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Madhu and Kaitabh

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Madhu and Kaitabh

There are two Madhu.
(1) One was a single Madhu.

(2) And the other one was with Kaitabh Daitya. These Madhu and Kaitabh Daitya were killed by Vishnu.

According to Padm Puraan, 1/23, in the beginning there was only water and on water there was Vishnu lying on the bed of Shesh Shayyaa. After a while a lotus stalk came out of His navel and at the end of it was sitting Brahmaa Jee. He was in the deep meditation and was reciting Ved. At the same time ear wax started flowing from Vishnu's ears and two terrible Daitya were born from it - Madhu and Kaitabh. Because Brahmaa Jee was trying to create the Universe at that time these Madhu and Kaitabh were born from Rajo Gun and Tamo Gun. Since at that time the Tamo Gun was more that is why their nature was Taamasik. They had a son named Dhundhu.

They did severe Tapasyaa for thousands of years. Pleased with their Tapasyaa, Devee granted them the boon that they would die only when they would want - Ichchhaa Mrityu.

With this boon they became very arrogant and started wandering around in Pralaya waters troubling the whole universe located in the waters. Wandering around, they came to Pushkar Jee and saw Brahmaa Jee there. They asked him - "Who are you? And who is that who has appointed you for creation? Who is your creator and who is your protector? What is his name?" Brahmaa Jee said - "O Asur, Of whom you are talking about, He is only One. He is present in all of them. And He has various names according to His Karm."

Hearing this they went to Vishnu and spoke bowing their heads - "We know that this whole Universe has appeared from you. You have created us too, so we want a boon from you." Bhagavaan said - "Why do you ask for a Var? Your age is over and still you wish to live, this surprises me." Madhu and Kaitabh said - "We wish to be killed at the place where nobody has ever died." Vishnu said, "So be it." and mashed both of them on His thighs.

According to another version, Madhu and Kaitabh were born from the ear of Vishnu when He was in His Yog Nidraa. They were demons. They wandered around and saw Brahmaa Jee going to sleep. The Ved were coming out of his mouth at that time, so they took the Ved and took them deep into the Pralaya waters. When Brahmaa Jee needed Ved, he found that Madhu and Kaitabh had taken them in waters. He asked Rishi to retrieve them from waters. So many Rishi went there and retrieved them from there. Whichever Mantra, or Shlok, or Sookt were retrieved by whoever Rishi they were assigned to that Rishi. That is why when you read Ved all Mantra, Shlok or Sookt have their "Drishtaa" Rishi. Drishtaa means whosoever had found it. (some say that Vishnu retrieved the Ved).

Devee Bhaagvat (in Maarkandeya Puraan) says that both Madhu an Kaitabh Daitya were born from the ear wax of Vishnu when He was sleeping in His Yog Nidraa at the end of the Kalp when the Universe was one ocean. They wanted to slay Brahmaa Jee. Seeing those terrible Daitya, Brahmaa Jee went to Vishnu and prayed Him to get up. Since Vishnu was sleeping in His Yog Nidraa, He did not wake up in spite of Brahmaa's best efforts. Then Brahmaa Jee prayed Yog Nidraa to leave Him. As Yog Nidraa left Vishnu, Vishnu woke up. Seeing Brahmaa Jee terrified Vishnu asked him - "O Padma-yone, What makes you so terrified and come here leaving your Tapasyaa?" Brahmaa Jee told Him the reason. Vishnu sent him back assuring that when He would see them He would surely kill them.

In the meantime Madhu and Kaitabh also arrived there and seeing Brahmaa Jea there said to him - "So you have come here too. You cannot escape. We will kill you. We will kill you before this one who sleeps on this serpent bed, rises." Saying this first Madhu came to fight with Vishnu. The fight continued for 5,000 years. Vishnu got tired so He thought some other way to kill them. Finding themselves mightier than Vishnu they said to Vishnu - "Surrender to us, that you are our servant." Vishnu sad - "Look, No one ever fights with one who is tired, afraid, who is weaponless, who is fallen and who is a child; this is the Dharm of the heroes. Both of you fought with me for 5,000 years. But I am single handed; you are two, and we both are equally powerful. Both of you have taken rest at intervals, so let me also take rest for a while, and then I will fight with you, so we both take some rest. After taking rest for a while I will fight with you according to the just rules of warfare." Hearing these words of Hari, the two chief Daanav trusted Him and remained far aloof for rest, and then got ready to fight again.

Hari thought because they were given the Var of Ichchhaa Mrityu (whenever they wanted, only then they would die) by Shakti that is why they don't feel tired, I wasted my time energy uselessly. So He also prayed Shakti to help Him. Shakti said - "O Hari, Go and fight again and I will delude them with my sight." So Vishnu went again to fight with them. Shakti saw them with her sight and at the same time Vishnu asked them to ask for a Var from Him. Vishnu said - "You are very brave, ask me any Var, I will grant it to you."

