Vasistha Rishi, Part Three

BY: SUN STAFF - 22.10 2019

Vasistha (on asana), Vishvamitra, Khamadhenu and Nandini

A study of the famous Rishis and Munis of Vedic literature.

As the story continues of Rishi Vasistha's great feud with the sage Vishvamitra, after the untimely death of his sons at the hand of his nemesis, his life was renewed by the discovery that a grandson, Parashara, was to be born.

Despite his personal situation the Rishi, being of spotless character, performed many selfless deeds. Having freed Kalmashapada from the bonds of being a rakshasa, Vasistha's noble spirit became known even to Vishvamitra. And even though his own sons had been slain, Vasistha was willing to assist king Dileep, who was suffering a barren marriage.

When the king came to Vasistha for help, he explained to the king that the reason for his being childless was due to his having offended Khamadhenu, by walking past her without greeting her. The Rishi thus instructed the king that if he would serve Kamadhenu's child, the calf Nandini for 21 days, he would beget a child.

The king did as Vasistha Rishi instructed, but on the 21st day a strange occurrence took place. Nandini was attacked by a lion. King Dileep drew his bow to shoot the lion, but found that his arm was paralyzed, and he could not shoot. Realizing that the lion had some mystic powers, he begged it to let Nandini go, and to instead take him as his prey.

Just as the king was about to give up his life, the lion disappeared. Nandini then explained that this had been a test, admirably passed by the king, and that he would now beget the desired son, who became known as Raghu.

Vasistha summons the divine cow Sabala for Vishvamitra
Persian Miniature, 16th c.

Brahmarishi Vasistha's long feud with Vishvamitra came to an end one night, when Vishvamrita came to kill the great Rishi. On reaching his ashram, Vishvamitra overheard Mahrishi Vasistha saying to his wife, "On this moonlit night, only a person like Vishvamitra can engage himself in tapas to please God." Hearing these words of praise, Vishvamitra became greatly ashamed. He repented by throwing away his weapons and falling at the feet of Rishi Vasistha.

Vasistha also had an asrama near Ayodhya, which covered over 40 acres. The King of Ayodhya at that time was King Ishvaku. When drought or famine plagued the people, the Rishi would produce rains through his tapobal (powers acquired through penance). He also caused the Saryu River to flow to the dhama, bringing needed water. And if the royal family of Ayodhya faced any difficulties, Brahmarishi Vasishta would remove them. Vasistha's Ayodhya asrama exists to this day, although now situated on just a quarter-acre of land. The asrama's well is believed to be the source of the river Saryu.

Likewise, when Bhagirath became tired in his efforts to induce Mother Ganga to pour her waters onto the Earth planet, it was Vasistha Rishi who encouraged him, giving him the requisite mantra to accomplish the deed.

Mahrishi Vasistha authored the great work, Yogvashishtha, which is a treatise on spiritual knowledge. Many of his excellent pastimes are mentioned in sastra, each one demonstrating his great nobility of spirit, loyalty, and adherence to proper dharma.