Princess Satyavati was married off by her father King Gadhi to an aged Brahmin named Richika. After some time, it so happened that Satyavati became pregnant and a few days later, the Queen Mother too became pregnant. The king was told that he would have a son. He was very keen that his son should not only be a warrior, but also a learned person. So he asked Richika if there was any way to ensure this. Richika said he knew how to do so.
Richika gave a plateful of certain herbs and fruits to the Queen to eat and in another plate placed special herbs and fruits for his wife Satyavati to eat. As he himself was keen that his child should not become a Kshatriya warrior since his wife belonged to such a family, he made Satyavati eat certain food to ensure that his offspring would have a religious bent of mind.
Without realising that they had been given special food to eat, the Queen Mother and daughter exchanged their plates. As a result, King Gadhi had a son whom he named Gadhinandana and who was deeply interested in religion and religious issues while Satyavati gave birth to Jamadagni, who later sired Parasurama, the Brahmin warrior.
Years passed and both Gadhinandana and Jamadagni grew up into handsome youth. Gadhinandana became a powerful and a considerate king when his father died. He was so concerned about his people that he would often pay visits all over his kingdom to check if all were happy. One day he and his men reached the outskirts and entered a forest where they met Sage Vashishta. The king entered into a discussion with the sage and got so lost in the talks that it became lunch time. The sage asked the king to stay on for a meal. But the king said, “How will you feed me and also so many of my men?”
The sage replied, “You need not worry. I’ll manage.”
After some time the king and his men were treated to a hearty meal. The king had never tasted such tasty food and so he asked Sage Vashishta, “How could you dish up such a tasty meal for so many men? There is some secret behind it.”
The sage could not help but revealed the secret. He said, “I have a cow named Kamdhenu who emerged when the cosmic ocean was churned. As I happened to be the chief priest at the time, I was given this cow. She possesses the power to give whatever one wants.”
Now the king wanted to possess the cow. He tried to persuade the sage to part with his cow. The sage said to the king, “If you take away the cow, how will I manage the havan and prayers and sacrifices that I make? It is because of Kamdhenu that I am able to do so much.”
But the king insisted. The sage was caught in a dilemma because how could he turn down an order from the king. In desperation, he turned to Kamdhenu, “The king wants to take you away from me. What shall I do?”
As the king’s men tried to pull the cow out from the shed, Kamdhenu gave a silent command and soldiers trooped out of the cow’s hair. They went on a rampage and killed the king’s men one by one. Only the king was spared his life. The king was absolutely shocked to see the powers possessed by Kamdhenu and asked, “How is it that a cow can be so powerful?”
The sage could not help admiring the king’s curiosity despite him having lost all his men. The king’s thirst for knowledge was admirable. The sage told the king, “It is no special power that Kamdhenu possesses. It is simply that she, like all of us, has a powerful vein running in her body. It is the inner power that helps her to be so powerful.”
The king asked, “How can I build such inner power?”
The sage replied, “By meditating to calm the mind and doing penance for all the wrong you may have done in life.”
The king gave up his worldly life and joined the sage’s hermitage to lead the life of an ascetic.