Viswamitra

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Brahmarishi Vishwamitra is one of the seven venerated sages of Hindu mythology. He was a kshatriya King (Warrior caste) by birth, but has transcended into the brahmin priestly caste with his tough penance. He is also known for discovering the Gayatri Mantra. This mantra enabled the sage to use rare weapons, which bowed to his will, when this mantra was invoked with faith. Through the power he attained, this way he was able to create a counterpart of the cosmos. The Gayatri Mantra is addressed to the energy of the Sun - Surya. It is addressed to the Immanent and Transcendent Divinity. This mantra has infinite potentiality; it is a vibrant formula. It has immense powers, which are truly amazing, for the Sun is it's presiding Deity.

Vishwamitra was a King named Kaushika, and was a valiant warrior. He is the great-grandson of a great sage named Kusha. One of the four sons of Kusha was named Kushanabar, who performed the Puthrakameshti sacrifice and obtained a son named Kadhi as the result. Kaushika was the son of this king Kadhi.

Kaushika succeeded his father to the kingdom and ruled it ably. He was well liked by his people. Once he was on a tour of his kingdom, listening to the complaints of his subjects, and issuing orders to remedy them. On one of his exploits, when he was still a kshatriya, he and his soldiers took rest in the Ashram of Sage Vasishta. There his whole army was well fed and taken care of. This caused a doubt in the emperors mind as to how it was possible for this poor Sage to take care of all the arrangements to feed an entire army.

He expressed his surprise to the sage. Vasishta said, "O King, this feast that you have partaken with your kinsmen, has been provided by my calf Nandini, who was gifted to me by Indra. You must know that she is the daughter of Indra's cow Kamadhenu. She provides me with everything that I need."Upon questioning, he found that Sage Vasishta had in his possession a divine cow, by the name of Nandini. Kaushika was filled with wonder when he heard this. He began to think that possessing this cow would mean a lot to him; after all, the sage did not have to provide food and sustenance for a large army. He expressed a desire to the sage for obtaining Nandini from him. Vasishta was polite, but steadfast in his refusal. He would not be tempted by the offer of untold wealth that was made by Kaushika, for after all who can set a price on a cow, which can readily yield all the riches in the world.

The king grew exceedingly angry. He insulted the Brahmarishi sage with harsh words, and ordered his soldiers to seize the cow, and drive it to his kingdom. By his yogic powers, the great sage Vasishta, brought forth an entire army of fierce warriors. They fought the army of Kaushika and defeated them thoroughly. Kaushika was captured and presented before Vasishta. The sage pardoned the king and sent him away with words of advice.

This incident made a deep impression on the King. He realized that the power obtained by penances was greater than mere physical might. He renounced his kingdom and began his quest to become a greater sage than Vasishta. He took on the name Vishwamitra. It is very interesting to see all the challenges that Viswamitra faced in his life to become a Brahmarishi, before eventually giving up the greed to possess the cow. After many trials and undergoing many austerities, Vishwamitra at last obtained the title of Brahmarishi from Vasishta himself. During this time he had a daughter named Shakuntala (who appears in the Mahabharata), with the Menaka, an Apsara in the court of Indra. One of Vishwamitra's chief faults is his short temper. He is very quick to anger and sometimes utters curses on helpless victims, thereby depleting his yogic powers obtained by much penance. People fear his temper and pray that their actions might not get misconstrued by the touchy sage.

Another story Vishwamitra is known for is his creation of his own version of Swarga, or Heaven, called Trisanku Swarga. When a proud King Trisanku asked his guru, Vasishta, to send him to heaven in his own body, the guru responded that the body cannot ascend to heaven.

King Trisanku then asked Vashista's seven sons to send him to heaven. The sons, outraged that Trisanku would come to them when the father had refused, cursed him to be a chandala, or untouchable. When Trisanku woke up the next day, he found himself entirely deformed. Since none of his subjects could recognize him, he was driven out of the kingdom.

He came across Sage Viswamitra, who agreed to help him. Viswamitra organized a great sacrifice and ritual propitating the Devas, pleading that they accept Trisanku in heaven. Not one Deva responded. Then Viswamitra, angered, used his magical power of penance and ordered Trisanku to rise to heaven. Miraculously, Trisanku rose into the sky until he reached heaven, where he was pushed back down by Indra.

The enraged Viswamitra commanded Trisanku to stop immediately, and again, he did so miraculously. The powerful Viswamitra then commenced creating another universe for Trisanku. He had only completed the heaven when Brihaspati ordered him to stop. Trisanku, however, did not enjoy Trisanku Swarga, he remained fixed in the sky and was transformed into a constellation.

Kousika' (Kaushik)' is one of many gotras that consider Viswamitra as their root node.

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Vishwamitra with celestial Menaka

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