Vishwamitra narrates the Story of Sagara

The Great Vishwamitra

Sage Vashishta prepares Rama and Laxmana for Mithila

Sri Rama eliminated Subahu and disposed Maricha to a distant place.

Vishwamitra completed the Yajna without further disturbances.

The great sage expressed his deep-felt gratitude to the two jewels of the Solar dynasty, Sri Rama and Laxmana.

Vishwamitra-Vashishta

He further expressed his own plans to visit Mithila, for a certain function. 

King Dasharath advised Sri Rama to follow sage Vishwamitra and be obedient to him, The great Guru of the Solar clan, Vashishta made a point to Sri Rama and Laxmana before they left for Siddha Ashrama, near Mithila with Sage Vishwamitra.

Sage Vashishta clarified that the two brothers should accompany the great sage Vishwamitra for their own good and not for anything else.

Rama and Laxmana desired to ensure the completion of sage Vishwamitra’s undertaking at Siddha Ashrama without any impediments.

After the events at Siddha Ashrama

Rama-laxmana-Leave-with-Vishwamitra

What good did Sri Rama and Laxmana achieve after the successful culmination of the Yajna at Siddha Ashrama?

One should realize that sages never utter any statement in vain.

Every word of theirs holds deep meaning and relevance.

When Sage Vishwamitra wanted to proceed towards Mithila, Sri Rama and Lakshmana expressed their desire to follow the sage to Mithila.

Through the example of service of the two brothers Rama and Laxmana, the Supreme Lord has demonstrated how a disciple should be to a Master.

Shastra recommends that the disciple should always follow the Master, so as to offer humble services at the feet of the Guru.

A Brief on King Vishwamitra’s family

The two princes traveled north-eastwards towards Mithila Puri along with their Guru, Vishwamitra.

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 goes with the name Kushanabha Kanya Upakhyanam (कुशनाभ कन्या उपाख्यानम).

Sri Brahma bore a son named Kusha.

Vishwamitra

Kusha’s son, Kushanabha had Gadhi as his son.

Gadhi’s son was Vishwamitra or Kaushika.

Gadhi begot a daughter called Satyavati also Kaushika’s sister.

Satyavati was elder to Vishwamitra or Kaushika.

Vishwamitra and the story of Sweet-Rice

An event occurred in Devi Satyavati’s life at an important juncture, her brother Kaushika, yet not born.

Satyavati married 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 his blessings.

She desired to beget a male child.

Thus Richikara’s wife and her mother developed a desire to have a son each.

The Brahmana, Richikara, adept in Yajna performed a sacrifice and formulated a type of sweet rice.

Such similar Yajnas are popular in the Vedic pantheon

Richikara formulated the sweet rice in such a way that it could create a son with Kshatriya qualities for Richikara’s mother-in-law.

The portion of sweet rice presented to his own wife had the potency to produce a child with Brahminical qualities.

Satyavati discovers her mother’s plans

Now the mother-in-law (same as Satyavati’s mother), Gadhi’s wife, started harboring doubts about her own son-in-law Richikara.

She suspected the Brahmana’s intentions.

Vishwamitra-1

She thought, maybe the better formulation being reserved for her daughter, she may well be duped with a less potent share.

Out of suspicion and ill-faith, she consumed the rice formulation prepared for Satyavati and left her allocated part for her daughter Satyavati.

Satyavati discovered her mother’s plan, much later, when her mother had already executed her plans.

She shared the details of this malfunction with her husband, the Brahmana Richikara.

The Brahmana sighed and said that he could do nothing about it now.

Sage Jamadagni born with Brahminical qualities

He announced that their own son (son of Satyavati and Richikara) may well be hot-headed with little control over his anger.

All said, he shall possess the qualities of a high-class Kshatriya though, he said.

Satyavati then pleaded with her husband to avert the misfortune.

Richikara revealed that there can be a small alteration,

implementing some of his powers.

Their own son may retain Brahminical qualities, but the qualities of Kshatriya and hot-headedness, their grandson shall inherit, instead.

