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|| Sri Paramatme Nameh ||
Manasa Mein Naam Vandana
(A tribute to Lord’s name in Rama-charit-manas by Sri Goswami Tulsidasji)
In Bala Kandha (Chapter on Childhood years) of Sri Rama-charita-manas, Sri Goswami Tulsidasji brings out the beautiful glory of Rama Naam and pays his holy tribute to Lord Rama’s name in 9 dohas (coupltes) and 72 chaupaees (unique poetry in four-some stanzas). Parma Shardheya Swami Ramsukhdasji Maharaj gave (9) discourses on this topic. These discourses are priceless for all spiritual seekers including both types of devotees, those who worship Nirguna (God without form) or Saguna (God with name and form). Swamiji delivered these discourses in a very simple and easy to understand style in Hindi. An humble attempt has been made here to translate these discourses in English, please forgive for the imperfections in the translation.
Bala-Kandha, Doha #18)
Gira artha jala bici sama kahiyata bhinna na bhinna
Bandau sita rama pada jinhahi parama priya khinna
“I pay homage to the feet of Sita and Rama, the refuge of the distressed, who are truly one, as a word & its meaning, the water & the wave are one and the same, are inseparable, though they are distinguished in speech”.
Before starting the life story of Lord Rama in the Rama-charit-manas, Goswami Tulsidasji pays respects to all. In this couplet, he bows down to Sri Ramaji and Sitaji, then he pays his tribute to Rama Naama (Name of Rama). Sri Goswamiji had a great admiration for the number 9 (nine). The numbers 18, 108, 1008 and 10008 are all multiples nine which is a mystical number*. Nine is a highest number in its class. All multiples of 9 added together ultimately become number 9. This can be verified (16X9 =144, 1+4+4 = 9).
Whenever Goswamiji wanted to give a special significance to a certain theme, he gave 9 types of similes and examples. The mystic number 9 is the ultimate.
* The mystical number 9 is arrived in this way:
- The universe is constituted of the three factors – time, space and causation
- The universe is constituted of the three gunas Satva, rajas and tamas
(These three are the modes of Prakriti or nature)
- The universe is constituted of the three functions – creation, preservation and
Thus three times three making nine has become a mystic number. It exhausts
The definition of phenomenal universe.
Bala Kandha, 33-2
Sambata sorah sai ektisa karau katha hari pada dhari sisa
Naumi bhauma bara madhu masa, avadhpuri yaha charita prakasha
Ramajanam tithi bar saba jasa Treta mahan bhasa
tasa ektisa mahan juro yoga lagan graha raas
Lord Rama incarnated into a human form in Auyodhya (State of UP) on a very auspicious day, Tuesday, the ninth day of bright half of the lunar month in the Indian calendar month of Chaitra (Msarch/April) in the Samvat year 1631 (1574 A.D. ) during the Tareta Yuga (In Hindu System there are four Yugas, Satya, Treta, Dwapar and Kali yuga (These are four time periods consisting of many many years). Sri Goswamiji kept waiting to start composing Lord Rama’s life story (The holy lake of the acts of Rama) until the auspicious timing and positions of stars came to be exactly the same as they were on the day when Lord Rama had taken human form in Tareta Yuga.
In Doha #18 above, Sri Goswamiji bows down to Sri Sitaji and Sri Ramaji’s feet, a special feature is brought out about Lord Rama – “jinhahi parama priya khinna”, generally , no body likes a person suffering from pain, he is ridiculed by all but Sri Sitaji and Sri Ramaji feel deeply for the one who is suffering and has no one else to depend upon, Sitaramaji love him, He bestows His special blessings on this person.
To illustrate the point that Sitaji and Ramaji are not separate entities, two examples are given here. As ‘gira-aratha’ (speech & the meaning) and ‘jala-bici’ (water and the wave). We use two words, speech and meaning but they are really one since one cannot exist without the other. Whatever we say with speech, it must have some meaning and if we want to convey some meaning, speech is necessary, so they are really one. The same way, wherever there is water there is a wave. The wave and water ordinarily are considered two different words but the body of water does not exist without the wave and wave does not without the water, essentially both are one.
