In the previous episode, we had witnessed Yudishtra and Co. travelling all the way up King Janaka’s capital city – Mithilapuri. In our previous Ramayana project, we’ve already witnessed the significance of Mithilapuri and King Janaka and how Mother Sita incarnated in this very place. We’re currently in the process of witnessing an important accord that is taking place between King Janaka and Sage Ashtavakra. But before we commence the conversation, we’re currently witnessing a brief background of who Sage Ashtavakra is. We’ve seen the meaning of his name, wherein he has eight different irregularities in his physical body – The reason for it is a curse that he had to obtain from none other than his grandfather, Sage Uthaalaka. We shall now see why Sage Utthaalaka ended up cursing his grandson, even before he was born! That is, even when Sage Ashtavakra was growing up in Sujatha’s (Sage Utthaalaka’s daughter) womb, he had to obtain the curse. We shall see this in detail.
Now we shall trace the story before Sujatha got married. Sage Kahoda was one of the disciples of Sage Utthaalaka. Sage Kahoda was an extremely good student and Sage Utthaalaka was very impressed with Sage Kahoda’s brilliance as well as his dedication and devotion towards his Guru. Thus, Sage Utthaalaka wanted to reward and motivate Sage Kahoda in some way, and immediately his thought went into giving his own daughter Sujatha in marriage with Sage Kahoda. Thus, Sage Kahoda was also very happy to receive his Guru’s daughter in marriage. Both of them got married thus, and eventually Sujatha started carrying. As the baby was growing inside Sujatha’s womb, Sage Kahoda, who is the father of the baby, was sitting everyday and trying to byheart the Vedas and the other scriptures. He was so meticulous in his effort that even the baby started to understand what his father was trying to byheart and recite. Here, Sage Kahoda had a problem – During the nights, he would meticulously put efforts to byheart all the “Panjathis” of the Vedas, but during the daytime when he was trying to chant, he would make a lot of mistakes! The baby from within Sujatha’s womb observed this for a while, and even before taking birth, the baby started talking to his father! The baby asks his father thus, “Oh father! Every night I’m hearing your repeated chanting of the Vedas and I understand that you’re trying to memorize the whole thing. However, why is that you’re making so many mistakes while chanting the same “Panjathis” during the daytime? Is there any problem?”
As the baby asks thus, somehow Sage Utthaalaka hears this! As Sage Utthaalaka heard these words from the baby, he was angry! How can an eight-month-old baby have the audacity to make fun or criticize his student in this way? Sage Utthaalaka knew that his “Sishya” was putting meticulous effort to memorize and study. However, he felt that this baby would be a demotivator for Sage Kahoda to put more efforts and hence, Sage Utthaalaka cursed the baby! The curse was very simple – Since the baby was behaving in a very arrogant way, he would be born with eight defects in his body! As per the curse, when Sujatha delivered the baby, it was born with eight different defects in its body!
Thus, Sage Ashtavakra was born with a defective body and eventually he started growing up. As the child was growing up, Sage Pahoda and Sujatha were so poor that they did not have the resources even to feed milk for their baby. Hence, after a few days, Sujatha requested her husband thus, “Oh Sage Pahoda! As you know, we are suffering to get even one meal a day for ourselves – I’m not even bothered about our meals, but we’ve to feed our baby properly, isn’t it? Hence, for this main purpose, why don’t you go somewhere and obtain some “Biksha”, so that we can use that resource and somehow manage our baby’s food requirement?” Paying heed to his wife’s advice, Sage Pahoda set out to obtain the “Biksha” from various people around. Gradually as he walks on and on, he reaches King Janaka’s palace at Mithilapuri. So for today, let us understand up to this point, and in the next episode, we’re going to commence the important conversation that took place between Sage Pahoda and King Janaka, as they meet each other! Stay tuned for an interesting accord on this! 🙂