One day Swetketu, son of Arunika, visits the palace of king Prabahan, son of Jeeval. The king asks the visitor whether his father has arranged quality education for him or not. The Brahman Kumar replies: yes he has. Then the king asks him five questions.Do you know where humans go after they leave this earth? Have you any information about how the humans departing from the earth returns to the earth? What is the dividing line between Devyan and Pitriyan? Why does the Pitrilok, the space where dead persons go, not get filled or overpopulated? How does water get transferred into a person the moment the water is thrown into fire in the fifth Ahuti – the fifth dedication to fire-god?
Water is regarded as highly important in Vedic philosophy. Some scholars, quoting Atharvaveda, identify water as the very essence of spiritual sacrifice or the first door to attain the divine order. The wide use of water as holy liquid in daily life as well as in ritualistic functions is well known to all; it is considered instrumental in the process of attaining eternity.
Some refer to water as symbolizing Varuna, the god of oceans, rivers and water bodies. Varuna is the father of the Vedic sage Vasistha.
Swetketu cannot answer correctly any of the five questions poised by the Chhettriya king. He feels ashamed and goes back to his father and tells him how he failed to reply to the king’s queries. He narrated all the questions to his father who in turn told him he also did not know the answer to them. So both father and son went back to the king to ask answers to the questions. King Prabahan receiving them properly said since the solutions to the questions are limited to the Chhetriyas it is natural that they, the Brahmins, did not know how to respond to them.
The king explained in detail all about the five ahutis or dedication to fire. The ahutis refer to the process of nature and creation of a living human through reproduction process. The vocabulary mentioned in the process differs from the one used in modern reproduction system. But it is quite scientific; although expressed in a bit symbolic form.
He said the Deolok is fire, the firewood is Aditya, the rays are vapour, day is light, the moon is coal, and Naxyatra bisphulinga. The first dedication is the process of vapour rising from water level because of reaction of temperature. Second dedication is rain while the third is creation of grains. The grain produces energy in the form of sperm which when coupled with female egg results in life of a person through the womb of a female being.
By Shirish Ballabh Pradhan