Who was Rishi Animandavya ( अणिमाण्डव्य ) ?

Once there was a famous Brahmin named Mandavya (माण्डव्य). He did Tapas (penance) for many years standing silent in front of his Ashram, under a tree, raising his hands in prayer. At that time some thieves happened to pass by that place, with stolen property belonging to the King. Finding that the King’s men were pursuing them, the thieves fled away after leaving their stolen property in Mandavya’s Ashmram.

The King’s men seized Mandavya with the king’s property. Even prolonged and repeated questionings did not bring out a single word from Mandavya. At last the thieves were caught. Mistaking him as one of the thieves, the King’s men produced Mandavya also along with the thieves before the King. The thieves were all condemned to death. The royal executioners took all of them to the place of execution and stuck them up at the tip of a trident (Śūla). The thieves died, but even after a long time Mandavya did not die.

In Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva, Verses 46- 51, it is said that at this stage Shiva appeared and blessed him with longevity and then vanished. Several Munis in the shape of birds came near Mandavya who was lying on the trident and made enquiries about him. The King came to know the truth he became full of repentance. He went and begged pardon from Mandavya. The attempt to pull out the trident from Mandavya’s body failed. At last it was removed by cutting it off. Since the tip (अणि) of the trident was left behind in his body he was there- after he was known as “Ani Mandavya”. (Mahabharata, Adi Parva, Chapter 107).

His curse on Lord Dharma & birth of Vidura

After going about in the world for many years with the tip of the trident in his body, Ani-Mandavya (अणिमाण्डव्य ) once asked Dharma: “Oh! Lord, why is it that an innocent man like me is afflicted with the trident?”.

Dharma answered: “In your boyhood you once caught small birds and pierced them with a grass reed. It is a result of that sin that you have been pierced with the trident.”

Mandavya replied: “The Sastras says that there shall be no punishment for sins committed till the age of twelve. Therefore the punishment inflicted on me is wrong.  Unhappy with the reply Rishi Ani Mandavya say to dharma “As the murder of a Brahmin is a greater sin than any other murder, may you be born as a man in the ‘Sudra Caste’.”

Due to this curse of Mandavya, Dharma was born a son of a Sudra woman. It was this child who later on became the renowned Vidura (विदुर) of the Mahabharata. (Mahabharata Adi Parva, Chapter 107).

Translation in Hindi

पूर्व काल की बात है वेदार्थों के ज्ञाता, महान यशस्वी, पुरातन मुनि, ब्रह्मर्षि भगवान अणिमाण्डव्य चोर न होते हुए भी चोर के संदेह से शूली पर चढा दिये गये।

परलोक में जाने पर उन महा यशस्वी महर्षि ने पहले धर्म को बुलाकर इस प्रकार कहा –

“धर्मराज ! पहले कभी मैंने बाल्यवस्था के कारण सींक से एक चिडि़ये के बच्चे को छेद दिया था। वही एक पाप मुझे याद आ रहा है। अपने दूसरे किसी पाप का मुझे स्मरण नहीं है ।। मैंने अगणित सहस्त्र गुणा तप किया है। फिर उस तप ने मेरे छोट-से पाप को क्यों नहीं नष्ट कर दिया। ब्राह्मण का वध समस्त प्राणियों के वध से बड़ा है। तुमने मुझे शूली पर चढवाकर वही पाप किया है इसलिये तुम पापी हो।”

अतः पृथ्वी पर शूद्र की योनि में तुम्हें जन्म लेना पड़ेगा। ‘अणीमाण्डव्य के उस शाप से धर्म भी शूद्र की योनि में उत्पन्न हुए। पाप रहित विद्वान विदुर के रूप में धर्मराज का शरीर ही प्रकट हुआ था।

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