(Last Updated on : 17/09/2009)
Mudgala was a Vedic Rishi as mentioned in the Mahabharata. Mudgala lived a life of poverty, piety, and self-restraint, offering hospitality to thousands of Brahmans. According to his humble means, with the grain which he gleaned like a pigeon, and which likes the widow of Zarephath's oil never underwent diminution. At length another sage called Durvasa is an ancient sage, son of Atri and Anasuya. He is supposed to be an incarnation of Shiva. Durvasa was famous in Hindu tradition for his irritable temper, came to prove Mudgala's powers of endurance.
Finding that the temper of his host was altogether unaffected by these trials, Durvasa expressed the highest admiration of his virtue, and declared that he would go bodily to heaven. As he spoke these words a messenger of the gods arrived in a celestial car, and called upon Mudgala to ascend to a state of complete perfection. The sage, however desired first to learn the advantages and drawbacks of the heavenly state, and the messenger proceeded to tell him first what kind of people go there.
The people who performed austerities or celebrated great sacrifices, the truthful, the orthodox, the righteous, the self restrained the meek, the liberal and the brave. These celestial abodes were, he said, shining, glorious, and filled with all delights. There is seen the vast-golden mountain Meru and the holy garden Nandana, &c. where the righteous disport. There hunger, thirst, weariness, cold, heat, fear, are unknown; there is nothing disgusting or disagreeable; the scents are delightful; the sounds are pleasant to the ear and mind; there is no sorrow, nor lamentation, nor decay, nor labour, nor envy, nor jealousy, nor delusion. There the blessed are clothed with glorious bodies, which are produced by their works, and not generated by any father or mother. Their garlands are fragrant and unfading; they ride in aerial cars. Beyond these regions there are, however, others of a higher character - those to which the Rishis, who have been purified by their works, proceed. Still further on are those where the Ribhus, who are gods even to the gods, dwell, and where there is no annoyance occasioned by women, or by jealousy arising from the sight o worldly grandeur. The sacred there do not subsist on oblations, nor do they feed upon ambrosia. They have celestial and not coarse material bodies.
These eternal gods of gods do not desire pleasure. They do not change with the revolutions of Kaplas of the mundane ages. They experience neither joy, nor pleasure, delight, neither happiness nor suffering, neither love nor hatred. That highest state, so difficult to attain, and which is beyond the reach of those who seek after pleasure, is desired even by the gods. This celestial felicity, the messenger says, is now within Mudgala's reach, the fruit of his good deeds.
The next speaker, according to his promise, explains the drawbacks of the heavenly state. As the fruit of works done on earth is enjoyed in heaven, whilst no other new works are performed there from which new rewards could spring, this enjoyment is cut off from its root, and must therefore come to an end. For this world is the place for works, while the other is the place for reward. This loss of gratifications, to which the heart has become devoted, and the dissatisfaction and pain which arise in the minds of those who have sunk to a lower estate, from beholding the more brilliant prosperity of others, is intolerable. To this must be added the consciousness and the bewilderment of those who so descend, and the fear of falling, which they experience when their garlands begin to fade. Such are the defects, which attach to all existence till it is absorbed in Brahma. But the state of those who have fallen from heaven is not altogether without compensation. As a result of their previous good deeds they are born in a condition of happiness; though, if they are not vigilant, they sink still lower. Having given this explanation, the messenger of the gods invites Mudgala to accompany him to paradise. The saint, however, after consideration, replies that he can have nothing to do with a state of happiness which is vitiated by so great defects, and the termination of which is followed by so great misery. He has therefore no desire for heaven; and will seek only that eternal abode where there is no sorrow, nor distress, nor change. He then asks the celestial messenger what other sphere there is which is free from all defects. The messenger replies that above the abode of Brahma is the pure eternal light, the highest sphere of Vishnu who is regarded as the supreme Brahma.
Thus none can proceed who are devoted to objects of sense, or who are the slaves of dishonesty, avarice, anger, delusion or malice; but only the unselfish, the humble, those who are indifferent to pain and pleasure, those whose senses are under restraint, and those who practice contemplation and fix their minds on the deity. The sage, Mudgala then dismissed the messenger of the gods, began to practice ascetic virtues, becoming indifferent to praise and blame, regarding clouds, stones and gold as alike. Pure knowledge led to fixed contemplation; and that again imparted strength and complete comprehension, whereby he attained supreme eternal perfection.
Mudgala is also a name of a teacher of the Rig Veda
Mudgala was one of the five sons of Hariyaswa, king of Panchala.