Mystical tales Children

Crossing over

Do you know why the mountains of the Vindhya ranges are not too high? Here is a story from Indian mythology that explains it.

It begins with Sage Narada who was in a particularly mischievous mood when he was travelling in the region of the Vindhyas. After some fulsome praise of the mountain, the sage said, “You should be the greatest mountain in the world.”

The Vindhya, which had been happy to hear itself admired, asked wonderingly, “Should be? Am I not the greatest mountain in the world? After all that you have said, is there another mountain that can match me?”

Narada offered a rather puzzling reply, “Ask the sun about his path. That will give you the answer,” and went on his way.

The next morning, when the sun god began his trip, Vindhya stopped him and asked, “Surya, tell me what is your path today?”

A surprised Surya answered, “It’s always the same. I travel from the east and go around Mt Meru in the west before setting.”

“Meru? Why do you have to go around it?” asked Vindhya angrily. “Am I not important? Why can’t you go around me?”

A matter of vanity

The sun god tried to explain that Meru was the tallest mountain and that Brahma lived on the mountain but Vindhya would not listen. An exasperated Surya continued on his round, and Vindhya seethed. The mountain decided to take matters into its own hands and began to increase its height. Ultimately, it grew so tall that it blocked the sun’s path, causing a lot of problems for the humans on earth. No matter who spoke to it, Vindhya refused to budge unless the sun’s path was changed to go around it.

With no other option, Indra, king of gods, went to Sage Agastya and told him about what was happening. “None of us are able to convince Vindhya. Please help us,” he begged. Agastya agreed and a relieved Indra returned to Amravati.

Agastya, in the meantime, had thought of a plan. He explained the problem and the solution to his family. He, his wife and children then packed their belongings and set off on a journey to the south. When they reached the Vindhya, the mountain had grown so huge that they could not cross it. When the sage called, the mountain appeared before him to take his blessings. “What can I do for you?” it asked.

The canny sage took the opportunity. “I am going to the south and I need to cross the mountain. Will you please bend down so that my family and I can go over to the other side?”

Vindhya agreed and reduced its size. Once they had crossed over, the sage blessed the mountain and said, “Please stay this way till I finish my work and come back. So that we can again make the crossing easily.” The unsuspecting mountain happily gave its promise. Sage Agastya and his family settled down in the South and never went back. And, true to its word, the mountain continues to wait for the sage’s return.

Illustration: Satheesh Vellinezhi


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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 5:14:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/crossing-over/article26137081.ece

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