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Title: The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa, Volume 1 - Books 1, 2 and 3
Author: - To be updated
Language: English
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*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa, Volume 1 - Books 1, 2 and 3" ***

to John B. Hare at www.sacred-texts.com

The Mahabharata


Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa



Translated into English Prose from the Original Sanskrit Text


Kisari Mohan Ganguli


Scanned at sacred-texts.com, 2003. Proofed at Distributed Proofing,
Juliet Sutherland, Project Manager. Additional proofing and formatting at
sacred-texts.com, by J. B. Hare.


The object of a translator should ever be to hold the mirror upto his
author. That being so, his chief duty is to represent so far as
practicable the manner in which his author’s ideas have been expressed,
retaining if possible at the sacrifice of idiom and taste all the
peculiarities of his author’s imagery and of language as well. In regard
to translations from the Sanskrit, nothing is easier than to dish up
Hindu ideas, so as to make them agreeable to English taste. But the
endeavour of the present translator has been to give in the following
pages as literal a rendering as possible of the great work of Vyasa. To
the purely English reader there is much in the following pages that will
strike as ridiculous. Those unacquainted with any language but their own
are generally very exclusive in matters of taste. Having no knowledge of
models other than what they meet with in their own tongue, the standard
they have formed of purity and taste in composition must necessarily be a
narrow one. The translator, however, would ill-discharge his duty, if for
the sake of avoiding ridicule, he sacrificed fidelity to the original. He
must represent his author as he is, not as he should be to please the
narrow taste of those entirely unacquainted with him. Mr. Pickford, in
the preface to his English translation of the Mahavira Charita, ably
defends a close adherence to the original even at the sacrifice of idiom
and taste against the claims of what has been called ‘Free Translation,’
which means dressing the author in an outlandish garb to please those to
whom he is introduced.

In the preface to his classical translation of Bhartrihari’s Niti Satakam
and Vairagya Satakam, Mr. C.H. Tawney says, “I am sensible that in the
present attempt I have retained much local colouring. For instance, the
ideas of worshipping the feet of a god of great men, though it frequently
occurs in Indian literature, will undoubtedly move the laughter of
Englishmen unacquainted with Sanskrit, especially if they happen to
belong to that class of readers who revel their attention on the
accidental and remain blind to the essential. But a certain measure of
fidelity to the original even at the risk of making oneself ridiculous,
is better than the studied dishonesty which characterises so many
translations of oriental poets.”

We fully subscribe to the above although, it must be observed, the
censure conveyed to the class of translators last indicated is rather
undeserved, there being nothing like a ‘studied dishonesty’ in their
efforts which proceed only from a mistaken view of their duties and as
such betray only an error of the head but not of the heart. More than
twelve years ago when Babu Pratapa Chandra Roy, with Babu Durga Charan
Banerjee, went to my retreat at Seebpore, for engaging me to translate
the Mahabharata into English, I was amazed with the grandeur of the
scheme. My first question to him was,--whence was the money to come,
supposing my competence for the task. Pratapa then unfolded to me the
details of his plan, the hopes he could legitimately cherish of
assistance from different quarters. He was full of enthusiasm. He showed
me Dr. Rost’s letter, which, he said, had suggested to him the
undertaking. I had known Babu Durga Charan for many years and I had the
highest opinion of his scholarship and practical good sense. When he
warmly took Pratapa’s side for convincing me of the practicability of the
scheme, I listened to him patiently. The two were for completing all
arrangements with me the very day. To this I did not agree. I took a
week’s time to consider. I consulted some of my literary friends,
foremost among whom was the late lamented Dr. Sambhu C. Mookherjee. The
latter, I found, had been waited upon by Pratapa. Dr. Mookherjee spoke to
me of Pratapa as a man of indomitable energy and perseverance. The result
of my conference with Dr. Mookherjee was that I wrote to Pratapa asking
him to see me again. In this second interview estimates were drawn up,
and everything was arranged as far as my portion of the work was
concerned. My friend left with me a specimen of translation which he had
received from Professor Max Muller. This I began to study, carefully
comparing it sentence by sentence with the original. About its literal
character there could be no doubt, but it had no flow and, therefore,
could not be perused with pleasure by the general reader. The translation
had been executed thirty years ago by a young German friend of the great
Pundit. I had to touch up every sentence. This I did without at all
impairing faithfulness to the original. My first ‘copy’ was set up in
type and a dozen sheets were struck off. These were submitted to the
judgment of a number of eminent writers, European and native. All of
them, I was glad to see, approved of the specimen, and then the task of
translating the Mahabharata into English seriously began.

Before, however, the first fasciculus could be issued, the question as to
whether the authorship of the translation should be publicly owned,
arose. Babu Pratapa Chandra Roy was against anonymity. I was for it. The
reasons I adduced were chiefly founded upon the impossibility of one
person translating the whole of the gigantic work. Notwithstanding my
resolve to discharge to the fullest extent the duty that I took up, I
might not live to carry it out. It would take many years before the end
could be reached. Other circumstances than death might arise in
consequence of which my connection with the work might cease. It could
not be desirable to issue successive fasciculus with the names of a
succession of translators appearing on the title pages. These and other
considerations convinced my friend that, after all, my view was correct.
It was, accordingly, resolved to withhold the name of the translator. As
a compromise, however, between the two views, it was resolved to issue
the first fasciculus with two prefaces, one over the signature of the
publisher and the other headed--‘Translator’s Preface.’ This, it was
supposed, would effectually guard against misconceptions of every kind.
No careful reader would then confound the publisher with the author.

Although this plan was adopted, yet before a fourth of the task had been
accomplished, an influential Indian journal came down upon poor Pratapa
Chandra Roy and accused him openly of being a party to a great literary
imposture, viz., of posing before the world as the translator of Vyasa’s
work when, in fact, he was only the publisher. The charge came upon my
friend as a surprise, especially as he had never made a secret of the
authorship in his correspondence with Oriental scholars in every part of
the world. He promptly wrote to the journal in question, explaining the
reasons there were for anonymity, and pointing to the two prefaces with
which the first fasciculus had been given to the world. The editor
readily admitted his mistake and made a satisfactory apology.

Now that the translation has been completed, there can no longer be any
reason for withholding the name of the translator. The entire translation
is practically the work of one hand. In portions of the Adi and the Sabha
Parvas, I was assisted by Babu Charu Charan Mookerjee. About four forms
of the Sabha Parva were done by Professor Krishna Kamal Bhattacharya, and
about half a fasciculus during my illness, was done by another hand. I
should however state that before passing to the printer the copy received
from these gentlemen I carefully compared every sentence with the
original, making such alterations as were needed for securing a
uniformity of style with the rest of the work.

I should here observe that in rendering the Mahabharata into English I
have derived very little aid from the three Bengali versions that are
supposed to have been executed with care. Every one of these is full of
inaccuracies and blunders of every description. The Santi in particular
which is by far the most difficult of the eighteen Parvas, has been made
a mess of by the Pundits that attacked it. Hundreds of ridiculous
blunders can be pointed out in both the Rajadharma and the Mokshadharma
sections. Some of these I have pointed out in footnotes.

I cannot lay claim to infallibility. There are verses in the Mahabharata
that are exceedingly difficult to construe. I have derived much aid from
the great commentator Nilakantha. I know that Nilakantha’s authority is
not incapable of being challenged. But when it is remembered that the
interpretations given by Nilakantha came down to him from preceptors of
olden days, one should think twice before rejecting Nilakantha as a guide.

About the readings I have adopted, I should say that as regards the first
half of the work, I have generally adhered to the Bengal texts; as
regards the latter half, to the printed Bombay edition. Sometimes
individual sections, as occurring in the Bengal editions, differ widely,
in respect of the order of the verses, from the corresponding ones in the
Bombay edition. In such cases I have adhered to the Bengal texts,
convinced that the sequence of ideas has been better preserved in the
Bengal editions than the Bombay one.

I should express my particular obligations to Pundit Ram Nath Tarkaratna,
the author of ‘Vasudeva Vijayam’ and other poems, Pundit Shyama Charan
Kaviratna, the learned editor of Kavyaprakasha with the commentary of
Professor Mahesh Chandra Nayaratna, and Babu Aghore Nath Banerjee, the
manager of the Bharata Karyalaya. All these scholars were my referees on
all points of difficulty. Pundit Ram Nath’s solid scholarship is known to
them that have come in contact with him. I never referred to him a
difficulty that he could not clear up. Unfortunately, he was not always
at hand to consult. Pundit Shyama Charan Kaviratna, during my residence
at Seebpore, assisted me in going over the Mokshadharma sections of the
Santi Parva. Unostentatious in the extreme, Kaviratna is truly the type
of a learned Brahman of ancient India. Babu Aghore Nath Banerjee also has
from time to time, rendered me valuable assistance in clearing my

Gigantic as the work is, it would have been exceedingly difficult for me
to go on with it if I had not been encouraged by Sir Stuart Bayley, Sir
Auckland Colvin, Sir Alfred Croft, and among Oriental scholars, by the
late lamented Dr. Reinhold Rost, and Mons. A. Barth of Paris. All these
eminent men know from the beginning that the translation was proceeding
from my pen. Notwithstanding the enthusiasm, with which my poor friend,
Pratapa Chandra Roy, always endeavoured to fill me. I am sure my energies
would have flagged and patience exhausted but for the encouraging words
which I always received from these patrons and friends of the enterprise.

Lastly, I should name my literary chief and friend, Dr. Sambhu C.
Mookherjee. The kind interest he took in my labours, the repeated
exhortations he addressed to me inculcating patience, the care with which
he read every fasciculus as it came out, marking all those passages which
threw light upon topics of antiquarian interest, and the words of praise
he uttered when any expression particularly happy met his eyes, served to
stimulate me more than anything else in going on with a task that
sometimes seemed to me endless.

Kisari Mohan Ganguli





Om! Having bowed down to Narayana and Nara, the most exalted male being,
and also to the goddess Saraswati, must the word Jaya be uttered.

Ugrasrava, the son of Lomaharshana, surnamed Sauti, well-versed in the
Puranas, bending with humility, one day approached the great sages of
rigid vows, sitting at their ease, who had attended the twelve years’
sacrifice of Saunaka, surnamed Kulapati, in the forest of Naimisha. Those
ascetics, wishing to hear his wonderful narrations, presently began to
address him who had thus arrived at that recluse abode of the inhabitants
of the forest of Naimisha. Having been entertained with due respect by
those holy men, he saluted those Munis (sages) with joined palms, even
all of them, and inquired about the progress of their asceticism. Then
all the ascetics being again seated, the son of Lomaharshana humbly
occupied the seat that was assigned to him. Seeing that he was
comfortably seated, and recovered from fatigue, one of the Rishis
beginning the conversation, asked him, ‘Whence comest thou, O lotus-eyed
Sauti, and where hast thou spent the time? Tell me, who ask thee, in

Accomplished in speech, Sauti, thus questioned, gave in the midst of that
big assemblage of contemplative Munis a full and proper answer in words
consonant with their mode of life.

“Sauti said, ‘Having heard the diverse sacred and wonderful stories which
were composed in his Mahabharata by Krishna-Dwaipayana, and which were
recited in full by Vaisampayana at the Snake-sacrifice of the high-souled
royal sage Janamejaya and in the presence also of that chief of Princes,
the son of Parikshit, and having wandered about, visiting many sacred
waters and holy shrines, I journeyed to the country venerated by the
Dwijas (twice-born) and called Samantapanchaka where formerly was fought
the battle between the children of Kuru and Pandu, and all the chiefs of
the land ranged on either side. Thence, anxious to see you, I am come
into your presence. Ye reverend sages, all of whom are to me as Brahma;
ye greatly blessed who shine in this place of sacrifice with the
splendour of the solar fire: ye who have concluded the silent meditations
and have fed the holy fire; and yet who are sitting--without care, what,
O ye Dwijas (twice-born), shall I repeat, shall I recount the sacred
stories collected in the Puranas containing precepts of religious duty
and of worldly profit, or the acts of illustrious saints and sovereigns
of mankind?”

“The Rishi replied, ‘The Purana, first promulgated by the great Rishi
Dwaipayana, and which after having been heard both by the gods and the
Brahmarshis was highly esteemed, being the most eminent narrative that
exists, diversified both in diction and division, possessing subtile
meanings logically combined, and gleaned from the Vedas, is a sacred
work. Composed in elegant language, it includeth the subjects of other
books. It is elucidated by other Shastras, and comprehendeth the sense of
the four Vedas. We are desirous of hearing that history also called
Bharata, the holy composition of the wonderful Vyasa, which dispelleth
the fear of evil, just as it was cheerfully recited by the Rishi
Vaisampayana, under the direction of Dwaipayana himself, at the
snake-sacrifice of Raja Janamejaya?’

“Sauti then said, ‘Having bowed down to the primordial being Isana, to
whom multitudes make offerings, and who is adored by the multitude; who
is the true incorruptible one, Brahma, perceptible, imperceptible,
eternal; who is both a non-existing and an existing-non-existing being;
who is the universe and also distinct from the existing and non-existing
universe; who is the creator of high and low; the ancient, exalted,
inexhaustible one; who is Vishnu, beneficent and the beneficence itself,
worthy of all preference, pure and immaculate; who is Hari, the ruler of
the faculties, the guide of all things moveable and immoveable; I will
declare the sacred thoughts of the illustrious sage Vyasa, of marvellous
deeds and worshipped here by all. Some bards have already published this
history, some are now teaching it, and others, in like manner, will
hereafter promulgate it upon the earth. It is a great source of
knowledge, established throughout the three regions of the world. It is
possessed by the twice-born both in detailed and compendious forms. It is
the delight of the learned for being embellished with elegant
expressions, conversations human and divine, and a variety of poetical

In this world, when it was destitute of brightness and light, and
enveloped all around in total darkness, there came into being, as the
primal cause of creation, a mighty egg, the one inexhaustible seed of all
created beings. It is called Mahadivya, and was formed at the beginning
of the Yuga, in which we are told, was the true light Brahma, the eternal
one, the wonderful and inconceivable being present alike in all places;
the invisible and subtile cause, whose nature partaketh of entity and
non-entity. From this egg came out the lord Pitamaha Brahma, the one only
Prajapati; with Suraguru and Sthanu. Then appeared the twenty-one
Prajapatis, viz., Manu, Vasishtha and Parameshthi; ten Prachetas, Daksha,
and the seven sons of Daksha. Then appeared the man of inconceivable
nature whom all the Rishis know and so the Viswe-devas, the Adityas, the
Vasus, and the twin Aswins; the Yakshas, the Sadhyas, the Pisachas, the
Guhyakas, and the Pitris. After these were produced the wise and most
holy Brahmarshis, and the numerous Rajarshis distinguished by every noble
quality. So the water, the heavens, the earth, the air, the sky, the
points of the heavens, the years, the seasons, the months, the
fortnights, called Pakshas, with day and night in due succession. And
thus were produced all things which are known to mankind.

And what is seen in the universe, whether animate or inanimate, of
created things, will at the end of the world, and after the expiration of
the Yuga, be again confounded. And, at the commencement of other Yugas,
all things will be renovated, and, like the various fruits of the earth,
succeed each other in the due order of their seasons. Thus continueth
perpetually to revolve in the world, without beginning and without end,
this wheel which causeth the destruction of all things.

The generation of Devas, in brief, was thirty-three thousand,
thirty-three hundred and thirty-three. The sons of Div were Brihadbhanu,
Chakshus, Atma Vibhavasu, Savita, Richika, Arka, Bhanu, Asavaha, and
Ravi. Of these Vivaswans of old, Mahya was the youngest whose son was
Deva-vrata. The latter had for his son, Su-vrata who, we learn, had three
sons,--Dasa-jyoti, Sata-jyoti, and Sahasra-jyoti, each of them producing
numerous offspring. The illustrious Dasa-jyoti had ten thousand,
Sata-jyoti ten times that number, and Sahasra-jyoti ten times the number
of Sata-jyoti’s offspring. From these are descended the family of the
Kurus, of the Yadus, and of Bharata; the family of Yayati and of
Ikshwaku; also of all the Rajarshis. Numerous also were the generations
produced, and very abundant were the creatures and their places of abode.
The mystery which is threefold--the Vedas, Yoga, and Vijnana Dharma,
Artha, and Kama--also various books upon the subject of Dharma, Artha,
and Kama; also rules for the conduct of mankind; also histories and
discourses with various srutis; all of which having been seen by the
Rishi Vyasa are here in due order mentioned as a specimen of the book.

The Rishi Vyasa published this mass of knowledge in both a detailed and
an abridged form. It is the wish of the learned in the world to possess
the details and the abridgement. Some read the Bharata beginning with the
initial mantra (invocation), others with the story of Astika, others with
Uparichara, while some Brahmanas study the whole. Men of learning display
their various knowledge of the institutes in commenting on the
composition. Some are skilful in explaining it, while others, in
remembering its contents.

The son of Satyavati having, by penance and meditation, analysed the
eternal Veda, afterwards composed this holy history, when that learned
Brahmarshi of strict vows, the noble Dwaipayana Vyasa, offspring of
Parasara, had finished this greatest of narrations, he began to consider
how he might teach it to his disciples. And the possessor of the six
attributes, Brahma, the world’s preceptor, knowing of the anxiety of the
Rishi Dwaipayana, came in person to the place where the latter was, for
gratifying the saint, and benefiting the people. And when Vyasa,
surrounded by all the tribes of Munis, saw him, he was surprised; and,
standing with joined palms, he bowed and ordered a seat to be brought.
And Vyasa having gone round him who is called Hiranyagarbha seated on
that distinguished seat stood near it; and being commanded by Brahma
Parameshthi, he sat down near the seat, full of affection and smiling in
joy. Then the greatly glorious Vyasa, addressing Brahma Parameshthi,
said, “O divine Brahma, by me a poem hath been composed which is greatly
respected. The mystery of the Veda, and what other subjects have been
explained by me; the various rituals of the Upanishads with the Angas;
the compilation of the Puranas and history formed by me and named after
the three divisions of time, past, present, and future; the determination
of the nature of decay, fear, disease, existence, and non-existence, a
description of creeds and of the various modes of life; rule for the four
castes, and the import of all the Puranas; an account of asceticism and
of the duties of a religious student; the dimensions of the sun and moon,
the planets, constellations, and stars, together with the duration of the
four ages; the Rik, Sama and Yajur Vedas; also the Adhyatma; the sciences
called Nyaya, Orthoephy and Treatment of diseases; charity and
Pasupatadharma; birth celestial and human, for particular purposes; also
a description of places of pilgrimage and other holy places of rivers,
mountains, forests, the ocean, of heavenly cities and the kalpas; the art
of war; the different kinds of nations and languages: the nature of the
manners of the people; and the all-pervading spirit;--all these have been
represented. But, after all, no writer of this work is to be found on

“Brahma said. ‘I esteem thee for thy knowledge of divine mysteries,
before the whole body of celebrated Munis distinguished for the sanctity
of their lives. I know thou hast revealed the divine word, even from its
first utterance, in the language of truth. Thou hast called thy present
work a poem, wherefore it shall be a poem. There shall be no poets whose
works may equal the descriptions of this poem, even, as the three other
modes called Asrama are ever unequal in merit to the domestic Asrama. Let
Ganesa be thought of, O Muni, for the purpose of writing the poem.’

“Sauti said, ‘Brahma having thus spoken to Vyasa, retired to his own
abode. Then Vyasa began to call to mind Ganesa. And Ganesa, obviator of
obstacles, ready to fulfil the desires of his votaries, was no sooner
thought of, than he repaired to the place where Vyasa was seated. And
when he had been saluted, and was seated, Vyasa addressed him thus, ‘O
guide of the Ganas! be thou the writer of the Bharata which I have formed
in my imagination, and which I am about to repeat.”

“Ganesa, upon hearing this address, thus answered, ‘I will become the
writer of thy work, provided my pen do not for a moment cease writing.”
 And Vyasa said unto that divinity, ‘Wherever there be anything thou dost
not comprehend, cease to continue writing.’ Ganesa having signified his
assent, by repeating the word Om! proceeded to write; and Vyasa began;
and by way of diversion, he knit the knots of composition exceeding
close; by doing which, he dictated this work according to his engagement.

I am (continued Sauti) acquainted with eight thousand and eight hundred
verses, and so is Suka, and perhaps Sanjaya. From the mysteriousness of
their meaning, O Muni, no one is able, to this day, to penetrate those
closely knit difficult slokas. Even the omniscient Ganesa took a moment
to consider; while Vyasa, however, continued to compose other verses in
great abundance.

The wisdom of this work, like unto an instrument of applying collyrium,
hath opened the eyes of the inquisitive world blinded by the darkness of
ignorance. As the sun dispelleth the darkness, so doth the Bharata by its
discourses on religion, profit, pleasure and final release, dispel the
ignorance of men. As the full-moon by its mild light expandeth the buds
of the water-lily, so this Purana, by exposing the light of the Sruti
hath expanded the human intellect. By the lamp of history, which
destroyeth the darkness of ignorance, the whole mansion of nature is
properly and completely illuminated.

This work is a tree, of which the chapter of contents is the seed; the
divisions called Pauloma and Astika are the root; the part called
Sambhava is the trunk; the books called Sabha and Aranya are the roosting
perches; the books called Arani is the knitting knots; the books called
Virata and Udyoga the pith; the book named Bhishma, the main branch; the
book called Drona, the leaves; the book called Karna, the fair flowers;
the book named Salya, their sweet smell; the books entitled Stri and
Aishika, the refreshing shade; the book called Santi, the mighty fruit;
the book called Aswamedha, the immortal sap; the denominated
Asramavasika, the spot where it groweth; and the book called Mausala, is
an epitome of the Vedas and held in great respect by the virtuous
Brahmanas. The tree of the Bharata, inexhaustible to mankind as the
clouds, shall be as a source of livelihood to all distinguished poets.”

“Sauti continued, ‘I will now speak of the undying flowery and fruitful
productions of this tree, possessed of pure and pleasant taste, and not
to be destroyed even by the immortals. Formerly, the spirited and
virtuous Krishna-Dwaipayana, by the injunctions of Bhishma, the wise son
of Ganga and of his own mother, became the father of three boys who were
like the three fires by the two wives of Vichitra-virya; and having thus
raised up Dhritarashtra, Pandu and Vidura, he returned to his recluse
abode to prosecute his religious exercise.

It was not till after these were born, grown up, and departed on the
supreme journey, that the great Rishi Vyasa published the Bharata in this
region of mankind; when being solicited by Janamejaya and thousands of
Brahmanas, he instructed his disciple Vaisampayana, who was seated near
him; and he, sitting together with the Sadasyas, recited the Bharata,
during the intervals of the ceremonies of the sacrifice, being repeatedly
urged to proceed.

Vyasa hath fully represented the greatness of the house of Kuru, the
virtuous principles of Gandhari, the wisdom of Vidura, and the constancy
of Kunti. The noble Rishi hath also described the divinity of Vasudeva,
the rectitude of the sons of Pandu, and the evil practices of the sons
and partisans of Dhritarashtra.

Vyasa executed the compilation of the Bharata, exclusive of the episodes
originally in twenty-four thousand verses; and so much only is called by
the learned as the Bharata. Afterwards, he composed an epitome in one
hundred and fifty verses, consisting of the introduction with the chapter
of contents. This he first taught to his son Suka; and afterwards he gave
it to others of his disciples who were possessed of the same
qualifications. After that he executed another compilation, consisting of
six hundred thousand verses. Of those, thirty hundred thousand are known
in the world of the Devas; fifteen hundred thousand in the world of the
Pitris: fourteen hundred thousand among the Gandharvas, and one hundred
thousand in the regions of mankind. Narada recited them to the Devas,
Devala to the Pitris, and Suka published them to the Gandharvas, Yakshas,
and Rakshasas: and in this world they were recited by Vaisampayana, one
of the disciples of Vyasa, a man of just principles and the first among
all those acquainted with the Vedas. Know that I, Sauti, have also
repeated one hundred thousand verses.

Yudhishthira is a vast tree, formed of religion and virtue; Arjuna is its
trunk; Bhimasena, its branches; the two sons of Madri are its full-grown
fruit and flowers; and its roots are Krishna, Brahma, and the Brahmanas.

Pandu, after having subdued many countries by his wisdom and prowess,
took up his abode with the Munis in a certain forest as a sportsman,
where he brought upon himself a very severe misfortune for having killed
a stag coupling with its mate, which served as a warning for the conduct
of the princes of his house as long as they lived. Their mothers, in
order that the ordinances of the law might be fulfilled, admitted as
substitutes to their embraces the gods Dharma, Vayu, Sakra, and the
divinities the twin Aswins. And when their offspring grew up, under the
care of their two mothers, in the society of ascetics, in the midst of
sacred groves and holy recluse-abodes of religious men, they were
conducted by Rishis into the presence of Dhritarashtra and his sons,
following as students in the habit of Brahmacharis, having their hair
tied in knots on their heads. ‘These our pupils’, said they, ‘are as your
sons, your brothers, and your friends; they are Pandavas.’ Saying this,
the Munis disappeared.

When the Kauravas saw them introduced as the sons of Pandu, the
distinguished class of citizens shouted exceedingly for joy. Some,
however, said, they were not the sons of Pandu; others said, they were;
while a few asked how they could be his offspring, seeing he had been so
long dead. Still on all sides voices were heard crying, ‘They are on all
accounts welcome! Through divine Providence we behold the family of
Pandu! Let their welcome be proclaimed!’ As these acclamations ceased,
the plaudits of invisible spirits, causing every point of the heavens to
resound, were tremendous. There were showers of sweet-scented flowers,
and the sound of shells and kettle-drums. Such were the wonders that
happened on the arrival of the young princes. The joyful noise of all the
citizens, in expression of their satisfaction on the occasion, was so
great that it reached the very heavens in magnifying plaudits.

Having studied the whole of the Vedas and sundry other shastras, the
Pandavas resided there, respected by all and without apprehension from
any one.

The principal men were pleased with the purity of Yudhishthira, the
courage of Arjuna, the submissive attention of Kunti to her superiors,
and the humility of the twins, Nakula and Sahadeva; and all the people
rejoiced in their heroic virtues.

After a while, Arjuna obtained the virgin Krishna at the swayamvara, in
the midst of a concourse of Rajas, by performing a very difficult feat of
archery. And from this time he became very much respected in this world
among all bowmen; and in fields of battle also, like the sun, he was hard
to behold by foe-men. And having vanquished all the neighbouring princes
and every considerable tribe, he accomplished all that was necessary for
the Raja (his eldest brother) to perform the great sacrifice called

Yudhishthira, after having, through the wise counsels of Vasudeva and by
the valour of Bhimasena and Arjuna, slain Jarasandha (the king of
Magadha) and the proud Chaidya, acquired the right to perform the grand
sacrifice of Rajasuya abounding in provisions and offering and fraught
with transcendent merits. And Duryodhana came to this sacrifice; and when
he beheld the vast wealth of the Pandavas scattered all around, the
offerings, the precious stones, gold and jewels; the wealth in cows,
elephants, and horses; the curious textures, garments, and mantles; the
precious shawls and furs and carpets made of the skin of the Ranku; he
was filled with envy and became exceedingly displeased. And when he
beheld the hall of assembly elegantly constructed by Maya (the Asura
architect) after the fashion of a celestial court, he was inflamed with
rage. And having started in confusion at certain architectural deceptions
within this building, he was derided by Bhimasena in the presence of
Vasudeva, like one of mean descent.

And it was represented to Dhritarashtra that his son, while partaking of
various objects of enjoyment and diverse precious things, was becoming
meagre, wan, and pale. And Dhritarashtra, some time after, out of
affection for his son, gave his consent to their playing (with the
Pandavas) at dice. And Vasudeva coming to know of this, became
exceedingly wroth. And being dissatisfied, he did nothing to prevent the
disputes, but overlooked the gaming and sundry other horried
unjustifiable transactions arising therefrom: and in spite of Vidura,
Bhishma, Drona, and Kripa, the son of Saradwan, he made the Kshatriyas
kill each other in the terrific war that ensued.’

“And Dhritarashtra hearing the ill news of the success of the Pandavas
and recollecting the resolutions of Duryodhana, Kama, and Sakuni,
pondered for a while and addressed to Sanjaya the following speech:--

‘Attend, O Sanjaya, to all I am about to say, and it will not become thee
to treat me with contempt. Thou art well-versed in the shastras,
intelligent and endowed with wisdom. My inclination was never to war, not
did I delight in the destruction of my race. I made no distinction
between my own children and the children of Pandu. My own sons were prone
to wilfulness and despised me because I am old. Blind as I am, because of
my miserable plight and through paternal affection, I bore it all. I was
foolish alter the thoughtless Duryodhana ever growing in folly. Having
been a spectator of the riches of the mighty sons of Pandu, my son was
derided for his awkwardness while ascending the hall. Unable to bear it
all and unable himself to overcome the sons of Pandu in the field, and
though a soldier, unwilling yet to obtain good fortune by his own
exertion, with the help of the king of Gandhara he concerted an unfair
game at dice.

‘Hear, O Sanjaya, all that happened thereupon and came to my knowledge.
And when thou hast heard all I say, recollecting everything as it fell
out, thou shall then know me for one with a prophetic eye. When I heard
that Arjuna, having bent the bow, had pierced the curious mark and
brought it down to the ground, and bore away in triumph the maiden
Krishna, in the sight of the assembled princes, then, O Sanjaya I had no
hope of success. When I heard that Subhadra of the race of Madhu had,
after forcible seizure been married by Arjuna in the city of Dwaraka, and
that the two heroes of the race of Vrishni (Krishna and Balarama the
brothers of Subhadra) without resenting it had entered Indraprastha as
friends, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I heard that
Arjuna, by his celestial arrow preventing the downpour by Indra the king
of the gods, had gratified Agni by making over to him the forest of
Khandava, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I heard that
the five Pandavas with their mother Kunti had escaped from the house of
lac, and that Vidura was engaged in the accomplishment of their designs,
then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I heard that Arjuna,
after having pierced the mark in the arena had won Draupadi, and that the
brave Panchalas had joined the Pandavas, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope
of success. When I heard that Jarasandha, the foremost of the royal line
of Magadha, and blazing in the midst of the Kshatriyas, had been slain by
Bhima with his bare arms alone, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of
success. When I heard that in their general campaign the sons of Pandu
had conquered the chiefs of the land and performed the grand sacrifice of
the Rajasuya, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I heard
that Draupadi, her voice choked with tears and heart full of agony, in
the season of impurity and with but one raiment on, had been dragged into
court and though she had protectors, she had been treated as if she had
none, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I heard that the
wicked wretch Duhsasana, was striving to strip her of that single
garment, had only drawn from her person a large heap of cloth without
being able to arrive at its end, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of
success. When I heard that Yudhishthira, beaten by Saubala at the game of
dice and deprived of his kingdom as a consequence thereof, had still been
attended upon by his brothers of incomparable prowess, then, O Sanjaya, I
had no hope of success. When I heard that the virtuous Pandavas weeping
with affliction had followed their elder brother to the wilderness and
exerted themselves variously for the mitigation of his discomforts, then,
O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success.

‘When I heard that Yudhishthira had been followed into the wilderness by
Snatakas and noble-minded Brahmanas who live upon alms, then, O Sanjaya,
I had no hope of success. When I heard that Arjuna, having, in combat,
pleased the god of gods, Tryambaka (the three-eyed) in the disguise of a
hunter, obtained the great weapon Pasupata, then O Sanjaya, I had no hope
of success. When I heard that the just and renowned Arjuna after having
been to the celestial regions, had there obtained celestial weapons from
Indra himself then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I heard
that afterwards Arjuna had vanquished the Kalakeyas and the Paulomas
proud with the boon they had obtained and which had rendered them
invulnerable even to the celestials, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of
success. When I heard that Arjuna, the chastiser of enemies, having gone
to the regions of Indra for the destruction of the Asuras, had returned
thence successful, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I
heard that Bhima and the other sons of Pritha (Kunti) accompanied by
Vaisravana had arrived at that country which is inaccessible to man then,
O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I heard that my sons, guided by
the counsels of Karna, while on their journey of Ghoshayatra, had been
taken prisoners by the Gandharvas and were set free by Arjuna, then, O
Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I heard that Dharma (the god of
justice) having come under the form of a Yaksha had proposed certain
questions to Yudhishthira then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When
I heard that my sons had failed to discover the Pandavas under their
disguise while residing with Draupadi in the dominions of Virata, then, O
Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I heard that the principal men of
my side had all been vanquished by the noble Arjuna with a single chariot
while residing in the dominions of Virata, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope
of success. When I heard that Vasudeva of the race of Madhu, who covered
this whole earth by one foot, was heartily interested in the welfare of
the Pandavas, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I heard
that the king of Matsya, had offered his virtuous daughter Uttara to
Arjuna and that Arjuna had accepted her for his son, then, O Sanjaya, I
had no hope of success. When I heard that Yudhishthira, beaten at dice,
deprived of wealth, exiled and separated from his connections, had
assembled yet an army of seven Akshauhinis, then, O Sanjaya, I had no
hope of success. When I heard Narada, declare that Krishna and Arjuna
were Nara and Narayana and he (Narada) had seen them together in the
regions of Brahma, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I
heard that Krishna, anxious to bring about peace, for the welfare of
mankind had repaired to the Kurus, and went away without having been able
to effect his purpose, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I
heard that Kama and Duryodhana resolved upon imprisoning Krishna
displayed in himself the whole universe, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope
of success. Then I heard that at the time of his departure, Pritha
(Kunti) standing, full of sorrow, near his chariot received consolation
from Krishna, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I heard
that Vasudeva and Bhishma the son of Santanu were the counsellors of the
Pandavas and Drona the son of Bharadwaja pronounced blessings on them,
then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When Kama said unto Bhishma--I
will not fight when thou art fighting--and, quitting the army, went away,
then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I heard that Vasudeva and
Arjuna and the bow Gandiva of immeasurable prowess, these three of
dreadful energy had come together, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of
success. When I heard that upon Arjuna having been seized with
compunction on his chariot and ready to sink, Krishna showed him all the
worlds within his body, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I
heard that Bhishma, the desolator of foes, killing ten thousand
charioteers every day in the field of battle, had not slain any amongst
the Pandavas then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I heard that
Bhishma, the righteous son of Ganga, had himself indicated the means of
his defeat in the field of battle and that the same were accomplished by
the Pandavas with joyfulness, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success.
When I heard that Arjuna, having placed Sikhandin before himself in his
chariot, had wounded Bhishma of infinite courage and invincible in
battle, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I heard that the
aged hero Bhishma, having reduced the numbers of the race of shomaka to a
few, overcome with various wounds was lying on a bed of arrows, then, O
Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I heard that upon Bhishma’s lying
on the ground with thirst for water, Arjuna, being requested, had pierced
the ground and allayed his thirst, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of
success. When Bayu together with Indra and Suryya united as allies for
the success of the sons of Kunti, and the beasts of prey (by their
inauspicious presence) were putting us in fear, then, O Sanjaya, I had no
hope of success. When the wonderful warrior Drona, displaying various
modes of fight in the field, did not slay any of the superior Pandavas,
then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I heard that the
Maharatha Sansaptakas of our army appointed for the overthrow of Arjuna
were all slain by Arjuna himself, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of
success. When I heard that our disposition of forces, impenetrable by
others, and defended by Bharadwaja himself well-armed, had been singly
forced and entered by the brave son of Subhadra, then, O Sanjaya, I had
no hope of success. When I heard that our Maharathas, unable to overcome
Arjuna, with jubilant faces after having jointly surrounded and slain the
boy Abhimanyu, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I heard
that the blind Kauravas were shouting for joy after having slain
Abhimanyu and that thereupon Arjuna in anger made his celebrated speech
referring to Saindhava, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I
heard that Arjuna had vowed the death of Saindhava and fulfilled his vow
in the presence of his enemies, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of
success. When I heard that upon the horses of Arjuna being fatigued,
Vasudeva releasing them made them drink water and bringing them back and
reharnessing them continued to guide them as before, then, O Sanjaya, I
had no hope of success. When I heard that while his horses were fatigued,
Arjuna staying in his chariot checked all his assailants, then, O
Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I heard that Yuyudhana of the
race of Vrishni, after having thrown into confusion the army of Drona
rendered unbearable in prowess owing to the presence of elephants,
retired to where Krishna and Arjuna were, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope
of success. When I heard that Karna even though he had got Bhima within
his power allowed him to escape after only addressing him in contemptuous
terms and dragging him with the end of his bow, then, O Sanjaya, I had no
hope of success. When I heard that Drona, Kritavarma, Kripa, Karna, the
son of Drona, and the valiant king of Madra (Salya) suffered Saindhava to
be slain, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I heard that
the celestial Sakti given by Indra (to Karna) was by Madhava’s
machinations caused to be hurled upon Rakshasa Ghatotkacha of frightful
countenance, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I heard that
in the encounter between Karna and Ghatotkacha, that Sakti was hurled
against Ghatotkacha by Karna, the same which was certainly to have slain
Arjuna in battle, then, O Sanjaya. I had no hope of success. When I heard
that Dhristadyumna, transgressing the laws of battle, slew Drona while
alone in his chariot and resolved on death, then, O Sanjaya, I had no
hope of success. When I heard that Nakula. the son of Madri, having in
the presence of the whole army engaged in single combat with the son of
Drona and showing himself equal to him drove his chariot in circles
around, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When upon the death of
Drona, his son misused the weapon called Narayana but failed to achieve
the destruction of the Pandavas, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of
success. When I heard that Bhimasena drank the blood of his brother
Duhsasana in the field of battle without anybody being able to prevent
him, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I heard that the
infinitely brave Karna, invincible in battle, was slain by Arjuna in that
war of brothers mysterious even to the gods, then, O Sanjaya, I had no
hope of success. When I heard that Yudhishthira, the Just, overcame the
heroic son of Drona, Duhsasana, and the fierce Kritavarman, then, O
Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I heard that the brave king of
Madra who ever dared Krishna in battle was slain by Yudhishthira, then, O
Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I heard that the wicked Suvala of
magic power, the root of the gaming and the feud, was slain in battle by
Sahadeva, the son of Pandu, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success.
When I heard that Duryodhana, spent with fatigue, having gone to a lake
and made a refuge for himself within its waters, was lying there alone,
his strength gone and without a chariot, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope
of success. When I heard that the Pandavas having gone to that lake
accompanied by Vasudeva and standing on its beach began to address
contemptuously my son who was incapable of putting up with affronts,
then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I heard that while,
displaying in circles a variety of curious modes (of attack and defence)
in an encounter with clubs, he was unfairly slain according to the
counsels of Krishna, then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I
heard the son of Drona and others by slaying the Panchalas and the sons
of Draupadi in their sleep, perpetrated a horrible and infamous deed,
then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I heard that Aswatthaman
while being pursued by Bhimasena had discharged the first of weapons
called Aishika, by which the embryo in the womb (of Uttara) was wounded,
then, O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I heard that the weapon
Brahmashira (discharged by Aswatthaman) was repelled by Arjuna with
another weapon over which he had pronounced the word “Sasti” and that
Aswatthaman had to give up the jewel-like excrescence on his head, then,
O Sanjaya, I had no hope of success. When I heard that upon the embryo in
the womb of Virata’s daughter being wounded by Aswatthaman with a mighty
weapon, Dwaipayana and Krishna pronounced curses on him, then, O Sanjaya,
I had no hope of success.

‘Alas! Gandhari, destitute of children, grand-children, parents,
brothers, and kindred, is to be pitied. Difficult is the task that hath
been performed by the Pandavas: by them hath a kingdom been recovered
without a rival.

‘Alas! I have heard that the war hath left only ten alive: three of our
side, and the Pandavas, seven, in that dreadful conflict eighteen
Akshauhinis of Kshatriyas have been slain! All around me is utter
darkness, and a fit of swoon assaileth me: consciousness leaves me, O
Suta, and my mind is distracted.”

“Sauti said, ‘Dhritarashtra, bewailing his fate in these words, was
overcome with extreme anguish and for a time deprived of sense; but being
revived, he addressed Sanjaya in the following words.

“After what hath come to pass, O Sanjaya, I wish to put an end to my life
without delay; I do not find the least advantage in cherishing it any

“Sauti said, ‘The wise son of Gavalgana (Sanjaya) then addressed the
distressed lord of Earth while thus talking and bewailing, sighing like a
serpent and repeatedly tainting, in words of deep import.

“Thou hast heard, O Raja, of the greatly powerful men of vast exertions,
spoken of by Vyasa and the wise Narada; men born of great royal families,
resplendent with worthy qualities, versed in the science of celestial
arms, and in glory emblems of Indra; men who having conquered the world
by justice and performed sacrifices with fit offerings (to the
Brahmanas), obtained renown in this world and at last succumbed to the
sway of time. Such were Saivya; the valiant Maharatha; Srinjaya, great
amongst conquerors. Suhotra; Rantideva, and Kakshivanta, great in glory;
Valhika, Damana, Saryati, Ajita, and Nala; Viswamitra the destroyer of
foes; Amvarisha, great in strength; Marutta, Manu, Ikshaku, Gaya, and
Bharata; Rama the son of Dasaratha; Sasavindu, and Bhagiratha;
Kritavirya, the greatly fortunate, and Janamejaya too; and Yayati of good
deeds who performed sacrifices, being assisted therein by the celestials
themselves, and by whose sacrificial altars and stakes this earth with
her habited and uninhabited regions hath been marked all over. These
twenty-four Rajas were formerly spoken of by the celestial Rishi Narada
unto Saivya when much afflicted for the loss of his children. Besides
these, other Rajas had gone before, still more powerful than they, mighty
charioteers noble in mind, and resplendent with every worthy quality.
These were Puru, Kuru, Yadu, Sura and Viswasrawa of great glory; Anuha,
Yuvanaswu, Kakutstha, Vikrami, and Raghu; Vijava, Virihorta, Anga, Bhava,
Sweta, and Vripadguru; Usinara, Sata-ratha, Kanka, Duliduha, and Druma;
Dambhodbhava, Para, Vena, Sagara, Sankriti, and Nimi; Ajeya, Parasu,
Pundra, Sambhu, and holy Deva-Vridha; Devahuya, Supratika, and
Vrihad-ratha; Mahatsaha, Vinitatma, Sukratu, and Nala, the king of the
Nishadas; Satyavrata, Santabhaya, Sumitra, and the chief Subala;
Janujangha, Anaranya, Arka, Priyabhritya, Chuchi-vrata, Balabandhu,
Nirmardda, Ketusringa, and Brhidbala; Dhrishtaketu, Brihatketu,
Driptaketu, and Niramaya; Abikshit, Chapala, Dhurta, Kritbandhu, and
Dridhe-shudhi; Mahapurana-sambhavya, Pratyanga, Paraha and Sruti. These,
O chief, and other Rajas, we hear enumerated by hundreds and by
thousands, and still others by millions, princes of great power and
wisdom, quitting very abundant enjoyments met death as thy sons have
done! Their heavenly deeds, valour, and generosity, their magnanimity,
faith, truth, purity, simplicity and mercy, are published to the world in
the records of former times by sacred bards of great learning. Though
endued with every noble virtue, these have yielded up their lives. Thy
sons were malevolent, inflamed with passion, avaricious, and of very
evil-disposition. Thou art versed in the Sastras, O Bharata, and art
intelligent and wise; they never sink under misfortunes whose
understandings are guided by the Sastras. Thou art acquainted, O prince,
with the lenity and severity of fate; this anxiety therefore for the
safety of thy children is unbecoming. Moreover, it behoveth thee not to
grieve for that which must happen: for who can avert, by his wisdom, the
decrees of fate? No one can leave the way marked out for him by
Providence. Existence and non-existence, pleasure and pain all have Time
for their root. Time createth all things and Time destroyeth all
creatures. It is Time that burneth creatures and it is Time that
extinguisheth the fire. All states, the good and the evil, in the three
worlds, are caused by Time. Time cutteth short all things and createth
them anew. Time alone is awake when all things are asleep: indeed, Time
is incapable of being overcome. Time passeth over all things without
being retarded. Knowing, as thou dost, that all things past and future
and all that exist at the present moment, are the offspring of Time, it
behoveth thee not to throw away thy reason.’

“Sauti said, ‘The son of Gavalgana having in this manner administered
comfort to the royal Dhritarashtra overwhelmed with grief for his sons,
then restored his mind to peace. Taking these facts for his subject,
Dwaipayana composed a holy Upanishad that has been published to the world
by learned and sacred bards in the Puranas composed by them.

“The study of the Bharata is an act of piety. He that readeth even one
foot, with belief, hath his sins entirely purged away. Herein Devas,
Devarshis, and immaculate Brahmarshis of good deeds, have been spoken of;
and likewise Yakshas and great Uragas (Nagas). Herein also hath been
described the eternal Vasudeva possessing the six attributes. He is the
true and just, the pure and holy, the eternal Brahma, the supreme soul,
the true constant light, whose divine deeds wise and learned recount;
from whom hath proceeded the non-existent and existent-non-existent
universe with principles of generation and progression, and birth, death
and re-birth. That also hath been treated of which is called Adhyatma
(the superintending spirit of nature) that partaketh of the attributes of
the five elements. That also hath been described who is purusha being
above such epithets as ‘undisplayed’ and the like; also that which the
foremost yatis exempt from the common destiny and endued with the power
of meditation and Tapas behold dwelling in their hearts as a reflected
image in the mirror.

“The man of faith, devoted to piety, and constant in the exercise of
virtue, on reading this section is freed from sin. The believer that
constantly heareth recited this section of the Bharata, called the
Introduction, from the beginning, falleth not into difficulties. The man
repeating any part of the introduction in the two twilights is during
such act freed from the sins contracted during the day or the night. This
section, the body of the Bharata, is truth and nectar. As butter is in
curd, Brahmana among bipeds, the Aranyaka among the Vedas, and nectar
among medicines; as the sea is eminent among receptacles of water, and
the cow among quadrupeds; as are these (among the things mentioned) so is
the Bharata said to be among histories.

“He that causeth it, even a single foot thereof, to be recited to
Brahmanas during a Sradha, his offerings of food and drink to the manes
of his ancestors become inexhaustible.

“By the aid of history and the Puranas, the Veda may be expounded; but
the Veda is afraid of one of little information lest he should it. The
learned man who recites to other this Veda of Vyasa reapeth advantage. It
may without doubt destroy even the sin of killing the embryo and the
like. He that readeth this holy chapter of the moon, readeth the whole of
the Bharata, I ween. The man who with reverence daily listeneth to this
sacred work acquireth long life and renown and ascendeth to heaven.

“In former days, having placed the four Vedas on one side and the Bharata
on the other, these were weighed in the balance by the celestials
assembled for that purpose. And as the latter weighed heavier than the
four Vedas with their mysteries, from that period it hath been called in
the world Mahabharata (the great Bharata). Being esteemed superior both
in substance and gravity of import it is denominated Mahabharata on
account of such substance and gravity of import. He that knoweth its
meaning is saved from all his sins.

‘Tapa is innocent, study is harmless, the ordinance of the Vedas
prescribed for all the tribes are harmless, the acquisition of wealth by
exertion is harmless; but when they are abused in their practices it is
then that they become sources of evil.’”


“The Rishis said, ‘O son of Suta, we wish to hear a full and
circumstantial account of the place mentioned by you as Samanta-panchaya.’

“Sauti said, ‘Listen, O ye Brahmanas, to the sacred descriptions I utter
O ye best of men, ye deserve to hear of the place known as
Samanta-panchaka. In the interval between the Treta and Dwapara Yugas,
Rama (the son of Jamadagni) great among all who have borne arms, urged by
impatience of wrongs, repeatedly smote the noble race of Kshatriyas. And
when that fiery meteor, by his own valour, annihilated the entire tribe
of the Kshatriyas, he formed at Samanta-panchaka five lakes of blood. We
are told that his reason being overpowered by anger he offered oblations
of blood to the manes of his ancestors, standing in the midst of the
sanguine waters of those lakes. It was then that his forefathers of whom
Richika was the first having arrived there addressed him thus, ‘O Rama, O
blessed Rama, O offspring of Bhrigu, we have been gratified with the
reverence thou hast shown for thy ancestors and with thy valour, O mighty
one! Blessings be upon thee. O thou illustrious one, ask the boon that
thou mayst desire.’

“Rama said, ‘If, O fathers, ye are favourably disposed towards me, the
boon I ask is that I may be absolved from the sins born of my having
annihilated the Kshatriyas in anger, and that the lakes I have formed may
become famous in the world as holy shrines.’ The Pitris then said, ‘So
shall it be. But be thou pacified.’ And Rama was pacified accordingly.
The region that lieth near unto those lakes of gory water, from that time
hath been celebrated as Samanta-panchaka the holy. The wise have declared
that every country should be distinguished by a name significant of some
circumstance which may have rendered it famous. In the interval between
the Dwapara and the Kali Yugas there happened at Samanta-panchaka the
encounter between the armies of the Kauravas and the Pandavas. In that
holy region, without ruggedness of any kind, were assembled eighteen
Akshauhinis of soldiers eager for battle. And, O Brahmanas, having come
thereto, they were all slain on the spot. Thus the name of that region, O
Brahmanas, hath been explained, and the country described to you as a
sacred and delightful one. I have mentioned the whole of what relateth to
it as the region is celebrated throughout the three worlds.’

“The Rishis said, ‘We have a desire to know, O son of Suta, what is
implied by the term Akshauhini that hath been used by thee. Tell us in
full what is the number of horse and foot, chariots and elephants, which
compose an Akshauhini for thou art fully informed.’

“Sauti said, ‘One chariot, one elephant, five foot-soldiers, and three
horses form one Patti; three pattis make one Sena-mukha; three
sena-mukhas are called a Gulma; three gulmas, a Gana; three ganas, a
Vahini; three vahinis together are called a Pritana; three pritanas form
a Chamu; three chamus, one Anikini; and an anikini taken ten times forms,
as it is styled by those who know, an Akshauhini. O ye best of Brahmanas,
arithmeticians have calculated that the number of chariots in an
Akshauhini is twenty-one thousand eight hundred and seventy. The measure
of elephants must be fixed at the same number. O ye pure, you must know
that the number of foot-soldiers is one hundred and nine thousand, three
hundred and fifty, the number of horse is sixty-five thousand, six
hundred and ten. These, O Brahmanas, as fully explained by me, are the
numbers of an Akshauhini as said by those acquainted with the principles
of numbers. O best of Brahmanas, according to this calculation were
composed the eighteen Akshauhinis of the Kaurava and the Pandava army.
Time, whose acts are wonderful assembled them on that spot and having
made the Kauravas the cause, destroyed them all. Bhishma acquainted with
choice of weapons, fought for ten days. Drona protected the Kaurava
Vahinis for five days. Kama the desolator of hostile armies fought for
two days; and Salya for half a day. After that lasted for half a day the
encounter with clubs between Duryodhana and Bhima. At the close of that
day, Aswatthaman and Kripa destroyed the army of Yudishthira in the night
while sleeping without suspicion of danger.

‘O Saunaka, this best of narrations called Bharata which has begun to be
repeated at thy sacrifice, was formerly repeated at the sacrifice of
Janamejaya by an intelligent disciple of Vyasa. It is divided into
several sections; in the beginning are Paushya, Pauloma, and Astika
parvas, describing in full the valour and renown of kings. It is a work
whose description, diction, and sense are varied and wonderful. It
contains an account of various manners and rites. It is accepted by the
wise, as the state called Vairagya is by men desirous of final release.
As Self among things to be known, as life among things that are dear, so
is this history that furnisheth the means of arriving at the knowledge of
Brahma the first among all the sastras. There is not a story current in
this world but doth depend upon this history even as the body upon the
foot that it taketh. As masters of good lineage are ever attended upon by
servants desirous of preferment so is the Bharata cherished by all poets.
As the words constituting the several branches of knowledge appertaining
to the world and the Veda display only vowels and consonants, so this
excellent history displayeth only the highest wisdom.

‘Listen, O ye ascetics, to the outlines of the several divisions (parvas)
of this history called Bharata, endued with great wisdom, of sections and
feet that are wonderful and various, of subtile meanings and logical
connections, and embellished with the substance of the Vedas.

‘The first parva is called Anukramanika; the second, Sangraha; then
Paushya; then Pauloma; the Astika; then Adivansavatarana. Then comes the
Sambhava of wonderful and thrilling incidents. Then comes Jatugrihadaha
(setting fire to the house of lac) and then Hidimbabadha (the killing of
Hidimba) parvas; then comes Baka-badha (slaughter of Baka) and then
Chitraratha. The next is called Swayamvara (selection of husband by
Panchali), in which Arjuna by the exercise of Kshatriya virtues, won
Draupadi for wife. Then comes Vaivahika (marriage). Then comes
Viduragamana (advent of Vidura), Rajyalabha (acquirement of kingdom),
Arjuna-banavasa (exile of Arjuna) and Subhadra-harana (the carrying away
of Subhadra). After these come Harana-harika, Khandava-daha (the burning
of the Khandava forest) and Maya-darsana (meeting with Maya the Asura
architect). Then come Sabha, Mantra, Jarasandha, Digvijaya (general
campaign). After Digvijaya come Raja-suyaka, Arghyaviharana (the robbing
of the Arghya) and Sisupala-badha (the killing of Sisupala). After these,
Dyuta (gambling), Anudyuta (subsequent to gambling), Aranyaka, and
Krimira-badha (destruction of Krimira). The Arjuna-vigamana (the travels
of Arjuna), Kairati. In the last hath been described the battle between
Arjuna and Mahadeva in the guise of a hunter. After this
Indra-lokavigamana (the journey to the regions of Indra); then that mine
of religion and virtue, the highly pathetic Nalopakhyana (the story of
Nala). After this last, Tirtha-yatra or the pilgrimage of the wise prince
of the Kurus, the death of Jatasura, and the battle of the Yakshas. Then
the battle with the Nivata-kavachas, Ajagara, and Markandeya-Samasya
(meeting with Markandeya). Then the meeting of Draupadi and Satyabhama,
Ghoshayatra, Mirga-Swapna (dream of the deer). Then the story of
Brihadaranyaka and then Aindradrumna. Then Draupadi-harana (the abduction
of Draupadi), Jayadratha-bimoksana (the release of Jayadratha). Then the
story of ‘Savitri’ illustrating the great merit of connubial chastity.
After this last, the story of ‘Rama’. The parva that comes next is called
‘Kundala-harana’ (the theft of the ear-rings). That which comes next is
‘Aranya’ and then ‘Vairata’. Then the entry of the Pandavas and the
fulfilment of their promise (of living unknown for one year). Then the
destruction of the ‘Kichakas’, then the attempt to take the kine (of
Virata by the Kauravas). The next is called the marriage of Abhimanyu
with the daughter of Virata. The next you must know is the most wonderful
parva called Udyoga. The next must be known by the name of ‘Sanjaya-yana’
(the arrival of Sanjaya). Then comes ‘Prajagara’ (the sleeplessness of
Dhritarashtra owing to his anxiety). Then Sanatsujata, in which are the
mysteries of spiritual philosophy. Then ‘Yanasaddhi’, and then the
arrival of Krishna. Then the story of ‘Matali’ and then of ‘Galava’. Then
the stories of ‘Savitri’, ‘Vamadeva’, and ‘Vainya’. Then the story of
‘Jamadagnya and Shodasarajika’. Then the arrival of Krishna at the court,
and then Bidulaputrasasana. Then the muster of troops and the story of
Sheta. Then, must you know, comes the quarrel of the high-souled Karna.
Then the march to the field of the troops of both sides. The next hath
been called numbering the Rathis and Atirathas. Then comes the arrival of
the messenger Uluka which kindled the wrath (of the Pandavas). The next
that comes, you must know, is the story of Amba. Then comes the thrilling
story of the installation of Bhishma as commander-in-chief. The next is
called the creation of the insular region Jambu; then Bhumi; then the
account about the formation of islands. Then comes the ‘Bhagavat-gita’;
and then the death of Bhishma. Then the installation of Drona; then the
destruction of the ‘Sansaptakas’. Then the death of Abhimanyu; and then
the vow of Arjuna (to slay Jayadratha). Then the death of Jayadratha, and
then of Ghatotkacha. Then, must you know, comes the story of the death of
Drona of surprising interest. The next that comes is called the discharge
of the weapon called Narayana. Then, you know, is Karna, and then Salya.
Then comes the immersion in the lake, and then the encounter (between
Bhima and Duryodhana) with clubs. Then comes Saraswata, and then the
descriptions of holy shrines, and then genealogies. Then comes Sauptika
describing incidents disgraceful (to the honour of the Kurus). Then comes
the ‘Aisika’ of harrowing incidents. Then comes ‘Jalapradana’ oblations
of water to the manes of the deceased, and then the wailings of the
women. The next must be known as ‘Sraddha’ describing the funeral rites
performed for the slain Kauravas. Then comes the destruction of the
Rakshasa Charvaka who had assumed the disguise of a Brahmana (for
deceiving Yudhishthira). Then the coronation of the wise Yudhishthira.
The next is called the ‘Grihapravibhaga’. Then comes ‘Santi’, then
‘Rajadharmanusasana’, then ‘Apaddharma’, then ‘Mokshadharma’. Those that
follow are called respectively ‘Suka-prasna-abhigamana’,
‘Brahma-prasnanusana’, the origin of ‘Durvasa’, the disputations with
Maya. The next is to be known as ‘Anusasanika’. Then the ascension of
Bhishma to heaven. Then the horse-sacrifice, which when read purgeth all
sins away. The next must be known as the ‘Anugita’ in which are words of
spiritual philosophy. Those that follow are called ‘Asramvasa’,
‘Puttradarshana’ (meeting with the spirits of the deceased sons), and the
arrival of Narada. The next is called ‘Mausala’ which abounds with
terrible and cruel incidents. Then comes ‘Mahaprasthanika’ and ascension
to heaven. Then comes the Purana which is called Khilvansa. In this last
are contained ‘Vishnuparva’, Vishnu’s frolics and feats as a child, the
destruction of ‘Kansa’, and lastly, the very wonderful ‘Bhavishyaparva’
(in which there are prophecies regarding the future).

The high-souled Vyasa composed these hundred parvas of which the above is
only an abridgement: having distributed them into eighteen, the son of
Suta recited them consecutively in the forest of Naimisha as follows:

‘In the Adi parva are contained Paushya, Pauloma, Astika, Adivansavatara,
Samva, the burning of the house of lac, the slaying of Hidimba, the
destruction of the Asura Vaka, Chitraratha, the Swayamvara of Draupadi,
her marriage after the overthrow of rivals in war, the arrival of Vidura,
the restoration, Arjuna’s exile, the abduction of Subhadra, the gift and
receipt of the marriage dower, the burning of the Khandava forest, and
the meeting with (the Asura-architect) Maya. The Paushya parva treats of
the greatness of Utanka, and the Pauloma, of the sons of Bhrigu. The
Astika describes the birth of Garuda and of the Nagas (snakes), the
churning of the ocean, the incidents relating to the birth of the
celestial steed Uchchaihsrava, and finally, the dynasty of Bharata, as
described in the Snake-sacrifice of king Janamejaya. The Sambhava parva
narrates the birth of various kings and heroes, and that of the sage,
Krishna Dwaipayana: the partial incarnations of deities, the generation
of Danavas and Yakshas of great prowess, and serpents, Gandharvas, birds,
and of all creatures; and lastly, of the life and adventures of king
Bharata--the progenitor of the line that goes by his name--the son born
of Sakuntala in the hermitage of the ascetic Kanwa. This parva also
describes the greatness of Bhagirathi, and the births of the Vasus in the
house of Santanu and their ascension to heaven. In this parva is also
narrated the birth of Bhishma uniting in himself portions of the energies
of the other Vasus, his renunciation of royalty and adoption of the
Brahmacharya mode of life, his adherence to his vows, his protection of
Chitrangada, and after the death of Chitrangada, his protection of his
younger brother, Vichitravirya, and his placing the latter on the throne:
the birth of Dharma among men in consequence of the curse of Animondavya;
the births of Dhritarashtra and Pandu through the potency of Vyasa’s
blessings (?) and also the birth of the Pandavas; the plottings of
Duryodhana to send the sons of Pandu to Varanavata, and the other dark
counsels of the sons of Dhritarashtra in regard to the Pandavas; then the
advice administered to Yudhishthira on his way by that well-wisher of the
Pandavas--Vidura--in the mlechchha language--the digging of the hole, the
burning of Purochana and the sleeping woman of the fowler caste, with her
five sons, in the house of lac; the meeting of the Pandavas in the
dreadful forest with Hidimba, and the slaying of her brother Hidimba by
Bhima of great prowess. The birth of Ghatotkacha; the meeting of the
Pandavas with Vyasa and in accordance with his advice their stay in
disguise in the house of a Brahmana in the city of Ekachakra; the
destruction of the Asura Vaka, and the amazement of the populace at the
sight; the extra-ordinary births of Krishna and Dhrishtadyumna; the
departure of the Pandavas for Panchala in obedience to the injunction of
Vyasa, and moved equally by the desire of winning the hand of Draupadi on
learning the tidings of the Swayamvara from the lips of a Brahmana;
victory of Arjuna over a Gandharva, called Angaraparna, on the banks of
the Bhagirathi, his contraction of friendship with his adversary, and his
hearing from the Gandharva the history of Tapati, Vasishtha and Aurva.
This parva treats of the journey of the Pandavas towards Panchala, the
acquisition of Draupadi in the midst of all the Rajas, by Arjuna, after
having successfully pierced the mark; and in the ensuing fight, the
defeat of Salya, Kama, and all the other crowned heads at the hands of
Bhima and Arjuna of great prowess; the ascertainment by Balarama and
Krishna, at the sight of these matchless exploits, that the heroes were
the Pandavas, and the arrival of the brothers at the house of the potter
where the Pandavas were staying; the dejection of Drupada on learning
that Draupadi was to be wedded to five husbands; the wonderful story of
the five Indras related in consequence; the extraordinary and
divinely-ordained wedding of Draupadi; the sending of Vidura by the sons
of Dhritarashtra as envoy to the Pandavas; the arrival of Vidura and his
sight to Krishna; the abode of the Pandavas in Khandava-prastha, and then
their rule over one half of the kingdom; the fixing of turns by the sons
of Pandu, in obedience to the injunction of Narada, for connubial
companionship with Krishna. In like manner hath the history of Sunda and
Upasunda been recited in this. This parva then treats of the departure of
Arjuna for the forest according to the vow, he having seen Draupadi and
Yudhishthira sitting together as he entered the chamber to take out arms
for delivering the kine of a certain Brahmana. This parva then describes
Arjuna’s meeting on the way with Ulupi, the daughter of a Naga (serpent);
it then relates his visits to several sacred spots; the birth of
Vabhruvahana; the deliverance by Arjuna of the five celestial damsels who
had been turned into alligators by the imprecation of a Brahmana, the
meeting of Madhava and Arjuna on the holy spot called Prabhasa; the
carrying away of Subhadra by Arjuna, incited thereto by her brother
Krishna, in the wonderful car moving on land and water, and through
mid-air, according to the wish of the rider; the departure for
Indraprastha, with the dower; the conception in the womb of Subhadra of
that prodigy of prowess, Abhimanyu; Yajnaseni’s giving birth to children;
then follows the pleasure-trip of Krishna and Arjuna to the banks of the
Jamuna and the acquisition by them of the discus and the celebrated bow
Gandiva; the burning of the forest of Khandava; the rescue of Maya by
Arjuna, and the escape of the serpent,--and the begetting of a son by
that best of Rishis, Mandapala, in the womb of the bird Sarngi. This
parva is divided by Vyasa into two hundred and twenty-seven chapters.
These two hundred and twenty-seven chapters contain eight thousand eight
hundred and eighty-four slokas.

The second is the extensive parva called Sabha or the assembly, full of
matter. The subjects of this parva are the establishment of the grand
hall by the Pandavas; their review of their retainers; the description of
the lokapalas by Narada well-acquainted with the celestial regions; the
preparations for the Rajasuya sacrifice; the destruction of Jarasandha;
the deliverance by Vasudeva of the princes confined in the mountain-pass;
the campaign of universal conquest by the Pandavas; the arrival of the
princes at the Rajasuya sacrifice with tribute; the destruction of
Sisupala on the occasion of the sacrifice, in connection with offering of
arghya; Bhimasena’s ridicule of Duryodhana in the assembly; Duryodhana’s
sorrow and envy at the sight of the magnificent scale on which the
arrangements had been made; the indignation of Duryodhana in consequence,
and the preparations for the game of dice; the defeat of Yudhishthira at
play by the wily Sakuni; the deliverance by Dhritarashtra of his
afflicted daughter-in-law Draupadi plunged in the sea of distress caused
by the gambling, as of a boat tossed about by the tempestuous waves. The
endeavours of Duryodhana to engage Yudhishthira again in the game; and
the exile of the defeated Yudhishthira with his brothers. These
constitute what has been called by the great Vyasa the Sabha Parva. This
parva is divided into seventh-eight sections, O best of Brahmanas, of two
thousand, five hundred and seven slokas.

Then comes the third parva called Aranyaka (relating to the forest) This
parva treats of the wending of the Pandavas to the forest and the
citizens, following the wise Yudhishthira, Yudhishthira’s adoration of
the god of day; according to the injunctions of Dhaumya, to be gifted
with the power of maintaining the dependent Brahmanas with food and
drink: the creation of food through the grace of the Sun: the expulsion
by Dhritarashtra of Vidura who always spoke for his master’s good;
Vidura’s coming to the Pandavas and his return to Dhritarashtra at the
solicitation of the latter; the wicked Duryodhana’s plottings to destroy
the forest-ranging Pandavas, being incited thereto by Karna; the
appearance of Vyasa and his dissuasion of Duryodhana bent on going to the
forest; the history of Surabhi; the arrival of Maitreya; his laying down
to Dhritarashtra the course of action; and his curse on Duryodhana;
Bhima’s slaying of Kirmira in battle; the coming of the Panchalas and the
princes of the Vrishni race to Yudhishthira on hearing of his defeat at
the unfair gambling by Sakuni; Dhananjaya’s allaying the wrath of
Krishna; Draupadi’s lamentations before Madhava; Krishna’s cheering her;
the fall of Sauva also has been here described by the Rishi; also
Krishna’s bringing Subhadra with her son to Dwaraka; and Dhrishtadyumna’s
bringing the son of Draupadi to Panchala; the entrance of the sons of
Pandu into the romantic Dwaita wood; conversation of Bhima, Yudhishthira,
and Draupadi; the coming of Vyasa to the Pandavas and his endowing
Yudhishthira with the power of Pratismriti; then, after the departure of
Vyasa, the removal of the Pandavas to the forest of Kamyaka; the
wanderings of Arjuna of immeasurable prowess in search of weapons; his
battle with Mahadeva in the guise of a hunter; his meeting with the
lokapalas and receipt of weapons from them; his journey to the regions of
Indra for arms and the consequent anxiety of Dhritarashtra; the wailings
and lamentations of Yudhishthira on the occasion of his meeting with the
worshipful great sage Brihadaswa. Here occurs the holy and highly
pathetic story of Nala illustrating the patience of Damayanti and the
character of Nala. Then the acquirement by Yudhishthira of the mysteries
of dice from the same great sage; then the arrival of the Rishi Lomasa
from the heavens to where the Pandavas were, and the receipt by these
high-souled dwellers in the woods of the intelligence brought by the
Rishi of their brother Arjuna staving in the heavens; then the pilgrimage
of the Pandavas to various sacred spots in accordance with the message of
Arjuna, and their attainment of great merit and virtue consequent on such
pilgrimage; then the pilgrimage of the great sage Narada to the shrine
Putasta; also the pilgrimage of the high-souled Pandavas. Here is the
deprivation of Karna of his ear-rings by Indra. Here also is recited the
sacrificial magnificence of Gaya; then the story of Agastya in which the
Rishi ate up the Asura Vatapi, and his connubial connection with
Lopamudra from the desire of offspring. Then the story of Rishyasringa
who adopted Brahmacharya mode of life from his very boyhood; then the
history of Rama of great prowess, the son of Jamadagni, in which has been
narrated the death of Kartavirya and the Haihayas; then the meeting
between the Pandavas and the Vrishnis in the sacred spot called Prabhasa;
then the story of Su-kanya in which Chyavana, the son of Bhrigu, made the
twins, Aswinis, drink, at the sacrifice of king Saryati, the Soma juice
(from which they had been excluded by the other gods), and in which
besides is shown how Chyavana himself acquired perpetual youth (as a boon
from the grateful Aswinis). Then hath been described the history of king
Mandhata; then the history of prince Jantu; and how king Somaka by
offering up his only son (Jantu) in sacrifice obtained a hundred others;
then the excellent history of the hawk and the pigeon; then the
examination of king Sivi by Indra, Agni, and Dharma; then the story of
Ashtavakra, in which occurs the disputation, at the sacrifice of Janaka,
between that Rishi and the first of logicians, Vandi, the son of Varuna;
the defeat of Vandi by the great Ashtavakra, and the release by the Rishi
of his father from the depths of the ocean. Then the story of Yavakrita,
and then that of the great Raivya: then the departure (of the Pandavas)
for Gandhamadana and their abode in the asylum called Narayana; then
Bhimasena’s journey to Gandhamadana at the request of Draupadi (in search
of the sweet-scented flower). Bhima’s meeting on his way, in a grove of
bananas, with Hanuman, the son of Pavana of great prowess; Bhima’s bath
in the tank and the destruction of the flowers therein for obtaining the
sweet-scented flower (he was in search of); his consequent battle with
the mighty Rakshasas and the Yakshas of great prowess including Hanuman;
the destruction of the Asura Jata by Bhima; the meeting (of the Pandavas)
with the royal sage Vrishaparva; their departure for the asylum of
Arshtishena and abode therein: the incitement of Bhima (to acts of
vengeance) by Draupadi. Then is narrated the ascent on the hills of
Kailasa by Bhimasena, his terrific battle with the mighty Yakshas headed
by Hanuman; then the meeting of the Pandavas with Vaisravana (Kuvera),
and the meeting with Arjuna after he had obtained for the purpose of
Yudhishthira many celestial weapons; then Arjuna’s terrible encounter
with the Nivatakavachas dwelling in Hiranyaparva, and also with the
Paulomas, and the Kalakeyas; their destruction at the hands of Arjuna;
the commencement of the display of the celestial weapons by Arjuna before
Yudhishthira, the prevention of the same by Narada; the descent of the
Pandavas from Gandhamadana; the seizure of Bhima in the forest by a
mighty serpent huge as the mountain; his release from the coils of the
snake, upon Yudhishthira’s answering certain questions; the return of the
Pandavas to the Kamyaka woods. Here is described the reappearance of
Vasudeva to see the mighty sons of Pandu; the arrival of Markandeya, and
various recitals, the history of Prithu the son of Vena recited by the
great Rishi; the stories of Saraswati and the Rishi Tarkhya. After these,
is the story of Matsya; other old stories recited by Markandeya; the
stories of Indradyumna and Dhundhumara; then the history of the chaste
wife; the history of Angira, the meeting and conversation of Draupadi and
Satyabhama; the return of the Pandavas to the forest of Dwaita; then the
procession to see the calves and the captivity of Duryodhana; and when
the wretch was being carried off, his rescue by Arjuna; here is
Yudhishthira’s dream of the deer; then the re-entry of the Pandavas into
the Kamyaka forest, here also is the long story of Vrihidraunika. Here
also is recited the story of Durvasa; then the abduction by Jayadratha of
Draupadi from the asylum; the pursuit of the ravisher by Bhima swift as
the air and the ill-shaving of Jayadratha’s crown at Bhima’s hand. Here
is the long history of Rama in which is shown how Rama by his prowess
slew Ravana in battle. Here also is narrated the story of Savitri; then
Karna’s deprivation by Indra of his ear-rings; then the presentation to
Karna by the gratified Indra of a Sakti (missile weapon) which had the
virtue of killing only one person against whom it might be hurled; then
the story called Aranya in which Dharma (the god of justice) gave advice
to his son (Yudhishthira); in which, besides is recited how the Pandavas
after having obtained a boon went towards the west. These are all
included in the third Parva called Aranyaka, consisting of two hundred
and sixty-nine sections. The number of slokas is eleven thousand, six
hundred and sixty-four.

“The extensive Parva that comes next is called Virata. The Pandavas
arriving at the dominions of Virata saw in a cemetery on the outskirts of
the city a large shami tree whereon they kept their weapons. Here hath
been recited their entry into the city and their stay there in disguise.
Then the slaying by Bhima of the wicked Kichaka who, senseless with lust,
had sought Draupadi; the appointment by prince Duryodhana of clever
spies; and their despatch to all sides for tracing the Pandavas; the
failure of these to discover the mighty sons of Pandu; the first seizure
of Virata’s kine by the Trigartas and the terrific battle that ensued;
the capture of Virata by the enemy and his rescue by Bhimasena; the
release also of the kine by the Pandava (Bhima); the seizure of Virata’s
kine again by the Kurus; the defeat in battle of all the Kurus by the
single-handed Arjuna; the release of the king’s kine; the bestowal by
Virata of his daughter Uttara for Arjuna’s acceptance on behalf of his
son by Subhadra--Abhimanyu--the destroyer of foes. These are the contents
of the extensive fourth Parva--the Virata. The great Rishi Vyasa has
composed in these sixty-seven sections. The number of slokas is two
thousand and fifty.

“Listen then to (the contents of) the fifth Parva which must be known as
Udyoga. While the Pandavas, desirous of victory, were residing in the
place called Upaplavya, Duryodhana and Arjuna both went at the same time
to Vasudeva, and said, “You should render us assistance in this war.” The
high-souled Krishna, upon these words being uttered, replied, “O ye first
of men, a counsellor in myself who will not fight and one Akshauhini of
troops, which of these shall I give to which of you?” Blind to his own
interests, the foolish Duryodhana asked for the troops; while Arjuna
solicited Krishna as an unfighting counsellor. Then is described how,
when the king of Madra was coming for the assistance of the Pandavas,
Duryodhana, having deceived him on the way by presents and hospitality,
induced him to grant a boon and then solicited his assistance in battle;
how Salya, having passed his word to Duryodhana, went to the Pandavas and
consoled them by reciting the history of Indra’s victory (over Vritra).
Then comes the despatch by the Pandavas of their Purohita (priest) to the
Kauravas. Then is described how king Dhritarashtra of great prowess,
having heard the word of the purohita of the Pandavas and the story of
Indra’s victory decided upon sending his purohita and ultimately
despatched Sanjaya as envoy to the Pandavas from desire for peace. Here
hath been described the sleeplessness of Dhritarashtra from anxiety upon
hearing all about the Pandavas and their friends, Vasudeva and others. It
was on this occasion that Vidura addressed to the wise king Dhritarashtra
various counsels that were full of wisdom. It was here also that
Sanat-sujata recited to the anxious and sorrowing monarch the excellent
truths of spiritual philosophy. On the next morning Sanjaya spoke, in the
court of the King, of the identity of Vasudeva and Arjuna. It was then
that the illustrious Krishna, moved by kindness and a desire for peace,
went himself to the Kaurava capital, Hastinapura, for bringing about
peace. Then comes the rejection by prince Duryodhana of the embassy of
Krishna who had come to solicit peace for the benefit of both parties.
Here hath been recited the story of Damvodvava; then the story of the
high-souled Matuli’s search for a husband for his daughter: then the
history of the great sage Galava; then the story of the training and
discipline of the son of Bidula. Then the exhibition by Krishna, before
the assembled Rajas, of his Yoga powers upon learning the evil counsels
of Duryodhana and Karna; then Krishna’s taking Karna in his chariot and
his tendering to him of advice, and Karna’s rejection of the same from
pride. Then the return of Krishna, the chastiser of enemies from
Hastinapura to Upaplavya, and his narration to the Pandavas of all that
had happened. It was then that those oppressors of foes, the Pandavas,
having heard all and consulted properly with each other, made every
preparation for war. Then comes the march from Hastinapura, for battle,
of foot-soldiers, horses, charioteers and elephants. Then the tale of the
troops by both parties. Then the despatch by prince Duryodhana of Uluka
as envoy to the Pandavas on the day previous to the battle. Then the tale
of charioteers of different classes. Then the story of Amba. These all
have been described in the fifth Parva called Udyoga of the Bharata,
abounding with incidents appertaining to war and peace. O ye ascetics,
the great Vyasa hath composed one hundred and eighty-six sections in this
Parva. The number of slokas also composed in this by the great Rishi is
six thousand, six hundred and ninety-eight.

“Then is recited the Bhishma Parva replete with wonderful incidents. In
this hath been narrated by Sanjaya the formation of the region known as
Jambu. Here hath been described the great depression of Yudhishthira’s
army, and also a fierce fight for ten successive days. In this the
high-souled Vasudeva by reasons based on the philosophy of final release
drove away Arjuna’s compunction springing from the latter’s regard for
his kindred (whom he was on the eve of slaying). In this the magnanimous
Krishna, attentive to the welfare of Yudhishthira, seeing the loss
inflicted (on the Pandava army), descended swiftly from his chariot
himself and ran, with dauntless breast, his driving whip in hand, to
effect the death of Bhishma. In this, Krishna also smote with piercing
words Arjuna, the bearer of the Gandiva and the foremost in battle among
all wielders of weapons. In this, the foremost of bowmen, Arjuna, placing
Shikandin before him and piercing Bhishma with his sharpest arrows felled
him from his chariot. In this, Bhishma lay stretched on his bed of
arrows. This extensive Parva is known as the sixth in the Bharata. In
this have been composed one hundred and seventeen sections. The number of
slokas is five thousand, eight hundred and eighty-four as told by Vyasa
conversant with the Vedas.

“Then is recited the wonderful Parva called Drona full of incidents.
First comes the installation in the command of the army of the great
instructor in arms, Drona: then the vow made by that great master of
weapons of seizing the wise Yudhishthira in battle to please Duryodhana;
then the retreat of Arjuna from the field before the Sansaptakas, then
the overthrow of Bhagadatta like to a second Indra in the field, with the
elephant Supritika, by Arjuna; then the death of the hero Abhimanyu in
his teens, alone and unsupported, at the hands of many Maharathas
including Jayadratha; then after the death of Abhimanyu, the destruction
by Arjuna, in battle of seven Akshauhinis of troops and then of
Jayadratha; then the entry, by Bhima of mighty arms and by that foremost
of warriors-in-chariot, Satyaki, into the Kaurava ranks impenetrable even
to the gods, in search of Arjuna in obedience to the orders of
Yudhishthira, and the destruction of the remnant of the Sansaptakas. In
the Drona Parva, is the death of Alambusha, of Srutayus, of Jalasandha,
of Shomadatta, of Virata, of the great warrior-in-chariot Drupada, of
Ghatotkacha and others; in this Parva, Aswatthaman, excited beyond
measure at the fall of his father in battle, discharged the terrible
weapon Narayana. Then the glory of Rudra in connection with the burning
(of the three cities). Then the arrival of Vyasa and recital by him of
the glory of Krishna and Arjuna. This is the great seventh Parva of the
Bharata in which all the heroic chiefs and princes mentioned were sent to
their account. The number of sections in this is one hundred and seventy.
The number of slokas as composed in the Drona Parva by Rishi Vyasa, the
son of Parasara and the possessor of true knowledge after much
meditation, is eight thousand, nine hundred and nine.

“Then comes the most wonderful Parva called Karna. In this is narrated
the appointment of the wise king of Madra as (Karna’s) charioteer. Then
the history of the fall of the Asura Tripura. Then the application to
each other by Karna and Salya of harsh words on their setting out for the
field, then the story of the swan and the crow recited in insulting
allusion: then the death of Pandya at the hands of the high-souled
Aswatthaman; then the death of Dandasena; then that of Darda; then
Yudhishthira’s imminent risk in single combat with Karna in the presence
of all the warriors; then the mutual wrath of Yudhishthira and Arjuna;
then Krishna’s pacification of Arjuna. In this Parva, Bhima, in
fulfilment of his vow, having ripped open Dussasana’s breast in battle
drank the blood of his heart. Then Arjuna slew the great Karna in single
combat. Readers of the Bharata call this the eighth Parva. The number of
sections in this is sixty-nine and the number of slokas is four thousand,
nine hundred and sixty-tour.

“Then hath been recited the wonderful Parva called Salya. After all the
great warriors had been slain, the king of Madra became the leader of the
(Kaurava) army. The encounters one after another, of charioteers, have
been here described. Then comes the fall of the great Salya at the hands
of Yudhishthira, the Just. Here also is the death of Sakuni in battle at
the hands of Sahadeva. Upon only a small remnant of the troops remaining
alive after the immense slaughter, Duryodhana went to the lake and
creating for himself room within its waters lay stretched there for some
time. Then is narrated the receipt of this intelligence by Bhima from the
fowlers: then is narrated how, moved by the insulting speeches of the
intelligent Yudhishthira, Duryodhana ever unable to bear affronts, came
out of the waters. Then comes the encounter with clubs, between
Duryodhana and Bhima; then the arrival, at the time of such encounter, of
Balarama: then is described the sacredness of the Saraswati; then the
progress of the encounter with clubs; then the fracture of Duryodhana’s
thighs in battle by Bhima with (a terrific hurl of) his mace. These all
have been described in the wonderful ninth Parva. In this the number of
sections is fifty-nine and the number of slokas composed by the great
Vyasa--the spreader of the fame of the Kauravas--is three thousand, two
hundred and twenty.

“Then shall I describe the Parva called Sauptika of frightful incidents.
On the Pandavas having gone away, the mighty charioteers, Kritavarman,
Kripa, and the son of Drona, came to the field of battle in the evening
and there saw king Duryodhana lying on the ground, his thighs broken, and
himself covered with blood. Then the great charioteer, the son of Drona,
of terrible wrath, vowed, ‘without killing all the Panchalas including
Drishtadyumna, and the Pandavas also with all their allies, I will not
take off armour.’ Having spoken those words, the three warriors leaving
Duryodhana’s side entered the great forest just as the sun was setting.
While sitting under a large banian tree in the night, they saw an owl
killing numerous crows one after another. At the sight of this,
Aswatthaman, his heart full of rage at the thought of his father’s fate,
resolved to slay the slumbering Panchalas. And wending to the gate of the
camp, he saw there a Rakshasa of frightful visage, his head reaching to
the very heavens, guarding the entrance. And seeing that Rakshasa
obstructing all his weapons, the son of Drona speedily pacified by
worship the three-eyed Rudra. And then accompanied by Kritavarman and
Kripa he slew all the sons of Draupadi, all the Panchalas with
Dhrishtadyumna and others, together with their relatives, slumbering
unsuspectingly in the night. All perished on that fatal night except the
five Pandavas and the great warrior Satyaki. Those escaped owing to
Krishna’s counsels, then the charioteer of Dhrishtadyumna brought to the
Pandavas intelligence of the slaughter of the slumbering Panchalas by the
son of Drona. Then Draupadi distressed at the death of her sons and
brothers and father sat before her lords resolved to kill herself by
fasting. Then Bhima of terrible prowess, moved by the words of Draupadi,
resolved, to please her; and speedily taking up his mace followed in
wrath the son of his preceptor in arms. The son of Drona from fear of
Bhimasena and impelled by the fates and moved also by anger discharged a
celestial weapon saying, ‘This is for the destruction of all the
Pandavas’; then Krishna saying. ‘This shall not be’, neutralised
Aswatthaman’s speech. Then Arjuna neutralised that weapon by one of his
own. Seeing the wicked Aswatthaman’s destructive intentions, Dwaipayana
and Krishna pronounced curses on him which the latter returned. Pandava
then deprived the mighty warrior-in-chariot Aswatthaman, of the jewel on
his head, and became exceedingly glad, and, boastful of their success,
made a present of it to the sorrowing Draupadi. Thus the tenth Parva,
called Sauptika, is recited. The great Vyasa hath composed this in
eighteen sections. The number of slokas also composed (in this) by the
great reciter of sacred truths is eight hundred and seventy. In this
Parva has been put together by the great Rishi the two Parvas called
Sauptika and Aishika.

“After this hath been recited the highly pathetic Parva called Stri,
Dhritarashtra of prophetic eye, afflicted at the death of his children,
and moved by enmity towards Bhima, broke into pieces a statue of hard
iron deftly placed before him by Krishna (as substitute of Bhima). Then
Vidura, removing the distressed Dhritarashtra’s affection for worldly
things by reasons pointing to final release, consoled that wise monarch.
Then hath been described the wending of the distressed Dhritarashtra
accompanied by the ladies of his house to the field of battle of the
Kauravas. Here follow the pathetic wailings of the wives of the slain
heroes. Then the wrath of Gandhari and Dhritarashtra and their loss of
consciousness. Then the Kshatriya ladies saw those heroes,--their
unreturning sons, brothers, and fathers,--lying dead on the field. Then
the pacification by Krishna of the wrath of Gandhari distressed at the
death of her sons and grandsons. Then the cremation of the bodies of the
deceased Rajas with due rites by that monarch (Yudhishthira) of great
wisdom and the foremost also of all virtuous men. Then upon the
presentation of water of the manes of the deceased princes having
commenced, the story of Kunti’s acknowledgment of Karna as her son born
in secret. Those have all been described by the great Rishi Vyasa in the
highly pathetic eleventh Parva. Its perusal moveth every feeling heart
with sorrow and even draweth tears from the eyes. The number of sections
composed is twenty-seven. The number of slokas is seven hundred and

“Twelfth in number cometh the Santi Parva, which increaseth the
understanding and in which is related the despondency of Yudhishthira on
his having slain his fathers, brothers, sons, maternal uncles and
matrimonial relations. In this Parva is described how from his bed of
arrows Bhishma expounded various systems of duties worth the study of
kings desirous of knowledge; this Parva expounded the duties relative to
emergencies, with full indications of time and reasons. By understanding
these, a person attaineth to consummate knowledge. The mysteries also of
final emancipation have been expatiated upon. This is the twelfth Parva
the favourite of the wise. It consists of three hundred and thirty-nine
sections, and contains fourteen thousand, seven hundred and thirty-two

“Next in order is the excellent Anusasana Parva. In it is described how
Yudhishthira, the king of the Kurus, was reconciled to himself on hearing
the exposition of duties by Bhishma, the son of Bhagirathi. This Parva
treats of rules in detail and of Dharma and Artha; then the rules of
charity and its merits; then the qualifications of donees, and the
supreme ride-regarding gifts. This Parva also describes the ceremonials
of individual duty, the rules of conduct and the matchless merit of
truth. This Parva showeth the great merit of Brahmanas and kine, and
unraveleth the mysteries of duties in relation to time and place. These
are embodied in the excellent Parva called Anusasana of varied incidents.
In this hath been described the ascension of Bhishma to Heaven. This is
the thirteenth Parva which hath laid down accurately the various duties
of men. The number of sections, in this is one hundred and forty-six. The
number of slokas is eight thousand.

“Then comes the fourteenth Parva Aswamedhika. In this is the excellent
story of Samvarta and Marutta. Then is described the discovery (by the
Pandavas) of golden treasuries; and then the birth of Parikshit who was
revived by Krishna after having been burnt by the (celestial) weapon of
Aswatthaman. The battles of Arjuna the son of Pandu, while following the
sacrificial horse let loose, with various princes who in wrath seized it.
Then is shown the great risk of Arjuna in his encounter with Vabhruvahana
the son of Chitrangada (by Arjuna) the appointed daughter of the chief of
Manipura. Then the story of the mongoose during the performance of the
horse-sacrifice. This is the most wonderful Parva called Aswamedhika. The
number of sections is one hundred and three. The number of slokas
composed (in this) by Vyasa of true knowledge is three thousand, three
hundred and twenty.

“Then comes the fifteenth Parva called Asramvasika. In this,
Dhritarashtra, abdicating the kingdom, and accompanied by Gandhari and
Vidura went to the woods. Seeing this, the virtuous Pritha also, ever
engaged in cherishing her superiors, leaving the court of her sons,
followed the old couple. In this is described the wonderful meeting
through the kindness of Vyasa of the king (Dhritarashtra) with the
spirits of his slain children, grand-children, and other princes,
returned from the other world. Then the monarch abandoning his sorrows
acquired with his wife the highest fruit of his meritorious actions. In
this Parva, Vidura after having leaned on virtue all his life attaineth
to the most meritorious state.

“The learned son of Gavalgana, Sanjaya, also of passions under full
control, and the foremost of ministers, attained, in the Parva, to the
blessed state. In this, Yudhishthira the just met Narada and heard from
him about the extinction of the race of Vrishnis. This is the very
wonderful Parva called Asramvasika. The number of sections in this is
forty-two, and the number of slokas composed by Vyasa cognisant of truth
is one thousand five hundred and six.

“After this, you know, comes the Maushala of painful incidents. In this,
those lion-hearted heroes (of the race of Vrishni) with the scars of many
a field on their bodies, oppressed with the curse of a Brahmana, while
deprived of reason from drink, impelled by the fates, slew each other on
the shores of the Salt Sea with the Eraka grass which (in their hands)
became (invested with the fatal attributes of the) thunder. In this, both
Balarama and Kesava (Krishna) after causing the extermination of their
race, their hour having come, themselves did not rise superior to the
sway of all-destroying Time. In this, Arjuna the foremost among men,
going to Dwaravati (Dwaraka) and seeing the city destitute of the
Vrishnis was much affected and became exceedingly sorry. Then after the
funeral of his maternal uncle Vasudeva the foremost among the Yadus
(Vrishnis), he saw the heroes of the Yadu race lying stretched in death
on the spot where they had been drinking. He then caused the cremation of
the bodies of the illustrious Krishna and Balarama and of the principal
members of the Vrishni race. Then as he was journeying from Dwaraka with
the women and children, the old and the decrepit--the remnants of the
Yadu race--he was met on the way by a heavy calamity. He witnessed also
the disgrace of his bow Gandiva and the unpropitiousness of his celestial
weapons. Seeing all this, Arjuna became despondent and, pursuant to
Vyasa’s advice, went to Yudhishthira and solicited permission to adopt
the Sannyasa mode of life. This is the sixteenth Parva called Maushala
The number of sections is eight and the number of slokas composed by
Vyasa cognisant of truth is three hundred and twenty.

“The next is Mahaprasthanika, the seventeenth Parva.

“In this, those foremost among men the Pandavas abdicating their kingdom
went with Draupadi on their great journey called Mahaprasthana. In this,
they came across Agni, having arrived on the shore of the sea of red
waters. In this, asked by Agni himself, Arjuna worshipped him duly,
returned to him the excellent celestial bow called Gandiva. In this,
leaving his brothers who dropped one after another and Draupadi also,
Yudhishthira went on his journey without once looking back on them. This
the seventeenth Parva is called Mahaprasthanika. The number of sections
in this is three. The number of slokas also composed by Vyasa cognisant
of truth is three hundred and twenty.

“The Parva that comes after this, you must know, is the extraordinary one
called Svarga of celestial incidents. Then seeing the celestial car come
to take him, Yudhishthira moved by kindness towards the dog that
accompanied him, refused to ascend it without his companion. Observing
the illustrious Yudhishthira’s steady adherence to virtue, Dharma (the
god of justice) abandoning his canine form showed himself to the king.
Then Yudhishthira ascending to heaven felt much pain. The celestial
messenger showed him hell by an act of deception. Then Yudhishthira, the
soul of justice, heard the heart-rending lamentations of his brothers
abiding in that region under the discipline of Yama. Then Dharma and
Indra showed Yudhishthira the region appointed for sinners. Then
Yudhishthira, after leaving the human body by a plunge in the celestial
Ganges, attained to that region which his acts merited, and began to live
in joy respected by Indra and all other gods. This is the eighteenth
Parva as narrated by the illustrious Vyasa. The number of slokas
composed, O ascetics, by the great Rishi in this is two hundred and nine.

“The above are the contents of the Eighteen Parvas. In the appendix
(Khita) are the Harivansa and the Vavishya. The number of slokas
contained in the Harivansa is twelve thousand.”

These are the contents of the section called Parva-sangraha. Sauti
continued, “Eighteen Akshauhinis of troops came together for battle. The
encounter that ensued was terrible and lasted for eighteen days. He who
knows the four Vedas with all the Angas and Upanishads, but does not know
this history (Bharata), cannot be regarded as wise. Vyasa of immeasurable
intelligence, has spoken of the Mahabharata as a treatise on Artha, on
Dharma, and on Kama. Those who have listened to his history can never
bear to listen to others, as, indeed, they who have listened to the sweet
voice of the male Kokila can never hear the dissonance of the crow’s
cawing. As the formation of the three worlds proceedeth from the five
elements, so do the inspirations of all poets proceed from this excellent
composition. O ye Brahman, as the four kinds of creatures (viviparous,
oviparous, born of hot moisture and vegetables) are dependent on space
for their existence, so the Puranas depend upon this history. As all the
senses depend for their exercise upon the various modifications of the
mind, so do all acts (ceremonials) and moral qualities depend upon this
treatise. There is not a story current in the world but doth depend on
this history, even as body upon the food it taketh. All poets cherish the
Bharata even as servants desirous of preferment always attend upon
masters of good lineage. Even as the blessed domestic Asrama can never be
surpassed by the three other Asramas (modes of life) so no poets can
surpass this poem.

“Ye ascetics, shake off all inaction. Let your hearts be fixed on virtue,
for virtue is the one only friend of him that has gone to the other
world. Even the most intelligent by cherishing wealth and wives can never
make these their own, nor are these possessions lasting. The Bharata
uttered by the lips of Dwaipayana is without a parallel; it is virtue
itself and sacred. It destroyeth sin and produceth good. He that
listeneth to it while it is being recited hath no need of a bath in the
sacred waters of Pushkara. A Brahmana, whatever sins he may commit during
the day through his senses, is freed from them all by reading the Bharata
in the evening. Whatever sins he may commit also in the night by deeds,
words, or mind, he is freed from them all by reading Bharata in the first
twilight (morning). He that giveth a hundred kine with horns mounted with
gold to a Brahmana well-posted up in the Vedas and all branches of
learning, and he that daily listeneth to the sacred narrations of the
Bharata, acquireth equal merit. As the wide ocean is easily passable by
men having ships, so is this extensive history of great excellence and
deep import with the help of this chapter called Parva sangraha.”

Thus endeth the section called Parva-sangraha of the Adi Parva of the
blessed Mahabharata.


(Paushya Parva)

Sauti said, “Janamejaya, the son of Parikshit, was, with his brothers,
attending his long sacrifice on the plains of Kurukshetra. His brothers
were three, Srutasena, Ugrasena, and Bhimasena. And as they were sitting
at the sacrifice, there arrived at the spot an offspring of Sarama (the
celestial bitch). And belaboured by the brothers of Janamejaya, he ran
away to his mother, crying in pain. And his mother seeing him crying
exceedingly asked him, ‘Why criest thou so? Who hath beaten thee? And
being thus questioned, he said unto his mother, ‘I have been belaboured
by the brothers of Janamejaya.’ And his mother replied, ‘Thou hast
committed some fault for which hast thou been beaten!’ He answered, ‘I
have not committed any fault. I have not touched the sacrificial butter
with my tongue, nor have I even cast a look upon it.’ His mother Sarama
hearing this and much distressed at the affliction of her son went to the
place where Janamejaya with his brothers was at his long-extending
sacrifice. And she addressed Janamejaya in anger, saying, ‘This my son
hath committed no fault: he hath not looked upon your sacrificial butter,
nor hath he touched it with his tongue. Wherefore hath he been beaten?’
They said not a word in reply; whereupon she said, ‘As ye have beaten my
son who hath committed no fault, therefore shall evil come upon ye, when
ye least expect it.’

“Janamejaya, thus addressed by the celestial bitch, Sarama, became
exceedingly alarmed and dejected. And after the sacrifice was concluded
returned to Hastinapura, and began to take great pains in searching for a
Purohita who could by procuring absolution for his sin, neutralise the
effect of the curse.

“One day Janamejaya, the son of Parikshit, while a-hunting, observed in a
particular part of his dominions a hermitage where dwelt a certain Rishi
of fame, Srutasrava. He had a son named Somasrava deeply engaged in
ascetic devotions. Being desirous of appointing that son of the Rishi as
his Purohita, Janamejaya, the son of Parikshit, saluted the Rishi and
addressed him, saying, ‘O possessor of the six attributes, let this thy
son be my purohita.’ The Rishi thus addressed, answered Janamejaya, ‘O
Janamejaya, this my son, deep in ascetic devotions, accomplished in the
study of the Vedas, and endued with the full force of my asceticism, is
born of (the womb of) a she-snake that had drunk my vital fluid. He is
able to absolve thee from all offences save those committed against
Mahadeva. But he hath one particular habit, viz. he would grant to any
Brahmana whatever might be begged of him. If thou canst put up with it,
then thou take him.’ Janamejaya thus addressed replied to the Rishi, ‘It
shall be even so.’ And accepting him for his Purohita, he returned to his
capital; and he then addressed his brothers saying, ‘This is the person I
have chosen for my spiritual master; whatsoever he may say must be
complied with by you without examination.’ And his brothers did as they
were directed. And giving these directions to his brothers, the king
marched towards Takshyashila and brought that country under his authority.

“About this time there was a Rishi, Ayoda-Dhaumya by name. And
Ayoda-Dhaumya had three disciples, Upamanyu, Aruni, and Veda. And the
Rishi bade one of these disciples, Aruni of Panchala, to go and stop up a
breach in the water-course of a certain field. And Aruni of Panchala,
thus ordered by his preceptor, repaired to the spot. And having gone
there he saw that he could not stop up the breach in the water-course by
ordinary means. And he was distressed because he could not do his
preceptor’s bidding. But at length he saw a way and said, ‘Well, I will
do it in this way.’ He then went down into the breach and lay down
himself there. And the water was thus confined.

“And some time after, the preceptor Ayoda-Dhaumya asked his other
disciples where Aruni of Panchala was. And they answered, ‘Sir, he hath
been sent by yourself saying, ‘Go, stop up the breach in the water-course
of the field,’ Thus reminded, Dhaumya, addressing his pupils, said, ‘Then
let us all go to the place where he is.’

“And having arrived there, he shouted, ‘Ho Aruni of Panchala! Where art
thou? Come hither, my child.’ And Aruni hearing the voice of his
preceptor speedily came out of the water-course and stood before his
preceptor. And addressing the latter, Aruni said, ‘Here I am in the
breach of the water-course. Not having been able to devise any other
means, I entered myself for the purpose of preventing the water running
out. It is only upon hearing thy voice that, having left it and allowed
the waters to escape, I have stood before thee. I salute thee, Master;
tell me what I have to do.’

“The preceptor, thus addressed, replied, ‘Because in getting up from the
ditch thou hast opened the water-course, thenceforth shalt thou be called
Uddalaka as a mark of thy preceptor’s favour. And because my words have
been obeyed by thee, thou shalt obtain good fortune. And all the Vedas
shall shine in thee and all the Dharmasastras also.’ And Aruni, thus
addressed by his preceptor, went to the country after his heart.

“The name of another of Ayoda-Dhaumya’s disciples was Upamanyu. And
Dhaumya appointed him saying, ‘Go, my child, Upamanyu, look after the
kine.’ And according to his preceptor’s orders, he went to tend the kine.
And having watched them all day, he returned in the evening to his
preceptor’s house and standing before him he saluted him respectfully.
And his preceptor seeing him in good condition of body asked him,
‘Upamanyu, my child, upon what dost thou support thyself? Thou art
exceedingly plump.’ And he answered, ‘Sir, I support myself by begging’.
And his preceptor said, ‘What is obtained in alms should not be used by
thee without offering it to me.’ And Upamanyu, thus told, went away. And
having obtained alms, he offered the same to his preceptor. And his
preceptor took from him even the whole. And Upamanyu, thus treated, went
to attend the cattle. And having watched them all day, he returned in the
evening to his preceptor’s abode. And he stood before his preceptor and
saluted him with respect. And his preceptor perceiving that he still
continued to be of good condition of body said unto him, ‘Upamanyu, my
child, I take from thee even the whole of what thou obtainest in alms,
without leaving anything for thee. How then dost thou, at present,
contrive to support thyself?’ And Upamanyu said unto his preceptor, ‘Sir,
having made over to you all that I obtain in alms, I go a-begging a
second time for supporting myself.’ And his preceptor then replied, ‘This
is not the way in which thou shouldst obey the preceptor. By this thou
art diminishing the support of others that live by begging. Truly having
supported thyself so, thou hast proved thyself covetous.’ And Upamanyu,
having signified his assent to all that his preceptor said, went away to
attend the cattle. And having watched them all day, he returned to his
preceptor’s house. And he stood before his preceptor and saluted him
respectfully. And his preceptor observing that he was still fat, said
again unto him, ‘Upamanyu, my child, I take from thee all thou obtainest
in alms and thou dost not go a-begging a second time, and yet art thou in
healthy condition. How dost thou support thyself?’ And Upamanyu, thus
questioned, answered, ‘Sir, I now live upon the milk of these cows.’ And
his preceptor thereupon told him, ‘It is not lawful for thee to
appropriate the milk without having first obtained my consent.’ And
Upamanyu having assented to the justice of these observations, went away
to tend the kine. And when he returned to his preceptor’s abode, he stood
before him and saluted him as usual. And his preceptor seeing that he was
still fat, said, ‘Upamanyu, my child, thou eatest no longer of alms, nor
dost thou go a-begging a second time, not even drinkest of the milk; yet
art thou fat. By what means dost thou contrive to live now? And Upamanyu
replied, ‘Sir, I now sip the froth that these calves throw out, while
sucking their mother’s teats.’ And the preceptor said, ‘These generous
calves, I suppose, out of compassion for thee, throw out large quantities
of froth. Wouldst thou stand in the way of their full meals by acting as
thou hast done? Know that it is unlawful for thee to drink the froth.’
And Upamanyu, having signified his assent to this, went as before to tend
the cows. And restrained by his preceptor, he feedeth not on alms, nor
hath he anything else to eat; he drinketh not of the milk, nor tasteth he
of the froth!

“And Upamanyu, one day, oppressed by hunger, when in a forest, ate of the
leaves of the Arka (Asclepias gigantea). And his eyes being affected by
the pungent, acrimonious, crude, and saline properties of the leaves
which he had eaten, he became blind. And as he was crawling about, he
fell into a pit. And upon his not returning that day when the sun was
sinking down behind the summit of the western mountains, the preceptor
observed to his disciples that Upamanyu was not yet come. And they told
him that he had gone out with the cattle.

“The preceptor then said, ‘Upamanyu being restrained by me from the use
of everything, is, of course, and therefore, doth not come home until it
be late. Let us then go in search of him.’ And having said this, he went
with his disciples into the forest and began to shout, saying, ‘Ho
Upamanyu, where art thou?’ And Upamanyu hearing his preceptor’s voice
answered in a loud tone, ‘Here I am at the bottom of a well.’ And his
preceptor asked him how he happened to be there. And Upamanyu replied,
‘Having eaten of the leaves of the Arka plant I became blind, and so have
I fallen into this well.’ And his preceptor thereupon told him, ‘Glorify
the twin Aswins, the joint physicians of the gods, and they will restore
thee thy sight.’ And Upamanyu thus directed by his preceptor began to
glorify the twin Aswins, in the following words of the Rig Veda:

‘Ye have existed before the creation! Ye first-born beings, ye are
displayed in this wondrous universe of five elements! I desire to obtain
you by the help of the knowledge derived from hearing, and of meditation,
for ye are Infinite! Ye are the course itself of Nature and intelligent
Soul that pervades that course! Ye are birds of beauteous feathers
perched on the body that is like to a tree! Ye are without the three
common attributes of every soul! Ye are incomparable! Ye, through your
spirit in every created thing, pervade the Universe!

“Ye are golden Eagles! Ye are the essence into which all things
disappear! Ye are free from error and know no deterioration! Ye are of
beauteous beaks that would not unjustly strike and are victorious in
every encounter! Ye certainly prevail over time! Having created the sun,
ye weave the wondrous cloth of the year by means of the white thread of
the day and the black thread of the night! And with the cloth so woven,
ye have established two courses of action appertaining respectively to
the Devas and the Pitris. The bird of Life seized by Time which
represents the strength of the Infinite soul, ye set free for delivering
her unto great happiness! They that are in deep ignorance, as long as
they are under delusions of their senses, suppose you, who are
independent of the attributes of matter, to be gifted with form! Three
hundred and sixty cows represented by three hundred and sixty days
produce one calf between them which is the year. That calf is the creator
and destroyer of all. Seekers of truth following different routes, draw
the milk of true knowledge with its help. Ye Aswins, ye are the creators
of that calf!

“The year is but the nave of a wheel to which is attached seven hundred
and twenty spokes representing as many days and nights. The circumference
of this wheel represented by twelve months is without end. This wheel is
full of delusions and knows no deterioration. It affects all creatures
whether to this or of the other worlds. Ye Aswins, this wheel of time is
set in motion by you!

“The wheel of Time as represented by the year has a nave represented by
the six seasons. The number of spokes attached to that nave is twelve as
represented by the twelve signs of the Zodiac. This wheel of Time
manifests the fruits of the acts of all things. The presiding deities of
Time abide in that wheel. Subject as I am to its distressful influence,
ye Aswins, liberate me from that wheel of Time. Ye Aswins, ye are this
universe of five elements! Ye are the objects that are enjoyed in this
and in the other world! Make me independent of the five elements! And
though ye are the Supreme Brahma, yet ye move over the Earth in forms
enjoying the delights that the senses afford.

“In the beginning, ye created the ten points of the universe! Then have
ye placed the Sun and the Sky above! The Rishis, according to the course
of the same Sun, perform their sacrifices, and the gods and men,
according to what hath been appointed for them, perform their sacrifices
also enjoying the fruits of those acts!

“Mixing the three colours, ye have produced all the objects of sight! It
is from these objects that the Universe hath sprung whereon the gods and
men are engaged in their respective occupations, and, indeed, all
creatures endued with life!

“Ye Aswins, I adore you! I also adore the Sky which is your handiwork! Ye
are the ordainers of the fruits of all acts from which even the gods are
not free! Ye are yourselves free from the fruits of your acts!

“Ye are the parents of all! As males and females it is ye that swallow
the food which subsequently develops into the life creating fluid and
blood! The new-born infant sucks the teat of its mother. Indeed it is ye
that take the shape of the infant! Ye Aswins, grant me my sight to
protect my life!”

The twin Aswins, thus invoked, appeared and said, ‘We are satisfied. Here
is a cake for thee. Take and eat it.’ And Upamanyu thus addressed,
replied, ‘Your words, O Aswins, have never proved untrue. But without
first offering this cake to my preceptor I dare not take it.’ And the
Aswins thereupon told him, ‘Formerly, thy preceptor had invoked us. We
thereupon gave him a cake like this; and he took it without offering it
to his master. Do thou do that which thy preceptor did.’ Thus addressed,
Upamanyu again said unto them, ‘O Aswins, I crave your pardon. Without
offering it to my preceptor I dare not apply this cake.’ The Aswins then
said, ‘O, we are pleased with this devotion of thine to thy preceptor.
Thy master’s teeth are of black iron. Thine shall be of gold. Thou shall
be restored to sight and shall have good fortune.’

“Thus spoken to by the Aswins he recovered his sight, and having gone to
his preceptor’s presence he saluted him and told him all. And his
preceptor was well-pleased with him and said unto him, ‘Thou shalt obtain
prosperity even as the Aswins have said. All the Vedas shall shine in
thee and all the Dharma-sastras.’ And this was the trial of Upamanyu.

“Then Veda the other disciple of Ayoda-Dhaumya was called. His preceptor
once addressed him, saying, ‘Veda, my child, tarry some time in my house
and serve thy preceptor. It shall be to thy profit.’ And Veda having
signified his assent tarried long in the family of his preceptor mindful
of serving him. Like an ox under the burthens of his master, he bore heat
and cold, hunger and thirst, at all times without a murmur. And it was
not long before his preceptor was satisfied. And as a consequence of that
satisfaction, Veda obtained good fortune and universal knowledge. And
this was the trial of Veda.

“And Veda, having received permission from his preceptor, and leaving the
latter’s residence after the completion of his studies, entered the
domestic mode of life. And while living in his own house, he got three
pupils. And he never told them to perform any work or to obey implicitly
his own behests; for having himself experienced much woe while abiding in
the family of his preceptor, he liked not to treat them with severity.

“After a certain time, Janamejaya and Paushya, both of the order of
Kshatriyas, arriving at his residence appointed the Brahman. Veda, as
their spiritual guide (Upadhyaya). And one day while about to depart upon
some business related to a sacrifice, he employed one of his disciples,
Utanka, to take charge of his household. ‘Utanka’, said he, ‘whatsoever
should have to be done in my house, let it be done by thee without
neglect.’ And having given these orders to Utanka, he went on his journey.

“So Utanka always mindful of the injunction of his preceptor took up his
abode in the latter’s house. And while Utanka was residing there, the
females of his preceptor’s house having assembled addressed him and said,
‘O Utanka, thy mistress is in that season when connubial connection might
be fruitful. The preceptor is absent; then stand thou in his place and do
the needful.’ And Utanka, thus addressed, said unto those women, ‘It is
not proper for me to do this at the bidding of women. I have not been
enjoined by my preceptor to do aught that is improper.’

“After a while, his preceptor returned from his journey. And his
preceptor having learnt all that had happened, became well-pleased and,
addressing Utanka, said, ‘Utanka, my child, what favour shall I bestow on
thee? I have been served by thee duly; therefore hath our friendship for
each other increased. I therefore grant thee leave to depart. Go thou,
and let thy wishes be accomplished!’

“Utanka, thus addressed, replied, saying, “Let me do something that you
wish, for it hath been said, ‘He who bestoweth instruction contrary to
usage and he who receiveth it contrary to usage, one of the two dieth,
and enmity springeth up between the two.--I, therefore, who have received
thy leave to depart, am desirous of bringing thee some honorarium due to
a preceptor. His master, upon hearing this, replied, ‘Utanka, my child,
wait a while.’ Sometime after, Utanka again addressed his preceptor,
saying, ‘Command me to bring that for honorarium, which you desire.’ And
his preceptor then said, ‘My dear Utanka, thou hast often told me of your
desire to bring something by way of acknowledgment for the instruction
thou hast received. Go then in and ask thy mistress what thou art to
bring. And bring thou that which she directs.’ And thus directed by his
preceptor Utanka addressed his preceptress, saying, ‘Madam, I have
obtained my master’s leave to go home, and I am desirous of bringing
something agreeable to thee as honorarium for the instruction I have
received, in order that I may not depart as his debtor. Therefore, please
command me what I am to bring.’ Thus addressed, his preceptress replied,
‘Go unto King Paushya and beg of him the pair of ear-rings worn by his
Queen, and bring them hither. The fourth day hence is a sacred day when I
wish to appear before the Brahmanas (who may dine at my house) decked
with these ear-rings. Then accomplish this, O Utanka! If thou shouldst
succeed, good fortune shall attend thee; if not, what good canst thou

“Utanka thus commanded, took his departure. And as he was passing along
the road he saw a bull of extraordinary size and a man of uncommon
stature mounted thereon. And that man addressed Utanka and said, ‘Eat
thou of the dung of this bull.’ Utanka, however, was unwilling to comply.
The man said again, ‘O Utanka, eat of it without scrutiny. Thy master ate
of it before.’ And Utanka signified his assent and ate of the dung and
drank of the urine of that bull, and rose respectfully, and washing his
hands and mouth went to where King Paushya was.

‘On arriving at the palace, Utanka saw Paushya seated (on his throne).
And approaching him Utanka saluted the monarch by pronouncing blessings
and said, ‘I am come as a petitioner to thee.’ And King Paushya, having
returned Utanka’s salutations, said, ‘Sir, what shall I do for thee?’ And
Utanka said, ‘I came to beg of thee a pair of ear-rings as a present to
my preceptor. It behoveth thee to give me the ear-rings worn by the

“King Paushya replied, ‘Go, Utanka, into the female apartments where the
Queen is and demand them of her.’ And Utanka went into the women’s
apartments. But as he could not discover the Queen, he again addressed
the king, saying, ‘It is not proper that I should be treated by thee with
deceit. Thy Queen is not in the private apartments, for I could not find
her.’ The king thus addressed, considered for a while and replied,
‘Recollect, Sir, with attention whether thou art not in a state of
defilement in consequence of contact with the impurities of a repast. My
Queen is a chaste wife and cannot be seen by any one who is impure owing
to contact with the leavings of a repast. Nor doth she herself appear in
sight of any one who is defiled.’

“Utanka, thus informed, reflected for a while and then said, ‘Yes, it
must be so. Having been in a hurry I performed my ablutions (after meal)
in a standing posture.’ King Paushya then said, ‘Here is a transgression,
purification is not properly effected by one in a standing posture, not
by one while he is going along.’ And Utanka having agreed to this, sat
down with his face towards the east, and washed his face, hands, and feet
thoroughly. And he then, without a noise, sipped thrice of water free
from scum and froth, and not warm, and just sufficient to reach his
stomach and wiped his face twice. And he then touched with water the
apertures of his organs (eyes, ears, etc.). And having done all this, he
once more entered the apartments of the women. And this time he saw the
Queen. And as the Queen perceived him, she saluted him respectfully and
said, ‘Welcome, Sir, command me what I have to do.’ And Utanka said unto
her, ‘It behoveth thee to give me those ear-rings of thine. I beg them as
a present for my preceptor.’ And the Queen having been highly pleased
with Utanka’s conduct and, considering that Utanka as an object of
charity could not be passed over, took off her ear-rings and gave them to
him. And she said, ‘These ear-rings are very much sought after by
Takshaka, the King of the serpents. Therefore shouldst thou carry them
with the greatest care.’

“And Utanka being told this, said unto the Queen, ‘Lady, be under no
apprehension. Takshaka, Chief of the serpents, is not able to overtake
me.’ And having said this, and taking leave of the Queen, he went back
into the presence of Paushya, and said, ‘Paushya, I am gratified.’ Then
Paushya said to Utanka, ‘A fit object of charity can only be had at long
intervals. Thou art a qualified guest, therefore do I desire to perform a
sraddha. Tarry thou a little. And Utanka replied, ‘Yes, I will tarry, and
beg that the clean provisions that are ready may be soon brought in.’ And
the king having signified his assent, entertained Utanka duly. And Utanka
seeing that the food placed before him had hair in it, and also that it
was cold, thought it unclean. And he said unto Paushya, ‘Thou givest me
food that is unclean, therefore shalt thou lose thy sight.’ And Paushya
in answer said, ‘And because dost thou impute uncleanliness to food that
is clean, therefore shalt thou be without issue.’ And Utanka thereupon
rejoined, ‘It behoveth thee not, after having offered me unclean food, to
curse me in return. Satisfy thyself by ocular proof.’

“And Paushya seeing the food alleged to be unclean satisfied himself of
its uncleanliness. And Paushya having ascertained that the food was truly
unclean, being cold and mixed with hair, prepared as it was by a woman
with unbraided hair, began to pacify the Rishi Utanka, saying, ‘Sir, the
food placed before thee is cold, and doth contain hair, having been
prepared without sufficient care. Therefore I pray thee pardon me. Let me
not become blind.’ And Utanka answered, ‘What I say must come to pass.
Having become blind, thou mayst, however, recover the sight before long.
Grant that thy curse also doth not take effect on me.’ And Paushya said
unto him, ‘I am unable to revoke my curse. For my wrath even now hath not
been appeased. But thou knowest not this. For a Brahmana’s heart is soft
as new-churned butter, even though his words bear a sharp-edged razor. It
is otherwise in respect of these with the Kshatriya. His words are soft
as new-churned butter, but his heart is like a sharp-edged tool, such
being the case, I am unable, because of the hardness of my heart, to
neutralise my curse. Then go thou thy own way.’ To this Utanka made
answer, “I showed thee the uncleanliness of the food offered to me, and I
was even now pacified by thee. Besides, saidst thou at first that because
I imputed uncleanliness to food that was clean I should be without issue.
But the food truly unclean, thy curse cannot affect me. Of this I am
sure.’ And Utanka having said this departed with the ear-rings.

“On the road Utanka perceived coming towards him a naked idle beggar
sometimes coming in view and sometimes disappearing. And Utanka put the
ear-rings on the ground and went for water. In the meantime the beggar
came quickly to the spot and taking up the ear-rings ran away. And Utanka
having completed his ablutions in water and purified himself and having
also reverently bowed down to the gods and his spiritual masters pursued
the thief with the utmost speed. And having with great difficulty
overtaken him, he seized him by force. But at that instant the person
seized, quitting the form of a beggar and assuming his real form, viz.,
that of Takshaka, speedily entered a large hole open in the ground. And
having got in, Takshaka proceeded to his own abode, the region of the

“Now, Utanka, recollecting the words of the Queen, pursued the Serpent,
and began to dig open the hole with a stick but was unable to make much
progress. And Indra beholding his distress sent his thunder-bolt (Vajra)
to his assistance. Then the thunder-bolt entering that stick enlarged
that hole. And Utanka began to enter the hole after the thunder-bolt. And
having entered it, he beheld the region of the serpents infinite in
extent, filled with hundreds of palaces and elegant mansions with turrets
and domes and gate-ways, abounding with wonderful places for various
games and entertainments. And Utanka then glorified the serpents by the
following slokas:

“Ye Serpents, subjects of King Airavata, splendid in battle and showering
weapons in the field like lightning-charged clouds driven by the winds!
Handsome and of various forms and decked with many coloured ear-rings, ye
children of Airavata, ye shine like the Sun in the firmament! On the
northern banks of the Ganges are many habitations of serpents. There I
constantly adore the great serpents. Who except Airavata would desire to
move in the burning rays of the Sun? When Dhritarashtra (Airavata’s
brother) goes out, twenty-eight thousand and eight serpents follow him as
his attendants. Ye who move near him and ye who stay at a distance from
him, I adore all of you that have Airavata for your elder brother.

“I adore thee also, to obtain the ear-rings, O Takshaka, who formerly
dwelt in Kurukshetra and the forest of Khandava! Takshaka and Aswasena,
ye are constant companions who dwell in Kurukshetra on the banks of the
Ikshumati! I also adore the illustrious Srutasena, the younger brother of
Takshaka, who resided at the holy place called Mahadyumna with a view to
obtaining the chiefship of the serpents.

“The Brahmana Rishi Utanka having saluted the chief serpents in this
manner, obtained not, however, the ear-rings. And he thereupon became
very thoughtful. And when he saw that he obtained not the ear-rings even
though he had adored the serpents, he then looked about him and beheld
two women at a loom weaving a piece of cloth with a fine shuttle; and in
the loom were black and white threads. And he likewise saw a wheel, with
twelve spokes, turned by six boys. And he also saw a man with a handsome
horse. And he began to address them the following mantras:

“This wheel whose circumference is marked by twenty-four divisions
representing as many lunar changes is furnished with three hundred
spokes! It is set in continual motion by six boys (the seasons)! These
damsels representing universal nature are weaving without intermission a
cloth with threads black and white, and thereby ushering into existence
the manifold worlds and the beings that inhabit them! Thou wielder of the
thunder, the protector of the universe, the slayer of Vritra and Namuchi,
thou illustrious one who wearest the black cloth and displayest truth and
untruth in the universe, thou who ownest for thy carrier the horse which
was received from the depths of the ocean, and which is but another form
of Agni (the god of fire), I bow to thee, thou supreme Lord, thou Lord of
the three worlds, O Purandara!’

“Then the man with the horse said unto Utanka, ‘I am gratified by this
thy adoration. What good shall I do to thee?’ And Utanka replied, ‘Even
let the serpents be brought under my control.’ Then the man rejoined,
‘Blow into this horse.’ And Utanka blew into that horse. And from the
horse thus blown into, there issued, from every aperture of his body,
flames of fire with smoke by which the region of the Nagas was about to
be consumed. And Takshaka, surprised beyond measure and terrified by the
heat of the fire, hastily came out of his abode taking the ear-rings with
him, and said unto Utanka, ‘Pray, Sir, take back the ear-rings.’ And
Utanka took them back.

“But Utanka having recovered his ear-rings thought, ‘O, this is that
sacred day of my preceptress. I am at a distance. How can I, therefore,
show my regard for her? And when Utanka was anxious about this, the man
addressed him and said, ‘Ride this horse, Utanka, and he will in a moment
carry thee to thy master’s abode.’ And Utanka having signified his
assent, mounted the horse and presently reached his preceptor’s house.

“And his preceptress that morning after having bathed was dressing her
hair sitting, thinking of uttering a curse on Utanka if he should not
return within time. But, in the meantime, Utanka entered his preceptor’s
abode and paid his respects to his preceptress and presented her the
ear-rings. ‘Utanka’, said she, ‘thou hast arrived at the proper time at
the proper place. Welcome, my child; thou art innocent and therefore I do
not curse thee! Good fortune is even before thee. Let thy wishes be
crowned with success!’

“Then Utanka waited on his preceptor. And his preceptor said, ‘Thou art
welcome! What hath occasioned thy long absence?’ And Utanka replied to
his preceptor, ‘Sir, in the execution of this my business obstruction was
offered by Takshaka, the King of serpents. Therefore I had to go to the
region of the Nagas. There I saw two damsels sitting at a loom, weaving a
fabric with black and white threads. Pray, what is that? There likewise I
beheld a wheel with twelve spokes ceaselessly turned by six boys. What
too doth that import? Who is also the man that I saw? And what the horse
of extraordinary size likewise beheld by me? And when I was on the road I
also saw a bull with a man mounted thereon, by whom I was endearingly
accosted thus, ‘Utanka, eat of the dung of this bull, which was also
eaten by thy master?’ So I ate of the dung of that bull according to his
words. Who also is he? Therefore, enlightened by thee, I desire to hear
all about them.’

“And his preceptor thus addressed said unto him, ‘The two damsels thou
hast seen are Dhata and Vidhata; the black and white threads denote night
and day; the wheel of twelve spokes turned by the six boys signified the
year comprising six seasons. The man is Parjanya, the deity of rain, and
the horse is Agni, the god of fire. The bull that thou hast seen on the
road is Airavata, the king of elephants; the man mounted thereon is
Indra; and the dung of the bull which was eaten by thee was Amrita. It
was certainly for this (last) that thou hast not met with death in the
region of the Nagas; and Indra who is my friend having been mercifully
inclined showed thee favour. It is for this that thou returnest safe,
with the ear-rings about thee. Then, O thou amiable one, I give thee
leave to depart. Thou shall obtain good fortune.’

“And Utanka, having obtained his master’s leave, moved by anger and
resolved to avenge himself on Takshaka, proceeded towards Hastinapura.
That excellent Brahmana soon reached Hastinapura. And Utanka then waited
upon King Janamejaya who had some time before returned victorious from
Takshashila. And Utanka saw the victorious monarch surrounded on all
sides by his ministers. And he pronounced benedictions on him in a proper
form. And Utanka addressed the monarch at the proper moment in speech of
correct accent and melodious sounds, saying, ‘O thou the best of
monarchs! How is it that thou spendest thy time like a child when there
is another matter that urgently demandeth thy attention?’”

“Sauti said, ‘The monarch Janamejaya, thus addressed, saluting that
excellent Brahmana replied unto him, ‘In cherishing these my subjects I
do discharge the duties of my noble tribe. Say, what is that business to
be done by me and which hath brought thee hither.’

“The foremost of Brahmanas and distinguished beyond all for good deeds,
thus addressed by the excellent monarch of large heart, replied unto him,
‘O King! the business is thy own that demandeth thy attention; therefore
do it, please. O thou King of kings! Thy father was deprived of life by
Takshaka; therefore do thou avenge thy father’s death on that vile
serpent. The time hath come, I think, for the act of vengeance ordained
by the Fates. Go then avenge the death of thy magnanimous father who,
being bitten without cause by that vile serpent, was reduced to five
elements even like a tree stricken by thunder. The wicked Takshaka,
vilest of the serpent race, intoxicated with power committed an
unnecessary act when he bit the King, that god-like father, the protector
of the race of royal saints. Wicked in his deeds, he even caused Kasyapa
(the prince of physicians) to run back when he was coming for the relief
of thy father. It behoveth thee to burn the wicked wretch in the blazing
fire of a snake-sacrifice. O King! Give instant orders for the sacrifice.
It is thus thou canst avenge the death of thy father. And a very great
favour shall have also been shown to me. For by that malignant wretch, O
virtuous Prince, my business also was, on one occasion, obstructed, while
proceeding on account of my preceptor.”

“Sauti continued, The monarch, having heard these words, was enraged with
Takshaka. By the speech of Utanka was inflamed the prince, even as the
sacrificial fire with clarified butter. Moved by grief also, in the
presence of Utanka, the prince asked his ministers the particulars of his
father’s journey to the regions of the blessed. And when he heard all
about the circumstances of his father’s death from the lips of Utanka, he
was overcome with pain and sorrow.

And thus endeth the section called Paushya of the Adi Parva of the
blessed Mahabharata.”


(Pauloma Parva)

‘UGRASRAVA SAUTI, the son of Lomaharshana, versed in the Puranas, while
present in the forest of Naimisha, at the twelve years’ sacrifice of
Saunaka, surnamed Kulapati, stood before the Rishis in attendance. Having
studied Puranas with meticulous devotion and thus being thoroughly
acquainted with them, he addressed them with joined hands thus, ‘I have
graphically described to you the history of Utanka which is one of the
causes of King Janamejaya’s Snake-sacrifice. What, revered Sirs, do ye
wish to hear now? What shall I relate to you?’ The holy men replied, ‘O
son of Lomaharshana, we shall ask thee about what we are anxious to hear
and thou wilt recount the tales one by one. Saunaka, our revered master,
is at present attending the apartment of the holy fire. He is acquainted
with those divine stories which relate to the gods and asuras. He
adequately knoweth the histories of men, serpents, and Gandharvas.
Further, O Sauti, in this sacrifice that learned Brahmana is the chief.
He is able, faithful to his vows, wise, a master of the Sastras and the
Aranyaka, a speaker of truth, a lover of peace, a mortifier of the flesh,
and an observer of the penances according to the authoritative decrees.
He is respected by us all. It behoveth us therefore to wait for him. And
when he is seated on his highly respected seat, thou wilt answer what
that best of Dwijas shall ask of thee.’

“Sauti said, ‘Be it so. And when the high-souled master hath been seated
I shall narrate, questioned by him, sacred stories on a variety of
subjects.” After a while that excellent Brahmana (Saunaka) having duly
finished all his duties, and having propitiated the gods with prayers and
the manes with oblations of water, came back to the place of sacrifice,
where with Sauti seated before was the assembly of saints of rigid vows
sitting at ease. And when Saunaka was seated in the midst of the Ritwiks
and Sadhyas, who were also in their seats, he spake as followeth.”


(Pauloma Parva continued)

“Saunaka said, ‘Child, thy father formerly read the whole of the Puranas,
O son of Lomaharshana, and the Bharata with Krishna-Dwaipayana. Hast thou
also made them thy study? In those ancient records are chronicled
interesting stories and the history of the first generations of the wise
men, all of which we heard being rehearsed by thy sire. In the first
place, I am desirous of hearing the history of the race of Bhrigu.
Recount thou that history, we shall attentively listen to thee.”

“Sauti answered, ‘By me hath been acquired all that was formerly studied
by the high-souled Brahmanas including Vaisampayana and repeated by them;
by me hath been acquired all that had been studied by my father. O
descendant of the Bhrigu race, attend then to so much as relateth to the
exalted race of Bhrigu, revered by Indra and all the gods, by the tribes
of Rishis and Maruts (Winds). O great Muni, I shall first properly
recount the story of this family, as told in the Puranas.

“The great and blessed saint Bhrigu, we are informed, was produced by the
self-existing Brahma from the fire at the sacrifice of Varuna. And Bhrigu
had a son, named Chyavana, whom he dearly loved. And to Chyavana was born
a virtuous son called Pramati. And Pramati had a son named Ruru by
Ghritachi (the celestial dancer). And to Ruru also by his wife
Pramadvara, was born a son, whose name was Sunaka. He was, O Saunaka, thy
great ancestor exceedingly virtuous in his ways. He was devoted to
asceticism, of great reputation, proficient in law, and eminent among
those having a knowledge of the Vedas. He was virtuous, truthful, and of
well-regulated fare.’

“Saunaka said, ‘O son of Suta, I ask thee why the illustrious son of
Bhrigu was named Chyavana. Do tell me all.’

“Sauti replied, ‘Bhrigu had a wife named Puloma whom he dearly loved. She
became big with child by Bhrigu. And one day while the virtuous continent
Puloma was in that condition, Bhrigu, great among those that are true to
their religion, leaving her at home went out to perform his ablutions. It
was then that the Rakshasa called Puloma came to Bhrigu’s abode. And
entering the Rishi’s abode, the Rakshasa saw the wife of Bhrigu,
irreproachable in everything. And seeing her he became filled with lust
and lost his senses. The beautiful Puloma entertained the Rakshasa thus
arrived, with roots and fruits of the forest. And the Rakshasa who burnt
with desire upon seeing her, became very much delighted and resolved, O
good sage, to carry her away who was so blameless in every respect.

‘My design is accomplished,’ said the Rakshasa, and so seizing that
beautiful matron he carried her away. And, indeed, she of agreeable
smiles, had been betrothed by her father himself, to him, although the
former subsequently bestowed her, according to due rites, on Bhrigu. O
thou of the Bhrigu race, this wound rankled deep in the Rakshasa’s mind
and he thought the present moment very opportune for carrying the lady

“And the Rakshasa saw the apartment in which the sacrificial fire was
kept burning brightly. The Rakshasa then asked the flaming element ‘Tell
me, O Agni, whose wife this woman rightfully is. Thou art the mouth of
gods; therefore thou art bound to answer my question. This lady of
superior complexion had been first accepted by me as wife, but her father
subsequently bestowed her on the false Bhrigu. Tell me truly if this fair
one can be regarded as the wife of Bhrigu, for having found her alone, I
have resolved to take her away by force from the hermitage. My heart
burneth with rage when I reflect that Bhrigu hath got possession of this
woman of slender waist, first betrothed to me.’”

“Sauti continued, ‘In this manner the Rakshasa asked the flaming god of
fire again and again whether the lady was Bhrigu’s wife. And the god was
afraid to return an answer. ‘Thou, O god of fire,’ said he, residest
constantly within every creature, as witness of her or his merits and
demerits. O thou respected one, then answer my question truly. Has not
Bhrigu appropriated her who was chosen by me as my wife? Thou shouldst
declare truly whether, therefore, she is my wife by first choice. After
thy answer as to whether she is the wife of Bhrigu, I will bear her away
from this hermitage even in sight of thee. Therefore answer thou truly.’”

“Sauti continued, ‘The Seven flamed god having heard these words of the
Rakshasa became exceedingly distressed, being afraid of telling a
falsehood and equally afraid of Bhrigu’s curse. And the god at length
made answer in words that came out slowly. ‘This Puloma was, indeed,
first chosen by thee, O Rakshasa, but she was not taken by thee with holy
rites and invocations. But this far-famed lady was bestowed by her father
on Bhrigu as a gift from desire of blessing. She was not bestowed on thee
O Rakshasa, this lady was duly made by the Rishi Bhrigu his wife with
Vedic rites in my presence. This is she--I know her. I dare not speak a
falsehood. O thou best of the Rakshasas, falsehood is never respected in
this world.’”


(Pauloma Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘O Brahmana, having heard these words from the god of fire,
the Rakshasa assumed the form of a boar, and seizing the lady carried her
away with the speed of the wind--even of thought. Then the child of
Bhrigu lying in her body enraged at such violence, dropped from his
mother’s womb, for which he obtained the name of Chyavana. And the
Rakshasa perceiving the infant drop from the mother’s womb, shining like
the sun, quitted his grasp of the woman, fell down and was instantly
converted into ashes. And the beautiful Pauloma, distracted with grief, O
Brahmana of the Bhrigu race, took up her offspring Chyavana, the son of
Bhrigu and walked away. And Brahma, the Grandfather of all, himself saw
her, the faultless wife of his son, weeping. And the Grandfather of all
comforted her who was attached to her son. And the drops of tears which
rolled down her eyes formed a great river. And that river began to follow
the foot-steps of the wife of the great ascetic Bhrigu. And the
Grandfather of the worlds seeing that river follow the path of his son’s
wife gave it a name himself, and he called it Vadhusara. And it passeth
by the hermitage of Chyavana. And in this manner was born Chyavana of
great ascetic power, the son of Bhrigu.

“And Bhrigu saw his child Chyavana and its beautiful mother. And the
Rishi in a rage asked her, ‘By whom wast thou made known to that Rakshasa
who resolved to carry thee away? O thou of agreeable smiles, the Rakshasa
could not know thee as my wile. Therefore tell me who it was that told
the Rakshasa so, in order that I may curse him through anger.’ And
Pauloma replied, ‘O possessor of the six attributes! I was identified to
the Rakshasa by Agni (the god of fire). And he (the Rakshasa) bore me
away, who cried like the Kurari (female osprey). And it was only by the
ardent splendour of this thy son that I was rescued, for the Rakshasa
(seeing this infant) let me go and himself falling to the ground was
turned into ashes.’

“Sauti continued, ‘Bhrigu, upon hearing this account from Pauloma, became
exceedingly enraged. And in excess of passion the Rishi cursed Agni,
saying, ‘Thou shalt eat of all things.’”

So ends the sixth section called “the curse on Agni” in the Adi Parva.


(Pauloma Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘the god of fire enraged at the curse of Bhrigu, thus
addressed the Rishi, ‘What meaneth this rashness, O Brahmana, that thou
hast displayed towards me? What transgression can be imputed to me who
was labouring to do justice and speak the truth impartially? Being asked
I gave the true answer. A witness who when interrogated about a fact of
which he hath knowledge, representeth otherwise than it is, ruineth his
ancestors and descendants both to the seventh generation. He, too, who,
being fully cognisant of all the particulars of an affair, doth not
disclose what he knoweth, when asked, is undoubtedly stained with guilt.
I can also curse thee, but Brahmanas are held by me in high respect.
Although these are known to thee, O Brahmana, I will yet speak of them,
so please attend! Having, by ascetic power, multiplied myself, I am
present in various forms, in places of the daily homa, at sacrifices
extending for years, in places where holy rites are performed (such as
marriage, etc.), and at other sacrifices. With the butter that is poured
upon my flame according to the injunctions prescribed in the Vedas, the
Devas and the Pitris are appeased. The Devas are the waters; the Pitris
are also the waters. The Devas have with the Pitris an equal right to the
sacrifices called Darshas and Purnamasas. The Devas therefore are the
Pitris and the Pitris, the Devas. They are identical beings, worshipped
together and also separately at the changes of the moon. The Devas and
the Pitris eat what is poured upon me. I am therefore called the mouth of
the Devas and the Pitris. At the new moon the Pitris, and at the full
moon the Devas, are fed through my mouth, eating of the clarified butter
that is poured on me. Being, as I am, their mouth, how am I to be an
eater of all things (clean and unclean)?

“Then Agni, alter reflecting for a while, withdrew himself from all
places; from places of the daily homa of the Brahmanas, from all
long-extending sacrifices, from places of holy rites, and from other
ceremonies. Without their Oms and Vashats, and deprived of their Swadhas
and Swahas (sacrificial mantras during offerings), the whole body of
creatures became much distressed at the loss of their (sacrificial) fire.
The Rishis in great anxiety went to the gods and addressed them thus, ‘Ye
immaculate beings! The three regions of the universe are confounded at
the cessation of their sacrifices and ceremonies in consequence of the
loss of fire! Ordain what is to be done in tins matter, so that there may
be no loss of time.’ Then the Rishis and the gods went together to the
presence of Brahma. And they represented to him all about the curse on
Agni and the consequent interruption of all ceremonies. And they said, ‘O
thou greatly fortunate! Once Agni hath been cursed by Bhrigu for some
reason. Indeed, being the mouth of the gods and also the first who eateth
of what is offered in sacrifices, the eater also of the sacrificial
butter, how will Agni be reduced to the condition of one who eateth of
all things promiscuously?’ And the creator of the universe hearing these
words of theirs summoned Agni to his presence. And Brahma addressed Agni,
the creator of all and eternal as himself, in these gentle words, ‘Thou
art the creator of the worlds and thou art their destroyer! Thou
preserves! the three worlds and thou art the promoter of all sacrifices
and ceremonies! Therefore behave thyself so that ceremonies be not
interrupted. And, O thou eater of the sacrificial butter, why dost thou
act so foolishly, being, as thou art, the Lord of all? Thou alone art
always pure in the universe and thou art its stay! Thou shall not, with
all thy body, be reduced to the state of one who eateth of all things
promiscuously. O thou of flames, the flame that is in thy viler parts
shall alone eat of all things alike. The body of thine which eateth of
flesh (being in the stomach of all carnivorous animals) shall also eat of
all things promiscuously. And as every thing touched by the sun’s rays
becometh pure, so shall everything be pure that shall be burnt by thy
flames. Thou art, O fire, the supreme energy born of thy own power. Then,
O Lord, by that power of thine make the Rishi’s curse come true. Continue
to ‘receive thy own portion and that of the gods, offered at thy mouth.’

‘Sauti continued, ‘Then Agni replied to the Grandfather, ‘So be it.’ And
he then went away to obey the command of the supreme Lord. The gods and
the Rishis also returned in delight to the place whence they had come.
And the Rishis began to perform as before their ceremonies and
sacrifices. And the gods in heaven and all creatures of the world
rejoiced exceedingly. And Agni too rejoiced in that he was free from the
prospect of sin.

“Thus, O possessor of the six attributes, had Agni been cursed in the
days of yore by Bhrigu. And such is the ancient history connected with
the destruction of the Rakshasa, Pauloma and the birth of Chyavana.’”

Thus endeth the seventh section of the Pauloma Parva of the Adi Parva of
the blessed Mahabharata.


(Pauloma Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘O Brahmana, Chyavana, the son of Bhrigu, begot a son in the
womb of his wife Sukanya. And that son was the illustrious Pramati of
resplendent energy. And Pramati begot in the womb of Ghritachi a son
called Ruru. And Ruru begot on his wife Pramadvara a son called Sunaka.
And I shall relate to you in detail, O Brahmana, the entire history of
Ruru of abundant energy. O listen to it then in full!

“Formerly there was a great Rishi called Sthulakesa possessed of ascetic
power and learning and kindly disposed towards all creatures. At that
time, O Brahmana sage, Viswavasu, the King of the Gandharvas, it is said,
had intimacy with Menaka, the celestial dancing-girl. And the Apsara,
Menaka, O thou of the Bhrigu race, when her time was come, brought forth
an infant near the hermitage of Sthulakesa. And dropping the newborn
infant on the banks of the river, O Brahmana, Menaka, the Apsara, being
destitute of pity and shame, went away. And the Rishi, Sthulakesa, of
great ascetic power, discovered the infant lying forsaken in a lonely
part of the river-side. And he perceived that it was a female child,
bright as the offspring of an Immortal and blazing, as it were, with
beauty: And the great Brahmana, Sthulakesa, the first of Munis, seeing
that female child, and filled with compassion, took it up and reared it.
And the lovely child grew up in his holy habitation, the noble-minded and
blessed Rishi Sthulakesa performing in due succession all the ceremonies
beginning with that at birth as ordained by the divine law. And because
she surpassed all of her sex in goodness, beauty, and every quality, the
great Rishi called her by the name of Pramadvara. And the pious Ruru
having seen Pramadvara in the hermitage of Sthulakesa became one whose
heart was pierced by the god of love. And Ruru by means of his companions
made his father Pramati, the son of Bhrigu, acquainted with his passion.
And Pramati demanded her of the far-famed Sthulakesa for his son. And her
foster-father betrothed the virgin Pramadvara to Ruru, fixing the
nuptials for the day when the star Varga-Daivata (Purva-phalguni) would
be ascendant.

“Then within a few days of the time fixed for the nuptials, the beautiful
virgin while at play with companions of her own sex, her time having
come, impelled by fate, trod upon a serpent which she did not perceive as
it lay in coil. And the reptile, urged to execute the will of Fate,
violently darted its envenomed fangs into the body of the heedless
maiden. And stung by that serpent, she instantly dropped senseless on the
ground, her colour faded and all the graces of her person went off. And
with dishevelled hair she became a spectacle of woe to her companions and
friends. And she who was so agreeable to behold became on her death what
was too painful to look at. And the girl of slender waist lying on the
ground like one asleep--being overcome with the poison of the snake-once
more became more beautiful than in life. And her foster-father and the
other holy ascetics who were there, all saw her lying motionless upon the
ground with the splendour of a lotus. And then there came many noted
Brahmanas filled with compassion, and they sat around her. And
Swastyatreya, Mahajana, Kushika, Sankhamekhala, Uddalaka, Katha, and
Sweta of great renown, Bharadwaja, Kaunakutsya, Arshtishena, Gautama,
Pramati, and Pramati’s son Ruru, and other inhabitants of the forest,
came there. And when they saw that maiden lying dead on the ground
overcome with the poison of the reptile that had bitten her, they all
wept filled with compassion. But Ruru, mortified beyond measure, retired
from the scene.’”

So ends the eighth section of the Pauloma Parva of the Adi Parva of the
blessed Mahabharata.


(Pauloma Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘While those illustrious Brahmanas were sitting around the
dead body of Pramadvara, Ruru, sorely afflicted, retired into a deep wood
and wept aloud. And overwhelmed with grief he indulged in much piteous
lamentation. And, remembering his beloved Pramadvara, he gave vent to his
sorrow in the following words, ‘Alas! The delicate fair one that
increaseth my affliction lieth upon the bare ground. What can be more
deplorable to us, her friends? If I have been charitable, if I have
performed acts of penance, if I have ever revered my superiors, let the
merit of these arts restore to life my beloved one! If from my birth I
have been controlling my passions, adhered to my vows, let the fair
Pramadvara rise from the ground.

“And while Ruru was indulging in these lamentations for the loss of his
bride, a messenger from heaven came to him in the forest and addressed
him thus, ‘The words thou utterest, O Ruru, in thy affliction are
certainly ineffectual. For, O pious man, one belonging to this world
whose days have run out can never come back to life. This poor child of a
Gandharva and Apsara has had her days run out! Therefore, O child, thou
shouldst not consign thy heart to sorrow. The great gods, however, have
provided beforehand a means of her restoration to life. And if thou
compliest with it, thou mayest receive back thy Pramadvara.’

“And Ruru replied, O messenger of heaven! What is that which the gods
have ordained. Tell me in full so that (on hearing) I may comply with it.
It behoveth thee to deliver me from grief!’ And the celestial messenger
said unto Ruru, ‘Resign half of thy own life to thy bride, and then, O
Ruru of the race of Bhrigu, thy Pramadvara shall rise from the ground.’
‘O best of celestial messengers, I most willingly offer a moiety of my
own life in favour of my bride. Then let my beloved one rise up once more
in her dress and lovable form.’

“Sauti said, ‘Then the king of Gandharvas (the father of Pramadvara) and
the celestial messenger, both of excellent qualities, went to the god
Dharma (the Judge of the dead) and addressed him, saying, ‘If it be thy
will, O Dharmaraja, let the amiable Pramadvara, the betrothed wife of
Ruru, now lying dead, rise up with a moiety of Ruru’s life.’ And
Dharmaraja answered, ‘O messenger of the gods, if it be thy wish, let
Pramadvara, the betrothed wife of Ruru, rise up endued with a moiety of
Ruru’s life.’

“Sauti continued, ‘And when Dharmaraja had said so, that maiden of
superior complexion, Pramadvara, endued with a moiety of Ruru’s life,
rose as from her slumber. This bestowal by Ruru of a moiety of his own
span of life to resuscitate his bride afterwards led, as it would be
seen, to a curtailment of Ruru’s life.

“And on an auspicious day their fathers gladly married them with due
rites. And the couple passed their days, devoted to each other. And Ruru
having obtained such a wife, as is hard to be found, beautiful and bright
as the filaments of the lotus, made a vow for the destruction of the
serpent-race. And whenever he saw a serpent he became filled with great
wrath and always killed it with a weapon.

“One day, O Brahmana, Ruru entered an extensive forest. And there he saw
an old serpent of the Dundubha species lying stretched on the ground. And
Ruru thereupon lifted up in anger his staff, even like to the staff of
Death, for the purpose of killing it. Then the Dundubha, addressing Ruru,
said, ‘I have done thee no harm, O Brahmana! Then wherefore wilt thou
slay me in anger?’”

So ends the ninth section of the Pauloma Parva of the Adi Parva of the
blessed Mahabharata.


(Pauloma Parva continued)

Sauti said, ‘And Ruru, on hearing those words, replied, ‘My wife, dear to
me as life, was bit by a snake; upon which, I took, O snake, a dreadful
vow, viz., that I would kill every snake that I might come across.
Therefore shall I smite thee and thou shalt be deprived of life.’

“And the Dundubha replied, ‘O Brahmana, the snakes that bite man are
quite different in type. It behoveth thee not to slay Dundubhas who are
serpents only in name. Subject like other serpents to the same calamities
but not sharing their good fortune, in woe the same but in joy different,
the Dundubhas should not be slain by thee under any misconception.’

“Sauti continued, ‘And the Rishi Ruru hearing these words of the serpent,
and seeing that it was bewildered with fear, albeit a snake of the
Dundubha species, killed it not. And Ruru, the possessor of the six
attributes, comforting the snake addressed it, saying, ‘Tell me fully, O
snake, who art thou thus metamorphosed?’ And the Dundubha replied, ‘O
Ruru! I was formerly a Rishi by name Sahasrapat. And it is by the curse
of a Brahmana that I have been transformed into a snake. And Ruru asked,
‘O thou best of snakes, for what wast thou cursed by a Brahmana in wrath?
And how long also will thy form continue so?’”

And so ends the tenth section of the Pauloma Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Pauloma Parva continued)

“Sauti continued ‘The Dundubha then said, ‘In former times, I had a
friend Khagama by name. He was impetuous in his speech and possessed of
spiritual power by virtue of his austerities. And one day when he was
engaged in the Agni-hotra (Fire-sacrifice), I made a mock snake of blades
of grass, and in a frolic attempted to frighten him with it. And anon he
fell into a swoon. On recovering his senses, that truth-telling and
vow-observing ascetic, burning with wrath, exclaimed, ‘Since thou hast
made a powerless mock snake to frighten me, thou shalt be turned even
into a venomless serpent thyself by my curse.’ O ascetic, I well knew the
power of his penances; therefore with an agitated heart, I addressed him
thus, bending low with joined hands, ‘Friend, I did this by way of a
joke, to excite thy laughter. It behoveth thee to forgive me and revoke
thy curse.’ And seeing me sorely troubled, the ascetic was moved, and he
replied, breathing hot and hard. ‘What I have said must come to pass.
Listen to what I say and lay it to thy heart. O pious one! when Ruru the
pure son of Pramati, will appear, thou shall be delivered from the curse
the moment thou seest him. Thou art the very Ruru and the son of Pramati.
On regaining my native form, I will tell thee something for thy good.

“And that illustrious man and the best of Brahmanas then left his
snake-body, and attained his own form and original brightness. He then
addressed the following words to Ruru of incomparable power, ‘O thou
first of created beings, verily the highest virtue of man is sparing the
life of others. Therefore a Brahmana should never take the life of any
creature. A Brahmana should ever be mild. This is the most sacred
injunction of the Vedas. A Brahmana should be versed in the Vedas and
Vedangas, and should inspire all creatures with belief in God. He should
be benevolent to all creatures, truthful, and forgiving, even as it is
his paramount duty to retain the Vedas in his memory. The duties of the
Kshatriya are not thine. To be stern, to wield the sceptre and to rule
the subjects properly are the duties of the Kshatriya. Listen, O Ruru, to
the account of the destruction of snakes at the sacrifice of Janamejaya
in days of yore, and the deliverance of the terrified reptiles by that
best of Dwijas, Astika, profound in Vedic lore and might in spiritual

And so ends the eleventh section of the Pauloma Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Pauloma Parva continued)

“Sauti continued, ‘Ruru then asked, ‘O best of Dwijas, why was king
Janamejaya bent upon destroying the serpents?--And why and how were they
saved by the wise Astika? I am anxious to hear all this in detail.’

“The Rishi replied, ‘O Ruru, the important history of Astika you will
learn from the lips of Brahmanas.’ Saying this, he vanished.

“Sauti continued, ‘Ruru ran about in search of the missing Rishi, and
having failed to find him in all the woods, fell down on the ground,
fatigued. And revolving in his mind the words of the Rishi, he was
greatly confounded and seemed to be deprived of his senses. Regaining
consciousness, he came home and asked his father to relate the history in
question. Thus asked, his father related all about the story.’”

So ends the twelfth section in the Pauloma Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva)

“Saunaka said, ‘For what reason did that tiger among kings, the royal
Janamejaya, determine to take the lives of the snakes by means of a
sacrifice? O Sauti, tell us in full the true story. Tell us also why
Astika, that best of regenerate ones, that foremost of ascetics, rescued
the snakes from the blazing fire. Whose son was that monarch who
celebrated the snake-sacrifice? And whose son also was that best of
regenerate ones?’

“Sauti said, ‘O best of speakers, this story of Astika is long. I will
duly relate it in full, O listen!’

“Saunaka said, ‘I am desirous of hearing at length the charming story of
that Rishi, that illustrious Brahmana named Astika.’

“Sauti said, ‘This history (first) recited by Krishna-Dwaipayana, is
called a Purana by the Brahmanas. It was formerly narrated by my wise
father, Lomaharshana, the disciple of Vyasa, before the dwellers of the
Naimisha forest, at their request. I was present at the recital, and, O
Saunaka, since thou askest me, I shall narrate the history of Astika
exactly as I heard it. O listen, as I recite in full that sin-destroying

“The father of Astika was powerful like Prajapati. He was a
Brahma-charin, always engaged in austere devotions. He ate sparingly, was
a great ascetic, and had his lust under complete control. And he was
known by the name of Jaratkaru. That foremost one among the Yayavaras,
virtuous and of rigid vows, highly blessed and endued with great ascetic
power, once undertook a journey over the world. He visited diverse
places, bathed in diverse sacred waters, and rested where night overtook
him. Endued with great energy, he practised religious austerities, hard
to be practised by men of unrestrained souls. The sage lived upon air
only, and renounced sleep for ever. Thus going about like a blazing fire,
one day he happened to see his ancestors, hanging heads down in a great
hole, their feet pointing upwards. On seeing them, Jaratkaru addressed
them, saying:

‘Who are you thus hanging heads down in this hole by a rope of virana
fibres that is again secretly eaten into on all sides by a rat living

“The ancestors said, ‘We are Rishis of rigid vows, called Yayavaras. We
are sinking low into the earth for want of offspring. We have a son named
Jaratkaru. Woe to us! That wretch hath entered upon a life of austerities
only! The fool doth not think of raising offspring by marriage! It is for
that reason, viz., the fear of extinction of our race, that we are
suspended in this hole. Possessed of means, we fare like unfortunates
that have none! O excellent one, who art thou that thus sorrowest as a
friend on our account? We desire to learn, O Brahmana, who thou art that
standest by us, and why, O best of men, thou sorrowest for us that are so

“Jaratkaru said, ‘Ye are even my sires and grandsires I am that
Jaratkaru! O, tell me, how I may serve you.’

“The fathers then answered, ‘Try thy best, O child, to beget a son to
extend our line. Thou wilt then, O excellent one, have done a meritorious
art for both thyself and us. Not by the fruits of virtue, not by ascetic
penances well hoarded up, acquireth the merit which one doth by becoming
a father. Therefore, O child, by our command, set thy heart upon marriage
and offspring. Even this is our highest good.’

“Jaratkaru replied, ‘I shall not marry for my sake, nor shall I earn
wealth for enjoyment, but I shall do so for your welfare only. According
to this understanding, I shall, agreeably to the Sastric ordinance, take
a wife for attaining the end. I shall not act otherwise. If a bride may
be had of the same name with me, whose friends would, besides, willingly
give her to me as a gift in charity, I shall wed her duly. But who will
give his daughter to a poor man like me for wife. I shall, however,
accept any daughter given to me as alms. I shall endeavour, ye sires,
even thus to wed a girl! Having given my word, I will not act otherwise.
Upon her I will raise offspring for your redemption, so that, ye fathers,
ye may attain to eternal regions (of bliss) and may rejoice as ye like.’”

So ends the thirteenth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘That Brahmana of rigid vows then wandered over the earth
for a wife but a wife found he not. One day he went into the forest, and
recollecting the words of his ancestors, he thrice prayed in a faint
voice for a bride. Thereupon Vasuki rose and offered his sister for the
Rishi’s acceptance. But the Brahmana hesitated to accept her, thinking
her not to be of the same name with himself. The high-souled Jaratkaru
thought within himself, ‘I will take none for wife who is not of the same
name with myself.’ Then that Rishi of great wisdom and austere penances
asked him, saying, ‘Tell me truly what is the name of this thy sister, O

“Vasuki replied, ‘O Jaratkaru, this my younger sister is called
Jaratkaru. Given away by me, accept this slender-waisted damsel for thy
spouse. O best of Brahmanas, for thee I reserved her. Therefore, take
her.’ Saying this, he offered his beautiful sister to Jaratkaru who then
espoused her with ordained rites.’”

So ends the thirteenth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘O foremost of persons acquainted with Brahma, the mother of
the snakes had cursed them of old, saying, ‘He that hath the Wind for his
charioteer (viz., Agni) shall burn you all in Janamejaya’s sacrifice!’ It
was to neutralise that curse that the chief of the snakes married his
sister to that high-souled Rishi of excellent vows. The Rishi wedded her
according to the rites ordained (in the scriptures), and from them was
born a high-souled son called Astika. An illustrious ascetic; versed in
the Vedas and their branches, he regarded all with an even eye, and
removed the fears of both his parents.

“Then, after a long space of time, a king descending from the Pandava
line celebrated a great sacrifice known as the Snake-sacrifice, After
that sacrifice had commenced for the destruction of the snakes, Astika
delivered the Nagas, viz., his brothers and maternal uncles and other
snakes (from a fiery death). And he delivered his fathers also by
begetting offspring. And by his austerities, O Brahmana, and various vows
and study of the Vedas, he freed himself from all his debts. By
sacrifices, at which various kinds of offerings were made, he propitiated
the gods. By practising the Brahmacharya mode of life he conciliated the
Rishis; and by begetting offspring he gratified his ancestors.

“Thus Jaratkaru of rigid vows discharged the heavy debt he owed to his
sires who being thus relieved from bondage ascended to heaven. Thus
having acquired great religious merit, Jaratkaru, after a long course of
years, went to heaven, leaving Astika behind. There is the story of
Astika that I have related duly Now, tell me, O tiger of Bhrigu’s race,
what else I shall narrate.”

So ends the fifteenth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

“Saunaka said, ‘O Sauti, relate once more in detail this history of the
learned and virtuous Astika. Our curiosity for hearing it is great. O
amiable one, thou speakest sweetly, with proper accent and emphasis; and
we are well-pleased with thy speech. Thou speakest even as thy father.
Thy sire was ever ready to please us. Tell us now the story as thy father
had related it.’

