One of India’s most-celebrated tales of parental devotion relates to Sharvan Kumar, the character in the Ramayan. As I came to know recently, Sharvan Kumar died on the banks of a parched, neglected lake in village Sarvan, Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh, The village got its name from Shravan Kumar. According to locals, the place where Shravan died was named Sarvan. The spot where Dashratha shot his arrow came to be known as Sarwara and the place where Shravan’s parents died is called Samadha.
According to Munnu Lal Pandey, a former pradhan of Sarvan, the 19th century British Gazetteer states: “It is said that there lies a stone statue of Shravan Kumar and as he died of unquenched thirst, if water is poured into the navel of the stone figure, the hole never gets filled up.”
For the benefits of those who might not have read the story in Ramayan that influenced Mahatma very much in his childhood, it runs as follows:
While hunting in the forests of his kingdom once, King Dashratha heard a noise near a lake and unleashed an arrow, hoping to hit an animal. When King Dashratha reached near the lake to collect his kill, he found that his arrow had struck a boy instead of any wild animal. He was profusely bleeding. His end was near.
The boy was Shravan Kumar. He told Dashratha that he had come to the lake to collect water for his sick and aged parents, who were both blind and whom he had been carrying on a sling to make them visit various religious places.
Shravan Kumar requested the king to take water to his parents and quench their thirst. Shravan succumbed to his wounds. When Dashratha took water to his parents and told them of his tragic mistake, they were unable to bear the shock. Before dying, the old man cursed Dashratha to die because of the separation of his son. Shravan still remains a benchmark of a dutiful son in India.
When I went to Kaushiks to meet Singhs who were going to US. Their son Rajat and his wife made them visit US. I happened to remember this story of Sharavan Kumar. In present era, Sharavan Kumara need not use slings. They arrange air tickets and make their stay pleasant. With about a million Indians immigrated to US and other developed countries and working there, most of the children call their parents at least once and show them around. Aroras have gone for the second time to live with their younger son in Seattle. Rihanis have just returned from US after 6 months with their daughter in San Diego.
However, when I look around in India, I find most of the elderly parents grumbling about theirs children, particularly sons. Many live separately as long as they can to avoid worsening of relationship. Perhaps, the parents must learn to compromise with their expectations based on their perceived values. Sons, particularly daughter-in-law must learn to accommodate and tolerate.
Sharavan Kumars need not give up their careers, but try to find the way that can make the parents happy for as many years they live. However, these Sharavan Kumars must not have any expectations for themselves when they reach their parent’s age.