Indian Mythology (by ApamNapat)

Uddalaka - Grandfather of Ashtavakra


Uddalaka, also known as Uddalaka Aruni, was a very learned Rishi. He was a famous teacher of the scriptures and the Vedas. He had daughter named Sujata and a much younger son named Shwetaketu. He gave his daughter in marriage to his favorite disciple Kahoda. A son named Ashtavakra was born to them. In order to win wealth, Kahoda went to participate in a debating contest in the court of King Janaka, where, however, he was defeated by the court scholar Bandy. As per the rules of the contest, Kahoda was drowned in the river.

Ashtavakra was brought up by Uddalaka and he mistakenly thought that Uddalaka was his father and that Shwetaketu was his brother. When he only twelve, he found out the truth. To avenge his father, he traveled to the court of Janaka, accompanied by his uncle Shwetaketu. There he defeated Bandy in scholarly debate. At this point, Bandy disclosed that none of the people he had drowned in the river were really dead, instead, they had been sent to participate in a great sacrifice conducted by Varuna (who was Bandy's father). The sacrifice being complete, all these Brahmanas emerged from the river, including Kahoda, who had obtained much wealth as fee for participating in the sacrifice.

His son Shwetaketu had been begotten on his wife by a disciple of his, on his orders. The Chandogya Upanishad narrates how Shwetaketu was initially careless while studying under his father's tutelage. Uddalaka then sent him to learn under a different teacher. Upon completion of Shwetaketu's education, Uddalaka asks him, "Did you learn that, knowing which, everything else becomes known?". Shwetaketu who was full of pride, was humbled, as he did not know the answer. Uddalaka then propounds the doctorine of Brahman and explains it by the epithet, "Tat Tvam Asi", or "Thou art that."

Last Modified At: Sat Feb 12 03:52:11 2005