The web of life is strongly woven by causes and effects. Therefore, what we see around us are reactions, resounds and reflections, with each of them originating from a cause that is not visible to our eyes. Divine justice prevails over every action bringing in the corresponding reaction at some point of time as appropriate. Called as the Karmic theory, none can escape the effects of past actions. The Ramayana elucidates this concept through a story that in fact paved way for some of the crucial moves of the epic.
Shravan Kumar was the highly devoted son of the aged and blind couple Shantanu and Gyanvati. Ennobled by his parental devotion, the boy was rendering a wonderful service to his father and mother attending to all their needs in utter devotion and sincerity. Once during their old age, the couple wanted to go on a pilgrimage to holy places and holy waters. Shravan Kumar took it as his bounden duty to fulfill the cherished wishes of his parents. He made a carriage by hanging a basket to either side of a pole, got his father and mother seated in the basket and began carrying them through the journey by walk.
On their move, they happened to pass by the outskirts of Ayodhya, the empire ruled by Dashratha. As the couple felt thirsty, Shravan Kumar placed them beneath a tree in a shady place and went in search of water. He was carrying a pot made of dried bottle gourd. When he found a watershed, he dipped the vessel into the water to fill it and the gurgling sound resembled that of an animal drinking water. During that time, Dashratha was on his hunting mission into the forest. Hearing the sound, he shot an arrow from his bow intending to kill the animal. The arrow pierced Shravan Kumar’s chest and he fell down bleeding. Nearing the spot, Dashratha realized the blunder he had done and he apologized to the boy. Shravan Kumar directed him to take the water to quench the thirst of his parents and died.
Lamenting over the mistake, Dashratha approached the aged couple and explained the issue placing the boy’s corpse in front of them. The couple were struck with a great misery in losing their son. They were but helpless. Wailing Shantanu cursed the emperor saying that he too would die of separation from his son at a point in his life. The curse took shape and was instrumental to cause Dashratha’s death when Sri Rama left to the forest in exile. The pangs of separation reminded Dashratha the blunder he committed during his prime youth. He understood that none can escape the clutches of Karma and has to answer it when the time comes.
This story is an illustrative example to surface the power of the causal chain that governs the way things happen in the lives of people. Each one on this earth does a lot of good and bad deeds which take the shape of Karma and bring the corresponding fruits in course of time either in this birth or in some other birth. This theory also reinstates the saying, “As you sow, so you reap.” This is a reminder for all to resort to good deeds so that they do not have to suffer in future.