda. (27)
The Name repeated either with good or evil intentions, in an angry mood or even while yawning, diffuses joy in all the ten directions.
Remembering that Name and bowing my head to the Lord of Raghus, I proceed to recount the virtues of Śrī Rāma. He whose grace is never tired of showing its good-will to others will mend my errors in every way. Rāma a noble Lord, and a poor servant like myself! Yet, true to His own disposition, that storehouse of compassion has fostered me.
In the world as well as in the Vedas we observe the following characteristic in a good master, viz., that he comes to recognize one’s devotion to him as soon as he hears one’s prayer.
Rich or poor, rustic or urban, learned or unlettered, of good repute or bad, a good poet or a bad one, all men and women extol the king according to his or her light.
And the pious, sensible, amiable and supremely compassionate ruler, who takes his descent from a greatest of God, greets all with sweet words hearing their compliments and appraising their composition, devotion, supplication and conduct.
Such is the way of earthly monarchs, to say nothing of the Lord of Kosala (Śrī Rāma), who is the crest-jewel of wise men. Śrī Rāma gets pleased with unalloyed love; but who is duller and more impure of mind in this world than I? (1 - 6)
The benevolent Rāma will nonetheless respect the devotion and pleasure of this wicked servant - Śrī Rāma, who made barks out of rocks and wise counsellors out of monkeys and bears.
Everybody calls me a servant of the Lord and I myself claim to be one; and Śrī Rāma puts up with the scoffing remark that a master like Sītā’s Lord has a servant like Tulasīdāsa. (28 A-B)
My presumption and error are indeed very great and, hearing the tale of my sins, even hell has scared at them. I shudder to think of it due to my assumed fears; while Śrī Rāma took no notice of them even in a dream.
The Lord, on the other hand, applauded my devotion and spirit on hearing of, perceiving and scanning them with the mind’s eye.
If there is anything good in one’s heart, it is marred by the telling; for Śrī Rāma is pleased to note what is there in the devotee’s mind. The Lord never cherishes in His mind the lapse, if any, on part of a devotee; while He remembers the latter’s spirit a hundred times.
For instance, the very crime of which He had killed Vālī (the monkey-king of Kiṣkindha) even as a huntsman, was repeated in the misdemeanour perpetrated by Sugrīva, Vibhīṣaṇa too was guilty of the same offence; but Śrī Rāma took no cognizance of it even in a dream.
The Hero of Raghu’s clan, on the other hand, honoured them both at His meeting with Bharata (on His return from Laṅkā) and commended them in open court. (1 - 4)
While the Lord sat at the foot of trees, the monkeys perched themselves high on the boughs; such insolent creatures He exalted to His own position!
There is no lord so generous as Śrī Rāma, O Tulasīdāsa! Your goodness, O Rāma, is beneficent to all; if this is a fact, Tulasīdāsa too will be blessed by the same.
Thus revealing my merits and demerits and bowing my head once more to all, I proceed to sing the immaculate glory of the Chief of Raghus, by hearing which the impurities of the Kali age are wiped away. (29 A - C)
The charming story which Yājñyavalkya related to the good sage Bharadvāja, I shall repeat the same dialogue at length; let all good souls hear it with a feeling of delight.
This ravishing tale was conceived by Śambhu (Lord Śiva), who graciously communicated it to His Consort Umā (Pārvatī).
Śiva imparted it once more to Kākabhuśuṇḍi (a sage in the form of crow), knowing him to be a devotee of Śrī Rāma and one qualified to hear it.
And it was Yājñyavalkya who received it from the latter (Kākabhuśuṇḍi) and narrated it to Bharadvāja. Both these, the listener (Bharadvāja) and the reciter (Yājñyavalkya), are equally virtuous; they view all alike and are acquainted with the pastimes of Śrī Hari.
