सर्वे प्रपत्तेरधिकारिणो — Sarvē prapattēr-adhikāriṇō

Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānand

Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānand (Jagadguru Śrī Rāmānandācārya, CE 1199 - CE 1475*) was one of the most important Bhakti-movement saints, and regarded as the reviver of the eternal Śrī-Sampradāya which has been the largest Vaishṇava-Sampradāya. He is regarded as the incarnation of Bhagavān Śrī Rāma himself by the Vaishṇavas of Śrī-Sampradāya. Śrī-Sampradāya is the Sampradāya in which Śrī-dēvī i.e. Dēvī Sītā is the first Āchārya (Guru), Sarveshvar Bhagavān Śrī Rāma is the Ishṭa-dēva (the most beloved principle deity), and the philosophy of Vedas is accepted as Vishishtādvaita (qualified-monism) which was first propounded by Sage Bodhāyana (600BC), further enunciated by Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānuja (the incarnation of Śrī Lakshmaṇa [Rāmānuja]) in his Śrī-bhāṣya, and Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānanda (the incarnation of Bhagavān Śrī Rāma himself) in his Śrī Ānanda-bhāṣya.

रामानन्दः स्वयं रामः प्रादुर्भूतो महीतले।
कलौ लोके मुनिर्जातः सर्वजीवदयापरः॥
तप्तकांचनसंकाशो रामानन्दः स्वयं हरि:॥
(वैश्वानर संहिता)

rāmānandaḥ svayaṃ rāmaḥ prādurbhūtō mahītalē।
kalau lōkē munirjātaḥ sarvajīvadayāparaḥ॥
taptakāṃcanasaṃkāśō rāmānandaḥ svayaṃ hariḥ॥
(Vaiśvānara Saṃhitā)

“Jagadguru Bhagavān Śrī Rāmānanda is the incarnation of the supreme personality of Godhead Bhagavān Śrī Rāma himself who appeared on this earth in the form of a great Muni (sage) out of his causeless mercy and compassion on all Jivas. Bhagavān Rāmānanda was the Supreme Lord Śrī Hari Himself, having bodily lustre of molten gold in this Kaliyuga.”

The divine glory of Śrī Rāmānand Bhagavān

Bhāratavarsha was about to be completely Islamized in the same way Afghānistān and Irān were Islamized. In that time of great peril and turbulence, to protect the Sanātan-Dharma, there was utter need of all powerful divine Bhagavad Vibhuti in Āryāvarta (Northern Bhāratavarsha). That time Śrī Rāmānand Bhagavān appeared in Āryāvarta, where Bhagavān himself appears.

Śrī Rāmānand Bhagavān was actually Sārvabhaum-Chakravartī of Ādhyātmika-Jagat (Spiritual-religious-world). Whole world belonged to him, and He belonged to everyone. This way the word 'Jagadguru' became meaningful in him in its' true sense. He accepted Disciples from all castes without any discrimination. Among the twelve Mahābhāgavata-disciples, Sant Śirōmaṇi Śrī Kabīr, Śrī Raidās, Śrī Sēna were a Muslim, a Cobbler, and a Barber respectively, they all became great renowned saints of Bhakti-movement to spread the loving-devotion of Bhagavān Śrī SītāRāma. Around 2 Million Muslims followed his divine illuminance and went behind him to Śrīmatī Ayodhyā Mahāpurī, there they took holy dip in divine Sarayū river, and embraced Vaiṣṇavism (Sanātan-Dharma). This way, Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānand protected and strenghthened the Sanātan-Vaidic-dharma.

Maulānā Rasheeduddīn, a Muslim Faqīr, who was contemporary to Jagadguru Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānandācārya, has mentioned Śrī Rāmānand Bhagavān in his work 'Tajkīr-Tul-Fuqurā' in 1415 CE. There, He writes —

❝In Kāśī, on Pañcagaṅgā-Ghāṭa, there resides a renowned saint who is an embodiment of divine-radiance and a Yogeshvara (the perfect master of yoga). He is revered as a universally respected Ācārya among the Vaiṣṇavites, embodying righteousness and unwavering devotion to the Brahm. He is fully knowledgeable about the secrets of the Supreme Absolute Truth and have a profound impact in the society of true devotees and those who possess the knowledge of the Absolute. He hold the highest authority in the matters of religious rituals and practices for Hindus. He emerges from His sacred cave during the Brahm-muhurta only to take a dip in the Ganges. That sacred soul is known as Śrī Rāmānand. The number of His disciples is more than five hundred (who stays with Him). Amongst that group of disciples, twelve are particularly blessed. They are: (Śrī) Kabīr (a Muslim), (Śrī) Pīpā (a Kshatriya King who and whose Youngest Queen Śrīmatī Sītā Sahacharī took Sannyāsa, became Vairāgī-Bhakts), (Śrī) Raidās (a cobbler), etc. The name of this community of devotees is "Vairāgī." One who renounces the desires of the enjoyments in this world and in the afterlife in heaven is called a Vairāgī in the language of the Brāhmaṇas. It is said that the initiator of this lineage is (Śrī) Sītā. She (Śrī Sītā) first imparted teachings to Her special-servant Hanuman, then that Ācārya disseminated this secret (mantra) in the world. Due to this reason, this lineage is called "Śrī-Sampradāya" and their main mantra is known as "Rāma-tāraka Mantra." The sacred mantra is imparted by the Guru into the disciple's ear, and they apply an upward-facing tilak in the shape of a vertical line (Lam) and a horizontal line (Mim) on the forehead, along with other marks on eleven different places. They wrap a diamond-shaped Tulasī bead in the sacred thread (Janeu) and tie it around the disciple's neck. Their tongue is engaged in the continuous recitation of the mantra, while their mind remains absorbed in the contemplation and seeking of their beloved Supreme Being. This lineage is completely devoted to the Supreme Lord. Most of the saints lead a life of self-realization and renunciation, known as the life of a Paramahamsa or a wandering ascetic.❞

