22-3 | Śrī Rāma Carita Mānasa Stotra

Having impressed on Her heart the beautiful image of Śrī Rāma as He appeared while running in pursuit of the false deer, Sītā incessantly repeated Śrī Hari’s Name. (29 B)

When the Lord of Raghus saw His younger brother coming, He outwardly expressed much concern. “Alas! You have left Janaka’s daughter alone and come here against my instructions. Hosts of demons are roaming about in the forest; I, therefore, suspect Sītā is not at the hermitage.” Lakṣmaṇa clasped Śrī Rāma’s lotus feet and replied with joined palms, “Lord, it is no fault of mine.” Accompanied by His younger brother, the Lord went back to His hermitage on the bank of the Godāvarī. When He saw the hermitage bereft of Janaka’s Daughter, He felt as perturbed and afflicted as any common man. “Alas! Sītā, Janaka’s daughter, the very mine of virtues, of such flawless beauty, character, austerity and devotion!” Lakṣmaṇa consoled Him in many ways. He questioned all the creepers and trees (that stood on the way) as He went along (in search of Her): “O birds and deer, O string of bees, have you seen the fawn-eyed Sītā? The wagtail, the parrot, the pigeon, the deer, the fish, the swarms of bees, the clever cuckoo, the jasmine buds, the pomegranate, the lightning, the lotus, the autumnal moon, the gliding serpent, the noose of Varuṇa (the god of water), the bow of Cupid, the swan, the elephant and the lion now hear themselves praised. The Bilva fruit and the gold banana rejoice and do not feel the least misgiving or bashfulness Listen, Janaka’s daughter : in your absence today they are all glad as if they have got a Kingdom. How can you bear such rivalry? Why do you not reveal yourself quickly, my darling?” In this way the Lord searched and lamented like an uxorious husband sore smitten with pangs of separation. Śrī Rāma, who is Bliss personified and has all His wishes accomplished, and who is both unborn and immortal, behaved like a mortal. Further on they saw the king of vultures lying, with his thoughts fixed on Śrī Rāma’s feet which bear characteristic marks on their soles. (1 - 9)

The Hero of Raghu’s line, the ocean of mercy, caresse Jaṭāyu’s head with His lotus hands. As the bird gazed on Śrī Rāma’s countenance, the home of loveliness, all his pain disappeared. (30)

The vulture now recovered himself and spoke as follows: “Listen, Rāma, the allayer of the fear of transmigration: it was the ten-headed Rāvaṇa, my lord, who reduced me to this plight; it was the same wretch who carried off Janaka’s daughter. He took Her away, holy sir, to the south while she kept screaming loudly as an osprey. I have survived, my lord, only to behold You, my life now is about to depart, O fountain of mercy.” Said Śrī Rāma, “Live yet more, Dear one.” He, however, replied with a smile on his countenance, “He whose very name, so declare the Vedas, redeems the most depraved soul even if it appears on his lips at the moment of his death, is present before me in a visible form! What more is wanting now, for which I should retain my body any longer?” With His eyes full of tears the Lord of Raghus replied, “Dear father, you have attained to an enviable state by virtue of your own noble deeds. Nothing is difficult of attainment in this world to those who have others” interests at heart. Casting off your body, dear father, proceed now to My divine abode. What shall I give you, when you have all your desires already accomplished? (1 - 5)

“But on reaching there, sire, tell not my father about Sītā’s abduction. If I am no other than Rāma (if I am what I am), the ten-headed Rāvaṇa and his whole house will go and say everything to him.” (31)

The vulture now dropped his body and assumed Śrī Hari’s own form, bedecked with many jewels and clad in a yellow attire of matchless splendour, and possessed of a dark hue and four long arms; and with his eyes full of tears he burst into praises of his lord. (1)

