In the previous episode, we had witnessed a brief background about who was Sage Ashtaavakra, and how he went on to meet King Janaka at Mithilapuri. As discussed yesterday, Sage Ashtaavakra was the son of Sujatha and Sage Kahoda. Sage Kahoda was the “Sishya” of Sage Utthaalaka and impressed by the disciple’s meticulous effort to learn, Sage Utthaalaka gave his daughter Sujatha in marriage to Sage Kahoda. As Sujatha became pregnant, the child from inside the womb made a sarcasm against his father that he is not so intelligent. As Sage Utthaalaka came to know about this, he was extremely angry that Sage Kahoda had to go through this, and immediately cursed the baby that it would be born with eight major defects in its body! This is why this child has the name “Ashtaavakra”. Thus, as the child was born and growing up, Sujatha and Sage Kahoda were suffering from extreme poverty. They weren’t even able to satisfy the child’s hunger even once in a day. Hence, Sage Kahoda decided that he would go and earn some “Biksha” from others and with that, they can meet their food requirements for the day. As Sage Kahoda was going here and there, he finally arrived at King Janaka’s Mithilapuri.

As Sage Kahoda arrives there, he decides thus, “Oh wow! Anyway I’ve come all the way to this beautiful city. Let us go and meet King Janaka and convey our wishes and “Anugraha” to him!” Thinking thus, Sage Kahoda makes his way to King Janaka’s palace. As he enters the palace, he meets a person by name “Bandhi”. This Bandhi was a peculiar person – He was a great scholar, but he had a problem! He had a lot of pride in being a scholar, and sometimes this becomes too much! If for any instance, a learned sage or a “Panditha” comes to meet King Janaka, Bandhi would first meet them and test that person’s scholarliness. If Bandhi is not satisfied with the scholarliness of the person, he would go to the extent of pushing that person into the water and killing him! As Bandhi tests each and every person like this, most of the time, these tests turn into fiery debates! Bandhi would literally start fighting with each of them, and if the other person tries to outsmart Bandhi in the debate, Bandhi would get extremely intolerant and thus, he would go to this extent to even kill the other person by pushing him into the water. This was going on for several months continuously and it is at this time, Sage Kahoda makes his way to meet King Janaka.

As Bandhi sees a sage coming by, as usual, he goes and stands in front of the sage and starts his accord! Bandhi tries to test Sage Kahoda of his intelligence and this as usual turns into a fiery debate. As Sage Kahoda was slowly outsmarting him, Bandhi couldn’t tolerate him anymore. He quickly rushes towards Sage Kahoda, drags him all along, pushes him into the deep pond of water nearby and kills him! Sage Kahoda fell into the pond and couldn’t survive the deep waters and eventually breathed his last. This news of Sage Kahoda’s death eventually reaches Sujatha and her child and both of them are stunned to bits! Sujatha was in tears and she was inconsolable. However, Sage Utthaalaka who was by her side, tried to console her and instructed her that she shouldn’t tell about Sage Kahoda’s demise to Ashtaavakra. Sujatha obeyed her father’s words, and at that time, Sage Ashtaavakra was still a toddler.

Days, months and years passed by, and as Sage Ashtaavakra was growing into a boy, he assumed Sage Utthaalaka as his father. He did not know what had happened to Sage Kahoda who was his original father as yet. He also treated Shweta-Kethu as his own brother. However, Shweta-Kethu knew the story of what happened to Sage Kahoda. Once upon a time, when Sage Ashtaavakra was going and sitting on the lap of Sage Utthaalaka, Shweta-Kethu was also there, and he got irritated that Ashtaavakra is going too much overboard with his father! Hence, out of frustration, Shweta-Kethu burst out to Ashtaavakra thu, “Oh Ashtaavakra! Ideally a person should only sit on his father’s lap. Why are you sitting in my father’s lap?” As Shweta-Kethu asks thus, Ashtaavakra did not understand anything! He replies back to Shweta-Kethu thus, “Oh brother! Isn’t Utthaalaka my father as well, just like how he is for you?” As Ashtaavakra asks thus, Shweta-Kethu suddenly realized that he was going overboard and tried to manage the situation by not telling the truth to the child.

However, Ashtaavakra wasn’t really convinced with Shweta-Kethu’s explanation and patching-up. He ran to his mother to find out why Shweta-Kethu spoke that way. Sujatha however convinced Ashtaavakra that perhaps Shweta-Kethu was in a bad mood and it was because of that, he spoke that way. Sujatha then tells Ashtaavakra that both of them shall leave this place for the moment and proceed towards Janakapuri for a few days. Ashtaavakra also agreed to it, and both of them packed up their bags and left for Janakapuri on the next day! We should understand here that Ashtaavakra was still a child and he did not know what exactly was going on in his family. He doesn’t even know that his father is no more, but all the others knew. Shweta-Kethu almost spilled the beans, but he resurrected himself not to tell the truth to Ashtaavakra.

Now comes the interesting part of the story – Ashtaavakra and Sujatha made their way to Janakapuri to meet King Janaka. So for today, let us understand up to this point, and we shall wait till the next episode as to how the story unfolded further! Stay tuned! 🙂