Like Myrobalan fruit placed on one’s palm, they hold the past, present and future within their knowledge. Besides these, other enlightened devotees of Śrī Hari too recite, hear and understand this story in diverse ways. (1 - 4)
Then I heard the same story in the holy Śukarakṣetra (the modern Soron in the western United Provinces) from my preceptor; but as I had no sense in those days of my childhood, I could not follow it full well. Both the listener and the reciter of the mysterious story of Śrī Rāma must be repositories of wisdom. How, then could I, a dull and stupid creature steeped in the impurities of the Kali age, expect to follow it? (30 A-B)
Nevertheless, when the preceptor repeated the story time after time, I followed it to a certain extent according to my poor lights. I shall versify the same in the popular tongue, so that my mind may derive satisfaction from it. Equipped with what little intellectual and critical power I possess, I shall write with a heart inspired by Śrī Hari. The story I am going to tell is such as will dispel my own doubts, errors and delusion and will serve as a boat for crossing the stream of mundane existence. The story of Rāma is a solace to the learned and a source of delight to all men and wipes out the impurities of the Kali age. Śrī Rāma’s story is a pea-hen for the serpent in the form of the Kali age; again, it is a wooden stick for kindling the sacred fire of wisdom. The tale of Rāma is the cow of plenty in this age of Kali; it is a beautiful life-giving herb for the virtuous. It is a veritable river of nectar on the surface of this globe; it shatters the fear of birth and death and is a virtual snake for the frog of delusion. It is beneficent to pious souls-even as Goddess Pārvatī (the daughter of Himavān) is friendly to gods; again, it puts an end to hell even as Pārvatī exterminated the army of demons. It flows from the assemblage of saints, even as Lakṣmī (the goddess of wealth) sprang from the ocean; and like the immovable earth it bears the burden of the entire creation. Like the sacred river Yamunā in this world it scares away the messengers of Yama (the god of death). It is holy Kāśī as it were for the liberation of souls. It is dear to Rāma as the sacred basil plant and is truly beneficent to Tulasīdāsa as his own mother, Hulasī. It is beloved of Lord Śiva as the river Narmadā (which has its source in Mount Mekhalā, a peak of the Amarakaṇṭaka hills); it is a mine of all attainments as well as of happiness and prosperity. It is to noble qualities what mother Aditi is to gods; it is the culmination as it were of devotion to and love for Śrī Rāma. (1 - 7)
The story of Śrī Rāma is the river Mandākinī (which washes the foot of Chitrakūṭa); a guileless heart is Mount Chitrakūṭa (one of the happy resorts of Śrī Rāma during his wanderings in the forest); while pure love, says Tulasīdāsa, is the woodland in which Sītā and Rāma carry on Their divine pastimes. (31)
The narrative of Rāma is a lovely wish-yielding gem, and a graceful adornment for saintly wisdom. The hosts of virtues possessed by Śrī Rāma are a blessing to the world and the bestowers of liberation, riches, religious merit and the divine abode. They are true teachers of wisdom, dispassion and Yoga (contemplative union with God) and celestial physicians (Aśvinī Kumāras) for the fell disease of metempsychosis; parents of devotion to Sītā and Rāma and the seed of all holy vows, practices and observances; antidotes for sins, agonies and grieves and beloved guardians in this as well as in the next world; valiant ministers to King Reason, and a veritable Agastya drinking up the illimitable ocean of greed; young lions residing in the forest of the devotee’s mind to kill the herd of elephants in the shape of lust, anger and impurities of the Kali age; dear to Lord Śiva (the Slayer of the demon Tripura) as a highly respectable and most beloved guest, and wish-yielding clouds quenching the wild fire of indigence. They are spells and valuable gems as it were for counteracting the venom of serpents in the form of sensuous enjoyments, and efface the deep marks of evil destiny contained on the forehead. They are sunbeams, as it were, dispelling the darkness of ignorance, and clouds nourishing the paddy crop in the form of devotees; trees of paradise, as it were, yielding the object of one’s desire; easily available for service and gratifying like Viṣṇu and Śiva; stars as it were adorning the autumnal sky in the shape of the poet’s mind, and the very life’s treasure for the devotees of Śrī Rāma; a rich harvest of enjoyments as it; were yielded by the totality of one’s meritorious deeds and sincerely devoted to the good of the world like holy men; sporting in the mind of the devotees as swans in the Mānasarovara lake and purifying as the waves of the holy Gaṅgā. (1 - 7)
The hosts of virtues possessed by Śrī Rāma are like a blazing fire to consume the dry wood of evil ways, fallacious reasoning, mischievous practices, deceit, hypocrisy and heresy prevailing in Kali. The exploits of Śrī Rāma are delightful to one and all even as the rays of the full moon; they are particularly agreeable and highly beneficial to the mind of the virtuous, who can be compared to the white water-lily and the Chakora bird. (32 A-B)
