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Valmiki Ramayana - Ayodhya Kanda in Prose Sarga 109

Rama refutes the atheistic arguments of Jabali and enunciates the importance of truthfulness. He states that truth is God and all virtues follow truthfulness. Rama further adds that there is nothing higher than truth. He announces that he wants to fulfil the command of is father, who was a devotee of truth and stay back in the forest. Jabali replies that just for the sake of convincing Rama to return to Ayodhya, he has spoken the words of a non-believer.

 

After hearing Jabali's words, Rama the best among virtuous and upright men spoke with a great devotion and with an undisturbed mind of his own (as follows);

"That which, in your desire to please me, you have counselled, is impossible though it appears to be possible. It is like a forbidden food, appearing to be an agreeable one. He who is unruly, fully invested with ill-conduct, having a bad reputation and seeing differences in everything, does not gain respect from honest men. One's conduct itself explains whether one belongs to a good family or a bad family, valiant or arrogant and chaste or unchaste. What sensible man, able to discern what is just and what is unjust, in this world, would respect me, if I am ignoble resembling as noble, bereft of honesty, impure, having no good qualities but appearing like the one having good qualities, ill-behaved but appearing as well-behaved abandoning righteousness and getting hold of unrighteousness in the guise of piety, creating confusion in the world and disregarding rules of conduct."

"If I behave in this manner faithlessly, to whom can I advise a prescribed conduct? How would I attain heaven? This entire world would follow its own whims, for, whatever the conduct of the kings may be, such will be the conduct of their subjects."

"The eternal royal governance is indeed an assemble of truth and not cruel. Hence, the kingship has the Truth as its essence. The world is established in Truth. Even sages and divine being have respected truthfulness alone. The one who speaks truth obtains the highest position in this world."

"People fear of a person, who speaks untruth, as one fears a snake. Truth is the highest virtue and is stated to be the origin of heaven. Truth is god and all virtues follow truth. All are rooted in truth there is nothing higher than truth."

"Gift sacrifice, oblation, austerities performed and the scriptural texts have the foundation in Truth. Hence, one should thoroughly surrender to truth. One rules over the world. One develops a race. One sinks into hell . One rises high to heaven (according to one's degree of truthfulness practiced). I am true to my promise. Why should I not fulfill the command of my father, who was a devotee of truth?"

"Neither covetousness nor forgetfulness nor pride would cause me to destroy the bond of morality. I shall honour the vow made to my father. Neither gods nor the manes will accept the offerings of those who are wanting in truth, unsteady and unstable in their minds. This is what is taught to us."

"I perceive this virtue i the form of truthfulness as a universal permeation of spirit. That is why, this burden, observed as a vow, has been honoured by good men. I renounce the so-called duty of a warrior, it is injustice under the name of justice, it is practised by petty cruel and covetous men of evil deeds."

"Sin is committed by the body after it has been conceived by the mind and falsehood is spoken with the tongue. Thus, the degrading act is of three types (with body, mind and tongue) The earth, fame, prosperity and fortune indeed woo a man of truth. They constantly oblige the truth: truth should therefore be strictly observed!"

"The logical words, you have made it out to be good, saying 'Do this good thing' as uttered to me, are really unworthy. Having promised before my father about my exile to the forest, how can I fulfill Bharata's words now, abandoning the father's words?"

"A firm promise has been made by me in the presence of my father, when Queen Kaikeyi too became rejoiced. I will proceed with life-journey in this manner, by accepting this dwelling in the forest, by remaining pure in body and mind, having controlled my diet, by feasting the Gods and Ancestors with pure roots, flowers and fruits, with all my five senses fully sated, without any deceit, fully devout and discriminative of what ought to be done and what ought not to be done."

"Having reached this terrestrial globe (the realm of action), only a virtuous act is to be undertaken. The god of fire, the wind-god and the moon-god reap the fruits of their acts. Having performed a hundred sacrifices, Indra the Lord of celestials went to heaven. Having practised severe austerities, the great sages went to heaven."

Hearing that argument of atheism inuntiated by Jabali, Rama the prince with a terrible energy, without tolerating his words, spoke in reproach to him (as follows):

"The virtuous say that truth, piety, valour, compassion for all beings, polite speech and worship of Brahmanas, gods and unexpected guests are the paths to heaven. Therefore the learned, well-instructed in what is to be their greatest advantage; follow their purpose resolutely and fulfill their duty in its entirety properly and attentively, seeking to attain the highest realms."

"I accuse the act done by my father in taking you into his service, you with your misleading intelligence, a firm atheist fallen from the true path. It is an exact state of the case that a mere *intellection deserves to be punished as it were a thief and know an atheist to be on par with a mere intellectual. Therefore he is the most suspectable and should be punished in the interest of the people. In no case should a wise man consort with an atheist."

* It is the word that is responding to the challenge, which we call intellection. Truth/God is very subtle. A mind that is caught in the net of words/arguments cannot understand truth/God.

"Men that lived before you have performed many auspicious acts, abandoning all hopes of reward in this world as well as the next. Therefore, Brahmanas offer oblations in the sacred fire and practise noble deeds. The sages who are devoted to righteousness, associating with men of virtue, endowed with spiritual splendour, practising abundant charity, harm-less and washed free of all taint, are honoured into the world."

"To the high-souled Rama, who never had self-pity and speaking indignantly as aforesaid, Jabali (that brahmana) replied in a fitting manner in words that were beneficial and truthful, which showed his belief in authority of Vedas, the other world and so on."

"I am not speaking the words of non- believers. I am not an atheist, nor is it a fact that nothing exists whatsoever. Perceiving the time, I have become a believer. When the time comes, I will become again just a non-believer. O, Rama! That and this time too came gradually. The words of a non-believer were spoken by me for your sake, to pacify you and to persuade you to return to Ayodhya."

 

Thus completes 109th Chapter of Ayodhya Kanda of the glorious Ramayana of Valmiki, the work of a sage and the oldest epic.

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August 2005, K. M. K. Murthy