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Sage Viswamitra

	Sai Ram. We have been enjoying the wonderful, educating and entertaining stories of Sages and let us continue with the same this month too. This month of April (Chaitra) is special because of Sri Rama Navami (this year it is being celebrated on 3rd April) and when we remember Sri Rama and His many deeds of valor, we recall the great role played by sages Vasishtha and Viswamitra. We have already mentioned that sage Viswamitra was born to Gadhi, son of Kusika (also known as Kusinabha), when we were learning about sage Chyavana Maharshi and Jamadagni Maharshi. So, this month, we will take up the wonderful story of sage Viswamitra. Sai Ram. 

The birth of Viswamitra

Sage Rucheeka (son of sage Chyavana) married Satyavathi, daughter of Gadhi, son of Kusika and went to his ashram. When Satyavathi wanted children, sage Rucheeka told her that he would create a divine rice pudding, which would give her a child. Satyavathi requested her husband to help her mother too (Gadhi did not have a son and the life and marriage is considered incomplete without a male child). So, Rucheeka meditated on Para Brahma (The Ultimate Principle) and created two vessels with divine rice preparation. He showed her the two vessels and told her that one of them is brahmyam (full of the brahminic energies, Satva guna) and the second Kshatram (full of the fighting warrior clan’s energies, Rajo guna). He told her that after bath, she and her mother should hug a fig tree and an Aswattha tree respectively and then they should consume the respective rice puddings. However, due to destiny, the two vessels got interchanged and Satyavathi ate the pudding bearing Kshatriya energies and her mother the Brahminic one. There is another variant to the story that the mother of Satyavathi interchanged the vessels deliberately because she felt that Sage Rucheeka would give the ‘better’ child to his own wife. Thus jealousy played the part of destiny! Rucheeka saw with his divine vision about the mix up and told his wife that she was bearing a cruel Kshatriya foetus in her womb and not a Brahminic one. Satyavathi was saddened and prayed to her husband to prevent the calamity through his yogic powers. He agreed and with his yogic powers transferred the change to his grandson (to the next generation). Satyavathi’s mother carried the Brahminic foetus and Viswamitra, also known as Gadheya and Kausika was born. Thus, though born to a Kshatriya King, the soul inhabiting that body was that of a satvik brahmarshi. Let us see how the transformation took place in the physical plane too. This story has some important lessons to all Sadhakas on the spiritual path. Sai Ram.

Viswamitra’s fight with Vasishtha

Born and brought up in a royal family, he learnt all the skills of a warrior from a Brahmin called Kusasana and earned a good name as a king after he succeeded his father Gadhi. He had four sons, who were well versed in dharma. Their names were: Havichhandra, Dridhanethra, Maharadha and Madhuchhanda. This Madhuchhanda became a rishi (his name is found in Rigveda). Another version of the story has it that he had a hundred sons just as sage Vasishtha.

In the course of his numerous forays into forest for hunting, Viswamitra reached the ashram of sage Vasishtha and was received well by the sage and was given good food, thanks to Nandini, the Kama Dhenu (wish fulfilling cow – the one in Indra’s heaven is the most well known of the divine cows and all such cows were called Kama Dhenus but each had a separate name). Viswamitra saw this and wanted to take away the cow. Vasishtha declined saying that his ashram was under the protection of Nandini and he treated her like a family member and he had no right to part with her. Viswamitra offered a lakh cows and a lot of money in return but to no avail. He tried to take it away by force but Nandini created an army from its face and the army destroyed the army of Viswamitra. Viswamitra had a hundred sons and they came again with a big army to try and take away Nandini and they too got killed in the battle. Viswamitra felt humiliated and went to the forest and did great tapas to Lord Siva. Lord Siva was pleased with his tapas and gave him a number of divine astras and also gave him the knowledge befitting a rajarshi (because he was still not free of rajo guna). Viswamitra came back to Vasishtha and used these divine astras to try and defeat Vasishtha. Vasishtha did not retaliate with any weapon but simply put his Brahma Danda in front and Viswamitra was astonished to see that all the divine astras and sastras were simply absorbed into that. Brahma Danda is representing the Nirguna Para Brahma and all Saguna things that arise have to perish (get absorbed) into the Nirguna. The three gunas, Satva, Rajo and Tamo guna are part of the Nirguna just as the colors of light are part of the whole and the whole is white. Thus Nirguna is absence of gunas as well as the presence (sum) of all gunas. It is possible to approach the source through any of the parts, just as one gets a taste of sugar from any sweet preparation. Thus Viswamitra became a Brahmarshi through the fight with a Brahmarshi. The path taken by each river is different but the destination of all rivers is the same and that is the sea. We will trace the course of this particular river as it reaches the sea, and the scenery is quite interesting as can be seen below. Sai Ram.

Sending Trishanku to Swarga

Trishanku was a king of the Ikshvaku dynasty (Rama also belongs to the same dynasty) and wanted to perform a yaga which would enable him to go to heaven in his physical body (which is not done – the sukshma sareera, the causal body goes to heaven or hell depending on the satkarma or dushkarma). He asked his Kula Guru Sage Vasishtha to help him but Vasishtha, knowing the dharma refused. Then Trishanku approached Sage Viswamitra and he agreed partly because of his running rivalry with sage Vasishtha. His ego was still rajasic at that stage and he wanted to show his superiority. Vasishtha was capable of performing such a yaga but declined because he did not want to disturb the balance of nature (dharma is all about the balance of nature in perfect harmony).

Viswamitra agreed to preside over the yaga and ordered Indra and other gods to receive the havis, but they didn’t appear because if they accepted it, they were bound to give the yaga phala. He then offered the havis to the fire god and asked Trishanku to follow the same to heaven, which he did. The gods consulted Brihaspati, their Guru and threw Trishanku down from heaven. As he was falling from there, Viswamitra stopped him in mid air and created a heaven, with stars, Indra and other dikpalakas etc., in fact an exact replica. Brahmaji appeared to sage Viswamitra and praised him and asked him not to proceed further and create a whole universe. Such was the power obtained by sage Viswamitra because of his great tapas. The heaven created by sage Viswamitra for Trishanku is called Trishanku Swarga. King Trishanku, thus became ever famous. The creator of that heaven, sage Viswamitra of course attained a great fame and let us relish his other great deeds too.