“Sauti said, ‘O thou that art blest with longevity, I shall narrate the
history of Astika as I heard it from my father. O Brahmana, in the golden
age, Prajapati had two daughters. O sinless one, the sisters were endowed
with wonderful beauty. Named Kadru and Vinata, they became the wives of
Kasyapa. Kasyapa derived great pleasure from his two wedded wives and
being gratified he, resembling Prajapati himself, offered to give each of
them a boon. Hearing that their lord was willing to confer on them their
choice blessings, those excellent ladies felt transports of joy. Kadru
wished to have for sons a thousand snakes all of equal splendour. And
Vinata wished to bring forth two sons surpassing the thousand offsprings
of Kadru in strength, energy, size of body, and prowess. Unto Kadru her
lord gave that boon about a multitude of offspring. And unto Vinata also,
Kasyapa said, ‘Be it so!’ Then Vinata, having; obtained her prayer,
rejoiced greatly. Obtaining two sons of superior prowess, she regarded
her boon fulfilled. Kadru also obtained her thousand sons of equal
splendour. ‘Bear the embryos carefully,’ said Kasyapa, and then he went
into the forest, leaving his two wives pleased with his blessings.’

“Sauti continued, ‘O best of regenerate ones, after a long time, Kadru
brought forth a thousand eggs, and Vinata two. Their maid-servants
deposited the eggs separately in warm vessels. Five hundred years passed
away, and the thousand eggs produced by Kadru burst and out came the
progeny. But the twins of Vinata did not appear. Vinata was jealous, and
therefore she broke one of the eggs and found in it an embryo with the
upper part developed but the lower one undeveloped. At this, the child in
the egg became angry and cursed his mother, saying. ‘Since thou hast
prematurely broken this egg, thou shall serve as a slave. Shouldst thou
wait five hundred years and not destroy, or render the other egg
half-developed, by breaking it through impatience, then the illustrious
child within it will deliver thee from slavery! And if thou wouldst have
the child strong, thou must take tender care of the egg for all this
time!’ Thus cursing his mother, the child rose to the sky. O Brahmana,
even he is the charioteer of Surya, always seen in the hour of morning!

“Then at the expiration of the five hundred years, bursting open the
other egg, out came Garuda, the serpent-eater. O tiger of Bhrigu’s race,
immediately on seeing the light, that son of Vinata left his mother. And
the lord of birds, feeling hungry, took wing in quest of the food
assigned to him by the Great Ordainer of all.”.

So ends the sixteenth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘O ascetic, about this time the two sisters saw approaching
near, that steed of complacent appearance named Uchchaihsravas who was
worshipped by the gods, that gem of steeds, who arose at the churning of
the Ocean for nectar. Divine, graceful, perpetually young, creation’s
master-piece, and of irresistible vigour, it was blest with every
auspicious mark.’

“Saunaka asked, ‘Why did the gods churn the Ocean for nectar, and under
what circumstances and when as you say, did that best of steeds so
powerful and resplendent spring?’

“Sauti said, ‘There is a mountain named Meru, of blazing appearance, and
looking like a heap of effulgence. The rays of the Sun falling on its
peaks of golden lustre are dispersed by them. Decked with gold and
exceedingly beautiful, that mountain is the haunt of the gods and the
Gandharvas. It is immeasurable and unapproachable by men of manifold
sins. Dreadful beasts of prey wander over its breasts, and it is
illuminated by many divine life-giving herbs. It stands kissing the
heavens by its height and is the first of mountains. Ordinary people
cannot even think of ascending it. It is graced with trees and streams,
and resounds with the charming melody of winged choirs. Once the
celestials sat on its begemmed peak--in conclave. They who had practised
penances and observed excellent vows for amrita now seemed to be eager
seekers alter amrita (celestial ambrosia). Seeing the celestial assembly
in anxious mood Nara-yana said to Brahman, ‘Do thou churn the Ocean with
the gods and the Asuras. By doing so, amrita will be obtained as also all
drugs and gems. O ye gods, chum the Ocean, ye will discover amrita.’”

So ends the seventeenth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘There is a mountain called Mandara adorned with cloud-like
peaks. It is the best of mountains, and is covered all over with
intertwining herbs. There countless birds pour forth their melodies, and
beasts of prey roam about. The gods, the Apsaras and the Kinnaras visit
the place. Upwards it rises eleven thousand yojanas, and descends
downwards as much. The gods wanted to tear it up and use it as a churning
rod but failing to do so same to Vishnu and Brahman who were sitting
together, and said unto them, ‘Devise some efficient scheme, consider, ye
gods, how Mandara may be dislodged for our good.’

“Sauti continued, ‘O son of Bhrigu! Vishnu with Brahman assented to it.
And the lotus-eyed one (Vishnu) laid the hard task on the mighty Ananta,
the prince of snakes. The powerful Ananta, directed thereto both by
Brahman and Narayana, O Brahmana, tore up the mountain with the woods
thereon and with the denizens of those woods. And the gods came to the
shore of the Ocean with Ananta and addressed the Ocean, saying, ‘O Ocean;
we have come to churn thy waters for obtaining nectar.’ And the Ocean
replied, ‘Be it so, as I shall not go without a share of it. I am able to
bear the prodigious agitation of my waters set up by the mountain.’ The
gods then went to the king of tortoises and said to him, ‘O
Tortoise-king, thou wilt have to hold the mountain on thy back!’ The
Tortoise-king agreed, and Indra contrived to place the mountain on the
former’s back.

“And the gods and the Asuras made of Mandara a churning staff and Vasuki
the cord, and set about churning the deep for amrita. The Asuras held
Vasuki by the hood and the gods held him by the tail. And Ananta, who was
on the side of the gods, at intervals raised the snake’s hood and
suddenly lowered it. And in consequence of the stretch Vasuki received at
the hands of the gods and the Asuras, black vapours with flames issued
from his mouth. These, turned into clouds charged with lightning, poured
showers that refreshed the tired gods. And flowers that also fell on all
sides of the celestials from the trees on the whirling Mandara, refreshed

“Then, O Brahmana, out of the deep came a tremendous roar like unto the
roar of the clouds at the Universal Dissolution. Diverse aquatic animals
being crushed by the great mountain gave up the ghost in the salt waters.
And many denizens of the lower regions and the world of Varuna were
killed. Large trees with birds on the whirling Mandara were torn up by
the roots and fell into the water. The mutual friction of those trees
also produced fires that blazed up frequently. The mountain thus looked
like a mass of dark clouds charged with lightning. O Brahmana, the fire
spread, and consumed the lions, elephants and other creatures that were
on the mountain. Then Indra extinguished that fire by pouring down heavy

“After the churning, O Brahmana, had gone on for some time, gummy
exudations of various trees and herbs vested with the properties of
amrita mingled with the waters of the Ocean. And the celestials attained
to immortality by drinking of the water mixed with those gums and with
the liquid extract of gold. By degrees, the milky water of the agitated
deep turned into clarified butter by virtue of those gums and juices. But
nectar did not appear even then. The gods came before the boon-granting
Brahman seated on his seat and said, ‘Sire, we are spent up, we have no
strength left to churn further. Nectar hath not yet arisen so that now we
have no resource save Narayana.’

“On hearing them, Brahman said to Narayana, ‘O Lord, condescend to grant
the gods strength to churn the deep afresh.’

“Then Narayana agreeing to grant their various prayers, said, ‘Ye wise
ones, I grant you sufficient strength. Go, put the mountain in position
again and churn the water.’

‘Re-established thus in strength, the gods recommenced churning. After a
while, the mild Moon of a thousand rays emerged from the Ocean.
Thereafter sprung forth Lakshmi dressed in white, then Soma, then the
White Steed, and then the celestial gem Kaustubha which graces the breast
of Narayana. Then Lakshmi, Soma and the Steed, fleet as the mind, all
came before the gods on high. Then arose the divine Dhanwantari himself
with the white vessel of nectar in his hand. And seeing him, the Asuras
set up a loud cry, saying, ‘It be ours.’

“And at length rose the great elephant, Airavata, of huge body and with
two pair of white tusks. And him took Indra the wielder of the
thunderbolt. But with the churning still going on, the poison Kalakuta
appeared at last. Engulfing the Earth it suddenly blazed up like a fire
attended with fumes. And by the scent of the fearful Kalakuta, the three
worlds were stupefied. And then Siva, being solicited by Brahman,
swallowed that poison for the safety of the creation. The divine
Maheswara held it in his throat, and it is said that from that time he is
called Nilakantha (blue-throated). Seeing all these wondrous things, the
Asuras were filled with despair, and got themselves prepared for entering
into hostilities with the gods for the possession of Lakshmi and Amrita.
Thereupon Narayana called his bewitching Maya (illusive power) to his
aid, and assuming the form of an enticing female, coquetted with the
Danavas. The Danavas and the Daityas charmed with her exquisite beauty
and grace lost their reason and unanimously placed the Amrita in the
hands of that fair damsel.’”

So ends the eighteenth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘Then the Daityas and the Danauas equipped with first-class
armours and various weapons attacked the gods. In the meantime the
valiant Lord Vishnu in the form of an enchantress accompanied by Nara
deceived the mighty Danavas and took away the Amrita from their hands.

“And all the gods at that time of great fright drank the Amrita with
delight, receiving it from Vishnu. And while the gods were partaking of
it, after which they had so much hankered, a Danava named Rahu was also
drinking it among them in the guise of a god. And when the Amrita had
reached Rahu’s throat only, Surya and Soma (recognised him and) intimated
the fact to the gods. And Narayana instantly cut off with his discus the
well-adorned head of the Danava who was drinking the Amrita without
permission. And the huge head of the Danava, cut off by the discus and
resembling a mountain peak, then rose up to the sky and began to utter
dreadful cries. And the Danava’s headless trunk, falling upon the ground
and rolling thereon, made the Earth tremble with her mountains, forests
and islands. And from that time there is a long-standing quarrel between
Rahu’s head and Surya and Soma. And to this day it swalloweth Surya and
Soma (during solar and lunar eclipses).

“Then Narayana quitting his enchanting female form and hurling many
terrible weapons at the Danavas, made them tremble. And thus on the
shores of the salt-water sea, commenced the dreadful battle of the gods
and the Asuras. And sharp-pointed javelins and lances and various weapons
by thousands began to be discharged on all sides. And mangled with the
discus and wounded with swords, darts and maces, the Asuras in large
numbers vomited blood and lay prostrate on the earth. Cut off from the
trunks with sharp double-edged swords, heads adorned with bright gold,
fell continually on the field of battle. Their bodies drenched in gore,
the great Asuras lay dead everywhere. It seemed as if red-dyed mountain
peaks lay scattered all around. And when the Sun rose in his splendour,
thousands of warriors struck one another with weapons. And cries of
distress were heard everywhere. The warriors fighting at a distance from
one another brought one another down by sharp iron missiles, and those
fighting at close quarters slew one another with blows of their fists.
And the air was filled with shrieks of distress. Everywhere were heard
the alarming sounds,--‘cut’, ‘pierce’, ‘at them’, ‘hurl down’, ‘advance’.

‘And when the battle was raging fiercely, Nara and Narayana entered the
field. And Narayana seeing the celestial bow in the hand of Nara, called
to mind his own weapon, the Danava-destroying discus. And lo! the discus,
Sudarsana, destroyer of enemies, like to Agni in effulgence and dreadful
in battle, came from the sky as soon as thought of. And when it came,
Narayana of fierce energy, possessing arms like the trunk of an elephant,
hurled with great force that weapon of extraordinary lustre, effulgent as
blazing fire, dreadful and capable of destroying hostile towns. And that
discus blazing like the fire that consumeth all things at the end of
Yuga, hurled with force from the hands of Narayana, and falling
constantly everywhere, destroyed the Daityas and the Danavas by
thousands. Sometimes it blazed like fire and consumed them all; sometimes
it struck them down as it coursed through the sky; and sometimes, falling
on the earth, it drank their life-blood like a goblin.

“On the other hand, the Danavas, white as the clouds from which the rain
hath dropped, possessing great strength and bold hearts, ascended the
sky, and by hurling down thousands of mountains, continually harassed the
gods. And those dreadful mountains, like masses of clouds, with their
trees and flat tops, falling from the sky, collided with one another and
produced a tremendous roar. And when thousands of warriors shouted
without intermission in the field of battle and mountains with the woods
thereon began to fall around, the earth with her forests trembled. Then
the divine Nara appeared at the scene of the dreadful conflict between
the Asuras and the Ganas (the followers of Rudra), and reducing to dust
those rocks by means of his gold-headed arrows, he covered the heavens
with dust. Thus discomfited by the gods, and seeing the furious discus
scouring the fields of heaven like a blazing flame, the mighty Danavas
entered the bowels of the earth, while others plunged into the sea of

“And having gained the victory, the gods offered due respect to Mandara
and placed him again on his own base. And the nectar-bearing gods made
the heavens resound with their shouts, and went to their own abodes. And
the gods, on returning to the heavens, rejoiced greatly, and Indra and
the other deities made over to Narayana the vessel of Amrita for careful

And so ends the nineteenth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘Thus have I recited to you the whole story of how Amrita
was churned out of the Ocean, and the occasion on which the horse
Uchchaihsravas of great beauty and incomparable prowess was obtained. It
was this horse about which Kadru asked Vinata, saying, ‘Tell me, amiable
sister, without taking much time, of what colour Uchchaishravas is.’ And
Vinata answered, ‘That prince of steeds is certainly white. What dost
thou think, sister? Say thou what is its colour. Let us lay a wager upon
it.’ Kadru replied, then, ‘O thou of sweet smiles. I think that horse is
black in its tail. Beauteous one, bet with me that she who loseth will
become the other’s slave.’

‘Sauti continued, ‘Thus wagering with each other about menial service as
a slave, the sisters went home, and resolved to satisfy themselves by
examining the horse next day. And Kadru, bent upon practising a
deception, ordered her thousand sons to transform themselves into black
hair and speedily cover the horse’s tail in order that she might not
become a slave. But her sons, the snakes, refusing to do her bidding, she
cursed them, saying, ‘During the snake-sacrifice of the wise king
Janamejaya of the Pandava race, Agni shall consume you all.’ And the
Grandsire (Brahman) himself heard this exceedingly cruel curse pronounced
by Kadru, impelled by the fates. And seeing that the snakes had
multiplied exceedingly, the Grandsire, moved by kind consideration for
his creatures, sanctioned with all the gods this curse of Kadru. Indeed,
as the snakes were of virulent poison, great prowess and excess of
strength, and ever bent on biting other creatures, their mother’s conduct
towards them--those persecutors of all creatures,--was very proper for
the good of all creatures. Fate always inflicts punishment of death on
those who seek the death of other creatures. The gods, having exchanged
such sentiments with one another, supported Kadru’s action (and went
away). And Brahman, calling Kasyapa to him, spake unto him these words,
‘O thou pure one who overcomest all enemies, these snakes begotten by
you, who are of virulent poison and huge bodies, and ever intent on
biting other creatures, have been cursed by their mother. O son, do not
grieve for it in the least. The destruction of the snakes in the
sacrifice hath, indeed, been ordained long ago’ Saying this, the divine
Creator of the Universe comforted Kasyapa and imparted to that
illustrious one the knowledge of neutralising poison.”

And so ends the twentieth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said. ‘Then when the night had passed away and the sun had risen
in the morning, O thou whose wealth is asceticism, the two sisters Kadru
and Vinata, having laid a wager about slavery, went with haste and
impatience to view the steed Uchchaishravas from a near point. On their
way they saw the Ocean, that receptacle of waters, vast and deep, rolling
and tremendously roaring, full of fishes large enough to swallow the
whale, and abounding with huge makaras and creatures of various forms by
thousands, and rendered inaccessible by the presence of other terrible,
monster-shaped, dark, and fierce aquatic animals, abounding with
tortoises and crocodiles, the mine of all kinds of gems, the home of
Varuna (the water-God), the excellent and beautiful residence of the
Nagas, the lord of all rivers, the abode of the subterranean fire, the
friend (or asylum) of the Asuras, the terror of all creatures, the grand
reservoir of water, and ever immutable. It is holy, beneficial to the
gods, and is the great source of nectar; without limits, inconceivable,
sacred, and highly wonderful. It is dark, terrible with the sound of
aquatic creatures, tremendously roaring, and full of deep whirl-pools. It
is an object of terror to all creatures. Moved by the winds blowing from
its shores and heaving high, agitated and disturbed, it seems to dance
everywhere with uplifted hands represented by its surges. Full of
swelling billows caused by the waxing and waning of the moon the parent
of Vasudeva’s great conch called Panchajanya, the great mine of gems, its
waters were formerly disturbed in consequence of the agitation caused
within them by the Lord Govinda of immeasurable prowess when he had
assumed the form of a wild boar for raising the (submerged) Earth. Its
bottom, lower than the nether regions, the vow observing regenerate Rishi
Atri could not fathom after (toiling for) a hundred years. It becomes the
bed of the lotus-naveled Vishnu when at the termination of every Yuga
that deity of immeasurable power enjoys yoga-nidra, the deep sleep under
the spell of spiritual meditation. It is the refuge of Mainaka fearful of
falling thunder, and the retreat of the Asuras overcome in fierce
encounters. It offers water as sacrificial butter to the blazing fire
issuing from the mouth of Varava (the Ocean-mare). It is fathomless and
without limits, vast and immeasurable, and the lord of rivers.

“And they saw that unto it rushed mighty rivers by thousands with proud
gait, like amorous competitors, each eager for meeting it, forestalling
the others. And they saw that it was always full, and always dancing in
its waves. And they saw that it was deep and abounding with fierce whales
and makaras. And it resounded constantly with the terrible sounds of
aquatic creatures. And they saw that it was vast, and wide as the expanse
of space, unfathomable, and limitless, and the grand reservoir of water.’”

And so ends the twenty-first section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘The Nagas after consultation arrived at the conclusion that
they should do their mother’s bidding, for if she failed in obtaining her
desire she might withdraw her affection and burn them all. If, on the
other hand, she were graciously inclined, she might free them from her
curse. They said, ‘We will certainly render the horse’s tail black.’ And
it is said that they then went and became hairs in the horse’s tail.

“Now the two co-wives had laid the wager. And having laid the wager, O
best of Brahmanas, the two sisters Kadru and Vinata, the daughters of
Daksha, proceeded in great delight along the sky to see the other side of
the Ocean. And on their way they saw the Ocean, that receptacle of
waters, incapable of being easily disturbed, mightily agitated all of a
sudden by the wind, and roaring tremendously; abounding with fishes
capable of swallowing the whale and full of makaras; containing also
creatures of diverse forms counted by thousands; frightful from the
presence of horrible monsters, inaccessible, deep, and terrible, the mine
of all kinds of gems, the home of Varuna (the water-god), the wonderful
habitations of the Nagas, the lord of rivers, the abode of the
subterranean fire; the residence of the Asuras and of many dreadful
creatures; the reservoir of water, not subject to decay, aromatic, and
wonderful, the great source of the amrita of the celestials; immeasurable
and inconceivable, containing waters that are holy, filled to the brim by
many thousands of great rivers, dancing as it were in waves. Such was the
Ocean, full of rolling waves, vast as the expanse of the sky, deep, of
body lighted with the flames of subterranean fire, and roaring, which the
sisters quickly passed over.’”

And so ends the twenty-second section in the Astika Parva of the Adi


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘Having crossed the Ocean, Kadru of swift speed, accompanied
by Vinata, soon alighted near the horse. They then both beheld that
foremost of steeds of great speed, with body white as the rays of the
moon but having black hairs (in the tail). And observing many black hairs
in the tail, Kadru put Vinata, who was deeply dejected, into slavery. And
thus Vinata having lost the wager, entered into a state of slavery and
became exceedingly sorry.

“In the meantime, when his time came, burst forth from the egg without
(the help of his) mother, Garuda of great splendour, enkindling all the
points of the universe, that mighty being endued with strength, that bird
capable of assuming at will any form, of going at will everywhere, and of
calling to his aid at will any measure of energy. Effulgent like a heap
of fire, he shone terribly. Of lustre equal to that of the fire at the
end of the Yuga, his eyes were bright like the lightning-flash. And soon
after birth, that bird grew in size and increasing his body ascended the
skies. Fierce and vehemently roaring, he looked as terrible as second
Ocean-fire. And all the deities seeing him, sought the protection of
Vibhavasu (Agni). And they bowed down to that deity of manifold forms
seated on his seat and spake unto him these words, ‘O Agni, extend not
thy body! Wilt thou consume us? Lo, this huge heap of thy flames is
spreading wide!’ And Agni replied, ‘O, ye persecutors of the Asuras, it
is not as ye imagine. This is Garuda of great strength and equal to me in
splendour, endued with great energy, and born to promote the joy of
Vinata. Even the sight of this heap of effulgence hath caused this
delusion in you. He is the mighty son of Kasyapa, the destroyer of the
Nagas, engaged in the well-being of the gods, and the foe of the Daityas
and the Rakshasas. Be not afraid of it in the least. Come with me and
see.’ Thus addressed, the gods from a distance.

“The gods said, ‘Thou art a Rishi (i.e., one cognisant of all mantras),
share of the largest portion in sacrifices, ever resplendent, the
controller along with the Rishi wended their way towards Garuda and
adored him of birds, the presiding spirit of the animate and the
inanimate universe. Thou art the destroyer of all, the creator of all;
thou art the very Hiranyagarbha; thou art the progenitor of creation in
the form of Daksha and the other Prajapatis; thou art Indra (the king of
the gods), thou art Hayagriva the steed necked incarnation of Vishnu;
thou art the arrow (Vishnu himself, as he became such in the hands of
Mahadeva at the burning of Tripura); thou art the lord of the universe;
thou art the mouth of Vishnu; thou art the four-faced Padmaja; thou art
the Brahmana (i.e., wise), thou art Agni, Pavana, etc. (i.e., the
presiding deity of every object in the universe). Thou art knowledge,
thou art the illusion to which we are all subject; thou art the
all-pervading spirit; thou art the lord of the gods; thou art the great
Truth; thou art fearless; thou art ever unchanged; thou art Brahma
without attributes; thou art the energy of the Sun; thou art the
intellectual functions; thou art our great protector; thou art the ocean
of holiness; thou art purity; thou art bereft of the attributes of
darkness; thou art the possessor of the six high attributes; thou art he
who cannot be withstood in contest. From thee have emanated all things;
thou art of excellent deeds; thou art all that hath not been and all that
hath been. Thou art pure knowledge; thou displayest to us, as Surya does
by his rays, this animate and inanimate universe; thou darkenest the
splendour of Surya at every moment, and thou art the destroyer of all;
thou art all that is perishable and all that is imperishable. O thou
resplendent as Agni, thou burnest all even as Surya in his anger burneth
all creatures. O terrible one, thou resistest even as the fire that
destroys everything at the time of the Universal Dissolution. O mighty
Garuda who movest in the skies, we seek thy protection. O lord of birds
thy energy is extraordinary, thy splendour is that of fire, thy
brightness is like that of the lightning that no darkness can approach.
Thou reachest the very clouds, and art both the cause and the effect; the
dispenser of boons and invincible in prowess. O Lord, this whole universe
is rendered hot by thy splendour, bright as the lustre of heated gold.
Protect these high-souled gods, who overcome by thee and terrified
withal, are flying along the heavens in different directions on their
celestial cars. O thou best of birds, thou Lord of all, thou art the son
of the merciful and high-souled Rishi Kasyapa; therefore, be not wroth
but have mercy on the universe. Thou art Supreme. O pacify thy anger and
preserve us. At thy voice, loud as the roar of the thunder, the ten
points, the skies, the heavens, the Earth and our hearts, O bird, thou
art continuously shaking. O, diminish this thy body resembling Agni. At
the sight of the splendour resembling that of Yama when in wrath, our
hearts lose all equanimity and quake. O thou lord of birds, be propitious
to us who solicit thy mercy! O illustrious one, bestow on us good fortune
and joy.’

And that bird of fair feathers, thus adored by the deities and diverse
sections of Rishis, reduced his own energy and splendour.’”

And thus ends the twenty-third section in the Astika Parva of the Adi


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘Then hearing of and beholding his own body, that bird of
beautiful feathers diminished its size.’

“And Garuda said, ‘Let no creature be afraid; as ye are in a fright at
the sight of my terrible form, I shall diminish my energy.’

“Sauti continued, ‘Then that bird capable of going everywhere at will,
that ranger of the skies capable of calling to his aid any measure of
energy, bearing Aruna on his back, wended from his father’s home and
arrived at his mother’s side on the other shore of the great ocean. And
he placed Aruna of great splendour in the eastern regions, just at a time
when Surya had resolved to burn the worlds with his fierce rays.’

“Saunaka said, ‘When did the revered Surya resolve at the time to burn
the worlds? What wrong was done to him by the gods that provoked his

“Sauti said, ‘O sinless one, when Rahu was drinking nectar among the gods
at the time of the churning of the ocean he was pointed out to the gods
by Surya and Soma, and from that time he conceived an enmity towards
those deities. And upon this Rahu sought to devour his afflictor (Surya),
became wroth, and thought, ‘Oh, this enmity of Rahu towards me hath
sprung from my desire of benefiting the gods. And this dire consequence I
alone have to sustain. Indeed, at this pass help I obtain not. And before
the very eyes of the denizens of heaven I am going to be devoured and
they brook it quietly. Therefore, for the destruction of the worlds must
I strive.’ And with this resolution he went to the mountains of the west.

“And from that place he began to radiate his heat around for the
destruction of the world. And then the great Rishis, approaching the
gods, spake unto them, ‘Lo, in the middle of the night springeth a great
heat striking terror into every heart, and destructive of the three
worlds.’ Then the gods, accompanied by the Rishis, wended to the
Grandsire, and said unto him, ‘O what is this great heat today that
causeth such panic? Surya hath not yet risen, still the destruction (of
the world) is obvious. O Lord, what will happen when he doth rise?” The
Grandsire replied, ‘Indeed, Surya is prepared to rise today for the
destruction of the world. As soon as he will appear he will burn
everything into a heap of ashes. By me, however, hath the remedy been
provided beforehand. The intelligent son of Kasyapa is known to all by
the name of Aruna. He is huge of body and of great splendour; he shall
stay in front of Surya, doing the duty of his charioteer and taking away
all the energy of the former. And this will ensure the welfare of the
worlds, of the Rishis, and of the dwellers in heaven.’

“Sauti continued, ‘Aruna, at the behest of the Grandsire, did all that he
was ordered to do. And Surya rose veiled by Aruna’s person. I have told
thee now why Surya was in wrath, and how Aruna, the brother of Garuda,
was appointed as his charioteer. Hear next of that other question asked
by thee a little while ago.’”

And so ends the twenty-fourth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘Then that bird of great strength and energy and capable of
going at will to every place repaired to his mother’s side on the other
shore of the great ocean. Thither lived Vinata in affliction, defeated in
wager and put into a state of slavery. Once Kadru calling Vinata who had
prostrated herself before the former, addressed her these words in the
presence of her son, ‘O gentle Vinata, there is in the midst of the
ocean, in a remote quarter, a delightful and fair region inhabited by the
Nagas. Bear me thither!’ At this that mother of the bird of fair feathers
bore (on her shoulders) the mother of the snakes. And Garuda also,
directed by his mother’s words, carried (on his back) the snakes. And
that ranger of the skies born of Vinata began to ascend towards the Sun.
And thereupon the snakes, scorched by the rays of the Sun, swooned away.
And Kadru seeing her sons in that state prayed to Indra, saying, ‘I bow
to thee, thou Lord of all the gods! I bow to thee, thou slayer of Vritra!
I bow to thee, thou slayer of Namuchi! O thou of a thousand eyes, consort
of Sachi! By thy showers, be thou the protector of the snakes scorched by
the Sun. O thou best of the deities, thou art our great protector. O
Purandara, thou art able to grant rain in torrents. Thou art Vayu (the
air), the clouds, fire, and the lightning of the skies. Thou art the
propeller of the clouds, and hast been called the great cloud (i.e., that
which will darken the universe at the end of Yuga). Thou art the fierce
and incomparable thunder, and the roaring clouds. Thou art the Creator of
the worlds and their Destroyer. Thou art unconquered. Thou art the light
of all creatures, Aditya, Vibhavasu, and the wonderful elements. Thou art
the ruler of all the gods. Thou art Vishnu. Thou hast a thousand eyes.
Thou art a god, and the final resource. Thou art, O deity, all amrita,
and the most adored Soma. Thou art the moment, the lunar day, the bala
(minute), thou art the kshana (4 minutes). Thou art the lighted
fortnight, and also the dark fortnight. Thou art kala, thou kashtha, and
thou Truti.[1] Thou art the year, the seasons, the months, the nights,
and the days. Thou art the fair Earth with her mountains and forests.
Thou art also the firmament, resplendent with the Sun. Thou art the great
Ocean with heaving billows and abounding with whales, swallowers of
whales, and makaras, and various fishes. Thou art of great renown, always
adored by the wise and by the great Rishis with minds rapt in
contemplation. Thou drinkest, for the good of all creatures, the Soma
juice in sacrifices and the clarified butter offered with sacred
invocation. Thou art always worshipped at sacrifices by Brahmanas moved
by desire of fruit. O thou of incomparable mass of strength, thou art
sung in the Vedas and Vedangas. It is for that reason that learned
Brahmanas bent upon performing sacrifices, study the Vedas with every

And so ends the twenty-fifth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘And then Indra, the king of gods, having the best of horses
for his bearer, thus adored by Kadru, covered the entire firmament with
masses of blue clouds. And he commanded the clouds, saying, Pour ye, your
vivifying and blessed drops!’ And those clouds, luminous with lightning,
and incessantly roaring against each other in the welkin, poured abundant
water. And the sky, in consequence of those wonderful and
terribly-roaring clouds that were incessantly begetting vast quantities
of water, looked as if the end of Yuga had come. And in consequence of
the myriads of waves caused in the falling torrents, the deep roar of the
clouds, the flashes of lightning, the violence of the wind, and the
general agitation, the sky looked as if dancing in madness. The sky
became overcast, and the rays of the Sun and the Moon totally disappeared
in consequence of that incessant downpour.

“And upon Indra’s causing that downpour, the Nagas became exceedingly
delighted. And the Earth was filled with water all around. And the cool,
clear water reached even the nether regions. And there were countless
waves of water all over the Earth. And the snakes with their mother
reached (in safety) the island called Ramaniyaka.”

And so ends the twenty-sixth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘And then the Nagas drenched by that shower, became
exceedingly glad. And borne by that bird of fair feathers, they soon
arrived at the island. That island had been fixed by the Creator of the
Universe as the abode of the makaras. There they saw the terrible Lavana
Samudra (ocean of salt). On arriving there with Garuda, they saw there a
beautiful forest washed by the waters of the sea and resounding with the
music of winged choirs. And there were clusters of trees all around laden
with various fruits and flowers. And there were also fair mansions all
around; and many tanks full of lotuses. And it was also adorned with many
lakes of pure water. And it was refreshed with pure incense-breathing
breezes. And it was adorned with many a tree that grew only on the hills
of Malaya, and seemed by their tallness to reach the very heavens. And
there were also various other trees whose flowers were scattered all
around by the breeze. And that forest was charming and dear to the
Gandharvas and always gave them pleasure. And it was full of bees
maddened with the honey they sucked. And the sight of all this was
exceedingly delightful. And in consequence of many things there, capable
of charming everybody, that forest was fair, delightful, and holy. And,
echoing with the notes of various birds, it delighted greatly the sons of

“And the snakes, after arriving at that forest, began to enjoy
themselves. And they commanded the lord of birds, viz., Garuda, of great
energy, saying, ‘Convey us to some other fair island with pure water.
Thou ranger of the skies, thou must have seen many fair regions while
coursing (through the air).’ Garuda, alter reflecting for a few moments,
asked his mother Vinata, saying, ‘Why, mother, have I to do the bidding
of the snakes?’ Vinata thus questioned by him spake unto that ranger of
the skies, her son, invested with every virtue, of great energy, and
great strength, as follows: “Vinata said, ‘O thou best of birds, I have
become, from misfortune, the slave of my co-wife. The snakes, by an act
of deception, caused me to lose my bet and have made me so.’ When his
mother had told him the reason, that ranger of the skies, dejected with
grief, addressed the snakes, saying, ‘Tell me, ye snakes, by bringing
what thing, gaining a knowledge of what thing, or doing what act of
prowess, we may be freed from this state of bondage to you.’” Sauti
continued, ‘The snakes, hearing him, said, ‘Bring thou amrita by force.
Then O bird, shall you be freed from bondage.’” And so ends the
twenty-seventh section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘Garuda, thus addressed by the snakes, then said unto his
mother, ‘I shall go to bring amrita, I desire to eat something in the
way. Direct me to it.’ Vinata replied, ‘In a remote region in the midst
of the ocean, the Nishadas have their fair home. Having eaten the
thousands of Nishadas that live there, bring thou amrita. But let not thy
heart be ever set on taking the life of a Brahmana. Of all creatures a
Brahmana must not be slain. He is, indeed, like fire. A Brahmana, when
angry, becomes like fire or the Sun, like poison or an edged weapon. A
Brahmana, it has been said, is the master of all creatures. For these and
other reasons, a Brahmana is the adored of the virtuous. O child, he is
never to be slain by thee even in anger. Hostility with Brahmanas,
therefore, would not be proper under any circumstances. O sinless one,
neither Agni nor Surya truly can consume so much as does a Brahmana of
rigid vows, when angry. By these various indications must thou know a
good Brahmana. Indeed, a brahmana is the first-born of all creatures, the
foremost of the four orders, the father and the master of all.’” Garuda
then asked, ‘O mother, of what form is a Brahmana, of what behaviour, and
of what prowess? Doth he shine like fire, or is he of tranquil mien? And,
O mother, it behoveth thee to tell my inquiring self, those auspicious
signs by which I may recognise a Brahmana.’” Vinata replied, saying, ‘O
child, him shouldst thou know as the best amongst Brahmanas who having
entered thy throat would torture thee as a fish-hook or burn thee as
blazing charcoal. A Brahmana must never be slain by thee even in anger.’
And Vinata out of affection for her son, again told him these words, ‘Him
shouldst thou know as a good Brahmana who would not be digested in thy
stomach.’ Although she knew the incomparable strength of her son, yet she
blessed him heartily, for, deceived by the snakes, she was very much
afflicted by woe. And she said. ‘Let Marut (the god of the winds) protect
thy wings, and Surya and Soma thy vertebral regions; let Agni protect thy
head, and the Vasus thy whole body. I also, O child (engaged in
beneficial ceremonies), shall sit here for your welfare. Go then, O
child, in safety to accomplish thy purpose.’

“Sauti continued, ‘Then Garuda, having heard the words of his mother,
stretched his wings and ascended the skies. And endued with great
strength, he soon fell upon the Nishadas, hungry and like another Yama.
And bent upon slaying the Nishadas, he raised a great quantity of dust
that overspread the firmament, and sucking up water from amid the ocean,
shook the trees growing on the adjacent mountains. And then that lord of
birds obstructed the principal thoroughfares of the town of the Nishadas
by his mouth, increasing its orifice at will. And the Nishadas began to
fly in great haste in the direction of the open mouth of the great
serpent-eater. And as birds in great affliction ascend by thousand into
the skies when the trees in a forest are shaken by the winds, so those
Nishadas blinded by the dust raised by the storm entered the
wide-extending cleft of Garuda’s mouth open to receive them. And then the
hungry lord of all rangers of the skies, that oppressor of enemies,
endued with great strength, and moving with greatest celerity to achieve
his end, closed his mouth, killing innumerable Nishadas following the
occupation of fishermen.’”

So ends the twenty-eighth section in the Astika Parva of Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti continued, ‘A certain Brahmana with his wife had entered the
throat of that ranger of the skies. The former began to burn the bird’s
throat like a piece of flaming charcoal. Him Garuda addressed, saying, ‘O
best of Brahmanas, come out soon from my mouth which I open for thee. A
Brahmana must never be slain by me, although he may be always engaged in
sinful practices.’ Unto Garuda who had thus addressed him that Brahmana
said, ‘O, let this woman of the Nishada caste, who is my wife, also come
out with me.’ And Garuda said, ‘Taking the woman also of the Nishada
caste with thee, come out soon. Save thyself without delay since thou
hast not yet been digested by the heat of my stomach.’

“Sauti continued, ‘And then that Brahmana, accompanied by his wife of the
Nishada caste, came out, and praising Garuda wended whatever way he
liked. And when that Brahmana had come out with his wife, that lord of
birds, fleet as the mind, stretching his wings ascended the skies. He
then saw his father, and, hailed by him, Garuda, of incomparable prowess
made proper answers. And the great Rishi (Kasyapa) then asked him, ‘O
child, is it well with thee? Dost thou get sufficient food every day? Is
there food in plenty for thee in the world of men?’

“Garuda replied, ‘My mother is ever well. And so is my brother, and so am
I. But, father, I do not always obtain plenty of food, for which my peace
is incomplete. I am sent by the snakes to fetch the excellent amrita.
Indeed, I shall fetch it today for emancipating my mother from her
bondage. My mother command me, saying, ‘Eat thou the Nishadas.’ I have
eaten them by thousands, but my hunger is not appeased. Therefore, O
worshipful one, point out to me some other food, by eating which, O
master, I may be strong enough to bring away amrita by force. Thou
shouldst indicate some food wherewith I may appease my hunger and thirst.’

“Kasyapa replied, ‘This lake thou seest is sacred. It hath been heard, of
even in the heavens. There is an elephant, with face downwards, who
continually draggeth a tortoise, his elder brother. I shall speak to you
in detail of their hostility in former life. Just listen as I tell you
why they are here.

“There was of old a great Rishi of the name of Vibhavasu. He was
exceedingly wrathful. He had a younger brother of the name of Supritika.
The latter was averse to keeping his wealth jointly with his brother’s.
And Supritika would always speak of partition. After some time his
brother Vibhavasu told Supritika, ‘It is from great foolishness that
persons blinded by love of wealth always desire to make a partition of
their patrimony. After effecting a partition they fight with each other,
deluded by wealth. Then again, enemies in the guise of friends cause
estrangements between ignorant and selfish men alter they become
separated in wealth, and pointing out faults confirm their quarrels, so
that the latter soon fall one by one. Absolute ruin very soon overtakes
the separated. For these reasons the wise never speak approvingly of
partition amongst brothers who, when divided, do not regard the most
authoritative Sastras and live always in fear of each other. But as thou,
Supritika, without regarding my advice impelled by desire of separation,
always wishest to make an arrangement about your property, thou shall
become an elephant.’ Supritika, thus cursed, then spake unto Vibhavasu,
‘Thou also shall become a tortoise moving in the midst of the waters.’

“And thus on account of wealth those two fools, Supritika and Vibhavasu,
from each other’s curse, have become an elephant and a tortoise
respectively. Owing to their wrath, they have both become inferior
animals. And they are engaged in hostilities with each other, proud of
their excessive strength and the weight of their bodies. And in this lake
those two beings of huge bodies are engaged in acts according to their
former hostility. Look here, one amongst them, the handsome elephant of
huge body, is even now approaching. Hearing his roar, the tortoise also
of huge body, living within the waters, cometh out, agitating the lake
violently. And seeing him the elephant, curling his trunk, rusheth into
the water. And endued with great energy, with motion of his tusks and
fore-part of his trunk and tail and feet, he agitates the water of the
lake abounding with fishes. And the tortoise also of great strength, with
upraised head, cometh forward for an encounter. And the elephant is six
yojanas in height and twice that measure in circumference. And the height
of the tortoise also is three yojanas and his circumference ten. Eat thou
up both of them that are madly engaged in the encounter and bent upon
slaying each other, and then accomplish the task that thou desirest.
Eating that fierce elephant which looketh like a huge mountain and
resembleth a mass of dark clouds, bring thou amrita.’

“Sauti continued, ‘Having said so unto Garuda, he (Kasyapa) blessed him,
saying, ‘Blest be thou when thou art in combat with the gods. Let water
pitchers filled to the brim, Brahmanas, kine, and other auspicious
objects, bless thee, thou oviparous one. And, O thou of great strength,
when thou art engaged with the gods in combat, let the Riks, the Yajus,
the Samas, the sacred sacrificial butter, all the mysteries (Upanishads),
constitute thy strength.’

“Garuda, thus addressed by his father, wended to the side of that lake.
He saw that expanse of clear water with birds of various kinds all
around. And remembering the words of his father, that ranger of the skies
possessed of great swiftness of motion, seized the elephant and the
tortoise, one in each claw. And that bird then soared high into the air.
And he came upon a sacred place called Alamva and saw many divine trees.
And struck by the wind raised by his wings, those trees began to shake
with fear. And those divine trees having golden boughs feared that they
would break. And the ranger of the skies seeing that those trees capable
of granting every wish were quaking with fear, went to other trees of
incomparable appearance. And those gigantic trees were adorned with
fruits of gold and silver and branches of precious gems. And they were
washed with the water of the sea. And there was a large banian among
them, which had grown into gigantic proportions, that spoke unto that
lord of bird coursing towards it with the fleetness of the mind, ‘Sit
thou on this large branch of mine extending a hundred yojanas and eat the
elephant and the tortoise.’ When that best of birds, of great swiftness
and of body resembling a mountain, quickly alighted upon a bough of that
banian tree, the resort of thousands of winged creatures-that bough also
full of leaves shook and broke down.’”

So ends the twenty-ninth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘At the very touch by Garuda of great might with his feet,
the branch of the tree broke as it was caught by Garuda. Casting his eyes
around in wonder he saw Valakhilya Rishis hanging therefrom with heads
downwards and engaged in ascetic penances. Reflecting that if that bough
fell down, the Rishis would be slain, the mighty one held the elephant
and the tortoise still more firmly with his claws. And from fear of
slaying the Rishis and desire of saving them, held that bough in his
beaks, and rose on his wings. The great Rishis were struck with wonder at
the sight of that act of his which was beyond even the power of the gods,
and gave that mighty bird a name. And they said, ‘As this ranger of the
skies rises on its wings bearing a heavy burden, let this foremost of
birds having snakes for his food be called Garuda (bearer of heavy

“And shaking the mountains by his wings, Garuda leisurely coursed through
the skies. And as he soared with the elephant and the tortoise (in his
claws), he beheld various regions underneath. Desiring as he did to save
the Valakhilyas, he saw not a spot whereon to sit. At last he went to
that foremost of mountains called Gandhamadana. There he saw his father
Kasyapa engaged in ascetic devotions. Kasyapa also saw his son, that
ranger of the skies, of divine form, possessed of great splendour, and
energy and strength, and endued with the speed of the wind or the mind,
huge as a mountain peak, a ready smiter like the curse of a Brahmana,
inconceivable, indescribable, frightful to all creatures, possessed of
great prowess, terrible, of the splendour of Agni himself, and incapable
of being overcome by the deities, Danavas, and invincible Rakshasas,
capable of splitting mountain summits and sucking the ocean itself and
destroying the three worlds, fierce, and looking like Yama himself. The
illustrious Kasyapa, seeing him approach and knowing also his motive,
spoke unto him these words:

“Kasyapa said, ‘O child, do not commit a rash act, for then thou wouldst
have to suffer pain. The Valakhilyas, supporting themselves by drinking
the rays of the sun, might, if angry, blast thee.’

“Sauti continued, ‘Kasyapa then propitiated, for the sake of his son, the
Valakhilyas of exceeding good fortune and whose sins had been destroyed
by ascetic penances.’ And Kasyapa said, ‘Ye whose wealth is asceticism,
the essay of Garuda is for the good of all creatures. The task is great
that he is striving to accomplish. It behoveth you to accord him your

“Sauti continued, ‘Those ascetics thus addressed by the illustrious
Kasyapa, abandoned that bough and went to the sacred mountain of Himavat
for purposes of ascetic penances. After those Rishis had gone away, the
son of Vinata, with voice obstructed by the bough in his beaks, asked his
father Kasyapa saying, ‘O illustrious one, where shall I throw this arm
of the tree? O illustrious one, indicate to me some region without human
beings.’ Then Kasyapa spoke of a mountain without human beings with caves
and dales always covered with snow and incapable of approach by ordinary
creatures even in thought. And the great bird bearing that branch, that
elephant, and that tortoise, proceeded with great speed towards that
mountain. The great arm of the tree with which that bird of huge body
flew away could not be girt round with a cord made of a hundred (cow)
hides. Garuda, the lord of birds, then flew away for hundreds of thousand
of yojanas within--the shortest time. And going according to the
directions of his father to that mountain almost in a moment, that ranger
of the skies let fall the gigantic bough. And it fell with a great noise.
And that Prince of mountains shook, struck with the storm raised by
Garuda’s wings. And the trees thereon dropped showers of flowers. And the
peaks decked with gems and gold adorning that great mountain itself, were
loosened and tell down on all sides. And the falling bough struck down
numerous trees which, with golden flowers amid dark foliage, shone there
like clouds charged with lightning. And those trees, bright as gold,
falling down upon the ground and, dyed with mountain metals, shone as if
they were bathed in the rays of the sun.

“Then that best of birds, Garuda, perching on the summit of that
mountain, ate both the elephant and the tortoise, rose on his wings with
great speed from the top of the mountain.

“And various omens began to appear among the gods foreboding fear.
Indra’s favourite thunderbolt blazed up in a fright. Meteors with flames
and smoke, loosened from the welkin, shot down during the day. And the
weapons of the Vasus, the Rudras, the Adityas, the Sabhyas, the Maruts,
and other gods, began to spend their force against one another. Such a
thing had never happened even during the war between the gods and the
Asuras. And the winds blew accompanied with thunder, and meteors fell by
thousands. And the sky, though cloudless, roared tremendously. And even
he who was the god of gods shed showers of blood. And the flowery
garlands on the necks of the gods faded and their prowess suffered
diminution. And terrible masses of clouds dropped thick showers of blood.
And the dust raised by the winds darkened the splendour of the very
coronets of the gods. And He of a thousand sacrifices (Indra), with the
other gods, perplexed with fear at the sight of those dark forebodings
spoke unto Vrihaspati thus, ‘Why, O worshipful one, have these natural
disturbances suddenly arisen? No foe do I behold who would oppress us in
war.’ Vrihaspati answered, ‘O chief of the gods, O thou of a thousand
sacrifices, it is from thy fault and carelessness, and owing also to the
ascetic penance of the high-souled great Rishis, the Valakhilyas, that
the son of Kasyapa and Vinata, a ranger of the skies endued with great
strength and possessing the capacity of assuming at will any form, is
approaching to take away the Soma. And that bird, foremost among all
endued with great strength, is able to rob you of the Soma. Everything is
possible with him; the unachievable he can achieve.’

“Sauti continued, ‘Indra, having heard these words, then spoke unto those
that guarded the amrita, saying, ‘A bird endued with great strength and
energy has set his heart on taking away the amrita. I warn you beforehand
so that he may not succeed in taking it away by force. Vrihaspati has
told me that his strength is immeasurable.’ And the gods hearing of it
were amazed and took precautions. And they stood surrounding the amrita
and Indra also of great prowess, the wielder of the thunder, stood with
them. And the gods wore curious breastplates of gold, of great value, and
set with gems, and bright leathern armour of great toughness. And the
mighty deities wielded various sharp-edged weapons of terrible shapes,
countless in number, emitting, even all of them, sparks of fire with
smoke. And they were also armed with many a discus and iron mace
furnished with spikes, and trident, battle-axe, and various kinds of
sharp-pointed missiles and polished swords and maces of terrible form,
all befitting their respective bodies. And decked with celestial
ornaments and resplendent with those bright arms, the gods waited there,
their fears allayed. And the gods, of incomparable strength, energy, and
splendour, resolved to protect the amrita. Capable of splitting the towns
of the Asuras, all displayed themselves in forms resplendent as the fire.
And in consequence of the gods standing there, that (would be)
battle-field, owing to hundreds of thousands of maces furnished with iron
spikes, shone like another firmament illumined by the rays of the Sun.’”

So ends the thirtieth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

“Saunaka said, ‘O son of Suta, what was Indra’s fault, what his act of
carelessness? How was Garuda born in consequence of the ascetic penances
of the Valakhilyas? Why also Kasyapa--a Brahman--had the king of birds
for a son? Why, too, was he invincible of all creatures and unslayable of
all? Why also was that ranger of the skies capable of going into every
place at will and of mustering at will any measure of energy? If these
are described in the Purana, I should like to hear them.’

“Sauti said, ‘What thou askest me is, indeed, the subject of the Purana.
O twice-born one, listen as I briefly recite it all.

“Once upon a time, when the lord of creation, Kasyapa, was engaged in a
sacrifice from desire of offspring, the Rishis, the gods, and the
Gandharvas, all gave him help. And Indra was appointed by Kasyapa to
bring the sacrificial fuel; and with him those ascetics the Valakhilyas,
and all the other deities. And the lord Indra, taking up according to his
own strength, a weight that was mountain-like, brought it without any
fatigue. And he saw on the way some Rishis, of bodies of the measure of
the thumb, all together carrying one single stalk of a Palasa (Butea
frondosa) leaf. And those Rishis were, from want of food, very lean and
almost merged in their own bodies. And they were so weak that they were
much afflicted when sunk in the water that collected in an indentation on
the road produced by the hoof of a cow. And Purandara, proud of his
strength, beheld them with surprise, and laughing at them in derision
soon left them behind insulting them, besides, by passing over their
heads. And those Rishis being thus insulted were filled with rage and
sorrow. And they made preparations for a great sacrifice at which Indra
was terrified. Hear, O Saunaka, of the wish for accomplishment of which
those vow-observing wise, and excellent ascetics poured clarified butter
of the sacrificial fire with loudly uttered mantras, ‘There shall be
another Indra of all gods, capable of going everywhere at will, and of
mustering at will any measure of energy, and striking tear into the
(present) king of the gods. By the fruit of our ascetic penance, let one
arise, fleet as the mind, and fierce withal.’ And the lord of the
celestials of a hundred sacrifices, having come to know of this, became
very much alarmed and sought the protection of the vow-observing Kasyapa.
And the Prajapati Kasyapa, hearing everything from Indra, went to the
Valakhilyas and asked them if their sacrifice had been successful. And
those truth-speaking Rishis replied to him, saying, ‘Let it be as thou
sayest!’ And the Prajapati Kasyapa pacifying them, spake unto them as
follows, ‘By the word of Brahman, this one (Indra) hath been made the
Lord of the three worlds. Ye ascetics, ye also are striving to create
another Indra! Ye excellent ones, it behoveth you not to falsify the word
of Brahman. Let not also this purpose, for (accomplishing) which ye are
striving, be rendered futile. Let there spring an Indra (Lord) of winged
creatures, endued with excess of strength! Be gracious unto Indra who is
a suppliant before you.’ And the Valakhilyas, thus addressed by Kasyapa,
after offering reverence to that first of the Munis, viz., the Prajapati
Kasyapa, spake unto him:

“The Valakhilyas said, ‘O Prajapati, this sacrifice of us all is for an
Indra! Indeed this hath also been meant for a son being born unto thee!
Let this task be now left to thee. And in this matter do whatsoever thou
seest to be good and proper.’

“Sauti continued, ‘Meanwhile, moved by the desire of offspring, the good
daughter of Daksha, the vow-observing, amiable, and fortunate Vinata, her
ascetic penances over, having purified herself with a bath in that season
when connubial companionship might prove fruitful, approached her lord.
And Kasyapa spake unto her, ‘Respected one, the sacrifice commenced by me
hath borne fruit. What hath been desired by thee shall come to pass. Two
heroic sons, shall be born unto thee, who shall be the lords of the three
worlds. By the penances of the Valakhilyas and by virtue of the desire
with which I commenced my sacrifice, those sons shall be of exceedingly
good fortune and worshipped in the three worlds!’ And the illustrious
Kasyapa spake unto her again, ‘Bear thou these auspicious seeds with
great care. These two will be the lords of all winged creatures. These
heroic rangers of the skies will be respected in all the worlds, and
capable of assuming any form at will.

“And the Prajapati, gratified with all that took place, then addressed
Indra of a hundred sacrifices, saying, ‘Thou shalt have two brothers of
great energy and prowess, who shall be to thee even as the helpmates.
From them no injury shall result unto thee. Let thy sorrow cease; thou
shalt continue as the lord of all. Let not, however, the utterers of the
name of Brahma be ever again slighted by thee. Nor let the very wrathful
ones, whose words are even the thunderbolt, be ever again insulted by
thee. Indra, thus addressed, went to heaven, his fears dispelled. And
Vinata also, her purpose fulfilled, was exceedingly glad. And she gave
birth to two sons, Aruna and Garuda. And Aruna, of undeveloped body,
became the fore-runner of the Sun. And Garuda was vested with the
lordship over the birds. O thou of Bhrigu’s race, hearken now to the
mighty achievement of Garuda.’”

“So ends the thirty-first section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘O foremost of Brahmanas, the gods having prepared for
battle in that way, Garuda, the king of birds, soon came upon those wise
ones. And the gods beholding him of excessive strength began to quake
with fear, and strike one another with all their weapons. And amongst
those that guarded the Soma was Brahmana (the celestial architect), of
measureless might, effulgent as the electric fire and of great energy.
And after a terrific encounter lasting only a moment, managed by the lord
of birds with his talons, beak, and wings, he lay as dead on the fields.
And the ranger of the skies making the worlds dark with the dust raised
by the hurricane of his wings, overwhelmed the celestials with it. And
the latter, overwhelmed with that dust, swooned away. And the immortals
who guarded the amrita, blinded by that dust, could no longer see Garuda.
Even thus did Garuda agitate the region of the heavens. And even thus he
mangled the gods with the wounds inflicted by his wings and beak.

“Then the god of a thousand eyes commanded Vayu (the god of wind),
saying, ‘Dispel thou this shower of dust soon. O Maruta, this is indeed,
thy task. Then the mighty Vayu soon drove away that dust. And when the
darkness had disappeared, the celestials attacked Garuda. And as he of
great might was attacked by the gods, he began to roar aloud, like the
great cloud that appeareth in the sky at the end of the Yuga, frightening
every creature. And that king of birds, of great energy, that slayer of
hostile heroes, then rose on his wings. All the wise ones (the
celestials) with Indra amongst them armed with double-edged broad swords,
iron maces furnished with sharp spikes, pointed lances, maces, bright
arrows, and many a discus of the form of the sun, saw him over head. And
the king of birds, attacked them on all sides with showers of various
weapons and fought exceedingly hard without wavering for a moment. And
the son of Vinata, of great prowess blazing in the sky, attacked the gods
on all sides with his wings and breast. And blood began to flow copiously
from the bodies of the gods mangled by the talons and the beak of Garuda.
Overcome by the lord of birds, the Sadhyas with the Gandharvas fled
eastwards, the Vasus with the Rudras towards the south, the Adityas
towards the west, and the twin Aswins towards the north. Gifted with
great energy, they retreated fighting, looking back every moment on their

“And Garuda had encounters with the Yakshas, Aswakranda of great courage,
Rainuka, the bold Krathanaka, Tapana, Uluka, Swasanaka, Nimesha, Praruja,
and Pulina. And the son of Vinata mangled them with his wings, talons,
and beak, like Siva himself, that chastiser of enemies, and the holder of
Pinaka in rage at the end of the Yuga. And those Yakshas of great might
and courage, mangled all over by that ranger of the skies, looked like
masses of black clouds dropping thick showers of blood.

“And Garuda, depriving them of life, and then went to where the amrita
was. And he saw that it was surrounded on all sides by fire. And the
terrible flames of that fire covered the entire sky. And moved by violent
winds, they seemed bent on burning the Sun himself. The illustrious
Garuda then assumed ninety times ninety mouths and quickly drinking the
waters of many rivers with those mouths and returning with great speed,
that chastiser of enemies, having wings for his vehicle extinguished that
fire with that water. And extinguishing that fire, he assumed a very
small form, desirous of entering into (the place where the Soma was).’”

So ends the thirty-second section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

“Santi said, ‘And that bird, assuming a golden body bright as the rays of
the Sun, entered with great force (the region where the Soma was), like a
torrent entering the ocean. And he saw, placed near the Soma, a wheel of
steel keen-edged, and sharp as the razor, revolving incessantly. And that
fierce instrument, of the splendour of the blazing sun and of terrible
form, had been devised by the gods for cutting in pieces all robbers of
the Soma. Garuda, seeing a passage through it, stopped there for a
moment. Diminishing his body, in an instant he passed through the spokes
of that wheel. Within the line of the wheel, he beheld, stationed there
for guarding the Soma two great snakes of the effulgence of blazing fire,
with tongues bright as the lightning-flash, of great energy, with mouth
emitting fire, with blazing eyes, containing poison, very terrible,
always in anger, and of great activity. Their eyes were ceaselessly
inflamed with rage and were also winkless. He who may be seen by even one
of the two would instantly be reduced to ashes. The bird of fair feathers
suddenly covered their eyes with dust. And unseen by them he attacked
them from all sides. And the son of Vinata, that ranger of the skies,
attacking their bodies, mangled them into pieces. He then approached the
Soma without loss of time. Then the mighty son of Vinata, taking up the
Amrita from the place where it was kept, rose on his wings with great
speed, breaking into pieces the machine that had surrounded it. And the
bird soon came out, taking the Amrita but without drinking it himself.
And he then wended on his way without the least fatigue, darkening the
splendour of the Sun.

“And the son of Vinata then met Vishnu on his way along the sky. And
Narayana was gratified at that act of self-denial on the part of Garuda.
And that deity, knowing no deterioration, said unto the ranger of the
skies, ‘O, I am inclined to grant thee a boon.’ The ranger of the skies
thereupon said, ‘I shall stay above thee.’ And he again spake unto
Narayana these words, ‘I shall be immortal and free from disease without
(drinking) Amrita.’ Vishnu said unto the son of Vinata, ‘Be it so.’
Garuda, receiving those two boons, told Vishnu, ‘I also shall grant thee
a boon; therefore, let the possessor of the six attributes ask of me.’
Vishnu then asked the mighty Garuda to become his carrier. And he made
the bird sit on the flagstaff of his car, saying, ‘Even thus thou shalt
stay above me.’ And the ranger of the skies, of great speed, saying unto
Narayana, ‘Be it so,’ swiftly wended on his way, mocking the wind with
his fleetness.

“And while that foremost of all rangers of the skies, that first of
winged creatures, Garuda, was coursing through the air after wresting the
Amrita, Indra hurled at him his thunderbolt. Then Garuda, the lord of
birds, struck with thunderbolt, spake laughingly unto Indra engaged in
the encounter, in sweet words, saying, ‘I shall respect the Rishi
(Dadhichi) of whose bone the Vajra hath been made. I shall also respect
the Vajra, and thee also of a thousand sacrifices. I cast this feather of
mine whose end thou shalt not attain. Struck with thy thunder I have not
felt the slightest pain.’ And having said this, the king of birds cast a
feather of his. And all creatures became exceedingly glad, beholding that
excellent feather of Garuda so cast off. And seeing that the feather was
very beautiful, they said, ‘Let this bird be called Suparna (having fair
feathers). And Purandara of a thousand eyes, witnessing this wonderful
incident, thought that bird to be some great being and addressed him

“And Indra said, ‘O best of birds, I desire to know the limit of thy
great strength. I also desire eternal friendship with thee.’”

So ends the thirty-third section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

‘Sauti continued, ‘Garuda then said, ‘O Purandara, let there be
friendship between thee and me as thou desirest. My strength, know thou,
is hard to bear. O thou of a thousand sacrifices, the good never approve
of speaking highly of their own strength, nor do they speak of their own
merits. But being made a friend, and asked by thee, O friend, I will
answer thee, although self-praise without reason is ever improper. I can
bear, on a single feather of mine, O Sakra, this Earth, with her
mountains and forests and with the waters of the ocean, and with thee
also stationed thereon. Know thou, my strength is such that I can bear
without fatigue even all the worlds put together, with their mobile and
immobile objects.’

“Sauti continued, ‘O Saunaka, after Garuda of great courage had thus
spoken, Indra the chief of the gods, the wearer of the (celestial) crown,
ever bent upon the good of the worlds, replied, saying, ‘It is as thou
sayest. Everything is possible in thee. Accept now my sincere and hearty
friendship. And if thou hast no concern with the Soma, return it to me.
Those to whom thou wouldst give it would always oppose us.’ Garuda
answered, ‘There is a certain reason for which the Soma is being carried
by me. I shall not give the Soma to any one for drink. But, O thou of a
thousand eyes, after I have placed it down, thou, O lord of the heavens,
canst then, taking it up, instantly bring it away.’ Indra then said, ‘O
oviparous one, I am highly gratified with these words now spoken by thee.
O best of all rangers of the skies; accept from me any boon that thou

“Sauti continued, ‘Then Garuda, recollecting the sons of Kadru and
remembering also the bondage of his mother caused by an act of deception
owing to the well-known reason (viz., the curse of Aruna), said,
‘Although I have power over all creatures, yet I shall do your bidding.
Let, O Sakra, the mighty snakes become my food.’ The slayer of the
Danavas having said unto him, ‘Be it so,’ then went to Hari, the god of
gods, of great soul, and the lord of Yogins. And the latter sanctioned
everything that had been said by Garuda. And the illustrious lord of
heaven again said unto Garuda, ‘I shall bring away the Soma when thou
placest it down.’ And having said so, he bade farewell to Garuda. And the
bird of fair feathers then went to the presence of his mother with great

“And Garuda in joy then spake unto all the snakes, ‘Here have I brought
the Amrita. Let me place it on some Kusa grass. O ye snakes, sitting
here, drink of it after ye have performed your ablutions and religious
rites. As said by you, let my mother become, from this day, free, for I
have accomplished your bidding.’ The snakes having said unto Garuda, ‘Be
it so,’ then went to perform their ablutions. Meanwhile, Sakra taking up
the Amrita, wended back to heaven. The snakes after performing their
ablutions, their daily devotions, and other sacred rites, returned in
joy, desirous of drinking the Amrita. They saw that the bed of kusa grass
whereon the Amrita had been placed was empty, the Amrita itself having
been taken away by a counter-act of deception. And they began to lick
with their tongues the kusa grass, as the Amrita had been placed thereon.
And the tongues of the snakes by that act became divided in twain. And
the kusa grass, too, from the contact with Amrita, became sacred
thenceforth. Thus did the illustrious Garuda bring Amrita (from the
heavens) for the snakes, and thus were the tongues of snakes divided by
what Garuda did.

“Then the bird of fair feathers, very much delighted, enjoyed himself in
those woods accompanied by his mother. Of grand achievements, and deeply
reverenced by all rangers of the skies, he gratified his mother by
devouring the snakes.

“That man who would listen to this story, or read it out to an assembly
of good Brahmanas, must surely go to heaven, acquiring great merit from
the recitation of (the feats of) Garuda.’”

And so ends the thirty-fourth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi


(Astika Parva continued)

“Saunaka said, ‘O son of Suta, thou hast told us the reason why the
snakes were cursed by their mother, and why Vinata also was cursed by her
son. Thou hast also told us about the bestowal of boons, by their
husband, on Kadru and Vinata. Thou hast likewise told us the names of
Vinata’s sons. But thou hast not yet recited to us the names of the
snakes. We are anxious to hear the names of the principal ones.’

“Sauti said, O thou whose wealth is asceticism, from fear of being
lengthy, I shall not mention the names of all the snakes. But I will
recite the names of the chief ones. Listen to me!

“Sesha was born first, and then Vasuki. (Then were born) Airavata,
Takshaka, Karkotaka, Dhananjaya, Kalakeya, the serpent Mani, Purana,
Pinjaraka, and Elapatra, Vamana, Nila, Anila, Kalmasha, Savala, Aryaka,
Ugra, Kalasapotaka, Suramukha, Dadhimukha, Vimalapindaka, Apta, Karotaka,
Samkha, Valisikha, Nisthanaka, Hemaguha, Nahusha, Pingala, Vahyakarna,
Hastipada, Mudgarapindaka, Kamvala Aswatara, Kaliyaka, Vritta,
Samvartaka, Padma, Mahapadma, Sankhamukha, Kushmandaka, Kshemaka,
Pindaraka, Karavira, Pushpadanshtraka, Vilwaka, Vilwapandara, Mushikada,
Sankhasiras, Purnabhadra, Haridraka, Aparajita, Jyotika, Srivaha,
Kauravya, Dhritarashtra, Sankhapinda, Virajas, Suvahu, Salipinda,
Prabhakara, Hastipinda, Pitharaka, Sumuksha, Kaunapashana, Kuthara,
Kunjara, Kumuda, Kumudaksha, Tittri, Halika, Kardama, Vahumulaka,
Karkara, Akarkara, Kundodara, and Mahodara.

“Thus, O best of regenerate ones, have I said the names of the principal
serpents. From fear of being tedious I do not give names of the rest. O
thou whose wealth is asceticism, the sons of these snakes, with their
grandsons, are innumerable. Reflecting upon this, I shall not name them
to thee. O best ascetics, in this world the number of snakes baffles
calculation, there being many thousands and millions of them.’”

So ends the thirty-fifth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

“Saunaka said, ‘O child, thou hast named many of the serpents gifted with
great energy and incapable of being easily overcome. What did they do
after hearing of that curse?’

“Sauti said, ‘The illustrious Sesha amongst them, of great renown,
leaving his mother practised hard penances, living upon air and rigidly
observing his vows. He practised these ascetic devotions, repairing to
Gandhamadana, Vadri, Gokarna, the woods of Pushkara, and the foot of
Himavat. And he passed his days in those sacred regions, some of which
were sacred for their water and others for their soil in the rigid
observance of his vows, with singleness of aim, and his passions under
complete control. And the Grandsire of all, Brahma, saw that ascetic with
knotted hair, clad in rags, and his flesh, skin, and sinews dried up
owing to the hard penances he was practising. And the Grandsire
addressing him, that penance-practising one of great fortitude, said,
‘What is that thorn doest, O Sesha? Let the welfare of the creatures of
the worlds also engage thy thoughts. O sinless one, thou art afflicting
all creatures by thy hard penances. O Sesha, tell me the desire implanted
in thy breast.’

“And Sesha replied, ‘My uterine brothers are all of wicked hearts. I do
not desire to live amongst them. Let this be sanctioned by thee. Like
enemies they are always jealous of one another. I am, therefore, engaged
in ascetic devotions. I will not see them even. They never show any
kindness for Vinata and her son. Indeed, Vinata’s son capable of ranging
through the skies, is another brother of ours. They always envy him. And
he, too, is much stronger owing to the bestowal of that boon by our
father, the high-souled Kasyapa. For these, I engaged in ascetic
penances, and I will cast off this body of mine, so that I may avoid
companionship with them, even in another state of life.’

“Unto Sesha who had said so, the Grandsire said, ‘O Sesha, I know the
behaviour of all thy brothers and their great danger owing to their
offence against their mother. But O Snake, a remedy (for this) hath been
provided by me even beforehand. It behoveth thee not to grieve for thy
brothers. O Sesha, ask of me the boon thou desirest. I have been highly
gratified with thee and I will grant thee today a boon. O best of snakes,
it is fortunate that thy heart hath been set on virtue. Let thy heart be
more and more firmly set on virtue.’

“Then Sesha replied, ‘O divine Grandsire, this is the boon desired by me;
viz., may my heart always delight in virtue and in blessed ascetic
penances, O Lord of all!’

“Brahman said, ‘O Sesha, I am exceedingly gratified with this thy
self-denial and love of peace. But, at my command, let this act be done
by thee for the good of my creatures. Bear thou, O Sesha, properly and
well this Earth so unsteady with her mountains and forests, her seas and
towns and retreats, so that she may be steady.’

“Sesha said, ‘O divine Lord of all creatures, O bestower of boons, O lord
of the Earth, lord of every created thing, lord of the universe, I will,
even as thou sayest hold the Earth steady. Therefore, O lord of all
creatures, place her on my head.’

“Brahman said, ‘O best of snakes, go underneath the Earth. She will
herself give thee a crevice to pass through. And, O Sesha, by holding the
Earth, thou shalt certainly do what is prized by me very greatly.’

“Sauti continued, ‘Then the elder brother of the king of the snakes,
entering a hole, passed to the other side of the Earth, and holding her,
supported with his head that goddess with her belt of seas passing all

“Brahman said, ‘O Sesha, O best of snakes, thou art the god Dharma,
because alone, with thy huge body, thou supportest the Earth with
everything on her, even as I myself, or Valavit (Indra), can.’

“Sauti continued, ‘The snake, Sesha, the lord Ananta, of great prowess,
lives underneath the Earth, alone supporting the world at the command of
Brahman. And the illustrious Grandsire, the best of the immortals, then
gave unto Ananta the bird of fair feathers, viz., the son of Vinata, for
Ananta’s help.’”

So ends the thirty-sixth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘That best of snakes, viz., Vasuki, hearing the curse of his
mother, reflected how to render it abortive. He held a consultation with
all his brothers, Airavata and others, intent upon doing what they deemed
best for themselves.’

“And Vasuki said, ‘O ye sinless ones, the object of this curse is known
to you. It behoveth us to strive to neutralise it. Remedies certainly
exist for all curses, but no remedy can avail those cursed by their
mother. Hearing that this curse hath been uttered in the presence of the
Immutable, the Infinite, and the True one, my heart trembleth. Surely,
our annihilation hath come. Otherwise why should not the Immutable Lord
prevent our mother while uttering the curse? Therefore, let us consult
today how we may secure the safety of the snakes. Let us not waste time.
All of you are wise and discerning. We will consult together and find out
the means of deliverance as (did) the gods of yore to regain lost Agni
who had concealed himself within a cave, so that Janamejaya’s sacrifice
for the destruction of the snakes may not take place, and so that we may
not meet with destruction.’

“Sauti continued, ‘Thus addressed all the offspring of Kadru assembled
together, and, wise in counsels, submitted their opinions to one another.
One party of the serpents said, ‘We should assume the guise of superior
Brahmanas, and beseech Janamejaya, saying, ‘This (intended) sacrifice of
yours ought not to take place.’ Other snakes thinking themselves wise,
said, ‘We should all become his favourite counsellors. He will then
certainly ask for our advice in all projects. And we will then give him
such advice that the sacrifice may be obstructed. The king, the foremost
of wise men, thinking us of sterling worth will certainly ask us about
his sacrifice. We will say, ‘It must not be!’ And pointing to many
serious evils in this and the next worlds, we will take care that the
sacrifice may not take place. Or, let one of the snakes, approaching,
bite the person who, intending the monarch’s good, and well-acquainted
with the rites of the snake-sacrifice, may be appointed as the
sacrificial priest, so that he will die. The sacrificial priest dying,
the sacrifice will not be completed. We will also bite all those who,
acquainted with the rites of the snake-sacrifice, may be appointed
Ritwiks of the sacrifice, and by that means attain our object.’ Other
snakes, more virtuous and kind, said, ‘O, this counsel of yours is evil.
It is not meet to kill Brahmanas. In danger, that remedy is proper, which
is blessed on the practices of the righteous. Unrighteousness finally
destroyeth the world.’ Other serpents said, ‘We will extinguish the
blazing sacrificial fire by ourselves becoming clouds luminous with
lightning and pouring down showers.’ Other snakes, the best of their
kind, proposed, ‘Going, by night, let us steal away the vessel of Soma
juice. That will disturb the rite. Or, at that sacrifice, let the snakes,
by hundreds and thousands, bite the people, and spread terror around. Or,
let the serpents defile the pure food with their food-defiling urine and
dung.’ Others said, ‘Let us become the king’s Ritwiks, and obstruct his
sacrifice by saying at the outset, ‘Give us the sacrificial fee.’ He (the
king), being placed in our power, will do whatever we like.’ Others there
said, ‘When the king will sport in the waters, we will carry him to our
home and bind him, so that that sacrifice will not take place!’ Other
serpents who deemed themselves wise, said, ‘Approaching the king, let us
bite him, so that our object will be accomplished. By his death the root
of all evil will be torn up. This is the final deliberation of us all, O
thou who hearest with thy eyes! Then, do speedily what thou deemest
proper.’ Having said this, they looked intently at Vasuki, that best of
snakes. And Vasuki also, after reflecting, answered saying, ‘Ye snakes,
this final determination of you doth not seem worthy of adoption. The
advice of you all is not to my liking. What shall I say which would be
for your good? I think the grace of the illustrious Kasyapa (our father)
can alone do us good. Ye snakes, my heart doth not know which of all your
suggestions is to be adopted for the welfare of my race as also of me.
That must be done by me which would be to your weal. It is this that
makes me so anxious, for the credit or the discredit (of the measure) is
mine alone.’”

So ends the thirty-seventh section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘Hearing the respective speeches of all the snakes, and
hearing also the words of Vasuki, Elapatra began to address them, saying,
‘That sacrifice is not one that can be prevented. Nor is king Janamejaya
of the Pandava race from whom this fear proceedeth, such that he can be
hindered. The person, O king, who is afflicted by fate hath recourse to
fate alone; nothing else can be his refuge. Ye best of snakes, this fear
of ours hath fate for its root. Fate alone must be our refuge in this.
Listen to what I say. When that curse was uttered, ye best of snakes, in
fear I lay crouching on the lap of our mother. Ye best of snakes, and O
lord (Vasuki) of great splendour, from that place I heard the words the
sorrowing gods spake unto the Grandsire. The gods said, ‘O Grandsire,
thou god of gods who else than the cruel Kadru could thus, after getting
such dear children, curse them so, even in thy presence? And, O
Grandsire, by thee also hath been spoken, with reference to those words
of hers, ‘Be it so.’ We wish to know the reason why thou didst not
prevent her.’ Brahman replied, ‘The snakes have multiplied. They are
cruel, terrible in form and highly poisonous. From desire of the good of
my creatures, I did not prevent Kadru then. Those poisonous serpents and
others who are sinful, biting others for no faults, shall, indeed, be
destroyed, but not they who are harmless and virtuous. And hear also,
how, when the hour comes, the snakes may escape this dreadful calamity.
There shall be born in the race of the Yayavaras a great Rishi known by
the name of Jaratkaru, intelligent, with passions under complete control.
That Jaratkaru shall have a son of the name of Astika. He shall put a
stop to that sacrifice. And those snakes who shall be virtuous shall
escape therefrom. The gods said, ‘O thou truth-knowing one, on whom will
Jaratkaru, that foremost Muni, gifted with great energy and asceticism,
beget that illustrious son?’ Brahma answered, ‘Gifted with great energy,
that best Brahmana shall beget a son possessed of great energy on a wife
of the same name as his. Vasuki, the king of the snakes, hath a sister of
the name of Jaratkaru; the son, of whom I speak, shall be born of her,
and he shall liberate the snakes.’

“Elapatra continued, ‘The gods then said unto the Grandsire, ‘Be it so.’
And the lord Brahman, having said so unto the gods, went to heaven. O
Vasuki, I see before me that sister of thine known by the name of
Jaratkaru. For relieving us from fear, give her as alms unto him (i.e.,
the Rishi), Jaratkaru, of excellent vows, who shall roam abegging for a
bride. This means of release hath been heard of by me!’”


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘O best of regenerate ones, hearing these words of Elapatra,
all the serpents, in great delight, exclaimed, ‘Well said, well said!’
And from that time Vasuki set about carefully bringing up that maiden,
viz., his sister Jaratkaru. And he took great delight in rearing her.

“And much time did not elapse from this, when the gods and the Asuras,
assembling together, churned the abode of Varuna. And Vasuki, the
foremost of all gifted with strength, became the churning-cord. And
directly the work was over, the king of the snakes presented himself
before the Grandsire. And the gods, accompanied by Vasuki, addressed the
Grandsire, saying, ‘O lord, Vasuki is suffering great affliction from
fear of (his mother’s curse). It behoveth thee to root out the sorrow,
begotten of the curse of his mother, that hath pierced the heart of
Vasuki desirous of the weal of his race. The king of the snakes is ever
our friend and benefactor. O Lord of the gods, be gracious unto him and
assuage his mind’s fever.’

“Brahman replied, ‘O ye immortals, I have thought, in my mind, of what ye
have said. Let the king of the snakes do that which hath been
communicated to him before by Elapatra. The time hath arrived. Those only
shall be destroyed that are wicked, not those that are virtuous.
Jaratkaru hath been born, and that Brahmana is engaged in hard ascetic
penances. Let Vasuki, at the proper time, bestow on him his sister. Ye
gods, what hath been spoken by the snake Elapatra for the weal of the
snakes is true and not otherwise.’

“Sauti continued, ‘Then the king of the snakes, Vasuki, afflicted with
the curse of his mother, hearing these words of the Grandsire, and
intending to bestow his sister of the Rishi Jaratkaru, commanded all the
serpents, a large numbers of whom were ever attentive to their duties, to
watch the Rishi Jaratkaru, saying, ‘When the lord Jaratkaru will ask for
a wife, come immediately and inform me of it. The weal of our race
depends upon it.’”


(Astika Parva continued)

“Saunaka said, ‘O son of Suta, I desire to know the reason why the
illustrious Rishi whom thou hast named Jaratkaru came to be so called on
earth. It behoveth thee to tell us the etymology of the name Jaratkaru.’

“Sauti said, ‘Jara is said to mean waste, and Karu implies huge. This
Rishi’s body had been huge, and he gradually reduced it by severe ascetic
penances. For the same reason, O Brahmanas, the sister of Vasuki was
called Jaratkaru.’

The virtuous Saunaka, when he heard this, smiled and addressing
Ugrasravas said, ‘It is even so.’

Saunaka then said, ‘I have heard all that thou hast before recited. I
desire to know how Astika was born.’

Sauti, on hearing these words, began to relate according to what was
written in the Sastras.

“Sauti said, ‘Vasuki, desirous of bestowing his sister upon the Rishi
Jaratkaru, gave the snakes (necessary) orders. But days went on, yet that
wise Muni of rigid vows, deeply engaged in ascetic devotions, did not
seek for a wife. That high-souled Rishi, engaged in studies and deeply
devoted to asceticism, his vital seed under full control, fearlessly
wandered over the whole earth and had no wish for a wife.

“Afterwards, once upon a time, there was a king, O Brahmana, of the name
of Parikshit, born in the race of the Kauravas. And, like his
great-grandfather Pandu of old, he was of mighty arms, the first of all
bearers of bows in battle, and fond of hunting. And the monarch wandered
about, hunting deer, and wild boars, and wolves, and buffaloes and
various other kinds of wild animals. One day, having pierced a deer with
a sharp arrow and slung his bow on his back, he penetrated into the deep
forest, searching for the animal here and there, like the illustrious
Rudra himself of old pursuing in the heavens, bow in hand, the deer which
was Sacrifice, itself turned into that shape, after the piercing. No deer
that was pierced by Parikshit had ever escaped in the wood with life.
This deer, however wounded as before, fled with speed, as the (proximate)
cause of the king’s attainment to heaven. And the deer that
Parikshit--that king of men--had pierced was lost to his gaze and drew
the monarch far away into the forest. And fatigued and thirsty, he came
across a Muni, in the forest, seated in a cow-pen and drinking to his
fill the froth oozing out of the mouths of calves sucking the milk of
their dams. And approaching him hastily, the monarch, hungry and
fatigued, and raising his bow, asked that Muni of rigid vows, saying, ‘O
Brahmana, I am king Parikshit, the son of Abhimanyu. A deer pierced by me
hath been lost. Hast thou seen it?’ But that Muni observing then the vow
of silence, spoke not unto him a word. And the king in anger thereupon
placed upon his shoulder a dead snake, taking it up with the end of his
bow. The Muni suffered him to do it without protest. And he spoke not a
word, good or bad. And the king seeing him in that state, cast off his
anger and became sorry. And he returned to his capital but the Rishi
continued in the same state. The forgiving Muni, knowing that the monarch
who was a tiger amongst kings was true to the duties of his order, cursed
him not, though insulted. That tiger amongst monarchs, that foremost one
of Bharata’s race, also did not know that the person whom he had so
insulted was a virtuous Rishi. It was for this that he had so insulted

“That Rishi had a son by name Sringin, of tender years, gifted with great
energy, deep in ascetic penances, severe in his vows, very wrathful, and
difficult to be appeased. At times, he worshipped with great attention
and respect his preceptor seated with ease on his seat and ever engaged
in the good of creatures.

“And commanded by his preceptor, he was coming home when, O best of
Brahmanas, a companion of his, a Rishi’s son named Krisa in a playful
mood laughingly spoke unto him. And Sringin, wrathful and like unto
poison itself, hearing these words in reference to his father, blazed up
in rage.’

“And Krisa said, ‘Be not proud, O Sringin, for ascetic as thou art and
possessed of energy, thy father bears on his shoulders a dead snake.
Henceforth speak not a word to sons of Rishis like ourselves who have
knowledge of the truth, are deep in ascetic penances, and have attained
success. Where is that manliness of thine, those high words of thine
begotten of pride, when thou must have to behold thy father bearing a
dead snake? O best of all the Munis, thy father too had done nothing to
deserve this treatment, and it is for this that I am particularly sorry
as if the punishment were mine.’”


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘Being thus addressed, and hearing that his sire was bearing
a dead snake, the powerful Sringin burned with wrath. And looking at
Krisa, and speaking softly, he asked him, ‘Pray, why doth my father bear
today a dead snake?’ And Krisa replied, ‘Even as king Parikshit was
roving, for purpose of hunting, O dear one, he placed the dead snake on
the shoulder of thy sire.’

“And Sringin asked, ‘What wrong was done to that wicked monarch by my
father? O Krisa, tell me this, and witness the power of my asceticism.’

“And Krisa answered, ‘King Parikshit, the son of Abhimanyu, while
hunting, had wounded a fleet stag with an arrow and chased it alone. And
the king lost sight of the animal in that extensive wilderness. Seeing
then thy sire, he immediately accosted him. Thy sire was then observing
the vow of silence. Oppressed by hunger, thirst and labour, the prince
again and again asked thy sire sitting motionless, about the missing
deer. The sage, being under the vow of silence, returned no reply. The
king thereupon placed the snake on thy sire’s shoulder with the end of
his bow. O Sringin, thy sire engaged in devotion is in the same posture
still. And the king also hath gone to his capital which is named after
the elephant!’

“Sauti continued, ‘Having heard of a dead snake placed upon his
(father’s) shoulders, the son of the Rishi, his eyes reddened with anger,
blazed up with rage. And possessed by anger, the puissant Rishi then
cursed the king, touching water and overcome with wrath.’

“And Sringin said, ‘That sinful wretch of a monarch who hath placed a
dead snake on the shoulders of my lean and old parent, that insulter of
Brahmanas and tarnisher of the fame of the Kurus, shall be taken within
seven nights hence to the regions of Yama (Death) by the snake Takshaka,
the powerful king of serpents, stimulated thereto by the strength of my

“Sauti continued, ‘And having thus cursed (the king) from anger, Sringin
went to his father, and saw the sage sitting in the cow-pen, bearing the
dead snake. And seeing his parent in that plight, he was again inflamed
with ire. And he shed tears of grief, and addressed his sire, saying,
‘Father, having been informed of this thy disgrace at the hands of that
wicked wretch, king Parikshit, I have from anger even cursed him; and
that worst of Kurus hath richly deserved my potent curse. Seven days
hence, Takshaka, the lord of snakes, shall take the sinful king to the
horrible abode of Death.’ And the father said to the enraged son, ‘Child,
I am not pleased with thee. Ascetics should not act thus. We live in the
domains of that great king. We are protected by him righteously. In all
he does, the reigning king should by the like of us forgiven. If thou
destroy Dharma, verily Dharma will destroy thee. If the king do not
properly protect us, we fare very ill; we cannot perform our religious
rites according to our desire. But protected by righteous sovereigns, we
attain immense merit, and they are entitled to a share thereof.
Therefore, reigning royalty is by all means to be forgiven. And Parikshit
like unto his great-grandsire, protecteth us as a king should protect his
subjects. That penance-practising monarch was fatigued and oppressed with
hunger. Ignorant of my vow (of silence) he did this. A kingless country
always suffereth from evils. The king punisheth offenders, and fear of
punishments conducteth to peace; and people do their duties and perform
their rites undisturbed. The king establisheth religion--establisheth the
kingdom of heaven. The king protecteth sacrifices from disturbance, and
sacrifices to please the gods. The gods cause rain, and rain produceth
grains and herbs, which are always useful to man. Manu sayeth, a ruler of
the destinies of men is equal (in dignity) to ten Veda-studying priests.
Fatigued and oppressed with hunger, that penance-practising prince hath
done this through ignorance of my vow. Why then hast thou rashly done
this unrighteous action through childishness? O son, in no way doth the
king deserve a curse from us.’”


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘And Sringin then replied to his father, saying, ‘Whether
this be an act of rashness, O father, or an improper act that I have
done, whether thou likest it or dislikest it, the words spoken by me
shall never be in vain. O father, I tell thee (a curse) can never be
otherwise. I have never spoken a lie even in jest.’

“And Samika said, ‘Dear child, I know that thou art of great prowess, and
truthful in speech. Thou hast never spoken falsehood before, so that thy
curse shall never be falsified. The son, even when he attaineth to age,
should yet be always counselled by the father, so that crowned with good
qualities he may acquire great renown. A child as thou art, how much more
dost thou stand in need of counsel? Thou art ever engaged in ascetic
penances. The wrath of even the illustrious ones possessing the six
attributes increaseth greatly. O thou foremost of ordinance-observing
persons, seeing that thou art my son and a minor too, and beholding also
thy rashness, I see that I must counsel thee. Live thou, O son, inclined
to peace and eating fruits and roots of the forest. Kill this thy anger
and destroy not the fruit of thy ascetic acts in this way. Wrath surely
decreaseth the virtue that ascetics acquire with great pains. And then
for those deprived of virtue, the blessed state existeth not.
Peacefulness ever giveth success to forgiving ascetics. Therefore,
becoming forgiving in thy temper and conquering thy passions, shouldst
thou always live. By forgiveness shalt thou obtain worlds that are beyond
the reach of Brahman himself. Having adopted peacefulness myself, and
with a desire also for doing good as much as lies in my power, I must do
something; even must I send to that king, telling him, ‘O monarch, thou
hast been cursed by my son of tender years and undeveloped intellect, in
wrath, at seeing thy act of disrespect towards myself.’

“Sauti continued, ‘And that great ascetic, observer of vows, moved by
kindness, sent with proper instructions a disciple of his to king
Parikshit. And he sent his disciple Gaurmukha of good manners and engaged
also in ascetic penances, instructing him to first enquire about the
welfare of the king and then to communicate the real message. And that
disciple soon approached that monarch, the head of the Kuru race. And he
entered the king’s palace having first sent notice of his arrival through
the servant in attendance at the gate.

“And the twice-born Gaurmukha was duly worshipped by the monarch. And
after resting for a while, he detailed fully to the king, in the presence
of his ministers, the words of Samika, of cruel import, exactly as he had
been instructed.’

“And Gaurmukha said, ‘O king of kings, there is a Rishi, Samika, by name,
of virtuous soul, his passions under control, peaceful, and given up to
hard ascetic devotions, living in thy dominions! By thee, O tiger among
men, was placed on the shoulders of that Rishi observing at present the
vow of silence, a dead snake, with the end of thy bow! He himself forgave
thee that act. But his son could not. And by the latter hast thou today
been cursed, O king of kings, without the knowledge of his father, to the
effect that within seven nights hence, shall (the snake) Takshaka cause
thy death. And Samika repeatedly asked his son to save thee, but there is
none to falsify his son’s curse. And because he hath been unable to
pacify his son possessed by anger, therefore have I been sent to thee, O
king, for thy good!’

“And that king of the Kuru race, himself engaged in ascetic practices,
having heard these cruel words and recollecting his own sinful act,
became exceedingly sorry. And the king, learning that foremost of Rishis
in the forest had been observing the vow of silence, was doubly afflicted
with sorrow and seeing the kindness of the Rishi Samika, and considering
his own sinful act towards him, the king became very repentant. And the
king looking like a very god, did not grieve so much for hearing of his
death as for having done that act to the Rishi.’

“And then the king sent away Gaurmukha, saying, ‘Let the worshipful one
(Samika) be gracious to me!’ And when Gaurmukha had gone away, the king,
in great anxiety, without loss of time, consulted his ministers. And
having consulted them, the king, himself wise in counsels, caused a
mansion to be erected upon one solitary column. It was well-guarded day
and night. And for its protection were placed there physicians and
medicines, and Brahmanas skilled in mantras all around. And the monarch,
protected on all sides, discharged his kingly duties from that place
surrounded by his virtuous ministers. And no one could approach that best
of kings there. The air even could not go there, being prevented from

“And when the seventh day had arrived, that best of Brahmanas, the
learned Kasyapa was coming (towards the king’s residence), desirous of
treating the king (after the snake-bite). He had heard all that had taken
place, viz., that Takshaka, that first of snakes, would send that best of
monarchs to the presence of Yama (Death). And he thought, I would cure
the monarch after he is bit by that first of snakes. By that I may have
wealth and may acquire virtue also.’ But that prince of snakes, Takshaka,
in the form of an old Brahmana, saw Kasyapa approaching on his way, his
heart set upon curing the king. And the prince of snakes then spake unto
that bull among Munis, Kasyapa, saying, ‘Whither dost thou go with such
speed? What, besides, is the business upon which thou art intent?’

“And Kasyapa, thus addressed, replied, ‘Takshaka, by his poison, will
today burn king Parikshit of the Kuru race, that oppressor of all
enemies. I go with speed, O amiable one, to cure, without loss of time,
the king of immeasurable prowess, the sole representative of the Pandava
race, after he is bit by the same Takshaka like to Agni himself in
energy.’ And Takshaka answered, ‘I am that Takshaka, O Brahmana, who
shall burn that lord of the earth. Stop, for thou art unable to cure one
bit by me.’ And Kasyapa rejoined, ‘I am sure that, possessed (that I am)
of the power of learning, going thither I shall cure that monarch bit by


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘And Takshaka, after this, answered, ‘If, indeed, thou art
able to cure any creature bitten by me, then, O Kasyapa, revive thou this
tree bit by me. O best of Brahmanas, I burn this banian in thy sight. Try
thy best and show me that skill in mantras of which thou hast spoken.’

“And Kasyapa said, If thou art so minded, bite thou then, O king of
snakes, this tree. O snake, I shall revive it, though bit by thee.

“Sauti continued, ‘That king of snakes, thus addressed by the illustrious
Kasyapa, bit then that banian tree. And that tree, bit by the illustrious
snake, and penetrated by the poison of the serpent, blazed up all around.
And having burnt the banian so, the snake then spake again unto Kasyapa,
saying, ‘O first of Brahmanas, try thy best and revive this lord of the

“Sauti continued, ‘The tree was reduced to ashes by the poison of that
king of snakes. But taking up those ashes, Kasyapa spoke these words. ‘O
king of snakes, behold the power of my knowledge as applied to this lord
of the forest! O snake, under thy very nose I shall revive it.’ And then
that best of Brahmanas, the illustrious and learned Kasyapa, revived, by
his vidya, that tree which had been reduced to a heap of ashes. And first
he created the sprout, then he furnished it with two leaves, and then he
made the stem, and then the branches, and then the full-grown tree with
leaves and all. And Takshaka, seeing the tree revived by the illustrious
Kasyapa, said unto him, ‘It is not wonderful in thee that thou shouldst
destroy my poison or that of any one else like myself. O thou whose
wealth is asceticism, desirous of what wealth, goest thou thither? The
reward thou hopest to have from that best of monarchs, even I will give
thee, however difficult it may be to obtain it. Decked with fame as thou
art, thy success may be doubtful on that king affected by a Brahmana’s
curse and whose span of life itself hath been shortened. In that case,
this blazing fame of thine that hath overspread the three worlds will
disappear like the Sun when deprived of his splendour (on the occasion of
the eclipse).’

“Kasyapa said, ‘I go there for wealth, give it unto me, O snake, so that
taking thy gold. I may return.’ Takshaka replied, ‘O best of regenerate
ones, even I will give thee more than what thou expectest from that king.
Therefore do not go.’

“Sauti continued, ‘That best of Brahmanas, Kasyapa, of great prowess and
intelligence, hearing those words of Takshaka, sat in yoga meditation
over the king. And that foremost of Munis, viz., Kasyapa, of great
prowess and gifted with spiritual knowledge, ascertaining that the period
of life of that king of the Pandava race had really run out, returned,
receiving from Takshaka as much wealth as he desired.

“And upon the illustrious Kasyapa’s retracing his steps, Takshaka at the
proper time speedily entered the city of Hastinapura. And on his way he
heard that the king was living very cautiously, protected by means of
poison-neutralising mantras and medicines.’

“Sauti continued, ‘The snake thereupon reflected thus, ‘The monarch must
be deceived by me with power of illusion. But what must be the means?’
Then Takshaka sent to the king some snakes in the guise of ascetics
taking with them fruits, kusa grass, and water (as presents). And
Takshaka, addressing them, said, ‘Go ye all to the king, on the pretext
of pressing business, without any sign of impatience, as if to make the
monarch only accept the fruits and flowers and water (that ye shall carry
as presents unto him).’

“Sauti continued, ‘Those snakes, thus commanded by Takshaka, acted
accordingly. And they took to the king, Kusa grass and water, and fruits.
And that foremost of kings, of great prowess, accepted those offerings.
And after their business was finished, he said upto them, ‘Retire.’ Then
after those snakes disguised as ascetics had gone away, the king
addressed his ministers and friends, saying, ‘Eat ye, with me, all these
fruits of excellent taste brought by the ascetics.’ Impelled by Fate and
the words of the Rishi, the king, with his ministers, felt the desire of
eating those fruits. The particular fruit, within which Takshaka had
entered, was taken by the king himself for eating. And when he was eating
it, there appeared, O Saunaka, an ugly insect out of it, of shape
scarcely discernible, of eyes black, and of coppery colour. And that
foremost of kings, taking that insect, addressed his councillors, saying,
‘The sun is setting; today I have no more tear from poison. Therefore,
let this insect become Takshaka and bite me, so that my sinful act may be
expiated and the words of the ascetic rendered true.’ And those
councillors also, impelled by Fate, approved of that speech. And then the
monarch smiled, losing his senses, his hour having come. And he quickly
placed that insect on his neck. And as the king was smiling, Takshaka,
who had (in the form of that insect) come out of the fruit that had been
offered to the king, coiled himself round the neck of the monarch. And
quickly coiling round the king’s neck and uttering a tremendous roar,
Takshaka, that lord of snakes, bit that protector of the earth.’”


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘Then the councillors beholding the king in the coils of
Takshaka, became pale with fear and wept in exceeding grief. And hearing
the roar of Takshaka, the ministers all fled. And as they were flying
away in great grief, they saw Takshaka, the king of snakes, that
wonderful serpent, coursing through the blue sky like a streak of the hue
of the lotus, and looking very much like the vermilion-coloured line on a
woman’s crown dividing the dark masses of her hair in the middle.

“And the mansion in which the king was living blazed up with Takshaka’s
poison. And the king’s councillors, on beholding it, fled away in all
directions. And the king himself fell down, as if struck by lightning.

“And when the king was laid low by Takshaka’s poison, his councillors
with the royal priest--a holy Brahmana--performed all his last rites. All
the citizens, assembling together, made the minor son of the deceased
monarch their king. And the people called their new king, that slayer of
all enemies, that hero of the Kuru race, by the name of Janamejaya. And
that best of monarchs, Janamejaya, though a child, was wise in mind. And
with his councillors and priest, the eldest son Parikshita, that bull
amongst the Kurus, ruled the kingdom like his heroic great-grand-father
(Yudhishthira). And the ministers of the youthful monarch, beholding that
he could now keep his enemies in check, went to Suvarnavarman, the king
of Kasi, and asked him his daughter Vapushtama for a bride. And the king
of Kasi, after due inquiries, bestowed with ordained rites, his daughter
Vapushtama on that mighty hero of Kuru race. And the latter, receiving
his bride, became exceedingly glad. And he gave not his heart at any time
to any other woman. And gifted with great energy, he wandered in pursuit
of pleasure, with a cheerful heart, on expanses of water and amid woods
and flowery fields. And that first of monarchs passed his time in
pleasure as Pururavas of old did, on receiving the celestial damsel
Urvasi. Herself fairest of the fair, the damsel Vapushtama too, devoted
to her lord and celebrated for her beauty having gained a desirable
husband, pleased him by the excess of her affection during the period he
spent in the pursuit of pleasure.’”


(Astika Parva continued)

“Meanwhile the great ascetic Jaratkaru wandered over the whole earth
making the place where evening fell his home for the night. And gifted
with ascetic power, he roamed, practising various vows difficult to be
practised by the immature, and bathing also in various sacred waters. And
the Muni had air alone for his food and was free from desire of worldly
enjoyment. And he became daily emaciated and grew lean-fleshed. And one
day he saw the spirits of his ancestors, heads down, in a hole, by a cord
of virana roots having only one thread entire. And that even single
thread was being gradually eaten away by a large rat dwelling in that
hole. And the Pitris in that hole were without food, emaciated, pitiable,
and eagerly desirous of salvation. And Jaratkaru, approaching the
pitiable one, himself in humble guise, asked them, ‘Who are ye hanging by
this cord of virana roots? The single weak root that is still left in
this cord of virana roots already eaten away by the rat, dwelling in this
hole, is itself being gradually eaten away by the same rat with his sharp
teeth. The little that remains of that single thread will soon be cut
away. It is clear ye shall then have to fall down into this pit with
faces downwards. Seeing you with faces downwards, and overtaken by this
great calamity, my pity hath been excited. What good can I do to you.
Tell me quickly whether this calamity can be averted by a fourth, a
third, or even by the sacrifice of a half of this my asceticism, O,
relieve yourselves even with the whole of my asceticism. I consent to all
this. Do ye as ye please.’

“The Pitris said, ‘Venerable Brahmacharin, thou desirest to relieve us.
But, O foremost of Brahmanas, thou canst not dispel our affliction by thy
asceticism. O child, O first of speakers, we too have the fruits of our
asceticism. But, O Brahmana, it is for the loss of children that we are
falling down into this unholy hell. The grandsire himself hath said that
a son is a great merit. As we are about to be cast in this hole, our
ideas are no longer clear. Therefore, O child, we know thee not, although
thy manhood is well-known on earth. Venerable thou art and of good
fortune, thou who thus from kindness grievest for us worthy of pity and
greatly afflicted. O Brahmana, listen, who we are. We are Rishis of the
Yayavara sect, of rigid vows. And, O Muni, from loss of children, we have
fallen down from a sacred region. Our severe penances have not been
destroyed; we have a thread yet. But we have only one thread now. It
matters little, however, whether he is or is not. Unfortunate as we are,
we have a thread in one, known as Jaratkaru. The unfortunate one has gone
through the Vedas and their branches and is practising asceticism alone.
He being one with soul under complete control, desires set high,
observant of vows, deeply engaged in ascetic penances, and free from
greed for the merits or asceticism, we have been reduced to this
deplorable state. He hath no wife, no son, no relatives. Therefore, do we
hang in this hole, our consciousness lost, like men having none to take
care of them. If thou meetest him, O, tell him, from thy kindness to
ourselves, Thy Pitris, in sorrow, are hanging with faces downwards in a
hole. Holy one, take a wife and beget children. O thou of ascetic wealth,
thou art, O amiable one, the only thread that remaineth in the line of
thy ancestors. O Brahmana, the cord of virana roots that thou seest we
are hanging by, is the cord representing our multiplied race. And, O
Brahmana, these threads of the cord of virana roots that thou seest as
eaten away, are ourselves who have been eaten up by Time. This root thou
seest hath been half-eaten and by which we are hanging in this hole is he
that hath adopted asceticism alone. The rat that thou beholdest is Time
of infinite strength. And he (Time) is gradually weakening the wretch
Jaratkaru engaged in ascetic penances tempted by the merits thereof, but
wanting in prudence and heart. O excellent one, his asceticism cannot
save us. Behold, our roots being torn, cast down from higher regions,
deprived of consciousness by Time, we are going downwards like sinful
wretches. And upon our going down into this hole with all our relatives,
eaten up by Time, even he shall sink with us into hell. O child, whether
it is asceticism, or sacrifice, or whatever else there be of very holy
acts, everything is inferior. These cannot count with a son. O child,
having seen all, speak unto that Jaratkaru of ascetic wealth. Thou
shouldst tell him in detail everything that thou hast beheld. And, O
Brahmana, from thy kindness towards us, thou shouldst tell him all that
would induce him to take a wife and beget children. Amongst his friends,
or of our own race, who art thou, O excellent one, that thus grievest for
us all like a friend? We wish to hear who thou art that stayest here.’”


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said. ‘Jaratkaru, hearing all this, became excessively dejected.
And from sorrow he spoke unto those Pitris in words obstructed by tears.’
And Jaratkaru said, ‘Ye are even my fathers and grand-fathers gone
before. Therefore, tell me what I must do for your welfare. I am that
sinful son of yours, Jaratkaru! Punish me for my sinful deeds, a wretch
that I am.’

“The Pitris replied, saying, ‘O son, by good luck hast thou arrived at
this spot in course of thy rambles. O Brahmana, why hast thou not taken a

“Jaratkaru said. ‘Ye Pitris, this desire hath always existed in my heart
that I would, with vital seed drawn up, carry this body to the other
world. My mind hath been possessed with the idea that I would not take a
wife. But ye grandsires, having seen you hanging like birds, I have
diverted my mind from the Brahmacharya mode of life. I will truly do what
you like. I will certainly marry, if ever I meet with a maiden of my own
name. I shall accept her who, bestowing herself of her own accord, will
be as aims unto me, and whom I shall not have to maintain. I shall marry
if I get such a one; otherwise, I shall not. This is the truth, ye
grandsires! And the offspring that will be begot upon her shall be your
salvation. And ye Pitris of mine, ye shall live for ever in blessedness
and without fear.’

‘Sauti continued, ‘The Muni, having said so unto the Pitris, wandered
over the earth again. And, O Saunaka, being old, he obtained no wife. And
he grieved much that he was not successful. But directed (as before) by
his ancestors, he continued the search. And going into the forest, he
wept loudly in great grief. And having gone into the forest, the wise
one, moved by the desire of doing good to his ancestors, said, ‘I will
ask for a bride,’ distinctly repeating these words thrice. And he said,
‘Whatever creatures are here, mobile and immobile, so whoever there be
that are invisible, O, hear my words! My ancestors, afflicted with grief,
have directed me that am engaged in the most severe penances, saying,
‘Marry thou for (the acquisition of) a son.’ ‘O ye, being directed by my
ancestors, I am roaming in poverty and sorrow, over the wide world for
wedding a maiden that I may obtain as alms. Let that creature, amongst
those I have addressed, who hath a daughter, bestow on me that am roaming
far and near. Such a bride as is of same name with me, to be bestowed on
me as alms, and whom, besides, I shall not maintain, O bestow on me!’
Then those snakes that had been set upon Jaratkaru track, ascertaining
his inclination, gave information to Vasuki. And the king of the snakes,
hearing their words, took with him that maiden decked with ornaments, and
went into the forest unto that Rishi. And, O Brahmana, Vasuki, the king
of the snakes, having gone there, offered that maiden as alms unto that
high-souled Rishi. But the Rishi did not at once accept her. And the
Rishi, thinking her not to be of the same name with himself, and seeing
that the question of her maintenance also was unsettled, reflected for a
few moments, hesitating to accept her. And then, O son of Bhrigu, he
asked Vasuki the maiden’s name, and also said unto him, ‘I shall not
maintain her.’”


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘Then Vasuki spake unto the Rishi Jaratkaru these words, ‘O
best of Brahmanas, this maiden is of the same name with thee. She is my
sister and hath ascetic merit. I will maintain thy wife; accept her. O
thou of ascetic wealth, I shall protect her with all my ability. And, O
foremost of the great Munis, she hath been reared by me for thee.’ And
the Rishi replied, ‘This is agreed between us that I shall not maintain
her; and she shall not do aught that I do not like. If she do, I leave

“Sauti continued, ‘When the snake had promised, saying, ‘I shall maintain
my sister,’ Jaratkaru then went to the snake’s house. Then that first of
mantra-knowing Brahmanas, observing rigid vows, that virtuous and veteran
ascetic, took her hand presented to him according to shastric rites. And
taking his bride with him, adored by the great Rishi, he entered the
delightful chamber set apart for him by the king of the snakes. And in
that chamber was a bed-stead covered with very valuable coverlets. And
Jaratkaru lived there with his wife. And the excellent Rishi made an
agreement with his wife, saying, ‘Nothing must ever be done or said by
thee that is against my liking. And in case of thy doing any such thing,
I will leave thee and no longer continue to stay in thy house. Bear in
mind these words that have been spoken by me.’

“And then the sister of the king of the snakes in great anxiety and
grieving exceedingly, spoke unto him, saying, ‘Be it so.’ And moved by
the desire of doing good to her relatives, that damsel, of unsullied
reputation, began to attend upon her lord with the wakefulness of a dog,
the timidity of a deer, and knowledge of signs possessed by the crow. And
one day, after the menstrual period, the sister of Vasuki, having
purified herself by a bath according to custom, approached her lord the
great Muni; And thereupon she conceived. And the embryo was like unto a
flame of fire, possessed of great energy, and resplendent as fire itself.
And it grew like the moon in the bright fortnight.

“And one day, within a short time, Jaratkaru of great fame, placing his
head on the lap of his wife, slept, looking like one fatigued. And as he
was sleeping, the sun entered his chambers in the Western mountain and
was about to set. And, O Brahmana, as the day was fading, she, the
excellent sister of Vasuki, became thoughtful, fearing the loss of her
husband’s virtue. And she thought, ‘What should I now do? Shall I wake my
husband or not? He is exacting and punctilious in his religious duties.
How can I act as not to offend him? The alternatives are his anger and
the loss of virtue of a virtuous man. The loss of virtue, I ween, is the
greater of the two evils. Again, if I wake him, he will be angry. But if
twilight passeth away without his prayers being said, he shall certainly
sustain loss of virtue.’

‘And having resolved at last, the sweet-speeched Jaratkaru, the sister of
Vasuki, spake softly unto that Rishi resplendent with ascetic penances,
and lying prostrate like a flame of fire, ‘O thou of great good fortune,
awake, the sun is setting. O thou of rigid vows, O illustrious one, do
your evening prayer after purifying yourself with water and uttering the
name of Vishnu. The time for the evening sacrifice hath come. Twilight, O
lord, is even now gently covering the western side.’

“The illustrious Jaratkaru of great ascetic merit, thus addressed, spake
unto his wife these words, his upper lip quivering in anger, ‘O amiable
one of the Naga race, thou hast insulted me. I shall no longer abide with
thee, but shall go where I came from. O thou of beautiful thighs, I
believe in my heart that the sun hath no power to set in the usual time,
if I am asleep. An insulted person should never live where he hath met
with the insult, far less should I, a virtuous person, or those that are
like me.’ Jaratkaru, the sister of Vasuki, thus addressed by her lord,
began to quake with terror, and she spake unto him, saying, ‘O Brahmana,
I have not waked thee from desire of insult; but I have done it so that
thy virtue may not sustain any loss.’

“The Rishi Jaratkaru, great in ascetic merit, possessed with anger and
desirous of forsaking his spouse, thus addressed, spake unto his wife,
saying, O thou fair one, never have I spoken a falsehood. Therefore, go I
shall. This was also settled between ourselves. O amiable one, I have
passed the time happily with thee. And, O fair one, tell thy brother,
when I am gone, that I have left thee. And upon my going away, it
behoveth thee not to grieve for me.’

“Thus addressed Jaratkaru, the fair sister of Vasuki, of faultless
features, filled with anxiety and sorrow, having mustered sufficient
courage and patience, though her heart was still quaking, then spake unto
Rishi Jaratkaru. Her words were obstructed with tears and her face was
pale with fear. And the palms of her hands were joined together, and her
eyes were bathed in tears. And she said, ‘It behoveth thee not to leave
me without a fault. Thou treadest over the path of virtue. I too have
been in the same path, with heart fixed on the good of my relatives. O
best of Brahmanas, the object for which I was bestowed on thee hath not
been accomplished yet. Unfortunate that I am, what shall Vasuki say unto
me? O excellent one, the offspring desired of by my relatives afflicted
by a mother’s curse, do not yet appear! The welfare of my relatives
dependeth on the acquisition of offspring from thee. And in order that my
connection with thee may not be fruitless, O illustrious Brahmana, moved
by the desire of doing good to my race do I entreat thee. O excellent
one, high-souled thou art; so why shall thou leave me who am faultless?
This is what is not just clear to me.’

“Thus addressed, the Muni of great ascetic merit spake unto his wife
Jaratkaru these words that were proper and suitable to the occasion. And
he said, ‘O fortunate one, the being thou hast conceived, even like unto
Agni himself is a Rishi of soul highly virtuous, and a master of the
Vedas and their branches.’

“Having said so, the great Rishi, Jaratkaru of virtuous soul, went away,
his heart firmly fixed on practising again the severest penances.’”


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘O thou of ascetic wealth, soon after her lord had left her,
Jaratkaru went to her brother. And she told him everything that had
happened. And the prince of snakes, hearing the calamitous news, spake
unto his miserable sister, himself more miserable still.’

“And he said, ‘Thou knowest, ‘O amiable one, the purpose of thy bestowal,
the reason thereof. If, from that union, for the welfare of the snakes, a
son be born, then he, possessed of energy, will save us all from the
snake-sacrifice. The Grandsire had said so, of old, in the midst of the
gods. O fortunate one, hast thou conceived from thy union with that best
of Rishis? My heart’s desire is that my bestowal of thee on that wise one
may not be fruitless. Truly, it is not proper for me to ask thee about
this. But from the gravity of the interests I ask thee this. Knowing also
the obstinacy of thy lord, ever engaged in severe penances, I shall not
follow him, for he may curse me. Tell me in detail all that thy lord, O
amiable one, hath done, and extract that terribly afflicting dart that
lies implanted for a long time past in my heart.’

“Jaratkaru, thus addressed, consoling Vasuki, the king of the snakes, at
length replied, saying, ‘Asked by me about offspring, the high-souled and
mighty ascetic said, ‘There is,’--and then he went away. I do not
remember him to have ever before speak even in jest aught that is false.
Why should he, O king, speak a falsehood on such a serious occasion? He
said, ‘Thou shouldst not grieve, O daughter of the snake race, about the
intended result of our union. A son shall be born to thee, resplendent as
the blazing sun.’ O brother, having said this to me, my husband of
ascetic wealth went away--Therefore, let the deep sorrow cherished in thy
heart disappear.’

“Sauti continued, ‘Thus addressed, Vasuki, the king of the snakes,
accepted those words of his sister, and in great joy said, ‘Be it so!’
And the chief of the snakes then adored his sister with his best regards,
gift of wealth, and fitting eulogies. Then, O best of Brahmanas, the
embryo endued with great splendour, began to develop, like the moon in
the heavens in the bright fortnight.

And in due time, the sister of the snakes, O Brahmana, gave birth to a
son of the splendour of a celestial child, who became the reliever of the
fears of his ancestors and maternal relatives. The child grew up there in
the house of the king of the snakes. He studied the Vedas and their
branches with the ascetic Chyavana, the son of Bhrigu. And though but a
boy, his vows were rigid. And he was gifted with great intelligence, and
with the several attributes of virtue, knowledge, freedom from the
world’s indulgences, and saintliness. And the name by which he was known
to the world was Astika. And he was known by the name of Astika (whoever
is) because his father had gone to the woods, saying. ‘There is’, when he
was in the womb. Though but a boy, he had great gravity and intelligence.
And he was reared with great care in the palace of the snakes. And he was
like the illustrious lord of the celestials, Mahadeva of the golden form,
the wielder of the trident. And he grew up day by day, the delight of all
the snakes.’”


(Astika Parva continued)

“Saunaka said, ‘Tell me again, in detail,--all that king Janamejaya had
asked his ministers about his father’s ascension to heaven.’

‘Sauti said, ‘O Brahmana, hear all that the king asked his ministers, and
all that they said about the death of Parikshit.’

“Janamejaya asked, ‘Know ye all that befell my father. How did that
famous king, in time, meet with his death? Hearing from you the incidents
of my father’s life in detail, I shall ordain something, if it be for the
benefit of the world. Otherwise, I shall do nothing.’

‘The minister replied, ‘Hear, O monarch, what thou hast asked, viz., an
account of thy illustrious father’s life, and how also that king of kings
left this world. Thy father was virtuous and high-souled, and always
protected his people. O, hear, how that high-souled one conducted himself
on earth. Like unto an impersonation of virtue and justice, the monarch,
cognisant of virtue, virtuously protected the four orders, each engaged
in the discharge of their specified duties. Of incomparable prowess, and
blessed with fortune, he protected the goddess Earth. There was none who
hated him and he himself hated none. Like unto Prajapati (Brahma) he was
equally disposed towards all creatures. O monarch, Brahmanas and
Kshatriyas and Vaisyas and Sudras, all engaged contentedly in the
practice of their respective duties, were impartially protected by that
king. Widows and orphans, the maimed and the poor, he maintained. Of
handsome features, he was unto all creatures like a second Soma.
Cherishing his subjects and keeping them contented, blessed with good
fortune, truth-telling, of immense prowess, he was the disciple of
Saradwat in the science of arms. And, O Janamejaya, thy father was dear
unto Govinda. Of great fame, he was loved by all men. And he was born in
the womb of Uttara when the Kuru race was almost extinct. And, therefore,
the mighty son of Abhimanyu came to be called Parikshit (born in an
extinct line). Well-versed in the interpretation of treatises on the
duties of kings, he was gifted with every virtue. With passions under
complete control, intelligent, possessing a retentive memory, the
practiser of all virtues, the conqueror of his six passions of powerful
mind, surpassing all, and fully acquainted with the science of morality
and political science, the father had ruled over these subjects for sixty
years. And he then died, mourned by all his subjects. And, after him, O
first of men, thou hast acquired this hereditary kingdom of the Kurus for
the last thousand years. Thou wast installed while a child, and art thus
protecting every creature.’

“Janamejaya said, ‘There hath not been born in our race a king who hath
not sought the good of his subjects or been loved by them. Behold
especially the conduct of my grandsires ever engaged in great
achievements. How did my father, blessed with many virtues, meet with his
death? Describe everything to me as it happened. I am desirous of hearing
it from you!’

“Sauti continued, ‘Thus directed by the monarch, those councillors, ever
solicitous of the good of the king, told him everything exactly as it had

‘And the councillors said, ‘O king, that father of thine, that protector
of the whole earth, that foremost of all persons obedient to the
scriptures, became addicted to the sports of the field, even as Pandu of
mighty arms, that foremost of all bearers of the bow in battle. He made
over to us all the affairs of state from the most trivial to the most
important. One day, going into the forest, he pierced a deer with an
arrow. And having pierced it he followed it quickly on foot into the deep
woods, armed with sword and quiver. He could not, however, come upon the
lost deer. Sixty years of age and decrepit, he was soon fatigued and
became hungry. He then saw in the deep woods a high-souled Rishi. The
Rishi was then observing the vow of silence. The king asked him about the
deer, but, though asked, he made no reply. At last the king, already
tired with exertion and hunger, suddenly became angry with that Rishi
sitting motionless like a piece of wood in observance of his vow of
silence. Indeed, the king knew not that he was a Muni observing the vow
of silence. Swayed by anger, thy father insulted him. O excellent one of
the Bharata race, the king, thy father taking up from the ground with the
end of his bow a dead snake placed it on the shoulders of that Muni of
pure soul. But the Muni spake not a word good or bad and was without
anger. He continued in the same posture, bearing the dead snake.’”


(Astika Parva continued)

‘Sauti continued, ‘The ministers said, ‘That king of kings then, spent
with hunger and exertion, and having placed the snake upon the shoulders
of that Muni, came back to his capital. The Muni had a son, born of a
cow, of the name of Sringin. He was widely known, possessed of great
prowess and energy, and very wrathful. Going (every day) to his preceptor
he was in the habit of worshipping him. Commanded by him, Sringin was
returning home, when he heard from a friend of his about the insult of
his father by thy parent. And, O tiger among kings, he heard that his
father, without having committed any fault, was bearing, motionless like
a statue, upon his shoulders a dead snake placed thereon. O king, the
Rishi insulted by thy father was severe in ascetic penances, the foremost
of Munis, the controller of passions, pure, and ever engaged in wonderful
acts. His soul was enlightened with ascetic penances, and his organs and
their functions were under complete control. His practices and his speech
were both very nice. He was contented and without avarice. He was without
meanness of any kind and without envy. He was old and used to observe the
vow of silence. And he was the refuge whom all creatures might seek in

“Such was the Rishi insulted by thy father. The son, however, of that
Rishi, in wrath, cursed thy father. Though young in years, the powerful
one was old in ascetic splendour. Speedily touching water, he spake,
burning as it were with spiritual energy and rage, these words in
allusion to thy father, ‘Behold the power of my asceticism! Directed by
my words, the snake Takshaka of powerful energy and virulent poison,
shall, within seven nights hence, burn, with his poison the wretch that
hath placed the dead snake upon my un-offending father.’ And having said
this, he went to where his father was. And seeing his father he told him
of his curse. The tiger among Rishis thereupon sent to thy father a
disciple of his, named Gaurmukha, of amiable manners and possessed of
every virtue. And having rested a while (after arrival at court) he told
the king everything, saying in the words of his master, ‘Thou hast been
cursed, O king, by my son. Takshaka shall burn thee with his poison!
Therefore, O king, be careful.’ O Janamejaya, hearing those terrible
words, thy father took every precaution against the powerful snake

“And when the seventh day had arrived, a Brahmana Rishi, named Kasyapa,
desired to come to the monarch. But the snake Takshaka saw Kasyapa. And
the prince of snakes spake unto Kasyapa without loss of time, saying,
‘Where dost thou go so quickly, and what is the business on which thou
goest?’ Kasyapa replied, saying, ‘O Brahmana, I am going whither king
Parikshit, that best of the Kurus, is. He shall today be burnt by the
poison of the snake Takshaka. I go there quickly in order to cure him, in
fact, in order that, protected by me, the snake may not bite him to
death.’ Takshaka answered, saying, ‘Why dost thou seek to revive the king
to be bitten by me? I am that Takshaka. O Brahmana, behold the wonderful
power of my poison. Thou art incapable of reviving that monarch when bit
by me.’ So saying, Takshaka, then and there, bit a lord of the forest (a
banian tree). And the banian, as soon as it was bit by the snake, was
converted into ashes. But Kasyapa, O king, revived it. Takshaka thereupon
tempted him, saying, ‘Tell me thy desire.’ And Kasyapa, too, thus
addressed, spake again unto Takshaka, saying, ‘I go there from desire of
wealth.’ And Takshaka, thus addressed, then spake unto the high-souled
Kasyapa in these soft words, ‘O sinless one, take from me more wealth
than what thou expectest from that monarch, and go back!’ And Kasyapa,
that foremost of men, thus addressed by the snake, and receiving from him
as much wealth as he desired, wended his way back.

“And Kasyapa going back, Takshaka, approaching in disguise, blasted, with
the fire of his poison, thy virtuous father, the first of kings, then
staying in his mansion with all precautions. And after that, thou wast, O
tiger among men, been installed (on the throne). And, O best of monarchs,
we have thus told thee all that we have seen and heard, cruel though the
account is. And hearing all about the discomfiture of thy royal father,
and of the insult to the Rishi Utanka, decide thou that which should

‘Sauti continued, ‘King Janamejaya, that chastiser of enemies, then spake
upto all his ministers. And he said, ‘When did ye learn all that happened
upon that, banian reduced to ashes by Takshaka, and which, wonderful as
it is, was afterwards revived by Kasyapa? Assuredly, my father could not
have died, for the poison could have been neutralised by Kasyapa with his
mantras. That worst of snakes, of sinful soul, thought within his mind
that if Kasyapa resuscitated the king bit by him, he, Takshaka, would be
an object of ridicule in the world owing to the neutralisation of his
poison. Assuredly, having thought so, he pacified the Brahmana. I have
devised a way, however, of inflicting punishment upon him. I like to
know, however, what ye saw or heard, what happened in the deep solitude
of the forest,--viz., the words of Takshaka and the speeches of Kasyapa.
Having known it, I shall devise the means of exterminating the snake

“The ministers said, ‘Hear, O monarch of him who told us before of the
meeting between that foremost Brahmana and that prince of snakes in the
woods. A certain person, O monarch, had climbed up that tree containing
some dry branches with the object of breaking them for sacrificial fuel.
He was not perceived either by the snake or by the Brahmana. And, O king,
that man was reduced to ashes along with the tree itself. And, O king of
kings, he was revived with the tree by the power of the Brahmana. That
man, a Brahmana’s menial, having come to us, represented fully everything
as it happened between Takshaka and the Brahmana. Thus have we told thee,
O king, all that we have seen and heard. And having heard it, O tiger
among kings, ordain that which should follow.’

“Sauti continued, ‘King Janamejaya, having listened to the words of his
ministers, was sorely afflicted with grief, and began to weep. And the
monarch began to squeeze his hands. And the lotus-eyed king began to
breathe a long and hot breath, shed tears, and shrieked aloud. And
possessed with grief and sorrow, and shedding copious tears, and touching
water according to the form, the monarch spake. And reflecting for a
moment, as if settling something in his mind, the angry monarch,
addressing all ministers, said these words.

‘I have heard your account of my father’s ascension to heaven. Know ye
now what my fixed resolve is. I think no time must be lost in avenging
this injury upon the wretch Takshaka that killed my father. He burnt my
father making Sringin only a secondary cause. From malignity alone he
made Kasyapa return. If that Brahmana had arrived, my father assuredly
would have lived. What would he have lost if the king had revived by the
grace of Kasyapa and the precautionary measures of his ministers? From
ignorance of the effects of my wrath, he prevented Kasyapa--that
excellent of Brahmanas--whom he could not defeat, from coming to my
father with the desire of reviving him. The act of aggression is great on
the part of the wretch Takshaka who gave wealth unto that Brahmana in
order that he might not revive the king. I must now avenge myself on my
father’s enemy to please myself, the Rishi Utanka and you all.’”


(Astika Parva continued)

‘Sauti said, ‘King Janamejaya having said so, his ministers expressed
their approbation. And the monarch then expressed his determination to
perform a snake-sacrifice. And that lord of the Earth--that tiger of the
Bharata race--the son of Parikshit, then called his priest and Ritwiks.
And accomplished in speech, he spake unto them these words relating to
the accomplishment of his great task. ‘I must avenge myself on the wretch
Takshaka who killed my father. Tell me what I must do. Do you know any
act by which I may cast into the blazing fire the snake Takshaka with his
relatives? I desire to burn that wretch even as he burnt, of yore, by the
fire of his poison, my father.’

‘The chief priest answered, ‘There is, O king, a great sacrifice for thee
devised by the gods themselves. It is known as the snake-sacrifice, and
is read of in the Puranas. O king, thou alone canst accomplish it, and no
one else. Men versed in the Puranas have told us, there is such a

“Sauti continued, ‘Thus addressed, the king, O excellent one, thought
Takshaka to be already burnt and thrown into the blazing mouth of Agni,
the eater of the sacrificial butter. The king then said unto those
Brahmanas versed in mantras, ‘I shall make preparations for that
sacrifice. Tell me the things that are necessary.’ And the king’s
Ritwiks, O excellent Brahmana, versed in the Vedas and acquainted with
the rites of that sacrifice measured, according to the scriptures, the
land for the sacrificial platform. And the platform was decked with
valuable articles and with Brahmanas. And it was full of precious things
and paddy. And the Ritwika sat upon it at ease. And after the sacrificial
platform had been thus constructed according to rule and as desired, they
installed the king at the snake-sacrifice for the attainment of its
object. And before the commencement of the snake-Sacrifice that was to
come, there occurred this very important incident foreboding obstruction
to the sacrifice. For when the sacrificial platform was being
constructed, a professional builder of great intelligence and well-versed
in the knowledge of laying foundations, a Suta by caste, well-acquainted
with the Puranas, said, ‘The soil upon which and the time at which the
measurement for the sacrificial platform has been made, indicate that
this sacrifice will not be completed, a Brahmana becoming the reason
thereof.’ Hearing this, the king, before his installation, gave orders to
his gate-keepers not to admit anybody without his knowledge.”


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘The snake-sacrifice then commenced according to due form.
And the sacrificial priests, competent in their respective duties
according to the ordinance, clad in black garments and their eyes red
from contact with smoke, poured clarified butter into the blazing fire,
uttering the appropriate mantras. And causing the hearts of all the
snakes to tremble with fear, they poured clarified butter into the mouth
of Agni uttering the names of the snakes. And the snakes thereupon began
to fall into the blazing fire, benumbed and piteously calling upon one
another. And swollen and breathing hard, and twining each other with
their heads and tails, they came in large numbers and fell into the fire.
The white, the black, the blue, the old and the young--all fell alike
into the fire, uttering various cries. Those measuring a krosa, and those
measuring a yojana, and those of the measure of a gokarna, fell
continuously with great violence into that first of all fires. And
hundreds and thousands and tens of thousands of snakes, deprived of all
control over their limbs, perished on that occasion. And amongst those
that perished, there were some that were like horses, other like trunks
of elephants, and others of huge bodies and strength like maddened
elephants Of various colours and virulent poison, terrible and looking
like maces furnished with iron-spikes, of great strength, ever inclined
to bite, the snakes, afflicted with their mother’s curse, fell into the


(Astika Parva continued)

“Saunaka asked, ‘What great Rishis became the Ritwiks at the
snake-sacrifice of the wise king Janamejaya of the Pandava line? Who also
became the Sadasyas in that terrible snake-sacrifice, so frightful to the
snakes, and begetting such sorrow in them? It behoveth thee to describe
all these in detail, so that, O son of Suta, we may know who were
acquainted with the rituals of the snake-sacrifice.’

“Sauti replied, ‘I will recite the names of those wise ones who became
the monarch’s Ritwiks and Sadasyas. The Brahmana Chandabhargava became
the Hotri in that sacrifice. He was of great reputation, and was born in
the race of Chyavana and was the foremost of those acquainted with the
Vedas. The learned old Brahmana, Kautsa, became the Udgatri, the chanter
of the Vedic hymns. Jaimini became the Brahmana, and Sarngarva and
Pingala the Adhvaryus, Vyasa with his son and disciples, and Uddalaka,
Pramataka, Swetaketu, Pingala, Asita, Devala, Narada, Parvata, Atreya,
Kundajathara, the Brahmana Kalaghata, Vatsya, old Srutasravas ever
engaged in japa and the study of the Vedas. Kohala Devasarman, Maudgalya,
Samasaurava, and many other Brahmanas who had got through the Vedas
became the Sadasyas at that sacrifice of the son of Parikshit.

“When the Ritwiks in that snake-sacrifice began to pour clarified butter
into the fire, terrible snakes, striking fear into every creature, began
to fall into it. And the fat and the marrow of the snakes thus falling
into the fire began to flow in rivers. And the atmosphere was filled with
an insufferable stench owing to the incessant burning of the snakes. And
incessant also were the cries of the snakes fallen into the fire and
those in the air about to fall into it.

‘Meanwhile, Takshaka, that prince of snakes, as soon as he heard that
king Janamejaya was engaged in the sacrifice, went to the palace of
Purandara (Indra). And that best of snakes, having represented all that
had taken place, sought in terror the protection of Indra after having
acknowledged his fault. And Indra, gratified, told him, ‘O prince of
snakes, O Takshaka, here thou hast no fear from that snake-sacrifice. The
Grandsire was pacified by me for thy sake. Therefore, thou hast no fear.
Let this fear of thy heart be allayed.’

Sauti continued, ‘Thus encouraged by him, that best of snakes began to
dwell in Indra’s abode in joy and happiness. But Vasuki, seeing that the
snakes were incessantly falling into the fire and that his family was
reduced to only a few, became exceedingly sorry. And the king of the
snakes was afflicted with great grief, and his heart was about to break.
And summoning his sister, he spake unto her, saying, ‘O amiable one, my
limbs are burning and I no longer see the points of the heavens. I am
about to fall down from loss of consciousness. My mind is turning, my
sight is falling and my heart is breaking. Benumbed, I may fall today
into that blazing fire! This sacrifice of the son of Parikshit is for the
extermination of our race. It is evident I also shall have to go to the
abode of the king of the dead. The time is come, O my sister, on account
of which thou wert bestowed by me on Jaratkaru to protect us with our
relatives. O best of the women of the snake race, Astika will put an end
to the sacrifice that is going on. The Grandsire told me this of old.
Therefore, O child, solicit thy dear son who is fully conversant with the
Vedas and regarded even by the old, for the protection of myself and also
of those dependent on me.”’


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘Then the snake-dame Jaratkaru, calling her own son, told
him the following words according to the directions of Vasuki, the king
of the snakes. ‘O son, the time is come for the accomplishment of that
object for which I was bestowed on thy father by my brother. Therefore,
do thou that which should be done.’

“Astika asked, ‘Why wert thou, O mother, bestowed on my father by my
uncle? Tell me all truly so that on hearing it, I may do what is proper.’

“Then Jaratkaru, the sister of the king of the snakes, herself unmoved by
the general distress, and even desirous of the welfare of her relatives,
said unto him, ‘O son, it is said that the mother of all the snakes is
Kadru. Know thou why she cursed in anger her sons.’ Addressing the snakes
she said, ‘As ye have refused to falsely represent Uchchaihsravas, the
prince of horses, for bringing about Vinata’s bondage according to the
wager, therefore, shall he whose charioteer is Vayu burn you all in
Janamejaya’s sacrifice. And perishing in that sacrifice, ye shall go to
the region of the unredeemed spirits.’ The Grandsire of all the worlds
spake unto her while uttering this curse, ‘Be it so,’ and thus approved
of her speech. Vasuki, having heard that curse and then the words of the
Grandsire, sought the protection of the gods, O child, on the occasion
when the amrita was being churned for. And the gods, their object
fulfilled, for they had obtained the excellent amrita, with Vasuki ahead,
approached the Grandsire. And all the gods, with king Vasuki, sought to
incline Him who was born of the lotus to be propitious, so that the curse
might be made abortive.’

“And the gods said, ‘O Lord, Vasuki, the king of the snakes, is sorry on
account of his relatives. How may his mother’s curse prove abortive?’

“Brahman thereupon replied, saying, ‘Jaratkaru will take unto himself a
wife of the name of Jaratkaru; the Brahmana born of her will relieve the

“Vasuki, the best of snakes, hearing those words, bestowed me, O thou of
godlike looks, on thy high-souled father some time before the
commencement of the sacrifice. And from that marriage thou art born of
me. That time has come. It behoveth thee to protect us from this danger.
It behoveth thee to protect my brother and myself from the fire, so that
the object, viz., our relief, for which I was bestowed on thy wise
father, may not be unfulfilled. What dost thou think, O son?’

“Sauti continued, ‘Thus addressed, Astika said unto his mother, ‘Yes, I
will.’ And he then addressed the afflicted Vasuki, and as if infusing
life into him, said, ‘O Vasuki, thou best of snakes, thou great being,
truly do I say, I shall relieve thee from that curse. Be easy, O snake!
There is no fear any longer. I shall strive earnestly so that good may
come! Nobody hath ever said that my speech, even in jest, hath proved
false. Hence on serious occasions like this, I need not say anything
more, O uncle, going thither today I shall gratify, with words mixed with
blessings, the monarch Janamejaya installed at the sacrifice, so that, O
excellent one, the sacrifice may stop. O highminded one, O king of the
snakes, believe all that I say. Believe me, my resolve can never be

“And Vasuki then said, ‘O Astika, my head swims and my heart breaks. I
cannot discern the points of the earth, as I am afflicted with a mother’s

“And Astika said, ‘Thou best of snakes, it behoveth thee not to grieve
any longer. I shall dispel this fear of thine from the blazing fire. This
terrible punishment, capable of burning like the fire at the end of the
Yuga, I shall extinguish. Nurse not thy fear any longer.’

“Sauti continued, ‘Then that best of Brahmanas, Astika, quelling the
terrible fear of the Vasuki’s heart, and taking it, as it were, on
himself, wended, for the relief of the king of the snakes, with speed to
Janamejaya’s sacrifice blessed with every merit. And Astika having gone
thither, beheld the excellent sacrificial compound with numerous Sadasyas
on it whose splendour was like unto that of the Sun or Agni. But that
best of Brahmanas was refused admittance by the door-keepers. And the
mighty ascetic gratified them, being desirous of entering the sacrificial
compound. And that best of Brahmanas, that foremost of all virtuous men,
having entered the excellent sacrificial compound, began to adore the
king of infinite achievements, Ritwiks, the Sadasyas, and also the sacred


(Astika Parva continued)

“Astika said, ‘Soma and Varuna and Prajapati performed sacrifices of old
in Prayaga. But thy sacrifice, O foremost one of Bharata’s race, O son of
Parikshit, is not inferior to any of those. Let those dear unto us be
blessed! Sakra performed a hundred sacrifices. But this sacrifice of
thine, O foremost one of Bharata’s race, O son of Parikshit, is fully
equal to ten thousand sacrifices of Sakra. Let those dear unto us be
blessed! Like the sacrifice of Yama, of Harimedha, or of king Rantideva,
is the sacrifice of thine, O foremost one of Bharata’s race, O son of
Parikshit. Let those dear unto us be blessed! Like the sacrifice of Maya,
of king Sasavindu, or of king Vaisravana, is this sacrifice of thine, O
foremost one of Bharata’s race, O son of Satyavati, in which he himself
was the chief priest, is this sacrifice of Nriga, of Ajamida, of the son
of Dasaratha, is this sacrifice of thine, O foremost one of Bharata’s
race, O son of Parikshit. Let those dear unto us be blessed! Like the
sacrifice of king Yudhishthira, the son of a god and belonging to Ajamida
race, heard of (even) in the heavens, is this sacrifice of thine. O
foremost one of Bharata’s race, O son of Parikshit, let those dear unto
us be blessed! Like the sacrifice of Krishna (Dwaipayana), the son of
Satyavati, in which he himself was the chief priest, is this sacrifice of
thine, O foremost one of Bharata’s race, O son of Parikshit Let those
dear unto us be blessed! These (Ritwiks and Sadasyas) that are here
engaged in making thy sacrifice, like unto that of the slayer of Vritra,
are of splendour equal to that of the sun. There now remains nothing for
them to know, and gifts made to them become inexhaustible (in merit). It
is my conviction that there is no Ritwik in all the worlds who is equal
to thy Ritwik, Dwaipayana. His disciples, becoming Ritwiks, competent for
their duties, travel over the earth. The high-souled bearer of libation
(viz., Agni), called also Vibhavasu and Chitrabhanu, having gold for his
vital seed and having his path, marked by black smoke, blazing up with
flames inclined to the right, beareth these thy libations of clarified
butter to the gods. In this world of men there is no other monarch equal
to thee in the protection of subjects. I am ever well-pleased with thy
abstinence. Indeed, thou art either Varuna, or Yama, the god of Justice.
Like Sakra himself, thunderbolt in hand, thou art, in this world, the
protector of all creatures. In this earth there is no man so great as
thou and no monarch who is thy equal in sacrifice. Thou art like
Khatwanga, Nabhaga, and Dilipa. In prowess thou art like Yayati and
Mandhatri. In splendour equal to the sun, and of excellent vows, thou art
O monarch, like Bhishma! Like Valmiki thou art of energy concealed. Like
Vasishtha thou hast controlled thy wrath. Like Indra is thy lordship. Thy
splendour also shines like that of Narayana. Like Yama art thou
conversant with the dispensation of justice. Thou art like Krishna
adorned with every virtue. Thou art the home of the good fortune that
belongs to the Vasus. Thou art also the refuge of the sacrifices. In
strength thou art equal to Damvodbhava. Like Rama (the son of Jamadagni)
thou art conversant with the scriptures and arms. In energy thou art
equal to Aurva and Trita. Thou inspirest terror by thy looks like

“Sauti said, ‘Astika, having thus adored them, gratified them all, viz.,
the king, the Sadasyas, the Ritwiks and the sacrificial fire. And king
Janamejaya beholding the signs and indications manifested all around,
addressed them as follows.’”


(Astika Parva continued)

Janamejaya said, ‘Though this one is but a boy, he speaks yet like a wise
old man. He is not a boy but one wise and old. I think, I desire to
bestow on him a boon. Therefore, ye Brahmanas, give me the necessary

“The Sadasyas said, ‘A Brahmana, though a boy, deserves the respect of
kings. The learned ones do more so. This boy deserves every desire of his
being fulfilled by thee, but not before Takshaka comes with speed.’

“Sauti continued, ‘The king, being inclined to grant the Brahmana a boon,
said ‘Ask thou a boon.’ The Hotri, however, being rather displeased,
said, ‘Takshaka hath not come as yet into this sacrifice.’

“Janamejaya replied, ‘Exert ye to the best of your might, so that this
sacrifice of mine may attain completion, and Takshaka also may soon come
here. He is my enemy.’

“The Ritwiks replied, ‘As the scriptures declare unto us, and as the fire
also saith, O monarch, (it seems that) Takshaka is now staying in the
abode of Indra, afflicted with fear.’

“Sauti continued, ‘The illustrious Suta named Lohitaksha also, conversant
with the Puranas, had said so before.

“Asked by the king on the present occasion he again told the monarch,
‘Sire, it is even so as the Brahmanas have said--Knowing the Puranas, I
say, O monarch, that Indra hath granted him this boon, saying, ‘Dwell
with me in concealment, and Agni shall not burn thee.’

‘Sauti continued, ‘Hearing this, the king installed in the sacrifice
became very sorry and urged the Hotri to do his duty. And as the Hotri,
with mantras, began to pour clarified butter into the fire Indra himself
appeared on the scene. And the illustrious one came in his car, adorned
by all the gods standing around, followed by masses of clouds, celestial
singers, and the several bevies of celestial dancing girls. And Takshaka
anxious with fear, hid himself in the upper garment of Indra and was not
visible. Then the king in his anger again said unto his mantra-knowing
Brahmanas these words, bent upon the destruction of Takshaka, ‘If the
snake Takshaka be in the abode of Indra, cast him into the fire with
Indra himself.’

‘Sauti continued, ‘Urged thus by the king Janamejaya about Takshaka, the
Hotri poured libations, naming that snake then staying there. And even as
the libations were poured, Takshaka, with Purandara himself, anxious and
afflicted, became visible in a moment in the skies. Then Purandara,
seeing that sacrifice, became much alarmed, and quickly casting Takshaka
off, went back to his own abode. After Indra had gone away, Takshaka, the
prince of snakes, insensible with fear, was by virtue of the mantras,
brought near enough the flames of the sacrificial fire.’

“The Ritwiks then said, ‘O king of kings, the sacrifice of thine is being
performed duly. It behoveth thee, O Lord, to grant a boon now to this
first of Brahmanas.’

“Janamejaya then said, ‘Thou immeasurable one of such handsome and
child-like features, I desire to grant thee a worthy boon. Therefore, ask
thou that which thou desirest in thy heart. I promise thee, that I will
grant it even if it be ungrantable.’

‘The Ritwiks said, ‘O monarch, behold, Takshaka is soon coming under thy
control! His terrible cries, and loud roar is being heard. Assuredly, the
snake hath been forsaken by the wielder of thunder. His body being
disabled by your mantras, he is falling from heaven. Even now, rolling in
the skies, and deprived of consciousness, the prince of snakes cometh,
breathing loudly.’

‘Sauti continued, ‘While Takshaka, the prince of snakes was about to fall
into the sacrificial fire, during those few moments Astika spoke as
follows, ‘O Janamejaya, if thou wouldst grant me a boon, let this
sacrifice of thine come to an end and let no more snakes fall into the

‘O Brahmana, the son of Parikshit, being thus addressed by Astika, became
exceedingly sorry and replied unto Astika thus, ‘O illustrious one, gold,
silver, kine, whatever other possessions thou desirest I shall give unto
thee. But let not my sacrifice come to an end.’

“Astika thereupon replied, ‘Gold, silver or kine, I do not ask of thee, O
monarch! But let thy sacrifice be ended so that my maternal relations be

“Sauti continued, ‘The son of Parikshit, being thus addressed by Astika,
repeatedly said this unto that foremost of speakers, ‘Best of the
Brahmanas, ask some other boon. O, blessed be thou!’ But, O thou of
Bhrigu’s race, he did not beg any other boon. Then all the Sadasyas
conversant with the Vedas told the king in one voice, ‘Let the Brahmana
receive his boon!’”


(Astika Parva continued)

“Saunaka said, ‘O son of a Suta, I desire to hear the names of all those
snakes that fell into the fire of this snake-sacrifice!’

“Sauti replied, ‘Many thousands and tens of thousands and billions of
snakes fell into the fire. O most excellent Brahmana, so great is the
number that I am unable to count them all. So far, however, as I
remember, hear the names I mention of the principal snakes cast into the
fire. Hear first the names of the principal ones of Vasuki’s race alone,
of colour blue, red and white of terrible form and huge body and deadly
poison. Helpless and miserable and afflicted with their mother’s curse,
they fell into the sacrificial fire like libations of butter.

“Kotisa, Manasa, Purna, Cala, Pala Halmaka, Pichchala, Kaunapa, Cakra,
Kalavega, Prakalana, Hiranyavahu, Carana, Kakshaka, Kaladantaka--these
snakes born of Vasuki, fell into the fire. And, O Brahmana, numerous
other snakes well-born, and of terrible form and great strength, were
burnt in the blazing fire. I shall now mention those born in the race of
Takshaka. Hear thou their names. Puchchandaka, Mandalaka, Pindasektri,
Ravenaka; Uchochikha, Carava, Bhangas, Vilwatejas, Virohana; Sili,
Salakara, Muka, Sukumara, Pravepana, Mudgara and Sisuroman, Suroman and
Mahahanu. These snakes born of Takshaka fell into the fire. And Paravata,
Parijata, Pandara, Harina, Krisa, Vihanga, Sarabha, Meda, Pramoda,
Sauhatapana--these born in the race of Airavata fell into the fire. Now
hear, O best of Brahmanas, the names of the snakes I mention born in the
race of Kauravya: Eraka, Kundala Veni, Veniskandha, Kumaraka, Vahuka,
Sringavera, Dhurtaka, Pratara and Astaka. There born in the race of
Kauravya fell into the fire. Now hear the names I mention, in order, of
those snakes endued with the speed of the wind and with virulent poison,
born in the race of Dhritarashtra: Sankukarna, Pitharaka, Kuthara,
Sukhana, and Shechaka; Purnangada, Purnamukha, Prahasa, Sakuni, Dari,
Amahatha, Kumathaka, Sushena, Vyaya, Bhairava, Mundavedanga, Pisanga,
Udraparaka, Rishabha, Vegavat, Pindaraka; Raktanga, Sarvasaranga,
Samriddha, Patha and Vasaka; Varahaka, Viranaka, Suchitra, Chitravegika,
Parasara, Tarunaka, Maniskandha and Aruni.

“O Brahmana, thus I have recited the names of the principal snakes known
widely for their achievements--I have not been able to name all, the
number being countless. The sons of these snakes, the sons of those sons,
that were burnt having fallen into the fire, I am unable to mention. They
are so many! Some of three heads, some of seven, others of ten, of poison
like unto the fire at the end of the yuga and terrible in form,--they
were burnt by thousands!

“Many others, of huge bodies, of great speed, tall as mountain summits,
of the length of a yama, of a yojana, and of two yojanas, capable of
assuming at will any form and of mastering at will any degree of
strength, of poison like unto blazing fire, afflicted by the curse of a
mother, were burnt in that great ‘sacrifice.’”


(Astika Parva, continued)

“Sauti said, ‘Listen now to another very wonderful incident in connection
with Astika. When king Janamejaya was about to gratify Astika by granting
the boon, the snake (Takshaka), thrown off Indra’s hands, remained in mid
air without actually falling. King Janamejaya thereupon became curious,
for Takshaka, afflicted with fear, did not at once fall into the fire
although libations were poured in proper form into the blazing
sacrificial Agni in his name.’

“Saunaka said, ‘Was it, O Suta, that the mantras of those wise Brahmanas
were not potent; since Takshaka did not fall into the fire?’

“Sauti replied, ‘Unto the unconscious Takshaka, that best of snakes,
after he had been cast off Indra’s hands, Astika had thrice said, ‘Stay,’
‘Stay,’ ‘Stay.’ And he succeeded in staying in the skies, with afflicted
heart, like a person somehow staying between the welkin and the earth.

“The king then, on being repeatedly urged by his Sadasyas, said, ‘Let it
be done as Astika hath said. Let the sacrifice be ended, let the snakes
be safe, let this Astika also be gratified, O Suta, thy words also be
true.’ When the boon was granted to Astika, plaudits expressive of joy
rang through the air. Thus the sacrifice of the son of Parikshit--that
king of the Pandava race--came to an end. The king Janamejaya of the
Bharata race was himself pleased, and on the Ritwiks with the Sadasyas,
and on all who had come there, the king, bestowed money by hundreds and
thousands. And unto Suta Lohitaksha--conversant with the rules of
building and foundations--who had at the commencement said that a
Brahmana would be the cause of the interruption of the snake-sacrifice,
the king gave much wealth. The king, of uncommon kindness, also gave him
various things, with food and wearing apparel, according to his desire,
and became very much pleased. Then he concluded his sacrifice according
to the prescribed rites, and after treating him with every respect, the
king in joy sent home the wise Astika exceedingly gratified, for he had
attained his object. And the king said unto him, ‘Thou must come again to
become a Sadasya in my great Horse-sacrifice.’ And Astika said, ‘yes’ and
then returned home in great joy, having achieved his great end after
gratifying the monarch. And returning in joy to his uncle and mother and
touching their feet, he recounted to them everything as it had happened.’

“Sauti continued, ‘Hearing all he had said, the snakes that had come
thither became very much delighted, and their fears were allayed. They
were much pleased with Astika and asked him to solicit a boon, saying, ‘O
learned one, what good shall we do unto thee? We have been very much
gratified, having been all saved by thee. What shall we accomplish for
thee, O child!’

“Astika said, ‘Let those Brahmanas, and other men, who shall, in the
morning or in the evening, cheerfully and with attention, read the sacred
account of this my act, have no fear from any of you.’ And the snakes in
joy thereupon said, ‘O nephew, in the nature of thy boon, let it be
exactly as thou sayest. That which thou askest we all shall cheerfully
do, O nephew! And those also that call to mind Astika, Artiman and
Sunitha, in the day or in the night, shall have no fear of snakes. He
again shall have no fear of snakes who will say, ‘I call to mind the
famous Astika born of Jaratkaru, that Astika who saved the snakes from
the snake-sacrifice. Therefore, ye snakes of great good fortune, it
behoveth you not to bite me. But go ye away, blessed be ye, or go away
thou snake of virulent poison, and remember the words of Astika after the
snake sacrifice of Janamejaya. That snake who does not cease from biting
after hearing such mention of Astika, shall have his hood divided a
hundredfold like the fruit of Sinsa tree.’

“Sauti continued, ‘That first of Brahmanas, thus addressed by the
foremost of the chief snakes assembled together, was very much gratified.
And the high-souled one then set his heart upon going away.

“And that best of Brahmanas, having saved the snakes from the
snake-sacrifice, ascended to heaven when his time came, leaving sons and
grandsons behind him.

‘Thus have I recited to thee this history of Astika exactly as it
happened. Indeed, the recitation of this history dispelleth all fear of

‘Sauti continued, ‘O Brahmanas, O foremost one of Bhrigu’s race, as thy
ancestor Pramati had cheerfully narrated unto his inquiring son Ruru, and
as I had heard it, thus have I recited this blessed history, from the
beginning, of the learned Astika. And, O Brahmana, O oppressor of all
enemies, having heard this holy history of Astika that increaseth virtue,
and which thou hadst asked me about after hearing the story of the
Dundubha, let thy ardent curiosity be satisfied.’”


(Adivansavatarana Parva)

“Saunaka said, ‘O son, thou hast narrated to me this extensive and great
history commencing from the progeny of Bhrigu. O son of Suta, I have been
much gratified with thee. I ask thee again, to recite to me, O son of a
Suta, the history composed by Vyasa. The varied and wonderful narrations
that were recited amongst those illustrious Sadasyas assembled at the
sacrifice, in the intervals of their duties of that long-extending
ceremony, and the objects also of those narrations, I desire to hear from
thee, O son of a Suta! Recite therefore, all those to me fully.’

‘Sauti said, ‘The Brahmanas, in the intervals of the duties, spoke of
many things founded upon the Vedas. But Vyasa recited the wonderful and
great history called the Bharata.’

“Saunaka said, ‘That sacred history called the Mahabharata, spreading the
fame of the Pandavas, which Krishna-Dwaipayana, asked by Janamejaya,
caused to be duly recited after the completion of the sacrifice. I desire
to hear duly. That history hath been born of the ocean-like mind of the
great Rishi of soul purified by yoga. Thou foremost of good men, recite
it unto me, for, O son of a Suta, my thirst hath not been appeased by all
thou hast said.’

‘Sauti said, ‘I shall recite to thee from the beginning of that great and
excellent history called the Mahabharata composed by Vyasa. O Brahmana,
listen to it in full, as I recite it. I myself feel a great pleasure in
reciting it.’”


(Adivansavatarana Parva continued)

‘Sauti said, ‘Hearing that Janamejaya was installed in the
snake-sacrifice, the learned Rishi Krishna-Dwaipayana went thither on the
occasion. And he, the grand-father of the Pandavas, was born in an island
of the Yamuna, of the virgin Kali by Sakti’s son, Parasara. And the
illustrious one developed by his will alone his body as soon as he was
born, and mastered the Vedas with their branches, and all the histories.
And he readily obtained that which no one could obtain by asceticism, by
the study of the Vedas, by vows, by fasts, by progeny, and by sacrifice.
And the first of Veda-knowing ones, he divided the Vedas into four parts.
And the Brahmana Rishi had knowledge of the supreme Brahma, knew the past
by intuition, was holy, and cherished truth. Of sacred deeds and great
fame, he begot Pandu and Dhritarashtra and Vidura in order to continue
the line of Santanu.

“And the high-souled Rishi, with his disciples all conversant with the
Vedas and their branches, entered the sacrificial pavilion of the royal
sage, Janamejaya. And he saw that the king Janamejaya was seated in the
sacrificial region like the god Indra, surrounded by numerous Sadasyas,
by kings of various countries whose coronal locks had undergone the
sacred bath, and by competent Ritwiks like unto Brahman himself. And that
foremost one of Bharata’s race, the royal sage Janamejaya, beholding the
Rishi come, advanced quickly with his followers and relatives in great
joy. And the king with the approval of his Sadasyas, gave the Rishi a
golden seat as Indra did to Vrihaspati. And when the Rishi, capable of
granting boons and adored by the celestial Rishis themselves, had been
seated, the king of kings worshipped him according to the rites of the
scriptures. And the king then offered him--his grandfather Krishna--who
fully deserved them, water to wash his feet and mouth, and the Arghya,
and kine. And accepting those offerings from the Pandava Janamejaya and
ordering the kine also not to be slain, Vyasa became much gratified. And
the king, after those adorations bowed to his great-grandfather, and
sitting in joy asked him about his welfare. And the illustrious Rishi
also, casting his eyes upon him and asking him about his welfare,
worshipped the Sadasyas, having been before worshipped by them all. And
after all this, Janamejaya with all his Sadasyas, questioned that first
of Brahmanas, with joined palms as follows:

‘O Brahmana, thou hast seen with thy own eyes the acts of the Kurus and
the Pandavas. I am desirous of hearing thee recite their history. What
was the cause of the disunion amongst them that was fruitful of such
extraordinary deeds? Why also did that great battle, which caused the
death of countless creatures occur between all my grandfathers--their
clear sense over-clouded by fate? O excellent Brahmana, tell me all this
in full as everything had happened.’

“Hearing those words of Janamejaya, Krishna-Dwaipayana directed his
disciple Vaisampayana seated by his side, saying, ‘The discord that
happened between the Kurus and the Pandavas of old, narrate all to the
king even as thou hast heard from me.’

“Then that blessed Brahmana, at the command of his preceptor recited the
whole of that history unto the king, the Sadasyas, and all the chieftains
there assembled. And he told them all about the hostility and the utter
extinction of the Kurus and the Pandavas.’”


(Adivansavatarana Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Bowing down in the first place to my preceptor with
the eight parts of my body touching the ground, with devotion and
reverence, and with all my heart, worshipping the whole assembly of
Brahmanas and other learned persons, I shall recite in full what I have
heard from the high-souled and great Rishi Vyasa, the first of
intelligent men in the three worlds. And having got it within thy reach,
O monarch, thou also art a fit person to hear the composition called
Bharata. Encouraged by the command of my preceptor my heart feeleth no

“Hear, O monarch, why that disunion occurred between the Kurus and the
Pandavas, and why also that exile into the woods immediately proceeding
from the game at dice prompted by the desire (of the Kurus) for rule. I
shall relate all to thee who askest it thou best of the Bharata race!

“On the death of their father those heroes (the Pandavas) came to their
own home. And within a short time they became well-versed in archery. And
the Kurus beholding the Pandavas gifted with physical strength, energy,
and power of mind, popular also with the citizens, and blessed with good
fortune, became very jealous. Then the crookedminded Duryodhana, and
Karna, with (the former’s uncle) the son of Suvala began to persecute
them and devise means for their exile. Then the wicked Duryodhana, guided
by the counsels of Sakuni (his maternal uncle), persecuted the Pandavas
in various ways for the acquirement of undisputed sovereignty. The wicked
son of Dhritarashtra gave poison to Bhima, but Bhima of the stomach of
the wolf digested the poison with the food. Then the wretch again tied
the sleeping Bhima on the margin of the Ganges and, casting him into the
water, went away. But when Bhimasena of strong arms, the son of Kunti
woke, he tore the strings with which he had been tied and came up, his
pains all gone. And while asleep and in the water black snakes of
virulent poison bit him in every part of his body. But that slayer of
foes did not still perish. And in all those persecutions of the Pandavas
by their cousins, the Kurus, the high-minded Vidura attentively engaged
himself neutralising those evil designs and rescuing the persecuted ones.
And as Sakra from the heavens keeps in happiness the world of men, so did
Vidura always keep the Pandavas from evil.

“When Duryodhana, with various means, both secret and open, found himself
incapable of destroying the Pandavas who were protected by the fates and
kept alive for grave future purposes (such as the extermination of the
Kuru race), then called together his counsellors consisting of Vrisha
(Karna), Duhsasana and others, and with the knowledge of Dhritarashtra
caused a house of lac to be constructed. And king Dhritarashtra, from
affection for his children, and prompted by the desire of sovereignty,
sent the Pandavas tactfully into Varanavata. And the Pandavas then went
away with their mother from Hastinapura. And when they were leaving the
city, Vidura gave them some idea of impending danger and how they could
come out of it.

