Vrihidraunika Parva is the forty first upa parva included in the third maha parva, named as Vana parva or Aranyaka parva in the epic Mahabharata. The original epic was composed by Vyasa in Sanskrit. Vyshampayana had narrated to Janamejaya the historical events, happened in the forests on his queries.

Who told the story of Vrihi Drounika to Yudhishtira?

Vyasa had told the story of Vrihi Draunika to Yudhishtira. 

कृषिगोरक्ष्यमित्येके प्रतिपद्यन्ति मानवाः ।
पुरुषाःप्रेष्यतामेके निर्गच्चन्ति धनार्थिनः ॥

Meaning: Human beings in order to gain money or wealth work for agriculture, cows grazing or cattle farming and sometimes they work as labourers or perform service.  

पात्रे दानं स्वल्पमपि काले दत्तं युधिष्ठिर ।
मनसा सुविशुद्धेन प्रेत्यानंतफलं स्मृतम् ॥

Meaning: O Yudhishtira, Donation must be given to the deserving person in the right time, with good intention and it should be earned by approved means and such donations would fetch immense good results to the donor.

What was the story of Vrihi Drounika?

Vrihi means paddy in Sanskrit. Drounika means dish in Sanskrit. Mudgala was an ancient Brahmin and a great donor. He was dehusking the paddy to make rice. He had lived by donating a dish full of rice after boiling using fire to the deserving persons daily.

One day, an angel from heaven approached Mudgala with his chariot and requested him to ascend to go to heaven as he gained virtues. But Mudgala had politely avoided the offer, said, that life in heaven would be temporary, and after the tenure when his virtues were exhausted; he had to descend from heaven to this Earth. Later he continued to live his normal life on this Earth and after his full life time, he had unified his soul with the God’s divine feet. 

Who told the story of Ashtavakra to Yudhishtira?

Lomasha Rishi had told the story of Ashtavakra to Yudhishtira.

Where, why and when the story of Ashtavakra was told to Yudhishtira?

Lomasha Rishi told the story of Ashtavakra to Yudhishtira at Kashi to appraise the importance of the holy place during their pilgrimage. The presence of Varuna was consecrated by Ashtavakra at Kashi and he named it as Varanasi, since Varuna is the angel of water represented by the River Ganga.

At Varanasi, the water cleans the body of human beings and the story of Ashtavakra cleans the hearts of persons and provides virtues at any time. Hence Yudhishtira had memorized once again the story of handsome Ashtavakra after returning from Dvaithavana to Kamyakavana.

What was the difference between Vyasa and Lomasha Rishis?

Vyasa was an ascetic, Chiranjivi, living on this Earth always but invisible to us. Lomasha was an ascetic, lived in the Heaven as a messenger of Indra.

What was the story of handsome Ashtavakra Rishi as told by Lomasha Rishi?  

The disciple of Ayoda Dhaumya was Uddalak and the disciple of Uddalaka was Kahoda. Sujatha was the daughter of Uddalaka and Sujatha was given in marriage to Kahoda. Later Uddalaka had a son also called as Shvetaketu. 

In due course of time, Uddalaka had become old and Kahoda was teaching the students. One day, he was preparing lessons overnight for the next day’s teaching. He was reciting the Sanskrit verses loudly and then Sujatha was pregnant. Kahoda was sleepy and reciting a verse wrongly but the child inside the womb of Sujatha heard it. To rectify the same, the child from inside the womb recited it correctly but Kahoda felt angry and cursed the child to be deformed at eight places of his body. Prior to the delivery, Sujatha wanted to increase the stock of food grains and get sufficient dresses, so requested Kahoda to collect them in advance from the king Janaka. 

In the court of Janaka, Bandin was a scholar and engaged in arguments with other scholars, and when others were defeated they were immersed in water. Kahoda was told to join in the arguments with Bandin but Kahoda was defeated and immersed in water. Sujatha reported the news to her father Uddalaka and they felt sad and hence decided to keep it as a secret. Later the child was born to Sujatha.

Due to the curse, the child had got his body deformed at eight places and his name was kept as Ashtavakra. Ashtavakra had mastered everything in Vedas and Shastras and at the age of his tenth year, started arguments with highly versed scholars. Sujatha was addressing Shvetaketu as her brother and Uddalaka as her father. So her child Ashtavakra was also addressing them similarly but he had unknown about his father.

One day, when Ashtavakra was sitting on the laps of Uddalaka, he started to argue with Uddalaka addressing him as father. Shvetaketu got irritated and advised him to sit on the normal mat as he had grown up then and Uddalaka was not his father. The boy started to react and enquired with his mother and his mother told him the truth as Kahoda was his father, and had gone to the court of Janaka. 

King Janaka net down on his knee bowing to Ashtavakra with respect
King Janaka bowing to Ashtavakra with respect

Ashtavakra had decided to go the court of Janaka and decided to bring back his father from the clutches of Bandin. Then his age was only twelve years so the gate keeper had not allowed him to the palace court. His uncle Shvetaketu was also with him. Ashtavakra had to argue with the security, for their admission into the palace.

