The story of Surya and Aruna


Regular readers of Mahabore’s Mumblings will know my affinity towards Indian mythology and the lesser known tales from the same. This post marks my return to this genre after a reasonably long hiatus.

Here’s hoping you enjoy the same, and if you do so, let me know in the Comments Section below the post, and it also goes without saying, please share the post with all your friends and families as well.

So, without further ado, here goes the story of Surya, the Sun god and Aruna, his charioteer.

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SuryaArunaWhen the ocean of milk was churned and Amrita, the divine nectar of immortality was obtained, one of the asuras, Rahu disguised himself as a deva and sat down in line to drink the same. However, Surya managed to see through Rahu’s disguise and prevented Mohini from serving him the Amrita. Due to this Rahu had a longstanding grudge with Surya.

Despite the fact that all the devas knew about this enemity of Rahu’s with Surya, they did not do anything about it, and this enraged Surya to no end. He was of the opinion that the devas, being his kinsmen should have helped him get rid of Rahu’s threat once and for all.

Another version of the story has that, Rahu, enraged by Surya’s action swallows him whole and Surya is saved only when Lord Vishnu intervenes and Rahu is forced to regurgitate him. Surya blames the other devas for not coming to his aid when the asura Rahu swallowed him and insulted him so.

In any case, an angered Surya had decided to destroy all the worlds with his fierce heat.

As Surya was preparing himself to rise from the eastern kingdoms with the intention of burning through all the worlds with his heat, the great rishis approached the gods and asked them to intervene. The gods along with the rishis went to Brahma for a solution. Brahma confirmed their worst fears when he told them that Surya intended to destroy all the worlds with his heat, but he also reassured them when he told them that what was happening was pre-ordained and therefore a solution for this issue had also been determined beforehand.

He informed the gods and the rishis about how Aruna, the intelligent son of Kashyapa with a well-developed upper torso had recently been appointed the charioteer of Surya with the sole purpose of overcoming this particular situation. By doing his duty as a charioteer and staying in front of Surya all the time, Aruna shall absorb all the fierce energy emanated by Surya in his anger and shall ensure the well-being of all the worlds.

Aruna, having the divine providence of the reason for his birth, did just as Brahma described and ensured that Surya’s anger at the other gods did not result in the destruction of the worlds.

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Hand me downs


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Regular readers of my blog will know that Indian mythology is one of my favorite areas of interest and I have put up more than my fair share of posts with stories from the various epics and Puranas. Having said that it would be a no brainer that this would be the one area where I would like to disseminate as much information as I possibly can using my blog. Although I will be the first to confess that of late I haven’t been spending as much time as I would like in reading more and more of Indian mythology and sharing the same in an easy-to-understand manner on the blog.

It therefore follows that when Project 365 comes up with a prompt which reads if bloggers had their own Halloween and could go from blog to blog collecting ‘treats’, what would your blog hand out?, the first and only thing that comes to my mind as ‘treats’ would be snippets from Indian mythology.

Starting from smaller obscure stories like those of Sravana Kumara in the Ramayana and Barbareek in the Mahabharata, to relatively well known ones like those of Sabari and Ekalavya from the epics, the treasure trove that these two great epics are, is not lost out to anybody who has ever been exposed to them in any form or fashion. Added to these are the stories from the Puranas such as the wonderful story of the Syamantaka gem involving Krishna, the stories around the ten avataras of Vishnu, the stories of Shiva and Brahma, the list goes on and on.

The ‘treats’ I would hand out would be small snippets (three-four liners) of these stories probably mentioning just the name of the main character and a quick two line summary of the story itself.

These ‘treats’ would pique the interest of fellow bloggers to read more about them in online and offline forums and research the stories in greater detail. Couple these with the lovely story-telling and narrative skills that most of my readers have, and lo and behold, you will have wonderful blog posts with these stories from Indian mythology come alive on their blogs.

And what could be more fun than sharing these wonderful stories with the entire world through your own blogs. After all, there is more than enough information, entertainment and awesome narratives in Indian mythology that it simply isn’t enough if one mahabore regales us all with stories from them, right.

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This post has been written for Project 365: A post a day where the intention is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided. Today’s prompt was if bloggers had their own Halloween and could go from blog to blog collecting ‘treats’, what would your blog hand out?

Aviyal – A possible origin story


Ask any true-blue Malayali and he/she will tell you that the festival of Onam is not complete without the traditional Onam Sadhya (the Onam feast) and the Onam Sadhya is not complete without the addition of Aviyal to the menu.

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So in true Malayali tradition and on the occasion of Onam, here go a couple of links to the recipe of preparing the delectable Aviyal. Not one, but two links, one a Malayali version and another a Tam Brahm version.

Malayali version of Aviyal

Tam Brahm version of Aviyal

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Now that all of you readers, especially the ones with an inclination to cooking and enjoying good food have had your exposure to this lovely dish, courtesy Padhu’s Kitchen who provided both recipes, let me tell you one version of how this awesome dish came into being.

Legend has it that Bhima, the second Pandava prince liked troubling his traditional rivals, the Kauravas quite a bit when he was young. He often bullied them, picking them up and throwing them to the ground, shaking the trees on which they were perched upon until they fell off the tree and other such juvenile stunts.

One day, tired of Bhima bullying them ever so often, the Kauravas decided to poison him. They offered him sweets laced with poison and when he fell unconscious after eating them, they tied big stones to his feet and threw him into the river.

Little did they know that the river was populated by the Nagas. They rescued Bhima and took them to their king Vasuki, who lived in their underwater city. The Nagas then hosted a banquet in honor of their royal guest and also gave him a potion which rendered him immune to any poisons known by humans so far.

