Conversations Galore on the Ramayana and Mahabharata

June 16, 2002 (Sunday Evening)

 As Swami was coming towards the students…

Swami    :    Why have you all come so early today?

Student    :    Swami today is Sunday.

Swami    :    (Swami enquired about a research scholar who had stones in his kidney and then went on to tell about the precautionary measures.) Drinking a lot of water can dissolve the stones in kidney. (Swami called a hospital boy and asked him whether He was correct.)
        (To a teacher) How are stones in the kidney formed?

Teacher    :    Swami, by collection of salts.

Swami    :    No, by eating tomatoes. Tomato seeds are responsible for formation of kidney stones. So also brinjal seeds, over-matured brinjal. Over-matured lady’s finger seeds also cause this.
(To Prof. Anil Kumar) Did you know this earlier?

Prof. A. K.    :    No, Swami. But if we cannot eat tomatoes and brinjal, then what is left except water!

Swami    :    I was saying that eating them raw is not good for kidney. You may eat them after they are boiled properly.

Teacher    :    Swami, it is said that Dondakaaya (a vegetable) is not good for brain.

Swami    :    All vegetables taken in moderation are good for health. (Here Swami recited a poem.) 
                                  Vankaaya Vanti Koora,
                   Pankajamukhi Sita Vanti Bhaamaamani,
                            Sankaruni Vanti Daivamu,
                                Lanka Vanti Puriyu,
                              Ravanudu Vanti Vairi,
                              Dorakatamu Kashtam

(Vegetables like brinjal, a wife like Sita whose face is like a lotus bud, a God like Shankara, a city like Lanka, and an enemy like Ravana are difficult to find.)

Swami went into the interview room and came out after some time.

Swami    :    (To Prof. Anil Kumar) Who were Rama’s three friends?

Prof. A. K.    :    Sugriva, Vibhishana….

Swami    :    Guha was Rama’s friend.

Prof. A. K.    :    But Swami, Guha only helped Rama to cross the river. So how can he be called Rama’s friend?

Swami    :    Not only that, he also took care of all the arrangements for their stay at his place. That is why he is a good friend of Rama. Who hated Rama?

Prof. A. K.    :    Swami, Ravana.

Swami    :    How are you saying that? Why can’t it be Vali?

Prof. A. K.    :    Swami, Vali did not have any direct enmity with Rama. He was against Sugriva.

Swami    :    But Sugriva was Rama’s friend. Similar is the problem with the government. No one knows where the money goes. There is a lot of money in the banks. But no one is taking loans. Retrenchment is taking place. Some ministers are trying to do good by propagating Indian culture.

Prof. A. K.    :    Yes Swami. They want to introduce Astrology in the universities.

Swami    :    Yes. But other (political) parties do not agree. No organisation in the world is non-controversial. Every organisation has these problems except
Sathya Sai organisations.

Prof. A. K.    :    Yes Swami, since Swami has given proper guidance and direction right from the beginning, there has been no problem. Swami, day after tomorrow, nominations are being filed for presidential elections. Abdul Kalam is also filing on that day.

Swami    :    That is Ashtami (eighth day of the lunar fortnight), also Mangalavaram (Tuesday). It is a good day for Tamilians. That lady Lakshmi Sehgal is also filing nomination. She is very old.

Prof. A. K.    :    Yes Swami, even the Chief Minister was saying the same thing. She is so old and with only 50-60 people voting for her, she cannot win.

Swami    :    What was the name of Indrajit’s son?

Prof. A. K.    :    I don’t know, Swami.

Swami    :    Lakshmana is the name of Indrajit’s son. What is his wife’s name?

Prof. A. K.    :    Urmila, Swami.

Swami    :    Not that Lakshmana, the other one.

Prof. A. K.    :    Swami, it is a great achievement for me that I know at least this.

Swami    :    Urmila is a lady of great character.

Prof. A. K.    :    Swami, why is it that only Ramayana has been written and rewritten so many times when there are other epics like Bhagavata and Mahabharata. Kamban, Tulsidas, etc. have all written Ramayana again.

Swami    :    Ramayanamu Anni Charitramulaku Sambandhinchinadi (Ramayana relates to all the characters of life). It gives ideals for mankind to follow regarding how a relationship between a father and a son, husband and wife, brother and brother should be. Ravana had defeated his own brother Kubera and stolen the Pushpaka Vimana (the celestial chariot which could fly at the owner’s will) from him.
Lord Sri Rama with His entrouge in the Pushpaka Vimana
The Pushpaka was originally made by Vishwakarma, the celestial architect for Lord Brahma; later Lord Brahma gifted it to Kubera, the God of wealth; but it was later stolen, along with Lanka, by his half-brother, the demon king Ravana.

Teacher    :    Swami, even Lanka belonged to Kubera before Ravana snatched it from him. (Swami acknowledged it.)

Prof. A. K.    :    Though Sita and Rama are called Adarsha Dampatulu (ideal couple), they don’t seem to have spent too much time together. First, Ravana took her away and later Rama sent her to the forest.

Swami    :    No. They had lived together in the forest for nearly 14 years. They were separated only for 10 months.

Prof. A. K.    :    Swami, they were in forest for long. They did not have the pleasure of ruling over the kingdom.

Swami    :    They never desired to rule the kingdom. They had lived together in Ayodhya for 12 years before they left for the forest.

Prof. A. K.    :    Swami, there is no reference to Janaka in the Ramayana after the marriage of Sita and Rama.

