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Summer Course Discourse VI - 20th May


All forms of His have manifested as Peace,
All His names have manifested as Auspiciousness,
He is the embodiment of Existence, Awareness, Bliss and Non-Dualism,
He is Truth, Auspiciousness and Beauty.

The strength and capacities of the Divine are beyond comprehension; yet, without understanding this, criticism of Divinity is rife. One may praise, another may defy, but Divinity remains the same. Neither will criticism diminish Divinity, nor will praise enhance it. The traits of ebbing and rising are that of this world. Divinity is unaffected by both of these. Those who hanker after name and fame can never comprehend Divinity. Thousands of students have passed out of the portals of this university, having acquired a totally free education. We have not published or advertised this fact. I derive my joy from their joy and remain contented.

Yesterday we had seen that Bharatha did not go to Ayodhya with Rama's sandals. He instead built a tiny ashram at Nandi Grama and remained there, worshipping Rama's Lotus Feet. His wife Mandavi too spent her time contemplating Rama's name and thus gave support to her husband. Rama and Sita spent their time moving in the forest. Lakshmana was totally dedicated to their service. But little is known about Shatrugna. None of the texts mention about him. Intellectuals are thriving in thousands. People with a power to enquire are also many. Sadly, there are very few who tend to enquire into the intricate and delicate spiritual matters.

From the times of Dasaratha, Sumantha remained the chief minister of the kingdom. He would obey every command of Dasaratha's regarding administration. In such a situation, the legal heir, Rama was in the forest. His representative Bharatha was on a self-imposed exile at Nandi Grama. So, who was handling the day-to-day administration of Ayodhya? It is here that we must probe deeply. From dawn to dusk it was Shatrugna who stayed at Ayodhya, enquired into the problems of the citizens and governed the kingdom. By night he would faithfully report everything to Bharatha. Shatrugna carried out every aspect of administration of the kingdom. Though he did so much, his name never appears anywhere in literature.

Both the sons of Sumithra always engaged in serving their elder brothers and fostering unity among themselves. They never went after name and fame. Shatrugna dedicated himself totally to Bharatha and executed all his commands. He was highly intelligent, able and powerful. Sadly, such a noble character has never been enquired into. For the long years, it was Shatrugna who held the reins of the kingdom in his able hands. However, he would never disturb Bharatha even if he had any doubts. The reason was that he worried that he would be responsible for disturbing Bharatha's concentration as Bharatha was in constant meditation of Rama.

Sumithra had already made a promise to the other queens, "Kausalya! Your son may become the king. My son Lakshmana will become his personal aide. Kaikeyi! Bharatha also may become king. I shall then send Shatrugna to serve him. Both my sons were born to serve and not to earn name, fame or kingdoms." How noble were the two brothers Lakshmana and Shatrugna! Without them, both Rama and Bharatha would not have achieved their fame and glory. They always stood by their elder brothers giving them solid support. This cooperation caused the brothers to remain very dear to each other.

At the time of the battle, when Lakshmana swooned, Rama lamented thus, "If I search, I may find a wife like Sita; I may find a mother like Kausalya; but a brother like Lakshmana can never be found." Rama was ready to give up anything for the sake of Lakshmana. At that time, Hanuman came up to Rama. Rama told him, "Brother! You must come to my assistance in My hour of need. Though your dedication and devotion are well known, I still ask of you this favour. You must go and bring me the Sanjeevani plant." Hanuman was one who always obeyed Rama's command. He always moved as one amongst the four brothers. He promptly left, but unable to identify the plant, uprooted the entire mountain and carried it to Lanka. As he was flying over Ayodhya, Bharatha spotted him. Bharatha was getting regular reports from the forest that the demons were troubling Rama. Bharatha promptly suspected this huge figure to be a Rakshasa who intended serious harm to Rama. He took out his bow and shot at Hanuman. Hanuman alighted along with the mountain. Paying his respects to Bharatha, he said, "Oh! King! Lakshmana has fainted on the battlefield. I am taking this mountain containing the Sanjeevani herb to revive him. I don't know where the herb is on this mountain. Hence, in order to carry out Rama's command, I am taking away the entire mountain."

