King Bhagirath, who brought Ganges to Earth with his austerities, was such a king that who so ever came to him for anything, he always provided whatever was asked for. He was a great king with compassion filled heart. Whosoever generated animosity against him, he use to vanquish them as Sun removes the darkness. As innumerable sparks flow flame of fire, in the same manner he used to rain armaments on the enemies. But always kept unmoved whether in good or in bad. What came to his mind that he brought Ganges to the Earth? The story goes as follows.
Once observing his kingdom, he experienced that people are leaving the good path and cultivating wrong practices in life and are becoming ignorant and stupid. Then for the welfare of his wards he underwent austerities for Brahma, Rudra, Yajna Rishi and started repeating mantra for bringing Ganga river. Ganges, with one flow moves in the heavens and with other flows in pataal (lower world). The king brought one of its flow in this realm of Death that is our Earth. By bringing Ganges, he did good for the ocean too. Ocean was dried up by Muni Agasthaya, hence there was dearth of water in it. An idea came to his mind. Looking at the world he thought that it is very foolish to perform one task again and again. Humans daily do same things, they get same things and eat same things. He thought that performing any work which generates happiness afterwards, there is nothing wrong in repeating that. With this kind of dispassion he contemplated as to what this whole creation is. At that time the king was quite young. It is a great wonder if such a thought arises in the mind during youth.
When such an idea came to the king’s mind, he left his house and went to the ashram of his Guru Rishi Trital and asked, ‘ O Gurudev, what is that pleasure, after achieving which old age and pain of death gets removed?’ The pleasures of the world are empty from inside and the result of them is only pain. Rishi Trital replied, ‘ O Rajan, there is only one which is to be known, knowing which one achieves the state of peace and that is the knowledge of the self. This self neither arises and nor sets but is established as it is. Old age and death is there till ignorance is, when knowledge form Sun light arises, darkness of ignorance is banished and the jeeva establishes in the state of great peace. Joy of self is all over. Knowing it the knot of the illusion, that ‘I am this’ is shredded. All karmas as well as all illusions get removed. Attaining such pure knowledge, one establishes in that state which is omnipresent, eternal and beyond rise and fall. King replied, ‘ O Gurudev, I do know that atma is eternal and our body is temporary but still I do not experience any peace as I do not experience the atma as the only truth. Hence, kindly explain to me. Trital Rishi said, ‘O King I will explain to you, after knowing which you will not feel any pain and establish more faith in that which is to be known. Do not be affected by the misfortune of the family, always remain in equanimity and remain same in the receipt of good or bad both, establishing the chitt in the self-realization and not letting it go into any other direction, to remain in a secluded place, leaving the company of foolish always contemplate on Brahmvidya, these are the symptoms of a knowledge seeking one trying for self-realization. Opposite to it everything else is ignorance. This alone, O King, is to be known and knowing this great peace will dawn and ego in the physical body will disappear. First ego ‘me’ comes and after that comes ‘mine’. Hence let go of this feeling of me and mine. When you will discard them then you will experience the self. That alone is the knower of all; is all; is self-illuminated and form of joy but without the pains and pleasures of the worldly objects.
King said, ‘ O Gurudev, this ego has been residing in this physical body for eons, why should I discard it?’ Rishi said, ‘O King, ego can only be discarded with the effort of the person. First to generate hate towards worldly objects; then discard the desire for such objects and time and again contemplate on the self; by this method your ego will get removed. When this will get removed then you will see atma everywhere. You will experience painless light of peace everywhere. O king, shame, attachment, company does not get severed till realization is achieved. Me, mine, thirst for anything, pain, to be known as a good person, all these desires which are the places of attachment, all are called shame (लज्जा). Your enemies who want to take your kingdom, give tham your kingdom and get free of the attachment of your wife, children and relatives. Whatever attachment that exists in this body, let go of that and establish yourself in a secluded place and go to the houses of your enemies for alms. So the desire to be known as good and the best gets removed from your mind. Now get up and go.’
After this the king went back to his kingdom, contemplated on everything whatever his Guru had explained to him and started thinking about self-realization. When some time was spent thus, he arranged an agnishtom yajna which is meant for giving away whatever wealth one has. Within three days he distributed all his wealth to Brahmins, desirous, children, wife and enemies. When enemies came to know that the King has become weak. They came and surrounded his kingdom and attacked his palace. The king had only two clothes on his body. He walked out and went to the forest to meditate and established in peaceful state. When some time was spent, he came back to his kingdom and requested for alms from the houses of his enemies. Then enemies and other did his great poojan and asked him to take back his kingdom and everything but he refused and gave it no value as one would to a blade of glass. After roaming for some time, he went to his Guru’s palce and both of them received each other the gaze of realization. They had no desire to live and no desire to die whatever came they were happy in that. Heavenly damsels use to play around there and various objects of great enjoyment arrived there but they considered them as of no value. They satiated with the self kept in their pure state always without any blemish.
After some time elapsed, Bhagirath wandered to another Kingdom, whose king had just died. He was moving around requesting for alms. The official of the dead king saw that it is king Bhagirath and whatever symptoms are needed for a good king are there in this man. They requested him to take up this kingdom since it is being offered to him without his desire. Bhagirath agreed and became a king there. So he was installed as a king of that kingdom with great pomp and show. He went into the palace and saw all the women inside. Whole of the kingdom was filled with the forces of the king, abundant rains filled all the water bodies, great music was played. Many courtiers of nearby kingdoms also arrived to attend the coronation ceremony of the king, including those from his previous kingdom. His earlier kingdom courtiers told him that all the enemies have died in his previous kingdom and there is no king at present. They requested him to take that kingdom also in his fold. Though you do not desire but still please rule over it because whatever is received without any desire, one should not refuse it. So, Bhagirath took that kingdom too and ruled over it. Remembering his past, the king came to know that his ancestors are lying in a well after being burnt due to the curse of Kapil muni. Giving his kingdom to his courtiers, he proceeded alone to the forest. There he underwent great austerities for thousands of years to bring the Ganges to Earth. Then Ganga appeared from the realm of Vishnu and for the welfare of his ancestors, the King brought it down on the Earth. After that again establishing in peace filled state he started roaming around. Such was the story of king Bhagirath……………………….Om!