Trishanku and Vishwamitra

- December 23, 2022


By Srinidhi Murthy

Trishanku, a king of the Ikshvaku race, wished to ascend to heaven in his mortal body. When his teacher, Sage Vasishtha refused to help him, he sought the assistance of his teacher’s rival, Sage Vishwamitra. Read more to know how Vishwamitra fulfilled the king’s wish, after enduring some obstacles from the devas. 

Trishanku’s wish 

Trishanku was a king belonging to the Ikshvaku dynasty. One day, he decided that he wished to enter heaven while still in his mortal body. He approached his teacher, Sage Vasishtha for help. The sage disapproved of the king’s idea as it was against the natural process. However, Trishanku was determined. He then sought the help of Vasishtha’s sons. The sage’s sons too were furious upon hearing the king’s words and refused to help him. They felt that the king had insulted their father by approaching them with a request that their father had refused and cursed him to become a Chandala (an outcaste).

Script: Kamala Chandrakant; Illustration: Ram Waeerkar
Meeting with Vishwamitra 

The curse transformed Trishanku’s appearance and he no longer looked like a king. Still adamant, he approached Sage Vishwamitra, Vasishtha’s rival, to fulfil his desire. As expected by the king, Vishwamitra comforted the distressed king and agreed to help him. He summoned his sons and asked them to prepare for a pious sacrifice. He also ordered his disciples to invite all the learned sages to his hermitage for the sacrifice. After a few days, his disciples returned, informing him that all but Vasishtha’s sons, had accepted the invitation.

Script: Kamala Chandrakant; Illustration: Ram Waeerkar
Major mishap 

Finally, the day of the sacrifice arrived and Vishwamitra officiated as its chief priest. After the completion of the sacrifice, Vishwamitra requested the devas to accept the offering and lead Trishanku to heaven in his own body. None of the devas appeared even after a long wait. The sage was enraged. He turned to the king and declared that he would help Trishanku ascend to heaven without any help from the devas. As soon as Vishwamitra said those words, the king began to ascend towards heaven. However, when he reached heaven, Indra and the other devas barred his entry, stating that the king had been cursed by his teacher’s sons. Thus, he could have no place in heaven. The devas also declared that Trishanku should fall to the depths of the earth. Confused and shocked, Trishanku began falling down and begged to Vishwamitra to save him. Using his divine powers, Vishwamitra halted the king’s fall mid-air.  

Script: Kamala Chandrakant; Illustration: Ram Waeerkar
A new heaven 

Determined to fulfil his promise to Trishanku, Vishwamitra began creating a new heaven around the king. He also created seven planets, the Saptarishis and twenty-seven stars, around the king and decided to make Trishanku the king of the devas. When the devas found out, they were perturbed. They immediately appeared before the sage and pleaded with him, asking him to change his decision. They also told the sage that Trishanku could not be allowed to enter heaven as he was cursed by his teacher’s sons.  

However, Vishwamitra was firm in his decision. He told Indra that he could remain the sole king of heaven if he allowed Trishanku to stay suspended in heaven, along with all the newly-created planets. The devas agreed to this solution and Trishanku finally realised his dream of ascending to heaven. 

 

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