(This series unravels the dharmic dialogue between Narada Muni and Raja Yudhishthira in the Sabha Parva of Mahabharata. Part VIII dealt with the formation of alliances; Part VIII follows.)
Narada's work as a saint is seen through the transformation of Vyasa, Valmiki and Prahlada. Narada's life as a devotee is encapsulated in his work, the Narada Bhakti Sutra. But here, we get to see Narada shine as a statesman, advising Raja Yudhishthira on statecraft.
After having covered various aspects of administration, now he asks the king, 'Have you learnt to adore the wise men in your kingdom, according to their merits across various branches of learning? I tell you, such adoration, without doubt, is highly beneficial to you'. It is to nudge Yudhishthira to seek the companionship of the learned and to respect their contributions. A king or leader needs to have the counsel of wise persons. A CEO or Prime Minister needs no 'yes-men'.
What happens when we start admiring wise people? Typically, what we admire, we would like to possess. We would like to inculcate and develop the same qualities. Similarly in Narada Bhakti Sutra, Narada quotes Garga Rishi having said that listening to the stories of the Lord is enough to cultivate devotion. When we listen to the stories of the Lord, we begin to admire the Lord. When we admire the Lord, we would like to possess.
When I move in this world, in my own field of action, aligned to my own swadharma, if I see someone doing well, I look up to them as an inspiration. Being in their companionship, I stand to benefit a lot.
Today, even on social media, it matters even more. Who are the people we follow and what kind of people follow us? The former shows us what we aspire to become, while the latter shows us how people see us. Even in the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna extols to Arjuna that people with lower tendencies have delusory thoughts and desires. Their actions are useless and hence, a lifetime is wasted. Unbeknownst to us, many of us have the company of such individuals. We need to free ourselves from the trap of wrong peers and find the company of wise persons.
As a part of one's daily reflections, one must introspect on who are the people they admire? It could be through books, through social media or through personal interactions. Whose thoughts and life have an influence on us? We need to become self-aware and choose our role models.
Think about a life where one admires Swami Vivekananda, Ahilya Devi Holkar or a Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. We eventually learn about their life and how they responded to challenges. Similarly, when we are faced with a difficult situation, we will look up to them and find the right path. We will eventually look at life through their eyes, with a higher vision and an evolved perception. Once we get an idea of how they respond, we too will rise up to the occasion.
When we look up to the lives of great Masters, we can pick up qualities of detachment. This is a valuable attitude to deal with failures, heartbreaks, mistakes and so on. We will not be bogged down by the vagaries of life. We can easily say, 'never mind' and move on effortlessly. This is a quality that we can learn by admiring someone like Swami Chinmayananda.
When we admire wise persons, we pick up such qualities. Dr. Kalam's life shows how he rose from a humble background and became a top scientist and then the country's President. In his lectures he used to say, 'To think small is a crime'. Suppose we admire Dr. Kalam, and we pick up this attitude, our mindset towards life itself changes. We stop thinking petty. We slowly expand and begin to think nobler.
This was Narada Muni's golden advice to Raja Yudhishthira. Admire and seek the company of the wise, the benefits are manifold.