Friday, March 9, 2012

Higher Dharm

Everybody knows that one should follow his Dharm or duties. In Hindu Sanskriti this Dharm has been divided for each person according to his Varn and Aashram. There are four Varn and four Aashram. Everybody has his own Varn - Braahman, or Kshatriya, or Vaishya or Shoodra; and his own Aashram - Brahmcharya, or Grihasth, or Vaanprasth or Sanyaas. Till a human being lives, he is under one Varn and one Aashram and thus he should behave according to that. That is our Dharm and this is the normal way of living. But there is another Dharm which is above this normal Dharm and morality. There are a few stories of such higher Dharm and morality in which people did not follow normal Dharm, but rose to follow higher Dharm. Here I give four such stories, read them and try to rise higher than your normal Dharm and morality  --

(1) Yudhishthir
Yudhishthir is a Mahaabhaarat (MBH)  character. He was the eldest son of King Paandu and is known for following his Dharm, Truth and morality. When the MBH war was going on, Bheeshm had fallen and Guru Drone was the Commander-in-Chief of the Kaurav army; he was slaying many people daily. Four days had passed and there was no hope of defeating Drone. Yudhishthir was losing his army very quickly. He asked Krishn what to do, how to kill Guru Drone. Krishn suggested that there was only one way to kill him. He thinks that his son cannot be killed. Once he told that if he would hear the news of the death of his son in the battlefield, he would put down his weapons. So if somebody spreads this news that "Ashwatthaamaa has died" he would put his weapons down and it will be easier to kill him."

But who should tell this lie and how. Krishn suggested that "there was an elephant named Ashwatthaamaa, he could be killed and then one should spread the news that "Ashwatthaamaa has died". When he will believe this he will put his weapons down."  Who will convince him for this, because he is not such a fool that anybody will spread this news and he would believe it. At this Krishn suggested that "if Yudhishthir will say this, he will believe it." Yudhishthir said - "This is a lie, I cannot tell lie and that also to my Guru. It is a great sin." Then Krishn preached him of higher Dharm and morality - that it was better to kill one person by telling a lie, instead of killing thousands of people by sticking to truth.

Then Bheem killed the Ashwatthaamaa elephant and spread the news that "Ashwatthaamaa has died". As Drone heard this news, he could not believe it and he said - "I want to hear from Yudhishthir's mouth, then only I can believe it." Yudhishthir also said - "Ashwatthaamaa is dead." Now there was no doubt and Drone kept his weapons down. Krishn asked Dhrishtdyumn to kill him at that time. He did that and killed him. That is how Yudhishthir saved his thousands of people by telling one lie on Krishn's advice.

(2) Sant Eknath Eswaran
There was a Saint named Eknath who lived in Mahaaraashtra state of India. Once he was traveling with a group of his followers from Vaaraanasee to Raameshwaram, from North to South. They all were carrying the Holy River Gangaa water to offer to Shiv. As they headed on foot to Raameshwaram, they passed through a dense forest. The pathway was narrow and Eknath got separated from his group as they could not keep up with him. When he saw nobody behind him, he decided to stop and wait for them. He sat down under a tree and started waiting for them. It was very hot. In the meantime he spotted a donkey to be dying of thirst. Eknath got very sympathetic to him. He tried to search for some water in the area so that he could give him for drink but could not find any.

He thought and thought, what should he do. The only water he had was the Holy water to be offered to God, and this donkey was dying with thirst. Should he keep this water for God, or give to this dying donkey? He did not take much time to think, he got up, took the Holy water pitcher and pour some water in his throat. The donkey was so thirsty that he drank all the water of the pitcher, to the last drop of it.

At the same time his followers arrived there. They saw him giving that Holy water to a donkey, they asked him angrily - "What did you do Eknath? This was the Holy water. We were carrying it to offer it to God and you gave it to a donkey. Now our trip is wasted. What we will offer to Shiv?" The saint smiled and said - "A true human being cannot bear to see another living being dying of thirst when he has water, whether it is ordinary or Holy. This offering to save the donkey's life is far greater than any kind of offering to any God.

