In the bheekara Mahaabhaarata yuddham, out of 11 akshauhini sena of Kauravas and 7 akshauhini sena of Paandavas, only Ashwatthaama, Krutavarma and Krupaachaarya were left on the Kauravas side and Paandavas, Shri Krishna and Saatyaki were left on the side of Dharmaaatmas, the Paandavas. (1 akshauhini = 21870 Ratham, 21870 Gaja, 65410 Ashva, 109350 Padaatidalam). Dharmaraaja’s pattaabhishekam was done and Bheeshmaachaarya did bodha of sarva-Dharmas to Paandavas, gave the world Vishnu-Sahasranaamam and reached Vaikuntham.
Yudhishthira, who was a parama Dayaalu, was very sad that he lost all his relatives and aatmiiyas in the yuddham. Vidvaans suggested him to do Ashvamedha-yaagam and lighten his heart. According to the Pandita’s aadesham, Dharmaraaja immediately started Ashvamedha-yaagam. Chakravartis from Desha-Videshas, many Panditas from different Nagaras, lakhs of praja from various janapadas came to see the Divya yaagam.
For everyone Vastra, Anna daanams were done continously. Yudhishthira did Suvarna, Mani, Ratna daanas to Yogyas. There was not even one who was not satisfied. Seeing this Ashvamedham in which everyone was satisfied Devatas started Pushpa-varsham and did abhinandana of Dharmaraaja.
A mongoose then came to the Yaaga-shaala. Everyone was surprised to see how it came there. Smiling, it said “This is a Yaagam which even the Devatas praised”. Everyone became vismayas. Half of the mungiisa’s body was gold. It continued “compared to Saktuprastha’s Dharma-buddhi, where is this Daanam?”. Everyone asked who is that Mahaatma Saktuprastha and what is his story? The mongoose replied
“Very long time back in this Divya Kurukshetram, there used to live a Gruhastha by name Saktuprastha. He had only one putra, for whom he did Kalyaanam. All of them had Daya on sarva-bhuuta-koti (see this too). They left Kaama-Krodha-aadi arishadvargas and were doing Tapas. The putra and snusha always were involved in the seva of Saktuprastha-dampatis. They used to never harm anyone and live with samtrupti eating whatever they used to get by Vidhi, Praaptam. They used to take aahaaram only for living to do Parambrahma-dhyaanam.
Once they didnt get any aahaaam to eat for a long time. One day they collected some Dhaanya-beejas that fell in their surroundings, powdered them, cooked and shared it equally. Just when they were about to eat, a Vruddha came. He was very weak, thin. He had little energy to say that he was hungry. Saktuprastha brought the Vruddha in, with great aadaram, made him sit beside him and said
“Aarya! Please accept our aatithyam and bless us. We got this aahaaram by doing as less harm as possible to other creatures and without doing any Paapa-kaaryas. Also we cooked it as told in our Shaastras. Please lessen your hunger by accepting my share”. After eating it, the Vruddha said that he was still hungry. Immediately Saktuprastha’s arthaangi gave her share. After knowing that the Vruddha was still hungry, the putra and snusha also did the same. With great aanandam, the Vruddha said
“My son! Your atithi-satkaaram, annadaanam gave me Santrupti. Even though you all were hungry, you gave of all your aahaaram to me. You have also gained immense Punyam. You will be praised by many lokas from now on. A person who is suffering from Kshut-baadha, will dare do any Paapa-kaaryas. For aahaaram he may do any Daaruna-krutyas. In such a state, the aahaaram given to such a person will do immense hitam to the lokam too. Anna-daanam is one of the greatest daanams. It will give ananta-punyam too…” As the Vruddha was saying like this, a Divya-vimaanam came and before everyone, Saktuprastha and his family went to Uurdhva-lokas.
Seeing all this, after the Saktuprastha family went, I drank the water with which Saktuprastha washed the feet of the Vruddha and the parts of my body that touched the water became gold. After that I went to many many Daanams, but no where my other half of this body became gold. Here too it was the same case”.
Morals in the story:
- Saktuprastha and his family showed us what an Uttama daanam is. Saktuprastha had no ahankaar that he was giving and gave something he also wanted and something which is very useful to the daana-grahiita.
- Atithi-seva, Bhuutadaya, Samtrupti and other gunas of Saktuprastha must be learnt from the story.
Search Terms: Sakthuprastha, Dharmaraja, Pandava