XXXIII - Page 340 Home | Index | Previous | Next

Without Inner Vision they were Shoemakers not Scholars

Astavakra replied, "I entered this gathering thinking it to be a sacred assembly convened by the famous Emperor Janaka to discuss the holy scriptures. If only I had known what kind of people were attending this assembly, I would not have bothered to come. I waited patiently for many days and then entered this hall thinking that the greatest living scholars would be assembled here. I looked forward to being in the company of such sacred souls. But, alas, I find nothing but common cobblers here, only shoemakers, who stitch sandals and work with leather."

When they heard this, all the scholars became furious, feeling deeply insulted by Astavakra for using such abusive words. But Astavakra continued in the same vein, "Cobblers is the proper word to describe you. Only cobblers, only people who work with hides would think about the worth of a particular skin; others will not be bothered about it. All of you are laughing at my skin and have obviously decided that it is not worth much. But not even one of you has made any effort to know my spiritual understanding. Pundits should have the capacity to look inward, but you only seem to care about the outer covering. If you have not developed your inner vision but are only concerned with the superficial outer vision, then you cannot be considered scholars at all. Then you are only cobblers, shoemakers, specialists in hides." Thus spoke Astavakra.

The scholars hung their heads in shame. King Janaka, who understood very well what Astavakra was saying, invited him to take a seat in that assembly and subsequently bestowed numerous honors upon him.

As was the case then, so is the case now throughout the world. However great people may be, they have developed only the external vision. They do not bother to cultivate the inner vision. When you examine a person, you pay attention to his physical features, his wealth, his status, his education and degrees and so on. On the other hand, when God examines a person, he looks at the purity of his heart, he pays attention to the peace that is within him. You should also develop such inner vision and inner peace. Whatever be the circumstances, you should not be subject to quick excitement. You should allow time for the nobler feelings to well up from inside you and manifest themselves.