Skip to content

Story of “King Janasruti and Raikva, a cart puller”

Photo by Pixabay on

Story of Janasruti and Raikva.


This story of King Janasruti and Raikva, the poor cart puller appears in Fourth Chapter (4.1 to 4.3) of the ChAndogya Upanishad. Raikva imparted “Samvarga Vidya” to the King Janasruti.

Samvarga Vidya: ~ All Absorbent Meditation.

Sage Raikva apparently was a poor man having nothing but a cart, unknown to the people and no body recognized him as such. But he had one specialty, a power which was such that he could absorb all things into himself by a special technique of Meditation (a Vidya). He practiced this Vidya which was known as “Samvarga Vidya–the all-absorbent Meditation”.

The Story:

Once upon a time there was a king named Janasruti, the great grandson of Janasruta. He was a highly charitable person who used to make large donations with due love and respect. He used to arrange huge quantity of cooked food for the people, and he made many rest houses all over his kingdom. He enjoyed people coming, staying in rest houses and enjoying his food that was served.

4.1.1-7: One evening the king was resting on the roof of his place and he noticed a couple of swans flying above him in the sky. These swans were actually sages or gods in disguise. Just then the swan flying behind made a joke, called out to the one ahead: ‘ Hey, you short-sided one! Don’t you see that the brightness of Janasruti has spread all over the sky like daylight? Beware you do not touch it. See that it does not burn you”.

The swan in front replied: Say who is this king Janasruti? The way you are saying one would assume he is equal to Raikva with the cart’. Then the other swan asked, ‘ And who is this Raikva with a cart you are referring to?’

The Swan then replied,” Just as in a game of Dice, when a person wins the toss called Krta, he automatically wins the lower tosses also, in the same way whatever good work people do goes to the credit of Raikva. If anyone knows what Raikva knows, he becomes like Raikva. This is how I would describe Raikva.”

This remark of one of the birds was heard by the king. King Janasruti felt humiliated by what the swans had said about him. Maybe he could not be compared with Raikva, but in what way did Raikva excel over him? Who was this Raikva with a cart? Janasruti had a sleepless night. The next morning when he got up, the first thing he did was to question his attendant about this Raikva. He wanted to somehow find out in what respect Raikva was superior to him.

Having looked for him, the attendant could not find Raikva and reported back to the King. Janasruti then said,” Well , why don’t you go to the places where Brahmins are found like in forest. Look for him there.

4.1.8: The attendant finally saw that a man sitting under a cart, scratching a rash on his body. Sitting down close to him, the attendant asked,” Sir, are you Raikva with the cart” The man replied, Yes, I am. The attendant thought, I have found him and returned to the King.

4.2.1–5: Then the King Janasruti went to that place with six hundred cows, a gold necklace, and a chariot drawn by mules (so that Raikva would teach him). He said to Raikva: ” O Raikva, all these six hundred cows, a gold necklace, and a chariot drawn by mules are for you. Please tell me about the God you worship.” Raikva was annoyed and refused to teach King, because the King tried to offer wealth.

King then tried to tempt Raikva. King said to Raikva” I am giving you these thousand cows, the gold necklace, this chariot drawn by mules, this daughter of mine to be your wife, and also this village in which you live. Now , Sir, please teach me.

Lifting the face of the princes, Raikva said: ” You have brought me many things, but they are not making me speak. It is the face of the princes making me speak.” The villages in the Mahavrsa province, where Raikva lived, were known thenceforth as Raikvaparna. Raikva agreed to teach.

Raikva started spiritual teachings [ Samvarga Vidya]

4.3.1-2: Raikva said: ” The Air swallows everything. When fire extinguishes, it disappears into the Air. When the Sun sets, it disappears into the Air. And when the moon sets, it disappears into the Air. When water dries up, it disappears into the Air. The air swallows all these. This is the worship of forces of nature (Adhidaivata)

