There is a legend attributed to Vyasa Maharshi about the great Gautama – a legend, the knowledge of which helps to redeem one from the karma of past sins.
Gautama Maharshi had performed penance for 10,000 years at Brahmagiri in the South. His spouse was the well known repository of dharma, namely, Ahalya.
Once a fierce famine broke out and the people suffered a lot for want of rains for a hundred years. A green leaf was not to be found. Water for human sustenance and survival was not to be found. Even the Munis, men and women, birds, cattle and other animals went from place to place in search of basic necessities of life. The Rishi, on witnessing the phenomenon of acute scarcity spent their time in pranayama – a well known yogic way to retain ‘prana’ or life force. Gautama also observed pranayama for six months in contemplation of Varuna, the God of Rains. Pleased with Gautama’s thapas, Varuna came down and said to him, “I am pleased, I am willing to give any boon you seek”. Gautama naturally asked for rains.
“How can I transcend the will of devatas?” questioned Varuna, “Ask for some other boon. I shall grant”.
“Great Varuna!” said Gautama, “If you are really pleased, I would request you to carry out my prayers. As you preside over all water sources, I naturally pray for water – water of the best type in incessant and plentiful supply. I need only this boon”. His prayers were commensurate with his concern for the welfare of humanity.
Varuna asked Gautama to make a pit. Gautama did so. Varuna filled the knee-deep pit with celestial water. Then addressing the Mahamuni, he said “Gautama! As desired by you, let this one be a sacred place of inexhaustible source of water. Let this place known after your name become famous on earth. If anyone performs a homa, indulges in gifts or carries on austerities, puja, thapas, gives offerings to departed souls – the benefits shall increase manifold – infinitely!”
After Gautama’s prayers for favours received, Varuna vanished from the scene.
Gautama was supremely happy at the humanitarian task fulfilled.
If men approach Mahatmas they also become Mahatmas. Only Mahatmas know the greatness of Mahatmas. Lesser people and the wicked ones cannot know them. If people offer services to great ones, their reward also will be equally big. By the same yardstick, what they reap depends upon whom they serve. By serving Mahatmas, they achieve greatness and by service of the wicked they get only bad things in return.
“Simhasya mandire sevaa muktaaphalakaree mataa,
Shringaala-mandire sevaa twasthi-laabhakaree smrutaa”.
Suggesting that offering service in the abode of the king of the species, namely, a lion (comparable to a Mahan), brings tangible benefits and serving in the abode of a fox (the wicked) brings only bones (bereft of anything tangible).
The righteous and the refined look upon sorrows and misfortunes as their own and endeavour to banish such bad winds.
The world stands safely on four supporting pillars. The kind one, the one bereft of pride, the one who helps others and the one who has conquered the senses constitute these four pillars! It is these four people who sustain the globe.
As a result of Gautama’s penance, the problem of scarcity of water disappeared. The famine – stricken place came back to normal life. Many Rishis also came to adorn the heavenly place on earth. The grace of Gautama brought cheer to one and all.
Story that washed sins – was the comment of Rishis.