ततस्स रौद्रेभिरतः प्रमत्तोधर्मकर्शितः । तस्य शस्त्रस्य संवासात् जगाम नरकं मुनिः ॥

श्रीमद्वाल्मीकिरामायणे अरण्यकाण्डे नवमस्सर्गः (२२व श्लोकमु)

Emphasizing on the ill-effects of the company of the bad, Seeta told this enlightening story to ShriRaama:

Once Indra decided to test the dedication of a Tapasvi, and gave him a sword that needs to be protected. The Tapasvi followed the order of Indra and started taking care of it.

“Slowly, owing to the acquaintance with the sword, he began taking the job of protecting the sword more seriously than his Tapas. Gradually he even began to perform (un-necessary) Himsa and finally reached Narakam”.

The lessons to be learnt from this story  are:

  1. The strength of company is well-illustrated in this shloka. Because of staying in the company of an article of Himsa (Sword), the Tapasvi himself resorted to Himsa. If ill-company can force such a great Tapsvi, imagine the plight of normal people. Hence satsang is very essential.
  2. A human being has many duties. For e.g., A Tapasvi’s only duties are Svadhyayam and Tapas. However he was given an additional responsibility of guarding the sword, which does not align with his duties of Svadhyayam or Tapas. In such a situation the Tapasvi was not able to strike a balance between his duties, focused more on guarding the sword, and left his primary duties. Hence he had to suffer Narakam.

The art of balancing the various duties must be learnt from ShriRaama, where during Vana-vaasam He showed how a person can consistently perform two contradictory duties like that of a Kshatriya (His primary duty), and Tapasvi (prescribed to Him by His step-mother Kaikeyi).