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Vishvamitra / विश्वामित्र
Brahmarshi Vishvamitra is one of the most venerated rishis or sages of ancient times in India, who was born a Kshatriya, but by intense austerities raised himself to the Brahman caste. Vishvamitra was the only son of king Gaadhi and brother of Satyavati. After Satyavati was married to sage Richik, she asked her husband for a son. She also asked that her father could have a son to continue his line. By his grace, a son was born to the wife of king Gaadhi. The child was named Vishvamitra. When Vishvamitra came of age, king Gaadhi retired to the forest and Vishvamitra ascended the throne. Once, while out hunting, Vishvamitra paid a visit to Vasishtha's hermitage, and was most hospitably entertained. Vishvamitra wished to obtain Vasishtha miraculous cow, Nandini, which had furnished all the dainties of the feast. His offers were immense, but were all declined. The cow resisted and broke away when he attempted to take her by force, and when he battled for her, his armies were defeated by the hosts summoned up by the cow and his hundred sons were reduced to ashes. A long and fierce combat followed between Vasishtha and Vishvamitra, in which the latter was defeated. Vishvamitra had to submit to the humiliation of acknowledging his inferiority to the Brahman, and he therefore, resolved to work out his own elevation to the Brahmanical order. Leaving his kingdom to his only surviving son, Vishvamitra retired to the forest to perform penance. While he was engaged in austerities for accomplishing his object of becoming a Brahman he met king Trishanku. This king desired to perform a sacrifice in virtue of which he might ascend bodily to heaven. His priest, Vasishtha, declared it to be impossible, and Vishvamitra decided to perform the sacrifice. Having used up most of his power in sending Trishanku to heaven, Vishvamitra started once again performing severe penance.
His austerities had so alarmed the gods that Indra sent the Apsara Menka to seduce Vishvamitra. She succeeded, and the result was the birth of Shakuntala. Menka left the baby in the forest, where it was found by the sage Kanva, who adopted the child and named her Shakuntala. Vishvamitra at length became ashamed of his passion, and dismissing Menka, he retired to the mountains, where he practised severe austerities for a thousand years. Another Apsara Rambha too was sent, but this time Vishvamitra did not submit to the charms of the nymph and cursed Rambha instead. Having performed severe austerities for another three to four thousand years, Vishvamitra was finally raised to the dignity of a Brahmarshi by Brahma and was also acknowledged by Vasishtha. It was the sage Vishvamitra who prevailed upon king Dashrath to send his son Ram for the protection of the Brahmans against the attacks of Tadaka and the other Daemons. He taught Ram the secret of several celestial weapons so that he could kill the demons in the forest. After the aforesaid mission was accomplished, Vishvamitra took Ram and Lakshman, where he arranged for Ram to marry Sita and Lakshman, Bharat and Shatrughna to the other sister of Sita. Once, Galax, a disciple of Vishvamitra, presented him six hundred horses and Madhvi, daughter of king Yayati as Gurudakshina. By Madhvi, Vishvamitra had a son named Ashtak. It was Vishvamitra who saved Shunahsheph from being sacrificed. Vishvamitra also caused king Kalmashpad to eat up all the sons of Vasishtha.
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