29-2 | Śrī Rāma Carita Mānasa Stotra

Seeing this childish play and recalling that glory (which I had seen inside the Lord’s belly) I lost consciousness of my body, and crying: “Save me, save me, O Protector of the devotees in distress!” dropped to the ground. No other word came to my mouth. When the Lord saw me overpowered with love, He immediately checked the power of His Māyā. The Lord, who is so merciful to the afflicted, placed His lotus hand on my head and relieved me of all sorrow. The gracious Śrī Rāma, the delight of His servants, rid me of my deep-rooted error. As I reflected on His former glory my mind was flooded with joy. Seeing the Lord’s loving kindness to His devotees my heart began to throb with profuse love. With eyes full of tears and joined palms and every hair on my body standing erect, I then made supplication to Him in many ways. (1 - 4)

Hearing my loving words and seeing the wretched plight of His servant, Śrī Rāma (the Abode of Lakṣmī) spoke in words which were not only soft and pleasing but profound at the same time; “Kākabhuśuṇḍi! ask of Me a boon, knowing Me to be highly pleased with you. Be it mystic powers such as Aṇimā (the power of assuming a form as small as an atom), fabulous wealth and final beatitude, which is the fountain of all joy”: -  (83 A-B)

 - Or spiritual wisdom, critical judgment, dispassion, realization and numerous other virtues which cannot be easily attained in this world even by the sages - today I am prepared to give you all these is no more tavanly in undoubtedly; therefore, ask whatever pleases your mind. On hearing the words of the Lord I was overwhelmed with love and began to reason thus within myself: “The Lord, it is true, has promised to give me all kinds of blessings; but He did not offer to grant me devotion to His own feet. Without such devotion all sorts of virtues and blessings are like so many auxiliary dishes without salt. Of what avail is any blessing without adoration.” Pondering thus, O king of the birds, I replied as follows: “If it is Your pleasure, my lord, to grant me a boon and if You are kind and affectionate to me, I ask my cherished boon, O master; for You are generous and know the secrets of all hearts.” (1 - 4)

“O my lord, Śrī Rāma, tree of paradise to the devotee, friend of the suppliant, ocean of compassion and abode of bliss, in Your mercy grant me that devotion to Your feet, uninterrupted, and unalloyed, which the Vedas and Purāṇas extol, which is sought after by Sages and great Yogīs (contemplative mystics) but attained by few and that too by the Lord’s grace.” (84 A-B)

“So be it!” said the Chief of Raghu’s line, and continued in these most pleasing terms: “Listen, KākaBhūśuṇḍī: you are sagacious by nature; no wonder, therefore, that you ask this boon. No one in this world is so highly blessed as you, since you have sought the gift of Devotion, which is the fountain of all blessings and which even sages cannot attain in spite of all their efforts, even though they consume their body in the fire of japa and yoga. I am pleased to see your sagacity in that you have sought Devotion, which is extremely dear to My heart. Listen, O bird: by My grace now all good qualities shall abide in your heart. Devotion, spiritual wisdom, Realization, dispassion, Yoga, My exploits as well as their secrets and classification - by My grace you shall obtain insight into all these and shall not be required to undergo the rigours of Sādhana (self-discipline). (1 - 4)

“None of the errors that arise from Māyā shall cloud your mind any more. Henceforth know Me to be the same as Brahma, who is without beginning, birthless, devoid of attributes (the products of Māyā) and yet a mine of (transcendent divine) virtues. Listen, Kākabhuśuṇḍi: devotees are always dear to Me. Realizing this, cherish unflinching devotion to My feet in thought, word and deed.” (85 A-B)

