Ambarisha was a great king of the Suryavansha dynasty. He was a king of Ayodhya. But he had battled many other kings and conquered the world. He was the great-grandson of Vaivasvata Manu. His father was Nabhaga. Ambarisha was also a great devotee Vishnu and knew that worldly things weren’t important. He was humble and loved his people.
- Father: Nabhaga
- Son: Sindhudwipa
- Daughter: Srimati
Obtaining the Sudarshan Chakra
King Ambarisha performed a huge yagna. Vishnu was so impressed with Ambarisha’s yagna that he gave Ambarisha the Sudarshan chakra. Anyone with the Sudarshan chakra is protected from everything. After Ambarisha obtained the Sudarshan chakra, his kingdom prospered even more.
King Ambarisha and Durvasa
Once, King Ambarisha and his wife were observing the Dvadashi (Ekadashi). They fasted on the 11th of every month, which they broke the next day. They had to do this for a whole year. Indra was worried when he saw Ambarisha fasting.
“Ambarisha already had the Sudarshan chakra. If he completes this fast, he will be even more powerful. I need to stop him,” Indra thought.
Suddenly, he saw Sage Durvasa. Durvasa was an avatar of Shiva and got angry really fast. Surely, he would curse Ambarisha and make him break his fast.
“Revered sage, please to meet you,” Indra said.
Durvasa was surprised. Usually, people ran away from him because they were scared of his temper. But Indra was glad to meet him! Durvasa started enjoying Indra’s hospitality when Indra said, “Sage, did you know King Ambarisha has been doing a fast for a year. Tomorrow, he will break the fast. Wouldn’t it be a great occasion to watch.”
“You are correct. I will go to his palace tomorrow,” Durvasa said.
The next day, Durvasa went to King Ambarisha. Ambarisha and Durvasa sat down. “Ambarisha. I have just came. I will go to the river and wash up first. Then we can eat. I’ve heard you are going to break your fast…” Durvasa said.
“Yes. In two hours would be the auspicious time to break the fast,” Ambarisha said.
“I will go wash up, and then both of us can break the fast and eat,” Durvasa said. He left and went to the river. Soon, it had been a long time and Sage Durvasa still hadn’t come. Ambarisha and his ministers were in a dilemma.
“King, I think you must break the fast. If you don’t break it now, the entire fast will be of waste. At least have a drink of water. Then, when the sage gets back, you can eat with him,” one of Ambarisha’s minsters advised.
“No, I will wait for Sage Durvasa,” Ambarisha said. But Durvasa didn’t come. Finally, one of Ambarisha’s minsters said, “You have to break it now, sir.”
Ambarisha nodded. He took a sip of water. Just as he took the sip, Sage Durvasa appeared there.
“Ambarisha, is this how you respect your guest. You broke your fast right before I came,” Durvasa shouted.
“But sage, the auspicious time was here. I couldn’t wait any longer. I only took a sip of water,” Ambarisha protested.
“Auspicious time! I am your guest. You do not know how to deal with guests. Auspicious time is not more important than your guests,” Durvasa bellowed.
Saying that, Durvasa plucked a strand of hair from his head. He threw the strand on the ground and it turned into a ferocious demon. “Kill him,” Durvasa said, pointing at Ambarisha. The demon charged at Ambarisha, who started praying to Lord Vishnu.
The demon was just about to attack Ambarisha, when the Sudarshan chakra of Vishnu came and chopped the demon’s head off. It then started whirling towards Sage Durvasa, who started running away from it. In desperation, Durvasa ran to Satyaloka, the abode of Lord Brahma. “Lord, the Sudarshan chakra is after me,” Durvasa said panting.
“I can’t help you. Go to Lord Shiva,” Brahma said.
Durvasa started running to Mount Kailash. He desperately climbed the Himalaya mountains and fell at Lord Shiva’s feet. “Lord, the chakra,” Durvasa said in exhaustion.
“Lord Vishnu controls the Sudarshan chakra, go to him for help,” Shiva advised.
Durvasa ran as fast as he could to Lord Vishnu. “Help me Lord, your chakra is after me,” Durvasa said panting.
