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Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 06 Mar 2020

               

Was Janaka's detachment from his kingship not neglect of God’s work?

Shri Balaji asked: In Your reply to a question on rāja yoga on February 10, 2020, You have said that when king Janaka was deeply absorbed in a spiritual discussion and was told that his city, Mithilā was on fire, he was not disturbed. You have explained that this showed Janaka’s detachment from worldly issues. But You have also said that, in the case of Janaka, his administration of the kingdom was also God’s work, since it involved maintaining justice and controlling sins. Does his detachment from the administration of the kingdom not mean the detachment from God’s work?

Swami replied: Fulfilling his duty as the king of his kingdom was the unavoidable worldly work that he had to do, just as an ordinary person has to perform his professional work as an employee. But Janaka turned even this worldly work into God’s work by ruling the city in accordance with God’s will. He upheld justice and condemned injustice. Being king was not a matter of worldly enjoyment for him. He never enjoyed the kingship. Instead, he would always enjoy spiritual knowledge in the numerous spiritual discussions he would have with sages. He was detached from his kingship and always attached to God through the spiritual discussions. The sages wanted to test his detachment from worldly affairs and simultaneously his attachment to God. So, they told him that his city was burning. Janaka, of course, remained undisturbed. But Janaka cannot be compared to the Roman emperor, Nero who was playing the fiddle (violin) while Rome burned. Enjoying worldly music is also a worldly affair and not related to God.

The detachment from the world comes only by the attachment to God. Such true detachment alone is meaningful and it is natural and spontaneous. There is no force or effort required for it. It is the result of the attachment to God and is not a prerequisite for achieving the attachment to God. Mere detachment from the world, without any attachment to God, is forced, unnatural and completely useless. The reason why detachment from the world is given value in spirituality is that it is an indirect measure of the attachment to God. The detachment from the world is clearly visible, whereas the attachment to God is abstract and invisible. So, the worldly detachment is used as an indirect measure of the internal attachment to God. When a person is watching a movie, the depth of his absorption in watching the movie cannot be measured by simply looking at him. But when we notice that he is unconscious of the bedbugs and mosquitoes biting him, we realize how deeply absorbed in watching the movie he is. The externally-visible bites of the bedbugs and mosquitoes act as indirect measures of his deep attachment to the movie. He did not make any effort to detach from the bodily discomfort and pain from the bites. His detachment from the pain was natural and effortless. Such natural detachment alone is the real measure of the person’s attachment to the movie or God. Today, people develop forced detachment from the world to show off to the public. They want the public to take their worldly detachment as a measure of their spiritual attainment or their devotion to God. But such pretenders have no real attachment to God.

Of course, King Janaka turned the worldly affair of his administration of the kingdom into God’s work by being seriously committed to the protection of justice and the control of sin. This is perfect pravṛtti, which pleases God. When he was told that his city was burning, he thought that the city was burning by the will of God alone. It was certainly not burning by his will! In any kingdom, there are other administrators who are designated to carry out various responsibilities on behalf of the king, even in his absence. They were capable of taking the necessary steps to put out the fire and the absence of king Janaka would not affect those emergency tasks in any case. His running back to his city, leaving the spiritual debate would not have helped the situation in any way. Janaka was ruling his kingdom as a divine duty, without any personal attachment. Such an attitude only comes when the soul is not attracted to worldly enjoyment. All his enjoyment was only in spiritual life. When such a situation of loss or tragedy occurs in the life of a spiritual soul, it means that God is cutting the worldly bonds of the soul. A spiritual soul is never disturbed by such situations. The spiritual soul gets disturbed only when his bond with God is disturbed. An ordinary king would have certainly run to the city immediately, leaving the spiritual debate due to his attachment to the worldly bond with the kingship of the country. The ordinary king gains enjoyment from that position. On the other hand, if a king is immersed in playing the violin, but the music is devotional music, he is immersed in devotion and not worldly enjoyment. Then his case would also be the same as that of king Janaka.

Keywords: | Shri Dattaswami | Raaja Yoga Rajayoga pravrutti

 
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