Introduction

सप्तर्षियों में से सातवें ऋषि- वशिष्ठ ऋषि | गुरु वशिष्ठ |Story Of Maharishi Vashistha |Hindu Rituals

Vasishta was a great ascetic. He was the preceptor of great men like Sri Rama and Harischandra. He had conquered anger and desire. He was a great saint who humbled insolent men. As a preceptor, he imparted knowledge and became a guide to thousands of aspirants.

Have you seen the Pole Star? If you observe keenly you can see it at night in the northern part of the sky shining bright always. Below the Pole Star, you will find a group of stars in the shape of inverted English letters. They are seven in number and are called ‘Saptarshi Mandala’ or the Great Bear constellation. The seven saints after whom they are named are Marichi, Atri, Angiras, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, and Vasishta. Rishi or saint means a wise man, the man who knows the secret of the Vedas.

Kulapati (Acharya, The Teacher)

Vasishta Training Rama and Lakshmana

Vasishta is supposed to have been born as the result of Brahma’s will power. He was a great ascetic, labored for the welfare of the world.

Vasishta was not a recluse, he was a householder.

He was married to Arundhati. Arundhati is famous for virtues and devotion to her husband. There is a small star close to Vasishta in the Great Bear or Saptarshi Mandal. They have named it after Arundhati. Among the Hindus, immediately after, the wedding, the bride is shown Arundhati and she worships the star. It is a symbolic acceptance of the ideal of virtue and devotion by the bride.

Vasishta had his hermitage on the banks of the river Saraswati. Arundhati spent all her time in the service of her husband. He had with him thousand of disciples and taught them the Vedas.

Vasishta was affectionately addressed by his disciples as Kulapati or chief preceptor. In those days a teacher who fed and taught at least ten thousand students was called Kulapati. Vasishta’s daily routine was to teach his disciples, to preach dharma to the visitors and to practice tapas or austerities.

There was an atmosphere of peace in the hermitage. The plants and trees were full of flowers and fruits. A variety of birds sang and flew about in the hermitage. Herds of deer and cows lived there. There was a regular performance of several holy sacrifices for the good of the world. Several hundreds of visitors used to come to the hermitage to meet Vasishta. The merit earned by the performance of tapas was Vasishta’s great strength.

He was a man of peace. He had conquered desire and anger. His Ashram needed great quantities of milk, curds, and ghee for the feeding of thousands of his disciples, guests, and performance of sacrifices regularly. Devendra had gifted to Vasishta a divine cow, having admired his generosity and performance of sacrifices. The cow was called Nandini.

She was the daughter of Kamadhenu. Since it was a divine cow it had extraordinary powers. The Ashram got plenty of milk and ghee from this cow. Since it had moonlike patches all over the body, it was also called ‘Shabala.’ The word means many-colored.

Vasishta and Arundhati were very fond of Nandini.

Vasishta Maharshi with Arundhati in hermitage

Vishwamitra Arrives as a Guest

Vasishta’s tapas, patience, and the aura of God-realization were so great that king Vishwamitra was influenced by him to give up his kingship and desired to become a Rishi like Vasishta.

Vishwamitra was a king. He went to the forest to hunt. Once, after hunting, he was returning with his tired army and happened to pass through Vasishta’s Ashram. He wished to pay his kingship and desired his respects to Vasishta.

Vishwamitra saluted Vasishta with proper respect and humility. Vasishta was glad to meet king Vishwamitra. He entertained the king and his army with fruits and other delicacies and spoke to him with affection.

Vishwamitra got ready to depart after this.

Then Vasishta said,

“Vishwamitra, you are a guest here. You and your army may take food and rest here and then depart.”

Vishwamitra thought, ‘My army is big. If all of us stay here for food, the inhabitants in the Ashram will be put to hardship’. He said aloud,

“Great soul, we are all satisfied with your kind words. I am fortunate to have met you. I thank you for your kindness. Extend the same love always. Allow us to depart.” Vasishta said, “King, do not feel embarrassed. I do not feel happy if you go away without taking food. All of you should stay back.” Vishwamitra agreed to do so since Vasishta pressurized him.

As a result of Nandini’s divine powers, there were large quantities of sweets and other eatables.

Vishwamitra and his followers ate to their heart content.

