The story of Yayati – Part 1


King Nahusha had six sons; Yati, Yayati, Samyati, Ayati, Viyati and Kriti. When he grew old and wanted to renounce his kingdom, his eldest son Yati, did not accept the kingdom offered by his father, knowing fully well that a person who becomes the king can never succeed in the pursuit of self-realization. Therefore, when circumstances intervened and Nahusha was forced to give up his kingdom as he had offended Saatchi, Indra’s wife and was cursed to live the life of a snake, his second son Yayati became the king. He nominated his four younger brothers as regents for the four directions of his kingdom and took Devayani, the daughter of Sukracharya and Sharmistha, the daughter of Vrishaparva as his queens. The story of Yayati’s marriage to these two ladies goes thus.


One day Vrishaparva’s daughter Sharmistha along with her thousand companions which included Sukracharya’s daughter Devayani were walking in the palace garden. The garden was well renowned for its beauty and was full of lotus flowers, crammed with blossoming trees and almost always nicely buzzed with the activity of bumblebees flying around collecting honey from all the flowers. When the princess and her companions arrived at the lake in the garden, they took off their clothes and started playing in the water.

Seeing Lord Shiva pass by that way with his consort Parvati, the young women quickly got out of the water and covered themselves with the garments they had casually discarded on the banks of the lake. In her hurry to get dressed, Sharmistha unknowingly put on the dress of her guru Sukracharya’s daughter, Devayani. Devayani, angered by this act of the princess, exclaimed

Alas, despite being a princess, Sharmistha’s actions are against etiquette. She desires clothes which are not her own and her actions are like that of a dog which lusts after the sacrificial ghee. My father who is a descendant of Bhrigu, and the spiritual guru of her father Vrishaparva, is a learned and a chaste man and the princess by virtue of stealing my clothes reminds me of somebody who is unchaste trying to master the Vedas.

Angered by this outburst of her companion Sharmistha retorted What nonsense Devayani? You don’t know your place. It is you who waits outside our doors for food like crows do when fresh rice is cooked.

Saying so she removed the garments that Devayani was wearing and threw the naked girl into a well.

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The legend of Oedipus – Part 2


<< PART 1 >>

Since King Laius was not killed in a battle or a war and did not die in a manner that befitted a king, his city Thebes is cursed with a disease by the Sphinx, the Greek demon of destruction and bad luck. Additionally, for anybody to enter or leave the city, they had to correctly answer the riddle of the Sphinx, failing which they would then be strangled and killed. Therefore, when Oedipus reached the gates of Thebes, the Sphinx posed him with this riddle.

What is that, which in the morning goeth upon four feet, upon two feet in the afternoon and in the evening upon three?

Oedipus figures out the answer to the riddle – Man; as he crawls when he is a baby, walks on his own feet as an adult and needs the help of a walking stick, a third leg, as he grows older. Impressed with his ability to quickly think, the Sphinx accepts defeat, allows him to enter Thebes, and also makes him the ruler of the city by virtue of having freed it from the curse. He also goes on to marry the dead widow of the king, Jocasta, his own mother.

After some time, with the intention of investigating who killed the King Laius to lift the curse on the city, Oedipus goes on to discover that it was he who had killed him, and also found out that by doing so, he had killed his own father and consequently gone on to marry his own mother.

Overcome by guilt and shame at what had happened, Jocasta hanged herself, and a grief struck Oedipus took two of her dress pins and blinded himself. He was then driven into exile where he finally died after years of wandering.


The above legend has been told and retold in many versions and also forms the basis for a psychological condition called The Oedipus Complex made popular by Sigmund Freud.

Freud used the name to describe a childhood neuroses where a male child has an unconscious desire for the love of his mother which also includes jealousy towards the father. In simpler terms, the son feels so protective of his mother and her love towards him that he cannot even tolerate his father being close to his mother.

The underlying theme that Freud uses here is the fact that there inherently exists a conflict between the younger generation (Oedipus) and the older generation (Laius) and the incident at the Cleft Way just goes on to highlight the insistence of both generations to stick to their points of view and an unwillingness to let the other generation win at any cost. What follows consequently is a violent struggle between generations where the younger one wins.