I shall now relate at some length the seed of the story - viz., how Goddess Bhavānī (Pārvatī) questioned Lord Śaṅkara and how the latter answered Her questions - weaving a strange narrative round this episode. Let no one who should happen not to have heard this anecdote before, be surprised to hear it. Wise men who hear this uncommon, legend marvel not; for they know there is no limit to the stories of Śrī Rāma in this world. They are convinced in their heart that Śrī Rāma has bodied Himself forth in diverse ways and that the Rāmāyaṇa, though consisting of a thousand million verses, is yet infinite. Great sages have diversely sung the charming stories of Śrī Hari, relating as they do to different Kalpas or cycles. Bearing this in mind the reader should not entertain any doubt and should hear this narrative reverently and with devotion. (1 - 4)
Rāma is infinite, infinite are His virtues and the dimensions of His story are also immeasurable. Those whose thoughts are pure will, therefore, feel no surprise when they hear it. (33)
Putting away all doubts in this way and placing on my head the dust from the lotus feet of my preceptor, I supplicate all with joined palms once more, so that no blame may attach to the telling of the story. Reverently bowing my head to Lord Śiva, I now proceed to recount the fair virtues of Śrī Rāma. placing my head on the feet of Śrī Hari I commence this story in the Samvat year 1631. On Tuesday, the ninth of the lunar month of Caitra, this story shed its lustre at Ayodhyā. On this day of Śrī Rāma’s birth the presiding spirits of all holy places flock there - so declare the Vedas - and demons, Nāgas, birds, human beings, sages and gods come and pay their homage to the Lord of Raghus. Wise men celebrate the great birthday festival and sing the sweet glory of Śrī Rāma. (1 - 4)
Numerous groups of pious men take dip in the holy water of the Sarayū river and, visualizing in their heart the beautiful swarthy form of Śrī Rāma, mutter His name. (34)
The very sight and touch of the Sarayū, a dip into its waters or a draught from it cleanses one’s sins - so declare the Vedas and Purāṇas. Even Śāradā, the goddess of learning, with Her pure intelligence cannot describe the infinite glory of this most sacred river. The beautiful town of Ayodhyā grants an abode in Śrī Rāma’s heaven; it is celebrated through all the worlds and is the holiest of the holy. There are countless living beings in this world belonging to the four species (viz., viviparous, oviparous, sweat-born and those shooting from the earth); whoever of these shed their mortal coil in Ayodhyā are never born again. Knowing the town to be charming in every way, a bestower of all forms of success and a storehouse of blessings, I commenced writing this sacred story there. The impulses of lust, arrogance and hypocrisy positively disappear from the mind of those who hear it. One derives solace by hearing its very name, Rāmacaritamānasa (the Mānasa lake of Śrī Rāma’s exploits). The elephant of our mind, which is being scorched by the wild fire of sensuous enjoyments, is sure to get relief, should it drop into this lake. The holy and beautiful Rāmacaritamānasa is the delight of sages; it was conceived by Śambhu (Lord Śiva). It puts down the three kinds of error, sorrow and indigence and uproots all evil practices and impurities of the Kali age. Having conceived it, the great Lord Śiva treasured it in His mind till, when a favourable opportunity presented itself, He communicated it to His consort, Śivā (Pārvatī). Therefore, after due consideration Lord Hara joyously gave it the excellent title of Rāmacaritamānasa. I repeat the same delightful and charming story; hear it reverently and attentively, O noble souls. (1 - 7)
Invoking Umā (Goddess Pārvatī) and Lord Śiva (who has a bull emblazoned on His standard), I now proceed to give a full account as to what this Rāmacaritamānasa is like, how it came to be and what led to its popularity in the world. (35)
By the grace of Śambhu (Lord Śiva) a blessed idea inspired the mind of Tulasīdāsa, which made him the author of Rāmacaritamānasa. The author has polished his composition to the best of his intellect; yet listen to it with a sympathetic mind, O noble souls, and correct it. A refined (Sāttvika) intellect is the catchment area, heart is the fathomless cavity, the Vedas and Purāṇas constitute the ocean; while holy men represent the clouds which rain down pure, sweet, agreeable and blessed water in the form of Śrī Rāma’s excellent glory. Pastimes of a personal God that such holy men narrate in extenso are the transparency of this water, which cleanses all impurity; while loving Devotion, which defies all description, represents its sweetness and coolness. This water is beneficial for the paddy crop in the form of virtuous deeds, it is life itself to the devotees of Śrī Rāma. The same holy water, when it dropped on the soil of the intellect, flowed in a volume through the beautiful channel of the ears and, collecting in the lovely spot called the heart, came to be stationary. Having remained there for a long time, it became clear, agreeable, cool and refreshing. (1 - 5)