Bharatha was ecstatic at this news. He sent word for mother Kausalya and said, "Mother! This messenger has news about Rama." He then introduced Hanuman to her who went on to tell her in detail all the news of the battlefront. "There is a fierce battle going on between Rama and Ravana. It shall definitely be over in a day or two. Lakshmana has fainted and these herbs are meant to revive him." Sumithra too was asked to come by Bharatha. She didn't express any anxiety at the news about Lakshmana. On the contrary she said, " I am never worried about my son's welfare. My only fear is that Rama may be put to inconvenience. If my son Lakshmana were to die, I shall definitely send my other son Shatrugna to serve Rama. My only aim is to see Rama happy. We should see to that there are no obstructions in the service to Rama. It is with this intention that I had sent Lakshmana to the forest with Rama." Hanuman then conveyed the news of Lakshmana's fainting to Lakshmana's wife, Urmila. She had spent the entire fourteen years painting the scene of Rama's wedding to Sita. Bharatha approached her and broke the news. He said, "Lakshmana's life is in danger. I am at a loss for words and don't know what to do."

Urmila didn't show a trace of fear or worry. She said, "My husband's heart is filled with the name of Rama. Therefore, he is perhaps sleeping peacefully. All the pain and suffering must be Rama's alone. No danger can befall my husband. He will always remain safe." What we need to recognize here is that, the wives of the four brothers were as virtuous and noble as their husbands. The happiness and prosperity of the husbands was caused by the noble qualities of their wives. The good conduct and good actions of the wives were also responsible. Their character gave their husbands tremendous support.

After the news was conveyed, Hanuman quickly continued his journey to the battlefield. What we need to know here is, as much as the four brothers spread their ideals to the world, their wives too didn't lag behind in doing the same. As her husband Shatrugna ruled the kingdom, Shrutakeerti lent admirable support to him, just as Mandavi stood by Bharatha. They never aspired for anything else. Except at the time of dawn and dusk when they would go to mother Kausalya for her blessings, they never had any other commitments. It was a good fortune of the ancient times to have obtained such daughter-in-laws. The good influence of such noble characters can be felt throughout the Ramayana.

For fourteen long years Ayodhya saw peace, prosperity, security aplenty. Truth was spoken and righteousness was adhered to, in every corner of the country. Shatrugna's able rule assured this. He would not sleep or rest at all, anticipating some problem or other. He used to worry that any lapse in his administration would fetch a bad name for Bharatha. Shatrugna found it intolerable that Bharatha get a bad name due to his mistakes. He looked after the kingdom with care and concern as a gift from Lord Rama. He always followed Rama's command. Shatrugna ruled Ayodhya with such noble feelings. Bharatha never played an active role in the administration of the kingdom. He would merely nod and accede to anything that Shatrugna said. What was the reason for this blind trust? Bharatha knew Shatrugna's selfless love. He also knew that Shatrugna was very able and would never allow any enemy to plan a misadventure towards Ayodhya. True to his name, Shatrugna could destroy any such enemy. This led to lasting peace in Ayodhya. The principle followed by the ancient Indians where, Speak the Truth, Follow Righteousness (Sathyam Vada; Dharmam Chara) and pray for the safety of the world. They also laid emphasis on unity amongst the brothers. None must face disrepute. Everyone must live his life with virtue and good name.

Once, a message arrived from Rama speaking of the enormous trouble that demons were heaping on Him. A particular mention was made of the terrible duo Khara and Dooshana. Khara was a close associate of the demon king Ravana. He was very fond of troubling everybody. He even attempted to secretly harm Rama, Lakshmana and Sita. Bharatha was informed of these developments. Dooshana was the commander-in-chief of Khara's army. It was Soorpanaka who poisoned the ears of Khara and Dooshana and goaded them to attack the brothers. Bharatha was hence anxiously awaiting news about Rama from his messengers. He was also hesitant to approach the elders with this news. Such news was generally conveyed to Sumithra. She was a great lady. She would always use soft words and advise aptly. Therefore, she was relied upon.

At this moment of Bharatha's anxiety, she approached him and asked him the reason for his worry. It may be observed that Bharatha did not summon Kaikeyi. Sumitra consoled Bharatha and said, "Do not worry about Rama. You brothers have different bodies, but your souls are the same. Do not look for any differences amongst yourselves because there is none. Stay united at this juncture and have courage. Rama will not come to any harm. He is Divinity incarnate. Therefore, do not give scope for any worries." She thus advised Bharatha and left.

Though Shatrugna ruled the kingdom on behalf of Bharatha, he could never summon courage to advise his elder brother. He never talked backed to his elders. Even if you are replying to elders, you must think carefully and answer. It is a grave mistake to talk to them, as you like. Such actions may even lead to some dangers. Truth must be spoken. Righteousness must be adhered to. Brothers and sisters must live as a closely-knit unit, with understanding among themselves. In this way, Bharatha and Shatrugna spent their time in Ayodhya, waiting for Rama.

