The Real Story of Durvasa visit (BORI)
Hidden in the folds of Vana Mahaparva is VrihiDraunika Parva. Now, BORI does not have the story of Durvasa visit with Krishna elemental story. That is an obvious interpolation because Durvasa for all the other interactions is a big fan of Yudhishthara and has already appeared in the Vana Parva when Yudhishthara visited him. That story and other visits of Yudhishthara and sages will come in another post.
Many places it is very obvious to spot interpolations, because of the size of the Epic. Some of the interpolators are just fanatics who have a single agenda. They add stories to exalt or denigrate as per their agenda. And fanatics are also those who do not study the whole Mahabharata. Because if they do take the time, they realize the beauty of the Epic and may not be fanatic any longer. But they do not and thus, such people’s stories get trapped in their own telling.
Durvasa’s visit with Krishna story is actually not to exalt to denigrate anyone. It has several metaphors and several schema’s to illustrate messages which are very important in daily life.
Save every grain of rice was a beautiful interpretation Doordarshan came up with in 1970s in a drought ravaged nation where Norman Borlaugh’s blessings had just started making a dent. It also illustrated the efficacy and efficiency of an Indian housewife who can handle any guest scenario calling up almighty to deliver the solution. It has several humorous Jagaran versions which in a way also illustrate the modern conditions where the tales of dhongi sadhus and their agendas were illustrated.
Original intention may have just been to add a Krishna story in a section where he disappears for as we had stated for the length of a Ramayana. Durvasa did test and visited Yudhishthara but not in the form of the story that is famous. That is why we turn to the VrihiDraunika Parva.
Eleventh year had ended. Yudhishthara still blamed himself for the situation he had placed his brothers in. He was now resolute to the point that the Pandavas will have revenge. Whether, the Revenge will involve the kingdoms of Bharata or just punishing the four main villains especially Karna whose abuses had inflamed an anger in Yudhishthara who had absorbed the anger as Shankar absorbed the poison.
Seeing the inner pain of the elder brother, Arjuna and twins tried to ameliorate that by always involving Yudhishthara with tales of great power feats of Bhima (on daily basis) and actions of their glorious (yashasvini uttama) wife Draupadi which elevated his spirits.
This increased the happiness of Yudhishthara and reduced his impatience. With the few days left in the Vanavasa, Pandavas with great passion and regular exertion had sculpted their bodies to heights of athleticism and capable of great endurance for the coming battle.
Bhima would later tell Krishna that he built his muscles in the forest doing work for the ashrama despite the diet of kanda-moola that he replaced the Gada given to him by Maya Danava by one 50% more heavier.
Yudhishthara was in good cheer and that increased the happiness of Pandavas and with few days left, Vyasa visited Pandavas. Seeing his augmented grandsons (posterity) wearing the skin of black antelopes, pulsating like mother-of-pearls in the darkness of the forests and with smiles of his faces, Vyasa faltered in his speech so overcome with emotion was he.
Vyasa gave a lecture on efficacy of Tapa and Dana. One of things he mentioned also indicates that Duryodhana appearing in heaven Swargahrohana Parva was a fake image to test Yudhishthara because here in Vana Parva he states that the opponents of Pandavas will be born as animals and birds in next birth for their deeds however they die. (This point is repeated by devadoota.)
Yudhishthara asked which among the two, Tapa or Dana is bigger. Vyasa stated that Tapa is an activity which is ever incremental, you dedicate your body and senses towards it and you can sanchaya collect tapa. Daan or Charity is the bigger and more difficult task for a man. Daan is not always incremental, it removes material possessions from one’s control and are given to others. Charity is hard because you have earned it. The Charity of wealth given in inheritance or received as birth right is not as important as the charity of wealth earned.
To earn wealth, men does immense sacrifices, people range in forests looking for wealth provided by forests, they dive in oceans to collect pearls, some travel away from home to work in foreign lands, others through agriculture and looking after cows earn wealth subsuming their identity to that of their profession.
So Wealth earned with labor, that wealth is difficult to give and that is the only true charity. I have always looked with pride at you my grandsons for your continuous devotion to concept of charity. As Kings, you conquered huge lands and gave away that wealth to all without fear or favor. You picked up enmities from kings and hoarders whose wealth you distributed to those more deserving. You looked at people who needed it, you used the measures of where it is needed, when it is needed and who needs it. (Neelkantha adds) Many of these kings and evil people have flocked to Hastinapur and will oppose you but in your actions, you did not worry about consequences.
(BORI) I will tell you of the tale of the donation of One Drona (measure) of Grain that Rishi Mudgala and his family gave.
One Drona measure of Grain === VrihiDrona
Vrihidrona parityaga (donation) == VrihiDraunika
Hence the name.
