A Story from the Past – 7 & News of Today

This week, we read that Paul Allen plans to give away his entire fortune estimated at about $13 Billion.  Paul Allen is the co-founder of Microsoft. The other co-founder of Microsoft has founded Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to give away much of their wealth and promote noble causes around the world. Warren Buffet has also declared his plan to give away his fortune to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This has been the American tradition for some time. This is why worthy causes and respected NGOs come to America to seek funds from America’s charitable foundations. 

Such giving has been the tradition of Eternal Dharma since its foundation, even though it is hard to find it in today’s India. When we read the news of Paul Allen, we remembered the story of Raghu.

The conquests of Raghu are well described by Kali-Das in his epic Raghu-Vamsha (see story – 5). According to the epic, Raghu conquered the known civilized world all the way up to River Vaksu or the Oxus river in modern Turkmenistan. (Oxus is the Greek translation of Vakhsha, the later Indian name of what the early Indians called Vaksu).

After his conquest of the world, Emperor Raghu performed the विश्वजीत यज्ञ = Vishwa-Jeet Yadyna. Vishwa = विश्व means the world and जीत = Jeet stands for Conquest or Conqueror. But this यज्ञ = Yadyna or a religious celebration was not an event for self-glory. Instead, the Yadyna called for the World Conqueror to donate the wealth he had obtained to others.

Raghu did the Vishwa-Jeet Yadyna on a massive scale and the scale of his generosity exceeded the scale of the Yadyna. Raghu gave away everything personal including the Emperor’s own golden dinner plates and his own rich clothes. He was literally left with nothing personal except the poorest utensils made of clay and clothes of an ascetic.

Just as Raghu was about to feel fulfilled about his charity, a guest came to see him. It was Kautsa, the famed disciple of Guru Varatantu. Raghu greeted him warmly and gave him a ceremonial asan or seat. After initial greetings, Raghu asked Kautsa what he could do for him.

Kautsa did not know what to say. Kautsa had to pay his Guru a great deal of money for his education. So he had come to Raghu to ask for the money during the Vishwa-Jeet Yadyna. But Kautsa could see clearly that Raghu had nothing left to give him. So he refused to tell Raghu why he had come. Instead, he praised Raghu for his extraordinary generosity.

Raghu did not take no for an answer and insisted on knowing why Kautsa had come. So finally Kautsa told him. He added that Raghu had nothing left and so could not provide Kautsa what he had come for. But he wished Raghu good luck and tried to take Raghu’s leave. The words uttered by Kautsa have become immortal:

           स्वस्ति अस्ति तू ते
           Swasti Astu Tu Te
           Let Swasti (celestial peace) be unto you

           निर गलित  अंबू गर्भं शरद घनम 
           Nir Galit Ambu Gharbham Sharad Ghanam
           Without Water in its Belly, a cloud of (the month of) Sharad

            न आर्दती चातकः अपि 
            Na Aardati Chatak Api 
            Even the Chaatak bird does not sing to it

A little explanation. Mythology featured a bird called Chaatak that used to sing to the sky in the monsoon season when he saw a cloud full of rain in its belly. Sharad is the month in the Indian calendar that comes after the monsoon season is over. So a cloud in the month of Sharad has no rain left in it.

So Kautsa with this salutation wished Raghu “Swasti” and poetically said that Raghu has become like a cloud of Sharad without any capacity to deliver rain or what Kautsa wanted.

But Kautsa was speaking to Raghu, the greatest emperor of the Ikshvaku Dynasty. It was unthinkable that a guest would leave Emperor Raghu with his wishes unfulfilled. So Raghu requested Kautsa to spend one night in his palace and promised Kautsa that he shall have what he came for.

Then Raghu called his generals and ordered his army to be ready the next morning to attack Kuber, the Lord Treasurer of Heaven. Kuber heard of this impending attack. Kuber had no wish to face the great Raghu in battle. So Kuber arranged for a massive amount of wealth to be showered on Raghu’s Treasury overnight, enough wealth to fill up the entire treasury of the Ikshvaku empire.

Raghu woke up in the morning and before he could put on his armor, his treasurer burst in with the great news.  Since Raghu’s aim was fulfilled, he canceled the attack. Then he called Kautsa and asked Kautsa to take as much as he needed to pay his Guru.

This is one of the stories that tell us why Raghu was considered the greatest of the Ikshvaku Emperors and why the dynasty was renamed as Raghu-Vamsha or the Dynasty of Raghu.

This story also shows that giving away one’s wealth to the needy was considered by Eternal-Dharma to be the most glorious act any person could perform. The story of Raghu is only one of many stories from the past that teach the rich and the powerful to donate their worldly possessions to the needy. Most readers would recall that Karna gave away all his wealth and his heavenly armor before the start of the great Mahaa-Bhaarat War.

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One response

  1. When talking about one of the extreme sacrifices, the name of Ekalavya comes to mind. he sacrificed everything he learned to satisfy his “guru-dakshina”. Of course, he was not a a king or somebody with a great lineage, and unfortunately there was no happy ending to his story.

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