Thursday, January 24, 2013


                  S A G E   D U R V A S A

 In Hindu mythology, Durvasa or Durvasas, was an ancient sage, the son of Atri and Anasuya. He is supposed to be an incarnation of Shiva.

He is known for his short temper. Maledictions or curses he gave in his rage ruined many lives. Hence, wherever he went, he was received with great reverence (out of fear) from humans and Devas alike.He is commonly portrayed as desiring to enjoy others' hospitality, and becoming exceedingly angry when hosts display any sort of impropriety or fail to please him as a guest. Conversely, hosts who serve him well are often blessed by him.

According to Chapter 44 of the Brahmananda Purana, Brahma and Shiva once got into a heated quarrel. So violent was Shiva's rage as a result of this quarrel, that the Devas fled from his presence in fear. His consort, Parvati, complained that Shiva was now impossible to live with. Realising the disharmony his anger had caused, he decided to deposit this anger into Anasuya, the wife of sage Atri. From this portion of Shiva deposited into Anasuya, a child was born, who was named Durvasa (literally, one who is difficult to live with). Because he was born of Shiva's anger, he had an irascible nature.

The Bhagavata Purana gives a somewhat different account of Durvasa's birth.In this version, Atri performed severe penance to propitiate the Supreme Being in order to obtain a son by Anasuya who would be just like Him. Pleased with him, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva (being but different manifestations of the Supreme) blessed the sage that portions of themselves would be born as his sons. In due course, Anasuya bore Soma (Brahma's incarnation), Dattatreya (Vishnu's), and Durvasa (Shiva's).The famous Durvasa Ashram is situated in Azamgarh where thousands of his students were used to take education.

Durvasa and Shakuntala

In the Abhijñanashakuntala, written by Kalidasa, when the maiden Shakuntala ignored Durvasa's demands to be welcomed as a guest because she was daydreaming about her lover, Dushyanta, he cursed her that her lover would forget her. Horrified, Shakuntala's companions managed to mollify Durvasa, who softened the curse, saying that Dushyanta would remember Shakuntala when he saw the ring that he gave her as a token of their love.The sage's curse came true of course,and was eventually lifted, just as he said it would be. By the end of the play, the two lovers are reconciled, and are happy to be together again, along with their son, Bharata.

Durvasa, Rama, and Lakshmana

In the Uttara Kanda of Valmiki's Ramayana, Durvasa appears at Rama's doorstep, and seeing Lakshmana guarding the door, demands an audience with Rama. At the time, Rama was having a private conversation with Death disguised as an ascetic. Before the conversation began, Death gave Rama strict instructions that their dialogue was to remain confidential, and anyone who entered the room and saw or heard them was to be executed. Rama agreed and entrusted Lakshmana with the duty of guarding his door and fulfilling his promise to Death. Thus, when Durvasa made his demand, Lakshmana politely asked the sage to wait until Rama had finished his meeting. The sage grew angry and threatened to curse all of Ayodhya if Lakshmana did not immediately inform Rama of his arrival. Lakshmana, in a dilemma, decided it would be better that he alone die to save all of Ayodhya from falling under Durvasa's curse, and so interrupted Rama's meeting to inform him of the sage's arrival. Rama quickly concluded his meeting with Death and received the sage with due courtesy. Durvasa told Rama of his desire to be fed, and Rama fulfilled his guest's request, whereupon the satisfied sage went on his way. Rama was overcome with sorrow, for he did not want to kill his beloved brother, Lakshmana. Still, he had given his word to Death and could not go back on it. He called his advisers to help him resolve this quandary. On Vasishta's advice, he ordered Lakshmana to leave him for good, since such abandonment was equivalent to death as far as the pious were concerned. Lakshmana then went to the banks of the Sarayu, resolved on giving up the ghost via Yoga. Unseen by anyone, Indra took him to heaven.

Durvasa and Kunti

In the Mahabharata, Durvasa is known for granting boons to those who had pleased him, particularly when he had been served well as an honoured guest. An example of such behaviour is the episode between him and Kunti (the future wife of Pandu and mother of the Pandavas). When Kunti was a young girl, she lived in the house of her adopted father, Kuntibhoja. Durvasa visited Kuntibhoja one day, and sought his hospitality. The king entrusted the sage to his daughter's care and tasked Kunti with the responsibility of entertaining the sage and meeting all his needs during his stay with them.Kunti patiently put up with Durvasa's temper and his unreasonable requests (such as demanding food at odd hours of the night) and served the sage with great dedication. Eventually, the sage was gratified. Before departing, he rewarded Kunti by teaching her Atharva Veda Mantras which enabled her to invoke any god of her choice to beget children by them.It was by the use of this mantra that she was able to call the following gods:

Surya - He blessed her with a son named Karna, the unknown eldest Pandava

Dharma or Yama - He blessed her with a son named Yudhisthira, most righteous of the Pandavas.

Vayu - He blessed her with a son named Bhima, of great strength

Indra - He blessed her with a son named Arjuna, the great archer

The twin Ashvins - They blessed Madri (Pandu's second wife) with beautiful twins named Nakula and Sahadeva.

Protecting Draupadi's Modesty

Contrary to the more famous Mahabharata version of Dushasana's attempted disrobing of Draupadi, the Shiva Purana (III.19.63-66) attributes her miraculous rescue to a boon granted by Durvasa.[41] The story goes that the sage's loincloth was once carried away by the Ganges's currents. Draupadi quickly tore a piece of her garment to cover him. The sage was pleased with her. He granted Draupadi a boon which caused an unending stream of cloth to cover her when Dushasana was trying to strip her in Hastinapura's royal dice-hall.

Durvasa and Duryodhana

Another example of Durvasa's benevolent side is the incident when he granted Duryodhana a boon. During the Pandavas' exile, Durvasa and several disciples arrived at Hastinapura, and were gratified by Duryodhana's devoted hospitality. Durvasa was pleased enough to grant him a boon. Duryodhana, secretly wanting Durvasa to curse the Pandavas in anger, asked the sage to visit his cousins in the forest after Draupadi had eaten her meal, knowing that the Pandavas would then have nothing to feed him.

Visiting the Pandavas

So Durvasa and his disciples visited the Pandavas in their hermitage in the forest, as per Duryodhana's
request. During this period of exile, the Pandavas would obtain their food by means of the Akshaya Patra,
which would become exhausted each day once Draupadi finished her meal.Because Draupadi had already eaten by the time Durvasa arrived that day, there was no food left to serve him, and the Pandavas were very anxious as to their fate should they fail to feed such a venerable sage. While Durvasa and his disciples were away bathing at the river, Draupadi prayed to Krishna for help. Krishna immediately appeared before Draupadi saying he was extremely hungry, and asked her for food. Draupadi grew exasperated and said she had prayed to Krishna precisely because she had no food left to give. Krishna then told her to bring the Akshaya Patra to him. When she did, he partook of the lone grain of rice and piece of vegetable that he found stuck to the vessel and announced that he was satisfied by the "meal". This satiated the hunger of Durvasa and his disciples, as the satisfaction of Krishna (portrayed here as the Supreme Being who pervades the entire Universe) meant the satiation of the hunger of all living things. The sage Durvasa and his disciples then quietly left after their bath, without returning to the Pandavas' hermitage, for they were afraid of facing what they thought would be the Pandavas' wrathful reaction at their impolite behaviour of refusing the food that would be served to them.

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