(Now this location is where Durvasa-Krishna story was added in. Before continuing the Vyasa story, let me tell you the information already given in Adi Parva, Mudgala Rishi in the story is previous birth of Yudhishthara and Maudgalyani (real name Nalayani) is his wife Draupadi in previous birth. The original story is not unknown, it is also very famous, H M Munro Saki, Rudyard Kipling and Somerset Maugham (and others) have written allegorical stories on the original story of Durvasa and his test. This story is also known to probably all Indians just replace Durvasa the original with Siva, Ganesha, Murugan, Durga, Krishna as the testers. )
Some comments from Neelkantha:
Drona: Sixteen Sera or 15 kgs (One Sera is .933 Kg or 80 Tola (one tola 11.67 gms))
The Brahmins who were not born from Brahma and were created at later date from ex-Kshatriyas or ex-Vaishyas or ex-Sudras who had became Brahmins because of some event or tapobala of an ancestor had options to have Jivika or livelihood of various forms. I will not go into the details of all the livelihood classifications and will focus on the Mudgala family. The eldest of five brothers was Mudgala. He and his four brothers founded a new kingdom called after them Panchala.
The eldest brother was of saintly nature, always spoke truth and in control of his emotions and actions (sounds familiar!). He achieved Brahminhood and thus chose the following livelihood for his family.
“Unchhama kanasha Aadanan Kanishardharajanana shilam”
When the farmer has finished tilling and removed the crop, many small कण grain particles are left in the field.
When the grain market ends and everything is sold or taken away, many small कण grain particles are left on the ground.
The Brahmins who collect these grain particles are called those following उञ्छ् Uzcch livelihood.(Ek ann ka daana, sukh dega tumko manmaaanaa).
When the field crops are cut, there are some wheat and corn husks remain and those who collect them for food is called following Sheela livelihood.
Mudgala ordained that they will follow Uzchh and Sheela livelihood as per the conditions.
Mudgala Rishi’s Story
Mudgala diligently followed the Uzchha and Sheela livelihoods and taken the vrata to do entertain all guests. He followed his dharma and indulged in meditation and further more followed the habits of Kapoti. This means that he would only eat like a pigeon. So when the family went to collect the grains, they did not indulge in extra collecting.
The Rishi and his wife would collect particles for 15 days like the pigeons. Then they would conduct the Ishtikrta Yagna and then fifteen days of food they will eat. Next month, they will collect for 15 days and then do the yagna and eat for 15 days. They always only collected 1 drona of grain. 15 Kgs, They ate 1 kg a day for 15 days. That was set. If a guest comes, they would share that day.
Not only the Ishtikrta Yagna, even during the Pakshika where they don’t eat or eat, they would still do Darsha and Puarnamasa yajnas and so save some grain for that and conduct those yagnas with grain, give portions to God and guests on those yagnas.
(bare necessities O simple bare necessities, mother nature’s recipies… ‘ok ok I will not sing it again.!’)
What Rishi Mudgala and Maudgalyani did not know that when they gave the part of grains to the devas in the yagna, actual Indra and Devas would come in person and collect it, that was the level of piety Mudgala had achieved.
They collected one drona only and then donated to the Gods and guests from that only, many more hundreds of Rishis and munis were attracted to their ashrama. What the Mudgalas did not realize that because of blessings of Gods, when they gave food to a guest, the next guest would come and seeing the guest, drona (vessel) would get filled again. Thus, the Rishi and his wife were able to satisfy many guests. It was their piety that made the Akshaya Patra of the vessel they collected grains in.
On hearing everyone talking about the piousness of Mudgala, Durvasa was intrigued. Disguised as a digambara Brahmin, he reached the Ashrama of Mudgala. He had a disheveled appearance, talked like a mad man and had wild looks and angry demeanor.
Mudgala calmly greeted him, gave him Padya, Arghya, Aachamniya and other Pooja samagri. He then gave Durvasa food. Durvasa despite not being hungry ate all the food and asked for more. Maudgalyani cooked more food and presented to Durvasa. Durvasa took the remaining food and rubbed it all over his body and left. The fear of Durvasa was keeping the other guests away. So Drona did not fill up.
The family remained hungry. Then they calmly went about collecting the grains. Next Parvakala came and Durvasa again came, ate or threw away 15 kgs grain and left. Now the family has not eaten for 2 months. They calmly went about collecting grains. No anger, no fear, no vikara presented in their hearts.
Durvasa came six more times. Mudgala and his family never showed any issues. Durvasa was impressed and blessed the couple and their children.
Durvasa proclaimed that the Greatest giver of charity in the world is Mudgala. He has remained free of jealousy and want and continued to donate without any fear or favor. Hunger destroys Dharma most of all. But, even that hunger has failed against you. This control of heart and senses not only by you but also by your wife and your child have never before been done before by anyone and will never be achieved by anyone.
To donate the goods from your own labor is the most difficult task while battling hunger and thirst is the Greatest achievement I have and this world will see. And you did it with a pure heart. You have won all the worlds and have achieved the Parampada itself.
Soon enough, A devadoota came with the Divine chariot lifted by Swans. He invited the Mudgala family to go with him to Heaven in mortal coils.
Mudgala asked about the Gunas and habits of people who live in Heaven.
Devadoota then proceeds to describe the qualities and heavens.
