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.


  1. Thanks for enlightening me as to how Sun rotted around earth at a speed of light to the power of the speed of light and thus one day now was several thousand years before Galileo!

  2. good job finally learnt good things from you