Location of Rshyasringa Asrama

It is well known that Rshyasringa was a sage of epic celebrity. As such, he ought to have lived long ages before Sankaracarya.

Rshyasringa in Ramayana

There can be no greater authoritative sources than the Ramayana and the Mahabharata regarding the location of the ashrama of the sage, Rshyasringa.

The following verses in Valmiki’s Ramayana will give the clue to the fact that Rshysringa belonged to the period of Dasaratha and that Rshyasringa’s abode was in Angadesa (modern Assam), whence Dasaratha took the sage to Ayodhya.

(a) Ramayana Balakanda – Canto IX:

“एतस्मिन्नेव कालेषु रोमपादः प्रतापवान्” – Verse 7

“ अङ्गेषु प्रथितो राजा भविष्यति महाबलः” – Verse 8

By this time, the mighty Romapada will be the renowned king of Angadesa.

“विभण्डकसुतं राजन्। सर्वोपायैरिहानय।

आनाय्य च महीपाल ऋश्यशृङ्गं सुसत्कृतम् ॥ ” – Verse 12

“प्रयच्छ कन्यां शान्तां वै विधिना सुसमाहितः । । ” – Verse 13

Sage Vasishta says to Dasaratha:-

“O king! Bring Rshyasringa, son of Vibhandaka, here, by all means. After having brought Rshyasringa, give Santa, the virgin, in marriage to him.”

Canto XI.

“पुत्रस्त्वङ्गाधिराजस्य रोमपाद इति श्रुतः तं स राजा दशरथो गमिष्यति महायशाः ।।” – Verse 4

“तं च राजा दशरथो यशस्कामः कृताञ्जलिः।।

ऋश्यशृङ्गं द्विजश्रेष्ठं वरयिष्यति धर्मवित्।।” – Verse 8

“Dasaratha shall go to Romapada, son of the king of Anga, and with folded hands pray for sending the great Brahmin, Rshyasringa”

“वसिष्ठेनाभ्यनुज्ञातो राजा संपूर्णमानसः ।

सान्तःपुरस्सहामात्याः प्रययौ यत्र स द्विजः ।। – Verse 14

अभिचक्राम तं देशं यत्र वै मुनिपुङ्गवः ।

आसाद्य तं द्विजश्रेष्ठं रोमपादसमीपगम्।।” – Verse 15

Having been permitted by Vasishtha, King Dasaratha, with the ladies of the harem, and with his ministers, started for the place where that Brahmin and great sage (Rshyasringa) lived. Having got near that Brahmin, who was near Romapada.

According to the further verses in the epic, Dasaratha requested the King of Angadesa to send sage Rshyasringa to Ayodhya for the Vedic sacrifice that Dasaratha had arranged for.

Rshyasringa in Mahabharata

The story of Rshyasringa is narrated in chapters 87, 88 and 89 of the Teerthayatra section of the Aranyakanda of the Mahabharata.

In verse 22 of chapter 87, Lomasa tells Yudhishthira that Visvamitra’s hermitage shines on the bank of the sacred river, Kausiki.

The next verse states that the abode of the great sage, Kasyapa, known as Punyashrama, is also there, and points to it as also the residence of the tapasvin Rshyasringa.

The relevant verses are:

लोमश:-

“येवा देवी महापुण्या कौशिकी भरतर्षभ ।

विश्वामित्राश्रमो रम्य एष चात्र प्रकाशते ॥

आश्रमश्चैव पुण्याख्यः काश्यपस्य महात्मनः ।

ऋश्यशृङ्गस्सुतो यस्य तपस्वी संयतेन्द्रियः ॥”

Verse 40 of the same chapter states that Romapada is the King of Angadesa. In the tenth verse of chapter 88, Rshyasringa enquires the leader of the damsels (sent by Romapada to entice sage Rshyasringa and bring him to the royal court), as to where the damsel leader’s residence is In the next verse (11), the leader of the damsels informs the sage that her abode is only three yojanas from the other side of the hill, seen near (near Rshyasringa’s hermitage).

The pertinent line runs as follows:

‘ममाश्रमः काश्यपपुत्र रम्यस्त्रियोजन शैलमिमं परेण ।”

The word Yojana’, according to standard lexicons, is a measure of distance equal to 48,000 feet, or roughly 9.09 miles.

Hence, according to the line quoted above, Rshyasringa’s hermitage should have been situated only about 27.21 miles away from the capital of Romapada, the King of Anga, according to the Mahabharata.

Thus, both the Great Epics clearly indicate that Rshyasringa’s ashrama had existed in north-eastern India, somewhere on the border of Angadesa (modern Assam). Kshetras, Asramas or temples with Rshyasringa’s name are also found in Bihar, Chhattisgarh (Shihawa), Himachal pradesh, Karnataka, Tamilnadu and Puducherry (Kottucherry)

(Source: B.Krishnan)

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