Guest becomes Enemy

Vishwamitra was greatly surprised at what Nandini had performed. He felt greedy and wished to take the cow with him to his capital.

He went to Vasishta and expressed his desire.

Vasishta said, “King, Indra gave this cow to me.

I can feed thousands of my disciples and guests every day only with the help of this cow gifted to me by Indra. Even the milk, curds and ghee required for sacrifices here and supplied by Nandini only. How can you ask for such a cow?” Vishwamitra said, “Saint. I shall give in place of your cow one lakh decorated cows which will supply your requirement and you will not feel the absence of Nandini.”

Vasishta said, “That is not the point, King. It is not proper to give away a gift made to me by Devas. It will go against the wishes of the Devas.” Vishwamitra argued, “it will not violate any ethical norms. I shall supply all the requirements of your Ashram. Give me Nandini.” Vasishta argued,

“Why should you bear the burden of this expenditure? If you have an ample supply of foodgrains, use them to help your subjects. Give them to the poor. Let them be happy. I do not wish to accept money from a king for the use of our Ashram.” Thus the argument went on between the two. Vasishta would not agree to part with Nandini and Vishwamitra would not accept the refusal. Finally, Vishwamitra became very angry.

Vishwamitra forcefull trying to take Nandini from Vasishta

He thought, ‘I am a great king. Whatever good things that are in my kingdom should belong to me. A poor saint, like Vasishta, is disrespectful by his conduct and then said, “Vasishta, if you do not give Nandini, I will take her by force.

So saying, he got ready to leave.

Vasishta remained peaceful and did not say anything.

Vishwamitra called his soldiers and ordered,

“Soldiers, tie up the cow with ropes and bring her along by force. They surrounded the cow. But she dodged them and came running to Vasishta and pleaded, “Great saint, the king’s guards are trying to drag me by force. Do you give me up?

What wrong did I do?”

Vasishta answered, “Shabala, you have done no wrong. I have not given you up. Vishwamitra is taking you by force and he has the army.

Besides, he is my guest. How can I stop him?

Then Nandini said to Vasishta, “Permit me. I shall subdue his army.” Vasishta agreed. Nandini then bellowed once.

By the divine power of her voice, lakhs of magical soldiers came into being and faced Vishwamitra’s army. There was a great battle and Vishwamitra’s army was defeated.

Power of Tapas

Vishwamitra became most worried. He felt ashamed because he was not able to face a saint and a cow though. Like a fangless, he had a large army snake and like a wingless bird, he felt sad. He was burning with the desire to take revenge. He decided to earn powerful weapons by performing tapas. He went to the Himalayas and worshipped Ishwara with his austere tapas and earned in return knowledge of archery and divine weapons.

Vishwamitra was insolent because of his position as king and overlord. After winning the divine weapons, he was swollen with pride. It went to his head. He thought he would be able to defeat Vasishta completely and destroy him.

With this determination, he came to the hermitage of Vasishta. He began to rain arrows on the Ashram and destroy it. The other saints and disciples ran helter-skelter. The animals and birds of the Ashram were terrified. There was wailing followed by destruction.

Vasishta came to know about the destruction caused by Vishwamitra. He comforted the frightened disciples and advised them to take courage.

Vishwamitra attacking Vasishta. Vasishta defending with Brahmadanda

Brahmadanda, the staff of the saint, came out of his hermitage and confronted Vishwamitra and said, “O you fool, why are you destroying the Ashram without any cause? Is it proper for a king to destroy when he should protect?” Vishwamitra got ready to release his arrow called Agneyastra, a powerful weapon.

Then Vasishta put up his saint’s staff (Brahmadanda) before him and said, “Vishwamitra, show me your valor and strength.” Then Vishwamitra released his Agneyastra against Vasishta. The arrow sped roaring with fire towards Vasishta but got reduced like a burnt-out faggot and fell at his feet like live coals dropping into a tank.

What is a Brahmadanda?

It is the staff in the hands of an ascetic. The power and strength of Vasishta’s tapas were concentrated in the staff. In his anger, Vishwamitra released one by one all his powerful weapons.

