For WHO ?




Once there was a highway-man called Valiya. 

He was ruthless in his task of robbing all luckless travellers that happened to come his way. 

One day, he happened to come across a group of sages travelling through the woods around his normal haunts.  Valiya could see that this tiny group was a poor catch.  The best he could hope to get from them were a few deer skins and worthless waterpots.  But his family was expecting him to bring home something – anything - and so he decided to rob the sages. 


Seeing the fierce highway-man, with bloodshot eyes, scimitar in hand, sages smiled.  They wished him well and proceeded on their way.  But Valiya was unwilling to let their boldness get the better of him.  With a blood curdling cry, he demanded the sages to STOP.  He ordered them to give up their deer skins, water pots and even rosary beads made of rudraksha seeds. 


Sages asked, “Son, what do you hope to gain from looting us ?  Our deer skins are old and worn.  Our waterpots are made of gourds and our rosary is made of seeds.  What possible benefit will they be to you ?” 

Valiya was unmoved.  “Old or new, those deer skins will provide new flooring for my huts.  Gourds will be useful for my sons on their hunting trips and your rosaries can be bartered for a trinket for my wife.”  Seeing the sages still unwilling to give up their possessions, Valiya raised his scimitar higher and made a move to remove their deer skins from them. 


“Son,” said one of the sages, “Have you considered the sins you are accumulating by all this looting and robbing innocent travellers ?  Have you considered who you are committing these sins for ?”


“I do this to feed my family you fool !” Thundered Valiya.  “Hunters rob animals of their lives.  Farmers rob the field.  Kings rob their citizens as merchants rob their customers.  I am but a small fry in this natural order of big fish eating small fish.  Today, I am going to rob YOU !”


“Son,” said another sage in a soothing voice. “Have you considered, what your family think of your activities ?”  Seeing Valiya look puzzled, another sage clarified, “Son, does your family share your views on robbing others to feed them ?”  Yet another sage added, “Son, will your family share your sins as they currently share the profits from your loot ?”


Unable to see the logic of the question, Valiya shook his head and said, “Ofcourse they will you fool !  Having shared my profits, why would they not share my losses ?” 


“Have you asked them son ?” asked a sage in words dripping with sweet concern. 


“I don’t need to ask them !” Valiya thundered.  “I know them.  I know the love my wife bears for me.  I know the obedience my sons show me.  My parents rely on me and happily share my joys and sorrws.  Why would they not share my sins ?” 


Seeing the sages unmoved by his logic, Valiya decided to ask and confirm.  To make sure they don’t make a fool of him, he tied the sages to nearby trees with vines.   


When he went home, Valiya asked his parents, “Father, mother, I have a question to ask you.  As you know, I rob, steal even kill to provide you the creature comforts you have.  Tell me truly, as you share my loot, will you share my sins ?”

Though surprised by their son’s question, his parents said, “Valiya, we raised you by sacrificing the creature comforts of our own.  We worked hard.  We committed sins of our own to raise you.  Now its your turn.  We will not take any sins of yours.  Weight of our own sins for having raised you are heavy enough for us.”


Shaken, surprised, Valiya went to ask his sons.  “Sons of my loins, I have a question to ask you.  As you know, I rob, steal even kill to provide you the creature comforts you have.  Tell me truly, as you share my loot, will you share my sins ?”


Surprised by their father’s unusual question, they answered, “We didn’t ask to be born of you.  We are the result of your pleasure with our mother.  Having brought us into this world, you are responsible for looking after us.  You should have thought of the responsibilities of having children and sins you may incur in bringing them up before having them – not after !  As your children, we are yours to look after.  So you must provide us with clothes, food and shelter.  Whether you provide us with these by fair means or foul, what do we care ?  We are here to enjoy or lives, not to share your sins !”


Valiya was Shaken by his sons strong rejection of his serious request to share in the sins it took to bring them up.


Seeing her husband come earlier than usual, his wife came to see what was wrong.  His face was downcast and his brows seemed knitted.  Passing her cool hands over his face, she sat him down and asked him if everything was well.  Seeing her concern, Valiya’s hopes rose in his heart.  Hugging his sweetheart, he asked, “Dearest, you are more precious to me than my own life.  I have a question to ask you.  As you know, I rob, steal even kill to provide you the creature comforts you have.  Tell me truly, as you share my loot, will you share my sins ?”


Confused as to why her husband was asking such an odd question, she looked at him, “What have you been eating or drinking in the woods today ?  Have you eaten those strange berries or dark mushrooms or fresh cannabis leaves growing by the river ?  Why do you ask such a question on such a beautiful day ?”  When Valiya confirmed he hadn’t eaten or drunk anything and this question was genuine, his wife, hands in hips, looked at him straight in the eyes and said, “When you married me, you promised my beloved father you will look after all my needs.  Why didn’t you mention “sins” than ?  You promised to make me happy.  Why didn’t you mention “sins” than ?  You told my mother I will have all the creature comforts you could afford.  Why didn’t you mention “sins” than ?  When we were alone in the bowers of the woods, you said the moon and stars were for my asking.  Why didn’t you mention “sins” than ?  Why mention it now ?”  Seeing as Vaiya was confused by her answer, she decided to make it easy for him.  “I cook and clean for your family.  I am patient with your parents.  I look after all your needs.  Do I mention my discomforts of doing all this for you ?  I do not ask you to share my household chores.  So don’t you ask me to share your sins for you.” 



Valiya was stunned.  Never in his wildest dream or darkest nightmare had he expected such responses from any of his family.  Did they not love him enough to share his sins ?  OK, even if they did not want to share his sins, could they not atleast be appreciative of his “sacrifice” on their behalf ?  Why were they so mercenary ?  Could they not atleast be a little thankful of what he was doing for them ?  Who had he lived for so far ?  Who should he live for now ? 


A few hours later, Valiya wandered back to the area where he had tied the sages to the trees.  He released them, fell at their feet cried like he had never cried before.  Life time’s weight of sins crushed him to the ground.  As tears streamed down his face, sages smiled and offered him water from their gourds.


“Son, we came into this world alone and we will leave it alone.  For the sake of your soul, meditate on your karma.  Forgive those who have sinned you and seek forgiveness from those whom you have sinned against.  God is gracious.  Divine grace is yours for the asking.”  Seeing him confused, the sages continued, “Its never too late to start asking for divine guidance.  Consider who you sinned for in your past.  Consider who should you live for now.  Sit.  Meditate.  Let God be your guide and guru.”


Valiya sat down to pray there and than. 

He sat and meditated with the same single mindedness he once showed for robbing people. 

In time, with patience and practie, Valiya transformed himself into Valmiki – the first poet to write in verse, author of Ramayan and the greatest sage of Treta Yuga. 


All this because he focused on the question – Who am I living for ?



Have WE asked ourselves this question ?
Who are we living for ?  Is it us ?  Or the family ?  Or community ?  Or ideology ?  Or organisation ?
Who have we given up our dreams and ambitions for ?  Do we even know ?  Have we even thought of that ?
What do WE want out of life ?  Have we bothered to articulate it to ourselves ?  Have we discussed it to those who we consider to be our “nearest and dearest” ?
Do WE know what others around us want from us ?  Have we ever asked THEM ?
Do WE know what others around us want out of their own lives ?  Have we ever asked them or just presumed “we know” ?


WHO am I sinning for ?
If Indian politicians and businessmen genuinely asked themselves this simple question, we would have a corruption free society.
If as a nation and as a community we genuinely asked this question, we could transform our nation !


Like sage Valmiki, we all need to ask ourselves – Who am I living for ?

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