4.3.3-8: Raikva continued: ” Next is the worship concerning the body. Prana swallows. When a person sleeps, speech, the eyes, the ears, and the mind all these go into the prana. Prana swallows all these. Air and Prana swallow everything. Air among the gods and Prana among the organs. Once Saunaka, the son of Kapi, and Abhipratarin, the son of Kaksasena, were being served their meals when a Brahmacharin appeared and begged for some food. They however, refused to give him any. The Brahmacharin said: ” One god has swallowed four sages. Who is he who protects this world? O’ Kapeya, O’ Abhipratarin, that god exists in many forms, but human beings cannot see him. The food is meant for him, but you are not giving it to him.” Saunaka replied: “It is not correct that we do not know him. He is Prajapati. He creates and also destroys everything.  He is the Self of all, and He is also the destroyer of all. He is Supreme. All wise people worship Him. Saunaka then advised his servant to give some food to the Brahmacharin. Then they gave him alms. The first five(Vayu, fire, the Sun, the moon, and water) and the second five(Prana, speech, the eyes, the ears and the mind) together they make Ten. That is Krta. These ten are the ten directions, and they are the food. The Krta is Virat. As Virat is all pervasive, everything is its food. By that Virat, all this is seen. He who knows this Virat becomes Virat himself. He becomes all pervasive and everything becomes his food.


Raikva said, ” In this creation there are many elements which are worshipped as gods. There is wind that sweeps everything. The fire burns up whatever comes in contact with it. There is also the vital breath which activates a living being. It exists by itself. And yet it creates and sustains the creation. Thus, the entire creation is a complex instrument that is carrying out its work at the behest of the Spirit.”

” O King! Have neither pride nor vanity for the charities that you dispense. Go thou, great king, to thy palace. Give but not pride. Give generously but not with egotism. Give freely but not with an aim to gain fame. Give but not as something that is yours, but as something given to you by the Spirit for giving to others. He who sees this truth becomes a seer and to him nothing is wanting, and he becomes the enjoyer of things.”

The King was extremely satisfied with these words of wisdom that came from Raikva. While departing he gave a thousand cattle, numerous gold coins and chariots, and his own daughter in marriage to Raikva. This time Raikva did not reject all these. 

 What is Samvarga Vidya?

Every one of us is pulled towards the objects of sense, whereas we cannot pull anything into our own selves. Senses are always outward. We are like slave of the outwardly pleasures of sense. Therefore, we are slave of worldly pleasures. How can we absorb these outwardly pleasures, desires? How can we make these desires our slaves? If we can understand the teachings imparted by Raikva, we can control our desires and make them our slaves. Therefore consuming (controlling) desires and merging them inside, we can make them our slaves. They will be at our feet. This Vidya is known as Samvarga Vidya, a technique of Meditation.

Recommended readings:

  1. Back to the Truth: 5000 years of ADVAITA by Dennis Waite.**
  2. THE TEN PRINCIPAL UPANISHADS: Translated by Shree Purohit** Swami and W.B.Yeats
  3. Brahma Sutra Bhasya of Sankaracharya: Translated by Swami Gambhirananda.**
  4. Commentary of ChAndogya Upanishad: By Swami Krishnananda.
  5. ChAndogya Upanishad: By Swami GuruBhaktananda.
  6. EIGHT UPANISADS -VOL-1 with commentary of Sankaracharya, Translated by SWAMI GAMBHIRANANDA.
  7. THE TAITTIRIYA UPANISHAD: SHIKSHAVALLI-ANANDAVALLI-BHRIGUVALLI with Sri Shankara’s Commentary by Sri Swami Satchidanandera Saraswati.
  8. A-U-M Awakening to Reality: By Dennis Waite***
  9. Panchadasi: Swami Vidyaranya: 
  10. Information available on internet.

It is my sincere request to the esteemed readers to share their opinion or queries if any. Suggestions to make the site attractive will be highly helpful for me. Readers are requested to read all the posts to have continuation of the topic from the beginning. My mail ID is:

Photo by Bradley Hook on

29 thoughts on “Story of “King Janasruti and Raikva, a cart puller””

  1. Lovely story and amazing message
    Little bit that I remember of Vedas, I was told about, is that the elements of nature are either food or eater
    Like fire is an eater and water food
    But this aspect is new and informative to me ,I truly enjoyed the Post , thank you for sharing 😊

  2. Sir, I admire such moral uplifting stories from Hindu mythology. The absence or presence of desire prompted actions is not an absolute qualification, since the self is already whole, and complete, not withstanding, Sangita, Prahabdha and Agami Karams that you are working out as a jiva came here to do, and that is true for all teachers, non-teachers, devotees, and jiva’s whether one knows it or not, Isvara has a way of letting you know your mis-steps… Actually you cannot really do anything about them anyway, since you are not in control of the results of your actions, vasanas, or what appears or disappears and at the same not at all at fault for what ever appears, And from the viewpoint of the self, it is all Brahman any way, So it would be a Mute point. Desiring is a core human problem so, do keep us informed and impart interesting facts such as these to us.

