From ancient times, kings and emperors in Bharat, based their lives on morality and acquired honour and glory. It is on account of them that Bharat is called a Divine land, the land of Karma (right action), the land of Yoga (spiritual practice), the land of Tyaga (sacrifice). The name and fame of Emperor Ashoka have survived for millennia because he practiced in his day-to-day life the great virtues. Akbar, among Moghul emperors, has been esteemed as a great ruler because of his conduct as an emperor.
The Three Demonic Vices
Only a moral life can be called sacred. Man is a sacred being. But when he indulges in selfishness, his sacred, Divine life is undermined. The sacred Atma is fundamental for every human being. This is also called ‘Antaratma’. God as the Indweller guides and directs human life as Antaratma - the inner-conscience of every human being.
In human life today selfishness and self-interest have assumed prodigious proportions. Whatever he does, whatever he sees, whatever he studies, man makes it subserve selfish interests. Human life has become a plaything in the hands of selfishness. Only when selfishness is totally destroyed in the human heart, will man develop broadmindedness that will promote unity and sacredness among mankind. When this selfishness grows continually, it takes the form of Kama (lust), Krodha (hatred) and Lobha (greed). These three vices are demonic in nature. When these three demonic vices grow in them, human beings lose faith in God. Besides losing faith in God, they also develop enmity towards God. Worldly desires increase. The Divine quality declines. You can find proofs of this in the Ramayana, the Bhagavatam and the Mahabharata.
The story of Ramayana shows how the one with lust, hatred and enmity towards God, ruined himself. Ravana was a great scholar. He had mastered 64 types of Vidya (knowledge). He had mastered the language of animals, birds and insects. There was nothing wanting by way of knowledge in Ravana. In terms of wealth and prosperity his kingdom excelled heaven itself. He did a lot of penance to acquire mastery over the physical world. In spite of all these, he had faith only in the phenomenal world and not in the Divine. He did not choose to enquire who was behind all creation.
The universe is the property of the Creator. Rama was verily the Over-Soul itself. Sita was Rama's Shakti. She was the daughter of Mother Earth. She was the embodiment of Nature. Ravana developed enmity towards Rama and wanted to abduct Sita. What was the result of all this? Hating God and going after Nature, how did he meet his end? At the end of it all, not only himself, but his kingdom and his entire brood were destroyed. In spite of all his knowledge and powers, he ruined himself because of his moral lapses. He did not recognise the Divinity within him.
What is the lesson to be learnt from Ravana's fate? It is this: However much of worldly knowledge one may have, one should seek Atma Vidya (knowledge of the Atma). Your parents or relations may be distant from you. But God is not distant from you. God is always with you, behind you and around you and He will protect you. Giving up the Divine, who is so close to you, and going after worldly happiness, is fraught with danger. Ravana made all efforts to satisfy his own desire, became an enemy of God and was ultimately destroyed.
Lesson from the Bhagavatam
Next, you have the Bhagavatam. The Bhagavatam teaches the lesson that anger destroys people. In the Bhagavatam, Hiranyakashyap looked upon God as his enemy. He deemed himself to be the Supreme Lord. He felt that there was no power greater than him. Hiranyakashyap was a great scientist. He plumbed the depths of the ocean. He had control over the five elements. Despite all these accomplishments he developed enmity towards God. He subjected his son, Prahlada, to innumerable ordeals because he was a devotee of Lord Narayana. He tried to drown Prahlada in the ocean and hurl him from the top of a mountain. He got Prahlada bitten by snakes. But Prahlada survived all the ordeals. Prahlada was always chanting the name of Lord Narayana, whom Hiranyakashyap hated. Anger causes destruction of wisdom. And when wisdom is lost, everything is lost - honour, wealth, position and life itself. Scientific knowledge without wisdom is of no use. Along with science there should be discrimination.
|Lord Narasimha annihilating |
Demon King Hiranyakashyap
The Ramayana teaches how a person suffers on account of evil desires. The Bhagavatam teaches lessons as to how a person suffers on account of anger and hatred. All their knowledge and powers could not save Ravana or Hiranyakashyap. It is only God who can give protection. Developing enmity towards God, Ravana and Hiranyakashyap courted disaster.
Lesson from the Mahabharata
Duryodhana signifies one who has wicked thoughts. His minister was Dushasana. Dushasana means one who promulgates bad laws. A combination of these two led to the growth of greed. On account of their Lobha (greed) the Kauravas were totally destroyed.
|Lord Krishna inspiring Arjuna on the battlefield|
On one occasion Krishna said, “Arjuna means a person whose heart is pure, immaculately”. Krishna told Arjuna (on the battlefield), “Arjuna! Get up, get up Dhananjaya. Destiny is all powerful. Justice always wins. Selfishness will end in ruin. This is the nature of Yuga Dharma. Know the truth (of what is to come). Dhritarashtra may be the father of a hundred children. But, there will not be even one to perform the last rites for him. That is how fate works.” Krishna thus revealed to Arjuna the fate of the Kauravas in the beginning itself. Dhritarashtra had a 100 sons. Of what use were they? At the end not even one son remained to perform his obsequies. The reason was greed. The Kauravas were not prepared to give their rightful share to the Pandavas. Duryodhana wanted to keep everything to himself, including what belonged to others. This kind of selfishness is called Lobha (greed).
Lessons from the Epics
In the Ramayana, because of Kama (lust) Ravana was destroyed. In the Bhagavatam, Hiranyakashyap, despite his prodigious knowledge and power, was destroyed on account of his Krodha (anger) against God. Ravana, Hiranyakashyap and Duryodhana hated God and were utterly destroyed.
Source: Lessons from the Immortal Indian Epics, Discourse 17, My Dear Students Volume 2, Divine Discourse on September 17, 1992, Sri Sathya Sai Hostel, Prasanthi Nilayam