Birth of Sage Ashtavakra
Stories from Mahabharata
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Long ago, there was a learned Rishi of the name of Uddalaka, who was famous for his knowledge of the Vedas and scriptures. Many students learned under him. One of this disciples was Kahoda, who pleased his Guru exceedingly with his devotion. So much impressed was Uddalaka, that upon Kahoda finishing his studies, he gave him is only daugter Sujata in marriage. Even after the marriage, the couple continued to reside in the hermitage of of Uddalaka, where Kahoda assisted his father-in-law in teaching.
In due course of time, Sujata became pregnant. She was in the habbit of sitting near her father and husband while they were teaching. Her unborn child attained mastery over the Vedas by listening to his grandfather expound them. Kahoda was not equally skilled as his Guru, however, and made a number of mistakes while reciting the scriptures. Unable to bear these errors, the child started correcting them from his mother's womb! Humiliated before his disciples, Kahoda cursed his son, saying, "As you insulted your father, may you be born with eight bends in your body!". Accordingly, the child was born with his body crooked in eight places, and was named Ashtavakra (one with eight deformations).
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