Monday, 16 April 2012

2. Enter Brahmarishi Viswamitra

                    रामो   राजमणिः   सदा   विजयते||
     Hi! Do you recognize the picture above?  Yes?  You are absolutely correct!  It is Bhagwan Shri Ram as a baby!  I tried to get the pictures of his brothers, too;  but I could not.  I guess the reason was that their mothers were very conservative and were afraid that their babies' lives would be reduced if their (i.e. babies) picture was drawn/painted.  
     Oh! I am digressing!  Let me go to our story.  Lakshmana got attached to Rama.  The real reason is this:  Rama is the avathar of Mahavishnu and Lakshmana of Aadhi Seshan.  You all know that Lord Visnu almost all the time lies on his bed which is Aadi Seshan.  In other words they were/are inseperable.  You know that habits die hard! Hence Lakshmana got attached to Rama.  Satrugna, therefore got attached to Bharathan; he had no other option.  QED.  (See, how cleverly I solved the problem!).
     The princes were given education and training that were used to be given to all princes of that time.  They grew up into tall, handsome, brave, virtuous, lovable etc. etc. young men.  As Ram was to succeed the king he was advised to go to various places in the kingdom to get to know the place, people and their problems, if any.   When he went to Amethi people cheered and shouted "Long live PM in waiting!  Welcome to the future PM!".  Ram was completely confused.  One elderly nobleman of Amethi explained to Ram that the present and some past PMs of Kosala were from Amethi.  As King Dasaratha was ruling the kingdom for a very long time, the people of Amethi thought that he (King Dasaratha) would be their king sine die.   The possibility of someone succeeding the king did not occur to the  people of Amethi.  "That is why, Sir, the people thought that you will be the next PM.  The people of Amethi were like this in the past and will be, I am sure, in future, too, until the end of the world"  said the nobleman.   
     One day queen Sumitra came to the king's chamber without announcement.  She told the king that he was invited for lunch the next day at queen Kausalya's chamber with all his queens.  "There is something we want to discuss with you" said queen Sumitra before she left his chamber.
     Next day all his favorite items were served during the lunch.  The king felt very happy.  After lunch the king and all his queens went to the room (actually a big Hall) what we now call the 'drawing room'.  The king asked his queens whether there was any special reason for the lunch.  Queen Kausalya said "Of course, yes, Sir!  Our sons have now become young men.  We all think that they all should be married to suitable princesses at a very early date.  It looks as if that such a thought never occurred to you.  That is why we arranged this lunch to remind you your duty as a father as well as a king."
     "Thanks" said the king and continued "My dear wives, it seems that none of you have understood me well despite years of living together.  The thought of marriage for our sons did occur to me quite some time ago and I have already sent out special agents to look for suitable princesses for them".
     All the queens were very happy to hear that.
     One fine morning the guards guarding the main gate of the king's palace noticed that the Kingsway (i.e. the road that leads to the main gate of the palace) was unusually silent; no crowing of crows, no chirping of other birds!  The kingsway was a very broad road with tall trees on both sides; people would be going this and that way on some errand or other.  Not many humans were seen on that morning.  As it was very unusual, the guards peered into the road carefully.  They saw
a very tall and majestic figure of a man walking in the middle of the road, like an emperor, approaching the palace.   On closer look they noticed that he was a rishi and all the people on the road were giving way to him respectfully.  He seemed to be the cause for the silence of the birds.  As the guards did not know who he was, one of them ran to their chief who, on hearing the news came to the gate running.  He immediately recognized the rishi.  He was Brahmarishi Vishwamitra!  He definitely was coming to the palace.  The chief immediately alerted the ADC to the king.  Within a few seconds there was a lot of activities in the palace.  Red-carpets were brought and spread from the main gate to the steps of the palace.  Inside the palace, every hall, every room and all corridors were always fully carpeted, wall to wall;  I am not sure whether they were red or some other shade; I think that that is not very important.  The king put on his head the crown (he was not always wearing it nowadays as he became very old and as such he could not bear the weight).  His personal make-up chap (sorry, I do not know what he was called those days) made some touch-ups and the king hurried to the main gate to receive the Brahmarishi.  He was quite nervous because Brahmarishi Viswamitra was notorious for dispensing curses at the drop of a hat.

