One Grain of Rice

Trust the wicked Duryodhana to create trouble for the Pandavas even when they were struggling during their years of exile in the forest. Once Duryodhana invited a sage infamous for his lack of anger management and his tendency to curse left right and centre to his abode. The venerable sage whose very name sent shivers down the spine of many was none other than Durvassavu.

So, Durvassavu along with his ten thousand disciples was invited to the palace in Hastinapur and a very sumptuous meal just to suit the taste and need of the sage and his disciples was arranged by Duryodhana and his brothers. The sage, of course, was mighty pleased with host. He was even more thrilled when Duryodhana suggested that the Pandavas now in exile should not be deprived of playing host to the learned sage and that he should visit them too. The cunning Duryodhana did not forget to mention a particular time of the day by when he knew that the frugal kitchen of Draupadi would be empty of food as the ideal time for the sage to visit them. Not one to let go of an opportunity to test anyone the sage agreed enthusiastically and promptly landed at the doorstep of the hapless Draupadi when she had just had food and even cleaned the vessels after feeding all at home.

At the beginning of the exile,Yudhistira was blessed with a vessel called Akshayapatra, by the Sun god, which could feed as many people as his family wanted and only after the last person, in this case, Draupadi finished having her food would it go empty. When the sage Durvassa came for lunch with his ten thousand disciples, the akshaya patra was empty as even Draupadi had had her food. The sage, however, informed the Pandavas that he and his disciples would come for lunch soon after the customary bath at the river.

A vexed Draupadi looked around in concern as she was very well aware of nature of her short-tempered guest. Just then,Krishna appeared before her saying , “I am very hungry, give me some thing to eat immediately”. Draupadi looked at Krishna helplessly and said, “Why do you do this to me? I have nothing to give you now. Even the akshaya patra cannot help me.”

Krishna went to pick up the said vessel and looked at it closely. Around its rim was a single grain of rice and some bits of vegetables. He picked each bit and ate them with relish as if he was having the food of his life. While Draupadi stood ashamed at not having cleaned the vessels properly, Krishna asked Bheema to go and inform the Sage that food was ready for them.

Accordingly, Bheema went to the river to inform the sage to come home for food when his disciples said that they already felt satiated and full and cannot have any more food. Sage Durvassa who could divine what had transpired confirmed to Bheema that they were going to proceed on their journey without further delay.

Some times even what is left over or little in quantity can fill the heart and soul of someone if served with love. Could it be that what Krishna wanted Draupadi to remember?

 

Advertisements

The Learned Ashtavakra

Here is the beautiful story of a scholar called Ashtavakra as told by Lamosa to the Pandavas during their exile.

Kagola was a disciple of sage Uddalaka. Though Kagola was not the brightest of his students, the guru was quite pleased with his devotion and sincerity in performing his duties. In recognition of this, the sage married off his daughter, Sujata to Kagola.

In some time, Sujata conceived and would sit along with Kagola when he recited the vedas. As he was not adept at Vedas, Kagola often made mistakes and the child in Sujatha’s womb twisted and turned in agony at this. When the child was born it had eight twists or turns in its body and was hence given the name named Ashtavakra.

Ashtavakra taking after his grandfather had a penchant for learning and was even as a child very well versed in the Vedas. He, however, had to grow up in the absence of his beloved father, Kagola because Kagola had foolishly challenged a learned scholar named Vandi who had kept the condition that  those who lost the debate to him should drown themselves in the ocean. This was told to Ashtavakra by his mother, Sujatha.

So, when Ashtavakra heard of a debate or ‘Tharka’ that was being organized in the kingdom called Mithila by the king Janaka he set out to participate with his uncle, Swetaketu.

Upon reaching the palace of the king, the boy was asked to move aside by the palace guards who were preparing the way for the king. Ashtavakra questioned the palace guards and informed them that even kings were supposed to make way for women, children, the learned, the old or the disabled. The King who was approaching the palace heard this and asked the guards to allow the boy inside. The next challenge to his participation came when another guard stopped Ashtavakra from entering the hall of the debate as he was a mere boy who had not enough years nor knowledge in him. Again Ashtavakra argued that wisdom cannot be measured by birth, appearance or age. The King once again came to the rescue of the boy  but tried to dissuade Ashtavakra from the debate by reminding him of the enormity of the task and the reputation of his opponent.

Ashtavakra was least impressed and he assured the king that there is nothing to fear for him and that he had come to participate in the debate to win it and redeem his father’s honor.

Finally the debate began in which initially the two scholars seemed to be equals  but soon Ashtavakra weighed heavily over the famous Vandi and went on to win the contest of wits.

Ashtavakra informed Vandi that he was son of Kagola who had to sacrifice his life for the sake of the false pride and honor of Vandi.

Vandi had to now let go of his own life trapped as he was in his own words. Ashtavakra came to be renowned as a great scholar and was even credited for authoring the Ashtavakra Gita.

It is said that Kagola’s soul now liberated and relieved reminded men that it is not right to judge a man by his appearance, his lineage or the position of his family at the time of his birth, each person has the potential and the ability to surprise and impress anyone.

And here ends the story of the learned scholar, Ashtavakra.a2z-h-small

Karna Spoke to Kunti

Mother Kunti

You threw me out of your heart and your hearth

when I was still new to this world

the waters being kinder

found me a home in mother Radha and my father, Adhirath

charioteer to my destiny

what your fears and feelings were I am aware

of your indiscretion, your child-like curiosity and your haste

robbed me of much

yet left me rich in them,my parents noble in their humility.

Meager my joys, stringent my life

My loyalty to those who stood by me is my only wealth

Sage Parasurama, my guru I had hoped to win

was instead cursed by him

does that make you happy?

Draupadi, I coveted, walked away with your Arjun

wrenching my guts of the last iota of love and tenderness

Mother, yet,you come to this poor proud man

seeking help of hope

daring me to leave the one hand that clasped me in pain

of the noble Duryodhana

I, bow my head to you

and promise not to harm your sons other than Arjun

who sought to insult and humiliate me at every turn

my true rival in skills

But now do proceed

your mission is accomplished

I shall leave you with 5 sons

with or without me

as time will tell

go, take rest

and save your milk of kindness for the pandavas

your sons and my enemies

and know that I stand by Duryodhana, my friend and my benefactor

This be my word!

a2z-h-small