Thrishanku, Sunashcehpa, Visvamitra and all....
All would have heard about the King Thrishanku of Solar Dyanasty who wanted to reach heaven in his earthly body.. He sought the help of his preceptor Vasishta to achieve this and the guru refused to have anything to do with unnatural and unrealistic desires.. So the King approached Vasishta's bete noire and arch professional rival Vishvamitra, who promised to fulfil the outlandish desire of the king, mainly due to his spite for Vasishta.. And, in time, a Yajna was arranged, and that too, under the priesthood of Vishvamitra..All the deities were invited, but being aware of the impossible demand of the king, and considering the evil consequences of the precedence that could be set by allowing an earthling to reach heaven in his earthly body, the gods declined to attend and receive the havirbhagam.. Piqued all the more by the attitude of the Devas, Visvamitra told them to mind their own business and he ordered Thrishanku to ascend to heaven, powered by the angry sage's reserve store of penance.. The king was catapulted upwards, but Indra and company would not open the heaven for the royal missile from the earth.. The king in all his royal splendour was pushed down with equal force, and willy-nilly, had to start his downward flight to earth. with matching speed.. The sage, ogling from the earth, could not stand this slighting . He sent up more energy to counterbalance the downward push by the devas, and Thrishanku was left in a suspended animation somewhere in the sky.. The sage created a sort of cozy abode to his human missile, and wasted all his penance till date in that wasteful show of ego..This is the fate... I mean a state of suspended animation.. neither being here nor there.. that would befall persons who throw their lots with snobs and egotists..
This Trishanku had a son by name Harishchandra( not the tragic victim at the hands of Visvamitra).. This king did not have any children.. Therfore he closed a deal with god Varuna.. the contract was that if a son was born to the king, that child would be offered in sacrifice to the lord of the seas..But Harischandra loved his son Rahula too much, and in spite of many reminders and even threats, did not keep his promise.. A very serious illness afflicted the king and he was on the verge of death.. Rahula, who guessed the cause, thought that if a substitute for himself were offered to Varuna in his own place, the situation could be saved.. The prince wandered around in jungles and found a family of indigent brahmins consisting of the father, mother and three boys.. The prince presented the case, and the old brahmin was lured by the promises of lots of cows and land.. and he was ready to give any of his sons except the first..The lady brahmin, equally impressed by the offer of riches was ready to give away the elder two sons, but she had no mind to give up her third child.. So the lot fell on the second boy, named Sunacchepha.. and the prince and his retinue caught hold of the boy and prepared for the sacrifice where the boy would be offered in sacrifice to Varuna.. The helpless boy somehow escaped and took refuge again with Kausika, the Visvamtra.. The sage offered asylum to Sunachepa and asked one of his own sons to take the hapless boy's place..The sons of Visvamitra refused to comply, and asked their dad to shut up and mind his own business.. Now Visvamitra rendered to Sunaschepa a mantra in praise of Varuna, and when invoked with devotion, the Lord of the Seas made his appearance, and the case was presented in detail to Him.. Varuna was very angry that the avaricious and untruthful king and his son should hatch such a macabre plot and applying their money-power should have tried to offer to the god and innocent human body through a murder of proxy..
Varuna confirmed the verdict that the King should suffer and be finished by the illness.. That was that..
Today is remembered in Islam as the day of offer of a son as sacrifice to God..