Monday, 30 April 2012

4. Viswamitra drops a bombshell

     When Viswamitra was only a few feet from the gate, King Dasaratha ran to him and fell at his feet (probably saying Abivadhaye) and welcomed him very effusively.  Then the king led his most distinguished guest to the special chamber reserved for such persons.  All the cabinet ministers and his guru Vasishtha were already there.  When everyone were seated comfortably, refreshments and drinks were served.  After finishing the eats and drinks, that highly righteous sage Vishvamitra enquired the king after the well-being of city, exchequer, rural areas, friends and relatives.  Sage Vishvamitra then asked Dasharatha, "Are all of the provincial kings acquiescent to you, and all your enemies conquered?  Are you properly performing the devotional and social works?"  These formal enquiries made the king feel better.  The sage was not angry with him!  It was quite a relief! 
     king Dasharatha replied  "My answer is YES for all your questions, Sir.  I would like to add that I am indeed blessed among men. Your coming can only be due to the merit of my ancestors.  Like the morning sun that dispels the darkness of night, your face brings joy to my sight. My heart is full.  Born a king, you have become through tapas a BrahmaRishi.   I am sure that you have not come to me for enquiring about me and my kingdom!   Whatever you require from me, Sir, the answer is 'double yes'.   Please, therefore, command me.  I will be immensely pleased to obey."
     Viswamitra nodded and replied with a smile "O King, your words are worthy of you.  Born in the Ikshvaku line, with Vasishtha for your Guru, what else could you say?  You have said 'yes' before I asked.  This fills my heart with joy."  After placing a lot of ice on the head of the king, he straightway explained the purpose of his visit.
     That was a real bombshell.  King Dasharatha was stunned and seemed completely paralysed. 
     What Viswamitra said was "I am engaged in performing a sacrifice. As it nears completion, two powerful Rakshasas, Maricha and Subahu, defile it.  They shower unclean blood and flesh on the sacred fire.  Sure we have the power and authority to curse and destroy them.  But that would be a waste of all our tapas-battery.  
     "We need a real hero to fight these Rakshasas and kill them.  Rama, the eldest of your warlike sons fits the bill splendidly.  Under my care, he will grow further in princely stature.  He will surely defeat these Rakshasas and his name will gather lustre.  Entrust Rama to my care only for a few days.  As you have already promised to fulfill my need, you cannot refuse to send Rama with me now.  Of Rama's safety you need have no anxiety. You will earn undying fame in the three worlds.  Vasishtha and your ministers will agree to what I say".
     It was a bolt from the blue for Dasaratha.  He could not breathe.  He begot his sons after so many years and with so much difficulty.  All his sons were darlings for him, and Rama was the darling of darlings.  I thought this guy Viswamitra will ask some money or something like that.  I never thought that he will ask Rama to go with him to fight Rakshashas.  My God!  What am I to do now?  Let me try my best.  He said "Sir, Rama is after all a boy of less than sixteen years of age.  He does not have any real fighting experience.  How can he fight with Rakshasas?  Of what use is it to send him with you?  What does he know of the wiles of Rakshasas?  All the worlds will laugh at me if I send a mere lad to fight them.  Instead, my entire army is at your disposal for fighting the Rakshasas.  You know, Sir, I have a lot of experience in fighting against other kings and Rakshasas.  If you so desire, I personally can come with you, with my entire army, to fight and kill the Rakshasas."
      "My dear chap, do you take me for an idiot?  Do you think that I do not know that Rama was not yet sixteen?  You know very well that I was a king myself and I was very competent and experienced in fighting enemies, humans as well as rakshashas, quite successfully.  Did it not occur to you that there is some solid reason for asking Rama for this purpose?   You have already promised to give me what I want.  Are you going go back to your promise?"
     Dasaratha begged Viswamitra with folded hands not to ask for Rama.  "Other than that I will do anything you want" he said.
     "Is this your final word?" demanded the sage.
     Dasaratha nodded nervously.
     Despite his white beard, Viswamitra's face was seen to become red.  Everyone in the hall felt the tremor of the earth.  Viswamitra said calmly with a steely voice "This conduct is unworthy of your lineage. Tell me if this is your final word, I shall go back the way I came. Long may you live with your kith and kin, having swerved from the path of Truth!"