The four most beautiful and excellent dialogues (viz., those between (i) Bhūśuṇḍī and Garuḍa, (ii) Śiva and Pārvatī (iii) Yājñyavalkya and Bharadvāja and (iv) between Tulasīdāsa and other saints) that have been cleverly woven into this narrative are the four lovely Ghāṭas of this holy and charming lake. (36)
The seven Books are the seven beautiful flights of steps, which the soul delights to look upon with the eyes of wisdom; the unqualified and unbounded greatness of Śrī Rāma, which will be presently discussed, represents the unfathomable, depth of this holy water. The glory of Śrī Rāma and Sītā constitutes the nectarine water; the similes represent the soul-ravishing sport of its wavelets. The beautiful Caupāīs represent the thick growth of lotus-plants; the various poetic devices constitute the lovely shells that yield beautiful pearls. The other metres, vi z., Chandas, Soraṭhās and Dohās, are the cluster of charming many-coloured lotuses. The incomparable sense, the beautiful ideas and the elegant expression represent the pollen, honey and fragrance of those flowers respectively. The virtuous acts mentioned therein are the charming swarms of bees; the references to spiritual enlightenment, dispassion and reason represent the swan. The implications and involutions and the various excellences and styles of poetry are the lovely fishes of various kinds. The four ends of human existence, viz., worldly riches religious merit, enjoyment and liberation, the reasoned exposition of Jñāna (Knowledge of God in His absolute formless aspect) and vijñāna (Knowledge of qualified Divinity both with and without form), the nine sentiments of poetry, and the references to Japa (the muttering of mystic formulae), austerity, Yoga (contemplative union with God) and detachment from the world - all these represent the charming aquatic creatures of this lake. Eulogies on virtuous men, pious souls and the Name of God - these correspond to water-birds of various kinds. The assemblages of saints referred to herein are the mango groves hemming the lake on all sides and piety has been likened to the vernal season. The exposition of the various types of Devotion and the references to forbearance, compassion and sense-control represent the canopies of creepers. Even so mind- control, the five Yamas or forms of self-restraint (viz., non-violence, truthfulness, non- thieving, continence and non-acquisition of property), the five Niyamas or religious vows (viz., those of external and internal purity, contentment, austerity, study of sacred books or repetition of the Divine Name and self-surrender to God) are the blossoms of these creepers; spiritual enlightenment is their fruit and loving devotion to the feet of Śrī Hari constitutes the sap of this fruit of spiritual enlightenment: so declare the Vedas. The various other episodes forming part of this narrative are the birds of different colours such as the parrot and the cuckoo. (1 - 8)
The thrill of joy that one experiences while listening to this narrative represents the flower gardens, orchards and groves; and the delight one feels is the sporting of birds; while a noble mind is the gardener, who waters the garden etc., with the moisture of love through the charming jars of eyes. (37)
Those who carefully recite this poem, they alone are the vigilant guardians of this lake. And those men and women who reverently hear it every day are the great gods exercising jurisdiction over this Mānasarovara lake. Sensual wretches are the accursed herons and crows who never approach the lake. For here there are no varied talks of the pleasures of sense, corresponding to snails, frogs and moss. That is why poor crows and herons in the form of lustful men lack the heart to visit this place. For there is much difficulty in getting to this place and it is not possible to reach it without the grace of Śrī Rāma. Bad company, which is so obdurate, constitutes a terribly rough road; and the words of such companions are so many tigers, lions and serpents. The various occupations and entanglements of domestic life are huge mountains which are so difficult to approach. Infatuation, arrogance and pride are so many inaccessible woods; and sophisms of various kinds are frightful streams. (1 - 5)
The Mānasa is most inaccessible to those who lack provisions for the journey in the shape of piety, who do not enjoy the company of saints and who have no love for the Lord of Raghus (Śrī Rāma). (38)
Even if anyone makes his way to it undergoing so much hardship, he is forthwith attacked by ague in the shape of drowsiness. Benumbing cold in the shape of stupor overtakes his heart, so that the unhappy soul is deprived of a dip even after reaching there. Finding himself unable to take a plunge into the lake or to drink from it, he returns with a feeling of pride. And if anyone comes to inquire about the lake, he tries to satisfy him by vilifying it. All these obstacles do not, however, deter him whom Śrī Rāma regards with overwhelming kindness. He alone reverently bathes in the lake and thus escapes the threefold agony of the fiercest kind. Those men who cherish ideal devotion to the feet of Śrī Rāma never quit this lake. Let him who would bathe in this lake, brother, diligently practise Satsaṅga (association with saints). Having seen the said Mānasa lake with the mind’s eye and taken a dip into it, the poet’s intellect got purged of all its dross. The heart was flooded with joy and alacrity and a torrent of love and rapture welled from it. Thence flowed a stream of beautiful poetry, carrying the water of Śrī Rāma’s fair renown. Sarayū is the name of this river, which is the very fountain of pure bliss. The secular view-point and the view-point of the Vedas - these represent its two charming banks. This holy stream, issuing as it does from the beautiful Mānasa lake, uproots in its course all the impurities of the Kali age, whether in the form of tiny blades of grass or of mighty trees. (1 - 7)