Tajkīr-Tul-Fuqurā By Maulānā Rasheeduddīn (1415 CE) a Muslim Faqīr, Excerpted from Gītā Press Gorakhpur, Kalyāṇ Patrikā, Sant Ank.

The lifestory of Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānand

In Prayāgarāj, a Kāṇyakubja Brāhmaṇa couple Śrī Puṇya-Sadan and his wife Śrīmatī Sushīlā-devī used to live, they were great devotees of Bhagavān Śrī Śrī SītāRāma. With a wish to get a child like Bhagavān Śrī Rāma himself, they did a great Tapasyā with devotion. Being pleased from their devotion and Tapa, Bhagavān Śrī Rāma who is present in the core of the divine Sun appeared before them, and blessed them to have a child like him, and at the end come near him in the divine world. Thereafter, an Aṁsha of Bhagavān Śrī Rāma entered in the womb of Śrīmatī Sushīlā-devī.

After sometime, in the auspicious Chitrā-Nakshatra in the Kumbh-lagna on the day of Brihaspati (the day of Guru, Guru-vār) on Māgha-Krishna-Saptamī in Vikram-Samvat 1256 (1199 CE) in Teerth-rāj Prayāg, as like Ravi (sun) appears on the horizon to remove the darkness and to spread the rays of Bliss (Prema-Ānand of Rāma, therefore called Rāmānand), Bhagavān Śrī Rāma himself appeared in form of Bhagavād Śrī Rāmānand(ācārya), the most compassionate universal Ācārya in true sense who accepted everyone under the umbrella of Śrī Rāma-Bhakti,to present again the greatest bridge to Jivas for attaining the Paramārtha (ultimate-fruit) in the form of Śrī Rāma-bhakti. That time Sanātan-dharma was on decline in the Āryāvart ( Northern India) due to the ruthless attacks and forcible conversions by invaders; Invaders used to look down upon Hindus the followers of Sanātan Vaidic-dharma; therefore Bhagavān himself appeared as an Ācārya, Śrī Rāmānanda to protect Sanātan-Vaidic-dharma, Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānanda saved Sanātan-Vaidic-dharma by reinstalling Sarva-Guṇa-sampanna Bhagavān Śrī Rāma in the hearts of the common people.

For the eight Years, He gave the Vātsalya-Ras to his parents, then his Yajñopaveet-Saṁskār was done and He became such a Paṇḍit (scholar) of all Vedas and Vedaṅga in just 4 Years that scholars couldn't teach him more. Therefore, He went Kāshī for the study. There He met a Smārta Guru who after seeing the divine-splendor of Young Śrī Rāmānand, said to him You seem non-earthly person and You have almost completed Your age on the earth here, Kaal (the god of death) may come any moment for You, therefore You should better surrender to Śrī Rāghavānand and accept the Deekshā of Śrī Rāma-mantra from him to become successful in attaining the ultimate purpose of this human-birth.

Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānand went to Śrī-Rāmāvat-Vaishṇavācārya Śrī Rāghavānand, a great Ācārya and devotee of Bhagavān Śrī Rāma, from him He received the Guru-deekshā of Śrī Rāma-mantra with all Pañch-Saṁskāras. When the god of death came, He couldn't find Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānand on the earth, after all He was the incarnation of Bhagavān Śrī Rāma himself, It was just his play (divine-leelā). Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānand performed many such divine leelā-s on earth.

Thereafter, Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānand went on pilgrimage throughout India from North to south, and He used to dine with the devotees of even lower castes without any discrimination. Seeing this many of his Guru-brothers were resented, for they had not yet understood the true Bhāgavat-Dharma of not discriminating the Vaishṇava-devotees. When they returned from pilgrimage, they complained about Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānand with their Guru. Knowing the divine purpose of the appearance of Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānand, for establishing the true Bhāgavat-Dharma, Śrī Rāghavānand declared Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānand as his successor, asked him to establish the true principles of Bhāgavat-Dharma in the world, and to write Ānanda-bhāṣya on the Prasthān-trayī to spread further the glory of the eternal Śrī-Rāmāvat Sampradāya. Thus, Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānand became the chief proponent of Śrī-Rāmāvat Sampradāya to spread the loving-devotion of Bhagavān Śrī SītāRāma.

Bhagavād Śrī Rāmānand had appeared to distribute the nectar of Bhakti of Bhagavān Śrī Śrī SītāRāma to all without any discrimination on the basis of caste, gender, religion, etc. He is seen as the reviver of the eternal Śrī Rāmāvat Sampradāya or the Śrī Sampradāya, and the chief-proponent of Vishishṭādvaita-Vedānt.

