The story of Naabhaaga – Triumph of ‘Satyam’ and ‘Dharma’

I will continue the series on ‘Stories from Bhagavata’ with the story of Naabhaaga.
Naabhaaga was the son of Nabhaga(one of the sons of Vaivaswata Manu). He, along with his brothers, set off to learn scriptures under learned gurus(preceptors).
While his brothers returned in good time,Naabhaaga overstayed with his guru in order to gain complete mastery over the scriptures. His brothers having waited for a long time for Naabhaaga’s return decided to share their father’s ancestral wealth equally among themselves. They presumed that Naabhaaga would remain a celibate and therefore would not be in need of any wealth. So they decided to leave their father as the share of Naabhaaga. As Naabhaaga returned from his studies,his brothers promptly informed him about their decision and asked him to take care of their father.
Naabhaaga went to his father and asked him for his advice. His father advised him to ignore his brothers and take part in an ongoing Yajna(A Religious ritual or ‘Sacrifice’ performed during the Vedic period for attaining material pleasures including passage into the Heavens) being performed by the descendants of the sage Angira. He told his son, “Go and render service during the Yajna by teaching the ‘Brahmanas’ certain hymns(Suktas)to propitiate ‘Vishvedevaan’. The brahmanas would be pleased with your service and as a reward would gift away whatever wealth is left behind after the Yajna is completed. And then they would go away to heaven”.
Naabhaaga did precisely as he was told by his father and was in turn rewarded by the Brahmanas with the wealth. However, as he was about to collect his share,Lord Shiva appeared on the scene and stopped him from doing so. The Lord declared “All wealth left behind after Yajnas rightfully belong to me”. When Naabhaaga protested saying that it was indeed gifted to him by the Brahmanas,the lord suggested a solution to the problem. He said, “Go, refer the issue to your father and ask him for his verdict. We will abide by his decision”. Naabhaaga then approached his father and sought his opinion. His father responded saying, “Son,yes – the Lord is right. The Vedas have ordained that Shiva is indeed the rightful owner of all that is left over after an Yajna”. Thereupon,Naabhaaga went back to Shiva to tell Him this and gave up his claim on the wealth. Shiva who is fond of TRUTH (‘Rudro bhagwaan satya vatsalah’),was immensely pleased with his truthfulness and honesty. He told Naabhaaga, “Your father declared the ‘Dharma’ (what is right) and you have spoken the ‘Satyam’ (the Truth) – ‘yat te pitaa vadat dharmam, tvam cha satyam prabhashate’. Therefore,I bestow upon you not only the spiritual wealth of enlightenment (realization of the ‘Brahman’ the Infinite) but also gift away all the material wealth to you”.

The significance and moral of the story is self-evident. Shiva in the form of Truth (or shall we say Truth in the form of Shiva)appears before Naabhaaga and presents a few temporary obstacles just to test his strength of character. Once he showed courage of conviction by holding on to Truth in a steadfast manner,Truth (or Shiva)was mightily impressed and blessed him with material as well as spiritual wealth. In fact Shiva was pleased on two counts – Courageous display of Truth and the Righteousness(Satyam and Dharma) – Dharma as pointed out by Naabhaaga’s father and Truth as spoken by Naabhaaga himself. Naabhaaga could have easily coveted the wealth if he had strayed away from the path of Truth or if his father had deviated from the path of Dharma because Shiva was prepared to accept whatever Naabhaaga said on its face value.
Putting it differently,a person following the path of Truth,may face temporary difficulties and obstacles but ultimately he is bound to come out victorious both spiritually and materially. This is the Law because it is the very nature of Truth and Dharma to act as a shield and protect an individual in the long run. Truth is the common thread running through all our lives supporting and sustaining life. And therefore any untruthful act is against life (or anti life).

One can find a number of real life examples of how Truth and Righteousness have rewarded people and nations. Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘Experiments with Truth’ and its final outcome is part of our nation’s glorious history.
In the more recent times, didn’t we all hear about Al Gore’s film – ‘The inconvenient Truth’? Al Gore,in this brilliant film,quite eloquently exposes the Bush administration’s utter disregard for Truth. As we know Bush administration was in a constant denial mode on all environmental issues and refused to take constructive steps to mitigate the problem.
Bush displayed similar lack of sensitivity and regard for Truth on all important issues like Iraq,Afghanistan etc. His fall from grace bringing down with him his party as well is now history.

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Published in: on April 2, 2009 at 5:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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