In the previous episode, we witnessed the concluding part of the important conversation between King Yayaati and Sage Ashtaka. Sage Ashtaka was very particular that he made King Yayaati narrate all his ordeals about how he experienced re-births at the “Svarga Lokha” and subsequently in the “Manushya Lokha”, to where he was falling down. Of course, Sage Ashtaka knows all these facts by himself as he was an extremely learned man. However, if someone who has undergone that experience narrates the ordeals, it would add more credibility to the entire discussion, isn’t it? By outwardly looking at the conversation, we might come to a conclusion that Sage Ashtaka (A Brahmana Rishi) is unaware of all these, and King Yayaati, a “Kshatrya Veera” has to enlighten him with all these ordeals. In fact, even King Yayaati was a “Raaja-Rishi”, on par with King Ambareesha and the great King Janaka in terms of spiritual knowledge and understanding. Thus, because of all these qualifications that King Yayaati had, Sage Ashtaka made him elaborate his past experiences so that the world would understand what it takes to be reborn again and again in this world!
Moving on thus, I had concluded our previous episode by saying that Vidura had taken birth because of a curse that Yama-Dharma-Raja had accumulated in the past. Now let us witness this story also in brief, before we continue to witness what happened to the Paandava children at the Hastinapura palace. Sage Vyaasa explains this story in line with the event wherein the Paandava children along with Kunthi Devi are entering into the Hastinapura palace for the first time post King Paandu’s demise. We’ve witnessed this event in our earlier episodes and after this, we had deviated into the King Yayaati’s accord. As Sage Vyaasa describes the Paandavas giving an entry into Hastinapura, he explains that Vidura was the first person to receive them. Here, he talks about Vidura’s background story. Now let us see this in a bit of detail as we move forward.
There was a great Sage by the name Maandavya. This Sage Maandavya was performing his usual penance until one day when he was caught by the guards of a king for a theft that he was never part of! Sage Maandavya was deep into his penance as this was happening. He did not know what was happening around him. However, since Sage Maandavya did not open his mouth and answer anything to the king who was trying to investigate the crime, the king concluded that Sage Maandavya is guilty and hence, the punishment of hanging to death was declared upon him! Accordingly, the guards took Sage Maandavya to the guillotine where he was supposed to be hanged. They put the sharp needle-like knife in position to kill him and everything was in place! Sage Maandavya was a great sage, and he is not going to be executed this way like normal people. With his extreme “Yoga-Balam” (Power of penance), as the knife narrowed down on him, it did not harm him in any way! With this, Sage Maandavya stood up from his sitting position, and the knife couldn’t move forward into his body to kill him! Upon seeing this, the security guards were shocked and ran to the king to convey this unusual happening.
As the king heard this, he came rushing down and quickly realized his folly! He has tried to kill a great sage who was deep into his penance! With the fear of being cursed by the sage, the king immediately reversed his decision of hanging Sage Maandavya. He released Sage Maandavya and seeked his forgiveness. Sage Maandavya accepted his apology and let him go! However, Sage Maandavya did not leave just like that. With his “Yoga-Balam” he made his way straight to the place where Yama-Dharma-Raja was sitting! He questioned Yama-Dharma-Raja thus, “Oh Yama! Why did you give the wrong punishment to a wrong person? I had escaped the guillotine because of my power of penance. If this wasn’t there, I would have been dead by now. If I’ve to be killed this way, what mistake did I do in the past? I was in my penance most of the time, and where and when did I commit a heinous crime? I demand an answer from you immediately!”
As Sage Maandavya asked Yama-Dharma-Raja furiously thus, Yama-Dharma-Raja started shaking with fear! However, he checked all his accounts and found out Sage Maandavya’s mistake. He explains to Sage Maandavya thus, “Oh Sage Maandavya! There is a reason as to why I punished you this way! In your previous birth, when you were a child, you had tortured a small butterfly in the same way. You had tried to poke the poor butterfly with a needle and with it, the butterfly was extremely hurt and fought for its life. It is for this mistake, you had to experience this punishment! Even though the butterfly might be an insignificant creature, a living being is a living being! We do not have the right to destroy another living being’s life for no reason, isn’t it? This is why I had punished you this way!”
Upon hearing this, we might think thus, “Oh wow! If a great Sage Maandavya can receive a treacherous punishment like this for just killing a small butterfly, what kind of punishment would we get? We’re killing so many insects, flies, ants, mosquitoes, etc. every passing day without our knowledge, isn’t it?” This is a serious concern for all of us, and this is one reason why our “Sanaatana Dharma” says that we should avoid killing living beings unnecessarily. We shall elaborate on this point further in the next episode! Stay tuned! 🙂