Episode # 45 – Agni Bhagawan gets caught in a “fix” between Sage Bruhu & Raakshasa Puloma!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed the commencement of the next “Upa-Parva” called “Pouloma Parva” under the main “Aadhi Parva”. As King Janame-Jaya was preparing himself for the Sarpa Yaaga, we had come to the end of the “Poushya Parva”. Now at this stage, we put a break on King Janame-Jaya’s Sarpa Yaaga, and we would come to this again a bit later. Now as we commence with the “Pouloma Parva”, we digress a bit from this and we go into an important discussion of the “Bruhu Vamsa”. We are going to witness an accord on Sage Bruhu and his wife Pouloma. As we had witnessed yesterday itself, Sage Bruhu was Bhagawan Brahma’s “Maanasa Putra” and he took birth in the world to serve a definite purpose. We shall witness the story of Pouloma and then come back into King Janame-Jaya’s Sarpa Yaaga in a bit. 

As we’re witnessing the “Charitra” of Sage Bruhu, he gets married to Puloma. They later had a child by name “Chavana”. This might be a bit confusing here, but I shall try and explain in a lucid way. As Puloma attains pregnancy (“Garbha”) with “Chavana” in her womb, one fine day, the “Garbha” falls down on the ground accidentally. Since the baby was born out of the womb that accidentally fell on the ground, he was named as “Chavana”. This baby was also a great sage by birth itself. As the baby was born, a “Raakshasa” came to Puloma. This “Raakshasa” was also having the name “Puloma”. This “Raakshasa” started having an interest on Puloma after seeing her for the first time. He decided to abduct her and claim that she is his wife! As this was happening, Sage Bruhu had gone out for some work. However, there was a fire (“Agni”) that was constantly burning at their house. As Raakshasa Puloma approaches Puloma, he asked “Agni Bhagawan” thus, “Oh Agni Bhagawan! Tell me the truth here – I’m the actual husband of Puloma, isn’t it? How come she is married to someone else?” 

Upon hearing this from Raakshasa Puloma, Agni Bhagawan got confused for a moment! After a while, he realizes an important event – When Puloma was a little girl before marriage, her father used to threaten her thus, “Oh Puloma! If you’re not leading a life with responsibility, you’ll be harmed and attacked by a Raakshasa!” Upon recollecting this, somehow, Raakshasa Puloma came with this claim – He had been listening to these words of Puloma’s father. Since these words came out of a “Brahmana Rishi”, they should be made true. Hence, Raakshasa Puloma saw this as a chance to come and claim Puloma. Agni Bhagawan was pulled into this as a “witness” for the whole thing, and hence, now, Agni Bhagawan becomes speechless! 

On the other hand, after Puloma attains the marriage age, she marries Sage Bruhu as per the traditional method of marriage. All “Mantras” are chanted as per the protocol and with that, she had married Sage Bruhu. Now this is also legal in terms of our “Sanaatana Dharma”. What does Agni Bhagwan do now? He’s clearly caught in between two hurdles. Both seem to be valid, isn’t it? On one hand, a Brahmana Rishi’s words should always come true. On the other hand, Sage Bruhu has “legally” married Puloma. This Raakshasa Puloma is now claiming that Puloma (Sage Bruhu’s wife) is his! Whose side is Agni Bhagawan going to take? Let us wait till the next episode to find out! Stay tuned! 🙂 

Episode # 44 – Entering into the “BRUHU VAMSA” – Sage Vyasa beautifully explains!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed Sage Utthanga convincing King Janame-Jaya to perform the “Sarpa-Yaaga” successfully. Initially, King Janame-Jaya was looking out for ways and means to come out of his curse, however, Sage Utthanga had other plans for him. He reminded King Janame-Jaya of his father’s death and he motivated him to go behind the perpetrators of this crime. The perpetrator here was none other than Takshaka, the leader of snakes at the “Naaga Lokha”. Thus, Sage Utthanga asks King Janame-Jaya to go ahead with the “Sarpa-Yaaga” so that, all the snakes from the “Naaga Lokha” would automatically fall to death, including Takshaka! With this, the revenge would be complete, and the world would also be free of the wrath and atrocities of the snakes. With this, Sage Utthanga also had his own agenda of seeking vengeance against Takshaka for stealing the Guru Dakshina. It all came together, and now King Janame-Jaya is all set to begin. Let us see what happens next. 

As King Janame-Jaya is about to begin thus, we come to the end of this “Upa-Parva” and again, this is one part of the story. This “Upa-Parva” was named as “Poushya Parva”, because King Poushya and his queen were at the forefront of this Upa-Parva. The next Upa-Parva in the list here is the “Pouloma Parva”. This is a short “Upa-Parva” and we should be able to finish this within one or two episodes. Readers should simultaneously remember here that we’re currently discussing the fourth “Upa-Parva” under the main “Aadhi Parva”. We’ve first witnessed the “Anukramanika Parva”, “Parva-Sangraha Parva”, “Poushya Parva”, and now we’re going to start with the “Pouloma Parva”. The scene again shifts to Naimisharanya Kshetra. We’ve seen earlier itself that all these incidents of King Janame-Jaya and the others are being narrated at that place, and there are many sages who had assembled there to listen to all of these, isn’t it? This is where readers should be very careful not to miss the threads. The biggest difficulty with this Mahabharata text is that there would be several threads hanging here and there! Somewhere down the line there would be knots that are tied between them! One such thread that we discussed till now was King Janame-Jaya performing the “Satra Yaaga”, and obtaining the curse of the “Deva-Lokha Dog”. We left it at that point. Subsequently, we witnessed another thread wherein Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya inflicted tough tests on his disciples, in which we had witnessed about Aaruni-Paanchala, Upamanyu and Veda. This Veda graduates and becomes a Guru himself, and Sage Utthanga is his student. This is another thread. From nowhere, this Sage Utthanga comes to meet King Janame-Jaya and advises him to perform the “Sarpa Yaaga”. This is the third thread here. Now we can see the knot being tied between the first, second and the third threads, and this is how King Janame-Jaya is led to perform the Sarpa Yaaga! Thus, readers should follow the threads like this very carefully and take notes. 

