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Bhageeratha brings down Devi Ganga | Story of Parshurama and Vishwamitra |Vishwamitra proceeds to Mithila | Valmiki Ramayana-14

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Sage Vishwamitra prepares to leave for Mithila

After eliminating Subahu and disposing Maricha to a distant place, the Yajna is consummated without any further disturbances. The great sage Vishwamitra expressed his deep felt gratitude to the two jewels of the Solar dynasty, Sri Rama and Laxmana. He further expressed his own plans to visit Mithila, for a certain function.  Sri Rama was advised by King Dasharath to follow sage Vishwamitra and be obedient to him. There were two purposes that were highlighted by sage Vashishtha prior to the departure of the trio to Siddha Ashrama. The sage had mentioned that Sri Rama and Laxmana had to be sent with sage Vishwamitra for the Yajna to be successful as the first reason and then for their own good, as the next reason. Now, the Yajna had been successful and yet the second result had yet not been accomplished, that is nothing had yet transpired which could be concluded as something good for Sri Rama and Lakshmana. When Sage Vishwamitra wanted to proceed towards Mithila, Sri Rama and Lakshmana expressed their desire to follow the sage to Mithila. This is another example where the Supreme Lord has demonstrated how a disciple should be to a Master. It is always recommended that the disciple should always follow the Master, so as to offer humble services at the feet of the master.

The family of Kaushik-Vishwamitra

The two princes travelled north-eastwards towards Mithila Puri. They halted for a while on the banks of the river Shorna. Then the great sage related a story from his own life to the two princes, that night. The story is entitled Kushanabha Kanya Upakhyanam (कुशनाभ कन्या उपाख्यानम). Sri Brahma has a son named Kusha. Kusha’s son was called Kushanabha and Kushanabha’s son was called Gadhi. Gadhi’s son was sage Vishwamitra or Kaushik. Gadhi begot a daughter known as Satyavati whose brother was Kaushik. Satyavati was elder to Vishwamitra or Kaushik. This was the time when Satyavati was present but Kaushik was yet not born. Satyavati was married to a Brahmana named Richikara. At that point, the wife of Gadhi or Satyavati’s mother desired a son. She prayed at the feet of her Brahmana son-in-law Richikara for begetting a boy-child. Thus Richikara’s wife and her mother were interested in having one son each. The Brahmana was adept in Yajna and he performed a sacrifice and formulated a type of sweet-rice. The sweet rice was formulated in such a way that the portion which was created for Richikara’s mother-in-law was blessed with the capacity to produce a child with Kshatriya qualities and the portion of sweet-rice that was presented to his own wife was blessed with the power to produce a child with Brahminical qualities.

Sage Parshurama and Vishwamitra

Now the mother-in-law, Gadhi’s wife had a doubt that the Brahmana would have created a better formulation for his own wife, that is her daughter and hence she consumed the rice formulation that was supposed to be consumed by Satyavati, Richikara’s wife. Satyavati realized the mistake only later and she reported the same to her husband, the Brahmana Richikara. The Brahmana said that now, nothing could be done about it, and that their own son would now be a very hot-headed child who would have little control over his anger. He would possess the qualities of a high-class Kshatriya though, he said. Satyavati then pleaded her husband to avert the misfortune. Richikara revealed that there could be a small alteration made; that their own son may retain Brahminical qualities, but the qualities of Kshatriya and hot-headedness shall be transferred to their grandson instead. Thus sage Jamadagni, the son of Richikara was saved of those Kshatriya qualities and it was transferred instead, to his son, sage Parshurama. Meanwhile, Gadhi’s son, brother of Satyavati (Kaushik), owing to Satyavati’s mother consuming the sweet-rice was born with Brahminical qualities; though born in the Kshatriya race, desired to attain Brahmanahood, and became a Brahmana through austerities and followed the code of conduct of top-class Brahmins.

The Story of King Sagara

Next, the sage narrated the tales of one of the forefathers of Sri Rama Himself. The name of that forefather was Sagara (सगर the one born with poison). Sagara had two wives and they desired children. The Lord said, “Are you interested in having many children with little intelligence or to have just one son who is very intelligent.” One queen, according to her desire bore 60,000 sons and the other queen bore just one son named Asamanjas. Once King Sagara performed the Ashvamedha Yajna and hence let the horse meant for the Yajna roam around the kingdom. Since the horses did not return, the king sent his 60,000 sons to look for the horse. As they searched for the horses, they came across the Ashrama of sage Kapila, an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, where he was lost in Dhyana or meditation. The horse stood by the side of the sage. Since the sons of Sagara were of little intelligence, they concluded that it was the sage himself who has held the horse captive. They drew their dagger and came rushing to hurt the sage. The sage opened his eyes in anger and the 60,000 sons of Sagara were reduced to ashes. Asamanjas was not able to find the horse either.

The ancestors of Sri Rama try to bring down Ganga

Time rolled by, Asamanjas had a son known as Anshuman. He was very intelligent and was able to locate the horse. He bowed down at the feet of the great sage Kapila and got back the horse. But Anshuman was disturbed to see the ashes of his uncles and wanted to know of a mechanism by which these 60,000 souls could be rendered peace. When he enquired about the means to sage Kapila. The sage Kapila said “I may not be able to help you. Alternately you should try and bring down Ganga Devi from the heavens, if the 60,000 sons be redeemed of their sins. Anshuman tried his best, in his lifetime, but could not get Ganga down. His son King Dileepa performed the most fantastic austerities to bring down Ganga, but he failed too, in his lifetime. His son Bhageeratha faced the Akasha-Ganga (आकाश गंगा), the Milky Way where Ganga Devi originated and performed severe austerities.  There he got a response from Ganga Devi herself. She said “I am ready to flow down, but who can hold me? If I flow down unhindered, the whole earth planet shall be in great danger because of my immutable force.” The great Bhageeratha, then turned his attention to Lord Shiva and meditated in the most austere manner to please Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva satisfied with King Bhageeratha’s austerities agreed to contain Ganga Devi in His Matted Hair locks. Devi Ganga then fell in three different directions known as tripathaga (त्रिपथगा) and Lord Shiva collected her ravishing flow in His locks and let her down, to flow freely at Bindu Saras. This appears at the foothills of the Himalayas. She instructed the king to drive his chariot and that she would follow him. The king took his chariot eastwards and Ganga Devi followed him. There was a Maharishi known as Jhannu, through whose ears she passed and got the name Jhanavi. She came down to the earthly plane, at the behest of King Bhageeratha and hence she came to be known as Bhageerathi. This effort of Bhageeratha to bring down Devi Ganga is known as Bhageeratha Prayatna (भागीरथ प्रयत्न efforts of King Bhageeratha)

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