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During the reign of King Janamejaya, there lived a great scholar called Ayoda-Dhaumya. He had three main students. They were Aruni, Upmanyu, and Ved.

Here is a story about his first student, Aruni.

One day, the Guru called Aruni and said to repair the levees of the field, which is damaged and the water is rushing out from the field. Upon the Guru’s wish, he went to the field and started his work. He tried his best to build a levee but he was not able to do it. Tired and exhausted, he then got an idea to block the water flow by himself laid down. He remained in this position the whole day. In the evening, when Ayoda-Dhaumya found that Aruni was not yet returned, he inquired about him to other students. But they also were not aware about him. They went to the field and called Aruni. Hearing the voice of his guru, Aruni stood and apologized for not paying his respects towards guru in the evening. He expressed his sadness for not repairing the levee. Also inquired about what should he pay in return for this and he is ready to serve him all the day. The Guru was pleased with the selfless service of his student. He blessed and had given a new name, Uddalaka which means one who gets up after breaking things. He had also given another name called Kalyan, since he lay in the place of levee though he can’t make it and also not bothered about food or drink. He also blessed him that he should study all Vedas and Dharmashastras automatically without taking much effort. With these blessings from his guru, Aruni leaved the hermitage of Ayoda-Dhaumya and went happily to his native town.

Here is the story of Ayoda-Dhaumya’s second student, Upmanyu.

One day, Ayoda-Dhaumya decided to test Upmanyu’s devotion. He called him and gave a task to guide the cows and protects them all the day. Upmanyu accepted the task and took out the cows for grazing. After the work, the sage asked Upmanyu that he is looking very healthy and how he gets food. Upmanyu calmly replied that he get it by begging. On hearing this, the sage instructed Upmanyu to give all the alms to him. The next day Upmanyu did what his guru said and the sage took away all the food without giving anything to him. The sage continued this and after some days, he noticed that Upmanyu still looked very healthy without food. When he inquired about this, Upmanyu said that he is eating what he got from begging for second time. The sage then scolded Upmanyu that one should not beg for second time since it is the share of other people. The obedient student followed what his teacher said. Still the teacher can’t find a change in student’s health after some days. When inquired, Upmanyu said that he is now drinking some of the milk they give. The sage immediately restricted Upmanyu from taking milk from the cows. Upmanyu obeyed to this wish too.

The teacher again repeated the question about the reason of health. This time, the student replied that he drink foam that calves spurt out after they drink their mother’s milk. The Guru lamented that by doing so he is hindering the calves’ growth. Upmanyu listened and stopped drinking the foam from calves. The next day, when Upmanyu took the cows for grazing as usual, he felt very hungry. With out controlling the hunger, he ate the leaves of the Aak plant. Due to its poisonous juice, Upmanyu lost his eyesight. Blind and also with hunger, he wandered around the forest until he fell into a dry well. When Upamanyu did not return from forest in the evening, the sage was upset and he along with other students went for search. Upmanyu heard his Guru’s voice and replied him that he was in the well. When the sage realized the fact that how he became blind and fell into well, the sage felt that, his test became so pitiless. As a solution to this, he asked Upamanyu to pray Ashwin Kumars (twins who are the Physicians of Gods). Upmanyu prayed and soon the Ashwini Kumars appeared and gave Upmanyu a sweet. But he refused it by saying that he would not eat anything without his teacher’s permission. So impressed with the Upmanyu's devotion towards his teacher, the god blessed him and also restored his eyesight.

Ayodhdhaumya was pleased with Upamanyu’s devotion towards him and said that he had passed the test conducted by him. He also blessed him that he should study all Vedas and Dharmashastras automatically without learning religious texts. With these blessings from his guru, Upmanyu leaved the hermitage and went happily to his native town.

Here is the story of Ayoda-Dhaumya’s third student, Ved.

One day, Ayoda-Dhaumya called his third student, Ved and asked to stay in his house for few days. Ved obeyed the guru. Upon arrival to his house, guru gave a burden of work to him. Without any argument, he did all the work without any hesitation. Guru loaded him work after work, but without any complaint he performed his duties. Pleased with his Selfless altitude, Guru blessed him and set him free to move on with his life. Ved happily accepted his teacher send-off and returned to his native town. He then married a girl and later became a teacher.
King Janamejaya was the descendant of Pandavas Clan who reigned during the Middle Vedic period (12th or 11th century BCE). Janamejaya was a bold warrior and also a wise man.The great battle of Kurushetra left several losses for generations to come. All the sons of Pandavas were killed by a furious warrior named Ashwathama from Kauravas side in the war. The only remained heir from Pandava’s side is Parikshit, who was still in the womb of his widowed mother Uttara when the war happened. This Parikshit was the son of Abhimanyu, who was the son of the great archer, Arjuna. King Janamejaya was the son of King Parikshit. He had three brothers, namely Shrutsen, Ugrasen, and Bhimsen. They ruled India with Hastinapur as capital city.