‘The sons of Kunti reached the town of Varanavata and lived there with
their mother. And, agreeably to the command of Dhritarashtra, those
illustrious slayers of all enemies lived in the palace of lac, while in
that town. And they lived in that place for one year, protecting
themselves from Purochana very wakefully. And causing a subterranean
passage to be constructed, acting according to the directions of Vidura,
they set fire to that house of lac and burnt Purochana (their enemy and
the spy of Duryodhana) to death. Those slayers of all enemies, anxious
with fear, then fled with their mother. In the woods beside a fountain
they saw a Rakshasa. But, alarmed at the risk they ran of exposure by
such an act the Pandavas fled in the darkness, out of fear from the sons
of Dhritarashtra. It was here that Bhima gained Hidimva (the sister of
the Rakshasa he slew) for a wife, and it was of her that Ghatotkacha was
born. Then the Pandavas, of rigid vows, and conversant with the Vedas
wended to a town of the name of Ekachakra and dwelt there in the guise of
Brahmacharins. And those bulls among men dwelt in that town in the house
of a Brahmana for some time, with temperance and abstinence. And it was
here that Bhima of mighty arms came upon a hungry and mighty and
man-eating Rakshasa of the name of Vaka. And Bhima, the son of Pandu,
that tiger among men, slew him speedily with the strength of his arms and
made the citizens safe and free from fear. Then they heard of Krishna
(the princess of Panchala) having become disposed to select a husband
from among the assembled princes. And, hearing of it, they went to
Panchala, and there they obtained the maiden. And having obtained
Draupadi (as their common wife) they then dwelt there for a year. And
after they became known, those chastisers of all enemies went back to
Hastinapura. And they were then told by king Dhritarashtra and the son of
Santanu (Bhishma) as follows: ‘In order, O dear ones, dissensions may not
take place between you and your cousins, we have settled that
Khandavaprastha should be your abode. Therefore, go ye, casting off all
jealousy, to Khandavaprastha which contains many towns served by many
broad roads, for dwelling there.’ And accordingly the Pandavas went, with
all their friends and followers, to Khandavaprastha taking with them many
jewels and precious stones. And the sons of Pritha dwelt there for many
years. And they brought, by force of arms, many a prince under their
subjection. And thus, setting their hearts on virtue and firmly adhering
to truth, unruffled by affluence, calm in deportment, and putting down
numerous evils, the Pandavas gradually rose to power. And Bhima of great
reputation subjugated the East, the heroic Arjuna, the North, Nakula, the
West; Sahadeva that slayer of all hostile heroes, the South. And this
having been done, their domination was spread over the whole world. And
with the five Pandavas, each like unto the Sun, the Earth looked as if
she had six Suns.

“Then, for some reason, Yudhishthira the just, gifted with great energy
and prowess, sent his brother Arjuna who was capable of drawing the bow
with the left hand, dearer unto him than life itself, into the woods. And
Arjuna, that tiger among men, of firm soul, and gifted with every virtue,
lived in the woods for eleven years and months. And during this period,
on a certain occasion, Arjuna went to Krishna in Dwaravati. And Vibhatsu
(Arjuna) there obtained for a wife the lotus-eyed and sweet-speeched
younger sister of Vasudeva, Subhadra by name. And she became united, in
gladness, with Arjuna, the son of Pandu, like Sachi with the great Indra,
or Sri with Krishna himself. And then, O best of monarchs, Arjuna, the
son of Kunti, with Vasudeva, gratified Agni; the carrier of the
sacrificial butter, in the forest of Khandava (by burning the medicinal
plants in that woods to cure Agni of his indigestion). And to Arjuna,
assisted as he was by Kesava, the task did not at all appear heavy even
as nothing is heavy to Vishnu with immense design and resources in the
matter of destroying his enemies. And Agni gave unto the son of Pritha
the excellent bow Gandiva and a quiver that was inexhaustible, and a
war-chariot bearing the figure of Garuda on its standard. And it was on
this occasion that Arjuna relieved the great Asura (Maya) from fear (of
being consumed in the fire). And Maya, in gratitude, built (for the
Pandavas) a celestial palace decked with every sort of jewels and
precious stones. And the wicked Duryodhana, beholding that building, was
tempted with the desire of possessing it. And deceiving Yudhishthira by
means of the dice played through the hands of the son of Suvala,
Duryodhana sent the Pandavas into the woods for twelve years and one
additional year to be passed in concealment, thus making the period full

“And the fourteenth year, O monarch, when the Pandavas returned and
claimed their property, they did not obtain it. And thereupon war was
declared, and the Pandavas, after exterminating the whole race of
Kshatriyas and slaying king Duryodhana, obtained back their devastated

“This is the history of the Pandavas who never acted under the influence
of evil passions; and this the account, O first of victorious monarchs of
the disunion that ended in the loss of their kingdom by the Kurus and the
victory of the Pandavas.’”


(Adivansavatarana Parva continued)

“Janamejaya said, ‘O excellent Brahmana, thou hast, indeed, told me, in
brief, the history, called Mahabharata, of the great acts of the Kurus.
But, O thou of ascetic wealth, recite now that wonderful narration fully.
I feel a great curiosity to hear it. It behoveth thee to recite it,
therefore, in full. I am not satisfied with hearing in a nutshell the
great history. That could never have been a trifling cause for which the
virtuous ones could slay those whom they should not have slain, and for
which they are yet applauded by men. Why also did those tigers among men,
innocent and capable of avenging themselves upon their enemies, calmly
suffer the persecution of the wicked Kurus? Why also, O best of
Brahmanas, did Bhima of mighty arms and of the strength of ten thousand
elephants, control his anger, though wronged? Why also did the chaste
Krishna, the daughter of Drupada, wronged by those wretches and able to
burn them, not burn the sons of Dhritarashtra with her wrathful eyes? Why
also did the two other sons of Pritha (Bhima and Arjuna) and the two sons
of Madri (Nakula and Sahadeva), themselves injured by the wretched Kurus,
follow Yudhishthira who was greatly addicted to the evil habit of
gambling? Why also did Yudhishthira, that foremost of all virtuous men,
the son of Dharma himself, fully acquainted with all duties, suffer that
excess of affliction? Why also did the Pandava Dhananjaya, having Krishna
for his charioteer, who by his arrows sent to the other world that
dauntless host of fighting men (suffer such persecution)? O thou of
ascetic wealth, speak to me of all these as they took place, and
everything that those mighty charioteers achieved.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘O monarch, appoint thou a time for hearing it. This
history told by Krishna-Dwaipayana is very extensive. This is but the
beginning. I shall recite it. I shall repeat the whole of the composition
in full, of the illustrious and great Rishi Vyasa of immeasurable mental
power, and worshipped in all the worlds. This Bharata consists of a
hundred thousand sacred slokas composed by the son of Satyavati, of
immeasurable mental power. He that reads it to others, and they that hear
it read, attain to the world of Brahman and become equal to the very
gods. This Bharata is equal unto the Vedas, is holy and excellent; is the
worthiest of all to be listened to, and is a Purana worshipped by the
Rishis. It contains much useful instruction on Artha and Kama (profit and
pleasure). This sacred history maketh the heart desire for salvation.
Learned persons by reciting this Veda of Krishna-Dwaipayana to those that
are liberal, truthful and believing, earn much wealth. Sins, such as
killing the embryo in the womb, are destroyed assuredly by this. A
person, however cruel and sinful, by hearing this history, escapes from
all his sins like the Sun from Rahu (after the eclipse is over). This
history is called Jaya. It should be heard by those desirous of victory.
A king by hearing it may bring the whole world under subjection and
conquer all his foes. This history in itself is a mighty act of
propitiation, a mighty sacrifice productive of blessed fruit. It should
always be heard by a young monarch with his queen, for then they beget a
heroic son or a daughter to occupy a throne. This history is the high and
sacred science of Dharma, Artha, and also of Moksha; it hath been so said
by Vyasa himself of mind that is immeasurable. This history is recited in
the present age and will be recited in the future. They that hear it,
read, have sons and servants always obedient to them and doing their
behests. All sins that are committed by body, word, or mind, immediately
leave them that hear this history. They who hear, without the spirit of
fault finding, the story of the birth of the Bharata princes, can have no
fear of maladies, let alone the fear of the other world.

“For extending the fame of the high-souled Pandavas and of other
Kshatriyas versed in all branches of knowledge, high spirited, and
already known in the world for their achievements, Krishna-Dwaipayana,
guided also by the desire of doing good to the world, hath composed this
work. It is excellent, productive of fame, grants length of life, is
sacred and heavenly. He who, from desire of acquiring religious merit,
causeth this history to be heard by sacred Brahmanas, acquireth great
merit and virtue that is inexhaustible. He that reciteth the famous
generation of the Kurus becometh immediately purified and acquireth a
large family himself, and becometh respected in the world. That Brahmana
who regularly studies this sacred Bharata for the four months of the
rainy season, is cleansed from all his sins. He that has read the Bharata
may be regarded as one acquainted with the Vedas.

“This work presents an account of the gods and royal sages and sacred
regenerate Rishis, the sinless Kesava; the god of gods, Mahadeva and the
goddess Parvati; the birth of Kartikeya who sprang from union of Parvati
with Mahadeva and was reared by many mothers; the greatness of Brahmanas
and of kine. This Bharata is a collection of all the Srutis, and is fit
to be heard by every virtuous person. That learned man who reciteth it to
Brahmanas during the sacred lunations, becometh cleansed of all sins,
and, not caring for heaven as it were, attaineth to a union with Brahma.
He that causeth even a single foot of this poem to be heard by Brahmanas
during the performance of a Sraddha, maketh that Sraddha inexhaustible,
the Pitris becoming ever gratified with the articles once presented to
them. The sins that are committed daily by our senses or the mind, those
that are committed knowingly or unknowingly by any man, are all destroyed
by hearing the Mahabharata. The history of the exalted birth of the
Bharata princes is called the Mahabharata. He who knoweth this etymology
of the name is cleansed of all his sins. And as this history of the
Bharata race is so wonderful, that, when recited, it assuredly purifieth
mortals from all sins. The sage Krishna-Dwaipayana completed his work in
three years. Rising daily and purifying himself and performing his
ascetic devotions, he composed this Mahabharata. Therefore, this should
be heard by Brahmanas with the formality of a vow. He who reciteth this
holy narration composed by Krishna (Vyasa) for the hearing of others, and
they who hear it, in whatever state he or they may be, can never be
affected by the fruit of deeds, good or bad. The man desirous of
acquiring virtue should hear it all. This is equivalent to all histories,
and he that heareth it always attaineth to purity of heart. The
gratification that one deriveth from attaining to heaven is scarcely
equal to that which one deriveth from hearing this holy history. The
virtuous man who with reverence heareth it or causeth it to be heard,
obtaineth the fruit of the Rajasuya and the horse-sacrifice. The Bharata
is said to be as much a mine of gems as the vast Ocean or the great
mountain Meru. This history is sacred and excellent, and is equivalent to
the Vedas, worthy of being heard, pleasing to the ear, sin-cleansing, and
virtue-increasing. O monarch, he that giveth a copy of the Bharata to one
that asketh for it doth indeed make a present of the whole earth with her
belt of seas. O son of Parikshit, this pleasant narration that giveth
virtue and victory I am about to recite in its entirety: listen to it.
The sage Krishna-Dwaipayana regularly rising for three years, composed
this wonderful history called Mahabharata. O bull amongst the Bharata
monarchs, whatever is spoken about virtue, wealth, pleasure, and
salvation may be seen elsewhere; but whatever is not contained in this is
not to be found anywhere.’”


(Adivansavatarana Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘There was a king of the name of Uparichara. That
monarch was devoted to virtue. He was very much addicted also to hunting.
That king of the Paurava race, called also Vasu, conquered the excellent
and delightful kingdom of Chedi under instructions from Indra. Some time
after, the king gave up the use of arms and, dwelling in a secluded
retreat, practised the most severe austerities. The gods with Indra at
their head once approached the monarch during this period, believing that
he sought the headship of the gods, by those severe austerities of his.
The celestials, becoming objects of his sight, by soft speeches succeeded
in winning him away from his ascetic austerities.’

“The gods said, ‘O lord of the earth, thou shouldst take care so that
virtue may not sustain a diminution on earth! Protected by thee, virtue
itself will in return protect the universe.’ And Indra said, ‘O king,
protect virtue on earth attentively and rigidly. Being virtuous, thou
shalt, for all time, behold (in after life) many sacred regions. And
though I am of Heaven, and thou art of earth, yet art thou my friend and
dear to me. And, O king of men, dwell thou in that region on earth which
is delightful, and aboundeth in animals, is sacred, full of wealth and
corn, is well-protected like heaven, which is of agreeable climate,
graced with every object of enjoyment, and blessed with fertility. And, O
monarch of Chedi, this thy dominion is full of riches, of gems and
precious stones, and containeth, besides, much mineral wealth. The cities
and towns of this region are all devoted to virtue; the people are honest
and contented; they never lie even in jest. Sons never divide their
wealth with their fathers and are ever mindful of the welfare of their
parents. Lean cattle are never yoked to the plough or the cart or engaged
in carrying merchandise; on the other hand, they are well-fed and
fattened. In Chedi the four orders are always engaged in their respective
vocations. Let nothing be unknown to thee that happens in the three
worlds. I shall give thee a crystal car such as the celestials alone are
capable of carrying the car through mid air. Thou alone, of all mortals
on earth, riding on that best of cars, shall course through mid-air like
a celestial endued with a physical frame. I shall also give thee a
triumphal garland of unfading lotuses, with which on, in battle, thou
shall not be wounded by weapons. And, O king, this blessed and
incomparable garland, widely known on earth as Indra’s garland, shall be
thy distinctive badge.

“The slayer of Vritra (Indra) also gave the king, for his gratification,
a bamboo pole for protecting the honest and the peaceful. After the
expiry of a year, the king planted it in the ground for the purpose of
worshipping the giver thereof, viz., Sakra. From that time forth, O
monarch, all kings, following Vasu’s example, began to plant a pole for
the celebration of Indra’s worship. After erecting the pole they decked
it with golden cloth and scents and garlands and various ornaments. And
the god Vasava is worshipped in due form with such garlands and
ornaments. And the god, for the gratification of the illustrious Vasu,
assuming the form of a swan, came himself to accept the worship thus
offered. And the god, beholding the auspicious worship thus made by Vasu,
that first of monarchs, was delighted, and said unto him, ‘Those men, and
kings also, who will worship me and joyously observe this festival of
mine like the king of Chedi, shall have glory and victory for their
countries and kingdom. Their cities also shall expand and be ever in

“King Vasu was thus blessed by the gratified Maghavat, the high-souled
chief of the gods. Indeed, those men who cause this festivity of Sakra to
be observed with gifts of land, of gems and precious stones, become the
respected of the world. And king Vasu, the lord of Chedis bestowing boons
and performing great sacrifices and observing the festivity of Sakra, was
much respected by Indra. And from Chedi he ruled the whole world
virtuously. And for the gratification of Indra, Vasu, the lord of the
Chedis, observed the festivity of Indra.

“And Vasu had five sons of great energy and immeasurable prowess. And the
emperor installed his sons as governors of various provinces.

“And his son Vrihadratha was installed in Magadha and was known by the
name of Maharatha. Another son of his was Pratyagraha; and another,
Kusamva, who was also called Manivahana. And the two others were Mavella,
and Yadu of great prowess and invincible in battle.

“These, O monarch, were the sons of that royal sage of mighty energy. And
the five sons of Vasu planted kingdoms and towns after their own names
and founded separate dynasties that lasted for long ages.

“And when king Vasu took his seat in that crystal car, with the gift of
Indra, and coursed through the sky, he was approached by Gandharvas and
Apsaras (the celestial singers and dancers). And as he coursed through
the upper regions, he was called Uparichara. And by his capital flowed a
river called Suktimati. And that river was once attacked by a life-endued
mountain called Kolahala maddened by lust. And Vasu, beholding the foul
attempt, struck the mountain with his foot. And by the indentation caused
by Vasu’s stamp, the river came out (of the embraces of Kolahala). But
the mountain begat on the river two children that were twins. And the
river, grateful to Vasu for his having set her free from Kolahala’s
embraces, gave them both to Vasu. And the son was made the generalissimo
to his forces by Vasu, that best of royal sages and giver of wealth and
punisher of enemies. And the daughter called Girika, was wedded by Vasu.

‘And Girika, the wife of Vasu, after her menstrual course, purifying
herself by a bath, represented her state unto her lord. But that very day
the Pitris of Vasu came unto that best of monarchs and foremost of wise
men, and asked him to slay deer (for their Sraddha). And the king,
thinking that the command of the Pitris should not be disobeyed, went
a-hunting thinking of Girika alone who was gifted with great beauty and
like unto another Sri herself. And the season being the spring, the woods
within which the king was roaming, had become delightful like unto the
gardens of the king of the Gandharvas himself. There were Asokas and
Champakas and Chutas and Atimuktas in abundance: and there were Punnagas
and Karnikaras and Vakulas and Divya Patalas and Patalas and Narikelas
and Chandanas and Arjunas and similar other beautiful and sacred trees
resplendent with fragrant flowers and sweet fruits. And the whole forest
was maddened by the sweet notes of the kokila and echoed with the hum of
maddened bees. And the king became possessed with desire, and he saw not
his wife before him. Maddened by desire he was roaming hither and
thither, when he saw a beautiful Asoka decked with dense foliage, its
branches covered with flowers. And the king sat at his ease in the shade
of that tree. And excited by the fragrance of the season and the charming
odours of the flowers around, and excited also by the delicious breeze,
the king could not keep his mind away from the thought of the beautiful
Girika. And beholding that a swift hawk was resting very near to him, the
king, acquainted with the subtle truths of Dharma and Artha, went unto
him and said, ‘Amiable one, carry thou this seed (semen) for my wife
Girika and give it unto her. Her season hath arrived.’

“The hawk, swift of speed, took it from the king and rapidly coursed
through the air. While thus passing, the hawk was seen by another of his
species. Thinking that the first one was carrying meat, the second one
flew at him. The two fought with each other in the sky with their beaks.
While they were fighting, the seed fell into the waters of the Yamuna.
And in those waters dwelt an Apsara of the higher rank, known by the name
of Adrika, transformed by a Brahmana’s curse into a fish. As soon as
Vasu’s seed fell into the water from the claws of the hawk, Adrika
rapidly approached and swallowed it at once. That fish was, some time
after, caught by the fishermen. And it was the tenth month of the fish’s
having swallowed the seed. From the stomach of that fish came out a male
and a female child of human form. The fishermen wondered much, and
wending unto king Uparichara (for they were his subjects) told him all.
They said, ‘O king, these two beings of human shape have been found in
the body of a fish!’ The male child amongst the two was taken by
Uparichara. That child afterwards became the virtuous and truthful
monarch Matsya.

“After the birth of the twins, the Apsara herself became freed from her
curse. For she had been told before by the illustrious one (who had
cursed her) that she would, while living in her piscatorial form, give
birth to two children of human shape and then would be freed from the
curse. Then, according to these words, having given birth to the two
children, and been killed by the fishermen, she left her fish-form and
assumed her own celestial shape. The Apsara then rose up on the path
trodden by the Siddhas, the Rishis and the Charanas.

“The fish-smelling daughter of the Apsara in her piscatorial form was
then given by the king unto the fishermen, saying, ‘Let this one be thy
daughter.’ That girl was known by the name of Satyavati. And gifted with
great beauty and possessed of every virtue, she of agreeable smiles,
owing to contact with fishermen, was for some time of the fishy smell.
Wishing to serve her (foster) father she plied a boat on the waters of
the Yamuna.

“While engaged in this vocation, Satyavati was seen one day by the great
Rishi Parasara, in course of his wanderings. As she was gifted with great
beauty, an object of desire even with an anchorite, and of graceful
smiles, the wise sage, as soon as he beheld her, desired to have her. And
that bull amongst Munis addressed the daughter of Vasu of celestial
beauty and tapering thighs, saying, ‘Accept my embraces, O blessed one!’
Satyavati replied, ‘O holy one, behold the Rishis standing on either bank
of the river. Seen by them, how can I grant thy wish?’

“Thus addressed by her, the ascetic thereupon created a fog (which
existed not before and) which enveloped the whole region in darkness. And
the maiden, beholding the fog that was created by the great Rishi
wondered much. And the helpless one became suffused with the blushes of
bashfulness. And she said, ‘O holy one, note that I am a maiden under the
control of my father. O sinless one, by accepting your embraces my
virginity will be sullied. O best of Brahmanas, my virginity being
sullied, how shall I, O Rishi, be able to return home? Indeed, I shall
not then be able to bear life. Reflecting upon all this, O illustrious
one, do that which should be done.’ That best of Rishis, gratified with
all she said, replied, “Thou shall remain a virgin even if thou grantest
my wish. And, O timid one, O beauteous lady, solicit the boon that thou
desirest. O thou of fair smiles, my grace hath never before proved
fruitless.’ Thus addressed, the maiden asked for the boon that her body
might emit a sweet scent (instead of the fish-odour that it had). And the
illustrious Rishi thereupon granted that wish of her heart.

“Having obtained her boon, she became highly pleased, and her season
immediately came. And she accepted the embraces of that Rishi of
wonderful deeds. And she thenceforth became known among men by the name
of Gandhavati (the sweet-scented one). And men could perceive her scent
from the distance of a yojana. And for this she was known by another name
which was Yojanagandha (one who scatters her scent for a yojana all
around). And the illustrious Parasara, after this, went to his own asylum.

“And Satyavati gratified with having obtained the excellent boon in
consequence of which she became sweet-scented and her virginity remained
unsullied conceived through Parasara’s embraces. And she brought forth
the very day, on an island in the Yamuna, the child begot upon her by
Parasara and gifted with great energy. And the child, with the permission
of his mother, set his mind on asceticism. And he went away saying, ‘As
soon as thou rememberest me when occasion comes, I shall appear unto

“And it was thus that Vyasa was born of Satyavati through Parasara. And
because he was born in an island, he was called Dwaipayana (Dwaipa or
islandborn). And the learned Dwaipayana, beholding that virtue is
destined to become lame by one leg each yuga (she having four legs in
all) and that the period of life and the strength of men followed the
yugas, and moved by the desire of obtaining the favour of Brahman and the
Brahmanas, arranged the Vedas. And for this he came to be called Vyasa
(the arranger or compiler). The boon-giving great one then taught
Sumanta, Jaimini, Paila, his son Suka, and Vaisampayana, the Vedas having
the Mahabharata for their fifth. And the compilation of the Bharata was
published by him through them separately.

“Then Bhishma, of great energy and fame and of immeasurable splendour,
and sprung from the component parts of the Vasus, was born in the womb of
Ganga through king Santanu. And there was a Rishi of the name of
Animandavya of great fame. And he was conversant with the interpretations
of the Vedas, was illustrious, gifted with great energy, and of great
reputation. And, accused of theft, though innocent, the old Rishi was
impaled. He thereupon summoned Dharma and told him these words, ‘In my
childhood I had pierced a little fly on a blade of grass, O Dharma! I
recollect that one sin: but I cannot call to mind any other. I have,
however, since practised penances a thousandfold. Hath not that one sin
been conquered by this my asceticism? And because the killing of a
Brahmana is more heinous than that of any other living thing, therefore,
hast thou, O Dharma, been sinful. Thou shalt, therefore, be born on earth
in the Sudra order.’ And for that curse Dharma was born a Sudra in the
form of the learned Vidura of pure body who was perfectly sinless. And
the Suta was born of Kunti in her maidenhood through Surya. And he came
out of his mother’s womb with a natural coat of mail and face brightened
by ear-rings. And Vishnu himself, of world-wide fame, and worshipped of
all the worlds, was born of Devaki through Vasudeva, for the benefit of
the three worlds. He is without birth and death, of radiant splendour,
the Creator of the universe and the Lord of all! Indeed, he who is the
invisible cause of all, who knoweth no deterioration, who is the
all-pervading soul, the centre round which everything moveth, the
substance in which the three attributes of Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas
co-inhere, the universal soul, the immutable, the material out of which
hath been created this universe, the Creator himself, the controlling
lord, the invisible dweller in every object, progenitor of this universe
of five elements, who is united with the six high attributes, is the
Pranava or Om of the Vedas, is infinite, incapable of being moved by any
force save his own will, illustrious, the embodiment of the mode of life
called Sannyasa, who floated on the waters before the creation, who is
the source whence hath sprung this mighty frame, who is the great
combiner, the uncreate, the invisible essence of all, the great
immutable, bereft of those attributes that are knowable by the senses,
who is the universe itself, without beginning, birth, and decay,--is
possessed of infinite wealth, that Grandsire of all creatures, became
incarnate in the race of the Andhaka-Vrishnis for the increase of virtue.

“And Satyaki and Kritavarma, conversant with (the use of) weapons
possessed of mighty energy, well-versed in all branches of knowledge, and
obedient to Narayana in everything and competent in the use of weapons,
had their births from Satyaka and Hridika. And the seed of the great
Rishi Bharadwaja of severe penances, kept in a pot, began to develop. And
from that seed came Drona (the pot-born). And from the seed of Gautama,
fallen upon a clump of reeds, were born two that were twins, the mother
of Aswatthaman (called Kripi), and Kripa of great strength. Then was born
Dhrishtadyumna, of the splendour of Agni himself, from the sacrificial
fire. And the mighty hero was born with bow in hand for the destruction
of Drona. And from the sacrificial altar was born Krishna (Draupadi)
resplendent and handsome, of bright features and excellent beauty. Then
was born the disciple of Prahlada, viz., Nagnajit, and also Suvala. And
from Suvala was born a son, Sakuni, who from the curse of the gods became
the slayer of creatures and the foe of virtue. And unto him was also born
a daughter (Gandhari), the mother of Duryodhana. And both were
well-versed in the arts of acquiring worldly profits. And from Krishna
was born, in the soil of Vichitravirya, Dhritarashtra, the lord of men,
and Pandu of great strength. And from Dwaipayana also born, in the Sudra
caste, the wise and intelligent Vidura, conversant with both religion and
profit, and free from all sins. And unto Pandu by his two wives were born
five sons like the celestials. The eldest of them was Yudhishthira. And
Yudhishthira was born (of the seed) of Dharma (Yama, the god of justice);
and Bhima of the wolf’s stomach was born of Marut (the god of wind), and
Dhananjaya, blessed with good fortune and the first of all wielders of
weapons, was born of Indra; and Nakula and Sahadeva, of handsome features
and ever engaged in the service of their superiors, were born of the twin
Aswins. And unto the wise Dhritarashtra were born a hundred sons, viz.,
Duryodhana and others, and another, named Yuyutsu, who was born of a
vaisya woman. And amongst those hundred and one, eleven, viz., Duhsasana,
Duhsaha, Durmarshana, Vikarna, Chitrasena, Vivinsati, Jaya, Satyavrata,
Purumitra, and Yuyutsu by a Vaisya wife, were all Maharathas (great
car-warriors). And Abhimanyu was born of Subhadra, the sister of Vasudeva
through Arjuna, and was, therefore, the grandson of the illustrious
Pandu. And unto the five Pandavas were born five sons by (their common
wife) Panchali. And these princes were all very handsome and conversant
with all branches of knowledge. From Yudhishthira was born Pritivindhya;
from Vrikodara, Sutasoma; from Arjuna, Srutakirti; from Nakula, Satanika;
and from Sahadeva, Srutasena of great prowess; and Bhima, in the forest
begot on Hidimva a son named Ghatotkacha. And from Drupada was born a
daughter Sikhandin who was afterwards transformed into a male child.
Sikhandini was so transformed into a male by Yaksha named Sthuna from the
desire of doing her good.

“In that great battle of the Kurus came hundreds of thousands of monarchs
for fighting against one another. The names of the innumerable host I am
unable to recount even in ten thousand years. I have named, however, the
principal ones who have been mentioned in this history.’”


(Adivansavatarana Parva continued)

“Janamejaya said, ‘O Brahmana, those thou hast named and those thou hast
not named, I wish to hear of them in detail, as also of other kings by
thousands. And, O thou of great good fortune, it behoveth thee to tell me
in full the object for which those Maharathas, equal unto the celestials
themselves, were born on earth.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘It hath been heard by us, O monarch, that what thou
askest is a mystery even to the gods. I shall, however, speak of it unto
thee, after bowing down (to the self-born). The son of Jamadagni
(Parasurama), after twenty-one times making the earth bereft of
Kshatriyas wended to that best of mountains Mahendra and there began his
ascetic penances. And at that time when the earth was bereft of
Kshatriyas, the Kshatriya ladies, desirous of offspring, used to come, O
monarch, to the Brahmanas and Brahmanas of rigid vows had connection with
them during the womanly season alone, but never, O king, lustfully and
out of season. And Kshatriya ladies by thousands conceived from such
connection with Brahmanas. Then, O monarch, were born many Kshatriyas of
greater energy, boys and girls, so that the Kshatriya race, might thrive.
And thus sprang the Kshatriya race from Kshatriya ladies by Brahmanas of
ascetic penances. And the new generation, blessed with long life, began
to thrive in virtue. And thus were the four orders having Brahmanas at
their head re-established. And every man at that time went in unto his
wife during her season and never from lust and out of season. And, O bull
of the Bharata race, in the same way, other creatures also, even those
born in the race of birds went in unto their wives during the season
alone. And, O protector of the earth, hundreds of thousands of creatures
were born, and all were virtuous and began to multiply in virtue, all
being free from sorrow and disease. And, O thou of the elephant’s tread,
this wide earth having the ocean for her boundaries, with her mountains
and woods and towns, was once more governed by the Kshatriyas. And when
the earth began to be again governed virtuously by the Kshatriyas, the
other orders having Brahmanas for their first were filled with great joy.
And the kings giving up all vices born of lust and anger and justly
awarding punishments to those that deserved them protected the earth. And
he of a hundred sacrifices, possessed also of a thousand eyes, beholding
that the Kshatriya monarchs ruled so virtuously, poured down vivifying
showers at proper times and places and blessed all creatures. Then, O
king, no one of immature years died, and none knew a woman before
attaining to age. And thus, O bull of the Bharata race, the earth, to the
very coasts of the ocean, became filled with men that were all
long-lived. The Kshatriyas performed great sacrifices bestowing much
wealth. And the Brahmanas also all studied the Vedas with their branches
and the Upanishads. And, O king, no Brahmana in those days ever sold the
Vedas (i.e., taught for money) or ever read aloud the Vedas in the
presence of a Sudra. The Vaisyas, with the help of bullocks, caused the
earth to be tilled. And they never yoked the cattle themselves. And they
fed with care all cattle that were lean. And men never milked kine as
long as the calves drank only the milk of their dams (without having
taken to grass or any other food). And no merchant in those days ever
sold his articles by false scales. And, O tiger among men, all persons,
holding to the ways of virtue, did everything with eyes set upon virtue.
And, O monarch, all the orders were mindful of their own respective
duties. Thus, O tiger among men, virtue in those days never sustained any
diminution. And, O bull of the Bharata race, both kine and women gave
birth to their offspring at the proper time. And trees bore flowers and
fruit duly according to the seasons. And thus, O king, the krita age
having then duly set in, the whole earth was filled with numerous

“And, O bull of the Bharata race, when such was the blessed state of the
terrestrial world, the Asuras, O lord of men, began to be born in kingly
lines. And the sons of Diti (Daityas) being repeatedly defeated in war by
the sons of Aditi (celestials) and deprived also of sovereignty and
heaven, began to be incarnated on the earth. And, O king, the Asuras
being possessed of great powers, and desirous of sovereignty began to be
born on earth amongst various creatures, such as kine, horses, asses,
camels, buffaloes, among creatures such as Rakshasas and others, and
among elephants and deer. And, O protector of the earth, owing to those
already born and to those that were being born, the earth became
incapable of supporting herself. And amongst the sons of Diti and of
Danu, cast out of heaven, some were born on the earth as kings of great
pride and insolence. Possessed of great energy, they covered the earth in
various shapes. Capable of oppressing all foes, they filled the earth
having the ocean for its boundaries. And by their strength they began to
oppress Brahmanas and Kshatriyas and Vaisyas and Sudras and all other
creatures also. Terrifying and killing all creatures, they traversed the
earth, O king, in bands of hundreds and thousands. Devoid of truth and
virtue, proud of their strength, and intoxicated with (the wine of)
insolence, they even insulted the great Rishis in their hermitages.

“And the earth, thus oppressed by the mighty Asuras endued with great
strength and energy and possessed of abundant means, began to think of
waiting on Brahman. The united strength of the creatures (such as Sesha,
the Tortoise, and the huge Elephant), and of many Seshas too, became
capable of supporting the earth with her mountains, burdened as she was
with the weight of the Danavas. And then, O king, the earth, oppressed
with weight and afflicted with fear, sought the protection of the
Grandsire of all creatures. And she beheld the divine Brahman--the
Creator of the worlds who knoweth no deterioration--surrounded by the
gods, Brahmanas, and great Rishis, of exceeding good fortune, and adored
by delighted Gandharvas and Apsaras always engaged in the service of the
celestials. And the Earth, desirous of protection, then represented
everything to him, in the presence, O Bharata, of all the Regents of the
worlds. But, O king, the Earth’s object had been known beforehand to the
Omniscient, Self-create, and Supreme Lord. And, O Bharata, Creator as he
is of the universe, why should he not know fully what is in the minds of
his creatures including the very gods and the Asuras? O king, the Lord of
the Earth, the Creator of all creatures, also called Isa, Sambhu,
Prajapati, then spake unto her. And Brahman said, ‘O holder of wealth,
for the accomplishment of the object for which thou hast approached me, I
shall appoint all the dwellers in the heavens.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Having said so unto the Earth, O king, the
divine Brahman bade her farewell. And the Creator then commanded all the
gods saying, ‘To ease the Earth of her burden, go ye and have your births
in her according to your respective parts and seek ye strife (with the
Asuras already born there)’. And the Creator of all, summoning also all
the tribes of the Gandharvas and the Apsaras, spake unto them these words
of deep import, ‘Go ye and be born amongst men according to your
respective parts in forms that ye like.’

“And all the gods with Indra, on hearing these words of the Lord of the
celestials--words that were true, desirable under the circumstances, and
fraught with benefit,--accepted them. And they all having resolved to
come down on earth in their respected parts, then went to Narayana, the
slayer of all foes, at Vaikunth--the one who has the discus and the mace
in his hands, who is clad in purple, who is of great splendour, who hath
the lotus on his navel, who is the slayer of the foes of the gods, who is
of eyes looking down upon his wide chest (in yoga attitude), who is the
lord of the Prajapati himself, the sovereign of all the gods, of mighty
strength, who hath the mark of the auspicious whirl on his breast, who is
the mover of every one’s faculties and who is adored by all the gods.
Him, Indra the most exalted of persons, addressed, saying, “Be
incarnate.” And Hari replied,--‘Let it be.’”


(Sambhava Parva)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then Indra had a consultation with Narayana about
the latter’s descent on the earth from heaven with all the gods according
to their respective parts. And, having commanded all the dwellers in
heaven, Indra returned from the abode of Narayana. And the dwellers in
heaven gradually became incarnate on earth for the destruction of the
Asuras and for the welfare of the three worlds. And then, O tiger among
kings, the celestials had their births, according as they pleased, in the
races of Brahmarshis and royal sages. And they slew the Danavas,
Rakshasas, Gandharvas and Snakes, other man-eaters, and many other
creatures. And, O bull in the Bharata race, the Danavas, Rakshasas and
Gandharvas and Snakes, could not slay the incarnate celestials even in
their infancy, so strong they were.’

“Janamejaya said, ‘I desire to hear from the beginning of the births of
the gods, the Danavas, the Gandharvas, the Apsaras, men, Yakshas and
Rakshasas. Therefore, it behoveth thee to tell me about the births of all

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Indeed, I shall, having bowed down to the
Self-create, tell thee in detail the origin of the celestials and other
creatures. It is known that Brahman hath six spiritual sons, viz.,
Marichi, Atri, Angiras, Pulastya, Pulaha and Kratu. And Marichi’s son is
Kasyapa, and from Kasyapa have sprung these creatures. Unto Daksha (one
of the Prajapatis) were born thirteen daughters of great good fortune.
The daughters of Daksha are, O tiger among men and prince of the Bharata
race, Aditi, Diti, Danu, Kala, Danayu, Sinhika, Krodha, Pradha, Viswa,
Vinata, Kapila, Muni, and Kadru. The sons and grandsons of these, gifted
with great energy, are countless. From Aditi have sprung the twelve
Adityas who are the lords of the universe. And, O Bharata, as they are
according to their names, I shall recount them to thee. They are Dhatri,
Mitra, Aryaman, Sakra, Varuna, Ansa, Vaga, Vivaswat, Usha, Savitri,
Tvashtri, and Vishnu. The youngest, however, is superior to them all in
merit. Diti had one son called Hiranyakasipu. And the illustrious
Hiranyakasipu had five sons, all famous throughout the world. The eldest
of them all was Prahlada, the next was Sahradha; the third was Anuhrada;
and after him were Sivi and Vashkala. And, O Bharata, it is known
everywhere that Prahlada had three sons. They were Virochana, Kumbha, and
Nikumbha. And unto Virochana was born a son, Vali, of great prowess. And
the son of Vali is known to be the great Asura, Vana. And blessed with
good fortune, Vana was a follower of Rudra, and was known also by the
name of Mahakala. And Danu had forty sons, O Bharata! The eldest of them
all was Viprachitti of great fame Samvara, and Namuchi and Pauloman;
Asiloman, and Kesi and Durjaya; Ayahsiras, Aswasiras, and the powerful
Aswasanku; also Gaganamardhan, and Vegavat, and he called Ketumat;
Swarbhanu, Aswa, Aswapati, Vrishaparvan, and then Ajaka; and Aswagriva,
and Sukshama, and Tuhunda of great strength, Ekapada, and Ekachakra,
Virupaksha, Mahodara, and Nichandra, and Nikumbha, Kupata, and then
Kapata; Sarabha, and Sulabha, Surya, and then Chandramas; these in the
race of Danu are stated to be well-known. The Surya and Chandramas (the
Sun and the Moon) of the celestials are other persons, and not the sons
of Danu as mentioned above. The following ten, gifted with great strength
and vigour, were also, O king, born in the race of Danu;--Ekaksha,
Amritapa of heroic courage, Pralamva and Naraka, Vatrapi, Satrutapana,
and Satha, the great Asura; Gavishtha, and Vanayu, and the Danava called
Dirghajiva. And, O Bharata, the sons and the grandsons of these were
known to be countless. And Sinhika gave birth to Rahu, the persecutor of
the Sun and the Moon, and to three others, Suchandra, Chandrahantri, and
Chandrapramardana. And the countless progeny of Krura (krodha) were as
crooked and wicked as herself. And the tribe was wrathful, of crooked
deeds, and persecutors of their foes. And Danayu also had four sons who
were bulls among the Asuras. They were Vikshara, Vala, Vira, and Vritra
the great Asura. And the sons of Kala were all like Yama himself and
smiter of all foes. And they were of great energy, and oppressors of all
foes. And the sons of Kala were Vinasana and Krodha, and then
Krodhahantri, and Krodhasatru. And there were many others among the sons
of Kala. And Sukra, the son of a Rishi, was the chief priest of the
Asuras. And the celebrated Sukra had four sons who were priests of the
Asuras. And they were Tashtadhara and Atri, and two others of fierce
deeds. They were like the Sun himself in energy, and set their hearts on
acquiring the regions of Brahman.

“Thus hath been recited by me, as heard in the Purana, of progeny of the
gods and the Asuras, both of great strength and energy. I am incapable, O
king, of counting the descendants of these, countless as they are, are
not much known to fame.

“And the sons of Vinata were Tarkhya and Arishtanemi, and Garuda and
Aruna, and Aruni and Varuni. And Sesha or Ananta, Vasuki, Takshaka,
Kumara, and Kulika are known to be the sons of Kadru; and Bhimasena,
Ugrasena, Suparna, Varuna, Gopati, and Dhritarashtra, and Suryavarchas
the seventh, Satyavachas, Arkaparna, Prayuta, Bhima, and Chitraratha
known to fame, of great learning, and a controller of his passions, and
then Kalisiras, and, O king, Parjanya, the fourteenth in the list, Kali,
the fifteenth, and Narada, the sixteenth--these Devas and Gandharvas are
known to be the sons of Muni (Daksha’s daughter as mentioned before). I
shall recount many others, O Bharata! Anavadya Manu, Vansa, Asura,
Marganapria, Anupa, Subhaga, Vasi, were the daughters brought forth by
Pradha, Siddha, and Purna, and Varhin, and Purnayus of great fame,
Brahmacharin, Ratiguna, and Suparna who was the seventh; Viswavasu,
Bhanu, and Suchandra who was the tenth, were also the sons of Pradha. All
these were celestial Gandharvas. And it is also known that this Pradha of
great fortune, through the celestial Rishi (Kasyapa, her husband),
brought forth the sacred of the Apsaras, Alamvusha, Misrakesi,
Vidyutparna, Tilottama, Aruna, Rakshita, Rambha, Manorama, Kesini,
Suvahu, Surata, Suraja, and Supria were the daughters, and Ativahu and
the celebrated Haha and Huhu, and Tumvuru were the sons--the best of
Gandharvas--of Pradha and Amrita. The Brahmanas, kine, Gandharvas, and
Apsaras, were born of Kapila as stated in the Purana.

“Thus hath been recited to thee by me the birth of all creatures duly--of
Gandharvas and Apsaras, of Snakes, Suparnas, Rudras, and Maruts; of kine
and of Brahmanas blessed with great good fortune, and of sacred deeds.
And this account (if read) extendeth the span of life, is sacred, worthy
of all praise, and giveth pleasure to the ear. It should be always heard
and recited to others, in a proper frame of mind.

“He who duly readeth this account of the birth of all high-souled
creatures in the presence of the gods and Brahmanas, obtaineth large
progeny, good fortune, and fame, and attaineth also to excellent worlds


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘It is known that the spiritual sons of Brahman were
the six great Rishis (already mentioned). There was another of the name
of Sthanu. And the sons of Sthanu, gifted with great energy, were, it is
known, eleven. They were Mrigavayadha, Sarpa, Niriti of great fame:
Ajaikapat, Ahivradhna, and Pinaki, the oppressor of foes; Dahana and
Iswara, and Kapali of great splendour; and Sthanu, and the illustrious
Bharga. These are called the eleven Rudras. It hath been already said,
that Marichi, Angiras. Atri, Pulastya, Pulaha, and Kratu--these six great
Rishis of great energy--are the sons of Brahman. It is well-known in the
world that Angiras’s sons are three,--Vrihaspati, Utathya, and Samvarta,
all of rigid vows. And, O king, it is said that the sons of Atri are
numerous. And, being great Rishis, they are all conversant with the
Vedas, crowned with ascetic success, and of souls in perfect peace. And,
O tiger among kings, the sons of Pulastya of great wisdom are Rakshasas,
Monkeys, Kinnaras (half-men and half-horses), and Yakshas. And, O king,
the son of Pulaha were, it is said, the Salabhas (the winged insects),
the lions, the Kimpurushas (half-lions and half-men), the tigers, bears,
and wolves. And the sons of Kratu, sacred as sacrifices, are the
companions of Surya, (the Valikhilyas), known in three worlds and devoted
to truth and vows. And, O protector of the Earth, the illustrious Rishi
Daksha, of soul in complete peace, and of great asceticism, sprung from
the right toe of Brahman. And from the left toe of Brahman sprang the
wife of the high-souled Daksha. And the Muni begat upon her fifty
daughters; and all those daughters were of faultless features and limbs
and of eyes like lotus-petals. And the lord Daksha, not having any sons,
made those daughters his Putrikas (so that their sons might belong both
to himself and to their husbands). And Daksha bestowed, according to the
sacred ordinance, ten of his daughters on Dharma, twenty-seven on Chandra
(the Moon), and thirteen on Kasyapa. Listen as I recount the wives of
Dharma according to their names. They are ten in all--Kirti, Lakshmi,
Dhriti, Medha, Pushti, Sraddha, Kria, Buddhi, Lajja, and Mali. These are
the wives of Dharma as appointed by the Self-create. It is known also
throughout the world that the wives of Soma (Moon) are twenty-seven. And
the wives of Soma, all of sacred vows, are employed in indicating time;
and they are the Nakshatras and the Yoginis and they became so for
assisting the courses of the worlds.

“And Brahman had another son named Manu. And Manu had a son of the name
of Prajapati. And the sons of Prajapati were eight and were called Vasus
whom I shall name in detail. They were Dhara, Dhruva, Soma, Aha, Anila,
Anala, Pratyusha, and Prabhasa. These eight are known as the Vasus. Of
these, Dhara and the truth-knowing Dhruva were born of Dhumra; Chandramas
(Soma) and Swasana (Anila) were born of the intelligent Swasa; Aha was
the son of Rata: and Hutasana (Anala) of Sandilya; and Pratyusha and
Prabhasa were the sons of Prabhata. And Dhara had two sons, Dravina and
Huta-havya-vaha. And the son of Dhruva is the illustrious Kala (Time),
the destroyer of the worlds. And Soma’s son is the resplendent Varchas.
And Varchas begot upon his wife Manohara three sons--Sisira, and Ramana.
And the son of Aha were Jyotih, Sama, Santa, and also Muni. And the son
of Agni is the handsome Kumara born in a forest of reeds. And, he is also
called Kartikeya because he was reared by Krittika and others. And, after
Kartikeya, there were born his three brothers Sakha, Visakha, Naigameya.
And the wife of Anila is Siva, and Siva’s son were Manojava and
Avijnataagati. These two were the sons of Anila. The son of Pratyusha,
you must know, is the Rishi named Devala; and Devala had two sons who
were both exceedingly forgiving and of great mental power. And the sister
of Vrihaspati, the first of women, uttering the sacred truth, engaged in
ascetic penances, roamed over the whole earth; and she became the wife of
Prabhasa, the eighth Vasu. And she brought forth the illustrious
Viswakarman, the founder of all arts. And he was the originator of a
thousand arts, the engineer of the immortals, the maker of all kinds of
ornaments, and the first of artists. And he it was who constructed the
celestial cars of the gods, and mankind are enabled to live in
consequence of the inventions of that illustrious one. And he is
worshipped, for that reason, by men. And he is eternal and immutable,
this Viswakarman.

“And the illustrious Dharma, the dispenser of all happiness, assuming a
human countenance, came out through the right breast of Brahman. And
Ahasta (Dharma) hath three excellent sons capable of charming every
creature. And they are Sama, Kama, Harsha (Peace, Desire, and Joy). And
by their energy they are supporting the worlds. And the wife of Kama is
Rati, of Sama is Prapti; and the wife of Harsha is Nanda. And upon them,
indeed, are the worlds made to depend.

“And the son of Marichi is Kasyapa. And Kasyapa’s offspring are the gods
and the Asuras. And, therefore, is Kasyapa, the Father of the worlds. And
Tvashtri, of the form of Vadava (a mare), became the wife of Savitri. And
she gave birth, in the skies, to two greatly fortunate twins, the Aswins.
And, O king, the sons of Aditi are twelve with Indra heading them all.
And the youngest of them all was Vishnu upon whom the worlds depend.

“These are the thirty-three gods (the eight Vasus, the eleven Rudras, the
twelve Adityas, Prajapati, and Vashatkara). I shall now recount their
progeny according to their Pakshas, Kulas, and Ganas. The Rudras, the
Saddhyas, the Maruts, the Vasus, the Bhargavas, and the Viswedevas are
each reckoned as a Paksha. Garuda the son of Vinata and the mighty Aruna
also, and the illustrious Vrihaspati are reckoned among the Adityas. The
twin Aswins, all annual plants, and all inferior animals, are reckoned
among the Guhyakas.

“These are the Ganas of the gods recited to thee, O king! This recitation
washes men of all sins.

“The illustrious Bhrigu came out, ripping open the breast of Brahman. The
learned Sukra is Bhrigu’s son. And the learned Sukra becoming a planet
and engaged according to the command of the Self-existent in pouring and
withholding rain, and in dispensing and remitting calamities, traverses,
for sustaining the lives of all the creatures in the three worlds,
through the skies. And the learned Sukra, of great intelligence and
wisdom, of rigid vows, leading the life of a Brahmacharin, divided
himself in twain by power of asceticism, and became the spiritual guide
of both the Daityas and the gods. And after Sukra was thus employed by
Brahman in seeking the welfare (of the gods and the Asuras), Bhrigu begot
another excellent son. This was Chyavana who was like the blazing sun, of
virtuous soul, and of great fame. And he came out of his mother’s womb in
anger and became the cause of his mother’s release, O king (from the
hands of the Rakshasas). And Arushi, the daughter of Manu, became the
wife of the wise Chyavana. And, on her was begotten Aurva of great
reputation. And he came out, ripping open the thigh of Arushi. And Aurva
begot Richika. And Richika even in his boyhood became possessed of great
power and energy, and of every virtue. And Richika begot Jamadagni. And
the high-souled Jamadagni had four sons. And the youngest of them all was
Rama (Parasurama). And Rama was superior to all his brothers in the
possession of good qualities. And he was skilful in all weapons, and
became the slayer of the Kshatriyas. And he had his passions under
complete control. And Aurva had a hundred sons with Jamadagni the eldest.
And these hundred sons had offspring by thousands spread over this earth.

“And Brahman had two other sons, viz., Dhatri and Vidhatri who stayed
with Manu. Their sister is the auspicious Lakshmi having her abode amid
lotuses. And the spiritual sons of Lakshmi are the sky-ranging horses.
And the daughter born of Sukra, named Divi, became the eldest wife of
Varuna. Of her were born a son named Vala and a daughter named Sura
(wine), to the joy of the gods. And Adharma (Sin) was born when creatures
(from want of food) began to devour one another. And Adharma always
destroys every creature. And Adharma hath Niriti for his wife, whence the
Rakshasas who are called Nairitas (offspring of Niriti). And she hath
also three other cruel sons always engaged in sinful deeds. They are
Bhaya (fear), Mahabhaya (terror), and Mrityu (Death) who is always
engaged in slaying every created thing. And, as he is all-destroying, he
hath no wife, and no son. And Tamra brought forth five daughters known
throughout the worlds. They are Kaki (crow), Syeni (hawk), Phasi (hen),
Dhritarashtri (goose), and Suki (parrot). And Kaki brought forth the
crows; Syeni, the hawks, the cocks and vultures, Dhritarashtri, all ducks
and swans; and she also brought forth all Chakravakas; and the fair Suki,
of amiable qualities, and possessing all auspicious signs brought forth
all the parrots. And Krodha gave birth to nine daughters, all of wrathful
disposition. And their names were Mrigi, Mrigamanda, Hari, Bhadramana,
Matangi, Sarduli, Sweta, Surabhi, and the agreeable Surasa blessed with
every virtue. And, O foremost of men, the offspring of Mrigi are all
animals of the deer species. And the offspring of Mrigamanda are all
animals of the bear species and those called Srimara (sweet-footed). And
Bhadramana begot the celestial elephants, Airavata. And the offspring of
Hari are all animals of the simian species endued with great activity, so
also all the horses. And those animals also, that are called Go-langula
(the cow-tailed), are said to be the offspring of Hari. And Sarduli begot
lions and tigers in numbers, and also leopards and all other strong
animals. And, O king, the offspring of Matangi are all the elephants. And
Sweta begat the large elephant known by the name of Sweta, endued with
great speed. And, O king, Surabhi gave birth to two daughters, the
amiable Rohini and the far-famed Gandharvi. And, O Bharata, she had also
two other daughters named Vimala and Anala. From Rohini have sprung all
kine, and from Gandharvi all animals of the horse species. And Anala
begat the seven kinds of trees yielding pulpy fruits. (They are the date,
the palm, the hintala, the tali, the little date, the nut, and the
cocoanut.) And she had also another daughter called Suki (the mother of
the parrot species). And Surasa bore a son called Kanka (a species of
long-feathered birds). And Syeni, the wife of Aruna, gave birth to two
sons of great energy and strength, named Sampati and the mighty Jatayu.
Surasa also bore the Nagas, and Kadru, the Punnagas (snakes). And Vinata
had two sons Garuda and Aruna, known far and wide. And, O king of men, O
foremost of intelligent persons, thus hath the genealogy of all the
principal creatures been fully described by me. By listening to this, a
man is fully cleansed of all his sins, and acquireth great knowledge, and
finally attaineth to the first of states in after-life!’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Janamejaya said, ‘O worshipful one, I wish to hear from thee in detail
about the birth, among men, of the gods, the Danavas, the Gandharvas, the
Rakshasas, the lions, the tigers, and the other animals, the snakes, the
birds, and in fact, of all creatures. I wish also to hear about the acts
and achievements of those, in due order, after they became incarnate in
human forms.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘O king of men, I shall first tell thee all about
those celestials and Danavas that were born among men--The first of
Danavas, who was known by the name of Viprachitti, became that bull among
men, noted as Jarasandha. And, O king, that son of Diti, who was known as
Hiranyakasipu, was known in this world among men as the powerful
Sisupala. He who had been known as Samhlada, the younger brother of
Prahlada, became among men the famous Salya, that bull amongst Valhikas.
The spirited Anuhlada who had been the youngest became noted in the world
as Dhrishtaketu. And, O king, that son of Diti who had been known as Sivi
became on earth the famous monarch Druma. And he who was known as the
great Asura Vashkala became on earth the great Bhagadatta. The five great
Asuras gifted with great energy, Ayahsira, Aswasira, the spirited
Aysanku, Gaganamurdhan, and Vegavat, were all born in the royal line of
Kekaya and all became great monarchs. That other Asura of mighty energy
who was known by the name of Ketumat became on earth the monarch
Amitaujas of terrible deeds. That great Asura who was known as Swarbhanu
became on earth the monarch Ugrasena of fierce deeds. That great Asura
who was known as Aswa became on earth the monarch Asoka of exceeding
energy and invincible in battle. And, O king, the younger brother of Aswa
who was known as Aswapati, a son of Diti, became on earth the mighty
monarch Hardikya. The great and fortunate Asura who was known as
Vrishaparvan became noted on earth as king Dirghaprajna. And, O king, the
younger brother of Vrishaparvan who was known by the name of Ajaka became
noted on earth as king Salwa. The powerful and mighty Asura who was known
as Aswagriva became noted on earth as king Rochamana. And, O king, the
Asura who was known as Sukshma, endued with great intelligence and whose
achievements also were great, became on earth the famous king
Vrihadratha. And that first of Asuras who was known by the name of
Tuhunda, became noted on earth as the monarch, Senavindu. That Asura of
great strength who was known as Ishupa became the monarch Nagnajita of
famous prowess. The great Asura who was known as Ekachakra became noted
on earth as Pritivindhya. The great Asura Virupaksha capable of
displaying various modes of fight became noted on earth as king
Chitravarman. The first of Danavas, the heroic Hara, who humbled the
pride of all foes became on earth the famous and fortunate Suvahu. The
Asura Suhtra of great energy and the destroyer of foemen, became noted on
earth as the fortunate monarch, Munjakesa. That Asura of great
intelligence called Nikumbha, who was never vanquished in battle was born
on earth as king Devadhipa, the first among monarchs. That great Asura
known amongst the sons of Diti by the name of Sarabha became on earth the
royal sage called Paurava. And, O king, the great Asura of exceeding
energy, the fortunate Kupatha, was born on earth as the famous monarch
Suparswa. The great Asura, O king, who was called Kratha, was born on
earth as the royal sage Parvateya of form resplendent like a golden
mountain. He amongst the Asura who was known as Salabha the second,
became on earth the monarch Prahlada in the country of the Valhikas. The
foremost, among the sons of Diti known by the name of Chandra and
handsome as the lord of the stars himself, became on earth noted as
Chandravarman, the king of the Kamvojas. That bull amongst the Danavas
who was known by the name of Arka became on earth, O king, the royal sage
Rishika. That best of Asuras who was known as Mritapa became on earth, O
best of kings, the monarch, Pascimanupaka. That great Asura of surpassing
energy known as Garishtha became noted on earth as king Drumasena. The
great Asura who was known as Mayura became noted on earth as the monarch
Viswa. He who was the younger brother of Mayura and called Suparna became
noted on earth as the monarch, Kalakirti. The mighty Asura who was known
as Chandrahantri became on earth the royal sage Sunaka. The great Asura
who was called Chandravinasana became noted on earth as the monarch,
Janaki. That bull amongst the Danavas, O prince of the Kuru race, who was
called Dhirghajihva, became noted on earth as Kasiraja. The Graha who was
brought forth by Sinhika and who persecuted the Sun and the Moon became
noted on earth as the monarch Kratha. The eldest of the four sons of
Danayu, who was known by the name of Vikshara, became known on earth the
spirited monarch, Vasumitra. The second brother of Vikshara, the great
Asura, was born on earth as the king of the country, called Pandya. That
best of Asuras who was known by the name of Valina became on earth the
monarch Paundramatsyaka. And, O king, that great Asura who was known as
Vritra became on earth the royal sage known by the name of Manimat. That
Asura who was the younger brother of Vritra and known as Krodhahantri
became noted on earth as king Danda. That other Asura who was known by
the name Krodhavardhana became noted on earth as the monarch, Dandadhara.
The eight sons of the Kaleyas that were born on earth all became great
kings endued with the prowess of tigers. The eldest of them all became
king Jayatsena in Magadha. The second of them, in prowess, like Indra,
became noted on earth as Aparajita. The third of them, endued with great
energy and power of producing deception, was born on earth as the king of
the Nishadas gifted with great prowess. That other amongst them who was
known as the fourth was noted on earth as Srenimat, that best of royal
sages. That great Asura amongst them who was the fifth, became noted on
earth as king Mahanjas, the oppressor of enemies. That great Asura
possessing great intelligence who was the sixth of them became noted on
earth as Abhiru, that best of royal sages. The seventh of them became
known throughout earth, from the centre to the sea, as king Samudrasena
well acquainted with the truths of the scriptures. The eighth of the
Kaleyas known as Vrihat became on earth a virtuous king ever engaged in
the good of all creatures. The mighty Danava known by the name of Kukshi
became on earth as Parvatiya from his brightness as of a golden mountain.
The mighty Asura Krathana gifted with great energy became noted on earth
as the monarch Suryaksha. The great Asura of handsome features known by
the name of Surya, became on earth the monarch of the Valhikas by name
Darada, that foremost of all kings. And, O king, from the tribe of Asuras
called Krodhavasa, of whom I have already spoken to thee, were born many
heroic kings on earth. Madraka, and Karnaveshta, Siddhartha, and also
Kitaka; Suvira, and Suvahu, and Mahavira, and also Valhika, Kratha,
Vichitra, Suratha, and the handsome king Nila; and Chiravasa, and
Bhumipala; and Dantavakra, and he who was called Durjaya; that tiger
amongst kings named Rukmi; and king Janamejaya, Ashada, and Vayuvega, and
also Bhuritejas; Ekalavya, and Sumitra, Vatadhana, and also Gomukha; the
tribe of kings called the Karushakas, and also Khemadhurti; Srutayu, and
Udvaha, and also Vrihatsena; Kshema, Ugratirtha, the king of the
Kalingas; and Matimat, and he was known as king Iswara; these first of
kings were all born of the Asura class called Krodhavasa.

“There was also born on earth a mighty Asura known amongst the Danavas by
the name of Kalanemi, endued with great strength, of grand achievements,
and blessed with a large share of prosperity. He became the mighty son of
Ugrasena and was known on earth by the name of Kansa. And he who was
known among the Asuras by the name of Devaka and was besides in splendour
like unto Indra himself, was born on earth as the foremost king of the
Gandharvas. And, O monarch, know thou that Drona, the son of Bharadwaja,
not born of any woman, sprung from a portion of the celestial Rishi
Vrihaspati of grand achievements. And he was the prince of all bowmen,
conversant with all weapons, of mighty achievements, of great energy.
Thou shouldst know he was also well-acquainted with the Vedas and the
science of arms. And he was of wonderful deeds and the pride of his race.
And, O king, his son the heroic Aswatthaman, of eyes like the
lotus-petals, gifted with surpassing energy, and the terror of all foes,
the great oppressor of all enemies, was born on earth, of the united
portions of Mahadeva, Yama, Kama, and Krodha. And from the curse of
Vasishtha and the command also of Indra, the eight Vasus were born of
Ganga by her husband Santanu. The youngest of them was Bhishma, the
dispeller of the fears of the Kurus, gifted with great intelligence,
conversant with the Vedas, the first speakers, and the thinner of the
enemy’s ranks. And possessed of mighty energy and the first of all
persons acquainted with weapons, he encountered the illustrious Rama
himself, the son of Jamadagni of the Bhrigu race. And, O king, that
Brahman sage who, on earth, was known by the name of Kripa and was the
embodiment of all manliness was born of the tribe of the Rudras. And the
mighty chariot-fighter and king who on earth was known by the name of
Sakuni, that crusher of foes, thou shouldst know, O king, was Dwapara
himself (the third yuga). And he who was Satyaki of sure aim, that
upholder of the pride of Vrishni race, that oppressor of foes, begotten
of the portion of gods called the Maruts. And that royal sage Drupada who
on earth was a monarch, the first among all persons bearing arms, was
also born of the same tribe of the celestials. And, O king, thou shouldst
also know that Kritavarman, that prince among men, of deeds unsurpassed
by any one, and the foremost of all bulls amongst Kshatriyas, was born of
the portion of the same celestials. And that royal sage also, Virata by
name, the scorcher of the kingdoms of others, and the great oppressor of
all foes, was born of the portion of the same gods. That son of Arishta
who was known by the name of Hansa, was born in the Kuru race and became
the monarch of the Gandharvas. He who was known as Dhritarashtra born of
the seed of Krishna-Dwaipayana, and gifted with long arms and great
energy, also a monarch, of the prophetic eye, became blind in consequence
of the fault of his mother and the wrath of the Rishi. His younger
brother who was possessed of great strength and was really a great being
known as Pandu, devoted to truth and virtue, was Purity’s self. And, O
king, thou shouldst know that he who was known on earth as Vidura, who
was the first of all virtuous men, who was the god of Justice himself,
was the excellent and greatly fortunate son of the Rishi Atri. The
evil-minded and wicked king Duryodhana, the destroyer of the fair fame of
the Kurus, was born of a portion of Kali on earth. He it was who caused
all creatures to be slain and the earth to be wasted; and he it was who
fanned the flame of hostility that ultimately consumed all. They who had
been the sons of Pulastya (the Rakshasas) were born on earth among men of
Duryodhana’s brothers, that century of wicked individuals commencing with
Duhasasana as their first. And, O bull among the Bharata princes,
Durmukha, Duhsaha, and others whose names I do not mention, who always
supported Duryodhana (in all his schemes), were, indeed, the sons of
Pulastya. And over and above these hundred, Dhritarashtra had one son
named Yuyutsu born of a Vaisya wife.’

“Janamejaya said, ‘O illustrious one, tell me the names of
Dhritarashtra’s sons according to the order of their birth beginning from
the eldest.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘O king, they are as follows: Duryodhana, and
Yuyutsu, and also Duhsasana; Duhsaha and Duhshala, and then Durmukha;
Vivinsati, and Vikarna, Jalasandha, Sulochna, Vinda and Anuvinda,
Durdharsha, Suvahu, Dushpradharshana; Durmarshana, and Dushkarna, and
Karna; Chitra and Vipachitra, Chitraksha, Charuchitra, and Angada,
Durmada, and Dushpradharsha, Vivitsu, Vikata, Sama; Urananabha, and
Padmanabha, Nanda and Upanandaka; Sanapati, Sushena, Kundodara; Mahodara;
Chitravahu, and Chitravarman, Suvarman, Durvirochana; Ayovahu, Mahavahu,
Chitrachapa and Sukundala, Bhimavega, Bhimavala, Valaki, Bhimavikrama,
Ugrayudha, Bhimaeara, Kanakayu, Dridhayudha, Dridhavarman, Dridhakshatra
Somakirti, Anadara; Jarasandha, Dridhasandha, Satyasandha, Sahasravaeh;
Ugrasravas, Ugrasena, and Kshemamurti; Aprajita, Panditaka, Visalaksha,
Duradhara, Dridhahasta, and Suhasta, Vatavega, and Suvarchasa;
Adityaketu, Vahvasin, Nagadatta and Anuyaina; Nishangi, Kuvachi, Dandi,
Dandadhara, Dhanugraha; Ugra, Bhimaratha, Vira, Viravahu, Alolupa;
Abhaya, and Raudrakarman, also he who was Dridharatha; Anadhrishya,
Kundaveda, Viravi, Dhirghalochana; Dirghavahu; Mahavahu; Vyudhoru,
Kanakangana; Kundaja and Chitraka. There was also a daughter named
Duhsala who was over and above the hundred. And Yuyutsu who was
Dhritarashtra’s son by a Vaisya wife, was also over and above the
hundred. Thus, O king, have I recited the names of the hundred sons and
also that of the daughter (of Dhritarashtra). Thou hast now known their
names according to the order of their births. All of them were heroes and
great car-warriors, and skilled in the art of warfare. Besides, all of
them were versed in the Vedas, and, O king, all of them had got through
the scriptures. All of them were mighty in attack and defence, and all
were graced with learning. And, O monarch, all of them had wives suitable
to them in grace and accomplishments. And, O king, when the time came,
the Kaurava monarch bestowed his daughter Duhsala on Jayadratha, the king
of the Sindhus, agreeably to the counsels of Sakuni.

“And, O monarch, learn that king Yudhishthira was a portion of Dharma;
that Bhimasena was of the deity of wind; that Arjuna was of Indra, the
chief of the celestials; and that Nakula and Sahadeva, the handsomest
beings among all creatures, and unrivalled for beauty on earth, were
similarly portions of the twin Aswins. And he who was known as the mighty
Varchas, the son of Soma, became Abhimanyu of wonderful deeds, the son of
Arjuna. And before his incarnation, O king, the god Soma had said these
words to the celestials, ‘I cannot give (part with) my son. He is dearer
to me than life itself. Let this be the compact and let it be not
transgressed. The destruction of the Asuras on earth is the work of the
celestials, and, therefore, it is our work as well. Let this Varchas,
therefore, go thither, but let him not stay there long. Nara, whose
companion is Narayana, will be born as Indra’s son and indeed, will be
known as Arjuna, the mighty son of Pandu. This boy of mine shall be his
son and become a mighty car-warrior in his boyhood. And let him, ye best
of immortals, stay on earth for sixteen years. And when he attaineth to
his sixteenth year, the battle shall take place in which all who are born
of your portions shall achieve the destruction of mighty warriors. But a
certain encounter shall take place without both Nara and Narayana (taking
any part in it). And, indeed, your portions, ye celestials, shall fight,
having made that disposition of the forces which is known by the name of
the Chakra-vyuha. And my son shall compel all foes to retreat before him.
The boy of mighty arms having penetrated the impenetrable array, shall
range within it fearlessly and send a fourth part of the hostile force,
in course of half a day, unto the regions of the king of the dead. Then
when numberless heroes and mighty car-warriors will return to the charge
towards the close of the day, my boy of mighty arms, shall reappear
before me. And he shall beget one heroic son in his line, who shall
continue the almost extinct Bharata race.’ Hearing these words of Soma,
the dwellers in heaven replied, ‘So be it.’ And then all together
applauded and worshipped (Soma) the king of stars. Thus, O king, have I
recited to thee the (particulars of the) birth of thy father’s father.

“Know also, O monarch, that the mighty car-warrior Dhrishtadyumna was a
portion of Agni. And know also that Sikhandin, who was at first a female,
was (the incarnation of) a Rakshasa. And, O bull in Bharata’s race, they
who became the five sons of Draupadi, those bulls amongst the Bharata
princes, were the celestials known as the Viswas. Their names were
Pritivindhya, Sutasoma, Srutakirti, Satanika, Nakula, and Srutasena,
endued with mighty energy.

“Sura, the foremost of the Yadus, was the father of Vasudeva. He had a
daughter called Pritha, who for her beauty, was unrivalled on earth. And
Sura, having promised in the presence of fire that he would give his
firstborn child to Kuntibhoja, the son of his paternal aunt, who was
without offspring, gave his daughter unto the monarch in expectation of
his favours. Kuntibhoja thereupon made her his daughter. And she became,
thenceforth, in the house of her (adoptive) father, engaged in attending
upon Brahmanas and guests. One day she had to wait upon the wrathful
ascetic of rigid vows, Durvasa by name, acquainted with truth and fully
conversant with the mysteries of religion. And Pritha with all possible
care gratified the wrathful Rishi with soul under complete control. The
holy one, gratified with the attentions bestowed on him by the maiden,
told her, ‘I am satisfied, O fortunate one, with thee! By this mantra
(that I am about to give thee), thou shall be able to summon (to thy
side) whatever celestials thou likest. And, by their grace, shall thou
also obtain children.’ Thus addressed, the girl (a little while after),
seized with curiosity, summoned, during the period of her maiden-hood,
the god Surya. And the lord of light thereupon made her conceive and
begot on her a son who became the first of all wielders of weapons. From
fear of relatives she brought forth in secrecy that child who had come
out with ear-rings and coat of mail. And he was gifted with the beauty of
a celestial infant, and in splendour was like unto the maker of day
himself. And every part of his body was symmetrical and well-adorned. And
Kunti cast the handsome child into the water. But the child thus thrown
into the water was taken up by the excellent husband of Radha and given
by him to his wife to be adopted by her as their son. And the couple gave
him the name of Vasusena, by which appellation the child soon became
known all over the land. And, as he grew up, he became very strong and
excelled in all weapons. The first of all successful persons, he soon
mastered the sciences. And when the intelligent one having truth for his
strength recited the Vedas, there was nothing he would not then give to
the Brahmanas. At that time Indra, the originator of all things, moved by
the desire of benefiting his own son Arjuna, assumed the guise of a
Brahmana, came to him, and begged of the hero his ear-rings and natural
armour. And the hero taking off his ear-rings and armour gave them unto
the Brahmana. And Sakra (accepting the gift) presented to the giver a
dart, surprised (at his open handedness), and addressed him in these
words, ‘O invincible one, amongst the celestials, Asuras, men,
Gandharvas, Nagas, and Rakshasas, he at whom thou hurlest (this weapon),
that one shall certainly be slain.’ And the son of Surya was at first
known in the world by the name of Vasusena. But, for his deeds, he
subsequently came to be called Karna. And because that hero of great fame
had taken off his natural armour, therefore was he--the first son of
Pritha--called Kama. And, O best of kings, the hero began to grow up in
the Suta caste. And, O king, know thou that Kama--the first of all
exalted men--the foremost of all wielders of weapons--the slayer of
foes--and the best portion of the maker of day--was the friend and
counsellor of Duryodhana. And he, called Vasudeva, endued with great
valour, was among men a portion of him called Narayana--the god of
gods--eternal. And Valadeva of exceeding strength was a portion of the
Naga, Sesha. And, O monarch, know that Pradyumna of great energy was
Sanatkumara. And in this way the portion of various other dwellers in
heaven became exalted men in the race of Vasudeva, increasing the glory
thereof. And, O king, the portions of the tribe of Apsaras which I have
mentioned already, also became incarnate on earth according to Indra’s
commands--And sixteen thousand portions of those goddesses became, O
king, in this world of men, the wives of Vasudeva. And a portion of Sri
herself became incarnate on earth, for the gratification of Narayana, in
the line of Bhishmaka. And she was by name the chaste Rukmini. And the
faultless Draupadi, slender-waisted like the wasp, was born of a portion
of Sachi (the queen of the celestials), in the line of Drupada. And she
was neither low nor tall in stature. And she was of the fragrance of the
blue lotus, of eyes large as lotus-petals, of thighs fair and round, of
dense masses of black curly hair. And endued with every auspicious
feature and of complexion like that of the emerald, she became the
charmer of the hearts of five foremost of men. And the two goddesses
Siddhi and Dhriti became the mothers of those five, and were called Kunti
and Madri. And she who was Mati became the daughter (Gandhari) of Suvala.

“Thus, O king, have I recited to thee all about the incarnation,
according to their respective portions, of the gods, the Asuras, the
Gandharvas, the Apsaras, and of the Rakshasas. They who were born on
earth as monarchs invincible in battle, those high-souled ones who were
born in the wide extended line of the Yadus, they who were born as mighty
monarchs in other lines, they who were born as Brahmanas and Kshatriyas
and Vaisyas, have all been recited by me duly. And this account of the
incarnation (of superior beings according to their respective portions)
capable of bestowing wealth, fame, offspring, long life, and success,
should always be listened to in a proper frame of mind. And having
listened to this account of incarnation, according to their portions, of
gods, Gandharvas, and Rakshasas, the hearer becoming acquainted with the
creation, preservation, and destruction of the universe and acquiring
wisdom, is never cast down even under the most engrossing sorrows.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Janamejaya said, ‘O Brahmana, I have, indeed, heard from thee this
account of the incarnation, according to their portions, of the gods, the
Danavas, the Rakshasas, and also of the Gandharvas and the Apsaras. I
however, again desire to hear of the dynasty of the Kurus from the very
beginning. Therefore, O Brahmana, speak of this in the presence of all
these regenerate Rishis.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘O exalted one of Bharata’s race, the founder of the
Paurava line was Dushmanta gifted with great energy. And he was the
protector of the earth bounded by the four seas. And that king had full
sway over four quarters of this world. And he was the lord also of
various regions in the midst of the sea. And that great oppressor of all
foes had sway over the countries even of the Mlechchhas.

“And during his rule there were no men of mixed castes, no tillers of the
soil (for the land, of itself, yielded produce), no workers of mines (for
the surface of the earth yielded in abundance), and no sinful men. All
were virtuous, and did everything from virtuous motives, O tiger among
men. There was no fear of thieves, O dear one, no fear of famine, no fear
off disease. And all four orders took pleasure in doing their respective
duties and never performed religious acts for obtaining fruition of
desires. And his subjects, depending upon him, never entertained any
fear. And Parjanya (Indra) poured showers at the proper time, and the
produce of the fields was always pulpy and juicy. And the earth was full
of all kinds of wealth and all kinds of animals. And the Brahmanas were
always engaged in their duties and they were always truthful. And the
youthful monarch was endued with wonderful prowess and a physical frame
hard as the thunderbolt, so that he could, taking up the mountain Mandara
with its forests and bushes, support it on his arms. And he was
well-skilled in four kinds of encounters with the mace (hurling it at
foes at a distance, striking at those that are near, whirling it in the
midst of many, and driving the foe before). And he was skilled also in
the use of all kinds of weapons and in riding elephants and horses. And
in strength he was like unto Vishnu, in splendour like unto the maker of
day, in gravity like unto the ocean, and in patience, like unto the
earth. And the monarch was loved by all his subjects, and he ruled his
contented people virtuously.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Janamejaya said, ‘I desire to hear from thee about the birth and life of
the high-souled Bharata and of the origin of Sakuntala. And, O holy one,
I also desire to hear all about Dushmanta--that lion among men--and how
the hero obtained Sakuntala. It behoveth thee, O knower of truth and the
first of all intelligent men, to tell me everything.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Once on a time (king Dushmanta) of mighty arms,
accompanied by a large force, went into the forest. And he took with him
hundreds of horses and elephants. And the force that accompanied the
monarch was of four kinds (foot-soldiers, car-warriors, cavalry, and
elephants)--heroes armed with swords and darts and bearing in their hands
maces and stout clubs. And surrounded by hundreds of warriors with lances
and spears in their hands, the monarch set out on his journey. And with
the leonine roars of the warriors and the notes of conchs and sound of
drums, with the rattle of the car-wheels and shrieks of huge elephants,
all mingling with the neighing of horses and the clash of weapons of the
variously armed attendants in diverse dresses, there arose a deafening
tumult while the king was on his march. And ladies gifted with great
beauty beheld from the terraces of goodly mansions that heroic monarch,
the achiever of his own fame. And the ladies saw that he was like unto
Sakra, the slayer of his enemies, capable of repulsing the elephants of
foes--And they believed that he was the wielder of the thunderbolt
himself. And they said, ‘This is that tiger among men who in battle is
equal unto the Vasus in prowess, and in consequence of the might of whose
arms no foes are left.’ And saying this, the ladies from affection
gratified the monarch by showering flowers on his head. And followed by
foremost of Brahmanas uttering blessings all the way, the king in great
gladness of heart went towards the forest, eager for slaying the deer.
And many Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, and Sudras, followed the monarch
who was like unto the king of the celestials seated on the back of a
proud elephant. The citizens and other classes followed the monarch for
some distance. And they at last refrained from going farther at the
command of the king. And the king, then, ascending his chariot of winged
speed, filled the whole earth and even the heavens, with the rattle of
his chariot wheels. And, as he went, he saw around him a forest like unto
Nandana itself (the celestial garden). And it was full of Vilwa, Arka,
Khadira (catechu), Kapittha (wood-apple) and Dhava trees. And he saw that
the soil was uneven and scattered over with blocks of stone loosened from
the neighbouring cliffs. And he saw that it was without water and without
human beings and lay extended for many Yojanas around. And it was full of
deer, and lions, and other terrible beasts of prey.

“And king Dushmanta, that tiger among men, assisted by his followers and
the warriors in his train, agitated that forest, killing numerous
animals. And Dushmanta, piercing them with his arrows, felled numerous
tigers that were within shooting range. And the king wounded many that
were too distant, and killed many that were too near with his heavy
sword. And that foremost of all wielders of darts killed many by hurling
his darts at them. And well-conversant with the art of whirling the mace,
the king of immeasurable prowess fearlessly wandered over the forest. And
the king roamed about, killing the denizens of the wilderness sometimes
with his sword and sometimes by fast-descending blows of his mace and
heavy club.