Rudra, Aindra, Pashupata followed each other to the incantation of mantras or verses. But all of them were rendered powerless before Vasishta’s Brahmadanda. Vishwamitra was furious with anger. When he had used all his weapons in vain, he took out the divinely endowed arrow called Brahmastra and fitted it in his bow. It frightened all in the Ashram as well as divine beings in heaven.

Everyone became concerned about Vasishta. Vishwamitra released it against Vasishta invoking the spiritual powers of mantras. Vasishta stood undisturbed. He appeared like a bright flame at this moment; sparks of fire emanated from his body. The staff in his hand looked like the staff in the hands of Yama, the God of Death.

The Brahmastra sped like lightning towards Vasishta make frightening noise like thunder. It pounced on Vasishta’s Brahmadanda and was absorbed into it. The other saints who saw this praised Vasishta’s strength and said, “Great man, your strength is beyond our guess. Control and become peaceful.” Vasishta accepted their advice and became calm.

There was no other weapon left with Vishwamitra. He had used all his weapons and had been defeated by Vasishta. He felt repentant. He realized his mistake. He understood the truth would always win. He felt, “I took the wrong path. It is impossible to suppress the truth by force.” He sighed and went away saying, “There is no value for my power and strength. The real power is that which comes from tapas.

Vishwamitra was a man with determination, ambition, and strength. He said to himself, “All my diving weapons are rendered powerless. The power of Vasishta is great. Tapas, truth, and non-violence are matchless. I must become the equal of Vasishta.” He gave his kingdom to his son and went to the forest to perform tapas. He started performing severe tapas. People stopped calling him king and started calling him saint Vishwamitra. He became famous as a Rishi.

Harischandra, Disciple of Vasishta

Harischandra was the king of Ayodhya. He was famous for his truthful nature. Vasishta was his preceptor and he was proud of Harischandra. At a meeting of the court in heaven, one day Indra asked, “Who is truthful on the earth?” Vasishta replied.

“Harischandra is truthful. He remains so under, all trying circumstances and will not utter a lie.” Everyone agreed with Vasishta. Vishwamitra stood up. He nursed ill-will against Vasishta.

He said, “Devendra, what Vasishta says is not true. Out of his partiality for his disciple, he says that Harischandra is always truthful. We cannot believe it. Who is there that will not utter a lie when he is in very hard circumstances?”

Vasishta did not agree with him. He said, “Harischandra will never utter a lie whatever be ‘the hardships.”

There was a controversy.

Vishwamitra declared “Look, I shall make Harischandra utter lies. If I do not succeed, I shall make over all the merit of my tapas to him.” The assembly was over. Vasishta returned to his hermitage. He knew that Vishwamitra would examine Harischandra in various ways and that Harischandra would be subjected to severe tests in this course. But Vasishta did not say a word about it to Harischandra. What is the greatness of a man if he is cautioned and then put to test?

He did not bother about it because he knew that a man of truth would always remain truthful.

Vishwamitra got ready to test Harischandra.

His hatred of Vasishta was the only reason for his entering into this controversy. He used all his learning to succeed in his plan. He took from Harischandra his kingdom by practicing duplicity and cunning. Harischandra was made a debtor; his queen Chandramati and son Lohitashwa had to go to Kashi along with him.

Even there he was pestered to repay the loan.

He sold himself and his wife to pay back the loan. But he did not utter a lie. He was reduced to the position of a servant of the man who watched over the cemetery at Kashi and did the job for him. Even then he did not utter a lie.

Vishwamitra manipulated things in such a way that Harischandra was expected to behead his wife. Even then Harischandra did not give up truth. Vishwamitra did not succeed in his vow to make Harischandra utter a single lie even in the worst circumstances. He accepted his defeat and made over the merit of his tapas to Harischandra and went to the forest to perform tapas. Vasishta was proved right.

Shakti – Vasishta’s Son

King Kalmashapada was driving in his chariot along the forest track. Shakti, the eldest son of Vasishta, encountered the chariot in the forest.

Shakti did not move aside to make way for the chariot. During the journey in those days, if a chariot or any vehicle came against a saint, a cow, a king, a blind man, an old man, a man carrying a load, a pregnant woman, or a weak man, the vehicle had to give the right of path to them by moving aside. That was considered the proper conduct.

