Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Ashtavakra - Part 1 of 3

Uddalaka Aruni set up his own Gurukul after completing his studies with his Guru Ayodh Daumya. Just like his teacher had blessed him, Uddalaka Aruni became a great teacher. Students from all over the country came to attend his classes.

Among his students, there was one student called Kahoda. Though Kahoda was not very well-versed in the Scriptures and the Vedas, he was extremely devoted to his teacher. Uddalaka also loved Kahoda very much.

Just as Kahoda was about to complete his studies, Uddalaka called his daughter Sujatha and talked to her, 'Sujatha! There was something I need to ask you...' Sujatha nodded her head as Uddalaka continued, 'You are of marriageable age now...' He said looking at Sujatha who blushed slightly when he said this. 'You know Kahoda...my student... Both of you learnt in the gurukul together! He is good student and I have no doubt that he would he would be a good husband to you...' Sujatha blushed even more and looked shyly at her father.

Uddalaka continued, 'If it is ok with you...shall I talk to him about your marriage...'

Sujatha smiled and slowly nodded her head, 'Yes Father!'

Uddalaka then called in his student Kahoda and talked to him about marrying his daughter. Uddalaka was happy when Kahoda immediately agreed. Kahoda and Sujatha were happily married.

After marriage Kahoda realized that he also wanted to be a Guru just like his father-in-law. He became a teacher in Uddalaka's Gurukul and taught the students there.

After some months Sujatha became pregnant. Sujatha rejoiced! Like her father and husband, she wanted her child to learn all the Vedas and the scriptures as quickly as possible. I will sit in classes and listen to my father and husband with rapt attention...That way my child will start learning the Vedas when it is in the womb...

Sujatha daily attended the classes of both her husband and her father.

Once as Sujatha was attending the classes taken by Kahoda, she felt her embryo squirm in distress. Sujatha was surprised. She felt the embryo squirm six times more...Sujatha was worried. She listened to Kahoda's teaching and as she heard...she realized that there was something wrong...That was when Sujatha realized that Kahoda was mispronouncing the words of the Vedas! She realized that as every time Kahoda had mispronounced, the embryo squirmed. Sujatha was surprised and was looking at Kahoda as he continued taking the class without realizing that he had mispronounced the words.

Unfortunately Sujatha felt her embryo squirm once more and knew that Kahoda had committed one more error!

Sujatha was wondering about this, when the whole class heard a voice. 'That is not the way to pronounce the words, father!' The whole class stared back at Sujatha wondering from where the words had come, when the words came again, 'Father you have mispronounced the words of the Scriptures eight times in today's class...'

The whole class looked at the womb and realized that the voice was coming from the unborn child inside Sujatha! They blankly stared at it for some time. They then turned and looked at Kahoda. A few students looked at Kahoda and smirked..Their great teacher had made a mistake while teaching...What sort of a teacher was he?

Kahoda looked at the smirk on his student's faces and angrily looked at Sujatha's womb, 'Insolent child! You dare correct me and that too even before you are born...You are arrogant..For this I curse you...You corrected me eight times did you not? I curse you that you would be deformed in eight places when you are born...'

Sujatha was terrified as she heard the curse...The whole class was now scared and immediately stopped smirking and went outside the room.

As the students left, Sujatha breathed deeply trying to calm herself..Kahoda had just spoken in anger...He did not mean it...There is no way the curse of a father can hurt his own child...Slowly Sujatha calmed herself. She tried telling herself that the curse would not harm the child in any way, because they were just words spoke in anger.

Sujatha continued attending the classes.

In due course, Sujatha gave birth to a boy. Unfortunately when she saw her child for the first time, she was struck with grief...Her husband's curse had came true with devastating efficiency. Her son was born with eight crooked limbs!

Uddalaka came and spoke to dejected Sujatha, 'Child! Please do not grieve! What you have here is not an ordinary child...He is a great man...An enlightened soul...Please do not look at his appearance and be discouraged! Look for what he is inside...'

Sujatha listlessly listened to her father's words. But the more she thought about it, the more it made sense. Sujatha slowly nodded her head. I will never look at my son for his external appearance...Any child who can correct his father, when he is in the womb is an enlightened soul...I will accept him for what he is...

After that Sujatha never felt her son was ugly or deformed...She was happy with her child. The child was named Ashtavakra meaning the 'one with eight crooked bends'.

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