Rishis of Ramayana - 1

Wise souls that walked this earth

Rishi RshyaShringa

Rishi Rshyashrunga

Story of Rshyashrnga

Once while travelling the holy land of Mahahrada, Rishi Vibhandaka happens to see the beautiful Apsara Urvashi. Enamored by her beauty it causes an involuntarily emission of his semen. The semen is swallowed by a nearby doe which happened to be a cursed apsara who was to get deliverance when she birthed a great soul. In time she delivers a human baby with a single horn on his head. Thereon, the child is named Rshyahrnga, shrnga meaning the one with a horn. 

He is brought up by his father Rishi Vibhandaka in their ashrama away from civilization in seclusion.

Drought in Anga

While Rshyshrnga is growing up into a young powerful Rishi owing to his strict Brahmacharya (celibacy) and intense Tapasya, on the other side Raja Romapada of Anga Desa (erstwhile Baghalpur, Bihar) is battling drought after being cursed by the learned men of his kingdom after his misbehavior. Romapada  seeking to end the drought asks devout Brahmanas’ advice for a Prayaschitta. They suggest conducting a yagna headed by a muni who has never seen a woman i.e. never experienced femininity. Romapada’s search for such a being brings him to young Rishyashrunga. Despite knowing the temperament of his father Rishi Vibhandaka Raja Romapada plans to bring Rshyashrnga for the yagna.

Plan to bring Rshyashrnga

Romapada requests his court’s damsels (Deva-dasis) to bring Rishi Rshyashrnga. While all refuse afraid of Rishi Vibhandaka,  one deva dasi accepts the task  and sets out to bring him. Dressing as a hermit she reaches the hermitage of Rishyshrnaga and nears him alone. 

Being a complete stranger to the feminine, Rshyshranga is charmed by the women’s allure. He is curious of her presence and enquires trying toffer her fruits and starts worshipping her as divinity. Soon after their meet the maiden returns back for the day leaving him distressed and unhappy. 

However the very next day she visits again and this time promises to show the young Rishi grandeurs of the city. Curiosity spiking in him, the noble Rshyashrnga 1eaves with her to Anga desa. 

Marriage to Shanta

As pure hearted Rishi Rshyshrnga sets foot in the land of Anga, with the perfq9ew-rmance of the yagna the curse is lifted and there is heavy downpour of rain much to everyone’s happiness. Filled with gratitude, the king betrothes his beloved adopted daughter Devi Shanta to Rishi Rshyashrnga in a Deva Vivaha ceremoniously.

Resolving Maharaja Dasharatha’s Plight

During the period where Raja Dasharata is childless, he is advised by his ministers and trusted counsel to reach out to Devi Shanta’s (related like a daughter) husband Rishi Rshyashrnga. The noble rishi performs the Putra kaameshti Yagna for the benefit of the king resulting in the birth of his sons including Sri Rama.

Buddhism and Rshyashringa

In Naḷinikaa Jaataka tales, Rishi Rshyashrnga is born to a Bodhisattva through a doe and named Isisinga

Disturbed by the young ascetic’s powers, Lord Sakka (Indra) causes a drought to occur and blames it on the Isisinga. The king then sends his daughter to charm the ascetic, tame his powers and marry him.

Sringeri (Karnataka) and Rshyashringa

In the town of Sringeri, centre of the Sharada Peetham established by Adi Sankaracharya the Linga worshipped by the sage Vibhandaka is today known as Malahanikareshwara (destroyer of the impurities of the Jiva) situated in the end of the summit of a hillock. It is said that Rshyashrnga set his hermitage in this place and towards the end himself merged into the linga.