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The right path

mumbai Updated: Feb 19, 2010 01:22 IST
Girish Bhandari
Girish Bhandari
Hindustan Times
right path

When Yudhisthir's four brothers, who had gone to fetch water, did not return for a long time, he went looking for them; and was immensely grieved to see them lying dead by a pool of water.

As he was lamenting their sudden and untimely death, the guardian Yaksha of the pool spoke out, “Your brothers did not deign to answer my questions and disregarded my warning. Answer my questions and you can drink the water, and I may give life back to them.”

These set of questions and their answers have come down to us as the hallmark of deep study and contemplation.

One of the most celebrated and, and my favourite, is the Yaksha’s question:

‘Ka Panthah’, meaning what is the path of conduct which human beings should follow for their enlightenment and salvation?

Yudhisthir’s answer too is classic, “O yaksha, there is multiplicity of authorities and texts. They do not converge into a homogenous understanding. Further, though the interpreters of these texts may be learned, they can differ in their interpretations.

The written or oral corpus of knowledge may have limitations as a path. In my understanding, the path is the one trodden by the great men-‘Mahajano Yen Gatah Sa Panthah.’

Reflecting on this, we see Buddha, the greatest analytical thinker of all time, proclaiming ‘Be your own lights’, meaning the path of truth is experiential and unique to each one.

Krishnamurti too said almost the same thing — ‘Truth is a pathless land’.

Similarly, Acharya Rajnish also did not believe in the esoteric world of convoluted theories and mere ritual. He made a bold statement that the truth was to be experienced and not discussed.

The reason being that the field of conduct leading to human enlightenment and salvation is a matter utterly beyond any text, interpretation or tuition. It lies solely and exclusively in the domain of experience.

And this is the path trodden by the great men of all ages; but, what is important, is a unique path for each one of them.

This was what Yudhisthir was essentially saying.