Shun the company of the unworthy; Know the strength/weakness of self & others
Lord Rama had a firm devotion and had a stable mind. He did not have the company of unworthy people, nor did he speak foul words. He was free from laziness and was ever alert. He knew his own faults and those of others.
Every verse about Lord Rama, from Valmiki Ramayana, has been teaching us many things. Here too, Rama is teaching us multiple things and one among those is – not to have bad company, the company of unworthy, the company of durjanas. This is of utmost importance for a King because a King with bad company, would fail in his duties, despite him being worthy. It is true with people in good position too. (How many times have we said this? “He is a great person, but he is surrounded by unworthy folks”) So, it is important for oneself to be truthful, devoted to Lord and to have a steadfast mind. It is more important to shun the bad company. Wrong people with a person, spoil all the virtues the person has.
One more teaching from Rama is to understand the strength and weakness of others, to understand the faults and virtues present in others. The analysis of other’s weaknesses, and strength helps at every stage – home, office, playground, with friends, with competitors, with family. While it is very easy to find faults in others (we love to do it and we excel there, don’t we?), we are so bad in identifying our own weaknesses. Rama says, not just that of others, every person should know his/her own strength and faults. Only then, can a good judgement be made at every situation. Rama, of course had no faults – He is nirdosha. But He is teaching this to the mankind for leading a successful life.
Let such perfect Rama, remove our faults, and take us away from the company of unworthy.
Don’t expose your emotions; Know when to give and when not to
निभृतः संवृताकारो गुप्तमन्त्रः सहायवान् |
अमोघक्रोधहर्षश्च त्यागसंयमकालवित् || २-१-२३
Rama was modest. He did not let His emotions appear outwardly. He kept His thoughts/forethoughts, a secret. He helped others. His anger and pleasure were unfailing. He knew when to give and when to withhold.
A King is expected to keep many of the activities related to administration a secret. Lord Rama, the best King on earth, maintained this confidentiality as and when needed. Even His emotions and feelings were concealed. Many a times, we expose our emotions externally – be it happiness, sadness, excitement, despair, pain. Rama teaches us to check our emotions and hold them from being outwardly exposed. Moreover, for a King, or head of the family, a leader, or even for a person who wants to become a role model, it is very important to keep emotions and feelings in control. Balancing of the emotions is taught in Bhagavadgita too by Lord as Krishna (सुखे दुःखे समे कृत्वा …. )
Rama, as a King, also knew when to give to His subjects and when to withhold from giving. This is also an extremely important learning for everyone, especially elders/parents. They should know when to give what the children ask for and when not to. Even for a small kid, the mother should know when to feed and when to stop; when the kids grow up too, the parents should know when to spend for them and when to control. Lord Rama, as the father of the nation, knew exactly how to take care of His citizens – giving them when they need it and withholding when not necessary.
Let Sri Rama, tread us in the right path by blessing us to balance our emotions and providing us with what is necessary.
Keep your body and mind healthy; never misuse the weakness of others
अरोगस्तरुणो वाग्मी वपुष्मान्देशकालवित् |
लोके पुरुषसारज्ञस्साधुरेको विनिर्मितः || २-१-१८
Rama was youthful, was free of diseases and had a healthy-looking body. He was an effective speaker. He knew the right time and place for actions. He could grasp the worth of every individual. He was the one gentleman/pious soul born on earth.
Lord Rama had a disease-free, good body and a healthy mind. We must have both our mind and body be healthy to remain without disease. Many a times, we ignore one for the other. Rama is teaching us to remain so and lead a healthy and happy life.
Rama was able to grasp the essence of every individual appearing before Him. Rama knew the strength and weakness of every person. But the pious gentleman (sadhu) that He was, He would never use that weakness against them. This is another learning we should have from the Lord. Many of the modern strategies teach people to misuse the other person’s weakness for personal gains and for ulterior motives. But Rama teaches a high moral standard – that one should never misuse the weakness of a person against him.
Let such Rama provide us a healthy mind and body and make us follow His morals.
नाश्रेयसि रतो विद्वान्न विरुद्धकथारुचिः |
उत्तरोत्तरयुक्तीनां वक्ता वाचस्पतिर्यथा || २-१-१७
Rama was uninterested in activities, which were not beneficial to auspiciousness/moksha. The scholar that He was, He had no taste in unholy talks – the ones that were against scriptures and righteousness. Similar to Vachaspathi, His eloquent speech contained a series of strategies for action, in support of His contention.
Lord Rama is teaching two extremely important and never to be forgotten rules – especially for saadhakas/those in the spiritual path.
First rule is that never do anything that takes you against the moksha marga; and the second rule is that don’t waste time in unwanted talks and particularly the ones that are not sacred, the ones that go against the scriptures and the ones that show irreverence to God.
We have heard about the Shreyas (the good) and preyas (the pleasant) from Kathopanishat. i.e., ones that help in moksha and the ones that give us material enjoyment. Rama, though being the prince living amid bhoga/enjoyment, was never interested in anything that went against Shreyas/moksha (Of course, He is the giver of Moksha). He is teaching us the same here – look for Shreyas (good) and not for preyas (pleasant)!
