28-3 | Śrī Rāma Carita Mānasa Stotra

The four sages were all rejoiced to hear the Lord’s words and with every hair on their body standing erect they proceeded to hymn His praises: “Glory to the Almighty Lord, who is infinite, immutable and sinless, who is one as well as many and all- gracious! Glory to the Lord who is beyond the modes of Prakriti! Glory, glory to the Ocean of goodness, the Abode of bliss, handsome and most urbane in manners. Glory to Indirā’s (Lakṣmī’s) Spouse! Glory to the Supporter of the earth, peerless, unborn and dateless, a mine of elegance. A storehouse of wisdom that You are, You are free from pride and yet bestow honour on others: the Vedas and Purāṇas sing Your sanctifying glory. Knower of Truth, You acknowledge the services of Your devotees and destroy their ignorance. Untainted by Māyā, You bear numberless names and are yet beyond all. You are manifest as all, pervade all and dwell in the heart of all; therefore, protect us every moment. Break asunder the bonds in the form of pairs of opposites (such as heat and cold, joy and sorrow, etc.,) adversity and mundane existence; and abiding in our heart, O Rāma, eradicate our sensuality and vanity. (1 - 4)

“You are supreme bliss personified and the abode of mercy and fulfil the desire of Your devotees’ heart. Pray, grant us the boon of unceasing love and devotion (to Your feet), O graceful Rāma.” (34)

“Bestow on us, O Lord of the Raghus, that most sanctifying devotion which destroys the threefold agony and the turmoil of transmigration. A celestial cow and a wish-yielding tree to satisfy the desires of the suppliant, be propitious, my lord, and grant this boon. A veritable jar-born sage (Agastya) to suck up the ocean of mundane existence, O Chief of the Raghus, You are easy of access to those who adore You and bestow all blessings on them. Put an end to the terrible sufferings caused by the mind and diffuse even-mindedness in us, O befriender of the meek. O banisher of hope (of gratifying oneself through self-indulgence), fear, jealousy etc., and propagator of humility, right judgment and dispassion, crest-jewel of earthly kings, and ornament of the earth, grant us devotion to Your feet, which serves as a boat to take one across the river of mundane existence. A swan that You are, constantly residing in the Mānasa lake of the sages’ mind, Your lotus feet are adored even by Brahmā and Lord Śaṅkara. Glory of Raghu’s race, custodian of the Vedic laws, devourer of time, destiny, Prakriti (Primordial Nature) and the three Guṇas You are both the boatman and the boat to take Your devotees across the ocean of metempsychosis and the stealer of all vices, the lord of Tulasīdāsa, the jewel of the three spheres.” (1 - 5)

Having thus extolled the Lord again and again, Sanaka and his three brothers lovingly bowed their head and, having obtained their most cherished boon, returned to Brahmā’s abode. (35)

When Sanaka and his brothers had left for Brahmā’s abode, the three brothers (Bharata, Lakṣmaṇa and Śatrughna) bowed their head at Śrī Rāma’s feet; but being too modest themselves to interrogate the Lord, they all looked at the son of the wind-god. They wished to hear from the Lord’s own mouth something which would eradicate all the misconceptions. The Lord, however, who regulates the internal feelings of all, came to know everything and enquired: “Tell me, Hanumān, what is the matter?” Hanumān replied with joined palms, “Listen, O lord, compassionate as You are to the meek. Bharata, my lord, wishes to ask something; but he is too diffident at heart to put the question.” “Hanumān, you know my disposition. Has there ever been any secrecy between Bharata and myself?” On hearing the Lord’s words Bharata clasped His feet. Listen, my lord, reliever of the suppliant’s agony: -     (1 - 4)

“I have no doubts whatever, my lord, nor have I ever known any dejection or infatuation even in a dream. It is all due to Your grace, O all-merciful and all blissful Lord.” (36)

