Sage Vishwamitra was engrossed in meditation, when all at once he turned to River Saraswati to say, ?I want you to bring Sage Vashishta to me.?
River Saraswati replied, ?How can you ask me to do this? For me, Sage Vashishta is as eminent as you are. How can I order him to come here? It would amount to impertinence on my part.?
This was enough to make Sage Vishwamitra see red and he screamed, ?You better do as I say or I shall curse you to remain dry forever.?
A depressed Saraswati rushed towards Sage Vashishta to explain to him all that had transpired. She however added, ?I told you all this as I was deeply disturbed. But rest assured, I will not do what Sage Vishwamitra wants, no matter how much he threatens me. I shall go further away from here.?
Sage Vashishta left the place and Saraswati changed its course. Days later when Sage Vishwamitra realised what had happened, he grew livid and cursed River Saraswati to disappear from the earth. Since then the river went underground and to this day one cannot see it.
Years later, a severe drought occurred and the land became dry and parched. Crops failed, plants and trees began to die and the people began to wander in search of food, as plants and animals were nowhere to be seen. The situation became so worrisome that even the sages and saints who could otherwise survive for days without food, now began to look for something to eat. They forgot all about praying, doing penance or studying the Vedas. Their thoughts were now centred only on food as the stomach cannot be kept hungry for long.
Seeing their plight, River Saraswati said to her son Saraswat, who was a Brahmin, ?I shall try to keep you alive by feeding you fish that thrive in my waters and which I have stored underground. You need not worry about food. After some days the drought will end and plants will sprout in the soil.?
When the drought got over, the Brahmins discovered to their dismay that they had forgotten their Vedas. One of them asked the other, ?Now what should we do? I have forgotten the Vedas.?
The other replied, ?Let us approach Saraswat for he did not have to worry about water and he did not give up praying or reciting the Vedas.?
The third Brahmin said, ?No, we cannot seek help from him. He is a sinner for he ate fish, which are living creatures. We do not want to sin like he did.?
The first Brahmin said, ?We ought not to shun Saraswat for he alone knows the Vedas. A man who knows and remembers the Vedas is not a sinner. He did not commit any crime; all he did was to eat fish to stay alive. Let us not stand on ceremony, but ask Saraswat to help us.?
Some of the Brahmins saw the wisdom of his words and turned to Saraswat, who taught 60,000 of the priests the Vedas. The descendants of these 60,000 men are today known as Saraswat Brahmins.