Back in Hastinapur, the remaining Pandavas had already assumed Bhima as dead and had organized a funeral feast in his honor to mark the end of the official mourning period. On that day, all the vegetables had been cut and spices prepared to be cooked for the feast.

It was in this melee that Bhima appeared from the river, alive, hale and hearty, to the great relief of his mother Kunti and his brothers.

Being the gourmand that he was, Bhima did not want the cut vegetables and spices to be wasted. He therefore offered to cook a special meal putting them all together which went against conventional cooking conventions of the day, which prevented multiple vegetables from being part of the same dish. The dish that he cooked that day with all the vegetables and spices came to be called Aviyal.

Little did he know that this dish would then go on to become staple fare for all Malayalis during most of their festive days including Onam.

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Story Courtesy : Dr Devdutt Pattanaik’s “Jaya : An illustrated retelling of the Mahabharata

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While some of you readers might be surprised at the inclusion of a food recipe on the blog or the introduction of mythology and Mahabharata in a food recipe post, seasoned readers of Mahabore’s Mumblings will know my penchant, both for good food as well as for the Mahabharata.

And I couldn’t resist combining both these passions into one post, could I? Do leave behind your comments on the post and let me know whether you liked the Aviyal, the story behind its origins, or both.

The story of Yayati – Part 3


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<< PART 2 >>

Yayati then approached his eldest son Yadu and requested him to exchange his youth with old age so that he may satisfy his sensual needs and enjoy the pleasures of youth for a few more years. Yadu refused to do so citing the fact that he had not been young long enough to experience the bodily happiness of youth and would therefore not be able to become indifferent to material pleasures, having never experienced them.

Yayati then approached his other sons Turvasu, Druhyu and Anu who refused his offer as they did not know the true nature of the human soul and accorded too much importance to their temporal human body and its youth.

The old king finally found in his young son Puru someone who was willing to take on his old age in exchange for youth. The following were Puru’s words when he accepted Sukracharya’s curse

Not too many people in this world get a chance to repay their fathers who have given them their body. He who acts as per his father’s wishes is surely destined to be blessed even by the Gods.

As a young man again, King Yayati then enjoyed sensual pleasures and pleasures of the flesh for many more years. Years later he realized that the craving for sensual pleasures is not satiated by indulgence and if anything such indulgence only serves to increase the cravings even more. Upon achieving this realization, he goes back to his son Puru and gives back his youth to him and gladly accepts old age.

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Dr Devdutt Pattanaik, eminent mythologist in this article [Link to article] describes how the events in Yayati’s story contribute to the inherent struggle between the older and younger generations. In this case, the older generation in the form of Yayati has his way and how the defeat of the younger generation in the form of Puru is often glorified and celebrated as a large sacrifice.

This is what is termed the Yayati Complex by many Indian psychologists, where the son sacrifices his pleasures to heed to the demands of his father, in order to obtain the goodwill and appreciation of his father. This is a clear contrast to the Western psychological precept of The Oedipus Complex discussed in my earlier posts [Link to post].

Another wonderful example of the Yayati Complex is found in the Mahabharata where Bhishma takes on two terrible vows – one to make Satyavati’s sons the heirs to the throne of Hastinapur and two never to marry so that his children might never stake a claim to the throne themselves. Bhishma takes these vows to ensure that his father Santanu’s desire to marry Satyavati is fulfilled, and is therefore a classic example of the Yayati Complex.

The story of Yayati – Part 2


yayati

<< PART 1 >>

After some time, King Yayati who was out on a hunt happened to come by that way. Feeling thirsty he stopped near the well and happened to see Devayani in the well. Desirous of helping her, he took off his upper garment, reached down to her and pulled her out of the well.

Addressing him Devayani said O King, by taking my hand into yours, you have accepted my hand in marriage. It will now never be touched by another man, as it is providence that our relationship has so been consummated.

Know this o King, no qualified Brahmin can ever become my husband because Kaca, the son of Brihaspati has cursed me so.

After Yayati had agreed to her statement, Devayani then went to her father Sukracharya and narrated all that happened. Enraged with the princess’ behavior Sukracharya then went to Vrishaparva with the intention of punishing her. Vrishaparva however satiated his guru’s anger by offering Sharmistha as a maidservant to Devayani.

Once Sukracharya’s anger was mollified, he then sent Devayani with her thousand maidservants which included Sharmistha to her husband, King Yayati’s palace. Giving his daughter’s hand in marriage to the king, Sukracharya warned Yayati to never allow Sharmistha into his bed.

The king and his newly wed queen enjoyed marital bliss and soon Devayani was pregnant with their child. Seeing her old friend enjoying her pregnancy, Sharmistha approached Yayati in a secluded place and asked him to marry her as well and promised to be a faithful wife to him. Neglecting the holy Sukracharya’s advice, the king went on to marry Sharmistha as well and gave in to her demands for a child from him.

When Devayani found out that her former friend was also pregnant with the king’s child, she was angry and immediately left the palace for her father’s place. The distraught Yayati followed her there and despite his entreaties and pleading, she refused to come back to his palace. Angry at the king not following his specific advice to the contrary, Sukracharya cursed Yayati

You womanizing, deceitful man, may you immediately enter old age which disfigures the human body

Yayati begged the holy man for his forgiveness who then relented and told him that if he could transfer his invalidity and old age to some young man, then he could remain young and enjoy the pleasures of the flesh if he so desired.

<< PART 3 >>