This is part of my ongoing series on the Mahabharat, an epic poem of ancient India. For links to all previous Mahabharat posts go here. Or you can simply click on the Mahabharat page link above.
This is the second part of the Upmanyu - Lost and Found series. To read the first part go here.
I actually wrote this four weeks ago but didn't publish it because blogger's stupid NEW LOOK kept screwing it up. It's probably going to screw it up now but all I can do is hope.(sorry, I can't help but be bitter about it.)
In Part I we saw that Guru Ayuddhaumya was introduced to a young boy named Upmanyu, who had, for all intents and purposes, some serious behavioural issues. This is what happened next.
In the days the followed Upmanyu's introduction to the school, the guru edged closer and closer to the end of his patience.
It was astounding really. The boy was precocious in the extreme, clever about every way to get into trouble, yet he had no aptitude for study at all. The guru showed him the alphabet and he squiggled random lines in the sand and hooted like an owl. The guru tried teaching him to recite multiplication numbers and the boy got a glazed look in his eyes, before promptly reciting bawdy songs he'd learned from God-knew-where.
Guru Ayuddhaumya couldn't find a way to reach him.
At first, he'd tried gentle coaxing. Upmanyu looked at him blankly, unimpressed. He'd tried private tutoring which Upmanyu announced as boring and wasted no time in wandering off and losing himself in the woods. He'd tried harsh words which Upmanyu simply repeated back at him, making a mockery of everything he said. He'd tried the cane, which Upmanyu ended up grabbing and running outside with it to cane his fellow students, howling with laughter.
Ayuddhaumya had thought that an immersion in scripture would encourage a sense of peace but the boy just wouldn't keep still long enough to learn any of the mantras.
Nor did he stop making noise long enough to hear any of the words.
The guru didn't know what to do.
He couldn't keep Upmanyu in classes. The other students' studies were suffering and Upmanyu was a bad example, to boot.
There was one thing Ayuddhaumya had noticed, though. He'd seen Upmanyu do this one thing without causing any trouble. The boy liked to go to the barn and watch the cows. He simply watched them, quiet, leaning on the railing. At that time he wasn't figiting or singing bawdy songs or thwacking his fellow students with switches.
As the days passed and Upmanyu went to the cows each day, the guru decided to try one thing. He gave Upmanyu the job of bathing the cows, then held his breath as the boy did it.
Upmanyu quietly took them to the river and splashed each cow, cooling them, grinning as they swished their tails and splashed him back. Then he brought them all back to the ashram, safe and clean and with no nonsense.
The guru was elated.
But Upmanyu continued to disrupt classes. He refused to recite his numbers. Refused to learn scripture. Refused to listen in history or art lessons.
So Guru Ayuddhaumya then took a grave risk. He gave Upmanyu the task of taking the cows for grazing.
He sweated even as he gave the order. They'd be gone all day and there was no telling what trouble Upmanyu could cause while out from under his watchful eye. Just the thought made Ayuddhaumya lightheaded. Not to mention the danger he was putting the cows in.
The guru watched as the cows meandered their way over the field and into the forest, with Upmanyu strolling behind them. Dear Lord, what was he thinking?
Ayuddhaumya had to bite his tongue to stop himself from calling them back.
To be continued...
Go here for Part III of this series.