Shrutakeerti's is another character in the Ramayana that is extremely noble. It was always her desire to meet her husband at night times, listen to what problems he was facing and, if possible, lighten his burden by giving him suitable advice. She would never utter words that could harm others. 'Shruta+Keerti' as the name suggests, she would always listen to good only. In turn, she would always speak what was good and propagated that which was pleasant and pleasing to the ear. She would encourage only that which was good and beneficial to others. Dasaratha had daughters-in-law who were real gems.

However, in our story, only Rama and Sita are depicted as the lead characters. Not much importance is given to the other roles in the epic. If Lakshmana, Shatrugna, Urmila, Mandavi and Shrutakeerti were not there, the glory of Rama and Sita could not have been highlighted. Rama could not live even a minute without Lakshmana by his side. He wouldn't eat without Lakshmana giving him company. Neither would he go to sleep without Lakshmana. Rama hence demonstrated the ideal of unity and coexistence to the world. In the Vedas, there is a sloka that aptly describes this idealism.

Let us all move together, let us all grow together,
Let us all stay united and share our knowledge,
Let us live together with friendship and without disharmony.

The four brothers displayed such a unity amongst themselves. Today, if there are four children in the house, they take to four different directions.

Soorpanaka ran wailing to her brother Ravana in Lanka. She was bleeding from her wounds and lamented to Ravana, "Brother! There are two princes who are the sons of emperor Dasaratha. They are responsible for my sorry state." Ravana had a very pertinent question to ask her. He said, "Sister! Your nose and ears are separate entities on your face. Both couldn't have been cut off at the same time. How is it that you didn't escape after your nose was mutilated? Why did you remain standing till your ears were also cut off?" Soorpanaka replied, "Brother! I can't explain this. The moment Lakshmana touched me; I was lost in a trance. Their handsome and regal bearing enraptured me. It was like I lost all my consciousness and remained rooted to the spot." In this way, she kept eulogizing the two princes' noble bearing and virtues.

There are several such incidents and descriptions in the epic Ramayana. Today, we have seen what an important role Shatrugna played in governing Ayodhya ably for fourteen long years. Bharatha was the ruler representative only in name. The groundwork was carried out entirely by Shatrugna. He alone was responsible for keeping the boundaries of Ayodhya safe. During the fourteen years, not even a single enemy dared to march on Ayodhya. There was no unrest amongst the civilians. Initially, there were fears about an Ayodhya without a king. Rama advised Bharatha regarding the duties of a ruler. He said, "Bharatha, you are now the king. Our father was a mighty emperor who ruled his kingdom well. After his death, it is your responsibility now. Do not answer back to anyone. Never use harsh words to hurt anyone. Always carry out pleasant conversations. There must be no agitation in our kingdom." Bharatha and Shatrugna both received the advice and followed it sincerely.

Today Mariwala has spoken extensively about the achievements of our hospital. I always advise my students not to publicise what we do in the hospital. There are several wonderful things that are happening. One patient from Nepal had his heart on his right hand side! Our doctors have shifted it back to the correct location. The surgery was understandably highly complicated. Still it was carried out. I told my students that none needs to be informed about this. People may accuse us of praising ourselves. I told them that their main task is to make everyone happy. Today, Mariwala has narrated so many incidents that he had never briefed Me about. These boys from the hospital sleep on the ground floor while I stay on the first floor. They always discuss only hospital related matters. I keep telling them, "Do not speak about them anywhere outside. You do your duty sincerely. Extend every possible comforts to those who come."

The other day I was informed that a particular injection was to be administered to a patient in order to save his life. That injection costs Rs. 80,000! Mariwala came and asked if we could go ahead and buy such an expensive injection. I replied that to save a life, any amount should be spent. I shall bear the expenses, but get the medicine and save his life. Instantly we dispatched a courier to Bangalore and obtained the required injection. These are several such expensive medicines that need to be used in the hospital. No one knows about these details. I believe that, we must not look at the cost if it will save a life. I tell our doctors to continue with their duty and keep the patients healthy and safe. The patients should not be subjected to any form of inconvenience.

(Text of the Divine Discourse delivered by Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba on 20th May 2002 as part of the Summer Course on Indian Culture and Spirituality
held at Brindavan Campus, Bangalore)

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