“Now listen to My most sacred teaching, which is not only true and easily intelligible but has also been echoed by the Vedas and other scriptures. I give you to hear My own conclusion; listen to it and imprint it on your mind; and forswearing everything else, worship Me. This world with all its varieties of life, both moving and motionless, is a creation of my Māyā (delusive potency). I love them all, because all are My creatures. But human beings are the dearest to Me of all. Of human beings, the Brāhmaṇas; of the Brāhmaṇas, those well-versed in the Vedas; of these, again, those that follow the course of conduct prescribed in the Vedas; of these latter, those who are averse to the pleasure of sense are dear to Me, and yet more the wise; of the wise too I love a man of realization all the more; more beloved to Me even than these is my own servant (devotee), who solely depends on Me and has no other hope. Again and again I repeat to you the truth that no one is so dear to Me as My devotee. If Virañci (the Creator) too had no devotion to Me, he would be only as dear to Me as all the other creatures. And the humblest creature that breathes, if possessed of Devotion, is dear to Me as life: such is My nature.” (1 - 5)

“Tell Me, who would not love a faithful, amiable and sagacious servant? Listen attentively, O KākaBhūśuṇḍī: the Vedas and Purāṇas declare this to be a sound principle: - ” (86)

“A father has a number of sons, each differing from the others in character, temper and conduct. One is learned, another given to austerities, a third spiritually enlightened, a fourth rich, a fifth possessed of valour, a sixth charitably disposed, a seventh all-wise and an eighth intent on piety; but the father equally loves all. A ninth son is devoted to his father in thought, word and deed and never dreams of any other duty. This is the son whom the father loves as his own life, though he be a perfect ignoramus. In a like manner all animate and inanimate beings, including the subhuman species, gods, men and demons - in short, the whole of this universe is My creation and I am equally compassionate to all. Of these, however, he who adores Me in thought, word and deed, forswearing arrogance and wiles - ” (1 - 4)

“Be it man, woman or one lacking the characteristics of both, or, for the matter of that, any living being whatsoever of the animate or inanimate world - he who adores Me with all his being, giving up all guile, is supremely dear to Me. O bird, I tell you in all sincerity that a guileless servant is dear to Me as life. Realizing this worship Me, abandoning all other hope and reliance. (87 A-B)

“Time shall have no power over you. Remember and adore Me unceasingly.” I did not feel sated with hearing the nectar-like words of the Lord; the hair on my body stood erect and I felt extremely delighted at heart. The joy I felt on the occasion was shared only by the mind and the ears (the auditory sense); the tongue had no power to tell it. The eyes alone had the blissful experience of beholding the Lord’s beauty; but how could they describe it, devoid of speech as they are? After He had gladdened me by His manifold exhortations in this way He again began to sport like a child as before. With tears in His eyes and His looks somewhat gloomy He looked at His mother (Kauśalyā) as if He were hungry. Seeing this the mother started up in haste and ran; and addressing Him in soft words clasped Him to her bosom. Then, laying Him in her lap she began to suckle Him, singing the while of Śrī Rāma’s charming exploits. (1 - 4)

The men and women of Ayodhyā remained ever absorbed in that (transcendental) joy, to attain which the blessed Lord Śiva, the delighter of all, assumed His unsightly garb (such as a garland of human skulls, serpents for His ornaments, ashes for scented cosmetics and a tiger-skin for a loin-cloth). Those wise and virtuous souls who have tasted of that joy only once even in a dream think nothing of the joy of absorption into Brahma (much less of any other earthly or heavenly joy). (88 A-B)

After this I stayed a while at Ayodhyā and enjoyed the Lord’s delightful childish sports. Having by Śrī Rāma’s grace obtained the boon of Devotion I adored my Lord’s feet and returned to my own hermitage. Ever since the Lord accepted me as his own I have never fallen a victim to delusion. I have told you at length all this strange story of how Śrī Hari’s Māyā made a puppet of me. Now I tell you my own realization, O lord of the winged creatures: unless we adore Śrī Hari our troubles will not end. Listen, king of the birds: without Śrī Rāma’s grace it is not possible to know the Lord’s greatness. Without knowledge faith is out of the question; and without faith there can be no love. Shorn of love, devotion will not abide any more than the lubricity produced by water. (1 - 4)

Is spiritual illumination possible without a preceptor? Or, again, is it possible to acquire wisdom without dispassion? Or, as the Vedas and Purāṇas declare, can one attain happiness without devotion to Śrī Hari? Again, dear Garuḍa, can one find peace without innate content? Can a boat ever float without water even though you strain every nerve till your last breath? (89 A-B)

