Ideals and Values/Behavior towards Siblings

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Vishal Agarwal

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Most of us have younger or older siblings. Śāstra teaches us to respect our elder siblings and love and forgive the younger ones. In fact, when the older brother or sister is older to you by several years, he or she should be considered as a father or mother. Likewise, you should not fight with or tease our little brothers and sisters over little things, because you too did the same silly things when you were younger. The bond between a brother and a sister is celebrated in the Hindu society through the festival of Rakshabandhan.

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Story: The Love Between Brothers in the Ramayana Long, long ago, there ruled King Dasharatha in the kingdom called Ayodhya. He had three wives, from whom he had four sons. Queen Kaushalya’s son was Rāma, the eldest of the four. Sumitra’s sons Lakśmana and Śatrughna; and Kaikeyi’s son Bharat. Rāma was the eldest of all the brothers. He always took care of all his three younger brothers and loved them a lot. These three younger brothers also respected Rāma a lot. When the four brothers became grown up, they all married. The wife of Lord Rāma was Devi Sita. She was the daughter of King Janaka.

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When King Dasharatha became an old man, he decided to make Rāma the king of Ayodhya after him. Everyone was very happy. But Queen Kaikeyi had a maid named Mantharā. She told Kaikeyi that it would be better for them if Bharat, who was Kaikeyi’s own son, became the king instead. Suddenly, Kaikeyi became jealous that Rāma, her step-son was becoming the king. She now wanted her own son Bharat to become the king. Therefore, she forced King Dasharatha to send Rāma to the forest for fourteen years. When Rāma learned that he was being sent to the forest, he was not upset at all. In fact, he expressed happiness that his brother Bharata had been chosen to rule Ayodhya. Shocked by the turn of events, King Dasharatha died.

Now, Bharat did not know what was going on in Ayodhya, because he was visiting his grandfather far away from his home. If Bharat had known that his elder brother was being sent to the forest, he would have been very angry with the bad behavior of his mother and father. When Rāma decided to leave for the forest, his wife Devi Sita insisted that she will also go with him. Then, his brother Lakṣmana decided to leave for the forest with his brother Rāma. Like Sita and Lakshmana, we should also share the bad luck of our family members just as we like to share their good things.

When Bharata returned to Ayodhya and learned what had happened in his absence, he was extremely angry with his mother. He refused to become the king. He immediately went to the forest to bring back Rāma with royal pomp and install him as the King of Ayodhya. But there in the forest, Rāma refused to come back so that his father’s promise to Kaikeyi would be upheld. Then, Bharat requested Rāma to give him his pair of sandals. Bharata took the sandals to Ayodhya where he placed them on the royal throne. Bharata worshiped the sandals and decided to rule Ayodhya as Rāma’s regent, till Rāma himself returned fourteen years later to reclaim his throne.

Story: Love between Siblings in the Mahabharata

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“The five Pāṇdava brothers in the Mahābhārata exemplify the bond of brotherly love and respect even during adversity. After Yudhishthira is tricked in a game of dice and loses everything including the freedom of his brothers and their wife Draupadi, his brothers stand by him. While the bothers live in the forest, they equally share whatever food they obtain. Yudhishthira, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva, furthermore, each share half of their portions with Bhima, the largest and strongest of the five, so that his hunger can be appeased.”[1]

Vedic Prayer

Let no brother hate his brother. Let no sister hate her sister. May you all speak and behave with harmony and sweetness. May you all be unanimous and of one accord.”[2][3]

Illustration of the difference between a good sibling and a bad sibling

Notes & References

  1. Page 112. in Purnavidya, vol 6
  2. Pandit Satyakam Vidyalankar, p. 230
  3. Atharvaveda 3.30.3