                          This is a picture of Brahmarishi Viswamitra
     Why everyone was so scared of the Brahmarishi Viswamitra?  For that you should know his biography.   It is quite interesting.  I give it briefly.  Those who didn't know it earlier can read it and enjoy; and those who already has read/heard it can refresh and enjoy.  I assure you that it will be a joy to read it again and again.  
     Brahmarishi Viswamitra was a great resplendent king before he became a rishi!  He was then known as Kaushika also.  On returning from one of his exploits, he, his sons and soldiers were tired, hungry and thirsty.  It was jungle with not a sight of an hotel, motel, inn, a rest-house or a guest-house.   At last they saw a hut at a distance.  When they went near it, it looked like an ashram.  When they reached it they found that it was in fact an ashram.  Maharishi Vasishtha was living there with his sons and disciples.  On hearing the babble of voices Maharishi Vasishtha came out and saw the King and his entourage.   All of them were absolutely tired and terribly ravenous.  Maharishi Vasishtha welcomed them and first provided them lot of water (which was more tasty than RO System or mineral water).  Then he provided them excellent pub grub, far better than the royal dinner served at the palace of the King Kaushika.   The king became very sure that the rishi must have looted nearby villages and towns.  He therefore decided to punish him suitably (taking into consideration that he provided him and his entourage excellent water and eats).  He asked the rishi "My dear man, if you confess that you robbed and looted the adjacent villages and towns, I will pardon you, provided you promise that you will not repeat that crime and handover all the remaining loot to me.  Else, I will take you to my capitol and put you in jail forever.  The choice is yours".
     Maharishi Vasishtha was completely nonplussed; and at the same time he was seething with rage.  He, however, controlled his anger with great difficulty and said loftily "O king, this feast that you have partaken with your kinsmen, has been provided by my calf Nandini (sometimes referred as Sabala), who was gifted to me by Indra. You must know that she is the daughter of Indra's cow Kamadhenu. She provides me with everything I need."
     The king pondered for a while and said sweetly to the rishi "My dear Maharishi, give me that cow.  It will be immensely useful to me as a king.  You don't have to live in this ashram located at a godforsaken place.  Come to my kingdom, I will provide a grand ashram with all modern amenities."  Lowering his voice he said close to the ear of the rishi "If you so desire, I can provide you young and beautiful girls as your companions."
     Controlling his anger with a great difficulty the maharishi asked the king to leave immediately with his entourage. 
     The king shouted "So far I was very polite to you.  But I find that you are an imbecile.  I am going to take the cow with me without your permission" and ordered his soldiers to capture the cow.  To the amazement of the king and his men, the cow, besides the capabilities they have already witnessed, showed them that she was a very powerful army, too.
     Utterly disgraced, the king made one of his sons a locum tenens of his kingdom and went to the Himalayas to perform tapas(தவம்).  His tapas was so powerful (or whatever the correct term), Lord Siva granted him all he desired, to wit, all the weapons available to the Devas, Gandharvas, Rishis, Yakshas and the Demons.
     Now Viswamithra was confident that he can bring Vasishtha to his knees begging for mercy.  He went to the ashram of Vasishtha and shouted Vasishta to come out.  When he came out, the king told him peremptorily to fall on his feet, beg for pardon and hand over the cow.
     Rishi Vasishtha smiled and asked the king what he would do if he refused.  The king boasted about the powers he got from Lord Siva.  Rishi Vasishtha cooly sat down put his bramhadhandam in front of him. It stood upright like a soldier.  Rishi Vasishtha told the king to try his weapons against him.  To the utter surprise, consternation, confusion and bewilderment of the king, all the weapons were absorbed by the bramhadhandam!  As a last resort, the king hurled the Brahmasthram, the most powerful one.  Brahmasthram is said to be many times more powerful than the most powerful nuclear bomb with the USA!  Alas!  That too was swallowed by the staff!
     Viswamitra stood dazed.  Openly accepting defeat, like a true warrior, he said: "Of what use is the Kshatriya's might in arms?  With but a staff in his hand, this Vasishtha has nullified all my weapons. Lord Siva has indeed fooled me.  There is no alternative for me but to become a Brahma Rishi like Vasishtha."  So saying, he withdrew from the field of battle and proceeded south for more rigorous tapas.
     After many years of severe and more and more severe tapas, Lord Brahma appeared before him, conferred on him the position of a rishi among kings, and vanished from the scene.
     Viswamitra was disappointed that all his penance could get him only the status of Raja Rishi. Not content with anything but the highest, the rank of a BrahmaRishi, he subjected himself to still more rigorous austerities in order that he might be acknowledged an equal of Vasishtha.

1 comment:

  1. Vasishta's powerful brahmadhandam is interesting!