Protecting the Pure Souls

Protecting the Pure Souls
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(This series unravels the dharmic dialogue between Narada Muni and Raja Yudhishthira in the Sabha Parva of Mahabharata. Part XII dealt with recovering from grief caused by righteous actions; Part XIII follows.)

In the previous part of the discourse we had seen how righteous actions can leave people hurt. The only way to heal from that hurt is to practice love and compassion; towards both those who have hurt us and those whom we may have hurt. This is possible only if one is steadfast in dharma and if there’s no personal motive attached.

Swami Chinmayananda said, ‘Keep anger in your pocket. When you want to use it, take it out, use it and put it back in your pocket’. It seems simple, but it is deep advice. When you have to use anger, it means you are not angry; you are only showing anger. It is similar to a flashlight. You switch it on and then switch it off. This is an art. To get rid of anger is difficult, for as long as there is desire, anger will be there. Anger is nothing but our expression towards an obstacle between us and our desire. Only when desire is completely gone, anger leaves us.

Since it is almost impossible to not have any desires, we can start substituting our desire for worldly objects with a desire for God. The desire for God should dominate over our worldly desires. Eventually, we will get to a place where our longing for God is greater than other desires. Then we will become capable of demonstrating anger, without actually ever getting angry.

Sometimes the world around us requires us to demonstrate anger. A sattvik approach alone is not enough to convey a point. The only other way that we can demonstrate anger, but not be angry, is only if the anger is issue-based. Get angry on the incident, not on the person. If we have this clarity, we will notice that the frequency of our anger is lessened over time. We are no longer angry with the person, so we drop the anger when the incident is over. This was Narada Muni’s way of asking Yudhishthira if he causes grief and anger in people around.

A person sitting on a seat of responsibility often has to make decisions that may hurt others or cause anger and disappointment. But if the actions are based on dharma, it will not create such issues.

Moving on, Narada Muni asks Yudhishthira, ‘O Monarch! I hope no well-behaved, noble, pure souled and respected person’s life is ruined or taken on false charges by your ministers, ignorant of the shastras?’ It is quite possible that the king has ministries overseen by persons, who either acting out of ego or ignorance, end up punishing good people. In governance, this must be given utmost care.

We can observe this difference between Indian and Western cultures. We know the story of Socrates, the Greek philosopher. He was a wise man and spoke the truth, which was uncomfortable for many. So what happened to him? He was poisoned to death. Socrates was killed for standing up for truth. Similar is the case of Al-hallaj Mansour, a Persion mystic and poet, who was stoned to death for revealing the truth about God. The fanatics did not agree with him, the king ordered for him to be stoned.

But this was not the case in India. We recognised Gautama Buddha. Buddha made it clear that he was going against the grain of the Vedas. He spelt out clearly that his ways and means were different. Still people understood that he was speaking the truth of his experience, that he was enlightened and they respected him for that. In fact a section of the society still considers him as an avatar, despite him having spoken against the religion. 

Many wise people have been hurt or killed because there has been zero tolerance for their path or methods. So when Narada Muni asks this question, he wants to know that the ministers are not acting out of greed, vanity, arrogance or ignorance. It should be the king’s duty that a good soul is not harmed.

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Chinmaya Udghosh