न शक्यसे वारयितुं गच्छेदानीं रघूत्तम।
शीघ्रं च विनिवर्तस्व वर्तस्व च सतां क्रमे॥ २-२५-२॥
–श्रीमद्वाल्मीकिरामायणे अयोध्याकाण्डे पञ्चविंशतितमे सर्गे
na śakyase vārayituṁ gacchedānīṁ raghūttama |
śīghraṁ ca vinivartasva vartasva ca satāṁ krame || 2-25-2||
–śrīmadvālmīkirāmāyaṇe ayodhyākāṇḍe pañcaviṁśatitame sarge
It is not possible to restrain your departure [any longer]. Depart now, Oh best amongst the Raghus!
Return soon, and tread in the footsteps of the righteous!”
Amazing! The first advice the great Kausalya gave Her Son, is to tread in the footsteps of the righteous! Surely, Lord Rama didn’t need that advice (of course, it’s for us), but Kausalya just underlines the importance of that. No wonder, this is also one of the most fundamental cornerstones of Sanatana Dharma (and the need for a Guru!). It’s also worth quoting another fantastic conversation in Mahabharata (thanks to the eloquent Vasu Srinivasan):
कः पन्थाः ? asks yakSha. “What is the road?” I would have just asked back “To where?”.
तर्क: अप्रतिष्ट: श्रुतयो विभिन्ना: न एको ऋषि: यस्य मतम् प्रमाणम् ।
धर्मस्य तत्त्वं निहितम् गुहायाम् महाजनो येन गतः स पन्थाः ॥
Yudhishtra’s first utterance is “tarkaH apratiShTaH”. A quote on which vyAkhyAna can be done for hours I guess. “Logic is baseless”. Logic has been the considered the greatest employment of human intellect since Aristotle, Plato down to the European philosophers, who have spent their lifetime only in logic. But Yudhishtra dismisses it curtly – Logic is limited, baseless and cannot be relied upon.
“srutayo vibhinnAH” – vedA-s say different things! “na eko rShiH yasya matam pramANam” – There is not a single rishi whose word is an authority! Its just a poetic way of expressing that vedA-s are interpreted differently and every rishi worth his beard has an opinion. “dharmasya tattvam nihitam guhAyAm”. The truth about dharma is hidden in a deep cave! What the Huh? Where did dharma come from? What does it have to do with logic or vedas or roads? Each rishi is attempting to explain what is “dharma”, but nobody has a single opinion about it and nobody really knows what dharma is. And then he finally ties them all beautifully – “mahAjano yena gataH saH panThaH” – the road travelled by great people is the one to follow (for mokSha)! The great ones have already figured it out, you just follow the road paved by them. yakSha was not even asking about a physical road! That is the fault of translation or misunderstanding of contexts.