The two young men were charming and beautiful. Both looked alike. They were in fact, twins, And they were inseparable, well in a figurative way, otherwise they would have needed a skilled surgeon to separate them.
They were quite sure of themselves, if a bit cocky. One did not grudge them that, For they were accomplished.. Both excelled as physicians and surgeons, for the glitterati even. They learnt their art and craft from a great teacher, who imparted them what ever there was to learn in their chosen field of Medicine and Surgery. Of course he did not teach them a few peripheral and interdisciplinary things in their chosen field besides other extraneous things like interpersonal skills, metaphysics, philosophy or the Ultimate Truth which also he knew very well, because they showed no inclination to learn such ‘metta vedantam’ (as the Telugu people some times say derisively of Metaphysics)
The king liked the twins so that he accorded them a specific share of the substantial offerings he got from his subjects and others. He was required to accord such allowances to great scholars and stoics,who knew thoroughly, every thing that was there to learn in the arts and the sciences , Of course he made the allowance to some other VIPs who were specialists in their chosen fields. But this was at his entire discretion.He expected the recipients of such discretionary largesse, to look up to him and be obedient to him,
So, their cockiness was not to the liking of their king. He tolerated their barbs, snides, witticisms and wisecracks aimed at the revered courtiers, but when they began to be aimed at himself even, the king said enough was enough. He decided to cut off their allowances. This sure hit its mark and the brothers got the pinch.
They remembered their great teacher who they thought could help them find some way to spite the obnoxious ruler. The teacher, they knew would ask them to learn equanimity and not to think of retaliation, and to find time and know the Soma Wisdom (or BrahmaVidya or Madhu Vidya) but that can wait. The immediate task was to pay back the king with interest, for what he did to them.It did not matter whether the allowances were restored to them, they would seek and find some method to put the king to ignominy for the slight he had done to them.
The teacher receives them with affection and asks them whether there was any way he could help them , since he felt they looked troubled and miserable. They tell the whole story, well, naturally from their perspective and seek the mentor’s help to spite the king. The teacher, reminds them was not proper or wise to fight the boss, he was all powerful.And he was within his rights to withdraw their allowance. They were experts only in a narrow field, they didn’t learn the Soma Wisdom.They could not hope to claim the allowance as a right. Before they could get such allowance as a right, there was a lot for them to learn and accomplish. Well, in a way, wealth and fame came your way when you know not to hanker after them and went on performing your duty dutifully, regardless of any slights, whether deserved or not., He cautions them not to abuse the king in his presence.
The brothers see reason in what their teacher says. But, they are not prepared to leave it at that. More than their monetary value, those forfeited allowances were a source of pride to them which they did not like to lose.
The teacher is sympathetic.. He tells them that there was a way out.He tells them that the king was bound to accord the allowance to those who knew the Soma Wisdom. But, the brothers, the teacher felt, were in no fit mental state to learn that. They needed to cool down a bit to grasp that. He advises them to return to him for instruction after another twelve years.
The brothers are impatient, Twelve years ! Preposterous! There must be some other faster way.
The teacher suggests a way out. There was a provision that those who did a great act of altruism were required to be accorded the allowance. The king had no say in that.
There was one such great act they could try and accomplish. A great sage known as Chyawana was held in awe by the king. But unfortunately he lost his sight in both his eyes, due to a curious mishap. He also turned infirm and ugly.If only the brothers could restore his vision and cure his infirmities, the king could not dare deny them their allowance any further.
The brothers jump at this. They are also intrigued by the mention of the mishap which led to the seer getting blind and infirm..They pay their respects to their great teacher once again, take leave and hasten to do his bidding.
The king comes to know that the upstarts had gone to their great teacher, evidently, to learn The Soma Skills and thus force his hand. The king himself never cared to know that. Of what use was ‘metta vedantham’, to a king. He had everything and every pleasure worth having within his grasp. But, still he needs to be one up,especially over those irreverent twins.
