Story from Narad Puran: Descent of Ganga on the Earth
It is a tale of ancient time. A very famous king named Sagar came into being in the Ikshwaku dynasty. He was extremely learned, knowledgeable, tapaswi, brave, intelligent and truthful king. He had two beautiful queens named Keshini and Mahati.
One day, offering his blessing to him, Maharshi Aurva said, "one of your queens will bear sixty thousand sons while the other will have just one. But the one son from the other queen will be the heir to the dynasty. Therefore either of your queens may choose one of the two boons." Then queen Keshini accepted the boon of one son and Mahati accepted the boon of sixty thousand sons.
Queen Keshini gave birth to one son after some time whose name was Asmanjas. A sachet full of seeds was produced from the womb of queen Mahati. There were sixty thousand eggs of the size of seed in it. King Sagar arranged to put them in pitchers full of ghee and appointed sixty thousand maids to nurse them. Sixty thousand children were produced from it at the proper time. All the children were very brave, strong, and aggressive warriors.
Once, the thought of organizing ashwamedh yajna developed in the mind of King Sagar. He ordered his
counsellors to prepare for the yajna. The yajna started at an auspicious time. The horse of the yajna was released. But, changing into the form of a demon, Devraj Indra stole the yajna's horse and hid it in the ashram of Maharshi Kapil, the fraction incarnate of Lord Vishnu.
On the disappearance of the horse, rishi-muni said to Sagar, "King! There has developed impediment in the yajna due to disappearance of the horse of the yajna. Therefore arrange to search the horse soon; otherwise it would cast bad omen."
Sagar sent his sixty thousand sons to search for the horse of the yajna. Then they searched the entire earth, but they saw the horse of the yajna nowhere. Then they started digging the earth with their strong arms. Along with earth, the habitants of that place namely snakes, demons, and other living beings started screaming in panic due to their massive strike.
Digging the land, the sons of Sagar arrived near the ashram of Maharshi Kapil. They saw the horse of the yajna tied there. Assuming that Kapil muni had kidnapped the horse of the yajna, they hurled derogatory words on Maharshi Kapil, the fraction avatar of Lord Vishnu. Then, outraged Kapil muni turned them into ash.
Sagar drowned into the sea of sorrow on hearing his sons being turned into ash. Then his grandson Anshuman placated Maharshi Kapil by praying him. Pleased, Maharshi Kapil returned the horse of the yajna. Seeing that the Maharshi was pleased, Anshuman asked him the method of salvation of the dead sons of Sagar. He said that the sacred stream of Ganga alone could salvage the sons of Sagar.
King Sagar engaged himself into an arduous tapa in order to bring Ganga on the earth according to the advice of Maharshi Kapil. After his death, Anshuman, and his son Dilip after him performed arduous tapa for many years. But they did not succeed to bring Ganga on the earth. At last, Bhagirath, the grandson of Anshuman, performed arduous tapa of Lord Vishnu to bring Ganga on the earth. Pleased with his arduoud tapasya, Lord Vishnu appeared before him in real.
Having seen the appearance of Lord Vishnu, Bhagirath started praying him with deep reverence. Then, pleased Lord Vishnu said to Bhagirath, "Son! I am extremely happy with your rigorous tapa. I have appeared here to give you your desired boon. Ask your desired boon without hesitation."
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