Episode # 493 – “Debate with me if you can!” – Little Ashtaavakra’s open challenge to Bandhi!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed Ashtaavakra and his mother Sujatha making their way to Janakapuri, out of a mere coincidence. We’ve seen earlier that Sage Kahoda, who was Ashtaavakra’s father being pushed into the water by Bandhi to death, because he wasn’t able to win over Bandhi in the debate that ensued between both of them. This was not only the case with Sage Kahoda, but many others had also met with the same fate with Bandhi earlier. Unknowing of this fact, Ashtaavakra was growing up in acute poverty and Sage Utthaalaka who was his grandfather, supported him and his mother all through. In fact, Ashtaavakra did not even know that his father is no more, and assumed that Sage Utthaalaka was his father. Once when Sage Utthaalaka’s son Shweta-Kethu raked up an argument that Ashtaavakra has no right to sit on his father’s lap, little Ashtaavakra did not know how to respond to this. He ran to his mother for help, and she decided that both of them would be away from Sage Utthaalaka Shweta-Kethu for sometime. Thus, knowingly or unknowingly, both the mother and son make their way to Mithilapuri where King Janaka is ruling. 

Moving on thus, little Ashtaavakra who was just a ten-year old boy at that time, made his way to Janakapuri along with his mother, hoping to find some fortune there, with all the famous spiritual “Satsangs” and ‘Yagnyas” that keep happening there often. As both of them come to the entrance of King Janaka’s palace, the security guards stop them from entering. The security guards talk to Sujatha thus, “Oh mother! We’re sorry! We cannot allow small children like him inside the palace. You better get out of here. This is the instruction given by Bandhi Vidhwan. Moreover, everything happens here only upon his instructions and we’ve to meticulously follow them. Else we would be in trouble!” As the security guard says thus, little Ashtaavakra got angry and he replies thus, “Oh! Why are you just seeing my age as a factor to not allow me inside? I’ve come to participate in all the healthy debates that happen here, pertaining to “Dharma”. I understand that not everybody will be qualified enough to participate, but age is not a factor to reject someone. If you have the competence, check my scholarliness and then make a decision whether to let me in or not!”

As Ashtaavakra replies thus, the security guard wasn’t really convinced. He replies back thus, “Oh little boy! Please do not argue with me like this! I do not have the instruction from Bandhi to let you in! He is the decision-maker here, and hence, I just follow the instructions that he had given me!” Upon hearing this, Sage Ashtaavakra gets even more angry. He replies thus, “Who is that Bandhi? I want to meet him immediately and demand an explanation from him on what he’s doing! Who is the king here? Janaka or Bandhi? Why is Bandhi acting as if he is the king here? Who is he afterall? He doesn’t even understand the simple fact that age and scholarliness do not have any connection between them! What kind of scholarliness is he boasting about in himself? Call him outside! I shall show who I am! Let a debate happen between myself and Bandhi. Moreover, if there are any more Bandhis in this palace who boast about their scholarliness, call all of them. I shall thrash them with my knowledge and wisdom! Moreover, on what basis do you decide that I’m small or big? By just looking at my size and my physical body? A person is a real scholar not by mere looks, but with the amount of in-depth knowledge that he / she has! Your entire assumption about a person being small or big is completely wrong and is against “Dharma”! Hence, call that Bandhi outside, or let me inside to meet that Bandhi!” 

Saying thus, Ashtaavakra lets out an open challenge to Bandhi! Upon listening to Ashtaavakra’s angry accord, the security guard did not know what to do. Within his mind he was thinking thus, “Oh wow! By looking at the way this young boy is letting out an open challenge to Bandhi, it looks like this boy would easily win over him! Maybe this is an opportunity to mend Bandhi’s ways, which is in a way good for all of us. Hence, I should somehow let him inside!” Thinking thus, the security guard replies to Ashtaavakra thus, “Oh little boy! I’m totally convinced with your answer! I shall let you inside to meet Bandhi. But please remember one thing – Never ever tell Bandhi that I let you inside! If you do so, my life would be at stake! You may proceed inside and try your scholarliness with him!” Saying thus, the security guard opens the gates of the palace and Sage Ashtaavakra walks in along with his mother! 

So for today, let us understand up to this point, and we shall commence an important and fiery conversation that took place between Bandhi and Sage Ashtaavakra in the next episode! Stay tuned for an interesting accord! 🙂 


Published by Dr. Jeayaram

Holds a PhD in Management Psychology from Universite Paris Saclay, Paris, France. Also an Asst. Professor of Human Resources management at Bharatidhasan Institute of Management (BIM) Trichy, India A professional South Indian classical musician (singer) performing concerts. Through this blog, I'm trying to bring out the richness of Indian culture & values and I request your support and feedbacks in making this humble effort a success!!

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