Now we’re leaving this thread of “Sarpa Yaaga” at this point, and moving into a different thread thus. We go back to Naimishaaranya Kshetra, and now we’re going to see an accord of Sage Bruhu and his background. We’ve already witnessed Sage Shounaka earlier, haven’t we? Sage Shounaka’s father was Sage Sunaka. If we look at the family tree of Sage Sunaka over four to five generations earlier than him, here comes Sage Bruhu. We might have heard this commonly – The “Bruhu Vamsa”. We’re going to witness this exactly. Sage Bruhu’s wife was Pouloma, and this is why, this “Upa Parva” is named as “Pouloma Parva”. Sage Bruhu is Bhagawan Brahma’s “Maanasa Putra”, which means, he was born from Bhagawan Brahma’s intellect. This Bruhu gets married to Pouloma. There is a beautiful story surrounding Pouloma. What is that story? Let’s wait for the next episode to find out! Stay tuned! 🙂 

Episode # 43 – King Janame-Jaya gets ready to perform the “Sarpa-Yaaga” to kill all the snakes in the world!!!

We’re at the midst of an important juncture wherein Sage Utthanga storms into King Janame-Jaya’s palace at Hastinapura. He meets King Janame-Jaya and observes that he is trying to come out of a curse that was inflicted by a “Deva-Lokha-Dog”. We’ve witnessed that Sage Utthanga was extremely angry with Takshaka for what he had done to him earlier. Also, Takshaka was the one who was responsible for King Parikshit’s demise earlier. Tying the knot between these two, Sage Utthanga saw this as a golden opportunity to take revenge on Takshaka and teach him a lesson. He thus starts convincing King Janame-Jaya to perform a “Sarpa-Yaaga” immediately. The “Sarpa-Yaaga” is something that is against all snakes in the world. If this “Yaaga” is performed meticulously, all the snakes would automatically be dragged inside the “Agni” (Fire) and would eventually die!Sage Utthanga wants all the snakes in the world to be destroyed completely, including Takshaka, as these creatures were constantly wreaking havoc in the society. Thus, Sage Utthanga decided that he would use King Janame-Jaya to perform the “Sarpa-Yaaga”. 

Thinking thus, Sage Utthanga convinces King Janame-Jaya to start doing the “Sarpa-Yaaga”. He asks King Janame-Jaya to junk the austerities that he was trying to perform for getting out of the curse, and instead, perform something for the benefit of the world in future. Sage Utthanga replies to King Janame-Jaya thus, “Oh King! I shall show you who killed your father. You’ve to seek revenge and teach him a lesson, isn’t it? Instead of working towards something else, try to work on this and finish him off! Let him understand that he has made a big mistake in killing your father!” As Sage Utthanga explains thus, his Guru Veda comes alongside the same way, and sees his disciple very angry! Now Guru Veda explains a very important point to Sage Utthanga thus, “Oh Utthanga! Please do not get angry! All this is part of a bigger ploy. Do you know who came on top of that bull in front of you? It was none other than Indra himself! Do you know what that black coloured bull really was? It was nothing but Indra’s white elephant by name “Airavatha”. You were asked to eat the cow dung, weren’t you? Do you know what that cow dung was? It was nothing but the sacred “Amrut” that makes you immortal! It is only with the power and strength of the “Amrut” that you had consumed, you were able to travel all the way to the “Naaga Lokha” with ease while chasing Takshaka! This is the reason behind you being so powerful inspite of the snakes trying to bite you every now and then! It is because of this power, were you able to meet Indra in person! You blew air into a horse, isn’t it? That horse was none other than “Agni Bhagawan” himself! Hence, please realize that all the Devas have come together and helped you!” 

As Guru Veda explains thus, Sage Utthanga’s ego increased further! He somehow wants to bring Takshaka to book now! Sage Utthanga realizes that it is his best chance now to take on Takshaka! He now convinces King Janame-Jaya one final time thus, “Oh King! You should perform the “Sarpa Yaaga” immediately! I shall be of all support to you! You’ve just heard what my Guru had said, isn’t it? Hence, you should take the initiative to perform the Yaaga and with this, all the snakes in the “Naaga Lokha” should come and fall into the “Homa-Gunda” on their own and die! As all the snakes come on, Takshaka would also be forced to fall into the sacrifical fire, and would be burnt to death! With this, your father would rest in peace!” 

As Sage Utthanga explains thus, King Janame-Jaya was totally convinced with the explanation. He too wants to finish off Takshaka at any cost. He is now angry with Takshaka for killing his father, and with the help of Sage Utthanga, King Janame-Jaya is all set to perform the “Sarpa-Yaaga”! What happens next? Is King Janame-Jaya successful in bringing Takshaka to book? Let’s wait till the next episode to find out! Stay tuned! 🙂 

Episode # 42 – Sage Utthanga persuades King Janame-Jaya to perform the “SARPA-YAGA”!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed Sage Utthanga being able to fulfill the “Guru Dakshina” that he had committed to his Guru Veda and his wife. We’ve witnessed how Guru Veda’s wife wanted a pair of diamond rings that King Poushya’s queen was wearing. Accordingly, Sage Utthanga set out in pursuit of the diamond rings and ended up getting them from the queen. Subsequently in yesterday’s episode, we had witnessed how Takshaka, the leader of snakes, had an eye on these rings and how he tried stealing them from Sage Utthanga. Despite the queen warning Sage Utthanga about Takshaka, he was a bit careless and ended up losing them to him. Subsequently, thanks to Indra’s timely intervention, the diamond rings were retrieved from Takshaka and were finally handed over successfully to Guru Veda’s wife. With this, we’ve witnessed how Sage Utthanga fulfilled the Guru’s requirement by going the extra mile. Not only from this instance – we’ve witnessed this over the past three instances as well, as to how a Sishya should be prepared to go the extra mile to serve the Guru. This is what accounts to real “Guru Bhakti”. Thus, moving on from here too, we would witness at various instances in the Mahabharata as to how people exhibit their “Guru Bhakti” in different ways. 