Without contentment desire cannot cease; and so long as desire continues you can never dream of happiness. Again, can desire be got rid of without adoring Śrī Rāma? Can a tree ever take root without soil? Can even-mindedness be acquired without spiritual enlightenment? Can anyone get moving space without ether? There can be no piety without faith. Can anyone get odour except from the earth and spread one’s glory except through austere penance? Can there be any taste in this world without water? Can virtue be acquired without waiting upon the wise, any more than colour can exist without the element of fire, my master? Can the mind be at rest without experiencing the joy inherent in one’s own self? Can there be any sensation of touch without air, and any success without faith? In a like manner the fear of rebirth can never cease except through worship of Śrī Hari. (1 - 4)

Without faith there can be no Devotion and Śrī Rāma never melts except through Devotion; and without Śrī Rāma’s grace the human soul can never attain peace even in a dream. Pondering thus, O Garuḍa of resolute mind, abandon all cavilling and scepticism and adore the all beautiful Śrī Rāma, the Hero of Raghu’s line, a fountain of mercy and the delight of all. (90 A-B)

Thus, my master, have I sung according to my own light the greatness of my lord’s glory, O king of the birds. I have not had recourse to any inventive skill; I have seen all this with my own eyes. Śrī Rāma’s greatness, His Name, beauty and the song of His praises, they are all boundless and endless; and the Lord of the Raghus Himself is infinite. The sages sing Śrī Harī’s praises each according to his wits; but neither the Vedas nor Śeṣa (the serpent-god) nor the blessed Śiva Himself can reach their end. All winged creatures, from yourself down to the mosquito, take their flight across the sky; but none can reach the end of it. Even so, dear Garuḍa, can anyone ever gauge the extent of Śrī Rāma’s greatness, unfathomable as it is? Śrī Rāma’s body possesses the charm of a myriad Cupids. He is as inexorable in crushing the enemy as countless millions of Durgās. He enjoys the luxury of a myriad Indras and is immeasurable in expanse as a myriad firmaments. (1 - 4)

He has the might of a myriad winds and the brilliance of a myriad suns. He is as cool as a myriad moons and allays all the fears of mundane existence. Again, He is irresistible unapproachable and interminable as a myriad Deaths. Nay, the Lord is irrepressible as a myriad fires. (91 A-B)

The Lord is unfathomable as a myriad Pātālas and dreadful as a myriad Yamas. He is as sanctifying as countless millions of sacred places; nay, His very name obliterates all one’s accumulated sins. The Hero of Raghu’s line is as immovable as a myriad Himālayas and as deep as a myriad seas. The Lord is as liberal in bestowing all one’s cherished objects as a myriad cows of plenty. He is as witted as countless millions of Śāradās and possesses the creative skill of a myriad Brahmās. Again, He is as good a preserver as a myriad Viṣṇus and as thorough a destroyer as a myriad Rudras. He is as rich as a myriad Kuberas and as capable of bringing forth material universes as a myriad Māyās. He is as good a supporter (of the universes) as a myriad Śeṣas. In short, Lord Śrī Rāma, the sovereign of the universe, is infinite and incomparable (in every respect). (1 - 4)

Incomparable as He is, He has no compeer. Śrī Rāma alone is Śrī Rāma’s peer - so declare the Vedas - even as the sun really suffers diminution by being likened to a myriad glow-worms. So do the great sages sing the praises of Śrī Hari each according to the flight of his own wits and the Lord lovingly hears them and feels delighted (however inadequate the praise may be); for He respects the sentiment of His devotees and is extremely kind.

