“Unless sharpened, an uncut Diamond will not gain it’s beauty; unless triggered, a bullet will not attain it’s power; unless hit hard on the ground, a ball will not be able to rise; unless pushed to a corner, a man will not realize his valor; and unless beaten hard by a sculptor a stone cannot be turned into a deity”.
Several centuries ago, there was a cruel dacoit by name Ratnakar, living in the dark jungles of Northern India, along with his family..
All that this dacoit knows to do for a living was to wait for innocent wayfarers everyday, who would pass through that jungle to travel from one village to the other, and forcibly grab all the money from them and brutally kill them if they resisted.
This has been Ratnakar’s routine for several years.. Just to make a living and to feed his old parents and his family, he was doing all this.. Never for a moment, in the ugly life he had thus far led, Ratnakar had regretted what he was doing nor found anything wrong in his cruel deeds
Until One Day
When the holy Celestial Sage Narada entered Ratnakar’s life.. On that day Sage Narada was all alone passing through that jungle..
Seeing Narada, Ratnakar, who unfortunately doesn’t know who Narada is, approached him, as he normally approaches every wayfarer who passes through that jungle, and blocked his way and didn’t allow him to move further.
Pretending great fear in his face, Narada asked Ratnakar in a very innocent tone, “Who are you and why did you stop me..”.. Laughing boisterously looking at Narada’s fear filled face, Ratnakar replied,
“My name is Ratnakar.. Am a dangerous dacoit living in this jungle.. Everyone fears me.. Now shut your mouth and surrender to me all that you have with you.. Otherwise, am going to kill you..”
This time Narada laughed loudly and said, “You silly dacoit.. Am a Sage so a Sarva Sanga Parityagi.. Then what is there with me except this musical instrument, Veena (Mahathi) in my hand and these cotton clothes on my body..If you want you can take them.. ”
Irritated with Narada’s reply, Ratnakar almost pouncing upon him, said, “I didn’t earn anything for the last one week because no traveler had passed through this place.. You came and you say you don’t have anything.. Am frustrated.. Let me kill you.. At least that will give me some satisfaction..”
Laughing gently this time, Narada replied, “You are most welcome to kill me if you think that makes you happy.. I shall also die happily thinking that am destined to die so.. However, will you please permit me to ask you a question before dying in your hands..”
In a more irritated tone, Ratnakar said,”Okay.. Am a good man so I will give you a chance to ask me a question before your death.. What is that.. Shoot it..”
In a humble tone Narada asked Ratnakar, “Thanks for your goodness.. Now, please tell me.. As I understand, you are blocking innocent wayfarers’ everyday..You are not only looting them but are also killing them.. You must have by now killed many people.. Don’t you think it’s wrong to do so.. First of all, why are you doing all this..??”.
Although he’s furthermore irritated with Narada’s question, Ratnakar still replied saying, “What do I do.. Am not educated and know no craft .. But I have my aged parents whom I should look after and also growing my children whom I should feed..
As I do not know any other means of earning, am looting people who are rich and feeding my family.. What can I do..??”.
With the same smile Narada said,”Oh, glad to know that you are so responsible towards your family.. I really appreciate you for that.. However, the path you have chosen for their well being is immoral because killing innocent people, for whatever reason, is a crime that no sane person in any world will approve..
Most importantly, all the crimes you are committing here in this world are being promptly recorded there in the upper world.. Once you reach there after your death, a trial will be conducted against you in the celestial court and after that strictest among the strictest punishments will be imposed upon you..”
Interrupting Narada, a worried Ratnakar asked, “But am doing all this for my family and not for me because I do not find any other means to feed them.. So how can that be a crime and why should I be punished for that..??.”.
Narada replied, “I agree.. But for whatever reason, killing the other creation of God for our selfish motives is a serious offence.. If everyone does the same in this world for their living then how will humanity survive on this planet..
Therefore God, who created you and me, doesn’t approve anything like this.. In fact, He takes it very seriously too.. However, I can help you since I like your innocence.. I know God as I often sing before Him.. He likes my singing..
The next time I sing before Him, I shall tell Him about you and request Him to forgive you for all the sins you have committed in your life since you have committed them not for your well being but for the well being of your family..
I shall also further request God to equally distribute all your punishments among all the members of your family including your parents.. That means all the punishments read out in your name will be shared by your family members too.. That way your pain will be reduced to a large extent..
But will your family members agree for this deal and accept to share all your punishments just the way they are sharing all your earnings now.. Please go and find out from them.. If they so okay I will go and request God on your behalf.. If not you can do whatever you want to do with me..I will be waiting for you here..”
