Even gods were surprised'by the austere
penance of the young Bharadwaja. He feared neither rain nor storm. He gave up food and
drink. As time passed, his body began to wear out. Everybody began to fear his condition.
But he did not stop his penance. Finally, one day, as he could not even sit, he collapsed.
Lord Indra then appeared.
"Arise, Bharadwaja. Here I am!"
"God of Gods, at last you have appeared!"
Bharadwaja rose slowly and folded his hands.
Indra blessed him and said:
"Bharadwaja, you have been a staunch bachelor. You had observed penance like this
even in your two previous lives. For the same purpose you have worn out your body now. If
I give you one more life, how will you use your body?"
"0, God, even then I will remain a bachelor and wear out my body for the sake of
What a statement of devotion! This is indeed the path of knowledge said Indra in
appreciation. He drew Bharadwaja's attention, "Look here."
Bharadwaja saw before him three mountain-sized masses of radiance. From each of the
three heaps Indra picked up a handful and placed them in Bharadwaja's hands. Immediately
the three radiant objects melted in Bharadwaja's body and he felt a new vigor. Bharadwaja
could not understand what was happening and asked: "Lord, what is this?"
Said Indra laughing: "Bharadwaja, can education be measured? Vedic knowledge is
boundless. The three mounds you saw are the three Vedas. Your educational attainments
during the last three lives are the three handfuls you have picked up. But it is not a
little. Even with this, your radiance has exceeded the brilliance of the gods."
"God, if that is so, what should I do next?"
"Bharadwaja, attaining knowledge is not the sole purpose of existence; spreading
that knowledge in the world is important too. That is what you have to do. Let the world
attain bliss at your hands."
So saying, Indra departed.