Looks can be Deceptive

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In the time of Ramayana there used to be a great sage called AshtaVakra. His body was twisted and uneven from 8 places and hence he got the name AshtaVakra ( Ashta means 8 and Vakra means twisted ).

One day Sage AshtaVakra visited the Royal court of King Janak. As the Sage entered the court, almost all of King Janak’s ministers and court officers starting laughing upon seeing the strange and twisted body of Sage Ashtavakra. Upon this Sage Ashtawakra smiled and said, ” King Janak, I have heard so many good things about your knowledge and wisdom but all I see is that your royal court is full of Cobblers and Shoemakers “.

Upon hearing this, all the people present there got very angry and the chief general asked for king’s permission to punish such ill speaking sage as none of the courtiers knew about Sage Ashtavakra. King Janak refused the permission and said that whatever Sage AshtaVakra said was true and then the king requested the sage to explain his words.

To this, Sage AshtaVakra smiled and said, ” You are a wise and just king, Janak. The moment I entered your court, most of the people started laughing by looking at my body and skin, and the ones who deal in skin are either cobblers or shoemakers and they only judge the quality by skin, and so I called them Cobblers and Shoemakers “.

King Janak bowed to the sage and all the courtiers felt very ashamed at their lack of wisdom.

Moral : Don’t Judge a Book by its cover and don’t judge people by their physical attributes. Always judge people by their character and conduct as looks may be deceptive but character and conduct is loyal. Always remember that physical beauty is only skin deep whereas the beauty of character and conduct is Soul deep. So don’t fall for the former and learn to value the latter.

Himanshu Shangari

How can a King be a Saint

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King Janak ( Father in law of Lord Shri Rama ) was a renowned saint of his time. Even though he was a King, he possessed all the qualities of a saint. One day, an ascetic came to his royal court and asked him a question.

King Janak, how is it possible that you are a king as well as a saint. Both these posts require personalities which are almost opposite to each other. A saint is someone who does not indulge in any materialistic pursuits whereas a king is someone who indulges in more and more materialistic pursuits as he has to do such things as a part of his kingly duty. How do you manage both of these profiles together and being a saint, how do you rule your kingdom? Why don’t you indulge in all of this luxury that is present around you all the time?

King Janak said, ” I can answer this but I have a small request for you before that “. King Janak gave him a lamp which was lighting and requested the ascetic, ” Please take a round of my Palace and after completing the round, kindly come to me and I shall be ready with your answer. But kindly make sure that this Lamp does not go off anywhere in between and when you return to me, this lamp should be in the same lighting state “. The ascetic did not understand anything but he did as he was requested to do and he started taking a round of King Janak’s palace in supervision of King’s guards.

The ascetic came back after a long time looking all attentive and bit worried. He put the lamp in front of the King and said, ” The light in the lamp is intact, Now kindly answer my question “.

The king asked with a smile on his face, ” Before I answer your question, I have a small question for you. How did you like my palace and what type of good or bad things did you see in the palace “.

The ascetic replied nervously, ” Well I was so focused on protecting this lamp from going off that I could not see any part of your palace at all as all my concentration was on this lamp “.

King Janak replied with a smile, ” This is how I rule my kingdom and be a saint at the same time”.

Moral : In order to be a saint, you do not need to physically leave all the luxuries of life like the ascetic thought. You can live among all the luxuries and material things of life and still be a saint. Just concentrate on your final aim which is liberation while at the same time, keep on disposing all your duties and keep on enjoying every good thing that comes your way, without indulging in it or without getting addicted to it.

Liberation is a state of mind and it is not a state of body. The moment your mind is liberated, the body may keep on doing anything but the liberation is not altered. Enjoyment is altogether different from attachment. Hence, enjoyment is fine but attachment is an obstacle to your Liberation. So enjoy everything and every relation but do not attach with any one of them which means that do not get addicted to any of the things or relations. Enjoy them while they last but do not regret when they are not there with you anymore.

Himanshu Shangari

Me and My Lord

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Once there was an ascetic who lived in a deserted place and worshiped the God for achieving the ultimate goal. He would do hard worship and abstain from all types of materialistic indulgences. He would daily go to the nearby river for bathing and sometimes he would find another ascetic at the river doing the same things. The two of them often exchanged courtesies and then they would take their own paths.

This kept on going and many years passed in this way and during this period of time, both the ascetics had developed a bond of affinity with each other since they were the only two people living in that area where no one would come, and both of them were doing worship of their respective Gods for the achievement of the ultimate.

15 years passed but the ascetic still felt far away from his goal which was to meet with God. He tried to worship as hard as he could but he still did not get to meet the God and he started feeling that he was still far away from his destination due to which he started becoming a bit restless at times. Whenever he met the other ascetic on the river, he would see that the other ascetic was very calm and composed all the times and he always seemed to be absorbed in something, which raised his curiosity day by day.

One day when both the ascetics were taking their bath in the river, the first ascetic asked the second one whether he had met the God by now or not, to which the second ascetic replied very simply that he had met his God about 7 years ago and now he often met him. Hearing this the first ascetic was surprised as he was also doing very hard worship for almost the same time but he had not met his God even once.

