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Svetaketu Story - Svetaketu Uddalaka

Svetaketu was a Vedic ritualist and philosopher. He is referred to several times in Brahmanas and Upanishads as Svetaketu Aruneya and once as Svetaketu Auddalaki (Uddalaka). He was a resident Pancala. Once, he had gone to Videha, where he took part in a discussion with Janaka, king of Videha, on Agnihotra.

Initially, Svetaketu  was not interested in learning but, being reproached by this father, he learnt Vedas and grew very arrogant of his knowledge. With his arrogance he once approached Praavhana Jaivali, the king of Panchala, who asked him five questions, which he could not answer. He also could not satisfy the queries of King Citra Gargyayani, who later instructed him.

Svetaketu received the knowledge of identity of the entire world with the self through the preaching of tattvamasi, ‘that thou art’, by his father. Svetaketu was in close contact with Jatukaranya, who had become the purohita of Kashyapas, Videhas and Kaushalyas. He envied the latter.

Svetaketu officiated as chief priest in many rituals. He was also well versed in the art of Sama chanting. Apastamba Dharmasutra (1.2.5, 4-6) refers to him as one of the rishis. According to Vatsyayana’s Kamasutra, Svetaketu abridged the original Kamasutra, composed by Nandin, in one thousand chapters. He is said to have established the institution of marriage of one man with one woman. He was against polygamy.