29-3 | Śrī Rāma Carita Mānasa Stotra

Men and women talk of nothing else than the Knowledge of Brahma; while in their greed they would kill a Brāhmaṇa or, for the matter of that, even their own spiritual guide for the sake of a single shell. Śūdras argue with the twice-born: “Are we in anyway inferior to you? A good Brāhmaṇa is he who knows the truth of Brahma!” and defiantly glower at them. (99 A-B)

They alone who are covetous of another’s wife and are clever at wiles and steeped in delusion, malice and worldly attachment are enlightened men swearing by the identity of the individual soul with Brahma. Such is the practice I have seen in every Kali age. Doomed themselves, such people bring ruin even to those rare souls who tread the path of virtue. They who find fault with the Vedas by dint of logic are condemned to each hell for a whole Kalpa (cycle). People of the lowest grade in society such as oil-men, potters, the outcaste (lit., those who cook and feed on the flesh of a dog), the Kirātas and Kolas and the distillers of spirituous liquors get their heads shaved and enter the order of Sannyāsa (renunciation) when their wife is no more in this world and they have lost their household property. They allow themselves to be worshipped by the Brāhmaṇas and bring ruin to themselves here as well as hereafter. As for the Brāhmaṇas, they are unlettered, grasping, lascivious, reprobate and stupid and marry low-caste women of a lewd character. Śūdras, on the other hand, practise Japa (the muttering of prayers) and austere penance, undertake sacred vows of various kinds and expound the Purāṇas from an exalted seat. All men follow a course of conduct of their own imagination; the endless variety of wrongdoing cannot be described in words. (1 - 5)

In the age of Kali there ensues a confusion of castes (due to promiscuous intermarriages) and everyone infringes the sacred laws. Men perpetrate sins and reap suffering terror, disease, sorrow and desolation. Overcome by delusion they walk not in the path of Devotion to Śrī Hari, conjoined with dispassion and wisdom - a path which has the approval of the Vedas - and invent diverse creeds of their own. (100 A-B)

The so-called recluses build themselves houses and furnish them at considerable expense; dispassion is no more to be seen in them, the same having been wiped out by their sensuality. The so-called ascetics grow wealthy and householders go penniless: the freaks of the Kali age, dear Garuḍa, are beyond all telling. Men drive out a well-born and virtuous wife and bring home some servant-girl, casting to the winds all good usage. Sons respect their father and mother only so long as they have not seen the face of their wife. From the time they take a fancy to their wife’s kinsfolk they begin to look upon their own people as their enemies. Kings get addicted to sin and cease to have anything to do with piety. They ever persecute their subjects by inflicting unmerited punishment on them. The meanest churl, if he is rich, is accounted noble. A Brāhmaṇa is known only by his sacred thread, and an ascetic by his naked body. He who refuses to recognize the Vedas and Purāṇas is a true saint and servant of Śrī Hari in the Kali age. Poets are seen in large numbers; but the munificent (who reward them) are seldom heard of. Those who find fault with others’ virtues can be had in any number, but no one possessing virtues. In the Kali age famines are of frequent occurrence: for want of food-grains people perish miserably en masse. (1 - 5)

Listen, lord of the winged creatures: in the age of Kali duplicity, perversity, hypocrisy, malice, heresy, pride, infatuation, concupiscence and arrogance etc., pervade the whole universe. Men practise Japa (the muttering of prayers), austere penance and charity, perform sacrifices and undertake sacred vows with some unholy motive. The gods rain not upon the earth and food-grains sown in the soil do not germinate. (101 A-B)

Women have no ornament except their tresses and have an enormous appetite:

Though miserable for want of money, they are rich in attachment of various kinds. Though hankering after happiness they love not piety, stupid as they are. Though they are poor in wits, their mind is hardened and knows no tenderness. As for men, they are tormented with diseases and find no enjoyment anywhere. They are conceited and contend with others without any rhyme or reason. Men’s life is short, extending to not more than a few years; yet in their pride they reckon on surviving the end of creation. The age of Kali has driven men mad: no one respects the sanctity even of one’s sister or daughter. There is no contentment, nor discernment, nor composure. People of all classes, whether high or low, have taken to begging. Envy, harsh words and covetousness are rampant; while evenness of mind is absent. People are all smitten with bereavement and deep sorrow. The duties and rules of conduct prescribed for the four orders of society and stages in life are neglected. Self-control, charity, compassion and wisdom disappear; while stupidity and fraud multiply to a large extent. Men and women all pamper their body; while slanderers are diffused all over the world. (1 - 5)

Listen, O enemy of serpents: the age of Kali is a storehouse of impurities and vices. But it has many virtues too; final emancipation is possible (in this age) without any exertion. Moreover, the same goal which is reached through worship of God, performance of sacrifices or practice of Yoga in the Satyayuga, Tretā and Dvāpara, men are able to attain through the name of Śrī Hari in the Kali age. (102 A-B)

In the Satyayuga everyone is possessed of mystic powers and wise too. Hence in that age men cross the ocean of mundane existence by meditating on Śrī Hari. In the Tretā age men perform sacrifices of various kinds and cross the ocean of metempsychosis by dedicating their actions to the Lord. In the Dvāpara age men cross the ocean of worldly existence by adoring the feet of Śrī Rāma (the Lord of the Raghus), there being no other means to do it. In the Kali age, however, men reach the end of mundane existence simply by singing Śrī Hari’s praises. In the age of Kali neither Yoga (concentration of mind), nor the performance of sacrifices nor spiritual wisdom is of any avail; one’s only hope lies in hymning Śrī Rāma’s praises. Giving up all other hopes, whosoever worships Śrī Rāma and fondly chants His praises undoubtedly crosses the ocean of transmigration. The power of the Name is thus manifest in the age of Kali. The Kali age possesses another sacred virtue: in this age projected acts of virtuous nature are virtues but those of evil propensity are not sins. (1 - 4)

No other age can compare with the Kali age provided a man has faith (in its virtue); for in this age one can easily cross the ocean of transmigration simply by singing Śrī Rāma’s holy praises. Piety has four well-known pillars, of which one is predominant in the Kali: charity practised in any way conduces to one’s spiritual good. (103 A-B)

Prompted by Śrī Rāma’s delusive potency, the characteristics of all the four Yugas manifest themselves in everyone’s heart every day. The presence of pure Sattva (harmony), evenness of mind, spiritual insight and the feeling of vivacity in the heart are the effects of Satyayuga. Abundance of Sattva with a slight admixture of Rajas, attachment to action, and happiness of every kind are the characteristics of Tretā. Much Rajas, little Sattva, and some Tamas, with a feeling of mingled joy and fear in the heart, are the distinguishing features of Dvāpara. A large proportion of Tamas with a slight admixture of Rajas and antagonism everywhere are the effects of Kali. The wise discern the characteristics of the different Yugas in their mind and forswearing unrighteousness devote themselves to piety. The characteristics of the Time-Spirit have no effect on him who is excessively fond of Śrī Rāma’s feet. The deception practised by a juggler, O king of the birds, is formidable indeed: but the tricks of a juggler cannot deceive his servant. (1 - 4)

The good and evil, which are the creation of Śrī Hari’s delusive potency, cannot be eliminated except through worship of Śrī Hari. Bearing this in mind, and forswearing all desire, one should adore Śrī Hari. In that particular age of Kali, O lord of the winged creatures, I lived in Ayodhyā for many years till a famine occurred, when, stricken by adversity, I had to move to another place. (104 A-B)