The three types of audience are the towns, villages and cities on both the banks; and the congregation of saints is the incomparable Ayodhyā, which is the fountain of all auspicious blessings. (39)
The beautiful Sarayū in the form of Śrī Rāma’s fair renown joined the heavenly stream (Gaṅgā) of devotion to Rāma. The latter was joined again by the charming stream of the mighty Sona in the form of the martial glory of Rāma with His younger brother Lakṣmaṇa. Intervening the two streams of Sarayū and Sona shines the celestial stream of Devotion blended with noble dispassion and knowledge. This triple stream, which scares away the threefold agony referred to above, headed towards the ocean of Śrī Rāma’s divine personality. With its source in the Mānasa lake and united with the celestial river (Gaṅgā), the Sarayū of Śrī Rāma’s fame will purify the mind of the pious souls who listen to it; while the strange episodes interspersed here and there are the groves and gardens as it were adjoining the river banks. The bridegroom’s party in the wedding of Goddess Umā (Pārvatī) and the great Lord Śiva are the numberless aquatic creatures of various kinds. The rejoicings and felicitations that attended the advent of Śrī Rāma, the Chief of Raghus represent the charm of the eddies and waves. (1 - 4)
The childlike sports of the four divine brothers are the, numerous lotus flowers of varied colours; while the stock of merits of king Daśaratha and his consorts and court represent the bees and water-birds. (40)
The fascinating story of Sītā’s choice - marriage is the delightful charm surrounding the river. The numerous pertinent questions are the boats on the river, while the judicious replies to the same are the skilled boatmen. The conversation that follows the narration of the story is the crowd of travellers moving along the river banks. The wrath of Paraśurāma (the Lord of Bhrigus) represents the furious current of this river; while Śrī Rāma’s soft words are the strongly built Ghāṭas on the banks. The festivities connected with the wedding of Śrī Rāma and His younger brothers represent the graceful swell in the river, which is a source of delight to all. Those who rejoice and experience a thrill of joy in narrating or hearing the story are the lucky souls who take an exhilarating dip in the river. The auspicious preparations that were gone through in connections with the installation of Śrī Rāma as the Yuvarāja (Prince-regent) represent as it were, the crowds of bathers assembled at the river bank on a sacred occasion. Kaikeyī’s evil counsel represents the moss on the bank, which brought a serious calamity in its wake. (1 - 4)
The story of Bharata, which wards off all calamities, is a congregational muttering of sacred formulae carried on at the river bank; while the references to the corruptions of the Kali age and to the evil propensities of wicked souls represent the scum on the water as well as the herons and crows living by the riverside. (41)
The river of Śrī Rāma’s glory is delightful during all the six seasons; it is exceedingly charming and holy at all times. The wedding of Goddess Pārvatī (the daughter of Himavān) with Lord Śiva represents Hemanta or the cold season while the festival connected with the Lord’s advent represents the delightful Śiśira or chilly season. The story of the preparations for Śrī Rāma’s wedding constitutes the vernal season (the king of all seasons), which abounds in joy and felicity; while Śrī Rāma’s departure for the forest constitutes the oppressive hot season and the tale of His wanderings represents the blazing sun and hot winds. The terrible conflict with the demons represents the rainy season, which constituted a veritable blessing to the paddy crop in the form of gods; while the prosperity attending Śrī Rāma’s reign, His politeness and glory represent the cloudless, delightful and charming autumn. The recital of the virtues of Sītā, the crest-jewel of faithful wives, constitutes the excellence of the transparent and incomparable water. And Bharata’s amiability represents its coolness, which is uniform at all times and beyond description. (1 - 4)
The way the four brothers look at one another, talk with one another meet and love one another, their mirth and their ideal brotherliness - these constitute the sweetness and fragrance of the water. (42)