Ratnakar was shocked because he heard something he hadn’t heard before.. He kept thinking for some time..
And then he told Narada,”What you said is right.. Let me go and find out from my family members whether they will be ready to share my punishments.. Am sure they will accept.. After all am doing all this for them..
But I don’t trust you.. What if you run away after I go from here.. Therefore I shall tie you to a tree with a rope until I come back.. Keep quiet and wait for me here..”..
Saying so, Ratnakar tied Narada to a tree with a rope and went straight to his parents’ cottage..
Sitting in front of them he asked,
“My beloved parents, all that I have so far done in my life is to keep you happy.. Now a great man had come and says I will be punished by God for all these crimes I have thus far committed in my life..
He says he will help me in getting my pain reduced if my family members, for whom I have committed all these crimes, take a share in my punishments.. Are you ready to take a share in my punishments..??”.
Taking Ratnakar by surprise, his parents said, “We are your parents and we have given you birth.. We have also done our best to bring you up in life.. So it becomes your duty to take good care of us in our old age..
And what you do for that is entirely your responsibility.. Then how are we responsible for your crimes and why should we take a share in them if you are punished for that..”.
Ratnakar quietly walked out of their cottage and went straight to his wife; told her all that Narada had told him and then asked her,” you are my better half and I shared all my good things with you.. So in return will you take a share in my punishments..??”.
Shocking Ratnakar, his wife said,”I also shared many good things with you.. Having married me it becomes your duty not only to protect me from the evils of the world but also to take good care of me and all my needs.. What you do for that is your headache so why should I be punished for that..”
Ratnakar, who had never seen such rudeness in his wife before, quickly turned away from her and reached his children, who were at that time playing on the banks of a nearby river..
Looking deep into their eyes, Ratnakar who was forcibly holding the tears in his eyes, told them the same he told his parents and wife and finally asked them with a great heaviness in his heart..
“My beloveds.. I have done all that I can do to keep you happy.. I have not only forcibly grabbed money from innocent people but had also killed everyone who refused to part with their money..
But God is going to punish your beloved father for committing these crimes.. I don’t think I will be able to bear with that pain when the servants of God execute their Master’s punishment orders..
Therefore, am begging you my children.. Will you take a share in my pain.. I know you love me so much so am sure you wouldn’t be saying no..”
Breaking Ratnakar’s heart, his children said,”Of course we love you father.. We also know you have done everything in your life to make us happy..
However, that doesn’t mean we take a share in your pain father.. Because whatever you have done for us, you have done as a part of your duty towards your children.. If not a father who will take care of his children.. So please forgive us father.. We cannot take your pain..”.
A heart broken Ratnakar, with his eyes filled with tears, went running to the place where he had tied Sage Narada to a tree; removed the rope he had tied around Narada’s waist and later prostrating before his holy feet said, weeping loudly,
“Swamy, I don’t know who you are but you have certainly come today to open my eyes and also to make realize that what am doing for my living is wrong..
Swamy, Now I have also realized that a man should perform his duties towards his family or for that matter to anyone in this world with complete detachment without expecting anything in return..
I have committed so many crimes in my life, killed so many people.. I regret everything that I have so far done.. Am also ready to face any punishment God would give me for these crimes because am sure they would be less painful than the pain my family had now inflicted upon me..
Swamy, from hereon I shall lead a noble life and do all that I can do for the well being of humanity.. Please forgive me and please bless me Swamy..”
Smiling gently Narada said,” Ratnakara, get up.. There’s no bigger punishment in this world than repentance.. Now you have realized your mistake and repenting for all that you have so far done in your life.. May be He will forgive you.. Lead a blessed life hereafter..”
Saying so, Narada disappeared.. At the same time all the five elements of Nature smiled at Ratnakar.. All the angels and all the Gods and Goddesses too have blessed him..
Later, Ratnakar rose from all his pains like a Phoenix rose out of the ashes and went on to become a Maha Gnani called Sage Valmiki who penned down Hindu religion’s greatest Epic, “The Ramayan”..
“Aadau raama tapovanaadi gamnam.. Hatvaa mrigam kanchanam.. Vaidehi harnam jatayu marnam sugreeva sambhashanam.. Vaali nigrahanam samudra tarnam lankapuri daahnam.. Paschadh ravana kumbhkarna hananam yetadhi ramayanam..” Eka Sloki Ramayan by Santh Tulsi Das
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