Jaigishavya and Asita-Devala
When we receive guests and home and take care of them lovingly and caringly, we also have a lot of expectations in our mind. Imagine if someone stayed with you for many days and just leaves the place without saying a word (of praise or otherwise)? Our egos will be shattered. These are the times when we expect our guest to message us their location every hour till they reach back. We get very upset and offended if the guest doesn't share a word of gratitude towards our hospitality. Here is an interesting story of Rishi Asita-Devala who treated Jaigishavya Rishi with love and affection. What he felt about his guest and what he discovered about him is very very interesting.
On the banks of the Saraswati River was a place called Aditya. Here Varuna the son of Aditi had performed a great Rajasuya yagna. Upon the commencement of that foremost of sacrifices, a battle ensued between the Devas and the Danavas (who were mentioned here as Kshatriyas). It is mentioned as the place where all the Devas, the Vishwadevas, the Maruts, the Gandharvas, the Apsaras, the Yakshas, the Rakshasas, and the Pisachas could be seen. Here Vishnu himself, having in days of yore slain the Asuras, Madhu and Kaitabha, had performed his ablutions. Another place on the banks of the Saraswati River called Soma, is mentioned as the place where King Soma performed his Rajasuya sacrifice. Here a great battle was fought in which Taraka was the enemy.
Long ago, there was a wise and virtuous Rishi (sage) named Asita-Devala, who lived in the sacred Aditya tirtha on the banks of Sarasvati. He followed the principles of dharma and led a pure and disciplined existence. He was very righteous and showed compassion to all living beings, never causing harm to anyone. He treated everyone equally in his words, actions, and thoughts, and remained calm without anger. He neither praised nor criticized others, treating both pleasant and unpleasant things with impartiality, just like the god Yama.Asita-Devala didn't differentiate between valuable gold and ordinary pebbles, seeing them with the same perspective. Every day, he worshiped gods, guests, and Brahmanas who visited him. He devotedly followed the path of righteousness and maintained the vow of celibacy (brahmacarya).
One day, a wise ascetic named Jaigishavya, who was deeply devoted to meditation and Yoga, arrived at Devala's place. He lived as a mendicant, and his presence added splendor to the place. During Jaigishavya's stay at the hermitage, Devala always cared for him and never neglected his needs.
But one day, Devala couldn't find Jaigishavya anywhere. During dinner time, Jaigishavya, in the appearance of a wandering ascetic, came to Devala's place to ask for food. Devala was happy to see him and treated him with great respect. For many years, Devala warmly welcomed Jaigishavya and followed the rituals of offering hospitality to him as prescribed by the wise sages.
However, one day, Devala started feeling anxious in his heart. He thought to himself, "I have served this ascetic for many years, yet he has never spoken a word to me!" Filled with curiosity, Devala decided to go to the ocean to perform his ablutions. He took his earthen jug with him and traveled through the sky to reach the seashore.
When he arrived at the coast of the ocean, he was surprised to see Jaigishavya already there. Wondering how Jaigishavya could have arrived and performed his ablutions before him, Devala silently performed his own rituals by reciting sacred mantras. After finishing his prayers and ablutions, he returned to his hermitage with the water he collected.
But to his surprise, when he entered his hermitage, he found Jaigishavya sitting there as if he had never left. The strange thing was that Jaigishavya still didn't say a word to Devala and seemed as motionless as a piece of wood. Devala saw that Jaigishavya, who was known for his austere practices, had even gone to the sea and returned to the hermitage before him, without any explanation.
Seeing the incredible power of Jaigishavya's penances, obtained through his Yoga practices, the intelligent sage Asita Devala started pondering about the situation. H"How could this one be seen in the ocean and again in my hermitage?" While thinking about this, the ascetic Devala, who was skilled in mantras, flew up into the sky from his hermitage to find out who Jaigishavya, the wandering ascetic, really was. Devala saw groups of Siddhas meditating in the sky, and he saw Jaigishavya being revered by those Siddhas. Seeing this, Devala became angry. He saw Jaigishavya going to heaven, then to the realm of the ancestors (Pitris), and further to the region of Yama (the god of death). From there, Jaigishavya ascended to the abode of Soma (the Moon god) and then to the blessed regions where specific strict rituals were performed.
