We’re amidst an interesting and an important event wherein we’re seeing what is the significance of a “Sishya” (Disciple) obeying the words of the “Guru” (The Spiritual Master). We’ve witnessed how Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya is making his disciples work hard to let them know the value of the “Guru-Sishya” relationship. In this way, we’ve witnessed the first “Sishya”, Aaruni-Paanchaala’s accord and how he obtained the title name of “Uddhaalaka” for his exceptional service to the Guru. Secondly, we’re now witnessing the accord of Upamanyu and how Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya is making him slog. His task was to take the cows for grazing every morning and come back with the cows every evening. As days passed by, Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya made sure that Upamanyu doesn’t consume any food that is made out of the “Bhiksha” that he received from people around. Secondly, the Guru made sure that he doesn’t consume even the milk that is given by the cows during the grazing time. Thirdly, the Guru also made sure that he doesn’t consume even the froth of the milk that was left over after the calves of the cows consumed the milk. Even then, Upamanyu was hale and healthy, without even a single shrink in his physical body.
As the Guru was looking out for him at the end of the third day of strict restrictions, Upamanyu did not return back. It was getting late and dark for the day and yet, Upamanyu showed no signs of coming back. Concerned with what happened to Upamanyu, the Guru goes to the fields to check out his whereabouts and what he was doing. As Upamanyu was getting hungrier by the moment, he started consuming the leaves and grass from the ground to fulfill his appetite. However, with the intensity of his hunger growing leaps and bounds every passing minute, he consumes a unique type of leaf that would be harmful for his vision. He consumed that leaf by mistake and with this, his vision gets completely lost and Upamanyu becomes blind! Unable to see anything in front, Upamanyu was taking all the cows with him and at one point, fell into a deep well! Unable to save himself, Upamanyu was waiting helplessly for someone to come and lift him up from the well.
It was at this time, the Guru and his disciples arrived at the field. As Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya shouts Upamanyu’s name aloud, there was a meek sound coming from the well thus, “Oh Guru! I’m trapped inside this well. Please save me with your grace! I surrender to your feet!” The Guru asks him back, “Oh Upamanyu! What happened to you? Why are you in this well?” Upon this, Upamanyu explains what had happened to him. He explains how he became blind by consuming that peculiar grass variety and by mistake he fell into the well. The Guru immediately gives him a solution thus, “Oh Upamanyu! Please offer prayers to the “Ashwini Devatas”! They are excellent doctors, and with your prayers, they would be able to give you your vision again! Also, with their divine grace, you would be able to come out of the well!” As the Guru says so, Upamanyu obeys! He prays towards the “Ashwini Devatas”, seeking their divine intervention.
This entire prayer is captured in this section of the Mahabharata text, and it goes on for around fifty slokas. As Upamanyu prays with all his heart, the “Ashwini Devatas” appear in front of him and offer him something called “Apoopam”. Normally it is a customary practice to keep “Appams”, “Vadas”, etc. as divine offerings to Bhagawan, when any “Yaaga” or spiritual prayer is performed. Here in this context, Sage Vyaaasa had given a name to this offering as “Apoopam”, which is supposed to be quite similar to the ones that we give. However, there is a slight difference here. The “Ashwini Devatas” offer this “Apoopam” as a medicine to Upamanyu for regaining his vision. As they give the “Apoopam” to him, Upamanyu immediately rejects it! He says thus, “Oh Ashwini Devatas! Thank you for the medicine! However, I should not be consuming this directly! I should submit this to my Guru and only if he grants me permission to consume it, I should do it! Otherwise it would be a big disobedience to my Guru’s words!”
As the “Ashwini Devatas” listen to this from Upamanyu, they are surprised! They try to convince Upamanyu to consume it immediately thus, “Oh Upamanyu! This is not an ordinary dish. This is a medicine, specially made for you to obtain your vision. Why should you give this too to your Guru?” Upamanyu replies thus, “Oh Ashwini Devatas! I know that it is a medicine exclusively made for me. However, I cannot consume anything without offering it to my Guru. Even if I do not get my vision back, it’s totally fine with me. I do not want to do anything that would offend my Guru!” As Upamanyu says thus, the “Ashwini Devatas” are extremely happy with the “Guru-Bhakti” that Upamanyu displayed! Now, the “Ashwini Devatas” lift him up from the well and with this, Upamanyu goes to the Guru, submits the “Apoopam” to his divine lotus feet! With this, Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya was extremely happy with the “Guru-Bhakti” that Upamanyu displayed and he blessed him with all the “Shaastra-Gnyaaya” and also his vision!
Such is the treacherous and ruthless test that Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya gave to two of his disciples. Now one more disciple is left to be tested! So what is Veda going to do? What was his test all about? Let us wait till the next episode to find out! Stay tuned! 🙂