Flags of the chariot: Truthfulness and Noble Character | Vibheeshana Gita

– Understandings from Swami Swaroopanandaji’s talk for Youth Empowerment Programme – 6th batch

Souraj dhiraj tehi rath chaaka,
Satyaseel dhruda dhwaja pataka
Bal bibek dam parahit khore
Chama krupa samata raju jore

Truthfulness and Noble Character are the flags of the chariot

Flag represents victory. In those days, there used to be two flags on the chariot which would be visible from a long distance. There would be a main flag (Dhwaja) and another small flag below it (Pataka). As long as the flags are seen, that means the warrior is undefeated. Even today, we see in sports, when a team is winning its supporters will wave the flag.

The flags of victory that is said here are – Truthfulness & Noble Character. All of us have heard about this virtue – Truthfulness – since childhood and most of us would agree that saying the Truth did not always yield good results in our lives. It’s because Truthfulness does not go alone. It has to go along with Sheelta. The nearest word for sheelta in English is ‘noble character’, but the English synonym cannot complete the actual meaning.

When Shri Ramji went to mother Kausalya to inform her about his Kaikeyi’s wish to send Ram to the forest, he did not go and tell her, “Mother, look how foolish your husband has acted. He made some stupid promise to Kaikeyi and now I’ve to bear the burden of it by going to the forest.” Anybody of today’s generation would have reacted in this way probably. Even if Rama would have said this statement, he wouldn’t be wrong. He would have been Truthful 100%. But Rama said, “Oh Mother! Look, my father has gifted me the huge land of the forests and crowned me as its king.” No doubt, this too was a shock for Kausalya, but the way Rama passed the message lessened the intensity of the grief. The way he spoke to his mother displays the sheelta in him.

A man complained, “I always say the Truth. Yet people hate me.” There was another who said, “She asked me how she looks. I replied – TERRIBLE.” These people might be saying the Truth. But that truth can do more harm if it is not said with sheelta.

We can take examples in our own lives. Do we love people who bluntly say the bitter truth to us? Or do we love the people who do false praises? Or do we love people who say the Truth in such a way that it does not hurt us, at the same time we get their message clearly?

When we learn that we should be always truthful, we should always remember that Truthfulness is of no use if it is not coupled with sheelta. If we look into our lives, we can find many incidents that we encounter everyday where we have said the truth but that has brought a frown or anger in the face of the other person. It’s because we have not learnt sheelta.

There are some people who talk very sweetly displaying a lot of outer sheelta, but not speaking the Truth. That is not sheelta. It is not impressing people. Sheelta is what Ramji did – speaking the Truth in the sweetest way by not hurting anyone.

Sheelta can be of great help many a times. There’s a famous story of a king who called in an astrologer to look at his horoscope. The astrologer told the king that the king going to die in 6 months. The king ordered his guards to behead the man. The king called in for another astrologer. He was a wise guy, but a truthful one too. When he saw the horoscope, he understood the king’s future. He said, “Oh great king! You son will be crowned as the king in six months from now.” And the king had the astrologer rewarded.

When we read Ramayan, we can find innumerable instances where Lord Rama expressed his sheelta throughout his interactions with the world. That was the reason why everybody loved him. When Rama left Ayodhya for the forest, the whole of Ayodhya followed him to the forest because they could not live a single moment with him. For them, being in the presence of Rama itself was Ultimate Happiness irrespective of it happening in the town or in the forest.

Sheelta is such a wonderful emotion that can be expressed only in Sanskrit. We have to remember, when such languages are getting lost, it is the loss of such emotions.

Satya & Sheelta were Rama’s flags of victory by which he won the hearts of all the people he came in touch with.


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