In the previous episode, we had witnessed King Janame-Jaya inviting Sage Soma-Shrava to his Hastinapura kingdom to find a solution for the curse that he had received from the “Deva-Lokha” dog. The people who had assembled for King Janame-Jaya’s Satra Yaaga beat and thrashed Sarama, a dog from the “Deva-Lokha”, and in return, King Janame-Jaya was cursed by its mother. Shocked by this, King Janame-Jaya did not know how to tackle this sudden curse that came from nowhere and for no fault of his. He thus called out for Sage Soma-Shrava, who was a famously known sage for his power of penance. He brought the sage to Hastinauprua kingdom and offered the best hospitality to him through his three brothers, and meanwhile, King Janame-Jaya had gone on a war with a neighbouring king. By the time King Janame-Jaya returned back to the kingdom, there was a huge problem waiting for him at his doorstep!
So now, we’ve seen Sage Soma-Shrava residing at King Janame-Jaya’s palace at this moment and let us shift the picture to a different place. We’ve to now tie the knot and join three different stories here – The first one was the curse inflicted by the dog on King Janame-Jaya. Second one was Sage Soma-Shrava visiting Hastinapura. The curse was that, King Janame-Jaya would be entangled into a treacherous danger that would prove to be very costly for him. Fearing this, King Janame-Jaya went in search of Sage Soma-Shrava. Ceding to the king’s request, Sage Soma-Shrava arrived, but on one condition – He should be offered whatever he asked for, in return to the help that he is doing to King Janame-Jaya. All these words should be underlined and highlighted by readers for the sake of continuity.
Meanwhile thus, the story now shifts to a new place – There was a great sage by name “Aayodha-Dhoumya”. This Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya had three important disciples. One was “Aaruni-Paanchaala”, second was “Upamanyu” and the third one was “Veda”. All the three disciples were very happy in doing selfless service to their Guru, Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya. Upon seeing his disciples, Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya calls upon his first disciple, Aaruni-Paanchala and gives him a task to perform – He asks Aaruni-Paanchala to perform the “Kedhaara-Kanda”. This means that he has to take care of the paddy fields in such a way that water doesn’t percolate out of the field. Those who are into agriculture would know this better. There should be a protective wall-like thing which would prevent water seepage from one field into the other, so that the entire water would go to the crops that are sown here. This Aaruni-Paanchala is trying to build a wall-like item in the paddy field as per the instruction of his Guru. However, he is unable to do it in spite of trying so many ways and means. Perplexed by this, Aaruni-Paanchala thought within himself, “Oh! I’m unable to build this thing as per my Guru’s order. If I go back to him now without completing the task, I would be penalised and punished. How do I tackle this now? The only option left here is that, I myself would lie down here in such a way that my physical body would act as a wall. This would prevent the water seepage from happening!” Thinking thus, Aaruni-Paanchala lies down on the ground in such a way that his body acts like a wall.
As days and weeks pass by, Aaruni-Paanchala is lying down in the same position, and over time, all the water gets stagnated on one side of his body. Subsequently his body is now being soiled with all the mud and clay that the water is bringing. Unmindful of all this, Aaruni-Paanchaala is lying down on the ground. As Sage Dhoumya was waiting for his disciple to finish the task and come back, he never came back. Thus, the sage was pondering what would have happened to Aaruni-Paanchala. Taking his other two disciples with him, Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya goes to the paddy field where Aaruni-Paanchala was working. As the three of them looked out for Aaruni-Paanchaala, he wasn’t to be seen anywhere. As the Guru was calling his name repeatedly aloud, Aaruni-Paanchala realized who had come. He immediately got up from the ground by shackling all the mud that had accumulated over his body, rushed towards his Guru and fell on his feet. As Sage Dhoumya sees his disciple in such a state, he was impressed with the dedication that he had shown. Lifting him up, Sage Dhoumya replies thus, “Oh Paanchala! You’ve given so much respect to my words! You’ve ended up sacrificing your breathing, food, etc. to execute my instruction! From today onwards, I’m giving you a spiritual name – “Uddhaalaka”! With this, you would be blessed with the highest level of knowledge about the Vedas and Shaastras!”
Upon hearing this from his Guru, Paanchaala-Aaruni was extremely happy and he received the grace of his Guru with all his humility. With this, we’ve witnessed the story of the first disciple of Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya. In a similar manner, we’ve to witness the stories of the other two disciples too. Readers might have a feeling as to why we are deviating so much from King Janame-Jaya and the problem that he is going to face. Like I said earlier, there is going to be a knot between all these stories, and this entire narrative is going to explain what kind of a danger King Janame-Jaya is going to encounter.
Thus, coming back to this context again, now Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya sends the second disciple, Upamanyu for a task. Upamanyu’s task was to take all the cows for grazing. Accordingly, Upamanyu obeys the Guru’s words and takes all the cows to the fields. The underlying point in all these stories is very simple – A “Sishya” (Disciple) should obey the words of the Guru verbatim! There should be no deviance here. Irrespective of whatever the Guru says, it is the bound duty of the Sishya to comply. This is the underlying message that all these stories convey. So for today, let us understand until this point, and in the next episode, we shall see how Upamanyu and Veda were up to the task assigned by the Guru! Stay tuned! 🙂