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Harih Om Tat Sat. Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.
This is one of the several maxims that Vasishtha was exposing to Sri Rama. Rama was only sixteen years old. He undertook a long pilgrimage of the whole of the Indian subcontinent. When he went from the palace with the permission of his father Daśaratha, he was very enthusiastic, very hopeful, very confident, expecting a lot of good returns and rewards. So with a large retinue he started. But Rama who came back was entirely different. He was totally grief-stricken, disappointed, despondent, dejected. He would not get up as usual and have his bath and do his sandhya. He would not go to the father and the mother, prostrate before them, take blessings. He stopped talking to his friends. What you call in modern days, ‘depression’; that depression completely swallowed Rama. Daśaratha or Kausalya and the others could not do anything. Rama would not come and see anybody, interact with anybody.
That was the time when Viśwāmitra had come wanting to take Rama and Lakshmana along with him to contend Ravana’s people while performing his sacrifice. Daśaratha received Viśwāmitra with a lot of honour, innocence and full-heartedness. When he enquired about the purpose of Viśwāmitra’s visit, he said, “I want to take Rama along with me”. On hearing it, everything went off from Daśaratha. He started crying and weeping and saying, “My son has only learnt archery but he has not gone to the actual warfront. I shall myself come and contend Ravana’s men. Ravana is a very very powerful emperor”. Viśwāmitra wanted only Rama, not Daśaratha.
Vasishtha interfered and said, “My dear King, you are losing your sense of discrimination. After all, Viśwāmitra was also a Kshatriya; now he is a saint. So far, your son was nurtured by you. Now is the time to hand him over to the care of a saint. He will only flourish and blossom far better. So send him with all confidence”. Daśaratha was relieved. He came to his sense.
“But what can I do? This is Rama’s condition. He doesn’t respond to anybody”.
“Oh! What is the reason? What happened before this?”, Vasishtha enquired.
Then he said he had gone on a pilgrimage.
“Oh, I see. This is a stroke of dispassion. This is not for anyone of you to treat. We shall treat it. Ask him to come”.
Rama responded to Vasishtha’s call and he came. Vasishtha asked him to express whatever he had to say about his depression. The text Yoga Vasishtha Ramayana consisting of 32000 Sanskrit verses, the first part of the text is Rama describing the nature of the world and human relationships.
He concluded saying, “I have not found a good man even in dream. All people are swallowed up by desires and all their actions are motivated by greed and possessiveness. How shall I live in this world? How can I lead my life? If you know a way my dear Sage, will you disclose it? Will I understand it? Can I apply it? Will it give me the relief and redress? If the answer to anyone of these questions is ‘no’, then Rama will not eat, will not drink, will not take water. He will not do any interaction. He will simply remain awaiting his death”. This is the first part of Yoga Vasishtha Ramayana. This took place when Rama was sixteen years of age.
Vasishtha started addressing the Prince, and their conversation lasted for eighteen days from morning to evening. Daśaratha was present, the queens were present, the ministers were present, the citizenly chiefs were present; many other dignitaries also were present in the hall. And Vasishtha used to be brought in the morning and he went back in the evening; eighteen days of dialogue.
You know I have been exposing Yoga Vasishtha Ramayana for many years now. This is a text very seldom known in common. We have a book called ‘Quietitude of the mind’, which is a condensation of the Upaśama Prakaraṇa of Yoga Vasishtha Ramayanam. Satish Ji wanted me to write on the Nirvāṇa Prakaraṇa - the last and I have been writing. I think I have written about ninety-two essays, one after the other starting from the first of the Nirvāṇa Prakaraṇa. Two books have been published, ‘Science of Inner Redemption I and II’. We are ready for a third book.
Vasishtha discusses nothing but the human mind. We have got intelligence, a tool which alone has the power and potential to act upon the mind and improve it. We must apply our intelligence and take up introspection which will have an infusional effect on the mind. I would like to say only one verse from that. All that I have said so far is an introduction.
It is all beautiful, melodious poetry; so it has to be recited very well.
When you go to a Mahātma, a knower of truth and interact with him, whenever the mind is in distress or the intelligence is in a state of quest, investigation, seeking, go to a Mahātma and interact with him. Confess the plight of your heart or mind or intellect and ask him what he has to say. Vasishtha says whenever you approach a Mahātma and interact with him, the results are very very startling, highly rewarding.
Śūnyam-ākīrṇatām-eti. What you considered to be a state of void, absolute void, it becomes full and complete, he says. Śūnya becomes pūrṇa. A disappointed mind becomes an enthusiastic mind.
Śūnyam-ākīrṇatām-eti mṛtyur-apy-utsavāyate |
Death gets transformed into a festivity. Generally death is something very miserable for the living people. We start bemoaning the death and we make a fashion of crying also. We cry for ten days minimum. That death becomes a festivity. What is death? How it occurs? Does it mean a loss? Does it bring extinction? Not at all!
As Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita, dehāntara-prāptiḥ (Bhagavad Gita 2.13), just like birth itself is a change from the mother’s womb, then a baby, a boy or a girl, an adolescent, a youth, an elderly person, old person - all these are changes. The last change is dehāntara-prāptiḥ - The body is left. There is nothing wrong in it. As many people as are born in this world, so many should also die. Can you think of the earth if nobody born till now has died? Even for ants to crawl, there will be no space. So people should die; that is why they die. So that śūnya becomes pūrṇa and death becomes a festivity.
Āpat-sampad-ivābhāti. Whatever is considered to be a calamity, a danger or an adversity, a misery, it transforms itself into sampath - fortune, addition, some great gain. This is how instances and plights get transformed. The Mahātma will interact with you, explain to you what is what. I generally speak when an occasion comes one important statement. Living children do not teach the parents at all. Suppose somebody dies young, that one instance of death goes very deeply into the heart of the parents and they start thinking, enquiring etc. as a result of which they become spiritual and contented. So you tell me whether living children teach us or dead children teach us. Death passes off as austerity.
Āpat-sampad-ivābhāti. Danger or calamity becomes a fortune and a blessing. These are the startling effects, outcome of contact with enlightened people, he says. Exactly the same happened. Sri Rama thought that it was a great disappointment, a blow. Ultimately that led him to enquire into the truth and Vasishtha to speak to him so fondly, continuously for eighteen days and Rama became illumined, enlightened. He was able to sit on the throne without any desire and possessiveness. He was able to abandon the kingdom when Kaikeyi wanted him to do so. He was also able to abandon Sita in spite of the fact that she was pregnant when the matter was reported to him that there is some confusion and trouble and doubt in the minds of the people. How could Sri Rama do both with such an ease and facility? Because Vasishtha had empowered him to do so by his enlightening discussion and dialogue. The same thing will happen to every one of you, all of you. Whatever trouble or torment you have, confess it to a Mahātma; if you have a Guru to the Guru, and you will find how he acts upon the whole situation and makes you comfortable and relaxed.
Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru.