A short story from the Mahabharata

ok actually not so short story ;-), but definitely short compared to the entire book! Anyway hope its worth your time…

Ideal prerequisite would be the Mahabharatha, but its enough even if you know just the outline (but I’d definitely recommend the complete epic by C Rajagopalachari)


The Mahabharata
C Rajagopalachari

When the battle was over, Krishna bade farewell to the Pandavas and went to Dwaraka. While on his way, he met his old brahmana friend Utanga. Krishna stopped and descending from his chariot saluted the brahmana.

Utanga returned the greeting and proceeded to make the usual inquiries about the health and welfare of relatives. “Madhava, do your cousins the Pandavas and the Kauravas love one another as brothers should? Are they well and flourishing?” he asked.

The innocent recluse had not heard about the great battle that had been fought. Krishna was astounded at the question of his brahmana friend. For a while, he stood silent not knowing what to say in reply. Then he softly
disclosed what had happened.

“Sir, a terrible battle had been fought by the Pandavas and the Kauravas, I tried hard and applied every means to prevent the fight and make peace between them. But they would not listen. Almost all of them have perished on the field of battle. Who can stop the hand of fate?” Then he related all that had happened.

When Utanga heard the narrative, he was exceedingly wroth. With eyes red with indignation he spoke to Madhava: “Vasudeva, were you there standing by and did you let all this happen? You have indeed failed in your duty. You have surely practised deceit and led them to destruction. Prepare now to receive my curse!” Vasudeva smiled and said: “Peace, peace! Calm yourself. Do not use up the fruit of your great penances in this anger. Listen to what I say and then, if you like, you may pronounce your curse.”

Krishna pacified the indignant brahmana and appeared to him in his all-embracing form, the Viswarupa.

“I am born in various bodies from time to time to save the world and establish the good. In whatever body I am born, I must act in conformity with the nature of that body. When I am born as a Deva, I act as a Deva
does. If I appear as a Yaksha or as a Rakshasa, I do everything like a Yaksha or a Rakshasa. If I am born as a human being, or as a beast, I do what is natural to that birth and complete my task. I begged very hard of
the ignorant Kauravas. They were arrogant and intoxicated by power and paid no heed to my advice. I tried to intimidate them. Therein also I failed. I was in wrath and showed them even my Viswarupa. Even that failed to have an effect. They persisted in wrongdoing. They waged war and perished. O best among brahmanas, you have no reason to be angry with me.”

After this explanation of Krishna, Utanga recovered his calm. Krishna was, delighted.

“I wish to give a boon to you. What would you like?” said Krishna.

“Achchyuta,” said Utanga, “is it not enough I have seen Thee and Thy Form Universal? I do not desire any further boon.”

But Krishna insisted and the desert wandering simple brahmana said: “Well, my Lord, if you must give me some boon, let me find water to drink whenever I might feel thirsty. Give me this boon.”

Krishna smiled. “Is this all? Have it then,” he said, and proceeded on his journey.

One day Utanga was very thirsty and, unable to find water anywhere in the desert, he bethought himself of the boon he had received.

As soon as be did this, a Nishada appeared before him, clothed in filthy rags. He had five hunting hounds in leash and a water-skin strapped to his shoulder.

The Nishada grinned at Utanga and saying, “You seem to be thirsty. Here is water for you,” offered the bamboo spout of his water-skin to the brahmana to drink from.

Utanga, looking at the man and his dogs and his water skin, said in disgust:
“Friend, I do not need it, thank you.” Saying this, he thought of Krishna and reproached him in his mind: “Indeed, was this all the boon you gave me?”

The outcaste Nishada pressed Utanga over and over again to quench his thirst, but it only made Utanga more and more angry and he refused to drink. The hunter and his dogs disappeared.

Seeing the strange disappearance of the Nishada, Utanga reflected: “Who was this? He could not have been a real Nishada. It was certainly a test and I have blundered miserably. My philosophy deserted me. I rejected the water offered by the Nishada and proved myself to be an arrogant fool.”

Utanga was in great anguish. A moment later Madhava himself appeared with conch and discus. “O Purushottama!” exclaimed Utanga; “you put me to a difficult trial. Was it right of you to try me thus? Make an untouchable offer unclean water to me, a brahmana, to drink. Was this kind?” asked Utanga. Utanga spoke in bitter tones.

Janardana smiled. “O Utanga, for your sake, when you put my boon into action, I asked Indra to take amrita to you and give it to you as water. He said he could not give to a mortal what would give him immortality, while he was willing to do anything else. But I prevailed upon him and he agreed to take amrita and give it to you as water, provided I let him do it as a Chandala and tested your understanding and found you willing to take water
from a Chandala. I accepted the challenge believing you had attained jnana and transcended externals. But you have done this and made me suffer defeat at Indra’s hands.” Utanga saw his mistake and was ashamed.


