THE HISTORY OF VASHISTHA ASHRAM

Shri Vashistha Ashram is situated at a distance of about six kilometers from the Bus stand at Mount Abu.

The holy river Sarswati Ganga has been flowing here since the ancient days of Viswamitra and Vashistha,the two great Rishis of India.

As legend has it, once, when two sages were engaged in a metaphysical debate, the holy Sarswati chose to support Vashistha. This enraged Vishwamitra who cursed the river by saying "your flow shall always be bloody and unholy".

And so it happened. The dejected Saraswati went to all gods and goddesses but no one would help her. Finally she approached Vashistha and prayed,"O Rishi ! I have attained this state, because I had sided you. So please help me and restore my purity.

"Whereupon Vashistha replied, O Goddess ! Touch my feet and flow near my ashram and you shall be purified." From that time, the river Saraswati has been flowing endlessly at this Ashram. A faithful king installed the 'Gau Mukh' near this flow and built a small pool. One who bathes here and performs the Gaudan Pooja invokes the blessing of gaulok.

 

THE LEGEND OF VASHISTHA ASHRAM

In the days when Vashistha used to meditate here, there were no mountains. The land was plain. It was only later on that the mountains were brought here The legend goes like this.

Six kilometers away from Vashisth Ashram is situated Gautam Ashram where a great Rishi named Uttang used to study the scriptures. After completing Uttang went to Gautam Rishi, to take leave of him, and to ask him, what he should give as Gurudakshina. The sage Gautam sent Uttang to his wife to ask her for the gurudakshina.

 

THE DIVINE EARRINGS

Gautam Rishi's wife asked Uttang to bring her divine earrings that belonged to Queen Madhyanti the wife of Saudas. Uttang went to the queen and procured the divine earrings. On his way back, when evening had fallen Uttang sat for this evening prayers after placing the earrings on his deer skin.

At that moment, the snake Takshak stole the earrings and returned to Patala from where it had come. On getting up from his prayers Uttang noticed that the earrings had disappeared. On looking around, he saw a hole through which the snake had escaped. Uttang took a stick and started digging the ground. He did this for thirtyfive days. Seeing this earnest intent to recover the earrings, Lord Indra decided to help him with a lightening rod. He struck a huge hole which went all the way to Patala. Thus, Uttang was able to get to Patala and recover the lost earrings.

Now, it so happened that Sage Vashistha's cow Nandini, while grazing, fell into this hole. Vashistha invoked all the Gods and Goddesses and asked them to bring back the cow Nandini. Nandini came out floating on the surface.

After that, Vashistha told the deities that the hole should not exist there. The deities allotted this task to the Himalaya bid his son Nandivardhan to do so but Nandivardhan was lame. So Vashistha ordered the snake Arbuda to bring Nandivardhan.

Accordingly, Arbuda went to Nandivardhan and brought him on his back. After coming here, Nandivardhan prayed to the deities saying "As this region is barren, all my medical herbs will be destroyed." So the deities said, "We shall grant any wish of yours."

 

ACHALESHWAR MAHADEV

Nandivardhan requested that 88 thousand rishis, 33 crores deities and 18 big medicinal herbs should dwell there. After the deities had said: "Tathastu", Nandivardhan entered the hole leading to hell, but could not keep his balance and he began to shake. When asked by the deities for the reason, he said that he was shaking because Lord Shanker had not come.

So when the deities prayed, Lord Shiva placed his toe on the mountain and at once, the whole mountain become still. Hence the temple 'Achaleshwar Mahadev' came into being when the snake Arbuda asked Vashistha "O ! Shall I beacme famous,". Vashistha told her : This mountain will gain fame only due to you. From that time she was named Arbudachal, Then during the rule of the Muslims, it was named Abu.

Half a mile from here is situated Jamadaghni Ashram, where Pursuram's father Rishi Jamadagni had meditated for a long period. On reaching there, we experience unbroken silence. Each particle of this place has a uniqueness of its own and the natural beauty here is impossible to describe.

 

AGNIKUND

Vashistha's ancient "Agnikund" is situated here at the ashrama from which Vashistha produced the fire descendent Kshatriyas, viz , Parmar , Solanki and Chauhan. This is famous in the books of history as the 'Aknikund' , Naranji said that the religious in all the three worlds lay, one may obtain the fruits of the thousand gaudan poojas by staying overnight in the Ashram.

One mile from here is situated Vyas Asharam where Lord Vyas had expounded the vedas and had written the Puranas. One mile from here is situated Nagtirth Ashram from where Maharaj Yuthisthira had sent Nakla to bring a sacred canopy for his sacrificial hall. All the stories are mentioned in full in the Mahabharat, Mahapuran, etc.

At such a place of natural beauty and historical importance, on the 1st September 1973 due to excessive rainfall, the northwest part of the ashram was destroyed in a landslide.