The Legend of Sagara Part 3

    Bhagiratha Brings the Divine Ganga Down to Earth:

    Shounaka and the assembly of sages requested Sutha to narrate the story of Bhagiratha who won glory for the Surya Vamsha as the great descendant of King Sagara. Sutha started to tell them the story: Bhagiratha was a renowned Rajarshi and always followed the path of righteousness as he ruled over the country with his consort Bhuvana Mohini. But the king was not blessed with children. He prayed to sage Vasista, the spiritual teacher of the dynasty, to bless him with a child. Vasista told him, ‘O King Bhagiratha, the sixty-thousand of Sagara’s sons had been burnt to ashes falling victims to sage Kapila’s ire. Both your grandfather Anshumantha and your father Dilipa undertook penance for the salvation of Sagara’s sons. They did not succeed in their effort though they were raised to heaven. O King Bhagiratha, the onus is now on you to seek their salvation and purify your dynasty’.    

    Hearing the words of his teacher, Bhagiratha was determined to bring the Ganga to the earth. Entrusting the affairs of the State to the ministers, he departed to Mount Gokarna of the Himalayas. With single-minded devotion he underwent tapas standing in the middle of Panchagnis (the five fires) for many years, eating once in a month. At last, Lord Brahma appeared before him, and asked him to tell his wish. Bhagiratha, with folded hands said, ‘O Lord Brahma, the sixty-thousand sons of King Sagara, my forefathers, were burnt to ashes, falling pray to sage Kapila. ‘O Lord of the universe, enable me to bring the divine Ganga to flow over the remains of my ancestors, so that the holy waters, may raise them to heavens. And bless me with a child who can perpetrate the clan of Sagara’. Lord Brahma said, ‘Bhagiratha, your wish is granted. You shall be blessed with a child and your clan will prosper. But as Ganga, the eldest daughter of Himavantha, descends on earth may not be able to bear the tremendous force. Therefore, pray to Lord Shiva, as he is the one capable of bearing her force’. Thus saying Brahma disappeared.

    Bhagiratha undertook rigorous tapas for one year, standing on single leg and sustaining himself on air. Lord Shankara was pleased and appeared before him. Bhagiratha with folded hands, pleaded with him: ‘O Lord Shankara save me from distress in my attempt to bring the holy Ganga to earth. You are the only one who can bear her force and saving the earth from destruction’. So he prayed in earnest. Lord Shiva said to the king, ‘Bhagiratha, I concede your wish, I will bear the Ganga on my head’. At this, Goddess Ganga descended on to Lord Shiva’s head. Considering her wish, he held her in his matted locks, unseen by anyone. Bhagiratha was dejected and pleaded with Lord Shiva to liberate the Ganga forthwith for the salvation of his ancestors, absolving them from their sins.

    Lord Shiva, merciful, discharged Ganga into lake Bindu, the creation of Lord Brahma. From here, the Ganga divided into seven streams. Three of the holy streams flowed in the east-ward direction and three in the west-word direction. The seventh stream followed Bhagiratha’s steps. Ascending a flying chariot Bhagiratha showed the direction to the Ganga who followed him. The earth looked all the more beautiful with the Ganga carrying all aquatic life in its rush. The gods, sages, yakshas and gandharvas looked in amazement at the scene below. As the waters of Ganga rushed forward, levelling undulated ground in her course. Amazingly, the dead, buried in the past, were absolved of their sins washed by the holy water, and were seen rising to their heavenly abodes. People bathed in the water and were joyed and celestial sages and all praised the Ganga and Bhagiratha. On the way, sage Jahnu was performing a yagna and the gushing waters of the Ganga submerged everything on the site. The sage was furious, and with his spiritual powers gulped the Ganga. The gods were perturbed, approached sage Jahnu and pleaded with him to let loose Ganga, with a filial affection towards her. Sage Jahnu was appeased, and set her free from his left ear. Hence she assumed the name Jahnavi. Bhagiratha proceeded to be nether world (patala) with Ganga and at last, with the concerted efforts of Bhagiratha, the Ganga flowed over the ashes of his grandfathers. They at once were absolved of their sins and attained salvation. Thus it is due to his continued trials and tribulations, not only brought solace to his clan but also helped this world by bringing the holy waters to this earth.

    Lord Brahma converses with Bhagiratha

    Pleased at the steadfastness of Bhagiratha Lord Brahma appeared once again before him. As Bhagiratha saluted him the Lord said to him thus: ‘O King, you are the glory of Surya Vamsha and worthy progenitor of Sagara, ever devotional. By virtue of you, your forefathers as well as the inhabitants of earth are blessed with salvation. Your name shall last forever. The Ganga brought down to earth shall henceforth be known by thy name as the Bhagirathi. You have saved your forefathers from distress’. Lord Brahma blessed him saying in the Kali era the clan of Sagara prospers, they shall be blissfully enlightened, serving their teacher they keep up the cherished values the clan stands for with consummate knowledge, serenity, they shun violence be charitable and live to eternity. Endowing him with supreme knowledge Lord Brahma vanished. The celestial voice lauded the words and flowers were showered from heaven on Bhagiratha.

    Bhagiratha, blissful, with the praise of god on his lips, reached Ayodhya. He was anointed the king of the country. He performed many yagnas fed the poor, gave in charity as he ruled over the country the righteous way. The gods and people praised him and his consort Bhuvana Mohini as being desisting from sensual pleasures and compassionate towards all. They said he is blessed with boons by the Trinity, could attain the salvation of his grandfathers. He ensured the glory of the sagara clan to the eternity.

    In course of time Bhagiratha’s wife, Bhuvana Mohini conceived and in due course gave birth to a male child, who was named Shrutashrava. The boy grew up well and attained skill in all arts. Bhagiratha, attained consummate knowledge from his guru Vasista, renounced all luxuries. Getting his son married, Bhagiratha got the consent of the near and dear and was at peace with the world. Generations went by and Surya Vamsha prospered when the birth of Aju took place. His son was Dasaratha. Conceding to the prayers of King Dasaratha, Lord Hari took birth as his son. The birth of Srirama, Laxmana, Bharatha and Shatrughna took place in the Lord’s amsha.

    The story of Lord Sri Rama

    Shounaka and the assembly of sages earnestly prayed Sutha to narrate the holy story of Srirama to which Sutha spoke thus:

    King Dasaratha ruled the country righteously. He requested guru Vasista for offspring. Guru Vasista directed him to perform the yagna named Putrakamesti. The Fire god was pleased and granted his wish. In due course the three queens of Dasaratha gave birth to four children. Queen Kausalya gave birth to Srirama, who was the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Laxmana and Shatrughna were born to Sumithra and Kaikeye’s son was Bharatha. People celebrated the birth of the Lord and all of them grew up into brilliant and valorous children.

    One day, sage Viswamitra came to King Dasaratha, saying that the yagna that he was performing was time and again defiled by the demons. So he requested Dasaratha to send Rama and Laxmana to protect his yagna. Under their care the yagna went on uninterrupted. Viswamitra took Srirama and Laxmana to the court of King Janaka, in time for the swayamvara of the beautiful princess Sita. Srirama proved his immense strength when he broke the mighty bow of Lord Shiva. He married Sita, who was none other than the incarnation of Goddess Laxmi. While returning to Ayodhya he was challenged by Parushurama, an avowed enemy of the Kshatriya community and he was subdued. Srirama returned to Ayodhya in great pomp and splendour.

    Sutha continued his narrative thus: In the by gone ages, Kartavirya, a mighty king of the solar clan, ruled over his empire. Once, during his hunting tour, he visited the hermitage of Jamadagni. Jamadgni received him with all courtesy due to a king. But, knowing that the heavenly cow Kamadhenu was behind all the glory of Jamadagni, Kartavirya took away the cow by force. His son Parashurama, in his combat with Kartavirya not only killed the king but also annihilated his entire progeny. He brought back the Kamadhenu and his parents were highly pleased. Parashurama, not satisfied with rooting out Kartavirya and his progeny, spelt out a curse, that for eight thousand years of the kali era the descendants of the Sun god shall be deprived of their royal status.

    But the descendants of Sagara, though deprived of royal power, owing to their virtuous ancestors, continued their mission of serving society by building barrages, temples, forts, tanks and wells, enjoyed all worldly pleasures, and they were as kind and devotional to god as ever. Knowing this story of the curse, Srirama gave a hundred cows in charity to the sages and prayed to them for their blessings to the Sagara community. And Sutha explained that the word of the holy saints will never go in vein. The sons of Sagara defied Kapila and were turned to ashes and for the same reason Parashurama became the enemy of the Kshatriya community.

    Sutha continued the story of Lord Srirama. In obedience to his father’s promise, Srirama accompanied by Sita and Laxmana went to the forests. King Dasaratha overcome by grief of the separation of his eldest son, passed away. Bharaa met Srirama in the forest. Enthroning the footwear of Srirama, he ruled over the country on his behalf. Ravana, the king of the Demons, took away Sita to Lanka in disguise. With the assistance of Sugreeva and the army of monkeys, Srirama crossed the ocean. Killing Ravana in the battle, Srirama returned to Ayodhya with Sita. Srirama ruled over Ayodhya in the righteous path. Pained by the slander, Srirama sent Sita away into the forests. Sita gave birth to the twins Lava and Kusha in the hermitage of Valmiki. The two sons grew up and became learned in all arts. When Srirama commenced the Ashwamedha, the duo held the horse in a show of their strength. Sita arrived there and introduces his sons to Srirama. Entrusting them to his care, she departs with her mother Goddess Earth. Srirama enthrones Lava and Kusha to be the kings of Ayodhya and leaving the human form he departs Vaikunta with his brothers.

    Lava and Kusha ruled over Ayodhya as efficiently as their ancestors. In course of time Athidhi was born to Kusha, to him was born Nishadha. Nabha was his son. Nabha’s son was Pundarika and Kshemadhanva was born to him. His son was Devanta. Devanta’s son was Nanahina. To him Bariyathra was born. His son was Bala. Bala’s son was Jala. Vajranabha was born to him. Vajranabha begot Shanku. Shanku’s was blessed with Vidhvati. Vidhvati begets Hiranyanabha. His son was Rushya. Rushya’s son was Dhruvasandhi. Dhruvasandhi begot Sudarshana. Sudarshana’s son was Agnivarna. To Agnivarna was born Srisha. Srisha’s son was Rajaseshta. His son was Brashushukunta. He begot Nandhi. Nandhi’s son was Samarshana. Samarshana was blessed with Mahasvanthu. Mahasvanthu’s son was Viswasahi. Viswasahi was blessed with Brahmadrarana. His son Nadhukshuta. Nadhukshuta begot Vatsapreetha. His son was Prathivyoma. His son Bhanu. Bhanu’s son was Sahadeva and to Sahadeva was born Bruharadasya. He was blessed with Bhanumanthu. Bhanumanthu’s son was Prathikasa. Supatrika was born to Prathikasa. Supatrika’s son was Merudeva. Merudeva begot Vasutakshatri, his son was Rukshaka and to Rukshaka was born Sutava. Sutava was blessed with Mithrajittu. Mithrajittu’s son was Bruhadvija. To Bruhadvija Barhi was born. Barhi’s son was Dhananjaya and to him was born Srujana. Srujana’s son was Shakya. Shakya was blessed with the son Sudhada. Sudhada’s son was Langala. Langala’s son was Prasenajittu. He was blessed with the son Kshudraka. Kshudraka’s son was Runaka and his son was Suradha. To Suradha was born Sumithra and with Sumithra the ruling power of the solar dynasty ceased as the curse of Parasurama came into force.

    Thus, owing to the curse of Parashurama, the rulers of the land of the sagara clan had to serve under other rulers and they became socially and economically backward. Bereft of the Kshatriya duty, they involved themselves in construction activities and shall continue this unhappy state for eight thousand years of the Kali era.

    In this great dynasty of the Sun god was born king Upachara. Knowing about the curse, that was to be on his dynasty, Uparichara was grieved. He worshipped Lord Vishnu, praying to him for the emancipation of his clan, and it is for this reason that his descendants were came to be known as ‘Upparas’ in Kali era.

    The Sagara community bears nine different Gothras that go by the names:

    1) Brugu Gothra 2) Naurva Gothra 3) Kapila Gothra 4) Rushyashrunga Gothra 5) Valmiki Gothra 6) Vasista Gothra 7) Vishwamithra Gothra 8) Bhagirathi Gothra 9) Upachara Gothra

    All the Sagaras of these nine Gothras lead a virtuous, hardworking community. At the end of the period of the curse, they will have their original glory of the Kshatriyas of the solar clan restored to them. Thus, blessing the community, Sutha concluded his narration to the Shounaka and the sages.