Once when Janamejaya was performing a Yajna in the plains of Kurushetra, suddenly a small dog ventured inside. Seeing the dog in the sacred site, the king’s brothers captured it and beat it harshly. The dog was injured and it went to its mother with a weeping face. Actually the dog was not just any stray dog. It was the son of a bitch, Sarama who belonged to Gods. The bitch inquired his son about the matter. The small dog cried and told the incidents happened. Firstly, the bitch thought that the dog should have done some crazy things such as looking at the sacred fire or licks or touches anything. Then she found the reality that there is not any wrong thing happened from his son. She went furious and stormed to the Yajna site and inquired the reason for beating. The king and his brothers lost their words. Enraged with this injustice done to her son the bitch cursed that the king should be consumed by a sudden fright.

The king started trembling, but he somehow managed to finish the Yajna and reached Hastinapuri. He then started to search for a learned astrologer to find a solution to recover from this curse. Several astrologers visited, but the king was not satisfied with their wisdom. But One day, he saw a calm hermitage of a sage near the river. The hermitage was the home of a sage called Rishi Shrutshrava. He went inside and paid his respect to the sage. The king also saw a young sage, Somshrava the son of Rishi Shrutshrava on the hermitage who was on a deep meditation. The king expressed his desire of appointing Somshrava as the chief astrologer of his kingdom to Rishi Shrutshrava. The sage replied that he is an esteemed ascetic and has the ability to calm a person. Also he has a secret oath that if a Brahman asks him for a boon, then he will not refuse. Rishi then said that if the king agrees this condition, then Somshrava will come with you.

The king agreed and returned to Hastinapur with Somshrava. Then he introduced Somshrava to his brothers and instructed them to obey the sage. With the new sage’s appointment, the king and his brothers started preparation of invasion of another kingdom called Takshasila.
Vyasa first educated the great epic to his parrot-headed son, the sage Suka. Suka narrated it to Parikshit, Janamejaya’s father. Later, he explained it to numerous other followers so that it must pass through generations.  Tradition believes that Narada conveyed this Mahabharata to devas, while Suka conveyed it to Gandharvas, Rakshasas and the Yakshas.

Jaimini, one of Vyasa’s students heard the story from his teacher. But he was confused and Vyasa is not there to clarify his doubts. He approached Markandeya (a sage blessed with long life) to clear his doubts. But during that time, Markandeya renounced his speech as a part of his Sannyasa. Markandeya’s students directed Jaimini to four birds who had witnessed the Kurukshetra war. They explained Jaimini about the connection of those birds with Kurukshetra war. The story is during Kurukshetra war, the mother of these birds was flying over the battlefield. Suddenly an arrow struck the bird and opened her womb. Four eggs fell out to the ground from her womb. The ground was bloodsoaked, so it doesn’t break. At that time, a bell from the war elephant fall over the egg protected it from battle. The Rishis discovered and realized that the birds inside the eggs had much heard the conversations during the war. So the rishis granted the gift of human speech to these birds. Jaimini cleared his doubts from the birds and he also heard other stories that were not written by Vyasa.

Vaisampayana, another student of Vyasa is the traditional narrator of Mahabharata who revealed the epic for the benefit of humanity. He narrated the story (in the name Jaya) to King Janamejaya (12th or 11th century BCE, Vedic Period) during Sarpa Yaga (Snake Sacrifice). This was overheard by a Suta called Romaharshana, who teach it to his son Ugrashrava. Ugrashrava made a long pilgrimage to various sacred places mentioned in the story and also he visited the battlefield of Kurukshetra war. Afterwards, this story was recited by Ugrashrava (in the name Bharata) to the assembly of sages gathered in Naimisha Forest under the leadership of the Rishi Saunaka.  As Vyasa’s tale moved from one narrator to another, new tales were included. The story grew from a small sapling into a vast tree with many branches and it is renamed to "Mahabharata". 

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