Kalmashapada saw Shakti and said, “You, move to aside and make way for the chariot. Don’t you see that I am a king?” In reply, Shakti said, “I am a saint. A king must make way for a saint. Instead of that, it is not proper for you to find fault with me.” The king was very vain. He became angry and lashed at Shakti very hard with his whip. Shakti also became angry and cursed, “You rogue, do you whip a saint! Your temperament is that of a Rakshasa. Become a Rakshasa, Demon.”

Sage_Shakti_cursing_Raja_Kalmashapad

Vishwamitra who was passing that way at some distance from the scene of this incident saw all this. It pleased him because Vasishta was his enemy. He heard Shakti cursing become a Rakshasa (Demon). A little later Vishwamitra met another Rakshasa called Kinkara. He entered into the body of Kalmashapada as per the instructions of Vishwamitra, and the curse came true.

The king lost his wisdom and sense of righteousness. He offended another saint who also cursed him to become a Rakshasa. Kalmashapada came to know of the curses taking effect. As a consequence, he became degraded to the position of a Rakshasa in nature.

The next day he went to Shakti’s hermitage and said to him, “You! I am reduced to this horrible state because of you. My sense of righteousness is destroyed. You are responsible for it. I will take revenge on you. I shall begin my career as a Rakshasa by first eating you.” He then roared and killed Shakti and ate him up. He also killed Shakti’s brothers.

An embodiment of Forgiveness

Vasishta came to know all about this. He became very sad when he heard that Kalmashapada killed Shakti and his other sons. Unable to bear his sorrow, he became very unhappy, went away from his hermitage and wandered about in the forest.

During this period he saw a pregnant woman coming towards him. She was Shakti’s widow, Adrushyanti. Having lost her husband, she did not know how to protect herself and so she came in search of Vasishta. He was moved to pity when he saw her. He then took courage himself, comforted Adrushyanti and brought her to his hermitage. He looked after her with love and affection. In a few days, she gave birth to a son. Vasishta named him Parashara.

One day Vasishta went to the forest to collect twigs for his holy fire. Adrushyanti also went to assist him. When she was tying up the bundle of twigs, a Rakshasa came bellowing loudly.

She became frightened and started running towards Vasishta calling for help. He told daughter-in-law not to be afraid then turning towards the Rakshasa made a frightening sound. The Rakshasa stood planted to the spot unable to move even a step. He was Kalmashapada.

Vasishta understood everything by a handful of his divine vision. He took holy water from his (Kamandalu) water jug, recited holy verses, and sprinkled the holy water on the Rakshasa’s head. He was freed from the curse and the nature of a Rakshasa. Kalmashapad fell at the feet of Vasishta and begged “O great sage, on account of the curse I did what I should not have done.

You are kind. Forgive me and save me.” Kalmashapada had wronged Vasishta greatly.

He had committed a great crime. Vasishta forgave him and advised, “O king, go back to your city and rule over it as you did in the past.

Do not go against righteousness. Treat preceptors and elders with respect. Do not become vain because of power and wealth, Because of your vanity, you were punished in the past. What a great soul was Vasishta!

There is No Greater Virtue Than Patience

Parashara, son of Adrushyanti, grew up in Vasishta’s hermitage. Vasishta taught him everything. When he grew up into a man, his mother told him all about his father. Parashara became angry. He had mastered the four Vedas and was a saint, like Vasishta. He had earned great power by his tapas like Vasishta. He declared, I shall kill Kalmashapada, who killed my father” and was starting when Vasishta came and advised,

“O child Parashara, be calm. There is no virtue higher than patience. For a person who performs tapas, patience is of great value. After all, Kalmashapada is the king of this country. He is ruling righteously now.

What is the benefit of killing him? Will your father come back to life? The kingdom will become leaderless. The citizens will be put to a lot of hardship. Taking revenge is not for us.

Do not use the power gained by hard tapas for a task like this. Your father also did not do the right thing. He could have given the right of way to the king and could have avoided conflict. He made a mountain of a mole-hill. See how bad the consequences were in his anger he cursed the king and wasted the power he had gained by his tapas. He became the cause of his death. Therefore, Parashara, do not wish Kalmashapada ill.”

