Rishi Ayodha-Dhaumya Tests His Pupils

Upamanyu in a well Table of Contents Previous: The Curse of Sarama — The Celestial She-Dog
Rishi Ayodha-Dhaumya had three disciples: Aruni, Upamanyu, and Veda. One day, the rishi decided to test his disciples. What follows is an interesting story of how the rishi tested his disciples and how they fared.

Aruni’s Test

Ayoda-Dhaumya seen Aruni at the water course There was a water-course that brought water to the fields near the rishi’s ashram. However, an opening in the water-course prevented the water from reaching the fields. Rishi Ayodha-Dhaumya asked Aruni to fix the problem. Aruni went to the spot where an opening had come up in the stream. Unable to plug the breach with any material, he squeezed himself into a dyke, plugged the breach with his body, and fixed the problem. When his disciple did not return to the ashram for a long time, the rishi got worried and went looking for Aruna with the remaining disciples. Unable to see Aruni, the rishi called out his name: “Aruni of Panchala, where are you? Come here, my child.” Aruni heard his master’s voice and immediately left his spot to greet him. He explained how he had solved the problem using his own body. Rishi Ayodha-Dhaumya said that Aruni would henceforth be called Uddalaka (aka water flow) because he pulled himself out of the dyke to let the water flow. He blessed Aruni with wisdom and prosperity as he had dutifully obeyed his teacher’s orders. Note: Click here to read the detailed story of Aruni’s test.

Upamanyu’s Test

Upamanyu in a well Next, it was Upamanyu’s turn to be tested. The task given to him was to go and tend to the cattle. That evening when Upamanyu returned after tending to the cattle, his teacher looked at Upamanyu and noticed that he looked very healthy. Rishi Dhaumya asked how he had managed to take care of himself when tending to the cattle. Upamanyu replied that he had begged for alms. The rishi reprimanded him because it was customary for a disciple to first offer the alms to his master. Upamanyu was given the same task the next day. This time, he remembered his teacher’s admonishment and returned to the hermitage with the alms he had begged. Rishi Ayodha-Dhaumya took all the food Upamanyu had received in alms, leaving nothing for his disciple. Upamanyu resumed his task of tending the cattle and returned to the ashram in the evening, once again looking fit and healthy. When the rishi asked Upamanyu how he had managed to look so fit despite having given all the alms to the rishi, Upamanyu answered that after giving the first round of alms to his guru, he begged for alms once again and consumed the food he had obtained in that round. The sage chastised him because a brahmin is not supposed to beg for alms twice. The test continued for two more days, and on each day, Upamanyu found some way to feed his body. However, on each day, he was reprimanded by his guru and one more avenue of food was taken away from him. One day, Upamanyu was left without any means to feed himself while tending to the cattle. By evening, Upamanyu was very hungry. With no option left, he chewed some Arka leaves because of which he became blind. Unable to see anything, Upamanyu tried to crawl back to the master’s house but fell into a pit. When Upamanyu did not return to the ashram for a long time, the sage, along with other disciples, went in search of him. Rishi Ayodha-Dhaumya called out his name: “Upamanyu, my child, where are you?” After some time, he heard Upamanyu’s voice from a pit and saw that his disciple lay there having lost his sight. The rishi immediately understood the situation and asked Upamanyu to pray to the Ashwin Twins (who were the physicians of the devas) to regain his eyesight. Upamanyu sang a prayer in adoration of the Ashwin Twins who, pleased with his devotion, appeared before him and gave him some bread to eat. Upamanyu respectfully declined the offer to eat explaining that it would not be correct for him to eat without first offering the food to his guru. The Ashwins tested him further by saying that when his teacher Rishi Ayodha-Dhaumya was offered bread, he ate it without offering it to Upamanyu. However, Upamanyu stayed true to his word and did not eat the bread. The Ashwin Twins were pleased with Upamanyu and restored his eyesight. When Upamanyu returned to the ashram, Rishi Ayodha-Dhaumya blessed him and said that he would prosper just as the Ashwin Twins had said and asked Upamanyu to go out in the world and live his life. Note: Click here to read the detailed story of Upamanyu’s test.

Veda’s Test

Gura Shishya After Aruni and Upamanyu, it was Veda’s turn to be tested. However, instead of giving him a direct test, the sage asked Veda to stay back and serve him. Veda obeyed and took great care of his guru and his family. He survived various hardships to perform his duties. Years passed. Finally, one day Rishi Ayodha-Dhaumya was satisfied with Veda’s devotion and blessed him to become a householder and a teacher. Soon after that, Veda had three pupils studying under him. While giving tasks to his students, he remembered his own teacher’s strictness and how hard he had to work at his house. Keeping his own hardships in mind, he decided to give his pupils more freedom and never imposed strict rules on them. Note: Click here to read the detailed story of Veda’s test.
Next: Rishi Veda Chooses to be a Teacher and Enter Into Domestic Life