In the previous episode we had witnessed four important activities that can be equivalent to a “double-edged sword”. In other words, performing these activities with honesty and sincerity would take us to great heights. However, if the same activities are performed for gaining some cheap publicity or just for the sake of doing them, they would turn disastrous for our lives! These four activities as explained by Vidura are “Performing our spiritual practices”, “Keeping silence”, “Availing a proper education in any domain” and “Performing an auspicious Yagnya”. These four activities are equated to a double-edged sword and we need to be very careful in undertaking them.
With this we’ve completed the set of four explanations in each sloka. It is to be remembered by our readers that Vidura is explaining “Dharma” with a beautiful arithmetic – We’ve seen slokas explaining one aspect of Dharma in each, two aspects, three aspects and four aspects in each sloka. Now we’re going on to the next level wherein Vidura is going to explain five aspects in each sloka. In that way, we shall look into the first five-aspect-sloka in today’s episode. Vidura says thus,
“Panchaagnyaha manushyena paricharyaaha prayathnataha!
Pithaa maathaa agnihi aathmaacha guruscha bharatha rishabha!!”
Here Vidura is explaining thus, “Oh King Dhirdiraasthra, who have come as part of the “Bharata Clan” (“Bharatha-rishabha”), you should always pay your respect and protect the following five people – “Maathaa” (Mother), “Pithaa” (Father), “Agni” (Sacrifical sacred fire), “Aathma” (Soul) and the “Guru” (Teacher).”
These five people are of prime importance to a person – Our mother who had given us this birth and this wonderful opportunity to live a life in this world, our father who was also instrumental in giving birth to us and supporting us in all possible ways for our comfort and happiness, our teacher (Guru) who acts like a guiding light for all of us in terms of bestowing us with the requisite knowledge and wisdom, the “Aathman” (Soul) who is none but our own self and finally “Agni Bhagawan” to whom we offer all our sacrifices. It is Agni Bhagawan who guides us with the path of reaching Bhagawan.
Why is Agni Bhagwan so important in this context? There’s an interesting explanation for this as per our Vedas and Upanishads. The Sanskrit word “Agni” can be split as “Agre nayathethyagnihi!” This means that it is Agni Bhagawan who holds our hands and guides us in the path of spiritual development. Thus, whoever pays his/her respects and tributes to Agni Bhagawan, would get His guidance to progress spiritually towards Bhagawan.
In the “Ishavaasyau Upanishad”, there is an important phrase as follows: – “Agne nayasupathaaraaye”. This manthra means that it is Agni Bhagawan who takes us forward towards the progressive spiritual path that would ultimately lead us to salvation or “Moksha”. Thus the main job of “Agni Bhagawan” is to correct and align people to the right path. This is why we have “Agni” or the “Sacred Fire” in front of us whenever we do any kind of auspicious duties such as marriage, “Upanayana” (Putting the sacred thread for Brahmin children), “Shashtyaptha Poorthi” (Celebrating 60’th birthday), etc. Similarly “Agni” is important for doing duties like “Pithru Kaarya”, Shraadha”, etc. for the departed souls. Thus we can understand that it is only through the “Agni” that we can do any kind of offering to the “Devatas” or “Celestial Beings”. I’ve already explained in the previous episodes that it is only when the “Devatas” are made happy, will all the prosperity be bestowed upon us. How do we make the “Devatas” happy? It is by giving them the requisite offerings sincerely with a pure heart. Now what is the way through which we give the offerings to the “Devatas”? It is only through Agni Bhagawan. Thus Agni Bhagawan acts as an “intermediary” between the “Devatas” and us. He collects all the offerings from us and submits them to the “Devatas”. Hence we should respect Agni Bhagawan in all ways for this noble duty that he is performing for us.
So for today let us worship these five people along with Agni Bhagawan and try to appreciate his significance in our spiritual progress. We shall wait till the next episode to find out the “next five” from Vidura! Stay tuned! 🙂