If We Do Not Conquer I, The Ego…

Vasishta was becoming more and more famous as the merit earned by his tapas increased. Everywhere people talked about his greatness. Vishwamitra again started practicing tapas to become the equal of Vasishta. He was determined to be recognized as such. There were many obstacles in his way, but he continued his tapas for a long time and he comes across all the difficulties through his brain and firm mind.

Brahma appeared before him and said, “Vishwamitra, ask for what you want.” Vishwamitra replied, “Brahmadeva, I must become Brahamarshi. Vasishta must acknowledge that I am a Brahmarshi. I must get as much power as Vasishta because of the power that goes with that position as Brahmarshi.” Brahma thought,

‘There is still the spirit of competition in Vishwamitra. There is the ego in him still and said –

“Vishwamitra, you are a great Rishi. But you have not yet reached the stage of Vasishta and earned such merit. He will not accept you as a Brahmarshi”

and disappeared.

Vasishta Mahatshi training Rama and Lakshmana

Vishwamitra was greatly annoyed. He said to himself, I have practiced tapas most rigorously all these years. I gave up my kingship and came to the forest for this purpose. Even then I have not earned enough merit to become Brahmarshi.

Why is it that Vasishta cannot accept me as a Brahmarshi? I shall ask him myself.” At the end of this reflection, he decided to see Vasishta and came to his hermitage.

It was night. The residents of the hermitage were all asleep except Vasishta and Arundhati.

Arundhati addressed Vasishta and pleaded, “My Lord, Vishwamitra has been practicing most rigorous tapas for many years now. Brahma has appeared before him. It is Vishwamitra’s desire to be recognized as a Brahmarshi. The only hurdle is that you will not accept him as a Brahmarshi. Why don’t you yield and accept him as a Brahmarshi?”

Vasishta said, “Arundhati, you do not understand. It is not easy to become a Brahmarshi. What is the good of Vishwamitra’s austere tapas? I must die and then alone he can become a Brahmarshi. If ‘I’ does not disappear, he cannot become a Brahmarshi. “Vishwamitra overheard the conversation. He was angry because he thought that Vasishta was adamant and opposed his becoming a Brahmarshi.

He misunderstood and thought he could not become a Brahmarshi as long as Vasishta was alive. He said to himself, “Let me finish off Vasishta right now” and entered the hut in a state of anger. Arundhati was frightened. Vasishta was calm and said, “Look Arundhati, How arrogant Vishwamitra is! What is the good of his tapas? He lacks the virtue of peace and calmness. If his ‘I’ (This I stands for Aham; ie utter selfishness) and arrogance does not die, is it possible for him to become a Brahmarshi?”

Brahmarshi Vishwamitra

Vishwamitra realized his mistake. He understood what Vasishta meant. The I is the ego in man. Unless that ego dies, man can never claim any merit. When Vishwamitra understood this, he was ashamed of his behavior and felt repentant. He prostrated before Vasishta and pleaded, “Venerable man, I realized my mistake only today. I am a peerless fool. Kindly forgive me.”

Vasishta said, “Vishwamitra, you have performed austere tapas. What is the aim of tapas?

It is not fame. It is not to gain the power to perform miracles. Then I and ‘mine’ should die; we must burn the vain feelings of selfishness and arrogance. Then the mind becomes clear. God dwells in a clear conscience. Faith grows in that condition of the heart. You will then see God every-where. If the mind is not clean and pure, all our prayers and tapas are in vain.”

Vishwamitra said with humility, “You are my preceptor. Forgive me and bless me.” Vasishta blessed, “Be it so. Let your effort be successful” and wished him well.

Vishwamitra prostrated before Vasishta and left the hermitage.

A great change was noticed in Vishwamitra.

He had got rid of his hatred of Vasishta. Competition and arrogance had gone off. He went to the banks of river Kaushiki and engaged himself in austere tapas again. Many hurdles were placed in his path. But Vishwamitra did not yield. He gave up eating food and observed fasting very rigidly. At the end of his fasting days, he cooked his food to break his fast. He was about to take food. At that moment Devendra came in the form of an old man and said that he was hungry.

Vishwamitra did not hesitate for a moment. He served his food to the old man. Without eating anything he sat for tapas again. Brahma was pleased with him. He came with other angles and said, “Vishwamitra, you are a Brahmarshi.

