|Statue of Rip Van Winkle in Irvington, NY|
As children all of us have read or heard about Rip Van Winkle. Rip Van Winkle is a short story, written by Washington Irving in 1819. The story is based during the years before and after the American War of Revolution. Rip Van was of Dutch origin and well-known in his village. Once to avoid his wife’s constant nagging about his laziness, he went to the mountains, and due to some strange turn of events, fell asleep for twenty years. When he woke up, he was an old man, and the village had changed and so had all the people.
Let me tell you about a Rip Van Winkle from Hindu mythology.
King Muchukunda was born in the Ikshvaku dynasty, also known as the Suryavamsha. Some of the well-known kings of this dynasty were the likes of Raja Harishchandra and Lord Ram. Once the gods were having a tough time with the demons and were losing all the battles. The gods approached King Muchukunda to bail them out till Kartikeya, son of Lord Shiva was ready to take up the leadership. Muchukunda fought the demons for many years without rest. Later, Lord Indra approached him and asked him to ask for a boon for the services rendered by him. Muchukunda was so tired that he asked for the boon of sleep and whosoever woke him up, should be burnt to ashes.
Having received the boon from Indra, Muchukunda, went down to earth and found himself a cave and went off to sleep. According to the epic Mahabharata, ages later, during the times of Lord Krishna, there was a warrior by the name of Kalayavan who was undefeated in battles due to a boon he had received by the gods. It was foretold that Krishna would be the cause of his death, but in his arrogance, he did not heed it. He waged a war on Mathura and decided to face Krishna in a battle. When the two armies came face to face, Krishna started walking off the battle field.
Kalayavan followed him from the field, till he saw Krishna entering into a cave. Krishna found the sleeping Muchukunda, and spread his upper garment on him and hid himself. When Kalayavan entered the dark cave, he could not see anything, and when he noticed Krishna’s garment. He tugged on to it and woke up Muchukunda. As soon as Muchukunda, opened his eyes, Kalayavan was reduced to ashes, thus bringing an end to the terror he had unleashed.
|Painting - Vishnu appears to Muchukunda in the cave|
Muchukunda then saw Krishna and immediately realised that this was none other than Lord Vishnu. When Muchukunda came out of the cave, he noticed that it had indeed been a long time since he was sleeping and he found that men had become a lot shorter since his time. He realised that he was a misfit in the world, so on the advice of Krishna, he went towards the North to the Gandamadana Mountains to do penance to attain moksha.
King Muchukunda was supposed to be a king from South. The Muchukunda river, today better known as the Musi flows as a tributary of the river Krishna in Andhra Pradesh.
Strange coincidences, sans the element of time, between the two stories of Rip Van Winkle and King Muchukunda, right?
Pics courtesy - Wikipedia