     Vasishtha now decided that it is time for him to intercede.  He, therefore, turned to the kind and spoke gently: "It ill becomes you, King, to refuse having promised once.  Born in the Ikshvaku line, you cannot do it.  Having once said, 'I will do', you have no option but to do it. Failing, you will lose the merit of all your great gifts and deeds.  Send Rama with the sage, and send his alter ego brother Lakshmana too. You need have no fear for their safety. When they are protected by Viswamitra, no Rakshasa or anybody can hurt them.  You have no idea of Viswamitra's power;  he is tapas in human form.  Bravest of the brave and wisest of the wise, he is master of every weapon.  In the three worlds there is not, and there will never be, any to equal him in martial or spiritual prowess.  When he was king he obtained from the gods mastery of all weapons.  He beholds the past, the present and the future.  Then why does he want the princes, you may wonder.  He can well take care himself of his yaga; but it is for the good of your sons that he has come here and appears to seek your help.  My guess is, he is doing this at the behest of Gods.  Do not hesitate. Send your sons with him."
     After listening to Vasishtha, Dasaratha agreed half-heartedly to send his sons Rama and Lakshmana with Viswamitra.
     The two princes and the concerned two queen-mothers were sent for and informed of the decision.  The princes quickly prepared for the journey.  With the blessings of their parents, guru Vasishtha and all elders they started with Viswamitra to have some training, under the tutelage of the Sage Viswamitra on the actual fight with enemies.  bonne chance.

Saturday, 28 April 2012


     The biography of Brahmarishi Viswamitra is not complete without the Trisanku episode.  King Trisanku was a contemporary of Brahmarishi Viswamitra.  Trisanku was quite a famous king and he was madly in love with his body.  Who is not?.  But the problem with him was that he wanted to go to heaven with that same body.  But the rule position and the actual practice in heaven was (and of course is, too) that one should abandon his/her body and go to heaven (how?) where he/she will be given a fresh one.  It appears that one has no choice to select any particular body; but take what is given.  This has been accepted by humans and hence dead bodies are disposed of by some means here in our dear old earth.
     King Trisanku wanted his case to be an exception.  He therefore, approached Maharishi Vasishtha who was his preceptor.  Unfortunately for the king, the preceptor said "No dice".   He then tried his luck with the Maharishi's sons.   They said "No dice", too.  Trisanku got so annoyed and, therefore, shouted, without thinking, at the Vasishtha's
sons "You and your dad are incapable of doing this!  I sure will find someone more competent than you and your father".   The sons in turn got annoyed, and cursed the king to become a chandala.  But nothing happened and the king went home merrily. 
     The curse acted silently during the night while the king was fast asleep.  When he saw himself at the mirror the next morning, he found the image was that of an ugly man with tattered cloths.  He could not recognize himself!  Nobody did in his  palace!  Result?  He was driven away.  He wandered and wandered until he fell down totally exhausted and terribly hungry.  The place where he fell down happened to be Maharishi Viswamitra's ashrama.   Whatever one may say about Maharishi Viswamitra, he was very kind at heart.  The sage took the king inside, gave him water to clean himself and then gave him good clothes and then some solid eats.  Unfortunately he could not give him any booze.  While the king was eating, the sage was looking at him.  The sage became curious and remarked "My dear fellow!  Do you know that you look like the king Trisanku?".
     The king finished his last gulp, drank some water, cleaned his hands and mouth and said with a sad smile "Sir!  I am King Trisanku."
     "Har, har Mahadev!  How come you are now in such a plight?"
     The king told his story.
     When Viswamitra learnt that Maharishi Vasishtha and his sons were the cause for this sorry state of the king,  Viswamitra became very furious.  This was Viswamitra's great weakness;  he was impulsive and easily over-powered by emotions like anger, sympathy and love.
     He thought for a while and smiled and nodded his head.  That means he had come to a conclusion.  This was a golden chance for him to show the worlds his might as a rishi.  He patted the king and said patronizingly "My dear chap!  Quit all your worries!  I will make arrangements for you to go to heaven with this very same chandala body!".
      And he made arrangements for a great and unprecedented yaga.
     The sage then began the yaga.  Extolling Trisanku's eminent virtues, Viswamitra sought the help of the other rishis in effecting the bodily translation of Trisanku to heaven.  Well aware of the sage's mighty powers and nasty temper, the invitees lent their support, and the yaga went on.  It reached the stage when the gods were invoked to descend and accept the offerings.  But no god came. It was clear that Viswamitra's yaga was a failure. And the rishis, who had attended the ceremony, laughed within themselves at Viswamitra's discomfiture.
     Wild with rage, Viswamitra held the ladle of ghee over the flames and said: "O! Trisanku, here behold my power.  I now transfer for your benefit all the merit I have earned. If my austerities have any value, they should lift you to heaven in your physical frame.  I care not if the Devas reject my offerings.  King Trisanku! Ascend!"
