Rishi Lomesh took the Pandavas to a mountain called ‘Mahendrachala’, where they met Akrutvarana, disciple of the great Rishi Parshurama. Yudhisthira asked him if it would be possible for them to have darshan of Rishi lord Parshurama, also known as Bhargava. Akrutvarana told Yudhisthira that the rishi met seekers only on two nights of the month and that he knew of the arrival of the Pandavas and was keen to meet them.
That night Yudhisthira requested Akrutvarana to tell them the story of Parshurama, since he was a witness to all his great deeds, and also asked him to narrate how and why Parshurama had killed all the Kshatriyas.
Akrutvarana narrated that the story of Sahastrarjuna, a ruler from the very powerful dynasty of ‘Haihayas’. The word ‘sahastra’ means a thousand; Sahastrarjuna had a thousand hands. Sahastrarjuna had meditated on Lord Dattatreya and had acquired a golden plane and the might to defeat anyone in battle. Graced with both speed and strength, Sahastrarjuna became drunk with power and started tormenting the Gods, rishis performing austerities, and other men.
The rishis, as a result, went to Lord Vishnu asking for his help, who assured them that their troubles would soon be over. At the same time that Sahastrarjuna ruled in the Haihaya region, the powerful King Gadhi ruled another region called Kanyakubja. Gadhi had left his kingdom to be run by his ministers, and had gone into the forest to perform tapas. In the years that he was in deep meditation, he was blessed with a fully grown beautiful daughter, through divine intervention.
Ruchika Bhargava, the son of Rishi Bhrigu, asked the king to marry his daughter to him. The king told the young rishi that it was a custom in his house for whoever wanted a girl’s hand in marriage to gift the king with a thousand horses; the horses’ bodies were to be black on top with white undersides and with rusty coloured ears. The rishi agreed to fulfil this custom.
The young rishi went to the banks of the river Ganga and meditated upon Varuna, the lord of the oceans. Varuna appeared and immediately granted Ruchika’s wish for the horses. The place where Varuna presented Ruchika the thousand horses is known as ‘Ashvatirtha’. Even to date, people go there to pray and take a dip in the river, with the hope that Varuna may grant them good fortune.
King Gadhi then gave his beautiful daughter Satyavati’s hand in marriage to Ruchika Bhargava. Both of them were very happy and lived a life of love and enjoyment. One day, Rishi Bhrigu visited to check on his son and his newly wedded wife. When he came to their home, the newly wedded couple touched his feet and worshipped him with flowers. Pleased, the rishi granted his daughter-in-law a boon of her seeking.