Śrī Rāma is an ocean of countless virtues: can anyone sound His depth? I have only told you the little I have myself heard from the saints. The Lord is won only by sincere Devotion and is a fountain of joy and an abode of compassion. Therefore, giving up worldly attachment, vanity and pride, one should ever adore Sītā’s Spouse. (92 A-B)

The lord of the winged creatures was rejoiced to hear the agreeable words of Bhūśuṇḍī and fluffed up his feathers. Tears rushed to his eyes and his soul was flooded with joy as he meditated on the glory of Śrī Rāma (the Lord of the Raghus). Recalling his former delusion he was filled with remorse at the thought that He had taken the dateless Brahma for a mere mortal. Again and again he bowed his head at the crow’s feet and loved him all the more, knowing him to be as good as Rāma. Without a spiritual guide none can cross the ocean of mundane existence, though he be the equal of Vira-Virañcici (the Creator) or Lord Śaṅkara. He said, “I was bitten by the serpent of doubt, dear Sir. (As an effect of this snake-bite) I had several painful fits of stupor in the form of so many fallacies. But the Lord of the Raghus, the delight of His devotees, has saved me by sending me to a charmer in your person. By your grace my infatuation has ceased and I have learnt the incomparable mystery of Śrī Rāma.” (1 - 4)

After eulogizing Kākabhuśuṇḍi in many ways and bowing his head before him with joined palms Garuḍa proceeded in these polite, affectionate and gentle words: “In my ignorance, O my lord and master, I ask you a question. Knowing me to be your own servant, O ocean of compassion, carefully answer it. (93 A-B)

“You are an omniscient knower of Truth, having reached beyond the darkness (of ignorance), intelligent, amiable, straight in your dealings and a storehouse of wisdom, dispassion and Realization. Above all you are a beloved servant of Śrī Rāma (the Lord of the Raghus). Yet wherefore did you get this form (of a crow)? Dear Sir, explain all this to me clearly. Also tell me, my master, where did you get this lovely Lake of Śrī Rāma’s exploits, O good bird? My lord, I have heard it from Śiva Himself that you do not perish even during Mahāpralaya (the Great Dissolution when Brahmā himself retires into the Lord’s body after completing the 100 years of his existence). The divine Lord Śiva would never utter an idle word and therefore my mind is in doubt. My lord, the whole universe with all its animate and inanimate beings, including the Nāgas, human beings and gods, is an intended victim of Death. The Time-Spirit, which destroys countless universes, is ever mighty and irresistible.” (1 - 4)

“How is it that the most formidable Time-Spirit has no power over you? Tell me, my gracious lord, if it is a glory of spiritual insight or a feat of Yoga? O lord, my infatuation and delusion disappeared the moment I visited your hermitage. Tell me in a loving spirit, my lord, how did all this happen?” (94 A-B)

Umā, (continues Lord Śiva,) the crow (Kākabhuśuṇḍi) rejoiced to hear Garuḍa’s words and replied with utmost affection: “Blessed, blessed indeed is your intellect, O enemy of serpents. Your question is very pleasing to me. On hearing your loving and agreeable question I have been reminded of many previous births. I shall now narrate the whole of my story at full length; dear Garuḍa, listen to it attentively with all reverence. The muttering of prayers, austere penance, performing sacrifices, subjugation of the mind and the senses, undertaking sacred vows, charity, dispassion, right judgment, Yoga and Realization - the fruit of all these is devotion to the feet of Śrī Rāma (the Lord of the Raghus); without this no one can attain lasting peace. It was in this body that I was blessed with devotion to Śrī Rāma; hence it is so very dear to me. Everyone naturally loves that through which one has attained one’s object. (1 - 4)

It is a sound maxim, O enemy of serpents, approved of by the Vedas - and the saints too endorse it - that love should be shown to the meanest creature if we come to know it to be our greatest friend. Silk, for instance, is the product of a worm and from it we have beautiful silken textiles. That is why everyone tends the worm like one’s own life even though it is most impure. (95 A-B)

The real self-interest of every living creature lies in cultivating devotion to Śrī Rāma’s feet in thought, word and deed. That body alone is sacred and that alone blessed, in which one is able to worship the Hero of Raghu’s line. The wise and the learned never extol him who is hostile to Śrī Rāma, even though he may acquire a body as exalted as that of Brahmā (the Creator) himself, Devotion to Śrī Rāma took root in my heart in this very body; hence I hold it supremely dear, my master. Although my death depends on my own will, I refuse to quit this body, because - as the Vedas declare - adoration of the Lord is not possible without a corporeal frame. At first infatuation gave me much trouble; so long as I remained indifferent to Śrī Rāma I never had a restful sleep. Through a number of births I practised Yoga (concentration of mind), Japa (muttering of prayers), austere penance and charity and performed sacrifices and other acts of various kinds. Which species is there in this world, O lord of the winged creatures, in which I have not at some time been born during my round of births? I have had experience of all kinds of pursuits, my lord; but I was never so happy as I am now. I recollect many previous existences, my lord, in which by Śiva’s grace my understanding was not clouded by infatuation. (1 - 5)

