`Viriya' is also one of the `Indriyas' - Spiritual
faculties, `Balas' - Mental powers and `Bojjhangas' - the factors of
Enlightenment, out of the thirty-seven principles
leading to the Buddhahood.
The person who has `Viriya' does not withhold his undertaking half-way on account of the obstacles, disappointments or laziness. He does not postpone his work that is to be done today until the next day. He does not waste his precious time. He begins his work straightaway without waiting for opportunity to crop up, looking for auspicious time or gazing at the stars. He never tries to escape from his day-to-day activities by giving his numerous reasons such as cold, hot or rain.
The energetic person considers that it is a sign of sure success when he fails in his undertaking. He redoubles his effort when he meets oppositions. He increases his courage when he faces obstacles. He works hard day and night looking forward to his goal until he succeeds.
Our energetic Bodhisatta exercised his `Viriya' up to the highest degree when he was fulfilling the ten perfection. Even during his last birth while he was struggling for the Enlightenment, the Monk Gotama told the Mara who advised him to give up his effort, "Death in battle (with passions) is more honourable to me than a life of defeat."
The Monk Gotama, even for the last moment,
just before the attainment of Buddhahood, while sitting down beneath the Bodhi
Tree, practised `Viriya' by making a firm resolution. "Though only my skin,
sinews and bones remain, and my blood and flesh dry up and wither away, yet
never from this seat will I stir, until I have attained full
Illustration from MAHA JANAKA
THE STORY OF JANAKA
Long ago the Bodhisatta, born as an adventurous merchant named Janaka, journeyed the high seas in search of wealth. Unfortunately in mid-ocean the ship was wrecked. Some who attempted to swim perished, and a few implored gods for help. But the energetic Bodhisatta, relying on himself, besmeared the body with oil and climbing the mast jumped far out into the sea beyond the reach of the fish that had collected near the wrecked boat to eat the flesh of drowning men.
For seven days he courageously swam though no shores on both sides were visible to him. On the eighth day, as usual, even in mid-ocean he resolved to observe the Eight Precepts.
A goddess, seeing him thus struggling for life, appeared before him and offered him a dish of food. As it was after mid-day, and he was fasting, he thanked the goddess and declined the offer though he was fasting for more than seven days. To test him, the goddess spoke discouraging words to him and said that he was only making a foolish attempt in thus swimming with no shore in sight.
'The Bodhisatta replied that there was no disgrace in making an attempt though he would fail; disgrace lay in making no effort at all through laziness. The goddess was pleased with his lofty principles and perseverance. She saved him from a watery grave and safely led him home.
He was rewarded for his self-reliance and indomitable energy; whilst those who merely prayed perished miserably. After His Enlightenment the Buddha said:
"In mid-ocean was I, not seeing both
shores. All the people, too, perished.
Still my mind wavered not. This is my Perfection of Energy."