Further more, among the four words - speech, meaning, water and wave, two words, ‘speech and wave’, are considered feminine, ‘meaning and water’ are considered masculine. These two examples were used here to explain that Sitaji and Ramaji are not two but indeed are one entity only. To illustrate this point, one time feminine word ‘speech’ is used first, Siitaji’s name comes first and then the masculine word ‘meaning’ for Ramaji’s name is used. The other time the masculine word ‘water’ for Ramaji is used first and then the feminine word ‘wave’ is used for Sitaji. Traditionally, a devotees recite as ‘Sita-Rama’ only, Rama-Siya’, usage is not very common. But when a devotee is engrossed completely in love of God then he does not see Sitaji and Ramaji as different entities, it is the same thing regardless of which utich name comes first, e.g., on his way to Chitrakut (a city in UP), Bharata stops in Prayaga (the area surrounding the confluence of three rivers Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati near Alahabad) and says:
bharata tisre pahar kaha knha prabesu prayag,
Kahata rama siya rama siya umagi umagi anuraga”
Bharata entered Prayaga in the afternoon, overflowing with love he cried, “Rama Sita” “Rama Sita” with irrepressible devotion.
Now,Sri Goswami begins the topic of paying his respects to Name of Rama and the significance of Naam in nine dohas (couplets).
One way to remember God is to do ‘Naam-japa’ (muttering of the name with awreness of its meaning) and the other is to recite as a ‘Mantra’. In Naam-japa, it is addressing to God and in the Mantra, it is a salutation to God, e.g., Ramaya Namayah’. For the Mantra, a specific method has to be followed but for the Nama-japa the devotee calls out Rama! Ram!! Rama!!! In ‘Japa’ no particular method is required. The thought behind Rama Naam is addressing or crying out for Him to get His attention.
Kaisa hi kyon na jana neend sota , voh naam lete hi subhod hota
“Just like if a person is in sleep, someone call out his name, hearing his name he wakes up”
In the same way, when we say Rama! Rama!! Rama !!! Lord Rama is attracted to us. As a child calls out for mom-mom, many mothers are attracted towards the child. Even though all mothers are attracted but the only real mother of the child will go to the child whom the child considers his mother. The name ‘mother‘ is for all mothers who have children. Even then all mothers do not rush towards the child on calling for the mother because the child is calling for his own mother only. The other mothers may be dressed very nicely, may be wearing good ornaments, may have good nature but the child does not consider them her mother. He wants his mother only. That is why his mother only goes to the child. The same way, as the devotee with a distressed heart calls out Rama-Rama considering Him as his very own, the Lord is attracted towards the devotee.
Jaba laga gaja apno bala bartyo neka saryo nahi kaam
Nirbal haib balarama pukariyo aayo adhe naam
Just like Gajaraja, the king of the elephants was in distress, (this story comes in Srimad Bagavatam) cried and called out only the first half of Lord’s name, the Lord came running to rescue and protect him. Therefore the actions and the methods are not important but crying out for the Lord with a throbbing heart is what is important. When the devotee solely depending on the Lord’s protection, considering the Lord as his own, with full faith & hope, withdraws his mind from all other things and calls out ‘Hey Ram! Ram!! Ram !!!’ . The distressed heart of a sincere devotee has a very intense feeling for the Lord. He gets attracted to the devotee with the result that the Lord appears in front of the devotee. As God appeared from the iron pillar for Prahalada . The sincere cry from the distressed heart is the main reason why God cannot resist comimg to devotee. There is a deep significance of reciting Rama’s name. The importance of recitation of the Rama Naam has come in Ramayana in a very special way.
NAAM Vandana (Prostrations to the Name of the Lord Rama)
Bal-Kandha 18-1, 1st line
bandau nama rama raguvara ko, hetu krsanu bhanu himakara ko
“I pay homage to Rama, the name of Raghunatha, the source of all light, whether of the fire, or the sun, or the moon”.