     Lo!  What a surprise!  Nay, it was a miracle!  The invitee rishis who, until a moment earlier were very merry at the failure of Viswamitra, were now gaping in utter disbelief the ascending of the  King Trisanku in his present form of a chandala and gliding towards heaven!   All the  worlds saw the power of Viswamitra's tapas with respect and awe.
     At last the king reached Swarga.  He stood there before the entry gate and was admiring the magnificent gate, and was wondering whether someone would come to receive him.  OH!  Devendra himself was coming out of the gate!  Trisanku's heart filled with immense pride and happiness.  When Indra neared him, Trisanku said with an extended hand "Hi!  I am King Trisanku!  Nice meeting you!  Hope we will have a swell time together ......  ..... ..... blah... blah....".
     Devendra's face was grim.  He ignored the extended hand and shouted at Trisanku "You! Pop-eyed, lop-eared son of a double barrel sea-cook!  How dare you tried to enter my place with that lousy body!".  He roughly turned Trisanku's body and gave a mighty kick on his ass!
Trisanku started falling towards earth as if he was diving into a swimming pool!  Trisanku was an excellent swimmer and a diver!  But he was not sure whether he would be diving into a pool of water.  He shuddered at the thought that he might dive into a mass of solid rock.  He, therefore, decided to cry out for help.  It took time for me to key in and for you to read all these thoughts of the king; but it took only a few nanoseconds for the king.  He, therefore, screamed  Viswamitra for help.  Viswamitra heard it!  Had he not heard the cry for help, Trisanku would most probably have dived into a mass of rock and gone to swarga, leaving the chandala body on earth.  And all that I have already keyed in in this regard would be a waste!  To avoid all this, He (I mean GOD) made Viswamitra hear the distress cry!  Now that Viswamitra heard the S.O.S. cry, he acted real fast.  He raised his right palm, like a traffic policeman and said loudly "STOP".  Lo!  Trisanku's body did stop, actually (no graphics here)!  Like lord Brahma, Viswamitra started creating another swarga for Trisanku with the powers he got from his tapas (தவபலம்).  
     Devendra and his cronies got jittery at seeing what Viswamitra was doing.  They rushed to Viswamitra and begged him saying "Let Trisanku stay where he is at present.  Let the other stars of your creation shine forever, like your own fame and honor. Control your anger and be friends with us."   Viswamitra was very shrewd (he was sure that he would be a loser if he was adamant).  He, therefore, agreed to the treaty. (No documents were signed, though).
     After everybody dispersed, Viswamitra found that his ascetic powers had dwindled to a pitiable level.  The powers gained by tapas seem to be similar to charging a battery.  When one starts using the powers, it will start to diminish.  Now he wanted to recharge the same to the full capacity.  He, therefore proceeded to Pushkara and resumed his austerities(meaning tapas).  For years the rigorous tapas continued, but once again as it was about to bear fruit, something happened to rouse his anger and he lost his balance and cursed his own sons.  Soon recovering himself, he firmly resolved never again to yield to anger.  I am not stating what happened, as it is absolutely irrelevant to our story.  However, the lesson here is that we should also resolve never again to yield to anger.
     He continued his tapas with all vigour and determination.  After very many years, it happened, like a dream.  Lord Brahma and his coterie of Devas appeared before him and declared him a 'real rishi'.  Viswamitra was not at all satisfied with the mere 'real rishi' title.  His aim was "Brahmarishi".  If 'Real rishi' is B.A., 'Brahmarishi' is Phd.  He, therefore, continued his tapas with reinforced vigour.  Devendra and Devas did not like it.  
     The Saptarishis created out of Brahma's thoughts, are perfect brahmarishis. They are often cited to be at par with the Devas in power and piety in the Puranas.  Therefore, if Viswamitra was elevated to the rank of Brahmarishi, he also would be equal to Devas in power and piety.  That is why they did not like him to become a Brahmarishi.  Petty minded  people!  Well! that is neither here nor there!  Let us get along with our story.
     Devas, therefore, sent one of their call-girls named Menaka to Viswamitra with instructions to spoil his tapas.  You know that Viswamitra was a king before becoming a rishi.  He had plenty of wives and very many sons.  A rishi is/was not a Sanyasi.  He, therefore, very well knew the bliss of a union with a pretty girl.  It is said that Maneka was not merely pretty; she was a ravishing, stunning and a knockout girl.  No wonder Viswamitra fell flat for her.  He resolved every night before sleeping (with his new-found cutie) that that would be the last night with her.  This went on for ten years.
