Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The story of Markandeyan

      Once there lived a sage named Mrikandu with his wife Marudavali , the couple were childless. They worshiped lord Shiva for a child,one day lord Shiva appeared before them and asked if they wanted an ordinary child with a long life or a child with exceptional intelligence with a short life. Sage Mrikandu asked the lord for a child who would be an intelligent and a good son. In due course Marudavali gives birth to a son who would only live for sixteen years. The couple name him Markandeyan, the child as promised by the lord showed great understanding of the scriptures and at a very young age  became an accomplished sage.

     Markandeyan in his sixteenth year knew his time on earth  was going to end. He was in the temple worshiping lord Shiva in the form of a Shivalingam,on seeing Kalan(or yama,the god of death) come towards him, Markandeyan clutched  the shivalingam and prayed to lord Shiva to protect him. Kalan approached Markandeyan and threw his noose around him ,the noose also encircled the shivalingam which Markandeyan was hugging. Lord Shiva exploded out of the Lingam with great fury and struck down Yama for encircling the lingam with his noose . He blessed the boy-sage Markandeyan with eternal life always at the same age of sixteen.

     With Kalan gone , there was no death on earth and Bhumadevi (goddess earth) worshiped to the Lord saying that she cannot bear such a huge burden. And in answer to her prayer lord Shiva revives Kalan.

      The story is thus believed to have taken place in Tirukkadaiyur in Tamil Nadu, the place is now celebrated as a place where death itself died. People visit this place for good health and long life.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ekalavya - the devoted disciple of Dhronacharya.

Dhronacharya was the royal teacher to the Pandavas and Kauravas of Hasthinapura ,he was a master of advanced military arts. Arjuna ,who belonged to the Pandavas was his favourite student.

Near Hasthinapura, in a forest lived Ekalavya ,the son of a hunter. Ekalavya once watched Dhronacharya teach archery to the royal princes . Ekalavya wished to learn archery from Dhronacharya and so approached the great guru and begged him to accept him as his student.Dhronacharya , refused to accept Ekalavya as his student as he belonged to the class of hunters who were considered as shudras or people belonging to the lowest social community.

 Ekalavya was much disappointed but did not lose hope nor did he give up his desire to learn archery. He returned to the forest , made a clay statue of Dhronacharya and practised archery everyday .He worshipped the statue as his guru and with constant practice excelled at the art of archery.

Years later ,one day Guru Dhronacharya and the princes were hunting in the forest near where Ekalavya lived. A dog from the hunting party reached near Ekalavya , disturbed by its constant barking Ekalavya shot arrows at the dogs mouth in such a way that the arrows stopped the dog from barking without hurting the dog. The dog returned to the hunting party. Dhronacharya and the princes were astonished seeing the dog with the arrows in its mouth. Dhronachaya at once understood that the arrows must have left the most skilled hands of a very talented archer. 

Eager to learn about the hunter , the hunting party went into the forest with the dog to lead them, there they saw Ekalavya practising with his bow and arrow. Dhronacharya asked Ekalavya the name of his teacher. Ekalavya took him to the clay statue and replied that Dhronacharya was his guru and inspiration. Dhronacharya was much taken aback, Arjuna who was a great archer was his favourite student . He did not want that to change. 

It was the prevailing belief that the full benefit of education can be achieved only by offering guru dakshina (fees) that the teacher asks for. Dhronacharya asked Ekalavya for guru dakshina ,Ekalavya was ecstatic as this means Dhronacharya who he worshipped as his guru for so long has finally accepted him as his disciple . He replied that he would be happy if it is in his means to offer his guru what he asks for. Guru Dhronacharya asks for the right thumb of Ekalavya as his guru Dakshina thereby ensuring that Arjuna has no competition in this art. Ekalavya did not even stop to think , he at once removed his axe and severed his thumb off his right hand and offered it to his guru as guru dakshina.Such was devotion of our dear hunter. Ekalavya will always remain a great example for a devoted disciple.