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Story of Upamanyu

The sage Vyaghrapada had a son named Upamanyu. When he was small, he wanted some milk from his mother. But he was not at all happy with the milk that his mother gave him. He complained that it did not taste like milk at all.

Naturally, said his mother. I did not give you milk. How can we afford milk? We are not rich. I powdered some rice and mixed it with water. That is what I gave to you as milk. Unfortunately, you have tasted milk in your uncle's house and you could make out the difference.

Upamanyu's mother began to cry. But Upamanyu consoled his mother. Don't cry, please, he said. I will pray to Shiva and get milk for myself.

His mother taught him the mantra that was to be used for praying to Shiva. She also taught him another mantra which would summon up a terrible divine weapon named aghorastra. This was just in case there was any danger.

Upamanyu went to the Himalayas and started to meditate. He lived only on air and chanted the incantation that his mother had taught him. He prayed in front of an earthen linga. Demons came to disturb his meditation, but Upamanyu paid no attention to them. Shiva himself was impressed by Upamanyu's difficult tapasya. But he thought that he would test Upamanyu first.

He arrived in front of Upamanyu in the disguise of Indra and asked, Upamanyu, what are you doing?

I am blessed that the king of the gods has arrived before me, replied Upamanu. I am praying to Shiva.

Shiva! Why pray to that useless fellow? asked Shiva.

Upamanu could not stand this insult to Shiva. He summoned up aghorastra by means of the mantra and let it loose at the person he thought was Indra. Shiva then manifested himself in his own form and aghorastra was repelled by Nadi, who had also turned up. Shiva himself taught Upamanu all sorts of sacred knowledge, and arrangements were made so that Upamanyu need never suffer from a lack of milk.

Krishna once came to meet the sage Upamanyu, many years after the milk incident.

Upamanyu taught Krishna the words of wisdom that he learned from Shiva; he also taught Krishna to pray to Shiva. It was by praying to Shiva that Krishna obtained his son Samba. For sixteen months Krishna had to pray before Shiva appeared, to grant the boon regarding the son. Parvati also granted Krishna several boons.



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