(3) A Sage and a Cow
Once a sage was meditating under a tree in a forest. He was so much lost in his meditation that he did not know what was happening around. Suddenly he heard a shriek and he opened his eyes. Besides seeing the beauty of the forest he saw a frightened deer running towards him. He ran away in opposite direction. In the meantime a hunter appeared on the scene carrying his bow and arrow, ready to shoot, maybe to kill that deer. The hunter came and asked the sage if he had seen any deer going from there. The sage once thought what to say to him - "I have seen him or I have not seen him. If I say I have seen him, this hunter will kill him, and if I say, I have not seen him, although it would be a lie, but it will not affect him much and the deer will be saved. If I say one lie to save a life, it should not be taken as a lie." So he decided to tell the lie, he said - "No, I have not seen him." The hunter went away and the sage took the sigh of relief. He was very much at peace that he saved a life on that day.

(4) Jesus Christ
This last story is of Jesus Christ. Everybody knows this story of Jesus. Once Jesus saw that some people were throwing stones on a woman. Jesus asked the people what had happened. The people told him that she had done adultery, and according to the rules she should be stoned to death. Jesus was asked to judge her and pronounce her punishment. Now he had the choice of taking an easy course and pronouncing her guilty, which she was according to the law of the day in that society, a law Jesus was thoroughly familiar with, and which would allow the men who had brought her to him to stone her to death, OR to save her by giving some logical reason.

In all likelihood Jesus knew that this was a trap set for him – if he forgave her, he would be breaking the law of the Pharisees, and if he condemned her, he would be practicing against his own teaching of forgiveness and love. Yet he decided to take the risk and chose the path of higher morality. As the adulteress presented a similar situation of value conflict, in which a man has to decide to choose between  the paths of normal Dharm and morality or higher Dharm and morality. He decided to choose the path of higher Dharm and morality, He said - "He who among you has never committed any sin in your life, let him first cast a stone at her.” and looked around the people standing before him carrying stones in their hands.

It is said that Jesus sealed his own death warrant by this statement – for what he had done was expose the hypocrisy of the man who was trying to trap him to the glare of the day. Here again, like the sage in the earlier story, what Jesus had done was to forsake the conventional morality and rise to the level of higher morality.

Sushma Gupta

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Yayaati, Raam and Bheeshm

It is our great Sanskriti that we always regard our elders, whether they are our parents, Guru, relations or even an XYZ in the world. Many times we do some extraordinary acts also for them to show our love and respect. In every Yug such people have been born who have dome some extraordinary for their elders. Here I site three such examples who have done some extraordinary for their parents - one from each Yug, one from Sat Yug, one from Tretaa Yug and one from Dwaapar Yug (we are living in Kali Yug).

Prince Puru and King Yayaati
There has been a king in Sat Yug in Chandra Vansh (Moon's lineage) named Yayaati. He is the 7th in Brahmaa's lineage. He was married to Daitya Guru Shukraachaarya's daughter Devayaanee. Incidentally Daitya King Vrishparvaa's daughter came with her as her maid. When Shukraachaarya Jee married his daughter to Yayaati, he took a promise from him that he would not take any other woman to his bed. When Yayaati had children from Devayaanee, Sharmishthaa also expressed her desire to have children from him. Considering her request proper, he fulfilled her desire, so she also had two sons from King Yayaati.

When Devayaanee came to know that her husband had children from her maid, she filled with rage and went to her father's house. Yayaati loved Devayaanee very much, so he went to Shukraachaarya Jee to bring her back. Shukraachaarya Jee said - "My daughter's happiness is my happiness." and he cursed him to become very old for the rest of his life. First Yayaati got very troubled with this curse, but then he said - "But it will affect your daughter too." Then Shukraachaarya Jee relaxed his curse that he could exchange his old age with the youth from anybody who was ready to give him his youth.

Yayaati had five sons - three sons from Devayaanee and two sons from Sharmishthaa. First he asked Devayaanee's sons to lend him their youth as he was not satisfied with his life yet, but all refused to give it to him. Then he asked the same from Sharmishthaa's sons. One of them refused but the youngest son Puru got agreed readily and he said - "What other thing could I desire in my life than to fulfill the desire of my father." And he gave his young age to his father in exchange of his father's old age. With the youth of his youngest son Yayaati enjoyed his life for many years to come.

