Further down the line, there was a king named Trayaruna. His son was Satyavrata. Satyavrata was exceedingly strong. But such was his desire for riches, that he committed many sins. His father Trayaruna therefore decided to banish him. Trayaruna‘s chief priest was Vashishtha and the sage also supported the king‘s decision.
―Go away,‖ Trayaruna told his son. ―I do not wish to have a son who is like you.‖
―What will I do and where will I live?‖ asked Satyavrata.
―Go and live with the chandalas (outcasts),‖ his father replied.
Satyabrata went and started to live with the outcasts. In due course. Trayaruna retired to the forest and there was no king to rule over the kingdom. In the absence of a king, anarchy prevailed. For twelve long years it did not rain and there was a terrible drought. Famine raged.
At the time, the sage Vishvamitra had gone away to the shores of the great ocean to meditate. The sage‘s wife found it difficult to make both ends meet. There was no food to be had. She had no option but to sell off one of her sons in exchange for a hundred head of cattle. With this wealth she proposed to feed herself and her remaining sons. The person to whom the son was sold, tied a rope around the son‘s neck (gala) and proceeded to drag him away from the market- place. The son thus came to acquire the name of Galava.
Satyavrata discovered what was happening. He rescued Galava and he also made arrangements to ensure that Vishvamitra‘s wife and sons did not suffer in the sage‘s absence. The entire family was looked after by Satyavrata. Satyavrata killed deer and other wild animals in the forest. He brought the meat to Galava‘s family. He also tended to his father who had retired to the forest.
One one particular day, there was no game to be had. The sage Vashishtha possessed a cow. Satyavrata was not at all enamoured of Vashishtha. The sage had, after all, recommended that Trayaruna banish his son. Satyavrata therefore stole Vashishtha‘s cow and slew it. He ate the meat himself and also fed part of it to Vishvamitra‘s family.
Vashishtha was furious to learn this. He cursed Satyavrata. ―You have committed three sins (shanku),‖ he said. ―You have stolen that which belonged to others. That is your first sin. You have caused unhappiness to yur father. That is your second sin. And you have stolen and killed my cow. That is your third sin. Since you have committed three (tri) sins. I curse you that henceforth you will be known as Trishanku.‖
After the twelve years of drought were over, Vishvamitra returned from his wanderings and was delighted to learn that Trishanku had taken care of his family in his absence. Despite Vashishtha‘s opposition, Vishvamitra arranged for Trishanku‘s coronation. As a sage, Vishvamitra had acquired great powers. He used these powers to send Trishanku to heaven in his mortal body. This was such a wonderful act that everyone marvelled at it.