Episode # 532 – “Who is more significant – Indra or the king of a territory?” – Sage Gautama debates with King Pruthu!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed the continuation of Sage Maarkandeya’s accord to Yudishtra pertaining to how Mahatmas can transcend death quite easily without any hiccups. He gives the example of how King Puranjaya accidentally killed a Maharishi and how he easily transcended death, owing to the completion of his Karma in this world. Subsequently, Sage Maarkandeya is now explaining a very important accord on how Atri Maharishi and King Pruthu conversed with each other, along with Indra and Sage Gautama. There was a debate as to who is greater – Indra or the king of a territory? This is something similar to what Bhagawan Krishna did with the villagers at Gokula during his childhood days. We’ve witnessed this yesterday, as well as during our previous “Shrimad Bhaagawatha Puraana” project earlier as to how Bhagawan Krishna disregarded Indra and asked the villagers to offer all the varieties of food to the Govardhana mountain, which gave them all the medicinal herbs and food grains. As the villagers obeyed Bhagawan Krishna’s words, all of us know how Indra got agitated and Bhagawan Krishna had to protect all his people by lifting the Govardhana mountain with His small finger. Thus, Indra had already got into such conflicts earlier and had got his nose bloodied! 

So now, let us move on with what Sage Maarkandeya has got to say here – He narrates an interesting accord as to how Sage Gautama got into an argument with King Pruthu. Once upon a time, there was a situation wherein Sage Gautama and his wife were amidst extreme poverty. They did not even have a glass of milk and a bare minimal meal to consume. At this time, Sage Gautama’s wife became so desperate to make sure that they do not starve to death. Hence, she requested Sage Gautama to go and get some “Bhiksha” from somewhere, so that they can continue their sustained living without further hiccups. Sage Gautama too accepted his wife’s request and set out. As he goes on and on, he finally comes to King Pruthu’s palace. As Sage Gautama arrives, King Pruthu runs to receive him with all the due respects, as he is a great Sage. Now this is going to be very interesting here – As Sage Gautama settles down, King Pruthu praises him with all possible words! As King Pruthu does that, Sage Gautama gets annoyed beyond a point. He replies to King Pruthu thus, “Oh Pruthu! Please stop this unwanted praising! I’ve not come here to listen to your praises! All whatever you’re telling me are blatant lies! Only Indra and the other celestial beings deserve the words of praise that you’re showering upon me! This is not suitable for a sage like me! Hence, you’re just artificially praising me and not wholeheartedly!”

This is quite similar to the debating that normally happens between Sage Vasishtachaarya and Sage Vishwamitra, which we’ve seen earlier as well. Both of them are exactly opposite of each other! If Sage Vasishtachaarya says “south”, Sage Vishwamitra will say “north”! If Sage Vishwamitra says “yes” to something, immediately Sage Vasishtaachaarya will say “No” to it! Such was the relationship both of them shared! Now this is going to be the same here as well – Between Sage Gautama and King Pruthu. As Sage Gautama begins this debate on this matter that these words of praise are only for Indra and not for others, King Pruthu argues otherwise. He explains how his words of praise perfectly fit Sage Gautama and the other important people living in this world, and not Indra. He clearly says that Indra does not deserve even an iota of praise as he is useless and is only a problem to everyone in this world! 

It is at this time, Sage Athri, Sage Sanaka and Sage Sanathkumara enter into the scene. They also join the chorus against Indra, along with King Pruthu. Sage Athri says thus, “Oh Sage Gautama! You’re grossly wrong! If for example there is a deviation from the “Dharma” in the kingdom, will Indra come and save anybody? If for example, there is a dispute between two people here, and because of it, people are suffering, will Indra come down and protect them? Not at all! Only the king of the territory should intervene and solve the issues pertaining to “Dharma” and his people, isn’t it? Why are you talking so high about somebody who doesn’t deserve all this praise?” As Sage Athri says thus, the other sages too agree upon it and thus, Sage Gautama too gets convinced. With this, Sage Gautama rewards all whatever he could to King Pruthu and provides him with his divine “Anugraha”. So do all the other Maharishis who had gathered there as well! 

Thus, the point that we should understand here is that Sage Maarkandeya is explaining all this to make Yudishtra understand the significance of being a king and how righteous and responsible he has to be. Sage Maarkandeya explains thus, “Oh Yudishtra! Very soon you’re going to be a king again! You should learn all these lessons and understand the significance of adorning the throne! You should execute your responsibilities in the most righteous manner and this is what will make you a “Dharma-Atma”! So for today, let us understand this point very clearly and we shall wait till the next episode to continue this discussion further! Stay tuned! 🙂 


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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