The word 'Rāmāvat' (रामावत्) consists of two words 'Rāma' (राम) and 'avat' (अवत्). In Saṁskṛta the root verb 'ava' means to protect, with 'akt' suffix it becomes 'avat' which means the protector, therefore 'Rāmāvat' means the Sampradāya of which Śrī Rāma is the protector (the principle deity). Again, 'avata (अवत)' means some water-source or pond or well in the Rigveda as the Saṁskṛta dictionary Vācaspatyam says - अवत पु० अव--अटच् वेदे पृ० टस्य तः । अवटरूपे कूपादौ निरु० “सिक्तमवतम्” ऋ० १, १३०, २,“अवतमवटमिति” भा० “अवते न कोशम्” ऋ० ४, १७, १६. Thus, 'Rāmāvata (रामावत)' means the Sampradāya (great sacred pond / reservoir) which is filled (brimming) with (the Bhakti of) Bhagavān Śrī Rāma. After the appearance of Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānand, this eternal Sampradāya which is brimming with the nectar of the loving-devotion in the lotus feet of Bhagavān Śrī SītāRāma, gained a great popularity again.

Jagadguru Śrī Rāmānanda is the Āchārya who gave this universal slogan ‘सर्वे प्रपत्तेरधिकारिणो — Sarvē prapattēr-adhikāriṇō : all are eligible in Prapatti’. He was the most generous and compassionate Jagadguru (the guru of whole world) who distributed the nectar of Bhakti of Bhagavān Śrī Śrī SītāRāma to all without any discrimination. Bhagavad Rāmānand preached universal acceptance of one and all under the umbrella of the love and devotion of Bhagavān Śrī Śrī SītāRāma. He preached - ‘जाति-पांति पूछै नहिं कोई, हरिको भजै सो हरि का होई jāti-pāṅti pūchai nahiṅ kōī, harikō bhajai sō hari kā hōī - Let no one ask a devotee’s caste. If a person is devoted to Hari, he becomes Hari’s own.’ What He preached, He shown it by accepting even Malechchha (Kabīr appeared in Malechchha family), Shudra (Śrī Raidās, a cobbler), and Women (Śrī Padmāvatī and Śrī Sursurī) as his direct disciples... who all became renowned Gurus, and Bhakti-movement saints. Thus, Jagadgurutva (being the universal teacher) is fully culminated in Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānanda in every way.

जगमंगल आधार भक्ति दसधा के आगर॥
(श्रीभक्तमाल पद - ३६)

Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānanda was the first Jagadguru who started Hari-Naam Saṅkirtan movement, he distributed the name of Rāma and loving-devotion (dashadhā Premā-bhakti) in the lotus feet of Bhagavān Śrī Śrī SītāRāma to one and all without any discrimination.

He declared emphatically:-

सर्वे प्रपत्तेरधिकारिणो मताः शक्ता अशक्ता पदयोर्जगत्पतेः।
अपेक्षते तत्र कुलं बलञ्च नो न चापि कालो न विशुद्धताऽपि वा॥

sarvē prapattēradhikāriṇō matāḥ śaktā aśaktā padayōrjagatpatēḥ।
apēkṣatē tatra kulaṃ balañca nō na cāpi kālō na viśuddhatā'pi vā॥

“O’ Śrī Rāma, the supreme master of all the worlds! Irrespective of one's age, gender, caste, social status, physique, time, purity etc., Everyone is rightfully eligible for Prapatti in [to take refuge of] your lotus feet in my opinion ! Nothing is expected from Jivas for Prapatti.” (~ Śrī Vaishṇava Matābja Bhāskar, Jagadguru Bhagavān Śrī Rāmānanda)

Whether a Jiva is competent or incompetent, strong or weak, rich or poor, of higher or lower class, pure or impure, in all states he is rightfully eligible to take Sharaṇagati [refuge] of your lotus feet, O’ Śrī Rāma. Nothing is expected from Jivas for Prapatti [surrendering into the lotus feet of Bhagavān Śrī Rāma].

Thus, Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānanda flown the nectar of the loving-devotion of Bhagavān Śrī SītāRāma in the world for everyone.

Śrī Nābhādās Jī, the famous author of Bhaktamāla remembers him in Bhaktamāla in following Padas: —

(श्री)रामानन्द पद्धति प्रताप अवनि अमृत ह्वै अवतर्यो॥
देवाचारज दुतिय महामहिमा हरियानँद।
तस्य राघवानंद भये भक्तन को मानद॥
पृथ्वी पत्रावलम्ब करी कासी अस्थायी।
चारि बरन आश्रम सबही को भक्ति दृढ़ाई॥
तिन के रामानंद प्रगट बिश्वमंगल जिन बपु धर्यो।
(श्री)रामानंद पद्धति प्रताप अवनि अमृत ह्वै अवतर्यो॥
(श्रीभक्तमाल पद - ३५)

(śrī)rāmānanda paddhati pratāpa avani amṛta hvai avataryō॥
dēvācāraja dutiya mahāmahimā hariyānanda।
tasya rāghavānanda bhayē bhaktana kō mānada॥
pṛthvī patrāvalamba karī kāsī asthāyī।
cāri barana āśrama sabahī kō bhakti dṛDhāī॥
tina kē rāmānanda pragaṭa biśvamaṅgala jina bapu dharyō।
(śrī)rāmānanda paddhati pratāpa avani amṛta hvai avataryō॥
(Śrībhaktamāla pada - 35)

