Ambarisha (अम्बरीषः)

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Mandhata had three sons: Ambarisa, Mucukunda and Purukutsa and fifty daughters. In Valmiki Ramayana there is a story of Devendra's theft of the sacrificial cow from Ambarisa's yagasala. Devendra could not bear the thought of King Ambarisa winning world renown and glory by performing yagas. Therefore Indra stole the sacrificial cow and took it away. The Upadhyaya ( Chief Priest ) was alarmed at the disappearance of the cow and expressed his opinion to the King that it would be enough to sacrifice a human being instead of the cow. The King searched for the cow in all countries, cities and forests. At last he reached the peak of Bhrgutunga where the sage Rcika lived with his wife and children. The King explained to the sage the whole story. He requested him to sell one of his sons in exchange for 100,000 cows. Rcika had three sons. The eldest was his father's favourite and the youngest was the mother's pet. In the end, Rcika sold the second son, SunaSsepha in return for 100,000 cows. On his return journey with Sunassepha the king rested for a while at Puskara Tirtha. There Sunassepha happened to meet his uncle Visvamitra and complained to him about his sad plight. Sunassepha's wish was that the king's yaga should be performed and at the same time his own life-span should be extended. Visvamitra promised to save Sunassepha. He called Madhucchandas and his other sons and said to them : "One of you must take the place of Ambarlsa's sacrificial cow and save the life of Sunassepha. God will bless you." But none of the sons of Visvamitra was prepared to become the sacrificial cow. Visvamitra uttered a curse on his sons that they would have to spend a thousand years on earth, eating dog-flesh. Then he turned to Sunaisepha and told him that if he prayed to the gods at the time of Ambarisa's yajna, they would save him. So Sunassepha went to Ambarlsa's yagasala. As ordered by the assembled guests, Ambarlsa bound Sunassepha and had him dressed in blood-red robes, ready for the sacrifice. Sunassepha began to praise and pray to the gods. Soon Indra appeared and blessed him with longevity. He also rewarded Ambarlsa for his yaga. Thus Sunassepha was saved. (Valmiki Ramayana Bala Kanda, Sarga 61). The story of Sunassepha may be seen with slight variations in the Devi Bhagavata and other Puranas. In those versions, Sunassepha has been described as the sacrificial cow at Hariscandra's yaga, and moreover, Ajigarta is referred to as the father of Sunassepha. (Brahmanda Parana, Chapter 58 gives the same story as in Valmiki Ramayana).