“Glory to Śrī Rāma of incomparable beauty, who is absolute as well as qualified and the true impeller of Guṇas (Māyā) too. His fierce arrows are potent enough to cut off the terrible arms of the ten-headed Rāvaṇa. I incessantly adore the all-merciful Śrī Rāma, the ornament of the earth, who is endowed with a form dark as the rain-cloud, a face resembling the blue lotus and large eyes resembling the red lotus. Possessed of long arms, He rids His devotees of the fear of transmigration. His strength is immeasurable; He is without beginning and unborn, the one (without a second), unmanifest and imperceptible, beyond the reach of the senses, though attainable with the help of the Vedic hymns, the dispeller of pairs of opposites (such as joy and sorrow, birth and death, pleasure and pain etc.,) consciousness personified, the supporter of the earth, the delighter of the soul of countless saints and devotees who repeat the sacred Name of Rāma. I ever extol Śrī Rāma, who loves and is loved by those who are free from desire and curbs the host of vicious propensities such as lust and so on. He, whom the Vedas glorify under the name of Brahma, pure (free from the taint of Māyā), all-pervading, passionless and unborn, whom the sages attain to through manifold practices such as meditation, discretion, dispassion and Yoga (self-discipline), that fountain of mercy has become manifest as the very incarnation of beauty and enraptures the whole animate and inanimate creation. He is the bee that resides in the lotus of my heart and through every limb of His, shines the splendour of many a god of love. He, who is at once inaccessible and easily accessible, who has a guileless disposition and is both partial and impartial and ever placid, whom the Yogīs perceive with great effort subduing their senses and mind, that Rāma, the abode of Ramā (Goddess Lakṣmī) and the Lord of the three spheres (the entire creation) is ever at the beck and call of His devotees. May He abide in my heart, whose holy praises put a stop to transmigration.” (1 - 4)

Asking the boon of uninterrupted devotion the vulture (Jaṭāyu) ascended to Śrī Hari’s Abode. Śrī Rāma performed his funeral rites with due ceremony and with His own hands. (32)

The Lord of Raghus is most tender-hearted and compassionate to the humble and shows His mercy even where there is no occasion for it. On a vulture, who is a most unclean and carnivorous bird, He conferred a state which is solicited even by Yogīs. Listen, Umā: those people are unfortunate indeed, who abandon Śrī Hari and become attached to the object of sense. The two brothers proceeded further in quest of Sītā and marked the thickening of the forest even as they went. The thicket was full of creepers and trees and inhabited by many birds and deer, elephants and lions, Śrī Rāma overthrew the demon Kabandha even as the latter met Him on the way; he told Him the whole story about the curse pronounced on him: “The sage Durvāsā had imprecated me; the sin has now been wiped out by the sight of the Lord’s feet.” “Listen, O Gandharva, to what I tell you: I cannot tolerate an enemy of the Brāhmaṇas.” (1 - 4)

“He who without guile in thought, word and deed, does service to the Brāhmaṇas (the very gods on earth), wins over Brahmā, Śiva, Myself and all other divinities. (33)

“A Brāhmaṇa, even though he curse you, beat you or speak harsh words to you, is still worthy of adoration: so declare the saints. A Brāhmaṇa must be respected, though lacking in amiability and virtue; not so a Śūdra, though possessing a host of virtues and rich in knowledge.” The Lord instructed Kabandha in His own cult (the cult of Devotion) and was delighted at heart to see his devotion to His feet. Having regained his original form (that of a Gandharva) he bowed his head to the lotus feet of Śrī Rāma (the Lord of Raghus) and ascended to the heaven. Having conferred on him his own (Gandharva) state the beneficent Rāma repaired to the hermitage of Śabarī. When Śabarī saw that Śrī Rāma had called at her abode, she recalled the words of the sage (Mātanga) and was glad of heart. With lotus-like eyes, long arms, a tuft of matted hair adorning their head like a crown and a garland of wild flowers hanging upon their breast, the two brothers looked most charming - the one dark of hue and the other fair; Śabarī fell prostrate and embraced their feet. She was so overwhelmed with love that no words came to her lips. Again and again she bowed her head at their lotus feet. Presently she look some water and reverently laved their feet and then conducted them to a seat of honour. (1 - 5)

She brought and offered to Śrī Rāma the most delicious bulbs, roots and fruits. The Lord partook of them appreciating again and again. (34)

Joining her palms she stood before Him; as she gazed upon the Lord her love waxed yet more ardent. “How can I extol You, lowest in descent and the dullest of wit as I am? A woman is the lowest of those who rank as the lowest of the low. Of women again I am the most dull-headed, O Destroyer of sins.” Answered the Lord of Raghus: “Listen, O good lady, to My words I recognize no other kinship except that of Devotion. Despite caste, kinship, lineage, Dharma, reputation, wealth, physical strength, numerical strength of his family, accomplishments and ability, a man lacking in Devotion is of no more worth than a cloud without water. Now I tell you the nine forms of Devotion; please listen attentively and cherish them in your mind. The first in order is company with the saints and the second is marked by a fondness for My stories. (1 - 4)

“Humble service of the lotus feet of one’s preceptor is the third form of Devotion, while the fourth type of Devotion consists in singing My praises with a guileless heart.”  (35)

