Temptation of Rishyashringa

The king gave the old courtesan all she needed, including a lot of wealth, to bring Rishyashringa to his kingdom. The old courtesan gathered around her a few young and beautiful women and together with them went into the forest to entice the rishi’s son, Rishyashringa.

The crafty courtesan made a beautiful houseboat filled with fragrant flowers and plants. It also had the choicest foods and morsels. Along with the young girls, she took the houseboat up the river into the forest and anchored it very near to Vibhandak rishi’s ashram.

The old prostitute waited till Vibhandak went into the forest to look for fruit and his son Rishyashringa was alone in the ashram. She then sent her clever daughter to the ashram to win over Rishyashringa with her charms. The beautiful young daughter went to the ashram where Rishyashringa was sitting in deep meditation. She touched the feet of the rishi’s son and asked him how he was and whether he was getting enough of fruit in the forest. The young rishi opened his eyes and was shocked to see another human, and that too so beautiful. It was the first time he had seen anyone except his father. The innocent Rishyashringa thought the young lady to be another rishi and with respect washed her feet and made her sit on a deer skin and asked her “O great sadhu, please tell me where your ashram is?” The girl replied, “My ashram is beyond this mountain here, I have taken a vow not to allow anyone to wash my feet or bow to me. So do not bow before me but do allow me to embrace you.” The girl then gave Rishyashringa rare fruits and exotic foods to eat. She also gave him wine to drink and the innocent rishi, who had never seen anything like this, came under the spell of her charms. She also danced for him and kept touching his body and embracing him. She then left, leaving the young rishi in deep thought about her. He still thought her to be a charming rishi and as yet no awareness of women had come to him, yet he was left with an unexplained feeling of happiness and joy.

When rishi Vibhandak returned from the forest, he saw that his son was lost in deep thought and kept looking up to the sky, calling out to someone. He was shocked to see that the boy had not arranged the deerskin for his evening rituals and had also not put wood into the agnihotra. He told his son that he seemed lost in a dream and that he had changed completely. He asked the son whether someone else had come to the ashram that day.

The son replied that a handsome Bhramin rishi had come. He was shining like the sun and his eyes were like beautiful lotuses. His hair was long and beautiful and a lovely fragrance came from his body.

We shall continue in the next article with the story and its interpretation.