The statue of termites14There was a very, very great sage. His name was Rishi Bhrigu. This story is about Bhrigu’s son, Chyavana.
Now, before the story starts, let me brag. Thousands and thousands of years ago, Bhrigu cast the horoscope of all Indians, believe it or not! For all Indians who have taken birth and shall take birth, he cast the horoscope. My eldest brother, Hriday, happened to be a very good astrologer who could cast horoscopes. In India, there are two ways to cast horoscopes. One is Bhrigu’s way, and then there is another way. My brother had tremendous admiration and adoration for Bhrigu because Bhrigu was a very great sage, so he cast my horoscope according to Bhrigu’s system. There it is written that my horoscope is the same as the horoscope of two spiritual Masters of the highest order. With one spiritual Master, I had eighteen “rooms” in common; with the other spiritual Master, I had twelve or thirteen. My brother could not believe it.
My brother also found that it is written in my horoscope, “At the age of twelve, he will meet his Guru and his fate will entirely depend on his Guru.” There it stopped. Bhrigu did not go on. And I became permanent at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram at the age of twelve! This was what appeared in Bhrigu’s system.
Bhrigu's wife’s name was Puloma, and they had a son named Chyavana. He also became a very great sage. He was the discoverer of Chyavana Prash, a kind of vitamin, which people still take today. If you take it, immediately you become stronger than the strongest!
At a very young age, Chyavana wanted to enter into the forest and pray and meditate. Because his parents were spiritual, they were so happy that at such a tender age their son wanted to devote himself to the spiritual life.
Chyavana went into the forest and found a very secret and sacred place to live. Nearby was a small pond where he used to bathe every day. He had told his parents not to bring him food because he wanted to depend only on the fruits that he found in the forest. Instead of being concerned or worried, his parents were very happy. They gave Chyavana full permission. They thought that if he went on praying and meditating with such intensity, he would definitely be able to realise God.
Chyavana meditated, self-absorbed, for years and years and years at that sacred place. His whole body became covered with termites, but he did not care. He was completely invisible inside the mound of termites. There were only two little holes, near his eyes, and from those two little holes, a little, little light was coming out.
Near the forest there was a small kingdom. One day the king of that kingdom went to the forest with his entourage to hunt and to enjoy a picnic. The king had a young daughter who was most beautiful, and she also accompanied her parents. Her name was Sukanya. They were all roaming, roaming in the forest and enjoying themselves.
When the young girl saw a kind of statue covered with termites, she experienced a certain curiosity. With malicious pleasure, she took a stick and poked it inside the two holes. Then more light was coming out, but at the same time she heard somebody inside full of agony, crying and crying. She immediately ran away when she heard the human voice.
Then, what happened? All of a sudden the king and the queen and all those who were with them became ill. They started suffering from various diseases. The restless girl saw that her parents and others were suffering, and she said to her parents, “Perhaps this is the result of my poking something into the eyes of somebody inside the termite mound.”
The parents came to the place where their daughter had found the termite mound. There they saw an old man covered with dust, holding his eyes. He said to them, “I came here as a young boy. I have been praying and meditating for years. Now I am an old man, and this is what your daughter has done! I am suffering so much. Still, I have not cursed her. I could have cursed her, and I could have killed her with my yogic power immediately. But I did not do that.”
Then the king and his wife begged for forgiveness, forgiveness, forgiveness. The sage said, “I will forgive you, but on one condition: your daughter has to marry me. Who will take care of me now? I am an old man. I cannot remain inside the termite mound any longer. Now I have realised God, but I am suffering so much.”
The king was ready to go on suffering rather than allow his daughter to marry this old man. But Sukanya said, “No, no, no! I will not allow you and my mother and our dear ones to suffer. I am ready to marry him, and I will give my life to serve him because I am the culprit. I did this, so I will marry him, and I shall be very, very devoted to him.”
The parents were helpless. Against their will, their beautiful daughter married this very old man. Then the old man and his wife went deeper into the forest to live. There they remained for a number of years. Sukanya kept her promise and she was extremely devoted to Chyavana.
One day, Sukanya was roaming around in the forest when she saw two young men. They were the physicians of the Cosmic Gods, named Ashwini Kumar. The Ashwini Kumar are two different persons, twins, but in Indian stories they are taken as one because they are so close.
These two physicians of the Cosmic Gods happened to be in the forest. They were so moved to see this young girl. They exclaimed, “You are so beautiful! Are you married?”
She said, “Yes, I am married.”
Then they asked, “Is your husband as beautiful as you are?”
Sukanya started to reply, “Why should my husband be…,” but before she could finish, they said, “Oh, you are married. We are sorry. Otherwise, we would have married you.”
Sukanya became furious. “I have been so faithful, so devoted to my husband!” she said. “I take care of him. If I have shown sincere devotion to my husband and if I have rendered him service for so many years, then definitely I have acquired some inner power. I will use my inner power and burn you two to ashes!”
At first the Ashwini Kumar were amused. Then, when they looked into her eyes, they got frightened. “O My God!” they said. “No, no, no! Please forgive us, forgive us. Can you take us to see your husband?”
Sukanya brought them to see Chyavana. When the Ashwini Kumar saw that he was so old, they were shocked. Inwardly, they thought, “How could such a beautiful young girl be married to such a shrivelled old man?”