“Muttering My Name with unwavering faith constitutes the fifth form of adoration revealed in the Vedas. The sixth variety consists in the practice of self-control and virtue, desisting from manifold activities and ever pursuing the course of conduct prescribed for saints. He who practises the seventh type sees the world full of Me without distinction and reckons the saints as even greater than Myself. He who cultivates the eighth type of Devotion remains contented with whatever he gets and never thinks of detecting others” faults. The ninth form of Devotion demands that one should be guileless and straight in one’s dealings with everybody, and should in his heart cherish implicit faith in Me without either exultation or depression. Whoever possesses any one of these nine forms of Devotion, be he man or woman or any other creature - sentient or insentient - is most dear to Me, O good lady. As for yourself, you are blessed with unflinching devotion of all these types. The prize which is hardly won by the Yogīs is within your easy reach today. The most incomparable fruit of seeing Me is that the soul attains its natural state. If you know anything about Janaka’s daughter, My good lady, tell Me her news, O fair dame.” “Go to the Pampā lake, O Lord of Raghus; there You will make friends with Sugrīva. He will tell You everything, my Lord Rāma, Hero of Raghu’s line; You are of steady resolve and know everything; nevertheless You ask me!” Bowing her head at the Lord’s feet again and again she lovingly related the whole story (of what the sage Mātanga had told her and how eagerly she had watched His approach all the time). (1 - 7)

After telling the whole story she gazed on the Lord’s countenance and imprinted the image of His lotus feet on her heart; and casting her body in the fire of Yoga she entered Śrī Hari’s state wherefrom there is no return. “O men, abandon your varied activities, sins and diverse creeds, which all give birth to sorrow, and with genuine faith,” says Tulasīdāsa, “be devoted to the feet of Śrī Rāma.”

The Lord conferred final beatitude even on a woman who was not only an outcaste but a very mine of sin; you seek happiness, my most foolish mind, by forgetting such a master!  (36)

Śrī Rāma left even that forest and proceeded further. The two brothers were lions among men and possessed immeasurable strength. The Lord lamented like one smitten with pangs of separation; He narrated stories and had many a dialogue (with Lakṣmaṇa). “Lakṣmaṇa, mark the beauty of the forest; whose heart will not be stirred at its sight? United with their mates all the swarms of birds and herds of deer are reproaching me as it were. When the bucks see me and scamper away (in fear), their mates would stop them saying, “You have nothing to fear; you may enjoy yourselves at will, O progeny of deer. He has come in search of a gold deer.” The elephants would take their mates along with them as if to teach me a lesson (that a man should never leave his wife alone). The sacred lore, however thoroughly studied, must be gone through over and over again; a king, however well served, should never be depended upon; and a woman scriptures and king, even though you may cherish her in your bosom, is never thoroughly mastered. See, brother, how pleasant the spring is; yet to me, bereft of my beloved, it is frightful. (1 - 5)

“When the god of love found me tortured by separation, languishing and all alone, he rushed against me with the verdant forest, bees and birds for his army. His spy (the wind), however, has seen me with my brother and on his report the mind-born Cupid has held up his advancing army and besieged me as it were.” (37 A-B)

“Creepers have entwined themselves round gigantic trees, spreading as it were, a variety of canopies in the sky. The plantains and stately palms are standing like beautiful pennons and standards; he alone who is stout of heart could help being fascinated by their sight. Trees of every description are adorned with flowers of various kinds, like warriors arrayed in all their different kinds of panoply. Other beautiful trees standing here and there look charming like champions separately encamped. The murmuring cuckoos are his excited elephants; herons and rooks, his camels and mules; peacocks, Chakoras and parrots, his noble war-horses; the pigeons and swans, his Arab steeds; the partridges and quails, his foot soldiers. But there is no describing the whole host of Cupid. Mountain rocks are his chariots; the rills, his kettledrums; the Chātakas, the bards that utter his praises; the garrulous bees are his trumpets and clarinets and the soft, cool and fragrant breezes have come in the capacity of his ambassadors. Accompanied by an army complete in all its four limbs (viz., the horse, the foot, the chariots and the elephants), he goes about challenging all to a combat. Lakṣmaṇa, they who remain firm even at the sight of Cupid’s battle-array are men that count in this world. His greatest strength lies in woman; he alone who can escape her is a mighty champion. (1 - 6)

“Brother, there are three evils most formidable of all - lust, anger and greed. In an instant they distract the mind of hermits who are the very repositories of wisdom. The weapons of greed are desire and hypocrisy, of lust naught but woman; while anger’s weapon is harsh speech: so declare the great sages after deep thought.” (38 A-B)

