|V for Vishwamitra (King Kaushika in the picture)|
Vishishta blessed the king, “Aayushmaan bhava! Why don’t you and your men freshen up at the river? Dinner will be served soon.”
Thanking the sage, Kaushika turned to his men and instructed them to camp for the night. He was glad that they wouldn’t go hungry. They hadn’t been able to hunt enough to feed the large army. He was sure the ashram would be able to provide them with fruits along with some rice and lentils – enough to carry them through the night. After all, one can’t expect a sage to provide for two hundred hungry warriors.
Less than an hour later, King Kaushika’s eyes almost popped out of his head as he saw the array of dishes provided for dinner. There were three types of sweets, four vegetables, two different lentils along with fish and mutton. All these were served on silver plates along with the best quality of steaming rice. Astounding! However could a sage manage this? Despite his curiosity, Kaushika had two helpings of each dish as they were irresistible. After ensuring that his men were comfortably settled, Kaushika went to meet his host.
“Rishivar, I am truly thankful for the feast that you provided for all of us. But how...?”
Sage Vashishta was amused to see the amazement on the king’s face. He gestured to the royal to go with him as he walked to the cow-shed. Kaushika followed, wondering where the sage was taking him. They stopped outside a specially cordoned off section which housed a young cow. “Meet Nandini, the divine cow. She was given me by Lord Indra himself. She’s the source of the feast that you and your men enjoyed today, my dear king,” said the sage, his love for the cow obvious.
King Kaushika stared in disbelief. Was such a thing possible? The sage read his mind easily and bringing his hands together against his chest in a prayer posture, requested of Nandini, “Please bless me with two horses.”
Nandini stood up and suddenly, two horses sprung forth from within her. The king’s jaw dropped as he saw the excellent quality of the horses. His mind was made up. He had to have Nandini. What use was such a wonderful cow to a sage, living in the forest?
The next day, as he took his leave, the king said to Vashishta, “Let me have that cow Rishivar. Nandini will be of way more use to a king than to a sage who has given up all worldly pursuits. I will provide you with whatever you need from my kingdom,” he offered in exchange.
When the sage refused, the king sent his warriors to forcefully take the cow. Within a few seconds, hundreds of warriors sprung from Nandini on Vashishta’s silent request. The king’s men were no match for the divine warriors and soon Kaushika was bound tightly and brought before the sage.
“I will pardon you this time, King Kaushika. Go away and do not come back in the direction of my ashram ever again,” said Sage Vashishta as he had the king set free.
That’s when King Kaushika decided that all the riches of his kingdom were nothing in comparison to the power of Sage Vashishta’s penance. He renounced his kingdom and went to the forest to do penance. It was King Kaushika who became Vishwamitra, the Brahmarishi.
Namaskar Rishivar - The way to greet a great sage
Aayushmaan bhava - Blessing for a long life
Brahmarishi - the greatest of sages
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