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IV
What is True?

 

   

very day at every time, there will be change occurring in all the objects of creation. Once you recognize that the world is basically a stage for the continuous natural occurrence of change and that change is inherent to the very nature of the objects of the world, then you will become free from suffering. The Lord has taught in the Gita, that instead of undergoing all the sufferings that go with developing attachments and then getting disillusioned when the inevitable changes begin to happen, it would be far better from the very beginning, to remain unattached towards the things and objects of the world. Here is an example which illustrates the illusory nature of the world and the detachment you should have to it.

   King Janaka had acquired extraordinary proficiency in Brahma-Jnana, the knowledge of Brahman. He was called 'The King of Videha'. Videha means 'deprived of body', in other words, one who did not have any sense of body-consciousness. One particular night, after dinner, he was discussing certain administrative problems with his ministers. He got back to his bedroom a little late. A meal had been set out for him but he didn't touch it. He relaxed on a sofa, while the queen massaged his feet. Soon King Janaka fell asleep. The queen asked the various attendants present to leave the room and made sure that the king, who was extremely tired, would not be disturbed in his sleep. She put a cover over him and banked the light low, quietly remaining by his side. Shortly afterwards, King Janaka quite suddenly opened his eyes, sat up, looked around incredulously at his surroundings, and in a most peculiar way began to ask, "Is this real or is that real. Is this the truth or is that the truth?"

   The queen became a little frightened by his bewildered look and strange question; she tried to find out what exactly he was asking, but he would not explain or answer any of her queries. He just went on saying, "Is this the truth or is that the truth?" She called for the ministers, counsellors, and other important officials. They all assembled and began questioning the king. "Maharaja, what is your doubt? What exactly are you asking?" But the Maharaja would not respond to them. Finally the ministers brought the great Sage Vashishta to the court. Vashishta asked the king, "What are you asking? What is your doubt? May I clarify it for you?" The king was replying to all the questions with the same query, "Is that the truth or is this the truth? Is this reality or is that reality?"

   Sage Vashishta being omniscient closed his eyes and meditated for a while to find out the cause of the king's strange behavior. Vashishta realized that King Janaka had suddenly awakened from a vivid dream in which he had forfeited his kingdom and found himself wandering lost, alone and despondent in a forest. He was feeling very hungry and also very tired and forsaken. As he wandered through that forest he kept shouting, "I am hungry, I am hungry." It happened that there were some dacoits in that forest. Those dacoits were just sitting down in a glade nearby to have their meal, eating from plates made of leaves. Taking pity on him, the dacoits made themselves known and invited him to join them, offering him a portion of their meal.

   Just at that moment, a tiger came upon them and they all ran for their lives. The tiger helped himself to all the food. Again Janaka found himself staggering through the forest crying out, "O, I am so hungry. I am so very hungry." When he woke up he discovered he was in a palace, on a royal sofa by the side of the queen, with a silver tray filled with luxurious food and dainties sitting on the table nearby, and he began asking whether he was the starving, forsaken wretch begging food from dacoits in a fearful forest, or whether he was an emperor living in a sumptuous palace surrounded by all possible luxuries. "Is this true or is that true?"

   Maharishi Vashishta immediately recognized the king's confusion and said, "King Janaka, neither of these two roles is true. You alone are true. You, yourself, are the truth. The you who was present as the witnessing conscious in both the dream state and in the waking state; that you who witnessed both these states, is the true reality. Life during the daytime is a day-dream; during the night it is a night-dream. They are both illusions. They are filled with defects and flaws because they constantly change from one thing to another; so they cannot be real. Only you who remain unchanged in all these states are real, free of all change and illusion." This was also emphasized in the Gita, where Krishna pointed out the important truth that the world is constantly changing and that the Self alone is real and ever unchanging.

     
       
   

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