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The testing of Upamanyu and Aruni

The testing of Upamanyu and Aruni



The sage Dhaumya of Mahabharata fame was the high priest of the Pandavas. He had a big ashram and many disciples. Many children were sent there to study. Regular classes were held and most of the children were asked to attend. But there were two who were entrusted with other jobs and did not attend the classes.

These were Upamanyu who was given the charge of the cows and Aruni who looked after the cultivation. The other boys made fun at their apparent dull-headedness, thinking that they were unfit for study, but those two boys were happy and satisfied with their work. They were surrendered to their Guru’s will.

Years passed and still these two boys discharged their duties faithfully. The other boys continued to make fun of them.

Dhaumya was aware of the situation and decided to show their greatness to the rest of the ashramites. He called Upamanyu one day and questioned him, “Upamanyu, what do you eat that you are growing so fat?” “Sir, I eat only what the ashram Mother gives me,” replied the boy. “Well then, do not eat  sight. One evening while bringing in the cows, the blind boy fell into a dry well. The cows reached the ashram without him. Seeing him missing, the Guru went out in search of him calling, “Upamanyu, where are you?”




Upamanyu was thrilled to hear his master’s voice. “Master, here I am. I cannot see anything but I can hear your voice.” “Son, meditate on the twin gods Aswini Kumaras and you will become all right,” told the Guru. Upamanyu did as he was told and immediately the Aswins appeared and restored his sight. He came out of the well and prostrated at his Master’s feet. Dhaumya’s heart overflowed with affection for his obedient disciple and he said, “May your knowledge be perfect in all the Scriptures.” In this way, Upamanyu became a learned scholar without even attending a class. He is an example of implicit faith in the Guru.

Now what about Aruni? Dhaumya once went out to inspect the fields and told Aruni that the water in the fields should not be allowed to escape at any cost. A few days later there was a heavy rain and the bund around the field started to give way. Try as he may, Aruni could not stop the water from flowing out. Finally, in desperation, he laidhis body down in the mud where the bund was weak and in this way he plugged up the leak. The next morning the Guru and his disciples went out into the fields to search for the missing boy, calling his name out loud. Finding him buried in the mud,

the Guru pulled him out and hugged him affectionately. “May all the Scriptures come to you at your beck and call,” was the blessing that the Guru gave Aruni while holding his hand on the boy’s head. It was this Aruni who later became the famous Upanishadic sage Uddalaka.

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