The technology space and certain sequence of operations in the finance space are big secrets. For example if I have developed a trading algorithm I would not like anybody to know the algo – especially if it is working well for me. Here in likes a dilemma – if somebody wants should you teach…or should you not teach. One young girl came to me with this problem saying ‘If we recruit this guy in 2 years time he will be our good competitor, should we still take him?’.

I said:

‘My take is today there is nothing which cannot be found – and Google has made it easier. So if you do not teach him…somebody else will. So please stop pretending that nobody can teach him…what you know’

And as usual told her a story….it is an amazing story…

A long time ago, when the Gods and Demons were fighting for supremacy – they appointed their priests (Gurus) who would pray for them and advice them in matters concerning the war.

The gods appointed Angiras Vrihaspati as their priest and the demons (Asuras), appointed Bhargav Shukracharya to be their guru. Now both these brahmin priests were stalwarts in their fields and enjoyed a healthy rivalry too. They respected each other immensely.

The war between the gods and asuras had started and both the priests were busy with their Yajnas and prayers to make their sides more powerful. Shukracharya, the priest of the demons, would breathe life into the demons who died in the battle and make them healthy again. He could do so because he was an expert in the knowledge of Sanjeevani (the art of breathing life in a dead being). This Sanjeevani Vidya (knowledge) was making the asuras stronger!

The gods were suffering great losses, as Vrihaspati, their guru, did not possess the Sanjeevani Vidya. The gods and their guru deliberated on this drawback and decided that someone would have to go and learn this art of breathing life into a dead body from the guru of the demons.

It was decided that Kacha, the son of guru Vrihaspati, would go to the land of the demons to learn the Sanjeevani Vidya. Kacha went to Vrishparva, where Shukracharya had his Ashram (hermitage). He introduced himself to the great priest, “Sire, I am the grandson of Maharishi Angira and the son of Vrihaspati, the priest of gods. I implore you to accept me as your pupil. I promise to live the celibate life of a Brahmachari (student) and serve you for one thousand years.”

Shukracharya was pleased with the humility of Kacha and accepted him as his pupil. He said, “I will treat you as if I am treating my friend Vrihaspati and I will be honoured to accept you as my pupil.”

Kacha started his studies and would keep the guru happy with his behaviour. He would also take good care of the daughter of his guru, Devyani. Time passed and Kacha became Shukracharya’s favourite pupil. After a few years had passed, the demons learnt of the real purpose of Kacha’s visit. They were incensed and feared that with the Sanjeevani Vidya, the gods would become more powerful. So they plotted to kill Kacha.

One day, when Kacha was grazing the cattle in the jungle, the demons killed him, cut him into small pieces and fed him to the wolves. In the evening the animals returned without Kacha. Devyani, who was by now deeply in love with Kacha, was worried and went to her father. She told him that Kacha was missing and that he must do something to get him back. She said, “I fear that someone has killed him or he is dead somewhere in the forest. Please use your knowledge to bring back my Kacha. I cannot live without him and shall die if he is not brought back from the dead.” Shukracharya, who himself was fond of Kacha, used his powers and breathed life into Kacha. All the pieces of Kacha tore open the stomachs of the wolves and joined together and Kacha came alive. He returned to the hermitage and thanked his guru.

After a few days, the asuras again killed Kacha and on Devyani’s request, Shukracharya again breathed life into him. The third time, the asuras killed Kacha, and burnt his body. They then took his ashes and mixed it with wine and requested Shukracharya to drink the wine. Shukracharya, who was unaware of the vile machinations of the asuras, drank the wine. When Kacha didn’t return to the hermitage, Devyani again went to her father and requested him to bring Kacha back to life. Shukracharya started chanting the mantras which would bring Kacha to life. Kacha, who was inside the stomach of Shukracharya, revealed his dilemma from inside in a quiet voice. He said that he would not come out of the stomach of his guru, as that would mean killing his guru.

Shukracharya said, “Son, you are a great ascetic and very dear to me and my daughter. I shall teach you the secret knowledge of Sanjeevani so that you can come out of my stomach and then breathe life into me.”

Kacha said, “I have lived in your stomach, so I am your son. You have breathed life into me and have taught me the art of Sanjeevani which is like the flow of Amrit (the divine ambrosia which gives eternal life) in my veins. I shall behave as a good son should do because those who do not respect their guru, who is like a god for a pupil, deserves to rot in hell.”

After this, he asked Kacha to tear open his stomach and come out. Kacha did as he was told and when he came out the guru died. Kacha used his knowledge of Sanjeevani and breathed life into his guru, like a dutiful son should do. He then stayed with Shukracharya till the completion of his tenure and soon it was time for him to leave.

Devyani requested him to marry her according to the norms and take her with him. Kacha was now in a dilemma as he considered the daughter of his guru as his sister, as was the correct conduct for a rishikumar (son of a guru). He said, “Sister, as I have lived in the same stomach from which you were born too, I am your brother. Therefore, due to this reason, I am your brother, besides, you are the daughter of my guru, who is like a father to me. So I cannot marry you as you are my sister.”

