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Epic Power

The genesis of Sage Vishvamitra

In part ten, Sage Vishvamitra recounts the storied history of his family – a tale of virtue, valour, spite, misfortune, divine intervention and redemption

Narrating his family history on his own and later through Sage Shatananda, Sage Vishvamitra commenced: "Once upon a time there was righteous king by the name of Kusha. He begot through his wife, the Princess of Vidarbha, four mighty sons namely, Kushambha, Kushanabha, Adhoortarajasa and Vsuvu. Kusha told his sons who were known for their formidable heroism, courage and valour to establish their own rulership. They accordingly identified places suitable to their dispositions and established their kingdoms. Kushambha built Kaushambhi, Kushanabha built Mahodaya, Adhoortarajasa built Dharmaranya and Vsuvu built Girivraja cities and made them as their capitals. This is the place where we are now, a place that was known as the 'Land of Virtue'. The city of Girivraja is surrounded by five huge mountains. The river Shona that originated in Magadha flows amidst five of these elevated huge mountains. It flows towards the west. Meanwhile, Kushanabha after marrying Ghrutachi gave birth to a hundred daughters.

Story of Kushanabha's daughters

The hundred daughters of Kushanabha after attaining youthfulness went to their gardens and moved around jubilantly, singing and dancing at their free will. On seeing these beautiful girls, the wind god desired all of them to become his wives. The girls laughed at his proposal and ridiculed him. They told him "We are the daughters of Kushanabha. If he comes to know about your advances on us, he will certainly kill you. Better you leave the place before he knows about you. Our father is our lord and knows what is the ultimate good for us. To whomever he offers us, we will marry him. He will be our husband."

Insulted, the powerful wind god proceeded to disfigure the maidens without mercy. They entered the palace chambers with disfigured bodies, embarrassed and humiliated by their ordeal. Devastated, their father enquired as to who was responsible for their fate.

The plight of Kushanabha's daughters

All hundred daughters touched Kushanabha's feet and said "It was the all prevalent wind god who was responsible for dishonouring us. When he proclaimed that he would marry us, we replied that he should ask our father for such permission as the decision of our father holds the greatest weight. He refused to take note of what we said to him and took offence, harming us in retaliation. Kushanabha admired his daughters for forgiving the wind god and for not cursing him for their ill fate.

Later, Kushanabha started thinking of a strategy to get his daughters married. At about the same time, a great sage named Chuli was performing penance, being served by Somada, daughter of Urmila, a spiritual woman.

The story of Brahma Datta

After some years, Chuli, having been satisfied with the services of Somada magnanimously spoke to her and enquired about her cherished wish that he could fulfil. Delighted with this promise, Somada requested that she be gifted with a righteous son who will possess spirituality equivalent to that of Lord Brahma. Responding to her request, Chuli bestowed upon her a unique and Brahma-like son who came to be known as Brahma Datta. Somada's son Brahma Datta ruled from a city called Kampilya. Kushanabha got all his hundred daughters to marry Brahma Datta. When Brahma Datta touched his wives, they immediately regained their earlier beauty. Kushambha became joyful in gratitude and the place where the daughters lived came to be known as Kanya kubjam. It is now known as Kanauji.

Gadhi, the father of Sage Vishvamitra

After his marriage to Kushanabha's hundred daughters, Brahma Datta left for his own palace with his wives. Then, Kushanabha performed a Vedic ritual to beget a son. During the course of the ritual, Kusha, the father of Kushanabha appeared and told his son that, he will have a highly virtuous son who will be known as Gadhi through whom his bloodline will achieve everlasting fame and name.

Accordingly, Kushanabha had a righteous son named Gadhi. Vishvamitra told Rama that righteous Gadhi was his father and since he was born in Kusha dynasty, he came to be known as Kaushik.

Vishvamitra further said that "Ramachandra! I became famous not only due to my efforts but also due to my sister Satyavathi who undertook benevolent vows and who was married to Sage Ruchika. She went to heaven with her body following her husband and later she coursed as a great river known as Kaushiki taking recourse to Mountain Himalayas. Out of love and affection to her, I reside in the mountains of Himalayas. This river now is known as Kusi. Though I am not supposed to narrate about my own greatness, I had to reveal all that since you had asked for it."

Sri Rama queries Vishvamitra on River Ganga

On staying the night on the bank of River Shona, Vishvamitra got up early in the morning and woke up Rama and Lakshmana. They then crossed the River Shona and by mid-day reached the banks of River Ganga. On seeing the sacred river, all in company were delighted. After having a holy bath in the River and after offering prayers to the river, all the sages and also Rama and Lakshmana surrounded Sage Vishvamitra and conversed with the sage.

Sage Vishvamitra commenced narrating the story of origin, emergence and evolution of River Ganga or Ganges. He said that, "there is no one who is not aware of the famous Mount Himalaya. Himavantha married the charming daughter of Mount Meru, namely Mena and gave birth to pair of beautiful daughters. The eldest was named Ganga and the younger one, Uma. While they were in the process of growing up, the Devatas approached Himavantha with a request to spare one way of the Ganga who was destined to become a three-way travelling river. Conceding to their request, the righteous thinking Himavantha conceded her daughter as desired by the Devatas. They welcomed Ganga and returned to heaven fetching Ganga, who was capable of travelling through the skyways by her own power. The younger daughter Uma performed a rigorous ritual-penance after which she was got married to Lord Shiva.

Thus, both the daughters of Himavantha, Ganga and Uma who were highly revered by the world became the wives of Lord Shiva. River Ganga ascended the abode of divinities and came to be known as Devganga".

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