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Thumaka Calata Ramacandra

Introduction by David Katz

Thumaka Chalata Ramachandra is an exquisite bhajan by the sixteenth-century poet-saint Tulsidas. In this bhajan, Tulsidas, an ardent devotee of Lord Rama, beautifully and tenderly describes Lord Rama as a young child. Siddha Yoga musician Viju Kulkarni sings this bhajan in the gara raga, a melodic pattern that evokes love, devotion, and sweetness; it is delightful, entrancing, charming—much like the child Rama himself. The melody is a traditional one, variations of which have been sung by many musicians in India.

As you listen to and reflect on the words of this bhajan by Tulsidas, I’d like to bring your attention to the last sentence in particular. Here the poet-saint says: “The beauty of the Lord’s countenance is beyond compare. Lord Rama can only be compared with Lord Rama himself.”

Isn’t this understanding that Tulsidas has so eloquently put into words just remarkable? Think about it—what can you really compare the Lord with?

You may say the Lord is like the sun, the Lord is like the pristine blue sky or the convergence of color in a rainbow. You may say that the Lord has the purity and sweetness of an innocent young child. Yet will you be satisfied with any of these descriptions? No matter what alankāra—what adornment or embellishment of speech—you use, no matter what simile or metaphor, you will always think, “There is more to it than that.”

Reading the bhajan, you might believe that this was Tulsidas’ quandary as well. He was in a conundrum. His heart was overcome with devotion, and he wanted to glorify the image of the Lord. He wanted to express in words his experience of darshan.

So he looked to nature and tried to compare the Lord to the beauty that he found there. Yet as evocative and beautiful as the images he gives are, none quite suffices. By the end of the bhajan, Tulsidas can only say: “The Lord is the Lord.” The poet-saint sings: “The beauty of the Lord’s countenance is beyond compare. Lord Rama can only be compared with Lord Rama himself.”

By focusing on this line in the bhajan, which is such a great teaching, we can learn how to receive darshan fully, how to recognize when we encounter God, and how to perceive the fullness of God’s divinity and resplendence.

This line from the bhajan brings to mind one of Gurumayi’s teachings. Gurumayi says: “The uniqueness contained in each individuality is part and parcel of the very energy of God.”