Really loved this story, the way it really cuts through hypocrisy! 🙂

13 Responses to “A short story from the Mahabharata”

  1. bellur ramakrishna Says:

    Lovely story. Really, you never know god’s ways. He has this uncanny ability to put you in place. And Rajaji’s simple narrative style is out of the world!

  2. bellur ramakrishna Says:

    MAHABHARATA retold by C. Rajagopalachari

    Chapter 37. Bhima And Hanuman

    DRAUPADI used to complain frequently: “This Kamyaka forest is not beautiful without Arjuna. I find no joy in life in the absence of Arjuna.”

    The other Pandavas shared Draupadi’s wretchedness at separation from Arjuna, who had gone to the Himalayas in quest of divine weapons.

    Bhimasena told Draupadi: “Blessed lady, I myself feel the same about Arjuna and what you say makes me thrill with love and sympathy. Bereft of Arjuna, this beautiful forest seems desolate. My mind can know no peace without seeing Arjuna. Sahadeva, how do you feel?”

    Sahadeva said: “This hermitage seems to be empty without Arjuna. We shall try whether a change of scene will help us to bear the pain of separation better.”

    Yudhishthira addressing his priest Dhaumya said: “I have sent my younger brother Arjuna to win divine weapons. That dauntless and dexterous hero has not yet returned. We have sent him to the Himalayas to get from Indra, the king of gods, weapons with which we could conquer Bhishma, Drona, Kripa and Aswatthama, since it is certain that these heroes will fight on the side of the sons of Dhritarashtra. Karna knows the secret of divine weapons, and his supreme wish is to fight with Arjuna. I have sent Arjuna to gain Indra’s grace and get weapons from him as the Kaurava heroes can be defeated by no other means. Having sent him on a very difficult errand, we cannot live here happily, for we miss him in all our accustomed haunts. I wish to go elsewhere, for that may enable us to bear the separation better. Can you suggest where we could go?”

    Dhaumya described many forests and holy places. The Pandavas went the round of those places to relieve themselves to some extent from the pangs of separation.

    They spent many years in this pilgrimage and in listening to the traditions, which sanctified each shrine. Draupadi would often feel exhausted by having to traverse mountains and forests. Bhima, sometimes helped by his son Ghalotkacha, would serve and encourage them and make their labors easy.

    In the course of their wanderings through the Himalayan regions they came to a terrible forest where the path was rugged and steep.

    Yudhishthira was worried and told Bhima that the way would greatly distress Draupadi but that he himself would go on accompanied by Nakula and the sage Lomasa.

    He suggested that Bhima and Sahadeva should stay behind at Gangadwara with Draupadi. Bhima would not agree. He said that the pain of separation from Arjuna ought to have taught his brother how much he would suffer if he were parted from Sahadeva, Draupadi and Bhima.

    Besides, Bhima could not leave Yudhishthira alone in this forest infested with Rakshasas, demons and wild animals. The way was hard, but he could easily carry Draupadi across the most difficult parts of it. He could carry Nakula and Sahadeva also.

    When Bhima said these words, Yudhishthira embraced him and blessed him and wished him an increase of physical strength. Draupadi smiled and said, addressing Yudhishthira: “No one need carry me. I can walk. Do not be anxious about me.”

    They reached Kulinda, the kingdom of Subahu, on the Himalayas. They accepted the honors rendered to them by that king and rested there awhile. Later on, they went to the charming forest of Narayanasrama and halted there.

    One day, a breeze that blew from the northeast wafted a beautiful flower near Draupadi. Draupadi took it in her hands and was so charmed with its fragrance and beauty that she showed it rapturously to Bhima.

    “Come and see this flower. What a sweet fragrance! How charming! I shall hand this over to Yudhishthira. Bring some flowers of this kind. We should grow this plant in our Kamyaka forest.” Draupadi ran to give the flower to Yudhishthira.

    Anxious to please his beloved Draupadi, Bhima went in quest of that plant. He went alone in the direction from which the fragrance seemed to be borne by the breeze, without wasting a thought on the wild beasts that crossed his path.

    He presently came to a garden of plantain trees at the foot of a mountain, and there he saw a huge monkey shining like blazing fire, which lay right across his path blocking it.

    He tried to frighten the animal out of his way by shouting at it. It only half opened its eyes lazily and drawled: “I am indisposed and so I am lying here. Why lid you wake me? You are a wise human being and I am mere animal. It is proper that the rational man should show mercy to animals as interior creatures. I am afraid you are ignorant of right and wrong. Who are you? Whither are you bound? It is not possible to go further along this mountain path which is the path of the gods. Men cannot cross this limit. Eat what you like of the fruits of this place and if you are wise, go back in peace.”

