Encyclopedia for Epics of Ancient India

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MATANGA. [Source: Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology] 'An elephant.' A man who was brought up as A Brahman but was the son of a Chandala.

His story, as told in the Mahabharata, relates that he was mercilessly goading an ass's foal which he was driving. The mother ass, seeing this, tells her foal that she could expect no better, for her driver was no Brahman but a Chandala. Matanga, addressing the ass as "most intelligent," begged to know how this was, and was informed that his mother when intoxicated had received the embraces of a low-born barber, and that he, the offspring, was a Chadala and no Brahman.

In order to obtain elevation to the position of a Brahman, he went through such a course of austerities as to alarm the gods. Indra refused to admit him. He persevered again for a hundred years, but still Indra persistently refused such an impossible request, and advised him to seek some other boon. Nothing daunted, he went on a thousand years longer, with the same result. Though dejected he did not despair, but proceeded to balance himself on his great toe. He continued to do this for a hundred years, when he was reduced to mere skin and bone, and was on the point of falling. Indra went to support him, but inexorably refused his request, and, when further importuned, "gave him the power of moving about like a bird, and changing his shape at will, and of being honoured and renowned."

In the Ramayana, Rama and Sita visited the hermitage of Matanga near Rishyamuka mountain.

Modern Languages MLLL-4993. Indian Epics. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. The textual material made available at this website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one. No claims are made regarding the status of images used at this website; if you own the copyright privileges to any of these images and believe your copyright privileges have been violated, please contact the webmaster. Page last updated: October 16, 2007 12:22 PM