My intense longing, supplication and humility represent the not inconsiderable lightness of this pure and holy water. This marvellous water heals by the mere hearing, quenches the thirst of desire and washes the dirt of the mind. This water nourishes true love for Śrī Rāma and drives away all the sins of the Kali age as well as the feeling of self-depreciation resulting therefrom. It relieves the fatigue of transmigration, gratifies gratification itself and puts an end to sin, sorrow, indigence and error. It wipes out lust, anger, pride and infatuation and enhances pure wisdom and dispassion. By reverently bathing in it and drinking from it all traces of sin and remorse are obliterated from the heart. Those who have not washed their heart with this water are wretches that have been duped by the age of Kali. These creatures, wandering in pursuit of sensuous pleasures, will come to grief even as a thirsty deer runs after a mirage mistaking it for real water and returns disappointed. (1 - 4)
Having enumerated the virtues of this excellent water to the best of his intellectual capacity and bathed his mind in it, and remembering Goddess Bhavānī (Pārvatī) and Lord Śaṅkara, the poet (Tulasīdāsa) narrates the beautiful story. Installing in my heart the lotus feet of the Lord of Raghus and thus securing His grace, I now proceed to relate the charming story of the meeting of the two great sages (Yājñyavalkya and Bharadvāja). (43 A-B)
The sage Bharadvāja lives in Prayāga; he is extremely devoted to the feet of Śrī Rāma. A great ascetic and an embodiment of self-restraint, composure of mind and compassion, he is highly advanced on the spiritual path. In the month of Māgha, when the sun enters the sign of Capricorn, everyone visits the chief of holy places, Prayāga. Troops of gods and demons, Kinnaras (demigods) and men, all devoutly bathe in the confluence of the Gaṅgā, Yamunā and Sarasvatī. They worship the lotus feet of God Vindumādhava (the presiding deity of Prayāga); and the touch of the immortal banyan tree sends a thrill into their limbs. The hermitage of Bharadvāja is a most sacred spot, exceedingly charming and attractive even to great hermits and the haunt of sages and seers who go to bathe at that holiest of holy places. At daybreak they all perform their ablutions with religious fervour and then converse together on the virtues of Śrī Hari. (1 - 4)
They discuss the nature of Brahma (the Supreme Eternal), the precepts of religion and the classification of fundamental entities and expatiate on Devotion to the Lord coupled with spiritual enlightenment and dispassion. (44)
In this way they bathe for the whole month of Māgha and then return each to his hermitage. There is a great rejoicing every year and having performed their ablutions while the sun stays in Capricorn the hosts of sages disperse. Having bathed on one occasion for the whole period of the sun’s stay in Capricorn when all the great sages had left for their hermitages, Bharadvāja clasped by the feet and detained the supremely wise saint Yājñyavalkya. He reverently washed the latter’s lotus feet and installed him on a most sacred seat. And extolling his fair renown with religious ceremony, Bharadvāja spoke in mild and reverential tones, “A grave doubt haunts my mind, holy sir! and the whole mystery of the Vedas stands revealed to you. I am afraid and ashamed to utter the doubt; and I lose a great opportunity if I keep it back. (1 - 4)
The saints lay down the rule, and the Vedas as well as the Purāṇas and sages too loudly proclaim, that pure wisdom cannot dawn in the heart, should one keep anything concealed from one’s spiritual preceptor.” (45)
Remembering this I disclose my folly; dispel it, taking pity on this servant, my lord! The saints as well as the Purāṇas and the Upaniṣads too declare that the potency of the name ‘Rāma’ is unlimited. The immortal Lord Śiva, who is the fountain of joy and a storehouse of wisdom and goodness, incessantly repeats It. There are four broad divisions of living beings in the world; such of them as die in the holy city of Kāśī (Vārāṇasī) attain to the highest state. This too marks the glory of Śrī Rāma’s Name, O chief of sages; for it is this very Name that Lord Śiva mercifully imparts to the dying soul in Kāśī. I ask you, my lord, who that Rāma is; pray explain to me, O storehouse of compassion. One such Rāma is the prince of Ayodhyā whose exploits are known throughout the world. Infinite was his sorrow due to the loss of his wife; and flying into a rage he slew Rāvaṇa in battle.” (1 - 4)
“Is it this very, Rāma, my lord, or someone else whose name the Slayer of the demon Tripura, Śiva, ever repeats? You are an abute of truth and omniscient; so ponder well and give me your considered reply.” (46)
Tell me in detail, my master, the story whereby my overwhelming perplexity may be overcome.” Yājñyavalkya smilingly said, “The glory of the Lord of Raghus is already known to you. You are a devotee of Rāma in thought, word and deed; I have come to know your ingenuity. You wish to hear an account of the hidden virtues of Rāma; that is why you have questioned me as if you were quite ignorant. Listen, then, with devout attention, my child, while I narrate the beautiful story of Rāma. Appalling ignorance is the gigantic demon Mahiṣāsura (so-called because he was endowed with the form of a buffalo); while the narrative of Rāma is the dread Kālikā (who made short work of the demon). The story of Rāma is like the moonbeams that are drunk in by Chakora bird in the form of saints. A similar doubt was expressed by no less a personage than Bhavānī (Goddess Pārvatī), and the great God Śiva then expounded the matter in detail”. (1 - 4)
