Brihaspati is the Dev Guru or the teacher of the Gods. He attained this honour through penance on the banks of the Prabhas Tirth. As a reward for his penance, Lord Shiva granted him the position as the Dev Guru and as one of the Navagrahas (nine planets). Lord Krishna references Brihaspati in the Bhagavad Gita when he says that among the priests he is Brihaspati.
Birth Of Brihaspati
Angira was one of the Manas Putras of Brahma. His wife Shradha was a daughter of Kardam Rishi. Shradha’s three sons are Utathya, Brihaspati and Samvart. So we attribute the Angira’s lineage to Brihaspati. Shradha was unfaithful to Angira during her pregnancy. This resulted in her child being stillborn. She repented and so Angira gave the child life. This child was Brihaspati.
Brihaspati had two wives; Shubh and Tara. He had seven daughters by Shubh. Tara had 7 sons and 1 daughter. Tara had a son by Chandra (the Moon) who is Budh (Mercury). Another story of interest with regard to Brihaspati is that he had two children by his brother’s wife; Kach and Bharadwaj. He tried to impregnate Mamata (his brother’s wife) although she was already pregnant and the child protested from the womb. So, Brihaspati cursed the unborn child to be born in darkness. This child Derghatama was born blind on account of the curse. Brihaspati’s child was Bharadwaj. He was then abandoned by his parents and adopted by King Dushyant.
India has a rich tradition of conveying great teachings, knowledge and lessons through stories that are told and retold from generation to generation. Stories that tell of the glory of a deity or a personality are called Mahaatmyas. However, sometimes the storytelling is a more formal fulfilment of a vow than a mere telling of a story. This is called a Vrat Katha. Some people fulfil the vow by reading the story, while others make recite it formally or attend the recitation of the story. This serves as a vow fulfilment. Fasting for the day and then reciting the story before the symbol of the deity or the deity itself is followed by the distribution of Prasad of food items that are related to the deity.
Vrat Katha Of Brihaspathi – Barley And The Basket
This Vrat Katha of Brihaspathi is a story that illustrates the importance of following the prescribed rules for worship. The story describes a poor Brahmin and his wife. The wife had bad and very dirty habits. She was in the habit of eating leftovers in the morning and worshipping God after her meal. This caused the couple to be very poor and childless. After many years they were blessed with a daughter. The girl was in the habit of worshipping Vishnu every day and Brishaspati every Thursday from a young age. She was so devoted that when she scattered barley on the road in the morning, it would turn to gold when she returned in the evening. She would then separate the barley from the husk.
Her father told her that to winnow the barley she would need a golden basket. She then prayed on Thursday that if she was true in her vow she should be blessed with a golden basket. When she returned home that evening, there was a golden basket there. The next day, when she was winnowing the barley with the golden basket, the prince saw her. He was enchanted by her and went back to the palace. He excused himself from company stating that he was ill. His mother was very worried about him and asked him what caused his illness. He told her about the girl that he had seen and explained that he was enchanted with her. The King sent for the girl and she was married to the prince.
After her marriage, the girl went away and her parents were reduced to being poor again. Her father asked her for help. She then told her mother to perform her ritual worship every morning with very careful attention and adherence to purity. Her mother, however, fell back on her old bad habits. The girl finally told her father to lock her in a room overnight and the next morning the mother was bathed and made to pray before breakfast. This cleared the mother’s mind and she realised her faults. She prayed to Brihaspathi will proper adherence to the prescribed rules of purity and they became rich and lived happily thereafter.
The Merchant And His Wife
There was once a merchant who had a very miserly wife. The merchant did trade by travelling to foreign countries and was a very generous and charitable man. His wife did not approve of his habit of helping the poor and prevented him from spending money.
One day when the merchant was travelling, Brihaspathi came to his home in the form of a Sadhu seeking alms. The merchants miserly wife complained to the Sadhu that she was fed up with her husband’s generosity. She wanted to know a way by which all the merchant’s wealth would be lost so that she would no longer have to manage it. The Sadhu suggested that she spend all the money in all auspicious ways. She still persisted in asking for the wealth to be destroyed.
