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King Sagara had two wives. One of his wives gave him sixty thousand sons, the other gave him one. I know it takes some believing, but that is what the story says.

The one son was called Asamanjas. The others were called … well they all grew to be great warriors, so we’ll call them … the army.

Asamanjas was not a nice person at all. He made all the people miserable. So King Sagara threw him out of the country and played with his grandson Ansuman instead.

One day the King decided to set free a horse. The horse was allowed to go wherever it wanted. Everyone had to follow the horse … even the King’s 60,000 sons. If anyone stopped the horse it was taken as a challenge to a fight. The 60,000 sons were very much looking forward to someone stopping the horse, but no-one did. The sons stopped looking and guess what? They lost the horse.

They were so annoyed at losing the horse that they dug up the whole world looking for it. They dug so deep that they dug up the elephant Virupasksha, who carried on his head the whole world with its hills and forests, and when he shook his head, earthquakes followed. They dug up three more elephants, to the south, the west and the east and …. eventually they found the horse in a deep cave where a magician lived. The magician’s name was Kapila. He was so annoyed that 60,000 pairs of feet came marching by to disturb him and that they threw rocks, trees and boulders at him that he turned them all instantly to ashes with his fiery look.

King Sagara heard of all this and sent his grandson Ansuman to say sorry.

Ansuman went to meet Kapila and found the pile of ashes that were once his uncles. Kapila thought that Ansuman was such a nice young man that he decided he would send the 60,000 sons to heaven by floating them down the River Ganges. The only problem was that the Ganges hadn’t started as a river at that time and was sitting in heaven. The King tried to get the river to come to earth, his grandson tried, his great-grandson tried … and finally his great-great grandson Bhagiratha tried.

He asked and asked and pleaded.

At last, the river agreed to Bhagiratha’s pleas, but was afraid that when it landed on earth it would make too big a splash.

So the great Lord Shiva agreed to carry the river gently to earth … it fell into his matted hair and dripped down gently.

Bhagiratha was asked to show the river where to go … so he mounted his horse … and the river followed him.

Eventually they reached the place where the ashes of the 60,000 sons lay.

In this place the ashes were mixed with the water of the Ganges  an Ocean was formed there. This is now the Bay of Bengal.

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