Sunday, November 3, 2013

Vasishtha Vs Vishvamitra

Janamejaya said,

  1. "Why is the current of (the tirtha known by the name of) Vasishthapavaha so rapid?
  2.  For what reason did the foremost of rivers bear away Vasishtha? 
  3. What, O lord, was the cause of the dispute between Vasishtha and Vishvamitra? 

Questioned by me, O thou of great wisdom, tell me all this! I am never satiated with hearing thee!"

Vaishampayana said,

 "A great enmity arose between Vishvamitra and Vasishtha, O Bharata, due to their rivalry in respect of ascetic austerities. The high abode of Vasishtha was in the tirtha called Sthanu on the eastern bank of the Sarasvati. On the opposite bank was the asylum of the intelligent Vishvamitra. There, in that tirtha, O monarch, Sthanu (Mahadeva) had practised the austerest penances. Sages still speak of those fierce feats. Having performed a sacrifice there and worshipped the river Sarasvati, Sthanu established that tirtha there. Hence it is known by the name Sthanu-tirtha, O lord. In that tirtha, the celestials had, in days of yore, O king, installed Skanda, that slayer of the enemies of the gods, in the supreme command of their army.

Unto that tirtha of the Sarasvati, the great Rishi Vishvamitra, by the aid of his austere penances, brought Vasishtha. Listen to that history. The two ascetics Vishvamitra and Vasishtha, O Bharata, every day challenged each other very earnestly in respect of the superiority of their penances. The great Muni Vishvamitra, burning (with jealousy) at sight of the energy of Vasishtha, began to reflect on the matter. Though devoted to the performance of his duties, this, however, is the resolution, O Bharata, that he formed:

'This Sarasvati shall quickly bring, by force of her current, that foremost of ascetics, Vasishtha, to my presence. After he shall have been brought hither, I shall, without doubt, slay that foremost of regenerate ones.' Having settled this, the illustrious and great Rishi Vishvamitra with eyes red in wrath, thought of that foremost of rivers. Thus remembered by the ascetic, she became exceedingly agitated. The fair lady, however, repaired to that Rishi of great energy and great wrath. Pale and trembling, Sarasvati, with joined hands appeared before that foremost of sages. Indeed, the lady was much afflicted with grief, even like a woman who has lost her mighty lord. And she said unto that best of sages, 'Tell me what is there that I shall do for thee.'

Filled with rage, the ascetic said unto her, 'Bring hither Vasishtha without delay, so that I may slay him.' Hearing these words the river became agitated. With joined hands the lotus-eyed lady began to tremble exceedingly in fear like a creeper shaken by the wind. Beholding the great river in that plight, the ascetic said unto her, 'Without any scruple, bring Vasishtha unto my presence!' Hearing these words of his, and knowing the evil he intended to do, and acquainted also with the prowess of Vasishtha that was unrivalled on earth, she repaired to Vasishtha and informed him of what the intelligent Vishvamitra had said unto her. Fearing the curse of both, she trembled repeatedly. Indeed, her heart was on the grievous curse (that either of them might pronounce on her). She stood in terror of both. Seeing her pale and plunged in anxiety, the righteous-souled Vasishtha, that foremost of men, O king, said these words unto her.

"Vasishtha said, 'O foremost of rivers, save thyself! O thou of rapid current, bear me away, otherwise Vishvamitra will curse thee. Do not feel any scruple.' Hearing these words of that compassionate Rishi, the river began to think, O Kauravya, as to what course would be best for her to follow. Even these were the thoughts that arose in her mind: 'Vasishtha showeth great compassion for me. It is proper for me that I should serve him.' Beholding then that best of Rishis, (Vasishtha) engaged in silent recitation (of mantras) on her bank, and seeing Kusika's son (Vishvamitra) also engaged in homa, Sarasvati thought, 'Even this is my opportunity.' Then that foremost of rivers, by her current, washed away one of her banks. In washing away that bank, she bore Vasishtha away. While being borne away, O king, Vasishtha praised the river in these words:

'From the Grandsire's (manasa) lake thou hast taken thy rise, O Sarasvati! 
This whole universe is filled with thy excellent waters! 
Wending through the firmament, O goddess, thou impartest thy waters to the clouds! 
All the waters are thee! 
Through thee we exercise our thinking faculties! 
Thou art Pushti and Dyuti, Kirti, and Siddhi and Uma! 
Thou art Speech, and thou art Svaha! 
This whole universe is dependent on thee! It is thou that dwellest in all creatures, in four forms!' 

Thus praised by that great Rishi, Sarasvati, O king, speedily bore that Brahmana towards the asylum of Vishvamitra and repeatedly represented unto the latter the arrival of the former. Beholding Vasishtha thus brought before him by Sarasvati, Vishvamitra, filled with rage, began to look for a weapon wherewith to slay that brahmana. Seeing him filled with wrath, the river from fear of (witnessing and aiding in) a brahmana's slaughter, quickly bore Vasishtha away to her eastern bank once more. She thus obeyed the words of both, although she deceived the son of Gadhi by her act. Seeing that best of Rishis, Vasishtha, borne away, the vindictive Vishvamitra, filled with wrath, addressed Sarasvati. saying, 'Since, O foremost of rivers, thou hast gone away, having deceived me, let thy current be changed into blood that is acceptable to Rakshasas.' Then, cursed by the intelligent Vishvamitra, Sarasvati flowed for a whole year, bearing blood mixed with water. The gods, the Gandharvas, and the Apsaras, beholding the Sarasvati reduced to that plight, became filled with great sorrow. For this reason, O king, the tirtha came to be called Vasishthapravaha on earth. The foremost of rivers, however, once more got back her own proper condition."