“Yet, O storehouse of compassion, I make bold to make one submission, I being Your servant and You the delight of Your devotees. The glory of the saints, O Lord of the Raghus, has been sung in various ways by the Vedas and Purāṇas. You too have exalted them by Your own graceful mouth and my lord bears great affection for them. I would fain hear, my lord, their distinctive marks, O Ocean of compassion, conspicuous as You are by Your excellences and wisdom. O protector of the suppliant, tell me clearly and severally the distinguishing traits of the good and the wicked.” “Hear, brother, the characteristics of saints, which as told in the Vedas and Purāṇas are innumerable. The conduct of saints and the wicked is analogous to that of sandalwood and the axe. Mark, brother: the axe cuts down a sandal-tree, while the latter in its turn perfumes the axe by imparting its virtue (fragrance) to it.” (1 - 4)

“For this reason sandalwood (in the form of paste) finds its way to the head of gods (their images) and is loved by the world so much; while the axe has its steel edge heated in the fire and beaten with a hammer as punishment.” (37)

“Saints as a rule have no hankering for the pleasures of sense and are the very mines of amiability and other virtues. They grieve to see others in distress and rejoice at the sight of others’ joy. They are even-minded and look upon none as their enemy. Free from vanity and passion, they are conquerors of greed, anger, joy and fear. Tender of heart and compassionate to the distressed, they cherish guileless devotion to Me in thought, word and deed; and giving honour to all, they are modest themselves. Such souls, Bharata, are dear to Me as life. Having no interested motive of their own they are devoted to My Name and are abodes of tranquillity, dispassion, humility and good humour. Again, know him for all time, dear brother, a genuine saint, whose heart is a home of all such noble qualities as placidity, guilelessness, friendliness and devotion to the feet of the Brāhmaṇas, which is the fountain of all virtues. They never swerve from the control of their mind and senses, religious observances and correct behaviour and never utter a harsh word.” (1 - 4)

“They who regard both obloquy and praise alike and who claim My lotus feet as their only possession - such saintly souls are dear to Me as life and are veritable abodes of noble qualities and embodiments of bliss.” (38)

“Now hear the characteristics of the ignoble, association with whom should be scrupulously avoided; for their company ever brings woe, even as a wicked cow ruins by her company a cow of noble breed. The heart of the wicked suffers terrible agony; for they ever burn at the sight of others’ prosperity. Wherever they hear others reviled, they feel delighted as though they had stumbled upon a treasure lying on the road. Devoted to sensuality, anger, arrogance and greed, they are merciless, deceitful, crooked and impure. They bear enmity towards all without rhyme or reason; nay, they behave inimically even with those who are actively kind to them. They are false in their dealings (lying is their stock-in-trade); nay, falsehood is their dinner and falsehood their breakfast (whatever they eat is intended to deceive others). They speak honeyed words just like the peacock, that has a stony heart and devours the most venomous snake.” (1 - 4)

“Malevolent by nature, they enjoy others’ wives and others’ wealth and take delight in slandering others. Such vile and sinful men are eating demons in human garb.”(39)

“Greed is their covering and greed their bedding (they wallow in greed; they are ever given up to sexual enjoyment and gluttony and have no fear of punishment in the abode of Yama (the god of death). If they ever hear anyone exalted, they heave a deep sigh as though they had an attack of ague. On the other hand, when they find anyone in distress, they rejoice as though they had attained the sovereignty of the whole world. Devoted to their own selfish interests, they antagonize their kinsfolk, are given up to sensuality and greed and are most irascible. They recognize neither mother nor father nor preceptor nor the Brāhmaṇas; utterly ruined themselves, they bring ruin upon others. Overcome by infatuation they bear malice to others and have no love for communion with saints nor for the stories relating to Śrī Hari. Oceans of vice, dull-witted and lascivious, they revile the Vedas and usurp others’ wealth. Though bearing malice to all, they are enemies of the Brāhmaṇas in particular; and full of hypocrisy and deceit at heart, they outwardly wear a saintly appearance.” (1 - 4)

“Such vile and wicked men are absent in the Satya and Tretā Yugas; a sprinkling of them will appear in Dvāpara, while multitudes of them will crop forth in the Kali age.” (40)

