My Guruji Shree Dadashreeji once told us the story of Vyas muni and King Janak. Vyas muni was a very spiritually enlightened soul however, when it came to his son Sukhdev, he sent him to King Janak for spiritual studies. Sukhdev wondered about his father’s decision but was sure that there was some wise intent behind his call. So Sukhdev being an obedient child went on to meet the king. When he reached the gates of the palace the guards told him that he will have to wait for his turn. He waited for almost six months and then one day in the middle of the night he was taken to meet the king.
When he stood in front of the king, he offered his salutations to him with great respect. Just as they were about to start their conversation a guard came running in to tell the king that the boundaries of the palace were on fire. The king paused, thought for a bit, and asked him to do his duty. After some time the guard came in again to tell the king that the fire was spreading very fast and had come closer to the palace. Again the king tells the guard very calmly to do his duty.
By this point Sukhdev gets very nervous but holds himself together as it would be disrespectful to run out in front of the great king. Now the guard rushed in to inform that the fire was almost outside the gate and in no time the whole palace would be on fire. Hearing this Sukhdev panics and gets up to run outside. King Janak enquires where he was going. Sukhdev says he was going to get his wooden stick and tiffin box which he had left at the entrance of the palace. Hearing this King Janak breaks into peals of laughter and teaches Sukdev his first lesson on desires.
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Inspite of being a king, Janak had no desire to run after his immense amount of wealth and assets that were to turn into ashes. He was patiently waiting to finish his conversation with a boy who waited to meet him for six months. On the other hand, Sukhdev was so attached to a mere stick and tiffin that he was completely diverted from his goal. Janak later told him that there was no fire anywhere and that he wanted to check the boy’s desire quotient.
So does one have to be completely desireless to be on the spiritual path? Certainly not, we need desires to live and act. All action happens in this world because of our desires. They are endless. Therefore the answer is that we should have good desires. A good desire is the one which helps others. A desire which harms others or wrongs others must be aborted.