Credible On Either Side

[King Janaka with Sita]“The king went and received blessings and then paid so much honor and respect after that. When he saw Rama, he experienced a happiness one hundred times that of Brahman realization.” (Janaki Mangala, Chand 5.2)

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Friend1: This is a basic contradiction.

Friend2: What is?

Friend1: What I’m about to bring up.

Friend2: Okay. What do you mean by basic?

Friend1: That it’s easy to understand. It’s ideal for the example, to study, explain, what have you. You don’t need to go to something more complicated.

Friend2: I’m assuming this has some relevance to spiritual life.

Friend1: Of course. I’m not going to bring up a contradiction for no reason.

Friend2: Great.

Friend1: So I get the idea of dispassion.

Friend2: Vairagya.

Friend1: Be renounced. It doesn’t have to be some type of formal renunciation, where you put on a specific outfit and leave home.

Friend2: The sannyasa-ashrama.

Friend1: Just be detached from the outcomes to action. Understand that you are not the doer.

“The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.27)

Friend2: That is a difficult thing to do. It’s not easy to let go of the idea of full control over one’s destiny.

Friend1: Well, maybe the issue I have is similar. I get that it’s better to let things fall into place, whichever way the higher authorities decide. At the same time, why would I want to work unless I have some interest?

Friend2: What do you mean?

Friend1: Take any job. Even if you’re working for a non-profit organization, there is a desire to have the effort pay off. Otherwise no one would ever show up to the office. Artha is one of the rewards of life.

[profit]Friend2: Yes. Sometimes that is translated as “economic development,” but it just means “interest.” That’s why there are terms like svartha and paramartha.

Friend1: Rewards in this life and those that come in the afterlife. But see, there is interest there, also. People follow religion so that they can avoid hell in the afterlife. Some atheists choose their way of life because they want enjoyment right now. I’m talking about real renunciation.

Friend2: What exactly about it? As in who possesses it?

Friend1: Not who, but how? How can you be fully renounced on the inside and still do any work? Wouldn’t every person be living in a cave in some remote area?

Friend2: You want examples, I assume?

Friend1: I know there is Arjuna. He received the Bhagavad-gita directly from Shri Krishna. There was attachment to the Supreme Lord, and that automatically means renunciation. We only know Arjuna’s work for a brief period, though. How do you go through an entire lifetime with that spirit?

Friend2: Well, Krishna gives an example. There is King Janaka of Mithila. He was well-known for his expertise in yoga.

Friend1: Like mysticism?

Friend2: He was the king of Videha, which is a word that means “bodiless.” Janaka had a body, obviously, but there was no attachment to it. At the same time, he carried out his duties as king. That is some pretty important work, where you would think interest has to be a factor.

Friend1: But he did it without attachment?

Friend2: Credibility on both sides. You can look to him as the ideal ruler and also the ideal yogi. It is interesting to note that renunciation in spirit does not mean lack of emotion.

Friend1: How so?

[Janaka finding Sita]Friend2: When Janaka found a baby girl one day while ploughing a field, he immediately developed affection for her, taking the baby in as his daughter, whom he named Sita. He felt pleasure well-beyond brahma-sukha when he met the brothers Rama and Lakshmana. This means that there was devotion, as well, the same kind found in Arjuna. Contradictions there are many in this world, but know that everything gets resolved when the primary interest is the pleasure of the Supreme Lord.

In Closing:

Contradictions many to be found,

Solved when to lotus feet bound.

Like Janaka over Videha the king,

Whose glories in Gita to sing.

That as renounced yogi ideal,

But still emotional attachment to feel.

Like when child coming from ground,

And meeting brothers happiness abound.

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