“Brother, there is no virtue like benevolence, and no meanness like oppressing others. I have declared to you, dear brother, the verdict of all the Vedas and Purāṇas; the wise also know it. They who inflict pain on others even after attaining the human body have to suffer the terrible pangs of birth and death. Dominated by infatuation and devoted to their selfish interest men commit various sins and thereby ruin their prospects in the next world. Figuring as Yama (the god of death) for their sake, brother, I dispense the fruit of their good and evil actions. Realizing this, those who are supremely clever adore Me, knowing the cycle of births and deaths as full of pain. They renounce actions which yield good or evil results and take refuge in Me, the lord of gods, men and sages. Thus I have told you the characteristics of saints and vile men. They who have fully comprehended them are no more subjected to the process of transmigration. (1 - 4)

“Listen, dear brother: the numerous merits and demerits are all products of Māyā. The greatest merit is that they should cease to exist in one’s eye; to discern them is ignorance.” (41)

All the three brothers (Bharata, Lakṣmaṇa and Śatrughna) rejoiced to hear these words from the blessed lips of the Lord and their heart overflowed with love. Again and again they showed Him profound reverence; there was immense joy in the heart of Hanumān in particular. The Lord of the Raghus then retired to His own palace. In this way He enacted some new sport every day. The sage Nārada paid frequent visits and sang Śrī Rāma’s holy exploits. After witnessing fresh deeds every day, the sage returned to Brahmā’s abode and recited the whole story there. The Creator felt overjoyed to hear it and said, “Dear son, hymn His praises again and again.” Sanaka and his three brothers extolled Nārada: and, though absorbed in Brahma (the Infinite), the sages forgot their Samādhi (absorption) on hearing the hymn of praise to the Lord and listened to it with reverence, supremely qualified as they were. (1 - 4)

Even those (like Sanaka and others) who are liberated though embodied and are absorbed in Brahma hear the narrative of Śrī Rāma even by interrupting their meditation (abstraction). Truly theirs must be a heart of stone, who take no delight in the stories of Śrī Hari. (42)

One day, invited by the Lord of the Raghus, the preceptor (Vasiṣṭha) and other leading Brāhmaṇas and all the other citizens assembled (in the royal court). When the preceptor and the other sages and Brāhmaṇas as well as all other gentlemen had taken their seats, the Lord who puts an end to the round of births of His devotees, addressed them in the following words: -  “Listen to My words, citizens all: I am not going to say anything out of attachment for you in My heart; I do not ask you to do anything wrong nor do I make use of My authority. Therefore, listen to Me and act accordingly if you please. He is My servant and he is dearest to Me, who obeys My command. If I say anything which is wrong, brethren, be not afraid to correct Me. It is by good fortune that you have secured a human body, which - as declared by all the scriptures - is difficult even for the gods to attain. It is a tabernacle suitable for spiritual endeavours, gateway to liberation. He who fails to earn a good destiny hereafter even on attaining it.” (1 - 4)

“He reaps torture in the other world and beats his head in remorse, wrongly attributing the blame to Time, Fate and God.” (43)

“Sensuous enjoyment, brethren, is not the be-all and end-all of human existence; even heavenly enjoyment is short-lived and ends in sorrow. The fools who devote their mind to the pleasures of sense even after attaining human birth, take poison in exchange for nectar. None will ever speak well of him who picks up a peppercorn throwing away the philosopher’s stone. This immortal soul goes round through eighty- four lakh species of life, falling under four broad divisions. Driven by Māyā (My deluding potency) and encompassed by Time, destiny, Nature and phenomenal existence, it ever drifts along. Rarely does God, who loves the Jīva without any self- interest, graciously bestow on it a human form, which is a veritable raft whereby it can cross the ocean of mundane existence, with My grace for a favourable wind and a worthy preceptor for a helmsman to steer this strong bark - a combination which, though difficult to secure, has been made easily available to it.” (1 - 4)

“The man who, though equipped with all these resources, fails to cross the ocean of metempsychosis is ungrateful and dull-witted and meets the fate of a self-murderer.” (44)

