The Miraculous Effect of Satsang
One who overindulges in sense enjoyments invites worries and sorrows and thus throws himself into a pit of darkness. And one who goes to Divine Light, Divine Knowledge, Diving Peace, Divine Joy and Diving Love actually attains the real goal of human life.
Two things are absolutely necessary in human life – reason and faith. Without faith, reason will lead to dryness, unruliness, and arrogance. Such a man will make bombs. He will try to become great by exploiting and oppressing others.
Ashoka was the son of King Bindusar. After Bindusar’s death, he became the king. He began to expand his kingdom. And in the course of that drive, he attacked the state of Kalinga, now known as Kalahandi. The battle continued for four years.
Lakhs of soldiers of both sides were killed but no result was achieved. Emperor Ashoka became worried. And then one day, the commander-in-chief of his army came to him and said, “Victory be to the emperor! I have good news. The king of Kalinga has been killed in the battle. We have attained victory.”
Was it a victory? It was an eternal defeat. Is it good news that we get wealth because somebody has been killed in battle? This is the intellect that wants to accumulate and possess.
Those who don’t know the value of life think it good news.
Is it good news that starving the people to death, the political leaders get the opportunity to secretly keep illicit wealth abroad and in India, imposing heavy taxes on the people? Are they intelligent, who secretly keep illicit wealth abroad and in
India exploiting the people while millions of children are malnourished and moving naked having no education?
अन्धं तम: प्रविशन्ति ....
‘They go to pitch darkness.’ (The Ishavasya Upanishad:12)
Linked with this historical event is the episode of a girl, who turned Emperor Ashoka into a noble kind.
The commander-in-chief said, “But the matter of deep concern is that we are yet unable to open the gate of castle.”
“No problem. I shall lead the army myself tomorrow and get the gate of the castle opened,” said Ashoka.
Next morning, Ashoka and his army reached near the castle gate. The emperor addressed his army, “ Valiant soldiers of Magadh! The king of Kaling State has been killed by your untiring efforts. Now we have to open the gate of the castle. This task shall be done today under my leadership.”
‘….They go to pitch darkness.’
To open the door to worldly riches is akin to going to going to pitch darkness. But to open the door of one’s heart is to attain Knowledge of the Lord of the heart is to kindle the divine effulgence. There should be the light of Knowledge, alertness and discrimination in life along with faith.
One having faith without discrimination is trapped easily by anybody. Such people are exploited by others. The power of discrimination is dormant in good times and is awakened in times of troubles. It is the power of discrimination that keeps you awake. Faith without discrimination is blind.
It gets trapped in one or the other superstition. And discrimination without faith makes one arrogant. His measure of success is self-conceived. He gets engaged in attaining success as per the dictates of his mind. This was the case with Ashoka.
The soldiers were infused with courage and enthusiasm; bugles were sounded as a mark of imminent victory. But before they could make any attempt, suddenly the gate opened. Princess Padma riding a horse came out with a few women soldiers. She was roaring.
Padma said, “Emperor Ashoka! Don’t enter the fort if you love your life. So long as blood runs in my veins and in those of my friends, you cannot enter the fort. You, the killer of my father! You who sacrificed lakhs of your soldiers to satisfy your ego; you who massacred lakhs of my soldiers to satisfy your desire (of expansion of kingdom) stop your march.”
A Kalinga girl challenged the perverted notion of considering oneself great by amassing wealth, and attaining political power. The satsang-lover girl said, “When you die, you will not be able to take along even the kingdom inherited from your father Bindusar.
What will you do with the kingdoms wrested from other kings? You have killed many kings and massacred lakhs of soldiers. Many bereaved children of soldiers are weeping. Many mothers and wives of dead soldiers are weeping. Many persons have been orphaned by you.
Is this rule or blind force? A king should nurtune his subjects in particular and humanity in general. And you are a king who is out to destroy humanity!”
Today we are seven billion people on the globe. And we have such a huge arsenal as is sufficient to kill us seven times. Yet new bombs are being manufactured every day. Becoming great by killing others and usurping their property is going to pitch darkness.
It you are a mother-in-low; don’t oppress your daughter-in-low. If you are a daughter-in-low; don’t disparage your mother-in-low. If you are an elder daughter-in-low, don’t go to a pit of darkness slandering the younger daughter-in-low. If you are a younger daughter-in-low, don’t go to dark regions finding faults with the elder daughter-in-low.
Neighbours should not go to darkness by disparaging one another. Always live in the light. The Vedas say:
असतो मा सद्गमय |
‘Lead me from untruth to Truth’
May we save ourselves from untruth and go to truth! But what is truth and what is untruth? We cannot discern it in darkness. Thence the divine Vedic prayer goes further:
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय |
‘Lead me from darkness to light.’
Padma continued, “O Emperor, you are miserable yourself having fallen into a pit of darkness and you are creating troubles for your people too. You are levying taxes on your subjects and killing them. And I am sure you have no peace of mind. Ask yourself honestly.
