Essence Of Skanda Purana


Birth of Viswamitra, cause of his rivalry with Vasishtha and his curse to Saraswati

Pursuant to Indra’s boon to Himalaya’s son to Raktashringa [See the reference of the ‘Origin of Nagara’ afore-mentioned] that Chamatkarpuri would be donated to Vidwan Brahmanas, the Township banished one of the Brahmanas called Chanda Sharma because of difference of opinion about the manner of worship and he had to leave the Town, settled on the banks of River Saraswati and built an Ashram along with his wife called Shakambhari.

Chanda Sharma made and worshipped to Twenty Seven Siva Lingas regularly and pleased Maha Deva who appeared before him and materialised a Sacred Linga and a Temple which became very popular eventually far more than Chamatkarpuri. Sakambhari too worshipped Devi Durga, day and night, and blessed her that whoever worshipped the Idol of Durga on Aswin Shukla Maha Navami would attain boons both materailistic and spiritual. Devi Durga also granted a boon to Sakambhari that the Sixty Four Matruganas would be also present in the same Durga Temple. Since the appearances of Maha Deva to Chanda Sharma and Durga Devi to Shakambhari, the Place became extremely popular as Brahma Nagar in the banks of River Saraswati, where among many other Sages, Viswamitra stayed for long till such time that he cursed Sarasvati and shifted to the Ashram of Sage Markandeya on the banks of River Narmada; the curse was that the River Sarasvati would flow blood and not clear water! Sage Vasishtha reversed the curse of Viswamitra. The episode of Viswamitra’s curse to River Saraswati is as follows:
In the days of yore, Sage Bhrigu’s son Maha Muni Rucheek was on ‘Tirtha Yatra’and reached a Place called Bhojkat on the banks of River Kaushiki, ruled by King Gaadhi. As the Muni was at the River for taking his ‘Snaan’, he saw an extraordinarily pretty girl and on enquiry came to learn that she was the daughter of the King named Tribhuvan Sundari who arrived there to worship Devi Gauri in the Temple there with the desire to secure a suitable husband. Sage Rucheek approached King Gaadhi with a proposal to marry his daughter and the latter did not relish the offer since the Sage was old and none too handsome but could not directly convey the negative reply as the Sage might curse either the King or his daughter. He had indirectly suggested that he would expect ‘Kanya sulkam’ or dowry as per the Royal Tradition and the dowry would be seven hundred white horses with black ears which could run as fast as wind; the King felt that this kind of difficult demand would surely dissuade the Sage. On the other hand, Sage Rucheek prayed to Devatas and recited sixty four Ruchas (stanzas) in Chanda or symmetry invoking seven hundred mighty horses coloured white with black ears along with strong riders who could run like wind! That specific Ghat of Ganges was thus known as ‘Ashva Tirtha’.As per the earlier understanding the King could not wriggle out and had to marry off the daughter to the Muni. Almost after the wedding, the Muni told the bride that he was going off for performing Tapasya and asked her for a boon. The bride’s mother advised the daughter to ask the Sage for an excellent boy full of Brahmana’s virtues for herself and for a brave Kshatriya boy for the Queen.The Sage performed ‘Putreshtu Yagna’to fulfill the desires of the daughter and her mother, viz. a boy of great Brahmanik radiance and another boy with unusual Kshatriya’s vivacity respectively and gave away two seedlings one for herself and another for her mother. He instructed that his wife should embrace a Pipal Tree and her mother should embrace a ‘Bargad’ Tree after consuming the respective seedlings. But the daughter and the mother wanted to test the Sage and thus exchanged the seedlings and the trees. The Sage discovered that exchanges of the seedlings and the trees took place and got quite angry, but the young wife sincerely begged the husband to conceive a boy with Brahmanic qualities although he might have the Kshatriya background.The Sage replied that there could not be a reversal of the situation, yet the boy born of Kshatriya origin might however be an illustrated Sage or a Rajarshi. Thus were born Vishwamitra