Chapter 75 — Bhagiratha Renounces All and Lives as a Wandering Beggar

Vasishta related:—

Having heard these admonitions from his religious teacher, Bhagiratha decided upon what he was about to do and set about the execution of his determination. He passed a few days devising his plan, then commenced his sacred fire sacrifice (agnishtoma) to consecrate his all for the sake of obtaining his sole spiritual object. He gave away his cattle and lands, his horses and jewels, and his money without number to the twice born classes of men and his relatives, without regard to their merit or demerit. Over three days he gave away all what he had until at last he had nothing for himself, except his life and flesh and bones. 5 When his inexhaustible treasures were all exhausted, he gave up his great kingdom to his neighboring enemies as if it were a piece of straw, to the great mortification of his subjects. As enemies overran his kingdom and seized his royal palace and properties, he clothed himself in a loincloth and went away beyond the limits of his kingdom.

He wandered far through distant villages and desert lands until at last he settled where he was quite unknown. Nobody knew his person or face or his name and title. He remained there in seclusion for some time, becoming quite composed and blunt to all feelings within and outside himself. He obtained his rest in the serene tranquility of his soul.

Then he wandered about different countries and went to distant islands until at last he unknowingly returned to his native land and city, which was in the grasp of his enemies. 10 There, while he was wandering door to door begging for alms led about by the currents of time, he was seen by the citizens and his former ministers. 11 They all recognized their former king Bhagiratha, whom they honored with due homage. They were very sorry to see him in that miserable state. 12 His enemy came out to meet him and implored him to take back the kingdom and property he had abandoned, but he slighted all their offers as worthless straws, except taking a meager meal from their hands.

13 He passed a few days there, then bent his course another way. The people loudly lamented at his sad condition crying, “Ah, what has become of the unfortunate Bhagiratha!” 14 Then the king walked away with the calmness of his soul, his mind content and his face placid. He amused himself wandering and thinking until he chanced to encounter his teacher Tritala. 15 They welcomed one another, then joining together, they both began to wander about the lands of men, passing over hills and deserts in their holy wanderings.

16 Once when the dispassionate pupil and his teacher were sitting together in the cool calmness of their dispositions, their conversations turned on the interesting subject of human life. 17 “What good is there in bearing our frail bodies? What do we lose by our loss of the body? We neither gain or lose any real advantage, whether having or losing the body, yet we should bear with it as it is and discharge the duties that have come down unto us by custom of the country.”

18 They remained quiet with this conclusion and passed their time traveling from one forest to another without feeling any joy other than their inner bliss, and without knowing any sorrow or the intermediate states of joy and grief. 19 They spurned all riches and properties, the possession of horses and cattle, and even the eight kinds of supernatural powers as worthless straws before the contentedness of their minds. 20 This body, which is the result of our past acts, must be borne with fortitude as long as it lasts, whether we wish it or not, with continued conviction while discharging their ascetic duties. 21 Like silent sages, they welcomed with detachment whatever good or evil, or desirable or undesirable happened as their lot as the unavoidable results of their prior deeds. They had their repose in the heavenly joy to which they had assimilated themselves.