Devyani was hurt and angry at Kacha’s refusal and she cursed him. She said that all the knowledge that he had acquired from her father would be of no use to him. Kacha replied that he accepted her curses as inadvertently he had hurt her, but he would teach others what he had learnt and then they would use it to the benefit of others. He also said that she had not considered that he was bound by the rules of conduct and had cursed him, therefore no Brahmin would marry her. He then took leave from his guru and went to the gods and his father where he used his knowledge for the benefit of others.

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  1. not your fault SAM. Your parents fault! They did not buy you amar chitra katha.

    Your fault you did not buy AMC for your kids!! It is the best collection that you can buy. When you buy classics like Charles Dickens, I find kids just cannot relate – to London of early 1900, the English language, or the story. So it feels nice to buy…I have seen only ONE kid out of 10 kids who own the book.

    AMC? ALL of us read, do we not? still love it!!

  2. the question is never raw knowledge but its application. This is why many gurus never taught ALL their know-how indiscriminately. They feared use of knowledge would likely not benefit larger humanity and would rather not pass on the use. A good example is nuclear technology in a place like Pakistan. Of itself nuclear technology can be beneficial but in the hands of the wrong person can be misused. Thus many arts were lost as the ancients decided not to pass it on. Perhaps Sanjeevani is not so much a fable as an art not passed on.
    But yes, insecurity of some one becoming a competitor or even better than oneself should never be a reason to withhold knowledge.

  3. I find Rajaji’s Mahabharata and Ramayana a must-read for everyone. My uncle gifted it to me when I was 9 and I still read it. I keep buying new copies as the old one wears away. Gift it to kids and nieces, nephews, friends’ kids…. All these stories are part of these epics and Rajaji’s handling seems so much less stridently religious than others.

  4. as one matures one can get a higher version…then going to the original Valmiki – translation of course if u do not know Sanskrit. Valmiki is NOT at all judgemental. He is factual including some unpalatable truth like Rama eating non veg (even Rajaji has cleaned that part :-))

  5. Subra,

    However,Rajaji has mentioned in his mahabharat version : on an era before mahabharat where sages used to have meat. He mentioned Agastya sage doing that to teach an Asura a lesson…

  6. Agree..but even the Brahmin scholars did not want to accept that Rama ate non veg…even though he was a kshatriya! The original is still Valmiki…and it is an amazing read. The part where Rama cries to each tree is a lesson in botany – doubt if a man could have imagined it!!

  7. Subra: Would like to read this. Seems I have missed it.. Esp the part you are referring to for Ram crying to each tree. Please mention which part you are referring to ?

  8. Subra,

    Finally get to blame my parents for somethng! 🙂

    And yes, I am buying AMC for my kid. Don’t want to be blamed 🙂

  9. Aditya,

    In the original Ramayan (translated for ignoramus like me into English)…when Sita is missing and Rama is searching for her. He asks each tree..if my memory serves right the whole thing is about 80 pages :-). If there is a better ‘similie’ poet than Valmiki, I have of course missed him 🙂 For examples I think V takes the cake, cream and bread!!

    SAM: good, smart girl! in this gen of ‘quicks’ I think amc is easier than asking them to read novels…my niece loves reading, my daughter does not – I guess to each his (her) own.

  10. sg: I must have bought about 50 or more copies of R and M by Rajaji – as a gift to boys for ‘upanayanam’ – cannot think of a better gift. Once upon a time that could be the only gift, but thanks to Bhavans keeping the price so low, now it is a gift along with some other gift – though I do think this book is priceless. I guess it has sold a million copies – but Bhavans does not tom tom it as usual…

  11. Subra Sir,

    I am very happy that you mentioned Amar Chitra Katha. I have read them when I was in school.

    You know, the whole Amar Chitra Katha collection is still available. I have bought the entire collection for around Rs. 9000.
    It is definitely the best investment I have made. Previously my kids were always glued to TV. Now they are actually reading books!!

    If any of you have young children, please buy it. If there are no children, buy these books for yourself. I read these books with my kids and enjoy.

    Just google ‘amar chitra katha’. You will find their website.


  12. I remember the Bal Vihar classes on Sunday mornings that the Chinmayananda Mission people used to conduct. When I was a kid, hated to get up on Sunday mornings for this. used to wish I wasn’t a Tambrahm. Now look back at it and think of not just the ‘sundal-kesari’ but all the gyan heard than, understood now. Where are thou – the Bala and Mani and Raman uncles of my childhood? My kids could sure do with a couple of you…..

  13. DM it does not matter how you buy them..i mean in which order. There are some useless ones too like Nehru, Indira…which you should skip.

    Buy mythology, myth stories, myth characters…but beware some are very childish and done without any research too..but generally they are good. You can buy small one book of Ramayana and Mahabaratha or full set of M. I think the full set of M is about 1k.

    some websites may give a discount too 🙂

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