Many of us carry a mental baggage. Injustice and wrongs meted out to us at different points of life continue to bog us down. We either wallow in self pity or very simply crave to settle scores.
Both options can prove detrimental to our physical and mental health. Religion and psychology say that the only way forward is to forgive and forget. This lofty concept is easier said than done. This is because we are not as large-hearted as we believe ourselves to be. Secondly, we forget the times when we have been pardoned for our sins by generous souls. The sum and substance of the quality of mercy can be identified in one of the key episodes in the Ramayana.
Rama killed Ravana, the king of Lanka and the abductor of his wife in a gory battle. Hanuman hastened with the news to the Ashoka Vana where Sita was held captive.
The distressed princess felt elated. Hanuman told Sita that he could punish her offenders. Sita gave Rama’s messenger a long look. She looked around her at the faces that were no longer menacing. She simply told Hanuman to leave them alone. When Sita saw the quizzical expression on Anjaneya’s visage, she explained that the female ogresses who guarded her and intimidated her were mere instruments in the hands of their leader. They had been carrying out their assignment out of dread of their king. Hence they were not to be faulted or penalised for simply carrying out their duties.
Besides, her redemption from the clutches of her abductor happened to be a red lettered day in her life. She had no earthly possessions to give away to signify her joy. Her royal lineage prompted her to be generous. Her intrinsic nature chose to forgive the malefactors. Hence it was but natural for her to let bygones be bygones and carry on with life.
Shakespeare reiterated the same sentiment when he said, “The quality of mercy is not strain’d, It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven, Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest; It blesseth him that gives and him that takes: ‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes. The throned monarch better than his crown;—”
Sometimes, the truths that we know or believe in can be pretty hard to establish for want of witnesses or proof. The societal values, the situation, place and time eventually end up delivering a verdict which may or may not measure up to universal justice. Different places in the world have diverse religions, belief sets and values framed on the basis of the native environment. The person at the receiving end of the situation ends up with a raw deal because his contemporaries cannot see beyond their nose. The victims and martyrs of such situations have always had unique ways of ascertaining their stand.
Panditha Jagannatha, a Sanskrit court poet of Mughal emperor Jahangir, fell in love with a Muslim maiden who he called Lavangika. The Brahmin community was aghast by the affair. They could not dissuade the already married poet from having a relationship with the Muslim woman. Eventually, Jagannatha was excommunicated and exiled. The sad poet went to Kashi. He realised that he would not be able to make his contemporaries realise the genuineness of his feelings. Hence, he decided to launch his test of truth. He sat on the fifty-third step of Panchaganga Ghat and started singing the paeans to river Ganga. He emphasised on the power of the mighty river which could liberate the worst among sinners. It is said that with the composition of each stanza, the waters rose by one step and touched his feet. The poet felt vindicated by the divine touch. The people around him realised that he was earnest about his feelings though they did not acknowledge the same.
Even now, people swear by the truth by taking the names of those they truly love. When we wonder about it and question ourselves what makes us do what we do, we are likely to realise that we are trying to connect what we believe as truth in what we believe in as truth. Most of the times, we resort to this method to reiterate our beliefs. If we, who live in this technologically advanced world, adopt this method, imagine what it must have been like for the people who did not have the privilege.
Everybody wants success. However, success does not come to all and sun-dry. Success follows anyone who has the discipline, hard work, passion and perseverance to achieve his or her goal. A story from the Ramayana highlights the four pillars of the success mantra. King Sagara lost his ceremonial horse while conducting his Ashwamedha Yajna. He sent his sixty thousand sons after the horse, which was eventually found in sage Kapila’s hermitage.
The princes misconstrued the sage to be the thief. The enraged sage reduced them to ashes. Sagara’s grandson Anshuman who went in search of his uncles discovered the truth. Garuda the celestial bird advised Anshuman to liberate the souls of his kin by washing their ashes over with the waters of the celestial Ganga. Anshuman did as he was bid, but was unsuccessful, so was his son Dileepa. His grandson Bhageeratha, decided that he should redeem the soul of his ancestors. He studied the reasons for the previous failures and realised that his forefathers were trying to row two boats simultaneously. Therefore he renounced his throne and set out to conduct a severe penance to Lord Brahma.
The pleased Lord said that he had no reservations about directing the river of gods to descend on earth. Nevertheless he was doubtful whether the earth had the power to bear her formidable force. He told Ikshavaku king to request Lord Shiva to control the waters. Bhageeratha meditated on Shiva and arranged for the descent of Ganga. Little did Bhageeratha expect Lord Shiva to lock the audacious waters in his matted locks. He humbly performed another penance and impressed upon Shiva to release Ganga to salvage the souls of his forefathers. Just when he thought that all his troubles were over Ganga managed to annoy sage Jahnu who drank her up in a fit of anger. The poor king pleaded with the sage to let go of Ganga and eventually led her to the netherworld and carried out his mission. Any other person in his place would have given up, but not Bhageeratha. The sense of purpose of the fourth generation scion has been epitomised in the phrase Bhageeratha Prayathna which we will do well to emulate, if we hope to realise our most cherished dreams.
Analysing a given situation and arriving at a suitable decision can be a challenging task to a competent leader.
The meetings and discussions with team-mates may not always be fruitful. Many a time, team members may standby what appears to be logical, overlooking the nuances and subtleties of the case. At such times a leader is generally thrown into a quandary. If the person in charge takes the appropriate decision independently he is likely to be termed as a totalitarian and will receive half-hearted support of his group. On the other hand if he is coerced to take a stand against his better judgment guided by the terror of antagonizing his team he is likely to lose out on the project.
Leaders can do well to take a leaf out of the Ramayana and follow the footsteps of lord Rama when he was faced with a similar situation. The prince of Ayodhya had camped at the outskirts of Lanka along with his brother Lakshmana and his army ready to fight Ravana. At that time, Vibheeshana the brother of the demon king approached Rama and requested the former to accept him into his camp. Even before he could articulate his thoughts on the matter, just about everyone in his camp vetoed the idea quite garrulously.
They warned their commander Rama not to be deceived or mislead by the Rakshasa. Though Rama found Vibheeshana guileless and rather sincere, he did not want to take a unilateral decision in accepting the new entrant to his army who happened to be from the enemy camp. He allowed everyone to air his views and then turned to Hanuman who was sitting quietly and asked the wise one to pitch in his thoughts. At his behest, Bajrang Bali expressed his thoughts aloud and endorsed the application of Vibheeshana in a syllogistic manner. The scion of the Raghu race welcomed the well explained suggestion which seemed to go down well with his army and implemented it.
Rama could have been his own counsel, yet he chose to allow everyone to have his say and then evinced Hanuman’s elucidation on the subject to convince the army of his will. Thereby, he ensured that there would be no bad blood or dissent in his army in accepting Vibheeshana.
Leaders in similar situations with better insight should work out a plausible ploy to convince their fellow members of their ideas by reaching out to them in the best possible manner for the smooth and successful execution of the venture.