Gajakacchapa Akhyana (गजकच्छप-आख्यानम्)
Gajakacchapa Akhyana (Samskrit : गजकच्छप-आख्यानम्) refers to the anecdote (akhyana) involving Gaja (गजः elephant) and Kacchapa (कच्छपः tortoise) in the Mahabharata (Adiparva Adhyaya 29). Maharshi Kashyapa advises his son Garuda to consume these animals on his way to get Amrtam to free his mother Vinata from bondage.
Long long time ago, two brothers, Vibhaasa and Suprateeka used to live. Both of them used to wake before Suuryodayam, do Snaana-sandhyaavandana aadi Kaaryams and then with Niyama-vratam used to do Parabrahma aaraadhana.
However once the younger brother, Suprateeka asked Vibhaasa to give him his share of the father’s property. Then Vibhaasa replied “Priya Sodara! People with Pralobham only divide things. We are brothers. We must not have Pralobham. In addition Dhana-kaaksha leads to duhkhas. Some dushtas may interfere between us and increase the conflict. With that both of us will be destroyed. Hence let us share and live, forget about division. Jyeshtha Bhraata is equivalent to Pita and you are like my putra”.
However Suprateeka didnt accept. He said that property must be divided. Seeing this, Vibhaasa got Krodham and said “you dont have respect to elders. Become a Gajam (Elephant) in a mahaaranyam”. With greater Krodham Suprateeka replied “In a pushkarini in the same Aranyam you will become a Kachchhapam (Tortoise)”. Both of them left pavitra maanava-shariiram and took birth according to their shaapas.
Gajam used to come near pushkarini and do ghiinkaaram; the Kachchhapam used to created huge waves. The battle used to start. Everyday they used to fight each other. Also both of them had bahu-sthuula-kaayam (they were extremely huge). So no other animal was able to peacfully live. No one could use the pushkarini. In that Aranyam all the animals were being disturbed by these huge creature’s fights.” said Kashyapa maharshi to Garuda, when Garuda Bhagavaan asked His Pita, Kashyapa maharshi, to show him some aahaaram before going to bring Amruta-kalasham from Devendra to save His Maata, Vinata, from Daasyam to Kadruva.
Kashyapa continued “Putra! If you take these two creatures as Your aahaaram, then all the animals in the Aranyam will live happily. The pushkarini will then again become aadhaaram for many creatures”. Garuda Bhagavaan then did Namaskaaram to His Pita and flew to the Aranyam.
Even today if two people always fight each other we say “why are you fighting like Gaja-kachchhapas?”.
Morals in the story:
- The Pitrubhakti and Vinayam of Garuda deva are well shown in the story. Though He was extra-ordinarily strong, capable, still He asked His Pita to show Himself some aahaaram! The greatest sad-gunam of Sat-purushas is Vinayam.
- Nyaayam is what is concerned to an individual. Whereas Dharmam concerns a society. Hence in order to protect the creatures in the Aranyam, the two trouble causing animals had to be killed. Hence, the Dharmagnya, Kashyapa maharshi, asked his putra to take the Gaja-kachchhapas as His aahaaram.
- The amruta vaakyas of Vibhaasa must be remembered. Pralobham and Dhana-kaaksha always lead to difficulties.
- A family where brothers remain united like Shri Raama and Lakshmana will always prosper; a family where the brothers fight each other like Vibhaasa and Suprateeka will be destroyed with their own Krodham.
- Mani, Vettam. (1975). Puranic encyclopaedia : A comprehensive dictionary with special reference to the epic and Puranic literature. Delhi:Motilal Banasidass. (Page 613 and 614)