Unresolved Misery, Remorse Can Be Fatal


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There are moments in life when nothing seems to be under our control. An incident from the Ramayana enumerates one such situation. When king Dasharatha fixed the coronation of his beloved son Rama, he hastened to his favourite queen’s chamber to break the news to her personally. Little did the king realise that Kaikeyi’s mind had been poisoned by her maid Manthara. He was shocked beyond words when he heard her demands to redeem the two boons given by him long ago. He could not digest the idea of exiling his dearest son to the forests for 14 years after fixing his coronation. He was also not very open to the idea of crowning Kaikayi’s son Bharatha as the king of Ayodhya. Repeated pleas to his dear wife got him nowhere and he swooned from time to time. The king was truly caught between the devil and the deep sea.

On the one hand, he could not even dream of going back on his promise because he was a man of his word. On the other hand, he could not bring himself to inflict an undeserving heinous punishment on his faultless son. He tried to cajole and coax his beautiful queen. When she refused to respond, he berated her and even threatened her about her impending widowhood. When she refused to budge from her obstinate demands, he wondered if he was at the receiving end of his own Karma. He imagined that he must have separated thousands of cows from their calves, mothers from their sons and wives from their husbands to have merited such a state. He tried to recollect all the possible evil deeds that may have been perpetrated by him to reap such misery. He succumbed to his end without putting up a fight as he was depressed beyond measure.

Natural disasters, death of a beloved person or separation from a loved one can leave us devastated. Any amount of solace cannot reverse the incident. When misery and remorse envelop us, it will be better for us to accept the situation and contemplate on the next step forward. On the other hand if we choose to wallow in our despondency we might tumble into a bottomless pit of sorrow which can push us to a state of depression or death.

Go with the flow of Life


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Life is certainly stranger than fiction. Yet if we decide to go with the flow of life after overcoming the initial shock, it will not only make life easier for us, but will also make life more bearable to our loved ones.

Sage Dhaumya narrates the story of Maharishi Chyavana and his spouse Sukanya to the exiled Pandavas and their consort Draupadi to help them understand the unpredictable aspects of life. Once, king Sharyathi went on a picnic with his royal family. Sukanya, the young princess wandered away from the group. She was attracted to an anthill. When she got closer, she noticed two shiny spots which seemed to be within the ant hill.

The little lass felt tempted to tease out the glittery worms from their position. She scouted for a long sharp twig and began digging into the spot. What began as a fun exercise, horrified her as she noticed blood oozing out from the anthill, punctuated with agonizing cry of a human being.

The royal family rallied around her after they heard her hysterical shrieks. The king immediately knocked off chunks of the anthill steadily and gently. He was shaken when he saw an old and wizened sage bleeding in the eyes. Young Sukanya realised that she had inadvertently poked the gleaming eyes of sage, mistaking them to be glow worms.

The king and his entourage apologised profusely. The king offered his daughter Sukanya in marriage to the sage to make amends for the damage rendered to his eyes. The princess had no choice but to accept the blind sage as her groom to assuage her guilt and also to uphold her father’s respectability.

Though Sukanya’s marital life began as a compromise over bizarre inequalities, she accepted her new station in life. She took her role as the dutiful and loving wife seriously. She surmounted many more trials, but that is another story. Her intrinsic values and determination to make the best out of the given situation transformed her into a worthy role model. Life sometimes has the penchant to take us through unimaginable paths. At such times it will be in our best interests to remember that if life gives us a lemon, we must make lemonade out of it!

The Four Pillars Of The Success Mantra


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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.

Many Dimensions of Life Skills


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Once sage Bhrigu planned to conduct a very great Yajna on the banks of river Saraswathi. He decided to dedicate the Yajna to the best among the trinities. The debate in his peer group failed to arrive at any result. Bhrigu set out to figure out the answer by himself.

He first went to Satya Loka and found the creator Brahma and his consort Saraswathi immersed in their own world. They did not notice Bhrigu. The sage ventilated his temper and walked away from their doorstep. In Kailasa, Shiva and Parvathi did not even recognise the presence of the sage as they were in the midst of an interesting conversation. The sage threw a tantrum and walked out. At Vaikunta, the scene was no different. Mahavishnu was relaxing on Adishesha and Mahalakshmi was pressing his feet. They failed to acknowledge the sage.

The affronted sage kicked Vishnu in his chest much to the chagrin of his divine spouse.
The Lord immediately apologised to the sage and held his feet. Bhrigu was born with an eye on the sole of his right foot. Vishnu gently shut the eye symbolic of the bloated ego of the sage, when he rubbed the area and the eye disappeared. The suitably chastised Bhrigu realised that he had gone overboard in conducting his test.

This episode from the Bhagavatha Purana has covered many facets of human behaviour and life skills.

Bhrigu wanted to honour the best among Gods. He meticulously charted out a test of patience and executed the decision consciously.

The process involved a great deal of risk, but the sage would not settle for anything, but the best. And cost him, it did, for he did cross his limits when he thrust his foot on Mahavishnu’s chest.

The erasure of his third eye which was keeping him from being humble helped the sage to recognise the importance of not stretching his zeal too far.

The righteous anger of Mahalakshmi about the episode highlights the need for the emotion, especially when one’s self-respect or that of a dear one is at stake.

Perhaps, that is why the Lord did not stop her, but it was also because he knew that his true love for her and his fortitude would prompt her return at the earliest.

Spirit of Festivals


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The Indian calendar has a good number of red-letter days marking festivals of social, religious and national importance. These special days help us to rejuvenate the bonding amongst the people we are associated with on a daily basis.

