Saradwat, a sage, was engaged in rigorous meditation in the forest, in earth. Naturally, Indra, the Lord of the Devas was scared of it.
He summoned Janapadi, one of his beautiful apsaras. 'In earth, you will find a sage called Saradwat - a sage with bow and arrows....'
Janapadi looked surprised. 'What? A sage with bow and arrows?' she asked the Deva incredulously. (In those days, the sages performed penance and the warriors knew about weapons. Their paths rarely crossed.)
Indra sighed as he nodded his head. 'Saradwat is the son of Sage Gautham! Though his father was a rishi, it is said that Saradwat was born with bow and arrows! Even as he grew Saradwat showed a natural inclination for learning weapons, more than the ways of meditation and penance! He is a powerfully good warrior!' Indra said gravely.
'Then why is he doing penance?' Janapadi asked completely confused.
Indra sighed shaking his head. 'I do not know! What I do know is that Saradwat is a formidable warrior! Imagine, what would happen if a man like that also has the power of penance and meditation with him!' Indra asked Janapadi with scared eyes. 'Why? He may become more powerful than me! He may even overthrow me from the heavens!' Indra whispered fearfully.
Janapadi sighed mentally not saying anything. The fact remained that every time anyone on earth performed penance, the Lord of the Devas became insecure. Indra tried his best to thwart the penance in some way or the other.
But then this was Indra, the king of the Heavens. No matter what she believed, Janapadi was duty bound to follow the words of her king. So halfheartedly Janapadi left the heavens to tempt the Saradwat, the sage with bow and arrows....
Saradwat opened his eyes as he saw a subtle change in the surrounding. He saw a woman right in front of him, looking radiantly beautiful. In that minute, Sarwadat all but lost control over himself. For a whole second, Saradwat wanted nothing more than to marry the woman before him....But then Saradwat was a sage, a good one too. He realized that he was losing control over himself and with great effort controlled himself.....
Janapadi for her part realized that the sage was in complete control of himself and left the place and went back to the heavens...
Saradwat for his part was dispirited that he had lost control over himself, even for a minute..... Without even picking up the weapons with which he was born, Saradwat left the place without a backward glance. As he walked Saradwat promised himself that he was going to perform even more rigorous penance to make sure he was completely in control of himself.
King Shantanu of Hastinapur, was in his favourite place. He was in the wild forests, with the bow and arrow in his hands. Though the Scriptures said that excessive hunting was one of the vices of a king, King Shantanu was unable to stop this habit.
Shantanu moved through the forests as he chased the deer, leaving his people far behind. The deer swiftly ran through and was hiding behind a bush. Shantanu waited behind a tree as he looked at the shrub as he pulled his bow and aimed the arrow at the shrub and waited....He waited patiently for the deer to come out when...
'Your Majesty!' Shantanu was so shocked that he almost let go of the arrow. It was only sheer practice by which he held on to the arrow. Startled by the noise, he saw the deer run away from the bush. Shantanu was about to yell at the young soldier who was running towards him when he saw that the soldier if anything, was badly rattled.
'What?' He snapped getting up.
'Your majesty! There...There....' The soldier spoke pointing towards the opposite side looking incapable of breathing properly.
'What?' Shantanu asked as he pulled his weapons out and went towards the direction the man had pointed. At first Shantanu heard nothing. But then as he walked deeper, Shantanu was shocked. In a place where, the wild animals roamed freely without a single fear, incongruously, he heard the cry of infants.
Bewildered, he put his weapons aside as he walked further. There in the clearing, between the coarse grass, Shantanu was shocked as he saw two beautiful babies – a girl and boy, lying on the deer skin with a bow and arrow nearby. Though a part of Shantanu was wondering about the unlikely combination of the deer skin and the bow and arrows, he gave it no further thought as he looked at the babies. (The deer skin was generally used by sages for meditation)
The minute Shantanu saw the babies, Shantanu felt a strange emotion in his heart....He aborted the hunt as he took the babies, with him. 'These are my children! Henceforth, they will also grow up in the kingdom of Hastinapur!' he announced to all the people in the group.
Shantanu brought the children to the capital and there he decided to perform all the rites and rituals for the children.
'My Lord!' The priest said. 'We need to name the children to perform the ceremony...Have you....'
Shantanu smiled as he saw the twins. 'I was moved to pity when I saw the children. So the boy shall be called 'Kripa' and the girl shall be called 'Kripi!'' [In Sanskrit, 'Krip' means pity.]
And so the children grew up in Hastinapur.
A few years later, a powerful looking sage came to King Shantanu. 'Your Majesty! I have divined that you have my children with you!'
Shantanu looked completely nonplussed. 'Who are you? What children are you referring to?'
'My name is Saradwat! I am the son of Sage Gautham! From a young age, I have been interested in weapons and though I am a sage, I learnt the art of warfare well!' The powerful sage said. 'I was performing penances to obtain more knowledge of weapons, when Lord Indra sent Janapadi....' Sardwat told the king everything. '...Though I was able to control my desire....the fact remains that I lost control of myself! I am a sage...so my desires are powerful...These two children emerged from my desire, in a clump of heath....where I fell in love with Janapadi! That is where, you found them....'
Shantanu was convinced that the sage was speaking the truth. He then nodded as the sage continued with with gratitude in his eyes. 'I abandoned my children...But you...You took them in and took good care of them...For that I will always be grateful to you!'
The sage smiled. 'I will teach my children all the science of arms that I have learnt....They would be able to teach it to your descendants, your majesty!'
Shantanu smiled as he nodded his head.
So that was how, Kripa learnt the art of warfare from his father. He learnt all that his father had to teach him and he came back to Hastinapur.
Meanwhile, Shantanu had married and fate took its course as the sons of Dhirdarashtra (Kauravas) and the sons of Pandu (Pandavas) were born in the royal family.
Kripa became the royal teacher in the House of Kuru and he taught the Karuravas and the Pandavas, the basic rules of warfare and the laws of administration of the kingdom. As he was a teacher, he came to be known as Kripacharya. [Acharya means 'teacher' in Sanskrit]