22) BRAHMA PURANA – Vishvamitra and Indra

Many  years  ago,  there  was  a  terrible  drought.  There  was  no  food  to  be  had.  The  sage Vishvamitra had come to the banks of the river Goutami Ganga with his disciples. Vishvamitra’s wife, children and disciples were all hungry. The sage therefore sent his disciples out to look for food. They searched everywhere, but could find no food. The only object that they could find was the body of a dead dog. They brought this to Vishvamitra.

“We have no choice,” Vishvamitra told his disciples. “Clean the meat carefully with water. Then offer it to the gods, the sages and the ancestors. This is what we have to live on.”

Offering the meat of a dog to the gods was unheard of. Indra adopted the form of a hawk and stole the vessel in which the meat was kept. But Vishvamitra got to know about this and got ready to curse Indra. Indra was naturally scared of Vishvamitra’s curse. He changed the dog-meat into amrita (a heavenly drink) and brought the vessel back.

“I don’t want amrita,” Vishvamitra told Indra. “Bring the dog-meat back. I don’t want to have amrita when the whole world is starving for food. There is no food available and I do not see any sin in eating dog-meat. Nor should there be a sin in offering it to the gods.”

Indra was the god of rains. He realised that the only way to persuade Vishvamitra against eating the dog-meat was to make it rain so that there would be an end to the drought. Instructed by Indra, the clouds poured down rain. Vishvamitra and his disciples now consented to partake of the amrita.

The place where all this happened has come to be known as Vishvamitratirtha.

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