Listen, O enemy of serpents: I went to Ujjain - miserable, downcast, penniless and afflicted. When sometime had elapsed, I acquired some wealth and after that I began worshipping Lord Śambhu at that very place. There was a Brāhmaṇa there who constantly worshipped Lord Śiva according to the Vedic rites and had no other occupation. He was an extremely pious soul and a knower of the highest truth, a votary of Lord Śambhu but no reviler of Śrī Hari. I served him though with a guileful heart. The Brāhmaṇa was very kind-hearted and an abode of piety. Seeing me outwardly so humble, my Lord, the Brāhmaṇa taught me as his own son. The great Brāhmaṇa imparted to me a mystic formula sacred to Lord Śambhu and gave me every kind of good advice. I used to go to a temple of Lord Śiva and repeat the formula there with unbounded ostentation and conceit in my heart. (1 - 4)

A wretch impure of mind, low-born and overcome by infatuation, I was filled with jealousy at the very sight of a servant of Śrī Hari or a Brāhmaṇa and hated God Viṣṇu

Distressed to see my conduct, my preceptor would admonish me every day; but on hearing his admonition I burnt with rage. Can sober counsel appeal to a hypocrite? (105 A-B)

One day my preceptor called me and taught me wisdom in every possible way; “The sole reward, my son, of worshipping Lord Śiva is uninterrupted devotion to Śrī Rāma’s feet. Śiva Himself as well as Brahmā (the Creator), dear son, adore Śrī Rāma; of what account, then, is a vile human being! Do you hope to attain happiness, O wretched soul, by harbouring ill-will to Him whose feet are loved by Brahmā and Śiva Himself?” When I heard my Guru speak of Lord Hara as a votary of Śrī Hari, my heart, O lord of the feathered kingdom, was all on fire. Vile of descent as I was, the little learning that I had acquired turned my head even as a serpent becomes all the more poisonous when fed on milk. Proud, perverse, wretched and low-born, I plays mischief to my Guru day and night. My Guru, however, was too tender-hearted to have the least anger in him; on the other hand, he gave me good advice time after time. The first thing a vile fellow does is to kill and destroy the very man who has been instrumental in exalting him. Listen, brother: smoke, which is produced by fire, extinguishes the latter when it attains to the dignity of a cloud. The dust lying on the road is held in contempt and is ever trodden under foot by all (the wayfarers). But when carried aloft by the wind, it first envelopes the air itself and then descends on the eyes or diadems of king. Listen, O lord of the winged creatures: realizing this state of things, the wise shun the company of vile men. Seers and learned men have declared this maxim: it is good neither to quarrel with a wretch nor to make friends with him. One should always remain aloof from him, my master; a wicked fellow should be avoided even as a dog. Vicious as I was with a heart full of falsehood and perversity, the Guru’s admonition did not appeal to me, even though it was wholesome. (1 - 8)

One day I was repeating Śiva’s Name in a temple sacred to Lord Hara, when my Guru came in; but in my pride I did not rise to greet him. He was too gracious to say anything; neither did he feel the least resentment in his heart. But the grievous sin of showing disrespect to a Guru was more than the great Lord Śiva could tolerate. (106 A-B)

An ethereal voice proceeded from the temple itself: “you wretched and conceited fool, even though your preceptor has no anger in him and he is very tender-hearted and possessed of true and perfect wisdom, yet, O fool, I must pronounce a curse on you; for any transgression of propriety is loathsome to Me. If I do not punish you, O wretch, the sanctity of My Vedic laws will be violated. The fools who bear malice against their Guru are cast into the hell named Raurava for a myriad Yugas. After that they take birth in the subhuman species and suffer torment for ten thousand successive existence. Since you remained rooted to your seat like a python, O vile wretch, take the form of a snake; for your mind is steeped in sin. And, condemned to that vile state, O vilest of the vile, go and take up your abode in the hollow of some huge tree.” (1 - 4)

The Guru raised a piteous wail as he heard Lord Śiva’s terrible curse. And when he saw me trembling with fear, deep agony possessed his soul. Reflecting on my awful fate, the Brāhmaṇa prostrated himself before Lord Śiva and, with joined palms and his voice choked with emotion, he prayed as follows: -  (107 A-B)