“The glories of the auspicious path (Paddhati) of Jagadguru Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānandācārya appeared (flown) and spread on this earth as a pure nectar in the form of Shri Rāma-mantra Paramparā (starting from Bhagavatī Srī Sītā Jī). In that paramparā, the greatly renowned Ācārya Hariyānanda appeared after Devānandāchārya, and his disciple was Śrī Vaishṇavāchārya Rāghavānanda who had a great reverence for all devotees of Bhagavān. Śrī Rāghavānanda traveled all across India, and came out victorious in all spiritual-debates with others, then he finally settled in in Kāshi (Vārāṇasi). Thereafter, Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānandācārya who assumed the auspicious form of ascetic for the welfare of world, appeared to Śrī Rāghāvananda as his disciple. Devotion (Bhakti of Bhagavān Śrī Rāma) was again strenghthened in Kaliyuga by Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānandācārya among all four Varṇas (Brāhmaṇa, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra), and four Ashrama-s (Brahmcharya, Grihastha, Vānaprasth, Sannyāsa). The glories of the auspicious path preached by Jagadguru Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānandācārya appeared (flown) on this earth as a pure nectar in the form of Rāma-mantra Paramparā.” [Śrī Bhaktamāla pada 35]

(श्री) रामानन्द रघुनाथ ज्यों दुतिय सेतु जगतरन कियो॥
अनन्तानन्द कबीर सुखा सुरसुरा पद्मावती नरहरी।
पीपा भावानन्द रैदास धना सेन सुरसुर की घरहरी॥
औरो सिष्य प्रसिष्य एक ते एक उजागर।
जगमंगल आधार भक्ति दसधा के आगर॥
बहुत काल बपु धारी के प्रनत जनन को पार दियो।
(श्री) रामानन्द रघुनाथ ज्यों दुतिय सेतु जगतरन कियो॥
(श्रीभक्तमाल पद - ३६)

(śrī) rāmānanda raghunātha jyōṅ dutiya sētu jagatarana kiyō॥
anantānanda kabīra sukhā surasurā padmāvatī naraharī।
pīpā bhāvānanda raidāsa dhanā sēna surasura kī gharaharī॥
aurō siṣya prasiṣya ēka tē ēka ujāgara।
jagamangala ādhāra bhakti dasadhā kē āgara॥
bahuta kāla bapu dhārī kē pranata janana kō pāra diyō।
(śrī) rāmānanda raghunātha jyōṅ dutiya sētu jagatarana kiyō॥
(Śrī-Bhaktamāla, pada - 36)

“Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānandācārya, who is Bhagavān Śrī Rāma himself appeared in the Kaliyuga, built such a great bridge which became the means for the deliverance of Jivas, to bring them across the ocean of mundane existence, just as in the past (in the Tretā-yuga) Bhagavān Raghunāth (Śrī Rāma) had constructed a bridge over the mighty ocean; and thus, innumerable Jivas were delivered and brought to supreme abode by him, and innumerable Jivas are still being liberated by following Śrī Rāmānand-Padhati, the tradition of Śrī-sect). The twelve Mahābhāgavats appeared as his twelve disciples, they are : (1) Śrī Anantānand, (2) Śrī Kabīr, (3) Śrī Sukhānand, (4) Śrī Surasurānand, (5) Śrī Padmāvatī , (6) Śrī Naraharyānand, (7) Śrī Pīpā (8) Śrī Bhāvānand (9) Śrī Raidās (10) Śrī Dhanā (11) Śrī Sēna and (12) Śrī Surasurī (the wife of Śrī Surasurānanda). His disciples, and the disciples of his disciples were all illustrious and greatly renowned in the world. They championed (became the abode of) the Dasadhā-Bhakti (the ten [10] forms of Bhakti, the 10th form of Bhakti is called Premā-Bhakti), and thus, they became the cause of the happiness and welfare of this world ! Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānandācārya remained present in this world for a very long time, and whosoever surrendered to him, He brought everyone to the supreme abode.” [Śrī Bhaktamāla pada 36]

Jagadguru Śrī Rāmānandācārya was very generous, and accepted disciples from all walks of life, irrespective of gender, caste, religion or social status. First time, He broke the orthodox traditions prevalent those days, and accepted even women (Padmāvatī Jī, Sursurī Jī), Shudra (Raidās Ji who was a cobbler) as his disciples. Glory of Śrī Rāmānandācārya was so much spread that even a King (Pipa ji) left his family-life & kingdom and surrendered to Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānand, and he became one of the 12 disciples of Jagadguru Śrī Rāmānandācārya. The divine aura of Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānanda attracted the hearts of 2.5 million Muslims, they followed him to Ayodhyā where they came back again into their original faith of Sanātan-Vaidic-dharma after taking bath in Sarayu river, and thereafter they accepted Rāma-mantra and became Vaishṇava.

Scriptures authored by Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānanda

Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānanda authored two most celebrated works which are invaluable gift to Vaishṇavism :
(1) Śrī Vaiṣṇava-Matābja-Bhāskar, and
(2) Śrī Rāmārchana-paddhati.

From these two works, one can get the idea of his philosophy (of Prapatti-vāda + Vishishtadvaita Vaishṇavism) and Paramaikāntika-bhakti in the lotus feet of Bhagavān Śrī Śrī SītāRāma.

