Episode # 353 – Four ways through which our mental health gets affected – Sage Shaunaka explains!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed Sage Shaunaka touching upon a very important point, which is often spoken about in our “Sanatana Dharma” literature – The “Atma-Gnyaana”. Sage Shaunaka stresses upon the fact that those people who have the ultimate knowledge of the Atman’s significance, would never be scared for anything in life. Neither would sorrow come closer to him! Thus, by saying this, Sage Shaunaka is driving home the important point that Yudishtra shouldn’t feel scared or sorry for anything that happens to him. As he is steadfast in his path of “Dharma”, Yudishtra should stand firm and face whatever comes through, rather than brooding over the situation. Of course, Sage Shaunaka knows that Yudishtra is a person who doesn’t easily give up the path of “Dharma”, but still, he is rendering this important advice. We might be wondering why he is doing this! This advice is not just for Yudishtra here, but for all of us who are following the path of our “Sanaatana Dharma”. This is where, both Sage Vyaasa and Sage Vaalmiki have enriched the two epics (Ramayana and Mahabharata) with all the important aspects of “Dharma” that we should follow in our everyday life and we should understand all these snippets of “Dharma” very clearly as we move ahead in life. 

Now moving forward with Sage Shaunaka’s accord, he now explains a few examples of some people who have been steadfast in their paths of “Dharma”. One such important example is King Janaka. We’ve already witnessed who is King Janaka – The father of Mother Sita, king of Janakapuri in the Ramayana text. Here, Sage Shaunaka is going to narrate an important sloka that talks about both physical and mental health. In today’s world we talk about these two often, isn’t it? We have had such discussions even during the Mahabharata times. I shall narrate a very important sloka here and further to it, we shall discuss the meaning and implications of the same. Sage Shaunaka says thus: 

“Mano deha samutthaabhyaam dukhaabhyaam ardhitham jagath!

Thayor vyaadhu samaachaabhyaam samopaayam imaam shrunu!!”

King Janaka explains through this sloka, which Sage Shaunaka is quoting to Yudishtra – There are two enemies for a person – “Mano-Vyaadhi” and the “Deha-Vyaadhi”. It is like a pair of Ravana and Kumbakarna, Hiranyaaksha and Hiranya-Kashibu, etc. It might be very difficult to bare the suffering of one enemy itself, but where’s the question of the second enemy? But unfortunately for all of us, there are two enemies that keep haunting us always – Problems with regards to the physical body and the problems with regards to mental health. More than the physical problems, mental problems pose a bigger threat, which all of us accept even today. We talk about excessive mental stress, people going into mental depression, etc., don’t we? This is exactly what King Janaka is explaining here. He says that the mental health of a person is affected by four different causes – Firstly, if a person gets affected by a disease harming the physical body, he / she gets mentally affected. Secondly, if a person gets something that he / she doesn’t like or wants, he / she gets mentally affected. Thirdly, if a person gets tired of too much work, he / she gets mentally affected. Fourthly, if a person doesn’t get what he / she likes the most, obviously this person gets mentally affected! 

Thus, King Janaka is straightforward in his categorization here. Now let us discuss each case one by one. In the first case, we get affected mentally when we’re affected by a disease. In the past couple of years, we’ve been amidst the massive waves of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many of us might have been affected by the disease directly and many of us might have even lost our immediate family members, friends, etc. to the disease. Now this disease called “Covid-19” has affected our mental health in a big way, isn’t it? Our mental health in this case has taken a hit in two ways – One, by experiencing the heavy symptoms of the disease, and the other through the loss of our immediate close people. Thus, we can see here how a disease can take a heavy toll on our mental health. In the second case, King Janaka talks about receiving something that we do not like. For instance, while walking on the road, I come across someone whom I shouldn’t be seeing – We might have a few people in our mind, with whom we might not share a good personal or professional relationship, isn’t it? Suddenly if such people come in front of us, or if we’re forced to meet such people as part of our job or a personal compulsion, would we do so with the right frame of mind? The obvious answer is “No”! Thus, because we do certain things that we do not like to do, we get mentally affected. This also applies to certain things as well. For instance, we do not like certain food items and we’re compelled to eat them, how would we feel? Or, if we go to a restaurant wherein the food quality is not very good, and if we do not have many other options of better restaurants in that particular place, how would we feel? We would have a grudge while eating the food, isn’t it? Hence, this takes a toll on our mental happiness and satisfaction! This is exactly what King Janaka is trying to explain. 

Thirdly, if we’re extremely tired of work, we get emotionally drained as well. For instance, there might be days wherein we would have hectic work at the office, and also at home. This would not only drain us physically, but also would have serious implications on our mental well-being as well. Fourthly, if we do not get what we like, we would again be mentally affected. Many of us might have experienced this – If we’re in a relationship with someone, and if we do not end up marrying that person due to various compulsions and circumstances, how would we feel? We would feel completely devastated, wouldn’t we? This is exactly what King Janaka and Sage Shaunaka are talking about!

So for today, let us understand these four aspects wherein our mental health gets affected. We might wonder why King Janaka is talking about all these all of a sudden and why Sage Shaunaka is explaining this to Yudishtra. There is an important reason for this narrative, which we would discuss in the next episode! Stay tuned for an important accord! 🙂


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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