From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sunaśśepha, Son of Viśvāmitra[edit]

Story of Sunaśśepha is a classic example to show that poverty and famine can drive even pious parents to sell their children. He was the second son of Ajīgarta, a sage of the Bhṛgu race. During a severe famine, unable to sustain his family, he sold Sunaśśepha to the king Hariścandra who was in search of a boy to be offered in a sacrifice he was performing. However, the great sage Viśvāmitra managed to save his life and adopted him as his own son, giving a new name, Devarāta. Ajīgarta was reborn as a piśāca[1] because of his sin. Devarāta redeemed him by the power of his austerities.

Sunaśśepha, a Ṛṣi[edit]

Sunaśśepha is the ṛṣi[2] of some Ṛgvedic mantras.[3] The Aitareya Brāhmaṇa[4] describes his story in great detail.

Sunaśśepha of Rāmāyaṇa[edit]

The story of Sunaśśepha appears in the Rāmāyaṇa also.[5] There, it is the king Ambarīṣa and not Hairścandra, who purchased the boy. The sage Viśvāmitra who was the boy’s maternal uncle, taught him some secret mantras to please the god Varuṇa by whose grace he was ultimately saved.


  1. Piśāca means goblin.
  2. Ṛṣi means the sage, the seer.
  3. Ṛgveda 1.24.1-15
  4. Aitareya Brāhmaṇa Chapter 33
  5. Bālakanda Chapters 61, 62
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore