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Lessons from the Ahalya episode

CHENNAI SEPT.30 Certain episodes interspersed in the epics and other sacred literature may appear to be unconnected, unnecessary and even set out of context. But on analysis, these incidents will be seen worthy, spelling out morals. They serve to guide us or warn us not to fall into a trap and get caught in dangerous situations just as the leading characters in those stories had done. Some of them were seen committing prohibited acts and reading their accounts, we can be alert not to repeat them and fall victims. Mostly, these episodes may be found related to lapse in moral behaviour. Invariably the mind of these characters would have gone astray. It is indeed extremely difficult to control the mind as reflected in all scriptural texts. Even sensory organs may be kept quiet for some time, but not the mind. It is in this background that the Ahalya episode in the Ramayana should be viewed. Born in a family of culture and having married a sage of distinction, her mind faltered for a moment and she committed a grave sin and incurred a curse. Why should she commit this mistake? There lie the lessons for others.

However on expressing her regret over the fault, the curse was lifted when the dust particles from the feet of Rama fell on her. The message from her life gives us great hope to secure His grace if only we hold on to the feet of the Lord. Even saints who had conducted austerities and were ever immersed in prayers and meditation, out of their humility, have sung that the remedy for all our problems is to offer our total surrender to the Lord. Penitents should declare their total confidence by appealing to Him to protect them and that He is their only source of help. Expressions of such a sincere regret enabled Ahalya to get back her form when God came in person to the place where she was spending her days "unseen". Our sins and taints in our souls will be wiped out by our appealing to the mercy of the Lord who will pardon our misdeeds. What Ahalya did was unpardonable and Sage Gautama, naturally enraged at her misconduct, condemned her. On her repentance, the sage said by offering hospitality to Rama, she would be freed from covetousness and delusion. He punished the celestial king too, who was equally responsible for having misled her. It was to the sage's hermitage Rama paid a visit and made Ahalya regain her original form, said Srimati Jaya Srinivasan in a discourse.

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