     One fine(!?) morning,  he realised what he was doing.  He wasted ten precious years.  His entire body was shaking and trembling with mixed sentiments - shame, anger, etc.  Seeing him in this state, Menaka fell at his feet seeking his forgiveness.  As she was only carrying out the orders of her masters, he forgave her.
     Note: A female child was born to them.  She is the famous Shakuntala, mother of Bharat (that Bharat in 'India, that is Bharat' appearing in the Constitution of India).  As that part of the story is totally irrelevant to our story, I am not giving that.  If you want to know that story, read Mahakavi Kalidasa's Shakuntalam.
     The above is the picture showing Viswamitra was afraid to see his child because it may make him to forget his aim to get Brahmarishi honour.
     He was very sad to leave Menaka and their dear child.  But he had to get Brahmarishi honour.  He wended his way to the Himalayas to resume his broken tapas.
     There, in the icy cold atmosphere, he, controlling his senses (it is comparatively easy there, as senses, like other things would be frozen), he performed a rigorous tapas for THOUSAND years!?  Those who are enlightened, like me, would not be surprised to see the figure of "Thousand" preceding "years".  But there may be some readers who have not yet been enlightened in this regard.  I am duty-bound to enlighten even if there is only one reader who is not yet enlightened.  Let me tell you the anecdote wherein how and what I was enlightened.
     When I was a school kid, I, during a school vacation attended on one evening a discourse on some mythological story like Ramayana (I forgot which one) delivered by an erudite scholar, who was acknowledged as an authority on the subject.  During the course of his lecture, he mentioned that somebody (again I forgot who was that somebody) was doing some tapas for 'seventy thousand years'.  I immediately questioned the veracity of that.  None of the older audience seemed to like my intervention and they "hushed" me.  The scholar silenced all by raising his right palm.  He announced magnanimously that he was duty-bound to clear the doubts of even (looking at me) a worm.  He then asked me condescendingly, to repeat my point of doubt loudly so that everyone in the assembly can hear it.  I did.  With a supercilious smile he said "Before the discovery of Galileo or Bolileo, it was the SUN who was rotating the earth!  Earth, that is Bhoodevi is a woman who has borne numerous humans, animals, birds and other species, plants and trees, rivers and oceans, mountains and lands etc. is very heavy and therefore, cannot move fast!  Ipso facto she cannot move straight forward movement; she has to rotate herself and then move.  Whereas the Sun is a man.  He was not moving on foot when he was rotating the earth; he was using a chariot which was drawn by seven magnificent horses.  As Sun is the God for light, he was moving at a speed of light to the power of light.  You can imagine how fast it will be.  By the time Boomadevi rotates herself once, Sun would have rotated the earth very many times, two or three thousand, perhaps.   The present one day is equal to many thousand years then!  Is it clear to everyone?".
     Everyone (with a few exceptions, of course) shouted "Yes".  An old woman was telling her neighbours "That boy (that is me) does not know even this simple thing!  What is the use of his going to school?  He can go and fend goats and cows, instead."  I was sitting there silently with tears in my eyes.  However, I was very glad that I became wiser with some wonderful knowledge.
     Now back to Viswamitra.  Now that all my readers have become as wise as me in this regard, there will not be any raised eye-brows in future when reading 'years' in "thousands".
     It seems that any serious tapas would irritate the Devas. It was therefore quite natural that the devas were more irritated with the tapas of Viswamitra for thousand years.  They requested Lord Brahma to dispose of Viswamitra somehow.  Lord Brahma agreed and appeared before Viswamitra  and spoke to him thus sweetly: " I welcome you as a Maharishi, my son. Pleased with your soulful tapas, I confer on you that title and the sanctity it imports."
     Viswamitra sensed some hitch or trick there!  As I mentioned before, Viswamitra was very shrewd.  He requested Lord Brahma to give him a straitforward confirmation that the 'Maharishi' was a synonym for Brahmarishi.  Lord Brahma smiled and sighed and said "of course NOT my dear!  For that title you have to work very, very hard".  Before Viswamitra could absorb and analyse the meaning of his words, Lord Brahma vanished from the scene.
     Viswamitra was a very adamant guy.  Determined to get the highest honour viz. Brahmarishi, he launched another thousand years tapas.
     Devas do not like any kind of serious tapas.  Viswamitra's tapas was for getting Brahmarishi honour.  They deplore, despise and loathe a tapas for getting Brahmarishi title for the reason I have already explained.  Indra, this time asked Ramba, another call-girl of Swarga to distract Viswamitra.  Ramba is said to be a vivacious,  bewitching, tantalizing, attractive, glamorous and seductive lass. In other words a bombshell girl.  However, she was very much reluctant, because of the ugly temper of Viswamitra.  Indra promised her that no harm would come to her as she would be accompanied by the God of Love and the Spirit of Springtime for support.