While paying his homage to Sri Rama, Sri Goswamiji says, I am bowing down to Name of that superior Sri Raghunathji in Raghu dynasty who is the seed of all sources of light, from the fire or the sun or the moon. What is in the seed? The seed has all the qualities, the juice in all the fruits of the tree comes from the seed. In the Fire dynasty there is ‘Parashuramji’, in Sun dynasty there is ‘Ramaji’ and in the moon dynasty there is ‘Balarama’ (the younger brother of Lord Krishna). In this way God incarnated as a human form in the three dynasties. These three incarnations of God have the common name ‘Rama’ in them but the name of Rama in Sri Raghunathji Is the reason for the other names. I prostrate to that name ‘Rama’ of Sri Raghunathji, which is the seed of fire as ‘Ra’, seed of Sun as ‘Aa’ and the seed of moon as ‘M’. The name of Rama contains these three ‘Ra’, ‘Aa’, ‘Ma’. To describe these three letters - Fire, Sun and the Moon have been used.
The three syllables have been used here in a special way. The letter ‘Ri’ in Krisanu (fire), ‘Aa’ in Bhanu and ‘Ma’ in Himakara (moon). If we take out ‘Ri’ from ‘Krisanu’, ‘ksanu’ will remain which does not mean anything, take out ‘Aa’ from ‘Bhanu’, ‘bhnu’ will remain which means nothing. In the same way, take out ‘Ma’ from ‘Himkara’, ‘hiker’ will remain which also does not mean anything. It means that the words Krisanu’,’ Bhanu’ and ‘Himakara’ will be lifeless without ‘Rama’.
The basis for these three words is ‘Rama Naam’ only. The same way, in all words Rama is the Prana (the vital force). If we take out ‘Rama’ from ‘Krisanu’, ‘Bhanu’ and ‘Himakara’, then in these three words nothing important will be left. The purpose of speaking about these three here is that when one recites Rama Naam, he gets rid of his sins, his ignorance is gone and there is light. Lack of peace, pain and burning are gone and one obtains Shanti (peace).
Goswamiji proceeds further –
Bal Kandha 18-1, 2nd line
bidhi hari haramaya veda prana so, aguna anupma guna nidhana so
“Rama Naam is the essence of:
Bidhi (Brahma, the creative aspect of God), Hari (Vishnu, the sustainer aspect)
Hara (Siva, the destroyer aspect), these three are God’s powers, the Prana (the vital breath) in the Vedas, the impersonal aspect without any attributes, the one without the description and the treasure-house of all perfections”.
In the world, there is nothing higher than Rama Naam, all powers are contained in it, that’s why the sages have said:
Ramadasa sumrin karo ridha sidha ayake sayan
All perfections and attainments are contained in Rama Naam. If you do not believe then try reciting it day and night and verify it for yourself, all things will turn out all right, nothing will be left undone.
The Rama Naam is as if the vital air not only to the Vedas but also for the Varan Mala (letters in the alphabet), Parnava (the syllable Aum) is considered the vital air for the Vedas. Parnava (AUM) has three syallables ‘A’, ‘U’ & ‘M’ and appeared before anything else, for this reason it is considered to be the primordial sound in the universe, from this came the Gayatree and then from that came the three main Vedas – Rik, Sama and Yajus. This is how Aum (Pranava) is considered as Prana of the Vedas.
Here, the reason for saying ‘Rama Naam’ as the basis of Vedas is that the Pranava (AUM) came from Rama Naam only. If we take ‘Ra’ out of ‘Pranava’ then it will become ‘Panava’ which means a drum. The same way take the ‘Ma’ out of Aum, then it will become ‘Au’ which is an expression of sorrow. To say Pranava ‘Ra’ is essential and to say ‘Aum’ ‘Ma’ is essential. This is why it is said that Rama Naam is the vital air of the Vedas.
