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Sagara

Sagara was a great king of the Suryavansha. He was an ancestor of Bhagiratha and Rama.

Family

  • Father: Bahu
  • Mother: Yadavi
  • Wives: Sumati, Keshini
  • Sons: 60,000 sons, Asamanja

Background

King Bahu was the king of Kosala, with his capital at Ayodhya. Lead by Talajangha, Kartavirya Arjuna’s grandson, the Haihayas and Talajanghas attacked King Bahu. Talajangha was the brother of Yadavi, one of King Bahu’s wives. The Haihayas were supported by Sakas, Yavanas, Pahlavas, Paradas, and Kambhojas. In the following huge war, King Bahu was killed. Bahu’s sister and wives including Yadavi managed to escaped to Rishi Aurva’s ashram.

Birth

Soon, Yadavi became pregnant. “Her brother Talajangha attacked and killed our husband and made us widows. We should poison her,” the other wives decided. They were successful in doing so. When Rishi Aurva learned of this, he used his excellent physician skills and saved both Yadavi and the child that was going to be born to her. Soon the son was born to Yadavi. He was named Sagara.

Childhood

Sagara grew up in Rishi Aurva’s ashram. He was a favorite of Richika, the oldest son of Rishi Aurva. Sagara grew up with one goal in mind: Defeating the Haihayas and Talajanghas.

Marriage

Sumati was the daughter of Arishtanemi, one of the sons of Vinita and Kashyapa. He was also the brother of Garuda. Arishtanemi gave birth to many including Garuda || and Sumati. It was time for Sumati to get married but she couldn’t find the perfect husband. When she rejected one of her Brahmin suitors, he cursed her that if she married a Brahmin, his head would explode into 100 pieces the moment they married. Because of this curse, Sumati couldn’t marry any Brahmins. Rishi Aurva suggested that she marry Sagara. Thus, Sagara married Sumati.

Many years passed but Sumati did not give birth to any children. Sagara married again in hopes of a child, this time marrying Keshini, the daughter of King Vidarbha of the Yadavas. King Vidarbha had a large kingdom centered around modern-day Gujarat. King Vidarbha decided to give part of his kingdom to his new son-in-law Sagara. Sagara finally had a kingdom, but not the kingdom he was meant to rule: Kosala.

Birth of Children

More time passed and Sagara still didn’t have any children. Leaving his new kingdom for his ministers to rule, Sagara approached Sage Aurva. Aurva performed a large yagna. From the yagna, Aurva learned that one wife would deliver one son who would continue Sagara’s dynasty and another wife would give birth to 60,000 warlike sons. Keshini chose to have one son while Sumati chose to have 60,000.

In due time, Keshini gave birth to a son who was named Asamanjas, while Sumati gave birth to a lump of flesh. In anger and depression, Sagara almost threw the lump away. But Aurva stopped him just in time. “Cut this lump of flesh up into 60,000 pieces,” Aurva said. “Then, put each piece in its own jar of ghee.” Sagara followed Aurva’s instructions and slowly, one by one, Sumati’s 60,000 sons were born.

War Against Kartavirya’s Sons

Parshuram, born of Jamadagni and Renuka, had previously already killed Kartavirya Arjuna, who had murdered Jamadagni. But the Haihayas and Talajanghas, led by Kartavirya Arjuna’s hundred sons, were still very powerful.

A huge war occurred between the Haihayas and the Bhargava rishi plus Sagara. On one side were the seventeen Akshaunis of the Haihayas, the hundred sons of Kartavirya Arjuna, and all their unrighteous Kshatriya allies. On the other side was Parshuram, the armies of Brahmarishi Vishwamitra, Vishwamitra’s hundred sons, Sagara and his 60,000 sons, Asamanjas, and some righteous Kshatriya allies of Sagara.

The war was ruthless. When it ended, there were pools of blood everywhere. Sagara and the Brahmins had defeated the Haihayas. The hundred sons of Kartavirya Arjuna and many Kshatriya king and their armies were dead. This place became known as Samantapanchaka. Many years later, another large dharmayuddha would occur in the same location, during which the place would be known as Kurukshetra.

Coronation

With the collapse of the Haihaya empire as a result of the war, Sagara was finally crowned king of Kosala. He kept his capital as Ayodhya.

Performing the Ashwamedha Yagna

Since his childhood, Asamanjas had always been someone of bad conduct. Once, he even threw a group of little boys into the Sarayu river to drown. Because of these evil deeds, Sagara banished Asamanjas from his kingdom.

Sagara’s 60,000 other sons always followed their older brother. They started becoming of bad conduct like Asamanjas. The devas were worried about this and went to Kapila Muni. They said, “O great one, what will become of this world if the 60,000 sons of Sagara follow the evil ways of Asamanjas. Please do something about this.” “In short time, the 60,000 sons of Sagara will all perish,” Kapila replied.

Meanwhile, Sagara was performing an Ashwamedha yagna. During the yagna, Indra stole the horse. Sagara sent his sons to bring back the horse. Sagara’s sons followed the horses’s trail and realized that it had gone below the Earth. They dug a deep path and eventually found it wandering in Patala. A small distance away from the horse was Kapila Muni, engrossed in meditation. Seeing Kapila Muni so close to the horse, they thought he was the one that had stolen it. “Kill him, kill him. He stole the horse,” they began to shout. Kapila Muni opened his eyes for a few moments and glared at Sagara’s sons. Instantly, they were all reduced to ashes.

Kapila Muni's gaze burns the 60,000 sons of Sagara

When his sons hadn’t returned, Sagara sent Ansumat (son of Asamanjas) to recover the horse. Ansumat followed the deep path dug by the 60,000 princes and arrived where Kapila was. Ansumat respectfully bowed down to Kapila Muni, pleasing the Muni. Kapila told him how he had burned Ansumat’s 60,000 uncles. Ansumat started weeping when he saw his uncles’ ashes.

“Do not cry, Ansumat. Your uncles were destined to die in this manner. Now go and take this horse back to your grandfather so he can complete his yagna,” Kapila said.

“Please raise my 60,000 uncles to heaven. I know they are unworthy of it, but please do so,” Ansumat requested.

“The river Ganga is currently in heaven with the devas. You must bring down the river Ganga to Earth. When this auspicious river touches the ashes of your uncles, they will instantly go to heaven,” Kapila instructed.

Thus, Ansumat brought the horse back to Sagara, who was able to complete his yagna. Ansumat then told Sagara about what the sage had said. Sagara responded, “Ansumat, I will not be able to accomplish this in my lifetime. After me, you will become king. You must strive to bring Ganga to Earth.”

Leaving Kingship and Death

When Sagara died, his grandson Ansumat was appointed the king. Sagara then retired to the forest and died a natural death.

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