“It is my weapon, but right now, it is controlled by King Ambarisha. So sorry to him and he will call it off,” Vishnu said.
Durvasa ran back to Ambarisha. He fell at his feet and said, “King Ambarisha, I am sorry. Please call the chakra back.”
Ambarisha closed his eyes and prayed to Lord Vishnu. “Please call the chakra back. I still respect the sage as much as I used to.”
The Sudarshan chakra disappeared. Durvasa apologized to Ambarisha. In the end, Ambarisha’s fast was successful and he became even more powerful.
Marriage of Srimati
Once, Sage Narada and Sage Parvata came to King Ambarisha’s court. Ambarisha happily received and made them comfortable. King Ambarisha’s daughter Srimati came to wash their feet as per the customs. The moment they saw her, both Narada and Parvata fell in love with Srimati.
Each went to King Ambarisha and told him that they wanted to marry her. King Ambarisha was in a dilemma because both of the sages wanted to marry Srimati.
“There are two of you and I only have one daughter. Who should I give her hand in marriage to?” Ambarisha said to the sages.
“To me, I am way older than Parvata,” Narada said.
“But I asked first. So I deserve to marry Srimati,” Parvata argued.
“There is no point arguing. I will have a swayamvar tomorrow. Then, Srimati will pick who she wants to marry. She is the one who deserves to pick who she wants to marry,” Ambarisha decided.
Both sages agreed. “What if Srimati picks Parvata? I couldn’t possibly face so much humiliation,” Narada thought. He went to Lord Vishnu for help.
“Lord Vishnu. Both me and Parvata want to marry Srimati,” Narada said.
“I cannot do anything about that. She will pick who she wants to pick. You will have to deal with her decision,” Vishnu said.
“Actually, you can help me. Tomorrow, please turn Parvata into a bear. Then, Srimati will definitely pick me over Parvata,” Narada requested.
“As you wish, Narada,” Lord Vishnu said with a smile.
As soon as Narada left Vaikuntha, Parvata came to Lord Vishnu. “Lord Vishnu, Narada and I are both in love with Srimati. I am afraid Srimati will pick Narada tomorrow in the Swayamvar,” Parvata narrated.
“I can’t prevent Srimati from liking Narada more than you,” Vishnu said.
“Oh you can, my lord. Please turn Narada into a bear tomorrow. Then Srimati will pick me,” Parvata said with a smile.
“Okay, I will turn Narada into a bear tomorrow,” Vishnu said with a smile.
The next day,t the hall was decorated lavishly. Narada and Parvata sat on thrones and the hall was filled with people. King Ambarisha entered, with Srimati right behind him, carrying a garland. “Here are your two suitors. Both are great sages,” Ambarisha said, pointing at the two sages.
Srimati was shocked when she saw them. “Father, I don’t see any sages. I see a bear and a monkey.” Srimati said trembling.
“What! Do you see anything else,” Ambarisha exclaimed.
“Yes. I see a handsome man standing between the two suitors. He is wearing exquisite jewelry and has a sweet smile. He also has four hands,” Srimati described.
King Ambarisha realized it was Lord Vishnu who was standing in between the thrones.
“I will throw this garland into the air. Whoever catches it first will marry me,” Srimati said. Srimati threw the garland, but neither Narada or Parvata caught it. Instead, it landed on Lord Vishnu’s neck. Instantly, Lord Vishnu and Srimati vanished.
“King Ambarisha, are you playing tricks on us? Where did your daughter disappear?” Narada asked.
“May you be surrounded in eternal darkness,” Parvata cursed Ambarisha.
The handsome man was no other than Lord Vishnu and Srimati was no other than an incarnation of Lakshmi. She had been reborn as Ambarisha’s daughter, but was destined to be united with Vishnu. As Vishnu and Srimati disappeared, Narada and Parvata caught a glimpse of them smiling at each other.
Parvata and Narada went to Vaikuntha. “My lord, why did you trick us. Why did run away with Srimati?” they both asked.
“Srimati was an incarnation of Lakshmi. Both of you didn’t realize that. You are great sages. You could have easily found out that Srimati was incarnation of Lakshmi,” Vishnu said.
Narada was so ashamed that he took a vow that he would never marry.