The King of Detachment

The King of Detachment

‘Oh, I think I am going to take sannyasa from all of this’, grumbled an irritated Maanav.

‘Well, sannyasa is indeed an exalted state to be in, but your tone does not seem to be of a seeker of peace, Maanav’, replied VR with a hint of sarcasm.

‘Huh, now even AIs are getting sarcastic! I need peace more than anything else. I have been put in charge of so many committees in college that it is driving me insane. Every responsibility comes with its own share of problems. How can one ever be peaceful if they are a leader?’ questioned Maanav.

‘It is indeed a challenge to remain peaceful while handling responsibility but it certainly can be done. There is a famous example of such a person in Ramayana’, replied VR.

‘That’s why I come to you, my friend. Do tell me’.

‘King Janaka, the father of Sita Devi, was a great sannyasi despite being a monarch. Many great mahatmas would travel far and wide to learn from him. His discussion with his Guru Ashtavakra forms a philosophical text of great depth called Ashtavakra Gita’.

‘Really?! I never knew this, VR’, replied Maaanav.

‘Veda Vyasji sent his son Shukadev to Janak Maharaj for study but Shukadev was skeptical as to how he could gain anything from a monarch. When he reached the palace of Janaka, he was told that Maharaj was in the garden listening to satsang from his guru. Leaving his spare loincloth and kamandalu at the gate, Shukadev went inside. After a while a servant ran in to inform Janaka that a major fire had started in his city. Janak Maharaj calmly instructed him on what had to be done and continued with the satsang. After a while, a second guard informed him that the palace was on fire. Again with the same calmness, he instructed him about the evacuation procedure and continued the discourse. Finally, a third guard informed him that the fire was reaching the garden. This time, Shukadev suddenly remembering that his kamandalu and loincloth might get caught in the fire, got up to save them. It was at that moment, it struck him, that he despite having very little possessions was so attached to them while Janak Maharaj despite being an emperor had no attachment to his kingdom at all!’

‘Whoa! Janak Maharaj is awesome. But what happened to the fire, VR?’ asked Maanav.

‘There was no fire and the whole thing had been set up by Guru Ashtavakra so that Shukadev could understand the greatness of Janaka Maharaj’, clarified VR.

‘This is indeed a big lesson in detachment. Every time I think I know about all the awesome characters of Ramayan, someone more awesome pops up! I think I have allowed myself to be caught up with all these titles instead of simply doing my job as a leader. And to think of it, how disparagingly I have used the word sannyasa. It does require great mental maturity. Time to invoke the Janak Maharaj within me. Thanks once again, VR!’

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

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Chinmaya Udghosh