You’ll reap what you sow

Each year thousands of Hindus around the globe celebrate Diwali for various reasons. Some of these reasons would include the return of Lord Sri Rama to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile and defeating Ravana or how Sri Krishna killed the demon Narakasura. Also, some people celebrate this divine festival as the wedding day of Lord Vishnu to Maha Lakshmi.

However, Diwali is much more than just dressing up in exorbitant attire and holding lavish evening dinners. It is more about reflecting on the lessons we can acquire from the Hindu scriptures and the implications in our daily lives.

The law of Karma is defined continuously in the Bhagavad Gita by Lord Sri Krishna to his friend and disciple Arjuna. Whether we do things with good or bad intentions, its fruits and consequences will be encountered in this life or any lifetime through the process of reincarnation.

In the epic Ramayana, this Karmic philosophy exists in various episodes including the time of Dasaratha’s lamentation during Rama’s exile which this article will highlight.

King Dasaratha was in grave grief at the departure of Rama, Lakshmana and Seeta. He had lost his vision partly and was under unwarranted stress and at a state of confusion and unaware of the present. Kaushalya (Rama’s mother) was by his side trying to console him and assuring him that Rama would return safely after 14 years in Dandaka forest.

Dasaratha thought of various reasons why he had to tolerate such pain of being departed from his son whom he loved more than his own life. Finally it came to him, the crime that he committed long ago one night on the banks of the Sarayu River. He said it was because of the curse of the blind parents that he was paying for his unintentional deeds.

Dasaratha was in unbearable pain. He was unable to walk or see and nothing could comfort the heart of a grieving father. He then started to narrate the story to Queen Kaushalya of the unforgivable crime he had committed in his youth.

One night at the bank of river Sarayu practising with arrows as I could hit the target without seeing and only a sound was enough for me to be victorious.

I stood calmly by the river and heard the gurgling sound as if an elephant was drinking. I took out my arrow and aimed at the animal.

Suddenly, I heard cries of a human voice! I realised that I had not hit an animal but an innocent human being.

Dasaratha went close to the young man who was wounded. He had been filling the pitcher for his blind parents who were waiting for his return. Dasaratha was trembling with fear and great sorrow.

The young boy enquired why he had aimed at him when he had not done any harm to anyone in his lifetime. Full of anger and pain the young man told Dasaratha to remove the arrow from his body which was causing him tremendous pain. He told Dasaratha to fill the pitcher and take it to his blind parents who were waiting close by.

As soon as Dasaratha pulled out the arrow, the young man sighed his last breath.

“Kaushalya, I filled the pitcher and hurried to his blind parents,” said Dasaratha. “When I arrived at the spot they were waiting, my footsteps were known to them. They asked me what was the delay in bringing the water from the stream.

“I stood there silently as I did not know what to say or do after killing their innocent son accidently. With a remorseful heart, I narrated the story to his parents who were full of tears and in a state of misery.”

The young man’s father said to King Dasaratha that his sin was great but he was relieved to observe he had the courage to bring water to them and narrate the events which would haunt the king for life.

They asked Dasaratha to take them to the spot where their son lay so as to cremate him. After the funeral rites were performed, they turned to Dasaratha and said: “This great grief you have brought about for us, you too, will endure in good time. You will die of grief parted from your son.” (Rajagopalachari, 2000, p131).

Dasaratha turned to Kaushalya who was listening attentively to him and posed rhetorical questions. He was relating the story to the events which led Rama to go into exile, leaving him to repent his deeds. Dasaratha realised that death was near for the curse of the blind parents had taken a toll on him. That night, Dasaratha, longing for Rama, passed away in his sleep.

Points for reflection

This chapter is significant in the lives of every individual willing to take lessons from the law of karma. We cannot hide from the repayment of our good and bad deeds.

Often, people who feel that they can sabotage an individual because they are weaker than them because of power and position, are living in a fantasy world unaware of the notion of karma.

We can do things intentionally by causing harm to others. Not necessarily physical harm but even the use of venomous words in speech or writings such as letters and emails. Also, in the form of lying to someone, manipulating the truth or creating obstacles in someone’s progress in their personal or professional life.

In due course, the deeds will be assessed and nature will take its course in the form of karma.

Dasaratha committed the offence in vanity as he was proud of the fact that he could shoot anything from a distance without sighting the target. He loved this sport and tried to test his own strength in this by paying attention to the sound only.

However, the terrible crime that he committed landed him with a great suffering before his death. Arguably, death is easier than the pain, which the king had to bear, from parting a son is more painful.

In this era, it has become very easy to commit a crime without being punished or sent to prison. These acts include; injustice or unfair treatment by a superior, falsely accusing someone for material gain such as wealth, property, position or money, violent acts, and even nepotism.

It is important to note that if Dasaratha, the King of Ayodhya, had to endure the law of karma and come face to face with the chastisements, then what to say of the ordinary human beings of this century?

Today, even the West upholds the philosophy of karma.

Concluding remarks

As we celebrate the festival of light tomorrow, lest we forget the true essence and the vitality of Diwali, individuals can enhance their own learning by turning to the scriptures for lessons that will not only gradually enlighten their lives but also that of their loved ones.

* Prashneel R Goundar is a language lecturer at the School of Communication, Language and Literature, Department of Language and Literature at the Fiji National University. The views expressed are his and not of this newspaper or his employer. For comments or suggestions please email prgoundar@gmail.com.

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