Mahabharata Stories: 47 – Ambrosial Water

In life we all have to undergo several critical tests. Those who face these tests and come through successfully move to the higher realms. It is precisely this reason, it is said, why our lives are ridden with so many pitfalls and pains. In order to face these tests with courage and fortitude, we need to make use of the wisdom that we have acquired as also the wisdom handed down by our forefathers. Now what precisely is this wisdom? How is this wisdom put to use? Who is the most blessed among us?

This incident took place after the great eighteen-day war was fought. Sri Krishna, while on the way back to Dwaraka, met an old friend of his, a learned Brahmin, Utanga. They then talked of the war, of which the innocent Utanga, who led the life of a recluse, had not heard. Utanga was unhappy that Sri Krishna was unable to avert the war and was on the verge of cursing Him when he was brought to his rational senses by the Lord, who said: Do not waste the power of your penances in cursing me! I can use my powers only to the extent warranted by the form that I assume. I did all I could to stop the war, but it was beyond me!

Then the Lord asked of Utanga to wish for a boon. Utanga refused as he felt there was nothing he required after having seen the Lord Himself, but Sri Krishna insisted. Finally, Utanga relented and said: Lord, I wish to get water whenever I require it.

Sri Krishna granted the boon and they parted ways.

Later, as Utanga was wandering in the hot desert, he felt thirsty. He then remembered the boon given him and wished for water. There came from somewhere a nishada boy clothed in tatters with his five hunting hounds in leash. He took out a leather water bag with a bamboo spout and offered it to Utanga. Though extremely parched, Utanga felt disinclined to take water out of such dirty hands and declined. The boy stood there for sometime as if waiting for Utanga to take the water but he would not. The boy then walked away with his hounds and right in front of Utanga’s eyes, vanished.


Utanga cried out: Oh, Madhusudhana! So was it all your play? Why did you have to try me thus?

Sri Krishna then appeared before him and said: Oh, Utanga! How miserably have you failed me! When you felt thirsty, I asked Indra, the king of gods, to give you nectar in the form of water. I held faith in your wisdom but Indra wanted to ascertain that you deserved the nectar that makes one immortal. He came to you in the form of the outcaste boy and offered you the nectar but you declined. All the wisdom you have is to no purpose if you cannot transcend your material form! I take my leave!

The Lord then disappeared leaving Utanga space to ponder and feel remorse.


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