“And when the forest was so disturbed by the king possessed of wonderful
energy and by the warriors in his train delighting in warlike sports, the
lions began to desert it in numbers. And herds of animals deprived of
their leaders, from fear and anxiety began to utter loud cries as they
fled in all directions. And fatigued with running, they began to fall
down on all sides, unable to slake their thirst, having reached
river-beds that were perfectly dry. And many so falling were eaten up by
the hungry warriors. While others were eaten up after having been duly
quartered and roasted in fires lit up by them. And many strong elephants,
maddened with the wounds they received and alarmed beyond measure, fled
with trunks raised on high. And those wild elephants, betraying the usual
symptoms of alarm by urinating and ejecting the contents of their
stomachs and vomiting blood in large quantities, trampled, as they ran,
many warriors to death. And that forest which had been full of animals,
was by the king with his bands of followers and with sharp weapons soon
made bereft of lions and tigers and other monarchs of the wilderness.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then the king with his followers, having killed
thousands of animals, entered another forest with a view to hunting. And
attended by a single follower and fatigued with hunger and thirst, he
came upon a large desert on the frontiers of the forest. And having
crossed this herbless plain, the king came upon another forest full of
the retreats of ascetics, beautiful to look at, delightful to the heart
and of cool agreeable breezes. And it was full of trees covered with
blossoms, the soil overgrown with the softest and greenest grass,
extending for many miles around, and echoing with the sweet notes of
winged warblers. And it resounded with the notes of the male Kokila and
of the shrill cicala. And it was full of magnificent trees with
outstretched branches forming a shady canopy overhead. And the bees
hovered over flowery creepers all around. And there were beautiful bowers
in every place. And there was no tree without fruits, none that had
prickles on it, none that had no bees swarming around it. And the whole
forest resounded with the melody of winged choristers. And it was decked
with the flowers of every season. And there were refreshing shades of
blossoming trees.

“Such was the delicious and excellent forest that the great bowman
entered. And trees with branches beautified with clusters began to wave
gently at the soft breeze and rain their flowers over the monarch’s head.
And the trees, clad in their flowery attires of all colours, with
sweet-throated warblers perched on them, stood there in rows with heads
touching the very heavens. And around their branches hanging down with
the weight of flowers the bees tempted by the honey hummed in sweet
chorus. And the king, endued with great energy, beholding innumerable
spots covered with bowers of creepers decked with clusters of flowers,
from excess of gladness, became very much charmed. And the forest was
exceedingly beautiful in consequence of those trees ranged around with
flowery branches twining with each other and looking like so many
rainbows for gaudiness and variety of colour. And it was the resort of
bands of Siddhas, of the Charanas, of tribes of Gandharvas, and Apsaras,
of monkeys and Kinnaras drunk with delight. Delicious cool, and fragrant
breezes, conveying the fragrance from fresh flowers, blew in all
directions as if they had come there to sport with the trees. And the
king saw that charming forest gifted with such beauties. And it was
situated in a delta of the river, and the cluster of high trees standing
together lent the place the look of a gaudy pole erected to Indra’s

“And in that forest which was the resort of ever cheerful birds, the
monarch saw a delightful and charming retreat of ascetics. And there were
many trees around it. And the sacred fire was burning within it. And the
king worshipped that unrivalled retreat. And he saw seated in it numerous
Yotis, Valakhilyas and other Munis. And it was adorned with many chambers
containing sacrificial fire. And the flowers dropping from the trees had
formed a thick carpet spread over the ground. And the spot looked
exceedingly beautiful with those tall trees of large trunks. And by it
flowed, O king, the sacred and transparent Malini with every species of
water-fowl playing on its bosom. And that stream infused gladness into
the hearts of the ascetics who resorted to it for purposes of ablutions.
And the king beheld on its banks many innocent animals of the deer
species and was exceedingly delighted with all that he saw.

“And the monarch, the course of whose chariot no foe could obstruct, then
entered that asylum which was like unto the region of the celestials,
being exceedingly beautiful all over. And the king saw that it stood on
the margin of the sacred stream which was like the mother of all the
living creatures residing in its vicinage. And on its bank sported the
Chakravaka, and waves of milkwhite foam. And there stood also the
habitations of Kinnaras. And monkeys and bears too disported themselves
in numbers. And there lived also holy ascetics engaged in studies and
meditation. And there could be seen also elephants and tigers and snakes.
And it was on the banks of that stream that the excellent asylum of the
illustrious Kasyapa stood, offering a home to numerous Rishis of great
ascetic merit. And beholding that river, and also the asylum washed by
that river which was studded with many islands and which possessed banks
of so much beauty,--an asylum like unto that of Nara and Narayana laved
by the water of the Ganga--the king resolved to enter into that sacred
abode. And that bull among men, desirous of beholding the great Rishi of
ascetic wealth, the illustrious Kanwa of the race of Kasyapa, one who
possessed every virtue and who, for his splendour, could be gazed at with
difficulty, approached that forest resounding with the notes of maddened
peacocks and like unto the gardens of the great Gandharva, Chitraratha,
himself. And halting his army consisting of flags, cavalry, infantry, and
elephants at the entrance of the forest, the monarch spoke as follows, ‘I
shall go to behold the mighty ascetic of Kasyapa’s race, one who is
without darkness. Stay ye here until my return!’

“And the king having entered that forest which was like unto Indra’s
garden, soon forgot his hunger and thirst. And he was pleased beyond
measure. And the monarch, laying aside all signs of royalty, entered that
excellent asylum with but his minister and his priest, desirous of
beholding that Rishi who was an indestructible mass of ascetic merit. And
the king saw that the asylum was like unto the region of Brahman. Here
were bees sweetly humming and there were winged warblers of various
species pouring forth their melodies. At particular places that tiger
among men heard the chanting of Rik hymns by first-rate Brahmanas
according to the just rules of intonation. Other places again were graced
with Brahmanas acquainted with ordinances of sacrifice, of the Angas and
of the hymns of the Yajurveda. Other places again were filled with the
harmonious strains of Saman hymns sung by vow-observing Rishis. At other
places the asylum was decked with Brahmanas learned in the Atharvan Veda.
At other places again Brahmanas learned in the Atharvan Veda and those
capable of chanting the sacrificial hymns of the Saman were reciting the
Samhitas according to the just rules of voice. And at other places again,
other Brahmanas well-acquainted with the science of orthoepy were
reciting mantras of other kinds. In fact, that sacred retreat resounding
with these holy notes was like unto a second region of Brahman himself.
And there were many Brahmanas skilled in the art of making sacrificial
platforms and in the rules of Krama in sacrifices, conversant with logic
and the mental sciences, and possessing a complete knowledge of the
Vedas. There were those also who were fully acquainted with the meanings
of all kinds of expressions; those that were conversant with all special
rites, those also that were followers of Moksha-Dharma; those again that
were well-skilled in establishing propositions; rejecting superfluous
causes, and drawing right conclusions. There were those having a
knowledge of the science of words (grammar), of prosody, of Nirukta;
those again that were conversant with astrology and learned in the
properties of matter and the fruits of sacrificial rites, possessing a
knowledge of causes and effects, capable of understanding the cries of
birds and monkeys, well-read in large treatises, and skilled in various
sciences. And the king, as he proceeded, heard their voices. And the
retreat resounded also with voice of men capable of charming human
hearts. And the slayer of hostile heroes also saw around him learned
Brahmanas of rigid vows engaged in Japa (the repeated muttering of the
names of gods) and Homa (burnt-offering). And the king wondered much on
beholding the beautiful carpets which those Brahmanas offered to him
respectfully. And that best of monarchs, at the sight of the rites with
which those Brahmanas worshipped the gods and the great Rishis, thought
within himself that he was in the region of Brahman. And the more the
king saw that auspicious and sacred asylum of Kasyapa protected by that
Rishi’s ascetic virtues and possessing all the requisites of a holy
retreat, the more he desired to see it. In fact, he was not satisfied
with his short survey. And the slayer of heroes at last, accompanied by
his minister and his priest, entered that charming and sacred retreat of
Kasyapa inhabited all around by Rishis of ascetic wealth and exalted


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘The monarch then, as he proceeded, left even his
reduced retinue at the entrance of the hermitage. And entering quite
alone he saw not the Rishi (Kanwa) of rigid vows. And not seeing the
Rishi and finding that the abode was empty, he called loudly, saying,
‘What ho, who is here?’ And the sound of his voice was echoed back. And
hearing the sound of his voice, there came out of the Rishi’s abode a
maiden beautiful as Sri herself but dressed as an ascetic’s daughter. And
the black-eyed fair one, as she saw king Dushmanta, bade him welcome and
received him duly. And, showing him due respect by the offer of a seat,
water to wash his feet, and Arghya, she enquired about the monarch’s
health and peace. And having worshipped the king and asked him about his
health and peace, the maiden reverentially asked, ‘What must be done, O
king! I await your commands.’ The king, duly worshipped by her, said unto
that maiden of faultless features and sweet speech, ‘I have come to
worship the highly-blessed Rishi Kanwa. Tell me, O amiable and beautiful
one, where has the illustrious Rishi gone?’

“Sakuntala then answered, ‘My illustrious father hath gone away from the
asylum to fetch fruit. Wait but a moment and thou wilt see him when he

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The king not seeing the Rishi and addressed
thus by her, beheld that the maiden was exceedingly beautiful and endued
with perfect symmetry of shape. And he saw that she was of sweet smiles.
And she stood decked with the beauty of her faultless features, her
ascetic penances, and her humility. And he saw that she was in the bloom
of youth. He therefore asked her, ‘Who art thou? And whose daughter, O
beautiful one? Why hast thou come into the woods also? O handsome one,
gifted with so much beauty and such virtues, whence hast thou come? O
charming one, at the very first glance hast thou stolen my heart! I
desire to learn all about thee; therefore tell me all.’ And thus
addressed by the monarch, the maiden smilingly replied in these sweet
words, ‘O Dushmanta, I am the daughter of the virtuous, wise,
high-souled, and illustrious ascetic Kanwa.’

“Dushmanta, hearing this, replied, ‘The universally-worshipped and
highly-blessed Rishi is one whose seed hath been drawn up. Even Dharma
himself might fall off from his course but an ascetic of rigid vows can
never fall off so. Therefore, O thou of the fairest complexion, how hast
thou been born as his daughter? This great doubt of mine it behoveth thee
to dispel.’

“Sakuntala then replied, ‘Hear, O king, what I have learnt regarding all
that befell me of old and how I became the daughter of the Muni. Once on
a time, a Rishi came here and asked about my birth. All that the
illustrious one (Kanwa) told him, hear now from me, O king!

“My father Kanwa, in answer to that Rishi’s enquiries, said, ‘Viswamitra,
of old, having been engaged in the austerest penances alarmed Indra, the
chief of the celestials, who thought that the mighty ascetic of blazing
energy would, by his penances, hurl him down from his high seat in
heaven.’ Indra, thus alarmed, summoned Menaka and told her, ‘Thou, O
Menaka, art the first of celestial Apsaras. Therefore, O amiable one, do
me this service. Hear what I say. This great ascetic Viswamitra like unto
the Sun in splendour, is engaged in the most severe of penances. My heart
is trembling with fear. Indeed, O slender-waisted Menaka, this is thy
business. Thou must see that Viswamitra of soul rapt in contemplation and
engaged in the austerest penances, who might hurl me down from my seat.
Go and tempt him and frustrating his continued austerities accomplish my
good. Win him away from his penances, O beautiful one, by tempting him
with thy beauty, youth, agreeableness, arts, smiles and speech.’ Hearing
all this, Menaka replied, ‘The illustrious Viswamitra is endued with
great energy and is a mighty ascetic. He is very short-tempered too, as
is known to thee. The energy, penances, and wrath of the high-souled one
have made even thee anxious. Why should I not also be anxious? He it was
who made even the illustrious Vasishtha bear the pangs of witnessing the
premature death of his children. He it was who, though at first born as
Kshatriya, subsequently became a Brahmana by virtue of his ascetic
penances. He it was who, for purposes of his ablutions, created a deep
river that can with difficulty be forded, and which sacred stream is
known by the name of the Kausiki. It was Viswamitra whose wife, in a
season of distress, was maintained by the royal sage Matanga (Trisanku)
who was then living under a father’s curse as a hunter. It was Viswamitra
who, on returning after the famine was over, changed the name of the
stream having his asylum from Kausik into Para. It was Viswamitra who in
return for the services of Matanga, himself became the latter’s priest
for purposes of a sacrifice. The lord of the celestials himself went
through fear to drink the Soma juice. It was Viswamitra who in anger
created a second world and numerous stars beginning with Sravana. He it
was who granted protection to Trisanku smarting under a superior’s curse.
I am frightened to approach him of such deeds. Tell me, O Indra, the
means that should be adopted so that I may not be burnt by his wrath. He
can burn the three worlds by his splendour, can, by a stamp (of his
foot), cause the earth to quake. He can sever the great Meru from the
earth and hurl it to any distance. He can go round the ten points of the
earth in a moment. How can a woman like me even touch such a one full of
ascetic virtues, like unto a blazing fire, and having his passions under
complete control? His mouth is like unto a blazing fire; the pupils of
his eyes are like the Sun and the Moon; his tongue is like unto Yama
himself. How shall, O chief of the celestials, a woman like me even touch
him? At the thought of his prowess Yama, Soma, the great Rishis, the
Saddhyas, the Viswas, Valakhilyas, are terrified! How can a woman like me
gaze at him without alarm? Commanded, however, by thee, O king of the
celestials, I shall somehow approach that Rishi. But, O chief of the
gods, devise thou some plan whereby protected by thee, I may safely move
about that Rishi. I think that when I begin to play before the Rishi,
Marut (the god of wind) had better go there and rob me of my dress, and
Manmatha (the god of love) had also, at thy command, better help me then.
Let also Marut on that occasion bear thither fragrance from the woods to
tempt the Rishi.’ Saying this and seeing that all she had spoken about
had been duly provided, Menaka went to the retreat of the great Kausika.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

Kanwa continued, ‘And Sakra, thus addressed by her, then commanded him
who could approach every place (viz., the god of the wind) to be present
with Menaka at the time she would be before the Rishi. And the timid and
beautiful Menaka then entered the retreat and saw there Viswamitra who
had burnt, by his penances, all his sins, and was engaged still in
ascetic penances. And saluting the Rishi, she then began to sport before
him. And just at that time Marut robbed her of her garments that were
white as the Moon. And she thereupon ran, as if in great bashfulness, to
catch hold of her attire, and as if she was exceedingly annoyed with
Marut. And she did all this before the very eyes of Viswamitra who was
endued with energy like that of fire. And Viswamitra saw her in that
attitude. And beholding her divested of her robes, he saw that she was of
faultless feature. And that best of Munis saw that she was exceedingly
handsome, with no marks of age on her person. And beholding her beauty
and accomplishments that bull amongst Rishis was possessed with lust and
made a sign that he desired her companionship. And he invited her
accordingly, and she also of faultless features expressed her acceptance
of the invitation. And they then passed a long time there in each other’s
company. And sporting with each other, just as they pleased, for a long
time as if it were only a single day, the Rishi begat on Menaka a
daughter named Sakuntala. And Menaka (as her conception advanced) went to
the banks of the river Malini coursing along a valley of the charming
mountains of Himavat. And there she gave birth to that daughter. And she
left the new-born infant on the bank of that river and went away. And
beholding the new-born infant lying in that forest destitute of human
beings but abounding with lions and tigers, a number of vultures sat
around to protect it from harm. No Rakshasas or carnivorous animals took
its life. Those vultures protected the daughter of Menaka. I went there
to perform my ablution and beheld the infant lying in the solitude of the
wilderness surrounded by vultures. Bringing her hither I have made her my
daughter. Indeed, the maker of the body, the protector of life, the giver
of food, are all three, fathers in their order, according to the
scriptures. And because she was surrounded in the solitude of the
wilderness, by Sakuntas (birds), therefore, hath she been named by me
Sakuntala (bird-protected). O Brahman, learn that it is thus that
Sakuntala hath become my daughter. And the faultless Sakuntala also
regards me as her father.’

“This is what my father had said unto the Rishi, having been asked by
him. O king of men, it is thus that thou must know I am the daughter of
Kanwa. And not knowing my real father, I regard Kanwa as my father. Thus
have I told thee, O king, all that hath been heard by me regarding my


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘King Dushmanta, hearing all this, said,
‘Well-spoken, O princess, this that thou hast said! Be my wife, O
beautiful one! What shall I do for thee? Golden garlands, robes,
ear-rings of gold, white and handsome pearls, from various countries,
golden coins, finest carpets, I shall present thee this very day. Let the
whole of my kingdom be thine today, O beautiful one! Come to me, O timid
one, wedding me, O beautiful one, according to the Gandharva form. O thou
of tapering thighs, of all forms of marriage, the Gandharva one is
regarded as the first.’

“Sakuntala, hearing this, said, ‘O king, my father hath gone away from
this asylum to bring fruit. Wait but a moment; he will bestow me on thee.’

“Dushmanta replied, ‘O beautiful and faultless one, I desire that thou
shouldst be my life’s companion. Know thou that I exist for thee, and my
heart is in thee. One is certainly one’s own friend, and one certainly
may depend upon one’s own self. Therefore, according to the ordinance,
thou canst certainly bestow thyself. There are, in all, eight kinds of
marriages. These are Brahma, Daiva, Arsha, Prajapatya, Asura, Gandharva,
Rakshasa, and Paisacha, the eighth. Manu, the son of the self-create,
hath spoken of the appropriateness of all these forms according to their
order. Know, O faultless one, that the first four of these are fit for
Brahmanas, and the first six for Kshatriyas. As regards kings, even the
Rakshasa form is permissible. The Asura form is permitted to Vaisyas and
Sudras. Of the first five the three are proper, the other two being
improper. The Paisacha and the Asura forms should never be practised.
These are the institutes of religion, and one should act according to
them. The Gandharva and the Rakshasa form are consistent with the
practices of Kshatriyas. Thou needst not entertain the least fear. There
is not the least doubt that either according to any one of these
last-mentioned forms, or according to a union of both of them, our
wedding may take place. O thou of the fairest complexion, full of desire
I am, thou also in a similar mood mayst become my wife according to the
Gandharva form.’

“Sakuntala, having listened to all this, answered, ‘If this be the course
sanctioned by religion, if, indeed, I am my own disposer, hear, O thou
foremost one of Puru’s race, what my terms are. Promise truly to give me
what I ask thee. The son that shall be begotten on me shall become thy
heir-apparent. This, O king, is my fixed resolve. O Dushmanta, if thou
grant this, then let our union take place.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The monarch, without taking time to consider at
once told her, ‘Let it be so. I will even take thee, O thou of agreeable
smiles, with me to my capital. I tell thee truly. O beautiful one, thou
deservest all this.’ And so saying, that first of kings wedded the
handsome Sakuntala of graceful gait, and knew her as a husband. And
assuring her duly, he went away, telling her repeatedly, ‘I shall send
thee, for thy escort, my troops of four classes. Indeed, it is even thus
that I shall take thee to my capital, O thou of sweet smiles!”

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘O Janamejaya, having promised so unto her, the
king went away. And as he retraced his way homewards, he began to think
of Kasyapa. And he asked himself, ‘What will the illustrious ascetic say,
after he has known all?’ Thinking of this, he entered his capital.

“The moment the king had left, Kanwa arrived at his abode. But Sakuntala,
from a sense of shame, did not go out to receive her father. That great
ascetic, however, possessed of spiritual knowledge, knew all. Indeed
beholding everything with his spiritual eye, the illustrious one was
pleased, and addressing her, said, ‘Amiable one, what hath been done by
thee today in secret, without, having waited for me--viz., intercourse
with a man--hath not been destructive of thy virtue. Indeed, union
according to the Gandharva form, of a wishful woman with a man of sensual
desire, without mantras of any kind, it is said, is the best for
Kshatriyas. That best of men, Dushmanta, is also high-souled and
virtuous. Thou hast, O Sakuntala, accepted him for thy husband. The son
that shall be born of thee shall be mighty and illustrious in this world.
And he shall have sway over the sea. And the forces of that illustrious
king of kings, while he goeth out against his foes shall be irresistible.’

“Sakuntala then approached her fatigued father and washed his feet. And
taking down the load he had with him and placing the fruits in proper
order, she told him, ‘It behoveth thee to give thy grace to that
Dushmanta whom I have accepted for my husband, as well as his ministers!’

“Kanwa replied, ‘O thou of the fairest complexion, for thy sake I am
inclined to bless him. But receive from me, O blessed one, the boon that
thou desirest.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Sakuntala, thereupon, moved by desire of
benefiting Dushmanta, asked the boon that the Paurava monarchs might ever
be virtuous and never deprived of their thrones.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘After Dushmanta had left the asylum having made
those promises unto Sakuntala, the latter of tapering thighs brought
forth a boy of immeasurable energy. And when the child was three years
old, he became in splendour like the blazing fire. And, O Janamejaya, he
was possessed of beauty and magnanimity and every accomplishment. And
that first of virtuous men, Kanwa, caused all the rites of religion to be
performed in respect of that intelligent child thriving day by day. And
the boy gifted with pearly teeth and shining locks, capable of slaying
lions even then, with all auspicious signs on his palm, and broad
expansive forehead, grew up in beauty and strength. And like unto a
celestial child in splendour, he began to grow up rapidly. And when he
was only six years of age, endued with great strength he used to seize
and bind to the trees that stood around that asylum, lions and tigers and
bears and buffaloes and elephants. And he rode on some animals, and
pursued others in sportive mood. The dwellers at Kanwa’s asylum thereupon
bestowed on him a name. And they said, because he seizes and restrains an
animals however strong, let him, be called Sarvadamana (the subduer of
all). And it was thus that the boy came to be named Sarvadamana, endued
as he was with prowess, and energy and strength. And the Rishi seeing the
boy and marking also his extraordinary acts, told Sakuntala that the time
had come for his installation as the heir-apparent. And beholding the
strength of the boy, Kanwa commanded his disciples, saying, ‘Bear ye
without delay this Sakuntala with her son from this abode to that of her
husband, blessed with every auspicious sign. Women should not live long
in the houses of their paternal or maternal relations. Such residence is
destructive of their reputation, their good conduct, their virtue.
Therefore, delay not in bearing her hence.’ These disciples of the Rishi
thereupon, saying ‘So be it,’ went towards the city named after an
elephant (Hastinapura) with Sakuntala and her son ahead of them. And then
she of fair eye-brows, taking with her that boy of celestial beauty,
endued with eyes like lotus petals, left the woods where she had been
first known by Dushmanta. And having approached the king, she with her
boy resembling in splendour the rising sun was introduced to him. And the
disciples of the Rishi having introduced her, returned to the asylum. And
Sakuntala having worshipped the king according to proper form, told him,
‘This is thy son, O king! Let him be installed as thy heir-apparent. O
king, this child, like unto a celestial, hath been begotten by thee upon
me. Therefore, O best of men, fulfil now the promise thou gavest me. Call
to mind, O thou of great good fortune, the agreement thou hadst made on
the occasion of thy union with me in the asylum of Kanwa.’

“The king, hearing these her words, and remembering everything said, ‘I
do not remember anything. Who art thou, O wicked woman in ascetic guise?
I do not remember having any connection with thee in respect of Dharma,
Kama and Arthas. Go or stay or do as thou pleasest.’ Thus addressed by
him, the fair-coloured innocent one became abashed. Grief deprived her of
consciousness and she stood for a time like an wooden post. Soon,
however, her eyes became red like copper and her lips began to quiver.
And the glances she now and then cast upon the king seemed to burn the
latter. Her rising wrath however, and the fire of her asceticism, she
extinguished within herself by an extraordinary effort. Collecting her
thoughts in a moment, her heart possessed with sorrow and rage, she thus
addressed her lord in anger, looking at him, ‘Knowing everything, O
monarch, how canst thou, like an inferior person, thus say that thou
knowest it not? Thy heart is a witness to the truth or falsehood of this
matter. Therefore, speak truly without degrading thyself. He who being
one thing representeth himself as another thing to others, is like a
thief and a robber of his own self. Of what sin is he not capable? Thou
thinkest that thou alone hast knowledge of thy deed. But knowest thou not
that the Ancient, Omniscient one (Narayana) liveth in thy heart? He
knoweth all thy sins, and thou sinnest in His presence. He that sins
thinks that none observes him. But he is observed by the gods and by Him
also who is in every heart. The Sun, the Moon, the Air, the Fire, the
Earth, the Sky, Water, the heart, Yama, the day, the night, both
twilights, and Dharma, all witness the acts of man. Yama, the son of
Surya, takes no account of the sins of him with whom Narayana the witness
of all acts, is gratified. But he with whom Narayana is not gratified is
tortured for his sins by Yama. Him who degradeth himself by representing
his self falsely, the gods never bless. Even his own soul blesseth him
not. I am a wife devoted to my husband. I have come of my own accord, it
is true. But do not, on that account, treat me with disrespect. I am thy
wife and, therefore, deserve to be treated respectfully. Wilt thou not
treat me so, because I have come hither of my own accord? In the presence
of so many, why dost thou treat me like an ordinary woman? I am not
certainly crying in the wilderness. Dost thou not hear me? But if thou
refuse to do what I supplicate thee for, O Dushmanta, thy head this
moment shall burst into a hundred pieces! The husband entering the womb
of the wife cometh out himself in the form of the son. Therefore is the
wife called by those cognisant of the Vedas as Jaya (she of whom one is
born). And the son that is so born unto persons cognisant of the Vedic
Mantras rescueth the spirits of deceased ancestors. And because the son
rescueth ancestors from the hell call Put, therefore, hath he been called
by the Self-create himself as Puttra (the rescuer from Put). By a son one
conquereth the three worlds. By a son’s son, one enjoyeth eternity. And
by a grandson’s son great-grand-fathers enjoy everlasting happiness. She
is a true wife who is skilful in household affairs. She is a true wife
who hath borne a son. She is a true wife whose heart is devoted to her
lord. She is a true wife who knoweth none but her lord. The wife is a
man’s half. The wife is the first of friends. The wife is the root of
religion, profit, and desire. The wife is the root of salvation. They
that have wives can perform religious acts. They that have wives can lead
domestic lives. They that have wives have the means to be cheerful. They
that have wives can achieve good fortune. Sweet-speeched wives are
friends on occasions of joy. They are as fathers on occasions of
religious acts. They are mothers in sickness and woe. Even in the deep
woods to a traveller a wife is his refreshment and solace. He that hath a
wife is trusted by all. A wife, therefore, is one’s most valuable
possession. Even when the husband leaving this world goeth into the
region of Yama, it is the devoted wife that accompanies him thither. A
wife going before waits for the husband. But if the husband goeth before,
the chaste wife followeth close. For these reasons, O king, doth marriage
exist. The husband enjoyth the companionship of the wife both in this and
in the other worlds. It hath been said by learned persons that one is
himself born as one’s son. Therefore, a man whose wife hath borne a son
should look upon her as his mother. Beholding the face of the son one
hath begotten upon his wife, like his own face in a mirror, one feeleth
as happy as a virtuous man, on attaining to heaven. Men scorched by
mental grief, or suffering under bodily pain, feel as much refreshed in
the companionship of their wives as a perspiring person in a cool bath.
No man, even in anger, should ever do anything that is disagreeable to
his wife, seeing that happiness, joy, and virtue,--everything dependeth
on the wife. A wife is the sacred field in which the husband is born
himself. Even Rishis cannot create creatures without women. What
happiness is greater than what the father feeleth when the son running
towards him, even though his body be covered with dust, claspeth his
limbs? Why then dost thou treat with indifference such a son, who hath
approached thee himself and who casteth wistful glances towards thee for
climbing thy knees? Even ants support their own eggs without destroying
them; then why shouldst not thou, a virtuous man that thou art, support
thy own child? The touch of soft sandal paste, of women, of (cool) water
is not so agreeable as the touch of one’s own infant son locked in one’s
embrace. As a Brahmana is the foremost of all bipeds, a cow, the foremost
of all quadrupeds, a protector, the foremost of all superiors, so is the
son the foremost of all objects, agreeable to the touch. Let, therefore,
this handsome child touch thee in embrace. There is nothing in the world
more agreeable to the touch than the embrace of one’s son. O chastiser of
foes, I have brought forth this child, O monarch, capable of dispelling
all thy sorrows after bearing him in my womb for full three years. O
monarch of Puru’s race, ‘He shall perform a hundred
horse-sacrifices’--these were the words uttered from the sky when I was
in the lying-in room. Indeed, men going into places remote from their
homes take up there others’ children on their laps and smelling their
heads feel great happiness. Thou knowest that Brahmanas repeat these
Vedic mantras on the occasion of the consecrating rites of infancy.--Thou
art born, O son, of my body! Thou art sprung from my heart. Thou art
myself in the form of a son. Live thou to a hundred years! My life
dependeth on thee, and the continuation of my race also, on thee.
Therefore, O son, live thou in great happiness to a hundred years. He
hath sprung from thy body, this second being from thee! Behold thyself in
thy son, as thou beholdest thy image in the clear lake. As the
sacrificial fire is kindled from the domestic one, so hath this one
sprung from thee. Though one, thou hast divided thyself. In course of
hunting while engaged in pursuit of the deer, I was approached by thee, O
king, I who was then a virgin in the asylum of my father. Urvasi,
Purvachitti, Sahajanya, Menaka, Viswachi and Ghritachi, these are the six
foremost of Apsaras. Amongst them again, Menaka, born of Brahman, is the
first. Descending from heaven on Earth, after intercourse with
Viswamitra, she gave birth to me. That celebrated Apsara, Menaka, brought
me forth in a valley of Himavat. Bereft of all affection, she went away,
cast me there as if I were the child of somebody else. What sinful act
did I do, of old, in some other life that I was in infancy cast away by
my parents and at present am cast away by thee! Put away by thee, I am
ready to return to the refuge of my father. But it behoveth thee not to
cast off this child who is thy own.’

“Hearing all this, Dushmanta said, ‘O Sakuntala, I do not know having
begot upon thee this son. Women generally speak untruths. Who shall
believe in thy words? Destitute of all affection, the lewd Menaka is thy
mother, and she cast thee off on the surface of the Himavat as one throws
away, after the worship is over, the flowery offering made to his gods.
Thy father too of the Kshatriya race, the lustful Viswamitra, who was
tempted to become a Brahmana, is destitute of all affection. However,
Menaka is the first of Apsaras, and thy father also is the first of
Rishis. Being their daughter, why dost thou speak like a lewd woman? Thy
words deserve no credit. Art thou not ashamed to speak them, especially
before me? Go hence, O wicked woman in ascetic guise. Where is that
foremost of great Rishis, where also is that Apsara Menaka? And why art
thou, low as thou art, in the guise of an ascetic? Thy child too is grown
up. Thou sayest he is a boy, but he is very strong. How hath he soon
grown like a Sala sprout? Thy birth is low. Thou speakest like a lewd
woman. Lustfully hast thou been begotten by Menaka. O woman of ascetic
guise, all that thou sayest is quite unknown to me. I don’t know thee. Go
withersoever thou choosest.’

“Sakuntala replied, ‘Thou seest, O king, the fault of others, even though
they be as small as a mustard seed. But seeing, thou noticest not thy own
faults even though they be as large as the Vilwa fruit. Menaka is one of
the celestials. Indeed, Menaka is reckoned as the first of celestials. My
birth, therefore, O Dushmanta, is far higher than thine. Thou walkest
upon the Earth, O king, but I roam in the skies! Behold, the difference
between ourselves is as that between (the mountain) Meru and a mustard
seed! Behold my power, O king! I can repair to the abodes of Indra,
Kuvera, Yama, and Varuna! The saying is true which I shall refer to
before thee, O sinless one! I refer to it for example’s sake and not from
evil motives. Therefore, it behoveth thee to pardon me after thou hast
heard it. An ugly person considereth himself handsomer than others until
he sees his own face in the mirror. But when he sees his own ugly face in
the mirror, it is then that he perceiveth the difference between himself
and others. He that is really handsome never taunts anybody. And he that
always talketh evil becometh a reviler. And as the swine always look for
dirt and filth even when in the midst of a flower-garden, so the wicked
always choose the evil out of both evil and good that others speak.
Those, however, that are wise, on hearing the speeches of others that are
intermixed with both good and evil, accept only what is good, like geese
that always extract the milk only, though it be mixed with water. As the
honest are always pained at speaking ill of others, so do the wicked
always rejoice in doing the same thing. As the honest always feel
pleasure in showing regard for the old, so do the wicked always take
delight in aspersing the good. The honest are happy in not seeking for
faults. The wicked are happy in seeking for them. The wicked ever speak
ill of the honest. But the latter never injure the former, even if
injured by them. What can be more ridiculous in the world than that those
that are themselves wicked should represent the really honest as wicked?
When even atheists are annoyed with those that have fallen off from truth
and virtue and who are really like angry snakes of virulent poison, what
shall I say of myself who am nurtured in faith? He that having begotten a
son who is his own image, regardeth him not, never attaineth to the
worlds he coveteth, and verily the gods destroy his good fortune and
possessions. The Pitris have said that the son continueth the race and
the line and is, therefore, the best of all religious acts. Therefore,
none should abandon a son. Manu hath said that there are five kinds of
sons; those begotten by one’s self upon his own wife, those obtained (as
gift) from others, those purchased for a consideration, those reared with
affection and those begotten upon other women than upon wedded wives.
Sons support the religion and achievements of men, enhance their joys,
and rescue deceased ancestors from hell. It behoveth thee not, therefore,
O tiger among kings, to abandon a son who is such. Therefore, O lord of
Earth, cherish thy own self, truth, and virtue by cherishing thy son. O
lion among monarchs, it behoveth thee not to support this deceitfulness.
The dedication of a tank is more meritorious than that of a hundred
wells. A sacrifice again is more meritorious than the dedication of a
tank. A son is more meritorious than a sacrifice. Truth is more
meritorious than a hundred sons. A hundred horse-sacrifices had once been
weighed against Truth, and Truth was found heavier than a hundred
horse-sacrifices. O king, Truth, I ween, may be equal to the study of,
the entire Vedas and ablutions in all holy places. There is no virtue
equal to Truth: there is nothing superior to Truth. O king, Truth is God
himself; Truth is the highest vow. Therefore, violate not thy pledge, O
monarch! Let Truth and thee be even united. If thou placest no credit in
my words, I shall of my own accord go hence. Indeed, thy companionship
should be avoided. But thou, O Dushmanta, that when thou art gone, this
son of mine shall rule the whole Earth surrounded by the four seas and
adorned with the king of the mountains.”

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Sakuntala having spoken to the monarch in this
wise, left his presence. But as soon as she had left, a voice from the
skies, emanating from no visible shape, thus spoke unto Dushmanta as he
was sitting surrounded by his occasional and household priests, his
preceptors, and ministers. And the voice said, ‘The mother is but the
sheath of flesh; the son sprung from the father is the father himself.
Therefore, O Dushmanta, cherish thy son, and insult not Sakuntala. O best
of men, the son, who is but a form of one’s own seed, rescueth
(ancestors) from the region of Yama. Thou art the progenitor of this boy.
Sakuntala hath spoken the truth. The husband, dividing his body in twain,
is born of his wife in the form of son. Therefore, O Dushmanta, cherish,
O monarch, thy son born of Sakuntala. To live by forsaking one’s living
son is a great, misfortune. Therefore, O thou of Puru’s race, cherish thy
high-souled son born of Sakuntala--And because this child is to be
cherished by thee even at our word, therefore shall this thy son be known
by the name of Bharata (the cherished).’ Hearing these words uttered by
the dwellers in heaven, the monarch of Puru’s race became overjoyed and
spoke as follows unto his priests and ministers, ‘Hear ye these words
uttered by the celestial messenger? I myself know this one to be my son.
If I had taken him as my son on the strength of Sakuntala’s words alone,
my people would have been suspicious and my son also would not have been
regarded as pure.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The monarch, then, O thou of Bharata’s race,
seeing the purity of his son established by the celestial messenger,
became exceedingly glad. And he took unto him that son with joy. And the
king with a joyous heart then performed all those rites upon his son that
a father should perform. And the king smelt his child’s head and hugged
him with affection. And the Brahmanas began to utter blessings upon him
and the bards began to applaud him. And the monarch then experienced the
great delight that one feeleth at the touch of one’s son. And Dushmanta
also received mat wife of his with affection. And he told her these
words, pacifying her affectionately, ‘O goddess, my union with the? took
place privately Therefore, I was thinking of how best to establish thy
purity. My people might think that we were only lustfully united and not
as husband and wife, and therefore, this son that I would have installed
as my heir apparent would only have been regarded as one of impure birth.
And dearest, every hard word thou hast uttered in thy anger, have I, O
large-eyed one, forgiven thee. Thou art my dearest!’ And the royal sage
Dushmanta, having spoken thus unto his dear wife, O Bharata, received her
with offerings of perfume, food, and drink. And king Dushmanta, then,
bestowed the name of Bharata upon his child, and formally installed him
as the heir apparent. And the famous and bright wheels of Bharata’s car,
invincible and like unto the wheels of the cars owned by the gods,
traversed every region, filling the whole Earth with their rattle. And
the son of Dushmanta reduced to subjection all kings of the Earth. And he
ruled virtuously and earned great fame. And that monarch of great prowess
was known by the titles of Chakravarti and Sarvabhauma. And he performed
many sacrifices like Sakra, the lord of the Maruts. And Kanwa was the
chief priest at those sacrifices, in which the offerings to Brahmanas
were great. And the blessed monarch performed both the cow and the
horse-sacrifices. And Bharata gave unto Kanwa a thousand gold coins as
the sacerdotal fee. It is that Bharata from whom have emanated so many
mighty achievements. It is from him that the great race called after him
in his race are called after him. And in the Bharata race there have been
born many godlike monarchs gifted with great energy, and like unto
Brahman himself. Their number cannot be counted. But, O thou of Bharata’s
race, I shall name the principal ones that were blessed with great good
fortune, like unto the gods, and devoted to truth and honesty.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Hear now, as I recite the recorded genealogy, that
is sacred and subservient to religion, profit and pleasure, of these
royal sages--Daksha, the lord of creation, Manu, the son of Surya,
Bharata, Ruru, Puru, and Ajamidha. I shall also recite to thee, O sinless
one, the genealogies of the Yadavas and of the Kurus and of the king of
the Bharata line. These genealogies are sacred and their recitation is a
great act of propitiation. That recitation conferreth wealth, fame and
long life. And, O sinless one, all these I have named shone in their
splendour and were equal unto the great Rishis in energy.

“Prachetas had ten sons who were all devoted to asceticism and possessed
of every virtue. They burnt, of old, by the fire emanating from their
mouths, several plants of poisonous and innumerable large trees that had
covered the Earth and became a source of great discomfort to man. After
these ten, was born another named Daksha. It is from Daksha that all
creatures have sprung. Therefore is he, O tiger among men, called the
Grandfather. Born of Prachetas the Muni Daksha, uniting himself with
Virini, begat a thousand sons of rigid vows, all like himself. And Narada
taught these thousand sons of Daksha the excellent philosophy of Sankhya
as a means of salvation. And, O Janamejaya, the lord of creation, Daksha,
then, from the desire of making creatures, begat fifty daughters. And he
made all of them his appointed daughters (so that their sons might be his
sons also for the performance of all religious acts). And he bestowed ten
of his daughters on Dharma, and thirteen on Kasyapa. And he gave
twenty-seven to Chandra, who are all engaged in indicating time. And
Kasyapa, the son of Marichi, begat on the eldest of his thirteen wives,
the Adityas, the celestials endued with great energy and having Indra as
their head and also Vivaswat (the Sun). And of Vivaswat was born the lord
Yama. And Martanda (Vivaswat) also begat another son after Yama, gifted
with great intelligence and named Manu. And Manu was endued with great
wisdom and devoted to virtue. And he became the progenitor of a line. And
in Manu’s race have been born all human beings, who have, therefore, been
called Manavas. And it is of Manu that all men including Brahmanas,
Kshatriyas, and others have been descended, and are, therefore, all
called Manavas. Subsequently, O monarch, the Brahmanas became united with
the Kshatriyas. And those sons of Manu that were Brahmanas devoted
themselves to the study of the Vedas. And Manu begat ten other children
named Vena, Dhrishnu, Narishyan, Nabhaga, Ikshvaku, Karusha, Saryati, the
eighth, a daughter named Ila, Prishadhru the ninth, and Nabhagarishta,
the tenth. They all betook themselves to the practices of Kshatriyas.
Besides these, Manu had fifty other sons on Earth. But we heard that they
all perished, quarrelling with one another. The learned Pururavas was
born of Ila. It hath been heard by us that Ila was both his mother and
father. And the great Pururavas had sway over thirteen islands of the
sea. And, though a human being, he was always surrounded by companions
that were superhuman. And Pururavas intoxicated with power quarrelled
with the Brahmanas and little caring for their anger robbed them of their
wealth. Beholding all this Sanatkumara came from the region of Brahman
and gave him good counsel, which was, however, rejected by Pururavas.
Then the wrath of the great Rishis was excited, and the avaricious
monarch, who intoxicated with power, had lost his reason, was immediately
destroyed by their curse.

“It was Pururavas who first brought from the region of the Gandharvas the
three kinds of fire (for sacrificial purpose). And he brought thence, the
Apsara Urvasi also. And the son of Ila begat upon Urvasi six sons who
were called Ayus, Dhimat, Amavasu and Dhridhayus, and Vanayus, and
Satayus. And it is said that Ayus begat four sons named Nahusha,
Vriddhasarman, Rajingaya, and Anenas, on the daughter of Swarbhanu. And,
O monarch, Nahusha, of all the sons of Ayus, being gifted with great
intelligence and prowess ruled his extensive kingdom virtuously. And king
Nahusha supported evenly the Pitris, the celestials, the Rishis, the
Brahmanas, the Gandharvas, the Nagas, the Rakshasas, the Kshatriyas, and
the Vaisyas. And he suppressed all robber-gangs with a mighty hand. But
he made the Rishis pay tribute and carry him on their backs like bests of
burden. And, conquering the very gods by the beauty of his person, his
asceticism, prowess, and energy, he ruled as if he were Indra himself.
And Nahusha begat six sons, all of sweet speech, named Yati, Yayati,
Sanyati, Ayati, and Dhruva. Yati betaking himself to asceticism became a
Muni like unto Brahman himself. Yayati became a monarch of great prowess
and virtue. He ruled the whole Earth, performed numerous sacrifices,
worshipped the Pitris with great reverence, and always respected the
gods. And he brought the whole world under his sway and was never
vanquished by any foe. And the sons of Yayati were all great bowmen and
resplendent with every virtue. And, O king, they were begotten upon (his
two wives) Devayani and Sarmishtha. And of Devayani were born Yadu and
Turvasu, and of Sarmishtha were born Drahyu, Anu, and Puru. And, O king,
having virtuously ruled his subjects for a long time, Yayati was attacked
with a hideous decrepitude destroying his personal beauty. And attacked
by decrepitude, the monarch then spoke, O Bharata, unto his sons Yadu and
Puru and Turvasu and Drahyu and Anu these words, ‘Ye dear sons, I wish to
be a young man and to gratify my appetites in the company of young women.
Do you help me therein.’ To him his eldest son born of Devayani then
said, ‘What needest thou, O king? Dost thou want to have your youth?’
Yayati then told him, ‘Accept thou my decrepitude, O son! With thy youth
I would enjoy myself. During the time of a great sacrifice I have been
cursed by the Muni Usanas (Sukra). O son, I would enjoy myself with your
youth. Take any of you this my decrepitude and with my body rule ye my
kingdom. I would enjoy myself with a renovated body. Therefore, ye my
sons, take ye my decrepitude.’ But none of his sons accepted his
decrepitude. Then his youngest son Puru said unto him, ‘O king, enjoy
thyself thou once again with a renovated body and returned youth! I shall
take thy decrepitude and at thy command rule thy kingdom.’ Thus
addressed, the royal sage, by virtue of his ascetic power then
transferred his own decrepitude unto that high-souled son of his and with
the youth of Puru became a youth; while with the monarch’s age Puru ruled
his kingdom.

“Then, after a thousand years had passed away, Yayati, that tiger among
kings, remained as strong and powerful as a tiger. And he enjoyed for a
long time the companionship of his two wives. And in the gardens of
Chitraratha (the king of Gandharvas), the king also enjoyed the company
of the Apsara Viswachi. But even after all this, the great king found his
appetites unsatiated. The king, then recollected the following truths
contained in the Puranas, ‘Truly, one’s appetites are never satiated by
enjoyment. On the other hand, like sacrificial butter poured into the
fire, they flame up with indulgence. Even if one enjoyed the whole Earth
with its wealth, diamonds and gold, animals and women, one may not yet be
satiated. It is only when man doth not commit any sin in respect of any
living thing, in thought, deed, or speech, it is then that he attaineth
to purity as that of Brahman. When one feareth nothing, when one is not
feared by anything, when one wisheth for nothing, when one injureth
nothing, it is then that one attaineth to the purity of Brahman.’ The
wise monarch seeing this and satisfied that one’s appetites are never
satiated, set his mind at rest by meditation, and took back from his son
his own decrepitude. And giving him back his youth, though his own
appetites were unsatiated, and installing him on the throne, he spoke
unto Puru thus, ‘Thou art my true heir, thou art my true son by whom my
race is to be continued. In the world shall my race be known by thy name.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then that tiger among kings, having installed
his son Puru on the throne, went away to the mount of Bhrigu for devoting
himself to asceticism. And, having acquired great ascetic merit, after
long years, he succumbed to the inevitable influence of Time. He left his
human body by observing the vow of fasting, and ascended to heaven with
his wives.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Janamejaya said, ‘O thou of the wealth of asceticism, tell me how our
ancestor Yayati, who is the tenth from Prajapati, obtained for a wife the
unobtainable daughter of Sukra. I desire to hear of it in detail. Tell me
also, one after another, of those monarchs separately who were the
founders of dynasties.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘The monarch Yayati was in splendour like unto Indra
himself. I will tell thee, in reply to thy question, O Janamejaya, how
both Sukra and Vrishaparvan bestowed upon him, with due rites, their
daughters, and how his union took place with Devayani in special.

“Between the celestials and the Asuras, there happened, of yore, frequent
encounters for the sovereignty of the three worlds with everything in
them. The gods, then, from desire of victory, installed the son of
Angiras (Vrihaspati) as their priest to conduct their sacrifices; while
their opponents installed the learned Usanas as their priest for the same
purpose. And between those two Brahmanas there are always much boastful
rivalry. Those Danavas assembled for encounter that were slain by the
gods were all revived by the seer Sukra by the power of his knowledge.
And then starting again, into life,--these fought with the gods. The
Asuras also slew on the field of battle many of the celestials. But the
open-minded Vrihaspati could not revive them, because he knew not the
science called Sanjivani (re-vivification) which Kavya endued with great
energy knew so well. And the gods were, therefore, in great sorrow. And
the gods, in great anxiety of heart and entertaining a fear of the
learned Usanas, then went to Kacha, the eldest son of Vrihaspati, and
spoke unto him, saying, ‘We pay court to thee, be kind to us and do us a
service that we regard as very great. That knowledge which resides in
Sukra, that Brahmana of immeasurable prowess, make thy own as soon as
thou canst. Thou shalt find the Brahmana in the court of Vrishaparvan. He
always protects the Danavas but never us, their opponents. Thou art his
junior in age, and, therefore, capable of adoring him with reverence.
Thou canst also adore Devayani, the favourite daughter of that
high-souled Brahmana. Indeed, thou alone art capable of propitiating them
both by worship. There is none else that can do so. By gratifying
Devayani with thy conduct, liberality, sweetness, and general behaviour,
thou canst certainly obtain that knowledge.’ The son of Vrihaspati, thus
solicited by the gods, said ‘So be it, and went to where Vrishaparvan
was. Kacha, thus sent by the gods, soon went to the capital of the chief
of the Asuras, and beheld Sukra there. And beholding him, he thus spoke
unto him, ‘Accept me as thy disciple. I am the grandson of the Rishi
Angiras and son of Vrihaspati. By name I am known as Kacha. Thyself
becoming my preceptor, I shall practise the Brahmacharya mode of life for
a thousand years. Command me, then, O Brahmana!’

“Sukra (hearing this) said, ‘Welcome art thou, O Kacha! I accept thy
speech. I will treat thee with regard; for by so doing, it is Vrihaspati
who will be regarded.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Kacha commanded by Kavya or Usanas himself,
called also Sukra, then said, ‘So be it,’ and took the vow he had spoken
of. And, O Bharata, accepting the vow of which he had spoken, at the
proper time, Kacha began to conciliate regardfully both his preceptor and
(his daughter) Devayani. Indeed, he began to conciliate both. And as he
was young, by singing and dancing and playing on different kinds of
instruments, he soon gratified Devayani who was herself in her youth.
And, O Bharata, with his whole heart set upon it, he soon gratified the
maiden Devayani who was then a young lady, by presents of flowers and
fruits and services rendered with alacrity. And Devayani also with her
songs and sweetness of manners used, while they were alone, to attend
upon that youth carrying out his vow. And when five hundred years had
thus passed of Kacha’s vow, the Danavas came to learn his intention. And
having no compunctions about slaying a Brahmana, they became very angry
with him. And one day they saw Kacha in a solitary part of the woods
engaged in tending (his preceptor’s) kine. They then slew Kacha from
their hatred of Vrihaspati and also from their desire of protecting the
knowledge of reviving the dead from being conveyed by him. And having
slain him, they hacked his body into pieces and gave them to be devoured
by jackals and wolves. And (when twilight came) the kine returned to the
fold without him who tended them. And Devayani, seeing the kine returned
from the woods without Kacha, spoke, O Bharata, unto her father thus:

‘Thy evening-fire hath been kindled. The Sun also hath set, O father! The
kine have returned without him who tendeth them. Kacha is, indeed, not to
be seen. It is plain that Kacha hath been lost, or is dead. Truly do I
say, O father, that without him I will not live.’

“Sukra hearing this said, I will revive him by saying, ‘Let this one
come.’ Then having recourse to the science of reviving the dead, Sukra
summoned Kacha. And summoned by his preceptor, Kacha appeared before him
in the gladness of heart tearing by virtue of his preceptor’s science the
bodies of the wolves (that had devoured him). And asked about the cause
of his delay, he thus spoke unto Bhargava’s daughter. Indeed, asked by
that Brahman’s daughter, he told her, ‘I was dead. O thou of pure
manners, burdened with sacrificial fuel, Kusa grass, and logs of wood, I
was coming towards our abode. I sat under a banian tree. The kine also,
having been brought together, were staying under the shade of that same
banian tree. The Asuras, beholding me, asked ‘Who art thou?’ They heard
me answer, ‘I am the son of Vrihaspati.’ As soon as I said this, the
Danavas slew me, and hacking my body into pieces gave my remains to
jackals and wolves. And they then went home in the gladness of heart. O
amiable one, summoned by the high-souled Bhargava, I after all come
before thee fully revived.’

“On another occasion, asked by Devayani, the Brahmana Kacha went into the
woods. And as he was roving about for gathering flowers, the Danavas
beheld him. They again slew him, and pounding him into a paste they mixed
it with the water of the ocean. Finding him long still (in coming), the
maiden again represented the matter unto her father. And summoned again
by the Brahmana with the aid of his science, Kacha appearing before his
preceptor and his daughter told everything as it had happened. Then
slaying him for the third time and burning him and reducing him to ashes,
the Asuras gave those ashes to the preceptor himself, mixing them with
his wine. And Devayani again spoke unto her father, saying, ‘O father,
Kacha was sent to gather flowers. But he is not to be seen. It is plain
he hath been lost, or has died. I tell thee truly, I would not live
without him.’

“Sukra hearing this said, ‘O daughter, the son of Vrihaspati hath gone to
the region of the dead. Though revived by my science, he is thus slain
frequently. What, indeed, am I to do? O Devayani, do not grieve, do not
cry. One like thee should not grieve for one that is mortal. Thou art
indeed, O daughter, in consequence of my prowess, worshipped thrice a day
during the ordained hours of prayer, by Brahmanas, the gods with Indra,
the Vasus, the Aswins, the Asuras, in fact, by the whole universe. It is
impossible to keep him alive, for revived by me he is often killed.’ To
all this Devayani replied, ‘Why shall I, O father, not grieve for him
whose grandfather is old Angiras himself, whose father is Vrihaspati who
is an ocean of ascetic merit, who is the grandson of a Rishi and the son
also of a Rishi? He himself too was a Brahmacharin and an ascetic; always
wakeful and skilled in everything. I will starve and follow the way Kacha
has gone. The handsome Kacha is, O father, dear unto me.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The great Rishi Kavya, then, afflicted by what
Devayani said, cried in anger, ‘Certainly, the Asuras seek to injure me,
for they slay my disciple that stayeth with me. These followers of Rudra
desire to divest me of my character as a Brahmana by making me
participate in their crime. Truly, this crime hath a terrible end. The
crime of slaying a Brahmana would even burn Indra himself.’ Having said
this, the Brahmana Sukra, urged by Devayani, began to summon Kacha who
had entered the jaws of Death. But Kacha, summoned with the aid of
science, and afraid of the consequence to his preceptor, feebly replied
from within the stomach of his preceptor, saying, ‘Be graceful unto me, O
lord! I am Kacha that worshippeth thee. Behave unto me as to thy own
dearly-loved son.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Sukra then said, ‘By what path, O Brahmana,
hast thou entered my stomach, where thou stayest now? Leaving the Asuras
this very moment, I shall go over to the gods.” Kacha replied, ‘By thy
grace, memory hath not failed me. Indeed, I do recollect everything as it
hath happened. My ascetic virtues have not been destroyed. It is,
therefore, that I am able to bear this almost insufferable pain. O Kavya,
slain by the Asuras and burnt and reduced to powder, I have been given to
thee with thy wine. When thou art present, O Brahmana, the art of the
Asuras will never be able to vanquish, the science of the Brahmana.’

“Hearing this, Sukra said, ‘O daughter, what good can I do to thee? It is
with my death that Kacha can get his life back. O Devayani, Kacha is even
within me. There is no other way of his coming out except by ripping open
my stomach.’ Devayani replied, ‘Both evils shall, like fire, burn me! The
death of Kacha and thy own death are to me the same! The death of Kacha
would deprive me of life. If thou also diest, I shall not be able to bear
my life.’ Then Sukra said, ‘O son of Vrihaspati, thou art, indeed, one
already crowned with success, because Devayani regards thee so well.
Accept the science that I will today impart to thee, if, indeed, thou be
not Indra in the form of Kacha. None can come out of my stomach with
life. A Brahmana, however, must not be slain, therefore, accept thou the
science I impart to thee. Start thou into life as my son. And possessed
of the knowledge received from me, and revived by me, take care that, on
coming out of my body, thou dost act gracefully.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Receiving the science imparted to him by his
preceptor the handsome Kacha, ripped open his stomach, came out like the
moon at evening on the fifteenth day of the bright fort-night. And
beholding the remains of his preceptor lying like a heap of penances,
Kacha revived him, aided by the science he had learned. Worshipping him
with regard, Kacha said unto his preceptor, ‘Him who poureth the nectar
of knowledge into one’s ears, even as thou hast done into those of myself
who was void of knowledge, him do I regard both as my father and mother.
And remembering the immense service done by him, who is there so
ungrateful as to injure him? They that, having acquired knowledge, injure
their preceptor who is always an object of worship, who is the giver of
knowledge, who is the most precious of all precious objects on Earth,
come to be hated on Earth and finally go to the regions of the sinful.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The learned Sukra, having been deceived while
under the influence of wine, and remembering the total loss of
consciousness that is one of the terrible consequences of drink, and
beholding too before him the handsome Kacha whom he had, in a state of
unconsciousness, drunk with his wine, then thought of effecting a reform
in the manners of Brahmanas. The high-souled Usanas rising up from the
ground in anger, then spoke as follows: “The wretched Brahmana who from
this day, unable to resist the temptation, will drink wine shall be
regarded as having lost his virtue, shall be reckoned to have committed
the sin of slaying a Brahmana, shall be hated both in this and the other
worlds. I set this limit to the conduct and dignity of Brahmanas
everywhere. Let the honest, let Brahmanas, let those with regard for
their superiors, let the gods, let the three worlds, listen!’ Having said
these words that high-souled one, that ascetic of ascetics, then
summoning the Danavas who had been deprived by fate of the good sense,
told them these words, Ye foolish Danavas, know ye that Kacha hath
obtained his wishes. He will henceforth dwell with me. Having obtained
the valuable knowledge of reviving the dead, that Brahmana hath, indeed,
become in prowess even as Brahman himself!’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Bhargava having said so much cut short his
speech. The Danavas were surprised and went away to their homes. Kacha,
too, having stayed with his preceptor for a full thousand years, then
prepared to return to the abode of the celestials, after having obtained
his preceptor’s permission.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘After the expiry of the period of his vow, Kacha,
having obtained his preceptor’s leave, was about to return to the abode
of the celestials, when Devayani, addressing him, said, ‘O grandson of
the Rishi Angiras, in conduct and birth, in learning, asceticism and
humility, thou shinest most brightly. As the celebrated Rishi Angiras is
honoured and regarded by my father, so is thy father regarded and
worshipped by me. O thou of ascetic wealth, knowing this, listen to what
I say. Recollect my conduct towards thee during the period of thy vow
(Brahmacharya). Thy vow hath now been over. It behoveth thee to fix thy
affections on me. O accept my hand duly with ordained mantras.’

“Kacha replied, ‘Thou art to me an object of regard and worship even as
thy father! O thou of faultless features, thou art, indeed, even an
object of greater reverence! Thou art dearer than life to the high-souled
Bhargava, O amiable one! As the daughter of my preceptor, thou art ever
worthy of my worship! As my preceptor Sukra, thy father, is ever
deserving of my regards, so art thou, O Devayani! Therefore, it behoveth
thee not to say so.’ Hearing this, Devayani replied, ‘Thou, too, art the
son of my father’s preceptor’s son. Therefore, O best of Brahmanas, thou
art deserving of my regards and worship. O Kacha, when thou wert slain so
many times by the Asuras, recollect today the affection I showed for
thee. Remembering my friendship and affection for thee, and, indeed, my
devoted regard also, O virtuous one, it behoveth thee not to abandon me
without any fault. I am truly devoted to thee.’

“Hearing all this, Kacha said, ‘O thou of virtuous vows, do not urge me
into such a sinful course. O thou of fair eye-brows, be gracious unto me.
Beautiful one, thou art to me an object of greater regard than my
preceptor. Full of virtuous resolves, O large-eyed one, of face as
handsome, as moon, the place where thou hadst resided, viz., the body of
Kavya, hath also been my abode. Thou art truly my sister. Amiable one,
happily have we passed the days that we have been together. There is
perfect good understanding between us. I ask thy leave to return to my
abode. Therefore, bless me so that my journey may be safe. I must be
remembered by thee, when thou recallest me in connection with topics of
conversation, as one that hath not transgressed virtue. Always attend
upon my preceptor with readiness and singleness of heart.’ To all this,
Devaniya answered, ‘Solicited, by me, if, indeed, thou truly refusest to
make me thy wife, then, O Kacha, this thy knowledge shall not bear fruit.’

“Hearing this, Kacha said, ‘I have refused thy request only because thou
art the daughter of my preceptor, and not because thou hast any fault.
Nor hath my preceptor in this respect issued any command. Curse me if it
please thee. I have told thee what the behaviour should be of a Rishi. I
do not deserve thy curse, O Devayani. But yet thou hast cursed me! Thou
hast acted under the influence of passion and not from a sense of duty.
Therefore, thy desire will not be fulfilled. No Rishi’s son shall ever
accept thy hand in marriage. Thou hast said that my knowledge shall not
bear fruit. Let it be so. But in respect of him it shall bear fruit to
whom I may impart it.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘That first of Brahmanas, Kacha, having said so
unto Devayani speedily wended his way unto the abode of the chief of the
celestials. Beholding him arrived, the celestials with Indra ahead,
having first worshipped him, spoke unto him as follows, ‘Thou hast
indeed, performed an act of great benefit for us. Wonderful hath been thy
achievement! Thy fame shall never die! Thou shall be a sharer with us in
sacrificial offerings.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘The dwellers in heaven became exceedingly glad in
welcoming Kacha who had mastered the wonderful science. And, O bull of
Bharata’s race, the celestials then learnt that science from Kacha and
considered their object already achieved. And assembling together, they
spoke unto him of a hundred sacrifices, saying, ‘The time hath come for
showing prowess. Slay thy foes, O Purandara!’ And thus addressed,
Maghavat, then accompanied by the celestials, set out, saying, ‘So be
it.’ But on his way he saw a number of damsels. These maidens were
sporting in a lake in the gardens of the Gandharva Chitraratha. Changing
himself into wind, he soon mixed up the garments of those maidens which
they had laid on the bank. A little while after, the maidens, getting up
from the water, approached their garments that had, indeed, got mixed up
with one another. And it so happened that from the intermingled heap, the
garments of Devayani were appropriated by Sarmishtha, the daughter of
Vrishaparvan, from ignorance that it was not hers. And, O king,
thereupon, between them, Devayani and Sarmishtha, then ensued a dispute.
And Devayani said, ‘O daughter of the Asura (chief), why dost thou take
my attire, being, as thou art, my disciple? As thou art destitute of good
behaviour, nothing good can happen to thee!’ Sarmishtha, however, quickly
replied, ‘Thy father occupying a lower seat, always adoreth with downcast
looks, like a hired chanter of praises, my father, whether he sitteth at
his ease or reclineth at full length! Thou art the daughter of one that
chanteth the praises of others, of one that accepteth alms. I am the
daughter of one who is adored, of one who bestoweth alms instead of ever
accepting them! Beggar-woman as thou art, thou art free to strike thy
breast, to use ill words, to vow enmity to me, to give way to thy wrath.
Acceptress of alms, thou weepest tears of anger in vain! If so minded, I
can harm thee, but thou canst not. Thou desirest to quarrel. But know
thou that I do not reckon thee as my equal!’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing these words, Devayani became
exceedingly angry and began to pull at her clothes. Sarmishtha thereupon
threw her into a well and went home. Indeed, the wicked Sarmishtha
believing that Devayani was dead, bent her steps home-wards in a wrathful

“After Sarmishtha had left, Yayati the son of Nahusha soon came to that
spot. The king had been out a-hunting. The couple of horses harnessed to
his car and the other single horse with him were all fatigued. And the
king himself was thirsty. And the son of Nahusha saw a well that was by.
And he saw that it was dry. But in looking down into it, he saw a maiden
who in splendour was like a blazing fire. And beholding her within it,
the blessed king addressed that girl of the complexion of the celestials,
soothing her with sweet words. And he said, ‘Who art thou, O fair one, of
nails bright as burnished copper, and with ear-rings decked with
celestial gems? Thou seemest to be greatly perturbed. Why dost thou weep
in affliction? How, indeed, hast thou fallen into this well covered with
creepers and long grass? And, O slender-waisted girl, answer me truly
whose daughter thou art.

“Devayani then replied, ‘I am the daughter of Sukra who brings back into
life the Asuras slain by the gods. He doth not know what hath befallen
me. This is my right hand, O king, with nails bright as burnished copper.
Thou art well-born; I ask thee, to take and raise me up! I know thou art
of good behaviour, of great prowess, and of wide fame! It behoveth thee,
therefore, to raise me from this well.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘King Yayati, learning that she was a Brahmana’s
daughter, raised her from that well by catching hold of her right hand.
And the monarch promptly raising her from the pit and squinting to her
tapering thighs, sweetly and courteously returned to his capital.

“When the son of Nahusha had gone away, Devayani of faultless features,
afflicted with grief, then spoke unto her maid, Ghurnika by name, who met
her then. And she said, ‘O Ghurnika, go thou quickly and speak to my
father without loss of time of everything as it hath happened. I shall
not now enter the city of Vrishaparvan.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Ghurnika, thus commanded, repaired quickly to
the mansion, of the Asura chief, where she saw Kavya and spoke unto him
with her perception dimmed by anger. And she said, ‘I tell thee, O great
Brahmana, that Devayani hath been ill-used, O fortunate one, in the
forest by Sarmishtha, the daughter of Vrishaparvan.’ And Kavya, hearing
that his daughter had been ill-used by Sarmishtha speedily went out with
a heavy heart, seeking her in the woods. And when he found her in the
woods, he clasped her with affection and spoke unto her with voice choked
with grief, ‘O daughter, the weal or woe that befalleth people is always
due to their own faults. Thou hast therefore some fault, I ween, which
hath been expiated thus.’ Hearing this Devayani replied, ‘Be it a penalty
or not, listen to me with attention. O, hear that all Sarmishtha, the
daughter of Vrishaparvan, hath said unto me. Really hath she said that
thou art only the hired chanter of the praises of the Asura king! Even
thus hath she--that Sarmishtha, Vrishaparvan’s daughter,--spoken to me,
with reddened eyes, these piercing and cruel words, ‘Thou art the
daughter of one that ever chanteth for hire the praises of others, of one
that asketh for charities, of one that accepteth alms; whereas I am the
daughter of one that receiveth adorations, of one that giveth, of one
that never accepteth anything as gift!’ These have been the words
repeatedly spoken unto me by the proud Sarmishtha, the daughter of
Vrishaparvan, with eyes red with anger. If, O father, I am really the
daughter of a hired chanter of praises, of one that accepteth gifts, I
must offer my adorations in the hope of obtaining her grace! Oh, of this
I have already told her!’

“Sukra replied, ‘Thou art, O Devayani, no daughter of a hired adorer, of
one that asketh for alms and accepteth gifts. Thou art the daughter of
one that adores none, but of one that is adored by all! Vrishaparvan
himself knoweth it, and Indra, and king Yayati too. That inconceivable
Brahma, that unopposable Godhead, is my strength! The self-create,
himself, gratified by me, hath said that I am for aye the lord of that
which is in all things on Earth or in Heaven! I tell thee truly that it
is I who pour rain for the good of creatures and who nourish the annual
plants that sustain all living things!’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘It was by such sweet words of excellent import
that the father endeavoured to pacify his daughter afflicted with woe and
oppressed by anger.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Sukra continued, ‘Know, then, O Devayani, that he that mindeth not the
evil speeches of others, conquereth everything! The wise say that he is a
true charioteer who without slackening holdeth tightly the reins of his
horses. He, therefore, is the true man that subdueth, without indulging
in his rising wrath. Know thou, O Devayani, that by him is everything
conquered, who calmly subdueth his rising anger. He is regarded as a man
who by having recourse to forgiveness, shaketh off his rising anger like
a snake casting off its slough He that suppresseth his anger, he that
regardeth not the evil speeches of others, he that becometh not angry,
though there be cause, certainly acquireth the four objects for which we
live (viz., virtue, profit, desire, and salvation) Between him that
performeth without fatigue sacrifices every month for a hundred years,
and him that never feeleth angry at anything, he that feeleth not wrath
is certainly the higher. Boys and girls, unable to distinguish between
right and wrong, quarrel with each other. The wise never imitate them.’
Devayani, on hearing this speech of her father, said, ‘O father, I know,
also what the difference is between anger and forgiveness as regards the
power of each. But when a disciple behaveth disrespectfully, he should
never be forgiven by the preceptor if the latter is really desirous of
benefiting the former. Therefore, I do not desire to live any longer in a
country where evil behaviour is at a premium. The wise man desirous of
good, should not dwell among those sinfully inclined men who always speak
ill of good behaviour and high birth. But there should one live,--indeed,
that hath been said to be the best of dwelling places,--where good
behaviour and purity of birth are known and respected. The cruel words
uttered by Vrishaparvan’s daughter burn my heart even as men, desirous of
kindling a fire, burn the dry fuel. I do not think anything more
miserable for a man in the three worlds than to adore one’s enemies
blessed with good fortune, himself possessing none. It hath been indeed
said by the learned that for such a man even death would be better.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then Kavya, the foremost of Bhrigu’s line, became
angry himself. And approaching Vrishaparvan where the latter was seated,
began to address him without weighing his words, ‘O king,’ he said,
‘sinful acts do not, like the Earth, bear fruit immediately! But
gradually and secretly do they extirpate their doers. Such fruit visiteth
either in one’s own self, one’s son, or one’s grandson. Sins must bear
their fruit. Like rich food they can never be digested. And because ye
slew the Brahmana Kacha, the grandson of Angiras, who was virtuous,
acquainted with the precepts of religion, and attentive to his duties,
while residing in my abode, even for this act of slaughter--and for the
mal-treatment of my daughter too, know, O Vrishaparvan, I shall leave
thee and thy relatives! Indeed, O king, for this, I can no longer stay
with thee! Dost thou, O Asura chief, think that I am a raving liar? Thou
makest light of thy offence without seeking to correct it!’.

“Vrishaparvan then said, ‘O son of Bhrigu, never have I attributed want
of virtue, of falsehood, to thee. Indeed, virtue and truth ever dwell in
thee. Be kind to me! O Bhargava, if, leaving us, thou really goest hence,
we shall then go into the depths of the ocean. Indeed, there is nothing
else for us to do.’

“Sukra then replied, ‘Ye Asuras, whether ye go into the depths of the
ocean or fly away to all directions. I care little. I am unable to bear
my daughter’s grief. My daughter is ever dear to me. My life dependeth on
her. Seek ye to please her. As Vrihaspati ever seeketh the good of Indra,
so do I always seek thine by my ascetic merits.’

“Vrishaparvan then said, ‘O Bhargava, thou art the absolute master of
whatever is possessed by the Asura chiefs in this world-their elephants,
kine and horses, and even my humble self!’

“Sukra then answered, ‘If it is true, O great Asura, that I am the lord
of all the wealth of the Asuras, then go and gratify Devayani.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘when the great Kavya was so addressed by
Vrishaparvan, he then went to Devayani and told her all. Devayani,
however, quickly replied, ‘O Bhargava, if thou art truly the lord of the
Asura king himself and of all his wealth, then let the king himself come
to me and say so in my presence.’ Vrishaparvan then approached Devayani
and told her, ‘O Devayani of sweet smiles, whatever thou desirest I am
willing to give thee, however difficult it may be to grant the same.’
Devayani answered, ‘I desire Sarmishtha with a thousand maids to wait on
me! She must also follow me to where my father may give me away.’

“Vrishaparvan then commanded a maid-servant in attendance on him, saying,
‘Go and quickly bring Sarmishtha hither. Let her also accomplish what
Devayani wisheth.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The maid-servant then repaired to Sarmishtha
and told her, ‘O amiable Sarmishtha, rise and follow me. Accomplish the
good of thy relatives. Urged by Devayani, the Brahmana (Sukra) is on the
point of leaving his disciples (the Asuras). O sinless one, thou must do
what Devayani wisheth.’ Sarmishtha replied, ‘I shall cheerfully do what
Devayani wisheth. Urged by Devayani Sukra is calling me. Both Sukra and
Devayani must not leave the Asuras through my fault.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Commanded by her father, then, Sarmishtha,
accompanied by a thousand maidens, soon came, in a palanquin, out of her
father’s excellent mansion. And approaching Devayani she said, ‘With my
thousand maids, I am thy waiting-maid! And I shall follow thee where thy
father may give thee away.’ Devayani replied, ‘I am the daughter of one
who chanteth the praises of thy father, and who beggeth and accepteth
alms; thou, on the other hand, art the daughter of one who is adored. How
canst thou be my waiting-maid?’

“Sarmishtha answered, ‘One must by all means contribute to the happiness
of one’s afflicted relatives. Therefore shall I follow thee wherever thy
father may give thee away.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘When Sarmishtha thus promised to be Devayani’s
waiting-maid the latter, O king, then spoke unto her father thus, ‘O best
of all excellent Brahmanas, I am gratified. I shall now enter the Asura
capital! I now know that thy science and power of knowledge are not

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘That best of Brahmanas, of great reputation,
thus addressed by his daughter, then, entered the Asura capital in the
gladness of his heart. And the Danavas worshipped him with great


(Sambhava Parva continued)

Vaisampayana said, ‘After some length of time, O best of monarchs,
Devayani of the fairest complexion went into the same woods for purposes
of pleasure. And accompanied by Sarmishtha with her thousand maids she
reached the same spot and began to wander freely. And waited upon by all
those companions she felt supremely happy. And sporting with light
hearts, they began drinking the honey in flowers, eating various kinds of
fruit and biting some. And just at that time, king Yayati, the son of
Nahusha, again came there tired and thirsty, in course of his wanderings,
in search of deer. And the king saw Devayani and Sarmishtha, and those
other maidens also, all decked with celestial ornaments and full of
voluptuous languor in consequence of the flower-honey they drank. And
Devayani of sweet smiles, unrivalled for beauty and possessed of the
fairest complexion amongst them all, was reclining at her ease. And she
was waited upon by Sarmishtha who was gently kneading her feet.

“And Yayati seeing all this, said, ‘O amiable ones, I would ask you both
your names and parentage. It seems that these two thousand maids wait on
you two.’ ‘Hearing the monarch, Devayani then answered, ‘Listen to me, O
best of men. Know that I am the daughter of Sukra, the spiritual guide of
the Asuras. This my companion is my waiting-maid. She attendeth on me
wherever I go. She is Sarmishtha, the daughter of the Asura king

“Yayati then asked, ‘I am curious to know why is this thy companion of
fair eye-brows, this maiden of the fairest complexion, the daughter of
the Asura chief thy waiting-maid!’ Devayani replied, ‘O best of king,
everything resulteth from Fate. Knowing this also to be the result of
Fate, wonder not at it. Thy feature and attire are both like a king’s.
Thy speech also is fair and correct as that of the Vedas. Tell me thy
name, whence thou art and whose son also.’

“The monarch replied, ‘During my vow of Brahmacharya, the whole Vedas
entered my ears. I am known as Yayati, a king’s son and myself a king.’
Devayani then enquired, ‘O king, what hast thou come here for? Is it to
gather lotuses or to angle or to hunt?’ Yayati said, ‘O amiable one,
thirsty from the pursuit of deer, I have come hither in search of water.
I am very much fatigued. I await but your commands to leave this spot.’

“Devayani answered, ‘With my two thousand damsels and my waiting-maid
Sarmishtha, I wait but your commands. Prosperity to thee. Be thou my
friend and lord.’

“Yayati, thereupon, replied, ‘Beautiful one, I do not deserve thee. Thou
art the daughter of Sukra far superior to me. Thy father cannot bestow
thee even on a great king.’ To this Devayani replied, ‘Brahmanas had
before this been united with the Kshatriyas, and Kshatriyas with
Brahmanas. Thou art the son of a Rishi and thyself a Rishi. Therefore, O
son of Nahusha, marry me.’ Yayati, however, replied, ‘O thou of the
handsomest features, the four orders have, indeed, sprung from one body.
But their duties and purity are not the same, the Brahmana being truly
superior to all.’ Devayani answered, ‘This hand of mine hath never been
touched before by any man save thee. Therefore, do I accept thee for my
lord. How, indeed, shall any other man touch my hand which had before
been touched by thyself who art a Rishi? Yayati then said, ‘The wise know
that a Brahmana is more to be avoided than an angry snake of virulent
poison, or a blazing fire of spreading flames.’ Devayani then told the
monarch, ‘O bull amongst men, why dost thou, indeed, say that Brahmana
should be more avoided than an angry snake of virulent poison or a
blazing fire of spreading flames?’ The monarch answered, ‘The snake
killeth only one. The sharpest weapon slayeth but a single person. The
Brahmana, when angry destroyeth whole cities and kingdoms! Therefore, O
timid one, do I deem a Brahmana as more to be avoided than either. I
cannot hence wed thee, O amiable one, unless thy father bestoweth thee on
me. Devayani then said, ‘Thou art, indeed, chosen by me. And, O king, it
is understood that thou wilt accept me if my father bestoweth me on thee.
Thou needst not fear to accept my poor self bestowed on thee. Thou dost
not, indeed, ask for me.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘After this, Devayani quickly sent a maidservant
to her father. The maid represented to Sukra everything as it had
happened. And as soon as he had heard all, Bhargava came and saw Yayati.
And beholding Bhargava come, Yayati worshipped and adored that Brahmana,
and stood with joined palms in expectation of his commands.’

“And Devayani then said, ‘This O father, is the son of Nahusha. He took
hold of my hand, when I was in distress. I bow to thee. Bestow me upon
him. I shall not wed any other person in the world.’ Sukra exclaimed, ‘O
thou of splendid courage, thou hast, indeed, been accepted as her lord by
this my dear daughter. I bestow her on thee. Therefore, O son of Nahusha,
accept her as thy wife.’

“Yayati then said, ‘I solicit the boon, O Brahmana, that by so doing, the
sin of begetting a half-breed might not touch me.’ Sukra, however,
assured him by saying, ‘I shall absolve thee from the sin. Ask thou the
boon that thou desirest. Fear not to wed her. I grant thee absolution.
Maintain virtuously thy wife--the slender-waisted Devayani. Transports of
happiness be thine in her company. This other maiden, Vrishaparvan’s
daughter, Sarmishtha should ever be regarded by thee. But thou shall not
summon her to thy bed.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed by Sukra, Yayati then walked
round the Brahmana. And the king then went through the auspicious
ceremony of marriage according to the rites of the scriptures. And having
received from Sukra this rich treasure of the excellent Devayani with
Sarmishtha and those two thousand maidens, and duly honoured also by
Sukra himself and the Asuras, the best of monarchs, then, commanded by
the high-souled Bhargava, returned to his capital with a joyous heart.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Yayati then, on returning to his capital which was
like unto the city of Indra, entered his inner apartments and established
there his bride Devayani. And the monarch, directed by Devayani,
established Vrishaparvan’s daughter Sarmishtha in a mansion especially
erected near the artificial woods of Asokas in his gardens. And the king
surrounded Vrishaparvan’s daughter Sarmishtha with a thousand maids and
honoured her by making every arrangement for her food and garments. But
it was with Devayani that the royal son of Nahusha sported like a
celestial for many years in joy and bliss. And when her season came, the
fair Devayani conceived. And she brought forth as her first child a fine
boy. And when a thousand years had passed away, Vrishaparvan’s daughter
Sarmishtha having attained to puberty saw that her season had come. She
became anxious and said to herself, ‘My season hath arrived. But I have
not yet chosen a husband. O, what hath happened, what should I do? How am
I to obtain the fruition of my wishes? Devayani hath become mother. My
youth is doomed to pass away in vain. Shall I choose him also for my
husband whom Devayani hath chosen? This is, indeed, my resolve: that
monarch should give me a son. Will not the virtuous one grant me a
private interview?’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘While Sarmishtha was thus busy with her
thoughts, the king wandering listlessly came to that very wood of Asokas,
and beholding Sarmishtha before him, stood there in silence. Then
Sarmishtha of sweet smiles seeing the monarch before her with nobody to
witness what might pass, approached him and said with joined palms, ‘O
son of Nahusha, no one can behold the ladies that dwell in the inner
apartments of Soma, of Indra, of Vishnu, of Yama, of Varuna, and of thee!
Thou knowest, O king, that I am both handsome and well-born. I solicit
thee, O king! My season hath arrived. See that it goeth not in vain.’

