The story of Indradyumna is told to the Pandava brothers and Draupadi while they are in exile. Indradyumna, in his life time had been a good and generous king, and earned a lot of merit because of his innumerable good deeds on earth. Thus it was that after his death, he found himself welcomed warmly into swargaloka or the heavens.
He had been happily floating around in those salubrious surroundings for hundreds of years, when suddenly he found himself falling gently back to earth, and he heard a voice saying, “Indradyumna, you have used up all your merits and that’s why you are falling back to earth. To come back to swargaloka, you either need to find someone on earth, who still remembers your good deeds, or start working on earth to earn more merits. “
Indradyumna, wandered around in a much changed world, and people gave him strange looks, for he dressed and talked differently then the others. No one knew him any more.
After wondering for many days, he chanced on the ancient sage Markandeya. The king introduced himself and explained his problem. Then he asked the sage, if he remembered any of the good deeds that the king had done in his life time. The sage said, “No, good king, I do not remember any of your good deeds, but I can take you to one who is older than me and maybe he will remember you and your good deeds”
Markandeya, the ancient sage took the king to the one older than himself, an owl called Pravakarna. The king asked the ancient owl, if he remembered any of the good deeds that he had done as a king. The ancient owl said “nooooooooooooo, but I can take you to one who is older than me and maybe he will remember you and your good deeds”
Pravakarna, the ancient owl, took the king to the one who was older than himself, a crane called Nadijhanga. The king asked the ancient crane, if he remembered any of the good deeds that he had done as a king. Nadijhanga said, “I do not know of any king by the name of Indradyumna nor do I know of any of his good deeds, but I can take you to one who is older than me, and maybe he will remember you and your good deeds”
Nadijhanga, the ancient crane, took the king, to a deep and beautiful lake, to meet the one older than himself – the tortoise called Akupura. Akupura took a long time coming, he was a tortoise to begin with, and an ancient one at that. It was a long wait, and the king was beginning to give up hope of finding anyone, who would remember him, much less his good deeds and readying himself for a long stay on earth.
At last the ancient Akupura came, and as soon as he saw Indradhumnya, big tears of gratitude rolled down his hooded eyes. He wept and wept and thanked the king for the creation of the beautiful lake, that was home to millions. “But, I do not remember ever creating a lake!”said the king. “ Oh no,“ said Akupura. “ it is true that you did not explicitly ask for this lake to be formed ,in fact you have no knowledge of the existence of this beautiful lake. Once you gave thousands of cattle as gifts to the people. The cattle trampled the land with their hooves, as they were taken, forming a depression in the land. The rains came and filled it up, thus was this lake born.”And all of us who live here are forever grateful to you for your deed of kindness, we have named the lake after you and pray that your merits may for ever increase.” As soon, as the tortoise had uttered these words, a heavenly chariot appeared from nowhere and carried off Indradyumna back to Swargaloka.
To me this is an interesting story that brings home the fact that we are all connected and impact each others lives in ways that we have no way of knowing; It speaks of the inter-connectedness of all sentient beings and inter-beingness of all things.