Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sunday musings: Lessons for small investors from Vishwamitra's dalliance with Menaka

Once upon a time, King Kaushika was touring his kingdom with a large army when he chanced upon the ashrama (hermitage) of Rishi (Sage) Vashishtha near a forest.

The Rishi greeted the King and offered his hospitality. Kaushika declined the offer because he thought it will be a great financial strain for Vashishtha to feed such a large army.

Vashishtha insisted and said it would not be a problem as he owned a wish-fulfilling (kamadhenu) cow, Sabala. Sure enough, Sabala arranged a grand feast which greatly pleased the King.

But a King won't be a King unless he coveted the possession of others. Kaushika felt that Sabala will be of more use to a King than a Sage. So, he offered ample monetary rewards to Vashishtha in exchange for Sabala.

The Sage politely refused the offer, which angered the King. He ordered his army to forcibly seize Sabala, at which point Sabala mournfully requested Vashishtha not to part with her.

Vashishtha suggested that Sabala raise an army of her own and defeat King Kaushika's soldiers - which she promptly did.

Kaushika decided to perform spiritual penance for 12 years. That pleased Lord Shiva, who granted him a wish. Being a King, who was humiliated by a humble Sage, Kaushika wanted the best weaponry that Lord Shiva could offer.

An emboldened Kaushika went on the attack and hurled his newly acquired divine weaponry at Vashishtha. But to no avail. Vashishtha's superior spiritual (yogic) powers repelled the attack easily.

Kaushika realised that physical powers were no match for spiritual powers. This time he went ahead with a more serious effort at penance to become the spiritual equal of Vashishtha.

In the process, he became Sage Vishwamitra. Lord Indra, King of Heaven, was disturbed by the severity of Vishwamitra's meditation and the yogic powers he might attain, and sent the beautiful apsara (celestial nymph) Menaka to seduce him.

Menaka did as she was instructed. Vishwamitra's spiritual resolve was overcome by the sheer beauty of Menaka. Their dalliance resulted in the birth of a daughter. 

Unfortunately, Menaka revealed to Vishwamitra the real reason why she had descended from Heaven. Vishwamitra was enraged by Lord Indra's devious move. He banished Menaka, abandoned their daughter and returned to his meditations.

[The daughter - named Shakuntala - was raised in Sage Kanva's hermitage. She later married King Dushyanta. Their child was called Bharata, after whom India was originally named.]

Moral of the story? There are two:

1. Thou shalt not covet others' possessions - which can be paraphrased as 'Keeping up with the Joneses'. It is a futile activity. Be happy with what you own. Greed isn't always good - particularly near a stock market top.
2. Dalliances should be avoided - regardless of the attractiveness of the opportunity.

The second moral is of particular importance to small investors. Remain steadfast in your discipline of maintaining a financial plan and following an asset allocation plan. Financial powers will follow inevitably albeit gradually.

Let not the Menaka's of the investment world - penny stocks, F&O trading, commodities trading, forex trading - lure you. Behind these Menaka's are the devious moves of the Lords (i.e. Professional Traders) of the stock/commodities/forex markets - designed to test your financial resolve.


KKR said...

It is always impressive to Read Vashistha and Viswamitra...Both are astonishing sage....Thank you for reminding it

Subhankar said...

Appreciate the feedback, KK.

There are lots to learn from old scriptures. Some of the tales may seem fantastic and unbelievable, but most have a lesson or two hidden between the lines.