This excerpt from the newly released Amar Chitra Katha comic book "Saptarshi" tells a story I hadn't heard before. In this account, the sage Vishwamitra visits the ashram of the sage Vasishta, who is telling his shishyas about how Japa or repeating the holy names bestows the greatest power on a person. But Vishwamitra disputes this, saying that Dhyana or meditation bestows the greatest power. To resolve their disagreement, Vishwamitra and Vasishta go to Vishnu, but he's busy and leaves his serpent Adiseshan to settle it.

Adiseshan says it is difficult for him to think while he is supporting the Earth on his hoods. So Vishwamitra offers to hold the Earth for him, using the power of meditation to give himself strength. But he's not able to hold it on his head for even a minute, so Adiseshan gives it to Vasishta. Vasishta chants Vishnu's name, and is thereby able to hold it on his head. And so Vishwamitra finally concedes that Japa is more powerful than Dhyana.

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My question is, is there any scriptural basis for this story? Amar Chitra Katha comic books are sometimes based on scripture and sometimes based on folklore, so I'd like to find out which it is in this case.

The only other Rishi I know of who carried the Earth was the sage Kashyapa, who did it twice as discussed in my answers here and here. On a side note, assuming the story is true, Vishwamitra and Vasishtha presumably used Mahima Siddhi or the power of becoming large to get big enough to hold the Earth.

  • 2
    you've started reading comic books now :) ?
    – ram
    Commented May 5, 2017 at 19:19
  • 1
    @ram Haha no, I didn't start now, I read Amar Chitra Kathas before I started reading Hindu scripture. My interest in Hinduism started at a very young age watching Dhoordarshan TV serials like Ramayan, Mahabharat, Sri Krishna, and Vishwamitra. Then I started reading Amar Chitra Katha comic books, and then finally I started reading Hindu scripture. Commented May 5, 2017 at 19:28
  • amarchitrakatha.com/in/about Telephone numbers etc. are available. Editors/authors can be contacted to ask for references.
    – Narasimham
    Commented May 5, 2017 at 20:14
  • speakingtree.in/blog/satsang-vs-tapasya similar story
    – Friendy
    Commented May 6, 2017 at 2:56
  • @Narasimha I don't see any contact info in that link, although it redirects me to the US version of the site due to my IP address. In any case, the writer of that Amar Chitra Katha is Vanishree Mahesh, so if you can find her contact info please tell me. Commented May 6, 2017 at 3:03


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