Way before the epic war of Mahabharat was fought; in a deep dense forest at Guru Ayoddhaumya’s ashram lived two bright young boys (amongst many shishyas) named Aaruni and Upamanyu. The boys lived a normal ashram life, completely unaware that their future holds for them extraordinary exploits. The events they were going to witness were going to change history and soon they were going to accomplish what others could only think of.
One day, the Guru called upon Aaruni and asked him to go to the field and repair the mud partition to hold water from being wasted. Aaruni obeyed and left; though he tried many ways but when he couldn’t succeed, he lay himself down on the broken partition and did not let the water flow out. Realizing the day had passed and Aaruni hadn’t returned, the Guru curiously called the other shishyas and went to the field with them to look for him. Listening to his Guru’s voice calling out his name repeatedly, Aaruni got up and stood before his Guru with his hands joined in reverence and when asked, described the whole incident to him. After listening to him patiently the Guru said, “Son! Because you lay yourself in place of the partition and stopped essential water from wastage, you would be called Uddyalak (the partition of mud on a field holding the water from flowing out) from now on, and because you obeyed my word so sincerely may the gyan of all Vedas and shastras enlighten you itself.” And it so happened then and there.
On another day, the Guru called upon Upamanyu and asked him to take care of the cows in the ashram. Upamanyu obeyed and started taking care of the cows, moving around with them the whole day and later every evening he came back and stood before his Guru to pay his salutation. After a few days, the Guru saw him in good health and asked him “Son! How do you earn your daily livelihood, the whole day you are not at the ashram?” Upamanyu replied, “Gurudev! I earn my daily livelihood by asking bhiksha.” Listening to his reply Guru sternly told him, “Son! Food earned by you through bhiksha should be offered to me first; you should not use it yourself.” “Fine Gurudev! May the same happen,” said Upamanyu and left.
The Guru from then on started taking all the bhiksha earned by him. A few days later the Guru again saw him in better health, so he asked him, “Son! How do you earn your daily livelihood, every day you offer me all your bhiksha? Upamanyu replied, “Gurudev! I earn my daily livelihood by drinking cow’s milk.” Listening to his reply Guru again sternly told him, “Son! I haven’t given you permission to drink cow’s milk; you should not use the milk yourself. It’s not right.” “Fine Gurudev! May the same happen,” said Upamanyu and left.
From then on he stopped eating food earned by bhiksha or drinking milk. Finding no other means, he fulfilled his duty and moved around with the cows on an empty stomach. One day, he couldn’t control his hunger and in anticipation to save his life, he ate leaves from a poisonous plant by mistake which blinded him and he eventually fell into a pit, dug for a well. Realizing the day had passed and Upamanyu had not returned, the Guru worriedly called the other shishyas and said, “I have blocked all the means through which Upamanyu could have earned his daily livelihood. Certainly he is unhappy about it and maybe that’s why he hasn’t returned home. Let’s go and find him.”
They went to the forest to look for him, shouting his name repeatedly. Listening to his Guru’s voice, Upamanyu answered from the well and described the whole incident. After listening to him patiently the Guru said, “Son! Pray to please Ashwini Kumars, the physicians to the Devatas, they will come and make you fine.”
And it so happened that Ashwini Kumars, pleased by Upamanyu’s prayers, appeared in front of him and offered him to eat a piece of sweet prepared by them which would make him fine again. Upamanyu modestly refused to eat the sweet until he was permitted to do so by his Guru. Ashwini Kumars, again pleased with his sincerity towards his Guru, made him absolutely fine and disappeared. Upamanyu excitedly returned to his Guru and stated the entire incident.
The Guru said, “Son! Because you obeyed my word so sincerely may the gyan of all Vedas and shastras enlighten you itself,” and it so happened then and there.
These young boys understood the significance of simple words of their Guru and the value of guruseva and attained colossal heights in life through these tools. Later one day, Bhagwan Shri Krishna himself came to Rishi Upamanyu and accepted him as his Guru. He took diksha of Pashupati mantra to please Lord Shiv and went on to do penance for five years.
Maharishi Uddyalak’s work was documented in Chandogya Upanisad amongst others, mentioned at many places in Mahabharat. He performed many historic yagyas and was present among various maharishis and munis such as Vedvyas, Markandeya, Kapilmuni, Parasurama, Shri Bhagwan Krishna and many Devatas when Bhishma departed to higher dimensions at the end of the war of Mahabharat. It is said that once when the need arose, Maharishi Uddyalak made Saraswati appear just by a thought in his mind (manas) at a yagya and therefore it was called Manorama. Ashtawakra was his prominent shishya.
It was only because of the Guru’s words and by following the mantra –Mantra moolam guru vakyam – that such heights were reached by these sadhaks. These stories are not myths but are facts that are helplessly trying to tell the modern day man to wake up while there is time and save the Creation, and his individual soul will be blessed and go to higher dimensions, where the pains of the bhulok would be non-existent, Guru being the medium.