Yāvad-vittopārjana saktaḥ tāvan-nijaparivāro raktaḥ |
Paścājjīvati jarjara dehe vārtāṃ kopi na prcchati gehe || 5 ||
Meaning – A person’s family members love and respect him only so long as he earns money or is inclined towards acquiring wealth. When he becomes old and debilitated, none of the family members even bother to enquire about his well-being. They are eager to leave him in an old-age home.
The great King Yudhisthira, who possessed immense sense control (indriya nigraha) had stated- ‘sarvam svārtham samīhate’- ‘this entire world is filled with selfishness’.
The story of Maharishi Valmiki’s life is a suitable example for today’s lesson. Valmiki’s original name was Ratnakara. Due to a curse, he had lost all memory of his previous life and was a wayside notorious dacoit wandering about in the forests. He supported his family by engaging in dacoity.
When the time for him to be relieved of his curse neared, the seven great saints approached him and asked, “Ratnakara, you are murdering, torturing the innocent, looting them and feeding your family with all these earnings. In the process you are also accumulating loads of sins. Will your wife and children share only the earnings, comforts and food supplied by you or will they take a share in all your sins?”
Without hesitating even for a second, Ratnakara answered, “Of course, they are going to take a share from my sins”. The saints laughed and said, “O Ratnakara! You seem oblivious to the ways of the world. In this world, no one shares the sins or sorrows of another”.
Ratnakara was unconvinced about this. An argument ensued between him and the saints. Lastly, in order to please the saints, Ratnakara went to his house and calling his wife and children, lovingly asked them, “Will you all take a share in my sins”? They collectively replied, “You alone have to pay for your sins. We have nothing to do with them”.
This unanimous reaction from his family members had a tremendous impact on him and it changed his life forever. He became inner-facing. Maharishi Nārada initiated him into the ‘Rama’ mantra. However the initiation was done in the reverse format as ‘Mara’. Ratnakara recited this ‘Mara’ mantra crores of times. He was covered with an anthill when he was seated in meditation. He came out of the anthill, earned the name ‘Valmiki’ and thereafter composed the ‘Ramayana’.
There are numerous such stories in our Puranas. This wealth and prosperity are not permanent. The feelings of ‘me’ and ‘mine’ are equally impermanent. At every minute, the person should remember this. He should recite the names of God at all times.
Many eminent saints and poets have preached this same lesson in various different ways. In the ‘Sumati Shatakam’, the poet states, –
Eppudu sampada kaligina appudu bamdhuvulu vatturadi yetlannan
Teppaluga ceruvu nimdina kappalu padhivelu ceru gadara sumati !
Meaning – Just as a pond overflowing with water attracts thousands of frogs towards it, a house abounding in wealth, attracts relatives and friends in huge numbers!
The frogs are attracted to the pond only for the plentiful water available there. If the pond dries up, needless to say the new frogs will not reach there but what is note-worthy is that the existing frogs will seek a new home. Likewise, as long as the person is rich and has a great name and fame, people will flock towards him just as ants collect around a piece of sugar candy. They will make him feel that he is as great as God.
However when the person loses his wealth or his period of downfall begins, or he stops earning, these relatives and friends will desert him completely. They will not even remember him and their association with him. Do ants ever remember the place and time where they had enjoyed the sugar candy? Do frogs ever recollect that dried up pond that had once given them shelter?
In a similar manner, none ever thinks about the needs and feelings of the aged persons. When they are no longer able to contribute to the earnings at home, the younger generation will be in a great hurry to pack them off to an old age home. This is the reality.