This is part 2 of a three part series on Vidhura. You can read Part 1 here.
In which Mandavya Maharishi questions Yama
Several days passed. Mandavya Maharishi had gone back to his ashram. Life was beginning to roll back to normalcy, when one day, he thought – “Why me?”. Yes, Sages were human after all. Like all human beings, he thought – “Why me?”.
The sage had been meditating on the Lord. He had committed no crime, atleast not in this janma. Why had he been punished so harshly? The king had done his duty. So he forgave the king. But there must be a reason.
With all his powers, he summoned Lord Yama, the lord of death. And the dark one appeared. On his buffalo. And his long black whip coiled and in his hand. He got down from the buffalo and prostrated before the Rishi.
“Oh wise one, for what reason did you summon me? Please let me serve you by fulfiling your wish.”
The sage was upset, he could tell.
“I need a reason why I had to go through such a harsh punishment. I did not commit any heinous crime, atleast in this janma. And I would like to know from your records, if I did anything in my previous janma, and if it was my prarabda karma. ”
The Lord of death summoned Chitragupta,the official karma recorder, and asked him to provide the required details. Chitragupta went through the records, and said that the Muni had indeed committed a wrong by playing with a spider when he was young, and tormenting it by pulling off his legs. This event had occured when he was 12 years old.
The sage was furious. In his mind, the child of 12 does not know reason. He has not matured. He roared at Yama asking him to mend his laws, that – “No act of a child less than 14 years of age, would be recorded and evaluated in the karma register.” It was not Dharma that someone be punished because of an act committed by a doer, who does not realize it was a mistake.
It is worthy of note here, that, even to this date, the Human Rights world considers 14 as the age boundary for determining child labour laws.
Lord Yama saw reason in the Sage’s amendment, and made the appropriate changes immediately. The sages’ anger had not subsided still. He cursed the God of death to be born in the earth as a lowly mortal who would be born in the palace, but not to the royal family, but to an attendant of the royal family.
Acknowledgement: I am recounting this from a lecture recording called Vidhura Needhi by Shri R.B.V.S.Manian, The lecture was hosted in Kumbakonam a few years back.