Bal Kanda 8 - Vishwamitra, the Great Brahmarshi
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.
Trishanku was abandoned by his ministers and courtiers after he became a chandala. He then went to Vishwamitra, who felt compassionate seeing the king’s plight. He decided to perform a yajna to send Trishanku to heaven and summoned all the brahmanas for the same. When the sacrifice was nearing completion, Vishwamitra offered the Gods their share of the sacrifice.
When the Gods did not appear, the angry Vishwamitra told Trishanku he would send him to heaven using his own powers. He then used his powers to create an energy that sent Trishanku soaring to the heavens. Seeing him come, Indra pushed him back saying he was undeserving to enter heaven. Trishanku fell with his head facing downwards.
Vishwamitra used his powers to stop Trishanku from falling. He then angrily decided to create another heaven where Trishanku was suspended. The Gods went to him and requested him to cease. Vishwamitra said that since he had promised to send Trishanku to heaven, he would be in the sky with other stars. He would remain there for eternity.
Vishwamitra continued with his austerities in Pushkara. Ayodhya at that time was ruled by Ambareesha. When the king was about to perform a sacrifice, Indra stole the horse. The sages told the king he was to blame for it. As an atonement, he had to sacrifice a man or an animal. The king set out to find a man or animal for sacrifice and finally found a brahmana Richika.
Richika and his wife refused to hand over their eldest and youngest sons. However, they agreed to hand over their middle son Shunahshepa in exchange for 100,00,000 cows. The king then took Shunahshepa with him. On the way, they rested in Pushkara. Fearful of what would happen and exhausted by thirst Shunahshepa went to Vishwamitra for help.
Moved by his plight, Vishwamitra asked one of his sons to agree to be sacrificed in place of Shunahshepa. But they refused insolently. An angry Vishwamitra cursed them to roam for 1000 years, eating dog meat. Vishwamitra then advised Shunahshepa on how to save himself. When the sacrifice started, Shunashepa uttered hymns taught by the sage. Pleased with his chanting, Indra helped the king complete his sacrifice while bestowing long life on Shunahshepa.
Vishwamitra continued his austerities, and Brahma appeared before him and told him he was now a rishi. Vishwamitra did not stop and continued with his austerities. That is when the apsara Menaka came there. The sage was attracted to her and stayed with her for ten years. He then felt ashamed that desire had taken over his quest to perform austerities.
He went to the northern mountains to continue his austerities. Brahma appeared and granted him the title of Maharishi. When Vishwamitra requested that the creator make him a Brahmarishi, Brahma told him he had yet to conquer his senses. Vishwamitra then continued to perform severe austerities.
Indra was worried and told the apsara Rambha to go before the sage. The king of the Gods took the form of a cuckoo and sang melodious tunes. Vishwamitra was attracted by Rambha, but immediately realised his mistake. He cursed Rambha to be a rock for 1000 years. Upset that his austerities were disturbed, Vishwamitra proceeded towards the eastern direction.
He performed the most severe austerities. Gandharvas, snakes, and rakshasas tried to disturb him but failed. Pleased with his austerities, Brahma appeared before him with the other Gods and granted him the title of Brahmarshi. Vishwamitra requested that Vasishta acknowledge him as the best of Kshatriyas with the knowledge of brahmanas.
Vasishta then arrived there and made friends with Vishwamitra. He told him that since he was now a brahmana, all the knowledge would be revealed to him. Shatananda thus narrated the story of Vishwamitra to Rama and Lakshmana.
…. to be continued