श्रीराम जय राम जय जय राम, শ্ৰীৰাংজয়ৰাংজয়জয়ৰাং, শ্রীরাম জয় রাম জয় জয় রাম , શ્રીરામ જય રામ જયજય રામ, ಶ್ರೀರಾಮಜಯರಾಮಜಯಜಯರಾಮ, ശ്രിറാം ജയ് റാം ജയ്‌ ജയ് റാം, శ్రీరాంజయరాంజయజయరాం

Ramayan – Lesson 3


Lesson 3

Brahmarshi Vishvamitra

Trishanku Swarga

Kaushika becomes Brahmarshi

Brahmarshi Vishvamitra

Vishwamitra was a Brahmarshi. He was first a Kshatriya king; his growth as a Brahmarshi is a long story. Long ago there lived a great man called Kusha. He was a manasa putra of Brahma. That is, he was born in manas – the mind – of Brahma. He had four sons – Kushamba, Kushanabha, Adhurtharajassu and Vasu. When they had grown up Kusha addressed them thus: My sons, hereafter establish your own kingdoms and rule righteously. They obeyed him. Kushamba became the king of Kaushambi, Kushanabha of Mahodaya, Adhurtharajassu of Dharmaranya and Vasu of Girivraja. And they all were righteous rulers. Kushanabha had a son Gadhi by name, and Kaushika was Gadhi son.

Kaushika once undertook a tour of the world, with an army of one akshouhini strong. It had four wings, one of elephants, the second of charioteers, the third the cavalry and the fourth the infantry. One akshouhini army comprised 21870 chariots, 21870 elephants, 65610 horses and 1,09350 foot soldiers. As he travelled long, Kaushika left behind many lands, rivers and mountains and reached the hermitage of sage Vashista.

Vashista was one of the sons born of the mind of Brahma. He was one of the Saptharshis – one of the seven sages of Vaivaswatha Manvanthara. He was the progenitor of a Gothra, that is the founder of a vast lineage. He was the mighty sage who had overcome rakshasas by his effulgence and rescued Indra. Arundathi, the daughter of Devahuti, was his wife. He had risen to the very high rank of a Brahmarshi.

Vashista hermitage was very lovely. Flowers of many colours blossomed on the plants and creepers there and filled the air with sweet scent. Birds of many species chirped and welcomed the visitor. Deer roamed about fearlessly. Siddhas, Charanas and Gandharvas sported there. A number of sages were immersed in tapas oblivious of the surroundings. King Kaushika entered the hermitage reverentially. He left the army outside the ashram, went up to Sage Vashista and bowed to him respectfully.

Vashista blessed the king and made him sit close to him. He made kind enquiries after him, his family and his people. He then insisted that Kaushika and his retinue should accept the hospitality of the ashram. Kaushika acceded gladly.

Vashista summoned a cow, Shabala by name, which dwelt in his ashram. She belonged to the world of Gods. She was Kamadhenu, who could create anything at will. Vashista prayed to the cow: Sacred Mother, King Kaushika and his retinue are our guests. Bestow a sumptuous banquet on them.

And behold, a splendid banquet was ready. The repast awaited them in silver vessels and plates. The plates and cups overflowed with delicious preparations, and honey and ghee and milk and curds. The guests were delighted. And the women folk who had accompanied the king were immensely pleased with this rich banquet. Kaushika priests and ministers and officers were equally delighted.

King Kaushika, too, was pleased. But he was also astonished that a cow could create so many preparations in a trice. He now coveted the possession of the cow. He prayed to Vashista, Great Rishi, be pleased to give me this Shabala.

But Vashista did not have the authority to give away the cow. The cow was a celestial gift to assist the sage in his rituals and in extending hospitality. He therefore explained the position to the king. But Kaushika was not satisfied. On the other hand, his yearning for the cow grew stronger. He said, Great sage, in return for Shabala, I shall give you thousands of cows. I shall present heaps and

heaps of gold coins. Let me have Shabala. Vashista replied,King do not measure Shabala worth by earthly standards. She belongs to heaven. I have no authority to bestow her on any one, and she will not leave me.

King Kaushika was furious. He now grew obdurate, and his discretion dimmed. He said, Vashista, because you are a Brahmarshi, I respectfully requested you to give me the cow. But you have declined. You better know that I am the monarch of this kingdom and all the wealth belong to me. I shall use force and take away Shabala. Let us see how you will prevent me. He then commanded his

soldiers to take possession of the cow. They tried to obey him. Shabala shook her body once. The soldiers ran helter- skelter and were felled. They came back in larger numbers and tried to put a rope around her neck. The cow cried aloud and at once innumerable warriors sprang from her body wielding powerful weapons and put Kaushika soldiers to flight in no time.