The Sadhu then suggested a remedy to destroy the merchant’s wealth. He told the woman to smear her house and herself with clay and to even wash her hair with the clay. The Sadhu told her to have the merchant cut his hair and additionally to eat meat, drink alcohol and wash clothes on every Thursday. He said that following this for 7 weeks would surely cause the merchant to lose all his wealth. In a mere 5 weeks, all the wealth was gone and the miserly woman herself had died.
The Merchant Returns
When the merchant returned from his travels he found that there was nothing there for him. His youngest daughter recited the events that had happened. The merchant decided to become a woodcutter to earn a living. One day when his daughter asked for some yoghurt he said that he would get her some and went to the forest to cut wood. He knew that he did not have the money to buy her yoghurt and wept bitterly. It happened to be a Thursday. Brihaspati came to him in the form of a Sadhu and asked him why he was weeping. The merchant/woodcutter related all the events to the Sadhu.
The Sadhu told him that the cause for the unfortunate events was the disrespect that his wife had shown to Brihaspati. He advised the man to perform certain rituals and hear the glory of Brishaspati on Thursdays. The Sadhu told him to get two coins and buy Channa and raisins from it and then to put a pinch of sugar into his pot to represent the nectar of immortality. He should then offer this to Brihaspati and distribute it to all those who had listened to the story of the glory of Brihaspati and then eat some himself. The man asked where he would get two coins from in the first place. The Sadhu told him that he would get four coins extra on selling wood on Thursdays.
On the next Thursday, the man did earn four extra coins on selling his wood. He bought the pooja materials described by the Sadhu and yoghurt for his daughter. He distributed the offerings to all those who had heard the story of the glories of Brihaspati. His prosperity began to improve. On the following Thursday, the King ordered that all the people should eat at the palace. The man and his daughter were a little late and were still welcomed into the palace and fed.
The Queen found that her necklace was missing and the suspicion fell on the merchant/woodcutter. Both he and his daughter were jailed. Brihaspati appeared to the man and told him that his precarious situation was because of his having neglected the worship on Thursday. He told him that on the next Thursday there would be two coins by the jail door and that he was to use it to buy the pooja materials and perform the worship.
Worship In Jail
The following Thursday there were indeed two coins by the door. The man asked a passing woman to help him and buy the Pooja materials. She replied that she was on the way to buy clothes for her soon to be daughter-in-law and that she did not know anything about Brihaspati. The man asked another passing woman to help him. She was on the way to buy a shroud for her only son who had just died. She, however, bought the Pooja materials and handed them to him and even stayed and listened to the story of the glories of Brihaspati.
The woman then bought the shroud and went back to her home. She wanted to see her son’s face for the last time and put some of the nectar, Channa and raisins that she had as Prasad from the Pooja in her son’s mouth. Her son sat up. The first woman who had refused to buy the Pooja materials had returned for her son’s marriage only to find that he had been thrown from his horse and had died. She wept and prayed for forgiveness and Brihaspati appeared to her as the Sadhu and told her to go and ask the jailed man for forgiveness.
The man told her to preserve her son’s body with flower essence and Ghee and to attend the Pooja the next week. The next Thursday she bought some Channa, raisins and put sugar in a water pot and both the man and the woman listened to the story of the glories of Brihaspati. She took some of the Prasad and put them in her son’s mouth and he sat up.
The King dreamed of Brihaspati that night. Brihaspati told him that he had imprisoned an innocent man. The Queen’s necklace was found in the very same palace where she had kept it and the merchant was released. The King gave the merchant half of his kingdom and arranged for the marriage of his daughter. He also gave her diamond jewellery. This is how Brihaspati fulfils the desires of all.
Another version of the story has the merchant and his wife as a King and a Queen.