The Tale of Vishwamitra - Vasishta - Kamadhenu
The Tale of Vishwamitra - Vasishta - Kamadhenu was narrated by Guruji Sri Narendra Babu Sharmaji in his Sandhya Vandane programme which is telecasted in the evenings. This Tale was told two to three times in SandhyaVandane programme by Guruji.
Brahmarishi Vishwamitra is one of the most respected and revered Rishis in ancient India. He is also renowned as the author of the most of the `Mandala` in the Rigveda, including Gayatri Mantra. The Puranas mention only twenty-four Rishis had completely understood the meaning of Gayatri Mantra and thus exerted the whole power of the Gayatri Mantra. Sage Vishwamitra was the first among those rishis and sage Yajnavalkya was the last.
Vishwamitra was the king in his early life and was known as Kaushika, the descendent of kusha dynasty. One of the four sons of Kusha was Kushanubha, who performed the sacrifice called `Puthrakameshti` and had a son named Gadhi. Kaushika or Vishwamitra was the son of King Gadhi.
Kaushika enthroned his father's kingdom after his father Gadhi. He was an expert ruler. Kaushik was very popular among his subjects. Once he had a tour in his kingdom, listening to the complaints of his subjects and advising them the probable remedies.
Once, Vishwamitra and his soldiers took shelter in the Ashram of Rishi Vasishta. Vasishta took well care of his large army and fed them well. Vishwamitra was surprised how it was possible for a sage to take care and made all arrangements to feed such a large army.Vishwamitra wanted to know the mystery from Vasishta. Vashita replied that he had a divine calf Nandini, gifted by Indra. Nandini was the daughter of Indra's cow Kamdhenu. She provided Vasishta with all that he needed.
Vishwamitra or Kaushika was overwhelmed to know the truth. He decided to possess that cow as he thought that a humble sage like Vasishta did not need it much. Vishwamitra expressed his desire to sage Vasishta. Vasishta refused the proposal in a polite but steadfast manner. The king was extremely angry. He insulted Brahmarishi Vasishta with coarse words. Vishwamitra ordered his army to seize the cow and drive it to his kingdom. Vasishta to encounter them created an army of fierce warrior with his yogic power. They fought the army of Vishwamitra and defeated them. Kaushika was imprisoned in the war and presented before Vasishta but the Brahmarishi forgave him and released him with words of advice.
This incident made a deep impression on King Kaushika. He realized that power gained by penances is much greater than the physical power of a king. He resolved to be a greater Rishi than Sage Vasishta and renounced his kingdom. Kaushika then took the name Vishwamitra.
He did severe penance, tapasya and meditation and obtained great yogic powers. Indra, the head of the celestials, got frightened, thinking that Viswamitra might attempt to occupy his throne by his powers, sent a beautiful celestial nymph named Apsara Menaka to lure him and break his meditation. Viswamitra fell victim to passion and a female child named Shakuntala was born to them. This Shakuntala had a son named Bharata, who later became the emperor and India was named after him "Bharat". Viswamitra soon realized that lust had consumed all his yogic powers. He renounced Menaka and the child and once more started deep meditation.
Viswamitra attained now higher spiritual powers. Indira once again sent another celestial nymph named Rambha , who tried to entice Viswamitra. Vishwamitra's meditation was broken. Being aware of his past mistake, he became very angry on Rambha, and he uttered a curse, which turned her into a rock. But alas, Viswamitra consumed all his yogic powers in a moment of anger. First lust and now anger made him loose all his yogic powers.
Indefatigable, he went higher in Himalayas and started doing severe tapasya (penance). He ceased to eat and drink and reduced even breathing to a bare minimum. Indra took Kaushika's test and came in the guise of a poor Brahamin who came and beg for food, as Kaushika was ready to break his fast after many years by eating some rice. Kaushika readily gave his food to the beggar and resumed his meditation. Finally Kaushika was able to master his passions and became the Brahmarishi without being provoked by any of Indra's testing and seductive hindrances.
At the climax, Kaushika completed his multi-thousand years journey by attainment of great Yogic power. This time Lord Brahma, the head of Devas named Kaushika a Brahmarishi and also named him Vishwamitra, meaning "friend of all". Vasishta embraced Vishwamitra and their enmity was instantly ended.