The story of sage Vishwamitra
Now Vishwamitra is not just some mystic yogi or a gurukula teacher or something. Vishwamitra was such a great powerful personality. He was a great ksatriya. One day he was going on a big hunting tour, and while he was going, the tradition was that when you pass by a gurukula or an ashrama, the kings must stop. And they must go there and respect the saint. The saintly person in turn will feed the king, because the king will not carry so much ration when he goes into the forest. And he's not going to live on fruits and roots, because he's the king, not some saintly person. He needs some feast, so the saintly person must arrange the feast. And for arranging the feast the kings will always donate a lot of things to the saintly person. In this way there was a nice arrangement for making feasts and taking feasts. So this great army of Kaushika, Vishwamitra , was coming, and he had his hundred sons and he was thinking, "That's a small ashrama there." He looked down into the valley and the ashrama was about four houses, and there was stream running nearby. Vishwamitra thought, "My army of a hundred sons shouldn't go. You all stay here," he said to his sons. "It is a custom that I should go and respect this saintly person, so I will go there and then I will come back. And if he asks to feed something to me that is alright, but he can't feed my whole army."
So Kaushika went down, and there was two brahmacharis washing cloth in the stream, so he asked them, "Whose ashrama is this?" The brahmacharis replied, "This is the ashrama of Vasistha Muni." "Vasistha?" Kaushika asked. "He's in my country and I didn't even know." "He came three months ago," the brahmacharis replied. He would always go like that. He stays in a place for about three hundred years and then he moves to another ashrama, because too many students come there and he doesn't like a big population. So whenever there is too many people he disappears with one or two students and goes to open another school somewhere else. "I would like to see him" Vishwamitra said. So the brahmacaris brought him before Vasistha. Vasistha was making some thread from cotton. He was wearing a gamsha around his waist and another around his shoulders. Kaushika was coming with many ornaments and a golden crown, so he came in there and took his crown off, and touched Vasistha's feet. He then said, "I am Kaushika and I am on a hunting trip. I have a hundred sons who I have left on the highway and I have come here just to see you. So you please bless my kingdom." Vasistha said, "How is this possible that you are coming to my ashrama and going without a feast?" Vishwamitra looked at the house with its grass roof and cow-dung floor and the whole ashrama was only three or four houses. "You're going to give me a feast?" Vishwamitra asked "How will I eat it without mysons?" "No no, your sons, your army, your castle, everyone. Bring them here." "But where will they sit? You have only four huts." "Bring them here,"
Vasistha said very determinedly. "If I don't bring them, he will curse," Vishwamitra thought, so he went back to his sons."All of you come with me to this ashrama," he told them. "You must be joking!" the sons replied. "If we all go to that ashrama, we will be crushed. There's no place in there." Vishwamitra said, "This great rishi has asked, so we must go." They were thinking, "Even if we passed by there, by the sound of these chariots the roofs will cave in." Their chariots were huge with eighteen horses each. Kaushika said, "I don't want to be cursed, so let's go down there." As they were going down into the valley they saw that a big township was there. Palaces, roads, and swimming pools. People were running out of the city. It was a city suddenly, and Kaushika was thinking, "This is wonderful. Just in the time of closing my eyes there is a big city here. It's bigger than Mahismati, my capital! Look at these palaces!" They were all looking at this and wondering, and then Vasistha came out and said, "What are you doing? You must all go and take bath. Feast is already prepared. It will get cold." So then after they took bath they came and thousands of them sat down on a big grass lawn. They saw no plates or anything in front of them, and Vasistha made them sit in rows. Vishwamitra said, "What items are you going to give us, and how are you going to serve it?" asistha replied, "You can think of any plate you like, and you can think of any item you like, and you can think of any quantity you like, and you will get it." Vishwamitra thought, "A diamond plate." Boom! And the diamond plate was there. And whatever he liked at that time was coming, heaps and heaps and they were eating and eating, but still it was just coming and coming, and they were just eating all the items they had ever heard about. One person said, "What Indra eats on his birthday, I want that." So he got it. Everyone got everything they liked. They were so satisfied, and then they wanted to see a dance. "What dance do you want to see?" Vasistha asked them. Vishwamitra said, "The dance that is seen by Narayana in Svetadvipa, I want to see that." "All right, you can see," Vasistha replied. Immediately there was a stage. And there was a wonderful stage by the celestials of Vaikuntha. And Vishwamitra was so envious. He was thinking, "What is this? Some baba, he is having so much opulence. I am a king, and I look like a beggar in front of him."
So he came to Vasistha and asked, "Please tell me, what is the source of your opulence? I'm sure it's not this beard." Vasistha replied, "No, it's not my beard. It's my cow." Then he clapped his hands and he said, "Kama-dhenu, come here." And then a kama-dhenu came. This cow had a long tail like a braid, and a peacock feather on the back. It had the breasts of a human female on her chest and the body of a cow. And in her whole body is the potency of all the demigods. This cow came when the milk ocean was churned for nectar, and was given to Vasistha by the Supreme Lord, because he performed wonderful sacrifices so he needed a lot of wealth. Where could he go, because the kings were such small timers. Sometimes they would have wealth, and even though they had sometimes they would say that they don't have. So he gave this cow. "You can get anything from this cow." Vishwamitra said, "I will give you one million ordinary cows. You give me this cow."Vasistha said, "You must be a fool.