As Sage Utthanga leaves Guru Veda’s place after graduation, the interesting set of events begin! Sage Utthanga is extremely furious over Takshaka’s atrocities. He had already killed the great King Parikshit and now he has also tried to show his wrath to Sage Utthanga as well. Considering all this, Sage Utthanga decides that this Takshaka has to be brought to book! His evil intentions and activities should be put to an end. With this intention in mind, Sage Utthanga walks along, thinking what to do! It is at this time he hears of King Janame-Jaya’s great “Yaaga”, and he decides to attend it. 

Now the link comes – Till now we might have been wondering where did King Janame-Jaya go, and from where did these many characters come in, isn’t it? It is to explain this link, did Sage Vyaasa explained all these side stories! Thus, Sage Utthanga makes his way to King Janame-Jaya’s palace, wherein he was preparing himself to do some offerings to overcome the curse that he had obtained because of hurting the “Deva-Lokha dog”. As Sage Utthanga arrives, King Janame-Jaya welcomes him with all the hospitality, as he knows that Sage Utthanga is a great person. As Sage Utthanga takes his seat, he asks King Janame-Jaya as to why he was looking so dull and lost! He also asked King Janame-Jaya as to why he was preparing for all these offerings that he was going to do. As Sage Utthanga asks thus, King Janame-Jaya explains the entire story to Sage Utthanga! I’m not going into that detail again as we’ve already witnessed it in our earlier episodes. King Janame-Jaya was conducting a “Satra Yaaga” and in that, some people who had taken part had thrashed a “Deva-Lokha-Dog”, because of which he had obtained a curse! It is in order to relieve himself from this curse, King Janame-Jaya performs this offering now, under the guidance of Sage Soma-Shrava! 

As Sage Utthanga listens to this, he was amused and at the same time, fuming with anger too! He replies to King Janame-Jaya thus, “Oh great king! I understand your concern here! But there is a bigger concern that is looming large! You’re worrying about one small curse that you’ve received. However, there is a larger issue here – Do you know of Takshaka, who is the leader of all the snakes in the “Naaga Lokha”? It is this same Takshaka who killed your father, King Parikshit! It is this same Takshaka who tried to wreak havoc when I was executing my Guru’s order! It is this same Takshaka who is roaming around scott-free after spoiling so many peoples’ lives! What are you going to do to tame him? How’re you going to bring him to justice? Instead of performing these kinds of spiritual practices, why don’t you perform a grand “Sarpa Yaaga” to finish off all these treacherous snakes?” 

As Sage Utthanga thunders thus, King Janame-Jaya too started to think! He understands what Sage Utthanga is wanting him to do! We can see how smart Sage Utthanga is here – He wanted to take vengeance on Takshaka for what he has done! So instead of directly facing Takshaka head-on, he is now trying to use King Janame-Jaya for executing his vengeance! King Janame-Jaya too starts thinking of what Sage Utthanga was telling him! The moment King Janame-Jaya starts to think, Sage Utthanga has his opportunity now! He has succeeded in convincing the king to pursue his agenda! 

Now comes an important part here – Is King Janame-Jaya going to perform the “Sarpa Yaaga” as per Sage Utthanga’s guidance? Or, is he going to stick around with what Sage Soma-Shrava had told him? This is a moral dilemma for King Janame-Jaya here – Should he work towards fulfilling his own benefit, or should he work for the world’s benefit? Sage Utthanga explains to him further as to how the entire world would benefit if Takshaka was brought to justice! This is a tricky decision for King Janame-Jaya to take! What is going to be his decision now? Let us wait till the next episode to find out! Stay tuned! 🙂

Episode # 41 – Sage Utthanga “successfully’ hands over the diamond rings to Guru Veda’s wife!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed Sage Utthanga making his way to King Poushya so as to obtain the pair of diamond earrings that the queen possessed. This was to be given as the “Guru Dakshina” to Veda, who was Sage Utthanga’s Guru. In fact, King Poushya’s Guru was Veda only, as both King Poushya and Sage Utthanga were “classmates”! As Sage Utthanga arrived, King Poushya was extremely happy to see him after a long time and he offered the best hospitality to Sage Uttthanga. Now, when Sage Utthanga expressed his purpose of visit, King Poushya was again more than happy and requested him to collect the pair of diamond rings from his queen. According to the king’s instruction, Sage Utthanga makes his way to the “Antahpura” where the queen usually resides. However upon arrival, Sage Utthanga was unable to see the queen anywhere. Enquiring with King Poushya thus, Sage Utthanga realized his folly of performing the “Aachamanam” in the standing position as he was hurrying his way to King Poushya’s palace. It is because Sage Utthanga had committed this sin, the queen was not visible to his eyes. However, when Sage Utthanga corrected his mistake by re-performing the “Aachamanam” correctly in the sitting position, the queen appeared before him and handed over the diamond rings. 

