Pleased with Devendra;s humility, Vasihsta explained to him the secrets of the divine metre. Devendra was supremelypleased with Vasishta's act and said: "O Bhagavan, you have taught me the minute features and details about the metreVirat. I am doubly blessed. In return for this great help I am going to give a special power. This would help youto set right any mistake made while performing a yajna. Besides this you will be able to use yagna as a tool to helpattain heaven for human beings. Further, as you know the secrets of the Vyahrithis such as bhu, bhuvah, suvah,mahah, janah, tapah and satyam, you will occupy the position of the Brahma in all yagnas".
"Devendra, you know, human beings in the world should do a number of righteous acts and these are laid down in the shastras. It is great-good luck to engage oneself in such divine acts which would bring about the happiness of the world,"said the sage.
"O great Brahmarshi, I desire to perform a yagna. You are the fittest person to occupy the position of Brahma forthe yajna. Therefore it is my humble request to you to accept the position and help me in performing the yagna"said the cheif of gods.
Vasishta accepted the offer made by Devendra. As there was some time before the yagna started, sage Vasishta wentback to his ashram.
While the sage was in his ashram, one day, emperor Nimi, who was the twelfth in the line of Ikshwaku, the son of Manu,paid a visit to the ashram.
Nimi was a great emperor. He ruled his country righteously. Besides being a great king, he was an equally great tapasvi.
The emperor made obeisance to the sage and said,"O Brahman, I have decided to perform a yagna. I would like you toassume the position of Rtwija at the yajna and help me in its performance". Vasishta had already promised Devendrato help him with his yajna as Brahma and therefore he said, "O great king, I have already promised Devendra to helphim with his yajna as Brahma. I will help you to perform your yagna after I return from Swargaloka. The king was sad and he returned without a word.
Vasishta, on his return from Swarga after helping Devendra perform his yagna, went to the emperor's palace. But bythat time the emperor had completed the yajna with the help of sage Gowthama. The king was in deep sleep. Vasishtawaited for a long time for the king, but the later did not come receive the sage.
Vasihsta felt puzzled at the king's behaviour. He thought, "The emperor is proud that he has completed the yagna. Hehas even forgotten basic courtesies. He has not received me or played host to me. Let him be dead." Thus Vasishtacursed him.
Emperor Nimi came to know about the sage's curse
He was sure that the curse would become effective very soon and he would die. Nimi was also a great tapasvi besidesbeing a king. He too had the power to curse others. He decided to use his power and curse Vasishta.
He said,You Vasishta, I was in sleep and I did not know about your arrival. I was innocent and you have cursed me to die. Let the same misfortune be yours." Thus he heaped a curse on sage Vasishta. It was strange that Nimi and Vasihstacursed each Other with the curse of death. Emperor Nimi died soon. As vasishta was destined to live long, he gave uphis mortal body and assumed an invinsible body of light and went to Brahmaloka.
He met Lord Brahma and explained to him all that happened in Nimi's palce. Lord Brahma pondered for a while and said,O great Brahmarshi, I know everything. A lot of things are yet to be done by you in this world. You are the personto decide the destiny of the world. Therefore you have to assume a body with the help of Mithra and Varuna and completethe task assigned to you. May success be yours."
Vasishta was granted the status of being an immortal and he could have escaped from emperor Nimi's curse with thepower of his tapas easily. But he wanted to respect the man who cursed him and therefore he decided to assume anotherbody. According to Lord Brahma's advice he sought the help Mithravaruna and was born again assuming a new body.After undergoing these strange experiences, Vasishta returned to his ashram on the slopes of Mount Meru. The inmatesof the ashram came to know what happened to him and they welcomed him with all reverence.
After a few days emperor Manu of the solar line came on a visit to Vasishta's ashram. He placed flowers and fruits at the sage's feet and took his blessings. Vasishta was very happy to see the righteous king.
After the usual exchange of courtesies, the king said,"Brahman, you are a great Brahmarshi. You are righteous. Itis my desire that, you be the royal priest to our clan and show us the way. By doing so, we expect you to help usbring about the maximum welfare of our subjects and establish perfect rule of law in our empire."
To be the royal priest, one was expected to have certain qualities. He must have mastered dharma and its nuancesand give the king advice from time to time in the administration of the country, law and justice. Vasishta knewthat he was qualified in every respect to be the royal priest and so he said,"So be it." The king was very happyand he returned to his land contented.
In order to discharge his functions as a royal priest one was expected to have attained a very high standard in everyaspect of religion, dharma, administration etc. He must be faultless in speech and acion. He must be righteous. Hemust have the capacity to pilot the ship of state in times of catastrophe. As he is capable of helping the king to perform yajnas, he should also teach the art of warfare to the members of the royal family. He must have a thoroughknowledge of the vedas, the science of administration, the geography of the land, the various kings in differentparts of the land, and the way in which the subjects conduct themselves.