There is no doubt about it.” Vishwamitra’s wish was fulfilled. He saluted Brahma and Vasishta.

From that day Vishwamitra and Vasishta became great friends. There was no trace of the past bitterness between them. The credit for converting the arrogant king Vishwamitra into a Brahmarshi by effecting a great change in his life goes to Vasishta.

A Great Soul’s Anger Also is For The Good of The World

It was not only Vishwamitra that was tempted to take away Nandini, the divine cow, but others also were tempted. Dyo was a Vasu, an angel Vasu number eight. Dyo’s wife saw Nandini and was tempted to take it because it was so beautiful. It was well built and had good-looking horns and a long tail which ended with a tuft of hair resembling a bunch of flowers.

It had well-filled udders. Dyo’s wife desired to have it. Though Dyo knew that was wrong to steal Vasishta’s divine cow which supplied the requirements of Vasishta’s sacrifices, he stole the cow because of his wife’s cupidity. Vasishta came to know that Nandini had not returned to the Ashram though it was late in the evening. He went in search of the cow. He could not find it anywhere.

Then he used his divine vision and came to know that Vasu had stolen it. He became very angry and called out, “You Dyo, did you steal my divine cow? Being an angel, an order higher than man, you should have behaved in a manner exemplary to the world. Is it proper for you to steal like an ordinary man? I shall teach you a good lesson.

Be born as a human being in the world of human beings. You were too fond of your wife and you will go without a wife in the lower world.” Dyo came to know of this curse. He became frightened and brought back Nandini. He apologized to Vasishta and begged for forgiveness.

Vasishta took pity on him and said, Vasu, what is done is done. My word will come to pass. Though you are going to be born as a human being, you will earn fame and name as a good man”. Dyo was born in this world as the son of King Shantanu.

He was called Bhishma.

Bhishma Kauravaś Commander in chief

Vasishta, out of kindness, taught Bhishma all the Vedas and the art of warfare Bhishma learned archery from Parashurama. Bhishma combined in his scholarship, heroism, and fame. He was an avowed bachelor. His role in Mahabharata was great. Even when he was lying on death-bed he preached the path of righteousness to Dharmaraya.

He has set down the principles of morality proper to a king, a common man, and righteousness implied in these interesting ancient stories. His teachings are a valuable gift to the world. Thus Vasishta’s curse pronounced on Dyo, a Vasu, proved a blessing to the world.

If Non—Violence Does Not Succeed…

Saint Vasishta was not committed to peace to the extent of precluding force even when it was necessary. He believed that it was right to use force and fight against injustice when peaceful methods failed. In Indian tradition, there is a prominent place for non-violence. When non-violence fails to prevent unrighteousness, we have to use force. Waging war is proper according to the morality of rulers. Sri Krishna also preaches in Bhagavadgeeta that Arjuna should fight and fighting was his duty under the circumstances.

There was an Asura called Vritra. He was the bane of his citizens. He troubled the people of the three worlds. He never listened to anyone’s advice and conducted himself in an insolent manner. Unable to tolerate his teasing, everyone went to Devendra for protection. Devendra went to war with Vritrasura. He was master of magic with the help of his magical powers he made Devendra very uneasy and helpless.

Devendra was unable to fight against him and ran away from the battle-field. He was so afraid of Vritrasura that his mind became befogged with fear. Then Vasishta recited a powerful incantation called Rathantara Sama Mantra and cleared Devendra’s mind of the fogginess. He encouraged him to go and fight against Vritrasura by saying,

“Indra, you are brave. You are the Lord of the three worlds. If you sit without doing anything, what will be the fate of your citizens? Everyone has faith that you will win in the battle. Cowardice does not become you. Go to fight. You will win. With such encouraging words from Vasishta, Devendra again got ready to fight against Vritrasura. With Vasishta’s blessings, he killed Vritrasura in the battle.

A Real Priest

Desire, anger, miserliness, lust, insolence, and jealousy are the six enemies of man. They come in the way of man’s growth. Great men have always advised that we should conquer these six weak-nesses and for that, we should keep our eyes, ears, and tongue under our control. It is difficult to conquer them.

Vasishta had succeeded in keeping them under his control. Having admired his effulgence, tapas, and principled life, the kings of the lkshvaku dynasty had requested Vasishta to be their preceptor and priest (‘Purohita’).

