Namaste! Today, it is all about King Sagar and his descendants!
King Rohitashva’s great-great-great-great-grandson (Whew!) was Bahu. Bahu had lived a full life, but had no heir. He left Kosala and retired to the forest with his wives. Soon, he passed away, his chief wife, Yadavi, who was pregnant at the time, decided to immolate herself at her husband’s pyre. The Sages persuaded her not to, and she gave in. The other wives of Bahu were jealous of her as her son would become Bahu’s heir. They poisoned Yadavi to kill her and the child, but due to divine intervention, they survived.
Soon, Yadavi gave birth to a boy named Sagar. He grew up under the tutelage of Sage Vashishta and became an able King. After many years, he decided to conduct an Ashwamedha Yagna.
Yes, yes, I am here. An Ashwamedha Yagna is when a King releases a ceremonial horse to wander for a year. Wherever the horse goes, it becomes the King’s territory. If it goes into another Kingdom, and they refuse to be under the control of the King, they can wage war with him.
The horse was freed, and Sagar waited for a year. The horse still hadn’t returned, he sent his sixty-thousand sons to search for it. They dug up the earth to see if the horse was in Patala Loka, the underground realm of the Asuras and Nagas. In Patala, they found a cave where the Sage Kapila was meditating. The horse was right next to him!
Mistaking the Sage for a thief, they attacked him. As the Sage opened his eyes, the sixty-thousand sons of Sagara were burnt to ashes by Kapila’s power gained from penance. Sagara was extremely saddened by hearing the news. Sagara had to bring back the sacrificial horse from Patala, so he sent his grandson, Anshuman to retrieve it.
Anshuman recognized the Sage as an Avatar of Lord Vishnu. (Remember that Vishnu took many minor Avatars?) He praised his greatness, asking for a solution for the calming of his sixty-thousand forefathers’ souls. Sage Kapila advised him to bring the celestial river Ganga to Patala, over their ashes for their peaceful afterlife.
Sagara and Anshuman spent their whole lives trying to get the river on earth, and then to Patala, but no avail. How will Sagara’s sons gain a peaceful passage into Swarga?
King Bhagirath was Anshuman’s son, Dileepa’s son. To bring Ganga to earth, he performed penance. He managed to please the river Goddess, she agreed to come to earth. As she descended from the heavens, her flow was so strong, it would wash away the whole earth. To stop this, Lord Shiva controlled her flow with his locks, slowly releasing her onto the earth. This is why Ganga is also called Bhagirathi, from Bhagirath. The river flowed from the Himalayas, into the sea and Patala. Till now, the pure Ganga flows on this earth.
Till next time!