     In spite of all the assurances given by Indra, she was not at all willing; but she had to obey the orders of her boss.  It was somewhat heartening for her to see that the forest blossomed into vernal beauty, and the south wind blew gently laden with the scent of flowers, and kokilas burst into song, when she approached the precincts of the hermitage of Viswamitra.  Love and Spring were both there to assist Beauty.  But Viswamitra was once bitten twice shy.  Indra did not take this into account.  Distracted by the sweet smell and musical voice, Viswamitra opened his eyes.  He saw the sweet, ebullient and trembling Ramba and understood everything.  He was thrown into an  uncontrollable temper and cursed the hapless chick to be frozen to an image of stone for ten thousand years.
     He then realized to his dismay that the anger consumed a lot of tapas-battery.  Sadly he quitted the Himalayan forests, and sought the solitude of the east.
     There, he restrained his breathing, gave up all thought of the things of the world, and performed tapas so stern that smoke and flames issued from his body and enveloped the universe.  When the hot flames started entering Satyaloka (the abode of Lord Brahma), Brahma came running to Viswamitra and cried "VISWAMITRAAAA!  STOP!  I pronounce you as BRAHMARISHI".
     Viswamitra said humbly "Sir, I would be pleased if Brahmarishi Vasishtha accepts me a Brahmarishi and calls me that".
     Vasishtha appeared before Viswamitra (like in our movies/TV Serials) and called him Brahmarishi.
     This is the story of Brahmarishi Viswamitra.
     We will see why he had come to Dasaratha in the next chapter.

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.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

1. The Begining

   वक्रतुंड महाकाय कोटिसूर्यसमप्रभ |
   निर्विघ्नं कुरु मे देव सर्वकार्येषु सर्वदा || ||
     O Lord Ganesha, of huge body with elephant head, shining like billions of suns, O God,  remove all obstacles from my endeavors, forever.
     Our story starts at Ayodhya which is on the banks of the river Sarayu.  Does it ring a bell in your head?  Right?  Yes, it is the very same Ayodhya where the Babri Masjit episode took place.  But our story took place long, long ago.  At that time no Babri Masjit was there.  There was no Ram Mandhir.  Why, there was no Ram either!  He is going to arrive in this chapter!
     At the time of our story, Ayodhya was the capitol of the great kingdom of Kosala.  One chap called Dasaratha was the king of that kingdom.  Subjects of the kingdom under his rule were talking about it that it was the best of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the epoch of belief,  it was the season of Light, it was the spring of hope, we had everything before us, we were all going direct to heaven, and so on and so forth.  Sounds like RamaRajyam?  Yes, of course!   Do you know what Bhagwan Shri Ram did when he succeeded to the throne?  He simply tweaked the rules here and there and claimed it as RamaRajyam!  It was virtually DasarathaRajyam and Shri Ram took the credit!  I agree that there is nothing wrong in the son taking credit for the work of his dad.  I merely stated the factual position.
     Oh! Hare Ram!  Someone is shouting something in my ears!  Hey!  Who is that?  Who?  Alter ego!  He says tha he is my alter ego!  What do you want?  What?  Oh!  He wants me to write what  the people of Ayodhya say about the present day government!  How the hell do I know?  I have never gone to Ayodhya!  What?  He says that it is the same as anywhere else in the country!  Okay!  If you say so.  What?  You want me to write it?  No, my dear AE!  It may offend the people in the helm of affairs.  You insist?  But I do not know.  You dictate and I type?  Okay!  I typed what my alter ego dictated.                     
    It is the worst of times, it is the age of foolishness, it is the epoch of  incredulity, it is the season of Darkness, it is the winter of despair, we had nothing before us, we all feel that HELL will certainly be better than this!
     At the start of our story King Dasaratha was quite old.  He had  no son.  He yearned for at least one.  He had three wives,  Kausalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra.  So, one for each wife would be splendid.   After very many thoughtful thoughts, he approached his guru, philosopher and guide, the great sage Vasishtha  and told him frankly "Sir, you know that as a young prince I was very handsome, extremely virile and strong.   As such I found that one wife was not sufficient for me.  Therefore, I married three beautiful princesses.  I did not like to be disturbed when I was with any of my wives.  I therefore followed family planning.  I agree that it was foolish.  I now want at least one son;  but  I found that I could  not procreate.   Nowadays I do not feel like sleeping with any of my wives.  I sleep in my chamber alone.    Please help me."  
