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Sagara (Vedic king)

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Sagara (Vedic king)

Sagar, a Vedic King and ancestor of Rama.

In Hindu mythology, Sagara (Sanskrit: सगर; IAST: Sagara) is a prominent king of the Suryavansha dynasty in Satya Yuga. He has two wives, one a princess of the Vidarbha, and the other from royal lineage of Sivi.[1] and is an ancestor to Bhagiratha, Dasharatha and Rama.

Contents

  • Birth and Origin of the Oceans 1
  • Birth of Ganga 2
  • Jain Tradition 3
  • See also 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7

Birth and Origin of the Oceans

In the Treta Yuga, Bahu, the King of Ayodhya was defeated and driven out of his kingdom by the Haihayas, the Talajanghas, the Yavanas (Greeks), the Pahlavas (Iranians), Shakas (Scythians), Kambhojas and the Paradas, and he died of old age near the hermitage of Sage Aurva, grandson of Brahmarshi Bhrigu. Bahu's younger wife was pregnant with his child and his older wife, out of jealousy, fed her junior with poison before she immolated herself. The birth of the child was delayed by seven years, until Aurva used his ascetic powers and speeded the process. The queen eventually gave birth to a son who held poison in his hand, hence he was called Sagara (Sa=with, Gara=poison).

Aurva raised Sagara and trained him in the Vedas and in weapons. When he grew up, Sagara asked his mother about his origins. Upon hearing how his father perished in misery due to the Mlecchas, Sagara roared in rage.

He immediately picked up his weapons, mounted his chariot and set out to vanquish the Mlecchas. In a terrible battle, Sagara vanquished them and in his rage, he nearly exterminated the entire army, but he was stopped by Sage Vashishtha. The Mlecchas surrendered to Sagara and the latter punished them for their crimes.

Sagara married Keshini and Sumati, but was childless. Upon performing penances to Shiva, Sagara had 60,000 sons by Sumati and a son named Asmanjas from Keshini. All the sons were born strong, cruel and violent and were capable of flying at will. Asmanjas was so violent as a child that he would mercilessly choke or drown other children who bullied him and would take pleasure in these cruel acts. He was banished by Sagara. Asmanjas's son, Amshumantha was a stark contrast and was kind hearted person. Sagara would later crown Amshumantha as king.

When Sagara's sacrifical horse went missing, each one of his 60,000 sons dug a massive pit measuring 1 yojana in both length and width (approximately 81 sq. miles). They cruelly slew many living creatures in the process. These pits would be filled with waters from the rain, and after many centuries, they became the first oceans.

Hence oceans are called Sagara.

Birth of Ganga

King Sagara performed a horse sacrifice (Ashwamedha yajna) to prove his supremacy. Lord Indra, the leader of the demigods, became fearful over the results of the yajna, so he decided to steal the horse. He left the horse at the ashram of Kapila, who was in deep meditation. King Sagar’s 60,000 sons, (born of Queen Sumati), and his son Asamanja (born of Queen Keshini) were then sent to find the horse. When the 60,000 sons found the horse at Kapiladeva’s ashram, they thought he had stolen it. When they prepared to attack the meditating rishi (sage), Kapila opened his eyes. Because the sons of King Sagara had disrespected such a great personality, consequently, fire emanated from their own bodies, and they were immediately burned to ashes.[2]

Later, King Sagara sent his grandson Amshuman to retrieve the horse. Kapiladeva returned the horse and told Anshumaan that the sons of King Sagar could be delivered if the Ganges descended to earth and bathed them in her waters. King Sagar’s great-great-grandson, Bhagiratha, eventually pleased Mother Ganga, and asked her to come to earth. Mother Ganga told Bhagiratha that the force of the Ganges falling from heaven would be too great for the earth to sustain, and that she needed someone to break the fall. Bhagiratha then worshiped Lord Siva, who then agreed to accept the descending river upon his head. After the Ganga fell down on the ashes of the 60,000 sons of King Sagara they came alive and got their eternal position.

Sagara gave many gifts to the Brahmanas and always granted their wishes. He ruled for 30,000 years until his death.

Jain Tradition

King Sagar’s son Janhu flooding the Naga Kingdom

In Jain tradition, Sagara was younger brother of Lord Ajitanatha (second Tirthankara). He was born to Kshatriya King Sumitra and Queen Vijayanti (Yasomati) of Ikshvaku dynasty. He was the second Chakravartin ruler of the present half time cycle (Avasarpini) of Jain cosmology who conquered the world with his seven jewels.[3] His chief queen was Sumati and he had sixty-thousand sons from his queens, Janhu being the eldest. Janhu flooded the Naga Kingdom with waters of river Ganga. This infuriated the Naga King who burnt all the sons of Sagara in anger. Sagara then place Bhagiratha, his grandson, on throne and left for penance.[4][5]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Ikshaku tribe The Mahabharata translated by Kisari Mohan Ganguli (1883 -1896), Book 3: Vana Parva: Tirtha-yatra Parva: Section CVI, p. 228 'There was born in the family of the Ikshaku tribe, a ruler of the earth named Sagar, endued with beauty, and strength...".
  2. ^ Sons of Sagara Vishnu Purana translated by Horace Hayman Wilson, 1840, Book IV, Chapter IV. p. 378 the gods repaired to the Muni Kapila, who was a portion of Vishńu, free from fault, and endowed with all true wisdom. Having approached him with respect, they said, "O lord, what will become of the world, if these sons of Sagara are permitted to go on in the evil ways which they have learned from Asamanja! Do thou, then, assume a visible form, for the protection of the afflicted universe." "Be satisfied," replied the sage, "in a brief time the sons of Sagara shall be all destroyed."
  3. ^ Jacobi 2015, p. 199.
  4. ^ McKay 2013, p. 151.
  5. ^ von Glasenapp 1999, p. 298.

References

  •  
  • McKay, Alex (16 December 2013), Pilgrimage in Tibet,  
  • von Glasenapp, Helmuth (1 January 1999), Jainism: An Indian Religion of Salvation,  

Further reading

  • Mani, Vettam (1975). Puranic Encyclopaedia. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 662–663.  
  • Dowson, John (1888). A Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology and Religion, Gegraphy, History and Literature. Ludgate Hill: Trubner & Co. pp. 271–272. 


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