In the previous episode, we had concluded the discussion on King Shibi and how three important factors – Perseverance, Patience and Tolerance are extremely important if one has to walk the path of “Dharma”. King Shibi and Yudishtra are classic examples of how they exhibited these three characteristics consistently at all times, and were able to follow “Dharma” meticulously. If we look at various parts of the Mahabharata story, we would be able to witness Bhagawan Krishna Himself appreciating Yudishtra and Co. for their consistency in “Dharma”. We shall witness them as we progress further. Moving on thus, we’ve to understand that this “Charitra” of King Shibi is being narrated to Yudishtra and Co. by Sage Dhoumya and Sage Lomasha, as they move away from Dwaraka and Prabhaasu Teertha towards the banks of River Yamuna. As they make their way towards the Yamuna River, they cross two other rivers by name “Jala” and “Upa-Jala”. As they cross these two rivers, the Paandava brothers are taking a holy dip in both these rivers and it is in between these two rivers was the territory of King Shibi.
Moving on further thus, the “Tour-Group” is walking its way further northwards and reaches an important place – The city of King Janaka – Mithilapuri! The sages explain the significance of this city to Yudishtra thus, “Oh Yudishtra! Please understand that this city that we’ve currently reached is the capital of King Janaka. This is where, King Janaka, who was himself a “Raja-Rishi” and a great scholar, had learnt all his lessons under his Guru, Sage Yaagnyavalkya. Apart from Sage Yaagnyavalkya, there was another important sage by name Sage Ashtavakra. There was an important conversation that took place between King Janaka and Sage Ashtavakra, and this conversation took place at this very place!” As the sages say thus, Yudishtra immediately asks, “Oh Sages! Who is Sage Ashtravakra? Why did he talk to King Janaka, and what was so important about it? Can you explain this to me in detail? Also, I’ve heard about King Janaka and how he was meticulous about his “Dharma”. I would also like to understand more about King Janaka and his significance!”
All of us know who King Janaka is, don’t we? He is the father of Mother Sita and we’ve witnessed a lengthy accord during our Ramayana project. However, there are certain things that we’ve to understand about King Janaka here, which we’ve not witnessed during our Ramayana project, and we shall discuss that from today’s episode onwards. Moreover, all of us know that Bhagawan Krishna Himself has praised King Janaka for his meticulous practice of “Karma Yoga”. He says to Arjuna as part of the Bhagawad Gita thus,
“Karmanaivahi sam siddhihi aashrutha janakaadayaha!!”
Here, Bhagawan Krishna explains to Arjuna that King Janaka was one of the finest examples of someone attaining the highest “Moksha” by meticulously following the “Karma Yoga”. We’re going to witness what is “Karma Yoga”, “Gnyaana Yoga” and “Bhakti Yoga” when we discuss the Bhagawad Gita in detail later on. But for now, we’ve to understand that King Janaka was an epitome of “Karma-Yoga”, who was certified by Bhagawan Krishna Himself! Moreover, not only in the Bhagawad Gita does King Janaka find a place of praise, but also in various parts of the Upanishads as well. If we look into the “Chandogya Upanishad”, we will be able to witness several places wherein King Janaka’s mention would be there, and some interesting conversations that he has had with various great Maharishis about “Dharma”. For now, we shall witness an interesting conversation that took place between these two people – King Janaka and Sage Ashtavakra.
But before we go into the conversation in detail, we shall first understand who Sage Ashtavakra is. The phrase “Vakra” means “defect”. “Ashta” means eight. Thus, “Ashta-Vakra” means that this sage had eight defects in his physical body. However, Sage Ashtavakra was a great scholar and a “Brahma-Gnyaani”. This means, he was having the supreme knowledge of the “Brahman” within himself and with this, he was a great sage. There was a sage by the name Sage Utthaalaka. Sage Utthaalaka had a daughter by name Sujatha and a son by name Shweta-Kethu. This Sujatha married another sage by name Sage Kahoda. The son who was born to Sujatha and Sage Kahoda was none other than Sage Ashtavakra. Now the question is – Why did Sage Ashtavakra take birth with eight defects in his body? When he was in the womb of his mother Sujatha, Sage Utthaalaka cursed him that he would be born with defects. Now the story is very simple – Why did Sage Utthaalaka curse Sage Ashtavakra, who was none other than his own grandson? What had happened in the meanwhile, that led to Sage Utthaalaka cursing Sage Ashtavakra? This is the detail that we’re going to witness.
So for today, let us understand up to this point, and we shall wait till the next episode to continue this interesting discussion further! Stay tuned! 🙂