I shall repeat now to the best of my lights, the dialogue between Umā (Goddess Pārvatī) and Śambhu (Lord Śiva). Hear, O sage, the time and the occasion of this dialogue; your gloom will be lifted. (47)
Once upon a time, in the age of Tretā, Lord Śiva called on the jar-born sage Agastya. His consort, Goddess Satī, Mother of the universe, accompanied Him. The sage worshipped Him knowing Him to be the universal lord. The great sage narrated at length the story of Rāma and Lord Maheśa listened to it with extreme delight. The sage then inquired about Devotion to Hari and Śambhu discoursed on it finding in the sage a fit recipient. Thus narrating and hearing the tale of Śrī Rāma’s virtues, the Lord of Kailāśa (Śiva) spent some days there. Finally, asking leave of the sage, the Slayer of the demon Tripura, Śaṅkara, proceeded to His home (Mount Kailāśa) with Dakṣa’s daughter (Satī). During those very days, with a view to relieving the burden of the earth, Śrī Hari had descended in the line of king Raghu. Renouncing His right to the Throne at the word of His father (Daśaratha), the immortal Lord was wandering in the Daṇḍaka forest in the garb of an ascetic. (1 - 4)
Lord Hara (Śiva) kept pondering as He went, “How can I obtain a sight of Him? The Lord has bodied Himself forth secretly; and if I visit Him, everyone will know who He is.” In Śaṅkara’s heart there was a great tumult; Satī, however, had no inkling of this secret. His mind, says Tulasīdāsa, apprehended lest the secret might be disclosed while the temptation of obtaining a sight of the Lord made His eyes wistful. (48 A-B)
“Rāvaṇa (the demon king of Laṅkā) had sought from Brahmā the boon of death at the hands of a human foe; and the Lord would have the words of Brahmā come true. If I do not go to meet Him, I shall ever regret it.” Śiva pondered, but found no solution to the puzzle. The Lord was thus lost in a reverie. Meanwhile the vile Rāvaṇa (who had no less than ten heads) took with him the demon Mārīcha, who forthwith assumed the illusory form of a deer. The fool (Rāvaṇa) carried off king Videha’s daughter (Sītā) by fraud; the Lord’s real might was not known to him. Having killed the antelope Śrī Hari returned with His brother (Lakṣmaṇa); and His eyes were filled with tears when He saw the empty hermitage. The Lord of Raghus felt distressed at the loss like a mortal man, and the two brothers roamed about in the woods in search of Her. He who knows neither union nor separation showed unmistakable signs of grief born of separation. (1 - 4)
Exceedingly mysterious are the ways of the Lord of Raghus; the supremely wise alone can comprehend them. The dull-witted in their height of folly imagine something quite different. (49)
On that very occasion Śambhu saw Śrī Rāma and excessive joy of an extraordinary type welled up in His heart. He feasted His eyes on that Ocean of Beauty; but He did not disclose His identity as He knew it was no appropriate occasion for the same. The Destroyer of Cupid, Śiva, passed on exclaiming “Glory to the Redeemer of the universe, who is all Truth, Consciousness and Bliss!” As Śiva went on His way with Satī, the all-merciful Lord was repeatedly thrilled with joy. When Satī beheld Śambhu in this state, a grave doubt arose in Her mind: “Śaṅkara is a Lord of the universe Himself, and deserves universal adoration; gods, men and sages all bow their head to Him. Yet He made obeisance to this prince, referring to him as the Supreme Being who is all Truth, Consciousness and Bliss. He was enraptured to behold his beauty and felt an upsurge of emotion in His heart, which He was unable to control even to this moment!” (1 - 4)
“The Supreme Eternal, which is all-pervading, unbegotten, without parts, free from desire, beyond Māyā and beyond all distinction and which not even the Vedas can comprehend - can It assume the shape of a man?” (50)
“Even Viṣṇu Who takes a human form for the sake of gods, is omniscient like the Slayer of Tripura, Śiva. Can He wander in search of His Consort like an ignorant man - He who is a repository of knowledge, the Lord of Śrī (the goddess of prosperity) and the slayer of demons? The words of Śambhu too cannot be false. Everyone knows that He is all-wise.” Thus Her mind was filled with an interminable series of doubts; Her heart could not be pacified by any means. Although Bhavānī (Goddess Pārvatī) did not open Her lips, Lord Hara, Who is the inner controller of all, came to know everything. “Look here, Satī, the woman is foremost in you; you should never harbour such a doubt in your mind. He is no other than Rāma, the Hero of Raghu’s race, My beloved Deity, whose story was sung by the jar-born sage Agastya, faith in whom was the subject of the talk I gave to him and whom illumined sages ever wait upon.” (1 - 4)
“He who has bodied Himself forth as the Jewel of Raghu’s race for the sake of His devotees, is no other than the Supreme Eternal, who is all-pervading and ever free, who is the Ruler of all the worlds and the Lord of Māyā, whom illumined sages, Yogīs (mystics) and Siddhas (adepts) constantly meditate upon with their sinless mind and whose glory is sung by the Vedas as well as the Purāṇas and other scriptures in negative terms as ‘not this’.”