“I adore You, the guardian of the south-east quarter and Ruler of the whole universe, eternal bliss personified, the omnipresent and all-pervading Brahma manifest in the form of the Vedas. I worship Lord Śiva, shining in His own glory, devoid of material attributes, undifferentiated, desireless, all-pervading consciousness, having nothing to wrap about Himself except ether (or enveloping ether itself). I bow to the supreme Lord, who is devoid of form, transcendent and extra-cosmic, beyond speech, understanding and sense perception, terrible yet gracious, the seed of the mystic syllable OM, the Ruler of Kailāśa, the Devourer even of the great Time-Spirit and the abode of virtues. I adore the all-merciful Śaṅkara, the universal Lord, who is loved by all and yet unfathomable, who is possessed of a form white as the snow-clad Himālaya, and radiant with the beauty of a myriad Cupids, whose head sparkles with the lovely stream of the Gaṅgā, whose brow is adorned by the crescent moon and neck coiled by serpents, who has tremulous pendants hanging from His ear-lobes, is possessed of beautiful eyebrows and large eyes, who has a cheerful countenance and a blue speck on His throat, and who has a lion-skin wrapped round His waist and a garland of skulls round His neck. I take my refuge in Bhavānī’s Spouse, the supreme Lord, terrible, exalted, intrepid indivisible, unborn and invested with the glory of a myriad suns, who roots out the threefold agony and holds a trident in His hand and who is accessible only through love. Beyond number, ever blessed, bringing about universal destruction at the end of each round of creation, a source of perpetual delight to the virtuous, Slayer of the demon Tripura, Consciousness and Bliss personified, dispeller of delusion, be propitious, my lord, be propitious, O Destroyer of Cupid. So long as they worship not the lotus-feet of Umā’s lord, there is no happiness nor peace nor cessation of suffering for men either in this world or in the next. Therefore, be propitious, my lord, dwelling as You do in the heart of all living beings. I know not Yoga (concentration), nor Japa (the muttering of prayers) nor ritual. I simply bow to you at all times and at every moment, O Śambhu! Pray, protect me, my lord, miserable and afflicted by sufferings attendant on old age and birth (and death) as I am, O Lord Śambhu!” (1 - 8)

This hymn of eight verses was uttered by the Brāhmaṇa in order to propitiate Lord Hara. Śrī Śambhu is pleased with those men who devoutly repeat it. (9)

The all-wise Śiva heard the Brāhmaṇa’s prayer and saw his devotion. An ethereal voice issued from the temple again: Ask for a boon, O great Brāhmaṇa.” “If, my lord, you are pleased with me and if, my master, You are affectionate to the meek, first bless me with devotion to Your feet and then grant me another boon. Overcome by Your Māyā (delusive power) the stupid Jīva (individual soul) constantly wanders (from one womb to another) in error. Therefore, O all-merciful Lord, be not angry with him. Now be gracious to this creature, O Śaṅkara, compassionate as You are to the humble, so that Your curse may prove a blessing to him not long afterwards. (108 A - D)