Apart from these, He authored Ānanda-bhāṣya (philosophical commentaries causing bliss) on Prasthān-trayi (Brahm-sutras, principle Upanishads, and Bhagavad-Gita):
(1) Brahma Sutra Ānandabhāṣya
(2) Īśopaniṣad Ānandabhāṣya
(3) Kenopaniṣad Ānandabhāṣya
(4) Kaṭhopaniṣad Ānandabhāṣya
(5) Praśnopaniṣad Ānandabhāṣya
(6) Muṇḍakopaniṣad Ānandabhāṣya
(7) Māṇḍūkyopaniṣad Ānandabhāṣya
(8) Taittirīyopaniṣad Ānandabhāṣya
(9) Aitareyopaniṣad Ānandabhāṣya
(10) Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad Ānandabhāṣya
(11) Chāndogyopaniṣad Ānandabhāṣya
(12) Śvetāśvataropaniṣad Ānandabhāṣya
(13) Bhagvad Gita Ānandabhāṣya

Thus in total, Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānanda authored 15 works.

Teachings of Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānanda

Śrī Vaiṣṇava-Matābja-Bbhāskar (SVMBh) is a divine composition by Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānanda in which he answers the ten questions asked by his disciple Śrī Surasurānandāchārya, thus there are ten sections in it, which are the essence of all Vaidic-scriptures.

Some teachings of Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānanda from Śrī Vaiṣṇava-Matābja-Bbhāskar (SVMBh) : —

(i) Tattva-Nirupaṇa :

(a) Param-Tattva — Śrī Rāma whose freshly bloomed lotus like countenance bears a never fading smile and lāvanya (beauty-elegance-charm-loveliness), who is seen constantly without a wink of the eyelids by Śrī Sītā from the corner of her beautiful lotus-eyes, whose beauty has ever stolen the hearts of even Brahmā and Shiva etc, is Mahōtsavaṃ (supreme bliss [to be relished]) and Param-Puruṣōttam. (SVMB 3.2-5)

Charam-shloka of Vālmīki Rāmāyana does Paresh-Nirupaṇ.

प्रधानार्थः परेशस्य स्वरूपस्य निरुपणम् । (श्री वै०म०भा० २.४४)

pradhānārthaḥ parēśasya svarūpasya nirupaṇam । (SVMBh 2.44)

“The main purport of Charam-shloka of Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa is the Paresh-Nirupaṇ (defining [fixing] the Svarupa of Paresh - The supreme-most God).”

The two armed Bhagavān Śrī Rāma is Sarveshvar/Paresh (the supreme god of all) - which is evident from the Charam-shloka of Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa in which Śrī Rāma says I give abhayam* (complete fearlessness) from all beings. Here, Śrī Rāma's supremacy over all in whole cosmos and his being the highest shelter - are being evident.

[Note : A devotee of Śrī Rāma should contemplate on the charama-shloka of Vālmīki Rāmāyana. In Gita's Charam-shloka, Bhagavān says 'He will make a Jiva free from all sins if one takes his shelter'. While the charam-shloka of Vālmīki Rāmāyana gives (defines) the swarupa of Paresh (the most superior god) and the fruit as well. *Abhayam in Sanskrit also means the state of liberation as per the Upanishad.]

(b) Jiva-Tattva — An individual soul (Jiva) is Nitya (sat eternal), Chetan (chit, conscious), aja (unborn) like Bhagavān, Yet it (Jiva) is Satataṃ-Paravaśaḥ (always Paratantra i.e. dependent and under rule of Bhagavān, while Bhagavān Śrī Rāma is Param-Svatnatra and supreme master of all); Jiva is aṇu (small) in Pramaṇ (size & quality) (e.g. Jiva is also ananda-swarupam, however limited in nature), agya (not all knowing, in comparison to Bhagavān), lives in the body of Bhagavān Śrī Rāma. (SVMBh 1.7)

(c) Sambandha — There can be many relations between a Jiva and Bhagavān Śrī Rāma.

पितापुत्रत्वसम्बन्धो जगत्कारणवाचिना ।
रक्ष्यरक्षकभावश्च रेण रक्षकवाचिना ॥५॥
शेषशेषित्वसंबन्धश्चतुर्थ्या लुप्तयोच्यते ।
भार्याभर्तृत्वसंबन्धोऽप्यनन्यार्हत्ववाचिना ॥६॥
अकारेणपि विज्ञेयो मध्यस्थेन महामते !
स्वस्वामिभावसंबन्धो मकारेणाथ कथ्यते ॥७॥
आधाराधेयभावोऽपि ज्ञेयो रामपदेन तु ।
सेव्यसेवकभावस्तु चतुर्थ्या विनिगद्यते ॥८॥
नमः पदेनाखण्डेन तवात्मात्मीयत्वमुच्यते ।
षष्ठयन्तेन मकारेण भोग्यभोक्तृत्वमुच्यते ॥९॥
(श्री वैष्णव-मताब्ज-भास्कर २.५-९)

pitāputratva-sambandhō jagatkāraṇa-vācinā ।
rakṣyarakṣaka-bhāvaś-ca rēṇa rakṣaka-vācinā ॥5॥
śēṣaśēṣitva-saṃbandhaś-caturthyā luptayōcyatē ।
bhāryā-bhartṛtva-saṃbandhō'py-ananyārhatva-vācinā ॥6॥
akārēṇapi vijñēyō madhyasthēna mahāmatē !
svasvāmi-bhāva-saṃbandhō makārēṇātha kathyatē ॥7॥
ādhārādhēya-bhāvō'pi jñēyō rāmapadēna tu ।
sēvyasēvaka-bhāvastu caturthyā vinigadyatē ॥8॥
namaḥ padēnākhaṇḍēna tavātmātmīyatvam-ucyatē ।
ṣaṣṭhayantēna makārēṇa bhōgyabhōktṛtvam-ucyatē ॥9॥
(Śrī Vaiṣṇava-matābja-bhāskar 2.5-9)