“If you seek happiness here as well as hereafter, listen to My words and imprint them deeply in your heart. It is an easy and pleasant road, brethren, that of devotion to My feet, extolled in the Purāṇas and Vedas. Gnosis is difficult to attain and beset with numerous obstacles. The path is rugged and there is no solid ground for the mind to rest on. Scarcely one attains it after a hard struggle; yet, lacking in Devotion, the man fails to win My love. Devotion is independent and a mine of all blessings; men, however, cannot attain it except through the fellowship of saints. Saints for their part are inaccessible without a stock of merit; communion with the Lord’s devotees in any case brings to an end the cycle of births and deaths. There is only one meritorious act in this world and no other -  to adore the feet of the Brāhmaṇas by thought, word and deed. The sages and gods are propitious to him who guilelessly serves the twice-born (the Brāhmaṇas).” (1 - 4)

“With joined palms I lay before you all, another secret doctrine: without adoring Śaṅkara (Lord Śiva) man cannot attain devotion to Me.” (45)

“Tell Me what pains are involved in treading the path of Devotion: it requires neither Yoga (mind-control), nor sacrifices, nor Japa (muttering of prayers), nor penance, nor fasting. A guileless disposition, a mind free from perversity and absolute contentment with whatever may be got - this is all that is needed. If he who is called a devotee yet counts upon man, tell me, what faith does he have in Me? What use My dwelling on the subject further: I am won by the conduct of a man as depicted below, brethren. He who has no enmity or quarrel with anyone and is devoid of hope and fear - to such a man all the quarters are ever full of joy. Undertaking nothing (with an interested motive), without home, without pride and without sin, free from wrath, clever and wise, ever loving the company of saints and accounting the enjoyments even of heaven as well as final beatitude as no more than a blade of grass, tenaciously adhering to the cult of Devotion but avoiding bigotry, and giving up all sophistic reasoning: -  (1 - 4)

“Fond of singing and hearing My praises and devoted to My Name, and free from attachment to the world, arrogance and infatuation - the felicity that such a man enjoys is known to him alone who has become one with God, the embodiment of supreme bliss.” (46)

On hearing Śrī Rāma’s nectar-like words all (who had assembled there) clasped the feet of the All-merciful. “Fountain of mercy! You are our father and mother, preceptor and kinsman; You are dearer to us than our own life. Rāma, You are our body, wealth and habitat and You are beneficent to us in every way, relieving as You do the agony of the suppliant. None other than You could give such instruction; for even father and mother are devoted to their own interest. You two are the only disinterested benefactors in this world - Yourself and Your servant, O Destroyer of the demons. Everyone else in this world has his own interest to serve; no one thinks of others’ highest (spiritual) interests even in a dream, O Lord.” The Lord of the Raghus was delighted at heart to hear the words of all, steeped as those words were in the nectar of love. On receiving the Lord’s permission they returned each to his own residence, repeating on the way the Lord’s charming discourse. (1 - 4)

Umā, (continues Lord Śiva,) the people of Ayodhyā, both men and women, were the very picture of blessedness: for the Lord of the Raghus, who was none other than Brahma, the embodiment of truth, intelligence and bliss, ruled there as king. (47)

One day the sage Vasiṣṭha called at the palace where the charming and all-blissful Śrī Rāma was. The Lord of the Raghus received him with great reverence, laved his feet and sipped the water into which the feet had been washed. “Listen, Rāma:” said the sage with joined palms, “I make my humble submission, O Ocean of mercy. Even as I watch Your doings infinite bewilderment possesses my soul. Even the Vedas do not know Your immeasurable greatness; how can I describe it, O Almighty Lord? The vocation of a family-priest is very low: the Vedas, Purāṇas and the Smriti texts equally denounce it. When I would not accept it, Brahmā (my father) said to me, “It will redound to your benefit hereafter, my son: Brahma Itself, the Supreme Spirit, will appear in human semblance as a king, the ornament of Raghu’s race”. (1 - 4)