With his soldiers worsted, Kaushika stood abashed. He was anguished because a mighty king like him had been humiliated by a mere cow in a sage ashram.Be it so. I shall have my revenge he said to himself. He returned to his palace. He divided his kingdom among his sons and went to the foot of the Himalayas. He undertook witheringly rigorous tapas, to please Lord Shiva. The lord was pleased with his devotion and appeared before him. He said to Kaushika, Seek what boon you wish. Kaushika asked for formidable weapons, and Lord Shiva granted the boon.

Now confident and domineering, Kaushika returned to Sage Vashista hermitage. He shot a devastating arrow and set the ashram on fire. As the fires leapt towards the sky and reduced everything around them to ashes the residents of the ashram were aghast and stunned. But Sage Vashista remained unperturbed and soothed their fears. He sat at the centre of the ashram with his Brahmadanda before him. The flames drew back and were extinguished.

Kaushika was astounded. He shot another formidable arrow at the ashram. But wonder of wonders! It did not even touch the ashram. The Brahmadanda swallowed it. Kaushika sent forth another weapon, but it met with the same fate. One after another, the king sent forth weapons more powerful than its predecessor, but the Brahmadanda swallowed all of them. Not the slightest harm befell Sage Vashista or his hermitage.

Kaushika  store of weapons grew steadily thinner, and finally, only the irresistible Brahmastra remained. It was the mightiest of the mighty weapons, and could reduce the entire creation to ashes. As Kaushika took up the Brahmastra the three worlds shivered in alarm. He shot the arrow, but the Brahmadanda swallowed up even the Brahmastra.

Kaushika was now in utter despair. Realization now dawned on him. Vashista had Brahmabala, which is Satwikabala – the strength of the mild and the gentle. and his was Rajasabala – the strength of the passionate and the domineering. He realized that Rajasabala was nothing before Sathwikabala. So there was only one thing for him to do, and that was to acquire Satwikabala. He decided to perform tapas.

King Kaushika travelled towards south, and performed sustere tapas. He had been engaged in his austerities for years when Lord Brahma appeared before him and said,King Kaushika, I am pleased with your devotion. From now on you will be a Rajarishi’. But Kaushika was not satisfied. He wanted to become a Brahmarshi. So once again he took up the tapas of severest kind.

Trishanku Swarga

At the time when Kaushika was engaged in these austerities, Trashanku, of the Ikshwaku dynasty was ruling in Ayodhya. He was valiant, truthful and handsome. He was a righteous ruler. But he was immensely attached to his enchanting body. He wished to enter, somehow, heaven itself with his body. He went to his Guru, Sage Vashista, and placed his yearning before him. He prayed, Guruji, perform what sacrifice you will, and enable me to enter heaven with my body. Vashista replied, Trishanku, you have grown too attached to your body. This is not desirable. Any one who seeks to go to heaven should be free from vanity and attachment of all kinds. So you cannot go to heaven without discarding your body.

But Trishanku would not give up. He went to Vashista sons and expressed his ardent desire before them. He prayed to them, Your father has rejected my prayer. But you should not disappoint me. But they said, ‘Dare you ask us to do what our father has refused to entertain? May you suffer a debasement!

At once the enchanting body of Trishanku grew monstrous. The body which once had golden radiance was now black like coal. His hair, soft as silk, grew rough and became tied up in knots. The gold ornaments which shown upon his body turned into iron. His clothes became torn. The transformation so terrified those who were with him that they ran away in dismay. His children, ministers and subjects deserted him. The king who desired to enter heaven with his enchanting body was now bereft of even what he had.

Foresaken by his relatives Trishanku wandered in the forests and one day reached Kaushika ashram. He unburdened his heart to the sage. He begged him,Great Sage, have pity and save me.

Kaushika heart melted at Trishankus tale. He wanted to help him. He said, ‘King Trishanku, have no fears. I know that you are righteous and truthful. So you are worthy of going to heaven. Whatever be the curse of the sons of Vashista, I shall redeem you. I will ensure that you enter heaven with your body. Trishanku was satisfied.

Kaushika then sent word to other rishis in the forest. They responded to his invitation and came to him. He explained to them the plight of Trishanku. He said,Trishanku has suffered a grave injustice. Let us perform a sacrifice and raise him to heaven as he dwells in his body. The other sages were somewhat afraid of Kaushika, for they all knew that he was a man of unbending will. So they agreed without a question.

A great sacrifice began. Kaushika himself officiated. Ritwijas who were masters of the rituals were in charge. The sacrifice reached its last stage. Kaushika invited the gods to receive their share of Havis- the sacred oblation. But not a single god responded. Kaushika was in a flaming wrath. With the vessel containing the oblations in his hand he said, in a voice like a thunder,King Trishanku, the gods have not come to receive the havis. But that does not matter. I shall bestow on you the fruits of my tapas so far. Raised by this power enter heaven with your body.

