Same Word Diffferent Meanings

The devas, the celestial beings, had all the comforts they could aspire for and led a life of pleasure. Though they were free from hunger, thirst, old age and death, they were not really happy. They felt that they lacked something. So, they decided to seek advice and guidance from Prajapati Brahma. They all left for the abode of Brahma.

Unlike their counterparts in heaven, The maanavas – human beings were leading a hard life. They toiled hard to obtain money. But, on no account, would they part with what they had gained. Yet, despite all the riches they had earned and stored away, they, too, were far from happy. They also felt they lacked contentment and peace of mind. So, they decided to approach Prajapati Brahma for guidance.

The asuras (demons) meanwhile inspired fear among both the human beings and devas. They too were overcome by a feeling of dissatisfaction. Although they were powerful and feared by all, they were not at all happy. They too decided to go to Prajapati Brahma for guidance.

The demigods, demons and humans simultaneously reached the abode of Prajapati Brahma. They unanimously asked him for a solution to their discontentment and absence of peace from their lives. Prajapati Brahma just uttered one symbol – "da" .

Everyone was perplexed. They contemplated on what it could mean. They concluded that it was the first syllable of a secret word which would be an answer to the problems faced by them. They all left for their respective homes to ponder over the syllable.

On returing to heaven, the devas were about to resume their life of pleasure , when one deva got up and said, "I ve got it. I know what 'da' means. It means 'damyata', which means that we have to exercise self control." All the devas put aside their pleasures. Then they began to practise self control and experienced a satisfaction never known before.

The humans, meanwhile had also gone back to their work. As a group of farmers were sitting next to a huge pile of their harvest grain, they noticed a few birds trying to eat the grains. The men were angered and one man got up and was about to fling a stone at the birds, when he had a realization dawned on him. He exclaimed that he had understood the meaning of the syllable 'da'. He said that it meant 'datta', meaning to give away. They decided to stop hoarding and allowed the birds to eat the grain. They began practicing charity and realised that there was a joy in giving away and gave away whatever they can.

When the demons were about to resume their activities by tormenting others, they suddenly felt that the syllable "da" indicated 'dayaadhvam', meaning compassion. They stopped tormenting others and started being merciful to other beings. Their hearts were filled with a new kind of joy that they had never experienced before. They concluded that Prajapati Brahma wanted them to practice compassion.

The above story reminds us of a beautiful verse from Srimad Bhagavatam (SB 4.31.19)

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