Although Lord Śiva repeated this time after time, His exhortation made no impression on the heart of Satī. Then the great Lord Śiva smilingly said, realizing in His heart the potency of Śrī Hari’s Māyā: - (51)
“If you have a grave doubt in your mind, why not go and verify the thing? I shall be waiting in the shade of this banyan tree till you come back to Me. Using your critical judgment you should resort to some device whereby the stupendous error born of your ignorance may be rectified.” Thus obtaining leave of Śiva, Satī proceeded on Her mission. She racked Her brains to find out what step She should take (in order to test the divinity of Rāma). On this side Śiva came to the conclusion that providence is unfavourable that is seems there is no good for Dakṣa’s daughter (Satī). “When her doubt did not yield even to My assurances,” He said to Himself, “it seems the stars are unpropitious to her and no good-will come out of it. After all, whatever Śrī Rāma has willed must come to pass; why should one add to the complication by indulging in further speculation?” So saying, Lord Śiva began to mutter the name of Śrī Hari; while Satī proceeded to the spot where the all-blissful Lord (Śrī Rāma) was. (1 - 4)
After many an anxious thought Satī assumed the form of Sītā and moved ahead on the same route along which the Ruler of men (Śrī Rāma) was passing. (52)
When Lakṣmaṇa saw Umā (Satī) in Her disguise, he was astonished and much puzzled. He was tongue-tied and looked very grave; the sagacious brother was acquainted with the Lord’s glory. All-perceiving and the inner controller of all, the lord of gods, Śrī Rāma, took no time in detecting the false appearance of Satī, Rāma was the same omniscient Lord whose very thought wipes out ignorance. Satī sought to practise deception even on Him: see the impact of the nature of a woman is! Extolling in His heart the potency of His Māyā (delusive power), Śrī Rāma smilingly accosted Her in a mild tone. Joining the palms of His hands, He first made obeisance to Her mentioning His name along with His father’s. He then asked Her the whereabouts of Lord Śiva (who has a bull emblazoned on His standard) and wondered what made Her roam about all alone in the forest. (1 - 4)
Satī felt very uncomfortable when She heard these soft yet suggestive words of Rāma. She turned towards the great Lord Śiva with a feeling of awe and much dejected at heart. (53)
“I heeded not the word of Śaṅkara and imposed My own ignorance on Rāma. What reply shall I give to my lord now?” The agony of Her heart was most terrible. Śrī Rāma perceived that Satī had got vexed; He, therefore, revealed to Her a part of His glory. As She went on Her way Satī beheld a strange phenomenon. Rāma was going ahead of Her along with His Consort, Sītā, and His younger brother, Lakṣmaṇa. She looked back and there too She saw the Lord with His brother and Sītā in an attractive garb. Whichever way She turned Her eyes, there was the Lord enthroned and the Siddhas (adepts) and illumined sages ministering to Him. Satī saw many sets of Śiva, Brahmā and Viṣṇu, each set possessing a glory infinitely greater than that of the others. She also beheld a whole host of gods bowing at the Lord’s feet and waiting upon Him in their different garbs. (1 - 4)
She further perceived innumerable Satīs (consorts of Śiva), consorts of Brahmā and Lakṣmīs (consorts of Viṣṇu), all peerless in beauty. They conformed in their appearance to the garb in which Brahmā and the other gods appeared. (54)
Each separate vision of Rāma was attended by a whole host of gods with their feminine counterparts, as well as by the whole animate and inanimate creation with its multitudinous species. But while the gods who adored the Lord appeared in diverse garbs, the appearance of Śrī Rāma was the same in every case. Although She saw many Rāmas with as many Sītās, their garb did not vary. Seeing the same Rāma, the same Lakṣmaṇa and the same Sītā, Satī was struck with great awe. Her heart quivered, and She lost all consciousness of Her body. Closing Her eyes she sat down on the wayside. When She opened Her eyes and gazed once more, the daughter of Dakṣa saw nothing there. Repeatedly bowing Her head at the feet of Śrī Rāma, She proceeded to the spot where the Lord of Kailāśa was. (1 - 4)
When She came near, Lord Śiva smilingly inquired if all was well with Her and then said, “Tell me now the whole truth, how did you test Śrī Rāma?” (55)
[PAUSE 2 FOR A THIRTY-DAY RECITATION]