Sai Spiritual Showers: VOLUME 3  issue 8 thu, Aug 4, 2011
Remember always that it is easy to do what is pleasant, but it is difficult to be engaged in what is beneficial. Not all that is pleasant is profitable. Success comes to those who give up the path strewn with roses and brave the hammer blows and sword-thrusts of the path fraught with danger. As a matter of fact, no road is strewn with rose petals. Life is a battlefield, a Dharmakshetra where duties and desires are always in conflict. Smother the fiery fumes of desire, hatred and anger that rise up in your heart. It is sheer cowardice to yield to those enemies that turn you into beasts. - Sri Sathya Sai
Lessons from Mahabharata: The great Mahabharata war came to a close on the seventeenth day with the fall of Karna. The Pandavas were celebrating their great victory over Karna. The Kauravas felt utterly hopeless as Karna was their greatest warrior. The Pandavas rejoiced in the fall of their most powerful opponent. But, Krishna was sitting apart and appeared to be immersed in sadness. Arjuna went to him and asked why he was feeling sad on a day when they should be rejoicing over their victory. Krishna told him that Bharat had lost its most heroic warrior that day. The hero who had brought glory and good name to Bharat had fallen. "I feel immensely sad because the country is losing such a great hero." Read the interesting episode as narrated by Bhagawan in one of His Divine Discourses, published in Sanathana Sarathi, Feb 1997.

On hearing Krishna's words, Arjuna looked at Him with a feeling of amused surprise. He said: "Krishna! To ensure the victory of the Pandavas you chose the role of charioteer. Because of that, Pandavas won their victory. Instead of rejoicing over this victory, why are you feeling sad over the fall of our enemy?"

Karna's greatness as warrior and donor
Krishna replied: "Karna is the very embodiment of sacrifice. Sacrifice is a synonym for Karna. In the entire world you can not find one other man equal in the spirit of sacrifice to Karna. In weal or woe, triumph or defeat he could not forget the quality of sacrifice. Have you got that spirit of sacrifice? No." Krishna then asked Arjuna to follow him.

Darkness had enveloped the battlefield. Krishna was proceeding with Arjuna. In His sweet voice, Krishna was exclaiming: "Karna! Karna!" Karna was gasping for breath in his last moments. He cried: "Who is calling me? I am here." Following the direction from which the words came, Krishna went near Karna.

Krishna's test to Karna
Before approaching Karna, Krishna assumed the form of an indigent Brahmin. Karna asked him: "Who are you, Sir?" Karna was nearing his last breath. Even at that moment, without any hesitation or faltering in his voice, he put that question to the stranger. Krishna (as the poor Brahmin) replied: "For a long time I have been hearing about your reputation as a charitable person. You have acquired fame as 'Dana Karna' (Karna the great giver) "Today, not knowing about your plight, I came to ask you for a gift. You must give me a donation." "Certainly, I shall give you whatever you want", replied Karna. "I have to perform the marriage of my son. I want a small quantity of gold", said Krishna. "Oh what a pity! Please go to my wife, she will give you as much as gold as you need", said Karna. The "Brahmin" broke into laughter. He said: "For the sake of a little gold have I to go all the way to Hastinapura? If you say, you are not in a position to give me what I ask I shall leave you." Karna declared: "As long as breath remains in me, I will not say 'no' to anyone." Karna opened his mouth, showed the gold fillings for his teeth and said: "I shall give this to you. You can take them". Assuming a tone of revulsion, Krishna said: "What is it you suggest? Do you expect me to break your teeth and take the gold from them? How can I do such a wicked deed? I am a Brahmin."

Karna's prayer to Krishna
Immediately, Karna picked up a stone nearby, knocked out his teeth and offered them to the "Brahmin". Krishna in his guise as Brahmin wanted to test Karna further. "What? Are you giving me as gift teeth dripping with blood? I cannot accept this. I am leaving", he said. Karna pleaded: "Swami, please wait for a moment." Even while he was unable to move, Karna took out his arrow and aimed it at the sky. Immediately rain dropped from the clouds. Cleaning the teeth with the rainwater, Karna offered the teeth with both his hands. Krishna then revealed His original form. Karna asked: "Who are you, Sir"? Krishna said: "I am Krishna. I admire your spirit of sacrifice. In any circumstance you have never given up your spirit of sacrifice. Ask me what you want." Beholding Krishna's beauteous form, Karna said with folded hands: "Krishna! Aapadbandhava! (Oh! Reliever of troubles!) Lokarakshaka (Protector of the world!) Oh Lord, who hold the Universe in your palm, what can I seek from you? At this moment of my passing, to close my eyes gazing on your Divine form. This is my greatest blessing. This is boon enough for me. To have the vision of the Lord before one's passing is the goal of human existence. You came to me and blessed me with your form. This is enough for me. I offer my salutations to you."

Lesson for Arjuna
Arjuna was observing the whole scene. Krishna turned to him and said: "Are you prepared for this kind of sacrifice?" Arjuna bowed his head in silence. The Lord praised the greatness of the quality of sacrifice in man. Of all kinds of sacrifice, the greatest is the sacrifice made for God.

"Oh Lord! That heart which you gave unto me, I am offering to you. What else can I bring to offer at your lotus feet? I prostrate before you. Please accept my offering." This was the prayer addressed by Karna to Krishna.

Man forgets his true nature because of attachment and egoism. Man should develop firm faith in God. Faith should be like your life-breath, which goes on inhaling and exhaling at all times without respite. Respiration goes on whatever work you may be doing and whatever the state of your mind.

Likewise, in all situations and at all times, your faith in God should never leave you. It should not change according to whether your desires are fulfilled or not. Like your life-breath, your faith should remain steady, though joy and sorrow, loss and gain, pain and pleasure.

Treat whatever happens as good for you. Have that sense of fortitude. When you have faith in the self, even wild animals will be gentle towards you.

Every man should recognise that the body has been given to him to render service to others. You must use the body for promoting the welfare of society. Of what use is the endless study of books if you do not use your knowledge for the good of others? A mind that is not utilised for imparting joy to others or a body that is not used for the service of others are totally useless. The best way to love God is to love all and serve all. Students should imbibe this ideal.

Man should strive to become good and virtuous. Only when a man is filled with good thoughts and good feelings and performs good deeds will his life become meaningful. These good qualities will serve to make a better man of you. That is the purport of the saying: "A good son illumines his lineage." ( Suputro Kuladeepakah"). As good sons all of you should pledge yourselves to serve and protect the nation.

Students! your secular studies will help you in worldly life, but will not promote your spiritual progress. Without spirituality, all worldly accomplishments are worthless.

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