His saving of a Brahmin boy from being offered in sacrifice (The story of Sunassepha) When King Ambareesha was performing a great yagna, the gods* felt threatened (it is interesting to see that the gods too are subject to many failings of human nature such as fear and jealousy – these stories are in a way similar to Greek literature) that the King would surpass them in glory once the yagna is completed and he may usurp the heaven. It may be mentioned that Indra is a post and is obtained by performing a specific number of yagnas, yagas etc. Whenever another person performed greater sacrifices, his punya became more and he would displace the existing Indra. Indra stands for the enjoyer of the sensual pleasures and the person occupying that position gets attached to the pleasures. So, Indra always tries to break up the tapas and yagna etc. when he feels threatened by the performer of such tapas and yagna etc. From another angle, it may be understood that these obstructions are created to test the sadhaka’s will power and the obstructions actually help to strengthen the sadhaka to rise higher in the spiritual planes beyond the sensual pleasures.

In this case too, Indra abducted the yagna pasu (the animal reserved to be sacrificed for the yagna). The king consulted the Purohits and it was decided that a human being would be sacrificed instead of an animal (strange are the ways of destiny) and a search started for a suitable Brahmin boy for the sacrifice. Since the animal proposed for the sacrifice had to be perfect in body, they had to make an extensive search and another important condition was that the family had to give up the boy willingly, not under duress from the king. Unlike an animal, a human being has will power and the ability to express his mind and so express agreement was needed. They located a family that had 3 sons. The mother was fond of the youngest and the father Rucheeka (not sage Rucheeka) was fond of the eldest and so they decided to part with the middle boy for an equivalent of one lakh cows. As the boy was being brought to be tied to the post just as an animal would be, he was anguished at being disowned by his parents and as luck would have it, he met sage Viswamitra, who assured the boy that he would protect him.

The sage thought that since he had so many sons (the version of the story has it that he had a hundred sons), he could persuade one of them to go in place of the Brahmin boy. However, each animal tries to protect itself and values its own life over the words of others. There are a few exceptions in Puranas (Sibi, Bhaktha Siriyala and Dattatreya etc.) but this is the rule. So, all of them refused their father’s wish that one of them should go in place of that Brahmin boy. So, Viswamitra gave two mantras to the boy and asked him to chant the same before the moment of sacrifice and the boy followed the instructions carefully. Along with the mantras of course he gave a lot of his power gained through tapas. The gods pleased with the mantras and the offering of the tapo phala released the boy from being sacrificed. This story of King Ambareesha is found in Rig Veda (source – Margadarsakulu Maharshulu by Brahma Sri Sivanandamurthy garu).

A similar story repeated itself later. King Harischandra of Kosala worshipped Varuna and asked for a son. To a query from Varuna about why he was asking for a son, the king replied that as per the shastras, the very sight of the face of a son ensures sadgathi (good way for further progress when the soul leaves the body). Aputrasya gatirnasti is the shastra. Then Varuna made a strange request that the boy has to be offered to him as yagna pasu immediately after birth. The king agreed. Then after the child was born, Varuna came to collect the child and the king put it off for a few years under one pretext or other. We are reminded of the story of the Vaisya in Sri Satyanarayana Vrata Katha. In this case, Varuna cursed Harischandra to suffer from Ascites (accumulation of fluid in the abdomen), a difficult to cure disease. The king realized his mistake and started the yagna to offer the son in sacrifice. The prince, Lohitha (Rohitha) was about 14 years old at that time and came to know that he was to become a sacrificial animal to Varuna and he ran away to the forest. Then he felt ashamed at his fear of life (after all he was a kshatriya prince and he was a prince of the Ishvaku dynasty known for their adherence to truth). On the way back, he met the family of a poor Brahmin named Ajeegartha and requested him to offer one of his three sons and accept cows in exchange. Though the Brahmin was not greedy for the money, he agreed to protect the Ishvaku dynasty and offered his second son Sunassepha, who also agreed to become the sacrificial animal.

When the boy was brought, the Brahmins conducting the yagna refused to offer a human being and the father of that boy Ajeegartha himself tied the boy to the post and raised the sword. At that moment, Sunassepha felt sad at his fate and he found his savior in sage Viswamitra. Viswamitra froze the hand of Ajeegartha and gave a mantropadesa to Sunassepha, by the power of which, Varuna was pleased and released Sunassepha. “Imam me Varuna Srudhi…” mantra is the gift of sage Viswamitra. Thus the story had a happy ending but then a dilemma arose. Who will protect the boy? His family already disowned him and he was in no mood to go back to the parents. The king had offered him as sacrifice to Varuna, the lord of the neither world and it was difficult for him to take care of Sunassepha, who got a new name Devaraatha (because he was protected by Varuna Deva). The pandita sabha discussed the matter and decided that since Viswamitra saved the boy, the boy has now become his property and so Viswamitra should now take care of him as a father would take care of a son. Thus the principle of rights and responsibilities going together was already well established by then!

As already mentioned, Viswamitra had a hundred sons already and so probably felt one more would not be a problem. He declared the end of human sacrifice in yagnas and mentioned that the boy Sunssepha, now named Devaraatha was blessed by him and would gain more glory in the years to come. He asked his sons to accept the Brahmin boy as their elder brother. Fifty of his sons agreed and the other fifty refused. They were cursed by the sage to go to south India and live with the tribals, forgetting all their knowledge. They repented and requested forgiveness. Viswamitra gave them back their knowledge but insisted that they had to migrate to South India and mix with the tribals. Thus the curse became a boon to all of us here in South!

Sunassepha (Devaraatha) became a great sage himself and became the drashta (seer) of many Vedic Mantras. The Gothra Pravara of Viswamitra – Devaraatha has come into existence probably at that time and is live even today.

  • We use the word gods to denote Indra and the other celestial gods of heaven and reserve the word God to denote one or all the Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara, Who are three aspects of the Nirguna Para Brahma (that word Para is used to denote the difference between the Saguna and Nirguna Aspects of the Ultimate Creative Principle, the Brahma Tatva).

His testing of Harischandra

Sage Viswamitra made Harischandra immortal by testing his adherence to truth. Thus Harischandra came to be known as Satya Harischandra. The sage knew that the king was wedded to truth, he wanted that to be publicized in all the worlds and thus subjected the king and his family to many hardships, but the kind did not budge from the path of truth. Thus even at the risk of being seen as a villain, Viswamitra made Harischandra immortal.

Birth of Sakunthala

During one of the many episodes of his tapas, the gods sent Menaka, one of the celebrated celestial apsaras to test and if possible disturb his tapas. This is a normal practice adopted by the gods and only if the sage (tapasvi) resists the temptations and thus passes the tests, further progress takes place and the Ishta Devata will manifest before the tapasvi and offers the boons as per the merit of the tapas. Sage Viswamitra got disturbed (or got attracted to her) and as a result of their union, a girl child was born. Another version of the story is that He was favorably disposed to her because of her sincere service and blessed her with a child. Since neither of them was willing to take care of the child, some birds (Sakunthas) took care of her and later Sage Kanva took her and brought her up as his daughter. Because she was taken care by Sakuntha birds, the girl was named as Sakunthala and she married King Dushyantha and gave birth to Bharatha, after whom this country is named. Due to a curse from sage Durvasa, King Dushyantha failed to recognize Sakunthala when she went to his court with Bharatha, and Akashavani came to her rescue (the king failed to recognize her because of the curse by the sage which also made her to lose the signet ring given to her by the king at the time of their Gandharva Marriage at sage Kanva’s ashram). During the course of her pleading with the king, Sakuntala touched upon the power of truth (which we briefly mentioned upon in one of the earlier stories).

His cursing of Rambha

After the birth of Sakunthala, sage Viswamitra went back to continue his tapas. Indra sent Rambha and many other Apsaras to disturb Viswamitra’s tapas. Viswamitra did not yield that time to the sensory attractions and cursed Rambha to become a stone. She pleaded with the sage that she was simply following the orders of her boss Indra and was performing her duty. She pleaded with him to lift the curse but Viswamitra gave that honor to his arch rival sage Vasishtha!

His becoming Brahmarshi

After repeatedly giving up his powers obtained through great tapas, Viswamitra realized the futility of his ego and went to tapas again with the intention of overcoming the rajasic qualities of his ego. He performed a long and arduous tapas. Indra came disguised as a Brahmin and tried to provoke Viswamitra through some improper behavior (he was trying to see whether the sage had some anger left in him if not desire). Viswamitra remained calm.

Lord Brahma was pleased with the tapas and manifested Himself before Viswamitra and accepted him as Brahmarshi and gave long life, The Brahminic luster (Satvik qualities) and the ability to bless the whole world. The place where Viswamitra got the siddhi is called Brahmapushkar, Brahmakund and Uttarkund. There is a temple to Lord Brahma (the only one in the country) and there are two important places there, Harischandra and Ambareesh.

However, Viswamitra was not satisfied and wanted to be accepted as a Brahmarshi by his arch rival sage Vasishtha. When he went to the ashram of sage Vasishtha, he welcomed him by addressing as a Maharshi. Viswamitra was not satisfied and went back for doing more tapas. When he went again, Vasishtha addressed him as a dhoortha (scoundrel). Instead of getting angry and annoyed like the earlier times, Viswamitra smiled and kept quiet and turned to leave. Then Vasishtha called him back as Brahmarshi. He praised Viswamitra for conquering the tiniest traces of the six internal enemies (Kama, Krodha etc.) and thus achieving an almost impossible task. Sage Vasishtha indicated that he was born as a Brahmarshi where as Viswamitra achieved that stage by burning off the ego. Another version of the story has it that Vasishtha advised Viswamitra to burn off the physical body (which was born in a kshatriya family and thus was carrying the rajo guna) and create a new body with his tapasshakti. In any case, this story is inspiring to all of us who are struggling with our rajo and tamo gunas. Sai Ram.

Viswamitra blesses Rama with Dhanurvidya

When his yagnas and yaagas were being disturbed by demons Maricha and Subahu (sons of Thataka, a demoness), Viswamitra decided to approach King Dasaratha and was received with honor by the king. When Dasaratha requested the sage to reveal the purpose of his visit, sage Viswamitra mentioned about the yagna being disturbed by the demons and asked the king to send Rama and Lakshmana along with him so that the yagna can be completed without interruption from the demons (it is the duty of king and his representatives to help the sages do their duties without interference from any one). King Dasaratha was fully deluded by Maya and could not think of parting with his dear sons for such a dangerous mission (he could not realize that the sage was fully capable of protecting the princes and was making this request because he did not want to spend the tapas shakti to directly punish the demons). The king also did not realize the true nature of Rama, who was an incarnation of Vishnu! However, sage Vasishtha intervened and assured the king that the princes were perfectly safe with sage Viswamitra and that the mission would be beneficial to the two, words that were prophetic indeed (all the sages were fully aware of the past, present and the future)! So, the king agreed and sent the two princes Rama and Lakshmana with Viswamitra. The princes follow the sage on foot with a lot of reverence and the sage was pleased with the two princes and gave them two powerful mantras Bala and Atibala by which they were forever freed from thirst, hunger and tiredness etc. He also gave them many Astras and Sastras. He addressed Rama thus: “Rama, these are very powerful Astras and you would need only a fraction of the energies invoked by them to take care of the demons.” To a query from Rama as to why He did not finish off the demons directly, the sage replied that as a rishi, he should not waste his energies in such activities and he was empowering the prince in his future life mission! Rama killed Thataka at the behest of sage Viswamitra (Rama was known for obeying the commands of his father and other fatherly figures and Gurus, since He knew that the dharma is very intricate and the nuances are better known by these elders and in any case, the ultimate dharma is to obey the Guru – Father, Mother and Guru are the Three Gurus, representing the Ultimate Guru). Subahu was killed and Maricha was thrown many miles away and ran for his life (later he met his end at the hands of Sri Rama when he was forced to help Ravana in his plan to abduct Sri Sita).

After the completion of the Yaga, Viswamitra decided to go to Mithila and took the two princes with him. On the way, he saw the deserted ashram of sage Gautama and Ahalya in a Samadhi (some people say she was cursed to become a stone) and asked Rama to touch the stone with His foot (Rama is the incarnation of Sri Vishnu and the sage knew that). Ahalya was restored to life and sage Gautama also came there and both bowed to Rama and sage Viswamitra and took leave.

In Mithila, they were received by King Janaka with full honors and Rama was asked by Viswamitra to string the bow of Lord Siva. In that process, the bow broke and King Janaka gave Sita in marriage to Sri Rama. The other brothers of Rama also were married to Sita’s sisters. Thus Viswamitra was instrumental in blessing Sri Rama in many ways. Viswamitra and the Gayatri Mantra

We will be indebted to sage Viswamitra for the gift of Gayatri Mantra. Gayatri Chandah, Viswamitra rushih….goes the mantra.

We will be coming across sage Viswamitra many more times when we take up the stories of other sages. Let us bow in gratitude to this genuine friend of the universe! Sai Ram.

-- An incredibly holy and powerful asetic who enlists Rama's aid to kill a demon who is defiling his sacrifices. Hethen takes Rama and Lakshmana on various demon-killing adventures, training them and giving them celestial weapons. Finally, he escorts Rama to King Janak's court, where Rama lifts the magic bow and thus win's Sita 's hand in marriage.