Śrī Rāma, dear Umā, (says Bhagavān Śiva) is beyond the three Guṇas (Sattva, Rajas and Tamas), though the lord of the animate and inanimate creation, and the inner controller of all. (By speaking as above) He demonstrated the miserable plight of earthly lovers and strengthened dispassion in the mind of the wise. Anger, lust, greed, pride and delusion, all these get eliminated through Śrī Rāma’s grace. He who wins the favour of that divine player is never deluded by His jugglery. Umā, I tell you my own realization; the only thing real is worship of Śrī Rāma, and the whole world is a dream. The Lord then repaired to the shore of the deep and beautiful lake known by the name of Pampā. Its water was as limpid as the heart of saints and it had charming flights of steps on all its four sides. Beasts of various kinds drank of its water wherever they listed, as if there was a crowd of beggars ever present at the house of a generous man. (1 - 4)

Covered by dense lotus leaves the water could not be easily discerned, even as the attributeless Brahma is not perceived when veiled by Māyā (Ignorance). All the fishes that had their abode in the fathomless water of the lake were uniformly happy, even as the virtuous ever pass their days peacefully. (39 A-B)

Lotuses of different colours had opened their petals and swarms of bees sweetly hummed. Swans and waterfowls made such a noise as though they had burst into the Lord’s praises the moment they saw Him. Birds like the Cakravāka and the heron were lovely beyond words; one could form an idea of their beauty only after seeing them. The voice of the beautiful birds was so captivating that it seemed they invited the wayfarers who passed by them. By the side of the lake hermits had erected their thatched cottages; there were charming forest trees all around. The champaka, the Bakula, the Kadamba, the Tamāla, the Pāṭala, the Panasa, the Palāśa, the mango and many other varieties of trees had put forth new leaves and blossoms and swarms of bees hummed on them. A delightful breeze which was naturally cool, gentle and fragrant, ever breathed there. The cuckoos cooed so sweetly that their melody disturbed the hermits in their meditation. (1 - 5)

Weighed down with the load of their fruits all the fruit trees well-nigh touched the ground, even as benevolent souls grow all the more humble on getting a large fortune. (40)

When Śrī Rāma saw this most beautiful lake, He took a dip into it and felt supremely delighted. Seeing the pleasant shade of a stately tree, the Lord of Raghus sat in it with His younger brother. There all the gods and sages came once more and having hymned His praises returned to their several homes. The All-merciful sat in a most cheerful mood and discoursed with His younger brother on delightful topics. When the sage Nārada saw the Lord suffering the pangs of separation, he felt much perturbed at heart. “It is in submission to my curse that the Lord is undergoing many hardships of an oppressive nature. Let me, therefore, go and see such a noble Lord; for such an opportunity may not present itself again,” Reflecting thus Nārada went, lute in hand, to the spot where the Lord was sitting at ease. He fondly sang in a soft voice the exploits of Śrī Rāma dwelling upon them in all detail. As he prostrated himself the Lord lifted him up and held him in His embrace for a long time. After enquiring of his welfare He seated him by His side, while Lakṣmaṇa reverently laved His feet. (1 - 6)

After much supplication and realizing that the Lord was pleased at heart, Nārada joined his lotus palms and spoke as follows: - (41)

“Listen, O Lord of Raghus, generous by nature as You are: You confer delightful boons that are unattainable as well as those that are attainable. Grant me, my master, only one boon that I ask of You, even though You already know it (even without my asking), indwelling as You do the hearts of all.” “You know my disposition, dear sage: do I ever hide anything from my devotees? What object do I hold so dear, O chief of sages, that you may not ask it of Me? There is nothing which I may withhold from my votary: never give up this belief even by mistake.” Then Nārada gladly said, “This is the boon I presume to ask: even though my lord has many names, each greater than the other, as the Vedas declare, let the name RÅMA, my lord, surpass all other names in exterminating the whole brood of sins even as a fowler kills an entire flock of birds. (1 - 4)

“May the name RÅMA shine as the moon and the other names as so many stars in the cloudless sky of Your devotee’s heart during the full-moon night of devotion to You.” “The all-merciful Lord of Raghus replied to the sage, “So be it “Thereupon Nārada felt much delighted at heart and bowed at the Lord’s feet. (42 A-B)

Seeing the Lord of Raghus so highly pleased, Nārada spoke again in gentle tones - “ Listen, O Rāma: when You impelled Your Māyā (deluding potency) and infatuated me, O Lord of Raghus, I wanted to marry. Why, then, did You not let me accomplish my desire?” “Listen, O sage: I tell you with all the emphasis at My command that I always take care of those who worship Me with undivided faith, even as a mother guards her child. If an infant child runs to catch hold of fire or a snake, the mother holds it aside. When, however, her son has grown up she loves him no doubt, but not as before. The wise are like My grown up sons, while humble devotees are like My infant children. A devotee depends on Me, while the former (a wise man) depends on his own strength; and both have to face enemies like lust and anger. Pondering thus the prudent adore Me and never take leave of devotion even after attaining wisdom. (1 - 5)

