In the previous episode we had witnessed yet another important point that Vidura has emphasized as part of his advice to King Dhirdiraashtra. He is currently talking about “fear” and what are those aspects for which different categories of people fear for. He says that poor people have a constant fear within themselves whether they would be able to obtain three meals a day so as to sustain their living. This is because of their low-income levels and they would always keep a check on how much money they are earning on that particular day. This is what keeps them on their toes so as to make both ends of their life meet. If we’ve to talk of the majority people like us who constitute the middle and upper-middle segment of the society, we constantly fear death! Why is that so? It is because of various tensions, pressure situations that we undergo every day in life along with the resultant diseases and side-effects that might occur. This always haunts us constantly and eventually we keep thinking about our family, children, property, etc. post our death. Thus, somewhere at the back of our mind, Vidura says, that we fear about death in some way or the other! Now talking of the rich and the upper class people, they fear their personal brand reputation a lot. The richness here according to Vidura is not only with respect to money and property. The richness can also be with respect to character, art, education, etc. For instance, if a person is an established musician and is performing various concerts worldwide, he/she might have built a huge fan following and a big brand reputation. For whatsoever reason, all of a sudden this brand reputation might collapse any day! This is what makes them extremely careful and cautious while dealing with their public life. We can witness various examples like musicians, actors, actresses, politicians, leading industrialists, eminent personalities in sports, etc. Even today we can see how these people carefully manage their brand reputation amidst the public forum and this is exactly what Vidura has conveyed 5000 years ago! Thus from all the above examples and descriptions, we come to know that all of us are in some form of a fear every passing minute and every passing day, with respect to our respective categories that we belong to.
Extending this discussion forward, today we shall witness what is “Hell” and what is “Heaven”. Velukkudi Shri Krishnan Swamy in one of his discourses brings this out beautifully. He poses an interesting question thus: What is “Heaven” and what is “Hell”? Can “Heaven” and “Hell” be the same for everybody in this world? Let us check it out with a few examples again.
For instance if we ask this question to a daily-wage worker who is on the road everytime pulling a heavy cart full of load, what would be the answer? That person would obviously say that if he/she gets a sumptuous breakfast/lunch/dinner for that day after a heavy load of work that would feel like “Heaven”! If on that contrary, it becomes “Hell”! Whereas if we’ve to ask musicians and people who render spiritual discourses the same question, what would be the answer? They would say that if their throat were intact during the auspicious Tamil month of “Margazhi” (Falls somewhere from mid December to mid January every year) it would be “Heaven” for them! If their throat develops problems with cough and cold during this particular peak season, it becomes a “Hell” as all their concert schedules are thrown off haywire! Whereas if we ask the great “Alwars” and “Aachaaryas” the same question, they would say that if they get to see Bhagawan daily and have His darshan, it would always be “Heaven” for them.
Thus from all these examples we see here that “Heaven” and “Hell” might be different for different people. However we need to note here that ultimately everybody wants “Heaven” and do not want “Hell”.
This concept is beautifully brought about in the Valmiki Ramayana too. We’ve of course discussed this in one of the episodes during our Ramayana project earlier – When Lord Rama is about to go to the forest, he tries to convince Sita not to accompany him. Rather, he advises her to be in Ayodhya to take care of his parents, Bharata and Shathrughna. But Sita refuses! She is adamant that she would somehow accompany Rama irrespective of whatever difficulty she faces in the forest for the next fourteen years. Lord Rama tries his best to convince her to stay back, but in vain! Sita sticks to her stance! Finally Sita asks Lord Rama this same question: She asks thus, “Oh Rama! Please answer this one question for me and thereafter you might do whatever you wish to! What is “Heaven” and “Hell”? Please do not give me any bluff answer and straightaway come to the point!”
“Yastvayaa sahasassvargaha nirayo yastvayaa vinaa!
Ithijaanan paraam preetim gaccha raamamayaasaha!!”
Through this sloka, Sita expresses herself with tears in her eyes, “Oh Rama! Do you know what is “Heaven” and “Hell” for me? If I’m with you always, it is “Heaven” for me! Whereas if you are away from me it is “Hell” for me! This is all what I know about “Hell” and “Heaven”! You are telling me that I can be happy and comfortable if I’m here in Ayodhya. But do you think I can be happy even for a moment when you’re not with me? You are telling me that I would face lot of difficulties and hardships when I come to the forest with you. But let me tell you one thing! Oh Rama! If you are near me, what kind of difficulties am I going to face? So please do not stop me from coming with you to the forest for fourteen years! I shall be with you every minute and make sure that you would be happy and contended! So Rama, come let us go!”
Thus the message from this important episode is that, “Heaven” and “Hell” are different for different people, according to their stature, position, etc. However one thing is constant – Everybody likes to experience “Heaven” and dislikes to experience “Hell”. So for today let us ponder over this important point and decide which is “Heaven” and “Hell” for each of us individually! We shall wait till the next episode to witness more of Vidura’s explanation! Stay tuned! 🙂