Tree of Knowledge
By Niranjana KarthigaiRajan
In Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 2, verse 38) Krishna says thus, “sukha-duḥkhe samey kṛitvā lābhālābhau jayājayau.” Here, Krishna advises Arjuna to treat both happiness and sorrow, victory and defeat, profit and loss equally. We should neither get hyper-excited when we experience happy events nor get dejected when facing sad events. We cannot expect only happy events to occur in our lives. Happiness and sorrow will always alternate throughout our lives.
We cannot change the event over which we have no control, but the attitude towards situations we face lies within our hands. We may respond that developing this balanced mind is quite easy for Krishna to preach but is impractical for us common mortals to achieve. But let us remind ourselves that Krishna had walked his talk in his previous avatar as Sri Rama. Sri Rama incarnated in Treta Yuga which precedes Dwapara Yuga in which Sri Krishna incarnated.
Rama ‘chandran’ – the deeper the darkness, brighter the shine
In Ramayana, on the eve of Sri Rama’s coronation, Kaikeyi got two boons from King Dasaratha. Her son Bharatha would crowned as the King of Ayodhya, and Sri Rama exiled to the forest for the next 14 years. Amidst the preparations for the coronation ceremony, Kaikeyi ordered Sumantra to call Rama to her chamber. Rama arrived with His royal procession. He walked inside and Kaikeyi apprised him of the boons granted by King Dasaratha.
How should Rama have felt after hearing this dreadful order from Kaikeyi? Was he in a gloomy state? Or was his face grief-stricken?
In fact Rama was never unhappy nor shocked! This is the exceptionality of Lord Rama – like the moon that shines brighter in the darkest sky, Sri Ramachandran’s face shined with all its beauty in times of adversity!
In Valmiki Ramayana, we can decipher the state of mind of Rama in the sloka 2.19.40 as “nachaiva Raamah pravivesha shokam”, which means, “Rama was not affected with sorrow.”
Kamban (12th century Tamil poet) in his Tamil version of the epic Ramayana describes Rama’s beauty while leaving Kaikeyi’s chamber as “apothu alartha senthamarai vendrathu amma” which means, “Sri Rama’s splendour was such that even the just-blossomed lotus would lose its beauty to Him”. Further, Kamban wonders, ‘I can even describe His beauty while entering Kaikeyi’s chamber, Oooh! His glow while leaving the chamber is indescribable’.
Problems are universal
In this samsara or life cycle, problems are universal irrespective of one’s status. We are not the only sufferers.
As Kuzhasekara Azhwar (King turned Tamil poet-saint during 9th century CE) has sung in one of his hymns, “Valal aruththuch sudinum maruththuvan paal * maaladha kaadhal noyalan pol maayaththaal * meelath thuyar tharinum vitruvakkottamma ! * ne aala unadharuley paarppan adiyene”, which means,”Oh Lord ! Whatever problems you give, it will be for my goodness as that of the doctor who does operation with intent to get rid of the pain. Like how I endure that pain out of sheer trust and devotion on the doctor, similarly, I would undergo the pain given by you”. The doctor does surgery in order to remove or repair diseased tissues or organs. Similarly, problems in our life burn bad deeds which we have accumulated.
Tuning our mind
Now, you might wonder how we should react when a happy event occurs and when a sorrowful event occurs. Well, when we face a happy event we shouldn’t either feel euphoric and jump for joy, rather we should feel contented. When there is a sorrowful event, we should show patience.
What can we do to overcome suffering? Taittiriya Upanishad says, “tasmat ananadamaya para evatma”, which means, the Supreme is itself blissful. Therefore, the more we get ourselves connected to the Supreme, the more blissful we become.
In Gita, chapter 18, Krishna tells Arjuna, “Sarvadharman parityajya maam ekam saranam vraja, Aham tva sarva papebhyo mokshayishyami masuchaha. Which means, “Hey Arjuna! Give up all your means and surrender yourself only to Me, I will get you rid of your deeds and grant you eternal bliss, don’t worry”. While Krishna Himself has told us not to worry, what is the need for us to worry!
* Published in print edition on 2 August 2019