We’re now talking of the significance of performing the “Aachamanam” properly as per due procedure. However, in the today’s scenario, many of us aren’t even performing the “Aachamanam” at all! 🙂 This is our situation today! If the king has to correct the “Dharma” of performing the “Aachamanam” properly, what would King Poushya do with all of us? Forget King Poushya here – We’ve to first introspect within ourselves as to how much of the sins we are accumulating within us by not performing the “Sandhyavandanam” every day as per the prescribed protocol. Coming back to this context again – As the queen hands over the diamond rings, she issues a warning to Sage Utthanga thus, “Oh Sage! You need to be very careful with these diamond rings! In the past, the king of cobras (Snakes) by name “Takshaka” was very interested in these rings, and was always having an eye on them. He was looking for ways and means to abduct these rings from me, however, till now he has failed in all his attempts. Now that you’re having these rings with you, he might come after you any time. Hence, you need to be extremely careful until you submit these rings to Guru Veda!” 

As the queen gives this “statutory warning”, Sage Utthanga did not take it seriously! Of course, he listened carefully to the queen’s words and remembered them at the back of his mind, but he was not extremely careful about it. As he was going back to the Guru’s place, he wanted to take a holy dip in a nearby river. He thus, places the diamond rings beneath a tree that was near to the water and then goes into the river for the dip. At this time, Takshaka notices Sage Utthanga and his eyes fall upon the diamond rings! Takshaka sees that this is the best chance for him to abduct the rings. Till now, these rings were with the queen of the Poushya Desha, and he wasn’t able to succeed in abducting them. Now that these rings have come to an innocent sage’s hands, Takshaka decided that he should grab this opportunity to the fullest. Readers should slightly take their memory backwards here – This is the same Takshaka that bit King Parikshit and caused his death. 

Now, Takshaka plans out his quest here – How does he go and grab the rings? He shouldn’t go in the form of a snake. Instead, he decided that he would take the form of a “Jain Saint” and go there. Accordingly, Takshaka arrives at the river bank where the diamond rings were placed. He immediately pounces on the diamond rings, takes them with him and starts running! Upon seeing a “Jain saint” stealing the diamond rings, Sage Utthanga realizes that he had committed a careless mistake, and starts chasing him. Takshaka is running and running faster and Sage Utthanga is also equally following him all the way! Takshaka runs into the “Naaga Lokha”, thinking that this Sage wouldn’t be able to follow him there! However, Sage Utthanga never gave up the chase! He followed Takshaka all the way into the “Naaga Lokha” as well, despite the enormous amount of security placed outside! Sage Utthanga was totally unharmed by all the snakes there! Takshaka however is not going to stop! He keeps on running faster! 

It is at this time, Indra comes along that way on his “Airavata” elephant. As Indra arrives, Sage Utthanga prays to Indra thus, “Oh Indra! I have a commitment to submit these diamond rings to my Guru. However, this Takshaka is interfering in my path and is trying to abduct these rings from me. You’ve to somehow intervene and solve this problem for me!” Hearing thus, Indra looks around and sees a divine horse nearby. He asks Sage Utthanga to go near the horse and blow air into its ears and see what happens! According to Indra’s instruction, Sage Utthanga blows air into the horse’s ears. The moment this happens, this horse starts to breathe fire! As Sage Utthanga blows more and more air into the horse’s ears, a huge plume of fire erupts from the horse’s mouth and it follows Takshaka into the “Naaga Lokha”! The entire “Naaga Lokha” is set on fire within seconds! Afraid of losing his life to fire, Takshaka hurries back to Sage Utthanga, falls on his feet and returns back the diamond rings to him! 

As this happens, Sage Utthanga thanks Indra for his timely intervention and help! Now he hurries back to his Guru’s place, goes straight to Veda’s wife and hands over the rings to her. With this, she is also extremely happy! Guru Veda is also extremely pleased with Sage Utthanga’s “Guru Dakshina” and blesses him with all the “Shaastra Gnyaana”! With this, we shall also understand how “Guru Bhakti” is extremely important and how people in those days were ready to execute whatever the Guru says! We shall wait till the next episode to continue further! Stay tuned! 🙂 

Episode # 40 – “Aachamanam” should always be performed in the SITTING position – An important message!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed how Veda, the Sishya of Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya graduating after yet another strenuous exercise. In the similar lines of Aaruni-Paanchala and Upamanyu, Veda too had a tough time with his Guru before he was blessed with all the requisite “Shaastra-Gnyaana” (Knowledge of all scriptural texts). Once Veda graduates, he too becomes a great Guru and he had three disciples. However, unlike his Guru, Veda did not want his disciples to suffer much. He made sure that his disciples graduated much more easily as compared to how he did. One of Veda’s ardent disciples was Sage Utthanga. Sage Utthanga was a great Sage himself, however, he wanted to learn all the scriptural texts from Veda. Hence, Sage Utthanga adopted Veda as his Guru, and learnt everything under him. At the end, Sage Utthanga wanted to offer a “Guru Dakshina” to his teacher. Upon enquiring with Veda, he replied to Sage Utthanga that he is in no requirement of any “Dakshina” from him. However, if Sage Utthanga still wanted to go ahead with the offering, he should go and ask Veda’s wife for it. If she had any requirement of any sorts, Sage Utthanga might help her out, and in this way, it would form the “Guru Dakshina” for Veda. 

Accordingly, Sage Utthanga enquires with Veda’s wife as to what she wants. Veda’s wife reples thus, “Oh Sage Utthanga! There is another disciple of Guru Veda by name Poushya isn’t it? His wife is wearing a beautiful diamond ring in her ears. I want that pair of diamond rings for myself, as I’m so much attracted towards it. Please get that for me and let that be your “Guru Dakshina” for all the lessons that you’ve learnt under my husband!” It should be remembered that this Poushya is a king of another nearby territory. Since he is a king, he is a “Kshatrya” by nature, and is part of a royal family. Sage Utthanga was thinking within himself as to how to obtain this pair of diamond rings from the queen of King Poushya. As Sage Utthanga was thoughtfully walking thus, he came across a huge bull and a man seated on top of it. As Sage Utthanga was walking his way through, the man stopped him and came close to him. He demanded Sage Utthanga thus, “Oh Sage! I know you’re all powerful with the power of penance! Now prove your power to me by consuming the urine of this bull! Normal people would not be able to do it, however, great sages like you can easily do it. Hence, drink this urine and prove the power of your penance!” 

