Shanti Sadan and Self-Knowledge name
Vol.62 No.3 Summer 2011

The Eternal Wisdom

Continuing Hari Prasad Shastri's depiction of life in Upanishadic times in ancient India, and the teachings of the great sages.

King Janaka rules over the neighbouring kingdom of Mithila, which he has inherited from his illustrious father. This is the age of enlightened reason. The consciousness of the human race has not been degraded to the level of the lower animals. Man is still man in his form, his character, his qualities and his ideal, which is to fulfil the divine purpose, the spiritual evolution of human beings into a race of enlightened sages, and also to protect the members of the animal kingdom destined one day to attain human birth.

King Janaka rules to fulfil this great purpose. His exchequer contains no surplus wealth to be devoted to his own comforts and luxuries. His palace is simple. His court is composed of men of wisdom who work to serve the material, intellectual, moral, aesthetic and spiritual ends of the people. The taxes are moderate; each subject pays what he can conveniently spare after defraying his family expenses and giving hospitality and charity, this being one of his chief duties. There are no starving people in the state, because the king has forbidden his ministers and the mayors of the towns to sit down to their meals unless every individual in the kingdom has been fed. The royal kitchen is open to every hungry man if any are to be found in the city. Peace reigns in society and, as there is no want and no craving for luxury and comforts, there are no thieves and no robbers. Few courts of justice are needed, and no prisons.

Righteousness (dharma) is the watchword of the subjects of the king. He is strict in keeping his marriage vows, and the sex life of the race is well regulated and is under proper discipline. People are taught from their childhood not to live for mere pleasure and not to look upon anyone as their subordinate. The health of the people is excellent. There are homes for the aged and hospitals for cattle, pets and other domestic animals. Education is free and the professors are the holy brahmins who teach out of their love for the people. Students receive their board and lodging free, there is no fee for tuition, and the king himself is the head of the department of education. Every year he visits the prominent educational institutions and encourages the brahmin professors and their pupils by holding contests in learning. Contests in logic and poetry are common events.

And yet King Janaka has not yet attained spiritual enlightenment. He desires a spiritual Teacher, because he knows that without such a traditional Guru there is no spiritual illumination. He has sent word to all the monasteries and retreats that he would share half his kingdom with that holy man who could lead him in the shortest possible time to spiritual enlightenment. This most compassionate, serene, wise and self-controlled sovereign is determined to have the highest fruition of life, the active and dynamic at-oneness with the universal spirit.

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