VISWAMITRA with Rama and Lakshamana, as Rama redeems Ahalya. Brahmarshi Vishvamitra (Sanskrit: विश्वामित्र viśvā-mitra "friend of the world"; Kannada: ವಿಶ್ವಾಮಿತ್ರ; Malayalam: വിശ്വാമിത്രൻ; Telugu: విశ్వామిత్ర; Tamil: விஸ்வாமித்திரன் Visvāmittiraṉ; Thai: Swamit; Burmese: Bodaw; Javanese: Wiswamitra) is one of the most venerated rishis or sages of ancient times in India. He is also credited as the author of most of Mandala 3 of the Rigveda, including the Gayatri Mantra. The Puranas mention that only 24 rishis since antiquity have understood the whole meaning of, and thus wielded the whole power of, the Gayatri Mantra. Vishvamitra is supposed to be the first and Yajnavalkya the last. Contents [hide] 1 Kaushika 2 Conflict with Vasistha 2.1 Alternative Version 3 Tapasya 3.1 Alternative version 4 Rise to Brahmarishi 5 Vishvamitra's Characteristics 6 Gayatri Mantra 7 Legends 7.1 Trisanku 7.2 Ambarisha's Sacrifice 7.3 In the Ramayana 8 Vishvamitra In Buddhism 9 Gotras 9.1 Vishvamitra Gotra 9.2 Kaushika Gotra 9.3 Geographical Distribution 9.4 Surname 10 See also 11 References [edit]Kaushika

Birth of Shakuntala - Vishvamitra rejects the child, Painting by Raja Ravi Varma. The story of Vishvamitra is narrated in the Balakanda of Valmiki Ramayana.[1] The Mahabharata adds that Vishvamitra's relationship with Menaka resulted in a daughter, Shakuntala whose story is narrated in the Adi Parva of the Mahabharata. Vishvamitra was a king in ancient India, also called Kaushika "descendant of Kusha". He was a valiant warrior and the great-grandson of a great king named Kusha. The Valmiki Ramayana, prose 51 of Bala Kanda, starts with the story of Vishvamitra: There was a king named Kusha (not to be confused with Kusha, son of Rama), a brainchild of Brahma, and Kusha's son was the powerful and verily righteous Kushanabha. One who is highly renowned by the name Gaadhi was the son of Kushanabha, and Gaadhi's son is this great-saint of great resplendence, Vishvamitra. Vishvamitra ruled the earth, and this great-resplendent king ruled the kingdom for many thousands of years.[citation needed] His story also appears in various Puranas, however they show variations from the Ramayana. The Vishnu Purana and Harivamsha chapter 27 (dynasty of Amaavasu) of Mahabharatha narrates the birth of Vishvamitra. According to Vishnu Purana,[2] kushika married a damsel belonging to Purukutsa dynasty (later called as Shatamarshana lineage - descendents of the Ikshvaku king Trasadasyu) and had a son by name Gaadhi who had a daughter named Satyavati (not to be confused with the Satyavati of Mahabharata). Satyavati was married to an old Brahmin known as Ruchika who was foremost among the race of Bhrigu. Ruchika desired a son having the qualities of a Brahmin, and so he gave Satyavati a sacrificial offering (charu) which he had prepared to achieve this objective. He also gave Satyavati's mother another charu to make her conceive a son with the character of a Kshatriya at her request. But Satyavati's mother privately asked Satyavati to exchange her charu with her. This resulted in Satyavati's mother giving birth to Vishvamitra, the son of a Kshatriya Gadhi with the qualities of a Brahmin; and Satyavati gave birth to Jamadagni, the father of Parashurama, a Brahmin with qualities of a Kshatriya. [edit]Conflict with Vasistha

On one of his exploits, he and his soldiers took rest in the ashram of Rishi Vasistha. There, his whole army was well fed and taken care of. This caused a doubt in the king's mind as to how it was possible for this simple ashram to take care of all the arrangements to feed an entire army. He expressed his surprise to the sage. Vasistha replied, "O king, this feast that you have partaken with your kinsmen, has been provided by my calf Nandini (sometimes referred as Sabala), who was gifted to me by Indra. You must know that she is the daughter of Indra's cow Kamadhenu. She provides me with everything I need." Kaushika was filled with wonder when he heard this. He began to think that possessing this cow would mean a lot to him; after all, the sage did not have to provide food and sustenance for a large army everyday. He expressed a desire to the sage for obtaining Nandini from him. Vasistha was polite, but steadfast in his refusal. He would not be tempted by the offer of untold wealth that was made by Kaushika, for after all who can set a price on a cow, which can readily yield all the riches in the world. The king grew exceedingly angry. He insulted the Brahmarishi with harsh words, and ordered his soldiers to seize the cow, and drive it to his kingdom. Nandini was the daughter of Kamdhenu and hence she forcefully protested against the soldiers. Using her powers, she saved the life of Vashishtha. [edit]Alternative Version Vasistha destroys Kaushika's entire army by the simple use of his great mystic and spiritual powers, breathing the Aum syllable. Vasistha also thus kills one hundred of Kaushika's sons, while restoring his hermitage's beauty and life. Kaushika then undertakes a tapasya for several years to please Shiva, who bestows upon him the knowledge of celestial weaponry. He proudly goes to Vasistha's ashram again, and uses all kinds of powerful weapons to destroy Vasistha and his hermitage. He succeeds in the latter but not in the former. An enraged Vasistha brings out his brahmadanda, a wooden stick imbued with the power of Brahma. It consumes Kaushika's most powerful weapons, including the brahmastra. Vasistha then attempts to attack Kaushika, but his anger is allayed by the Devas. Kaushika is left humiliated while Vasistha restores his hermitage. [edit]Tapasya

