THE gods knew that admitting Trisanku to heaven was a mistake-their own powers had been compromised as a result. Meanwhile, Vishwamitra was continuing his austerities which was a threat to the gods’ mastery of the universe. They decided to tempt him with various pleasures to distract him from his goal of becoming a Brahmin. At one time he succumbed, giving himself up to an orgy of feasting and copulation, undoing years of penances. But later, mortified and angry at himself, he began to undergo even more severe austerities, exposing himself to the sun, rain and the biting cold-for a thousand years. Later, he left the Himalayas and arrived at the coast, where he stood staring at the sea, eating nothing but sand and quenching his thirst by sea water, for another thousand years. He wanted Brahminhood, and he was determined to attain it!
The gods tried one last test. At the end of his thousand years, as Vishwamitra sat down to a simple meal, Indra, disguised as a beggar, hobbled up to him and asked for a morsel. Weak though he was, Vishwamitra gave him his meager rations. To mark this victory, be began to blaze fire and the smoke rose from it, blinding demons and causing a minor stampede in the heavens. The gods rushed to Brahma, saying if Vishwamitra continued on this path, the universe might be threatened. The smoke and fire had spread a sense of foreboding and could engulf other planets. They urged Brahma to grant him Vishwamitra’s wish.
Brahma appeared before Vishwamitra and graciously granted him his wish, and asked him to use his powers for mercy and not think of domination or revenge. Vishwamitra bowed before Brahma and said, ‘If my Brahminhood is indeed secure, kindly acknowledge it with ancient Vedic rituals, and also let the saints and sages be apprised of this fact-including Vasishtha.’
Brahma assented, and Vasishtha was duly summoned to acknowledge the spiritual mastery of his former bitter rival. He did this with the proper ceremonies, and it was gratifying to see these former enemies give each other due respect with the rituals that befitted such an occasion. This is how Vishwamitra became a Brahmin, and how he finally made peace with Vasishtha, to the satisfaction of all concerned.