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Author Topic: STORIES FROM MAHABHARATA  (Read 5432 times)

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Offline JR

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« on: February 15, 2007, 08:27:02 AM »
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    In old days Uddalak was a great sage having many disciples. Among them Kahod was very famous. He was a devoted student He used to assist his teacher and serve him in many ways. The teacher being pleased with him blessed him with not only the complete knowledge of all Vedas but also he gave his daughter "Sujata') to him in marriage. Kahod was happily leading his married Iife.| After some days Sujata became pregnant. Even in the womb the, child  was  knowing  "Vedas". When  once  Kahod   was  reciting Vedas at night the child from the womb uttered: "Oh! Father! For the whole night you are reciting, but it is not upto the mark". Hearing this officious remark, of his unborn son, Kahod was greatly annoyed. He cursed his son", In so far as you have criticised your father by crooked speech you will be born with your body crooked at eight places". As his word was as powerful as the Mantra it had its effect.

    Those days Kahod was short of funds. Sujata was worried about money to bring up the child when it would be born. She entreated him to go to the king "Janak" and ask for Daxina. Kahod proceded to the Court of Janak but at that court there was a great scholar by name "Bandi" who was defeating everybody in argument. Kahod could not win him. The condition of the contest vas that the looser was to be plunged into the   river.   Kahod was likewise drowned.

    When Uddalak knew this, he went to Sujata and related the sad story. He however, told her not to reveal it to her son after' birth. In due time a son was born who was crooked physically at eight places, and was therefore named "Ashtavakra". He was not knowing who his father was and looked upon Uddalak as his father and Shvetaketu the son of Uddalak as his brother.

    Astavakra was now twelve. He was loving Uddalak very much, When he was sitting in his lap Shvetaketu came along and whisked him off the lap, saying, "This is not your father's lap". Ashtavakra felt very sorry. He went home and asked his mother,  "Mother what is the name of my father? Where is he?" Mother was afraid but she had to tell the truth. Ashtavakra was fired with the desire to go to king Janak. In the short hours of night he confided with Shvetaketu, his uncle, "Uncle, I hear that there is a great Yadnya going on in Janaka's Yadnya shala.   Why should we not go there and  enjoy  the  philosophical  arguments  of great Pandits?" So they both secretly ran away from their home and went to Yadnya-shala.

    The sentry at the door stopped them. He said there was no order to admit children, and only scholars and veterans were allow­ed. Astavakra said to the guard", "Man is not great by his white hair, advanced age or by begetting a large family or great wealth. One who knows Vedas is really great. I want to see Bandi in the court and argue with him. Please simply convey my message to the king". The guard went inside and after taking permission he ushered them to the audience of the king.

    Once admitted, Ashtavakra addressed the king with reverence. He said, "O, King, I learn that in your court there is a great scholar by name Bandi, who defeats all in Vedantic argument and the de­feated are punished by drowning them into the river. I have come to argue with him on Monism and would like to see this Bandi early".

    The king was surprised at the young lad demanding intellectual contest. He discouragingly said, "Many Vaidikas have already tested the excellence of Bandi. You are overestimating your know­ledge and trying to catch the Sun. Many have been foolish enough to argue with him and suffer defeat as stars at sunrise". Ashta-vakra said, "O! King! I am sure, he has not met his match yet, When he will face me, he will be as still and useless as a damaged chariot, thrown away into a side-street. He will be defunct".

    In order to test the knowledge of the brilliant boy, king Janak asked him: "He who knows a thing with six factors, twelve parts, twenty-four portions and three hundred sixty spokes, is verily a wise man". Do you know this?" Ashtavakra replied, "Let the wheel of time of one year, which has twenty-four fortnights, twelve months as parts, six hubs of six seasons and 360 days for spokes—protect Thee!"

    The king asked, "Who does not close his eyes while sleeping?" Who does not move even after birth? Who has no heart? Who advances with great speed?" To these questions Ashtavakras' replies were prompt. "Fish keeps its eyes open while asleep". "Egg does not move even after being laid". "Stone has no heart", River advances with great speed".

    The king then introduced him to Bandi. He declared to Bandi, "You have been arguing with everybody and defeated persons are plunged into the water, but today you will fail before me. You have been cruel to many, but you will face the same destiny. I will put up my premises and you may put up your arguments or you may start first".