“O Maharishi of great mind and intelligence, you know the pleasures available in heaven. But I will try and describe the guna- dosha of denizens as best as I can. The Heaven which people reach is called Udharvaga as you have to go up to reach it. Devatas, Sadhyas, Visvedevas, Maharsiganas, Yaama, Dhaama, Gandharvas, Apsaras, these Deva groups have their own lighted up beautiful Lokas.”
There follows some nice description of heaven and the lack of thirst, hunger, guilt, heat, cold, fear and pain for its denizens.
During the conversation, some questions may have been asked or answered to the son as well as Devadoota refers to both Mudgala and Maudgalya. After describing in detail the Gunas and conditions of heaven, Devdoota touches on concept of Brahmaloka and its features.
He describes that Devas themselves worship an higher power Gods called Ribhus and they reside in Brahmaloka and other higher Ribhu lokas and shower their blessings on Gods of Swarga and Udhrvaloka.
Ribhus are beyond Devas in the very crucial point that they exist as Pure energies. They do not have form or need Amrita or even ahutis. They are eternal and exist beyond the Kalpa and the concept of Pralaya. The Devas main desire is to reach the higher plane of Ribhus.
Mudgala and his family have already achieved the characteristics of heaven themselves on Earth itself.
After describing the good parts, Devadoota talked about the conditions of heaven. The merits accumulated by the men are then used up in Heaven and no new merits can be created in heaven as no conditions are available for those. The day the accumulated merits exhaust, you fall away from heaven. Then they get a chance to be born as humans again.
Mudgala replied that is there a place which is free of this habit of Heaven to exhaust the merits?
Devadoota “Above the Brahmaloka is the Pure Eternal Jyotirmaya Loka of Parabrahma. Few men can reach that higher plane. Please do not tarry and come with me to heaven.”
Mudgala said “As you yourself said that I have achieved the happiness of Heaven here, karmaloka, mrityuloka is the only place where I can accumulate merit and only lose that in the heaven so I have no desire to go to heaven. I will aim to continue my tapas across this mrityuloka that I reach the Akshyadhama, the highest plane and that would be my aim and goal.”
Having said that Mudgala continued his austerities and eventually one day he will walk into heaven and beyond in his mortal coils. That story is the Mahabharata. Mudgala is Yudhishthara, Maudgalyani is Draupadi. Their son is Maudgalya (most likely the Dog).
Mudgala would take five forms to cohabit with his wife and hence in the next birth, Five Pandavas and Draupadi were thus reunited. The story of walking to heaven in mortal coils is equally true for Maudgalyani and so should be for Draupadi. Hence the story of Draupadi falling is an interpolation which is evidential for the loss of rights of woman in the society of the day.
Before there was Vaishnavites and Saivites, there were Arjunites and vasudevites and before them were the Solar and Lunar votaries. Descended from Vaivasta Manu and his son-in-law Budha, the Suryvanshis and Chandravanshis.
Their descendants and the priests also fought each other in same vein as we see the modern votaries do. Mudgala’s story is repeated in the Solar cycle of legends with the name as Arishtanemi.
After rejecting the offer to go to Heaven with Devadoota, Arishtanemi went to Ashrama of Valmiki where Valimiki sang the Yoga-Vashishtha of 32000 verses (the Arsha Ramayana or Vashishtha Ramayana or Maharamayana) as the discussion between Ram and Vashishtha after coming back from Lanka. Valmiki had taken the entire adhyatmic and Upakhyan portion of Ramayana out of main story line and created the YogaVashishtha of 32K verses.
That is why KM Munshi also believed that there would be an Upakhyana free Mahabharata of 54000 verses (27K War Verses and 27K main story verses) and larger than that YogaBharata or Yoga Dharmaraja or Yoga Jaya which is now lost. Bheeshma and Yudhishthara as Rama and Vashishtha had the long discussion on same topics after the war.
Durvasa and Akshaypatra
The Mudgala’s vessel was what Surya gave to Yudhishthara. Whenever a guest would come, it will again become full with food. There was no condition like Draupadi eating last. She used to do that as Queen of Indraprastha also. So if Durvasa had come on behest of Duryodhana, on seeing a new guest, the Akshay Patra would fill up automatically. There is no need of Krishna intervention. If it was needed, Krishna would be there to help out, no questions. Because that is Krishna’s nature. The story might be related to some other potentate or devotee.
Who were the first ones? Angiras, the son of Brahma had a son named Sudhanva. Sudhanva had three children, Ribhuksan, Vibhvan and Vaja. These three were first Ribhus and achieved that higher plane. Rest followed on merits.
माला फेरत जुग गया, गया न मन का फेर
मनका मन का फेंक दे, मन का मनका फेर
You can do many japa and tapa, till you let go of the heart’s desires, you will not achieve the Pearl of detachment, the higher place.
As about Yudhishthara, Khwaja Mir Dard would say
तरदामनी पे शेख़ हमारी न जाइयो
दामन निचोड़ दें तो फ़रिश्ते वज़ू करें
Do not think, just think his achievements to be boasts, If he is writings his hem, even angels will vie to drink those drops.
Pranshu B. Saxena