to Tribhuvansundari and Jamadagni to the Queen. Jamadagni begot Parasurama who not only destroyed King Kartaviryarjuna for killing Sage Jamadagni but also wiped out Kshatriyas in a series of twenty one battles and uplifted the supremacy of Brahmanas as a race. On the other hand, Viswamitra became a Rajarshi with the qualities of a Brahmana. After Gaadhi, Viswamitra became the King and once went on a hunting spree; as he was tired he approached the Ashram of Maharshi Vasishtha who gave him the honours as a King. Vasishtha made the offer of hosting a lunch not only to Viswamitra but his entire entourage comprising a large army, elephants, camels, horses and bullock-carts. He invited a Kamadhenu (Cow which fulfils all desires) named Nandini which materialised a grand and tasty lunch comprising ‘bhakshya’ (sweets and savouries), ‘bhojya’ (Cereal preparations), ‘Lehya’ (tongue teasers), Choshya (intakables), and ‘Paneeyas’ (liquids) all ready within minutes. King Viswamitra was highly impressed and desired to possess it at any cost in exchange of chariots, elephants, horses or any other material. Vasishtha politely declined the offer to exchange and said that he could not sell his mother-like cow. No amount of persuasion helped and finally Viswamitra resorted to force. Being helpless, Vasishtha implored Nandini to protect herself; Nandini too failed in her self-protection despite her divinely efforts. Viswamitra raised his sword to kill Nandini and then Vasishtha with his Mantrik-power paralysed the raised hand.The utterly confused entourage of army, elephants, horses etc. ran helter-skelter as the normally composed Vasishtha was provoked and might destroy everybody with his mantras. King Viswamitra’s raised hand was stuck for long; he realised his folly stating that Vidya without politeness and prosperity without avarice were his ruin and being highly remorseful made a desperate appeal to the Sage to free the arrested hand. The kind Vasishtha warned Viswamitra not to enter into problems with Brahmanas and Sages out of ego and bravado any longer. The King who was put to shame by a Brahmana  realised that Brahmanic Strength was far more effective than Kshatra Might; having installed his son as the King went away to perform rituals, worship, homas, and severe Tapasya for thousands of years, some time eating fruits, later on dried leaves, subsequently water only and finally without any intake. Lord Brahma was contented with the Tapsya and Viswamitra requested for securing ‘Brahmanatva’. Brahma conferred the Title of Brahmarshi but Vasishtha protested and having shifted to the banks of Sarasvati River, built an Ashram at Shankha Tirtha in Haatakewara Kshetra to perform Tapasya there. Meanwhile Viswamitra invoked a ‘Maarana Shakti’ to kill Vasishtha who noticed certain change in the Climate and by his Sacred Vision came to realise that Viswamitra was despatching a Maarana Shakti against him. He also deduced that Viswamitra used Sama Veda Mantras to create the Shakti and as such strengthened himself with the antidote Mantras from Atharva Veda. The Shakti touched Vasishtha and became ineffective, although he had severe sweat from his body which created a stream which eventually turned out to be a Sacred Kund whose ‘Snaans’ conferred the power of prosperity, longevity, good progeny and satisfaction in life. Since the River Sarasvati took a pro-active role in protecting Vasishtha from the ‘Maarana Shakti’, Viswamitra cursed the River that its flow would carry blood and not water, thus causing many Sages and the Virtuous shifting away as its purity vanished instantly and none came forward to bathe in it. Even Vasishtha shifted away to Arbudachal and Viswamitra settled at Haataka Kshetra performing very rigourous Tapasya as a result of which, Parama Siva gave the boon of making parallell Srishti as against the creation by Brahma in the normal way! Devi Saraswati approached Vasishtha crying away; Vasishtha went to the Place of Sarasvati’s origin, obtained a branch of the Tree and concentrated on the Bhumi reciting Brahma Mantra whereby the waters of the River turned normal and in fact became fresher, tastier and rejuvenated.

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