Lost & Found

I'm really excited to announce that I am now a contributor with THread , the cool new internet space launched by The Hindu. I'll be...

I'm really excited to announce that I am now a contributor with THread, the cool new internet space launched by The Hindu. I'll be doing stories of general interest written in a laid-back, blog like style. This is the first piece that's come out, I do hope you enjoy reading it! An edited version can be read, here.  

Photo: Macworld

A week ago, I misplaced my iPhone at home. This is something that happens to me almost every other day. I’d have brought it out of my room to get coffee, and somewhere between catching up with the news and chasing behind my dog, I place my phone in the most random of places, and spend a frantic five minutes searching for it before I leave for work. Last week was different because even after a good fifteen minutes of what I thought was thorough searching, I couldn’t find it. I rang the phone a couple of times before I realised that it was on silent mode, I used the Find My Phone app on my computer, which showed the phone to be at home - information that was  reassuring, and frustrating at the same time. I played the tracking sound from the app, and two tries later, my phone had shut itself off because my tracking efforts had drained the already low battery out fully. I even checked the garbage can, but to no avail. My phone was lost without me even leaving the house. I finally gave up on searching for it one and a half hours later and was on my way out to work when my grandmother-in-law, who saw me pass by so obviously late, asked me what happened. I narrated the curious incident of my missing phone, and she told me to pray to Karthaveeryarjuna and recite his sloka. “You’ll definitely find it” she said confidently. I nodded and left.

Now Karthaveeryarjuna, despite having his own set of slokas, or chants, wasn’t a “god” per se. While I don’t know he became the guardian of all things lost, I do know that he was a very powerful king - so powerful that Vishnu had to make a trip down to Earth and take an avatar to destroy him. Karthaveeryarjuna was a king who was born of great penance. His father, Karthaveerya of the Haiheya dynasty had a thousand wives but no children (Just to clarify, Karthaveerya is the father, and Karthaveeryarjuna is the son. Consider it an ancient way of using initials). So the king, who was now tired (hehe) and clearly frustrated, decided to do penance for Lord Vishnu and left for the mountains, with his one of his many wives, Padmini, in tow. He meditated for 10,000 years, but Lord Vishnu didn’t so much as blink at him. Padmini, who was with him the entire time (life expectancy rates those days were off the charts), became worried for his health and went to Anasuya, a great devotee of Lord Vishnu, and asked her for a solution. Anasuya told her to fast on two special Ekadesis. And so Padmini fasted, staying away from water and food and chanting the glories of Lord Vishnu. By the end of her fast, Lord Vishnu appeared in front of her, and told her He was thoroughly pleased with her sincere devotion, and asked her to tell Him what she so desired. Predictably, she asked Him to grant her husband what he wanted. Karthaveerya wanted, and received a son “who will never be conquered by the demigods, human beings, snakes, demons, or hobgoblins”, but can only be destroyed by Lord Vishnu himself. 

Thus was born Karthaveeryarjuna, the king with a thousand arms. So powerful was he, that he ruled for 85,000 years from his kingdom’s capital, Mahishmati (If the name Mahishmati sounds familiar, it’s because that was the same capital which was used in the film Bahubali) with perfect health, strength and prosperity. Karthaveeryarjuna isn’t a very popular character in Indian mythology, at least not as popular he should be because there isn’t much we know about those 85,000 years he ruled other than two very specific incidents. The first was when he humbled Ravana for attacking him - the demon king was put in a cage by Karthaveeryarjuna and paraded around the streets of Mahishmati like a common monkey. The only important detail you need to know from this story, apart from the fact that Ravana was punished for just daring to fight with him, is that Ravana, was actually minding his own business and was provoked by Karthaveeryarjuna. The second incident, is the story of his death. He was killed by Parashurama, the bloodthirsty sixth avatar of Lord Vishnu, who didn’t just kill Karthaveeryarjuna, but also took the trouble of going around the world twenty one times over to rid the world of the Kshatriya race altogether. 

There is another popular belief that Kartahveeryarjuna was, in fact, the reincarnation of Lord Vishnu’s Sudharshana Chakra, the powerful discus weapon that He has used to behead very many Rakshasas. Legend has it that one day, the Sudharshana Chakra got annoyed that the sage Narada, while singing praises of Lord Vishnu, had completely ignored him, and sourly claimed that Vishnu wouldn’t have been able to defeat those that He had without him. Lord Vishnu, ever the one for a challenge, told the Chakra to go down to earth as a thousand armed king (an arm for each spoke), and that they could pit their strength against each other, there. The Chakra, born as Kartaveeryarjuna, eventually lost to Parashurama (Vishnu), and thus, finally learned the point of its 85,000 year old lesson. 

24 hours had passed since my phone had switched itself off, and soon enough, it even disappeared from the location map from Apple’s Find My Phone app. When I was at work the next day, distraught and distracted by the void that my phone had left in my routine, I thought again and again about Karthaveeryarjuna. Here is a king who had a thousand hands, a king so powerful that the most dangerous and mighty demon of them all was reduced to a showpiece, a king who ruled the world for 85,000 years! Why would he bother with something like my phone? But then again, we are talking about a king with a thousand hands, a king so powerful that the most dangerous and mighty demon of them all was reduced to a showpiece, a king who ruled the world for 85,000 years! Perhaps he might lend one, out of those thousand hands for my cause. I had searched an entire day and failed - surely I didn’t have much to lose now? I threw all caution and doubt to the wind, looked up the sloka and said it. Oh King with a Thousand Arms, I beseeched. Help me find this damned iPhone.

My mother in law called me two hours later telling me that the phone had been found. It had been  in the fridge. 

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  1. As much as I'd like to leave the comments section say 'no comments' - i wanted to register it myself - No Comments! I've done it too! Only, I'm surprised it took someone in your household a whole day. My folks would have found it in the fridge the very next minute! We eat a lot!


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