“Now do that which may bring him supreme blessedness, O fountain of mercy!” On hearing the Brāhmaṇa’s words, steeped as they were in charity, the heavenly voice replied: “So be it! Although he has committed a grievous sin and I in My wrath have pronounced a curse on him, yet, realizing your goodness, I shall do him a special favour. O holy Brāhmaṇa, they who are of a forgiving disposition and beneficent are as dear to Me as Śrī Rāma (the Slayer of the demon Khara) Himself. Nonetheless, O Brāhmaṇa, My curse shall not go in vain: this fellow shall surely pass through a thousand incarnations. But the terrible agony involved in each successive birth and death shall not affect him in the least. (Turning to me, the voice continued:) Hear, O Śūdra, my authentic word: in none of your births shall your awareness (of previous existences) leave you. (In the first place) You were born in the capital of Śrī Rāma (the Lord of the Raghus), and besides that you set your heart on My worship. Due to the miraculous power of the holy city and by My grace, devotion to Śrī Rāma shall spring up in your bosom. Now, brother, hear My solemn declaration: a vow to serve the Brāhmaṇas is the surest means of propitiating Śrī Hari. Insult the Brāhmaṇas no more and reckon a saint to be on a par with the infinite Lord Himself. Even he who does not succumb to the stroke of Indra’s thunderbolt, My own mighty trident, the rod of Death and the terrible discus of Śrī Hari, is consumed by the fire of hostility with the Brāhmaṇas. Treasure up this counsel in your heart, and there will be nothing in this world which may be too difficult for you to attain. I bestow one more blessing on you: you shall have unobstructed access everywhere.” (1 - 8)

The Guru rejoiced to hear the word of Lord Śiva (as conveyed through the ethereal voice) and cried ‘OM!’ And after admonishing me he returned home, with the image of Lord Śambhu’s feet impressed upon his heart. Driven by my fate I went to the Vindhya mountains and was (on giving up the ghost) reborn as a serpent and again, when sometime had elapsed, I easily dropped that form. Whatever form I assumed, O mount of Śrī Hari, dropped again with utmost ease, even as a man would cast off worn-out clothes and put on a new set. Lord Śiva vindicated the Vedic law, while I was spared the agony (involved in the rounds of birth and death). In this way, O lord of the winged creatures, I assumed various forms; but my understanding never left me. (109 A - D)

Whatever form I assumed, whether of an irrational being, god or man, I continued to adore Śrī Rāma even in that form. Yet one thing ever stung my conscience: my Guru’s mild and amiable disposition I could never forget. The last body I got was that of a Brāhmaṇa, which the Vedas and Purāṇas declare as difficult even for the gods to attain. Even in that incarnation whenever I joined the other boys for play, I would enact all the pastimes of Śrī Rāma (the Lord of the Raghus) alone. As I grew up my father gave me lessons (in secular subjects). I tried to understand things, listened to the lessons and reflected on them; yet they failed to attract my mind. All worldly cravings left my soul; I was solely absorbed in the thought of Śrī Rāma’s feet. Tell me, O lord of the feathered creation: is there anyone so wretched as to give up a cow of plenty and tend a she-ass? Overwhelmed with love I had no charm left for anything and my father was tired of coaching me. When both my father and mother died, I withdrew to the forest in order to worship the Protector of His servants. In the forest wherever I met any great sage I visited his hermitage and bowed my head to him. I would ask them to recount Śrī Rāma’s virtues and listened with delight to what they told me. O lord of the winged creatures! In this way I went about listening to the recital of Śrī Hari’s praises. By Śambhu’s grace my movements were unchecked everywhere. The three types of ardent seeking (viz., those for progeny, wealth and fame) left me and one solitary longing grew to inordinate proportions in my heart. “I shall deem the object of my birth accomplished only when I behold Śrī Rāma’s lotus-feet,” I said to myself. Every sage I interrogated observed, “God represents the totality of created beings.” But the view which holds God as impersonal did not find favour with me and the love I bore in my heart for the embodied Brahma grew from more to more. (1 - 8)

Even as I recalled the words of my erstwhile preceptor my mind conceived a fondness for Rāma’s feet and I went about singing the praises of Śrī Rāma (the Lord of the Raghus) with a love which gathered new strength every moment. On a peak of Mount Meru in the shade of a banyan tree sat the sage Lomaśa. On seeing him I bowed at his feet and addressed him in the humblest strain. When the gracious sage heard my meek and gentle address, O king of the birds, he politely enquired: “For what purpose have you come, O Brāhmaṇa?” Thereupon I replied, “O fountain of mercy, you are omniscient and sagacious. Tell me, blessed one, how to worship the embodied supreme Spirit.” (110 A - D)

