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The downfall of Shaubhari Muni.
Although Ikshvaku is sometimes included as one of the ten sons of Vaivasvata Manu, begotten through his wife, Shraddha- he was actually born from Shraddhadeva’s nostrils when he had sneezed.
Once, when Maharaja Ikshvaku was performing the shraddha ceremony during the dark fortnights in the months of January, February and March- he ordered one of his one hundred sons, Vikukshi, to go to the forest and bring some pure flesh.
Vikukshi went to the forest and killed many animals suitable for offering as oblations, but when he became extremely tired and hungry, he forgetfully ate one of the rabbits. Upon returning to the sacrificial arena, Vikukshi delivered the remaining flesh to his father, who in turn gave it to the priest, Vasishtha, for purification. But, Vasishtha could immediately understand that Vikukshi had already eaten some of the flesh, thus contaminating the entire offering. When Vasishtha informed Ikshvaku of what his son had done, the king angrily ordered Vikukshi to leave the domain of his kingdom as punishment for having violated the regulative principles.
After receiving instruction from Vasishtha regarding the Absolute Truth, Maharaja Ikshvaku became completely renounced, so that when he gave up his material body, he attained the perfection of yoga. After the passing away of his father, Vikukshi returned home and was enthroned as ruler of the earth. Vikukshi, who was also known as Shashada, “the eater of a rabbit”, had a son named Puranjaya, who also came to be known as Indravaha and Kakutstha.
Once, when the demigods had been defeated in a devastating war with the demons, they took help from the son of Shashada so that they could retaliate against their enemies. For this reason, he became known as Puranjaya, or “he who conquered the residence of the demons”. Although he agreed to kill all of the demons on behalf of the demigods, Puranjaya insisted that Indra become his carrier. Due to pride, the king of heaven refused at first, but then, later on, by the order of Lord Vishnu, he agreed to transform himself into a gigantic bull. While being praised by all the demigods, Puranjaya got onto the hump of Indra-in-the-form-of-a-bull, and thus he received the name Kakutstha. Being empowered by Lord Vishnu, Puranjaya sat on the great bull, and thus became known as Indravaha.
Thereafter, a fierce battle took place, and all of the demons who were bold enough to come before Puranjaya were immediately sent to the abode of Yamaraja by his arrows, which resembled the flames of devastation at the end of the millenium. Finally, to save themselves, the remaining demons fled from the battlefield and returned home. After conquering the demons, the son of Vikukshi gave all of the enemies’ riches and wives to Indra.
In the eighth generation after Puranjaya appeared Kuvalayashva. With the assistance of his 21,000 sons, King Kuvalayashva killed the demon Dhundhu, for the satisfaction of the great sage Utanka. For this reason, Kuvalayashva became celebrated as Dhudhumara. However, all except three of his sons were burned to ashes by the fire that had emanated from the great demon’s mouth.
In the seventh generation after Kuvalayashva, appeared Yuvanashva. Having no sons, the king retired from his royal duties and went to the forest, along with his one hundred wives, accepting the life of vanaprastha. The sages who lived in the forest could see that the childless king and his queens were very morose, and so, out of compassion, they performed an Indra-yagya to enable Yuvanashva to have a son.
One night, Yuvanashva became very thirsty and so he entered the sacrificial arena, looking for water. As if impelled by providence, when he found that all of the brahmanas had fallen fast asleep, he drank the sanctified water that was intended for his wife.
In the morning, when the brahmanas awoke and discovered that the sacred water pot was empty, they began making inquiries. Upon discovering that it was the king who had drunk the water that was intended for producing a child, the brahmanas exclaimed, “Oh! Just see the power of providence, which no one can counteract!”
Thereafter, in due course of time, a son having the auspicious symptoms indicating a powerful king came out of the lower right side of Yuvanashva’s abdomen. When the baby cried loudly for breast-milk, the brahmanas anxiously wondered, “Who will take care of this poor child?"
Just then, Indra, who had been worshiped in the sacrifice, came there, and after pacifying the baby, he put his index finger into its mouth and said, “You may drink me.”
By the mercy of the brahmanas, King Yuvanashva did not die after giving birth to the child. Thereafter, he performed very severe austerities at that place, and ultimately achieved perfection. The son of Yuvanashva was named Mandhatta, and because he was the cause of fear for Ravana and other miscreants, Indra also given him the name Trasaddasyu.
By the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Mandhatta became so powerful that he became emperor of the entire earth, consisting of seven islands. Being fully aware that all of the demigods are the various limbs of the Supreme Lord’s universal body, King Mandhatta worshiped Him by the performance of sacrifice and gave immense charity to the brahmanas. In the womb of his wife, Bindumati, the daughter of Shashabindu, Mandhatta begot three sons and fifty daughters.
At this time, the great sage Shaubhari was engaged in performing austerities deep within the water of the River Yamuna. However, when he happened to see a pair of fish engaged in sexual relations, Shaubhari Rishi became agitated with the desire to experience sex-pleasure. For this reason, he came out of the water and approached King Mandhatta at Mathura. After hearing Shaubhari’s request for the hand of one of his daughters, the king replied, “O brahmana, my daughters may accept whichever husband they like.”
Being very intelligent, Shaubhari Muni thought, “Because of old age, my hair has become gray, my skin is slack, my body is feeble, and my head always trembles. Due to this, and also because I am a yogi, women are naturally not very attracted to me. It is for this reason that the king has rejected my proposal. But, if I rejuvenate my body by utilizing my mystic power, I can become desirable even to the damsels of heaven, and so what to speak of the daughters of worldly kings.”
Shaubhari Muni then transformed himself into a very handsome, young man. And so it came to be that he was escorted into the residential quarters of the princesses by a messenger, and was eagerly accepted by all fifty daughters of King Mandhatta. However, because of their attraction to Shaubhari Muni, the girls gave up their sisterly relationship and began quarreling amongst themselves, each one claiming, “This man is just suitable for me alone, and not for you.”
To settle the dispute, Shaubhari utilized the results of his severe austerities to create a very opulent residence, surrounded by beautiful parks containing crystal-clear lakes. Simply by the chanting of mantras, Shaubhari created innumerable well-dressed servants and maidservants, and the entire palace was furnished with the most valuable beds, seats, baths, and all other objects of material enjoyment. In this way, Shaubhari Muni pacified the girls, and after accepting them all as his wives, he began engaging with them in family affairs.
Indeed, even though King Mandhatta was the ruler of the entire world, he became so astonished to see Shaubhari Muni’s household opulence that he gave up the sense of false prestige that had been caused by his royal position. And yet, despite enjoying such a high standard of sense gratification and material opulence, Shaubhari Muni remained dissatisfied, just as a fire never becomes satiated in spite of being constantly supplied with drops of ghee.
Thus, one day, while seated alone in a secluded place, Shaubhari Muni began to think about his fallen condition: “Oh! Even though I had practiced such great austerities and observed all of the rules and regulations that govern the lives of saintly persons, I lost all of my ascetic merit simply by seeing the sexual affairs of fish!”
“Everyone should hear about this falldown and learn the lesson that can be derived from it. A person who desires liberation from material bondage must give up the association of those who are interested in sex. One should always stay in a secluded place and completely absorb his mind in meditation upon the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If one needs any association at all, then he should only keep the company of persons who are similarly engaged.”
“Due to seeing the sexual activities of the fish, I also desired to marry, and thus I became the husband of fifty wives and begot one hundred children in each of them. Although I thought that I could become happy in material life, I now see that there is no end to desires for sensual enjoyment, either in this life, or in the next.”
Actually, the cause of Shaubhari Muni’s falldown was Vaishnava-aparadha. Once, when Garuda had desired to eat some fish, Shaubhari Muni had forbidden him, and then cursed him when his order was disobeyed. In this way, he committed a great offense toward an exalted Vaishnava, and had to suffer the consequences.
While regretting his fallen condition, Shaubhari Muni became detached. Then, to renounce material association, he accepted the order of vanaprastha and retired to the forest, along with his devoted wives. When Shaubhari Muni attained perfection and was elevated to the spiritual world, his wives were able to accompany him, as a result of his spiritual prowess, just as the flames of a fire cease to exist when the fire itself is extinguished.