The kings goes to the teacher. After the welcome and the pleasantries, he tells him that he had a request to make.The teacher replies that he could as well have ordered him .
It would be done. The king requests the teacher to guide him in knowing the Soma Wisdom.
The sage demurs. The king reminds the sage of his promise. The sage relents. He asks the aspirant to shed all his royal accoutrements and approach him wearing just a G -string and holding some other simple spiritual accessories. The king complies. When on an important mission, you need to put up with irritants and inconveniences.The teacher waxes elaborately and eloquently on the futility of mundane pleasures and the need for simple living and high thinking. The king doesn’t show his irritation but he suspects that the sage was doing all that show and elaborate to-do just to insult him for what all he did to the sage’s beloved pupils. He wishes to just get it over with. Lot of important things to do and then there was the great opera he looked forward to featuring one of his favorite ballerinas.
He tells the teacher angrily, ” Sir, Don’t take me for granted as some riffraff, just because I have approached you to learn some mumbo jumbo from you. And don’t think you are great simply because you know something esoteric. Don’t expect me to nod to what ever drivel you say.”
The teacher is not frightened. He says calmly,” I have taught a lot of aspirants the Great Truth that I am fortunate to know. But to my regret you are the only one who had taken the vow to know it and found it to be insipid. You are free to do whatever you like. You are the ruler. I am not bothered or afraid.”
The king roars, ” I will not harm you for now. But if you insist on teaching this to some one else, take my word, I will behead you with my diamond-studded sword of lightning.”
The sage kindly replies, ” So be it. Now, sir, better be on your way,You have better things to do, evidently.”, he conducts His Exalted Highness out, with due formality.
Coming back to the twins.They go to the blind sage’s abode and in no time restore his sight, but not before playing a prank with the seer and his wife The sage and his beautiful young wife , are beside themselves with joy, The happy seer seeks to know in what way he could pay off his debt of gratitude. They tell their story and ask him whether he could be of some help in restoring their allowances.
The sage replies,” The king holds me in great awe.I propose to perform a fire sacrifice ( yajgna, a spiritual event of great magnitude and significance). I will announce you also as coparceners in the offerings in that yajgna. No body can dare object to that. It will form a precedent. And your allowance will get restored .”
The king tries to foil the great event, but in vain. He is furious but bides his time.
Meanwhile the twins have learnt their lesson. Calm and peace descends on them at last. They now eagerly desire to learn the Great Truth, but not for the sake of fulfilling their vanity or for any such other mundane cause.
They go to their old teacher once again and beg him to teach them the science of Soma. The teacher is in a dilemma. He remembers the ban imposed on him by the king. He tells them of the threat to his life and seeks some time to decide. Any way he is not much worried about the threat to his life. You only die once.
The brothers say that they do not need to learn the science, if that would entail in the killing of their beloved teacher..
The teacher replies that death if it results as a consequence of performing ones duty diligently, ought to be welcomed.
The twins are silent for a while. One of them says he had found a way out.
They would first behead a horse, and then the sage also. Then they would transplant the head of the horse on to the torso of the sage and vice versa in such a way that both would still be alive. If the sage could manage to teach them the science while sporting the head of the horse, they would be happy to learn it. The king was sure to cut away the horse’s head on the body of the seer.The two surgeons would then cut the sage’s head from the body of the horse and after due surgery restore normalcy to both the sage and the horse.
The plan goes ahead as envisaged. The king is awestruck, frightened and ashamed The sage pardons him.
The sage advises the brothers, ” Sons, Remember always that righteous conduct alone will ensure you eminence. None can raise a finger against you. Be compassionate to one and all. Don’t ever do an unrighteous thing.”
This beautiful story is from the Upanishads, the ancient spiritual texts of Hinduism. The twins are the celestial physicians, the Aswini Devatas and the compassionate teacher, the sage Dadhyancha or better known as dadheechi.The King is the king of the celestials, Indra.