“Then I thought to myself, (through this very office) I shall attain to Him who is the object of Yogic practices, performance of sacrifices, religious vows and charity. Thus there can be no other vocation like this.” (48)

“Japa (muttering of prayers), austere penance, religious observances, Yogic practices, the performance of one’s allotted duties, the various pious acts recommended by the Vedas, the cultivation of spiritual enlightenment, compassion, self-control, bathing in sacred waters and whatever other sacred practices have been advocated by the Vedas and holy men and the recitation and hearing of various Tantra texts, Vedas and Purāṇas have only one reward, my lord; nay, all spiritual endeavours lead to the same glorious end, viz., unceasing devotion to Your lotus feet. Can dirt be removed by cleansing with dirt? Can anyone obtain butter by churning water? Even so, except by cleansing with the water of loving devotion, O Lord of the Raghus, the impurity accumulated within can never be washed away. He alone is all-wise, he the knower of Truth and he alone learned; he alone is an abode of virtues and possessed of uninterrupted and immediate perception; nay, he is clever and endowed with all auspicious attributes, who is devoted to Your lotus feet.” (1 - 4)

“My lord, I would ask one boon; grant it in Your mercy, Rāma. May my love for Your lotus feet, O Lord, never flag in the course of all my future births.” (49)

So saying, the sage Vasiṣṭha returned home. The All-merciful was highly pleased with him in His heart of hearts. Śrī Rāma, the delight of His servants, took with Him Hanumān as well as Bharata and His other two brothers (Lakṣmaṇa and Śatrughna) and the benign Lord then went outside the city and ordered elephants, chariots and horses to be immediately brought before Him. Regarding them with kindness He praised them all and distributed them among the people giving each what one deserved and what one wished to have. The Lord, who is the reliever of all fatigue, Himself felt tired and retired to a cool mango grove, where Bharata spread his own scarf and the Lord took His seat thereon with all His brothers in attendance. The son of the wind-god now began to fan Him; he felt a thrill of joy all over his body and his eyes filled with tears. (Says Śiva,) There is no one so blessed nor anyone so devoted to Śrī Rāma’s lotus feet as Hanumān, whose love and service, O daughter of the mountain-king have been repeatedly extolled by the Lord with His own mouth. (1 - 5)

At that time came Nārada, lute in hand, began to sing Śrī Rāma’s sweet renown, which always has a fresh charm about it. (50)

“Regard me, O lotus-eyed Lord, O Reliever of anxiety, with a benignant look. Dark of hue as the blue lotus, O Hari, You are as it were, a bee enjoying the honey of the lotus heart of Lord Śiva (the Destroyer of Cupid), shattering the might of the demon hosts, You bring delight to saints and sages and wipe out sins. Beneficent to the Brāhmaṇas as a mass of fresh clouds to a thirsty crop. You are the refuge of the helpless and the befriender of the afflicted. By the might of Your arm You have crushed Earth’s enormous burden and ingeniously killed the demons Khara, Dūṣaṇa and Virādha. Hail, all-blissful Slayer of Rāvaṇa, noblest of kings, a moon to the lily-like line of King Daśaratha. Your fair renown is familiar to the Purāṇas, Vedas and Tantras and is sung in the congregations of gods, sages and saints. Crushing false pride in Your mercy You are clever in every way, O Jewel of the city of Ayodhyā. Your very name wipes out the impurities of the Kali age and destroys worldly attachment. Pray, protect the suppliant, O lord of Tulasīdāsa.” (1 - 5)

Having lovingly recounted Śrī Rāma’s catalogue of virtues, the sage Nārada returned to Brahmā’s abode, enshrining the Ocean of beauty in his heart. (51)