Jagadguru Bhagavān Śrī Rāmānanda says a Jiva (Devotee) can have following Bhāva-s (sentiments) and relations towards Bhagavān Śrī Rāma :—

“(The relationships between Śrī Rāma and devotee)
(1) Pitā - Putra sambandh — (Parents — Son / Son — Parents),
By father and child relationship, Śrī Rāma is the cause of the whole cosmos,
(2) Rakshak - Rakshya sambandh — (Protector — Protected),
(3) Śēṣi - Śēṣa saṃbandha — (The Whole — residual/part),
(4) Bhartṛi - Bhāryā saṃbandh — (Husband — wife),
by bhāryā-bhartṛtva saṃbandh, a Jiva has ananyārhatva means Jiva solely belongs to Śrī Rāma only as his wife,
(5) SvaSvāmi bhāva saṃbandh — (Svāmi [owner, husband, master] — owned),
(6) Ādhāra - Ādhēya saṃbandh — (Support — Supported),
(7) Sēvya - Sēvaka saṃbandh — (Served — servant),
(8) Ātmā - Ātmīyatvam saṃbandh — (Indwelling self — Affinity [closeness, cordiality] towards the self, Sakha / relationship of friendship, with whom one has Ātmīyata comes here),
(9) Bhōktṛi - Bhōgya — (Supreme Enjoyer - the enjoyed one).”

Thus, a Jiva can be devoted to Paripūrṇatama Parātpara Paramātmā Puruṣōttama Bhagavān Śrī Rāma in any of the above relations (as per the Sambandh deekshā given by one's Guru).

Bhartṛi (भर्तृ) - Bhāryā (भार्या) saṃbandh [husband-wife relationship], Bhōktṛ (भोक्तृ) - Bhōgya (भोग्य) [Enjoyer - Enjoyed relationship], etc., belong to Mādhurya category of relationship between a Jiva and Param-Puruṣōttama Bhagavān Śrī Rāma, which is evident from innumerable damsels belonging to different classes (Deva, Yaksha, Mānava, Gandharva, etc) present in the divine forests of Ayodhyā Ji, as mentioned in Śrī Vālmīki-Rāmāyaṇa. They all are Sakhis or Sisters of Śrī Sīta Ji. Śrī Sītā Jī is the adobe of infinite qualities, each of the infinite Sakhis or Gopis or Sisters of Śrī Sītā, represents individually one of those infinite qualities (one of the ray of Prabhā).

[NOTE : The word 'Param-Mādhurya' first times comes in Saṁskṛit scripture for Śrī Rāma in Śrī Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa.]

(ii) The Goal for Jiva

प्राप्यं मिथुनमेवेति (~ श्री वै०म०भा० २.३०)

prāpyaṃ mithunamēvēti (~ SVMBh 2.30)

"The divine couple Śrī Śrī SītāRāma alone is the Prāpya (to be attained)."

*The divine couple Śrī Śrī SītāRāma are the means (Prāpak) and goals (Prāpya) both*. (~ SVMBh)

(iii) Param-Purushārtha : The objective behind attaining the goal, and the ultimate pursuit of Jiva

तत्किङ्करत्वैक प्रयोजनत्वम् - tat-kiṅkaratv-aika prayōjanatvam

“The sole objective of Jiva is to attain the Kaiṅkaryam (service) of the divine couple Śrī Śrī SītāRāma.”

तद्युग्मकैङ्कर्य्यस्य प्रधानता (~ श्री वै०म०भा० २.३३)

tadyugma-kaiṅkaryyasya pradhānatā (~ SVMBh 2.33)

“The Kaiṅkaryam of the divine couple Śrī Śrī SītāRāma has pre-eminence.”

[Kaiṅkaryam (serving out of loving-devotion / Param-Prema) is outlined as the Param-Purushārtha by Acharyas of Rāmāvat Śrī Sampradāya to be achieved finally by a Jiva, where a Jiva in Prema does Kaiṅkaryam to see the happiness (bliss) on the beautiful countenance of Priyā-Priyatam Bhagavān Śrī Śrī SītāRāma, and feels the highest bliss. While Paramārtha (the ultimate fruit) is the Parā-Bhakti in the lotus feet of Bhagavān Śrī Śrī SītāRāma.]

(iv) Parmārtha : the ultimate fruit

तत्किङ्करत्वैक फलाधिपत्यम् (~ श्री वै०म०भा० २.३३)

tat-kiṅkaratv-aika phalādhipatyam (~ SVMBh 2.33)

“The bliss obtained from the Kaiṅkaryam (service) of the divine couple ŚrīŚrī SītāRāma, is the fruit on which Jiva is adhipati.”

