As we watch the reruns of Ramayana and Mahabharata, one of the things that stands out is the number of curses that great warriors/leaders have to face. For instance Emperor Dasaratha is cursed by Shravan Kumar’s blind parents that he would die of “Putra Shok” or “Sorrow due to his son’s separation”.
A little background for this story – Emperor Dasaratha was very fond of hunting and he was an accomplished hunter. He had arrows in his quiver that could hit the target just using sound.
The incident with Shravan Kumar happens when Dasaratha is a “Yuvraj” or the crown prince and hadn’t become the Emperor yet. He was out on a hunting trip and he hears what he thinks of as an elephant drinking water from the river. He releases the “Shabd Bhedi” (sound-discerning) arrow to kill the elephant. As soon as the arrow hits its target Yuvraj Dasaratha hears a human cry rather than an elephant’s cry. He rushes to the river bank and sees a young man who was filling water from the river, now struck fatally by the “Shabd-Bhedi” arrow. He is deeply disturbed and repents his action but there is little that he can do to save the young man. The young man tells him that his name was Shravan Kumar and that he was travelling with his blind parents whom he carried in two baskets slung across his shoulder. He had come to the river to fill water for them as they were thirsty. He asks Yuvraj Dasaratha to take the water to his parents and also to inform them about his death. Yuvraj Dasaratha takes the water to Shravan Kumar’s parents and as expected they are devastated to know that their only child is dead. The mother dies almost instantly on hearing the news and the father curses Yuvraj Dasaratha that he too shall die of “Putra Shok” or “sorrow due to separation from a child”.
Emperor Dasaratha forgets about the incident but it does come to pass when Shri Rama is exiled for 14 years and Dasaratha dies wallowing in the sorrow of being separated from his favourite son.
The important thing to note in the above incident is – while the curse worked and its also Karma playing its part, whats interesting is, its also a lesson in using great power judiciously and responsibly. Yuvraj Dasaratha being a great archer, was immensely powerful, but he should have confirmed if it was indeed a wild animal drinking water before releasing his arrow.
A powerful message to the powerful people in today’s world …. with great power comes great responsibility. Political, corporate and spiritual leaders across the world need to remember this always. The unfortunate truth is, not many do.