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Story Of How Young Rishyashringa Was Tricked To Leave Forest Hermitage And Arrive At Anga Kingdom

Once, the kingdom of Anga, ruled by King Lomapada, was suffering from a severe drought that lasted twelve long years. The land was parched, crops failed, and the people were in despair. Desperate for a solution, Lomapada sought the advice of sages and wise men. They informed him that the only person capable of bringing rain to Anga was Rishyasringa, the teenage son of the sage Vibhandaka.

Determined to save his kingdom, Lomapada announced a grand reward: anyone who could bring Rishyasringa to Anga would be granted half the kingdom. The announcement spread far and wide until it reached the ears of a cunning old lady who claimed she could accomplish this daunting task. She approached the king with her plan and requested a boat that looked like a house, adorned with trees.

The boat was constructed as per her instructions. It featured two separate huts and was surrounded by fruit-bearing trees. Sweet fruits and delectable sweets were loaded onto the boat. Barrels of water were sweetened and cooled with camphor. A group of very beautiful young ladies was selected to accompany the old woman. Although initially fearful of curses, the old lady assured them of success, citing her own experience of enticing sages in her youth.

The boat set sail on the river Narmada and reached the vicinity of Vibhandaka's hermitage. As the crew watched anxiously, they waited for Vibhandaka to leave the hermitage. When he finally did, the girls emerged from the boat and began to play musical instruments and sing melodious songs.

Rishyasringa, engrossed in reciting the Vedas, was intrigued by the enchanting sounds. Curious, he stepped out to investigate. Seeing the beautiful girls, whom he could not distinguish as women due to his secluded upbringing, he believed they were celestial beings from heaven. Overjoyed, he invited them to visit his home.

The old lady and her companions graciously accepted his invitation but politely declined the fruits he offered, claiming they had not yet completed their worship. The old lady then performed a brief act of worship and offered Rishyasringa sweets and sweetened water as prasad from Vishnu. Delighted by the taste, Rishyasringa inquired about the source of these heavenly delicacies. The girls suggested that he accompany them to their hermitage, promising even more delights.

They led Rishyasringa to their boat, where they showed him around, all the while ensuring that Vibhandaka did not return prematurely. When it was time for the girls to leave, they assured Rishyasringa they would return the next day with more sweets.

Upon his father's return, Rishyasringa eagerly narrated the day's events. Vibhandaka, alarmed by his son's description, realized these were not celestial beings but likely women, perhaps even rakshasas, who had come to deceive them. Concerned but torn between his duties as a father and his spiritual commitments, Vibhandaka decided that life must take its course and left the hermitage again, entrusting fate with his son's wellbeing.

The old lady, having observed Vibhandaka's departure, immediately seized the opportunity. She and her followers approached Rishyasringa once more. Pleased to see them again, the young sage was easily persuaded to visit their hermitage on the boat for more sweets.

As the boat set sail, carrying Rishyasringa, it swiftly reached the shores of Anga. The moment they landed, rain clouds gathered, and the long-awaited rain began to pour over the kingdom, ending the devastating drought.

King Lomapada, overjoyed by the success of the plan, came to greet the young sage, accompanied by his adopted daughter, Shanta, who was also the daughter of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. In gratitude and fulfillment of his promise, Lomapada offered Shanta's hand in marriage to Rishyasringa, thus forging a bond of prosperity and divine blessing for his kingdom.

This story is found in the Bengali Krittibasi Ramayana.