Therawan, the Sevak

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Karmas are related to the mind, feelings and behavioural expressions of life, not only the senses. Positive karma is a form of seva, responsibility and duty.

When Alexander the Great came to India, he fought with Pauras beside the river Saraswati. One day in the evening, he saw deeply injured and wounded soldiers of both sides lying helplessly on the ground and a big man from India approaching every hurt soldier irrespective of the warring side, whether Indian or Greek, providing proper treatment. When Alexander saw him he called him and asked, "Why are you offering treatment to your enemy?" Then the man replied that he was a therapist and nobody was either his friend or his enemy. He said, "Anyone who is hurt is suffering and it is my duty to provide the required and proper treatment. Let him be anybody." Alexander asked his name and the reply was, "Therawan." Alexander told the man, "Your good and honest deed has changed my heart and from today onwards treatment in my country will be named after you."

Therawan was known as Therapeous in Greece and the treatment, the art of healing, was named 'therapy'. The name was coined after this medical practitioner.

Had he treated his own soldiers and let the injured enemy soldiers die, his name would not have been famous throughout the world as 'therapy'. It was the result of his kind and selfless action that the heart of a cruel king was transformed. Finally, he was honoured and rewarded by the cruel king although he was completely unknown to the king. This is a result of great karma.

The vedic and yogic traditions say that you should always channel your karma in such a way that it helps, supports, elevates, brings welfare and good fortune, is beneficial and favourable to others. The bad karmas that hurt others take you towards downfall and hell, yet the karma that benefits you and others takes you towards the divine.

—7 June 2014, Kathmandu, Nepal