Listen, Girijā; (continues Lord Śaṅkara,) “I have told you in full this holy narrative according to My own lights. The stories of Śrī Rāma are without number and beyond all dimensions. Not even the Vedas and Śāradā (the goddess of speech) could recount them all. Infinite is Rāma and infinite His excellences; His births, exploits and names too are endless. It may be possible to count the drops of water (in a shower of rain) or the grains of sand; but the exploits of Śrī Rāma (the Lord of the Raghus) cannot be recounted in full. This sacred story enables one to reach the abode of Śrī Hari; whoever hears it, is blessed with unceasing devotion. Umā, (goes on Lord Śiva,) I have repeated in full the delightful story which Bhūśuṇḍī recited to the king of the birds. I have thus recounted a few of Śrī Rāma’s virtues; let me know, Bhavānī (Pārvatī), what am I to tell you next.” Umā was glad to have heard the blessed story and replied in exceedingly polite and soft accents: “I am highly blessed, O Slayer of the demon Tripura, to have heard Śrī Rāma’s praises, that take away the fear of birth and death.” (1 - 5)

“By Your grace, O Abode of mercy, I have now attained the object of my life and have no delusion left in me. I have realized the greatness of Lord Śrī Rāma, who is knowledge and bliss personified. O lord of resolute mind, my soul knows no satiety as I quaff with the cups of my ears the nectar-like story of Śrī Rāma (the Hero of Raghu’s line) flowing from Your moon-like mouth.” (52 A-B)

“They who feel satiated with hearing the exploits of Śrī Rāma have little known their peculiar sapor. Even those great sages who have attained final beatitude in their very lifetime constantly hear the praises of Śrī Hari. To him who seeks to cross the ocean of worldly existence, the narrative of Śrī Rāma serves as a secure bark. Nay, the praises of Śrī Hari are delightful to the ear and pleasing to the mind even of the sensualist. Is there in this world anyone with ears to hear, whom the exploits of Śrī Rāma (the Lord of the Raghus) do not delight. Stupid are those creatures and indeed killers of their soul, whom the narrative of Śrī Rāma does not attract.” While You sang what You have chosen to call, “the Mānasa Lake of Śrī Hari’s exploits” I listened, my lord, with boundless joy. You have just told me that this charming story was recited by Kākabhuśuṇḍi to Garuḍa. (1 - 4)

“Bhūśuṇḍī is staunch in his dispassion and steadfast in his wisdom and realization, and cherishes deep devotion to Śrī Rāma’s feet. That one possessing the form of a crow should be a devotee of Śrī Rāma (the Lord of the Raghus) fills me with great doubt.” (53)

“Listen, O Slayer of demon Tripura: among a thousand men there is scarce one who is steadfast in his vow of piety. Among ten million souls devoted to Dharma there may be one who is averse to the pleasures of sense and takes delight in dispassion. Among ten million souls free from worldly attachment, so declare the Vedas, scarce one succeeds in acquiring perfect wisdom. Among ten million enlightened souls in this world there is hardly one who attains final beatitude even when living. Among a thousand such souls he who has not only realized his oneness with Brahma but merged his identity in the Absolute and has accordingly become a fountain of all joy is rarely to be found. Of the religious, the unattached, the enlightened and the emancipated, as well as of those merged in the Absolute, O lord of divinities, he who takes delight in devotion to Śrī Rāma and is free from vanity and wiles is most difficult to find.” Kindly explain to me at length, O Lord of the universe, how such a devotion to Śrī Hari was attained by a crow. (1 - 4)

“Also tell me, my lord, how did Bhūśuṇḍī obtain the form of a crow even though devoted to Śrī Rāma, steeped in wisdom, a home of virtues and resolute of mind?” (54)

“Further tell me, O merciful lord, wherefrom did the crow get this sacred and delightful story? And also let me know how could You hear it, O Destroyer of Cupid: for all this fills me with much inquisitiveness. Garuḍa, again, is highly enlightened and an embodiment of virtues; moreover, he is a servant of Śrī Hari (being His own mount) and lives very close to Him. Leaving a host of sages, wherefore did he approach a crow and hear Śrī Rāma’s story from him? Further let me know how the dialogue proceeded between the crow and Garuḍa (the devourer of serpents), both of whom are devotees of Śrī Hari.” Lord Śiva rejoiced to hear the artless and welcome speech of His Consort (Gaurī) and politely replied, “You are blessed indeed, O virtuous lady; your idea is holy, and you possess not a little love for the feet of Śrī Rāma (the Lord of the Raghus). Therefore, listen to a most sacred story, which, when heard, puts an end to the delusion of the whole universe, engenders faith in Śrī Rāma’s feet and enables a man to cross the ocean of worldly existence without any difficulty.” (1 - 5)