Vishvamitra and Menaka, painting by Raja Ravi Varma. This incident made a deep impression on the King. He realized that the power obtained by penances was far greater than mere physical might. He renounced his kingdom and began his quest to become a greater rishi than Vasistha. He took on the name Vishvamitra. It is very interesting to see all the challenges that Viswamitra faced in his life to become a Brahmarishi, before eventually giving up the greed to possess the cow. After many trials and undergoing many austerities, Vishvamitra at last obtained the title of Brahmarishi from Vasistha himself. During this time he had a daughter named Shakuntala (who appears in the Mahabharata) with Menaka, an apsara in the court of Indra. Son of Shakuntala became a great emperor. He came to be known as Emperor Bharata, in whose name the land of India got its name Bharatha. [edit]Alternative version Kaushika seeks to attain the same spiritual power as Vasistha, to become his equal, a brahmarishi. He undertakes a fierce penance for one thousand years, after which Brahma names him a Rajarishi, or royal sage. After another long penance of thousand years, Brahma names him a rishi, thus leaving his royal lineage permanently. And Brahma suggest him to take Bramharshi grade from his guru Vashishta only, as he only has the power to call you as Brahmarshi. At this point, Indra, the king of Swarga attempts to test the tapasvin by sending Menaka, an apsara to seduce him. Kaushik then lives with Menaka for 10 years. They have a baby girl Shakuntala. Kaushik becomes angry as Menaka had destroyed his years of meditation and thus he cursed her that she won't possess her beauty, of which she was proud, in next birth. Kaushika now goes to the banks of the river Kaushiki, which is the spirit of his own sister. After many thousands of years of penance, Brahma names him maharishi, but also tells him that he hasn't become a jitendriya yet, lacking control over his passions. This is brought to light to Kaushika when he angrily curses Rambha, an apsara sent by Indra to seduce Kaushika again, to become a stone for a thousand years.

Visvamitra is addressed as maharsis by Brahma and other gods alarmed by his austerities [edit]Rise to Brahmarishi

After cursing Rambha, Kaushika goes to the highest mountain of the Himalayas to perform an even more severe tapasya for over a thousand years. He ceases to eat, and reduces his breathing to a bare minimum. He is tested again by Indra, who comes as a poor Brahmin begging for food just as Kaushika is ready to break a fast of many years by eating some rice. Kaushika instantly gives his food away to Indra and resumes his meditation. Kaushika also finally masters his passions, refusing to be provoked by any of Indra's testing and seductive interferences. At the penultimate culmination of a multi-thousand year journey, Kaushika's yogic power is at a peak. At this point, Brahma, at the head of the Devas led by Indra, names Kaushika a brahmarishi, and names him Vishvamitra, or Friend of All for his unlimited compassion. He is also embraced by Vasistha, and their enmity is instantly ended. [edit]Vishvamitra's Characteristics

As a former king, and one over as vast a realm as he had been, Vishvamitra was known to retain a regal and often haughty bearing. He was known for his high temper and often cursed people in his anger, thereby depleting his yogic powers obtained by much penance. People feared his temper and prayed that their actions might not get misconstrued by the touchy sage. However, as a former king, Vishvamitra also possessed great compassion for all beings. Having taken pity on Trishanku, he willingly exhausted all the punya he gained from his tapas, to enable him to ascend to the heavens. Following his attainment of the status of brahmarishi, he was known to use the power of his tapas to help anyone who was in need, whatever the cost to himself. Kaushika's love of Menaka is considered to have been intense and passionate. [edit]Gayatri Mantra

Sage Vishvamitra was the one who found revered great Mantra - The Gayatri Mantra. It is a mantra found in the Rig, Yajur, and Sama Vedas. Gayathri is actually a "Chandas" or meter. [edit]Legends

Vishvamitra is famous in many legendary stories and in different works of Sanatana dharma. [edit]Trisanku

Indra prevents Trisanku from ascending to Heaven in physical form-from The Freer Ramayana Another story Vishvamitra is known for is his creation of his own version of Svarga or heaven, called Trisanku Svarga. When a proud King Trisanku asked his guru, Vasistha, to send him to heaven in his own body, the guru responded that the body cannot ascend to heaven. King Trisanku then asked Vasistha's hundred sons to send him to heaven. The sons, outraged that Trisanku should not come to them when their father had refused, cursed him to be a Chandala, or untouchable. Trisanku was transformed into a person with body smeared of ash, clothed in black and wearing Iron jewellery. Since none of his subjects could recognize him, he was driven out of the kingdom. He came across the sage Vishvamitra, who agreed to help him. Visvamitra organized a great sacrifice and ritual propitiating the Devas, pleading that they accept Trisanku in heaven. Not one Deva responded. Angered, Viswamitra used his yogic powers and ordered Trisanku to rise to heaven. Miraculously, Trisanku rose into the sky until he reached heaven, where he was pushed back down by Indra. Enraged even more by this, the powerful Visvamitra then commenced the creation of another Universe (including another Brahma) for Trisanku. He had only completed the Universe when Brihaspati ordered him to stop. Trisanku, however, did not enjoy Trisanku Svarga, he remained fixed in the sky and was transformed into a constellation. In the process of forming a new universe, Vishvamitra used up all the tapas he had gained from his austerities. Therefore after the Trisanku episode, Vishvamitra had to start his prayers again to attain the status of a Brahma Rishi, to equal Vashistha. [edit]Ambarisha's Sacrifice

Ambarisa offers the youth Sunahsepha in sacrifice While undertaking a penance, Kaushika helps a boy named Shunashepa who has been sold by his parents to be sacrificed at Ambarisha's yagna to please Varuna, the God of the Oceans. The king's son Rohit does not want to be the one sacrificed, as was originally promised to Varuna, so young Sunashepa is being taken. A devastated and terrified Sunashepa falls at the feet of Kaushika, who is deep in meditation, and begs for his help.[3] Kaushika teaches secret mantras to Sunashepa. The boy sings these mantras at the ceremony, and is blessed by Indra and Varuna, and Harishchandra's ceremony is also completed. [edit]In the Ramayana

Vishvamitra looks as Rama breaks the bow, winning the hand of Sita in marriage. Painting by Raja Ravi Varma. In the Indian epic Ramayana, Vishvamitra is the preceptor of Rama, prince of Ayodhya and the seventh Avatar of Vishnu, and his brother Lakshmana. Vishvamitra gives them the knowledge of the Devastras or celestial weaponry [bala and adi bala], trains them in advanced religion and guides them to kill powerful demons like Tataka, Maricha and Subahu. He also leads them to the svayamvara ceremony for princess Sita, who becomes the wife of Rama.

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Ayodhya, Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh, India

Dasaratha ruled the kingdom from Ayodhya. He was a vedavit, scholar of vedas, loved by his subjects and so valiant that Devendra sought his help in fighting against the asuras. He was athiratha, capable of fighting with 10000 rathis, warriors in chariots. Since he had all people in his control by his good qualities he is called rajarshi.He was equal to Kubera and Indra in riches and power. Thus Valmiki describes Dasaratha. 'Thaam pureem cha mahaathejaa raajaa dasaratho mahaan shashaasa shamithaamithrah nakshathraaneeva chandramaah. ' He was as pleasing to all as the moon is to the stars.
Dasaratha, besides his eight ministers , also had sages like Vasishta and Vamadeva to advise him and lived his life accrding to dharma, thus qualifying himself to become the father of Rama , the embodiment of dharma. Dasaratha had everything but one, that is a progeny. He consulted the sages and his ministers and decided to do Asvamedha yaga and the sages and brahmins blessed him that he will get sons through the sacrifice, 'sarvathaa praapsyase puthraan , you will get sons' because a man is not called putravaan having only one son, 'ekaputrah na putravaan.'
Dasaratha made arrangements for horse sacrifice, asvamedha, which was, in those days, a grand affair and only chakravarthis could afford to do it. A horse well decorated and laden with riches is sent to all countries with an army and whoever reveres it are supposed to accept the sovereignty of its owner and those who resist its course are conquered. When the preparations were in progress Sumanthra , who was the charioteer and the minister of Dasaratha, told him to call Rsysrnga and make him conduct the sacrifice. Sumanthra said he had known this from the sages who were told by Sanatkumara that Dasaratha will be getting sons through this act.
Rsyasrnga was a munikumara , the son of Vibhaandaka whom his father brought up with care without any sensual desire touching him. Hence he was a pure soul. The king of Anga, whose land was suffering with draught, was told to bring Rsyasrnga whose padasparsa will bring rain.. He sent young girls to entice him in his father's absence and he was brought to Angadesa and there was abundant rain. The king gave his daughter Shantha to him in marriage.
Hearing about Rsyasringa Dasaratha went himself to Angadesa and requested Rsyasringa to come to Ayodhya. It is said that Shantha was actually the daughter of Dasaratha and was given in adoption to Romapaada, king of Angadesa..Rsyasringa accepted the invitation and came to Ayodhya. Dasaratha performed the Asvamedha yaga with all the rshis and brahmanas and asked Rsyasrnga to perform putrakameshtiyaga for him to get sons and Rsyasrnga agreed..
The devas who assembled ready to receive the havirbhaga of the sacrifice to be performed, entreated Brahma to do something to destroy Ravana who was tormenting the world and devas , arrogant with the power of his boons from Brahma that he will be indestructible by devas , gandharvas, yakshas, dhaanavaas and raakshasaaas. Brahma reassured them that he never included human beings in his boon and that fact should be utilised now
In the meanwhile the Lord Narayana Himself came there in anticipation of their prayer in His earnestness in dushtanigraha and sishata paripalana.Govindarajar comments beautifully the sloka that mentions the arrival of the Lord which we will see later, along with the lovely verse from Kamban about the same.

Valmiki Ramayana - Bala Kanda in Prose Sarga 16

Vishnu agrees to incarnate as human and selects Dasharatha as his father. And when Dasharatha is performing the Vedic ritual called putrakaameSTi a deity called praajaapatya purusha arises from the sacrificial fire to give a golden vessel of divine dessert to Dasharatha for distribution among his queens to beget progeny. The three queens on consuming that dessert conceive their children.


Later when the Omnipresent Narayana is thus nominated by best gods, and though he knows the outcome, he gently spoke these words to gods in this way.
The name Vishnu indicates his all pervading Omnipresence in all beings, sessile or mobile: vyaapitvaat sarva bhuuteSu vishnuH iti abhidhiiyate. This is one of his thousand names, called Vishnu sahasra naama , each name elucidating his attributes.
"What is the idea to eliminate that demon's chief Ravana, oh, gods, adopting which strategy I will have to eliminate that thorn in the side of sages?" Thus Vishnu asked the gods.
Asked thus all the gods said to that sempiternal Vishnu, "on assuming a human form, eliminate Ravana in a war. Oh, destroyer of enemies, he that Ravana undertook a vehement ascesis for a long period, thereby the creator of worlds and the first born one Brahma, felt gladsome of his ascesis. Satisfied with his ascesis Brahma gave boon to that demon that he shall have no fear for his life from many kinds of beings, excepting humans, because that demon indeed slighted humans earlier at the time of bestowing boon.
"Thus, on getting boon from the Forefather Brahma he has become arrogant and torturing the three worlds, and he is even abducting women. As such, oh, enemy destroyer Vishnu, his elimination is envisaged through humans alone." So said gods to Vishnu.
On hearing that speech of gods said that way, he that kind-hearted Vishnu then chose Dasharatha as his father in human world.
During that time the great resplendent king and an enemy subduer Dasharatha is performing putrakaameSTi ritual, desiring progeny as he is sonless.
On taking a decision Vishnu took leave of Forefather Brahma, and vanished while he is still being extolled by gods and sages.
Then, from Fire of Altar Dasharatha's ritual there emerged a greatly vigorous and energetic Divine Being with an unparalleled resplendence, called yajna puruSa. He is clad in black and red garments and his face is red and his voice resembled the drumbeat. His moustache and hairdo are soft like that of a lion's mane. And he is endowed with auspicious features and decorated with divine ornaments, in height he is like a mountain peak, and in valiance he is like an imperious tiger.
That great ritual being personally brought a big golden vessel carrying it with both of his hands as if he would personally handle his own wife, which vessel is made from the molten gold and covered with a silver lid, and which appeared to be crafted out of a divine illusion, since it is dazzling like sun and glowing like the tongues of flame, and that vessel is full with the divine dessert.
That divine person on observing king Dasharatha said these words "oh, king, you may know me as the being sent by Prajapati." There after, king Dasharatha greeted that divine being with palms adjoining and said in reply, "oh, god, welcome to you, and what shall I do for you?"
Then again, that divine being sent by Prajapati said these words, "oh, king, now you have obtained this dessert in golden vessel as you have propitiated gods.
"Oh, tigerly king, take this dessert prepared by divinities, this is a blessed dessert that enriches progeny and health. Oh, king, let this be consumed" saying so he further said, "for which purpose you have performed this ritual that childbearing will be fructified in your wives by bearing sons, hence give this among your eligible wives." So said the divine being to Dasharatha.
Agreeing to that the king wholeheartedly took that god-given golden vessel full with divine food. With high ecstasy Dasharatha revered that Ritual Being, the Prajapati Purusha or yaj~na purusha , an astonishing and delightful being in his appearance, and performed circumambulations around him.
On obtaining that dessert prepared by gods then Dasharatha is highly gladdened like a pauper obtaining unforeseen wealth.
On completing his work of giving the golden vessel with dessert then that divine being who is astonishing by his form and highly glowing by his physique, disappeared then and there itself.
Lit up with beams of happiness Dasharatha's palace chambers shone forth like the autumnal sky brightened with moonbeams. Then Dasharatha on entering palace chambers spoke this to queen Kausalya, "Receive this dessert to beget your son."
This divine dessert is meant for the 'eligible' queens, as informed the Ritual Being and also in order to maintain the divinity of Ram's birth. In the context of seed and field, the field has no equal importance to the seed biija kshetra nyaya . Hence the seed is divine in the form of dessert and fields are therefore shall 'be eligible' for the seedling. As such the First Queen and Empress Kausalya is being addressed firstly, and given firstly.
The king then gave half of the dessert to queen Kausalya, and he gave half of the half, i.e., one fourth to queen Sumitra. And to Kaikeyi he gave half of the remaining half, i.e., one eight of the dessert, with a desire to beget sons. Then thinking for a while gave the remaining, i.e., one-eighth portion again to queen Sumitra. Thus, the king distributed the dessert to his wives differently.
This is a much-discussed distribution by the traditionalists. Adhyatma Ramayana, a treatise that postulates god-hood to Rama, gives a well-constructed argument about these shares of dessert and the resultant births of the four brothers, viz., Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata, and Shatrughna, in accordance with these shares. In its simplest terms and as contained in these verses, queen Kausalya got half of the dessert as an Empress, paTTa mahiSi. Sumitra gets one-fourth in the first round and after a rethink by Dasharatha, she gets another one-eighth portion. Kaikeyi gets only a one-eighth quantity. Thus, Kausalya gives birth to Rama, Sumitra to Lakshmana and Shatrughna, and Kaikeyi to Bharata. The quantum of apportionment of the dessert does not make Rama all-powerful or Bharata the least. Since the Absolute is indivisible into parts, the dessert that is divided is not to be taken as the divided Absolute, but a kind of medium through which the incarnation is made possible.
There is another declination enquiring whether the incarnation of Rama is full or partial, puurNa avatara or artha avatara... Rama is Vishnu Himself while Bharata and Shatrughna are his disc and conch-shell, while Lakshmana is the thousand headed snake aadi sesha on whose coils Vishnu reclines. The whole dessert is divine and parts of it do not signify and inter-divided god-hoods. Hence, the apportionment of the desert is done in order to keep up the hierarchy of the queen-hoods and their status. Throughout this magnum opus Rama never said that he is god or an incarnate of god, but called himself, nimitta maatra a casual relation to the course of events. Should Rama be the incarnation of the Almighty Himself, he has little or no necessity to incarnate the weaponry along with him. They are at his beck and call at any time. Thus, Rama is neither a half nor one-fourth incarnation of the Absolute nor a dividend of the whole, but an incarnate of the virtuously ideal personality of Vishnu, maryaada purushottama Rama.
Incidental to this apportionment of the dessert, the aspect of eldest son is also studied. Rama is the first-born and thus the eldest. This is because the dessert is given to queen Kausalya in the first instance, and half of the whole vessel. She immediately consumed to lionise her share and as an Empress. Sumitra waited a while till apportionment is complete. Kaikeyi got her portion but waited till her elder sister Sumitra completes her drink. In the meanwhile Dasharatha thought a while, as said in the verse, and gave Sumitra another one-eighth part. Sumitra then consumed her two parts. Later Kaikeyi drinks her dividend.
On getting the dessert all of those best ladies of the king, whose hearts are exuberant with happiness, deemed it as a reward. Then on consuming dessert those best ladies of the king whose resplendence then vied with that Fire and Sun became pregnant after some time.
A synecdochic expression to indicate that Sun and Fire, the enliveners of living beings, pratyaksha naraayaNa are there in those wombs and their resplendence is shining out of mothers bodies.
Then on seeing his queens with confirmed pregnancies Dasharatha regained his lost heart for sons, and he is gladdened like Vishnu, who will always be gladsome when worshipped by gods, namely Indra and others, as well as by the assemblages of great souls, sages.