Thereupon the great sage recounted with reverence a few virtues of Śrī Rāma (the Lord of the Raghus), O lord of the feathered creation. But himself devoted to the knowledge of Brahma (the Absolute), and knowing me to be the fittest person (to be initiated into such knowledge), the enlightened sage began a sermon on Brahma, the unborn, the One without a second and without attributes, the Ruler of the heart (the inner Controller), incomprehensible, desireless, without name or form, attainable only through realization, indivisible and incomparable, beyond the mind and the senses, immaculate and indestructible, immutable, unlimited and all-blissful: “You are identical with the Brahma referred to above; no more difference exists between Him and you than between a sheet of water and the ripples on its surface: so declare the Vedas.” The sage instructed me in various ways; but the truth that the individual soul is identical with the attributeless Brahma did not appeal to my heart. Bowing my head at his feet I submitted again, “Kindly tell me how to worship the embodied Brahma, O lord of the sages. My mind takes delight in the worship of Śrī Rāma even as a fish rejoices in water; how, then, can it exist without it, O wise lord of the sages? Be gracious, therefore, to teach me the method whereby I may be able to behold the Lord of the Raghus with my own eyes. Having feasted my eyes on the King of Ayodhyā I will then listen to your discourse on the attributeless Brahma.” The sage once more recited the incomparable story of Śrī Hari; but demolishing the doctrine that the supreme Spirit does appear in an embodied form, he established the proposition that He is ever without attributes. Thereupon I would set aside the view that God is ever attributeless and establish with great obstinacy the doctrine that He takes an embodied form. When I thus entered into hot discussion with him, signs of resentment appeared on the sage’s person. Listen, my lord: insolence carried to an excess rouses passion even in the breast of an enlightened soul. Too much friction will produce fire even out of sandal-wood. (1 - 8)

Again and again in the heat of passion the sage expatiated on spiritual wisdom, while I sat still and put myself various questions: “Can there be anger without duality or duality without ignorance? Can an individual soul, dull, finite and subject to Māyā, ever be on a par with God?” (111 A-B)

“Can suffering ensue from solicitude for others’ well-being? Can anyone possessing the philosopher’s stone suffer from want any longer? Can the malevolent be free from anxiety? Can the lesful escape obloquy? Can one’s posterity survive even though one has persecuted the Brāhmaṇas? Can one continue to perform actions (with attachment) even after attaining Self-Realization? Has anyone acquired sound wisdom while living in the company of the vicious? Can an adulterer attain a happy destiny? Can those who have realized God fall again into the ocean of transmigration? Can the revilers of Śrī Hari be ever happy? Can a kingdom stand without the knowledge of statecraft? Can sins persist even after one has commenced narrating Śrī Hari’s exploits? Can one enjoy sacred renown without religious merit and can anyone earn a bad reputation without a sin? Is there any gain as valuable as Devotion to Śrī Hari, which is glorified alike by saints as well as by the Vedas and Purāṇas? And, brother, is there any loss in the world as grievous as not adoring Śrī Rāma even after obtaining a human body? Is there any other sin so bad as backbiting or any virtue so great as compassion, O mount of Śrī Hari?” In this way I mentally advanced numberless arguments in my favour and did not listen to the sage’s teaching with any reverence. Again and again I maintained the cause of the Saguṇa form of worship (the worship of an embodied Deity), till at last the sage uttered these angry words: “Fool, you refuse to accept the supreme lesson I have been imparting on you and indulge in endless arguments and counter-arguments. You give no credence to my authentic words and, like a crow, look on everything with distrust! Fool, you are exceedingly self-opinionated; therefore, you shall at once take the form of a crow (the pariah among birds).” I bowed to the curse pronounced by the sage but felt neither alarmed nor humbled. (1 - 8)

