Trishanku

It was in the lineage of Purukutsa that Satyavrata or the well known Trishanku was born. The latter kidnapped a Commoner bride from her Vivaha-Vedika or Wedding Platform and his father, King Traiyaaruni-as prompted by Sage Vasishtha the Guru of the King, banished him for life into his Kingdom; while living in the outskirts of the Kingdom Satyavrata adopted the ways of a Chandala or the lowest caste of the Society. Sage Vishwamitra once left away on a long Tapasya for a period of twelve years and as a long drawn ‘Anavrishti’ (famine) broke up in the Region, Satyavrata provided food to the Sage’s wife and children. But the latter stole Vasishtha’s cows in his Yagna Shaala and fed Vishwamitra’s wife and family with cow meat and the unsuspecting family ate it especially due to hunger. Yet, on return from his Tapasya, Vishwamitra was extremely pleased and felt highly obliged that Satyavrata supported his family for twelwe long years! But Vasishtha never excused Satyavrata on three counts: he adopted the ways of Chandala ; he stole the cows from his Ashram and finally he fed cow meat to the innocent and gullible family of a fellow Sage. Thus he cursed Satyavrata as Trishanku on the basis of  three unpardonable sins especially to Brahmana families! He cursed Satyavata to  become a fulfledged Chandala thus transforming  his body complexion and ways of living. But Vishwamitra espoused the cause of Satyavrata; he not only restored the latter’s original position as a Prince but also sought him to despatch him in his mortal form to Swarga by the power of his Tapasya. Devas refused the Prince’s entry to Swarga and the Sage took it as a challenge and created a duplicate Swarga in the outer space near the original and thus caused the Prince to hang him upside down creating Trishanku Swarga of the Thrice-Sinned Trishanku!

Harischandra, the son of Trishanku etched himself a unique position for truthfulness and virtue in Indian mythology. He ruled his Kingdom with commitment and honesty on the strict lines of Dharma and became a darling of his Subjects. But he had no offspring and prayed to Varuna Deva; the latter blessed the King with a son no doubt but on the condition of offering the child to him in course of time. As and when Varuna Deva reminded the King of the Sacrifice appearing as a Brahmana, the King kept on postponing on some pretext or another. Meanwhile, Sage Vishwamitra developed extreme jealousy and hatred to  Harischandra’s Raja Guru Maharshi Vasishtha; the hatred was so intense that they cursed each other to become birds and Lord Brahma had to intervene after a few years and made them reverse the mutual curses. Harischandra’s son Rohitasya learnt about the background of his birth viz. Varuna Deva’s condition that his father would have to sacrifice him to the Deva sooner or later and fled away to forests. Varuna Deva cursed Harischandra to suffer dropsy since the latter could not fulfil his promise. Rohitasya desired to return to take over the Kinghip. But Indra appeared as an old Sage and advised the boy not  to return to the Kingdom, lest Varuna would not leave him for a sacrifice and suggested that he should better proceed on Tirtha Yatras to negate the sacrifice to Varuna. Guru Vasishtha arranged that another person would be sacrificed instead of Rohitasya and prayed Varuna to agree to the arrangement that Harishandra be freed from the disease of dropsy. Keeping in view the background of his long standing enmity with Vasishtha, Vishwamitra decided torment Harischandra. He approached the King  that he dreamt of Harischandra’s promise to donate his entire Kingdom to the Maharshi! The gullible King was tricked to believe of the Sage’s dream and was packed him  to Kashi along with his wife and son who had returned back after TitrhaYatras since he was no longer required for human sacrifice. Vishwamitra tormened Harischandra thereafter to defray an astronomical amount by way of Dakshna or fees to be paid to him that he performed for the King in the past; his wife Chandramati and son Lohitasya had to perform menial jobs and were sold in an auction to a house-holder subsequently; he was employed as a bonded labour himself at a Burial Ground; his son was dead in a snake bite while the wife brought the dead body of the son to the same burial ground where Harischandra was a bonded worker;  she had to sell her ‘Mangal Sutra’or the precious possession of a house wife, and even had to tear off half of her sari to meet the expenses of the burial ! Such were the extreme tests of fate that Harischandra put to all due to his determination to follow what his conscience had demanded and finally succeeded as Lord Vishnu, Indra and Devas appeared when finally Chandramati was forced to take away the rest of her saree to pay for the last rites of the dead son! As he and his wife stood the tests bravely they attained Vaikuntha as their Example was indeed a banchmark to the posterity! Rohitasya was brought back to life and was made the King.

Muchukunda who too belonged to the ancestry of King Ikshwaku was the able Commander of the Army of Devas in a series of battles with Daityas for long time completely disregarding his family and personal health. Indra expressed his gratitude and asked him for a boon. As he was so tired and sleepy, Muchukunda asked Indra to let him sleep and the latter agreed especially because one Deva year was equal to three sixty five human ears and that would provide Muchukunda ample rest. Indra also gave a boon that none should disturb his sleep and if some bodydid so that person would be burnt as ash. Muchukunda descended to Earth from Swarga and selected a Mountain cave to sleep. Meanwhile, Vishnu assumed the Incarnation of Krishna and killed innumerable Forces of Evil on Earth. The most vicious of the Kings of the times Kamsa was killed by Krishna and the enraged King Jarasandha decided to uproot Krishna. Since he and his fellow Kings might not be able to do so, he sought the friendship of Kala Yavana the valiant and cruel Yavana King ; the combined army surrounded Mathura where his grand father was reigning under the care of  Krishna. Just before the battle was to commence, Krishna left the Mathura Fort by a leisurely walk and Kala Yavana was puzzled and followed Krishna who entered a Cave. Kala Yavana too entered thinking that Krishna was a schemy person and shoul be vary of his mischivous plans. The cave was pitch dark and there was no trace of Krishna. Suddenly the Yavana stumbled a human body and the latter growled with shouting anger. Muchukunda got disturbed from sleep and as he opened his eyes, Kala Yavana was burnt like a soft wood into a heap of ash, in keeping with Indra’s boon that who so ever disturbed Muchkunda would be burnt alive as ash. Then Krishna made his appearance and Muchukunda recognised Bhagavan who instructed the latter to move to the Ashram of Nara Narayana in ‘Badarikashrama’ to perform Tapasya till his attainment of Mukti.

Sri V.D.N.Rao and Shri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham

Kamakoti.org presents the Essence of Puranas in English, condensed by Sri. V.D.N.Rao, devotee of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam.

Compiled, Composed and Interpreted by
V.D.N.Rao, Former General Manager,
India Trade Promotion Organisation, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi
Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India
The author can be contacted at raovdn@yahoo.co.in