Our Sanatana Dharma regards the cow as a holy animal and is worshipped with great respect. The holy cow is treated as the representation of all the gods and goddesses of our culture. It is believed that taking three pradakshins around the holy cow is equal to taking a pradakshin of the millions of gods and goddesses. The holy cow has the divine status of a mother and is fondly called as the Gomaata.
The Kamadhenu is the celestial cow which was born during the churning of the Milky Ocean. It had the power to grant any wish and desire. The daughter of Kamedhenu is Shabala, the holy cow which had the same celestial powers as Kamdhenu. Shabala was gifted to Rishi Vashisth by the Devs and she stayed in his ashram freely. Rishi Vashisth worshipped Shabala as his mother and fondly took care of her.
Vishwamitra, who was ruling over the Mahoday Kingdom, was a powerful king who had a great desire to become an Emperor and thus was invading all kingdoms and winning over them. In the course of his war expedition, Vishwamitra came to Rishi Vashisth‘s ashram and greeted him. Rishi Vashisth welcomed Vishwamitr warmly and offered hospitality to the king and his army. Vishwamitr was surprised and with pride, refused Rishi Vashisht’s hospitality mentioning that the simple Rishi could not feed his vast army. But Rishi Vashisth politely mentioned that he could feed all his army and even more too. He called upon Shabala and requested the divine cow to provide food and all comforts to King Vishwamitra and his innumerable army. Shabala agreed and within no time, provided what all was necessary for the King and his army.
Vishwamitra was surprised and awestruck at the divine powers of Shabala. But instead of offering salutations to Shabala and Rishi Vashisth, he was overcome with jealousy and wanted the holy cow for himself. Vishwamitra asked Rishi Vashisth to give Shabala to him as he was the king of the land. Rishi Vashisth politely said that Shabala was like a mother to him and she was residing peacefully in his ashram and he could not force her to go with the king. This made Vishwamitra angry and he decided to forcefully take Shabala away with him.
Vishwamitra ordered his soldiers to drag Shabala to him. But, when the soldiers tried to forcefully pull her, Shabala got furious and with her divine powers created millions of soldiers who in few minutes vanquished the whole of Vishwamitra’s army. Out of arrogance, Vishwamitra tried to strike Rishi Vashisth and Shabala with his little knowledge of Astras and Sastras, but none worked before their yogic powers. The pride and arrogance of King Vishwamitra was thus defeated by Shabala and he was left alone with no army to defend him.
Humilated and defeated, Vishwamitra understood that true power was in meditation, but not war. He decided to become a Rishi like Vashisth. He immediately renounced his kingdom and retired to penance. After overcoming great challenges, Brahma Ji appeared in front of Rishi Vishwamitr along with Rishi Vashisth and granted him the highest position of a Brahmarshi. Thus, Vishwamitra’s encounter with Gomaata Shabala made him from a king to a great Rishi who went on to become one of the possessors of great knowledge and weapon craft and thus regarded and respected as one of the greatest sages of our Sanatana Dharma.