An astonishing thing happened then. As the rishis watched in amazement Trishanku rose from the earth to heaven and reached its very doors. But Indra, the Lord of Heaven, would not allow him to enter. He said, You are a fallen mortal for you have been cursed by the sons of your Guru, and you cannot enter heaven. He then hurled him from the heights of heaven. As he fell head downwards, Trishanku cried aloud, Save me. Save me O great sage.

Kaushika heard the terrified cry of Trishanku. And he was volcanic in his rage. With a voice like a thunder he said, Stop, Trishanku. Another amazing thing happened. Trishanku fall was arrested, and he was suspended between heaven and earth, head downwards. Trembling with rage, Kaushika, who was surrounded by a number of rishis, declared, I shall create another heaven. And I shall create another Indra. He created another Saptharshi Mandala – the cluster of seven sages and another row of stars, in the south. He started creating more and more new gods.

The gods were now in panic. Indra for their leader, they came to Kaushika. They prayed,Kaushika, give up your rage. Your creation is amazing. Let Trishanku stay where he is. We shall ensure that he enjoys all the privileges and pleasures of heaven. But we beg of you, do not create another Indra. Kaushika was pacified. He acceded to the prayers of the gods and halted his creation.

Kaushika Becomes Brahmarshi

Kaushika now renewed his tapas with still greater rigour, to achieve his object. Lord Brahma and other gods were pleased with his austerities and granted him the rank of a Devarshi. But even this would not satisfy Kaushika. He renewed his fierce austerities. The gods were apprehensive once again. They wished to halt his tapas, no matter how. So they sent Menaka, a celestial beauty, to where Kaushika was immersed in tapas.

Menaka came to Pushkara Thirtha. She began to dance most alluringly before the sage who was lost in tapas. Kaushika heard the delightful jingling of the tiny bells and opened his eyes – and beheld Menaka who was dancing. Her loveliness thrilled him. He fell in love with her and invited her to live with him. She agreed and set up house with him. Ten years passed. Menaka gave birth to a daughter. This baby was Shakuntala, who later married Dushyantha and became the mother of the celebrate Bharata.

Kaushika woke up to the reality.I surrendered to a womans attraction and forgot my resolve to perform tapas, how shameful! he bewailed. Menaka stood near him, panic-stricken. He spoke gently to her and sent her away. He then turned his steps towards the Himalayas, in the north.

Kaushika now began grim austerities on the banks of Kaushiki near the Himalayas. He performed tapas for a long time. Pleased with his devotion Brahma granted him a title of Maharshi- a great rishi. But Kaushika would accept nothing less than recognition as a Brahmarshi. So he continued his austerities. He stood with both hands raised. He fed only on air. The scorching Sun of the summer, the merciless downpour of rains, the cutting cold which made the body shiver – nothing could weaken the rigour of his tapas. Once again the gods were in panic. They sent a celestial maiden of peerless beauty, Rambha, to him. But now Kaushika had mastered his passions; he had subdued

his senses. He did not even glance at Rambha. He pronounced a curse against Rambha who tried to disturb.

His tapas. and austerities grew even severer. He took to total silence. Food and drink he would not touch and he performed tapas motionless like a log of wood. Smoke rose from his head. The entire universe trembled at the fire emanating.

The gods approached Brahma. They said, Supreme Lord, grant Kaushika his wish. Brahma stood before Kaushika and softly said, Brahmarshi, we are pleased with your matchless devotion. Kaushika was very glad. But he wished that Vashista should greet him as Brahmarshi. He told Lord Brahma so. Brahma smiled and sent for Vashista. Vashista said to Kaushika,You are now a Brahmarshi and embraced him happily. From that day Kaushika became Vishwamitra. This was the sage who came to Dasharatha court.

Examination on Lesson – 3

Choose answers to all the questions. All the best !!

Q1. What was the original name of Sage Vishvamitra ?

Ans: a)Manu b)Kusha c)Kushanabha d) Kaushika

Q2. What was the name of Holy Kamadhenu Cow who was in Sage Vasistha’s hermitage ?

Ans: a)Shabala b)Swati c)Ila d)Kaushumbhi

Q3. Who was the King for whom Sage Vishvamitra created an alternate Swarg ?

Ans: a)Trishanku b) Ishkwaku c)Dasharatha d)Manu

Q4. Who was the daughter born of Kaushika and Menaka ?

Ans: a)Diti b)Rambha c)Shakuntala d)Urvashi

Q5. Which title did Lord Brahma finally bestow on Kaushika ?

Ans: a)Rajarshi b) Devarshi c)Maharshi d)Brahmarshi

Correct Answers below

Q.1 Ans (d),

Q.2 Ans (a),

Q.3 Ans (a)

Q.4 Ans (c),

Q.5 Ans (d)