     Maharishi Vasishtha thought for a while and said "Rajan! In those days I hinted that what you were doing was not correct, but as an immature youth you did not listen to me.  Anyhow there is no point in blaming the past faults now.  At the moment I have no solution.  But as every problem will have a solution, yours also should have one.  Let me consult my seniors, colleagues and other learned sages and get back to you as soon as possible.  Meanwhile, keep praying Bhagwan Mahavishnu".   With this the maharishi dismissed the king.
     While the maharishi Vashishta was thinking about the problem of the King, Lord Brahma in Satyaloka was being gheraod by all Devas lead by Devendra, their king.  
     Wait a minute.  Somebody is shouting in my ears!  Who is that?  You!  That is my dear alter ego, again!  What do you want?  Tell the readers about BramaPatram?  Thanks!  Will do.  He wants me  to tell you about 'Brahma Patram' which may have some role in our story.  It is like this:  The three great Godesses Parvathi, Mahalakshmi and Saraswathi formed a ladies club.  They only were/are the permanent members.  Others like Indrani, Valli, Devayani would be invited at the pleasure of any permanent member.  One day Godesses Parvathi and Mahalakshmi were teasing Godess Saraswathi.  Tulasi leaf was associated with Lord Mahavishnu and Bilva Patra was associated with Lord Siva.  No leaf was associated with Lord Brahma.  Goddess Saraswathi felt humiliated and therefore left abrubtly.  On reaching Satyaloka she demanded her husband why he did not have any leaf associated with him.  Lord Brahma asked her why she suddenly wanted to know that.  She told.  Lord Brahma thought for a while and did something.  Then he told his wife that he had just created one leaf associated with him.  That was called BrahmaPatram.  That would be used by almost all humans in the earth in any of the three ways viz.  burn it and inhale the smoke,  chew it, and  thirdly dry it and make a fine powder of it and inhale one or more pinches through their nose.  Once started, the habit would be very, very hard for him/her to give up.  Brahma Patram is called Tobacco in English language.  Godess Saraswathi became very happy.
     Now, back to the gherao.  The devas were accusing Lord Brahma that he granted boons left and right to the ten-headed rakshash king Ravana; that all his (God Brahma's)  four mouths were competing in granting boons to that rakshash.  That Rakshash had now become very, very powerful and was harassing them.  He stole the Pushpaka Vimanam from Kuberan.  They were absolutely powerless to fight him.  They ran away when they see him.   They learnt that he was planning to dethrone Indira.  They requested Brahma to do something to have him killed.
     Lord Brahma pondered for a while and said "Dear Devendra, dear Devas it is true that I granted him all the boons he wanted.  I had to.  His penances were so powerful, strong and forceful that if I refused to grant any of the boons he wanted,  well you all know what will happen to me then.  Ah!  There is silver lining!  He wanted protection from all except human beings.  Obviously he  thought that humans were so puny and therefore there would absolutely be no threat from them.  That is it!  A human will have to kill him!  Lord Mahavishnu is slated to kill him. (see the BLOG ).  For that He has to be born as a human!  I therefore, suggest you all go to Him for a solution".  The gherao was then lifted and all the gheraoers started going to Vaikundam.  Lord Brahma patted himself for his clever extrication from the gheroa.
     Vaikundam was not so open to all, even to Devendra.  There was heavy and tight security.  One had to clear seven security gates.  Only Devendra was allowed inside, that too after very prolonged arguments, persuasions, altercations and wranglings with the security people at all the seven gates.  In the sanctum sanctorum, Devendra saw Mahavishnu sleeping!  His consort Goddess Mahalakshmi indicated him to sit and went inside.  Therefore there was only one thing Devendra could do and he did that!  That is he fell on his knees and started praying silently Lord Vishnu with folded hands.   After some time Lord Mahavisnu opened his eyes and looked at Devendra and asked with twinkling  eyes "To what am I indebted to the honour of this visit, Devendra?".  Devendran fell flat on his face (i.e. ஷாஷ்டாங்க நமஸ்காரம்) and said between weeps "Sir, you know very well why I have come to you".  Bhagwan said "As soon as I wake up, my wife would give me a cup of hot steaming coffee; she has never taken so much time as of now!  Without coffee I could not think anything!".  Then He shouted "Lakshmi!  I am awake!  Where is my coffee?  Devendran is here.  Please bring one cup for him, too".  The next moment Goddess Lakshmi appeared with two cups of steaming hot coffee!  She said "I am very sorry my dear!  Milk was exhausted.  I sent for Kamadenu, but she was servicing your sister.  Hence the delay."  Bhagwan nodded and said "That is okay, my darling" and took one cup.  Goddess Lakshmi offered the other to Devendran.  He took the same, sipped and exclaimed  "What a delicious drink!  This is tastier than Amrit!(அமிர்தம்)  What is it called?".