But in the process, the wisdom of the past is lost, Oedipus pays no heed to what Laius has to say or what his point of view is. He is only interested in sticking to his point of view and ignores everything else.

The legend of Oedipus – Part 1


In Greek mythology, King Laius of Thebes was still young when his kingdom was usurped. However, some Thebans loyal to the royal family smuggled young Laius out of the city before the attackers could get a hold of him. In due course of time, when the usurpers died due to the passage of time, Laius returned to Thebes and became its king.

He then married Jocasta of Sparta. In the few days that followed, he was visited by an oracle (a prophetic prediction) from the sacred Delphi which told him that he must not have a child with his wife Jocasta, as the child would go on to kill him and marry her.

However as things stood, Laius was completely drunk and fathered Oedipus with his queen. When the child was born, he fastened its feet and left it open to the elements on Mount Cithaeron. Found by some sympathetic shepherds who then handed him over to King Polybus and Queen Merope of Corinth, Oedipus grew into a handsome young man.

As a young man when Oedipus was approached by the Delphic oracle and told that he should not go home as that would result in him killing his father and marrying his mother. Believing Polybus and Merope of Corinth to be his real parents, he made his way to Thebes wanting to avoid going to Corinth.

On his way to Thebes, the road narrowed at a place known to travelers as the ‘Cleft Way’. At this particular point, the road was so narrow that only one chariot could pass through it. It was at this point that Oedipus encountered an old man approaching from the other side. Neither of them wanted to give way to the other and in the ensuing quarrel, Oedipus ended up killing the older man and continuing on his way to Thebes.

Some days ago, the old King Laius was disturbed by some ill omens which seemed to predict that he would die sometime soon. He immediately set off to visit the Delphic oracle to understand these omens better. And as fate would have it, he was accosted by a young man at the ‘Cleft Way’ and in the ensuing quarrel was killed by him.

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Third time around – Part 3

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Things reached a point where kings belonging to the Kuru dynasty, Matsya dynasty, Kekaya dynasty and Srnjaya dynasty became infuriated and took up arms to kill Sisupala as a punishment for his insults. However, Krishna did not want the holy ceremony to be disrupted with unnecessary bloodshed and personally restrained these kings from any martial action.

Even the sight of these might kings taking up their arms did not dissuade Sisupala who continued to abuse Krishna. Little did he know that Krishna was keeping count of all the offences committed by him, and what was worse was that he was running out of his quota of one hundred offences.

And then when the count ran out, Krishna addressed the gathering thus – Listen all you people present here. As promised to my aunt, I have pardoned one hundred offences of Sisupala. This number has now been exceeded by him, and in the presence of all you honored people, I shall now slay him.

Saying so, Krishna summoned his mighty disc, the Sudarsana Chakra and beheaded Sisupala. When the mighty armed Sisupala’s body fell down to the ground, there was a fierce burst of energy akin to that of the sun, which emanated out of the lifeless body of Sisupala and entered Krishna.


Thus, one of the doorkeepers of Vaikunta had been provided with salvation for a third time.


King Salva was a good friend of Sisupala and was part of the bridegroom’s party when Sisupala went to marry Rukmini. However, Krishna had other plans and managed to kidnap Rukmini just before she got married to Sisupala. And in the ensuing battle between Sisupala and his friends’ armies and the Yadu army, Salva was defeated badly. This defeat at the hands of the Yadu army rankled Salva very much and he undertook severe penance and austerities in order to obtain the good favor of Shiva.

Pleased with Salva’s austerities and devotion, when he was granted a boon by Shiva, the king asked for a flying machine, an airplane which would be so strong that it could not be destroyed by any demigod, demon, human, Gandharva, Naga or Rakshasa. He also desired that the airplane be allowed to fly anywhere without restraints and be especially useful in combat situations.

