When the army and the sons of Sagar reached the ashram of Sage Kapila, they found horse of king Sagar tied to the trunk of a tree behind the back of sage Kapil. The army chief and the sons of Sagar became angry when they saw Sage Kapila sitting in meditation. They used abusive language and called the great sage a thief.
Even though they could see that the rishi was in meditation, they thought he was vying to fool them by pretending to be in Samadhi, the deepest state of meditation.They were convinced that Sage Kapila had stolen the horse and brought it to his ashram where no one could find it.
They called him a phoney, a thief, and mischievous, and their voices were filled with anger and disgust. Rishi Kapila was in fact in Samadhi, and the awful sounds that broke his meditation caused him to open his eyes in rage.
Then Yoga agni (yoga fire) came out from his eyes and all sixty thousand sons and the accompanying army were burned. All that remained of Sagar’s army and his sixty thousand sons were heaps of ashes on the ground.
Time passed and King Sagar had received no news about his sons, his army or his sacrificial horse. He became worried. The Ashwamedh Yagya could not be completed without the return of the horse, so Sagar asked his only remaining son, Anshuman, to go and find out what had happened.
Anshuman set out for the journey and went all the way to the ashram of Rishi Kapil where he found Sagar’s horse tied to a tree and the sage in meditation. Anshuman sat down on the ground amongst heap of ashes and waited for Kapil to regain his normal state of consciousness.
After some time, the rishi opened his eyes and saw Anshuman waiting patiently for him. The rishi asked Anshuman why he was there, and Anshuman explained who he was and the purpose of his visit. Kapil told Anshuman the part of the story he knew and showed Anshuman the heap of ashes that was lying near him and said, “So my son, your army and your brothers have been consumed by my yoga agni. You should take your horse and go back to your father. He can complete the Ashwamedh Yagya if he likes.”
What about my brothers?” asked Anshuman. “Their time is over,” said Rishi Kapil. “But Sire,” said Anshuman, “when somebody dies a natural death he gets another birth of Nirvana, heaven, or hell, according to his karmas. But when somebody dies because of a curse that person remains in the form of a ghost and can never be liberated unless something is done to undo the curse.
‘Tell me, Rishi, how I may free my brothers’ souls from your curse. Please be kind and suggest some way to save the souls of my brothers.” “There is only one remedy,” Kapila said, “but it is a difficult task.You must bring Ganga to Earth from Heaven. Only the holy water of Ganga is capable of purifying and liberating the souls of your brothers and your army.”
“What must I do to bring Ganga to Earth? I know nothing about Ganga. Please tell me something about Ganga,” Anshuman said with folded hands.