I was immediately transformed into a crow. Thereupon I bowed my head at the sage’s feet again and, fixing my thoughts on Śrī Rāma, the Jewel of Raghu’s line, joyfully took flight. Umā, (continues Lord Śaṅkara,) they who are devoted to Śrī Rāma’s feet and are free from lust, vanity and anger look upon the whole word as full of their lord; against whom can they harbour animosity? (112 A-B)

Listen, O lord of the winged creatures: the sage was in no way at fault; it is Śrī Rāma (the Ornament of Raghu’s race) who prompts all hearts. The All-merciful put my devotion to the test by clouding the sage’s reason. When He came to know that I was His devoted servant in thought, word and deed, the Lord disabused the saint again. The sage was amazed at my extraordinary forbearance and the unique faith in Śrī Rāma’s feet and, repenting again and again politely called me back. He consoled me in every way and then gladly imparted to me the formula sacred to Śrī Rāma. The gracious sage also taught me how to meditate on Śrī Rāma as a child. The form which I was thus taught to fix my thoughts upon, charming and delightful as it was, pleased me much; I have already told you the same. The sage detained me in his hermitage for some time and then recited the “Rāmacaritamānasa” (the Mānasa lake of Śrī Rāma’s exploits). Having reverently repeated the story the sage then addressed me in the following gracious words: “I discovered this secret and charming lake of Śrī Rāma’s exploits, dear son, by the grace of Lord Śambhu. I have come to know that you are a beloved devotee of Śrī Rāma; hence I recited it to you in full. Never repeat it, dear child, in the presence of those whose heart is void of devotion to Śrī Rāma.” The sage admonished me in various ways and I lovingly bowed my head at his feet. The great sage touched my head with his lotus palm and gladly gave me his blessing: “Henceforth, by my grace, devotion to Śrī Rāma shall ever abide in your heart and know no interruption. (1 - 8)

You shall ever be a favourite with Śrī Rāma and a storehouse of good qualities, free from pride, changing your form at will and choosing your own time for death, and a repository of wisdom and dispassion. Nay, in whatever hermitage you live with your thought fixed on the Lord, ignorance will have no access within a radius of eight miles from it. (113 A-B)

“No suffering occasioned by time, fate, merit, demerit or disposition shall ever torment you. The manifold charming mysteries of Śrī Rāma, that are found mentioned in the chronicles and Purāṇas either explicitly or implicitly, you will come to know without any difficulty; and the flame of your devotion to Śrī Rāma’s feet will grow ever brighter and brighter. Whatever longing you may entertain in your mind, you shall have no difficulty in attaining it by the grace of Śrī Hari.” On hearing the sage’s benediction, mark me, O Garuḍa of steadfast reason, a deep voice - which was evidently the voice of the Supreme Spirit - was heard from the heavens: “May your prophesy come to be true, O enlightened sage! He is My votary in thought, word and deed.” I rejoiced to hear the heavenly voice and stood overwhelmed with love and rid of all my doubts. On receiving the sage’s permission in response to my prayer I repeatedly bowed my head at his feet and gladly came away to this hermitage, having obtained by the Lord’s grace a rare boon. Listen, O lord of the feathered creation: I have now lived in this hermitage for seven and twenty rounds of creation. I am ever engaged in hymning the praises of Śrī Rāma (the Lord of the Raghus), while enlightened birds reverently listen to them. Each time the Hero of Raghu’s line assumes the form of a man in the city of Ayodhyā for the sake of His devotees I go and stay at the capital of Śrī Rāma and enjoy the spectacle of His childish sports. Again, enshrining an image of the child Rāma in my heart I return to my hermitage, O king of the birds. I have now told you all the circumstances that invested me with the form of a crow, and have also replied to all your queries. The glory of devotion to Śrī Rāma is superb indeed. (1 - 8)

I love this body only because it was in this body that devotion to Śrī Rāma’s feet sprang up in my heart, I was blessed with the sight of my lord and all my doubts vanished.          (114 A)

[PAUSE 29 FOR A THIRTY-DAY RECITATION]