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GAUTAMA

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Gautama's ashrama was located at the foot of a mountain by name Pariyatra to the north of Bharatha. He had established a Gurukula. Students coming from different countries were studying there. Gautama was the head of the Gurukula.

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Uttanka still could not get away from the idea of giving gurudakshina. What shall I do? He went on thinking. "I shall try it with my mother, the Guru's wife. If she were to consent, my wish will be fulfilled," he said to himself and went to his mother. He said, "O mother,I wish to offer gurudakshina to the master. I am prepared to whatever it is and however hard it may to get it. Ahalya replied, "My son, you have rendered your service to us with devotion. This is quite enough. You need not give anything more." But Uttanka insisted on something, at last, having no way out, Ahalya said, "Uttanka, the queen the wife of king Soudasa has a pair of diamond ear rings. They are meant for divine use. You may get me those ear rings if you can." Uttanka felt very happy and left the ashrama to get the ear ring. Gautama found Uttanaka missing and he asked Ahalya and she told what happened. Gautama told Ahalya, "Soudasa has now become a demon by the curse of a sage. He eats men." So Gautama only prayed and mentally blessed Uttanka that he might return safely. Uttanka came to know that Soudasa was wandering in the forest as Rakshsa. As soon as Soudasa saw Uttanka, he rushed forward to get at him. Uttanka did not deter. He asked him boldly, "O King, you know the obligations of a kshatriya. I am Uttanka, the pupil of sage Gautama. I have come to collect gurudakshina for him. It does not behove you to torture a pupil who is engaged in the service of his guru." Soudasa said, "All that does not concern me. I am hungry. It is my nature to eat any one I get when I am hungry." Uttanka pleaded, "Maharaja, I have come to beg of you for a gift for the sake of my master. I shall offer it to him and return. I won't delay. Then you can eat me. Believe me. I do not utter lies." Then Soudasa agreed and asked what Uttanka wants from him and he gave the permission to go and collect it from his wife. So Uttanka proceeded towards the wife of Soudasa, Madayanti and also got the earring. Madayanti said handing over the ear rings to him, by way of warning, "O, son of sage, there is nothing equal to these ear rings, Even gods and nagas have a greedy eye on them. You should not under any circumstances lay them on the ground. If you do so they will knock them off."

Uttanka kept them with himself safely and carefully. He went and met Soudasa. "Maharaja your generosity is wonderful. How come, so generous a person as you got this demon's form? Soudasa heaved a long sigh and said, "O hermit, when I was a king I insulted Shakthi, the son of sage Vasistha. He became angry and cursed me to be a demon and I have no salvation." Soudasa also told Uttanka that he has become his friend now and there is no need of Uttanka to return back to him as Soudasa's prey. Uttanka was surprised to hear Soudasa say so. He then walked along a track in the forest, carrying the ear rings with him. He was tired and hungry. He saw a bael tree full of ripe fruits. He packed the ear rings in a piece of deer skin and hung it up to a branch of bael tree. While trying to beat the fruits with a stick to make them fall down, accidentally, the bundle was hit. It opened and the ear rings fell down. Instantly a naga came in the form of a snake, picked up the ear ring and went into an ant hill from where he entered the underworld.He began to beat the ant hill using all his force. Then Devendra came there in the guise of a Brahmin. He asked Uttanka, "What is this?" Uttanka told him about all that had happened. Indra was pleased with his steadfast devotion to the Guru and took him to the underworld. There Agni deva appeared. He said, "Uttanka, I am the guru of your guru. Tell me what I can do for you."


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Uttanka told him about the ear rings. The nagas were afraid of Agni deva, and got the earrings from one who had taken them away and gave them to Uttanka and he was extremely happy. He returned to the ashrama and placed the earrings at the feet of Ahalya. Everybody was happy about Uttanka's safe return. Soudasa was also relieved of the curse by the grace of sage Vasistha as told and wished by Uttanka. Sage Gautama's gurukula was going on as usual. Once there was a drought in the country. There were no rains and hence no crop. A big clamour of the starving people arose. People were perplexed as to what they should do. Gautama struggled hard to see that the students of his ashrama did not run short of food. Even other starving public began to come to Gautama for food. He could never say to them there was no food. The number of such distressed persons coming to the ashrama went on increasing day by day. Gautama was worshipping goddess Gayathri with great devotion. He sat absorbed in intense meditaion on her. Pleased with his devotion and out of compassion for the starving people, Gayathri appeared and gave Gautama an ‘Akshaya patra', a vessel of perennial supply of food. Gautama was overjoyed to have this vessel. From then onwards he could feed all the people who came to his ashrama to their fill and contentment. This famine lasted for twelve years. Till it was over and till again the country saw the days of plenty, Gautama fed the people and saved them.

During this great famine Gautama undertook a country wide travel to personally know the conditions in different parts of the places. There were six other sages who accompanied them. Everywhere there was scarcity of food. The sages had to go without food for several days. Still without getting disheartened, they proceeded to cheer up people and preach them the right conduct. They came across a city ruled by king Vrishadarbhi who was collecting money and food grains from his subjects by force. He was puffed up with his vanity thinking that there was none to equal him. He came to know about the arrival of the sages in the city. Just to show himself off as a benevolent and righteous king, he went to see them. The king also offered whatever they want and he shall give it to them. The sages thought, "What an egoist this king is! When people are starving this man gives nothing to them. He has hoarded plenty of food in the palace. Why should we have what is denied to others? Sage Gautama said, "O King why should we have things which are denied to your subjects? Such food is poison to us even if it is honey. Money which is not meant for the people is like a spark of fire. We want none of it. Give all that to the starving poor." The sages then proceeded on their way. Vrishadarbhi felt insulted. "These pauper sages preach wisdom to me!" So he thought and summoned his ministers for consultation. A plan flashed to the minds of the ministers.

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They cleverly concealed some diamonds and other gems in figs and took them personally to the sages and offering them said, "Revered sirs, you should not go hungry from our land, please have these fruits atleast. Sage Atri took a fruit in his hand and exclaimed, "What a wonder! Could this fruit be so heavy?" Gautama said, "Then there must be some trick in it.May be some gold pieces or gems might be concealed in the fruits. We should not covet them. Once man yields to desires, they start growing to enormous dimensions. All the other sages agreed with him. They proceeded without taking the fruits. On learning this, Vrishadarbhi's anger rose to a high pitch. He made some offerings in the homa chanting some incantations. One fierceful spirit rose from the middle of the fire and asked, "What is your command sir?" Seven sages are going at a distance from here. Go and kill them all!" The spirit went ahead and stood beside a pond waiting for the sages. Once the sages saw the spirit they understood its intention. But Gautama and the other sages recited some verses composed in an incomprehensible manner where the spirit owned his defeat. By that time Indra who came to know about this appeared and smashed the spirit to death with his vajra weapon. Thus sage Gautama preached thousands of people the right path. He cheered up people in distress. Establishing a gurukula, he taught and educated lakhs of students. Not only that, he wrote several books. Man according to him, must develop eight virtues. They are kindness to all living beings, not becoming jealous, cleanliness, good conduct, obedience to elders, courage in crises, not coveting the things belonging to others. These are known as the virtues of the soul according to sage Gautama.