By Swami Harshananda
Raikva as per Chāndogya Upaniṣad
Jānaśruti Pautrāyaṇa was the king of Mahāvṛṣa. He was well-known for his generosity especially for gifting food to the poor and the needy. Once he overheard two swans flying over his palace conversing between them. While one sang his praise the other belittled it saying that the sage Raikva was far superior to him.
Becoming curious about this Raikva, the king dispatched his servants in his search. After a long search Raikva was located in a lonely place, sitting under his cart and scratching his itches.
When the king approached him for the special knowledge in which he was an adept, offering him wealth and his own daughter in marriage, Raikva obliged him by teaching him the Samvarga Vidyā. Samvarga is that which absorbs other things into itself. Vāyu in the outside world and prāṇa inside the human body are the samargas since they respectively absorb into themselves the four cosmic objects and the four internal organs. Jānaśruti also gave Raikva, a number of villages. The whole area came to be known as Raikvaparṇa. This story is recorded in the Chāndogya Upaniṣad.
Raikva as per Skandapurāṇa
The Skandapurāṇa refers to a sage Raikva who was lame and always traveled by a bullock cart. Hence he was called ‘Sayugva-Raikva’, the ‘Raikva with a cart pulled by two bullocks’. He is said to have drawn to himself the three sacred rivers Gaṅgā, Yamunā, and Gayā with the desire to bathe in them and place them in the Gandhamādana mountains where he lived. They manifested themselves there as desired by him. The two Raikvas appear to be the same.
- Vāyu means the air or the wind.
- Prāṇa means the vital air, the life force.
- These cosmic objects are sun, moon, fire and water.
- Internal organs means speech, eyes, ears and mind.
- Chāndogya Upaniṣad 4.3.1-8
- Skandapurāṇa Setukhanda 26
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore