Visvamitra is not just some mystic yogi or a gurukula teacher or something. Visvamitra was such a great powerful personality. He was a great ksatriya. One day he was going on a big hunting tour, and while he was going, the tradition was that when you pass by a gurukula or an ashrama, the kings must stop. And they must go there and respect the saint. The saintly person, in turn, will feed the king because the king will not carry so much ration when he goes into the forest. And he’s not going to live on fruits and roots, because he’s the king, not some saintly person. He needs some feast, so the saintly person must arrange the feast. And for arranging the feast the kings will always donate a lot of things to the saintly person. In this way, there was a nice arrangement for making feasts and taking feasts. So this great army of Kaushika, Visvamitra, was coming, and he had his hundred sons and he was thinking, “That’s a small ashrama there.”
He looked down into the valley and the ashrama was about four houses, and there was the stream running nearby. Visvamitra thought, “My army of a hundred sons shouldn’t go. You all stay here,” he said to his sons. “It is a custom that I should go and respect this saintly person, so I will go there and then I will come back. And if he asks to feed something to me that is alright, but he can’t feed my whole army.” So Kaushika went down, and there was two brahmacaris washing cloth in the stream, so he asked them, “Whose ashrama is this?” The brahmacaris replied, “This is the ashrama of Vasistha Muni.” “Vasistha?” Kaushik asked. “He’s in my country and I didn’t even know.” “He came three months ago,” the brahmacaris replied. He would always go like that. He stays in a place for about three hundred years and then he moves to another ashrama because too many students come here and he doesn’t like a big population.
So whenever there is too many people he disappears with one or two students and goes to open another school somewhere else. “I would like to see him, ” Visvamitra said. So the brahmacaris brought him before Vasistha. Vasistha was making some thread from cotton. He was wearing a gamsha around his waist and another around his shoulders. Kaushika was coming with many ornaments and a golden crown, so he came in there and took his crown off, and touched Vasistha’s feet. He then said, “I am Kaushika and I am on a hunting trip. I have a hundred sons who I have left on the highway and I have come here just to see you. So you please bless my kingdom.” Vasistha said, “How is this possible that you are coming to my ashrama and going without a feast?” Visvamitra looked at the house with its grass roof and cow-dung floor and the whole ashrama was only three or four houses. “You’re going to give me a feast?”
“How will I eat it without my sons?” “No no, your sons, your army, your castle, everyone. Bring them here.” “But where will they sit? You have only four huts.” “Bring them here,” Vasistha said very determinedly. “If I don’t bring them, he will curse,” Visvamitra thought, so he went back to his sons. “All of you come with me to this ashrama,” he told them. “You must be joking!” the sons replied. “If we all go to that ashrama, we will be crushed. There’s no place in there.” Visvamitra said, “This great rishi has asked, so we must go.” They were thinking, “Even if we passed by there, by the sound of these chariots the roofs will cave in.” Their chariots were huge with eighteen horses each.
“I don’t want to be cursed, so let’s go down there.” As they were going down into the valley they saw that a big township was there. Palaces, roads, and swimming pools. People were running out of the city. It was a city suddenly, and Kaushika was thinking, “This is wonderful. Just in the time of closing my eyes there is a big city here. It’s bigger than Mahismati, my capital! Look at these palaces!” They were all looking at this and wondering, and then Vasistha came out and said, “What are you doing? You must all go and take bath. Feast is already prepared. It will get cold.” So then after they took bath they came and thousands of them sat down on a big grass lawn. They saw no plates or anything in front of them, and Vasistha made them sit in rows. Visvamitra said, “What items are you going to give us, and how are you going to serve it?”
“You can think of any plate you like, and you can think of any item you like, and you can think of any quantity you like, and you will get it.” Visvamitra thought, “A diamond plate.” Boom! And the diamond plate was there. And whatever he liked at that time was coming, heaps and heaps and they were eating and eating, but still it was just coming and coming, and they were just eating all the items they had ever heard about. One person said, “What Indra eats on his birthday, I want that.” So he got it. Everyone got everything they liked. They were so satisfied, and then they wanted to see a dance. “What dance do you want to see?” Vasistha asked them. Visvamitra said, “The dance that is seen by Narayana in Svetadvipa, I want to see that.” “All right, you can see,” Vasistha replied. Immediately there was a stage.
celestials of Vaikuntha
And there was a wonderful stage by the celestials of Vaikuntha. And Visvamitra was so envious. He was thinking, “What is this? Some baba, he is having so much opulence. I am a king, and I look like a beggar in front of him.” So he came to Vasistha and asked, “Please tell me, what is the source of your opulence? I’m sure it’s not this beard.” Vasistha replied, “No, it’s not my beard. It’s my cow.” Then he clapped his hands and he said, “Kama-dhenu, come here.” And then a kama-dhenu came. This cow had a long tail like a braid, and a peacock feather on the back. It had the breasts of a human female on her chest and the body of a cow. And in her whole body is the potency of all the demigods. This cow came when the milk ocean was churned for nectar and was given to Vasistha by the Supreme Lord because he performed wonderful sacrifices so he needed a lot of wealth.
Where could he go, because the kings were such small timers. Sometimes they would have wealth, and even though they had sometimes they would say that they don’t have. So he gave this cow. “You can get anything from this cow.” Visvamitra said, “I will give you one million ordinary cows. You give me this cow.” Vasistha said, “You must be a fool. One million ordinary cows, why should I take them and give you this special cow. If you give me one million kama-dhenus then I can think of giving you this one.” “But you know,” Visvamitra said, “according to the shastras, whatever is in this land belongs to the king, and I am the king so it belongs to me.” Vasistha said, “Look at the kama-dhenu again, Kaushika.” Visvamitra looked at the cow and noticed that it was four feet off the ground.
To be continue..