Tree of Knowledge
By Niranjana KarthigaiRajan
A virtuous person sees even a huge fault as a small one, while a person who lacks virtue sees even a small flaw as a big one. In our life we may have to encounter with inhumane people – be it an employer nagging an employee in front of co-employees, a tormenting mother-in-law, or other relationships replete with destructive criticisms. Such interactions stir up needless troubles that trigger negative results. Insecurity and even jealousy are the foremost reasons why people find fault.
How do we handle those inhumane people? We cannot change people who create such problems, but it is possible to adopt a positive approach in our interactions with them so as to avert detrimental effects on us emotionally. First, on the spur of the moment when someone shouts at you for no reason at all or for some fault which you aren’t responsible, then don’t get offended. Rather, stay calm.
An example from ancient times is that of Parasara Bhattar (one of the revered acharyars of Sri Vaishnavism during 1092-1174 AD) who, after one of his spiritual discourses, received a negative criticism. Bhattar wasn’t disturbed at the harsh comments; rather he removed his gold chain and gifted it to the fault-finder thanking him for pinpointing his mistakes. Bhattar’s disciplines were taken aback by their guru’s action and requested him to explain the reason for so doing. Bhattar responded as follows: “It’s a responsibility for every one of us to ponder upon our own daily sins which we might have accumulated. I’m thankful to the fault-finder since he has taken efforts to do my job.” That’s the level of positive attitude we have to inculcate for us to be better empowered to handle the fault-finders.
Do your duty
Irrespective of potential future criticism, one has to be righteous in one’s deeds and discharge one’s duties at any cost.
Seeing all his relatives and acharyars on the battlefield, Arjuna was disheartened to wage war against his own kinsmen. His concern was that when the men in the clan are deceased, the women may lose morale and the tradition will be vanished. Moreover, he would incur sin for destroying the clan.
In Bhagavad Gita, chapter 2, slokam 34, Krishna says, “Akīrtiṃ chāpi bhūtāni kathayiśhyanti teavyayām | sambhāvitasya chākīrtirmaraṇādatirichyate ||” Here, Krishna advises Arjuna to fight for upholding Dharma else he would be regarded as a coward, which is worse than demise for a respectable person.
Krishna further advised Arjuna that if he abstained from waging battle, the warriors would not have regard for him for having fled the battlefield due to his affection for his kinsmen and respect for the acharyas.
How did Sita manage to stay amidst 700 ogres in Ashokavana? The ogres’ only job was to bombard and threaten her with harsh words, aiming to make her bend to Ravana’s wishes. To list a few:
When an ogre named Pragasa shouted to squeeze Sita’s neck, another ogre Ajamukhi roared with anger that she would cut Sita into equal pieces and feed on them.
Another ogre, on seeing Sita shivering with fear, felt cravings for Sita just like when women have cravings for food during pregnancy.
After Rama’s victory in the battle with Ravana, when Hanuman requested for Sita’s order to slay all the ogres who caused distress, Sita out of her immense compassion responded to Hanuman thus:
rājasaṃśrayavaśyānāṃ kurvatīnāṃ parājñayā |
vidheyānāṃ ca dāsīnāṃ kaḥ kupyedvānarottama ||
bhāgyavaiṣamya yogena purā duścaritena ca |
mayaitetprāpyate sarvaṃ svakṛtaṃ hyupabhujyate |
“O the foremost of monkeys! Who will be angry with servant-maids, who are mere executors of the orders of their king? All this is reaped by me, as a consequence of the misdeeds committed by me in the past.”
As the lotus in the pond that stays unaffected by the impurities of the water, we also have to shield ourselves by remaining unaffected by the harassment from negative people.
* Published in print edition on 20 December 2019