Bandin has instructed the gatekeeper not to allow boys into the argument hall but to allow matured people only. Hence the security person told them only people with white hairs would be able to enter the court hall. Then Ashtavakra gave an example of a tree bearing fruits but another tall and grown up tree which had not yet flowered. Since the body of Ashtavakra was deformed the security man had allowed them into the court hall with sympathy. But inside the court hall the king Janaka had started his turn to judge the suitability of these boys.

In olden days, Brahmins were not equipped with any weapons and were allowed to move freely. Janaka was really afraid of any curse and desired to satisfy the Brahmin boys. King Janaka asked him which creature does not close eyes during sleeping, which does not have a heart and so on. Ashtavakra had answered the fish, the stone and so on. After a few questions and receiving the answers, king Janaka had doubted about Ashtavakra and allowed him to join in the arguments with Bandin. 

Ashtavakra and Bandin were engaged in arguments reciting the verses one to one each by increasing order showing the skillful knowledge levels and depending on the stock of their memories.

The arguments were in Sanskrit verses, started from unity item and increased into thirteen items, Bandin had started as first as follows.

एक एवाग्निर्बहुधा समिध्यते । एकः सूर्यः सर्वमिदं प्रभासते ॥
एको वीरो  देवेराजो निहन्ता । यमः पितॄणामीश्वरैश्चैकमेव ॥

Meaning: One fire but glows with several modes. One Sun provides light to all. One energetic king kills all. Yama is only one, father, and also owner of all.

Then Ashtavakra had replied as follows.

द्वाविन्द्रग्नीचरतो वै सखायौ । द्वौ देवर्षी नारदः पर्वतश्च ॥
द्ववश्विनौ द्वे च रथस्य चक्रे । भार्या पती द्वौ विहितौ विधात्रा ॥

Meaning: Two angels Indra and Agni move as friends, two Deva Rishis, Narada and Parvatha also so. Ashvini angels are also so and a chariot has two wheels. The God Brahma had made human beings as two people, husband and wife.

Bandin had argued against it as follows.

त्रिः सूयते कर्मणा वै प्रजेयं । त्रयो युक्ता वाजपेयं वहन्ति ॥
अध्वर्यवस्त्रिषवणानि तन्वते । त्रयो लोकास्त्रीणि ज्योतींषि चाहुः ॥

Meaning: People are born by three actions. By adding the three Vedas, Vajapeya happens. Adhvarya persons stress the verses three times. It is said as there are three worlds and three light sources.

Then Ashtavakra had replied as follows.

चतुष्टयं ब्राह्मणानां निकेतं । चत्वरो युक्ता यज्ञमिमं वहन्ति ॥
दिशश्चतस्रश्चतुरश्च वर्णाश् । चतुष्पदा गौरपि शश्वदुक्ता ॥

Meaning: There are four stages for Brahmins. Together with four persons, this yajna is performed. The main directions are four and primary colors used here are four.  It is always told as cow has four legs.

Bandin had argued with items of odd numbers in increasing orders and reached up to thirteen. Then Bandin had recited only half of the verse and stopped there.

Ashtavakra had replied with items of even numbers in increasing orders and completed up to twelve. When Bandin had recited only half of the verse and stopped at the thirteenth verse, Ashtavakra could complete the next lines of the same verse. Then the people in the audience applauded Ashtavakra in praise. He told Janaka,  Bandin was then defeated and as per the norms it would be suitable to immerse Bandin in water immediately. 

Then Bandin declared to the king Janaka as he was the son of Varuna and not afraid of water. For the last twelve years, similar to king Janaka, his father Varuna was also performing Yajna and Bandin was sending the defeated Brahmins to his father’s Yajna. Since it was completed then Kahoda would be coming out of water soon and Bandin would voluntarily enter into water to join with his father soon.

Immediately, all the people immersed under water had come up and stood in a row in front of king Janaka. Ashtavakra had worshipped his father first and later worshipped all scholars. Then Bandin with the permission of king Janaka wished to enter into water and his father, Varuna angel of water had given a boon to the boy Ashtavakra. He requested to satisfy his father Kahoda. His father told his son to voluntarily dip in the water to get the blessings of Varuna.

When Ashtavakra had dipped his body in the water, his deformed body had become normal and later he had accompanied with his father and went to his hermit as a handsome boy. That place was Kashi and due to the presence of Varuna it was known as Varanasi later. King Janaka had pleased all the scholars with huge donations.

On reading this story, children would gain more memory power.

Next post, Mahabharat: Draupadi Harana would be more interesting.

Mahabharat: Kundalaharana would be presented separately in another article.

It is humbly prayed for the blessings of God Krishna upon us. 

Readers may share this story with children, friends and family.

Share this article: