King Janaka and Ashtavakra

Value- Truth

Sub value- Strength within

ashtavakra

Once King Janaka became enlightened, he fell at Sage Ashtavakra’s feet. He said to Ashtavakra, “What am I going to do with my kingdom and my palace – these things are not important to me anymore. I just want to sit at your feet. Please let me stay with you in your ashram in the forest.”

But Ashtavakra replied, “Now that you have attained, your life is no more about your likes and dislikes. Your life is no more about your needs because you have none actually. Your people deserve an enlightened king. You must stay as their king.”

Reluctantly, Janaka stayed back in his palace and governed his kingdom with great wisdom.

Janaka was a true blessing to his people because he was a fully enlightened master, but he functioned as a king. In India, many sages and saints were once kings and emperors who willingly and voluntarily gave away everything they had and walked as beggars, with great dignity. There have been many like this – Gautama Buddha, Mahavira, Bahubali – but an enlightened king was a rare being. Janaka remained a king but as often as possible, whenever his regal responsibilities gave him some time, he would visit Ashtavakra in his ashram.

At the ashram, Ashtavakra had gathered a few monks who were being taught by him. These monks slowly began to resent Janaka because whenever he came, Ashtavakra went out of his way and spent a lot of time with the king because they had such a good rapport with each other. The moment Janaka came, both of them lit up. With the monks whom Ashtavakra was teaching, he did not light up the same way. There was something between Janaka and Ashtavakra, which was resented by the monks.

The monks would whisper to each other, “Why has our Guru sold out to a man like that? It looks like our Guru is getting corrupted. This man is a king. He lives in a palace. He has got so many wives and so many children. He has so much wealth. Look at the way he walks. He walks like a king. And look at the way he is dressed. Look at the ornaments he wears. What is spiritual about him that our Guru should even pay attention to this man? We are here totally dedicated to our spiritual process. We have come here as monks but he is just ignoring us.”

Ashtavakra knew that this feeling was growing among his monks. So one day he arranged for something to happen. He was sitting and speaking to the monks in a hall and king Janaka was also present. As the discourse was going on, a soldier came barging into the room, bowed down to Janaka but not to Ashtavakra, and said, “Oh king, the palace is on fire! Everything is burning. The whole kingdom is in disarray.”

Janaka got up and just yelled at the soldier, “Get out of here! How dare you come and disturb the sathsang[1] and how dare you bow down to me and not to my Guru! Just get out of here!” The soldier fled from the room. Janaka sat back down and Ashtavakra continued to speak.

A few days later, Ashtavakra set up something else. All of them were once again seated in the hall and Ashtavakra was giving a discourse. Right in the middle of the discourse, a helper in the ashram came running into the hall and said, “The monkeys have taken the clothes off the clothes-line and are playing havoc with the monks’ garments.”

All the monks immediately got up and ran to save their clothes. They did not want the monkeys to tamper with them. But when they got to the clothes-drying area, there were no monkeys and their loin cloths were still hanging on the clothes-line. They realized what had happened. They hung their heads down and walked back.

Then as a part of the discourse Ashtavakra said, “Look at this. This man is a king. A few days ago his palace was burning. His whole kingdom was in turmoil. Wealth at its peak was burning, but his concern was that his soldier disturbed the sathsang. That was his concern. You are monks. You have nothing. You don’t have a palace, you don’t have a wife, you don’t have children, you have got nothing. But when the monkeys came and picked up your clothing, you ran. Most people would not use your clothing even as mop cloths. That is the kind of clothing you wear. But for that loin cloth, without even paying attention to what I was saying, you just ran out to save those worthless pieces of cloth. Where is your renunciation? He is the true renunciate. He is a king but he is a renunciate. You are monks. You are using things that other people discard, but there is no renunciation in you. This is where you are. That is where he is.”

Learning

One’s progress within oneself has nothing to do with what a person does on the outside, what is most important is, what a person is doing within him or herself. What we are doing with the outside world is just social; we conduct ourselves as it is suitable for the situation in which we exist. It has social relevance but no existential or spiritual relevance. How we are within ourselves is all that matters.

Courtesy-http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/podcast/the-story-of-ashtavakra-and-janaka/

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