In the previous episode we began witnessing a very interesting event as to how the great Mahaabhaarata text was propogated to the entire world. We saw how Sage Vaishampaayana repeatedly approached King Janame-Jaya to teach him the values and messages that are imbibed in the Mahaabhaarata. Due to his busy schedule as a king, Janame-Jaya repeatedly kept rejecting Sage Vaishampaayana’s requests for an appointment. However after repeated persuasion, King Janame-Jaya gave just two minutes of time for Sage Vaishampaayana to narrate the Mahaabhaarata! As Sage Vaishampaayana is a great scholar, he knows how to convey the entire Mahaabhaarata text within just a single line! As King Janame-Jaya listens to that single line, he isn’t able to understand head or tail of it and asks for further explanation.
As King Janame-Jaya’s interest is captured now, Sage Vaishampaayana commences his full lecture on the Mahaabhaarata in detail! He starts from the first “Parva” and finishes till the last “Parva” of the entire text! King Janame-Jaya forgets the entire world outside him and is completely engrossed in the story! He now has completely listened to the entire Mahaabhaarata! Sage Vaishampaayana is also very happy that his mission of preaching the Mahaabhaarata to King Janame-Jaya is accomplished!
After hearing the whole text, Sage Vaishampaayana now asks a question to King Janame-Jaya.
“Dharme cha arthe cha kaame cha moksha cha bharatha rishabha!
Yathi haastheethadhanyathra yennehaasthee nathath kvachith!!”
Thus from the above sloka we can infer that Sage Vaishampaayana says to King Janame-Jaya, “Through this great text, I’ve conveyed the important attributes pertaining to Dharma, Artha, Kaama and Moksha! From this text, what do you think is the best out of the four attributes that I had just mentioned? What according to you is the best out of the four? And why?”
King Janame-Jaya didn’t anticipate such a question from Sage Vaishampaayana. He thought for a minute within himself and gives the answer, “None of the four attributes that you had mentioned are good enough!” Upon hearing such an answer from the king, Sage Vaishampaayana is surprised! He asks back, “Oh Janame-Jaya! Then what else do you expect? There are only four attributes that are popular in this world with respect to Dharma. Now where do we go for a fifth attribute?” King Janame Jaya replies back, “Oh Sage Vaishampaayana! I think you’ve misunderstood my answer! What I meant by that statement was that, I do not care as to which attribute is the best amongst the four. All I’m interested in is that, I’ve got the divine opportunity to listen to such things from you! That is the greatest attribute and gift that you have given me and I’ve been that fortunate person to receive this great gift! Thus, you keep repeating this text to me, time and again and I would always be respectful to you and listen to you!”
Thus here, we can see that “Shravanam” (Listening to great people) is a very important methodology to learn! Thus, this episode illustrates that listening is the best way to learn Dharma. It is for this reason that we have “Satsangs”, “Upanyaasams” of eminent and experienced “Bhaagawathaas” and “Upanyaasakaas”. We as common people, should listen to these great people and learn from their discourses. As the famous “Thirukkural” preaches,
“Selvathul selvam sevicchelvam acchelvam selvathul ellaam thalai!!”
Thus in our modern day life, we come across and acquire different kinds of properties (“Selvam” in Tamil means “Property”) but they might not be stable enough! However, the “Property” called “Art of Listening” is always permanent and if it is something with respect to Dharma, we can always keep listening to it till the end of our lives! This is exactly what King Janame-Jaya is requesting Sage Vaishampaayana in this context. It is to be remembered from the previous episode that this Janame-Jaya was not interested even in listening to just one sloka initially, but however he ended up listening to all the 1,25,000 slokas of the Mahaabhaarata!
Thus from this important episode, we understand that the Mahaabhaarata is a complete package of different aspects of Dharma explained with a beautiful storyline and the great text is being propagated by Sage Vaishampaayana to King Janame-Jaya and thus the Mahaabhaarata becomes popular in the world! With this note, we shall move into our topic of discussion from the Mahaabhaarata text. As I had mentioned before, we would not be able to witness the entire Mahaabhaarata at a stretch, owing to its complexity in volume! For this project, we are going to consider one important topic. I’m still keeping this topic as suspense! Let’s stay tuned for the next episode to find out! 🙂