Jaigishavya proceeded to the regions of the Agnihotris and those ascetics who performed the Darsa and Paurnamasa sacrifices. Devala then saw Jaigishavya go to the pure region where the gods are worshipped, after passing through the regions of sacrifices involving animal offerings. Jaigishavya then went to the place where ascetics performed the Chaturmasya and other similar sacrifices. He also visited the region of the Agnishtoma sacrifice.
Next, Devala saw his guest going to the place where highly wise men performed the foremost sacrifices, like the Vajapeya and others that required abundant gold. Then, he witnessed Jaigishavya in the region where the Rajasuya and Pundarika sacrifices were performed. Jaigishavya was seen in the pure and divine regions, and he moved through places where different types of sacred rituals were practiced, including those involving gold and other valuable elements.
Devala observed Jaigishavya in the realms of highly wise individuals who performed grand sacrifices like the Rajasuya and the horse-sacrifice, as well as those involving the slaughter of human beings and rare animal flesh. He saw Jaigishavya in various other regions, where different sacrificial rites were performed, such as the Sautramani and Dadasaha.
Eventually, Devala witnessed Jaigishavya's presence in the realms of Mitravaruna and the Adityas, who are revered celestial deities. The sage was astonished by the places Jaigishavya visited during his divine journey.
After witnessing Jaigishavya passing through various divine realms like those of the Rudras, Vasus, and Brihaspati, Asita saw him enter the blessed region called Goloka. Then Jaigishavya proceeded to the realms of the Brahmasatris and some other regions by his yogic powers. He was even seen entering the regions reserved for virtuous and devoted women.However, at some point, Jaigishavya, absorbed in his yoga, disappeared from Asita's sight. Amazed by Jaigishavya's power and the success of his spiritual practices, Asita respectfully asked the foremost Siddhas (wise beings) residing in the regions of the Brahmasatris about Jaigishavya's whereabouts. But they informed Asita that Jaigishavya had gone to the eternal abode of Brahman (the ultimate reality).
Upon hearing this, Asita tried to ascend to the abode of Brahman, but he fell down. The Siddhas mentioned that Asita is not eligible to travel into the Brahma loka. He returned to his own hermitage quickly, feeling like a winged insect. As soon as he entered his abode, he found Jaigishavya seated there.
Impressed by Jaigishavya's yogic power, Asita humbly approached him and expressed his desire to learn the path to liberation (Moksha). Jaigishavya kindly taught him about Moksha, the principles of Yoga, and the eternal duties and their reverse.
The great ascetic, impressed by Devala's strong determination, performed all the necessary rituals to initiate him into the path of Moksha (liberation). However, upon seeing all creatures, including the ancestors (Pitris), crying because they thought they wouldn't receive food anymore, Devala felt sad and decided to give up the idea of adopting the path of Moksha.
Various sacred plants, fruits, flowers, and herbs also expressed their distress, fearing that Devala would harm them once again, despite assuring everyone of his harmlessness before. Reflecting upon which path would be better for him, Devala eventually abandoned the traditional way of life (Domesticity) and chose the path of Moksha.
After making this decision, Devala achieved the highest level of success and spiritual attainment through his resolve. The celestial beings, led by Brihaspati, praised Jaigishavya for his extraordinary penances. However, Narada expressed a different opinion, saying that Jaigishavya's power was so immense that he left even great sages like Asita astonished.
The heavenly beings disagreed with Narada, stating that Jaigishavya was unparalleled in his energy, penance, and Yoga. Both Jaigishavya and Asita were incredibly powerful and respected beings. The place where they met and the sacred site where they underwent their spiritual experiences became renowned. By bathing there and generously donating to Brahmanas, Devala earned great merit and then proceeded to the tirtha (holy place) of Soma, the Moon deity.