15
Apr
Vraja Bihari Das (Venugopal Acharya)

While reading the 74th chapter of Aranya Khand of Ramayana (as a preparation for the upcoming Ramanavami), I discovered two principles of successful life – PATIENCE and DISCIPLINE. And recently the honorable Prime Minister announced a lockdown and appealed Indians to remember these two principles for the next 21 days.
Ramayana however reveals that these principles are needed beyond the lockdown period.
After hearing the glorious description of Matang rishi’s ashram, Ram and Lakshman arrive at Shabari’s ashram. Her decades of austerity and patience has borne fruit today.
It’s interesting to see the enquiry of Lord on seeing her. Generally, when we meet someone, the first question we ask is: ” How are you? Are you happy? Are you enjoying life?”. The idea we convey by such questions is human life is meant for enjoyment. Make the best use of this chance to enjoy!
But when Lord Ram meets Shabari, the first question He asks her is: ” Are you overcoming obstacles on your spiritual life with strong discipline? Are your austerities increasing? Have you controlled your anger and eating? Are you following the rules and regulations sincerely?”
And the last question Lord asks is, “Is your mind peaceful and happy?”
Note this is the exact opposite of our enquiries. We first ask of happiness and rarely enquire about spiritual progress. But Rama is teaching us here that human life is rare and meant for a purpose higher than our own selfish material – sensual happiness; it’s for self and God realization. We usually tell people to eat well and Ram is asking her if she has controlled eating! This means as we progress in our spiritual lives, our senses and mind need to move from outward centered to focus on within.

Life is short and human life is rare. We can’t afford to waste it in indiscriminate eating, sleeping, sex life and fearful activities. We need to go beyond these four now.
The chapter also reveals how her patience at last bore fruit. She followed her leader’s instructions to stay indoors, within the ashram premises and wait for Lord Ram patiently, all the while meditating on Him and sure enough, her patience was duly rewarded.

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