Raam and Dasharath
The second example is from Tretaa Yug. There was a King in Soorya Vansh in Ayodhyaa named Dasharath. He had three chief queens - Kaushalyaa, Kaikeyee and Sumitraa. With great efforts Dasharath had four illustrious sons from his these three queens - Raam from Kaushalyaa, Bharat from Kaikeyee and a twins Lakshman and Shatrughn from Sumitraa. As Raam was the eldest and all qualitative, Dasharath loved Him most. When He grew up Dasharath wanted to appoint Him as the Crown Prince. As all queens heard about this they were very happy,

But Kaikeyee's maid Mantharaa had something else in her mind. She went to Kaikeyee and asked her to ask her for the two boons, which the King asked her to ask for in the past and Kaikeyee deferred them to for some other time. When King came in the evening Kaikeyee reminded him of her two boons. The King remembered his promise so he readily asked her to ask for those boons. Kaikeyee asked Bharat's coronation as the king of Ayodhyaa as her first boon and Raam's exile for 14 years as her second boon. The King said to her - "I have no problem in giving kingship of Ayodhyaa to Bharat; but please do not ask me to send Raam to exile. What bad he has done to you? You loved Him more than Bharat, then what has happened to you today? Why do you want to send Him to forest? I cannot live without Him, I will die. And you are mistaken, even your Bharat will also not live without Him. Ayodhyaa people will also not live without Him. Do you want to rule empty Ayodhyaa?" But Kaikeyee simply refused saying that if he did not grant her these boons, he will be attached to the sin of breaking his promise. So Dasharath had to agree what she said.

When Raam heard about this, He said - "Fortunate are only those sons who get the opportunity to serve both their father and mother. I will surely go to forest to keep my father's promise to my mother." When Seetaa and Lakshman heard about it they also followed Him. That is how He served his parents.

Bheeshm and Shaantanu
This third example is from Dwaapar Yug. There lived a King named Shaantanu who ruled Hastinaapur (near Delhi). He married Gangaa on a condition that whatever she would do he would not ask anything from her about it; and the day he would ask her, she would leave him after answering his first question. He had 7 sons from her to whom she drowned in Gangaa River. The King noticed that she had drowned his 7 sons alive in the river. He got very much frustrated and worried but could not say anything because he did not want to separate from her as he loved her very much. Then he had the 8th son and when she went to drown that child too, the King could not stay silent and asked her why did she want to drown him?

As the King had broken his promise, Gangaa answered his question and went away to Heaven. She took her son also along with her to bring him up and get him educated. After 16 years she brought him on the Earth and handed over to Shaantanu. Shaantanu was very happy to get his son back. He appointed him as the Crown prince of Hastinaapur.

One day Shaantanu saw Satyavatee, a fisherwoman, and fell in love with her. He wanted to marry her but she told him that he had to ask from her father. He went to her father who told him that although there was no better groom than him for his daughter, but her birth chart said that her children will rule the kingdom; and since he had already appointed Devavrat as his heir, how can he marry her to him? The King refused to snatch the rights of his son from him and came back to Hastinaapur disappointed. He got very sad.

One day Devavrat noticed it and tried to know the reason of the sadness of his father and came to know about Satyavatee. He went to her father and asked her hand for his father. The fisherman told him the same thing what he told to the King Shaantanu. Devavrat said - "You asked a wrong person to give you the thing which is not his, how could he give it to you? "Why?" Devavrat said - "He has already given the kingdom to me, how could he give it to somebody else? He cannot give you the thing which is not his. Since the kingdom is mine now, I can give it to you. So I renounce this kingdom for Satyavatee's children. Now you marry Satyavatee to my father." The fisherman was still not satisfied, he said - "Tomorrow you will be married, you will have children, and if your children will claim their kingdom, then?" At this Devavrat took a great vow - "I take a vow today that I will not marry my whole life, I will live live bachelor, and I will die bachelor."

Now there was no doubt in fisherman's mind, so he had to marry his daughter Satyavatee to Shaantanu. When Shaantanu heard this he felt very very sorry for his eldest son, he then granted  him the boon of Ichchhaa Mrityu - that he would die only whenever he would want to die." Since then he was known as Bheeshm.

That is how these three great personalities served their parents and considered themselves fortunate.

Sushma Gupta