One should always seek pious men's blessings

CHENNAI, JULY 7. Among the several valuable lessons concerning the shaping of our conduct, many values which will help us to lead an upright life and tradition and which will keep us engaged in seeking the presence of God, one refers to the prostrations we should make before sages and saintly elders. Their blessings will bestow on us moral strength, giving us the guidelines to remain virtuous.

In the Ramayana, we come across how God-incarnate Rama displays His eagerness to visit the hermitage of Sage Agastya. For nearly 10 years out of his exile period, He spent His time in offering obeisance to a number of sages in the woods. Valmiki's elaborate description of the serene surroundings, the calmness which prevailed, the cleanliness that was being observed and the rich forest wealth, serve as eyeopener to the environmental placidity in ancient times.

There was one place where Rama saw a pleasant lake with its transparent water from where emanated sounds of songs and music but nothing was visible. He was told about the circumstances in which the area came into existence - how a saint who had observed strict penance for several years ultimately yielded to lust and started leading a worldly life. Though the purpose of Valmiki's inclusion of this episode is not clear, yet it may be surmised that this again is a warning for posterity about the consequences of yielding to the influence of senses which will lure us easily. Most valuable among these advices relate to the need to keep control over our food habits. Later, Rama, with His brother and Sita, receive the blessings of Sage Agastya who handed over to the prince, the bow of divine origin and quivers which will ever be filled with arrows and other weapons.

In her discourse, Srimathi Jaya Srinivasan mentioned how Tulsidas in his ``Ramcharitmanas'' describes Rama revealing His identity and His responsibilities in His present incarnation. To Sage Agastya, He tells, ``I have nothing to hide from you as why I have come is known to you. Give me some advice, by following which I may be able to destroy the enemies of the hermits''. The sage replied, ``With what intention do you ask me this question. The suzerain Lord as you are, you seek my advice as though you are an ordinary human being. You have always exalted your servants and that is why you have thought it fit to consult me.'' Analysed critically, this conversation touches on the topics in Hindu philosophy of God without, and with a form and a devotee's method of approaching Him.