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vashisht muni

The eighth Vasudev ruled on the land of Bharat Kshetra, spreading till the end of the Lakshman Ocean. On the banks of a river lived a sage named Vashishta, who resorted to various types of false penances and gave trouble to his body without the right understanding or correct faith in religion. He was well versed with chanting sacred hymns, performing rituals, reciting the Vedas (the ancient Hindu scriptures) and was gifted with many other skills. Unfortunately, all this knowledge was accompanied with a malicious vision and wrong faith. Nevertheless, he managed to draw large crowds that respected and honored him as they were blinded by ignorance. The ascetic lived in a small hut and spent his life eating roots, rhizomes, and fruits and drinking the pure water of the rivers.

One day, the dense growth of grass and grains in the compound around his hut attracted a pregnant deer who came by to graze. Being cruel and angry by nature, Vashishta quietly crept up behind the grazing dear and attacked her with a stick. The repeated blows injured it and the baby deer that was in the earlier stages of growth. He continued hitting them grievously causing the mother and the baby deer to die due to the intense pain and bleeding.

Despite being seeped in cruelty, Vashishta’s heart stirred on seeing the mother and the immature baby deer writhing in pain. He was grieved on witnessing their pathetic death. The seeds of compassion and kindness took root in the heart of Vashishta. On one hand there were fountains of repentance in his heart and on the other hand was the humiliation he faced at the hands of the crowd that had gathered by then. Everyone in the crowd was expressing their disgust and anger at the brutal murder of the innocent animals. With a heart full of remorse he decided to renounce his hut and the village. He proceeded for pilgrimages to holy places, hoping to wash away his sins.

Now sin-fearing, Vashishta roamed on foot over mountains, passing rivers, walking via towns, villages and through forests. Over many months he completed sixty-eight pilgrimage trips of various shrines and at the end of which, assuming himself to be pure, he returned once again to his old hut. A knowledgeable Jain monk had been travelling on foot from place to place. He came close to the hermitage of Vashishta for his spiritual soul centric practices and stood steady in meditation. After a while, many devotees from the neighboring villages came to worship the Jain monk and in order to clear the darkness of doubts in their minds, they asked him to narrate their past lives. Listening to his assertion, Vashishta also asked the Jain monk some questions in order to clear his doubts. He asked, “Oh holy ascetic monk! After going on pilgrimages to sixty-eight holy shrines have I been able to get rid of all my bad karmas and sins? Has my soul been purified?” the Jain monk replied, “By merely travelling via forests, mountains and rivers – without doing the correct penances and without paying homage to the real holy shrines one does not wash away all their sins. Travelling to holy shrines with a wrongly acclaimed faith or by wandering recklessly, one does not only cause distresses to the body but instead of destroying the bad karmas, one causes an influx of bad karmas! If you really want to destroy your inauspicious karmas, then think about the virtuous Lord who has transcended attachment towards all worldly pleasures and resides in the eternal bliss of His soul. Proceed towards the pious mountain Girnar and resort to the right form of penance and meditation, which will lead to the decadence of your vicious sins.” Vashishta respectfully asked the Jain monk, “Oh respectable monk! My savior! Where is this great pious shrine located?” The knowledgeable Jain monk said, “The pious mountain Girnar is an illustrious shrine situated in Saurashtra and is blessed by the holy grace of child celibate Lord Neminath! Refraining from the pleasures of the five senses and meditating on Lord Arishthanemi with a pure intent is needed for doing the right type of penance. If you want to get rid of all your sins and accumulate pure virtues, then you should take shelter of the pious mountain Girnar”.

Inspired by the words of the knowledgeable Jain monk, Vashishta was filled with happiness and keeping the splendid Lord Neminath in his heart, he reached to the foothills of the sacred shrine. After circumambulating the pious mountain Girnar, he ascended the mountain from the north side. On his way, with the chatrasheela on his south, he took a bath in pure and holy waters of the Ambakund (a pond named Amba). While bathing, he started meditating on the crystal like form of ‘Arhat’ (a Supreme Soul who has won victory over defilement of the soul) in his heart, he got absorbed and became one with it as he surpassed the object of meditation and got merged/dissolved in it (Vashishta muni’s soul assumed the form of Arhat)! As he stepped out from his bath – he heard a divine voice, which said, “Vashishta! You are pure and free from the sins of the murder you’ve committed. You have destroyed all your non-virtuous karmas by the effect of the bath in the holy Ambakund and pure meditation. You may surrender yourself to the lotus feet of Lord Neminath!”Vaishasta was filled with ecstasy hearing the divine voice and with tears of happiness he made way to Lord Neminath’s temple, bowed down and paid obeisance to Him. Praying with complete devotion and strong austerity & penance he sat in undisturbed meditation and attained clairvoyance.

Deeply intent in the meditation of the Lord Neminath, Vashishta died and became an extremely prosperous celestial being. Due to the destruction of the sins of the murder done by Vashishta, Ambakund came to be known as Vashishtakund. By contact with this water, ailments/illnesses like gallstones, leprosy, itching and other diseases are destroyed! Even sins of cruel killings are decayed by the touch of the holy waters of Vashishtakund!

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