Indian Mythology (by ApamNapat)

Shwetaketu - Son of Uddalaka


Shwetaketu was the son of sage Uddalaka, who was famed for his learning. According to the [Maha:12.34], Shwetaketu was actually conceived upon the wife of Uddalaka by a disciple of that Rishi, upon the Rishi's orders. Later however, Uddalaka disowned his son due to his disrespectful behavior towards the Brahmanas. See [Maha:12.58].

Shwetaketu learned the Vedas and the scriptures from his father and rivalled his father in learning. He is, however, better known as the uncle of Ashtavakra, the boy scholar who traveled to the court of King Janaka and defeated the royal scholar Bandy in debate. Ashtavakra was the son of his elder sister Sujata.

He also appears in the Chandogya Upanishad. When he doesn't pay enough attention while studying under his father, his father Uddalaka sends him to a different teacher learn. Shwetaketu returns after learning, proud that he has mastered the Vedas. His father deflates his pride by asking him, "Tell me, have you learned that one thing, by learning which all other things are automatically known?".

Shwetaketu is perplexed, for he has naturally not learned anything of that sort. He expresses his bewilderment, and his father expounds him the theory of Brahman, and the famous epithet, "Tat Tvam Asi" or, "Thou art that".

He is also credited with establishing the rules of conduct for women. One day, while he was seated with his mother and father, a stranger came and propositioned his mother, and she went with him willingly. Shwetaketu was aghast. When he asked his father for an explanation, his father said that women were not bound to one men, and were, just like in animals, free to mate with anyone. Shwetaketu felt that this was immoral and decreed that from that day onwards, women will have intercourse only with their husband and will cease to be promiscuous. Those who commit adultery will be punished in hell.

Last Modified At: Sat Feb 12 03:45:18 2005