XXXII - Page 322 Home | Index | Previous | Next

Janaka and Suka

Once, in the age previous to Krishna and Arjuna's, the young sage Suka, had entered King Janaka's kingdom and was traveling in the neighborhood of the capital city. King Janaka heard that Suka was in the vicinity, but did not know where Suka chose to make his camp. The king sent out messengers in all directions, to get news of Suka's whereabouts. They located Suka living in a shelter in a forest, near the capital city. Janaka, along with his ministers, went to visit Suka. Janaka did not go there as a king or ruler. He went as a servant of the Lord. Janaka had long ago removed all traces of ego and now went as a humble spiritual seeker. Suka was giving a discourse to his disciples on a spiritual topic.

During this discourse, Janaka stood and listened with full concentration. Evening came. Before he left, Janaka went to Suka and asked, "Swami, may I come every day and experience your inspiring discourses?" Suka replied, "Janaka, spirituality and philosophy are not anyone's private property. Whoever has the interest, whoever enjoys listening to these teachings, whoever believes in reaching the goal, has a right to this knowledge. Certainly you may come. You are most welcome." Janaka went back to his palace and returned each day to attend the discourses.

Now, Suka wanted to demonstrate to the world that King Janaka had inward vision, whereas most people have only outward vision. With this in mind, he moved to a spot on the crest of a hill overlooking the capital city, and made his camp there. From this place, he continued his daily discourses on Vedanta. One particular day, King Janaka, because of some urgent responsibilities of administration, was delayed in coming there. Suka purposely held up starting his discourse until Janaka had arrived.

Suka took no cognizance of the large gathering of people that were already assembled there, waiting for the discourse to commence. To demonstrate his interest, Suka started asking questions of this person and that, trying to find out why King Janaka had not come. He also told some people to go and find out what had delayed the king. He himself stood on the roadside and watched for the royal party to arrive.

At this, some murmur began among the people there. The disciples, the elders and youngsters who had assembled there, began whispering among themselves. One said, "Look at Suka. He is considered to be such a great sage who has renounced everything; but it does not seem to be true. Here he is waiting for King Janaka. Just because Janaka is an important ruler, Suka is not paying any attention to us and does not seem to care about starting the discourse."

Another person said, "Look at this peculiar behavior of Suka. Why does he show so much partiality to kings? For a sage, should there be any difference in his feelings for a king and for others?" Now, Suka noted all this talk that was going on. In fact, it was with the intention of teaching them a good lesson that he had conducted himself this way. Half an hour passed. An hour passed. Two hours passed. Suka continued to wait for Janaka to come; he did not make any attempt to start his discourse.