’Agun anupama guna nidhana so’ - The Rama Naam is Nirguna (without the three gunas, Satva, Rajas and Tamas, the three modes or strands of Prakriti or nature). The Naam is beyond the Satva, Rajas and Tamas, it cannot be described with a simile and at the same time it is complete with all the good qualities of compassion, forgiveness, contentment etc. When the devotee recites the Naam, these virtues automatically come to him. Here Rama Naam stands for both, God with form and without the form, this comes later –
Bal-Kandha 20-4, 2nd half
aguna saguna bici nama susakhi, ubhya prabhodhaka catura dubhashi
“The name bears testimony to the impersonal and the personal form of God alike, Naam is a clever interpreter revealing the truth of both.”
Therefore, the worshipper of God with name and form recites Rama Naam and who worship God without attributes (Name and form) recite Rama Naam also.
Rama Naam is equivalent to nectar. Just as in good food we add butter and milk, the food becomes tastier, the same way, Rama Naam can be added to other methods of worship or simply reciting Rama Naam alone it elevates the devotee.
No simile can is adequate. Raam Naam only is equal to Rama Naam. Reciting Rama’s name is superior to other methods of worship. It is said that among the ten blunders while reciting Rama Naam, one of them is to compare Rama Naam with other methods to reach God because the name cannot be compared with anything else.
When Sri Rama arrived at Sabri’s cottage (Sabri belonged to low caste but was one of the greatest devotees of Sri Rama) and He says to her –
Navadha bhagati kahau tohi pahi, savadhana sunu dharu mana mahi
“Now I tell you the nine types (or stages) of Bhakti (devotion), O good lady, listen attentively and keep this in your heart.”
After desribing to her the nine types of devotion, In the end He says,
sakala prakara bhagati drRha tore (Aryanya-Kandh 36-7),
“You have all of the nine types of devotion”.
Sabri did not even know that there are 9 different types of devotion, then how these came to her? Due to Rama Naam only. She had the deep dedication for for Lord Rama, with utmost sincerity, without a break she constantly recited the Rama Naam she kept awaiting for Lord Rama. That’s why Lord Rama at last had to come to her cottage.
‘Guna Nidhan so’ this Rama Naam is a treasure house of virtues, it is evident that by reciting Rama Naam there is no virtues left, without being the devotee aware of even the noble virtues come of their own.
There have been sages and Mahatamas (great souls) who recited the Rama nama. Think about it, how many virtues, extra ordinary powers came to them. Recitation of Rama nama is something beyond this world. Therefore Rama nama is called the treasure house of virtues and divine qualities. The Rama Nama is beyond the three modes of Prakriti (Satvic, Rajasic and Tamasic). What has been described here is the special glory of three letters ‘Ra’ ,‘Aa’,and ‘Ma’ in Rama.
Glory of Maha Mantra
Now Goswamiji starts to describe the glory of Nama, as the Mantra:
Mahamamtra joi japata maheshu, kasi mukuti hetu updesu
“The great Spell muttered by Shiva and which, when imparted by Him at Kasi (City of Varanasi) leads to emanicipation.
The scriptures maintain that Lord Siva, the diety presiding over the holy city of Kasi, whispers into the right ear of every creature, dying within its boundaries, te name ‘Rama’ and thereby brings emancipation to the soul of the dying person. By combining the three letters ‘Ra’ ,‘Aai’, ‘Ma’ ‘Rama nama’ becomes a mantra while other names are ordinary mantras.
The Rama Nama is the great mantra which Lord Shiva mutters all the time, it is due to this that Rama Nama is the reason for Mukti (liberation) in the city of Kasi. By combining the three letters ‘Ra’, ‘Aa’ and ’Ma’, it became a great mantra as compared to other mantras that are ordinary mantras.
Eko eva paro mantro ‘Rama’ iti-akshrad-vyam
“There are 7 crore (70 million) mantras, they are very confusing to the mind but ‘Rama’ is a supreme mantra, superior than all mantras. All mantras are contained in it, no mantra is left out, all powers are contained in it.
