Saturday, 17 August 2013

Value of a cow

Pastime from Mahabharata

In the course of his pilgrimage, Sage Chyavana reached Prayag where Ganga and 
Yamuna merge. He entered the river and stayed under water in the stage of 
Samadhi. A big group of fish surrounded the sage and was in total peace with 
him. The sage also was at ease with the fish around him and stayed thus for 
twelve years. One day, a group of fishermen came to that place and threw big 
nets into the river. Along with the fish, the sage also was caught in the nets 
and the fishermen were surprised to see the sage along with the fish. The 
fishermen were frightened and fell at the feet of Sage Chyavana and requested 
for his forgiveness. They also asked him to give them further directions.
The sage reassured them that they did do not anything wrong and since he was 
part of the catch, they should sell him for a suitable price. The fishermen did 
not know what to do and went to their king Nahusha and reported the whole 
matter and requested the king to come and take care of them.

King Nahusha came to see the sage along with his ministers and other staff. He 
prostrated himself at the feet of the sage and expressed remorse at the actions 
of the fishermen and requested the sage to guide them further. The Sage Chyavana
replied: “Oh King! What is there to feel bad? The fishermen did nothing wrong 
and were simply doing their duty. There is no mistake from their side. Now 
listen to my advice. Since I am their catch, they should be compensated and I 
suggest that you compensate them suitably.”

The king was happy that the Sage was not angry with him or the fishermen and 
ordered his ministers to pay the fishermen a thousand madas (some gold coins of 
that era). The sage heard that and told the king and the ministers to pay a fair
and just price to the fishermen. The king went on increasing and finally offered
the whole kingdom, but the sage simply asked the king to sit and confer with the
ministers and decide the fair compensation.

The king and the ministers were wondering what to do when would great wise man 
named Kavi Jatha came that way and he assured the king that he will fix the 
suitable price for the sage and asked them not to worry. The king and the 
ministers were very happy and were a relieved a lot. Then Kavi Jatha said, “The 
value of a cow and a Brahmin is equal. Lord Brahma made cow as the cause of all 
havis in yaga and the Brahmin as the head of all mantras. No one can fix the 
price of a Brahmin or a cow. So, offer a cow instead of the sage to the 
fishermen.” The king was pleased and went to the sage and told the sage that he 
was incapable of fixing the rate for him and instead would offer a cow to the 
fishermen. The sage was very happy to hear this and said: “Oh king! I am glad 
that the proper value has been fixed. The cow is holy and contains Agni and 
Amrita (the nectar). It is fit to be worshiped even by the gods. I am pleased 
with your decision. So, give a cow to the fishermen.”
So, the king gave a good cow to the fishermen. They accepted the cow and then 
went to the sage and bowed to him and pleaded with him that he had been very 
kind to them and so he should kindly accept the cow from them. The sage was 
pleased with their devotion and agreed. By the mercy of the sage, the fishermen 
and the acquatics became purified and went to heaven. The king also became very 
happy and from that time onwards began to worship the cows. The great sage then 
returned to his hermitage.

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