One million ordinary cows, why should I take them and give you this special cow. If you give me one million kama-dhenus then I can think of giving you this one." "But you know," Vishwamitra said, "according to the shastras, whatever is in this land belongs to the king, and I am the king so it belongs to me." Vasistha said, "Look at the kama-dhenu again, Kaushika." Vishwamitra looked at the cow and noticed that it was four feet off the ground. "This cow does not belong to you," Vasistha said. "Only if it touches the earth does it belong to you." So Vishwamitra was defeated. He said to Vasistha, "Look, you may have so much tapovalam, but I am a ksatriya and I have so much strength, one hundred sons. I am not going to ask you for the cow, I am just going to take. So he came behind the kama-dhenu and started to pull, and his hundred sons were helping him. "What are you doing?" the cow said to Vasistha. "You are my protector, and you are not doing anything. This mleccha is taking me away." Kaushika said, "You are calling me a mleccha?" "Yes, you are taking the property of a Brahmin, so you are a mleccha at least now, or in the next life you are going to be. Why are you doing this? This is nonsense, and even the Lord will not be tolerant of this, you will be finished. Your whole dynasty will be finished, this is my curse." Vishwamitra said, "You are a cow, so don't talk so much. Just come with me. " So then Vasistha said, "Don't do this. She does not like it. If she liked it, then you could take her, but she does not like it." Still Vasistha was keeping his anger inside, not showing it.
"You keep quiet," Kaushika said. "I am taking the cow." Vasistha said, "Where are your 100 sons? I will show my power on them, because I don't want to finish you. If you are there you can produce another 100 sons. Show me your sons." "Here are my sons," Kaushika said, and then Vasistha looked at them and they were all gone. And then he said, "Kaushika, do you want to become a heap of ash? Then you'd better run away from me." Then Kaushika, in great disgust left the ashrama. He went to the Himalayas and performed austerities for 300 years to please Mahadeva. Lord Siva came, and asked Kaushika, "What benediction do you want?" There's one great thing about a benediction from Siva. If you take a benediction from him, it is only for your destruction. His benedictions will only destroy, they will never give anything good. Unless you ask for love of God, or devotion, but if one has approached Siva he generally doesn't ask for these things. So Siva was asking, "What benediction do you want?" Or in other words, how do you want to be destroyed? So then Kaushika said, "I must have all the divine weapons.
All the weapons that Indra has, Agni has, Varuna has, all of them must come to my mind, and I must control them. I must be a rajarishi." "Yes, you are a rajarishi," Siva said. "Now stop doing austerities, because it is burning my body. Go." Then Vishwamitra immediately flew to Vasistha's ashrama. Vasistha was having an oil bath, having oil massaged on his body. When someone is having an oil on the body you're not supposed to talk to him or talk in conversation. Kaushika did not even give him a challenge or anything, he just immediately started doing all the astras on Vasistha. Vasistha was still sitting there getting oil on his body, and the first thing that Vishwamitra threw was a brahmastra. "Suddenly so much heat is in mustard oil," Vasistha said. "It's not that hot!" So then Vasistha looked over his shoulder and saw the brahmastra. "My God! What is he doing? Who taught him these weapons? He does n't know where to put them! He's throwing them here, but I am having an oil massage here. Kaushika, stop doing this nonsense!" Then came Agni astra, and then came Vayu astra. They were all coming one after another. "This is too much," Vasistha said, and he looked around. He saw his walking stick, which was getting old, so he took that and threw it out. Then he continued with his massage. The walking stick came out and faced the brahmastra. The brahmastra touched this walking stick, and it became like ice, and fell down. Then came the Agni astra, which came emanating so much fire, and all the trees were burnt, but when it faced the stick this astra was also pulled down. Then Vayu astra came, and all the astras that he learnt from Lord Siva were all used up, pulled down by the stick. Then the stick started moving towards Vishwamitra , so Vishwamitra started running away.
As he crossed the area of Vasistha's ashrama, the stick went down and Vasistha kept it down. Then Vishwamitra sat up and he was thinking, "That is just a stick that he uses for walking. What will happen if he takes a bow? What will happen to me then? So this rajarishi is no good, I will become a brahmarishi." So again he went up to the Himalayas, and he performed tapasya for such a long time that Brahma came to him. "What do you want?" Brahma asked. "Why are you troubling me like this?" "I want to be a brahmarishi," said Vishwamitra . Brahma said, "Well I am Brahma, and I am calling you a rishi, so you are a brahmarishi. You be satisfied." Vishwamitra said, "No, Vasistha should say it." So Brahma brought Vishwamitra to Vasistha and said, "Please call him brahmarishi." Vasistha looked at him and said, "What a great tapasa you have done! After all you are a ksatriya, you are supposed to been enjoying your senses. Simply by my challenge, you have become such a great rishi. Why brahmarishi? You are a jnanarishi, the rishi of saintly people. You are worshipable by me. Now Vishwamitra , you stop your austerities." So Vishwamitra stopped his austerities there, and he became well known as brahmarishi and was moving around.