Vaishampayana said, "Cursed by the intelligent Vishvamitra in anger, Sarasvati, in that auspicious and best of tirthas, flowed, bearing blood in her current. Then, O king, many Rakshasas came, O Bharata, and lived happily there, drinking the blood that flowed. Exceedingly gratified with that blood, cheerfully and without anxiety of any kind, they danced and laughed there like persons that have (by merit) attained to heaven. After some time had passed away, some Rishis, possessed of wealth of asceticism, came to the Sarasvati, O king, on a sojourn to her tirthas. Those foremost of Munis, having bathed in all the tirthas and obtained great happiness, became desirous of acquiring more merit. Those learned persons at last came, O king, to that tirtha where the Sarasvati ran a bloody current. Those highly blessed ones, arriving at that frightful tirtha, saw the water of the Sarasvati mixed with blood and that innumerable Rakshasas, O monarch, were drinking it. Beholding those Rakshasas, O king, those ascetics of rigid vows made great endeavours for rescuing the Sarasvati from that plight. Those blessed ones of high vows, arrived there, invoked that foremost of rivers and said these words unto her, 'Tell us the reason, O auspicious lady, why this lake in thee hath been afflicted with such distress Hearing it, we shall endeavour (to restore it to its proper condition).' Thus questioned, Sarasvati, trembling as she spoke, informed them of everything that had occurred. Seeing her afflicted with woe, those ascetics said, 'We have heard the reason. We have heard of thy curse, O sinless lady! All of us shall exert ourselves!' Having said these words unto that foremost of rivers, they then consulted with one another thus, 'All of us shall emancipate Sarasvati from her curse.' Then all those Brahmanas, O king, worshipping Mahadeva, that lord of the universe and protector of all creatures, with penance and vows and fasts and diverse kinds of abstinences and painful observances, emancipated that foremost of rivers, the divine Sarasvati.

Beholding the water of Sarasvati purified by those Munis, the Rakshasas (that had taken up their abode there), afflicted with hunger, sought the protection of those Munis themselves. Afflicted with hunger, the Rakshasas, with joined hands, repeatedly said unto those ascetics filled with compassion, these words, 'All of us are hungry! We have swerved from eternal virtue! That we are sinful in behaviour is not of our free will! Through the absence of your, grace and through our own evil acts, as also through the sexual sins of our women, our demerits increase and we have become Brahma-Rakshasas! So amongst Vaisyas and Sudras, and Kshatriyas, those that hate and injure Brahmanas became Rakshasas. Ye best of Brahmanas, make arrangements then for our relief! Ye are competent to relieve all the worlds!' Hearing these words of theirs, those ascetics praised the great river. For the rescue of those Rakshasas, with rapt minds those ascetics said, 'The food over which one sneezed, that in which there are worms and insects, that which may be mixed with any leavings of dishes, that which is mixed with hair, that which is mixed with tears, that which is trodden upon shall form the portion of these Rakshasas! The learned man, knowing all this, shall carefully avoid these kinds of food. He that shall take such food shall be regarded as eating the food of Rakshasas!' Having purified the tirtha in this way, those ascetics thus solicited that river for the relief of those Rakshasas. Understanding the views of those great Rishis, that foremost of rivers caused her body, O bull among men, to assume a new shape called Aruna. Bathing in that new river (a branch of the Sarasvati) the Rakshasas cast off their bodies and went to heaven. Ascertaining all this, the chief of the celestials, (Indra of a hundred sacrifices), bathed in that foremost of tirthas and became cleansed of a grievous sin."

Janamejaya said,

  1. "For what reason was Indra tainted with the sin of Brahmanicide? 
  2. How also did he become cleansed by bathing in that tirtha?" 

Vaishampayana said,

"Listen to that history, O ruler of men! Hear of those occurrences as they happened! Hear how Vasava, in days of yore, broke his treaty with Namuchi! The Asura Namuchi, from fear of Vasava, had entered a ray of the Sun. Indra then made friends with Namuchi and entered into a covenant with him, saying, 'O foremost of Asuras, I shall not slay thee, O friend, with anything that is wet or with anything that is dry! I shall not slay thee in the night or in the day! I swear this to thee by truth. Having made this covenant, the lord Indra one day beheld a fog. He then, O king, cut off Namuchi's head, using the foam of water (as his weapon). The severed head of Namuchi thereupon pursued Indra from behind, saying unto him from a near point these words, 'O slayer of a friend, O wretch!' Urged on incessantly by that head, Indra repaired to the Grandsire and informed him, in grief, of what had occurred. The Supreme Lord of the universe said unto him, 'Performing a sacrifice, bathe with due rites, O chief of the celestials, in Aruna, that tirtha which saveth from the fear of sin! The water of that river, O Shakra, hath been made sacred by the Munis! Formerly the presence of that river at its site was concealed. The divine Sarasvati repaired to the Aruna, and flooded it with her waters. This confluence of Sarasvati and Aruna is highly sacred! Thither, O chief of the celestials, perform a sacrifice! Give away gifts in profusion! Performing thy ablutions there, thou shall be freed from thy sin.' Thus addressed, Shakra, at these words of Brahma, O Janamejaya, performed in that abode of Sarasvati diverse sacrifices. Giving away many gifts and bathing in that tirtha, he of a hundred sacrifices, the piercer of Vala, duly performed certain sacrifices and then plunged in the Aruna. He became freed from the sin arising out of the slaughter of a Brahmana. The lord of heaven then returned to heaven with a joyful heart. The head of Namuchi also fell into that stream, O Bharata, and the Asura obtained many eternal regions, O best of kings, that granted every wish."


Brigit's Forge


Sacred Wind