So, Sankranthi is our friendship day when we distribute sesame seeds and jaggery to seal our amity, Raksha Bandhan rejuvenates sibling bonding, Karva Chauth reinforces marital ties, Navarathri celebrates women power for nine days etc. Besides, each of these festivals serve as renewals as they remind us of the triumph of good over evil. Not to mention the birthdays of gods and feasts to earmark other occasions. In other words, these festivities highlight the significance of forging strong and harmonious bonds amongst family members and society at large.

Festivals possibly gained a lot of importance in the subcontinent because of its multi-dimensional values. We have rituals and worship, family and community bonding, regional and seasonal food carnivals which can be a gourmet’s dream, exhibition of talents by way of fine arts like dance and music on the one hand and arts and crafts on the other. Besides, local economy gets a boost as it encourages people to spend freely and stand them in good stead when they make investments. Moreover, these occasions double up as much-wanted breaks from the daily grind and uplift our spirits.

Our ancestors realised that growing up in a healthy family atmosphere is a must for all individuals. They also believed in leading by example. They were aware children imbibe much more by imitation rather than being preached to. Kids pick up their basic characteristics of caring, sharing, being fun loving, adjustable and understanding in their homes and they learn to cope with jealousy, competition and tragedy amongst their loved ones.

This is a time-tested truth approved by psychologists. It is a proven fact that the people who attach value to the family structure strive to do well compared to their counterparts who think otherwise.

They have a drive to achieve laurels not only for themselves but also want to credit their folks with their accomplishments.

If we remember that each celebration can revive us physically, spiritually and mentally, our lives can become more meaningful.

 

 

 

 

Money Can Mess Our Lives


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With each passing day, the world around us is becoming increasingly materialistic. We are possessive and avaricious about our worldly wealth and go through indescribable stress to earn, own and retain it against all odds.

Sometimes, it is the very riches that we have worked hard for end up paving the way to a host of other problems like breach of trust, selfishness and lack of discretion.

A tale from the Panchatantra highlights the problems of hoarding excess wealth. Once lived an intelligent Sanyasi called Deva Sharma. People often solicited his advice and paid him for the offices. Though Deva Sharma had renounced the world, he did not hesitate to collect a sizeable amount of wealth his way.

His altruistic way of life did not permit him to use the money. Nevertheless, since he was very fond of his assets, he bundled the money and checked on it every single day. Whenever he went out for some reason, he made it a point to carry the bundle along with him.

A malefactor called Ashadhabhoothi sighted the treasure and hoped to own it someday. He ruminated on the various options to siphon off the riches and finally decided to cheat Deva Sharma off it.

He approached the Sanyasi; spoke about the ephemeral nature of human life and expre- ssed his desire to be initiated with the Shiva Mantra with the hope of attaining emancipation. Deva Sharma bit the bait unwittingly. He accepted Ash- adhabhoothi as his disciple and allowed him to stay with him.

Over a period of time, Ashadhabhoothi won the confidence of his Guru. One day, when the duo set out to honour an invitation, they came across a river. Deva Sharma decided to bathe. He instructed Ashadhabhoothi to guard the treasure when he bathed.

The hypocrite who had been waiting for this opportune moment all along nodded his head roundly and took custody of the loot. When Deva Sharma entered the water, he tiptoed away, robbing the Sanyasi of the money and also the trust that he had reposed in him.

Most of us are like Deva Sharma. We are making money or stowing it away, dreading to lose all the time. This syndrome can become detrimental to our physical and mental health in the long run for money can mess our lives.

Faith Can Move Mountains


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Radha Prathi, Nov 9, 2015

When all semblances of hope leave us and we find ourselves in a state of deep despondency our innate faith in the supreme power can rejuvenate our spirits.

All religions and psychology believe in the power of faith. When the human mind is in a state of deep despair, constructive conviction and a sense of deep devotion can defy all odds. In other words, faith can move mountains.

A tale from the Vishnu Purana upholds the power of faith in a spectacular manner. Hiranyakashipu’s arrogance and atrocities knew no bounds after he received a boon from Lord Brahma which insured his life by ensuring immortality. The clauses in his request seemed to be free from loopholes.

He had sought, “No one should be able to kill me, neither Devas or Daithyas, man nor animal, no instrument metallic or weapons made of bones should harm me, the venue of my death should neither be on earth or in the skies, it should not be inside or outside of a building, the time of my demise should not be during the day or night.”

Even his young son Prahalada, who was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu, was not spared of his torture.

The megalomaniac made many attempts on the young boy’s life, just because Prahalada had reposed undying faith in the mercy of the Lord. When the young prince emerged unscathed each time, the egotistic father became more enraged.

He threw a challenge to the prince and asked the staunch devotee whether his god was omnipresent and omniscient.

When the lad answered in the affirmative, the Asura, randomly threw his mace at a pillar in his royal court and asked if Lord Vishnu could emerge from the post and save his follower. Almost immediately, the pillar shattered.

A fascinating form which seemed to be a combination of a man and a lion emerged from the spot at the twilight hour.

Narasimha approached Hiranyakashipu menacingly, picked him up and walked to the threshold of the court, placed the demon king on his lap and used his sharp nails and kept tearing at the entrails out of the king’s abdomen till he died.

Everyone who watched this gory act was filled with awe. The power of devotion and truth was re-established by the protecting deity among the trinities without breaching the boon granted by the creator to his errant devotee.

Till this day, Prahalada’s resilient faith, which helped him go through agony and even battle death, is used as a sterling example for people who are in dire straits.