“Yayati answered, ‘Well do I know that honour of birth is thine, born as
thou art in the proud race of the Danavas. Thou art also gifted with
beauty. I do not, indeed, see even the speck of a fault in thy feature.
But Usanas commanded me, while I was united with Devayani, that never
should Vrishaparvan’s daughter he summoned to my bed.’

“Sarmishtha then said, ‘It hath been said, O king, that it is not sinful
to lie on the occasion of a joke, in respect of women sought to be
enjoyed, on occasions of marriage, in peril of immediate death and of the
loss of one’s whole fortune. Lying is excusable on these five occasions.
O king, it is not true that he is fallen who speaks not the truth when
asked. Both Devayani and myself have been called hither as companions to
serve the same purpose. When, therefore, thou hadst said that you wouldst
confine thyself to one only amongst as, that was a lie thou hadst
spoken.’ Yayati replied, ‘A king should ever be a model in the eyes of
his people. That monarch certainly meets with destruction who speaks an
untruth. As for myself, I dare not speak an untruth even if the greatest
loss threatens me!’ Sarmishtha answered, ‘O monarch, one may look upon
her friend’s husband as her own. One’s friend’s marriage is the same as
one’s own. Thou hast been chosen by my friend as her husband. Thou art as
much my husband, therefore.’ Yayati then said, ‘It is, indeed my vow
always to grant what one asketh. As thou askest me, tell me then what I
am to do.’ Sarmishtha then said, ‘Absolve me, O king, from sin. Protect
my virtue. Becoming a mother by thee, let me practise the highest virtue
in this world. It is said, O king, that a wife, a slave, and a son can
never earn wealth for themselves. What they earn always belongeth to him
who owneth them. I am, indeed, the slave of Devayani. Thou art Devayani’s
master and lord. Thou art, therefore, O king, my master and lord as much
as Devayani’s! I solicit thee! O, fulfil my wishes!’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed by Sarmishtha, the monarch was
persuaded into the truth of all she spoke. He therefore, honoured
Sarmishtha by protecting her virtue. And they passed some time together.
And taking affectionate farewell of each other, they then parted, each
returning to whence he or she had come.

“And it came to pass that Sarmishtha of sweet smiles and fair eyebrows
conceived in consequence of that connection of hers with that best of
monarchs. And, O king, that lotus-eyed lady then in due course of time
brought forth a son of the splendour of a celestial child and of eyes


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘When Devayani of sweet smiles heard of the birth of
this child, she became jealous, and O Bharata, Sarmishtha became an
object of her unpleasant reflections. And Devayani, repairing to her,
addressed her thus, ‘O thou of fair eye-brows, what sin is this thou hast
committed by yielding to the influence of lust?’ Sarmishtha replied, ‘A
certain Rishi of virtuous soul and fully conversant with the Vedas came
to me. Capable of granting boons he was solicited by me to grant my
wishes that were based on considerations of virtue. O thou of sweet
smiles, I would not seek the sinful fulfilment of my desires. I tell thee
truly that this child of mine is by that Rishi!’ Devayani answered, ‘It
is all right if that be the case, O timid one! But if the lineage, name,
and family of that Brahmana be known to thee, I should like to hear
them.’ Sarmishtha replied, ‘O thou of sweet smiles, in asceticism and
energy, that Rishi is resplendent like the Sun himself. Beholding him, I
had not, any need to make these enquiries--’ Devayani then said, ‘If this
is true, if indeed, thou hast obtained thy child from such a superior
Brahmana, then, O Sarmishtha, I have no cause of anger.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Having thus talked and laughed with each other,
they separated, Devayani returning to the palace with the knowledge
imparted to her by Sarmishtha. And, O king, Yayati also begot on Devayani
two sons called Yadu and Turvasu, who were like Indra and Vishnu. And
Sarmishtha, the daughter of Vrishaparvan, became through the royal sage
the mother of three sons in all, named Drahyu, Anu, and Puru.

“And, O king, it so came to pass that one day Devayani of sweet smiles,
accompanied by Yayati, went into a solitary part of the woods, (in the
king’s extensive park). And there she saw three children of celestial
beauty playing with perfect trustfulness. And Devayani asked in surprise,
‘Whose children are they, O king, who are so handsome and so like unto
the children of the celestials? In splendour and beauty they are like
thee, I should think.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘And Devayani without waiting for a reply from
the king, asked the children themselves, ‘Ye children, what is your
lineage? Who is your father? Answer me truly. I desire to know all.’
Those children then pointed at the king (with their forefingers) and
spoke of Sarmishtha as their mother.

“And having so said, the children approached the king to clasp his knees.
But the king dared not caress them in the presence of Devayani. The boys
then left the place, and made towards their mother, weeping in grief. And
the king, at this conduct of the boys, became very much abashed. But
Devayani, marking the affection of the children for the king learnt the
secret and addressing Sarmishtha, said, ‘How hast thou dared to do me an
injury, being, as thou art, dependent on me? Dost thou not fear to have
recourse once more to that Asura custom of thine?’

“Sarmishtha said, ‘O thou of sweet smiles, all that I told thee of a
Rishi is perfectly true. I have acted rightly and according to the
precepts of virtue, and therefore, do I not fear thee. When thou hadst
chosen the king for thy husband, I, too, chose him as mine. O beautiful
one, a friend’s husband is, according to usage, one’s own husband as
well. Thou art the daughter of a Brahmana and, therefore, deservest my
worship and regard. But dost thou not know that this royal sage is held
by me in greater esteem still?’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Devayani then, hearing those words of hers,
exclaimed, O king, thus, ‘Thou hast wronged me, O monarch! I shall not
live here any longer.’ And saying this, she quickly rose, with tearful
eyes, to go to her father. And the king was grieved to see her thus, and
alarmed greatly, followed in her foot-steps, endeavouring to appease her
wrath. But Devayani, with eyes red with anger, would not desist. Speaking
not a word to the king, with eyes bathed in tears, she soon reached the
side of her father Usanas, the son of Kavi. And beholding her father, she
stood before him, after due salutations. And Yayati also, immediately
after, saluted and worshipped Bhargava.’

“And Devayani said, ‘O father, virtue hath been vanquished by vice. The
low have risen, and the high have fallen. I have been offended again by
Sarmishtha, the daughter of Vrishaparvan. Three sons have been begotten
upon her by this king Yayati. But, O father, being luckless I have got
only two sons! O son of Bhrigu, this king is renowned for his knowledge
of the precepts of religion. But, O Kavya, I tell thee that he hath
deviated from the path of rectitude.’

“Sukra, hearing all this, said, ‘O monarch, since thou hast made vice thy
beloved pursuit, though fully acquainted with the precepts of religion,
invincible decrepitude shall paralyse thee!’ Yayati answered, ‘Adorable
one, I was solicited by the daughter of the Danava king to fructify her
season. I did it from a sense of virtue and not from other motives. That
male person, who being solicited by a woman in her season doth not grant
her wishes, is called, O Brahmana, by those conversant with the Vedas, a
slayer of the embryo. He who, solicited in secret by a woman full of
desire and in season, goeth not in unto her, loseth virtue and is called
by the learned a killer of the embryo, O son of Bhrigu, for these
reasons, and anxious to avoid sin, I went into Sarmishtha.’ Sukra then
replied, ‘Thou art dependent on me. Thou shouldst have awaited my
command. Having acted falsely in the matter of thy duty, O son of
Nahusha, thou hast been guilty of the sin of theft.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Yayati, the son of Nahusha, thus cursed by the
angry Usanas, was then divested of his youth and immediately overcome by
decrepitude. And Yayati said, ‘O son of Bhrigu, I have not yet been
satiated with youth or with Devayani. Therefore, O Brahmana, be graceful
unto me so that decrepitude might not touch me.’ Sukra then answered, ‘I
never speak an untruth. Even now, O king, art thou attacked by
decrepitude. But if thou likest, thou art competent to transfer this thy
decrepitude to another.’ Yayati said, ‘O Brahmana, let it be commanded by
thee that that son of mine who giveth me his youth shall enjoy my
kingdom, and shall achieve both virtue and fame.’ Sukra replied, ‘O son
of Nahusha, thinking of me thou mayst transfer this thy decrepitude to
whomsoever thou likest. That son who shall give thee his youth shall
become thy successor to the throne. He shall also have long life, wide
fame, and numerous progeny!’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Yayati, then, overcome with decrepitude, returned to
his capital and summoning his eldest son Yadu who was also the most
accomplished, addressed him thus, ‘Dear child, from the curse of Kavya
called also Usanas, decrepitude and wrinkles and whiteness of hair have
come over me. But I have not been gratified yet with the enjoyment of
youth. Do thou, O Yadu, take this my weakness along with my decrepitude.
I shall enjoy with thy youth. And when a full thousand years will have
elapsed, returning to thee thy youth, I shall take back my weakness with
this decrepitude!’

“Yadu replied, ‘There are innumerable inconveniences in decrepitude, in
respect of drinking and eating. Therefore, O king, I shall not take thy
decrepitude. This is, indeed, my determination. White hair on the head,
cheerlessness and relaxation of the nerves, wrinkles all over the body,
deformities, weakness of the limbs, emaciation, incapacity to work,
defeat at the hands of friends and companions--these are the consequences
of decrepitude. Therefore, O king, I desire not to take it. O king, thou
hast many sons some of whom are dearer to thee. Thou art acquainted with
the precepts of virtue. Ask some other son of thine to take thy

“Yayati replied, ‘Thou art sprung from my heart, O son, but thou givest
me not thy youth. Therefore, thy children shall never be kings.’ And he
continued, addressing another son of his, ‘O Turvasu, take thou this
weakness of mine along with my decrepitude. With thy youth, O son, I like
to enjoy the pleasure of life. After the lapse of a full thousand years I
shall give back to thee thy youth, and take back from thee my weakness
and decrepitude.’

“Turvasu replied, ‘I do not like decrepitude, O father, it takes away all
appetites and enjoyments, strength and beauty of person, intellect, and
even life.’ Yayati said to him, ‘Thou art sprung from my heart, O son!
But thou givest me not thy youth! Therefore, O Turvasu, thy race shall be
extinct. Wretch, thou shall be the king of those whose practices and
precepts are impure, amongst whom men of inferior blood procreate
children upon women of blue blood, who live on meat, who are mean, who
hesitate not to appropriate the wives of their superiors, whose practices
are those of birds and beasts, who are sinful, and non-Aryan.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Yayati, having thus cursed his son Turvasu, then,
addressed Sarmishtha’s son Drahyu thus, ‘O Drahyu, take thou for a
thousand years my decrepitude destructive of complexion and personal
beauty and give me thy youth. When a thousand years have passed away, I
shall return thee thy youth and take back my own weakness, and
decrepitude.’ To this Drahyu replied, ‘O king, one that is decrepit can
never enjoy elephants and cars and horses and women. Even his voice
becometh hoarse. Therefore, I do not desire (to take) thy decrepitude.’
Yayati said to him, ‘Thou art sprung from my heart, O son! But thou
refusest to give me thy youth. Therefore, thy most cherished desires
shall never be fulfilled. Thou shalt be king only in name, of that region
where there are no roads for (the passage of) horses and cars and
elephants, and good vehicles, and asses, and goats and bullocks, and
palanquins; where there is swimming only by rafts and floats.’ Yayati
next addressed Anu and said, ‘O Anu, take my weakness and decrepitude. I
shall with thy youth enjoy the pleasures of life for a thousand years.’
To this Anu replied, ‘Those that are decrepit always eat like children
and are always impure. They cannot pour libations upon fire in proper
times. Therefore, I do not like to take thy decrepitude.’ Yayati said to
him, ‘Thou art sprung from my heart, thou givest not thy youth. Thou
findest so many faults in decrepitude. Therefore, decrepitude shall
overcome thee! And, O Anu, thy progeny also as soon as they attain to
youth, shall die. And thou shalt also not be able to perform sacrifices
before fire.’

“Yayati at last turned to his youngest child, Puru, and addressing him
said, ‘Thou art, O Puru, my youngest son! But thou shall be the first of
all! Decrepitude, wrinkles, and whiteness of hair have come over me in
consequence of the curse of Kavya called also Usanas. I have not yet
however, been satiated with my youth. O Puru, take thou this my weakness
and decrepitude! With thy youth I shall enjoy for some years the
pleasures of life. And when a thousand years have passed away, I shall
give back to thee thy youth and take back my own decrepitude.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Thus addressed by the king, Puru answered with
humility, ‘I shall do, O monarch, as thou bidest me. I shall take, O
king, thy weakness and decrepitude. Take thou my youth and enjoy as thou
listest the pleasures of life. Covered with thy decrepitude and becoming
old, I shall, as thou commandest, continue to live, giving thee my
youth.’ Yayati then said, ‘O Puru, I have been gratified with thee. And
being gratified, I tell thee that the people in thy kingdom shall have
all their desires fulfilled.’

“And having said this, the great ascetic Yayati, then thinking of Kavya,
transferred his decrepitude unto the body of the high-souled Puru.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘The excellent monarch Yayati, the son of Nahusha,
having received Puru’s youth, became exceedingly gratified. And with it
he once more began to indulge in his favourite pursuits to the full
extent of his desires and to the limit of his powers, according to
seasons, so as to derive the greatest pleasure therefrom. And, O king, in
nothing that he did, he acted against the precepts of his religion as
behoved him well. He gratified the gods by his sacrifices; the pitris, by
Sraddhas; the poor, by his charities; all excellent Brahmanas, by
fulfilling their desires; all persons entitled to the rites of
hospitality, with food and drink; the Vaisyas, by protection; and the
Sudras, by kindness. And the king repressed all criminals by proper
punishments. And Yayati, gratifying all sections of his subjects,
protected them virtuously like another Indra. And the monarch possessed
of the prowess of a lion, with youth and every object of enjoyment under
control, enjoyed unlimited happiness without transgressing the precepts
of religion. And the king became very happy in thus being able to enjoy
all the excellent objects of his desires. And he was only sorry when he
thought that those thousand years would come to an end. And having
obtained youth for a thousand years, the king acquainted with the
mysteries of time, and watching proper Kalas and Kashthas sported with
(the celestial damsel) Viswachi, sometimes in the beautiful garden of
Indra, sometimes in Alaka (the city of Kuvera), and sometimes on the
summit of the mountain Meru on the north. And when the virtuous monarch
saw that the thousand years were full, he summoned his son, Puru, and
addressed him thus, ‘O oppressor of foes, with thy youth, O son, I have
enjoyed the pleasures of life, each according to its season to the full
extent of my desires, to the limit of my powers. Our desires, however,
are never gratified by indulgence. On the other hand, with indulgence,
they only flame up like fire with libations of sacrificial butter. If a
single person were owner of everything on Earth--all her yields of paddy
and barley, her silver, gold, and gems, her animals and women, he would
not still be content. Thirst of enjoyment, therefore, should be given up.
Indeed, true happiness belongeth to them that have cast off their thirst
for worldly objects--a thirst which is difficult to be thrown off by the
wicked and the sinful, which faileth not with the failing life, and which
is truly the fatal disease of man. My heart hath for a full thousand
years been fixed upon the objects of desires. My thirst for these,
however, increaseth day by day without abating. Therefore, I shall cast
it off, and fixing my mind on Brahma I shall pass the rest of my days
with the innocent deer in the forest peacefully and with no heart for any
worldly objects. And O Puru, I have been exceedingly gratified with thee!
Prosperity be thine! Receive back this thy youth! Receive thou also my
kingdom. Thou art, indeed, that son of mine who has done me the greatest

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then Yayati, the son of Nahusha, received back
his decrepitude. And his son Puru received back his own youth. And Yayati
was desirous of installing Puru, his youngest son, on the throne. But the
four orders, with the Brahmanas at their head, then addressed the monarch
thus, ‘O king, how shall thou bestow thy kingdom on Puru, passing over
thy eldest son Yadu born of Devayani, and, therefore, the grandson of the
great Sukra? Indeed, Yadu is thy eldest son; after him hath been born
Turvasu; and of Sarmishtha’s sons, the first is Drahyu, then Anu and then
Puru. How doth the youngest deserve the throne, passing all his elder
brothers over? This we represent to thee! O, conform to virtuous

“Yayati then said, ‘Ye four orders with Brahmanas at their head, hear my
words as to why my kingdom should not be given to my eldest son. My
commands have been disobeyed by my eldest son, Yadu. The wise say that he
is no son who disobeyeth his father. That son, however, who doth the
bidding of his parents, who seeketh their good, who is agreeable to them,
is indeed, the best of sons. I have been disregarded by Yadu and by
Turvasu, too. Much I have been disregarded by Drahyu and by Anu also. By
Puru alone hath my word been obeyed. By him have I been much regarded.
Therefore, the youngest shall be my heir. He took my decrepitude. Indeed,
Puru is my friend. He did what was so agreeable to me. It hath also been
commanded by Sukra himself, the son of Kavi, that, that son of mine who
should obey me will become king after me and bring the whole Earth under
his sway. I, therefore, beseech thee, let Puru be installed on the

“The people then said, ‘True it is, O king, that, that son who is
accomplished and who seeketh the good of his parents, deserveth
prosperity even if he be the youngest. Therefore, doth Puru, who hath
done the good, deserve the crown. And as Sukra himself hath commanded it,
we have nothing to say to it.’

“Vaisampayana continued., ‘The son of Nahusha, thus addressed by the
contented people, then installed his son, Puru, on the throne. And having
bestowed his kingdom on Puru, the monarch performed the initiatory
ceremonies for retiring into the woods. And soon after he left his
capital, followed by Brahmanas and ascetics.

“The sons of Yadu are known by the name of the Yadavas: while those of
Turvasu have come to be called the Yavanas. And the sons of Drahyu are
the Bhojas, while those of Anu, the Mlechchhas. The progeny of Puru,
however, are the Pauravas, amongst whom, O monarch, thou art born, in
order to rule for a thousand years with thy passions under complete


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘King Yayati, the son of Nahusha, having thus
installed his dear son on the throne, became exceedingly happy, and
entered into the woods to lead the life of a hermit. And having lived for
some time into forest in the company of Brahmanas, observing many rigid
vows, eating fruits and roots, patiently bearing privations of all sorts,
the monarch at last ascended to heaven. And having ascended to heaven he
lived there in bliss. But soon, however, he was hurled down by Indra. And
it hath been heard by me, O king, that, though hurled from heaven,
Yayati, without reaching the surface of the Earth, stayed in the
firmament. I have heard that some time after he again entered the region
of the celestials in company with Vasuman, Ashtaka, Pratarddana, and

“Janamejaya said, ‘I desire to hear from thee in detail why Yayati,
having first obtained admission into heaven, was hurled therefrom, and
why also he gained re-admittance. Let all this, O Brahmana, be narrated
by thee in the presence of these regenerate sages. Yayati, lord of Earth,
was, indeed, like the chief of the celestials. The progenitor of the
extensive race of the Kurus, he was of the splendour of the Sun. I desire
to hear in full the story of his life both in heaven and on Earth, as he
was illustrious, and of world-wide celebrity and of wonderful

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Indeed, I shall recite to thee the excellent story
of Yayati’s adventures on Earth and in heaven. That story is sacred and
destroyeth the sins of those that hear it.

“King Yayati, the son of Nahusha, having installed his youngest son,
Puru, on the throne after casting his sons with Yadu for their eldest
amongst the Mlechchhas, entered the forest to lead the life of a hermit.
And the king eating fruits and roots lived for some time in the forest.
Having his mind and passions under complete control, the king gratified
by sacrifices the Pitris and the gods. And he poured libations of
clarified butter upon the fire according to the rites prescribed for
those leading the Vanaprastha mode of life. And the illustrious one
entertained guests and strangers with the fruit of the forest and
clarified butter, while he himself supported life by gleaning scattered
corn seeds. And the king; led this sort of life for a full thousand
years. And observing the vow of silence and with mind under complete
control he passed one full year, living upon air alone and without sleep.
And he passed another year practising the severest austerities in the
midst of four fires around and the Sun overhead. And, living upon air
alone, he stood erect upon one leg for six months. And the king of sacred
deeds ascended to heaven, covering heaven as well as the Earth (with the
fame of his achievements).’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘While that king of kings dwelt in heaven--the home
of the celestials, he was reverenced by the gods, the Sadhyas, the
Maruts, and the Vasus. Of sacred deeds, and mind under complete control,
the monarch used to repair now and then from the abode of the celestials
unto the region of Brahman. And it hath been heard by me that he dwelt
for a long time in heaven.

“One day that best of kings, Yayati, went to Indra and there in course of
conversation the lord of Earth was asked by Indra as follows:

‘What didst thou say, O king, when thy son Puru took thy decrepitude on
Earth and when thou gavest him thy kingdom?’

“Yayati answered, ‘I told him that the whole country between the rivers
Ganga and Yamuna was his. That is, indeed, the central region of the
Earth, while the out-lying regions are to be the dominions of thy
brothers. I also told him that those without anger were ever superior to
those under its sway, those disposed to forgive were ever superior to the
unforgiving. Man is superior to the lower animals. Among men again the
learned are superior to the un-learned. If wronged, thou shouldst not
wrong in return. One’s wrath, if disregarded, burneth one’s own self; but
he that regardeth it not taketh away all the virtues of him that
exhibiteh it. Never shouldst thou pain others by cruel speeches. Never
subdue thy foes by despicable means; and never utter such scorching and
sinful words as may torture others. He that pricketh as if with thorns
men by means of hard and cruel words, thou must know, ever carrieth in
his mouth the Rakshasas. Prosperity and luck fly away at his very sight.
Thou shouldst ever keep the virtuous before thee as thy models; thou
shouldst ever with retrospective eye compare thy acts with those of the
virtuous; thou shouldst ever disregard the hard words of the wicked. Thou
shouldst ever make the conduct of the wise the model upon which thou art
to act thyself. The man hurt by the arrows of cruel speech hurled from
one’s lips, weepeth day and night. Indeed, these strike at the core of
the body. Therefore the wise never fling these arrows at others. There is
nothing in the three worlds by which thou canst worship and adore the
deities better than by kindness, friendship, charity and sweet speeches
unto all. Therefore, shouldst thou always utter words that soothe, and
not those that scorch. And thou shouldst regard those that deserve, thy
regards, and shouldst always give but never beg!”’


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Alter this Indra again asked Yayati, ‘Thou didst
retire into the woods, O king, after accomplishing all thy duties. O
Yayati, son of Nahusha, I would ask thee to whom thou art equal in
ascetic austerities.’ Yayati answered, ‘O Vasava, I do not, in the matter
of ascetic austerities, behold my equal among men, the celestials, the
Gandharvas, and the great Rishis.’ Indra then said, ‘O monarch, because
thou disregardest those that are thy superiors, thy equals, and even thy
inferiors, without, in fact, knowing their real merits, thy virtues have
suffered diminution and thou must fall from heaven.’ Yayati then said, ‘O
Sakra, if, indeed, my virtues have really sustained diminution and I must
on that account fall down from heaven, I desire, O chief of the
celestials, that I may at least fall among the virtuous and the honest.’
Indra replied, ‘O king, thou shall fall among those that are virtuous and
wise, and thou shall acquire also much renown. And after this experience
of thine, O Yayati, never again disregard those that are thy superiors or
even thy equals.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Upon this, Yayati fell from the region of the
celestials. And as he was falling, he was beheld by that foremost of
royal sages, viz., Ashtaka, the protector of his own religion. Ashtaka
beholding him, enquired, ‘Who art thou, O youth of a beauty equal to that
of Indra, in splendour blazing as the fire, thus falling from on high?
Art thou that foremost of sky-ranging bodies--the sun--emerging from,
dark masses of clouds? Beholding thee falling from the solar course,
possessed of immeasurable energy and the splendour of fire or the sun,
every one is curious as to what it is that is so falling, and is,
besides, deprived of consciousness! Beholding thee in the path of the
celestials, possessed of energy like that of Sakra, or Surya, or Vishnu,
we have approached thee to ascertain the truth. If thou hast first asked
us who we were, we would never have been guilty of the incivility of
asking thee first. We now ask thee who thou art and why thou approachest
hither. Let thy fears be dispelled; let thy woes and afflictions cease.
Thou art now in the presence of the virtuous and the wise. Even Sakra
himself--the slayer of Vala--cannot here do thee any injury. O thou of
the prowess of the chief of the celestials, the wise and the virtuous are
the support of their brethren in grief. Here there are none but the wise
and virtuous like thee assembled together. Therefore, stay thou here in
peace. Fire alone hath power to give heat. The Earth alone hath power to
infuse life into the seed. The sun alone hath power to illuminate
everything. So the guest alone hath power to command the virtuous and the


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Yayati said, ‘I am Yayati, the son of Nahusha and the father of Puru.
Cast off from the region of the celestials and of Siddhas and Rishis for
having disregarded every creature, I am falling down, my righteousness
having sustained diminution. In years I am older than you; therefore, I
have not saluted you first. Indeed, the Brahmanas always reverence him
who is older in years or superior in learning or in ascetic merit.’

“Ashtaka then replied, ‘Thou sayest, O monarch, that he who is older in
years is worthy of regard. But it is said that he is truly worthy of
worship who is superior in learning and ascetic merit.’

“Yayati replied to this, ‘It is said that sin destroyeth the merits of
four virtuous acts. Vanity containeth the element of that which leadeth
to hell. The virtuous never follow in the footsteps of the vicious. They
act in such a way that their religious merit always increaseth. I myself
had great religious merit, but all that, however, is gone. I will
scarcely be able to regain it even by my best exertions. Beholding my
fate, he that is bent upon (achieving) his own good, will certainly
suppress vanity. He who having acquired great wealth performeth
meritorious sacrifices, who having acquired all kinds of learning
remaineth humble, and who having studied the entire Vedas devoteth
himself to asceticism with a heart withdrawn from all mundane enjoyments,
goeth to heaven. None should exult in having acquired great wealth. None
should be vain of having studied the entire Vedas. In the world men are
of different dispositions. Destiny is supreme. Both power and exertion
are all fruitless. Knowing Destiny to be all-powerful, the wise, whatever
their portions may be, should neither exult nor grieve. When creatures
know that their weal and woe are dependent on Destiny and not on their
own exertion or power, they should neither grieve nor exult, remembering
that Destiny is all powerful. The wise should ever live contented,
neither grieving at woe nor exulting at weal. When Destiny is supreme,
both grief and exultation are unbecoming. O Ashtaka, I never suffer
myself to be overcome by fear, nor do I ever entertain grief, knowing for
certain that I shall be in the world what the great disposer of all hath
ordained. Insects and worms, all oviparous creatures, vegetable
existences, all crawling animals, vermin, the fish in the water, stones,
grass, wood--in fact, all created things, when they are freed from the
effects of their acts, are united with the Supreme Soul. Happiness and
misery are both transient. Therefore, O Ashtaka, why should I grieve? We
can never know how we are to act in order to avoid misery. Therefore,
none should grieve for misery.’

“Possessed of every virtue, king Yayati who was the maternal grandfather
of Ashtaka, while staying in the welkin, at the conclusion of his speech,
was again questioned by Ashtaka. The latter said, ‘O king of kings, tell
me, in detail, of all those regions that thou hast visited and enjoyed,
as well as the period for which thou hast enjoyed each. Thou speakest of
the precepts of religion even like the clever masters acquainted with the
acts and sayings of great beings!’ Yayati replied, ‘I was a great king on
Earth, owning the whole world for my dominion. Leaving it, I acquired by
dint of religious merit many high regions. There I dwelt for a full
thousand years, and then I attained to a very high region the abode of
Indra, of extraordinary beauty having a thousand gates, and extending
over a hundred yojanas all round. There too, I dwelt a full thousand
years and then attained to a higher region still. That is the region of
perfect beatitude, where decay never exists, the region, viz., that of
the Creator and the Lord of Earth, so difficult of attainment. There also
I dwelt for a full thousand years, and then attained to another very high
region viz., that of the god of gods (Vishnu) where, too, I had lived in
happiness. Indeed, I dwelt in various regions, adored by all the
celestials, and possessed of prowess and splendour equal unto those of
the celestials themselves. Capable of assuming any form at will, I lived
for a million years in the gardens of Nandana sporting with the Apsaras
and beholding numberless beautiful trees clad in flowery vesture and
sending forth delicious perfume all round. And after many, many years had
elapsed, while still residing there in enjoyment of perfect beatitude,
the celestial messenger of grim visage, one day, in a loud and deep
voice, thrice shouted to me--Ruined! Ruined! Ruined!--O lion among kings,
this much do I remember. I was then fallen from Nandana, my religious
merits gone! I heard in the skies, O king, the voices of the celestials
exclaiming in grief,--Alas! What a misfortune! Yayati, with his religious
merits destroyed, though virtuous and of sacred deeds, is falling!--And
as I was falling, I asked them loudly, ‘Where, ye celestials, are those
wise ones amongst whom I am to fall?’ They pointed out to me this sacred
sacrificial region belonging to you. Beholding the curls of smoke
blackening the atmosphere and smelling the perfume of clarified butter
poured incessantly upon fire, and guided thereby, I am approaching this
region of yours, glad at heart that I come amongst you.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Ashtaka said, ‘Capable of assuming any form at will, thou hast lived for
a million years in the gardens of Nandana. For what cause, O foremost of
those that flourished in the Krita age, hast thou been compelled to leave
that region and come hither?’ Yayati answered, ‘As kinsmen, friends, and
relatives forsake, in this world, those whose wealth disappears so, in
the other world, the celestials with Indra as their chief, forsake him
who hath lost his righteousness.’ Ashtaka said, ‘I am extremely anxious
to know how in the other world men can lose virtue. Tell me also, O king,
what regions are attainable by what courses of action. Thou art
acquainted, I know, with the acts and sayings of great beings.”

“Yayati answered, ‘O pious one, they that speak of their own merits are
doomed to suffer the hell called Bhauma. Though really emaciated and
lean, they appear to grow on Earth (in the shape of their sons and
grandsons) only to become food for vultures, dogs, and jackals.
Therefore, O king, this highly censurable and wicked vice should be
repressed. I have now, O king, told thee all. Tell me what more I shall

“Ashtaka said, ‘When life is destroyed with age, vultures, peacocks,
insects, and worms eat up the human body. Where doth man then reside? How
doth he also come back to life? I have never heard of any hell called
Bhauma on Earth!’

“Yayati answered, ‘After the dissolution of the body, man, according to
his acts, re-entereth the womb of his mother and stayeth there in an
indistinct form, and soon after assuming a distinct and visible shape
reappeareth in the world and walketh on its surface. This is that
Earth-hell (Bhauma) where he falleth, for he beholdeth not the
termination of his existence and acteth not towards his emancipation.
Some dwell for sixty thousand years, some, for eighty-thousand years in
heaven, and then they fall. And as they fall, they are attacked by
certain Rakshasas in the form of sons, grandsons, and other relatives,
that withdraw their hearts from acting for their own emancipation.’

“Ashtaka asked, ‘For what sin are beings, when they fall from heaven,
attacked by these fierce and sharp-toothed Rakshasas? Why are they not
reduced to annihilation? How do they again enter the womb, furnished with

“Yayati answered, ‘After falling from heaven, the being becometh a
subtile substance living in water. This water becometh the semen whence
is the seed of vitality. Thence entering the mother’s womb in the womanly
season, it developeth into the embryo and next into visible life like the
fruit from the flower. Entering trees, plants, and other vegetable
substances, water, air, earth, and space, that same watery seed of life
assumeth the quadrupedal or bipedal form. This is the case with all
creatures that you see.’

“Ashtaka said, ‘O tell me, I ask thee because I have my doubts. Doth a
being that hath received a human form enter the womb in its own shape or
in some other? How doth it also acquire its distinct and visible shape,
eyes and ears and consciousness as well? Questioned by me, O, explain it
all! Thou art, O father, one acquainted with the acts and sayings of
great beings.’ Yayati answered, ‘According to the merits of one’s acts,
the being that in a subtile form co-inheres in the seed that is dropped
into the womb is attracted by the atmospheric force for purposes of
re-birth. It then developeth there in course of time; first it becomes
the embryo, and is next provided with the visible physical organism.
Coming out of the womb in due course of time, it becometh conscious of
its existence as man, and with his ears becometh sensible of sound; with
his eyes, of colour and form; with his nose, of scent; with his tongue,
of taste; by his whole body, of touch; and by his mind, of ideas. It is
thus, O Ashtaka, that the gross and visible body developeth from the
subtile essence.’

“Ashtaka asked, ‘After death, the body is burnt, or otherwise destroyed.
Reduced to nothing upon such dissolution, by what principle is one
revived?’ Yayati said, ‘O lion among kings, the person that dies assumes
a subtil form; and retaining consciousness of all his acts as in a dream,
he enters some other form with a speed quicker than that of air itself.
The virtuous attain to a superior, and the vicious to an inferior form of
existence. The vicious become worms and insects. I have nothing more to
say, O thou of great and pure soul! I have told thee how beings are born,
after development of embryonic forms, as four-footed, six-footed
creatures and others with more feet. What more wilt thou ask me?’

“Ashtaka said, ‘How, O father, do men attain to those superior regions
whence there is no return to earthly life? Is it by asceticism or by
knowledge? How also can one gradually attain to felicitous regions? Asked
by me, O answer it in full.’

“Yayati answered, ‘The wise say that for men there are seven gates
through which admission may be gained into Heaven. There are asceticism,
benevolence, tranquillity of mind, self-command, modesty, simplicity, and
kindness to all creatures. The wise also say that a person loseth all
these in consequence of vanity. That man who having acquired knowledge
regardeth himself as learned, and with his learning destroyed the
reputation of others, never attaineth to regions of indestructible
felicity. That knowledge also doth not make its possessor competent to
attain to Brahma. Study, taciturnity, worship before fire, and
sacrifices, these four remove all fear. When, however, these are mixed
with vanity, instead of removing it, they cause fear. The wise should
never exult at (receiving) honours nor should they grieve at insults. For
it is the wise alone that honour the wise; the wicked never act like the
virtuous. I have given away so much--I have performed so many
sacrifices,--I have studied so much,--I have observed these vows,--such
vanity is the root of fear. Therefore, thou must not indulge in such
feelings. Those learned men who accept as their support the unchangeable,
inconceivable Brahma alone that ever showereth blessings on persons
virtuous like thee, enjoy perfect peace here and hereafter.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Ashtaka said, ‘Those cognisant of the Vedas differ in opinion as to how
the followers of each of the four modes of life, viz., Grihasthas,
Bhikshus, Brahmacharins, and Vanaprashthas, should conduct themselves in
order to acquire religious merit.”

“Yayati answered, ‘These are what a Brahmacharin must do. While dwelling
in the abode of his preceptor, he must receive lessons only when his
preceptor summons him to do so; he must attend to the service of his
preceptor without waiting for the latter’s command; he must rise from his
bed before his preceptor riseth, and go to bed after his preceptor hath
gone to bed. He must be humble, must have his passions under complete
control, must be patient, vigilant, and devoted to studies. It is then
only that he can achieve success. It hath been said in the oldest
Upanishad that a grihastha, acquiring wealth by honest means, should
perform sacrifices; he should always give something in charity, should
perform the rites of hospitality unto all arriving at his abode, and
should never use anything without giving a portion thereof to others. A
Muni, without search for woods, depending on his own vigour, should
abstain from all vicious acts, should give away something in charity,
should never inflict pain on any creature. It is then only that he can
achieve success. He, indeed, is a true Bhikshu who doth not support
himself by any manual arts, who possesseth numerous accomplishments, who
hath his passions under complete control, who is unconnected with worldly
concerns, who sleepeth not under the shelter of a householder’s roof, who
is without wife, and who going a little way every day, travelleth over a
large extent of the country. A learned man should adopt the Vanaprastha
mode of life after performance of the necessary rites, when he hath been
able to control his appetites for enjoyment and desire of acquiring
valuable possessions. When one dieth in the woods while leading the
Vanaprastha mode of life, he maketh his ancestors and the successors,
numbering ten generations including himself, mix with the Divine essence.’

“Ashtaka asked, ‘How many kinds of Munis are there (observers of the vow
of the silence)?’

“Yayati answered, ‘He is, indeed, a Muni who, though dwelling in the
woods, hath an inhabited place near, or who, though dwelling in an
inhabited place, hath the woods near.’

“Ashtaka enquired what is meant by Muni.’ Yayati replied, ‘A Muni
withdrawing himself from all worldly objects liveth in the woods. And
though he might never seek to surround himself with those objects that
are procurable in an inhabited place, he might yet obtain them all by
virtue of his ascetic power. He may truly be said to dwell in the woods
having an inhabited place near to himself. Again a wise man withdrawn
from all earthly objects, might live in a hamlet leading the life of a
hermit. He may never exhibit the pride of family, birth or learning. Clad
in the scantiest robes, he may yet regard himself as attired in the
richest vestments. He may rest content with food just enough for the
support of life. Such a person, though dwelling in an inhabited place,
liveth yet in the woods.

“The person again, who, with passions under complete control, adopteth
the vow of silence, refraining from action and entertaining no desire,
achieveth success. Why shouldst thou not, indeed, reverence the man who
liveth on clean food, who refraineth from ever injuring others, whose
heart is ever pure, who stands in the splendour of ascetic attributes,
who is free from the leaden weight of desire, who abstaineth from injury
even when sanctioned by religion? Emaciated by austerities and reduced in
flesh, marrow and blood, such a one conquereth not only this but the
highest world. And when the Muni sits in yoga meditation, becoming
indifferent to happiness and misery, honour and insult, he then leaveth
the world and enjoyeth communion with Brahma. When the Muni taketh food
like wine and other animals, i. e., without providing for it beforehand
and without any relish (like a sleeping infant feeding on the mother’s
lap), then like the all-pervading spirit he becometh identified with the
whole universe and attaineth to salvation.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Ashtaka asked, ‘Who amongst these, O king, both exerting constantly like
the Sun and the Moon, first attaineth to communion with Brahma, the
ascetic or the man of knowledge?’

“Yayati answered, ‘The wise, with the help of the Vedas and of Knowledge,
having ascertained the visible universe to be illusory, instantly
realises the Supreme Spirit as the sole existent independent essence.
While they that devote themselves to Yoga meditation take time to acquire
the same knowledge, for it is by practice alone that these latter divest
themselves of the consciousness of quality. Hence the wise attain to
salvation first. Then again if the person devoted to Yoga find not
sufficient time in one life to attain success, being led astray by the
attractions of the world, in his next life he is benefited by the
progress already achieved, for he devoteth himself regretfully to the
pursuit of success. But the man of knowledge ever beholdeth the
indestructible unity, and, is, therefore, though steeped in worldly
enjoyments, never affected by them at heart. Therefore, there is nothing
to impede his salvation. He, however, who faileth to attain to knowledge,
should yet devote himself to piety as dependent on action (sacrifices
&c.). But he that devoteth himself to such piety, moved thereto by desire
of salvation, can never achieve success. His sacrifices bear no fruit and
partake of the nature of cruelty. Piety which is dependent on action that
proceedeth not from the desire of fruit, is, in case of such men Yoga

“Ashtaka said, ‘O king, thou lookest like a young man; thou art handsome
and decked with a celestial garland. Thy splendour is great! Whence dost
thou come and where dost thou go? Whose messenger art thou? Art thou
going down into the Earth?’

“Yayati said, ‘Fallen from heaven upon the loss of all my religious
merits, I am doomed to enter the Earth-hell. Indeed, I shall go there
after I have finished my discourse with you. Even now the regents of the
points of the universe command me to hasten thither. And, O king, I have
obtained it as a boon from Indra that though fall I must upon the earth,
yet I should fall amidst the wise and the virtuous. Ye are all wise and
virtuous that are assembled here.’

“Ashtaka said, ‘Thou art acquainted with everything. I ask thee, O king,
are there any regions for myself to enjoy in heaven or in the firmament?
If there be, then, thou shalt not fall, though falling.’

“Yayati answered, ‘O king, there are as many regions for thee to enjoy in
heaven even as the number of kine and horses on Earth with the animals in
the wilderness and on the hills.’

“Ashtaka said, ‘If there are worlds for me to enjoy, as fruits of my
religious merits, in heaven, O king, I give them all unto thee.
Therefore, though falling, thou shalt not fall. O, take thou soon all
those, wherever they be, in heaven or in the firmament. Let thy sorrow

“Yayati answered, ‘O best of kings, a Brahma-knowing Brahmana alone can
take in gift, but not one like ourselves. And, O monarch, I myself have
given away to Brahmanas as one should. Let no man who, is not a Brahmana
and let not the wife of a learned Brahmana ever live in infamy by
accepting gifts. While on earth, I ever desired to perform virtuous acts.
Having never done so before, how shall I now accept a gift?’

“Pratardana who was amongst them asked, ‘O thou of the handsomest form, I
am Pratardana by name. I ask thee if there are any worlds for me to enjoy
as fruits of my religious merits, in heaven or the firmament? Answer me,
thou art acquainted with everything.’

“Yayati said, ‘O king, numberless worlds, full of felicity, effulgent
like the solar disc, and where woe can never dwell, await thee. If thou
dwellest in each but for seven days, they would not yet be exhausted.’

“Pratardana said, ‘These then I give unto thee. Therefore, though
falling, thou must not fall. Let the worlds that are mine be thine,
whether they be in the firmament or heaven. O, soon take them. Let thy
woes cease.’

“Yayati answered, ‘O monarch, no king of equal energy should ever desire
to receive as gift the religious merits of another king acquired by Yoga
austerities. And no king who is afflicted with calamity through the fates
should, if wise, act in a censurable way. A king keeping his eye fixed
for ever on virtue should walk along the path of virtue like myself and,
knowing what his duties are, should not act so meanly as thou directest.
When others desirous of acquiring religious merits do not accept gifts,
how can I do what they themselves do not? On the conclusion of this
speech, that best of kings, Yayati, was then addressed by Vasumat in the
following words.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vasumat said, ‘I am Vasumat, the son of Oshadaswa. I would ask thee, O
king, whether there are any worlds for me to enjoy as fruits of my
religious merits, in heaven or the firmament. Thou art, O high-souled
one, acquainted with all holy regions.’

“Yayati answered, ‘There are as many regions for thee to enjoy in heaven
as the number of places in the firmament, the Earth and the ten points of
the universe illumined by the Sun.’

“Vasumat then said, ‘I give them to thee. Let those regions that are for
me be thine. Therefore, though falling, thou shall not fall. If to accept
them as gift be improper for thee, then, O monarch, buy them for a straw?’

“Yayati answered, ‘I do not remember having ever bought and sold anything
unfairly. This has never been done by other kings. How shall I therefore
do it?’

“Vasumat said, ‘If buying them, O king, be regarded by thee as improper,
then take them as gilt from me. For myself I answer that I will never go
to those regions that are for me. Let them, therefore, be thine.’

“Sivi then addressed the king thus, I am, O king, Sivi by name, the son
of Usinara. O father, are there in the firmament or in heaven any worlds
for me to enjoy? Thou knowest every region that one may enjoy as the
fruit of his religious merit.’

“Yayati said, ‘Thou hast never, by speech or in mind, disregarded the
honest and the virtuous that applied to thee. There are infinite worlds
for thee to enjoy in heaven, all blazing like lightning.’ Sivi then said,
‘If thou regardest their purchase as improper, I give them to thee. Take
them all, O king! I shall never take them, viz., those regions where the
wise never feel the least disquiet.’

Yayati answered, ‘O Sivi, thou hast indeed, obtained for thyself,
possessed of the prowess of Indra, infinite worlds. But I do not desire
to enjoy regions given to me by others. Therefore, I accept not thy gift.’

“Ashtaka then said, ‘O king, each of us has expressed his desire to give
thee worlds that each of us has acquired by his religious merits. Thou
acceptest not them. But leaving them for thee, we shall descend into the

“Yayati answered, ‘Ye all are truth-loving and wise. Give me that which I
deserve. I shall not be able to do what I have never done before.’

“Ashtaka then said, ‘Whose are those five golden cars that we see? Do men
that repair to these regions of everlasting bliss ride in them?’

“Yayati answered, ‘Those five golden cars displayed in glory, and blazing
as fire, would indeed, carry you to regions of bliss.’

“Ashtaka said, ‘O king, ride on those cars thyself and repair to heaven.
We can wait. We follow thee in time.’

“Yayati said, ‘We can now all go together. Indeed, all of us have
conquered heaven. Behold, the glorious path to heaven becomes visible.”

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then all those excellent monarchs riding in
those cars set out for heaven for gaining admittance into it,
illuminating the whole firmament by the glory of their virtues.’

“Then Ashtaka, breaking the silence asked, ‘I had always thought that
Indra was my especial friend, and that I, of all others, should first
obtain admittance into heaven. But how is it that Usinara’s son, Sivi
hath already left us behind?’

“Yayati answered, ‘This Usinara’s son had given all he possessed for
attaining to the region of Brahman. Therefore, is he the foremost among
us. Besides, Sivi’s liberality, asceticism, truth, virtue, modesty,
forgiveness, amiability, desire of performing good acts, have been so
great that none can measure them!’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘After this, Ashtaka, impelled by curiosity,
again asked his maternal grandfather resembling Indra himself, saying, ‘O
king, I ask thee, tell me truly, whence thou art, who thou art, and whose
son? Is there any other Brahmana or Kshatriya who hath done what thou
didst on earth?’ Yayati answered, ‘I tell thee truly, I am Yayati, the
son of Nahusha and the father of Puru. I was lord of all the Earth. Ye
are my relatives; I tell thee truly, I am the maternal grandfather of you
all. Having conquered the whole earth, I gave clothes to Brahmanas and
also a hundred handsome horses fit for sacrificial offering. For such
acts of virtue, the gods became propitious to those that perform them. I
also gave to Brahmanas this whole earth with her horses and elephants and
kine and gold all kinds of wealth, along with a hundred Arbudas of
excellent milch cows. Both the earth and the firmament exist owing to my
truth and virtue; fire yet burneth in the world of men owing to my truth
and virtue. Never hath a word spoken by me been untrue. It is for this
that the wise adore Truth. O Ashtaka, all I have told thee, Pratardana,
and Vasumat, is Truth itself. I know it for certain that the gods and the
Rishis and all the mansions of the blessed are adorable only because of
Truth that characteriseth them all. He that will without malice duly read
unto good Brahmanas his account of our ascension to heaven shall himself
attain to the same worlds with us.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘It was thus that the illustrious king Yayati of
high achievements, rescued by his collateral descendants, ascended to
heaven, leaving the earth and covering the three worlds with the fame of
his deeds.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Janamejaya said, ‘O adorable one, I desire to hear the histories of
those kings who were descended from Puru. O tell me of each as he was
possessed of prowess and achievements. I have, indeed, heard that in
Puru’s line there was not a single one who was wanting in good behaviour
and prowess, or who was without sons. O thou of ascetic wealth, I desire
to hear the histories in detail of those famous monarchs endued with
learning and all accomplishments.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Asked by thee, I shall tell thee all about the
heroic-kings in Puru’s line, all equal unto Indra in prowess, possessing
great affluence and commanding the respect of all for their

“Puru had by his wife Paushti three sons, Pravira, Iswara, and Raudraswa,
all of whom were mighty car-warriors. Amongst them, Pravira was the
perpetuator of the dynasty. Pravira had by his wife Suraseni a son named
Manasyu. And the latter of eyes like lotus-petals had his sway over the
whole Earth bounded by the four seas. And Manasyu had for his wife
Sauviri. And he begat upon her three sons called Sakta, Sahana, and
Vagmi. And they were heroes in battle and mighty car-warriors. The
intelligent and virtuous Kaudraswa begat upon the Apsara Misrakesi ten
sons who were all great bowmen. And they all grew up into heroes,
performing numerous sacrifices in honour of the gods. And they all had
sons, were learned in all branches of knowledge and ever devoted to
virtue. They are Richeyu, and Kaksreyu and Vrikeyu of great prowess;
Sthandileyu, and Vaneyu, and Jaleyu of great fame; Tejeyu of great
strength and intelligence; and Satyeyu of the prowess of Indra; Dharmeyu,
and Sannateyu the tenth of the prowess of the celestials. Amongst them
all, Richeyu became the sole monarch of the whole earth and was known by
the name of Anadhrishti. And in prowess he was like unto Vasava amongst
the celestials. And Anadhristi had a son of the name of Matinara who
became a famous and virtuous king and performed the Rajasuya and the
horse-sacrifice. And Matinara had four sons of immeasurable prowess,
viz., Tansu, Mahan, Atiratha, and Druhyu of immeasurable glory. (Amongst
them, Tansu of great prowess became the perpetrator of Puru’s line). And
he subjugated the whole earth and acquired great fame and splendour. And
Tansu begat a son of great prowess named Ilina. And he became the
foremost of all conquerors and brought the whole world under his
subjection. And Ilina begat upon his wife Rathantara five sons with
Dushmanta at their head, all equal in might unto the five elements. They
were Dushmanta, Sura, Bhima, Pravasu, and Vasu. And, O Janamejaya, the
eldest of them, Dushmanta, became king. And Dushmanta had by his wife
Sakuntala an intelligent son named Bharata who became king. And Bharata
gave his name to the race of which he was the founder. And it is from him
that the fame of that dynasty hath spread so wide. And Bharata begat upon
his three wives nine sons in all. But none of them were like their father
and so Bharata was not at all pleased with them. Their mothers,
therefore, became angry and slew them all. The procreation of children by
Bharata, therefore, became vain. The monarch then performed a great
sacrifice and through the grace of Bharadwaja obtained a son named
Bhumanyu. And then Bharata, the great descendant of Puru, regarding
himself as really possessing a son, installed, O foremost one of
Bharata’s race, that son as his heir-apparent. And Bhumanyu begat upon
his wife, Pushkarini six sons named Suhotra, Suhotri, Suhavih, Sujeya,
Diviratha and Kichika. The eldest of them all, Suhotra, obtained the
throne and performed many Rajasuyas and horse-sacrifices. And Suhotra
brought under his sway the whole earth surrounded by her belt of seas and
full of elephants, kine and horses, and all her wealth of gems of gold.
And the earth afflicted with the weight of numberless human beings and
elephants, horses, and cats, was, as it were, about to sink. And during
the virtuous reign of Suhotra the surface of the whole earth was dotted
all over with hundreds and thousands, of sacrificial stakes. And the lord
of the earth, Suhotra, begat, upon his wife Aikshaki three sons, viz.,
Ajamidha, Sumidha, and Purumidha. The eldest of them, Ajamidha, was the
perpetuator of the royal line. And he begat six sons,--Riksha was born of
the womb of Dhumini, Dushmanta and Parameshthin, of Nili, and Jahnu, Jala
and Rupina were born in that of Kesini. All the tribes of the Panchalas
are descended from Dushmanta and Parameshthin. And the Kushikas are the
sons of Jahnu of immeasurable prowess. And Riksha who was older than both
Jala and Rupina became king. And Riksha begat Samvarana, the perpetuator
of the royal line. And, O king, it hath been heard by us that while
Samvarana, the son of Riksha, was ruling the earth, there happened a
great loss of people from famine, pestilence, drought, and disease. And
the Bharata princes were beaten by the troops of enemies. And the
Panchalas setting out to invade the whole earth with their four kinds of
troops soon brought the whole earth under their sway. And with their ten
Akshauhinis the king of the Panchalas defeated the Bharata prince.
Samvarana then with his wife and ministers, sons and relatives, fled in
fear, and took shelter in the forest on the banks of the Sindhu extending
to the foot of the mountains. There the Bharatas lived for a full
thousand years, within their fort. And after they had lived there a
thousand years, one day the illustrious Rishi Vasishtha approached the
exiled Bharatas, who, on going out, saluted the Rishi and worshipped him
by the offer of Arghya. And entertaining him with reverence, they
represented everything unto that illustrious Rishi. And after he was
seated on his seat, the king himself approached the Rishi and addressed
him, saying, ‘Be thou our priest, O illustrious one! We will endeavour to
regain our kingdom.’ And Vasishtha answered the Bharatas by saying, ‘Om’
(the sign of consent). It hath been heard by us that Vasishtha then
installed the Bharata prince in the sovereignty of all the Kshatriyas on
earth, making by virtue of his Mantras this descendant of Puru the
veritable horns of the wild bull or the tusks of the wild elephants. And
the king retook the capital that had been taken away from him and once
more made all monarchs pay tribute to him. The powerful Samvarana, thus
installed once more in the actual sovereignty of the whole earth,
performed many sacrifices at which the presents to the Brahmanas were

“Samvarana begat upon his wife, Tapati, the daughter of Surya, a son
named Kuru. This Kuru was exceedingly virtuous, and therefore, he was
installed on the throne by his people. It is after his name that the
field called Kuru-jangala has become so famous in the world. Devoted to
asceticism, he made that field (Kurukshetra) sacred by practising
asceticism there. And it has been heard by us that Kuru’s highly
intelligent wife, Vahini, brought forth five sons, viz., Avikshit,
Bhavishyanta, Chaitraratha, Muni and the celebrated Janamejaya. And
Avikshit begat Parikshit the powerful, Savalaswa, Adhiraja, Viraja,
Salmali of great physical strength, Uchaihsravas, Bhangakara and Jitari
the eighth. In the race of these were born, as the fruit of their pious
acts seven mighty car-warriors with Janamejaya at their head. And unto
Parikshit were born sons who were all acquainted with (the secrets of)
religion and profit. And they were named Kakshasena and Ugrasena, and
Chitrasena endued with great energy, and Indrasena and Sushena and
Bhimasena. And the sons of Janamejaya were all endued with great strength
and became celebrated all over the world. And they were Dhritarashtra who
was the eldest, and Pandu and Valhika, and Nishadha endued with great
energy, and then the mighty Jamvunada, and then Kundodara and Padati and
then Vasati the eighth. And they were all proficient in morality and
profit and were kind to all creatures. Among them Dhritarashtra became
king. And Dhritarashtra had eight sons, viz., Kundika, Hasti, Vitarka,
Kratha the fifth, Havihsravas, Indrabha, and Bhumanyu the invincible, and
Dhritarashtra had many grandsons, of whom three only were famous. They
were, O king, Pratipa, Dharmanetra, Sunetra. Among these three, Pratipa
became unrivalled on earth. And, O bull in Bharata’s race, Pratipa begat
three sons, viz., Devapi, Santanu, and the mighty car-warrior Valhika.
The eldest Devapi adopted the ascetic course of life, impelled thereto by
the desire of benefiting his brothers. And the kingdom was obtained by
Santanu and the mighty car-warrior Valhika.

“O monarch, besides, there were born in the race of Bharata numberless
other excellent monarchs endued with great energy and like unto the
celestial Rishis themselves in virtue and ascetic power. And so also in
the race of Manu were born many mighty car-warriors like unto the
celestials themselves, who by their number swelled the Aila dynasty into
gigantic proportions.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Janamejaya said, ‘O Brahmana, I have now heard from thee this great
history of my ancestors. I had also heard from thee about the great
monarchs that were born in this line. But I have not been gratified, this
charming account being so short. Therefore, be pleased, O Brahmana, to
recite the delightful narrative just in detail commencing from Manu, the
lord of creation. Who is there that will not be charmed with such an
account, as it is sacred? The fame of these monarchs increased by their
wisdom, virtue, accomplishments, and high character, hath so swelled as
to cover the three worlds. Having listened to the history, sweet as
nectar, of their liberality, prowess, physical strength, mental vigour,
energy, and perseverance, I have not been satiated!’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Hear then, O monarch, as I recite in full the
auspicious account of thy own race just as I had heard it from Dwaipayana

“Daksha begat Aditi, and Aditi begat Vivaswat, and Vivaswat begat Manu,
and Manu begat Ha and Ha begat Pururavas. And Pururavas begat Ayus, and
Ayus begat Nahusha, and Nahusha begat Yayati. And Yayati had two wives,
viz., Devayani, the daughter of Usanas, and Sarmishtha the daughter of
Vrishaparvan. Here occurs a sloka regarding (Yayati’s) descendants,
‘Devayani gave birth to Yadu and Turvasu; and Vrishaparvan’s daughter,
Sarmishtha gave birth to Druhyu, Anu, and Puru., And the descendants of
Yadu are the Yadavas and of Puru are the Pauravas. And Puru had a wife of
the name of Kausalya, on whom he begat a son named Janamejaya who
performed three horse-sacrifices and a sacrifice called Viswajit. And
then he entered into the woods. And Janamejaya had married Ananta, the
daughter of Madhava, and begat upon her a son called Prachinwat. And the
prince was so called because he had conquered all the eastern countries
up to the very confines of the region where the Sun rises. And Prachinwat
married Asmaki, a daughter of the Yadavas and begat upon her a son named
Sanyati. And Sanyati married Varangi, the daughter of Drishadwata and
begat upon her a son named Ahayanti. And Ahayanti married Bhanumati, the
daughter of Kritavirya and begat upon her a son named Sarvabhauma. And
Sarvabhauma married Sunanda, the daughter of the Kekaya prince, having
obtained her by force. And he begat upon her a son named Jayatsena, who
married Susrava, the daughter of the Vidarbha king and begat upon her
Avachina, And Avachina also married another princess of Vidarbha, Maryada
by name. And he begat on her a son named Arihan. And Arihan married Angi
and begat on her Mahabhauma. And Mahabhauma married Suyajna, the daughter
of Prasenajit. And of her was born Ayutanayi. And he was so called
because he had performed a sacrifice at which the fat of an Ayuta (ten
thousands) of male beings was required. And Ayutanayi took for a wife
Kama, the daughter of Prithusravas. And by her was born a son named
Akrodhana, who took to wife Karambha, the daughter of the king of
Kalinga. And of her was born Devatithi, and Devatithi took for his wife
Maryada, the princess of Videha. And of her was born a son named Arihan.
And Arihan took to wife Sudeva, the princess of Anga, and upon her he
begat a son named Riksha. And Riksha married Jwala, the daughter of
Takshaka, and he begat upon her a son of the name of Matinara, who
performed on the bank of Saraswati the twelve years’ sacrifice said to be
so efficacious. On conclusion of the sacrifice, Saraswati appeared in
person before the king and chose him for husband. And he begat upon her a
son named Tansu. Here occurs a sloka descriptive of Tansu’s descendants.

“Tansu was born of Saraswati by Matinara. And Tansu himself begat a son
named Ilina on his wife, the princess Kalingi.

“Ilina begat on his wife Rathantari five sons, of whom Dushmanta was the
eldest. And Dushmanta took to wife Sakuntala, the daughter of Viswamitra.
And he begat on her a son named Bharata. Here occurs two slokas about
(Dushmanta’s) descendants.

“The mother is but the sheath of flesh in which the father begets the
son. Indeed the father himself is the son. Therefore, O Dushmanta,
support thy son and insult not Sakuntala. O god among men, the father
himself becoming the son rescueth himself from hell. Sakuntala hath truly
said that thou art the author of this child’s being.

“It is for this (i.e., because the king supported his child after hearing
the above speech of the celestial messenger) that Sakuntala’s son came to
be called Bharata (the supported). And Bharata married Sunanda, the
daughter of Sarvasena, the king of Kasi, and begat upon her the son named
Bhumanyu. And Bhumanyu married Vijaya, the daughter of Dasarha. And he
begat upon her a son Suhotra who married Suvarna, the daughter of
Ikshvaku. To her was born a son named Hasti who founded this city, which
has, therefore, been called Hastinapura. And Hasti married Yasodhara, the
princess of Trigarta. And of her was born a son named Vikunthana who took
for a wife Sudeva, the princess of Dasarha. And by her was born a son
named Ajamidha. And Ajamidha had four wives named Raikeyi, Gandhari,
Visala and Riksha. And he begat on them two thousand and four hundred
sons. But amongst them all, Samvarana became the perpetuator of the
dynasty. And Samvarana took for his wife Tapati, the daughter of
Vivaswat. And of her was born Kuru, who married Subhangi, the princess of
Dasarha. And he begat on her a son named Viduratha, who took to wife
Supriya, the daughter of the Madhavas. And he begat upon her a son named
Anaswan. And Anaswan married Amrita, the daughter of the Madhavas. And of
her was born a son named Parikshit, who took for his wife Suvasa, the
daughter of the Vahudas, and begat upon her a son named Bhimasena. And
Bhimasena married Kumari, the princess of Kekaya and begat upon her
Pratisravas whose son was Pratipa. And Pratipa married Sunanda, the
daughter of Sivi, and begat upon her three sons, viz., Devapi, Santanu
and Valhika. And Devapi, while still a boy, entered the woods as a
hermit. And Santanu became king. Here occurs a sloka in respect of

“Those old men that were touched by this monarch not only felt an
indescribable sensation of pleasure but also became restored to youth.
Therefore, this monarch was called Santanu.

“And Santanu married Ganga, who bore him a son Devavrata who was
afterwards called Bhishma. And Bhishma, moved by the desire of doing good
to his father, got him married to Satyavati who was also called
Gandhakali. And in her maidenhood she had a son by Parasara, named
Dwaipayana. And upon her Santanu begat two other sons named Chitrangada
and Vichitravirya. And before they attained to majority, Chitrangada had
been slain by the Gandharvas. But Vichitravirya became king, and married
the two daughters of the king of Kasi, named Amvika and Amvalika. But
Vichitravirya died childless. Then Satyavati began to think as to how the
dynasty of Dushmanta might be perpetuated. Then she recollected the Rishi
Dwaipayana. The latter coming before her, asked, ‘What are thy commands?’
‘She said, ‘Thy brother Vichitravirya hath gone to heaven childless.
Beget virtuous children for him.’ Dwaipayana, consenting to this, begat
three children, viz., Dhritarashtra, Pandu, and Vidura. King
Dhritarashtra had a hundred sons by his wife, Gandhari in consequence of
the boon granted by Dwaipayana. And amongst those hundred sons of
Dhritarashtra, four became celebrated. They are Duryodhana, Duhsasana,
Vikarna, and Chitrasena. And Pandu had two jewels of wives, viz., Kunti,
also called Pritha, and Madri. One day Pandu, while out a-hunting, saw a
deer covering its mate. That was really a Rishi in the form of a deer.
Seeing the deer in that attitude, he killed it with his arrows, before
its desire was gratified. Pierced with the king’s arrow, the deer quickly
changed its form and became a Rishi, and said unto Pandu, ‘O Pandu, thou
art virtuous and acquainted also with the pleasure derived from the
gratification of one’s desire. My desire unsatisfied, thou hast slain me!
Therefore, thou also, when so engaged and before thou art gratified,
shalt die!’ Pandu, hearing this curse, became pale, and from that time
would not go in unto his wives. And he told them these words, ‘Through my
own fault, I have been cursed! But I have heard that for the childless
there are no regions hereafter.’ Therefore, he solicited Kunti to have
offspring raised for him. And Kunti said, ‘Let it be’, So she raised up
offspring. By Dharma she had Yudhishthira; by Maruta, Bhima: and by
Sakra, Arjuna. And Pandu, well-pleased with her, said, ‘This thy co-wife
is also childless. Therefore, cause her also to bear children.’ Kunti
saying, ‘So be it,’ imparted unto Madri the mantra of invocation. And on
Madri were raised by the twin Aswins, the twins Nakula and Sahadeva. And
(one day) Pandu, beholding Madri decked with ornaments, had his desire
kindled. And, as soon as he touched her, he died. Madri ascended the
funeral pyre with her lord. And she said unto Kunti, ‘Let these twins of
mine be brought up by thee with affection.’ After some time those five
Pandavas were taken by the ascetics of the woods to Hastinapura and there
introduced to Bhishma and Vidura. And after introducing them, the
ascetics disappeared in the very sight of all. And after the conclusion
of the speech of those ascetics, flowers were showered down upon the
spot, and the celestial drums also were beaten in the skies. The Pandavas
were then taken (by Bhishma). They then represented the death of their
father and performed his last honours duly. And as they were brought up
there, Duryodhana became exceedingly jealous of them. And the sinful
Duryodhana acting like Rakshasa tried various means to drive them away.
But what must be can never be frustrated. So all Duryodhana’s efforts
proved futile. Then Dhritarashtra sent them, by an act of deception to
Varanavata, and they went there willingly. There an endeavour was made to
burn them to death; but it proved abortive owing to the warning counsels
of Vidura. After that the Pandavas slew Hidimva, and then they went to a
town called Ekachakra. There also they slew a Rakshasa of the name of
Vaka and then went to Panchala. And there obtaining Draupadi for a wife
they returned to Hastinapura. And there they dwelt for some time in peace
and begat children. And Yudhishthira begat Prativindhya; Bhima, Sutasoma;
Arjuna, Srutakriti; Nakula, Satanika; and Sahadeva, Srutakarman. Besides
these, Yudhishthira, having obtained for his wife Devika, the daughter of
Govasana of the Saivya tribe, in a self-choice ceremony, begat upon her a
son named Yaudheya. And Bhima also obtaining for a wife Valandhara, the
daughter of the king of Kasi, offered his own prowess as dower and begat
upon her a son named Sarvaga. And Arjuna also, repairing to Dwaravati,
brought away by force Subhadra. the sweet-speeched sister of Vasudeva,
and returned in happiness to Hastinapura. And he begat upon her a son
named Abhimanyu endued with all accomplishments and dear to Vasudeva
himself. And Nakula obtaining for his wife Karenumati, the princess of
Chedi, begat upon her a son named Niramitra. And Sahadeva also married
Vijaya, the daughter of Dyutimat, the king of Madra, obtaining her in a
self-choice ceremony and begat upon her a son named Suhotra. And
Bhimasena had some time before begat upon Hidimva a son named
Ghatotkacha. These are the eleven sons of the Pandavas. Amongst them all,
Abhimanyu was the perpetuator of the family. He married Uttara, the
daughter of Virata, who brought forth a dead child whom Kunti took up on
her lap at the command of Vasudeva who said, ‘I will revive this child of
six months.’ And though born before time, having been burnt by the fire
of (Aswatthaman’s weapon) and, therefore, deprived of strength and energy
he was revived by Vasudeva and endued with strength, energy and prowess.
And after reviving him, Vasudeva said, ‘Because this child hath been born
in an extinct race, therefore, he shall be called Parikshit’. And
Parikshit married Madravati, thy mother, O king, and thou art born to
her, O Janamejaya! Thou hast also begotten two sons on thy wife
Vapushtama, named Satanika and Sankukarna. And Satanika also hath
begotten one son named Aswamedhadatta upon the princess of Videha.

“Thus have I, O king, recited the history of the descendants of Puru and
of the Pandavas. This excellent, virtue-increasing, and sacred history
should ever be listened to by vow-observing Brahmanas, by Kshatriyas
devoted to the practices of their order and ready to protect their
subjects; by Vaisyas with attention, and by Sudras with reverence, whose
chief occupation is to wait upon the three other orders. Brahmanas
conversant in the Vedas and other persons, who with attention and
reverence recite this sacred history or listen to it when recited,
conquer the heavens and attain to the abode of the blessed. They are also
always respected and adored by the gods, Brahamanas, and other men. This
holy history of Bharata hath been composed by the sacred and illustrious
Vyasa. Veda-knowing Brahmanas and other persons who with reverence and
without malice hear it recited, earn great religious merits and conquer
the heavens. Though sinning, they are not disregarded by any one. Here
occurs a sloka, ‘This (Bharata) is equal unto the Vedas: it is holy and
excellent. It bestoweth wealth, fame, and life. Therefore, it should be
listened to by men with rapt attention.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘There was a king known by the name of Mahabhisha
born in the race of Ikshvaku. He was the lord of all the earth, and was
truthful (in speech) and of true prowess. By a thousand horse-sacrifices
and a hundred Rajasuyas he had gratified the chief of the celestials and
ultimately attained to heaven.

“One day the celestials had assembled together and were worshipping
Brahman. Many royal sages and king Mahabhisha also were present on the
spot. And Ganga, the queen of rivers, also came there to pay her
adorations to the Grandsire. And her garments white as the beams of the
moon was displaced by the action of the wind. And as her person became
exposed, the celestials bent down their heads. But the royal sage
Mahabhisha rudely stared at the queen of rivers. And Mahabhisha was for
this cursed by Brahman, who said, ‘Wretch, as thou hast forgotten thyself
at the sight of Ganga, thou shalt be re-born on earth. But thou shall
again and again attain to these regions. And she, too, shall be born in
the world of men and shall do thee injuries. But when thy wrath shall be
provoked, thou shalt then be freed from my curse.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘King Mahabhisha then recollecting all the
monarchs and ascetics on earth, wished to be born as son to Pratipa of
great prowess. And the queen of rivers, too, seeing king Mahabhisha lose
his firmness, went away, thinking of him wishfully. And on her way, she
saw those dwellers in heaven, the Vasus, also pursuing the same path. And
the queen of rivers beholding them in the predicament, asked them, ‘Why
look ye so dejected? Ye dwellers in heaven, is everything right with
you?’ Those celestials, the Vasus, answered her, saying, ‘O queen of
rivers, we have been cursed, for a venial fault, by the illustrious
Vasishtha in anger. The foremost of excellent Rishis, Vasishtha, had been
engaged in his twilight adorations and seated as he was, he could not be
seen by us. We crossed him in ignorance. Therefore, in wrath he hath
cursed us, saying, Be ye born among men!’ It is beyond our power to
frustrate what hath been said by that utterance of Brahma. Therefore, O
river, thyself becoming a human female make us the Vasus, thy children. O
amiable one, we are unwilling to enter the womb of any human female.’
Thus addressed, the queen of rivers told them, ‘Be it so and asked them,
‘On earth, who is that foremost of men whom ye will make your father?’

“The Vasus replied, ‘On earth, unto Pratipa shall be born a son, Santanu,
who will be a king of world-wide fame.’ Ganga then said, ‘Ye celestials,
that is exactly my wish which ye sinless ones have expressed. I shall,
indeed, do good to that Santanu. That is also your desire as just
expressed.’ The Vasus then said, ‘It behoveth thee to throw thy children
after birth, into the water, so that, O thou of three courses (celestial,
terrestrial, and subterranean) we may be rescued soon without having to
live on earth for any length of time.’ Ganga then answered, ‘I shall do
what ye desire. But in order that his intercourse with me may not be
entirely fruitless, provide ye that one son at least may live.’ The Vasus
then replied, ‘We shall each contribute an eighth part of our respective
energies With the sum thereof, thou shall have one son according to thy
and his wishes. But this son shall not begat any children on earth.
Therefore, that son of thine endued with great energy, shall be

“The Vasus, making this arrangement with Ganga, went away without Waiting
to the place they liked.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said. ‘There was a king of the name of Pratipa, who was
kind to all creatures. He spent many years in ascetic penances at the
source of the river Ganga. The accomplished and lovely Ganga, one day,
assuming the form of a beautiful female, and rising from the waters, made
up to the monarch. The celestial maiden, endued with ravishing beauty,
approached the royal sage engaged in ascetic austerities, and sat upon
his right thigh that was, for manly strength, a veritable Sala tree. When
the maiden of handsome face had so sat upon his lap, the monarch said
unto her, ‘O amiable one, what dost thou desire? What shall I do?’ The
damsel answered, ‘I desire thee, O king, for my husband! O foremost one
of the Kurus, be mine! To refuse a woman coming of her own accord is
never applauded by the wise.’ Pratipa answered, ‘O thou of the fairest
complexion, moved by lust, I never go in unto others’ wives or women that
are not of my order. This, indeed, is my virtuous vow.’ The maiden
rejoined, ‘I am not inauspicious or ugly. I am every way worthy of being
enjoyed. I am a celestial maiden of rare beauty; I desire thee for my
husband. Refuse me not, O king.’ To this Pratipa answered, ‘I am, ‘O
damsel, abstaining from that course to which thou wouldst incite me. If I
break my vow, sin will overwhelm and kill me. O thou of the fairest
complexion, thou hast embraced me, sitting on my right thigh. But, O
timid one, know that this is the seat for daughters and daughters-in-law.
The left lap is for the wife, but thou hast not accepted that. Therefore,
O best of women, I cannot enjoy thee as an object of desire. Be my
daughter-in-law. I accept thee for my son!’

“The damsel then said, ‘O virtuous one, let it be as thou sayest. Let me
be united with thy son. From my respect for thee, I shall be a wife of
the celebrated Bharata race. Ye (of the Bharata race) are the refuge of
all the monarchs on earth! I am incapable of numbering the virtues of
this race even within a hundred years. The greatness and goodness of many
celebrated monarchs of this race are limitless. O lord of all, let it be
understood now that when I become thy daughter-in-law, thy son shall not
be able to judge of the propriety of my acts. Living thus with thy son, I
shall do good to him and increase his happiness. And he shall finally
attain to heaven in consequence of the sons I shall bear him, and of his
virtues and good conduct.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘O king, having said so, the celestial damsel
disappeared then and there. And the king, too, waited for the birth of
his son in order to fulfil his promise.’

“About this time Pratipa, that light of the Kuru race, that bull amongst
Kshatriyas, was engaged, along with his wife, in austerities from desire
of offspring. And when they had grown old, a son was born unto them. This
was no other than Mahabhisha. And the child was called Santanu because he
was born when his father had controlled his passions by ascetic penances.
And the best of Kurus, Santanu, knowing that region of indestructible
bliss can be acquired by one’s deeds alone, became devoted to virtue.
When Santanu grew up into a youth, Pratipa addressed him and said, ‘Some
time ago, O Santanu, a celestial damsel came to me for thy good. If thou
meetest that fair-complexioned one in secret and if she solicit thee for
children, accept her as thy wife. And, O sinless one, judge not of the
propriety or impropriety of her action and ask not who she is, or whose
or whence, but accept her as thy wife at my command!’” Vaisampayana
continued, ‘Pratipa, having thus commanded his son Santanu and installed
him on his throne, retired into the woods. And king Santanu endued with
great intelligence and equal unto Indra himself in splendour, became
addicted to hunting and passed much of his time in the woods. And the
best of monarchs always slew deer and buffaloes. And one day, as he was
wandering along the bank of the Ganges, he came upon a region frequented
by Siddhas and Charanas. And there he saw a lovely maiden of blazing
beauty and like unto another Sri herself; of faultless and pearly teeth
and decked with celestial ornaments, and attired in garments of fine
texture that resembled in splendour the filaments of the lotus. And the
monarch, on beholding that damsel, became surprised, and his raptures
produced instant horripilation. With steadfast gaze he seemed to be
drinking her charms, but repeated draughts failed to quench his thirst.
The damsel also beholding the monarch of blazing splendour moving about
in great agitation, was moved herself and experienced an affection for
him. She gazed and gazed and longed to gaze on him evermore. The monarch
then in soft words addressed her and said, ‘O slender-waisted one, be
thou a goddess or the daughter of a Danava, be thou of the race of the
Gandharvas, or Apsaras, be thou of the Yakshas or the Nagas, or be thou
of human origin, O thou of celestial beauty, I solicit thee to be my


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘The maiden then, hearing those soft and sweet words
of the smiling monarch, and remembering her promise to the Vasus,
addressed the king in reply. Of faultless features, the damsel sending a
thrill of pleasure into the heart by every word she uttered, said, ‘O
king, I shall become thy wife and obey thy commands. But, O monarch, thou
must not interfere with me in anything I do, be it agreeable or
disagreeable. Nor shall thou ever address me unkindly. As long as thou
shalt behave kindly I promise to live with thee. But I shall certainly
leave thee the moment thou interferest with me or speakest to me an
unkind word.’ The king answered, ‘Be it so.’ And thereupon the damsel
obtaining that excellent monarch, that foremost one of the Bharata race
for her husband, became highly pleased. And king Santanu also, obtaining
her for his wife, enjoyed to the full the pleasure of her company. And
adhering to his promise, he refrained from asking her anything. And the
lord of earth, Santanu, became exceedingly gratified with her conduct,
beauty, magnanimity, and attention to his comforts. And the goddess Ganga
also, of three courses (celestial, terrestrial, and subterranean)
assuming a human form of superior complexion and endued with celestial
beauty, lived happily as the wife of Santanu, having as the fruit of her
virtuous acts, obtained for her husband, that tiger among kings equal
unto Indra himself in splendour. And she gratified the king by her
attractiveness and affection, by her wiles and love, by her music and
dance, and became herself gratified. And the monarch was so enraptured
with his beautiful wife that months, seasons, and years rolled on without
his being conscious of them. And the king, while thus enjoying himself
with his wife, had eight children born unto him who in beauty were like
the very celestials themselves. But, O Bharata, those children, one after
another, as soon as they were born, were thrown into the river by Ganga
who said, ‘This is for thy good.’ And the children sank to rise no more.
The king, however, could not be pleased with such conduct. But he spoke
not a word about it lest his wife should leave him. But when the eighth
child was born, and when his wife as before was about to throw it
smilingly into the river, the king with a sorrowful countenance and
desirous of saving it from destruction, addressed her and said, ‘Kill it
not! Who art thou and whose? Why dost thou kill thy own children?
Murderess of thy sons, the load of thy sins is great!’” His wife, thus
addressed, replied, ‘O thou desirous of offspring, thou hast already
become the first of those that have children. I shall not destroy this
child of thine. But according to our agreement, the period of my stay
with thee is at an end. I am Ganga, the daughter of Jahnu. I am ever
worshipped by the great sages; I have lived with thee so long for
accomplishing the purposes of the celestials. The eight illustrious Vasus
endued with great energy had, from Vasishtha’s curse, to assume human
forms. On earth, besides thee, there was none else to deserve the honour
of being their begetter. There is no woman also on earth except one like
me, a celestial of human form, to become their mother. I assumed a human
form to bring them forth. Thou also, having become the father of the
eight Vasus, hast acquired many regions of perennial bliss. It was also
agreed between myself and the Vasus that I should free them from their
human forms as soon as they would be born. I have thus freed them from
the curse of the Rishi Apava. Blest be thou; I leave thee, O king! But
rear thou this child of rigid vows. That I should live with thee so long
was the promise I gave to the Vasus. And let this child be called


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Santanu asked, ‘What was the fault of the Vasus and who was Apava,
through whose curse the Vasus had to be born among men? What also hath
this child of thine, Gangadatta, done for which he shall have to live
among men? Why also were the Vasus, the lords of the three worlds,
condemned to be born amongst men? O daughter of Jahnu, tell me all.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed, the celestial daughter of
Jahnu, Ganga, then replied unto the monarch, her husband, that bull
amongst men, saying, ‘O best of Bharata’s race, he who was obtained as
son by Varuna was called Vasishtha, the Muni who afterwards came to be
known as Apava. He had his asylum on the breast of the king of mountains
called Meru. The spot was sacred and abounded with birds and beasts. And
there bloomed at all times of the year flowers of every season. And, O
best of Bharata’s race, that foremost of virtuous men, the son of Varuna,
practised his ascetic penances in those woods abounding with sweet roots
and water.

