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Ambarisha – A Perfect Example Of Sage King

Our epics and Puranas are replete with instances of righteous kings who were unobtrusive and humble in spite of the stupendous power they wielded. To the impressive galaxy of such noble monarchs belongs King Ambarisha, of whom the Bhagavata speaks in glowing terms.

It might be supposed that Ambarisha is ipso facto an inept monarch who, ever immersed in self-forgetting devotion and transcendental wisdom, is ill-equipped for the exacting tasks of governance and statecraft. Shuka’s significant remark dispels the misconception and shows that Ambarisha is in fact an ideal king who wields the sceptre as it should be: He rules his kingdom dedicating all his secular and spiritual activities to Adhokshaja, with his mind ever anchored in Bhagavan and guided by the counsel of men of sagely wisdom.

Dedication of one’s actions to God, with the conviction that one is a mere instrument of the divine Will is the crux of karma yoga. Thus, Shuka implies that Ambarisha, being a jnani and a bhakta, cannot but be a full-fledged karma yogin. The Gita categorically affirms that yoga is skill in action. Performance of one’s allotted duties in the spirit of karma yoga and being ever united with the Divine cannot but be skilful action. In the eloquent words of Shuka, ‘The king, by his assiduous practice of the triple disciplines of bhakti yoga, the yoga of penance and the yoga of disinterested performance of his duties pleased Hari and gradually cut the cords of attachment and developed a notion of unreality with respect to his house, wife, sons, relatives, elephants, chariots, horses, soldiers, jewels and ornaments, weapons and all his inexhaustible treasury.

These remarks of Shuka clearly show that Ambarisha is a royal sage in whom the triune disciplines of jnana yoga, bhakti yoga and karma yoga have attained a happy fusion. Ambarisha is a standing testimony to the fact that the holy staff of the recluse, the rosary of the devotee and the sceptre of the monarch are not mutually exclusive and can conjointly take the spiritual aspirant to the summum bonum of final release.