    Bandi started with his argument. "The figure one is very important. There is only one Sun, only one killer of enemies who is Indra and only one ruler of Pitrus, who is Yama".

    Ashtavakra said: "The number two is equally important. There are two Devatas—Indra and Agni. There are two Divine Sages—Narada and Parvat; Ashvinikumaras are two; chariot has t\vo wheels; Husband and wife are both equal in the eyes of the Creator".

    Bandi: "Why! Threefold is the Action of all creatures and thrice divided is the way in which they take birth. Three Vedas lay down the science of action, and there are three auspicious times of meditation and prayer—morning, noon and evening. There are three places attainable by Karma they are Earth, Hell and Heaven. The light of Karma is also described as of three kinds".

    The Boy: There are four Ashramas and four Warnas (main: castes). Main directions are four; the OM sound is composed of four nuances, and surely speech is of four stages—Vaikhari Mad-hyama, Pashyanti, Para".

    Bandi was not nonplussed. He said, "Five is also auspicious number. The kinds of fires in sacrifice are five. The metre Pankti contains five Pada, there are five types of Yadnyas. Five are the senses, Apsaras with five plumes are five, and Five rivers are sacred"

    The Boy: "They say that six cows should be given in charity,, there are six seasons such as Vasant, Greeshma, etc., senses with the mind become six in all, Krittikas contain six stars, and sacrifices, are six in Vedas".

    Bandi: "Seven are tame animals, seven wild animals, seven chhandas (musical metres of Riks) complete a Yadnya, and do you know, Veena has seven strings. Seven are sages".

    By this time the argument was gaining speed and becoming very interesting. The king looked on and listened. Both were

    spontaneously reciting this in stanza forms.

    The Boy: Eight are measurements for weighing things. There are eight Vasus, the pillar in Yadnya is having 8 cones".



    Bandi: In the Yadnya for forefathers, nine Mantras are recited, the Brihati metre contains 9 letters, the Nature is divided into nine parts, and the nine digits from I to 9 contain all the sums in universe! !"

    The Boy: "There are ten directions in all; A thousand is made up of 10 times hundred, 10 months is the pregnancy period of woman, there are 10 philosophers, and there are 10 who deserve


    Bandi: "Animals have eleven senses affected with II types of ailments the pillars in sacrifices number If, the Vikaras are 11 in all animals, Rudras are also 11".

    The Boy: "Twelve months make a year; Jagati is a 12-lettered metre, the Prakrut sacrifice is said to be for 12 days, and Adityas are said to be 12.

    Bandi: "The I3th day is auspicious in both fortnights, and Earth is said to be composed of 13 continents (Dweepas)'1.

    The Boy: "Surely. I also know that three Gods viz., Agni, Vayu and Surya (Fire, Air and Sun) encompass the 13-day sacrifices and metres with 13 letters are called extra-metres in Vedas. Do you know this?"

    Bandi at this time could not proceed. But the boy went on— "There are 14 jewels, and 14 Manus. Do you know this? Moon has 14 Kalas and 14 Vikalas. There are 15 days in a fortnight, and Upacharas are 16 in worship and there are 16 varieties of decora­tions (Shringar). Do you know this? He went on. ... "

    All were now clapping their hands. Bandi did not remember anything. He was defeated. He was ashamed.

    Bandi was finally asked to go to the river. He said he was the son of the king Varuna and had no fear from drowning. While this was being discussed, all those who were plunged into the river came up alive due to this defeat of Bandi. They came back to king Janaka's palace, Kahod was also one of them.

    Embracing his dear son Ashtavakra he said, "Only for this 4o people yearn to have offsprings so that what they cannot achieve, their offsprings may!"

    After Bandi went to the river, and the king paid Dakshina to all Brahmins, Ashtavakra was felicitated by one and all. He in turn offered his worship to Kahod, his father. While returning to their Ashrama with Shvetaketu, the father and son were happy; but the crooked physique of the son was still an eyesore. Kahod told him to have a bath in the river "Samanga" on the way. He did so and Lo! he emerged out with a perfect symmetrical body, brilliant and handsome. Kahod and Ashtavakra went to the Ash­rama, and it was the delighted mother Sujata who saw her son transfigured, approaching her with his father and her lost husband brought back. Shvetaketu became very famous for his penance in future. Uddalak was happy to receive them.

    (Mahabharat, Vana Parva) —D. A. Gbaisas
    सबका मालिक एक - Sabka Malik Ek

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