Ram Navami Story: Rama and a Dog’s Justice
Through a rarely-told story of Rama, Sadhguru illustrates the importance of steadfastness of purpose.
Sadhguru: You don’t make it anywhere in life because of what you think of yourself. You make it simply because there is steadfastness of purpose. If you look at the way people’s lives unfold – their level of joy, peace, blissfulness, wellbeing, and enlightenment – some people seem to be blessed while some seem cursed. This is fundamentally because those who allow their minds to constantly choose and un-choose can only live by chance. If things go well in their lives, it is either because of someone’s blessing or because the people around are truly wonderful. Every time you choose and un-choose, you make and unmake yourself. There is no way such a person can either live purposefully or achieve what he really aspires for in his life.
What Do You Really Want to Do?
I would say, take a couple of weeks off and look clearly and deeply – beyond all compulsions of your body and mind – at what it is you really want to do. You must make your decision when you are in utmost clarity, and then just do it. Those people who make their choices and stick to it at any cost – hell or high water – their life unfolds in a completely different way. How dedicated we are to the basic choices we make in our lives is how our life unfolds.
This is what Adi Shankara means by “Nishchala tattve jeevanmukti.” For one who is unwavering in his intention, liberation cannot be denied. If there is no nishchala tattvam, there is no mukti; there will only be chaos. Someone who changes the purpose of their life ten times a day cannot expect to go anywhere. When you changing the journey’s course every day, you will simply go in circles – punarapi jananam, punarapi maranam.
Rama and the Dog’s Justice
There is a beautiful story in the Ramayan. Rama was known to be a very just and caring king. He sat in his court every day trying to solve his people’s problems. On a particular day, he had finished dealing with the day’s problems and was about to wind up the court’s activities. He told his brother Lakshman, who was deeply dedicated to Rama, to go out and see if there was anyone else waiting in the yard.
Lakshman went out, looked around, came back and said, “There is nobody else. We are done for today.” Rama said, “Go and see. There may be someone.” It was a little odd. Lakshman had just looked but he was being told to look once again. So he went and looked around again – there was nobody.
As he was coming in, he noticed a dog sitting there with a very sad face. It had a wound on its head. He asked the dog, “Are you waiting for something?” The dog spoke, “Yes, I want justice from Rama.” Lakshman said, “Why don’t you come in,” and took him into the court.
The dog bowed down to Rama and said, “Oh Rama, I want justice. For no reason, an act of violence has been committed upon me. I was just sitting by myself when a man named Sarvarthasiddha came and hit me on my head with a stick for no reason at all. I want justice.”
Immediately, Rama sent for Sarvarthasiddha, a beggar. Rama asked, “What is your side of the story? This dog says you hit him without any reason.” Sarvarthasiddha said, “Yes, I am guilty of the crime the dog is accusing me of. I was overtaken by hunger, I was angry, I was frustrated. This dog was sitting in my way, so for no reason, out of my frustration and anger, I hit this dog on its head. Please give me whatever punishment you want.”
Rama put this forth to his ministers and courtiers. “What is the punishment for this beggar?” They thought about it and said, “This is a very complicated case where a human being and a dog are involved. So all the laws we normally have are not applicable. Being the king, it is your prerogative to come up with a judgment.”
Rama asked the dog, “What do you say? Do you have any suggestion?” The dog said “Yes, I have an appropriate punishment for this man. Make him the chief monk of Kalinjar Monastery.” Kalinjar monastery was a very celebrated monastery in the northern part of India at that time. Rama said, “So be it,” and the beggar was appointed as the chief of the monastery. Rama gave him an elephant. The beggar climbed the elephant, very pleased with the punishment. With great joy he rode off to the monastery.
The courtiers asked him, “What kind of judgment is this? Is this a punishment? The man is very happy.” Rama asked the dog, “Why don’t you explain?” The dog said, “In my previous life, I was the chief monk of the Kalinjar monastery. Initially, I had joined the monastery because I was truly dedicated to my spiritual wellbeing and also to the monastery, which was instrumental in imparting spiritual wellbeing to many people.
I went there with a commitment to offer this to myself and to everyone, and I strived, I did my best. But as days passed, slowly, other impressions in my mind overtook me. I mostly remained steadfast to my purpose, but here and there it overtook me. The name and fame that came along with being the chief monk affected me. Many times, my ego performed, not me. Many times, I started enjoying the people’s recognition of who I was.
People started treating me like a holy man. Within myself, I knew I was not, but I started behaving like one, started demanding the things that should normally belong to a holy person. I did not commit myself to my total transformation, but started pretending like a holy man and people supported me in this. Slowly, my commitment to my spiritual wellbeing and that of the people around me receded. Many moments, I tried to bring myself back, but with the overwhelming recognition around me, somewhere, I lost myself.
This beggar, Sarvarthasiddha, has anger and ego in him. He is capable of frustration, so I know he will punish himself as I did. So this is the best punishment for him. Let him be the chief monk of Kalinjar monastery.”
From Choice to Choiceless-ness
People bring enormous amount of punishment, pain and suffering upon themselves, not necessarily because their life is committed to evil. Their life may be committed to spiritual wellbeing, but every day they choose and un-choose. They don’t allow their destiny to take shape. They keep destabilizing themselves by constantly falling off and getting back on. When you do this, you do not allow life to form itself because it is like disturbing that which is taking shape.
Every time you choose and un-choose, you distort the course of your destiny. Let’s say you got frustrated because of something tonight and you un-choose from the path you have taken. But though you may be back on by tomorrow morning, though you un-chose only for a few hours, you still destabilized the course of your destiny.
A monkey-like mind that keeps choosing and un-choosing at every turn will always think, “Is this the thing, is this not the thing?” Such a mind can never create a destiny of its own. Its destiny will always be chaotic. Only a determined mind, a mind whose determination and choice is permanent – once you make a choice you make yourself choice-less – such a mind will allow destiny to flow the way you have chosen.