As the man demanded thus, Sage Utthanga closed his eyes and immediately drank the urine of that bull. With this, he proved to that man that his power of penance is something that is great and should not be tested like this. Realizing his folly, the man seeks forgiveness from the great sage and with his blessings, the man and the bull walk off. After this incident, Sage Utthanga performs the “Aachamana” to “purify” himself and hurries to the “Poushya Desha”, wherein King Poushya and his queen were residing. As Sage Utthanga arrives, King Poushya welcomes him with all the due respects and asks him what he wants. Sage Utthanga explains the entire story and the purpose behind his visit. Immediately the king was very happy and he requested the sage to pay a visit to his wife in the “Antahpura” area, so that he could get what he wants. Accordingly, Sage Utthanga makes his way to the place where the queen was living. However, the queen wasn’t there. Unable to find the queen anywhere in that place, Sage Utthanga comes back to King Poushya. Upon understanding the situation, King Poushya becomes angry! He shouts at Sage Utthanga thus, “Oh Sage! If the queen isn’t there when you’re visiting, it means that you lack “Dharma” in you! My queen meets only those people who have “Dharma” within them! She is a staunch “Pathi-Vrata” who is extremely devoted to the husband. She wouldn’t be visible to anyone who doesn’t follow “Dharma”! Thus, if she’s not visible to your eyes, you’ve done something wrong! So tell me what is the wrong act that you’ve committed!” 

As Sage Utthanga replies thus, he becomes shocked! He thinks within himself thus, “Oh my goodness! What wrong did I do? I followed all procedures while learning from my Guru. I also requested my Guru to accept my Guru Dakshina! To fulfill it, I’ve come all the way here!” As Sage Utthanga lists out all of this, King Poushya probed him further thus, “Oh Sage! All this was correct. There isn’t any doubt here. However, you’ve still committed some mistake. Please think and find out!” It is only now, Sage Utthanga realizes that while performing the “Aachamanam” before he came to the palace, he had performed it in the standing position. However, the procedure is that, this “Aachamanam” should be done in the sitting position. However, in a hurry, Sage Utthanga had performed it while he was standing! This was a grave mistake! Sage Utthanga realizes this immediately and seeks apology Thus, he sits in the same place, turns towards the eastern direction, sits down and performs the “Aachamanam” once again with all the requisite procedures. 

The moment Sage Utthanga performs it correctly, the queen appears in front of his eyes. Upon seeing her, Sage Utthanga was extremely happy. King Poushya was equally happy as well. As per the instruction, the queen gives the pair of diamond rings to Sage Utthanga and requests him to offer them as the “Guru Dakshina” to Sage Veda and his wife. However, as she gives the diamond rings to Sage Utthanga, she adds one important note. What was that note? Let us wait till the next episode to find out! Stay tuned! 🙂 

Episode # 39 – Veda graduates from Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya’s ashram – Becomes a great GURU himself!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya giving tough exercises to his disciples, so that they would understand what is “Guru-Bhakti” and performing selfless service. In this way, we’ve seen how the first two disciples, namely Aaruni-Paanchala and Upamanyu performed exceptionally well and earned the grace of the Guru. Particularly, Upamanyu’s exercise was extremely tough and he had to take the cows for grazing without any food or milk or even water for almost 15 to 20 days continuously. Tired at one stage, Upamanyu started eating grass on the wayside and from the fields to satisfy his deep hunger. At one stage, Upamanyu consumes one variety of grass by mistake, which is poisonous in nature. With that, he loses his vision and falls into a well. As the Guru arrives near the well in search of Upamanyu, the Guru finds out that he has lost his vision and has fallen into that well. He suggests a remedy for it in the form of a prayer towards the “Ashwini Devatas”. As the Ashwini Devatas come in front of Upamanyu with the medicine for regaining his vision and physical strength, Upamanyu refuses to accept it. Instead, he wants to submit even that medicine to the Guru and it is only with the Guru’s permission he would consume it. Impressed by the “Guru Bhakti” that Upamanyu displayed, the Ashwini Devatas and Sage Dhoumya bless him together with all the requisite “Shaastra-Gnyaana” (Profound understanding of the scriptures). 

Such was the treacherous experience that Upamanyu had to undergo. Now it is the turn of the third disciple, Veda, to undergo the drilling! As Veda approaches the Guru for his turn, the Guru now makes Veda work extremely hard like how a bull would do. Unlike the other two, Veda wasn’t sent anywhere outside. Veda was at the Guru’s ashram itself, but he had to do a hell lot of work every day. He had to lift heavy items, wash the ashram, do whatever it takes as per the Guru’s repeated instructions every passing day. Veda on his part, was extremely meticulous in his duty, like Upamanyu and Aaruni-Paanchala. He made sure that he completed all the tasks given by Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya without any blemish. At one point, when Veda was also extremely worn out and tired, his physical body started to sulk. Yet, his “Guru Bhakti” never stopped. Impressed by Veda’s dedication and devotion to the Guru, Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya blessed him with all the important knowledge on the Vedas and Upanishads. 

As this happens, Veda finishes his lessons with the Guru and later on becomes a great Guru himself! He now has three main disciples – Janame-Jaya, Utthanga and Poushya. In this world, there are two different types of people – One type of people would think thus, “Oh! I suffered a lot under the hands of my Guru during my earlier days! I would also make my Sishyas suffer like how I suffered! Only then they would know what I went through in my earlier days, and would they be able to understand what is “Guru-Bhakti”! The second type of people would think thus, “Oh! I suffered a lot under the hands of my Guru during my earlier days! Let that suffering end with me and this shouldn’t be passed on to my disciples. My Sishyas shouldn’t suffer the way I did!” Veda was of the second type, and he ensured that his Sishyas seamlessly completed all the lessons as per the prescription of our Sanaatana Dharma. 

