Mahabharat Episode 1: Brihaspati’s Curse and Tara’s Child
Sadhguru kicks off the Mahabharat story, by telling us how one of the ancestors of the Pandavas and Kauravas was born.
Embrace the Characters to Understand the StorySadhguru: You need to be absolutely involved, not looking at it like a piece of his-story but as your story, being a part of it. We want to walk through the story, not hear someone else’s story. As I already mentioned, it would be completely unfair to judge people from 5000 years ago by your values, your morals, your ethics, or whatever else. I want you to think like them, be like them, experience it the way they did – not the way you think today. These were times when transactions between the planet Earth and other forms of life were very frequent.
There are various aspects of the Mahabharat that you will find simply unbelievable, but you should not disbelieve anything. Because we are in the 21st century, we value dissection more than an embrace. But right now, I want you to embrace this story and these characters, the human beings, animals, yakshas, kinnaras, ganas, devas, gods, and goddesses – all kinds. Only then will you understand why it was the way it was, and above all, why it is relevant to you. In a state of dissection, you would miss the whole spirit of it.
Brihaspati, Chief Priest of Indra
Many thousands of years ago, there was a master priest and scholar, whose name was Brihaspati. Naturally, Indra, the King of Gods himself, hired him as his official priest. A priest was very important because it was Dwapara Yuga, a time when rituals were the most significant aspect of people’s lives. They learnt to use methods and substances to impact their own life, the situations around them, and the lives of others. A remnant of this ritualistic culture still lives on in the southern part of the country. Kerala has probably kept up more ritual, and in greater purity, than any other part of the country.
Brihaspati and His Wife Tara
Brihaspati had a wife by the name of Tara. Brihaspati represents the planet Jupiter. Tara means “star.” In ancient India, the woman’s place in rituals was as important as the man’s. This arrangement, that a man could not perform a ritual without his wife, made sure that though the physical conditions outside were harsh, still women had an equal place. A man could not receive blessings without his wife. A man could not go to heaven without his wife. A man could not attain mukti without his wife.
All the rituals were established in such a way that at no point, society could disregard women in any sense. Today, women have a little bit of freedom, but unfortunately, with this freedom, they are losing many privileges they used to have. Today women have reasonably equal rights – I am saying “reasonably” because maybe by law they are equal, but in terms of enforcement, it is still only “reasonable.”
This shift towards equal rights has happened only because modern technology sort of levels the field and not because of a true transformation of humanity. In Brihaspati’s time, the social norms or what was referred to as “dharma” ensured that a woman could not be used, abused, or neglected, because she was a very important part of a man’s life. In terms of physical strength and muscles, he would have just wiped her out. But the spiritual dimension of life was not possible for him unless his woman was next to him. Therefore, he had to value her.
Tara Falls in Love with the Moon God
Though he was the King of Gods’ priest, Brihaspati needed Tara for whatever he did. He was holding on to her only because he would otherwise lose his employment. And he himself philandered all over the place. Seeing this, one day, Tara looked up at the full moon, and she fell in love with the moon god Chandra. Chandra himself came down to earth. They got into a big romance, and after some time, she eloped with him.
Brihaspati became furious, because it was not just about losing his wife but losing his job, his prestige, his place in society, and he would not be able to enter Devaloka, the gods’ world, anymore. He called Indra and said, “I want my wife back. You have to get her back – otherwise, I will not perform your rituals.” Indra interfered and compelled Tara to come back. This was the first time that someone was compelled to stick to a certain family structure. When Indra said, “You have to come back,” Tara answered, “No, my love is up there.” He said, “Your emotions do not matter. Your dharma is to be with Brihaspati, because unless you stay with him, my rituals will go bad.” So she was brought back.
Tara’s and Chandra’s Child
Tara was pregnant. Brihaspati wanted to know whose child it was. Tara refused to speak. People gathered. She still refused to speak. Then from inside the womb, the unborn child asked the question, “Whose child am I really?” In appreciation of the intelligence of this child, who, while still in the womb, wanted to know what seed he was made of, people said, “You may refuse to tell your husband; you may refuse to tell the gods, but you cannot refuse to tell your unborn child.” Tara said, “It is Chandra’s child.”
Brihaspati got very angry that his wife was carrying the child of another man. He cursed the child, saying, “May you become a neuter – neither a man nor a woman.” The child was born and named Budha, after the planet Mercury. As he grew up, he lamented to his mother, “What am I supposed to do? Should I live as a man? Should I live as a woman? What is my dharma? Should I become an ascetic? Should I get married? Should I marry a man or a woman?” Tara said, “Existence has space for all these billions and billions of stars, all the other kinds of things, and a variety of creatures who are neither men nor women nor gods nor devils. When existence has space for all that, don’t you worry – for you too, there is space. For you too, there will be a life. You simply be. Life will come your way.”
To be continued...
Editor’s Note: A version of this article was originally published in Isha Forest Flower May 2015. Download as PDF on a “name your price, no minimum” basis or subscribe to the print version.