Thursday, March 08, 2012

Part 4 of Madhavi's story - Was Go Go the reward for 100 years of waiting?

Late Rakta kannIru fame nAgabhUshaNam, a great actor of histrionic talent, said in one Telugu film (my mother tongue), which approximately translates as under. Late Bollimunta Sivaramakrishna, I believe was the dialog writer.

"While leaders are spending their time in LECTURING, people are pulling their lives in STARVATION (unable earn two square meals a day).

A few days back, Shri L.V. Subrahmanyam, the Executive Officer of the TTD - Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, Tirupati, said that we can reach God only by approaching Gurus (preceptors). Mr. Rosaiah, the Governor of Andhra Pradesh was also present on the occasion of the 80th birthday of a Guru. The Governor said that Hindu traditions were great. Well, they are all great people. They can say anything. The job specifications of Governors and I.A.S.Officers, involve lot of lecturing.

We shall come back to our context of Mahabharata and Madhavi's story. What type of Guru was VisvAmitra?

He was royal sage. He wanted to become a Brahmin (priestly) sage. He wanted this approval to come from his bete noire Sage Vasistha. VasishTha and his six other associate Sages arrived to examine VisvAmitra's endurance. VisvAmitra got steaming food ready and he was holding the pot over his head. He did not want to keep it on the ground. The Sages promised to come back shortly and take their food. They made him to wait for 100 years, holding the pot on his head.

VisvAmitra's disciple GAlava waited on his teacher, all these 100 years, serving him faithfully and meeting all his needs. VisvAmitra survived all these 100 years, eating air (vAyu bhakShaNE). Verse 5/104/016.

Obviously, Galava too did not take any food except 'vAyubhakshaN'.

The Sages came back, consumed the steaming food served by visvAmitra, and happily declared that he was a Brahmin Sage.

We shall leave aside the hyperbole of 100 years waiting. It could never have been. Even hundred days wait was not possible.

Anyway, we shall concede. What is the reward did Galava get for his faithfulness and dedication?

It was good that Visvamitra was pleased with Galava's perseverance and released him from service and asked him to go as per his likings. (yathEShTam gachcha gAlava).


So far so good. Did Visvamitra show Galava, the path of self-relisation? What skills did V impart to Galava?

ybrem: We can say with confidence that VisvAmitra cannot show. This is simply because he did not know. He was enamoured with his earthly ambition of securing the approval of Sages for his Brahminhood. In the ladder of realisation, becoming a Brahmin was not a rung at all.


In return for his discharge, Galava wanted to pay his fee (guru dakshiNa), as was the custom of those days. It was good that VisvAmitra did not want anything, as he was already very much pleased.

The youth Galava might have persisted in his request to the teacher for prescribing the last instalment of fees, out of an erroneous belief that only with "fee" the action of 'learning' comes to its fulfilment.

Here, the preceptor could have spent a few moments, imparting true knowledge (gnAna) to Galava. This would have been a true reward for the merit of Galava. The teacher, instead, simply said "Go go!". (SEE the verse 5/104/025 in my post No. 040 reproducing full text of mAdhavi's story.). "gachcha gachchEti acOdayat".

The student was again persistent. Now, the teacher asked the student to bring 800 moon-light-white horses with just one black spot on their ears.

Was it possible for a poor disciple like GAlava?

This Galava, under advice from his friend the kite-demy-God GaruDa, approached the King YayAti for help. YayAti gave his daughter to Galava with a suggestion to him, to exchange her for horses, by gifting her to Kings.

ViSvAmitra was a Great Sage who had undergone the travails of penance. Why did he need 800 horses? Why did he need moon-light colored white horses? Why should there be a black spot on their ears?

These questions, poet vyAsa did not answer. He cannot answer. possibly. Another important point is, it was not Visvamitra the first teacher to ask this type of crazy gift. In verse No. 5/117/004, the Kite-God GaruDa alia SuparNa alias vainatEya, told Galava that earlier, King Gaadhi asked Sage Ruchika to bring a thousand horses of moonlight color with blackspots on ears.


The craze of teachers for rare and precious things did not confine to mahAbhArata period. It extended into the 20th and 21st Century.

It was how, the modern Guru Sathya Sai Baba accumulated hundreds of kilos of gold, silver, diamonds, gems, cars, chariots and helicopters and what not from his disciples!

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