    Bhima, unused to being taken so lightly, grew angry and shouted: “Who are you, yourself, you monkey, that indulges in such tall talk? I am a kshatriya hero, a descendant of the Kuru race and a son of Kunti. Know that I am the son of the Wind god. Now move away from the path or stop me at your peril.”

    Hearing these words the monkey merely smiled and said: “I am, as you say, a monkey, but you will come to destruction if you try to force a way.”

    Bhima said: “I do not want your advice and it is no concern of yours if I go to destruction. Get up and move out of the way or I will make you.”

    The monkey replied: “I have no strength to stand up, being but a very old monkey. If you have to go at any cost, jump over me.”

    Bhima said: “Nothing could be easier but the scriptures forbid it. Otherwise I should jump over you and the mountain in one bound, like Hanuman crossing the ocean.”

    The monkey remarked as though in surprise: “O best of men, who is that Hanuman who crossed the ocean? If you know his story, enlighten me.”

    Bhima roared and said: “Have you not heard of Hanuman, my elder brother, who crossed the ocean, a hundred yojanas in breadth, to seek and find Sita, the wife of Rama? I am equal to him in strength and heroism. Well, that is enough talk, now get up and make way and do not provoke me to do you some harm.”

    The monkey answered: “O mighty hero, be patient. Be gentle as you are strong, and have mercy on the old and weak. I have no strength to rise up as I am decrepit with age. Since you have scruples in jumping over me, kindly move aside my tail and make a path for yourself.”

    Proud of his immense strength, Bhima thought to pull the monkey out of the way by its tail. But, to his amazement he could not move it in the least, though he exerted all his strength.

    He set his jaws and strained every muscle till the very sinews cracked and he was covered with perspiration. But, still, could not move that tail the least, a little bit up or down or sideways. In shame, he bent down his head, and then asked in a chastened mood:

    “Who are you? Forgive me and reveal to me whether you are a Siddha, god or Gandharva.” Bhima like most strong men, was all respect when he saw one stronger than himself, and spoke like a pupil addressing his master.

    Hanuman replied: “O mighty-armed Pandava, know that I am your brother, even that Hanuman, the son of the Wind god, whom you mentioned a little while ago. If you go on this path, which is the road to the spirit-world where the Yakshas and the Rakshasas abide, you will meet with danger and that is why I stop you. No man can go beyond this and live. But here is the stream with its depths where you can find the Saugandhika plant you came to seek.”

    Bhima was transported with delight: “I count myself the most fortunate of men in that I have been blessed to meet my brother. I wish to see the form in which you crossed the ocean,” and he prostrated before Hanuman.

    Hanuman smiled and began to increase the size of his body and stood forth firmly to the world like a mountain seeming to fill the landscape.

    Bhima was thrilled at actually seeing that divine form of this elder brother, the mere description of which had till then filled him with wonder. He covered his eyes, unable to bear the dazzling light radiating from that figure.

    Hanuman said: “Bhima, in the presence of my enemies, my body can grow still more.” And Hanuman contracted his body, resuming his former size. He tenderly embraced Bhimasena.

    Bhagavan Vyasa says that Bhima felt completely refreshed and became much stronger than before by the embrace of Hanuman.

    Hanuman said: “O hero, go to your abode. Think of me whenever you are in need. I felt the same delight when I embraced you that I had in times of yore when I was fortunate enough to touch the divine body of Sri Rama. Ask any boon that you like.”

    Bhima said: “Blessed are the Pandavas for I have had the good fortune to see you. Inspired with your strength we are sure to conquer our enemies.”

    Hanuman gave this parting blessing to his brother:

    “While you roar like a lion in the battlefield, my voice shall join yours and strike terror into the hearts of your enemies. I shall be present on the flag of the chariot of your brother Arjuna. You will be victorious.”

    Hanuman pointed out to Bhima the stream nearby, where grew the Saugandhika flowers he had come to seek.

    This put Bhima at once in mind of Draupadi who was waiting for his return, and he collected the flowers and returned to her without delay.

  3. prithvi raj Says:

    🙄 beautiful story. one shuld not get haughty
    one money ,power. universe has many surprises in store

  4. Ashita Maheshwari Says:

    beautiful story please mail me the story of cindrella
    thank u

  5. Ronak Agrawal Says:

    wow,such a beautiful story. A must read for everyone to refresh from your daily schedule.

  6. Sid Says:

    Nice stories but should be short

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