The king of the birds too went and put quite similar questions to the crow. I will reverently tell you all that: listen, Umā with an attentive mind. (55)

Listen, O charming and bright-eyed lady, to the circumstances in which I heard this story, that delivers one from the cycle of births and deaths. You first took birth in the house of Dakṣa and Satī was the name you then bore. At Dakṣa’s sacrifice you were subjected to contumely and in the heat of your indignation you gave up your life then. My servants wrecked the sacrifice: you know the whole episode already. I felt much troubled at heart thereafter; for your loss had left me disconsolate, my dear. I wandered among beautiful woodlands, mountains, rivers and tanks seeing sights, but found no charm anywhere. In the far north, even beyond Mount Śumeru, there stands a most lovely mountain, known by the name of Nīlagiri (the Blue Mountain). It has four charming and delightful gold peaks, which gladdened my soul: on each stood one gigantic tree, a banyan, a Peepul (the sacred tree), a Plakṣa (the Indian fig tree) and a mango. On the top of the mountain sparkled a beautiful tarn with jewelled steps, which were so enchanting to behold. (1 - 5)

Its water was cool, limpid and sweet; its lotuses abundant and many coloured. Flocks of swans murmured their sweet notes and the bees made a delightful buzzing. (56)

On that splendid mountain dwells the same bird (Kākabhuśuṇḍi), that outlives even the end of the world. The various good and evil phenomena created by Māyā (the Cosmic Illusion), and ignorance in its varied forms such as infatuation, lust etc., which hold sway all over the universe, never touch the precincts of that mountain. Now hear, Umā, with tender affection how the crow spends his days there in adoring Śrī Hari. Under the Peepul tree he practises meditation; he performs sacrifice in the form of Japa (muttering of prayers) under the Plakṣa; in the shade of the mango tree he offers mental worship to the Lord, having no occupation other than adoring Śrī Hari; and under the banyan he narrates episodes from the story of Śrī Hari, to hear which many a bird flocks there. With loving reverence he sings the various marvellous exploits of Śrī Rāma; the swans of pure mind, that ever dwell in that lake, all listen to the story. When I arrived there and saw the spectacle, an intense joy welled up in my heart. (1 - 5)

Then, assuming the form of a swan, I sojourned there for some length of time. And, after reverently listening to the praises of Śrī Rāma (the Lord of the Raghus), I returned to Kailāśa. (57)


Girijā, I have thus narrated the whole episode as to when I visited the bird (Kākabhuśuṇḍi). Now hear the circumstances under which Garuḍa (the glory of the feathered kingdom) called on the crow. When the Lord of the Raghus enacted the sport of a combat (with Meghanāda, Rāvaṇa’s son) - the very thought of which fills me with shame - and allowed Himself to be bound by Meghanāda (the conqueror of Indra), the sage Nārada despatched Garuḍa. When Garuḍa (the devourer of serpents) had cut the bonds and departed, a terrible dejection possessed his soul. Recalling the Lord’s bondage, the enemy of the serpents thought over the incident in many ways: “It was the all-pervading and passionless Brahma, the lord of speech, the supreme Ruler beyond Māyā and error, who had, I was told, taken descent in this world. But I saw none of His divine glory. (1 - 4)

“The same Rāma, by repeating whose Name men get freedom from the bonds of worldly existence was tied down by a puny demon with coils of snakes!” (58)