Ayodhya, Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh, India

Valmiki briefly mentions the greatness of .the line of Ikshvaku and says that the epic came into being through the grace of Brahma, and he is only making it known to the world as it contains the three purushaarthas, namely dharma, artha and kama, which subsequently lead to the fourth, Moksha. Valmiki then entreats the listener to hear it with sradhdha, faith and withoutasooya, cavil.
Every literary work must satisfy four requisites, namely, vishaya, subject matter, adhikari , to whom it is intended, prayojana, the fruit and sambandha , relevance. Vishaya has been indicated by ‘Ikshvaakoonaam idham theshaam raajnaam vamse mahaathmmanaam mahadhuthpannamaakhyaanam ramayanamithi srutham,.’ this Ramayana, the story of Rama , descendant of the line of Ikshvaku. Adhikariis the one with sradhdha and without asooya, Prayojana is the four purushaarthas and the sambandha is made specific by the above.
Then comes the description of the land of Kosala which is situated north of Ganga, on the banks of the river Sarayu. It was prosperous and fertile the residents of which were mudhitha. Happy and spheetha, rich. While Valmiki only hinted at the splendour of Kosala, Kamban has gone into raptures and dedicated a whole chapter for the description of Kosaladesa and its inhabitants. One of the most beautiful and oft quoted verse of Kamban about Kosala is,
’ thandalai mayilgal aada, thaamarai vilakkam thaanga,
kondalgal muzavin Enga, kuvlai kan viziththu nOkka,
thenthirai ezini kaatta, thembizi makarayaazin
vandugal inidhu paada, marudham veetrirukkum maadhaO.
’ The type of land was called Marudham, fertile agricultural region, which reigns supreme in Kosala. With plenty of rain one can always hear the thunder of the clouds sounding like the regal trumpet and drum, the peacocks are the court dancers, the lotuses are the carriers of lamps, while the singers are the bees, the kuvalai flowers are the audience and the curtain for the stage is provided by the waves of the Sarayu river. Only a vague description can be provided as the beauty of the poetry can be understood only when it is read in the original Tamil.
After just one sloka about Kosala Valmiki starts to describe the city of Ayodhya by three slokas. It was constructed by Manu, the father of Ikshvaku. The city covered the area of twelve yojanas long and three yojanas wide.( A yojana is approximately nine miles.) The streets of Ayodhya were highways, flanked by trees, strewn with flowers and the city was always cool with enough rains and watered otherwise. The city as described by Valmiki proves that in ancient India .city civilization was of a high standard. The houses were inlaid with precious stones and with barns full of food grains always filled with the sweet sound of musical instruments.
Valmiki describes the people of Ayodhya. They were laghuhasthaah, skilled and dexterous,vishaaradhaah, learned and strong, able to kill wild animals by arrows as well as by hand, ‘hanthaarah nishithaissastraih balaath baahu balairapi.’. But they were also noble and desisted from hitting by mere sound na sabdhavedhyam, even though they could, perhaps learnt their lesson by the experience of Dasaratha who killed a hermit’s son mistaking him to be an elephant by the sound and incurred the curse of his parents. There were no cowards, or orphans or loners in Ayodhya..
Ayodhya means yodhdhum na shakyaa, invincible. Valmiki indicates the invincibility of the city by saying ‘ dhurgagambheera parikhaam dhurgham anyaih dhuraasadhaam, surrounded by moats deep and difficult to cross over and hence inaccessible to others.
The description of the prosperity of the citizens of Ayodhya by Kamban is interesting. He says,
’kalvaar ilaamaipporul kaavalum illai; yaadhum
kolvaar ilaamaikkoduppaaargalum illai madho.
ellaarum ellaapperunchelvamum eidhalaale
illaarum illai ;udayaargalum illai maadho.
Since there were no robbers there was no police. Since there was no one to receive there were no givers. Since all were enjoying all riches there was no one who can be termed as poor nor as rich.