Similarly, Rama disliked anything that went against scriptures, that went against God. He would not show any interest even the talks that went against scriptures. Even in today’s world, we see innumerable things that go against the scriptures. An intelligent man must see what is going against shastras and eliminate such things from his being. Shun those talks, those little chit-chats that are against shastras, says Rama. Lord, as Krishna explicitly tells the same in Bhagavad Gita. (तस्मात् शास्त्रं प्रमाणं ते कार्याकार्य-व्यवस्थितौ.. 16.24).
Through His acts, Lord Rama, teaches us these prime concepts. Don’t go against shastras, don’t waste time in unwanted talks; always focus on the path of moksha. Let such Rama, the giver of Moksha lead us in the Shreyas marga and teach us the pious shastras.
Rama with His citizens: Happy when others are happy; sad when others are sad.
व्यसनेषु मनुष्याणां भृशं भवति दुःखितः | उत्सवेषु च सर्वेषु पितेव परितुष्यति || २-२-४०
Rama feels very sad if any of His citizens are afflicted; and Rama feels delighted in all the celebrations of people during the happy occasions of child-birth and the like, just as their own father.
Continue reading Learn from Rama – 7
Rama with His citizens: Mingle with your men
पौरान् स्वजनवन्नित्यं कुशलं परिपृच्छति | पुत्रेष्वग्निषु दारेषु प्रेष्यशिष्यगणेषु च ||
निखिलेनानुपूर्व्याच्च पिता पुत्रानिवौरसान् | २-२-३८
Rama enquires about the well-being of his people, as though they were his own, like a father does to his sons. He asks about their wives and children, about their servants and students, and in a perfect order.
Continue reading Learn from Rama – 6
Love your juniors; they will in-turn love you
न चानृतकथो विद्वान् वृद्धानां प्रतिपूजकः |
अनुरक्तः प्रजाभिश्च प्रजाश्चाप्यनुरज्यते || २-१-१४ (V.Ramayana)
The all-knowing Rama never spoke untruth. He used to worship elders and was receptive to them. People used to love Rama; and Rama used to love the people.
बुद्धिमान्मधुराभाषी पूर्वभाषी प्रियंवदः |
वीर्यवान्नच वीर्येण महता स्वेन विस्मितः || २-१-१३
The wise Rama always speaks sweetly. He is the first one to initiate a dialogue. His speech is compassionate. Though, valorous, Rama is not arrogant of His mighty valor.
There are many books available that teach us ‘how to start a conversation?’. Lord Rama, the greatest teacher, shows it by example. Not only should our words be sweet, but we should also be the first to start a conversation. Not just with strangers, Rama teaches us to speak openly and initiate that conversation even with people whom we know. Being the prince of the biggest empire, being the best person on earth, Rama, is not arrogant. He initiates the dialogue, with a smiling face, with an inviting attitude, with a sweet talk and with soft spoken words. His valour like many of His other attributes is matchless, but He does not show-off, He is not proud, does not hold a superiority complex. Also, Rama is wise! But that wisdom has not brought arrogance in Him either.
We, insignificant beings, show arrogance, are proud of our miniscule success stories like ‘I know this, I play well, I speak well, I sing well, I am rich, I am a born genius…’ the list goes on. But Rama, the mightiest warrior, gives no space to pretentious displays.
As the saying goes, ‘how you treat people tells all’. Rama teaches us to shun arrogance, to speak with sweet words, to be the first to initiate a dialogue, to not show-off.
May such sweet Rama, always be present in us, making us speak sweetly and may He always remove the arrogance in us.
शीलवृद्धैर्ज्ञानवृद्धैर्वयोवृद्धैश्च सज्जनैः |
कथयन्नास्त वै नित्यमस्त्रयोग्यान्तरेष्वपि || २-१-१२
Rama, despite His busy schedule of practicing warfare/archery everyday, makes time to converse with the noble, with the elderly ones – elder by conduct, elder by wisdom, or elder by age
If there is one thing we do not find these days, it is ‘time’. We are ever busy with work, commute, household chores, taking care of the kids etc., and never realize the lost day. Most never have a ‘free-time’; because our free time is spent on entertainment, mobile and useless chats. The time lost in these activities is never noticed. Neither did we acquire new knowledge, nor did it help anybody, and of course it never provided us any peace. Rama asks us to spend time with the elderly. Today, we don’t want the advice of the elderly, those with good conduct are rarely found, the wisdom of the wise is not needed anymore; and we have already thrown out our old-aged parents.
Rama, is an administrator, a kshatriya, who has to spend time on practicing archery and other royal arts every day; but He finds time, rather, makes time to converse with elderly, the wise, the sajjanas. He wants us to follow Him. That is the only way to reach the top!
Let such Rama, who is present in the elderly as well as the young, guide us to have the right company, the company of the noble!