Note: In the previous post, Upamanyu lost his eyesight after eating Arka leaves in the forest and fell into a pit. When his teacher Ayoda-Dhaumya saw his state, he advised Upamanyu to sing the glories of the Aswin Twins, the physicians of the Gods, to restore his eyesight.

As directed by his teacher, Upamanyu began to glorify the Aswin twins, in the following words from the Rig Veda:

You have existed before creation itself! 

O first-born beings, you are glorious in this wondrous universe of five elements! 

I desire to obtain you with the help of the knowledge derived from hearing and meditation, for you are infinite! 

You are the course of nature itself and the intelligent soul that pervades that course! 

You are birds of beauteous feathers perched on the tree (the human body)! 

You are free of the three lower attributes! You are incomparable! You pervade the universe through your spirit in every created thing,!

“You are golden Eagles! 

You are the essence into which all things disappear! 

You are free from error and know no deterioration! You are like beautiful beaks that would not strike unjustly and are victorious in every encounter! 

You certainly prevail over time! Having created the sun, you weave the wondrous cloth of the year by means of the white thread of the day and the black thread of the night! And with the cloth so woven, you have established two courses of distinct action for the devas and pitris. 

The bird of life seized by time, which represents the strength of the infinite soul, you set the soul free and deliver her into great happiness! 

Ignorant people (deluded by their senses) may assign a form to you, but you are free of any attributes of physicality!

If we think of the 365 days of the year as cows, then these cows together produce a calf which we call one year. This calf (time) is the creator and destroyer of everything. Seekers of truth may follow different routes but they draw the milk of true knowledge with the help of this calf (time). You Aswins are the creators of that calf which is time.

A year is like a wheel that has 720 spokes, each representing days and nights. The circumference of this wheel representing the 12 months is without any end. This wheel is full of delusions and knows no deterioration. It affects all creatures of all worlds. O Aswins, this wheel of time is set in motion by you!

If the wheel of time represents a year, its nave represents the six seasons. The 12 spokes of the wheel represent the twelve signs of the zodiac. This wheel of time manifests the fruits of the actions of all things. The presiding deities of time abide in this wheel. I am subject to its distressful influence. O Aswins, please liberate me from this wheel of time. 

O Aswins, you are this universe of five elements! You are the objects that are enjoyed in this and in the other world! Make me independent of the five elements! And though you are the Supreme Brahma, you move over the Earth in forms enjoying the delights that the senses afford.

In the beginning, you created the ten points of the universe! Then you placed the Sun and the Sky above! The Rishis, perform their sacrifices according to the course of the same Sun. The Gods and humans also perform their rites according to what is appropriate for them and enjoy the fruits of those acts!

Mixing the three colors, you have produced all the objects of sight! The universe in which Gods, humans, and all creatures endued with life are engaged in their respective work springs forth from these objects of sight!

You Aswins, I adore you! I also adore the Sky which you have created! You are the ordainers of the fruits of all acts from which even the gods are not free! However, you yourselves are free from the fruits of your actions!

You are the parents of all! When humans eat their food, it is you who take the food and convert it into life-creating fluid and blood. When a newborn child sucks the milk of its mother, it is you who takes the shape of that infant. O Aswins, grant me my sight to protect my life!

The Aswin twins, thus invoked, appeared before Upamanyu and said: 

“We are satisfied. Take this cake and eat it.” 

Upamanyu replied, “Your words, O Aswins, have never proved untrue, but I cannot eat this cake without first offering it to my teacher.” 

The Aswin twins said to Upamanyu, “In the past, we had given such a cake to your teacher also, however, he ate it without offering it to his teacher. Now it is your turn to do what your teacher did.” 

Upamanyu did not relent. He replied to the Aswins, “O Aswins, I seek your pardon, but I cannot eat this cake without offering it to my teacher.”

The Aswins, happy with Upamanyu’s devotion, said, “Upamanyu, we are pleased with your devotion towards your teacher. Your teacher’s teeth are of black iron, yours shall be of gold. Your eyesight will be restored and you will have good fortune.”

Upamanyu recovered his eyesight as the Aswins had promised. 

Upamanyu’s teacher, Ayoda-Dhaumya, was also very pleased with Upamanyu and said: “You will obtain prosperity as the Aswin twins have said. Along with prosperity, all the Vedas and the Dharma-Shastras will also shine in you.”

Thus the trial of Upamanyu was over.

Note: At first, it may seem that Upamanyu was pandering to the ego of the deity by singling its glories. However, it’s not that. By glorifying a deity from our hearts, we purify our minds and energy and prepare ourselves to receive the deity’s blessings.

You will also notice that these verses from the Rig Veda contain spiritual and scientific truths encoded within them. That is because, in ancient India, science and the spirit were never considered different. They were both studied equally. The former through outer measurement and the latter through inner meditation.

This incident of losing and regaining one’s eyesight can also be seen as losing and regaining spiritual discernment.

Table of Contents

Previous: Rishi Ayoda-Dhaumya Tests His Pupil Upamanyu

Next: Rishi Ayoda-Dhaumya Tests his Pupil Veda

Image Credit: Dhumavati. The image has been shared in the public domain at

Note: In the previous post, we saw that about the same time king Janamejaya marched to Takshashila, rishi Ayoda-Dhaumya decided to test his three pupils, starting with Aruni. 

In the Mahabharata, we often find the main storyline going off on such tangents. However, every tangent has a purpose and it always merges into the main storyline soon. 

This tangent will also come together with Janamejaya soon, but for now, let’s enjoy the Puranic story of how rishi Ayoda-Dhaumya tested his second pupil, Upamanyu.

