In his Vinay Patrika, Tulasidasa eulogizes Lord Shiva, the Lord of all, in a very distinctive tone. Basically, Lord Brahma, who authors everyone’s destiny, visits Shiva’s abode and offers his resignation to Goddess Parvati. He complaints that Shiva keeps playing with the karmic law to bestow boons upon His devotees. As a result of Shiva’s habit to grant, Brahma believes that he is forced to create heavens for individuals whose destiny does not allow delight for even a moment. Because Brahma cannot take it any more, he concludes, “Could you please authorize someone else to write destiny? I would rather live by alms.”
The unparalleled kindness of Lord Shiva is reiterated everywhere in the Epics and Puranas. In the Ramayana, in spite being Lord Rama’s Personal God and devotee as well, He grants boons to Ravana, who symbolizes evil. In the Mahabharata, while showering His love on Arjuna, who is struggling for being righteous, He does offer a boon to Jayadratha that is responsible for the demise of Arjuna’s son in the war. Numerous mythological events of this category echo why fathering the universe is difficult. Just because some of His kids could not turn out to be righteous, Shiva does not entirely turn down their prayers. Nonetheless, He always ensures the eventual victory of dharma through His manifestation as Vishnu.
In addition to affecting the mood of its listeners, the vibrations of
Ragas used to have their impact on material nature as well. In this
context, the six primary Vedic Ragas used to be associated with mystical
As I heard from music gurus of Jaipur, Raga Bhairav could create the energy to rotate a grinder called kolhu,
a village machine typically driven by bulls to extract oil from seeds.
Raga Hindol could induce movement in a swing, usually hung from the
branch of a tree, probably by its effect on the atmosphere. Whereas Raga
Deepak could ignite the wick of a lamp, Raga Malkauns could melt a
stone. While Raga Megh could ‘invite’ clouds and condense water from
them to bring a monsoon rain, Raga Shri could rejuvenate a dead tree to
produce tiny green leaves again.
History of Indian Music tells us that two of Swami Haridas’s disciples in the 16th century, Tansen and Baiju, had developed the perfection, in terms of swara-lagaav (perfect application of notes), for such magical effects. Even to the present day, with a lot of knowledge lost, the tradition continues. We may not observe the promised magical response on the environment, but living beings still find it difficult to escape the influence of a Raga in a recital.
On the auspicious festival of Dussehra, celebrated to honor the victory of righteousness over evil, we should take a moment to look at the chariot that Lord Rama used in His battle to defeat Ravana in the Ramayana. While a visible chariot was delivered as an aid by Indra, the actual chariot, made from spirituality, that Rama used is described by Goswami Tulasidasa in the Ramacharitmanasa. When Vibhishana inquires how Rama would fight a war without a chariot and armor, He responded that a different type of chariot is used for victory:
Valor and patience are the wheels of this chariot; truth and morality form its flag; strength, discrimination, control of senses and good deeds are its horses, which are fixed to the chariot though the straps of forgiveness, compassion and equanimity. While God remembrance is the driver, intellect is the energy that drives this chariot. After describing the rest of the ‘artillery’, which includes the shield of renunciation, a sword made of contentment, an axe of charity, a bow made of spiritual knowledge, a quiver symbolized by a clean and firm mind, an armor from faith in one’s gurus, and arrows represented by a controlled mind and the yam-niyam of yoga, Rama continues that with such a chariot, no opponent remains undefeated.
Bringing at least a couple of elements from this chariot in our own lives may be a fruitful complement to burning the effigies of Ravana on today’s special occasion.