Veda Marga is the path shown by scriptures for the welfare of countless Jivatmas caught in the cycle of birth. It represents the Sanatana Dharma, the backbone of human existence.

Those who believe in the teachings of the Vedas are known as astikas and those who reject it are the nastikas or non-believers. And some posture as one of these two to achieve definite ends.

Sage Jabali, a minister in Dasaratha’s court, adopts the stand of the non-believer when he intervenes during the exchanges between Rama and Bharata on the responsibility of ruling Ayodhya and accepting kingship. At this juncture, he professes to uphold worldly wisdom that hoodwinks the code of dharma to suit individual needs to counter their arguments, observed Sri Kesava Dikshitar in a lecture.

During his interjection, which may appear insensitive, Jabali champions the cause of ‘the here and now’ and rejects the idea of the eternal future of the soul. For him, there is no life beyond this world and death is final. Human birth is not a golden opportunity for the soul in its long journey through the cycle of birth towards salvation. Concurring with Bharata, he advises Rama to accept the kingdom. “All this talk of dharma deprives one of the chances to enjoy the good fortune that comes in one’s way. What is the need to honour the word of a person who is dead and is no longer relevant to those living? What is the value of human relationships such as father, mother, brother, etc., when each one is just a traveller halting for a brief period on this earth? A wise man will not attach much importance to these. Accept the kingdom that rightly belongs to you and do not take up forest life which is against Kshatriya dharma.”

Rama reacts sharply to this talk that is contrary to dharma. He even wonders how Dasaratha had tolerated such a person who does not believe in truth and is overtly materialistic. Jabali hastens to explain that he is indeed a staunch adherent of dharma. To offer solace to the anguished Bharata by revealing to him Rama’s ennobling adherence to dharma, Jabali has to don the mantle of devil’s advocate which he does in an exemplary fashion.

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