Who is Vashishtha? | Story of Vishwamitra and Vashishtha | Vishwamitra in Ramayana | Bhaktamal-04

Who controls intelligence when ignorance rules?

Greatness in discussing about devotees.

The Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna remembers and sings the glory of Sage Narada and reveals the secrets of Bhakti (1) the life of Sage Narada represents how a devotee should be (2) One should always remember the great qualities of a devotee. By doing so, one automatically starts developing those very qualities, through constant contemplation. (3) By remembering the qualities of devotees, the heart is purified. (4) The position of the pure devotee is so great that the Supreme Lord Himself praises the devotee, for his great qualities and becomes the devotee of His devotee. (5) By the demeanor of the devotee, the whole world benefits. By recognizing the great qualities of a devotee, the world attains goodness and all that is inauspicious in the world starts to recede. The world can never be purified without remembering the devotional qualities of great devotees and without discussing the pastimes of devotees.

Sage Vashishtha accepts the position of Family priest of the Solar Dynasty

The great Brahmarishi Vashishtha is the mind-born son of the Creator of the material world, Sri Brahma, just like the four Kumara brothers and sage Narada. Devi Arundhati the very epitome of chastity is sage Vashishtha’s better-half. Sri Brahma had advised the sage to become the family priest of the Solar Dynasty. But Sage Vashishtha turned down the proposal.  According to the Shastra, the position of being a family priest is like being in a material profession and not considered to be very good by Shastra. It is of general understanding that for a Brahmana, who is attached to material wealth , position and greed only gets attracted to such professions, but sage Vashishtha was a perfect Brahman realized sage and there was no need to accept such a low position after all. But his father persisted with the offer saying that “The Epitome of Dharma, Morality and Modesty, the Supreme Lord, Sri Rama was to appear in the same Solar dynasty. You shall attain the highest position of His spiritual master.” Hearing this offer, sage Vashishtha immediately accepted the position of family priest of the Solar dynasty.

Sage Vashishtha guides the Ikshavaku Dynasty

At the initial stages sage Vashishtha was the family priest of the Solar dynasty. However there was a scuffle between sage Vashishtha and King Nimi of the same dynasty. Because of difference of opinion, the sage relinquished some areas of his contribution and built a small Ashrama near Ayodhyaji and started residing there. The Solar dynasty was very big and hence Vashishtha, instead of supervising the entire Solar dynasty, attended only to a specific line in the solar dynasty which was the Ikshavaku clan within the Solar dynasty. Whenever there was cause for famine or flood under the rule of the Ikshavaku clan, the sage would use his spiritual powers and restore normalcy within the region. There was an attempt to bring down the river Ganga from the heavens by King Bhagiratha. He had failed in his attempt and this saddened him greatly. It was at this time that sage Vashishtha motivated the king and initiated him into a mantra. In the same clan another king Dileepa did not bear children. Sage Vashishtha inspired him to serve the cow and fulfilled the king’s need for a child.

Story of King Vishwamitra

When sage Vishwamitra was a king, he was known as Kaushika.  Once, He visited sage Vashishtha’s Ashrama. Sage Vashishtha served King Kaushika (Vishwamitra) with the assistance of the divine cow Kamadhenu. The cow, on her own made all arrangements to feed the king’s retinue as well as provide them with comforts that befitted a king’s regiment. The king was awestruck at the capacity of the cow and developed a deep desire to own the cow. He tried to influence the sage to part with the cow in exchange for a huge sum and many royal services. However sage Vashishtha did not show interest in parting with the divine cow. Finally king Vishwamitra made up his mind to take away the cow forcibly from sage Vashishtha. But Vashishtha being a Brahmarishi defeated king Vishwamitra and the king stood powerless in front of the sage’s power. Vishwamitra started brooding envy against the sage. The then king, Vishwamitra took up the path of Sadhana and penanced for a very long time to please Lord Shiva. He attained many powers from Lord Shiva and also attained divine weapons from Him. Then the king turned rishi went to combat sage Vashishtha, but proved to be of no match to the Brahman realized sage Vashishtha. Then Vishwamitra went back and undertook even more severe penances. With those powers he destroyed the hundred sons of sage Vashishtha. Yet sage Vashishtha was undisturbed and forgave the revenge seeking rishi Vishwamitra. However Vishwamitra never relented for his actions.

Sage Vashishtha recognizes Vishwamitra as Brahmarishi

One night Vishwamitra came silently to attack sage Vashishtha. At that time he overheard sage Vashishtha talking to his wife. “On this wonderful moonlit night, only great sages like Vishwamitra by their penance try to please the Lord.” To have envied a being who is genuinely praising an enemy in private, is a shameful act”, thought Vishwamitra. He immediately placed his weapons on the ground, went ahead and prostrated sage Vashishtha. When Vishwamitra bowed in front of sage Vashishtha, the great Vashishtha greeted sage Vishwamitra thus “Please get up Brahmarishi Vishwamitra.” From that day onwards sage Vishwamitra (King Kaushika) became a friend of the entire universe and got this name of Vishwamitra and was recognized in the three worlds as Brahmarishi Vishwamitra. In a single birth, sage Vishwamitra, by the dint of penance transformed himself from a Kshatriya to a Brahmana and then attained Brahman realization to become a Brahmarishi.

Attacked so many times by the six vices presided by lust, anger and greed, sage Vishwamitra lost almost all of his powers which he had gained following penances that he carried out many times over spanning many thousand years. Later, the sage analyzed the reasons for his failure in tackling the vices. He then fixed those defects, humbly accepting the fact that he possessed these defects and it was his duty to remove them from the root of his character. Among his various undertakings of Yajna, there was one Yajna, in which Maricha and Subahu, the two demon brothers vandalized the arena for the Yajna and threw in pieces of flesh, feces, urine and all unholy things into the purified sacrificial fire that nullified the endeavor of Sage Vishwamitra. Although he had been troubled so much, Vishwamitra did not get angry and never threw away his spiritual wealth by cursing the demons. He patiently waited for the opportune moment in which this impediment could be removed once and for all.  It was around this time, that Sri Rama had been born in Ayodhyaji with his other three expansions namely Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna. He sought the help of King Dasharath and convinced the king to send his young sons Rama and Lakshmana as his guards for the Yajna, so that he could peacefully conduct the Yajna. For that purpose sage Vishwamitra handed over the knowledge of many mystical weapons to the two brothers. The demoness Tadaka, the mother of Maricha and Subahu was first slain by the Lord. The Yajna was then conducted peacefully under the auspices of the Two Lords.

Sri Rama would serve his guru, sage Vishwamitra

Sage Vishwamitra then led the two brothers to Mithalaji as the great sage was invited for the marriage ceremony, Swayamvara of Seetadevi, daughter of the King of Mithila, Janaka. It was under the auspices of the great sage that Lord Rama was reunited with His eternal consort Shrimati Seetadevi. The Life of Sage Vishwamitra was that of penance and service to mankind, which he considered as the service to the Supreme Being. He was the one who is recognized as the original seer of the Gayatri mantra. Sage Vishwamitra attained the unique position of being recognized as the spiritual master of the Lord of the Universe Sri Rama. The Lord would serve sage Vishwamitra by pressing his lotus feet with His lotus like hands and only retire for the night, after sage Vishwamitra went off to sleep. Who can sing the glories of such an elevated devotee such as sage Vishwamitra?

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