Thus sage Jamadagni, the son of Richikara and Satyavati did not bear Kshatriya qualities, as ordained.

Sage Vishwamitra attains Brahmanhood

The qualities transferred themselves instead, into Sage Jamadagni’s son, sage Parshurama.

Meanwhile, Gadhi’s son, brother of Satyavati (Kaushika), owing to Satyavati’s mother consuming the sweet rice bore Brahminical qualities.

Although born in the Kshatriya race, this great soul desired to attain Brahmanhood.

Bhagiratha

Following a mixed bag of severe penances and setbacks, he finally ascended to the position of a Brahmana.

Brahmanism does not symbolize caste or position but epitomizes the Supreme, reflected in the heart of the purified being.

Kaushika became Vishwamitra, the friend of the world.

This became possible for the sage, following austerities and the strict code of conduct applies only to top-class Brahmins.

Asamanjas the son of King Sagara

Next, the sage narrated the tales of one of the forefathers of Sri Rama Himself.

Sagara belonged to the rich ancestry of Lord Sri Rama (सगर the one born with poison).

Sagara maintained two wives and now they desired children.

Following the penance of the household, the Lord appeared.

The Lord asked, “What interests you?

Having many children with no intelligence or having just one son with some intelligence?”

One queen, according to her desire bore 60,000 sons and the other queen bore just one son named Asamanjas.

Lord Kapila reduces 60,000 sons to Ashes

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.

Kapila-burns

The sage immersed in Dhyana or meditation, did not notice the sacrificial horse that stood by his side.

Since the sons of Sagara were of little intelligence, they concluded that it was the sage who held the horse captive.

They drew their dagger and came rushing to hurt the sage.

Meanwhile, the sage opened his eyes in anger reducing the 60,000 sons of Sagara into ashes.

Asamanjas now on a mission, look for the horse.

But he could not find the horse.

Anshuman and Dilipa fail in their mission

Time rolled by, Asamanjas had a son, Anshuman.

The boy being intelligent and dedicated could 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.

He wanted to know how he could render peace to the 60,000 souls.

The ash mountain in front of Kapila’s Ashrama represented the mortal remains of Anshuman’s uncles.

Anshuman inquired about the means to sage Kapila.

The sage Kapila said “I am unable to help you directly.

You should try and bring down Ganga Devi from the heavens.

Mother Ganga is capable of redeeming the sins of Sagara’s 60,000 sons.

Anshuman tried his best, in his lifetime, but could not get Ganga down.

His son King Dilipa performed the most fantastic austerities to bring down Ganga, but he failed too and left the mortal world.

King Bhagiratha brings down Ganga Devi from the heavens.

Dilipa’s son Bhagiratha faced the Akasha-Ganga (आकाश गंगा), the Milky Way from where Ganga Devi originated and performed severe austerities facing that direction.  

There he got a response from Ganga Devi herself.

Shiva-Ganga
Shiva-holds-Ganga

She said “I am ready to flow down, but who can hold me?

If I flow down unhindered, the whole earth planet shall be at risk because of my immutable force.”

The great Bhagiratha then turned his attention to Lord Shiva and meditated in the most austere manner to please the Lord.

Lord Shiva, satisfied with King Bhageeratha’s austerities agreed to contain Ganga Devi in His Matted Hair locks.

Devi Ganga then fell, gushing into three different directions known as tripathaga (त्रिपथगा).

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.

Bhagirathi and Jhanavi

Ganga Devi instructed the king to drive his chariot with her following the chariot.

 The king took his chariot eastwards and Ganga Devi followed him.

Ganga Devi passed through the ears of a Maharshi named Jhannu.

This got her the name Jhanavi.

She came down to the earthly plane, at the behest of King Bhagiratha and hence she came to be known as Bhagirathi.

This effort of Bhagiratha to bring down Devi Ganga is known as Bhagiratha Prayatna (भागीरथ प्रयत्न efforts of King Bhagiratha).

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