Outwardly, they said, “We have the capacity to turn your husband into a handsome, young, strong man. Our medicine has that power.”
Sukanya said, “I do not want you to use your power. Even though my husband is old, I have such love for him, such devotion towards him. I do not want you to change anything. I will continue loving my husband as he is. I do not need him to be young and handsome.”
Then the sage spoke. He said, “I would like to see what happens if I am released from my old age and my youth is restored to me once more.”
Again Sukanya objected. “I love you so much! You do not have to be beautiful and strong.”
But her husband insisted. “Please allow me. I want to become beautiful and young and strong.”
The two physicians, Ashwini Kumar, said to the sage, “If we do this for you, will you do us a great favour?”
“Yes,” he answered, “I shall fulfil your desire if it is within my capacity.”
Hearing these words, Sukanya interrupted. “Your capacity? There is nothing that you cannot do! You can do anything. Let them make you young, since that is your wish, and you will easily fulfil their desire, whatever their desire is.”
Then the Ashwini Kumar explained their desire. These two physicians were not actually Cosmic Gods. The Cosmic Gods drink a special kind of nectar called soma rasa. For them it is like wine, but it is totally different from our earthly wine. You cannot describe it in words. Human beings cannot drink it, but spiritual Masters of the highest order can drink it. I myself was fortunate enough to drink this special kind of nectar in the inner world.
Since the Ashwini Kumar were not Cosmic Gods, they were not allowed to drink soma rasa, that very special nectar. They were excluded, so they were very miserable. Chyavana asked them how he could help them to drink it.
They replied, “You will perform a special sacrifice, a yajna. At the end, because you are such a great yogi, you will be able to produce that special nectar. Then the Cosmic Gods will come to drink it. And since you are the one who performed this yajna, this sacrifice, you will allow us to drink it.”
Chyavana immediately said, “Of course, of course I will allow you!”
Now the story takes another turn. Chyavana agreed to perform the special sacrifice, but he was not rich enough to execute it. For this particular sacrifice, a large amount of wealth was necessary. In the meantime, the physicians kept their promise and turned him into a most beautiful and powerful young man.
Many years had passed since the king and queen had seen their daughter. In their heart of hearts, they were still very sad that she had been compelled to marry such an old man. They said, “Perhaps, by this time, our son-in-law is dead. He was an old man when first we met him. Perhaps our daughter has also given up her life. Let us go into the forest and see if there is any trace of them.”
The king and queen and their entourage came to the forest. Soon they saw a young man meditating, with light radiating from his entire body. The king and queen were so miserable. Where had their beloved daughter gone? Perhaps she had also died at the same time as the old man. They decided to approach the young man and ask him.
Very respectfully, they went near him and said, “Many years ago, we left our daughter in the forest. We thought that we would find her here with her husband. He is a very, very old man.”
“I am that old man!” said Chyavana. “I am no longer old.”
“No, you cannot be the same one!” they cried. “We saw you with our own eyes. How old you were! Now how can you be so young, so strong and so virile?”
Chyavana assured them, “No, no, I am the same person.” Then the king and queen saw their daughter walking towards them. They were still stunned. “What has happened, what has happened? We cannot believe this is your husband.”
Sukanya smiled at them and said, “Yes, he is my husband.”
“How? How could you have married such an old man, and now — ?
“No, no, no, it is absolutely true.”
“Then who did it?”
Sukanya explained, “The Ashwini Kumar did it. Now they have asked us for a favour, so we need your help.”
Without even knowing what they were supposed to do, the king and queen said, “We shall help you. Now that you have such a young and handsome husband, we are so happy.” Sukanya told them how they could help her husband perform the special yajna to obtain the soma rasa. The king spent a very large amount of money and then Chyavana performed the sacrifice.
The time came when the soma rasa was produced. Then all the Cosmic Gods came to partake of it. Indra came first. The two brothers, the Ashwini Kumar, were watching.
Chyavana, the sage, said to them, “You drink.”
Indra became absolutely furious, because he knew those two brothers well. He knew they were not Cosmic Gods, so he wanted to kill them. How could they dare to drink the nectar that was meant for the Gods!
But Chyavana had tremendous occult power. From his forehead he brought out not a divine being, but a demon, and this demon was most, most powerful and most frightening. Chyavana gave it the name Mada. Mada immediately began chasing Indra. It was going to kill Indra, so Indra ran and ran for his life! Then Indra came back to the sage Chyavana and begged for forgiveness.
Chyavana said, “These two physicians, the Ashwini Kumar, I am now ranking as Cosmic Gods. From now on, they will be able to drink soma rasa like you.”
The Ashwini Kumar drank the nectar first, and then Indra was allowed to drink. All the other Cosmic Gods who had gathered saw the power of Chyavana. If they disagreed with him, then they, too, would be in serious trouble, so they all drank.
Then Chyavana granted to this demon, Mada, the boon that after the Cosmic Gods had finished drinking, he would also be able to drink the nectar. And this is what happened. Then the sacrifice was all over. The king and queen blessed their son-in-law and their daughter, and Chyavana and Sukanya returned to the forest. There they lived for many, many, many years.
POK 44. Sri Chinmoy narrated the following story on 23 June 2007 at Aspiration-Ground in Jamaica, New York↩