Some of us go through embarrassing situations in life for no particular fault of ours. It becomes increasingly difficult to take a stand, especially when the people involved are the next of kin, good friends or well-wishers. A story in the Bhagavatha Puranam speaks of one such predicament.
Naabhaaga, an erudite scholar, decided to find his own fortune. He was well versed in all areas of rites and rituals. He knew that he could earn a great deal of wealth if he offered his niche services. For starters, he went to the Yajna conducted by sage Angirasa as directed by his father Nabhaga. The sage was very happy with the arrival of the young man.
On the sixth day, ceremonies, which involved a lot of nitty-gritty, had been worrying the sage. Naabhaaga did the needful efficiently. The Yajna was completed successfully. Sage Angirasa was very happy and satisfied.
In a moment of gratitude and generosity, he offered every bit of his frugal possession as Dakshina to Naabhaaga. The latter accepted his fee thankfully and took leave of the sage. Naabhaaga was waylaid by Rudra. The angry god accused Naabhaaga of walking away with what rightfully belonged to him. The young man was confused. Nevertheless, he walked back to the site of the Yajna along with Rudra. The duo found sage Angirasa in conversation with Naabhaaga’s father. Rudra presented his case. Almost immediately, Angirasa and Nabhaga realised that they had goofed up. Strangely, both of them in their zeal had overlooked that the last portion of the Dakshina had to be lawfully offered to Rudra. They admitted their fault sheepishly, clarified the matter and apologised profusely. Both of them found it highly embarrassing to dictate the future course of action.
Naabhaaga and Rudra understood the nature of the faux pas. Naabhaaga decided to iron out the matter. He did not play the blame game nor did he cock a snook at Rudra for being angry with him for no reason. Instead, he handed over the entire amount to Rudra. Angirasa and Nabhaga were overwhelmed with the turn of events. Rudra was touched by the integrity of Naabhaaga and blessed him with unlimited prosperity.
If any of us happen to inadvertently get involved in a slip-up, we will do well to display a generous and forthright spirit like Naabhaaga.
There is a sea of difference between bravado and an earnest promise meant to be kept. People make tall promises in a moment of generosity or false pride.
When they do keep their word, they end up compromising on their well being or losing their possessions and peace of mind. If we are afraid of going back on our promises, we must give considerable thought to the commitments that we make, lest we end up feeling frustrated or shortchanged for lack of pragmatism.
A story from the Vishnu and Vamana Purana, deals with this aspect of promises in a telling manner. Once Mahabali, an Asura king, wanted to gain power over the three worlds performed a related Yajna. He gave away rich gifts of the receivers’ choice when they came to attend the rites. Then, Mahavishnu manifested himself in front of the king as a dwarfed Brahmana.The Asura king welcomed him with due respect and rituals and requested the lustrous young man to seek gifts from him. When Vamana sought land measuring three times his feet, Mahabali could not help feel amused.
He urged the recipient to ask for more. After all, he was a mighty sovereign, hoping to have the whole universe under his custody. He could certainly afford to give more than three feet of land measured by the tiny feet of the celibate who stood in front of him. The young man refused to alter his stance.The king set out to fulfill his promise in a ceremonial way, much against the counsel of his Guru Shukracharya who thought something was fishy. Mahabali was also intelligent enough to understand that the young midget who stood in front of him was no ordinary boy. Yet, he did not want to retract his vow. When the time came for the mysterious midget, to measure out his land, he grew magically. His giant feet measured the earth in one pace, the heavens in the other. When there was no other place to gain his third measure, Mahabali kneeled humbly before Mahavishnu, offering his head for the third pace.
Nevertheless what needs to be commended is that he made good of his promise even at the cost of his own life, which cannot be expected of mere mortals.
Most of us are compassionate by nature and we do not mind helping out people within our radar, if it is within our capacity. Yet, when the individuals or the organization we extend help to come back to us time and again to seek further help, we become uncomfortable.
We start suspecting the recipient of our charity to be dubious or greedy by nature. Sooner or later most of us become wary or aggressive. It really takes a mighty large heart and a sound conviction to accommodate and assist somebody in need unquestioningly.
An instance from the Agni Purana enumerates one such experience of king Satyavrata who was offering his morning prayers on the banks of river Kritamala. When the king scooped up the water from the river, he found a tiny little fish wriggling in the little water in his palms. Satyavrata instantly wanted to return the fish to the river, but he was taken aback when the fish spoke to him and requested that the king protect him from the mighty river.
Satyavrata was filled with compassion for the tiny creature and dropped the fish into his Kamandalam (water jug). When he reached the palace, he was surprised to see that the fish had enlarged and he transferred it to a large golden bowl. A little while later, the fish seemed to have outgrown its station and at its request, the king got it transferred to the water tank in the palace. In no time the size of the fish matched that of the tank. The king was puzzled by the constant growth of the creature. He understood that it was no ordinary living being. Though Satyavrata did not quite understand the happenings with the fish, his sense of confidence prevented him from panicking. His consideration for the fish which sought his refuge did not diminish. At that point of time, Satyavrata did not quite realize that Lord Vishnu had manifested himself as a fish and sought his help to save the world. All the same he got his gigantic refugee transferred into a large river and then the sea. Perhaps this was the reason why lord Vishnu selected Satyavrata to help the world regenerate after the impending deluge which would annihilate the earth.