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My Body Is Not My Own – Story – Hindu Philosophy

Once upon a time King Janaka passed the sentence of banishment upon a Brahman convict. The Brahman confessed his crime and said that he fully deserved the punishment passed upon him.

‘But,’ said he, ‘I cannot leave your kingdom, O great king, unless I know how far it extends. Please therefore tell me how I should know the boundary of your kingdom.’

This question, apparently so simple, set the king thinking. After remaining in deep contemplation for some time he softly replied, ‘Your question, O good Brahman, has opened my eyes. The kingdom over which I rule, belonged to my forefathers, who claimed its ownership just as I do now. But where are they now? They have all passed away, but the kingdom remains the same. How can I say, then, that it belongs to me? With my death the kingdom will not vanish, but my sense of ownership will undoubtedly cease forever. Regarding my body in this light, I do not see how I can call it my own. Who knows that the molecules which compose it do not consider themselves masters of it? After my death dogs and jackals will feed upon it. I thus see distinctly that the body is not my own. How can I then be the owner of things which I possess and enjoy with this body? It was out of ignorance, O good Brahman, that I ordered your exile. Mithila does not belong to me any more than the sky belongs to a particular individual of the world. Live in Mithila in perfect peace as long as you will.’

Source – Prabuddha Bharata June 1902 Issue.