Episode # 245 – King Ambareesha in a “CATCH-22” situation – Courtesy, Sage Durvaasa!!!

Little Krishna

In the previous episode, we had set up the context for the all-important “Ambareesha Charitra”, wherein we had witnessed the family background of King Ambareesha. We had commenced the nineth “Skandha” of the Shrimad Bhaagawatha Puraana, wherein we had witnessed some important details of the “Soorya-Vamsha”. We’ve also seen in due course that this great Soorya-Vamsha is the one that gave birth to Bhagawan Rama, as it’s 35’th king. Thus, one of the earliest kings of the Soorya-Vamsha was King Ambareesha. He was a righteous king and believed that his people come first, rather than money and name. This is an important thing that all of us should note. As an able administrator, be it of the government, a corporate organization, etc. Of course, money is important but it is not the prime focus of any administration. Unfortunately, some people and organizations today are running behind money solely, forgetting people who slog day in and day out for the company. Earning the trust and goodwill of people associated, is of paramount importance, which is nearly forgotten in today’s “business world”, but however, King Ambareesha was an epitome of this important quality.

As King Ambareesha was dedicatedly carrying out his duties of the kingdom, he also had an important routine of fasting on the “Ekadashi” (11’th day of every month) and breaking the fast on the subsequent “Dvaadashi” day. King Ambareesha was steadfast in this practice – He used to serve a guest with food on the twelfth day and only then break his fast. As this was continuing for many years, one fine day, Sage Durvaasa makes his way to see King Ambareesha on the twelfth day of the month. This is the “Dvaadashi” day and King Ambareesha has fasted the previous “Ekaadashi” day and is getting ready to break his fast. Fortunately, he had a great guest in the form of Sage Durvaasa and he ran out of his palace to receive him with all the respects. Sage Durvaasa is also happy with the great respect and hospitality that King Ambareesha has given him. Upon his arrival, King Ambareesha explains to Sage Durvaasa thus, “Oh great Sage Durvaass! I’m so fortunate today to have you as my esteemed guest! As I observe fast on the Ekaadashi day, my regular practice is to break my fast on the Dvaadashi day by serving food to a guest. Today, your arrival as my guest has purified my practice to a great extent!” Upon hearing this, Sage Durvaasa was also happy and accepted King Ambareesha’s service.

However, here comes the trap – As Sage Durvaasa has travelled and walked all the way from where he had come, he was seemingly tired and fatigued. Hence, before accepting the meal from King Ambareesha, he wanted to refresh and rejuvenate himself with a bath. Hence he requested King Ambareesha that he has to go to the river front to bathe himself, and then would join in for the breakfast ceremony. As Sage Durvaasa requests thus, King Ambareesha couldn’t tell much, and he accepts the plan. Sage Durvaasa leaves for the river bank for his bath and customary spiritual practices for the day. However, as Sage Durvaasa goes, he goes and goes! He never returns back! King Ambareesha is waiting on and on. Time is running out. We’ve seen yesterday itself that according to the calculation of time, the fast should be broken by around 8 AM in the morning. However, it gets delayed, and atleast by 9 AM latest, this should be completed. King Ambareesha is getting tensed that the effect of the fasting is going to go in vain and that, the practices for the “Dvaadashi” day are also going for a toss.

Now King Ambareesha is in a fix here – He is caught up between two important activities that needs to be done. Firstly, he should serve a guest before breaking the fast on the “Dvaadashi” day. Secondly, the deadline of 9 AM (time) shouldn’t be missed for him to consume food and break his fast. If the deadline is missed, there is no use of observing the fast, the previous day. Now what does King Ambareesha do? Should he consume food or not? If he consumes food now, it would result in a great “Dosha” (Fault) that he has disrespected Sage Durvaasa! As we all know, Sage Durvaasa is an epitome of anger! The moment Sage Durvaasa comes to know that he has been disrespected, a curse is definitely going to be on its way! We might also know how many people have suffered due to Sage Durvaasa’s extreme curses! 😊 King Ambareesha knew this very well! However, on the other hand, if he doesn’t consume food and break his fast at this particular time, he is going to falter on his spiritual practice. So which way does he choose?

This is what we call in colloquial terms as “Dharma-Sankata” and in English, we call it as a “Catch-22 situation”! There might be two different options, both pertaining to Dharma only. But if we choose one path, it is going to result in demerits of not following the other! In the present day, we mistake the meaning of this phrase called “Dharma-Sankata”. For instance, we might end up in a situation thus, “Oh! I”ve to protect my family on one hand, and my job on the other hand. If I’ve to protect my job and family, I’ve to indulge in some unethical activities! What should I do? If I involve myself in unethical activities, I can earn quick money and save my family. Else, I’m doomed!” This is never a “Dharma-Sankata”! As per the definition, both the paths should be of “Dharma” only. But here, it is not the case isn’t it? Involving ourselves in unethical activities clearly pertain to “Adharma”. Hence, using this phrase called “Dharma-Sankata” for such situations is wrong and unwarranted!

Here, for King Ambareesha, one path of Dharma is to serve guests before taking food. The other path of Dharma is the “Dvaadashi” fast-breaking procedure. Both are important. If he leaves one for the other, it is going to result in him being at fault! Thinking for a long time thus, King Ambareesha comes to a conclusion. What was King Ambareesha’s conclusion and decision? How well did it go with Sage Durvaasa? Let’s witness this interesting part of the “Ambareesha-Charitra” in the next episode! Stay tuned! 😊


Published by Dr. Jeayaram

Holds a PhD in Management Psychology from Universite Paris Saclay, Paris, France. Also an Asst. Professor of Human Resources management at Bharatidhasan Institute of Management (BIM) Trichy, India A professional South Indian classical musician (singer) performing concerts. Through this blog, I'm trying to bring out the richness of Indian culture & values and I request your support and feedbacks in making this humble effort a success!!

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