Atri - 4

The Kings desire and resolve to please the sage did not end there. His ministers followed the sage to the forest. They stuffed juicy fruits with precious stones and offered them to Atri. Now the sage reliased what the king's men were after. He told them sternly,"Look here, we are not foolish enough not to understand the truth. We are aware of everything. We know each fruit has either gold or expensive stones. We do not need them."He refused to receive such precious gifts. The sage refused to be attracted by the king's unnatural offers. He left the place to an unknown destination. When the king heard the news from his ministers, he was very angry. He decided to perform deceitful yagas with the help of witchcraft to destroy the sage and his men. When he was performing the yagna,, a terryfying demonish figure by name 'Yatudhani' came out of the fire. It was a female demon. She was given the command to destroy the seven sages. she rushed to the forest where the sages were searching for roots and fruits. She created an artificial lake full of beautiful lotus flowers. She sat near it guarding it. In order to collect lotus stems, Atri and other sages came to the spot. They sought permission to collect stems from Yatudhani. She wanted them to introduce themselves and each sage introduced himself in verses involving deep and secret meanings. Though she did not understand a single syllable of what they spoke, she allowed to collect lotus stems.

She expected them to eat the stems instantly, but they desisted from doing so because they had to finish their nithyakarmas(routine rituals). They sat in a place and quietly completed those rites and came back to the place they had kept their bundles of stems. To their great shock one among them had stolen away everything. The sages did not get upset, they knew that they had to reep fruit of their deeds. The disappointment did not disturb their concentration in their tapas. In fact the person who stolen away all the stems was none other than the cheif of of gods, Devendra, in disguise as one among them. He was very pleased with the power of forbearance and self control. He took them to heaven with him. Atri was one among them. His power of tapas was so great that he even manage this very severe test. He came to be greatly respected by the cheif of gods.

A great man's road to success is not amooth. It is full of hurdles. At every step such a person has to face severe tests. They disturb our mind and unsettle us. It is in this sense that we say that a sage's life is like walking on the edge of a very sharp blade. These severe tests have made thousands of men accept defeat in the early stagesor halfway through. But in the case of sage Atri the story is totally different. He succeded at every in crossing the hurdles with ease. That is why he deserves the title 'Maharishi'. He is doubly blessed in having a devoted wifein Anasuya who was a great tapaswin in herself.

In this way from the very begning, he engaged himself in attaining the ultimate knowledge and reached the lotus feet of the Lord. There are a good number of such sadhakas in the annuls of our history. Good many of them cotinued their efforts in treading the path of salvation and they always engage themselves in human welfare activities.Such great men were encountered in history very rarely. Atri and Anasuya are a few among the exceptions. Our first great epic, the Ramayana and the first voluminous and authentic history, the Mahabharata have sung the praise of Atri and Anasuya in glowing terms. Is it not real great good fortune to get the trinity as one's children and bring them up? Therefore the couple are treated on equal footing with gods and worshipped with great devotion.

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