Any effort in love which causes Bhagavad-mukhollāsa is Kaiṅkaryam to the divine couple, Devotees feel the highest bliss in bhagavad-mukhollasa (तत्सुखे सुखित्वं प्रेमलक्षणम् (~शाण्डिल्य भक्ति सूत्र) — tat-sukhē sukhitvaṃ prēma-lakṣaṇam (~śāṇḍilya bhakti sūtra) Happiness in the happiness of the divine couple). Here Paramārtha (the ultimate fruit) is defined, the highest bliss originating from Kaiṅkaryam of divine couple. Sukha, Ānand, and Prema are synonyms here (tat-sukhē sukhitvaṃ prēma-lakṣaṇam).

(v) Unceasing devotion

May there be unceasing devotion in the lotus feet of the divine couple in me. (~ SVMBh)

A Jiva should become Cañcarīka of the lotus feet of ŚrīŚrī SītāRāma, from this loving-devotion Jiva experiences the supreme bliss by seeing and participating in the supreme nectarine leela of SītāRāma]. (~ SVMBh)

(vi) Supreme bliss

By entering in leelā of Bhagavān ŚrīŚrī SītāRāma, a Jiva is immersed in the ocean of supreme bliss (ānanda-sindhu). (SVMBh)

(vii) Prapatti

All are eligible in Prapatti

सर्वे प्रपत्तेरधिकारिणो

sarvē prapattēr-adhikāriṇō '

“Everyone has right in Prapatti to Bhagavān ŚrīŚrī SītāRāma!” (~ SVMBh)

[Prapatti is the essence of Vedas, Rāmāyaṇa and Gītā, and Prapatti-vāda and Vishishtadvaita are the main themes of the Siddhānta of Bhagavad Rāmānanda in his Śrī Vaiṣṇava-Matābja-Bhāskar (SVMBh).

Prapatti results into Parā-bhakti, and the direct experience of the divine couple as said in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.

(viii) Bhakti-Nirupan

(What is Bhakti?)

Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānand says :

(a) Bhakti (devotion) is of the form of the supreme love in Bhagavān. (परानुरक्तिः - parānuraktiḥ - Śrī-Vaiṣṇava-Matābja-Bhāskara 4.7)


उपाधिनिर्मुक्तमनेकभेदिका भक्तिः समुकता परमात्मसेवनम् ।
अनन्यभावेन मुहुर्मुहुः सदा महर्षिभिस्तैः खलु तत्परत्वतः ॥
(श्रीवैष्णव-मताब्ज-भास्कर ४.६)

upādhi-nirmuktam-anēka-bhēdikā bhaktiḥ samukatā paramātma-sēvanam ।
ananya-bhāvēna muhur-muhuḥ sadā maharṣibhis-taiḥ khalu tat-paratvataḥ ॥
(Śrī-Vaiṣṇava-Matābja-Bhāskara 4.6)

“Paramātm-sēvanam (loving and always doing seva of Bhagavān Śrī Rāma) with ananya-bhāva (with exclusive-devotion i.e. Bhagavān Śrī Rāma alone is the sole love), being free from (going beyond) all kinds of Upādhi-s (like Varṇa, Jati [caste], Guṇa, Kriyā, self-willed actions, desires, and other such things which cause distinctive ego in self) is called Bhakti by Maharshis.”

Such is the pure-bhakti in Bhagavān Śrī Rāma, free from all pride and prestige and ego of Upādhis like Varṇa, Jāti, Kriyā, self-willed actions, desires, etc.

Therefore, in Bhakti one has to transcend all kinds of ego, such is the love.

(ix) Types of Bhaktas

Bhaktas can be divided in many groups, in mainly two as:

(a) Shuddha-bhakt : The devotees who are desireless (in other things except serving Bhagavān & Purushakāra : Sītā Jī and āchārya) and engaged in remembrance (dhyāna, Japa etc) & Bhakti only. (अकामाः स्मृतिभक्तिनिष्ठिताः । [- श्रीवैष्णव-मताब्ज-भास्कर ६.६] — akāmāḥ smṛtibhaktiniṣṭhitāḥ । [- śrīvaiṣṇava-matābja-bhāskara 6.6])

(Shuddh-bhakti is अकामाः akāmāḥ - i.e. free from all types of desires of Bhukti (material enjoyments and riches) and Mukti (liberation) which is bereft of serving Bhagavān. There is only one desire in a Shuddh-bhakt to do bhakti and service of Purushakāra [Sītā Jī and Gurudeva] and Bhagavān, Let there be Bhagavad-mukhollāsa from me.)

(b) Varṇashram-dharma followers : The devotees who tread the path as per the Karmas attributed to Varṇa and āshrama-dharma (brahmcharya, Grihastha, Vaan-prastha and Sannyasa) and engaged in Karma and Upāsanā as ordained in Vaidic-scriptures. (वेदोक्तवर्णाश्रमकर्मकारिणस्तूपासकादिप्रतिभेदभेदिताः ॥ [- श्रीवैष्णव-मताब्ज-भास्कर ६.६] — vēdōkta-varṇāśrama-karmakāriṇas-tūpāsakādi-pratibhēda-bhēditāḥ ॥ [- śrīvaiṣṇava-matābja-bhāskara 6.6])

(When pure love is originated in a devotee, one becomes engaged in the remembrance and bhakti only, free from Kriyā-kalāps (fruitive actions) and all Upādhis, and then all thoughts of Varnāshrama-dharma, and other various dharmas etc., are spontaneously left.