     "Coffee" said Goddess Lakshmi.
     "Where from did you get it?".
     "Which part of Bhulok?" asked Devendran.
     Goddess Lakshmi smiled and asked him why he wanted to know it.
     "I want to get some for myself and my family" said Devendran.
     Goddess Lakshmi smiled again and said "Devendra!  It is not available now.  One has to travel to the future.  Almost to the end of Kaliuga.  You are not authorised time travel.  So forget coffee".
     Devendran almost said "Shit!" but controlled himself.  He then finished his coffee and smacked his lips and started telling his travails.  He then noticed a beautiful Apsaras in front of him.  She smiled at him, cleared the coffee cups and started going inside.  Devendran started ogling at her.  Bhagwan said in a loud voice "Devendra!  It seems you have forgotten Ahalya episode! (See Ahalya ) Would you like everyone see all your real eyes?".
     Devendran fell flat, face facing down,(i.e.ஷாஷ்டாங்க நமஸ்காரம்) before the God and said "Bhagwan!  Please pardon me!  Such a thing will not happen again, I promise".
     Bhagwan said "Okay!  Get up.  Remember, if you repeat it, then what I said will happen.  Now tell me why have you come to me.".
     He told Bhagwan his woes.  Bhagwan thought for a while and sent for Dhanvandhri.  Bhagwan asked him whether the 'Puthrakameshti Layheum' was ready.  Dhanvandhri replied that it was almost ready and would be fully ready within a few days.  Bhagwan said "I told you to get it ready quite sometime ago.  Why is it not ready yet?".
     Dhanvandhri said "Sir, it was actually ready a few days ago.  One of my bright assistants suggested that by adding Sildenafil citrate, the efficacy of the paste would be vastly increased.  I should have thought it myself.  It was a brilliant suggestion.  We added that and the new paste is under test;  actually the test was complete and I was examining the reports.  I have studied 80 out of the one hundred test cases reports; they are very promising.  When I was about to study the 81st report, your call came".   Bhagwan noded and said "Well!  Make sure that it is ready within a couple of days.  King Dhasaratha will be performing Puthrakameshti Yagam in a few days.  I, along with Aadhi Seshan, Sangu and Chakra will be born to him.  Make three units of the Layheum and have it given to the King Dhasaratha through one of your deputies who will raise from the yaga fire and hand over the leyheum to the king with suitable instructions".
     Dhanvanthri seemed to be somewhat confused.  He asked Bhagwan "Sir,  I beg thousand pardons!  I thought you said you will be born to the King as four sons whereas you asked me to give only three units of the Leyheum.  Should it not be four units?".
     "No.  I said THREE units.  You do exactly what I tell you.  I will manipulate the rest."  said Bhagwan.  Dhanvanthri was then dismissed.  Bhagwan then turned to Devendran and said "King Dasaratha has already consulted Maharishi Vasishta about begetting son(s) for him.  Tell the Maharishi to advise the king to perform Puthrakameshti Yagam.  In the meanwhile tell your cronies to be born as monkeys in Kiskindha.  They will be fighting the Rakshasas under my command."
     "What about me, Sir?" asked Devendran.
     "I think there is no need.  It seems that you have not seen your face in a mirror" smiled the Lord.  He then nodded for Devendra's dismissal. 
     As advised by Maharishi Vashishta, King Dasaratha performed the Puthrakameshti Yagam in a grand scale.  As directed, one of the deputies of Dhanvanthri appeared from the flame of the yagam.   He actually wanted to be an actor; but his parents overruled him and admitted him as an apprentice to Dhanvanthri.  He accepted his fate and learned the job as best as he could and now he had become a deputy to Dhanvanthri.  However, he could not forget his ambition to become an actor and whenever an opportunity presents he showed his acting talents which was by no means less commendable than a very famous and highly talented actor of that time!  For that very reason he was chosen for this job.  He came out of the yaga flame as majestically as an emperor.  He was holding the golden bowl containing the paste for progeny.  He boomed out loudly like a thunder the name of the king Dhasaratha and said "The Devas are pleased with you and are answering your prayer.  Here is the progeny paste sent by the gods for you.  Mix one-third of it with cow's milk and give half of it to your first wife at bedtime and take the other half yourself.  You will find that the night would be highly pleasant.  Repeat this on the second and third day, I mean night, with your other two wives.  Remember this.  Not a speck of this or the milk in which this was mixed should fall on the ground.  If that happens then the result would be catastrophic.  Good Luck!" and vanished, of course after handing over the bowl of progeny paste to he King Dasaratha.