This ‘Rama Nama’ becomes the reason for liberation for the dying in the city of Kasi where Lord Siva whispers ‘Rama Nana’ in the ear of every dying creature, the creatures attain emancipation as a result. One of the sages pointed out that he had seen that those who die in Kasi, their right ear was slightly elevated.. Swamiji Maharaj wrote that he too had observed this. It is believed that Lord Siva has whispered the rama mantra in the right ear by pulling it up slightly. On this subject, a saint named Salagramji also has said-
jaga main jinke jada jada jiva jaki anta samyo,
Yama ke jabar yodha khabar liye kare |
Kashipativishwanth varanasi vasin ki,
Phansi yama nashan ko shasan diye kare ||
Meri parja haveke kim pe kall dantrasa,
Salga vichara mahesha yahi hiye kare |
Tarakki bhanak pinaki yate pranin ke,
Prana ke payan samya kan main kiyo kare ||
When the Prana (the life force) leaves the body, at the time Lord Siva whispers ‘Rama Nama’ in the ear. But why shoul Lord Siva does that? He thinks that the person who is nt turned towards God, Lord Yasma (the god of death) takes charge of that person and gives punishment but since I (Lord Siva) is presiding over this creation, people call Me ‘Vishwanatha’ (Lord of the world), with Me being thee, it is befitting that Yama should come here to Kasi to give punishment. To give punishment or reward, it is job of the owner of that place. If someone comes from outside and starts to give punishment or reward, it is not justified. If no other placve, at least in Kasi where I stay, I cannot allow Yama’s interference here.
In Kasi, two rivers ‘ Varuna’ and ‘Asi’ merge into the river Ganges. The area between the two is called ‘Varanasi’. In this area –
Manduuakamatsyah, krimyopi kashyan tyakatva sriram shivamapnoti
It may be a fish, frog or any aother creature living in water, in sky, or on land, Lord Siva grants liberation. This is the special glory of living in Kasi. Here in Kasi, Lord Siva is always alert to see that all creatures are saved from mthe clutches of Lord Yama. Lord Siva does not want His subjects to suffer.
In Adhyatama Ramayana (composed by Veda Vyasa), while singing the glories of Sri Rama, Lord Siva says – for the liberation of living beings I gave them the Rama Nama, the purifier of all, this way they get librated. –
Aham hi kashyam … dishami mantra tava rananama
Janama janama muni jatanu karahin, anta rama kahi aavat nahin
“Calling out ‘Rama Nama’ at the final moments of life, one is no longer subjected to the cycle of life and death.”
Lord Siva has opened a mukti kshetra (field of liberation). Someone opens a food bank for distribution of food, but wealth is needed to accomplish that. Lord Siva says ‘ I have the wealth of ‘Rama Naam’, whosoever wants liberation can have it.
Kishakindha-Kandha, 1st Stotra
Mukti janma mahi jani gyana khani agha hani kara
Jaha basa sambhu bhani so kasi sia kasa na
“Why not dwell at Kasi, the abode of Shambu (Lord Siva) and Bhavani (The Divine Mother), knowing thisto be the birth place of salvation, the mine of spiritual wisdom and abolisher of sin?”
This field of Kasi is the Mukti Kshetra (libration field) of Lord Siva. The wealth of Rama Nama is such that it does not get spent. Even after liberation of many, the wealth does not to ab any less because the scope of this wealth is unlimited. While singing the glories of Rama Nama, Sri Goswami Tusidasji said what is considered to be beyond limits -
Kaau kaha lagi nama baRai, ramu na sakahi nama guna gai
“But why should I any more extol the Name? Sri Rama Himself cannot adequately glorify the Name.“
There is so much glory of Rama Nama that even the Lord Rama cannot exhaust these glories. ‘Mahamantra joi japata maheshu’ – the second meaning this is that this great mantra is such that after constantly chanting of Rama Nama, Isha (Lord Siva) became to be known as Mahesha (Maha Isha). After the recitation of this Mahamantra we too can become equl to Mahesha. Therfore, Swamiji Maharaj is addressing to all, makes an appeal - sisters, brothers, mothers and fathers, recite the Rama Nama at all times, during the night and day, while standing up and sitting down, walking around, at all times. Even though the Lord’s name is very simple but it makes all the happenings very special.
Narayana! Narayana!! Narayana!!!