Swami    :    Janaka did come to see Rama and Sita while they were in the forest. He had come with Sumanta, the charioteer.

Prof. A. K.    :    Swami, there seems to be no reference to Vishwamitra either after the marriage.

Swami    :    His role in the Ramayana ended there. He left for the forests after their marriage. He came back only after he had become a ‘Brahmarishi’ (a sage who has realised the Brahman – the Supreme Divine Principle).

Prof. A. K.    :    Swami, there is no reference to Anjaneya (Hanuman) either.

Swami    :    He is ‘Chiranjeevi’ (immortal.). He lives even to this day. Wherever the Ramayana is sung, he installs himself there.

Prof. A. K.    :    Swami, that means even the characters that played small parts in the Ramayana were important.

Swami    :    Yes. But these small details are not mentioned. They usually omit these. Bharata and Shatrughna also ruled over the kingdom. But since there was unity among the brothers, they did not have any differences amongst themselves. (Changing the topic) Kashi was a great center of learning for grammar.

Prof. A. K.    :    Swami, did interested students come there from all parts of the country?

Swami    :    Yes. The University of Kashmir was famous for ‘Alankaara Shastra’ (poetry). Ujjaini was famous for ‘Nyaaya Shastra’ (law). There were five main Shastras (texts) those days.

Prof. A. K.    :    Swami, we find the names ‘Dhanvantari’ and ‘Sushruta’ in the field of medicine. Who were they?

Swami    :    ‘Dhanvantari’ is only a title conferred upon a person who is adept in medical science.

Prof. A. K.    :    What about ‘Sushruta’, Swami? It is said he was adept in ‘Shastra Chikitsa’ (science of medicine).

Swami    :    Yes, he was also a scholar in the field of medicine.

Teacher    :    Swami, was Charaka the one who discovered medicine?

Swami    :    He was the one who initiated ‘Vaidya Shastra’ (medical science). I think the boys can’t hear Me. They may not like me sitting here.

Prof. A. K.    :    Swami, I am telling You 100% truth – we are all very happy that we are getting Your Darshan for so long. Even the devotees are very happy.

Swami    :    (To a student) Who was Shakuni?

Student    :    Swami, he was the brother of Gandhari and the uncle of Duryodhana.

Swami    :    Who was Shakuni’s wife?

Student    :    Swami, Shakuni didn’t marry.

Swami    :    How do you know?

Student    :    Swami, according to Mahabharata he did not marry.

Swami    :    There is no mention of this in the Mahabharata. Who was Pandu’s wife?

Student    :    Swami, Kunti.

Swami    :    Who was his second wife?

Student    :    I don’t know Swami.

Swami    :    Madri. She was a very virtuous lady. Before she gave up her life, she handed over her sons to Kunti. Shakuni got the dice made out of the bones of his parents. Whatever number he would think of, would fall on rolling the dice. He was a master in the game of dice.

Prof. A. K.    :    Swami, many such controversial characters seem to exist in the epics.
They are usually defamed and their goodness is not brought out.

Swami    :    The writers themselves don’t know what is good and what is bad. Durbodhana (bad teaching) by Shakuni caused the names of the Kauravas to be Duryodhana, Dushasana, etc. The prefix ‘Du’ indicates bad.
        (Looking at the student who answered that Shakuni was not married)
How do you know that Shakuni was not married?

Student    :    Swami, I saw in the Mahabharata serial. (There was laughter among all sitting there.)

Prof. A. K.    :    Swami, even Krishna was not spared. People say that He was partial to the Pandavas.

Swami    :    Yes. Since they always followed Dharma, Krishna was partial to them. Dharmaraja was like the head of the body. Arjuna was the arm. Bheema represented the trunk, and Nakula and Sahadeva, the two legs. Krishna was the heart.

Teacher    :    Swami, when Arjuna and Duryodhana go to Krishna before the war, Duryodhana chose Krishna’s army.

Swami    :    Yes, that is worldly outlook. But Arjuna wanted God and not the world.
So Duryodhana was unlucky. Arjuna had positive desire. Duryodhana had negative desire.

Prof. A. K.    :    Swami, Duryodhana ruled for long. That means there was Adharma (unrighteousness) for long.

Swami    :    No. Duryodhana did not rule. It was Dhritarashtra who was ruling the kingdom; and Vidura was there to advise him. Vidura told him not to spoil the children. But he did not pay heed. Vidura had read all the Shastras (scriptures). He was always calm and composed. Vidura was famous for ‘Neeti’ (policy) and Bhishma was an expert at ‘Raja Dharma’ (the king’s duty).

Prof. A. K.    :    Yes Swami, Bhishma taught the ‘Raja Dharma’ to Dharmaraja at the end of the war.

Swami    :    Yes. It is called ‘Shanti Parva’.

Prof. A. K.    :    Swami, it is said that Dharmaraja was a great follower of Dharma. Then why did he have to go to Bhishma to learn how to rule? Did he not know how to rule the kingdom?
Grandsire Bhishma instructing King Dharmaraja
Swami    :    Dharmaraja had developed a deep sense of Vairagyam (detachment) at the end of the war. Having seen all his kith and kin die in the war, he was no longer interested in ruling the kingdom. So, Krishna took him to Bhishma who chided him and instructed him on Raja Dharma (duty of a king). He told him that he had to establish Dharma and follow Krishna. Thus, they convinced him and made him the king.

After this enlightening session, Swami got up, blessed the students and retired for the day.

Source: Students with Sai: Conversations (2001-2004)

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