Maharshi Vālmīki says in Śrī Rāmacaritmānasa to Śrī Rāma:

जाति पाँति धनु धरम बड़ाई । प्रिय परिवार सदन सुखदाई ॥
सब तजि तुम्हहि रहइ उर लाई । तेहि के हृदयँ रहहु रघुराई ॥
(श्रीरामचरितमानस २.१३१.३)

jāti pāṅ̐ti dhanu dharama baḍa़āī । priya parivāra sadana sukhadāī ॥
saba taji tumhahi rahai ura lāī । tēhi kē hṛdayam̐ rahahu raghurāī ॥
(Śrī Rāmacaritmānasa 2.131.3)

“He who, giving up (forsaking) all thoughts (concepts) of his caste and kinsmen (relatives), wealth, various religious duties (to attain some desired things), and glory (prestige), his near and dear ones, his happy home and everything else, cherishes You in his bosom — in his heart, there alone You should take up Your residence, O Lord of Raghus, Śrī Rāma !”

Here, Goswāmi Tulasīdās Jī has done Shuddha-Bhakti Nirupan in Śrī Rāmacaritmānasa. Being born in a higher Varṇa or good family is indeed a great fortune, people carry subtle Samskāras from their previous birth which are present in a Jiva since birth, therefore as per their elevation in present birth, they are indeed respectable, however one shouldn't take pride in such things to demand honor for self from other people; In shuddha-Bhakti (pure devotion and love), pride and prestige of Jāti-pāti-dhan-dharam-kriyā-karma etc., becomes a great obstacle, so one has to transcends all the thoughts of I belong to this Jāti or relative(s) or family or society, etc.

Different from eternal-sambandha with Bhagavān, one shouldn't take any other pride in any material-identity of caste, birth, gender, beauty, youthfulness, relatives, wealth, home, or āshrama or being associated with some particular group or Kriyā-Kalāp (dharmik-acts) or self-willed actions, etc.

(Giving up thoughts means giving up the attachments at heart, When One leaves the thoughts (attachments at heart) in home and family and other things, then whether ones lives in home or forest, both are same.

By Giving up religious duties means only those dharmas should be left which come as the obstructions in the spiritual path in following Bhagavān. The Main idea behind this is - to Keep doing Karma-s and follow the religious-codes as per the injunctions of Shruti and Smriti till the natural love in Bhagavān arisen in the heart.)

(x) Serve Vaiṣṇava born in even lower Varṇas

For they who want Bhakti and grace of Bhagavān Śrī Rāma, such a Vaishṇava should never hesitate to serve and follow the Vaishṇavas born in even lower Varṇa.

उत्कृष्टवर्णैरपि वैष्णवैर्जनैर्निकृष्टवर्णः स तदीयसेवने ।
तथानुसर्तव्य इतीष्यते बुधैः शास्त्रैर्विधेये विधिगोचरैः परैः ॥
(श्रीवैष्णव-मताब्ज-भास्कर ४.४८)

utkṛṣṭa-varṇair-api vaiṣṇavair-janair-nikṛṣṭa-varṇaḥ sa tadīya-sēvanē ।
tathānusartavya itīṣyatē budhaiḥ śāstrair-vidhēyē vidhi-gōcaraiḥ paraiḥ ॥
(Śrī Vaiṣṇava-Matābja-Bhāskara 4.48)

“In the context of Bhakti told in Shāstra-s (scriptures), Vaishṇavas of even higher Varṇas should serve and follow the Vaishṇava born in even lower Varṇa such as Shudra or Chāṇdala — such is the opinion of scriptures and learned-people.”

Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānand is the most revolutionary saint appeared in this Kaliyuga, he dared to say what was not said earlier by any other Jagadguru and that too so emphatically. If Śrī Rāmānandi Vaishṇavas preach the true philosophy of Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānand which is the essence of all Vedas, they can easily conquer the entire world by love, and can spread Vaishṇava-dharma everywhere. Such revolutionary teachings was the reason Rāmānandī-Vaishṇavism has been always the most popular and largest Vaishṇava-sect in Bhārat (India).

(xi) Divine-emblems

Bhagavad Śrī Rāmānand preached “If the divine emblems of Bhagavān Śrī Rāma (bow and arrows) are taken as the marks on the body of self, then men and women of all Varṇas, including those who are born outside Varṇa system also become Vishṇu-rupa (the temple of Vishṇu).”

(ॐ) रामानन्दमहं वन्दे योगिध्येयाङ्घ्रिपङ्कजम्।
उदारयशसं देवं शान्तमूर्तिं शुभप्रदम्॥

(oṃ) rāmānandam-ahaṃ vandē yōgi-dhyēyāṅghri-paṅkajam।
udāra-yaśasaṃ dēvaṃ śānta-mūrtiṃ śubha-pradam॥

“I reverence Bhagavān Śrī Rāmānanda, the most famous and generous (merciful one), the personification of tranquility and bliss (ānanda), who begets all blessings and auspiciousness, whose lotus feet are fit to be meditated by great Yogi-bhakts!”

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॥ श्रीसीतारामचन्द्रार्पणमस्तु ॥