Saturday, 13 December 2014

Tales from the Mahabharat: Uttang Rishi

I am back again with "Tales of the Mahabharat " A guest post by one of my favourite blogger Suresh Chandrasekaran of " Life is Like This " 

#mahabharat #mahabharata  #uttangrishi #lordkrishna


The reclusive Uttang Rishi stayed the forests for most of his life with little contact with the rest of the world. It was during one such long stay away from civilization that the war between the rift between the Pandavas and Kauravas ripened to enmity and ended in the calamitous war at Kurukshetra that resulted in the decimation of all the Kauravas.
On one of his peregrinations in the forest, Uttang Rishi met Krishna. As was the custom in those days, Uttang asked Krishna of the well-being of his family and, then, sought to know about Krishna’s relatives – the Pandavas and Kauravas. Krishna had the unpleasant task of explaining to the Rishi about the dreadful war between the two.
Uttang was enraged and said, “Krishna! You are the Lord of the universe and quite capable of stopping this destruction from happening. Yet, you allowed such disastrous violence. I, herewith, curse you…”
Krishna interrupted the powerful Rishi and said, “Even the Lord of the Universe may not tamper with destiny, once it is written, O sage, or else the very basis of all order shall be disturbed. Know you that this incarnation of mine was intended to destroy evil and the Kauravas, because of their thirst for power, were part of the evil that I sought to destroy.”
Uttang was pacified.
Krishna said, “I wish to grant you a boon, O most righteous sage! What would you ask of me?”
Uttang said, “I need nothing, Lord! The only thing that I, perhaps, may seek is that I may not lack for water wherever I am, since I travel in wild and inaccessible places.”
After some time, while Uttang Rishi was traveling in the forest, he was afflicted by thirst and could not find any water to drink. He remembered the boon of Krishna and besought water. Whereupon a huntsman accosted him and offered him water from his deerskin container.
Uttang was aghast. How could he, a Brahmin, take water from this low-caste huntsman? Thrice the huntsman offered water and thrice the Rishi refused. The huntsman disappeared.
Uttang was surprised by this miraculous disappearance of the huntsman.  Clearly, he could not really be a huntsman but some divinity sent by Krishna as a test. Uttang felt dejected about the possibility of having failed the Lord, when Krishna appeared before him.
Uttang complained, ”Lord! You promised me water whenever I needed it. How could you send it in the hands of a huntsman?”
Krishna laughed and said, “O Sage! I asked Indra to give you divine nectar and make you immortal. Indra refused saying that Amrit was not for normal human beings. I said that you were a realised soul and deserving of immortality. Indra then said that if you truly were a realised soul, you would know that all differentiation between people were only the creation of mortals; that all people were the same in the eyes of a realised soul and, thus, if you accepted the nectar from Indra in the guise of s huntsman, you would deserve it. I agreed. You let me down!”
The great epic, thus, does not support differential treatment on the basis of caste. True, the social order of the times did differentiate between people but the epic clearly states that such differentiation is not the divine order of things but only man-made