A Sadhu went to the court of Raja Janaka and observed all his manifold activities. He then thought within himself: ‘How can we call Raja Janaka a Jnani? How can we take him for a spiritual man? He is only a worldly man. He is entrapped in so many worldly matters. He talks on worldly topics.’ Raja Janaka, through his Divya Drishti or eye of intuition, understood the mentality of the Sadhu.
Calling the Sadhu to his side, Janaka said: “You seem to be a culprit. You are unfit to wear the garb of a saint. You are not thinking of God. The nature of faultfinding is deeply ingrained in you. I have decided to give you capital punishment. You will be hanged within a week.
The king ordered his servants to give the Sadhu vegetables without salt, sweetmeats with chillies, and delicious Kheer and almonds and raisins with tamarind daily. The Sadhu was terribly alarmed. He spent sleepless nights. He became very nervous. He always thought of the gallows. He dreamt daily that his neck was being tied with a rope. He became very thin and pale.
Raja Janaka sent a servant to call the Sadhu on the seventh day for execution. The Sadhu was unable to stand before the king. He trembled and fell on the ground senseless. He came back to consciousness after ten minutes when Janaka offered him some fruits and a cup of milk with salt. The Sadhu drank it. But his mind was on the gallows.
The sage-king then said: “Look here, O Sadhu! How do you like the taste of the milk now? Was it good? Did the milk contain sufficient sugar? How did you relish the food these seven days?” The Sadhu replied: “O Rajah, I did not feel any taste in the food or in the milk that you offered me just now. My mind is only the gallows all the time. I see only gallows everywhere. I have become a prey to the thought of the gallows. I did not know whether the vegetables or soup contained salt or sugar.” Raja Janaka said: “O Sadhu, just as your mind is always on the gallows, so also my mind is always fixed on Brahman through my intense practice of Nididhyasan, although I engage myself in various sorts of worldly activities. Though I am in this world, I am out of the world always. Do you understand my mental state? In future do not look to the faults of others. Mind your own business always. Look to the good points of others. Glorify others. Do intense meditation. Realise. Work for the world unattached like myself. Now you can go.”
The Sadhu was very much pleased with the king. He now realised his folly and the true glory of King Janaka. He understood fully that Janaka was a wonderful Brahma-Nishtha and had perfect balance of mind amidst multifarious activities. He prostrated before him again and again and took leave. Then he did intense Sadhana, realised the Self and followed the example of Raja Janaka in doing service to the world.
Raja Janaka was a full-blown Jnani though he worked in the world. His Jnana was tested. He was in the Durbar hall when a messenger brought the news that there was fire in the city. Janaka said: “My wealth is unlimited, and yet I have nothing. Even if the whole of Mithila is burnt, yet nothing is lost to me.”
The name of Raja Janaka is always associated with Karma Yoga and Karma Nishtha. In the Gita also Lord Krishna speaks to Arjuna: ‘Janaka and others indeed attained perfection by action; then, having an eye to the welfare of the world also, thou shouldst perform action. Whatever a great man doeth, that other men also do; the standard he setteth up, by that the people go. Therefore, without attachment, constantly perform action which is duty, for by performing action without attachment, man verily reacheth the Supreme.’ Ch. III- 19, 20, 21.
It is very difficult to find out the state of a Jnani by his external actions. Jnana is purely a mental state. It is an internal condition. A Jnani only can understand another Jnani. Atma Jnana is imperishable and inexhaustible wealth. The wealth of the three worlds is nothing, I say nothing, when compared to the priceless treasures of the Atman. That is the reason why Janaka was not at all affected by the destruction of the city of Mithila. He stood adamantine on the rock of Atma Jnana.