IT is an error to think that it is easy for a
person to lead a life of chastity if he is
brought up in complete ignorance of
sensual pleasures. Virtue guarded only by
ignorance is very insecure as illustrated by
the following story. It is told in the
Ramayana also, but not in the same detail.
Vibhandaka who was resplendent like
Brahma, the Creator, lived with his son
Rishyasringa in a forest. The latter had not
come across any mortal, man or woman,
except his father.
The country of Anga was once afflicted
with a dire famine. Crops had withered for
want of rain and men perished for lack of
food. All living things were in distress.
Romapada, the king of the country,
approached the brahmanas to advise him
of some means of saving the kingdom
The brahmanas replied: "Best of kings,
there is a young sage called Rishyasringa
who lives a life of perfect chastity. Invite
him to our kingdom. He has won the
power, by his austerities, of bringing rain
and plenty wherever he goes."
The king discussed with his courtiers the
means by which Rishyasringa could be
brought from the hermitage of the sage
Vibhandaka. In accordance with their
advice, he called together the most
charming courtesans of the city and
entrusted them with the mission of
bringing Rishyasringa to Anga.
The damsels were in a quandary. On the
one hand, they feared to disobey the king.
On the other, they also feared the sage's
wrath. Finally, they made up their minds
to go, relying on Providence to help them,
in achieving the good work of rescuing
the stricken land from famine.
They were suitably equipped for their
enterprise before being sent to the
hermitage. The leader of this band of
courtesans made a beautiful garden of a
big boat, with artificial trees and creepers,
with an imitation ashrama in the center.
She had the boat moored in the river near
Vibhandaka's hermitage, and the
courtesans visited the hermitage with
quaking hearts. Luckily for them, the sage
was not at home.