Hero: Ratnakar – profession: a dacoit cum killer – challenge: Narad – warning: retribution for sins – excuse: financially dependent family – deal-stealer: parents-wife-kids approve fruits of sin but deny shares of sin – disillusionment: leave home – surrender: to Narad – meditation, Ma-Ra-Ma-Ra-… – anthill – attainment: salvation – rechristening: Sage Valmiki – author: Ramayana. That’s the story. It’s one of the most fascinating stories I’ve heard in childhood. It has been haunting me for maybe 3 decades now.
The first two questions that come to my mind are on the role of a professional saint in modern age and the seriousness of salvation as a destination of life. They don’t need me to know the story of Ratnakar’s transformation in particular. Those are generic questions; I ask myself every day during attending my first nature’s call in the morning. What is more pertinent here is – why the family distanced themselves from Ratnakar’s method of earning bread, while devouring all the good things money could buy? If the family knows about an improper source of income and stay quiet, isn’t that a wholehearted encouragement? A father is free to adopt a wrong means of earning, but someone else’ father isn’t? Why am I not bothered by my father’s wrongdoing? As said in Hindi, eat the fruit, why to waste time in counting trees? Love or an extreme form of opportunistic indulgence? Yes, I’m putting my money on the latter one. And what else a good life is made of? On a sunny day, I’m all for it. As the tide turns sore, I’m at best a well-wisher to my kin. Consistency or blood, righteousness or relation, law or attachment? In confusion, I be cautiously mine and hence withdraw from the crime scene albeit leaving a heart full of prayers for you.
From a little twisted perspective, it also says not to think about home while choosing a profession. Decide with a free mind, not weighed down by any baggage. Since no one will share your burden of sin, I take the liberty of extending it a bit further. The burden of your professional failure will not be appreciated either. Better to listen to your heart more often. Ratnakar opens up possibilities for those who are caught up on wrong jobs. “What will happen to my children?” isn’t the single most important deciding factor on your career guide book. Be selfish. If you feel appropriate, go ahead – family or other things will fall in place. Make a ‘happy’ choice for yourself if you really care for them. Adult losers aren’t at all an inspiring member of a family. Your efforts to portray yourself as a loving and caring parent figure to your family can blow things up in the long run, if the choice is bad. What if you realize your goal late in the game? Easy. Be Ratnakar. Run away to chase your new-found dream.
Ratnakar’s family never disapproved his methods. He didn’t quit his ill practices until was brainwashed by a clever man to leave the entire ecosystem and go for a presumably ‘higher’ career option rich with posthumous rewards. Religions aren’t staunch supporters of society or family ties – they’re usually anti-structure barring their own institutional pyramids. It’s understandable why Narad didn’t refer to social norms or law enforcement to deter this baddie. With a major in psych, he read the situation, maintained his composure and challenged him to find answers from his family members. Narad knew his death was a dagger away, but he stayed unperturbed. How? That’s his core strength, that’s what he had been doing for a living. Interestingly, the highlight was not much on the cruelties of the acts performed by someone at his will. Give the preachers a free time slot, they’d entertain you with tons of fairy tales. Ask them straight existential questions, they have two weapons: to scare you with vague, post-death consequences and to dampen you by showing the emptiness of the world. Humanity isn’t a prime consideration in either case. The typical worries over a dependent family was proven to be petty – just a one-life syndrome. Ratnakar got over those temporal worries and looked up for after-life motives under the influence of a qualified mentor. Denouncement of crime wasn’t enough to refrain the seasoned killer, he had to be shown the absurdity of his so-called ‘home’. In return, the saint got saved from a sudden death, added a charismatic star member to his clan and got famous in the process. I am rather curious to know what happened to Ratnakar’s son later on. Did he become a saint, a robber or just a common, confused man?
We were in schools, sitting in the audience that day. A friend, accompanied by his mom, stood up to a distinguished panel on the stage who gathered to enlighten us, the kids, on ethics and other higher order façades of life and dropped a bombshell: “How do I react when I see my dad, a businessman, is involved in financial malpractices”? The learned members, visibly perplexed, gasped for air. One of them was a monk, who is supposedly a universal solution provider with a pair of ears hardened with the silliest of questions, gave some answer. It could have addressed anything under the sun but the query of the growing up boy. The mother was the most hapless of the lot. She stood up to shout “Please ignore his question. He’s an immature boy. He doesn’t get words to his thoughts. He gets nervous and speaks rubbish”. There was sighs of relief from various corners of the auditorium. The boy succumbed to his mother’s angry stare. He went on to become an heir to his father’s ‘success’ kingdom. Today he runs their ‘family business’ with flying colors and seeks a good school for his son. He must be thankful to his dad for not turning an epic hero like Valmiki and staying his hero instead. Had the real life monk persuaded him to turn upright, he would have been… forget it, it’s just a bad dream.