Testing Times

Testing Times

‘Hey VR! Is there something in Ramayana about God making things difficult for good people? Of late, it seems I get nothing but challenges wherever I go while others are enjoying a free pass! I don't understand what God has against me!’ ranted Maanav in an exasperated tone.

‘Well, Maanav, I am not God’s spokesperson and so I cannot address your second point. But about making things difficult, there is an incident that comes up in my database. Would you like to hear it?’ replied VR in a calm and composed manner.

‘Sigh. Well, why not? Go on, VR!’

‘This incident occurs in the Ayodhya Kaand of Valmiki Ramayan. After Sri Ram decides to go to the forest with Sita Devi and Lakshman, he decides to distribute all his wealth among the needy people in Ayodhya. He asked Lakshmana to spread the word and many learned brahmins and other needy people gathered at Sri Ram’s palace. Sri Ram and Sita Devi started distributing their wealth as per the requirements of each person’.

‘Wow! I never knew such a thing even happened. I guess they skip such details in most of the popular retellings’, replied a surprised Maanav.

‘There was one Brahmin called Trijata. He lived in the outskirts of Ayodhya and was a very great tapasvi. However, he was very poor and his family was just getting by with great difficulty. His wife exhorted him to go to Sri Ram and get some wealth. Trijata agreed and made his way to the palace. He presented himself before Sri Ram and explained his financial condition and asked him to give him some donations’.

‘I am sure Sri Ram would have solved his problem instantly. After all, He is known to be very compassionate!’ said Maanav, completely immersed in the story.

‘Sri Ram suddenly turned jovial and said that he had plenty of cows still left to give. He told Trijata to throw his staff as far as he could and all the cows that were within that distance would be his,’ VR continued.

‘What! I always thought Sri Ram was a straightforward and kind person. Why is he taking such a sadistic pleasure by making the poor brahmin do such tricks!’ said a visibly disturbed Maanav.

‘Please wait for me to complete the story, Maanav. When he heard this, Trijata invoked his ascetic power and hurled his staff, which went all the way to the river bank. Thus, all the cows over that vast expanse of land became Trijata’s. Sri Ram then pacified him and said that he was only joking and that he could take all the cows as well as any other wealth that he needed. Trijata was very pleased and went back with all the riches’.

‘While I appreciate that Sri Ram solved Trijata’s problem but what was all that business with the staff throwing? He could have just directly given him the donation, right?’ asked a puzzled Maanav.

‘If Sri Ram had done so, the world would not have seen the ascetic power of Trijata. Besides by doing this, it was as if Trijata earned his wealth and not simply got it on a platter. Sri Ram thus elevated Trijata’s status while keeping his dignity intact. Sri Ram did not care that people would criticize Him for being insensitive as long as His devotee’s glory was enhanced!’ clarified VR.

‘Hmm…this is a very different perspective, VR. So are these testing times actually an opportunity for us to bring out our hidden strengths? When I do think back, I can see how much I have grown over the past few months. This is an excellent story. Thank you so much once more!’

‘Happy to be of use, Maanav. Until we meet again, thank you for using Ramayana Reboot!’

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Chinmaya Udghosh