After testing Aruni, rishi Ayoda-Dhaumya addressed his pupil Upamanyu: 

“My child, Upamanyu, go and look after the cows.”

Upamanyu, having received instructions from his teacher, spent the entire day looking after the cows and returned to his teacher’s house in the evening. Upamanyu stood before the rishi and bowed to him respectfully.

The rishi seeing Upamanyu looking very plump asked him: “Upamanyu, my child, you are very plump. How do you support yourself?”

“Sir, I support myself by begging for food,” Upamanyu replied.

Rishi Ayoda-Dhaumya thought for a moment and said, “You should not eat the alms you obtain by begging without first offering them to me.”

The next day, Upamanyu went to his teacher with everything he had obtained in alms. The rishi took all the food leaving Upamanyu with nothing to support himself during the day when he would tend to the cows.

That day, once again, Upamanyu returned to the rishi, after completing his work, in the evening and bowed to his teacher with respect.

The rishi looked at Upamanyu and asked, “My child, Upamanyu, I took all your food in the morning, but you still look quite healthy. How did you support yourself today?”

Upamanyu replied, “Sir, after giving you all the food I obtained in alms, I went begging once again for my own food.”

“This is not the way you should obey your teacher, my child,” the rishi said. “By begging for food twice, you are depriving others who support themselves through alms.”

Upamanyu promised his teacher that he would not beg for food twice. The next day, after offering the alms to his teacher, he again spent the day looking after his teacher’s cows and returned to his teacher in the evening. 

The rishi observed that Upamanyu was still in good bodily condition. 

“Upamanyu, my child, I take everything you obtain by alms and you don’t beg for alms for the second time, but you are still in a good bodily condition. How do you support yourself?”

“Sir, I drink the milk of these cows,” Upamanyu replied.

“Upamanyu, my child, it is not correct for you to take the cows’ milk without first asking for my consent.”

Upamanyu agreed with his teacher’s logic. The next day, the entire routine repeated. In the evening, rishi Ayoda-Dhaumya was surprised to see Upamanyu in great condition. He asked Upamanyu how he supported himself without taking alms or drinking the cows’ milk.

“Sir, now I drink the froth that the calves throw out after suckling their mother’s milk.”

“No my child, you should not do that. The calves, out of compassion, are throwing out large amounts of froth to help you. By taking their froth, you are depriving them of the nourishment that is lawfully theirs.”

Upamanyu once again agreed with the logic of his teacher. 

The next day, he did not eat any of the alms he had begged, nor did he drink the milk of the cows, and neither did he take the froth from the calves. By evening, he was very hungry. Unable to control himself, he ate some Arka leaves in the forest. The Arka leaves being harmful to humans because of their pungent, acrimonious, and saline properties, caused Upamanyu to lose his eyesight. Unable to see, he crawled about and fell into a pit.

When Upamanyu did not return by sunset, rishi Ayoda-Dhaumya along with the other students went to search for him. They went into the forest shouting, “Ho Upamanyu, where are you?”

“Here I am teacher, at the bottom of the pit,” Upamanyu shouted back when he heard the rishi’s voice.

Seeing Upamanyu’s condition, the rishi asked him what caused him to fall into the pit. Upamanyu told him about how he ate some leaves, lost his sight, and fell into the pit.

“Oh my child, glorify the Ashwin twins. They are the physicians of the Gods. They will restore your sight.”

Table of Contents

Previous: Rishi Ayoda-Dhaumya Tests his Pupil Aruni

Next: Upamanyu Glorifies the Ashwin Twins to Regain his Sight

Note: At about the same time as Janamejaya went to Takshashila to bring the region under his control, a rishi called Ayoda-Dhaumya decided to test his disciples. This post describes how he tested his disciple, Aruni.

Rishi Ayoda-Dhaumya had three disciples called Upamanyu, Aruni, and Veda. 

There was a water-course that brought water to the nearby fields. However, an opening in the water-course near a certain field caused problems for the farmers. Rishi Ayoda-Dhaumya asked his disciple, Aruni, to fix the problem.

Aruni went immediately to the place pointed out by his teacher. However, he soon realized that the problem could not be fixed by ordinary means. Aruni felt dejected because he could not succeed in the task his teacher had asked him to do.

Aruni stayed there for a long time, observing the problem. After much observation, he was able to think of a solution. He entered the water and placed himself in the location where the breach had developed, thus stopping the water from leaking. 

When Ayoda-Dhaumya did not see Aruni in his hermitage, he asked his disciples where Aruni had gone. His disciples told him that he had gone to fix the breach in the water-course in a nearby field. Ayoda-Dhaumya, remembered his instructions to Aruni, and immediately went to that field along with the other disciples.

At the field, he shouted out to Aruni saying: “Ho Aruni of Panchala! Where are you?”

Aruni, upon hearing his teacher, rushed out of the water-course and stood before Ayoda-Dhaumya. Aruni explained to his teacher how he had placed himself in the breach to prevent the water from leaking. Thus standing there, he asked his teacher for further instructions.

Rishi Ayoda-Dhaumya looked at his disciple and said: “Because, in getting out of the breach, you caused it to open up, you shall henceforth be known as Uddalaka. And because you obeyed my words, you will obtain good fortune. All the Vedas and Dharmashastras will shine in you.”

Aruni had completed his education under the rishi. This was the last test. Having completed it and received the blessings of his teacher, Aruni (now known as Uddalaka) left for the country that was dear to his heart (most likely Panchala). 

Note: The name, Uddalaka, means “burnt open”. It also refers to a kind of honey. This name refers to a person who others can depend upon.