|Sages,Rushis & Saints
|Biographies of Great
Indians & Hindus
Shall Guide the Sacrificial Rite"
At this time a new development took place.
Trishanku was a king of lkshwaku dynasty. He desired to purify himself of his sins and go
to heaven in his earthly body itself. Vashishta was his family Guru. He went to
Vashishta and sought his help to attain his desire. But Vashishta replied,
"Trishanku, no one can attain heaven in this earthly body," and refused to guide
the sacrificial rite to achieve such an impossible goal.
Trishanku felt very sad, but could not get rid of his desire. He left Vashishta's
hermitage and set out in a southerly direction. There, in a forest, a hundred sons of
Vashishta had settled down for penance. Trishanku hoped that these sages might help him in
fulfilling his desire. He went to them and explained his plight and then requested them
thus: "After Vashishta, you his sons are the only guides I can look to. Kindly help
me." Vashishta's sons laughed at him in derision and said, "What our father has
refused, cannot be granted by us also."
Trishanku was angered by their derisive laughter. He stood erect and said - "if you
and your father refuse to help me out, can I not find someone to do it? I will get the'
help from someone else and perform the necessary sacrificial rite." This bold reply
piqued the sons of Vashishta. They said, "Because you have turned a traitor to your
Guru, You shall become a 'Chandala'." Immediately king Trishanku lost his color and
beauty. He became black, his hair became rough and he indeed became a 'Chandala'. His
followers and ministers left him in disgust. Trishanku's grief knew no bounds.
Still his courage did not desert him. He moved further south and found Vishwamitra
performing penance. He was elated by this good luck and approached Vishwamitra, with
Long ago rains had failed in the country. Great famine had appeared and people were
starved to death. Vashishta had gone away for performing the penance. His wives and
children were residing in the kingdom of Trishanku. He had himself looked after the
welfare of Vishwamitra's family members. When Vishwamitra returned home he learnt about
the great famine and was worried about the fate of his wives and children. When he came to
know that they were safe and that Trishanku had taken care of them he
was immensely pleased.
Though Trishanku had become ugly, Vishwamitra addressed him with sympathy and kindness. He
asked, "0 King, how did this happen to you?"
Trishanku explained his plight in detail, and finally prayed thus: "0 sage, I have
never uttered falsehood. I have ruled over the people according to Dharma. But now there
is none to protect me. Can we not please gods by human effort? If it pleases you, help me
and see that I attain heaven in this human body itself."
Realizing the great hardships that Trishanku had undergone, Vishwamitra was very kind.
"Trishanku, do not worry
yourself. I will guide your sacrificial rite," he assured. Vishwamitra had another
aim in helping Trishanku. Vashishta had refused to guide the sacrificial rite, which he
now get performed and thereby put Vashishta to shame and embarrassment.
At once Vishwamitra called his disciples and followers and told them thus, "You go
round and meet all the sages. Tell them that I invite them to take part in this
sacrificial rite along with their disciples and followers. It any one refuses, come and
inform me." They went out in all, the directions with this message and invited all
the sages they knew and came across. Among these, only one sage by name Mahodaya and the
hundred sons of Vashishta derided the sacrificial rite to be guided by Vishwamitra. They
laughed at his disciples and followers. "Ah! A sacrifice is being performed by a
'Chandala'! How will gods receive the 'Havis' (offering)? Can you believe it - can this
windbag Vishwamitra send Trishanku to heaven?" and similar were the taunts with which
they derided Vishwamitra and his decision.
When the disciples returned with these reports, Vishwamitra was extremely angered. He
cursed sage Mahodaya to perdition for having derided the sacrificial rite undertaken by
Trishanku. And to sons of Vashishta his curse was - "Let them be burnt down to
ashes." As a result of these curses, Mahodaya was ruined and Vashishta's sons were
burnt to ashes.
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