aja Janak was a king of Mithlapuri and was a good-hearted person. He always ensured justice in his kingdom and was compassionate toward the poor. He worshipped Shiva Ji’s bow that was given to him. One day, a saint came to Raja Janak and asked him a question, “Hey Raja, who is your Guru?”
Raja Janak started thinking, and after some time, replied, “Until today, I have not accepted anyone as my Guru. I only worship Shiv Ji’s bow.”
“Raja, adopt a Guru. Without a Guru, you cannot obtain liberation, and all your good deeds will go to waste. This is because you are a good soul.”
Hearing this, Raja Janak agreed and called all his ministers to discuss this matter. He then decided to call an assembly of saints, sadhus, pandits, Rishis, and great scholars. From them, he would choose a Guru.
Finding a Guru
The day came when all the saints and scholars came well-prepared. They were discussing amongst themselves who will be fit to be the king’s Guru. Raja Janak got up from his throne and addressed everyone. “O’ great saints and scholars, you must know the reason for this assembly that I am to adopt a Guru. But I have one condition. I would only accept that person as my Guru, who will give me spiritual wisdom as I mount the horse, and before I sit on the saddle of the horse. If you think you would provide me with spiritual knowledge in this short period, please step forward. If you fail to fulfill the condition, you will be punished, as you have disgraced yourself and me. Therefore, only the courageous and well-prepared saint scholar should step forward for this test.”
Upon hearing this, all the saint scholars got shocked and started looking at each other. They were thinking, who would be that great to give wisdom in such a short period to the King? Then, the whole assembly fell into pin-drop silence. No one stepped forward. Raja Janak started feeling uneasy and restless. “Is there no one who can fulfill the condition?” he thought. He felt quite upset.
Just then, a Brahmin stepped forward. His name was Ashtavakar. As he was walking, everyone looked at his body and started laughing. Even the King was embarrassed. Why? Ashtavakar was a hunchback, his legs went bent, and he only had one arm. His fingers were joint up, but his face wasn’t that bad. Finally, the king’s minister stopped him and asked, “Are you sure about this? If you fail, you will be killed!”
Ashtavakar spoke, “Oh minister, you are saying this, maybe after looking at my ugly body. Maybe, I am also poor and homeless. Maybe you are thinking that I am doing this out of greed. But look at this, all these people that you have called are lacking in spiritual wisdom. It is a shame that no one can step forward for this test. Let me ask you, is spiritual wisdom connected to the soul and mind or the body? Why aren’t these people of high caste, so well-dressed, with a saffron mark on their forehead coming forward? They are laughing at this body of mine, but they have forgotten that this body is an illusion, Maya, which God created. Those who are proud and worship this body can never attain spiritual enlightenment.”
All the other saint scholars were ashamed. Finally, Raja Janak stepped forward and, with folded hands, said, “Come O’ Great One, if you have faith in yourself, then please fulfill my condition and give me assurance.”
Raja Janak called for a horse, and just as he was about to put his foot on the stirrup, Ashtavakar spoke. “O’ King, believe me when I say that I will end up becoming your Guru, and you shall be my disciple. But before I give you any wisdom, you must provide me an offering. The offering must be either your body, mind, or wealth. Choose one to give to me, and choose wisely.”
Raja Janak started thinking, and after a while, said, “I will give you one of these, but please allow me to return to my palace. After my return, I will provide you with an offering. Ashtavakar agreed and started his meditation while waiting. Raja Janak then went to his palace and narrated the whole incident to his wife.
His wife said, “If you give your wealth, we all shall be poor and will suffer, and if you give your body, he can do anything with your body, and you will be in agony and pain. So the best is to give your mind. This will not affect you much.”
Raja Janak Gives His Mind
Raja Janak started thinking. He went back to the assembly and told Ashtavakar, “I will give you my mind as an offering.”
“Alright then, King, please mount your horse now. Your mind is mine now and will listen to me,” said Ashtavakar.