“Lust, anger, greed, pride etc., constitute the most powerful army of Ignorance. But among them all the fiercest and the most troublesome is that incarnation of Māyā (the Lord’s deluding potency) called woman.” (43)

“Listen, O sage: the Purāṇas, the Vedas and the saints declare that woman is like the vernal season to the forest of ignorance. Nay, like the hot season she dries up all the ponds and lakes of Japa (the muttering of prayers), austerity and religious observances. Again, lust, anger, pride and jealousy are so many frogs as it were; like the rainy season woman is the only agency that gladdens them all. Even so latent desires of a vicious type are like a bed of lilies, to which, like the autumn, she is ever agreeable. All the different virtues are like a bed of lotuses; like the middle of winter, woman, who is a source of base (sensuous) pleasure, blights them all. Again, the overgrowth of the Yavāsa plant in the shape of mine-ness flourishes when the close of winter in the shape of woman appears. For owls in the shape of sins woman is a delightful night thick with darkness. Even so reason, strength, virtue and truth are all so many fishes as it were; and woman, so declare the wise, is like a hook to catch them.” (1 - 4)

“A young woman is the root of all evil, a source of torment and a mine of all woes. Therefore, bearing this in mind, O sage, I prevented your marriage.” (44)

As the sage listened to the delightful words of Śrī Rāma (the Lord of Raghus), a thrill ran through his body and his eyes filled with tears. He said to himself, “Tell me, is there any other master whose wont it is to show such attachment and fondness for his servants? Men who refuse to worship such a lord shaking off all delusion are bankrupt of wisdom, dull-witted and wretched.” The sage Nārada again reverentially spoke to the Lord, “Listen, O Rāma, who are well-versed in sacred lore: tell me, my lord Raghuvīra (Hero of Raghu’s line), the distinguishing marks of saints, O dispeller of the fear of transmigration.” “I tell you, dear sage, the qualities of saints, by virtue of which they hold Me in subjection. They are masters of the six passions (lust, anger, greed, infatuation, pride and jealousy), sinless, disinterested, firm, possessing nothing, pure (both within and without), full of bliss, of boundless wisdom, desireless, moderate in diet, truthful, inspired, learned and united with God, circumspect, bestowing honour on others, free from pride, strong-minded and highly conversant with the course of Dharma (righteousness). (1 - 5)

“They are abodes of virtue, above the sorrows of the world and free from doubt. Nothing besides My lotus feet is dear to them, not even their body nor their home.” (45)

“They blush to hear themselves praised but feel much delighted to hear others” praises. Even-minded and placid, they never abandon the right course. Guileless by nature and loving, they are given over to prayer, austerity, control of the senses, self- denial and religious observances and undertake sacred vows. They are devoted to the feet of their Guru, Lord Govinda (Viṣṇu) and the Brāhmaṇas. They are full of piety, forgiving, friendly to all, compassionate, cheerful under all circumstances and sincerely devoted to My feet. They are further characterized by dispassion, discretion, modesty, knowledge of the truth relating to God as well as by a correct knowledge of the Vedas and Purāṇas. They never take recourse to hypocrisy, pride or arrogance nor set their foot on the evil path even by mistake. They are ever engaged in singing or hearing My stories and are intent on doing good to others without any consideration. In short, O good sage, the qualities of the saints are so numerous that they cannot be exhausted even by Śāradā (the goddess of speech) nor by the Vedas.” (1 - 4)

“Neither Śāradā nor Śeṣa could tell them!” Even as he heard this the sage Nārada clasped the Lord’s lotus feet. In this way the all-merciful Lord, the befriender of the meek, recounted with His own lips the virtues of His devotees. Nārada bowed his head at the Lord’s feet again and again and left for the abode of Brahmā (the Creator). Blessed are they, says Tulasīdāsa, who, giving up all hopes, are steeped in love for Śrī Hari.

People who sing or hear the sanctifying praises of Rāvaṇa’s Foe shall be rewarded with steadfast devotion to Śrī Rāma even without dispassion, japa or concentration of mind. The body of a young woman is like the flame of a candle; be not a moth to it, O my mind. Abandoning lust and pride worship Śrī Rāma and enjoy the company of saints. (46A-B)


Thus ends the third descent into the Mānasa lake of Śrī Rāma’s exploits, that eradicates all the impurities of the Kali age.