Both the Daanav said smilingly - "O Vishnu, What can you give us? We are no beggars, we are givers, so better you ask a Var from us. We will give it to you." Vishnu wanted the same, so He immediately said - "If you are pleased with me then give me this Var that you should be killed by me now, there is no other boon I want." They thought, "We are cheated." and remained calm for some time then seeing the Earth surrounded by water they said - "O Vishnu, We will be slain by you, but you will have to kill us where there is no water on Prithvi."

Immediately Vishnu expanded His thighs and showed the vast solid Earth on the waters and said to them - "Keep both of you, your heads here." Both expanded their body to 10,000 Yojan, seeing this Vishnu also expanded His thighs twice the size of their bodies. Seeing this they kept their heads on His thighs. Vishnu immediately cut their heads with His Chakra. Their marrow (Med) filled the ocean. That is why Prithvi is called Medinee and is unfit for eatable purpose.

Another Legend
According to another legend, when Madhu and Kaitabh Daitya were running away taking Ved from Brahmaa Jee, Vishnu assumed Hayagreev's form and rescued the Ved. The two bodies of Madhu and Kaitabh got broken into 6 pieces each (2 x 6 = 12 pieces) - 2 heads, 2 torsos, 4 arms, and 4 legs). These are considered the 12 seismic plates of the earth.

Meaning Behind the Story of Madhu and Kaitabh
From PVR Narasimha Rao's book "Vedic Wisdom", p 44-

Madhu means honey. "Madhu Keet" means an insect of honey, i.e. honey bee. Madhu Kait means belonging to honey bees. It can be the qualities or nature of honey bees. One of the meanings of "bha" is "having a similarity to". Thus, in my judgment, "Madhu Kaitabh" means "having a semblance to the nature of honey bees". Sanskrit is a fantastic language. Sanskrit names selected by Rishi for expressing various concepts and stories are very thoughtful. Depending on how deep one goes, there are many meanings of the same word. Thus, Rishi expressed concepts that may have one meaning to a layman and a different meaning to one who is ready to understand the deeper meaning.

Thus Madhu Kaitabh means "having a resemblance to the characteristics of honeybees". What are their characteristics? Well, they keep working hard to accumulate the sweet honey! They are not intelligent enough to think about any higher things in life. Thus, Madhu Kaitabh are an allegory to the quality within us which makes us work hard, like honeybees, with a single-minded focus on accumulating material comforts. Like honeybees accumulate honey, we accumulate material objects and spend whole life working hard doing just that.

Vishnu is a personification of the Sattwa Gun of the Param Purush (Absolute Being). Within us, Vishnu is an allegory to the Sattwa Gun within us. Madhu Kaitabh were born from Vishnu's earwax when He was asleep. The ability to work hard like a bee is not really a terrible thing. This ability is essentially born from the Sattwa Gun within us, when it is in deep slumber (i.e. Sattwa Gun covered by Taamasik Shakti, i.e. Sattwa Gun that "manifests" in a Taamasik way). There are so many good people in this world, who just spend their entire lives in honest labor like the honeybees and accumulate things for themselves and others around them. Their Sattwa is in deep sleep and Madhu Kaitabh born from that asleep Sattwa are very much active.

The problem with this focus on hard work and accumulation of material objects is that it keeps us away from supreme bliss. Madhu Kaitabh's attack on Brahmaa and Ved is symbolic of that. Ved symbolize the Supreme and liberating knowledge of self and Brahmaa, the carrier of Ved, symbolizes the Saadhanaa to achieve the supreme knowledge. The focus on working like honeybees and accumulating material objects tries to kills one's ability to do Saadhanaa and obtain supreme knowledge of self.

Vishnu battles with Madhu Kaitabh for 5,000 years. Devee Bhaagavat says that at one time Vishnu wondered in the middle of the fight how to defeat Madhu Kaitabh, as He finds them quite formidable! Even when the Sattwa in us awakens, it is difficult for it to overcome the formidable instinct to lead the life of a honeybee and to accumulate the material objects for oneself and others. According to Paraashar, thighs are seen from the 9th house of Dharm. The earthy element symbolizes the commitment and stability. The fact that earthy element came from the thighs of Vishnu shows that it is the Dharm of Sattwa Gun sustaining this universe that ensures that there is commitment and stability in this creation.

Moreover, it is apt that someone born in the ears (3rd house) of Vishnu found end in the thighs (9th house, i.e. 7th house of death from the 3rd house) of Vishnu! Similarly, Brahmaa, who is born from the navel (6th house) of Vishnu should naturally find His end in the 12th house of Vishnu (feet/sleep), which is the 7th house of death from the 6th house! That may be why Vishnu goes to sleep, when there is a change of Brahmaa.



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Created by Sushma Gupta on 5/27/03
Updated on 05/19/13