The legend of Emperor Sagara

The legend of Emperor Sagara
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Highlights

Vishvamitra narrated the story of Emperor Sagara as follows: 'In ancient days Sagara was the Emperor of Ayodhya. He was feeling deprived and bad as he ...

Vishvamitra narrated the story of Emperor Sagara as follows: "In ancient days Sagara was the Emperor of Ayodhya. He was feeling deprived and bad as he had no children. Sagara had two wives. Daughter of king Vidarbha by name Keshini was his elder wife and the daughter of Arishtanemi by name Sumathi was the second wife. Emperor Sagara penanced and practiced abstinence for hundred years. On completion of hundred years sage Bhrugu appeared to Sagara and bequeathed two boons to him. He said that one of his wives will give birth to a son who would enrich Sagara dynasty and the other wife will be blessed with sixty thousand sons. Keshini preferred one single son and Sumathi desired to have sixty thousand sons as per their free will. After a while both of them became pregnant".

"As destined Keshini gave birth to one son who became to be known as Asamanja and Sumathi gave birth to sixty thousand sons through one single egg. The elder son Asamanja turned criminal and started grabbing children and hurling them in to the Sarayu River waters and on seeing them drowning he used to enjoy. On witnessing the ominous and sadistic activity of his son, his father Sagara banished him from the city and sent him to forests. Asamanja's son, Anshuman, however, became noble and became popular as a well-wisher of people. At this moment Emperor Sagara took a decision to perform the Ashvamedha Ritual".

Indra abducting the ritual horse of Sagara performing Ashvamedha Yaga

"Sagara on deciding the best place for performing Ashvamedha Yaga as the one that was in between the two great mountains namely Himalayas and Vindhyas made all arrangements systematically. Sagara designated his grandson Anshuman to escort the ritual horse and accordingly he did so. Halfway through the ritual Indra assuming the form of a monster and stolen the ritual horse. The Ritwiks and the religious priests in charge of the ritual proceedings advised Sagara to fetch the horse to perform the ritual uninterruptedly without any hindrance lest it may become inauspicious. Immediately Sagara ordered his sixty thousand sons to search for it inch by inch the entire world including the underground of oceans and retrieve it at the earliest. He said he will wait for them until they return with the horse. Accordingly, all of them went in search of the horse while Sagara stayed back at the ritual place along with Anshuman".

"In the preliminary round of exploration, the sixty thousand princes extensively and exhaustively searched for the horse inch by inch on the surface of earth but in vain. Then they mapped the earth to a unit of one square Yojana (8 Miles) for each of them and each one of them excavated out each and every area on the surface of earth with their different arms like spears etc. On getting ruptured beyond limits mother earth lamented. Due to this, there emerged, painful screams from the living creatures like serpents, snakes, monsters and other beings living underneath the earth's surface and were also endangered to killing. When the sixty thousand square Yojanas earth was dug over by Sagara king's sons, it became helter-skelter".

Devatas request to Brahma to prevent

Sagara sons from devastation of earth

"Then the Devatas and other gods approached Lord Brahma for his grace and told him that, the sons of Sagara were digging entire earth destroying all the living creatures existing there. They were going around suspecting everyone and by saying so and so was the destroyer of their ritual, so and so carried the ritual horse. They said that they were puzzled by the might of Sagara's sons as they were indulging in the end of all beings. They requested Brahma to save them from Sagara's sons".

Sage Kapila rendering Sagara sons to heaps of ashes

Sage Vishvamitra continuing his narration of Sagara legend further said that, "Lord Brahma pacified them. He assured them that Vasudeva who was none other than Lord Vishnu himself, donning the resemblance of sage Kapila will burn down the sons of emperor Sagara to heaps of ashes, and hence they need not worry. Devatas happily returned to their respective abodes".

"While this was so, sons of Sagara unable to find the ritual horse or its abductor, despite digging and trekking the whole earth, went to their father and informed of the same. Getting angry on them Emperor Sagara ordered them to go forthwith and trace the horse as well as catch hold of the thief. On hering this all the sixty thousand sons of Sagara left the place and dug the earth till Rasa Thala-the last but one layer of the earth. There they noticed a gigantic elephant namely Virupaksha which was bearing the eastern side of earth's surface on its head.

They circumambulated by walking around the elephant and worshipped it. Later dug in the Sothern where also they saw yet another elephant namely Mahapadma. They greeted and saluted it too and moved towards and scooped out the western side where again they saw another elephant called Soumanasa. They greeted it also and went towards northern direction by continuing digging activity. In the northern direction they saw Bhadra, a snow-white elephant with which they exchanged pleasantries. The Sagara sons then gone to the north-east direction and went rampant digging the earth indiscriminately".

"While they were digging the earth at one place, they saw Vasudeva in the form of sage Kapila along with their ritual horse by his side and all were delighted. Unaware of who Vasudeva was, the Sagara sons dubbed him as thief and attributed the theft of ritual horse to him blaming him with malicious and unpalatable words. Then, overwhelmed with high fury, making a HUM sound at them, sage Kapila with his unimaginable power rendered all those sons of Sagara as heaps of ashes". Thus, narrated sage Vishvamitra and continued further".

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