Garuḍa did all he could to reassure himself; but the light of wisdom did not dawn on him; on the other hand, error overshadowed his soul all the more. Torn by torments and full of mental questionings, he fell a prey to delusion just like yourself. In his perplexity he approached the celestial sage (Nārada) and apprized him of the doubt that preyed upon his mind. On hearing his tale Nārada was moved with great compassion and said, “Listen, Garuḍa: formidable is Śrī Rāma’s Māyā (delusive power); it robs even the wise of their sense and bringing them under its sway, clouds their mind with utter infatuation. The same Māyā that befooled me many a time, has laid its hold on you, O lord of the feathered creation. A blinding infatuation has taken root in your heart and it will not be readily eradicated by any words of mine. Therefore, betake yourself to Brahmā (the four-faced Creator), O lord of the winged creatures, and do whatever he enjoins you.” (1 - 4)

So saying the most enlightened celestial sage went his way, chanting Śrī Rāma’s praises and repeatedly recalling the power of Śrī Hari’s Māyā. (59)

The lord of the feathered creation then went to the Creator and told him his doubt. On hearing his story Brahmā bowed his head to Śrī Rāma and, realizing His might, was overwhelmed with love. The Creator mused within himself: “The seers and sages as well as the learned are all dominated by Māyā. Unbounded is the power of Śrī Hari’s Māyā, that has often made a puppet of me. The whole of this animate and inanimate creation was evolved by me; no wonder, then, that the king of the birds has been beguiled by it.” Thereupon Brahmā said in charming accents, “The great Lord Śiva is conversant with Śrī Rāma’s glory. Therefore, O son of Vinatā, approach Lord Śaṅkara and ask no question of anyone elsewhere, dear child. There alone will your doubts be resolved.” On hearing the Creator’s advice the bird flew away. (1 - 4)

Then came the lord of the feathered kingdom in utmost distress to me. At that time I was on my way to Kubera’s residence; while you, Umā, were here on Mount Kailāśa.(60)

He reverently bowed his head at my feet and then placed his doubt before me. On hearing his submission, which was couched in polite terms, Bhavānī, I lovingly replied to him, “Garuḍa, you have met me on the way; how then, shall I instruct you? Doubts are wholly resolved only when one enjoys the fellowship of saints for a long time, and listens there to the delightful story of Śrī Hari, that has been sung by the sages in diverse ways and the sole theme of which - at the beginning, in the middle as well as at the end - is the divine Lord Śrī Rāma. I shall accordingly send you to a place where, O brother, the story of Śrī Hari is recited every day; you go there and listen. As you hear it, all your doubts will vanish and you will develop intense love for Śrī Rāma’s feet.” (1 - 4)

Except in the company of saints one cannot get on opportunity to attend holy discourse on Śrī Hari, and one cannot be rid of error except through such talk. And till one’s error is dispersed one cannot have deep-rooted affection for Śrī Rāma’s feet. (61)

The Lord of the Raghus cannot be found except through love, even though you may practise Yoga (mind-control) or austere penance or cultivate spiritual wisdom or dispassion. In the north there is a beautiful blue mountain called Nīlagiri, where lives the amiable Kākabhuśuṇḍi, highly conversant with the path of Devotion to Śrī Rāma, enlightened, full of all good qualities and ages old. He unceasingly recites Śrī Rāma’s narrative and noble birds of different species reverently listen to it. Go there and hear of the many virtues of Śrī Hari; your distress born of infatuation will thus disappear.” When I had thus told him everything onplained, Garuḍa bowed his head at my feet and departed with joy. Umā, I did not instruct him myself, because by the grace of Śrī Rāma (the Lord of the Raghus) I had come to know the secret (of Garuḍa’s infatuation). He must have given vent to his pride on some occasion and the All-merciful evidently wished to cure him of it. Partly there was another reason why I did not detain him; a bird can follow the language of a bird alone. My lord’s Māyā, Bhavānī, is formidable; who is there so wise as not to be beguiled by it?” (1 - 5)

Even Garuḍa, the very crest-jewel of devotees and enlightened souls and the mount of Lord Viṣṇu (the sovereign of the three spheres), was deluded by Māyā how absurd, then, the poor mortals vaunt their immunity from it. (62 A)