As we have seen “Manu” the son of Lord Brahma the Sun god begot sons who were known as Solar dynastic progeny. Among them was Iksvaku the linage Lord Rama inherited.
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Let us briefly see the important events of this linage and the monarchs connected with these events before we see the story of Saurabhi in detail.
We will be surprised to know several things from these stories,
Can food offering be polluted on consuming it and offering the remaining portion to the Lord?
Can a baby be born to a male?
Can someone sit under water and meditate?
Once King Ikshvaku wanted to perform Paksha srardha a fifteen day ritual, for his ancestors and asked his son Vikukshi to bring fresh meat of certain forest dwelling animals like rabbit fit for offering.
This was the practice of Kshatriyas of that era to offer their choicest food to the departed ancestors! Accordingly he went into the forest and collected meat and while returning felt very tired and took rest under shade of a tree and as he felt hungry took some rabbit meat cooked in a camp fire and ate it.
Brought back the rest and gave it to the priests. But the King being very spiritually advanced immediately understood what had happened and ascertained the truth and consulted Sage Vasishta and reprimanded his son. He felt this was a very gross transgression and could not be ignored and so asked his son to leave the country.
Crest fallen Vikukshi accepted the punishment and paid his respects to his father and the guru and retired to the forest to live a life of an ascetic.
After spending many years in the forest and contemplating upon god, learnt that his father had passed away due to his old age and people needed his leadership.
He returned to his Kingdom and ruled it. He acquired a name “Sasada” the rabbit eater! Later a son was born to him namely Puranjaya who was also known as Kakustha, or Indravaha.
He was so valiant and strong that even the celestial gods sought his help to fight their foes the Daithyas!
Once Indra truned himself into a bull and carried the King Puranjaya and he sat on its hump and fought the enemies and got the name Kakustha! And Indravaha!
It is one of the names with which we praise Lord Rama!
In his linage after many kings was born Yuvanasva. He had many queen but was not blessed with a progeny. He was worried and consulted his preceptor Vashishta!
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They decided that a yagna to beget children. It was a very intricate and strict ritual. He had to observe many injunctions! And fasting! While he was observing them on night the King felt very thirsty and got up in the middle of the night in the yagna quarters where he was sleeping and came to the sacrificial area in search of some water.
In the darkness he did not differentiate between what was kept for offering and what is was kept for generic purpose and took a pot and drank it. Next morning when the priests assembled they found the sacrificial pot containing that had been sanctified with mantras empty.
They were shocked and called Vasishta and informed him about the consequences! To utter surprise of everyone the king’s abdomen showed signs of the baby developing inside and soon the right side of the abdomen fractured and a baby was delivered!
But the experts around treated the King to regain his strength and was all right thereafter!
But the bay was crying as it was hungry! Who should feed that baby now? And how? The celestial King Indra noticed this and took pity on the child and also wanted to help the King who had come to his rescue once upon a time. So he came down and sat near the child and put his index finger into the baby’s mouth, immediately the milk flowed into the mouth and the child stopped crying!
This is how the new born started suckling their thumb!
The child grew up and later became the King Yuvanasva!
Yuvanasva had a son called Mandhata who had three illustrious sons namely Purukuthsa, Ambarisha and Muchukundha.
We have seen the story of Ambarisha earlier. Muchukundha was a great saintly King and a devotee of Lord Siva!
Then the King also had fifty daughters! One day an old sage looking ugly approached the king and asked him to give one of his daughters in marriage to him! The King was taken aback at this unusual request from the sage and was little apprehensive of giving his daughter in marriage to him.
Soon he consulted his council of ministers and came to know that the sage is an accomplished seer who used to meditate underwater in the Yamuna river for years and will be lost in trance!
It was during such contemplation the sage came across a huge school of fish passing by lead by the head of the family wives, children and grand children! This sight kindled an interest in a family life and as soon as he came out of water, he had come to the king seeking his daughter to begin a life of a householder!
The King did not want to offend the sage at the same time wanted to avoid a situation where his daughter would marry an old and not so good looking man! He suggested to the sage that as a father he would give preference to his daughters wish and would not impose his likes and dislike upon them so it would be prudent to ask his daughters for their consent.
Immediately the sage suggested that he may be allowed to meet his daughters first, then let his daughters decide for themselves. The King was confident that none of them would be keen to marry this old man and readily agreed.
The sage was led towards the quarters where the daughters were staying, to everyone’s surprise the sage transformed himself into a very handsome young ascetic !
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When the daughters saw this young and handsome man standing before them in ocher robes , they lost their senses and everyone wanted to marry him! The king now knew that the sage standing over there is so powerful and had all the accomplishments.
So he suggested that the sage could marry all of them and live in turn with them. The marriage was also solemnized. He built separate quarters for each of his daughter.
One day he wanted to find out how the sage was leading his life with all his daughters and went into a house and found his daughter and the young sage leading a quiet life, satisfied he went into another and was surprised to find the story repeated!
He now knew that the sage with his powers has taken multiple forms and leading a happy life that even a King like him could not do!
The sage Saurabhi had created everything that one could possibly imagine in the palaces !
They had beautiful gardens, ponds, swans swimming in those ponds, and lotuses blooming, many trees with full of flowers and birds, many maids, many glittering ornaments, sandal paste, incense sticks burning giving out their fragrant smoke, musical expert singers singing melodiously and dancers entertaining some others playing on instruments.
Looking at this opulence and grandiose King Mandhata decided that these powers were possible by living a saintly life and still among these richness the sage was not getting immersed! So he too decided to pursue the life of an ascetic and retired to the forest.
In the meanwhile the sage Saurabhi too was contemplating alone in his palace and suddenly a thought occurred to him about the time lost in this life as a householder and chasing impermanent things and forgetting about contemplating on the supreme being.
All due to a single stray attraction of watching the fish having a big family. Immediately he decided to retire to the forest and pursue divinity.
His dedicated wives too followed him into the forest and he advised them to follow a life of a renunciation and which they did and reached the abode of God.
The Sage too went deeper into the dense forest and settled in a cave and was engaged in contemplation and reached the abode of God!