In this way, Janame-Jaya and Poushya graduated seamlessly. The third disciple, namely, Utthanga is of prime significance here. One fine day, Veda called Utthanga and assigned him some important tasks to be completed. Utthanga too on his part was meticulous and sincere and completed them as per his Guru’s instruction. This Utthanga is actually a great Sage. Even though he was a sage, he wanted to learn more and more of the scriptures and hence, he became a disciple of Veda. As this task gets over, Utthanga’s lessons also come to an end. Ideally, Utthanga had to just bid a goodbye and a thanks to Veda and start off. However, Utthanga wanted to do something in return to his Guru. He did not have the heart to leave his Guru just like that. Thus, Utthanga requested Veda that he should accept any “Guru Dakshina” for all the lessons that he has taught him. 

It is at this time, an important event takes place. As Sage Utthanga asks thus, Veda replies, “Oh Utthanga! You are a great sage and I’m proud and honoured that you were my disciple all these days. I do not want any “Dakshina” from you. However, if you feel that you still have to give me something, please go and check out with my wife, if she is in need of anything. You may fulfill her requirement and consider that as the “Dakshina” that you’re giving to me!” As the Guru says thus, Sage Utthanga was more than pleased and straightaway heads to Veda’s wife to enquire. Now what was the requirement of Guru Veda’s wife? Is Sage Utthanga going to fulfill that? What is going to happen next? Let’s wait till the next episode to find out! Stay tuned! 🙂 

Episode # 38 – Upamanyu passes Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya’s ruthless testing!!!

We’re amidst an interesting and an important event wherein we’re seeing what is the significance of a “Sishya” (Disciple) obeying the words of the “Guru” (The Spiritual Master). We’ve witnessed how Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya is making his disciples work hard to let them know the value of the “Guru-Sishya” relationship. In this way, we’ve witnessed the first “Sishya”, Aaruni-Paanchaala’s accord and how he obtained the title name of “Uddhaalaka” for his exceptional service to the Guru. Secondly, we’re now witnessing the accord of Upamanyu and how Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya is making him slog. His task was to take the cows for grazing every morning and come back with the cows every evening. As days passed by, Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya made sure that Upamanyu doesn’t consume any food that is made out of the “Bhiksha” that he received from people around. Secondly, the Guru made sure that he doesn’t consume even the milk that is given by the cows during the grazing time. Thirdly, the Guru also made sure that he doesn’t consume even the froth of the milk that was left over after the calves of the cows consumed the milk. Even then, Upamanyu was hale and healthy, without even a single shrink in his physical body. 

As the Guru was looking out for him at the end of the third day of strict restrictions, Upamanyu did not return back. It was getting late and dark for the day and yet, Upamanyu showed no signs of coming back. Concerned with what happened to Upamanyu, the Guru goes to the fields to check out his whereabouts and what he was doing. As Upamanyu was getting hungrier by the moment, he started consuming the leaves and grass from the ground to fulfill his appetite. However, with the intensity of his hunger growing leaps and bounds every passing minute, he consumes a unique type of leaf that would be harmful for his vision. He consumed that leaf by mistake and with this, his vision gets completely lost and Upamanyu becomes blind! Unable to see anything in front, Upamanyu was taking all the cows with him and at one point, fell into a deep well! Unable to save himself, Upamanyu was waiting helplessly for someone to come and lift him up from the well. 

It was at this time, the Guru and his disciples arrived at the field. As Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya shouts Upamanyu’s name aloud, there was a meek sound coming from the well thus, “Oh Guru! I’m trapped inside this well. Please save me with your grace! I surrender to your feet!” The Guru asks him back, “Oh Upamanyu! What happened to you? Why are you in this well?” Upon this, Upamanyu explains what had happened to him. He explains how he became blind by consuming that peculiar grass variety and by mistake he fell into the well. The Guru immediately gives him a solution thus, “Oh Upamanyu! Please offer prayers to the “Ashwini Devatas”! They are excellent doctors, and with your prayers, they would be able to give you your vision again! Also, with their divine grace, you would be able to come out of the well!” As the Guru says so, Upamanyu obeys! He prays towards the “Ashwini Devatas”, seeking their divine intervention. 

This entire prayer is captured in this section of the Mahabharata text, and it goes on for around fifty slokas. As Upamanyu prays with all his heart, the “Ashwini Devatas” appear in front of him and offer him something called “Apoopam”. Normally it is a customary practice to keep “Appams”, “Vadas”, etc. as divine offerings to Bhagawan, when any “Yaaga” or spiritual prayer is performed. Here in this context, Sage Vyaaasa had given a name to this offering as “Apoopam”, which is supposed to be quite similar to the ones that we give. However, there is a slight difference here. The “Ashwini Devatas” offer this “Apoopam” as a medicine to Upamanyu for regaining his vision. As they give the “Apoopam” to him, Upamanyu immediately rejects it! He says thus, “Oh Ashwini Devatas! Thank you for the medicine! However, I should not be consuming this directly! I should submit this to my Guru and only if he grants me permission to consume it, I should do it! Otherwise it would be a big disobedience to my Guru’s words!” 