Listen, O lord of the feathered kingdom: I now proceed to narrate the story of my very first birth (within my memory), which is sure to engender in the heart of the listener love for the Lord’s feet, which is the remedy for all afflictions. In a former Kalpa (round of creation), my lord, the world was passing through a Kāli yuga, the hotbed of sin, in which men and women were all steeped in unrighteousness and acted contrary to the Vedas. (96 A-B)

In that Kāli yuga I was born in the city of Ayodhyā and got the body of a Śūdra (a member of the labouring and artisan classes). A devotee of Lord Śiva in thought, word and deed, I was a reviler of other gods and conceited too. Intoxicated with the pride of pelf, I was most loquacious and savage of purpose and carried an enormous load of hypocrisy in my heart. Even though I dwelt in the capital of Śrī Rāma (the lord of the Raghus), I failed to know even an iota of its glory then. Now I have come to know the greatness of Ayodhyā. Thus has it been sung by the Vedas, Tantras and Purāṇas that whoever has resided in Ayodhyā in any birth whatsoever surely becomes a votary of Śrī Rāma. A man comes to know the glory of Ayodhyā only when Śrī Rāma, bow in hand, takes up His abode in his heart. That particular age of Kali was terrible indeed, O enemy of serpents; every man and woman was given over to sin. (1 - 4)

Every virtue had been engulfed by the sins of Kali; all good books had disappeared; impostors had promulgated a number of creeds which they had invented out of their own wit. The people had all fallen a prey to delusion and all pious acts had been swallowed by greed. Now listen, all-wise mount of Śrī Hari, while I describe a few characteristics of Kāli. (97 A-B)

No one follows the duties of one’s own caste, and the four Āśramas or stages of life also disappear. Every man and woman takes delight in revolting against the Vedas. The Brāhmaṇas sell the Vedas; the kings bleed their subjects; no one respects the injunction of the Vedas. The right course for every individual is that which one takes a fancy to; a man of erudition is he who plays the braggart. Whoever launches spurious undertakings and is given over to hypocrisy, him does everyone call a saint. He alone is clever, who robs another of his wealth; he who puts up false appearances is an ardent follower of established usage. He who is given to lying and is clever at joking is spoken of as a man of parts in the Kali age. He alone who is a reprobate and has abandoned the path of the Vedas is a man of wisdom and dispassion in the Kali age. He alone who has grown big nails and long locks of matted hair is a renowned ascetic in the Kali age. (1 - 4)

They alone who put on an unsightly garb and ornaments, eat anything and everything, no matter whether it is worth eating or not, are ascetics; they alone are perfect men and they are worth adoring in the Kali age. They who are of maleficent conduct are held in great esteem and they alone are worthy of honour. Even so they alone who are babblers in thought, word and deed are orators in the Kali age. (98 A-B)

Dominated by women, my lord, all men dance to their tune like a monkey controlled by its trainer. Śūdras instruct the twice-born in spiritual wisdom and, wearing the sacred thread, accept the worst type of gifts. All men are given over to sensuality and greed and irascible too, and are hostile to the gods; the Brāhmaṇas, the Vedas as well as to the saints. Unfortunate wives desert their accomplished and handsome husband and bestow their heart on a paramour. Wives having their husband alive have no ornament on their person, while widows adorn themselves in the latest style. The disciple and the preceptor severally resemble a deaf man and a blind man: the one would not listen, while the other cannot see. A spiritual guide who robs his disciple of money but fails to rid him of his sorrow is cast into a terrible hell. Parents call their children and teach them such means as may fill their belly. (1 - 4)