So he decided to take guidance from the second ascetic and he told him his problem of not being able to meet God despite his very hard worship over the past 15 years, and he asked the second ascetic to help him meet his God. On hearing this, the second ascetic asked him as to what did he do before becoming an ascetic and what type of worship was he doing now.

The first ascetic replied, ” I have come from a well to do family and I am doing worship of my God at this place since the past 15 years. During these 15 years I have not got involved in any type of materialistic pursuit and I have been practicing very strict discipline for my worship. I have isolated myself from everything around me in such a way that for the past 15 years, there is only Me and my God. ”

” And this is why you have not been able to meet your God as there are still two of you, You and your God. You will not be able to meet him, my friend, until there is only one and not two. So lose this Me and you will gain your God. “, said the second ascetic with a smile on his face.

Moral : Ego is the biggest obstacle in your way to liberation and as long as you do not get rid of this ego, there is no liberation….. I, Me, Mine and other such expressions are only the extensions of your ego and nothing else. If you want to reach the ultimate, you will need to leave all of these expressions behind and all you need to remember is YOU which is your God. A tiny drop cannot be called the Ocean until it is called the drop and once it becomes the ocean, it is not a drop anymore which means that if a drop wants be the ocean, it will have to stop being a drop which means it will have to lose its identity in order to be a part of the bigger identity.

The same moral can be extended to the sphere of relations also. As long as you do not lose yourself which means as long as you do not leave your ego, you will never be able to understand other people in a complete way and the moment you lose your ego, you will be able to understand and trust other people in a much better way which will lead to better, more enjoyable and stronger relations.

Himanshu Shangari

Point of View

Once upon a time, a building was being constructed and dozens of labor workers were working hard to complete the task. It was a very hot day as the Sun was shining very hard and hot and all the laborers were facing the brutal attack of harsh sunlight and heat.

Three laborers were breaking big stones into smaller ones in harsh sunlight and all three of them seemed to be exhausted and soaked in sweat. A person called one of the three laborers and asked him a very simple question, ” How are you, brother ?”.

The worker burst out with anger and said, ” It is one hell of a life Sir, I have to work very hard in this burning heat and at the end of the day, all I get is Rs. 10 which my family will spend very fast and then they will ask me to go through this hell again. Life cannot get worse than this “.

This person then called the second laborer and asked him the same question to which the worker replied, ” I am just about alright Sir. Though I have to work very hard, the whole day long but at the end of the day, the contractor pays me Rs. 10 which is sufficient to fulfill the needs of my family. So the equation is simple, I work hard and I get rewarded. Life is not very good but life is fair “.

This person now called the third and final laborer and asked him the same question. This man gave a big smile of satisfaction and thankfulness and replied, ” I am really very good Sir and God has been very kind to me all the way along. This structure that we are raising is the building of a school and soon it will be ready. Thousands of children will get educated here and they will then shape the future of our country in a better way. I am very thankful to God that he chose me to be a part of this noble deed. And look at the grace of my God that I am even being paid with a very good amount of Rs. 10 every day for doing this noble job and this money takes care of my family. I could not ask anything else from life, Sir. Life is simply as good as it can get “.

This person who was a saint and who had brought some of his disciples to teach a very important lesson of their life, turned towards his students and said, ” You see, heaven or hell, it is only a point of view and nothing else “.

Moral : Life is heaven if you make it heaven and life is hell if you make it hell. You don’t need all the big things to feel happy and blessed. Even the smallest of the things can bring you joy and pleasures. So do not cry over what you do not have and instead learn to enjoy what you have…

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Himanshu Shangari

Do What you Must Do

A saint was passing by a lake when he saw a Scorpion struggling to get out of the muddy water but all in vain. The saint took pity on the scorpion and tried to get him out of the water and put him on dry ground. As the saint picked up the Scorpion, the scorpion bit the saint and in a fit of pain, the saint had to leave the scorpion which again fell in water and started struggling to get out.

The saint again tried to get the scorpion out and the same thing happened again. The process went on and by the time, the scorpion had bitten the saint 8 times and the saint was again going to get him out of the water, the saint heard a voice. He turned around and saw a passer by saying to him.

“Baba ji ( Respected Saint ), I have seen the whole act. This scorpion has bitten you 8 times causing so much pain to you. Then why are you trying to save him, just let him die. A thankless creature like him deserves to die. He is stinging you again and again. When you already know that stinging is in nature of Scorpion then why are you trying to save him ? ”

“For the same reason”, replied the smiling saint. “It is the nature of a Scorpion to bite, and it is the nature of a saint to love, save and protect. If a small creature like scorpion is not quitting its nature, then how can I being considered a wise saint, quit my nature. We are both acting our nature, he is doing his job and I am doing my job and we are both fine with it “.

Moral : Just because the others are not doing good to you, does not mean that you should also stop doing good to them. Just be good and stick to your nature.

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Himanshu Shangari