Bal Kanda 6 - Shri Ram’s Arrival in Mithila
Deepak M R is a professional writer and trainer. He has a rich work experience of more than 25 years in varies fields that include training, education, and consulting.
He is author of the novel Abhimanyu - the warrior prince (Bloomsbury, 2021). He is also once of the contributing authors in the anthologies Unsung Valour and Aryaa and has written Kindle eBook Mahabharata Tales: Justice for Draupadi and other stories.
As per the instructions of their father, King Sagara, his 60,000 sons kept digging the earth to find the sacrificial horse. When they dug in all directions and reached the north-east, they saw the sage Kapila. The horse was near the sage. Sagara’s sons assumed the sage had stolen the horse and shouted at him.
The angry sage opened his eyes and uttered the humkara sound, which produced a fire that burnt all the king’s sons. Sagara sent his grandson Amshuman to find his uncles as they had not returned for long. Amshuman found the ashes of his uncles and was in grief. He wanted to perform the final rituals but could not find water anywhere.
He then saw Vishnu’s vehicle, the eagle Garuda who advised him to sprinkle the water of the Ganga on the ashes, so his uncles could reach heaven. On Garuda’s advice, Amshuman took the horse back and his grandfather completed the sacrifice. Sagara could not decide how to bring Ganga to earth and on completion of his life span left for heaven. Amshuman then took over as king and he had a son and heir named Dilipa.
Dilipa could also not decide how to bring Ganga. On his death, his son Bhagiratha became king. Bhagiratha performed austerities for a thousand years after which Brahma appeared before him. Brahma told him that if Ganga descended, the earth could not sustain her force. The creator told him that only Shiva could take the burden of Ganga.
Bhagiratha then performed austerities to please Shiva, who agreed to bear Ganga on his head. Ganga then descended to earth, and Shiva held her in his head. When Shiva released Ganga, she followed Bhagiratha who was in a chariot. Ganga finally reached the place where the ashes of Sagara’s sons were present. No sooner than the ashes were touched by the holy river, the 60,000 sons of Sagara went to heaven.
Since it was Bhagiratha who brought Ganga to earth, she is known as Bhagirathee. Since the river proceeds in 3 flows, she is known as Tripathaga. Vishwamitra thus narrated the story of Ganga to Rama and Lakshmana. As the three proceeded on their journey, they reached Vishala.
Vishwamitra then narrated the story of Vishala. He told them how Indra had obtained immortality for the Gods by churning the Mandara Mountain using Vasuki as a rope. The sons of Aditi accepted Varuni, who came as a result of the churning, and they became suras while the sons of Diti became asuras.
The suras then massacred the asuras, and Indra became lord of the worlds. Diti who was upset went to her husband Kashyapa and asked for a son who could kill Indra. On his advice, Diti performed austerities for a long time, and was taken care of by Indra himself. When the austerities were about to be complete, Diti slept with her feet placed where the head should have been.
This made her impure and Indra shattered her embryo into 7 pieces. He told Diti that since she was impure her embryo was split by him. Diti then requested that the 7 sons who would be born be known as Maruts. Indra agreed and the Maruts became Gods. Vishwamitra told the princes that Vishala was where Indra tended to Diti.
When they reached Mithila, king Janaka welcomed them and took them to his kingdom. On the way, they saw an ashrama that belonged to the sage Gautama. Vishwamitra then told the princes the story of Ahalya.
Indra who was smitten by Ahalya’s beauty. came to Ahalya in the guise of Gautama and desired to have a union with her. Ahalya knew he was Indra, but out of curiosity agreed. Gautama, who came there, realised what had happened. He cursed Indra to become infertile, after which Indra’s testicles fell off. The angry Gautama cursed his wife Ahalya to become invisible and stay in the same place for thousands of years without food, surviving only on air.
….. to be continued