In the previous episode, we witnessed the commencement of the marquee debate between two great scholars – Bandhi and Sage Ashtaavakra. We’ve witnessed Bandhi starting the proceedings by saying that everything in nature exists in a singular fashion and as separate entities. However, Sage Ashtaavakra gave an immediate response by saying that duality is the order of nature and nothing can exist as separate entities. To this, Bandhi responded by saying that everything exists in nature as a set of three, and not two! This conversation is now getting heated up and very interesting as now Sage Ashtaavakra explains back by saying that everything in nature exists as a set of four, and not three. So what are the sets of four things that Sage Ashtaavakra talks about? Let us continue witnessing this important debate further in today’s episode.
Upon responding to what Bandhi said, Sage Ashtaavakra explained that nature exists as a set of four elements clubbed together in various aspects. He gives examples thus, “Oh Bandhi! Now look at the “Ashramas” that a human being has to go through! They are four in number, isn’t it? They are “Brahmacharya-Ashrama”, “Grihastha-Ashrama”, “Sanyaasa-Ashrama” and “Vaanaprastha-Ashrama”! Moreover, there are four “Varnaashrama Dharmas” that exist, namely “Brahmanas”, “Kshatryas”, “Vaisyas” and “Shudras”. Moreover, the directions are four in number – North, South, East and West! Moreover, look at all the animals like cows, dogs, lions, tigers, etc. All of them have four legs, don’t they? Hence, all aspects in nature exist as a set of four!”
As Sage Ashtaavakra replies thus, Bandhi immediately stands up and says, “Oh Ashtaavakra! Fine! Now I say that everything in this world exists as a set of five! If we talk about the various forms of “Agni”, it is said that Agni Bhagawan exists in five different forms (Pancha-Agnyaha) – Gaargapadhya, Daakshinaagni, Aahavaneeya, Shavya and Aavasathyaka! Moreover, when we talk about the “Yagnyas” that we perform everyday, it is referred to as “Pancha-Maha-Yagnyas”. The five “Yagnyas” are “Deva Yagnya”, “Pitru Yagnya”, “Manushya Yagnya”, “Bhoota Yagnya” and “Brahma Yagnya”. Thus, it is the duty of a human being to perform all these five “Yagnyas” every day as a spiritual offering to Bhagawan!” In this way, Bandhi gives examples of how nature has five elements attached as a set! As Bandhi says thus, Sage Ashtaavakra immediately gets up and explains, “Oh Bandhi! This is fine! But I add the sixth element here – Everything in nature exists as a set of six different elements! I shall give you examples!” Saying thus, Sage Ashtaavakra establishes his point of nature existing as a set of six! Immediately Bandhi countered him by saying that nature exists as seven! Immediately Sage Ashtaavakra countered Bandhi by saying that nature exists as eight! This debate continued fiercely between both of them! Finally, the number goes up to thirteen! I’m not going into the details of all these at the moment. We shall discuss this later when we take up the next project on “Upanishads” and when we discuss the “Chandogya Upanishad” and “Brihadaaranyaka Upanishad” in detail.
However, now the point here is that, when Sage Ashtaavakra explains the set of thirteen elements that nature contains, Bandhi had to give up! Because, he was not able to counter Sage Ashtaavakra by including the fourteenth element with examples! Thus, the fiery conversation comes to an end and it was declared that Sage Ashtaavakra has won over Bandhi! This was something extremely new that happened in King Janaka’s courtroom – Someone coming with full confidence and truckloads of brilliance winning over Bandhi in a scholarly debate! As Bandhi accepts defeat, he says thus, “Oh King Janaka! I’m the son of Varuna Bhagawan and this is why I have extreme scholarliness! However, today I’ve been defeated by this boy by the name Ashtaavakra! You might be seeing that whoever wins against me, I would be pushing them into the pond full of water and killing them. Actually, I should be pushing this boy also inside that same pond! You might be wondering why am I doing such a heinous crime mercilessly, aren’t you? Now let me tell the truth – There is a huge “Yagnya” that is happening in the “Varuna Lokha” and is being performed by my father. To conduct this “Yagnya”, there is a huge requirement of extremely learned “Pandithas” (Scholars). Hence, as per my father’s desire, I’m sending all those good scholars to the Varuna Lokha to participate in the “Yagnya” that is happening there. All of us should understand that nobody whom I pushed into the pond is dead! All of them are alive! Hence, Oh King Janaka! Oh Ashtaavakra! Oh ministers! Please do not mistake me for this heinous crime that I did! I did this for the benefit of the entire world!”
As Bandhi replies thus, King Janaka was convinced! But was Sage Ashtaavakra convinced? Let us wait till the next episode to find out Sage Ashtaavakra’s reaction! Stay tuned for an interesting accord! 🙂