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Sage Vishvamitra narrates the legend of Sagara, the earliest King of Ayodhya and Rama's forefather, who is childlessness, but who begets sixty thousand sons of merit and one son of demerit. Emperor Sagara is the one who brought celestial Ganga onto the surface of earth..
Describing that legend of Kaartikeya to Rama, the descendent of Kaushi, namely sage Vishvamitra has further spoken this best sentence worded melodiously to Rama, the descendent of Kakutstha.
"Once there was a valiant an virtue-souled king of Ayodhya named Sagara, who is without offspring, as such he was longing for offspring. The daughter of King of Vidarbha, renowned by name Keshini, is the eldest wife of Sagara, and she was virtue-minded, and an advocate of truth. The daughter of Arishtanemi, namely sage Kashyapa, and who is also the sister of Garuda, the Divine-Eagle-vehicle of Vishnu, is the second wife of Sagara, who is known by the name Sumati. Reaching the Himalayan Mountains along with his two wives that great King Sagara practised asceticism on a mountain called Brugu-prsravana for progeny.
The Mt. Brugu-prsravana is said to be among Himalayan range on which the kindness of Sage Bhrigu is ever- flowing.
"On completion of a hundred years of ascesis, and when the Sage Bhrugu is worshipped with asceticism, that sage who is a prominent one among the patrons of truth bestowed a boon to Sagara.
" 'Oh, merited one, you will achieve very admirable progeny, and oh, best one among men, you will also acquire an unparalleled renown in the world. One of your wives will mother a son who enriches your dynasty, oh, dear sire, and the other mothers sixty thousand sons.' Said Sage Bhrigu to Sagara.
Highly gladdened are the daughters of kings of Vidarbha and Aristanemi, i.e., the queens of Sagara, and on making palm-fold in supplication at the sage who is speaking that way, and on gaining the grace of that sage they spoke to him.
" 'Which of us will carry one son, oh, Brahma-sage, and which of us begets numerous sons, we two wish to listen about that, oh, Brahman, let your word betide truth.' Thus, the queens of Sagara spoke to the sage.
On listening their words the Sage Bhrigu spoke in a glorious tone, 'let your freewill be brought to bear this issue. Whether one wants one son who enriches dynasty, or whether numerous sons who will be highly energetic, highly renowned, and highly enthusiastic. Who wants which boon from either of them?' Thus, the Sage gave them the option.
"On listening the words of the sage, oh, Rama, oh, delighter of Raghu's dynasty, the first queen Keshini has chosen one son who enriches the dynasty in the presence of King Sagara. Sumati, the sister of mighty-winged Garuda and the second queen of Ssagara has then chosen sixty thousand sons with great enthusiasm and high reputation. On performing circumambulations to the Sage Bhrigu along with wives, oh, Raghu's scion, also on reverencing him head-bent, the king Sagara proceeded to his own city.
"When the time rolled by then the elder wife Keshini gave birth to the son of Sagara who is reputed by the name Asamanja. But the second queen Sumati on part, oh, tigerly-man Rama, verily delivered a round and long egg which is like a single gourd, and on breaking it up sixty thousand sons are issued forth from that cucumber like egg. The childminders brought up those siblings in vessels filled with ghee, the clarified butter, and after a protracted time all of the children have attained youthfulness. After a long time the sixty thousand sons of king Sagara have become youthful, and handsome in their aspects.
But, oh, best one among men, oh, Rama, the elder son of the king Sagara, namely Asamanja, always used to grab and hurl children into the waters of River Sarayu, and on seeing the drowning children he used to enjoy with laughter. This way, when that son Asamanja is with sinister activity, a torturer of goodmen, and delighter in the undesirable activities towards citizens, his father king Sagara expatriated him from the city.
This Asamanja appears to be the person from the first-generation of sadistic child abusers, prior to Kamsa of Bhagavata.
But Asamanja's son is a valorous one, who by name is Anshuman, and who is an acceptable one for all people and who fondly converses with all. Oh, best one among men, Rama, then after along time a decided thought has occurred to king Sagara that, 'I shall perform a Vedic-ritual.'
"That king Sagara who is an expert in Vedic-procedures has then taken a decision along with the assemblages of his religious-teachers insofar as the procedures of the ritual are concerned, and he commenced to perform the Vedic-ritual.
Thus, this is the 38th chapter in Bala Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana, the First Epic poem of India.
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© 2002, Desiraju Kumari [ Revised : September 04]