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ṚṢYAŚṚṄGA - ऋष्यशृङ्ग

Son of the sage Vibhāṇḍaka.
1) Birth.
Vibhāṇḍaka, son of Kaśyapa was the father of Ṛṣyaśṛṅga. There is a strange story about him in the Mahābhārata. Once sage Vibhāṇḍaka happened to see Urvaśī at Mahāhrada. At the very sight of her, the sage had an involuntary emission of semen. The semen fell in the water and just then a female deer came there to drink water. It swallowed the semen with water and in due course became pregnant and gave birth to a human child. But the child had the horns of a deer. Consequently Vibhāṇḍaka named the boy “Ṛṣyaśṛṅga”. Vibhāṇḍaka and Ṛṣyaśṛṅga lived together in the āśrama. Ṛṣyaśṛṅga grew up into a youth, but he had never seen anyone except his father Vibhāṇḍaka.
2) Rainfall in the kingdom of Aṅga.
At that time, the kingdom of Aṅga was ruled by Lomapāda, a friend of Daśaratha. Once he cheated a Brāhmaṇa. Consequently all the Brāhmaṇas in that country left the place and emigrated to other lands. From that time there was no rain in the land of Aṅga. A severe drought and famine followed. Lomapāda invited devout Brāhmaṇas and consulted them how they could bring rain to the land. They told him that if he could get a Muni (sage) who had never seen women to perform a yāga, there would be rainfall in the land. The King sent his men far and wide to find a Muni who had never set eyes on a woman At last he got news that Ṛṣyaśṛṅga, son of Vibhāṇḍaka was the sage who had never seen women. He then began to plan how Ṛṣyaśṛṅga could be brought over to Aṅga. Lomapāda called together some prostitutes and asked them whether they could bring Ṛṣyaśṛṅga to his country. All except one of them said it was quite impossible. One of them, however, agreed to try. As desired by her, the King sent her with several other damsels. The young women went to the forest and made a floating āśrama in a boat in which they sailed in the river by the side of Vibhāṇḍāka's āśrama. They stopped the boat close to the āśrama and one of the girls entered the āśrama when Vibhāṇḍaka was not there. She had a talk with Ṛṣyaśṛṅga in the course of which she used all the amorous enchantments of her sex to captivate the young Muni. She told him that she was the daughter of a Muni, living in an āśrama, three yojanas away. Ṛṣyaśṛṅga felt a peculiar fascination for her and tried to please her by offering fruits etc. When she left him, he felt deeply distressed and unhappy. He was in that depressed and gloomy state of mind when Vibhāṇḍaka returned to the āśrama. Finding him unusually restless and dejected, the father asked him whether anyone had come there. Ṛṣyaśṛṅga who was an entire stranger to the feminine world told his father that a handsome youth of irresistible charm had visited him during Vibhāṇḍaka's absence. But from Ṛṣyaśṛṅga's description of the “youth” Vibhāṇḍaka understood that the visitor must have been a woman. But he could not guess who it was. On another occasion, the same woman came again to the āśrama in the absence of Vibhāṇḍaka. At her sight Ṛṣyaśṛṅga was enraptured and before his father's return, they left the āśrama. They entered the floating āśrama in the boat and the woman set the boat sailing in the river. It glided slowly down the river and at last reached near the palace of Lomapāda. They landed there and the King married his daughter Sāntā to Ṛṣyaśṛṅga. To appease Vidhāṇḍaka, Lomapāda sent him rich presents and much wealth. When Vibhāṇḍaka returned to his āśrama he was met by the King's servants who had brought the presents and wealth. Ignoring them and their rich presents, the furious Maharṣi set out to the city of Campā, the capital of the Aṅga Kingdom. At the royal command, Vibhāṇḍaka was welcomed by the people with honour. When the sage found that the whole kingdom belonged to his son, his anger was allayed. After ordering his son to return to his āśrama after the birth of a son, Vibhāṇḍaka left the palace. As a result of Ṛṣyaśṛṅga's yāga there was rainfall in Aṅga and famine ended. After the birth of his child he returned to the forest as ordered by his father. [M.B. Araṇya Parva, Chapters 110-112].
3) Ṛṣyaśṛṅga in Ayodhyā.
King Daśaratha of Ayodhyā had no children for a long time. His Minister Sumantra advised him to invite Ṛṣyaśṛṅga to perform a yāga for the purpose. Lomapāda sent Ṛṣyaśṛṅga to Ayodhyā at the invitation of Daśaratha. He arrived at Ayodhyā and performed a yāga called Putrakāmeṣṭi. From the sacrificial fire there arose a dark monstrous figure, with a pot of pudding in his hand. Daśaratha received it from him and gave one half of it to Kausalyā and the other half to Kaikeyī. Both of them gave half of their shares to Sumitrā. Thus Sumitrā got two shares while the other two wives of Daśaratha got only one share each. As a result Kausalyā and Kaikeyī gave birth to a son each, while Sumitrā had two sons. Kausalyā's son was named Rāma, Kaikeyī's son was Bharata and Sumitrā's sons were Lakṣmaṇa and Śatrughna. [Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, Bāla Kāṇḍa, Chapters 14-16].

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