As the “Ashwini Devatas” listen to this from Upamanyu, they are surprised! They try to convince Upamanyu to consume it immediately thus, “Oh Upamanyu! This is not an ordinary dish. This is a medicine, specially made for you to obtain your vision. Why should you give this too to your Guru?” Upamanyu replies thus, “Oh Ashwini Devatas! I know that it is a medicine exclusively made for me. However, I cannot consume anything without offering it to my Guru. Even if I do not get my vision back, it’s totally fine with me. I do not want to do anything that would offend my Guru!” As Upamanyu says thus, the “Ashwini Devatas” are extremely happy with the “Guru-Bhakti” that Upamanyu displayed! Now, the “Ashwini Devatas” lift him up from the well and with this, Upamanyu goes to the Guru, submits the “Apoopam” to his divine lotus feet! With this, Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya was extremely happy with the “Guru-Bhakti” that Upamanyu displayed and he blessed him with all the “Shaastra-Gnyaaya” and also his vision! 

Such is the treacherous and ruthless test that Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya gave to two of his disciples. Now one more disciple is left to be tested! So what is Veda going to do? What was his test all about? Let us wait till the next episode to find out! Stay tuned! 🙂 

Episode # 37 – Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya ruthlessly tests Upamanyu’s “GURU-BHAKTI”!!!

In the previous episode, we were witnessing an important series of events that are going to lead to a potential danger to King Janame-Jaya. In this regard, we’ve seen how Sage Soma-Shrava arrived at Hastinapura upon the invitation given by King Janame-Jaya in order to help him get alleviated from the curse that he had obtained from the “Deva-Lokha dog”. However, within the time that King Janame-Jaya went for a war with a nearby king and came back, problems started to mount for him in an unexpected manner. There was an unexpected turn of events that happened, and this is what we’re currently witnessing as an offshoot story from the main discussion. As part of this, we’ve witnessed who Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya was, and how his three disciples are extremely devoted in service to him. We’ve accordingly witnessed one such disciple, Aaruni-Paanchala, who was the first to prove his mettle, so as to obtain the title “Uddhaalaka” from Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya for his exceptional service to the Guru. 

Now it is time for the next disciple, Upamanyu to prove his mettle. As per the instruction of Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya, he takes all the cows for grazing. He chugs all of them through to the paddy fields each day and waits till the cows freely graze all the paddy to their utmost satisfaction. Days passed by, however, Upamanyu was well-nourished, healthy and fit. He never seemed to have even an iota of tiredness in him. Looking at this, Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya enquired the reason behind Upamanyu’s strong health inspite of the strenuous work that he is doing every day. Upamanyu replies thus, “Oh Guru! As per the norms and tradition, I consume whatever comes to me as “Bhiksha” (Selfless offering of food and / or food grains) from people around me. This is why I’m hale and healthy!” However, the Guru had other plans here – Sage Dhoumya replies thus, “Oh Upamanyu! I guess you’re mistaken a bit – Whatever “Bhiksha” you get from others should ideally come to the Guru. You shouldn’t consume anything without my permission! So from tomorrow onwards, whatever you get as “Bhiksha” should be given to me!” 

As the Guru says so, Upamanyu accepts the deal and from the next day onwards, he submitted all whatever he obtained as “Bhiksha”, apart from taking the cows for grazing. This task of cow-grazing was continuing unabated every day. As days passed by, the Guru thought that due to hunger and fatigue, Upamanyu’s body condition would shrink. However, to the contrary, Upamanyu still stayed fit and fine. This surprised the Guru! Sage Dhoumya called him and demanded an explanation again. Upamanyu now says thus, “Oh Guru! What was your instruction? I should come and give you the “Bhiksha” that I obtain as the first one every day, isn’t it? I gave you the first “Bhiksha” of the day and I consumed the rest that I obtained during the course of the day! This is why I’m still healthy and fine!” Hearing thus from Upamanyu, Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya was surprised at Upamanyu’s “smartness” and decided to make the rule a bit more stricter. He now replies to Upamanyu thus, “Oh Upamanyu! I think you’ve mistaken the rule here – When I said that you’ve to submit the “Bhiksha” to me, I did not mean that you’ll only submit the first “Bhiksha” for the day. You should submit to me all whatever you receive throughout the day! There can be no exception like the first, second or third!” 

Hearing thus from the Guru, Upamanyu obeyed. From the next day onwards, Upamanyu started submitting all whatever he obtained as “Bhiksha” to the Guru. Three days passed by, and still Upamanyu was fit and fine! He was extremely normal as if nothing had happened to him! Upon seeing this, the Guru was puzzled! He’s not eating anything throughout the day, and he has passed 72 hours like this, and yet, how is he still fit and fine without shrinking and sulking? Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya called Upamanyu once again and enquired how he is fit and fine still, even with no food for the past three days. Upamanyu replies thus, “Oh Guru! Yes, I did not consume any food. However, I consumed the milk that these cows are generating every day. This makes me fit and fine!” The Guru immediately quipped thus, “Oh Upamanyu! These cows belong to me, don’t they? They aren’t yours! If such is the case, with whose permission did you consume the milk that is given by these cows? Ideally you should have brought all the milk to me, isn’t it? Hence from tomorrow, stop consuming the milk that these cows are giving! Bring all the milk to me every morning!” 

As the Guru says so, Upamanyu obeyed again! From the next morning, he ensured that all the milk from the cows reached the Guru on time, and he did not consume even a drop of it. Three more days passed by, and it is the same old story again! Upamanyu was still hale and healthy without even a small shrink in his body! Amazed by this, the Guru calls him once again and interviews him! Again, Upamanyu had a smart explanation like before. He says thus, “Oh Guru! I didn’t consume the milk given by the cows. However, I consumed the froth of the milk that the calves were drinking. Of course, I did not disturb the calves while they were drinking milk from their mother cows. I only consumed the left-over froth that was there after the calves had consumed the milk!” The Guru again retorts thus, “Oh Upamanyu! You’re doing a mistake here! You’re consuming something that is owned by the calf completely. Till now you made the mistake of consuming what was due to me. Now you’re consuming what was due for the calf. Hence, from tomorrow, you shouldn’t do this also!” 

As Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya explains thus, Upamanyu obeyed! Again three days passed by, and there was no improvement in the situation. Upamanyu was still fit enough! Amazed by this, the Guru again interviewed him! Now what is Upamanyu going to say? He has now completely stopped consuming food, milk and even the froth of the milk! Now what is the secret behind his healthy body? Let us wait for the next episode to find out! Stay tuned! 🙂

Episode # 36 – A “Sishya”’s bound duty is to obey the “Guru” – An important message!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed King Janame-Jaya inviting Sage Soma-Shrava to his Hastinapura kingdom to find a solution for the curse that he had received from the “Deva-Lokha” dog. The people who had assembled for King Janame-Jaya’s Satra Yaaga beat and thrashed Sarama, a dog from the “Deva-Lokha”, and in return, King Janame-Jaya was cursed by its mother. Shocked by this, King Janame-Jaya did not know how to tackle this sudden curse that came from nowhere and for no fault of his. He thus called out for Sage Soma-Shrava, who was a famously known sage for his power of penance. He brought the sage to Hastinauprua kingdom and offered the best hospitality to him through his three brothers, and meanwhile, King Janame-Jaya had gone on a war with a neighbouring king. By the time King Janame-Jaya returned back to the kingdom, there was a huge problem waiting for him at his doorstep! 

So now, we’ve seen Sage Soma-Shrava residing at King Janame-Jaya’s palace at this moment and let us shift the picture to a different place. We’ve to now tie the knot and join three different stories here – The first one was the curse inflicted by the dog on King Janame-Jaya. Second one was Sage Soma-Shrava visiting Hastinapura. The curse was that, King Janame-Jaya would be entangled into a treacherous danger that would prove to be very costly for him. Fearing this, King Janame-Jaya went in search of Sage Soma-Shrava. Ceding to the king’s request, Sage Soma-Shrava arrived, but on one condition – He should be offered whatever he asked for, in return to the help that he is doing to King Janame-Jaya. All these words should be underlined and highlighted by readers for the sake of continuity. 

Meanwhile thus, the story now shifts to a new place – There was a great sage by name “Aayodha-Dhoumya”. This Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya had three important disciples. One was “Aaruni-Paanchaala”, second was “Upamanyu” and the third one was “Veda”. All the three disciples were very happy in doing selfless service to their Guru, Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya. Upon seeing his disciples, Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya calls upon his first disciple, Aaruni-Paanchala and gives him a task to perform – He asks Aaruni-Paanchala to perform the “Kedhaara-Kanda”. This means that he has to take care of the paddy fields in such a way that water doesn’t percolate out of the field. Those who are into agriculture would know this better. There should be a protective wall-like thing which would prevent water seepage from one field into the other, so that the entire water would go to the crops that are sown here. This Aaruni-Paanchala is trying to build a wall-like item in the paddy field as per the instruction of his Guru. However, he is unable to do it in spite of trying so many ways and means. Perplexed by this, Aaruni-Paanchala thought within himself, “Oh! I’m unable to build this thing as per my Guru’s order. If I go back to him now without completing the task, I would be penalised and punished. How do I tackle this now? The only option left here is that, I myself would lie down here in such a way that my physical body would act as a wall. This would prevent the water seepage from happening!” Thinking thus, Aaruni-Paanchala lies down on the ground in such a way that his body acts like a wall. 

As days and weeks pass by, Aaruni-Paanchala is lying down in the same position, and over time, all the water gets stagnated on one side of his body. Subsequently his body is now being soiled with all the mud and clay that the water is bringing. Unmindful of all this, Aaruni-Paanchaala is lying down on the ground. As Sage Dhoumya was waiting for his disciple to finish the task and come back, he never came back. Thus, the sage was pondering what would have happened to Aaruni-Paanchala. Taking his other two disciples with him, Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya goes to the paddy field where Aaruni-Paanchala was working. As the three of them looked out for Aaruni-Paanchaala, he wasn’t to be seen anywhere. As the Guru was calling his name repeatedly aloud, Aaruni-Paanchala realized who had come. He immediately got up from the ground by shackling all the mud that had accumulated over his body, rushed towards his Guru and fell on his feet. As Sage Dhoumya sees his disciple in such a state, he was impressed with the dedication that he had shown. Lifting him up, Sage Dhoumya replies thus, “Oh Paanchala! You’ve given so much respect to my words! You’ve ended up sacrificing your breathing, food, etc. to execute my instruction! From today onwards, I’m giving you a spiritual name – “Uddhaalaka”! With this, you would be blessed with the highest level of knowledge about the Vedas and Shaastras!” 

Upon hearing this from his Guru, Paanchaala-Aaruni was extremely happy and he received the grace of his Guru with all his humility. With this, we’ve witnessed the story of the first disciple of Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya. In a similar manner, we’ve to witness the stories of the other two disciples too. Readers might have a feeling as to why we are deviating so much from King Janame-Jaya and the problem that he is going to face. Like I said earlier, there is going to be a knot between all these stories, and this entire narrative is going to explain what kind of a danger King Janame-Jaya is going to encounter. 

Thus, coming back to this context again, now Sage Aayodha-Dhoumya sends the second disciple, Upamanyu for a task. Upamanyu’s task was to take all the cows for grazing. Accordingly, Upamanyu obeys the Guru’s words and takes all the cows to the fields. The underlying point in all these stories is very simple – A “Sishya” (Disciple) should obey the words of the Guru verbatim! There should be no deviance here. Irrespective of whatever the Guru says, it is the bound duty of the Sishya to comply. This is the underlying message that all these stories convey. So for today, let us understand until this point, and in the next episode, we shall see how Upamanyu and Veda were up to the task assigned by the Guru! Stay tuned! 🙂