“It must be that either there are no saintly people here to follow or that you do not follow them, for your mind is perverse and devoid of etiquette.” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 21.9-10)
इह सन्तो न वा सन्ति सतो वा नानुवर्तसे।।
तथाहि विपरीता ते बुद्धिराचारवर्जिता।
iha santo na vā santi sato vā nānuvartase।।
tathāhi viparītā te buddhirācāravarjitā।
Friend1: I am one of those people who refuses to ask for directions.
Friend2: When you are lost?
Friend1: It could be driving or trying to find something in a large department store. Especially those hardware stores, I am totally clueless.
Friend2: But you won’t ask for help?
Friend1: I like to try myself, first. To see if I can figure things out on my own. What ends up happening is that I inevitably fail, and so I feel really bad.
Friend1: That I am not smart enough. That I should have been able to figure things out, but I didn’t.
Friend2: Listen, we can’t all be experts at everything.
Friend1: That’s true.
Friend2: You can think of the saintly person in that light.
Friend2: They are simply here to help. They are ready to offer assistance.
Friend1: I would say they often have a different image associated with them. Something like a rule-enforcer. The “no-fun police,” or something like that.
Friend2: They are here to ruin the party.
Friend1: Right. Like if I want to have fun in the college years, partying and mixing it up with the ladies, why should someone stop me? These religious people are unhappy themselves, and so they position themselves as superior by putting on a specific outfit and belittling others.
Friend2: Condemning them to hell.
Friend1: Exactly. I know you didn’t specifically ask this, but that is probably why people would be hesitant to approach them for help.
Friend2: It may be the case with the organized aspect, which has degraded the tradition from the original. The principle still holds true, though.
Friend1: Of wanting to help people?
Friend2: We have the example of Sita Devi in the Ramayana. She rhetorically asks whether there are any saintly people in the kingdom of Lanka. This is because Ravana, the leader, is adamant on following the sinful path. He has no idea the destruction that is about to ensue.
Friend1: Because he tried to steal the goddess of fortune. Her husband, Narayana, is the most powerful person in the world.
Friend2: As Shri Rama, He would only be acting to preserve justice, dharma, in annihilating Ravana.
Friend1: Which would destroy Lanka, in the process.
Friend2: Therefore, the wise person concludes that there must be an absence of saintly people. Either that or the people who are there are not being heard.
Friend1: We know that Vibhishana tried to get Ravana to turn around.
Friend2: As the younger brother, in response he was insultingly ignored. Ravana was not going to listen to anyone.
Friend1: That always seems to be the case. The person in power thinks they know better.
Friend2: And so that is a wise lesson to take. We don’t know better. We learn things along the way, through the journey called life, but we still need guidance. Fortunately, saintly people are here to help.
Friend1: Okay, but how do they know the proper way?
Friend2: They had saintly people helping them. This is parampara. We only know how to read because people taught us. We only know how to drive because of instruction. We had to be shown the way at some point. You can’t just leave someone by themselves from the time of birth and expect them to become literate.
Friend2: Shri Krishna instructed the imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, and the tradition has continued forward:
इमं विवस्वते योगं
प्रोक्तवान् अहम् अव्ययम्
विवस्वान् मनवे प्राह
मनुर् इक्ष्वाकवे ’ब्रवीत्
imaṁ vivasvate yogaṁ
proktavān aham avyayam
vivasvān manave prāha
manur ikṣvākave ’bravīt
“The Blessed Lord said: I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Ikshvaku.” (Bhagavad-gita, 4.1)
It is there to be utilized today, thanks to the acharya. He has kindly taken up the role of teacher, for the benefit of mankind, for delivering long-term benefit, shreyas, in contrast to the preyas we have only known thus far.
To the wise a word,
That attention to be heard.
From acharya speaking,
Who my preyas seeking.
Such that beneficial to know,
To mature and to grow.
Otherwise for destruction slated,
Like in Lanka by ocean gated.