Ramo madhurah Sita madhuraa

Ramo madhurah, Sita madhuraa

Partha Desikan

In his very widely read Shri Sai Satcharita, Shri Hemadpant highlights a small but graphic discourse by the Shirdi saint, in which the latter extols the path of devotion as far superior ro the pursuit of knowledge. The verses 25 to 31 in Chapter 19 translate somewhat as follows if we stay close to Smt Indira Kher’s version.

25. Although Baba advocated, day and night, the greatness of Knowledge (Jnaana) above everything else, he generally advised the devotees to follow the path of devotion.

26. He would stress the importance of the path of Knowledge by comparing it to a ‘Ramphal’; the path of devotion, he said, was like savouring a ‘Sitaphal’, which is easily accessible and also sweet and delicious.

27. Devotion is the ‘Sitaphal, bright and clean-looking and Knowledge is a perfectly ripened ‘Ramphal’, each as juicy and delectable as the other and deliciously fragrant.

28. When plucked beforetime and ripened artificially, the pulp at the core of the Ramphal gives too strong a flavor for enjoyment. Only he, who has the patience to wait for the fruit to ripen on the tree itself, will savour its real sweetness.

29. When the Ramphal ripens fully upon the tree, right up to the stalk, its sweetness is exceedingly good. If made to fall on the ground early, its aroma is too strong, but when it is allowed to ripen on the tree, it is very sweet.

30. Only if one lets it ripen perfectly upon the tree can one savour its sweetness. But the Sitaphal needs no such patience. Though it is not endowed with a taste matching the fully ripe Ramphal, it is enjoyed and valued a lot.

31. A Ramphal on the tree always has the danger of falling to the ground ahead of time. A Jnaani too, is never quite free from the possibility of a fall, unless he has (develops) a perfect command over his siddhisEven a little negligence on his part will not do, in the course of his saadhana.

Baba has not tried to be brief. He has used emphasis, repetition and clarification to make his point. Have you got unfailing, enduring patience and the thirst for the best? Go the Jnaana way and realize the truth. The rewards indeed are high On the other hand, do you get tired with the rigors of sadhana, and would rather exercise your heart rather than your head? The Bhakti path is for you. The rewards are the same, of course. If a Jnani tells you that they are different for him, he is welcome to them.

We do not have to stretch the analogy too much. The chemistry of the slow ripening of annona reticulata fruit simultaneous to the disappearance of the harsh note in its taste need not bother us. There are different procedures for enjoying this fruit and its fast ripening cousin annona sqamosa.

If you cannot wait for the Ramphal to ripen on the tree, take Sitaphal. Neither was available in Bharat when Valmiki lived in the land. Otherwise he would have referred to them in the Ramayana. They and the other custard apples originated in the Caribbean and spread to India only a few centuries ago.

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