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Rishi Pippalada, the one who perceived spiritual third eye of Shiva

In the Saturudra Samhita of Shiva Purana it is stated that in each Chatur Yug, Lord Shiva will incarnate as son of four of his disciples. And he took birth as son of Rishi Dadichi. He was named Pippalada by Rishi Dadichi’s sister because he survived in the shades of Pippala (fig) tree.

Pippalada’s birth:

Rishi Dadichi had collected the energy from all the weapons kept with him by the devatas and had taken Aposhana(ingested). Swarcha, wife of Rishi Dadichi was against his decision of keeping the weapons with him. She had believed that keeping other belongings with us will always have bad consequences.

When Devatas approached Rishi Dadichi for the weapons to fight Vrithasura, Rishi Dadichi sacrificed his life, so that they can forge weapons using his bones, which has taken up the power of all of their weapons.

Suvarcha was she present at the time of death of her husband. When she returned and found that her husband was dead she was filled with sorrow. She wanted to immolate herself, but she was preganant. She could not bear to kill her unborn child. She waited until the child was born and after his birth placed the baby boy under a Pippala (fig) tree in the forest. She then immolated herself with the power of her pativrata dharma and joined her husband in heaven.

The baby grew up under the protection of the trees in the forest.  The trees begged their Lord Chandra to appear and give  amritsar to the new born so he would survive and grow to be strong and powerful. Chandra Deva gave Pippalada the amrit and returned back to his celestial abode.

The lesson taught by Shiva

In Brahma Purana we find a story how lord Shiva made Pippalada attain self realization.

Pippalada grew up in the forest doing penance. he began to wonder about his origin. The trees explained how his parents sacrificed their life so that devatas could destroy the evil.

Pippalada was angry that the Devas had used Dadhichi’s bones to make weapons. At the banks of the river Ganga he started penance to seek boon from lord Shiva.

He did penance for one hundred years and after that time Lord Shiva appeared before him.

Shiva asked him what boon he wanted.

Pippalada said, “I want a boon that will destroy all the Devas!”

Lord Shiva replied “When you are able to see my third eye your wish will be granted.” Then Shiva left Pippalada on the banks of the Ganga and disappeared.

It took Pippalada many more years to perceive the spiritual eye of Lord Shiva, but eventually he was able to clearly see it.

As soon he realised Lord Shiva’s third eye a demon in the shape of mare appeared from the forest and ran directly at Pippalada and started attacking him.  When he asked the demon why is he attacking him? The demon said the amrit gave him a divine body, and because of the boon he had asked for was now going to be the cause of his end.

Pippalada prayed to Lord Shiva to rescue him from this situation. Lord Shiva asked Pippalada if he has understood the dangers of anger. Pippalada was ashamed and nodded his head.

With tears in his eyes he asked the Lord if he could see his parents..Lord Shiva granted this wish to Pippalada and returned to Mount Kailash. From the heavens Dadhichi and Suvarcha descended on a celestial chariot and gave the young sage their blessings. After receiving their darshan Pippalada overcome with joy and his anger faded away. The demon that was created by Pippalada was destroyed by the will of Shiva and merged into the river Ganga.

Pippalada came to know that it was Shani’s vakradrushti which made him an orphan. By the power of his tapas he made Shani fall from his celestial position. Shani apologized to pippalada and gave him a word not to have his vakra drushti on any of the children below 12 years.

Pippalada wrote The Prashnopanishad which is embedded inside Atharva Veda. It is a Mukhya (primary) Upanishad, and is listed as number 4 in the list of 108 Upanishads.

The Prashna Upanishad contains six Prashna (questions), and each Prashna is assigned a chapter with a discussion of answers. The chapters end with the phrase, prasnaprativakanam, which literally means, “thus ends the answer to the question”.

In some manuscripts discovered in India, the Upanishad is divided into three Adhyayas (chapters) with a total of six Kandikas  (short sections).

The first three questions are about philosophy behind the creation and it do not contain any defined answer but explanation of different symbolic references of Purana are seen.

The fourth section, in contrast, contains philosophy. The last two sections discuss the symbol Om and concept of Moksha.

Prashna Upanishad is notable for its structure and sociological insights into the education process in ancient India. The Upanishad is also known as the Shat Prasna Upanishad.

The preface of the upanishads reflects the Vedic era belief that a student’s nature and mind must first show a commitment, aspiration and moral purity before knowledge is shared.

Secondly, the method of first question by the student and then answer is significant, as it reflects an interactive style where the student has worked out the question for himself before he is provided an answer, in contrast to a lecture style where the teacher provides the questions and answers regardless of whether the student understands either.

The three ethical requirements for a student, emphasized in this verse of Prashna Upanishad are Tapas ( perseverance), Brahmacharya (chastity, self-discipline) and Sraddha (faith, purity, calmness of mind).

The story of Pippalada has a great lesson for the human beings.

We give up to the tough situations we face in life. And most of the time anger hinders our perception of a subject and our action usually prove to have negative effects. Only when Pippalada gave up his anger, he gained the ultimate knowledge through Shiva’s third eye.

He was the only one to perceive the spiritual third eye of Lord Shiva.

Dr Sindhu Prashanth

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