What does the word ‘Purohita’ mean?

Purah – standing at the forefront.

Hita – one who does good.

One who does good to his disciples is a Purohita.

Vasishta Maharshi Teaching Disciples

Vasishta was the priest to Dasharatha and also Rama and he was the preceptor too. They did not do anything without consulting Vasishta. When Vishwamitra came to Dasharatha requested him to send Rama to protect his sacrifices from being defiled, he did not like to send Rama as he was young But Vasishta advised, “O King Vishwamitra is a great sage. Send Rama with him. It will be for the good. Vishwamitra took him and taught him the use of divine weapons. Sri Rama is also known as Raghava. Since he was born in the dynasty of Raghu, A king, he is called Raghava. Raghu was a famous king of the Ikshvaku dynasty. Vasishta was responsible for him becoming so famous.

There is a story, relating to this.

King Dileepa did not have children. Pained by this, Dileepa went with his queen Sudakshina to the hermitage of Vasishta and expressed to him the reason for his sorrow. Vasishta tried to find the reason for his childlessness with the help of his divine vision and found it out. Once Dileepa was going on some work. He was in deep thought and so passed by Kamadhenu who was there without saluting her. Therefore he was childless. Vasishta gave him the remedy also.

He was advised to serve Nandini, daughter of Kamadhenu. Dileepa and his queen served Nandini with devotion. Raghu was born as his son later. Vasishta’s kindness helped him to become famous.

Nectar of Words for People in Sorrow

Raghu’s son was the emperor Aja. Indumati, his wife, was as noble as she was lovely. Aja loved her very greatly. But she died young. Aja was depressed with sorrow. He forgot his duty as a king. He sorrowed so much that he wished to die. Here is the advice that Vasishta gave Aja at that time: “King, do not forget your duty because your wife has departed. It is not proper for you to think of following her. You may die but you will not get Indumati. Birth and death are unavoidable. Set aside your sorrow and engage yourself in the doing of your duty.

The soul leaves the body which sheltered it. Therefore it is not surprising that it leaves behind the relatives. No one can avoid death. Remember your parents. He who faces difficulties is the hero. When the wind blows, plants shake but the mountain does not shake. You should be firm like a mountain.”

Vasishta was fond of cows. Once a man called Soudasa asked, “Great saint, which is the most sacred object in this world?” Vasishta said, “I consider the cow as the most sacred. Is there anything more nourishing than cow milk? Its manure is very important to grow our foodgrains. For men like me, everything necessary for the performance of sacrifices comes from the cow. A cow is like a mother. We can live where the cow lives. Let cow live with us always. It is not enough if we worship and honor her. We must look after cows as we look after our mothers.” The exponent of work-mindedness Vasishta was a great visionary. Many of the verses in Rig-Veda were composed by him.

He wrote a treatise called Vasishta Smriti on Dharma, righteousness. He composed Ramayana also, called Vasishta Ramayana. He believed that divine aid and individual effort were necessary to achieve anything in this world. The divine and the human are the two wheels of the chariot, the two wings of a bird. Without either, nothing can be done.

We must believe in God and do our best. This was Vasishta’s firm conviction and his message is: As is the seed, so is the tree. So also is the fruit. If the seed is good, the fruit will be good. Good is the result of good deeds. Bad is the result of evil deeds. The Divine is like the good seed. Our effort is like preparing the land for sowing; knowledge, wealth, house. Friendship is possible to get all these only with human effort. The man who does not do anything gets nothing. If we depend on the Divine without doing anything, there will be nothing in return.

Laziness is a disease with us and brings unhappiness. It is because of the laziness that people are illiterate and poor. If this disease is not there, who will not become learned? Who cannot become rich? If we can set aside laziness, we can be happy. It is wrong to believe that we can improve with the help of others. Or that others will save us. We must save ourselves.

We are our best friends. Because of laziness, we become our worst enemies. Vishwamitra became Brahmarshi because of his unusual effort. If he had placed trust in God and had done nothing, could he have attained that position? Vasishta believed in doing his duty. His life was an example for everyone in his time. By his timely advice, he helped many people to grow higher and higher. There was the light of wisdom around him.

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