In the epic Ramayana, Satyavrata is mentioned as being a pious and virtuous king. He was keen in performing a sacrifice or Yajna in virtue of which he might ascend bodily or physically to heaven. Vasishtha, the sage was his priest and refused to perform this sacrifice as the task was impossible. Satyavrata then went to the sons of Vasishtha and requested them to perform the sacrifice. Vasishtha's sons condemned Satyavrata to become a Chandala for his presumption.
Satyavrata longing for his desire to ascend bodily to heaven requested Vishwamitra, the great Rishi to perform the sacrifice. Vishwamitra promised to raise Satyavrata in the physical form to heaven. Vishwamitra's anticipated sacrifice was strongly opposed by the sons of Vasishtha. Vishwamitra infuriated reduced the sons of Vasishtha to ashes. Then Vishwamitra cursed them to be born again as outcasts for seven hundred births. The wrathful sage bore down all other opposition who resisted the sacrifice, and Satyavrata or Trisanku ascended to heaven.
When Satyavrata ascended to heaven then in the entrance he was opposed by Lord Indra and other gods. The enraged sage Vishwamitra in vehemence declared that he would create another Indra, or demolish Indra from the world. All the gods were terrified and were forced to agree that Trisanku or Satyavrata, an immortal, should hang with his head downwards, and shine among some stars newly called into being by Vishwamitra.
The Vishnu Purana describes another legend of Satyavrata. Satyavrata was a Chandala and when there was famine in the country then he assisted Vishwamitra's family. Satyavrata supported Vishwamitra's family by hanging deer's flesh on a tree on the bank of the Ganges, so that they might obtain food without the deprivation of receiving it from a Chandala. Thus for this charity Vishwamitra raised Satyavrata to heaven and he became immortal.
A different story of Satyavrata is related in Harivansa. When Satyavrata was a prince he attempted to carry off the wife of a citizen. Satyavrata's father punished him by depriving him out of the home. Vasishtha, the family priest tried to soften the father's decision but failed. The period of Satyavrata's exile was a time of famine, and Satyavrata greatly helped the wife and family of Vishwamitra, who were in deep suffering while the sage was far away from the family.
Satyavrata completed his twelve year's of exile and penance. One day he was hungry and having no flesh to eat, he killed Vasishtha's extraordinary cow, the Kamadhenu. Satyavrata ate the cow himself, and gave some of the portions to the sons of Vishwamitra. In wrath Vasishtha gave him the name Trisanku, for being guilty of three great sins.
Vishwamitra was grateful by the aid which Satyavrata had rendered to his family at the time of famine and he made Satyavrata the King in his father's kingdom. Vishwamitra then in spite of the opposition of the gods and of Vasishtha exalted the king Satyavrata alive to heaven.
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