|December 18, 1998 |
The ashvamedha yagnya includes sending a special ceremonial horse around the world. Upon seeing the horse, either one pays homage to the king who sent the horse, or they stop it and fight the army sent by the king. If the horse circles the earth, the yagnya is complete. [Given in the Vishnu Puran, the Ramayan, amongst other scriptures:] Sagar Raja who ruled from Ayodhya was about to complete the 100th yagnya. Sensing that his position as the head of the demigods was contested, Indradev captured the horse and placed it in the aashrama of Kapil Rushi. Sagar Raja's army which consisted of his 60,000 sons looked everywhere for the horse. When they finally found it in Kapil's aashrama, they questioned the powerful Rushi. Kapil turned all of the king's sons to ashes because they disturbed his meditation in search of the horse. Sagar Raja thus sent his grandson (by his second wife), Anshuman, to Kapil's aashrama. There he learned that if the Ganga River was brought from heaven to earth and touched the sons' ashes, they would achieve liberation. Sagar Raja and Anshuman prayed their entire lives, but were unsuccessful. Anshuman's grandson (Dilip's son), Bhagirath Raja finally succeeded. The Ganga River told Bhagirath that she will come down from the heavens, but she needs Lord Shiva to absorb the force of her descent. Lord Shiva agreed and caught the Ganga River in his hair, allowing her to descend slowly to the earth.
After King Bali gave 3 steps of land to Vaman (Lord Vishnu's dwarf-form), with two steps, Vaman covered all three worlds. Given in Bhagavat 5/17, Vaman pierced the "covering" of the universe with the big toe of His left foot. Due to this, a few drops of water leaked through, washed Lord Vishnu's feet, and fell on Lord Shiva's head.