Dadhichi, also known as Dadhyancha, is an important character in Hindu mythology. He was one of the greatest devotees of Lord Shiva. It is believed that after Shiva had been separated from Shakti, he had kept himself all alone in a jungle and on an annual festival of Maha Shivratri, Lord Shiva for the first time appeared in front of his devotees as rishi Dadhichi and his disciples were offering him prayers. He is revered amongst the greatest of sages and is portrayed as an example that no sacrifice is too great when the result is the good of the world. His bones are used as a symbol on India’s highest award for gallantry “Param Vir Chakra” as “Vajra”. He was among one of the greatest among a clan of bhrigus. He is credited with giving up his life in order to allow the Gods (Devatas) to make weapons from his bones to defeat the Demons (Asuras), recapture Heaven (Svargalok) and release all the world’s water for all living beings.
Dadhichi was the son of Atharvan, a rishi and his wife Chitti/ Atharvan was the son of Brahma. Chitti was sage Kardam’s daughter. According to puranic legend Dabas are the descendants of Maharishi Dadhichi the great king of Sindh in the Vedic period. He had four sons namely Dahiya, Davyas (Dabas), Kundu and Hooda. Dadhichi an emperor turned Maharishi died at the age of 100 years while fighting to non-Aryan tribes. In the battle, his four sons fought with utmost bravery and annihilated the non-Aryans. The author of the epic goes on to state that Dahiya, Dabas, Kundu, and Hooda lived together up to the times of Mahabharata in the form of groups like Shoorasena, Vrishni and Bhoja in Ujjain, Avantika, Sambhal, Indraprastha, Rajasthan and other parts of Northern India up to 7th Century AD.
Pippalada is an ancient teacher of the Atharva-Veda, and also a school of magic alleged to have been founded by him. He is son of sage Dadhichi. He is famous for prasna Upanishad, where he answers his pupils queries. He is famous for making afraid Indra and other gods, as a child by the boon of Lord Shiva. As Pippalada brought under the pipal tree after his parents died, nobody was to name him, and his name was known with the pipal. The mystical significance refers to this tree’s association with initiation or nirvana attainment; it was under a pippala that Gautama Buddha is said to have attained nirvana, as well as Buddhahood.
Ashvashira – The One with the Horse’s Head
Dadhichi was said to be a master of a Vedic art known as Brahmavidya (Madhu vidya) that would enable mortals to attain immortality. Indra the King of the Devas felt his position was insecure with such power in the hands of a mortal man, especially one with as much power as Dadhichi possessed by virtue of being a rishi. Indra was also against the Ashwini twins learning Brahmavidya and swore that he would behead the one who taught them the art. However, the Ashwini twins wished to learn this art and devised a plan to protect Dadhichi from Indra’s power. They learned the art from Dadhichi after cutting off his head, preserving it and replacing it with one from a horse. Indra in his wrath beheaded the horse-headed sage and left. The Ashwini twins then put Dadhichi’s head back and revived him with the Madhu Vidya that he had taught them. This was how the sage came to be called Ashvashira – The One with the Horse’s head.
Indra and Vritra – The Tale of the Vajrayudha
One of the great virtues of mankind is helping the needy people. Many persons are considered brave for their virtue of giving away their wealth, knowledge and tried with all their might to uphold this virtue. Indian mythology gives many extraordinary instances, many persons who preferred giving away their body parts and wealth in order to give more preference to “DAAN” and “TYAG” as it is referred in Hindu Mythology tales. But Dadhichi Rishi has risen high above them all for his own “TYAAG” and “SELFLESSNESS”.
Following is the story of Maharishi Dadhichi and what he did because of which he is considered as the most generous of all in the Ancient Hindu Mythology.
Many later Puranas describe the Vajra, with the story modified from the Rig Vedic original. One major addition involves the role of the Sage Dadhichi. According to one account, Indra the King of the devas was once driven out of devaloka by an asura named Vritra. The asura was the recipient of a boon whereby he could not be killed by any weapon that was known till the date of his receiving the boon and additionally that no weapon made of wood or metal could harm him. Indra, who had lost all hope of recovering his kingdom was said to have approached Shiva who could not help him. Indra along with Shiva and Brahma went to seek the aid of Vishnu. Vishnu revealed to Indra that only the weapon made from the bones of the sage Dadhichi would defeat Vritra. Indra and the other devas, therefore, approached the sage, whom Indra had once beheaded, and asked him for his aid in defeating Vritra. Dadhichi acceded to the devas’ request but said that he wished that he had time to go on a pilgrimage to all the holy rivers before he gave up his life for them. Indra then brought together all the waters of the holy rivers to Naimisharanya, thereby allowing the sage to have his wish fulfilled without a further loss of time. Dadhichi is then said to have given up his life by the art of Yoga after which the Devas fashioned the Vajrayudha from his spine this weapon was then used to defeat the asura, allowing Indra to reclaim his place as the King of devaloka. There have also been instances where the war god Skanda (Murugan) is described as holding a Vajra. Skanda is also the name of a Bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism who wields a Vajra.
An Altered Story
During the time of war between Devatas and Rakshasas, the latter started robbing the weapons of the Devatas with their occult powers. This kind of occult tricks was strange and new to Devatas and so they could not face the situation. But they were certain that if they lost their weapons, nothing could save the Universe. After a lot of thinking they went to the sage Dadhichi and requested him to protect their weapons under his care and ran away to save themselves.
In good faith and love towards Devatas, Dadhichi kept the weapons with him, protecting them day in and day out, even neglecting his own austerities. Rakshasas could not venture to go near him but were waiting for an opportunity to rob the weapons.
The story of Maharishi DadhichiDadhichi waited for a long time for Devatas to return and collect their ammunition. Finally, one day, with his divine powers, he put all the weapons in his sacred water pot and mixed them in the water and drank it. He was now free and could continue his regular penance undisturbed.
A short while after this, the Devatas returned and asked Dadhichi for their weapons. The Maharishi said “I waited for so long. I reckoned that you would never turn up. So I drank them away. They are all in my body as bones and flesh. To get them out now is very difficult.”
Dadhichi’s wife Swarcha was watching all this from a distance. Dadhichi sent her away into their house on some pretext. He then created a huge fire by his willpower and entered into it and reduced himself to ashes, leaving behind only his bones.
Much before Devatas realized what was happening, Lord Brahma suddenly appeared and converted each of the bones into various powerful weapons and gave them to the Devatas. Dadhichi’s backbone was given as Vajrayudha to Indra with which he brought an end to the most powerful Rakshasas like Vruthasura. Devatas went on pleading “Maharishi, we are now in a position to fight with Rakshasas. If we do not have our weapons, we will not be in a position to fight with them and to save Dharma and the universe”. Dadhichi thought about it calmly and was convinced that Devatas deserved help. Their weapons were now more powerful than before. He said to Devatas “Alright, take your weapons back by killing me. They are presently in the form of my bones”. Devatas refused to do so and said “We certainly do not want to commit the sin of killing a great Rishi like you. We cannot afford to do this cruel thing” Dadhichi could not reply them as well. The determination to make a great sacrifice is one of the qualities of great saints like Dadhichi. Dadhichi not only protected the weapons of the Devatas but also, enhanced their power by converting them into lethal weapons with the power of his penance. He also saw to it that Devatas did not commit the sin of killing the saint by reducing himself to ashes.