Just as Raja Janak was about to mount the horse, Ashtavakar said, “Raja Janak, my mind does not want to mount the horse.” Raja Janak immediately stepped down, and his wish to mount the horse disappeared. At that point, Ashtavakar gave another command. “Oh King, my mind wishes to take off the royal robe and clothing.” At that point, Raja Janak started taking off his clothes, and he attained spiritual wisdom. “The mind must be controlled. The way to happiness is not to follow what the mind says. The mind always wanders around.” At that moment of realization, Raja Janak fell onto the feet of Ashtavakar and exclaimed, “You are my Guru!”
Bhai Gurdas Ji writes about this,
੫: ਰਾਜਾ ਜਨਕ
ਭਗਤੁ ਵਡਾ ਰਾਜਾ ਜਨਕੁ ਹੈ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਵਿਚਿ ਉਦਾਸੀ।
ਦੇਵ ਲੋਕ ਨੋ ਚਲਿਆ ਗਣ ਗੰਧਰਬ ਸਭਾ ਸੁਖਵਾਸੀ।
ਜਮਪੁਰਿ ਗਇਆ ਪੁਕਾਰ ਸੁਣਿ ਵਿਲਲਾਵਨਿ ਜੀਅ ਨਰਕ ਨਿਵਾਸੀ।
ਧਰਮਰਾਇ ਨੋ ਆਖਿਓਨੁ ਸਭਨਾਂ ਦੀ ਕਰਿ ਬੰਦ ਖਲਾਸੀ।
ਕਰੇ ਬੇਨਤੀ ਧਰਮਰਾਇ ਹਉ ਸੇਵਕ ਠਾਕੁਰੁ ਅਬਿਨਾਸੀ।
ਗਹਿਣੇ ਧਰਿਅਨੁ ਏਕ ਨਾਉ ਪਾਪਾ ਨਾਲਿ ਕਰੈ ਨਿਰਜਾਸੀ।
ਪਾਸੰਗਿ ਪਾਪੁ ਨ ਪੁਜਨੀ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਨਾਉ ਅਤੁਲ ਨ ਤੁਲਾਸੀ।
ਨਰਕਹੁੰ ਛੁਟੇ ਜੀਅ ਜੰਤ ਕਟੀ ਗਲਹੁੰ ਸਿਲਕ ਜਮ ਫਾਸੀ।
ਮੁਕਤਿ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਨਾਵੈ ਦੀ ਦਾਸੀ ॥੫॥
Raja Janak Travels to the Kingdom of Vaheguru
After adopting the teachings of Ashtavakar, Raja Janak Ji meditated a lot. He could control his mind such that it would never wander around or get affected by the power of Maya (illusion). As a result, he was free of all the 5 vices (lust, anger, greed, attachment, and pride).
When his last days came, he was welcomed by the gods and celestial musicians, by saints and great souls. As he was being brought on a chariot to the Kingdom of Vaheguru, the charioteer passed through hell, and Raja Janak could hear the screaming and crying of the people below. He asked the Jamdoot (Messengers of death), “What is this place?”
The Jamdoot replied, “Oh great one, this place is for those who do not commit any good deeds in the world and do not remember or meditate on Vaheguru.”
Raja Janak replied, “They should be released. They have suffered too much.”
“Everything happens within the Hukam, the will and command of Vaheguru. Even a leaf cannot move against the wish of Vaheguru. But, if someone is willing to give offer his good accounts to these souls, then they can also be liberated.”
Raja Janak felt pity on them. He said, “Weigh one Ghari (22.5 minutes) of my Simran (meditation and remembrance on Vaheguru) and give it to these souls.”
All the souls were placed on one side of the scale and one Ghari of Simran was on the other. The weight of one Ghari of Simran was heavier than all of these souls. Hell was emptied, and the souls went to heaven. Raja Janak was welcomed into the court of Vaheguru.
The Pehar System
Below, we have broken down the Pehar system so it can be better understood,
1 Day = 8 Pehars = 24 hrs
1 Pehar = 8 Gharis = 3hrs
1 Ghari = 60 Pal = 22.5 minutes = 1350 secs
1 Pal = 3 Chassa = 22.5 secs
1 Chassa = 15 Visuas = 7.5 secs
1 Visua = 15 Nimakh = 0.5 secs
1 Nimakh = 0.0333 secs