The great king Harishchandra lay dying of mahodara. A full 14 times had Varuna visited him for the son he had promised him and all 14 times had Harishchandra sent back Varuna with some cock and bull excuse.
On the advice of Vishwamitra Rishi,Harishchandra’s son Rohita had undertaken a pilgrimage 5 times, to all the teerthas of India…. each time Harishchandra would recover for a year and then fall ill again.
One day as Rohita was on his teerthayatra, he saw a Brahmin travelling with his wife and children.
Rohita had an idea and stopped the Brahmin Ajagartha. He offered him a 1000 cows in return for one of his sons who would be offered in lieu of hinself to Varuna.
The mother loved the youngest son and the father the elder son….. hence a decision was made that the middle boy Sunashepa would be offered.
When Sunashepa realised that his parents were that greedy, he was that very badly affected, he agreed to go along with Rohita. En route to Pushkara lay the mighty Vishwamitra Rish’s ashrama and when Sunashepa saw the legendary Rishi in deep Samadhi, he could not contain himself and he threw himself at the great Rishi’s feet. Presently the Rishi came out of samadhi and found this little boy crying at his feet. His compassion aroused, he immediately realised what had happened and decided to help the boy by giving one of his 1000 sons in lieu.
But to Vishwamitra’s utter dismay, his sons started to make fun of him! The angry Rishi cursed his children and they became like Chandalas.
To be continued.