Shwetaketu was the son of a
great sage named Uddaalak (the son
of Aaruni). He had
a brother named Nachiketaa and a sister named Sujaataa also. Sujaataa was
married to Kaahod - a dear disciple of Uddaalak. Sujaataa and Kaahod had
a son named Ashtaavakra. According
to MBH, 12/34
(Shaanti Parv), Shwetketu was born to Uddaalak's wife from one of his disciples
on Rishi's order. According to NH, 12/58, later Uddaalak disowned his own
son due to disrespectful behavior towards Braahman.
It is said that Shwetaketu married Rishi Deval's daughter Suvarchalaa. Read
this description in Deval and Shwetaketu.
There was one daughter of Soorya Dev also named Suvarchalaa whom he
married to Hanumaan.
Stories About Shwetaketu
There are the following two main stories popularly known about him --
(1) A dialog between Shwetaketu and his father Uddaalak - given in
Uddaalak and Shwetketu, when he learns from his father. First Shwetaketu
was trained at home by hs own father, but later he was sent to a Guru, (some
people say that he was Saandeepan Muni - he was Krishn's Guru also), and this
dialog occurs after returning from his Guru's place when he felt somewhat proud
of his education.
(2) A dialog between
Shwetaketu and King Jaivaali when he could not answer even one question of the
King Jaivaali. Hearing this Uddaalak got curious and then King Jaivaali taught
Shwetaketu on Women
Shwetaketu is credited for setting rules for conduct for women. One day, while he
was seated with his parents, a stranger came and proposed for his mother, and
she went with him willingly. Shwetaketu was aghast. When he asked his father for
an explanation, his father said that women were not bound to one men, and were,
just like in animals, free to mate with anyone. Shwetaketu felt that this was
immoral and decreed that from that day onwards, women will have intercourse only
with their husband and will cease to be promiscuous. Those who commit adultery
will be punished in Hell.
Shwetaketu in MBH
Shwetaketu's one episode appears in Ganguli's translation of Mahaabhaarat also,
at Section CXXII (122) - in Aadi Sambhav Parv, when Kuntee is lectured about
women's being confined to one husband for life - which Shwetaketu disapproved
of the usage of one wife by many.
Another time he is mentioned in MBH, 12-Shaanti Parv, Sections 34 and 58.