Shiva granted Salva his boon and with the help of the divine architect Maya, the king manufactured this magical airplane. With the help of this indestructible airplane, Salva attacked Dwaraka when Krishna was attending the Rajasuya Yagna conducted by Yudhisthira in Indraprastha. And when Krishna came back to Dwaraka after the yagna, he saw his city Dwaraka and its inhabitants in great danger.

Krishna immediately ordered his charioteer to take him to the place on the battlefield from where Salva was launching his attack on the city and its inhabitants. Despite Salva’s best efforts, Krishna managed to unleash a shower of sixteen powerful arrows which overpowered Salva’s magical airplane. Despite Salva’s best efforts and use of unworldly magic to try and convince Krishna that he had kidnapped his father Vasudeva and kept him hostage, Krishna was not fooled. He beheaded Salva and rid the world of the terror of this evil ruler.

Almost immediately, Salva’s good friend, Dantavakra appeared on the scene of the battlefield and set to avenge his friend’s death. He was so agitated with the killing of his good friend that he attacked Krishna without proper armor and weapons. In fact, he was so blinded with rage that he ran towards Krishna on foot without even mounting his chariot, with just a club in his hand.

Following the military etiquette of the day, Krishna also dismounted his chariot and armed himself with a club to meet Dantavakra in battle. And in a quick matter of minutes, Krishna managed to kill Dantavakra as well with strong strikes to his head and chest with his club.


Thus, both the doorkeepers of Vaikunta, Jaya and Vijaya were granted salvation by Lord Vishnu a third time over, fulfilling the conditions of the curse placed upon them by the Manu Kumaras.

Third time around – Part 2

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Years later, when the Pandava king Yudhisthira, another cousin of Krishna was performing a Rajasuya Yagna at Indraprastha, both Krishna and Sisupala were honored guests at the ceremony. One of the important parts of the Rajasuya Yagna was that one of the guests would be offered what was termed the Agrapuja – the first person to be worshipped. This honor was usually given to the most exalted of all the warriors and kings present at the ceremony and would be chosen by the audience present.

When Bhishma and all the elders present decided that Krishna was to be given this honor, this irked Sisupala a lot. He already had issues with Krishna having killed his good friend Jarasandha with Bhima’s assistance (read that story here) and also because Krishna had managed to kidnap marry Rukmini, his bride-to-be a few days earlier.

Therefore, when it was announced in the court that Krishna was to receive the Agrapuja, he addressed the court thus –

Ladies and gentlemen, the Vedas state that time is the only predominating factor in nature. In spite of all our endeavors to the contrary, time keeps moving forward and executes its own plan without any opposition. I also see that with the passage of time, the intelligence of all the honored guests at this ceremony has been misdirected.

While I agree with the fact all the elders and kings present here are competent enough to take a wise decision regarding the recipient of the Agrapuja, I simply cannot accept that this august gathering has found Krishna worthy of this honor.

In this gathering, there are many personalities who have performed severe austerities, who are highly learned and who have performed many penances. There are wise men here whose knowledge knows no boundaries and also many self-realized persons and brahmanas. How could this wise gathering have selected this cowherd Krishna as the recipient of this honor by overlooking such personalities?

We cannot even ascertain what caste Krishna belongs to and what his occupation is. He does not belong to a royal family or enjoy royal lineage. Almost all his actions so far since his childhood have not prescribed to any societal or religious norms. He always acts outside of religious principles, Vedic injunctions and regulative guidelines of the day.

Krishna is so foolish that he chose to abandon Mathura and build a fort at Dwaraka in the middle of the ocean. And whenever he proceeds out of his fort at Dwaraka, he loots and pillages armies of other kings and destroys their kingdoms.

In his anger, Sisupala insulted Krishna even further, and tried to provoke Krishna into action. However Krishna, remaining unperturbed by all the utterances of Sisupala calmly remained seated in his place, all the while sporting a beatific smile on his face. This agitated the young king so much that he started hurling abuse after abuse on Krishna to the extent that many of the wise men and kings present in the assembly covered their ears unable to hear the insults and abusive language that was being used by Sisupala.

<< PART 3 >>