     King Dasaratha took the bowl and kept it safely in his chamber at a very safe place.  He then ordered extra security for his chamber.  Next morning he sent word to his first queen Kausalya that he will have dinner with her in her chamber and sleep there afterwords.   In spite of the fact that it was mid summer, he conveyed to her prime queen that he would have an early dinner.  He could not wait.  Much earlier than the dinner time (i.e. than the advanced dinner time) he went to his chamber took the bowl and took a third of the paste and mixed carefully with milk in a cup, poured half of it in an another cup and went to the queen Kausalya's chamber.  He himself carried both the cups - he did not trust any servant, as he was afraid that the servant may drop a cup or spill some milk inadvertently.  Queen Kausalya was very much surprised, but was very happy and highly pleased.  After dinner, he gave one cup of milk mixed with the progeny paste to his wife and drank the other himself.  That night was most pleasant for Dasaratha as well as for his wife Kausalya.
     Next turn was queen Kaikeyi's.  She was all agog.  She started her preparations right from the time she got up.  She completely reorganized her chamber.  Even as a child she had a flair for interior decorations.  She meticulously chose the items for the forthcoming dinner and gave very elaborate instructions to the cook.  She fixed the time for dinner an hour earlier than the previous day and informed the king accordingly.  Unfortunately in the evening just before the revised dinner time, an emergency arose and the king had to convene his cabinet, discuss the problem thoroughly, examine all pros and cons carefully and pass suitable orders.   King Dasaratha was nothing like the present day CMs, PMs, Presidents etc.  Welfare of his kingdom precedes everything including personal matters.  If he was to choose between welfare of his kingdom and a son he yearned so much, he, without any second thought, would have chosen welfare of his kingdom.  It took quite a long time to decide the course of action and pass orders accordingly.  In the meanwhile queen Kaikeyi was fuming and fretting.  When the time was past the usual dinner time Kaikeyi made a vow that she would make the old goat suffer for this.  After sometime she made another vow that she would make the son of the Queen Kausalya suffer, too, for the reason that the king showed so much affection to her and very partial to her(i.e. Kaykeyi).  It was quite late when the king entered queen Kaikeyi's chamber.  Dasaratha was offering profuse apologies.  But queen Kaikeyi was not in a mood to listen to any explanations.    Not a word was spoken during dinner.  The king offered silently the cup of milk with the progeny paste.  The queen took it and drank it silently.  The night was quite satisfactory.  Nevertheless the king was feeling uneasy and could not sleep well.    He got up much earlier than dawn.  He silently went to the other side of the bed and peered at the face of his queen.  She was sleeping soundly - may be she was pretending!  He quickly went out and to his own chamber and slept peacefully there for a while.
     Next day (I mean night) was that of queen Sumitra.  That night was very satisfactory for both the king and Sumitra.
     After returning to his chamber from Sumitra's in the morning, he checked the bowl in which the paste was given to him to ensure that it was absolutely clean.  The king was very much surprised to find that there was some paste left in the bowl.  He thought for a while and smiled to himself.  He kept back the bowl in the safe place.
     Just before dinner time the king completely cleared the remaining paste into a cup of milk.  He checked and double checked that not even a speck of the paste was left in the bowl.  With a smile he entered the chamber of Sumitra with the cup of milk.  Sumitra was mightily surprised and was very happy.   After dinner, the cup of milk was shared and then the bed.  In the next morning the king thought that the previous night was the best night in his life.
     In due course of time all the three queens were declared pregnant.  The king was ecstatic, naturally.  Not only the king but the whole kingdom of Kosala was very happy.  All the people were anxiously awaiting the birth of their princes, they knew that all the babies would be princes (not princesses or princess and prince mixture) because they all knew of the yaga and the paste in the golden bowl.  After waiting for about ten months (it was same as now) their four princes came to this world.  Queen Kausalya's son was named Rama - the Hero of our story, queen Kaikeyi's son was named Bharatha (the 'Bharat' referred to in 'India, that is Bharat' in para 1 Part I of the Constitution of India, is NOT this Bharatha but entirely a different one not at all connected with our story).  Queen Sumitra's sons (yeah, twins - because of the two successive nights with the progeny paste) were named Lakshmana and Satrughna.
     Long live the King!  Long live the Princes!!