Chapter 36 Kagola Ashtavakra, Disciple of Uddalaka
The hermitage of the figures immortalised in the Upanishads was one of the holy sites the Pandavas visited while exploring the forest’s other sacred locations. Yudhishthira heard the tale of the location through Lomasa.
The great philosopher and Vedanta instructor Udalaka had a student named Kagola who was good and devoted but had no formal education. As a result, the other disciples used to make fun of him and laugh. However, Uddalaka did not place much importance on his disciple’s lack of knowledge and instead admired him for his qualities, dedication, and excellent behaviour and gave him his daughter Sujata in marriage.
The couple received a son as a gift. Typically, a kid gets the traits of both of its parents. However, thankfully, the grandson of Uddalaka inherited his grandpa’s knowledge of the Vedas from his grandfather rather than his father and understood them even before he was born.
When Kagola made mistakes, which he frequently did when reciting the Vedas, the unborn child would twist in anguish, and as a result, Kagola was born with eight crooked bends in his body. He was given the name Ashtavakra, which translates to “Eight crooked bends,” because of these crooked bends. One tragic day, Kagola engaged in a polemical debate with Mithila’s court scholar Vandi, and after losing, was forced to commit himself by drowning.
Ashtavakra, on the other hand, grew up to be a towering scholar even in his early years, and by the time he was twelve, he had finished his study of the Vedas and the Vedanta.
One day, Ashtavakra discovered that Mithila’s monarch, Janaka, would be offering a significant sacrifice during which the gathering academics would debate the sastras as usual.
Ashtavakra travelled to Mithila with his uncle Svetaketu. They encountered the king and his company as they travelled to the Mithila site of the sacrifice.
The king’s attendants marched in front while yelling: “Step aside. Let the King come in.” Instead of stepping aside, Ashtavakra addressed the retainers, saying, “O “Even the king, if he is virtuous, must make way for those who are blind, deformed, of the fair sex, carrying weights, and brahmanas who have studied the Vedas. The Bible commands us to follow this principle.”
Surprised by the brahmana boy’s sage advice, the monarch acknowledged the correctness of the reprimand and motioned for his attendants, saying: “It’s true what this brahmana stripling says. No matter how little or large a fire is, it still has the ability to burn.”
The sacrifice hall was entered by Ashtavakra and Svetaketu. They were halted by the gatekeeper, who said: “Boy entry is prohibited. Only elderly males who have studied the Vedas are permitted in the sacrifice hall.”
In response, Ashtavakra “We are not just young men. We have studied the Vedas and kept the requisite vows. Those who have attained the Vedanta principles will not base their judgments solely on one’s age or looks.”
The security guard said: “Stop. Put an end to your pointless boast. How did you learn about and understand Vedanta as a young boy?”
The child stated: “Do you mean to say that I am not large like a mutilated, hollow gourd? Age and size are not indicators of intelligence or value. Tall old men have a tendency to be tall old fools. Permit me to go.”
The security guard said: “Despite talking like all the ancient sages, you are neither old nor tall. Get away.”
In response, Ashtavakra “Gatekeeper, Grey hairs do not indicate that the soul is fully developed. A man who has studied the Vedas and the Vedangas, acquired their gist, and realised their essence is one who is truly mature. I’m here to meet with Vandi, the court pandit. Tell King Janaka that I want.”
The precociously smart youngster Ashtavakra had previously met was instantly recognisable when the king himself arrived there at that time.
The monarch inquired: “Do you know that my court pandit Vandi has in the past thrown many esteemed professors to the water during heated debates? Does that not dissuade you from undertaking this perilous journey?”
In response, Ashtavakra “Your distinguished scholar has never before encountered persons who are knowledgeable in Vedanta like me. With his easy triumphs against decent persons who weren’t true intellectuals, he has grown conceited and arrogate. As my mother informed me, my father was vanquished by this man and forced to commit suicide by drowning. I have come here to pay back the amount owed on his behalf. I’m confident I’ll defeat Vandi, and you’ll watch her crumble like a waggon with a shattered wheel. You should call him.”
Vandi and Ashtavakra met. Each of them chose a contentious position and launched an argument, using all of his knowledge and cunning to confuse the other, until the assembly at length unanimously declared Ashtavakra the victor and Vandi the defeated.
The Mithila court pandit lowered his head, paid the fine by drowning himself in the sea, and then proceeded to Varuna’s dwelling.
Then, when his son Ashtavakra rose to greatness, the spirit of Kagola, Ashtavakra’s father, found comfort and satisfaction.
Through Kagola’s remarks, the epic’s author informs us as follows: “Not all sons must resemble their fathers. Both an uneducated father and a physically powerful son can be produced by a physically weak father. It is unjust to base a man’s excellence on his age or outward look. Outward looks might be deceiving.” Which demonstrates that the uneducated Kagola did not lack common sense.
Keep Mahabharat Book at Home and Read Daily – DO NOT FALL TO FAKE PROPAGANDA and Allow Enemies to Weaken our Dharma and Bharat
This historical epic Mahabharat is known as fifth Veda. It is a common misconception spread by mlecchas; muslims and christian missionaries, and secular Hindus that reading Mahabharat or keeping it at home will likely lead to arguments and fighting. All of this misinformation was spread by illiterate mlecchas and anti-Hindus, and it is completely incorrect. It is done to mentally weaken Hindus so that they avoid reading Mahabharat. Because Mahabharat invokes bravery, pride and sense of confidence in Hindus.
Keep a copy of Mahabharat at home and read it online at the HariBhakt website. Mahabharat is rightly called the fifth Veda for Kaliyuga people because it is a tool and guidance to invoke confidence and bravery in Sanatan Dharmi Hindus.
You can read complete Mahabharat by following Chapter links given below. You can check Glossary of Mahabharat here.