Do you have inner prosperity or peace of mind in your life? Is there cheerfulness in your life? Is there anything other than enjoyment of dances, music, sensual pleasures and comforts in your life? You will have to fight with us before entering the gate of the castle. You have killed my father and lakhs of my countrymen.
I will not spare you. And so long as I am alive, you cannot enter this gate.”
Ashoka said, “You are a women; it is unrighteous to lift a weapon against a woman.”
“Have you so far done anything righteous, in accordance with the tenets of Dharma? You got innocent people killed just to satisfy your ego. Will you take anything with you when you will die? You are not satisfied with your kingdom.
In order to expand it you killed many, but you did not kill your greed, your ego, sinful desires. What did you gain by killing people? Now you are talking of Dharma. Have you ever practiced Dharma?”
Emperor Ashoka had no answer. Hearing Padma’s meaningful satsang, he thought, ‘I will give up the path of violence, exploitation, self-aggrandizement and sensual enjoyments. I will now take refuge in satsang.’
Ashoka threw down his sword, bowed down his head to Padma, and said, “O princess of Kalinga! I am the killer of your father and of lakhs of your countrymen. I am a sinner. This head is bowed before you and you have a sword in your hand. You can slay me and take revenge.”
That Indian girl said, “O king! My Dharma does not permit me to attack an unarmed person. Pick up your sword and fight with me.”
Ashoka said, “No, I will not fight now. You have opened my eyes. It was the greed and egotism that mislead me to expand my kingdom.”
“In that case, I too forgive you with all my heart. May good come to you!”
Wasn’t a girl living in the light and in satsang, successful in bringing about a change of Ashoka’s heart?
Ashoka said, “I still have no peace in my mind. How can I get peace?”
“O king! Wars and expansionism never give peace. Killing innocent people to satisfy one’s ego can never give peace.”
“O princess! You are correct.”
“Now if you want to get relieved of mental distress and self-reproach, look at the condition of the soldiers groaning in the battle field.”
When Ashoka went to the battle-field, he saw thousands of dead bodies. Thousands of fatally wounded soldiers were groaning. Somebody has lost his arm, someone has lost his leg, someone’s belly is pierced by arrows. Somebody has lost his eyes, someone has lost other organs.
The king was aghast to see the heart-rending scene, ‘O My ignorance! My foolishness! Shame on you! You wanted to be big by killing people and usurping their wealth!’
Monks were dressing soldiers’ wounds, and giving water to thirsty. ‘Oh! My ignorance and egomaniac tendency to become a great emperor by waging wars has become a great emperor by waging wars has claimed so many lives! I considered myself the body and wanted to become a great emperor. This body that aspired to become great will die. O God! How can I get peace?’
He asked a monk, “Your Holiness! My evil deeds have made me uneasy with guilt consciousness. Is there any way to get peace of mind?”
The monk said. “You will get peace of mind. Take a pledge not to repeat the mistake of deriving pleasure by tormenting others.”
“O man! You cry at your troubles. Learn to smile. And learn to share the sufferings and pains of others. You cannot get the joy of feeding others by eating yourself. Life is short; learn to be of help to someone.’
Don’t learn how to kill someone. Learn to be of help to someone. One who doesn’t alleviate sufferings of others cannot get rid of pain himself. And one who derives pleasure by oppressing others aggravates his own suffering. This is the case with you.” “What should I do, sir?”
सत्यं शरणं गच्छामि | “Take refuge with Truth. Atman is Truth; God is Truth; take refuge with Him. The body is unreal. Ego and desire too are unreal. Renouncing desires gives the joy of Self-Bliss instantly. The desires cherished during childhood by a child and the desires cherished during youth by a young man are different.
Different youth cherish different desires. Desire is not Truth. The Supreme Self, the Knower of desire that exists before the arising of desire and knows the futility of desire after its gratification is Truth. Why don’t you take refuge in Him? He is not away from you; He is not difficult to attain; He is not a stranger.
You want to establish dominion over far off countries, and in the process massacre people to prove yourself big. The mighty Ravana could not save his kindom of Lanka. How can you save your kingdom Ashoka? Can you save your body?”
“No. but what should I do now?”
“Take refuge with Truth. Don’t cause pain to others. Don’t consider anybody as wicked. Do not think ill of any body. Do not do wrong to anybody. Hence no ill-will towards anybody. Wish everybody well. Emperor Ashoka! You will make history.”
“As you command, Your Holiness!”
Hitherto Ashoka had been oppressing people because he was driven by egotism. Listening to satsang he learnt that our own Self abides even in others.’ And he took refuge in Truth. He took a vow never to wield a weapon. He did rule his kingdom but never wielded weapons. The Ashoka chakra is still found on Indian currency notes.
This was the miraculous effect of stasang. A brute tyrant who had killed lakhs of men heard a few words of satsang from Padma and from a monk and became a noble king who wiped tears of millions.