Dattatreya blessing Kartaveerya Arjuna

Written by London swaminathan


Date: 1 JULY 2018


Time uploaded in London –   7-02 AM (British Summer Time)


Post No. 5168


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Hindus revere and respect the teacher as God. Whether it is archery or Atma Jnana lessons, dance or music lessons, same respect is given to the teachers, known in Sanskrit as Guru or Acharya. There is a story in Bhagavatha Purana about a great king of India who gained the strength of 1000 hands by serving his Guru.


Karatavirya Arjuna who is also known as Sahasrabahu- a man with 1000 hands—has good and bad qualities. Every coin has got two sides. He was the son of Krita Virya and his name was Arjuna. Just to differentiate between the Arjuna of Mahabharata and this man he was named Karta Veerya Arjuna. He ruled Haihaya Kingdom, the modern Madhya Pradesh. His capital was Mahismati on the banks of River Narmada.


Bhagavatha Purana narrates a story about his good deeds. He was a great disciple of Dattareya. He learnt all the scriptures—Vedas and Shastras—from him. It was a custom in ancient India to massage the feet of Guru when he goes to bed. Guru gives his full blessings when he is happy. He worshipped Dattatreya with the ancient sloka,


“Gurur Brahma, Gurur Vishnuh, Gurur Devo Mahesvarah

Guru Saakshaat Parabrahma Tasmai Sri Gurave Namah”

(Guru is Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Para brahma whom I worship)

Once Kartaveerya Arjuna was massaging the feet of his Guru Dattatreya. He got some burning sensation in his palms. but yet he continued his service. Slowly it went up to his arms and he was wriggling in pain. The Guru woke up he saw his distress and found out what happened. When he was told that his hands were burning, he took Kartaveerya’s hands and stroked them and told him that “from today onwards you will have the strength of one thousand hands and no one could defeat you on earth”. Thus he gained the name of Sahasra Bahu- man with 1000 hands — (actually strength of 1000 hands; thousand did not mean 1000 literally; it means great strength).


Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

So with all the great power he became very arrogant. When Ravana from Sri Lanka came to Narmada River area, Kartaveerya was bathing with his wives. When Ravana, who is fond of all beauties, eyed on his wives, Kartaveerya caught him like a bird and thrashed him. He imprisoned Ravana and placed him in the corner of Mahismati City as an exhibit. Then Ravana’s maternal Grandfather Pulastya used his influence and obtained the release of Ravana. He promised him not to come to his country in his life time.


When Kartaveerya became more arrogant he went to the Ashram (hermitage) of sage Jamadagni and his wife received him with all the honours fit for a king. But he made an ill return for her hospitality and carried off the divine milch cow. Jamadagni’s son Parasurama got angry and cut off his hands and killed him. Kartaveerya’s sons killed Jamadagni in a revenge attack. Then Parasurama vowed to kill all the Kshatria Kings whoever dared to oppose him. Thus Parasurama killed 21Kings.

About Kartaveerya, Hindu mythologies (Puranas) say,

“Having worshipped a portion of divine being called Dattatreya, sprung from the race of Atri, he sought and obtained these boons—

a thousand arms,

a golden chariot that went wheresoever he willed it to go,

the power of restraining wrong by justice,

the conquest of the earth and the disposition to rule it righteously,

invincibility by enemies and

death at the hands of a man renowned over the whole world”.


By him the earth was perfectly governed. It is said that the moment someone thought of doing wrong there he appeared and stopped it.

Another mythology praised him,

“ No other king shall ever equal Kartaveerya in regard to sacrifices, liberality, austerities, courtesy and self restraint”

Thus he ruled for 85 years with unbroken health, prosperity, strength and valour.”

In another place we read,

“When the demon king Ravana came in the course of his campaign of conquest to Mahismati, he was captured without difficulty, and was confined like a wild beast in a corner of his city Mahismati”

Only Vayu Purana differs slightly by saying Karta veerya invaded Lana and there took Ravana as prisoner.


(It may look like contradictory; but I think that both may be correct and could have happened at different times of his 85 year rule)





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