Shri Rameshji Ojha, widely revered as Poojya Bhaishri, is a delectable exegetic of our scriptures. His pravachanas (discourses) are widely attended and more extensively watched on Sanskar channel of the TV. Here is a translation, inadequate though, of Shri Bhaishri’s discourse at Raleigh in the US. The discourse also appeared in print in the column Manasa Meemasa of Tatwa Darshan - Sept 2000.
A devotee, the one who is completely devoted to God, is a bhagavat. Devotion or Bhakti is the outcome of love towards God and his creation. Listening to the recounting of the tales of God generates love towards the divine. When one discovers and understands the qualities of a person or thing, the understanding promotes love. God’s form (swaroopa), nature (swabhava) and capacity (saamardhya) inspire adoration first and that leads to adoration, a kind of worshipful attitude, which is a form of Bhakti. Listening to the tales of God (Bhagavat kathaa sravan) is a form of worship and a duty for every devotee. These tales lead to revelations from which emerges love of God in individuals.
Individuals are drawn to god by different aspects: some by God’s form, some by God’s nature, and some others by God’s competence (saamardhya). All these qualities merge in one another and lead to devotion to God. The one who knows and understands God’s form, His nature and qualities (gunaas) is drawn to Him irresistibly. In Srimadramayan (Shri ram is always referred to by devotees as Ramji), devout readers find Shriram’s form, nature and competence. The scripture goes on unfolding all these. Sant Tulsidasji in Ramcharitmanas describes Shriram as brahmaparamartharoopa, avigata, alakh, anaadi and anupa, mentioning His qualities. He is a manifestation and form of the ultimate meaning of the creator, the indefatigable, the ever constant, the most ancient without beginning or end and the incomparable. He is merciful and compassionate (karunaamaya) , soft by nature (mrudu swabhavoo), quick to listen to one’s tale of grief and alleviating it at first sight. He has in him the fabulous form, sublime nature and character, and stupendous strength and competence.
In Shriram Katha we come across the tales of three cities: Mithila, Ayodhya and Lanka. Ramji wins the first with his wondrous appearance (roopa) winning Maithili’s hand by ‘breaking’ the celebrated Shiv’s bow (Shiv dhanush). He wins Ayodhya with his golden heart, impeccable character, personality and devotion to the highest goals of life (sheel). He vanquishes Ravana and wins Lanka with his stupendous strength (saamardhya). With all this, He draws everyone’s admiration and adoration.
How wondrous should be the form and mien of a person who wins the hearts of all the inhabitants of all the great cities! The Raja of Mithila nagari, Janakji himself was blown off his feet seeing Ramji along with his Guru Viswamitra Maharshi and brother Lakshmanji. Sant Tulsidasji’s Balakanda 215/ 1-2-3 describes Maharaj Janak’s exclamation that his manas has given up the great comfort of brahman seeing the duo. He asks the Rshi as to who they are. He welcomes them with great admiration. Ramji asks the sage’s permission to go around and show the city to his enthusiastic brother and what does the seer say? “Go and make the eyes of all those blessed rewarding them with your glimpse. The eyes, which have a chance to view the two, would have fulfillment of existence. Janak Maharaj, the tatwajanani and rajarshi, who believes God is formless and beyond guna, niraakar and nirgun, was astounded seeing Shriram. He experiences great peace, shanthi, the peace that passes understanding. His consort Sunaina, the good-eyed, became literally the nice-eyed one: and not just the queen herself: all those women who saw the princes became the blessed-eyed ones, the good and nice-eyed ones, sunainee. Just a darshan would make anyone the good-eyed one. Such is the presence of Ramji. Women in Mithila flocked at their windows and balconies for a glimpse at Ramji, He made them feel that their eyes have been blessed. All those felt accomplished their eyes have been rewarded: they all became sunainee.
Shriramji won Lanka by his valour and strength (saamardhya): He says (“Lakshman! My bow!”) His sundara roopa (beauty or pulchritude), His form, His ability and competence, His nature and qualities all these are shown in all their magnificence (vaibhav) in the sublime Ramkatha. A mere listening to the tale itself earns immeasurable merit (punya). Listening to Ramkatha (sravan) draws multiple blessings. Shriramji’s magnificent form, qualities, character and competence enthuse devotees to live meaningful lives. For this reason we listen to Shriram Katha and admire the exposition of the exegete. If the one narrating the tale has conviction and faith and if the listener has shraddha (devotion and commitment), listening to God’s nature, form, competence and His qualities, one is drawn to love and thus he or she becomes worthy of God’s love. In other words this engenders devotion (bhakti) to Shriramji. Then one feels accomplished and gets the feeling of fulfillment. All the tribulations of worldly life are just driven away. The listener attains shanti, the peace that passes understanding.
It is for this reason that Goswami Tulsidas wrote at the conclusion of his Ramcharitmanas that there is none, nothing comparable to Shriram. With a little of His mercy and compassion, Sant Tulsidas tells us, even he, the ‘unlearnt’ has found endless peace. He urges the slow-witted to sing the praise of the Lord, singing that the bird of life force (pran) would fly out leaving the body-cage. It was the Lord’s word that life is intended not merely for the enjoyment of the senses but to give time for singing His praises. An hour, a half-hour or a few minutes of sadh sangat (companionship of sadhus, sants (like Tulsidas) and satsang) would wipe away innumerable offences and sins (aparaadh). The busiest man has time as the saying goes and where there is a will there is a way. Those who have nothing to do, don’t have time for anything. If one has the will, sometime can be set apart for listening to bhagavat katha and bhagavat vaarta (tales of God and God’s message).
Home, family and children are no bonds. The bonds are one’s own attachments. If the attachment is to God, and if one lives thus in the world, it doesn’t matter if the world comes into our life. The ship can be on the ocean but the ocean cannot be in the ship. It does not matter that we are in the world. When this attachment binds, what is the use of leaving home to live in the forest? Man leaves the world to go into forest: but what would be the use if he is bound by his attachments? As long as the vasanas of the manas (worldly desires and those acquired and inherited) are not got over, nothing great can be accomplished. By just being shaven and starving one wouldn’t be able to offer anything to God. If one pretends to be in satsang and if he does not sing the praise of the Lord, what could be the use? If one does not drink in the essence of love, everything else is useless.
Though we live in this world, our attachment should be with the supreme Lord. We should make every day fertile and fruitful through bhagavat katha and bhagavat varta (Tales of God and God’s message)
Shriramkatha teaches us how to live. This gives us scope for devout company every day. This enables us to have the camaraderie of the god-loving.
Bharatiya Sanskruti, Indic culture, can be summed up in just three words: arpan (giving away) tarpan (devout ritual offerings of water etc.,) and samarpan (self-sacrifice). In all these three, there is giving away (sacrfice, tyag). But this tyag is not in the form of help or assistance. It is in the form of duty, (kartvya). Daatavyam. You have to give, you have to sacrifice, give away to society.
Tyag for society is itself arpan. The offerings made for father, mother and such like are tarpan. Whatever is sacrificed, given away to God, is samarpan.
One is indebted to the parents and to God for having given him or her birth as a human being and then things like air, water and light. The debt has to be redeemed, repaid, to discharge one’s rin: only then the borrower (rini) would redeem himself or herself from the indebtedness. Bharatiya sanskrti enjoins this duty on all human beings.
Arpan, tarpan and samarpan are not giving away for help or assistance. These have to be done as a matter of duty (kartavya). If one does not perform one’s duty, one would be at fault. Everyone should act with faith. With the inspiration from God, when one performs the duty with body, manas (mind)and money (tan, man and dhan), His mercy and His grace flow down. Satsang doesn’t accrue from purusharth: it comes from His grace. It flows down not by effort but by His Grace only.
One gets a mother - one gets a father,
One gets brothers - one gets sons
One gets a comfort-giving young wife,
One gets a kingdom, elephants and horses
One gets everything desired
One gets the world and that ordained by the Creator
One gets Heaven and gets things more beautiful
All is one -
Brother, meeting the sants is not easy to come by.