Recap : We have seen how the pure minded Suka, the son of Vyasa, was born from the Vedic fire started by his father using Arani sticks. We have seen how he completed his Vedic studies under the Deva Guru, Brihaspati himself. We have heard his arguments with his father, where he refused to live the Vedic way and considered his father deluded and his guru idiotic. He insisted on going directly to the sannyasa asrama and refused all wordly knowledge. Then his father taught him the Devi Bhagavatham together with Romaharshana (Suta). Even after this Suka was not satisfied and his father advised him to visit Rajarshi Janaka at Mithila. He was stopped at the gate of Mithila. When the gatekeeper was impressed with Suka’s knowledge he was allowed into Mithila. Next Suka passed the minister’s test for absorption in the Self. Janaka met Suka respectfully, in the traditional way and answered his questions on the necessity of the gRhastha As’rama. Then Suka questioned him about himsa.
This episode :
Let us take some examples. A mosquito bites you, you kill it. An enemy attacks your country, your countrymen defend it. You get a viral fever and swallow some antibiotics. You eat a fruit and your saliva kills the germs on it. In fact, your own white blood cells might be fighting a raging battle in your own body right now, to ensure your own survival. Would you call all this himsa?
You are hungry and eat a fruit, root, plant, animal, insect, egg, reptile, fungus.. and so on. Is that himsa? A doctor amputates a man’s leg to save his life. Is this himsa?
You strip a tree of its bark to cover yourself. Is this himsa?
You are bored and pull of all the leaves of a plant ‘just like that’. You throw a puppy in a pond. You go hunting for fun. You taunt your friends with cruel words designed to cause them pain. Is this himsa?
Clearly it is not the act of killing/hurting itself, but the intention and context that determines whether an act is himsa or ahimsa. – Satya
Janaka knew very well that it is impossible to live as a king or ascetic without causing some harm to someone, at sometime either intentionally or otherwise. He knew that barring ascetics, other professions like soldiers etc, needed to eat meat at least on some allowable, designated occasions. He knew that the best way to protect themselves from sin of himsa, was to offer it to God first in a methodical (vedokta) way and accept the flesh as a prasadam. So he believed that the Vedic way of offering any food or object to God first, be it food or flower, was the right way. You are offering to the Purusha, part of Himself, to be taken into you, which is also a part of Himself. You are not greedy or gluttonous and your mind is aware of this fact. Therefore the Vedic, yajnik method is not himsa. The vedic way is spiritual. (Beautiful poetry : Purusha’s Yagnya : Creation : Rig Veda)
Suka had yet another question.
How a man can be free from desires and the rewards of their actions, when he lives in the midst of this Samsâra, that is all full of Mâyâ? When even by the acquiring of wisdom of the S’âstras and the capability to judge which is real and which is unreal, the delusion of the mind is not dispelled until one resorts to the practice of Yoga, how then can freedom from desires and liberation come to a householder? The darkness of a room is not destroyed by the mere mention of lamplight; so the wisdom acquired by reading the S’âstras can never dispel the darkness of delusion that reigns in the inside of a man. O lion of kings! If one wants Moksa, one ought not to commit any act of revenge or injury or killing any being; how can this be possible to a householder?
Your desires to acquire wealth, to enjoy royal pleasures and to get victory in battle have not yet subsided, how then can you be a Jivan mukta? O king! You still consider a thief, a thief and a saint, asaint; you consider a man as your relative or other than that; these ideas have not vanished from you; how then can you be called Videha? O king! You feel the pungent, bitter, astringent, sour tastes and the like; you feel good and bad rasas respectively; you become glad when success comes to you and you feel sorrow when you happen to fail; and you experience the three states, waking, dreaming, and deep sleep as an ordinary man does, how then can you claim to attain the Turîya (fourth) state?
And thus Suka brings us to the key point of Raja Yoga. Janaka then brought home to Suka, that the company is company, comfort is comfort and attachment is attachment.
He said “You are now intending to quit the company of your father and go to the forest; well and good! but even then you will undoubtedly have the company of deer, etc.; see, also, that when the five elements, earth, water, air, etc., are present, encompassing everywhere, how, then, can you expect to be free from all companions? So, O Muni! when you will have to think always of your food, how, then, can you be said to be free from all cares? Again, even if you go to the forest, you will have to think there also for your staff, deer skin, etc.; so you can take my case, too, of thinking of my kingdom, whether I think or not, as your thinking of staff, deer skin, etc., your heart is tainted with Vikalpa Jñân (knowledge of doubt, duality, etc.); and therefore you have come here from a far-off country. But my heart is free from any such doubt and I am remaining quite cheerful here. O best of Brâhmins!”
When Suka realised that as long as he was attached/averse to anything, even a sanyas mode of life would be of no use at all.
This reminds me of a bit in the Bhagavad Gita, where Sri Krishna makes it clear that it is impossible to completely inactive. Even if you make the simplest action of breathing or being you are in fact ‘Doing Something’. Since inaction is impossible, he tells us to dedicate our actions to him and also the results thereof and live as karmayogins. – Satya
Suka took leave respectfully, of Janaka, went back to his father, married a lovely girl called pivarI. He had four sons, Krishna, Gauraprabha, Bhûri, and Devas’ruta as well as a daughter kIrti. Kirthi was given in marriage to anUha, the son of vibhrAja. Their son was the powerful king brahmadatta!
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