Part VII — Historical figures

King Janaka

Possession is no satisfaction, so long as ego breathes in us. The great King Janaka knew it. No wonder Janaka was loved by the sage Yagnyavalkya most. Yagnyavalkya's brahmin disciples felt that Janaka received preference just because he was the King. It is obvious that God would not let the sage Yagnyavalkya suffer such foul criticism. So, what happened? Mithila, Janaka's capital, began to burn in mounting and devouring flames. The disciples left their preceptor and hurried to their respective cottages. What for? Just to save their loin cloths! All fled save Janaka. He ignored his riches and treasures burning in the city. Janaka stayed with his Guru, Yagnyavalkya, listening to the sage's ambrosial talk.

"Mithilayam pradagdhayam namekincit pranasyati — Nothing do I lose even though Mithila may be consumed to ashes." Now the disciples came to learn why their Guru favoured Janaka most. This is the difference between a man of wisdom and a man of ignorance. An ignorant man knows that what he has is the body. A man of wisdom knows that what he has and what he is is the soul.