    1. Vishnupriya
      Thank you so much for your reply which is very insightful as always. I admire you for reciprocating with your higher knowledge.
      I am thankful to you for your detailed comments which are as good as a commentry on each topic I publish.
      You open up a door for easy understanding, grasping the essence of the post.
      stay blessed always.
      I am thankful.
      Best wishes.🙏😊

  3. Very interesting story. But what I learnt from this story is that even Raikva had some hidden desires. Otherwise why he accepted gifts from the King. So is it acceptable to have desires after attaining so much wisdom?

    1. Thank you so much Anita ji for reading and sharing your comments. You are absolutely right about Raikva as you have said his hidden desires.
      But we may see the story in this way as it is a Brahma Vidya, so it has some higher meaning. I thought this way:—
      Initially, King Janasruti approached Raikva with offers for the spiritual knowledge, because the king knew that Raikva was having that Higher knowledge. But Raikva snapped back saying “Take back the gold chain, the carriage and the cows! Knowledge of the Self is not for sale. Janasruti then went back and returned with more offers along with his own daughter to be offered as wife including part of kingdom. King offered all this and prayed that he might be taught the higher truths of existence. Raikva was not moved by the gifts. But he was moved by the persistence and sincerity of the king.

      Without going into details of the story as far as the gifts and offers are concerned, the essence of the teaching of Raikva is very important here. In the ancient time gifts and offers were considered as normal customary, when the context was between “Guru-shishya” means between Teacher and disciple. In this case also it is to be considered all gifts as “Guru Dakshina”

      Now, the main thing here is the Truth, the higher knowledge. We may consider here the verse 2.21.4 of ChAndagyo Upanishad. Verse says “यस्तद्वेद स वेद सर्वꣳ सर्वा दिशो बलिमस्मै हरन्ति सर्वमस्मीत्युपासित तद्व्रतं तद्व्रतम् “

      This verse says “Here is a great Tapas for you. Meditate on that the that pulls you has become united with you by the power of your abstracting power, your controlling will, and the reabsorbing power which you are exercising in your meditation. In Upanishads the Teaching techniques are unique, cryptic and the details are not readily available. This must be understood as all absorbing meditation technique.

      In this story of Raikva, he tried to point out that every objectivity of the objects should be seen as subjectivity. We must visualize everything, be it person or object or whatsoever maybe as the “Self” from where everything manifests. We may free any object from its name and form.

      Therefore, finally, Raikva said “O King! Have neither pride, nor vanity for the charities that you dispense. Go thou, great king, to thy place. Give but not with pride. Give generously but not with egotism. Give freely but not with an eye to fame. Give but not as something that is yours, but as something given to you by the supreme for giving it to others. He who sees this truth becomes a seer and to him nothing is desire. He becomes the enjoyer of things.”

      Krita: Known as four casts(throws) of dice. Krita = 4, treta = 3, Dvapara = 2 and kali = 1. Krita outweighs all other throws. (4+3+2+1=10: Being the highest number, Krita swallows other numbers and adds to itself and become 10)

      The essence of this Upanishad is that the larger figure includes all the lower figures, the larger Self includes all the lower selves, and if a meritorious deed is done by any smaller self, the credit will go to the Higher Self, which is the Supreme Self, the meditating Consciousness. You are That Supreme Self.
      My best regards.

      1. Oh, now I got it. Thank you so much for elaborating this whole story. In our daily life we know very few things about this kind of knowledge and upnishads . It needs so much concentration and wisdom to understand all this in detail. I am thankful to you for making me understand all this. Waiting for more stories and gyan.😊😊🙏🙏

        1. Thank you Anita Ji for your inspiring comments 😊
          Above three are basic requirements to follow Vedantic philosophy.
          I am thankful for your comments which I consider as a support 😌
          Best regards 😊🙏

          1. Thanks to you Arun Ji. Because of you I started reading upnishad. Trying my best to understand this knowledge. Like today I read about Sravana, Manana and Nididhyasan. 😊🙏

            1. I would like to send you PDF of “The Ten Principal Upanishads”.
              It will be good for beginners.
              Can you please share your mail id?
              Thank you so much for your interest and for this beautiful comments ☺️
              Regards 🙏

            2. Pingback: All-Absorbent Meditation – ARUNSINGHA

            Comments are closed.

            Discover more from ARUNSINGHA

            Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

            Continue Reading