Dhaka, Bangladesh
Sincerity and INTEGRITY

Sincerity and INTEGRITY

Uttanka was the disciple of Sage Gautama. Both guru and disciple were devoted to each other. Others came and went but Uttanka continued to serve his guru. As the years passed, neither realised that the disciple was slowly ageing. One day, Uttanka brought a load of firewood home. He saw a few grey hairs caught in the bark. He checked his reflection in some still water and was aghast to see an old, grey face stare back at him. "When will I get a chance to set up my own ashram? I never even got a chance to enjoy my youth," he raged. Gautama overheard Uttanka and said, "I didn't have the heart to let you go, as you were my favourite disciple. Now I realise I was being selfish in my love for you. You have my permission to leave the ashram." The guru also blessed Uttanka so that he regained his lost youth. Before an overjoyed Uttanka left, he asked Gautama what dakshina he should offer. The guru replied, "Your service over all these years has been my dakshina." Not satisfied with this reply, Uttanka asked Gautama's wife if he could do something for her. She asked him to bring her the magical earrings of King Saudasa's wife. Quest In the evening, when Gautama returned, his wife told him of her request to Uttanka. The shocked sage said, "Saudasa is living as a cannibal in a forest. You have put his life in danger." Gautama began to invoke the gods to ensure his disciple's safety. Uttanka, in the meantime, had met King Saudasa and told him of his mission. On the king's order, the queen gave the earrings to Uttanka and warned him that the nagas would steal the earrings if given a chance. "These earrings," she said, "protect the wearer from hunger and thirst." Uttanka thanked the queen, wrapped the earrings in his bundle and left for home. On the way, he stopped to pluck some fruit and put his bundle on the fork of a branch. But the falling fruit hit the bundle and it fell to the ground. A naga, who had been following Uttanka, took his chance and ran away with the earrings. A furious Uttanka chased him but the naga vanished into the earth. Unwilling to give up, Uttanka began to dig the ground with the hope of reaching the subterranean world of the nagas. For many weeks, he worked without sparing himself. One day, an old man came that way and asked him what he was doing. When Uttanka explained, the old man tried to dissuade him. But Uttanka would not give up. Suddenly, the old man vanished and in his place stood Lord Indra. "I am pleased with your steadfastness," he said. "Hold up your staff and let me help you." When Uttanka held up his staff, Indra touched it with his Vajra and infused it with its power. Re-energised by this encounter, Uttanka soon dug his way and reached the underworld. When he reached the city of the nagas, he wondered how he could get through the gates. As he pondered over his next step, a white horse appeared. Flames began to spurt from the horse. "Blow on me," it told an astonished Uttanka. "I am Agni and have come to help you." Uttanka did as he was told and thick oily black smoke began to rise from the flames and enter the city. Choking and with streaming eyes, the nagas poured out of the city and pleaded with Uttanka to call off his curse. He refused to do so unless the earrings were returned to him. A naga came forward with the earrings and apologised for stealing them. Once Agni vanished, Uttanka made his way back to his guru. He gave the earrings to Gautama's wife and then left to set up his own ashram.

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