Ayodhya, Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh, India



When Rama is 16 years old, the sage Vishwamitra comes to the court of Dasharatha in search of help against demons, who were disturbing sacrificial rites. He chooses Rama, who is followed by Lakshmana, his constant companion throughout the story. Rama and Lakshmana receive instructions and supernatural weapons from Vishwamitra, and proceed to destroy the demons.[34]
When Rama was sixteen, a holy sage named Vishwamitra came to Ayodhya and asked the young prince to go with him to the forest. The forest dwellers needed help to destroy the wild rakshasas who were deliberately disturbing the quiet devotions of the holy hermits. Accompanied by his devoted brother Lakshmana, Rama went with Vishwamitra. No sooner had they entered the forest than they met the accursed rakshasi Tataka. Vishwamitra told Rama to kill her, but Rama hesitated because Tataka was a woman. But, persuaded that her dreadful deeds deserved the most dire punishment, and observing that she was then charging at him in unruly wrath, Rama shot an arrow (9). It pierced her hard heart. She fell down dead. This was Rama’s first victory against the rakshasa raiders. Thereupon, Vishwamitra took Rama aside and, while Lakshmana stood by, taught him the mastery of celestial spells and wondrous weapons (11).

Ayodhya, Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh, India

When Rama was sixteen, a holy sage named Vishwamitra came to Ayodhya and asked the young prince to go with him to the forest. The forest dwellers needed help to destroy the wild rakshasas who were deliberately disturbing the quiet devotions of the holy hermits. Accompanied by his devoted brother Lakshmana, Rama went with Vishwamitra. No sooner had they entered the forest than they met the accursed rakshasi Tataka. Vishwamitra told Rama to kill her, but Rama hesitated because Tataka was a woman. But, persuaded that her dreadful deeds deserved the most dire punishment, and observing that she was then charging at him in unruly wrath, Rama shot an arrow (9). It pierced her hard heart. She fell down dead. This was Rama’s first victory against the rakshasa raiders. Thereupon, Vishwamitra took Rama aside and, while Lakshmana stood by, taught him the mastery of celestial spells and wondrous weapons (11).
The great sage Vishvamitra was living in the area near the forest of Tataka and was doing penance and yajna with his disciples and was tormented by Tataka and her sons. Unable to tolerate the menace any longer, Vishvamitra approached Dasharatha, the King of Ayodhya for help. He requested Dasharatha to send his eldest son, Rama to protect his yajna. Though Dasharatha was initially reluctant to send his 13-year old boy, he finally sent Rama and his younger brother Lakshmana with Vishvamitra on the advice of the royal guru Vashishtha. Vishvamitra trained them in warfare and taught them various mantras.[2][3][4]
When Vishvamitra and the princes were passing through the forest of Tataka, Tataka attacked them. Rama, aided by Lakshamana, slew her with his arrow. Vishvamitra blessed Rama, as the gods rejoiced the end of Tataka. The sage gifted him with divine weapons as a reward. Vishvamitra then began his six-day yajna, with the princes standing in guard.[2][3][4]
While the first five days passed without incidence, on the sixth day the sacrificial fire suddenly falters, indicating trouble. Maricha and his brother Subahu, with a hoard of a rakshasas, appeared from tree tops like black clouds, roaring and making lot of noise. They tried to destroy the yajna fire showering blood and flesh. Rama fired hisManavastra (human missible arrow) from his bow. The arrow stroke Maricha's chest and threw him hundred leagues away in the ocean. In another version, Maricha fled to the ocean just by hearing the sound of Rama's bow. Subahu and the other demons were killed by Rama, using various other weapons. The sacrifice was completed successfully.[1][5][6][7] Under the guidance of Vishvamitra, Rama gets wed to Sita, the adopted daughter of Janaka and the princess of Mithila.

One day, traveling North, the trio saw a miracle. A beautiful lady saint named Ahalya had been separated from her husband by a curse. She had been condemned to remain invisible and immobile in one place while her husband wandered elsewhere. The curse could only be broken by Rama. As soon as he entered the place where Ahalya stayed unseen, unmoving, the curse was lifted. As Rama and Lakshmana looked on, caught by surprise, Ahalya regained her former shape, and she began to shine with luminous beauty (13). Moments later she was reunited with the sage who was her faithful husband.

Kosala, Angul, Odisha, India

Janaka was the king of Mithila. One day, a female child was found in the field by the king in the deep furrow dug by his plough. Overwhelmed with joy, the king regarded the child as a "miraculous gift of God". The child was named Sita, the Sanskrit word for furrow.[35] Sita grew up to be a girl of unparalleled beauty and charm. When Sita was of marriageable age, the king decided to have aswayamvara which included a contest. The king was in possession of an immensely heavy bow, presented to him by the God Shiva: whoever could wield the bow could marry Sita. The sage Vishwamitra attends the swayamvarawith Rama and Lakshmana. Only Rama wields the bow and breaks it. Marriages are arranged between the sons of Dasharatha and daughters of Janaka. Rama gets married to Sita, Lakshmana to Urmila, Bharata to Mandavi and Shatrughan to Shrutakirti. The weddings are celebrated with great festivity at Mithila and the marriage party returns to Ayodhya.[34]

King Janaka had declared that any man who could lift and string Shiva’s heavy bow might have Sita for his wife. As Sita grew in years and beauty, many suitors tried, but none succeeded in budging the weighty weapon. But when Rama entered the contest, he easily lifted the bow and strung it. So tightly did he set the string that he cracked the bow in two (17). So pleased was Sita by this astonishing sight that she came forward and offered him the garland of marriage (19). On the very same day that they were wed, Sita’s sister married Lakshmana and her two cousins wed Rama’s other brothers, Bharata and Shatraghna.