Devotion to Rama Those fortunate to listen to KVN's concert in the wonderful Parvathi blog would hear a lovely shloka sung by KVN with some great violin accompaniment of T.N. Krishnan (Ragas Shahana, Varali, Natakurinji, Ahiri, Sindhubhairavi). This shloka, I must confess, is new to me. After I heard the music, I searched and discovered that this is the staple of many singers today. I delved into its meaning, and this is my take on it. jAnAti rAma tava nAma-ruchiM maheshaH jAnAti gautamasatI tvat-charaNa-prabhAvam jAnAti dorbala-parAkramaM Isha-cApaH jAnAtyamOGa-paTu-bANa-gatiM payOdhiH | || "Oh Rama, Shiva knows the sweetness of your name. Ahalya, the wife of sage Gautama, knows the resurrective power of your feet's touch. The divine bow (it could well be Shiva's bow or also Vishnu's bow- Parashurama gave it to Rama) knows the valour of your powerful arms. And the ocean well knows the infallible power of your sharp and forceful arrow". It is an interesting prayer. Shiva chants Rama's name, and extols it as equal to the entire Vishnusahasranama according to tradition. Although Valmiki Ramayana mentions no special relationship between Rama and Shiva, ever since Tulsidasa dedicated his magnum opus to Shiva's inspiration, Hindus believe in the mutual worshipful attitude between Rama and Shiva- as deified in Rameshwaram. But what's in a name? Bhagavadgita says that the ultimate yagna is Japa or chanting. There is a story about Kabir. Once Kabir was away on travel, and a devotee approached his son Kamal. He asked Kamal, in the absence of Kabir himself, for some spiritual instruction. Kamal told him, "all it takes is for you to chant Ram! Ram!". On his return, Kabir asked Kamal if there had been any visitors. Kamal told of this devotee and his advice to chant Ram Ram. Kabir was incensed. He said, "Kamal, I am disappointed in you. You asked him to chant Ram! Ram!? Why twice? Does it mean you don't believe in its power if it is chanted once? Isn't once enough?" A tremendous story. And then we have this song of Purandaradasa, reproaching Rama in a nindaastuti.. "Oh lord, why bother supplicating to you and dealing with your teasing and taunt? The power of taking your name alone is enough!" What is this chant power? To my yet unwise mind, it means an act of surrendering your wants, thoughts and this continuous bargaining with God. Just chant and be happy! Shiva, the sage and intellect, knows ultimately the power of chanting in surrender. Then comes the fallen woman Ahalya. She cringes in stone until her resurrection. No sinner needs to lose hope. God always comes sooner or later. That again calls for patient surrender. To me the divine bow is an allegory of our ego and sense of power. All that is broken in God's hands. So better bend in prayer than be broken! Again surrender. Rama's arrow is infallible. It can vanquish even the ocean of troubles we face... all in our sense of I and mine. That is the ocean of world'ly troubles. The story is all about surrender. Take God's name, and surrender. Or surrender to existence, and don't push the river.