Previous Read: Sagara
Anshuman was a famous king from the Suryavansha dynasty. He ruled Kosala kingdom and had his capital as Ayodhya. He was the son of Asamanjas and the grandson of the renowned King Sagara.
- Father: Asamanjas
- Son: Dilipa I
Background and Birth
King Sagara married Keshini and Sumati. Keshini gave birth to one son named Asamanjas and Sumati gave birth to 60,000 warlike sons. From his birth, Asamanjas was a very unvirtuous boy. Once, he even threw some young boys into the Sarayu river and let them drown. When he became older, Asamanjas married and had a son named Anshuman. Soon, King Sagara became tired of Asamanjas’s evil conduct and banished him from the kingdom. Anshuman was thus raised by his grandfather Sagara.
Burning of the 60,000 Sons
Once, Sagara was performing an Ashwamedha yagna. During the yagna, Indra stole the horse. Sagara sent his 60,000 sons to bring back the horse. Sagara’s sons followed the horse’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.
When his sons hadn’t returned, Sagara sent Anshuman to recover the horse. Anshuman followed the deep path dug by the 60,000 princes and arrived where Kapila was. Anshuman respectfully bowed down to Kapila Muni, pleasing the Muni. Kapila told him how he had burned Anshuman’s 60,000 uncles. Anshuman started weeping when he saw his uncles’ ashes.
“Do not cry, Anshuman. 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,” Anshuman 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, Anshuman brought the horse back to Sagara, who was able to complete his yagna. Anshuman then told Sagara about what the sage had said. Sagara responded, “Anshuman, 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.”
Reign, Penance, and Death
Anshuman’s reign caused a period of prosperity and peace in the kingdom of Kosala. His subjects loved him because Anshuman was a very virtuous king who treated his subjects well.
But soon, after a couple of years, Anshuman decided to leave kingship to achieve his goal of bringing the river Ganga down to the Earth. He crowned his son Dilipa as the king of Kosala and then retired to the Himalayas. There, he performed austerities to please the goddess Ganga, but he soon died unsuccessful.
Meanwhile in Ayodhya, when Dilipa received the news of his father’s death, he was overcome with grief. He made it his life goal to complete what his father and grandfather couldn’t: bring down the river Ganga. But soon, even he was lying on his deathbed, unsuccessful in his goal. Dilipa’s son Bhagiratha would then become king and finally succeed in bringing down the river Ganga.
Next Read: Bhagiratha
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