The Protector

This week we present another profound story from the Mahabharatha. Sri Bheesmacharya tells Dharmaputra, the need to protect those who want to protect us! This tale has so much to teach on the practical side of life. It is our wish that readers really give this a deep thought and give us their reflection. Each paragraph has a hidden precept. Each line of the sage’s counsel has so many dimensions. If only we understand life, as Mahabharata reveals, we shall never taste lasting defeat; neither shall we complain about the ‘unjust’ world. Let us be good and also wise.

Then, life is not a ‘pain’, but a sweet song!

An able king by the name Kshemadarshi ruled the Kingdom of Kosala. A great, wise sage – KaalaVrukshiya – was loyal to the kingdom, as he was well wisher of Kshemadarshi’s father, too. When this sage learnt that lots of undesirable activities were going on in the kingdom, he decided to bring it to the notice of the King. He captured a crow and confined it to a cage; he then proceeded to tour the kingdom. He went around talking freely to all and learnt about the several dishonest activities going on in the kingdom.

KaalaVrukshiya then declared publicly, ‘I know the art of conversing with crows. This crow can tell me all the occurrences on this land..’ Declaring this, he went around talking to people to understand the unjust activities of many officials, some of whom wielded great power and influence.

He then proceed to the King’s court while the court was filled with courtiers. He pointed to a powerful official and said, ‘This crow tells me the details of all the various crimes committed by the officials. This crow told me that you have stolen money from the King’s treasury and it needs to be investigated.’

He then went on to openly declare the various crimes committed by several officials of the court. He attributed this information to the clairvoyance of the crow!

That evening after dinner he went to the guest quarters taking the crow along.

In the dead of the night, the accused officials entered the room of the sage and killed the crow. In the morning, the sage noticed that the crow was dead and he sought the private audience of the King.

He said to the King, ‘Your highness, I request your kind attention. Please give me a patient hearing. It is said that getting into the close proximity of a king is not desirable. Even a penniless person, should avoid depending on the king for his livelihood. Being close to the king is like living with snakes, so say the learned. Since a king has many friends and enemies, those who live depending directly on a king may face problems from his friends and enemies. In showering affection, the king is like a deity and in fury the victim gets destroys as in a forest fire! Yet, I come to you, your highness, only because I care for your welfare. My association with this Kingdom has been since the time of your father’s rule and I deeply yearn that it is managed effectively. It was for this reason that I brought the several crimes committed by the various officials to your notice. The officials taking the crow to be informer have killed it. I shall be the next target. It is, therefore, not advisable for me to stay in this Kingdom any longer.

Some shrubs, which may catch fire easily, grow around big trees and depend entirely on the tree for their subsistence. In a forest fire, the tree, though strong, is reduced to ashes due to these shrubs. So too, as a result of such corrupt officials around you, you will get destroyed. Hence, you should try to learn everything about those around you. These people are ready to kill your well-wishers. Hence, they deserve to be extricated. They are like the snake which hit in the tail end is awaiting an opportunity to strike back. I, therefore, have come to take leave of you and the Kingdom for good.’

The King felt deeply touched. He said to the Sage, ‘I do not wish to keep around me those who desire to destroy my well-wishers. I shall banish them from my kingdom immediately. Would you please be with me and assist me in running the kingdom justly and effectively?’

The Sage said, ‘Your highness! Do not take immediate action against all those who are corrupt. If the corrupt and punished officials join hands they would become a great threat to the Kingdom. Your action against them should not lead to this situation. You must handle them one by one. The source of their power is the wealth that they have amassed unjustly. You must first attend to that. These officials must certainly have lots of enemies. Send these people to them threatening exposure and usurping their wealth. Once this is done you may take action against both groups. Act as if you are close to some of them. This can sow seeds of enmity amongst them. Let evil take care of evil. For the well being of the people at large you should govern the land in a Just manner without vesting power in the hands of the wicked.

Soon, the King appointed a capable and Just warrior as the Prime minister and appointed Kalavrukshiya as his Chief priest. Abiding by the words of the sage, the King weeded out the wicked elements in his administration, performed many great Yajnas (religious sacrifices), and having the welfare of his subjects in his mind, administered Kosala kingdom justly and attained great fame.

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