The Hero Story – Aruni Uddalaka

The Great Indian philosopher-teacher, Aruni Uddalaka lived during the 7th century BC. He remained a revered sage throughout the history.  Aruni Uddalaka’s philosophical dialogues and thoughts can be found in Brahadaranyaka Upanishad and Chandogya Upanishad, which is a part of Sama Veda. He was the first ever saint to find out that the world, which include human beings, is fundamentally made up of three elements, such as, heat, light, water, and food. Moreover, his scientific thoughts on the atoms, which he named as Anu, is most propounding in the recent inventions and discoveries in India’s contribution to the field of Atomic Science. As his life was traced back to Panchala, he was also known as Aruni of Panchala.

The disciples who had studied under his guidance had reached peaks of success in various fields and are also known throughout India. Amongst all his disciples, Yagnavalkya was one of the famous persons.  Aruni’s child was Shwetaketu. The first usage of the Mahavaakya, Tat Twam Asi, was found in the conversations between Aruni and his son Shwetaketu. He had performed several yagnas as a result; he was proudly called as Vaajashrava. He also had a son named Nachiketa.

Significant notes about the Sage are found in Adi Parva portion of The Mahabharata. There was an incident in his life which shows how much a student should be committed and devoted to Guru’s words (guru-bhakthi) and how a student should value the Guru’s words for the words of Vedas. 

There was a time when one had to undergo Gurukula-vaasa to get educated. Students got educated in the Gurukula, which was usually located at the lap of Mother Nature, without any distractions and for peace of mind. The Guru also treated his disciples as he would treat his own children.

Aruni, as a young lad, undertook Gurukula-vaasa underneath Maharshi Doumya. It was rainy season; heavy showers were more frequent at the place where the Gurukula was situated. It was during one of these days, Doumya had asked Aruni to look if his field and the bunds were safe and Aruni immediately obeyed. When he reached the spot, he witnessed waters flooding the field through a newly formed crack in the walls of the ridges. He instantly realized that if he did not take charge to control the situation, there were chances that the field would deluge, and crops get destroyed. So, he tried hard to block the crack.

Even though Aruni tried hard to brick the crack, he could not succeed. As he did not find any other solution to save his Guru’s field and with the firm grit to somehow stop the water from entering, he decided to block the crack with his body by lying down on the crack. He got himself positioned in the same posture throughout the night.

Watching carefully, as Aruni did not return to the Ashram the whole night, Rishi Doumya and his disciples set a search for Aruni. They did not spot the presence of Aruni neither in the field nor nearby. At the top of his voice the rishi shouted, “Oh my son, Aruni, rush to this spot wherever you are!”

Aruni immediately shouted back to his Guru from a far-off place, “Oh my Guru, there is a crack formed in the ridges and rain waters are gushing inside the field. As I did not find a way to stop, I lay here on the crack preventing the waters gush. If I respond your call, waters might enter our field and deluge the crops. Forgive me Guru, I cannot come there.”

On hearing his pupil’s voice, Guru Doumya along with other disciples rushed to the spot. He found his beloved disciple himself laid on the crack trembling, protecting his field from letting the water gush throughout the chilly, solitude of the night. Doumya’s heart ceased, looking at Aruni’s Guru-bhakti.

“My dear son, get up. I take care of the matter. Hereby from today you shall be known to the world as ‘Uddalaka’ (which means one who has been aroused). Your determined Guru-bhakti has ceased my heart. Let all the Vedas and Shastras shine forth in your words. Let you be blessed with limitless prosperity, respect, fame and reputes in this world”, with heart full of kindness the Guru warmly embraced Aruni. 

Can the Guru’s words be falsified? 

In his later life, Aruni mentored several good students and lived with fame and reputation.