by Hari Prasad Shastri | 1952 | 527,382 words | ISBN-10: 9333119590 | ISBN-13: 9789333119597
This page is entitled “vishvamitra is proclaimed a maharishi” and represents Chapter 63 of the Bala-kanda of the Ramayana (English translation by Hari Prasad Shastri). The Ramayana narrates the legend of Rama and Sita and her abduction by Ravana, the king of Lanka. It contains 24,000 verses divided into seven sections [viz., Bala-kanda].
Shri Vishvamitra passed a thousand years in the practice of mortification, then the gods came to bestow on him the fruits of his asceticism. The supreme Brahma addressed him in pleasing accents, saying: “O Holy One, mayest you be prosperous, you are now become a rishi by virtue of your great austerities.” Having said this, Shri Brahma and the other celestial beings returned to their own spheres.
Vishvamitra again engaged in severe austerity and in this way passed many more years. While thus employed, the celestial nymph Menaka came to bathe in the Pushkara lake. Resembling lightning illumining a cloud, her beauty stirred the passion of Vishvamitra and he said to her:—
“Be gracious to me for I am filled with a great love for you.” Then that beautiful one agreed to take up her abode in the hermitage of the rishi'. The penances of Vishvamitra were thus rendered void by the presence of Menaka in the hermitage. O Rama, that nymph passed ten years in that place.
After this time, Shri Vishvamitra perceiving himself to have been deluded, was filled with shame and he reflected on the cause of his infatuation. Then he adjudged the gods to have devised this plan to bring his ascetism to nought and he cried out: “What, have I passed ten years with this woman, as it were a night. Alas! My great austerities are destroyed by this passion.”
Sighing heavily and filled with remorse, he beheld Menaka trembling with fear, standing near, but Vishvamitra addressing her in reassuring words, bade her farewell.
Then, O Rama, the gods were filled with fear by the austerities practised by the rishi on the Himalayan mountains, and approaching Shri Brahma said:—
“O Grandsire, now grant the title of maharishi to Shri Vishvamitra.”
Shri Brahma then appeared before Vishvamitra and in gentle accents said to him: “Hail to You, O Rishi, I am pleased with thine austerity. I name you chief among the rishis.”
Then Vishvamitra, making obeisance to Shri Brahma, spoke submissively saying: “O Lord, these penances have been undertaken by me that I might become a brahmarishi. Since you still namest me maharishi, I regard myself as not yet fully self-subdued.”
Shri Brahma answered, saying: “So it is, you have not yet fully gained the mastery over your senses. O Great Muni, undergo further penance.” Having uttered these words, Shri Brahma returned to the celestial regions.
Then Vishvamitra began an exceedingly severe penance, standing unsupported with his arms raised, living only on air; in the summer season, standing in the midst of five fires, in the rainy season lying without a canopy, in the winter practising his spiritual discipline in water, thus did he pass a thousand years.
Perceiving Vishvamitra undergoing these severe penances, the gods were greatly perturbed. At length their lord, Indra, approached the nymph Rambha and begged her to promote his interest and cause harm to Vishvamitra.