Pt Ram Krishan Sharma
MANY years ago there were three distinct groups of people—the Devas, the Danavas and the Manavas.
M Kashyap rishi had two wives, Diti and Aditi. The children of Aditi were known as Aadityas who were also known as Devas, while the children of Diti were called Daityas or Daanavas. The third group were descendants of Emperor Manu and were called Manavas.
The three groups were of different natures and their interests varied. Every group wanted to make progress and desired the best of life. Therefore, they decided to approach their preceptor (Acharya).
The most famous preceptor in those days was Prajapati. The three groups approached him one by one. The first to visit Prajapati’s ashram were the Danavas. The Danavas were physically well built and powerful. They robbed and killed people for their daily needs. By nature, they troubled others and derived sadistic pleasure by their violent actions. Prajapati welcomed the Danavas who said, “Master ! We have come to you for your advice and guidance. We want to live a better life.” Prajapati was overjoyed to hear this. He felt happy that they were now thinking in the right direction.
The Danavas sat opposite to Prajapati with their palms together and said, “Please, oblige us by imparting to us your valuable teachings.” Prajapati pronounced just one letter ‘Da’. Danavas were silent for a moment. Their leader then spoke, “Very well, Your Highness! We shall maintain the ‘Da’.” Prajapati asked, “Did you understand what I meant?” The leader replied, “Yes Sir, you have told as ‘Da’ which means Daya (Mercy). From now onwards we shall exercise compassion towards others.” Prajapati said, “Yes, you have understood correctly. Now you may go and observe ‘Da’ .”
After a dew days, the second group visited Prajapati’s ashram. These were the Manavas. They were decently and richly dressed. They had on them ornaments of gold and silver. The Manavas joined palms and sat opposite to Prajapati.
They said, “Master, please impart to us your valuable teachings.” Prajapati uttered just one letter ‘Da’. The Manavas were silent for a moment. Then their leader spoke, “Very well, Your Highness, we shall observe the advice ‘Da’.” Again he asked, “Did you understand what I meant?” The Manavas, leader replied, “Yes Sir, the ‘Da’ you mentined means Daan(Charity). From today we shall not hoard wealth, but give to others as well.” Prajapati said, “You have understood correctly; go and observe ‘Da’.”
The last group to approach Prajapati was the Devas group. The Devas were of a peaceful disposition and their faces reflected happiness. The Devas clasped their hand and sat opposite to Prajapati and said, “Master, please impart to us your valuable teachings.” Prajapati again uttered, ‘Da’—one word only. For a moment the Devas were silent. Then their leader replied, “Very well, Your Highness, we shall observe ‘Da’.” Again he asked, “Did you understand what I meant?” The leader replied, “Yes Sir, it means Daman (Control of senses) and from now we shall exercise control.” Prajapati replied, “You have understood it. Go and observe your ‘Da’.”
Generally, there are several types of people we observe in society. Some are cruel by nature. They derive pleasure by tormenting others. These are the Danavas. If they desire to reform their lives, then they must observe Daya or compassion (mercy). Daya is the first step to a religious way of life. Religion teaches us that all are equal and that we should treat others with affection.
With mercy within us, the feeling to rob, torture, and kill for selfish purpose will disappear. We should be merciful.
The Manavas are superior to the Danavas. They are a respectable and gentle group. They do not rob for their own benefit. They earn their living by hard work. If the Manavas desire to improve their living, they should forsake selfishness. They should resolve to assist others. They should realise that others too have a share in their wealth and give charity for the benefit of the society. They should forget the policy of enjoying luxurious means while their neighbours go hungry. Manavas should live a life of affection and co-operation. The habit of hoarding wealth should be discarded.
Devas are the third type of people in society who do not torture others. They are charity-minded and follow the path of truth. But they too have to maintain their high standard of righteous living. To achieve this they have to live a life of self-control, and restrain their sensual desires. They must exercise control over their minds, should not become victims of greed and covetousness and they must forsake pride as pride will lower their status.
In this story, Prajapati has given the same advice to all—the letter ‘Da’. However, each group understood its own weakness. Man can easily detect his weakness if he looks within himself. By discarding his evils or weaknesses man will be able to uplift himself.