“Daksha had a daughter known by the name of Surabhi, who, O bull of
Bharata’s race, for benefiting the world, brought forth, by her
connection with Kasyapa, a daughter (Nandini) in the form of a cow. That
foremost of all kine, Nandini, was the cow of plenty (capable of granting
every desire). The virtuous son of Varuna obtained Nandini for his Homa
rites. And Nandini, dwelling in that hermitage which was adored by Munis,
roamed about fearlessly in those sacred and delightful woods.

“One day, O bull of Bharata’s race, there came into those woods adored by
the gods and celestial Rishis, the Vasus with Prithu at their head. And
wandering there with their wives, they enjoyed themselves in those
delightful woods and mountains. And as they wandered there, the
slender-waisted wife of one of the Vasus, O thou of the prowess of Indra,
saw in those woods Nandini, the cow of plenty. And seeing that cow
possessing the wealth of all accomplishments, large eyes, full udders,
fine tail, beautiful hoofs, and every other auspicious sign, and yielding
much milk, she showed the animal to her husband Dyu. O thou of the
prowess of the first of elephants, when Dyu was shown that cow, he began
to admire her several qualities and addressing his wife, said, ‘O
black-eyed girl of fair thighs, this excellent cow belongeth to that
Rishi whose is this delightful asylum. O slender-waisted one, that mortal
who drinketh the sweet milk of this cow remaineth in unchanged youth for
ten thousand years.’ O best of monarchs, hearing this, the
slender-waisted goddess of faultless features then addressed her lord of
blazing splendour and said, ‘There is on earth a friend of mine, Jitavati
by name, possessed of great beauty and youth. She is the daughter of that
god among men, the royal sage Usinara, endued with intelligence and
devoted to truth. I desire to have this cow, O illustrious one, with her
calf for that friend of mine. Therefore, O best of celestials, bring that
cow so that my friend drinking of her milk may alone become on earth free
from disease and decrepitude. O illustrious and blameless one, it
behoveth thee to grant me this desire of mine. There is nothing that
would be more agreeable to me.’ On hearing these words of his wife, Dyu,
moved by the desire of humouring her, stole that cow, aided by his
brothers Prithu and the others. Indeed, Dyu, commanded by his lotus-eyed
wife, did her bidding, forgetting at the moment the high ascetic merits
of the Rishi who owned her. He did not think at the time that he was
going to fall by committing the sin of stealing the cow.

“When the son of Varuna returned to his asylum in the evening with fruits
he had collected, he beheld not the cow with her calf there. He began to
search for them in the woods, but when the great ascetic of superior
intelligence found not his cow on search, he saw by his ascetic vision
that she had been stolen by the Vasus. His wrath was instantly kindled
and he cursed the Vasus, saying, ‘Because the Vasus have stolen my cow of
sweet milk and handsome tail, therefore, shall they certainly be born on

“O thou bull of Bharata’s race, the illustrious Rishi Apava thus cursed
the Vasus in wrath. And having cursed them, the illustrious one set his
heart once more on ascetic meditation. And after that Brahmarshi of great
power and ascetic wealth had thus in wrath cursed the Vasus, the latter,
O king, coming to know of it, speedily came into his asylum. And
addressing the Rishi, O bull among kings, they endeavoured to pacify him.
But they failed, O tiger among men, to obtain grace from Apava--that
Rishi conversant, with all rules of virtue. The virtuous Apava, however,
said, ‘Ye Vasus, with Dhava and others, ye have been cursed by me. But ye
shall be freed from my curse within a year of your birth among men. But
he for whose deed ye have been cursed by me he, viz., Dyu, shall for his
sinful act, have to dwell on earth for a length of time. I shall not make
futile the words I have uttered in wrath. Dyu, though dwelling on Earth,
shall not beget children. He shall, however, be virtuous and conversant
with the scriptures. He shall be an obedient son to his father, but he
shall have to abstain from the pleasure of female companionship.’

“Thus addressing the Vasus, the great Rishi went away. The Vasus then
together came to me. And, O king, the begged of me the boon that as soon
as they would be born, I should throw them into the water. And, O best of
kings, I did as they desired, in order to free them from their earthly
life. And O best of kings, from the Rishi’s curse, this one only, viz.,
Dyu, himself, is to live on earth for some time.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Having said this, the goddess disappeared then
and there. And taking with her the child, she went away to the region she
chose. And that child of Santanu was named both Gangeya and Devavrata and
excelled his father in all accomplishments.

“Santanu, after the disappearance of his wife, returned to his capital
with a sorrowful heart. I shall now recount to thee the many virtues and
the great good fortune of the illustrious king Santanu of the Bharata
race. Indeed, it is this splendid history that is called the


(Sambhava Parva continued )

“Vaisampayana said, ‘The monarch Santanu, the most adored of the gods and
royal sages, was known in all the worlds for his wisdom, virtues, and
truthfulness (of speech). The qualities of self-control, liberality,
forgiveness, intelligence, modesty, patience and superior energy ever
dwelt in that bull among men, viz., Santanu, that great being endued with
these accomplishments and conversant with both religion and profit, the
monarch was at once the protector of the Bharata race and all human
beings. His neck was marked with (three) lines, like a conch-shell; his
shoulders were broad, and he resembled in prowess an infuriated elephant.
It would seem that all the auspicious signs of royalty dwelt in his
person, considering that to be their fittest abode. Men, seeing the
behaviour of that monarch of great achievements came to know that virtue
was ever superior to pleasure and profit. These were the attributes that
dwelt in that great being--that bull among men--Santanu. And truly there
was never a king like Santanu. All the kings of the earth, beholding him
devoted to virtue, bestowed upon that foremost of virtuous men the title
of King of kings. And all the kings of the earth during the time of that
lord-protector of the Bharata race, were without woe and fear and anxiety
of any kind. And they all slept in peace, rising from bed every morning
after happy dreams. And owing to that monarch of splendid achievements
resembling Indra himself in energy, all the kings of the earth became
virtuous and devoted to liberality, religious acts and sacrifices. And
when the earth was ruled by Santanu and other monarchs like him, the
religious merits of every order increased very greatly. The Kshatriyas
served the Brahmanas; the Vaisyas waited upon the Kshatriyas, and the
Sudras adoring the Brahmanas and the Kshatriyas, waited upon the Vaisyas.
And Santanu residing in Hastinapura, the delightful capital of the Kurus,
ruled the whole earth bounded by seas. He was truthful and guileless, and
like the king of the celestials himself conversant with the dictates of
virtue. And from the combination in him of liberality, religion and
asceticism, he acquired a great good fortune. He was free from anger and
malice, and was handsome in person like Soma himself. In splendour he was
like the Sun and in impetuosity of valour like Vayu. In wrath he was like
Yama, and in patience like the Earth. And, O king, while Santanu ruled
the earth, no deer, boars, birds, or other animals were needlessly slain.
In his dominions the great virtue of kindness to all creatures prevailed,
and the king himself, with the soul of mercy, and void of desire and
wrath, extended equal protection unto all creatures. Then sacrifices in
honour of the gods, the Rishis, and Pitris commenced, and no creature was
deprived of life sinfully. And Santanu was the king and father of all--of
those that were miserable and those that had no protectors, of birds and
beasts, in fact, of every created thing. And during the rule of the best
of Kurus--of that king of kings--speech became united with truth, and the
minds of men were directed towards liberality and virtue. And Santanu,
having enjoyed domestic felicity for six and thirty years, retired into
the woods.

“And Santanu’s son, the Vasu born of Ganga, named Devavrata resembled
Santanu himself in personal beauty, in habits and behaviour, and in
learning. And in all branches of knowledge worldly or spiritual his skill
was very great. His strength and energy were extraordinary. He became a
mighty car-warrior. In fact he was a great king.

“One day, while pursuing along the banks of the Ganges a deer that he had
struck with his arrow, king Santanu observed that the river had become
shallow. On observing this, that bull among men, viz., Santanu, began to
reflect upon this strange phenomenon. He mentally asked why that first of
rivers ran out so quickly as before. And while seeking for a cause, the
illustrious monarch beheld that a youth of great comeliness, well-built
and amiable person, like Indra himself, had, by his keen celestial
weapon, checked the flow of the river. And the king, beholding this
extraordinary feat of the river Ganga having been checked in her course
near where that youth stood, became very much surprised. This youth was
no other than Santanu’s son himself. But as Santanu had seen his son only
once a few moments after his birth, he had not sufficient recollection to
identify that infant with the youth before his eyes. The youth, however,
seeing his father, knew him at once, but instead of disclosing himself,
he clouded the king’s perception by his celestial powers of illusion and
disappeared in his very sight.

“King Santanu, wondering much at what he saw and imagining the youth to
be his own son then addressed Ganga and said, ‘Show me that child.’ Ganga
thus addressed, assuming a beautiful form, and holding the boy decked
with ornaments in her right arm, showed him to Santanu. And Santanu did
not recognise that beautiful female bedecked with ornaments and attired
in fine robes of white, although he had known her before. And Ganga said,
‘O tiger among men, that eighth son whom thou hadst some time before
begat upon me is this. Know that this excellent child is conversant with
all weapons, O monarch, take him now. I have reared him with care. And go
home, O tiger among men, taking him with thee. Endued with superior
intelligence, he has studied with Vasishtha the entire Vedas with their
branches. Skilled in all weapons and a mighty bowman, he is like Indra in
battle. And, O Bharata, both the gods and the Asuras look upon him with
favour. Whatever branches of knowledge are known to Usanas, this one
knoweth completely. And so is he the master of all those Sastras that the
son of Angiras (Vrihaspati) adored by the gods and the Asuras, knoweth.
And all the weapons known to the powerful and invincible Rama, the son of
Jamadagni are known to this thy illustrious son of mighty arms. O king of
superior courage, take this thy own heroic child given unto thee by me.
He is a mighty bowman and conversant with the interpretation of all
treatises on the duties of a king.’ Thus commanded by Ganga, Santanu took
his child resembling the Sun himself in glory and returned to his
capital. And having reached his city that was like unto the celestial
capital, that monarch of Puru’s line regarded himself greatly fortunate.
And having summoned all the Pauravas together, for the protection of his
kingdom he installed his son as his heir-apparent. And O bull of
Bharata’s race, the prince soon gratified by his behaviour his father and
the other members of the Paurava race: in fact, all the subjects of the
kingdom. And the king of incomparable prowess lived happily with that son
of his.

“Four years had thus passed away, when the king one day went into the
woods on the bank of the Yamuna. And while the king was rambling there,
he perceived a sweet scent coming from an unknown direction. And the
monarch, impelled by the desire of ascertaining the cause, wandered
hither and thither. And in course of his ramble, he beheld a black-eyed
maiden of celestial beauty, the daughter of a fisherman. The king
addressing her, said, ‘Who art thou, and whose daughter? What dost thou
do here, O timid one?’ She answered, ‘Blest be thou! I am the daughter of
the chief of the fishermen. At his command, I am engaged for religious
merit, in rowing passengers across this river in my boat.’ And Santanu,
beholding that maiden of celestial form endued with beauty, amiableness,
and such fragrance, desired her for his wife. And repairing unto her
father, the king solicited his consent to the proposed match. But the
chief of the fishermen replied to the monarch, saying, ‘O king, as soon
as my daughter of superior complexion was born, it was of course,
understood that she should be bestowed upon a husband. But listen to the
desire I have cherished all along in my heart. O sinless one, thou art
truthful: if thou desirest to obtain this maiden as a gift from me, give,
me then this pledge. If, indeed, thou givest the pledge, I will of course
bestow my daughter upon thee for truly I can never obtain a husband for
her equal to thee.’

“Santanu, hearing this, replied, ‘When I have heard of the pledge thou
askest, I shall then say whether I would be able to grant it. If it is
capable of being granted, I shall certainly grant it. Otherwise how shall
I grant it.’ The fisherman said, ‘O king, what I ask of thee is this: the
son born of this maiden shall be installed by thee on thy throne and none
else shall thou make thy successor.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘O Bharata, when Santanu heard this, he felt no
inclination to grant such a boon, though the fire of desire sorely burnt
him within. The king with his heart afflicted by desire returned to
Hastinapura, thinking all the way of the fisherman’s daughter. And having
returned home, the monarch passed his time in sorrowful meditation. One
day, Devavrata approaching his afflicted father said, ‘All is prosperity
with thee; all chiefs obey thee; then how is it that thou grievest thus?
Absorbed in thy own thoughts, thou speakest not a word to me in reply.
Thou goest not out on horse-back now; thou lookest pale and emaciated,
having lost all animation. I wish to know the disease thou sufferest
from, so that I may endeavour to apply a remedy.’ Thus addressed by his
son, Santanu answered, ‘Thou sayest truly, O son, that I have become
melancholy. I will also tell thee why I am so. O thou of Bharata’s line,
thou art the only scion of this our large race. Thou art always engaged
in sports of arms and achievements of prowess. But, O son, I am always
thinking of the instability of human life. If any danger overtake thee, O
child of Ganga, the result is that we become sonless. Truly thou alone
art to me as a century of sons. I do not, therefore, desire to wed again.
I only desire and pray that prosperity may ever attend thee so that our
dynasty may be perpetuated. The wise say that he that hath one son hath
no son. Sacrifices before fire and the knowledge of the three Vedas
yield, it is true, everlasting religious merit, but all these, in point
of religious merit, do not, come up to a sixteenth part of the religious
merit attainable on the birth of a son. Indeed, in this respect, there is
hardly any difference between men and the lower animals. O wise one, I do
not entertain a shadow of doubt that one attains to heaven in consequence
of his having begotten a son. The Vedas which constitute the root of the
Puranas and are regarded as authoritative even by the gods, contain
numerous proof of this. O thou of Bharata’s race, thou art a hero of
excitable temper, who is always engaged in the exercise of arms. It is
very probable that thou wilt be slain on the field of battle. If it so
happen, what then will be the state of the Bharata dynasty, It is this
thought that hath made me so melancholy. I have now told thee fully the
causes of my sorrow.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Devavrata who was endued with great
intelligence, having ascertained all this from the king, reflected within
himself for a while. He then went to the old minister devoted to his
father’s welfare and asked him about the cause of the king’s grief. O
bull of Bharata’s race, when the prince questioned the minister, the
latter told him about the boon that was demanded by the chief of the
fishermen in respect of his daughter Gandhavati. Then Devavrata,
accompanied by many Kshatriya chiefs of venerable age, personally
repaired to the chief of the fishermen and begged of him his daughter on
behalf of the king. The chief of the fishermen received him with due
adorations, and, O thou of Bharata’s race, when the prince took his seat
in the court of the chief, the latter addressed him and said, ‘O bull
among the Bharatas, thou art the first of all wielders of weapons and the
only son of Santanu. Thy power is great. But I have something to tell
thee. If the bride’s father was Indra himself, even then he would have to
repent of rejecting such an exceedingly honourable and desirable proposal
of marriage. The great man of whose seed this celebrated maiden named
Satyavati was born, is, indeed, equal to you in virtue. He hath spoken to
me on many occasions of the virtues of thy father and told me that, the
king alone is worthy of (marrying) Satyavati. Let me tell you that I have
even rejected the solicitations of that best of Brahmarshis--the
celestial sage Asita--who, too, had often asked for Satyavati’s hand in
marriage. I have only one word to say on the part of this maiden. In the
matter of the proposed marriage there is one great objection founded on
the fact of a rival in the person of a co-wife’s son. O oppressor of all
foes, he hath no security, even if he be an Asura or a Gandharva, who
hath a rival in thee. There is this only objection to the proposed
marriage, and nothing else. Blest be thou! But this is all I have to say
in the matter of the bestowal or otherwise, of Satyavati.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘O thou of Bharata’s race, Devavrata, having
heard these words, and moved by the desire of benefiting his father thus
answered in the hearing of the assembled chiefs, ‘O foremost of truthful
men, listen to the vow I utter! The man has not been or will not be born,
who will have the courage to take such a vow! I shall accomplish all that
thou demandest! The son that may be born of this maiden shall be our
king.’ Thus addressed, the chief of the fishermen, impelled by desire of
sovereignty (for his daughter’s son), to achieve the almost impossible,
then said, ‘O thou of virtuous soul, thou art come hither as full agent
on behalf of thy father Santanu of immeasurable glory; be thou also the
sole manager on my behalf in the matter of the bestowal of this my
daughter. But, O amiable one, there is something else to be said,
something else to be reflected upon by thee. O suppressor of foes, those
that have daughters, from the very nature of their obligations, must say
what I say. O thou that art devoted to truth, the promise thou hast given
in the presence of these chiefs for the benefit of Satyavati, hath,
indeed, been worthy of thee. O thou of mighty arms, I have not the least
doubt of its ever being violated by thee. But I have my doubts in respect
of the children thou mayst beget.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘O king, the son of Ganga, devoted to truth,
having ascertained the scruples of the chief of the fishermen, then said,
moved thereto by the desire of benefiting his father, ‘Chief of
fishermen, thou best of men, listen to what I say in the presence of
these assembled kings. Ye kings, I have already relinquished my right to
the throne, I shall now settle the matter of my children. O fisherman,
from this day I adopt the vow of Brahmacharya (study and meditation in
celibacy). If I die sonless, I shall yet attain to regions of perennial
bliss in heaven!’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Upon these words of the son of Ganga, the hair
on the fisherman’s body stood on end from glee, and he replied, ‘I bestow
my daughter!’ Immediately after, the Apsaras and the gods with diverse
tribes of Rishis began to rain down flowers from the firmament upon the
head of Devavrata and exclaimed, ‘This one is Bhishma (the terrible).’
Bhishma then, to serve his father, addressed the illustrious damsel and
said, ‘O mother, ascend this chariot, and let us go unto our house.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Having said this, Bhishma helped the beautiful
maiden into his chariot. On arriving with her at Hastinapura, he told
Santanu everything as it had happened. And the assembled kings, jointly
and individually, applauded his extraordinary act and said, ‘He is really
Bhishma (the terrible)!’ And Santanu also, hearing of the extraordinary
achievements of his son, became highly gratified and bestowed upon the
high-souled prince the boon of death at will, saying, ‘Death shall never
come to thee as long as thou desirest to live. Truly death shall approach
thee, O sinless one, having first obtained thy command.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘O monarch, after the nuptials were over, king
Santanu established his beautiful bride in his household. Soon after was
born of Satyavati an intelligent and heroic son of Santanu named
Chitrangada. He was endued with great energy and became an eminent man.
The lord Santanu of great prowess also begat upon Satyavati another son
named Vichitravirya, who became a mighty bowman and who became king after
his father. And before that bull among men, viz., Vichitravirya, attained
to majority, the wise king Santanu realised the inevitable influence of
Time. And after Santanu had ascended to heaven. Bhishma, placing himself
under the command of Satyavati, installed that suppressor of foes, viz.,
Chitrangada, on the throne, who, having soon vanquished by his prowess
all monarchs, considered not any man as his equal. And beholding that he
could vanquish men, Asuras, and the very gods, his namesake, the powerful
king of the Gandharvas, approached him for an encounter. Between that
Gandharva and that foremost one of the Kurus, who were both very
powerful, there occurred on the field of Kurukshetra a fierce combat
which lasted full three years on the banks of the Saraswati. In that
terrible encounter characterised by thick showers of weapons and in which
the combatants ground each other fiercely, the Gandharva, who had greater
prowess or strategic deception, slew the Kuru prince. Having slain
Chitrangada--that first of men and oppressor of foes--the Gandharva
ascended to heaven. When that tiger among men endued with great prowess
was slain, Bhishma, the son of Santanu, performed, O king, all his
obsequies. He then installed the boy Vichitravirya of mighty arms, still
in his minority, on the throne of the Kurus. And Vichitravirya, placing
himself under the command of Bhishma, ruled the ancestral kingdom. And he
adored Santanu’s son Bhishma who was conversant with all the rules of
religion and law; so, indeed, Bhishma also protected him that was so
obedient to the dictates of duty.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘O thou of Kuru’s race, after Chitrangada was slain,
his successor Vichitravirya being a minor, Bhishma ruled the kingdom,
placing himself under the command of Satyavati. When he saw that his
brother, who was the foremost of intelligent men, attained to majority,
Bhishma set his heart upon marrying Vichitravirya. At this time he heard
that the three daughters of the king of Kasi, all equal in beauty to the
Apsaras themselves, would be married on the same occasion, selecting
their husbands at a self-choice ceremony. Then that foremost of
car-warriors, that vanquisher of all foes, at the command of his mother,
went to the city of Varanasi in a single chariot. There Bhishma, the son
of Santanu, saw that innumerable monarchs had come from all directions;
and there he also saw those three maidens that would select their own
husbands. And when the (assembled) kings were each being mentioned by
name, Bhishma chose those maidens (on behalf of his brother). And taking
them upon his chariot, Bhishma, that first of smiters in battle,
addressed the kings, O monarch, and said in a voice deep as the roar of
the clouds, ‘The wise have directed that when an accomplished person has
been invited, a maiden may be bestowed on him, decked with ornaments and
along with many valuable presents. Others again may bestow their
daughters by accepting a couple of kine. Some again bestow their
daughters by taking a fixed sum, and some take away maidens by force.
Some wed with the consent of the maidens, some by drugging them into
consent, and some by going unto the maidens’ parents and obtaining their
sanction. Some again obtain wives as presents for assisting at
sacrifices. Of these, the learned always applaud the eighth form of
marriage. Kings, however, speak highly of the Swyamvara (the fifth form
as above) and themselves wed according to it. But the sages have said
that, that wife is dearly to be prized who is taken away by force, after
the slaughter of opponents, from amidst the concourse of princes and
kings invited to a self-choice ceremony. Therefore, ye monarchs, I bear
away these maidens hence by force. Strive ye, to the best of your might,
to vanquish me or to be vanquished. Ye monarchs, I stand here resolved to
fight!’ Kuru prince, endued with great energy, thus addressing the
assembled monarchs and the king of Kasi, took upon his car those maidens.
And having taken them up, he sped his chariot away, challenging the
invited kings to a fight.

“The challenged monarchs then all stood up, slapping their arms and
biting their nether lips in wrath. And loud was the din produced, as, in
a great hurry, they began to cast off their ornaments and put on their
armour. And the motion of their ornaments and armour, O Janamejaya,
brilliant as these were, resembled meteoric flashes in the sky. And with
brows contracted and eyes red with rage, the monarchs moved in
impatience, their armour and ornaments dazzling or waving with their
agitated steps. The charioteers soon brought handsome cars with fine
horses harnessed thereto. Those splendid warriors then, equipped with all
kinds of weapons, rode on those cars, and with uplifted weapons pursued
the retreating chief of the Kurus. Then, O Bharata, occurred the terrible
encounter between those innumerable monarchs on one side and the Kuru
warrior alone on the other. And the assembled monarchs threw at their foe
ten thousand arrows at the same time. Bhishma, however speedily checked
those numberless arrows before they could come at him by means of a
shower of his own arrows as innumerable as the down on the body. Then
those kings surrounded him from all sides and rained arrows on him like
masses of clouds showering on the mountain-breast. But Bhishma, arresting
with his shafts the course of that arrowy downpour, pierced each of the
monarchs with three shafts. The latter, in their turn pierced Bhishma,
each with five shafts. But, O king, Bhishma checked those by his prowess
and pierced each of the contending kings with two shafts. The combat
became so fierce with that dense shower of arrows and other missiles that
it looked very much like the encounter between the celestials and the
Asuras of old, and men of courage who took no part in it were struck with
fear even to look at the scene. Bhishma cut off, with his arrows, on the
field of battle, bows, and flagstaffs, and coats of mail, and human heads
by hundreds and thousands. And such was his terrible prowess and
extraordinary lightness of hand, and such the skill with which he
protected himself, that the contending car-warriors, though his enemies,
began to applaud him loudly. Then that foremost of all wielders of
weapons having vanquished in battle all those monarchs, pursued his way
towards the capital of the Bharatas, taking those maidens with him.

“It was then, O king, that mighty car-warrior, king Salya of immeasurable
prowess, from behind summoned Bhishma, the son of Santanu, to an
encounter. And desirous of obtaining the maidens, he came upon Bhishma
like a mighty leader of a herd of elephants rushing upon another of his
kind, and tearing with his tusks the latter’s hips at the sight of a
female elephant in heat. And Salya of mighty arms, moved by wrath
addressed Bhishma and said, ‘Stay, Stay.’ Then Bhishma, that tiger among
men, that grinder of hostile armies, provoked by these words, flamed up
in wrath like a blazing fire. Bow in hand, and brow furrowed into
wrinkles, he stayed on his car, in obedience to Kshatriya usage having
checked its course in expectation of the enemy. All the monarchs seeing
him stop, stood there to become spectators of the coming encounter
between him and Salya. The two then began to exhibit their prowess (upon
each other) like roaring bulls of great strength at the sight of a cow in
rut. Then that foremost of men, king Salya covered Bhishma, the son of
Santanu with hundreds and thousands of swift-winged shafts. And those
monarchs seeing Salya thus covering Bhishma at the outset with
innumerable shafts, wondered much and uttered shouts of applause.
Beholding his lightness of hand in combat, the crowd of regal spectators
became very glad and applauded Salya greatly. That subjugator of hostile
towns, Bhishma, then, on hearing those shouts of the Kshatriyas, became
very angry and said, ‘Stay, Stay’. In wrath, he commanded his charioteer,
saying, ‘Lead thou my car to where Salya is, so that I may slay him
instantly as Garuda slays a serpent.’ Then the Kuru chief fixed the
Varuna weapon on his bow-string, and with it afflicted the four steeds of
king Salya. And, O tiger among kings, the Kuru chief, then, warding off
with his weapons those of his foe, slew Salya’s charioteer. Then that
first of men, Bhishma, the son of Santanu, fighting for the sake of those
damsels, slew with the Aindra weapon the noble steeds of his adversary.
He then vanquished that best of monarchs but left him with his life. O
bull of Bharata’s race, Salya, after his defeat, returned to his kingdom
and continued to rule it virtuously. And O conqueror of hostile towns,
the other kings also, who had come to witness, the self-choice ceremony
returned to their own kingdoms.

“That foremost of smiters, viz., Bhishma, after defeating those monarchs,
set out with those damsels, for Hastinapura whence the virtuous Kuru
prince Vichitravirya ruled the earth like that best of monarchs, viz.,
his father Santanu. And, O king, passing through many forests, rivers,
hills, and woods abounding with trees, he arrived (at the capital) in no
time. Of immeasurable prowess in battle, the son of the ocean-going
Ganga, having slain numberless foes in battle without a scratch on his
own person, brought the daughters of the king of Kasi unto the Kurus as
tenderly if they were his daughters-in-law, or younger sisters, or
daughters. And Bhishma of mighty arms, impelled by the desire of
benefiting his brother, having by his prowess brought them thus, then
offered those maidens possessing every accomplishment unto Vichitravirya.
Conversant with the dictates of virtue, the son of Santanu, having
achieved such an extraordinary feat according to (kingly) custom, then
began to make preparations for his brother’s wedding. And when everything
about the wedding had been settled by Bhishma in consultation with
Satyavati, the eldest daughter of the king of Kasi, with a soft smile,
told him these words, ‘At heart I had chosen the king of Saubha for my
husband. He had, in his heart, accepted me for his wife. This was also
approved by my father. At the self-choice ceremony also I would have
chosen him as my lord. Thou art conversant with all the dictates of
virtue, knowing all this, do as thou likest.’ Thus addressed by that
maiden in the presence of the Brahmanas, the heroic Bhishma began to
reflect as to what should be done. As he was conversant with the rules of
virtue, he consulted with the Brahmanas who had mastered the Vedas, and
permitted Amba, the eldest daughter of the ruler of Kasi to do as she
liked. But he bestowed with due rites the two other daughters, Ambika and
Ambalika on his younger brother Vichitravirya. And though Vichitravirya
was virtuous and abstemious, yet, proud of youth and beauty, he soon
became lustful after his marriage. And both Ambika and Ambalika were of
tall stature, and of the complexion of molten gold. And their heads were
covered with black curly hair, and their finger-nails were high and red;
their hips were fat and round, and their breasts full and deep. And
endued with every auspicious mark, the amiable young ladies considered
themselves to be wedded to a husband who was every way worthy of
themselves, and extremely loved and respected Vichitravirya. And
Vichitravirya also, endued with the prowess of the celestials and the
beauty of the twin Aswins, could steal the heart of any beautiful woman.
And the prince passed seven years uninterruptedly in the company of his
wives. He was attacked while yet in the prime of youth, with phthisis.
Friends and relatives in consultation with one another tried to effect a
cure. But in spite of all efforts, the Kuru prince died, setting like the
evening sun. The virtuous Bhishma then became plunged into anxiety and
grief, and in consultation with Satyavati caused the obsequial rites of
the deceased to be performed by learned priests and the several of the
Kuru race.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘The unfortunate Satyavati then became plunged in
grief on account of her son. And after performing with her
daughters-in-law the funeral rites of the deceased, consoled, as best she
could, her weeping daughters-in-law and Bhishma, that foremost of all
wielders of weapons. And turning her eyes to religion, and to the
paternal and maternal lines (of the Kurus), she addressed Bhishma and
said ‘The funeral cake, the achievements, and the perpetuation of the
line of the virtuous and celebrated Santanu of Kuru’s race, all now
depend on thee. As the attainment of heaven is inseparable from good
deeds, as long life is inseparable from truth and faith, so is virtue
inseparable from thee. O virtuous one, thou art well-acquainted, in
detail and in the abstract, with the dictates of virtue, with various
Srutis, and with all the branches of the Vedas; know very well that thou
art equal unto Sukra and Angiras as regards firmness in virtue, knowledge
of the particular customs of families, and readiness of inventions under
difficulties. Therefore, O foremost of virtuous men, relying on thee
greatly, I shall appoint thee in a certain matter. Hearing me, it
behoveth thee to do my bidding. O bull among men, my son and thy brother,
endued with energy and dear unto thee, hath gone childless to heaven
while still a boy. These wives of thy brother, the amiable daughters of
the ruler of Kasi, possessing beauty and youth, have become desirous of
children. Therefore, O thou of mighty arms, at my command, raise
offspring on them for the perpetuation of our line. It behoveth thee to
guard virtue against loss. Install thyself on the throne and rule the
kingdom of the Bharatas. Wed thou duly a wife. Plunge not thy ancestors
into hell.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed by his mother and friends and
relatives, that oppressor of foes, the virtuous Bhishma, gave this reply
conformable to the dictates of virtue, ‘O mother, what thou sayest is
certainly sanctioned by virtue. But thou knowest what my vow is in the
matter of begetting children. Thou knowest also all that transpired in
connection with thy dower. O Satyavati, I repeat the pledge I once gave,
viz., I would renounce three worlds, the empire of heaven, anything that
may be greater than that, but truth I would never renounce. The earth may
renounce its scent, water may renounce its moisture, light may renounce
its attribute of exhibiting forms, air may renounce its attribute of
touch, the sun may renounce his glory, fire, its heat, the moon, his
cooling rays, space, its capacity of generating sound, the slayer of
Vritra, his prowess, the god of justice, his impartiality; but I cannot
renounce truth.’ Thus addressed by her son endued with wealth of energy,
Satyavati said unto Bhishma, ‘O thou whose prowess is truth, I know of
thy firmness in truth. Thou canst, if so minded, create, by the help of
thy energy, three worlds other than those that exist. I know what thy vow
was on my account. But considering this emergency, bear thou the burden
of the duty that one oweth to his ancestors. O punisher of foes, act in
such a way that the lineal link may not be broken and our friends and
relatives may not grieve.’ Thus urged by the miserable and weeping
Satyavati speaking such words inconsistent with virtue from grief at the
loss of her son, Bhishma addressed her again and said, ‘O Queen, turn not
thy eyes away from virtue. O, destroy us not. Breach of truth by a
Kshatriya is never applauded in our treatises on religion. I shall soon
tell thee, O Queen, what the established Kshatriya usage is to which
recourse may be had to prevent Santanu’s line becoming extinct on earth.
Hearing me, reflect on what should be done in consultation with learned
priests and those that are acquainted with practices allowable in times
of emergency and distress, forgetting not at the same time what the
ordinary course of social conduct is.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Bhishma continued, ‘In olden days, Rama, the son of Jamadagni, in anger
at the death of his father, slew with his battle axe the king of the
Haihayas. And Rama, by cutting off the thousand arms of Arjuna (the
Haihaya king), achieved a most difficult feat in the world. Not content
with this, he set out on his chariot for the conquest of the world, and
taking up his bow he cast around his mighty weapons to exterminate the
Kshatriyas. And the illustrious scion of Bhrigu’s race, by means of his
swift arrows annihilated the Kshatriya tribe one and twenty times.

“And when the earth was thus deprived of Kshatriyas by the great Rishi,
the Kshatriya ladies all over the land had offspring raised by Brahmanas
skilled in the Vedas. It has been said in the Vedas that the sons so
raised belongeth to him that had married the mother. And the Kshatriya
ladies went in unto the Brahamanas not lustfully but from motives of
virtue. Indeed, it was thus that the Kshatriya race was revived.

“In this connection there is another old history that I will recite to
you. There was in olden days a wise Rishi of the name of Utathya. He had
a wife of the name Mamata whom he dearly loved. One day Utathya’s younger
brother Vrihaspati, the priest of the celestials, endued with great
energy, approached Mamata. The latter, however, told her husband’s
younger brother--that foremost of eloquent men--that she had conceived
from her connection with his elder brother and that, therefore, he should
not then seek for the consummation of his wishes. She continued, ‘O
illustrious Vrihaspati, the child that I have conceived hath studied in
his mother’s womb the Vedas with the six Angas, Semen tuum frustra perdi
non potest. How can then this womb of mine afford room for two children
at a time? Therefore, it behoveth thee not to seek for the consummation
of thy desire at such a time. Thus addressed by her, Vrihaspati, though
possessed of great wisdom, succeeded not in suppressing his desire. Quum
auten jam cum illa coiturus esset, the child in the womb then addressed
him and said, ‘O father, cease from thy attempt. There is no space here
for two. O illustrious one, the room is small. I have occupied it first.
Semen tuum perdi non potest. It behoveth thee not to afflict me.’ But
Vrihaspati without listening to what that child in the womb said, sought
the embraces of Mamata possessing the most beautiful pair of eyes. Ille
tamen Muni qui in venture erat punctum temporis quo humor vitalis jam
emissum iret providens, viam per quam semen intrare posset pedibus
obstruxit. Semen ita exhisum, excidit et in terram projectumest. And the
illustrious Vrihaspati, beholding this, became indignant, and reproached
Utathya’s child and cursed him, saying, ‘Because thou hast spoken to me
in the way thou hast at a time of pleasure that is sought after by all
creatures, perpetual darkness shall overtake thee.’ And from this curse
of the illustrious Vrishaspati Utathya’s child who was equal unto
Vrihaspati in energy, was born blind and came to be called Dirghatamas
(enveloped in perpetual darkness). And the wise Dirghatamas, possessed of
a knowledge of the Vedas, though born blind, succeeded yet by virtue of
his learning, in obtaining for a wife a young and handsome Brahmana
maiden of the name of Pradweshi. And having married her, the illustrious
Dirghatamas, for the expansion of Utathya’s race, begat upon her several
children with Gautama as their eldest. These children, however, were all
given to covetousness and folly. The virtuous and illustrious Dirghatamas
possessing complete mastery over the Vedas, soon after learnt from
Surabhi’s son the practices of their order and fearlessly betook himself
to those practices, regarding them with reverence. (For shame is the
creature of sin and can never be where there is purity of intention).
Then those best of Munis that dwelt in the same asylum, beholding him
transgress the limits of propriety became indignant, seeing sin where sin
was not. And they said, ‘O, this man, transgresseth the limit of
propriety. No longer doth he deserve a place amongst us. Therefore, shall
we all cast this sinful wretch off.’ And they said many other things
regarding the Muni Dirghatamas. And his wife, too, having obtained
children, became indignant with him.

“The husband then addressing his wife Pradweshi, said, ‘Why is it that
thou also hast been dissatisfied with me?’ His wife answered, ‘The
husband is called the Bhartri because he supporteth the wife. He is
called Pati because he protecteth her. But thou art neither, to me! O
thou of great ascetic merit, on the other hand, thou hast been blind from
birth, it is I who have supported thee and thy children. I shall not do
so in future.’

“Hearing these words of his wife, the Rishi became indignant and said
unto her and her children, ‘Take me unto the Kshatriyas and thou shalt
then be rich.’ His wife replied (by saying), ‘I desire not wealth that
may be procured by thee, for that can never bring me happiness. O best of
Brahmanas, do as thou likest. I shall not be able to maintain thee as
before.’ At these words of his wife, Dirghatamas said, ‘I lay down from
this day as a rule that every woman shall have to adhere to one husband
for her life. Be the husband dead or alive, it shall not be lawful for a
woman to have connection with another. And she who may have such
connection shall certainly be regarded as fallen. A woman without husband
shall always be liable to be sinful. And even if she be wealthy she shall
not be able to enjoy that wealth truly. Calumny and evil report shall
ever dog her.’ Hearing these words of her husband Pradweshi became very
angry, and commanded her sons, saying, ‘Throw him into the waters of
Ganga!’ And at the command of their mother, the wicked Gautama and his
brothers, those slaves of covetousness and folly, exclaiming, ‘Indeed,
why should we support this old man?--‘tied the Muni to a raft and
committing him to the mercy of the stream returned home without
compunction. The blind old man drifting along the stream on that raft,
passed through the territories of many kings. One day a king named Vali
conversant with every duty went to the Ganges to perform his ablutions.
And as the monarch was thus engaged, the raft to which the Rishi was
tied, approached him. And as it came, the king took the old man. The
virtuous Vali, ever devoted to truth, then learning who the man was that
was thus saved by him, chose him for raising up offspring. And Vali said,
‘O illustrious one, it behoveth thee to raise upon my wife a few sons
that shall be virtuous and wise.’ Thus addressed, the Rishi endued with
great energy, expressed his willingness. Thereupon king Vali sent his
wife Sudeshna unto him. But the queen knowing that the latter was blind
and old went not unto him, she sent unto him her nurse. And upon that
Sudra woman the virtuous Rishi of passions under full control begat
eleven children of whom Kakshivat was the eldest. And beholding those
eleven sons with Kakshivat as the eldest, who had studied all the Vedas
and who like Rishis were utterers of Brahma and were possessed of great
power, king Vali one day asked the Rishi saying, ‘Are these children
mine?’ The Rishi replied, ‘No, they are mine. Kakshivat and others have
been begotten by me upon a Sudra woman. Thy unfortunate queen Sudeshna,
seeing me blind and old, insulted me by not coming herself but sending
unto me, instead, her nurse.’ The king then pacified that best of Rishis
and sent unto him his queen Sudeshna. The Rishi by merely touching her
person said to her, ‘Thou shalt have five children named Anga, Vanga,
Kalinga, Pundra and Suhma, who shall be like unto Surya (Sun) himself in
glory. And after their names as many countries shall be known on earth.
It is after their names that their dominions have come to be called Anga,
Vanga, Kalinga, Pundra and Suhma.’

“It was thus that the line of Vali was perpetuated, in days of old, by a
great Rishi. And it was thus also that many mighty bowmen and great
car-warriors wedded to virtue, sprung in the Kshatriya race from the seed
of Brahmanas. Hearing this, O mother, do as thou likest, as regards the
matter in hand.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Bhishma, continued, ‘Listen, O mother, to me as I indicate the means by
which the Bharata line may be perpetuated. Let an accomplished Brahmana
be invited by an offer of wealth, and let him raise offspring upon the
wives of Vichitravirya.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Satyavati, then, smiling softly and in voice
broken in bashfulness, addressed Bhishma saying, ‘O Bharata of mighty
arms, what thou sayest is true. From my confidence in thee I shall now
indicate the means of perpetuating our line. Thou shall not be able to
reject it, being conversant, as thou art, with the practices permitted in
seasons of distress. In our race, thou art Virtue, and thou art Truth,
and thou art, too, our sole refuge. Therefore hearing what I say truly,
do what may be proper.

“My father was a virtuous man. For virtue’s sake he had kept a (ferry)
boat. One day, in the prime of my youth, I went to ply that boat. It so
happened that the great and wise Rishi Parasara, that foremost of all
virtuous men, came, and betook himself to my boat for crossing the
Yamuna. As I was rowing him across the river, the Rishi became excited
with desire and began to address me in soft words. The fear of my father
was uppermost in my mind. But the terror of the Rishi’s curse at last
prevailed. And having obtained from him a precious boon, I could not
refuse his solicitations. The Rishi by his energy brought me under his
complete control, and gratified his desire then and there, having first
enveloped the region in a thick fog. Before this there was a revolting
fishy odour in my body; but the Rishi dispelled it and gave me my present
fragrance. The Rishi also told me that by bringing forth his child in an
island of the river, I would still continue (to be) a virgin. And the
child of Parasara so born of me in my maidenhood hath become a great
Rishi endued with large ascetic powers and known by the name of
Dwaipayana (the island-born). That illustrious Rishi having by his
ascetic power divided the Vedas into four parts hath come to be called on
earth by the name of Vyasa (the divider or arranger), and for his dark
colour, Krishna (the dark). Truthful in speech, free from passion, a
mighty ascetic who hath burnt all his sins, he went away with his father
immediately after his birth. Appointed by me and thee also, that Rishi of
incomparable splendour will certainly beget good children upon the wives
of thy brother. He told me when he went away, ‘Mother, think of me when
thou art in difficulty.’ I will now call him up, if thou, O Bhishma of
mighty arms so desirest. If thou art willing, O Bhishma, I am sure that
great ascetic will beget children upon Vichitravirya’s field.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Mention being made of the great Rishi, Bhishma
with joined palms said, ‘That man is truly intelligent who fixes his eyes
judiciously on virtue, profit, and pleasure, and who after reflecting
with patience, acteth in such a way that virtue may lead to future
virtue, profit to future profit and pleasure to future pleasure.
Therefore, that which hath been said by thee and which, besides being
beneficial to us, is consistent with virtue, is certainly the best advice
and hath my full approval.’ And when Bhishma had said this, O thou of
Kuru’s race, Kali (Satyavati) thought of the Muni Dwaipayana and
Dwaipayana who was then engaged in interpreting the Vedas, learning that
he was being called up by his mother, came instantly unto her without
anybody’s knowing it. Satayavati then duly greeted her son and embraced
him with arms, bathing him in her tears, for the daughter of the
fisherman wept bitterly at the sight of her son after so long a time. And
her first son, the great Vyasa, beholding her weeping, washed her with
cool water, and bowing unto her, said, ‘I have come, O mother, to fulfil
thy wishes. Therefore, O virtuous one, command me without delay. I shall
accomplish thy desire.’ The family priest of the Bharatas then worshipped
the great Rishi duly, and the latter accepted the offerings of worship,
uttering the usual mantras. And gratified with the worship he received,
he took his seat. Satyavati, beholding him seated at his ease, after the
usual inquiries, addressed him and said, ‘O learned one, sons derive
their birth both from the father and the mother. They are, therefore, the
common property of both parents. There cannot be the least doubt about it
that the mother, hath as much power over them as the father. As thou art,
indeed, my eldest son according to the ordinance, O Brahmarshi, so is
Vichitravirya my youngest son. And as Bhishma is Vichitravirya’s brother
on the father’s side, so art thou his brother on the same mother’s side.
I do not know what you may think, but this is what, O son, I think. This
Bhishma, the son of Santanu, devoted to truth, doth not, for the sake, of
truth, entertain the desire of either begetting children or ruling the
kingdom. Therefore, from affection for thy brother Vichitravirya, for the
perpetuation of our dynasty, for the sake of this Bhishma’s request and
my command, for kindness to all creatures, for the protection of the
people and from the liberality of thy heart, O sinless one, it behoveth
thee to do what I say. Thy younger brother hath left two widows like unto
the daughters of the celestials themselves, endued with youth and great
beauty. For the sake of virtue and religion, they have become desirous of
offspring. Thou art the fittest person to be appointed. Therefore beget
upon them children worthy of our race and for the continuance of our

“Vyasa, hearing this, said, ‘O Satyavati, thou knowest what virtue is
both in respect of this life and the other. O thou of great wisdom, thy
affections also are set on virtue. Therefore, at thy command, making
virtue my motive, I shall do what thou desirest. Indeed, this practice
that is conformable to the true and eternal religion is known to me, I
shall give unto my brother children that shall be like unto Mitra and
Varuna. Let the ladies then duly observe for one full year the vow I
indicate. They shall then be purified. No women shall ever approach me
without having observed a rigid vow.’

“Satyavati then said, ‘O sinless one, it must be as thou sayest. Take
such steps that the ladies may conceive immediately. In a kingdom where
there is no king, the people perish from want of protection; sacrifices
and other holy acts are suspended; the clouds send no showers; and the
gods disappear. How can a kingdom be protected that hath no king?
Therefore, see thou that the ladies conceive. Bhishma will watch over the
children as long as they are in their mother’s wombs.

“Vyasa replied, ‘If I am to give unto my brother children so
unseasonably, then let the ladies bear my ugliness. That in itself shall,
in their case, be the austerest of penances. If the princess of Kosala
can bear my strong odour, my ugly and grim visage, my attire and body,
she shall then conceive an excellent child.’”

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Having spoken thus unto Satyavati, Vyasa of
great energy addressed her and said, ‘Let the princess of Kosala clad in
clean attire and checked with ornaments wait for me in her bed-chamber.’
Saying this, the Rishi disappeared, Satyavati then went to her
daughter-in-law and seeing her in private spoke to her these words of
beneficial and virtuous import, ‘O princess of Kosala, listen to what I
say. It is consistent with virtue. The dynasty of the Bharatas hath
become extinct from my misfortune. Beholding my affliction and the
extinction of his paternal line, the wise Bhishma, impelled also by the
desire of perpetuating our race, hath made me a suggestion, which
suggestion, however, for its accomplishment is dependent on thee.
Accomplish it, O daughter, and restore the lost line of the Bharatas. O
thou of fair hips, bring thou forth a child equal in splendour unto the
chief of the celestials. He shall bear the onerous burden of this our
hereditary kingdom.’

“Satyavati having succeeded with great difficulty in procuring the assent
of her virtuous daughter-in-law to her proposal which was not
inconsistent with virtue, then fed Brahmanas and Rishis and numberless
guests who arrived on die occasion.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Soon after the monthly season of the princess of
Kosala had been over, Satyavati, purifying her daughter-in-law with a
bath, led her into the sleeping apartment. There seating her upon a
luxurious bed, she addressed her, saying, ‘O Princess of Kosala, thy
husband hath an elder brother who shall this day enter thy womb as thy
child. Wait for him tonight without dropping off to sleep.’ Hearing these
words of her mother-in-law, the amiable princess, as she lay on her bed,
began to think of Bhishma and the other elders of the Kuru race. Then the
Rishi of truthful speech, who had given his promise in respect of Amvika
(the eldest of the princesses) in the first instance, entered her chamber
while the lamp was burning. The princess, seeing his dark visage, his
matted locks of copper hue, blazing eyes, his grim beard, closed her eyes
in fear. The Rishi, from desire of accomplishing his mother’s wishes,
however knew her. But the latter, struck with fear, opened not her eyes
even once to look at him. And when Vyasa came out, he was met by his
mother, who asked him, ‘Shall the princess have an accomplished son?’
Hearing her, he replied, ‘The son of the princess she will bring forth
shall be equal in might unto ten thousand elephants. He will be an
illustrious royal sage, possessed of great learning and intelligence and
energy. The high-souled one shall have in his time a century of sons. But
from the fault of his mother he shall be blind ‘At these words of her
son, Satyavati said, ‘O thou of ascetic wealth, how can one that is blind
become a monarch worthy of the Kurus? How can one that is blind become
the protector of his relatives and family, and the glory of his father’s
race? It behoveth thee to give another king unto the Kurus.’ Saying, ‘So
be it,’ Vyasa went away. And the first princess of Kosala in due time
brought forth a blind son.

“Soon after Satyavati, O chastiser of foes, summoned Vyasa, after having
secured the assent of her daughter-in-law. Vyasa came according to his
promise, and approached, as before, the second wife of his brother. And
Ambalika beholding the Rishi, became pale with fear And, O Bharata,
beholding her so afflicted and pale with fear, Vyasa addressed her and
said, ‘Because thou hast been pale with fear at the sight of my grim
visage, therefore, thy child shall be pale in complexion. O thou of
handsome face, the name also thy child shall bear will be Pandu (the
pale).’ ‘Saying this, the illustrious and best of Rishis came out of her
chamber. And as he came out, he was met by his mother who asked him about
the would-be-child. The Rishi told her that the child would be of pale
complexion and known by the name of Pandu. Satyavati again begged of the
Rishi another child, and the Rishi told her in reply, ‘So be it.’
Ambalika, then, when her time came, brought forth a son of pale
complexion. Blazing with beauty the child was endued with all auspicious
marks. Indeed, it was this child who afterwards became the father of
those mighty archers, the Pandavas.

“Some time after, when the oldest of Vichitravirya’s widows again had her
monthly season, she was solicited by Satyavati to approach Vyasa once
again. Possessed of beauty like a daughter of a celestial, the princess
refused to do her mother-in-law’s bidding, remembering the grim visage
and strong odour of the Rishi. She, however, sent unto him, a maid of
hers, endued with the beauty of an Apsara and decked with her own
ornaments. And when the Vyasa arrived, the maid rose up and saluted him.
And she waited upon him respectfully and took her seat near him when
asked. And, O king, the great Rishi of rigid vows, was well-pleased with
her, and when he rose to go away, he addressed her and said, ‘Amiable
one, thou shalt no longer be a slave. Thy child also shall be greatly
fortunate and virtuous, and the foremost of all intelligent men on
earth!’ And, O king, the son thus begotten upon her by Krishna-Dwaipayana
was afterwards known by the name of Vidura. He was thus the brother of
Dhritarashtra and the illustrious Pandu. And Vidura was free from desire
and passion and was conversant with the rules of government, and was the
god of justice born on earth under the curse of the illustrious Rishi
Mandavya. And Krishna-Dwaipayana, when he met his mother as before,
informed her as to how he had been deceived by the seniormost of the
princesses and how he had begotten a son upon a Sudra woman. And having
spoken thus unto his mother the Rishi disappeared from her sight.

“Thus were born, in the field of Vichitravirya, even of Dwaipayana those
sons of the splendour of celestial children, those propagators of the
Kuru race.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Janamejaya said, ‘What did the god of justice do for which he was
cursed? And who was the Brahmana ascetic from whose curse the god had to
be born in the Sudra caste?’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘There was a Brahmana known by the name of Mandavya.
He was conversant with all duties and was devoted to religion, truth and
asceticism. The great ascetic used to sit at the entrance of his
hermitage at the foot of a tree, with his arms upraised in the observance
of the vow of silence. And as he sat there for years together, one day
there came into his asylum a number of robbers laden with spoil. And, O
bull in Bharata’s race, those robbers were then being pursued by a
superior body as guardians of the peace. The thieves, on entering that
asylum, hid their booty there, and in fear concealed themselves
thereabout before the guards came. But scarcely had they thus concealed
themselves when the constables in pursuit came to the spot. The latter,
observing the Rishi sitting under the tree, questioned him, O king,
saying, ‘O best of Brahmanas, which way have the thieves taken? Point it
out to us so that we may follow it without loss of time.’ Thus questioned
by the guardians of peace the ascetic, O king, said not a word, good or
otherwise, in reply. The officers of the king, however, on searching that
asylum soon discovered the thieves concealed thereabout together with the
plunder. Upon this, their suspicion fell upon the Muni, and accordingly
they seized him with the thieves and brought him before the king. The
king sentenced him to be executed along with his supposed associates. And
the officers, acting in ignorance, carried out the sentence by impaling
the celebrated Rishi. And having impaled him, they went to the king with
the booty they had recovered. But the virtuous Rishi, though impaled and
kept without food, remained in that state for a long time without dying.
And the Rishi by his ascetic power not only preserved his life but
summoned other Rishi to the scene. And they came there in the night in
the forms of birds, and beholding him engaged in ascetic meditation
though fixed on that stake, became plunged into grief. And telling that
best of Brahmanas who they were, they asked him saying, ‘O Brahmana, we
desire to know what hath been thy sin for which thou hast thus been made
to suffer the tortures of impalement!’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Thus asked, the tiger among Munis then answered
those Rishis of ascetic wealth, ‘Whom shall I blame for this? In fact,
none else (than my own self) hath offended against me!’ After this, O
monarch, the officers of justice, seeing him alive, informed the king of
it. The latter hearing what they said, consulted with his advisers, and
came to the place and began to pacify the Rishi. fixed on the stake. And
the king said, ‘O thou best of Rishis, I have offended against thee in
ignorance. I beseech thee to pardon me for the same. It behoveth thee not
to be angry with me.’ Thus addressed by the king, the Muni was pacified.
And beholding him free from wrath, the king took him up with the stake
and endeavoured to extract it from his body. But not succeeding therein,
he cut it off at the point just outside the body. The Muni, with a
portion of the stake within his body, walked about, and in that state
practised the austerest of penances and conquered numberless regions
unattainable by others. And for the circumstances of a part of the stake
being within his body, he came to be known in the three worlds by the
name of Ani-Mandavya (Mandavya with the stake within). And one day that
Brahamana acquainted with the highest truth of religion went unto the
abode of the god of justice. And beholding the god there seated on his
throne, the Rishi reproached him and said, ‘What, pray, is that sinful
act committed by me unconsciously, for which I am bearing this
punishment? O, tell me soon, and behold the power of my asceticism.’

“The god of justice, thus questioned, replied, ‘O thou of ascetic wealth,
a little insect was once pierced by thee on a blade of grass. Thou
bearest now the consequence of the act. O Rishi, as a gift, however
small, multiplieth in respect of its religious merits, so a sinful act
multiplieth in respect of the woe it bringeth in its train.’ On hearing
this, Ani-Mandavya asked, ‘O tell me truly when this act was committed by
me. Told in reply by the god of justice that he had committed it, when a
child, the Rishi said, ‘That shall not be a sin which may be done by a
child up to the twelfth year of his age from birth. The scriptures shall
not recognise it as sinful. The punishment thou hast inflicted on me for
such a venial offence hath been disproportionate in severity. The killing
of a Brahmana involves a sin that is heavier than the killing of any
other living being. Thou shall, therefore, O god of justice, have to be
born among men even in the Sudra order. And from this day I establish
this limit in respect of the consequence of acts that an act shall not be
sinful when committed by one below the age of fourteen. But when
committed by one above that age, it shall be regarded as sin.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Cursed for this fault by that illustrious
Rishi, the god of justice had his birth as Vidura in the Sudra order. And
Vidura was well-versed in the doctrines of morality and also politics and
worldly profit. And he was entirely free from covetousness and wrath.
Possessed of great foresight and undisturbed tranquillity of mind, Vidura
was ever devoted to the welfare of the Kurus.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Upon the birth of those three children, Kurujangala,
Kurukshetra, and the Kurus grew in prosperity. The earth began to yield
abundant harvest, and the crops also were of good flavour. And the clouds
began to pour rain in season and trees became full of fruits and flowers.
And the draught cattle were all happy and the birds and other animals
rejoiced exceedingly. And the flowers became fragrant and the fruits
became sweet; the cities and towns became filled with merchants,
artisans, traders and artists of every description. And the people became
brave, learned, honest and happy. And there were no robbers then, nor
anybody who was sinful. And it seemed that the golden age had come upon
every part of the kingdom. And the people devoted to virtuous acts,
sacrifices and truth, and regarding one another with love and affection
grew in prosperity. And free from pride, wrath and covetousness, they
rejoiced in perfectly innocent sports. And the capital of the Kurus, full
as the ocean, was a second Amaravati, teeming with hundreds of palaces
and mansions, and possessing gates and arches dark as the clouds. And men
in great cheerfulness sported constantly on rivers, lakes and tanks, and
in fine groves and charming woods. And the southern Kurus, in their
virtuous rivalry with their northern kinsmen, walked about in the company
of Siddhas and Charanas and Rishis. And all over that delightful country
whose prosperity was thus increased by the Kurus, there were no misers
and no widowed women. And the wells and lakes were ever full; the groves
abounded with trees, and the houses and abodes of Brahmanas were full of
wealth and the whole kingdom was full of festivities. And, O king,
virtuously ruled by Bhishma, the kingdom was adorned with hundreds of
sacrificial stakes. And the wheel of virtue having been set in motion by
Bhishma, and the country became so contented that the subjects of other
kingdoms, quitting their homes, came to dwell there and increase its
population. And the citizens and the people were filled with hope, upon
seeing the youthful acts of their illustrious princes. And, O king, in
the house of the Kuru chiefs as also of the principal citizens, ‘give’,
‘eat’ were the only words constantly heard. And Dhritarashtra and Pandu
and Vidura of great intelligence were from their birth brought up by
Bhishma, as if they were his own sons. And the children, having passed
through the usual rites of their order, devoted themselves to vows and
study. And they grew up into fine young men skilled in the Vedas and all
athletic sports. And they became well-skilled in the practice of bow, in
horsemanship, in encounters with mace, sword and shield, in the
management of elephants in battle, and in the science of morality.
Well-read in history and the Puranas and various branches of learning,
and acquainted with the truths of the Vedas and their branches they
acquired knowledge, which was versatile and deep. And Pandu, possessed of
great prowess, excelled all men in archery while Dhritarashtra excelled
all in personal strength, while in the three worlds there was no one
equal to Vidura in devotion to virtue and in the knowledge of the
dictates of morality. And beholding the restoration of the extinct line
of Santanu, the saying became current in all countries that among mothers
of heroes, the daughters of the king of Kasi were the first; that among
countries Kurujangala was the first; that among virtuous men, Vidura was
the first; that among cities Hastinapura was the first. Pandu became
king, for Dhritarashtra, owing to the blindness, and Vidura, for his
birth by a Sudra woman, did not obtain the kingdom. One day Bhishma, the
foremost of those acquainted with the duties of a statesman and dictates
of morality, properly addressing Vidura conversant with the truth of
religion and virtue, said as follows.”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Bhishma said, ‘This our celebrated race, resplendent with every virtue
and accomplishment, hath all along sovereignty over all other monarchs on
earth. Its glory maintained and itself perpetuated by many virtuous and
illustrious monarchs of old, the illustrious Krishna (Dwaipayana) and
Satyavati and myself have raised you (three) up, in order that it may not
be extinct. It behoveth myself and thee also to take such steps that this
our dynasty may expand again as the sea. It hath been heard by me that
there are three maidens worthy of being allied to our race. One is the
daughter of (Surasena of) the Yadava race; the other is the daughter of
Suvala; and the third is the princess of Madra. O son, all these maidens
are of course of blue blood. Possessed of beauty and pure blood, they are
eminently fit for an alliance with our family. O thou foremost of
intelligent men, I think we should choose them for the growth of our
race. Tell me what thou thinkest.’ Thus addressed, Vidura replied, ‘Thou
art our father and thou art our mother, too. Thou art our respected
spiritual instructor. Therefore, do thou what may be best for us in thy

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Soon after Bhishma heard from the Brahmanas
that Gandhari, the amiable daughter of Suvala, having worshipped Hara
(Siva) had obtained from the deity the boon that she should have a
century of sons. Bhishma, the grandfather of the Kurus, having heard
this, sent messengers unto the king of Gandhara. King Suvala at first
hesitated on account of the blindness of the bridegroom, but taking into
consideration the blood of the Kurus, their fame and behaviour, he gave
his virtuous daughter unto Dhritarashtra and the chaste Gandhari hearing
that Dhritarashtra was blind and that her parents had consented to marry
her to him, from love and respect for her future husband, blindfolded her
own eyes. Sakuni, the son of Suvala, bringing unto the Kurus his sister
endued with youth and beauty, formally gave her away unto Dhritarashtra.
And Gandhari was received with great respect and the nuptials were
celebrated with great pomp under Bhishma’s directions. And the heroic
Sakuni, after having bestowed his sister along with many valuable robes,
and having received Bhishma’s adorations, returned to his own city. And,
O thou of Bharata’s race, the beautiful Gandhari gratified all the Kurus
by her behaviour and respectful attentions. And Gandhari, ever devoted to
her husband, gratified her superiors by her good conduct; and as she was
chaste, she never referred even by words to men other than her husband or
such superiors.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘There was amongst the Yadavas a chief named
Sura. He was the father of Vasudeva. And he had a daughter called Pritha,
who was unrivalled for beauty on earth. And, O thou of Bharata’s race,
Sura, always truthful in speech, gave from friendship this his firstborn
daughter unto his childless cousin and friend, the illustrious
Kuntibhoja--the son of his paternal aunt--pursuant to a former promise.
And Pritha in the house of her adoptive father was engaged in looking
after the duties of hospitality to Brahmanas and other guests. Once she
gratified by her attentions the terrible Brahmana of rigid vows, who was
known by the name of Durvasa and was well-acquainted with the hidden
truths of morality. Gratified with her respectful attentions, the sage,
anticipating by his spiritual power the future (season of) distress
(consequent upon the curse to be pronounced upon Pandu for his
unrighteous act of slaying a deer while serving its mate) imparted to her
a formula of invocation for summoning any of the celestials she liked to
give her children. And the Rishi said, ‘Those celestials that thou shall
summon by this Mantra shall certainly approach thee and give thee
children.’ ‘Thus addressed by the Brahmana, the amiable Kunti (Pritha)
became curious, and in her maidenhood summoned the god Arka (Sun). And as
soon as he pronounced the Mantra, she beheld that effulgent deity--that
beholder of everything in the world--approaching her. And beholding that
extraordinary sight, the maiden of faultless features was overcome with
surprise. But the god Vivaswat (Sun) approaching her, said, ‘Here I am, O
black-eyed girl! Tell me what I am to do for thee.’

“Hearing this, Kunti said, ‘O slayer of foes, a certain Brahamana gave me
this formula of invocation as a boon, and, O lord, I have summoned thee
only to test its efficacy. For this offence I bow to thee. A woman,
whatever be her offence, always deserveth pardon.’ Surya (Sun) replied,
‘I know that Durvasa hath granted this boon. But cast off thy fears,
timid maiden, and grant me thy embraces. Amiable one, my approach cannot
be futile; it must bear fruit. Thou hast summoned me, and if it be for
nothing, it shall certainly be regarded as thy transgression.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Vivaswat thus spoke unto her many things with a
view to allay her fears, but, O Bharata, the amiable maiden, from modesty
and fear of her relatives, consented not to grant his request. And, O
bull of Bharata’s race, Arka addressed her again and said, ‘O princess,
for my sake, it shall not be sinful for thee to grant my wish.’ Thus
speaking unto the daughter of Kuntibhoja, the illustrious Tapana--the
illuminator of the universe--gratified his wish. And of this connection
there was immediately born a son known all over the world as Karna
accountred with natural armour and with face brightened by ear-rings. And
the heroic Karna was the first of all wielders of weapons, blessed with
good fortune, and endued with the beauty of a celestial child. And after
the birth of this child, the illustrious Tapana granted unto Pritha her
maidenhood and ascended to heaven. And the princess of the Vrishni race
beholding with sorrow that son born of her, reflected intently upon what
was then the best for her to do. And from fear of her relatives she
resolved to conceal that evidence of her folly. And she cast her
offspring endued with great physical strength into the water. Then the
well-known husband of Radha, of the Suta caste, took up the child thus
cast into the water, and he and his wife brought him up as their own son.
And Radha and her husband bestowed on him the name of Vasusena (born with
wealth) because he was born with a natural armour and ear-rings. And
endued as he was born with great strength, as he grew up, he became
skilled in all weapons. Possessed of great energy, he used to adore the
sun until his back was heated by his rays (i.e., from dawn to midday),
and during the hours of worship, there was nothing on earth that the
heroic and intelligent Vasusena would not give unto the Brahmanas. And
Indra desirous of benefiting his own son Phalguni (Arjuna), assuming the
form of a Brahmana, approached Vasusena on one occasion and begged of him
his natural armour. Thus asked Karna took off his natural armour, and
joining his hands in reverence gave it unto Indra in the guise of a
Brahmana. And the chief of the celestials accepted the gift and was
exceedingly gratified with Karna’s liberality. He therefore, gave unto
him a fine dart, saying, ‘That one (and one only) among the celestials,
the Asuras, men, the Gandharvas, the Nagas, and the Rakshasas, whom thou
desirest to conquer, shall be certainly slain with this dart.’

“The son of Surya was before this known by the name of Vasusena. But
since he cut off his natural armour, he came to be called Karna (the
cutter or peeler of his own cover).’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said. ‘The large-eyed daughter of Kuntibhoja, Pritha by
name, was endued with beauty and every accomplishment. Of rigid vows, she
was devoted to virtue and possessed of every good quality. But though
endued with beauty and youth and every womanly attribute, yet it so
happened that no king asked-for her hand. Her father Kuntibhoja seeing
this, invited, O best of monarchs, the princes and kings of other
countries and desired his daughter to select her husband from among her
guests. The intelligent Kunti, entering the amphitheatre, beheld
Pandu--the foremost of the Bharatas--that tiger among kings--in that
concourse of crowned heads. Proud as the lion, broad-chested, bull-eyed,
endued with great strength, and outshining all other monarchs in
splendour, he looked like another Indra in that royal assemblage. The
amiable daughter of Kuntibhoja, of faultless features, beholding
Pandu--that best of men--in that assembly, became very much agitated. And
advancing with modesty, all the while quivering with emotion, she placed
the nuptial garland about Pandu’s neck. The other monarchs, seeing Kunti
choose Pandu for her lord, returned to their respective kingdoms on
elephants, horses and cars, as they had come. Then, O king, the bride’s
father caused the nuptial rites to be performed duly. The Kuru prince
blessed with great good fortune and the daughter of Kuntibhoja formed a
couple like Maghavat and Paulomi (the king and queen of the celestials).
And, O best of Kuru monarchs, king Kuntibhoja, after the nuptials were
over, presented his son-in-law with much wealth and sent him back to his
capital. Then the Kuru prince Pandu, accompanied by a large force bearing
various kinds of banners and pennons, and eulogised by Brahmanas and
great Rishis pronouncing benedictions, reached his capital. And after
arriving at his own palace, he established his queen therein.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Some time after, Bhishma the intelligent son of
Santanu set his heart upon getting Pandu married to a second wife.
Accompanied by an army composed of four kinds of force, and also by aged
councillors and Brahmanas and great Rishis, he went to the capital of the
king of Madra. And that bull of the Valhikas--the king of Madra--hearing
that Bhishma had arrived, went out to receive him. And having received
him with respect, he got him to enter his palace. Arriving there, the
king of Madra offered unto Bhishma a white carpet for a seat; water to
wash his feet with, and usual oblation of various ingredients indicative
of respect. And when he was seated at ease, the king asked him about the
reason of his visit. Then Bhishma--the supporter of the dignity of the
Kurus--addressed the king of Madra and said, ‘O oppressor of all foes,
know that I have come for the hand of a maiden. It hath been heard by us
that thou hast a sister named Madri celebrated for her beauty and endued
with every virtue; I would chose her for Pandu. Thou art, O king, in
every respect worthy of an alliance with us, and we also are worthy of
thee. Reflecting upon all this, O king of Madra, accept us duly.’ The
ruler of Madra, thus addressed by Bhishma, replied, ‘To my mind, there is
none else than one of thy family with whom I can enter into an alliance.
But there is a custom in our family observed by our ancestors, which, be
it good or bad, I am incapable of transgressing. It is well-known, and
therefore is known to thee as well, I doubt not. Therefore, it is not
proper for thee to say to me,--Bestow thy sister. The custom to which I
allude is our family custom. With us that is a virtue and worthy of
observance. It is for this only, O slayer of foes, I cannot give thee any
assurance in the matter of thy request.’ On hearing this, Bhishma
answered the king of Madra, saying, ‘O king, this, no doubt,’ is a
virtue. The self-create himself hath said it. Thy ancestors were
observant of custom. There is no fault to find with it. It is also
well-known, O Salya, that this custom in respect of family dignity hath
the approval of the wise and the good.’ Saying this Bhishma of great
energy, gave unto Salya much gold both coined and uncoined, and precious
stones of various colours by thousands, and elephants and horses and
cars, and much cloth and many ornaments, and gems and pearls and corals.
And Salya accepting with a cheerful heart those precious gifts then gave
away his sister decked in ornaments unto that bull of the Kuru race. Then
the wise Bhishma, the son of the oceangoing Ganga, rejoiced at the issue
of his mission, took Madri with him, and returned to the Kuru capital
named after the elephant.

“Then selecting on auspicious day and moment as indicated by the wise for
the ceremony, King Pandu was duly united with Madri. And after the
nuptials were over, the Kuru king established his beautiful bride in
handsome apartments. And, O king of kings, that best of monarchs then
gave himself up to enjoyment in the company of his two wives as best he
liked and to the limit of his desires. And after thirty days had elapsed,
the Kuru king, O monarch, started from his capital for the conquest of
the world. And after reverentially saluting and bowing to Bhishma and the
other elders of the Kuru race, and with adieus to Dhritarashtra and
others of the family, and obtaining their leave, he set out on his grand
campaign, accompanied by a large force of elephants, horses, and cars,
and well-pleased with the blessings uttered by all around and the
auspicious rites performed by the citizens for his success. And Pandu,
accompanied by such a strong force marched against various foes. And that
tiger among men--that spreader of the fame of the Kurus--first subjugated
the robber tribes of asarna. He next turned his army composed of
innumerable elephants, cavalry, infantry, and charioteers, with standards
of various colours against Dhirga--the ruler of the kingdom of Maghadha
who was proud of his strength, and offended against numerous monarchs.
And attacking him in his capital, Pandu slew him there, and took
everything in his treasury and also vehicles and draught animals without
number. He then marched into Mithila and subjugated the Videhas. And
then, O bull among men, Pandu led his army against Kasi, Sumbha, and
Pundra, and by the strength and prowess of his arms spread the fame of
the Kurus. And Pandu, that oppressor of foes, like unto a mighty fire
whose far-reaching flames were represented by his arrows and splendour by
his weapons, began to consume all kings that came in contact with him.
These with their forces, vanquished by Pandu at the head of his army,
were made the vassals of the Kurus. And all kings of the world, thus
vanquished by him, regarded him as the one single hero on earth even as
the celestials regard Indra in heaven. And the kings of earth with joined
palms bowed to him and waited on him with presents of various kinds of
gems and wealth, precious stones and pearls and corals, and much gold and
silver, and first-class kine and handsome horses and fine cars and
elephants, and asses and camels and buffaloes, and goats and sheep, and
blankets and beautiful hides, and cloths woven out of furs. And the king
of Hastinapura accepting those offerings retraced his steps towards his
capital, to the great delight of his subjects. And the citizens and
others filled with joy, and kings and ministers, all began to say, ‘O,
the fame of the achievements of Santanu, that tiger among kings, and of
the wise Bharata, which were about to die, hath been revived by Pandu.
They who robbed before the Kurus of both territory and wealth have been
subjugated by Pandu--the tiger of Hastinapura--and made to pay tribute.’
And all the citizens with Bhishma at their head went out to receive the
victorious king. They had not proceeded far when they saw the attendants
of the king laden with much wealth, and the train of various conveyances
laden with all kinds of wealth, and of elephants, horses, cars, kine,
camels and other animals, was so long that they saw not its end. Then
Pandu, beholding Bhishma, who was a father to him, worshipped his feet
and saluted the citizens and others as each deserved. And Bhishma, too,
embracing Pandu as his son who had returned victorious after grinding
many hostile kingdoms, wept tears of joy. And Pandu, instilling joy into
the hearts of his people with a flourish of trumpets and conchs and
kettle-drums, entered his capital.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Pandu, then, at the command of Dhritarashtra,
offered the wealth he had acquired by the prowess of his arms to Bhishma,
their grand-mother Satyavati and their mothers. And he sent portion of
his wealth to Vidura also. And the virtuous Pandu gratified his other
relatives also with similar presents. Then Satyavati and Bhishma and the
Kosala princes were all gratified with the presents Pandu made out of the
acquisitions of his prowess. And Ambalika in particular, upon embracing
her son of incomparable prowess, became as glad as the queen of heaven
upon embracing Jayanta. And with the wealth acquired by that hero
Dhritarashtra performed five great sacrifices that were equal unto a
hundred great horse-sacrifices, at all of which the offerings to
Brahmanas were by hundreds and thousands.

“A little while after, O bull of Bharata’s race, Pandu who had achieved a
victory over sloth and lethargy, accompanied by his two wives, Kunti and
Madri, retired into the woods. Leaving his excellent palace with its
luxurious beds, he became a permanent inhabitant of the woods, devoting
the whole of his time to the chase of the deer. And fixing his abode in a
delightful and hilly region overgrown with huge sala trees, on the
southern slope of the Himavat mountains, he roamed about in perfect
freedom. The handsome Pandu with his two wives wandered in those woods
like Airavata accompanied by two she-elephants. And the dwellers in those
woods, beholding the heroic Bharata prince in the company of his wives,
armed with sword, arrows, and bow, clad with his beautiful armour, and
skilled in all excellent weapons, regarded him as the very god wandering
amongst them.

“And at the command of Dhritarashtra, people were busy in supplying Pandu
in his retirement with every object of pleasure and enjoyment.

“Meanwhile the son of the ocean-going Ganga heard that king Devaka had a
daughter endued with youth and beauty and begotten upon a Sudra wife.
Bringing her from her father’s abode, Bhishma married her to Vidura of
great wisdom. And Vidura begot upon her many children like unto himself
in accomplishments.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Meanwhile, O Janamejaya, Dhritarashtra begat upon
Gandhari a hundred sons, and upon a Vaisya wife another besides those
hundred. And Pandu had, by his two wives Kunti and Madri, five sons who
were great charioteers and who were all begotten by the celestials for
the perpetuation of the Kuru line.’

“Janamejaya said, ‘O best of Brahmanas, how did Gandhari bring forth
those hundred sons and in how many years? What were also the periods of
life allotted to each? How did Dhritarashtra also beget another son in a
Vaisya wife? How did Dhritarashtra behave towards his loving obedient,
and virtuous wife Gandhari? How were also begotten the five sons of
Pandu, those mighty charioteers, even though Pandu himself laboured under
the curse of the great Rishi (he slew)? Tell me all this in detail, for
my thirst for hearing everything relating to my own ancestor hath not
been slaked.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘One day Gandhari entertained with respectful
attention the great Dwaipayana who came to her abode, exhausted with
hunger and fatigue. Gratified with Gandhari’s hospitality, the Rishi gave
her the boon she asked for, viz., that she should have a century of sons
each equal unto her lord in strength and accomplishments. Some time after
Gandhari conceived and she bore the burden in her womb for two long years
without being delivered. And she was greatly afflicted at this. It was
then that she heard that Kunti had brought forth a son whose splendour
was like unto the morning sun. Impatient of the period of gestation which
had prolonged so long, and deprived of reason by grief, she struck her
womb with great violence without the knowledge of her husband. And
thereupon came out of her womb, after two years’ growth, a hard mass of
flesh like unto an iron ball. When she was about to throw it away,
Dwaipayana, learning everything by his spiritual powers, promptly came
there, and that first of ascetics beholding that ball of flesh, addressed
the daughter of Suvala thus, ‘What hast thou done?’ Gandhari, without
endeavouring to disguise her feelings, addressed the Rishi and said,
‘Having heard that Kunti had brought forth a son like unto Surya in
splendour, I struck in grief at my womb. Thou hadst, O Rishi, granted me
the boon that I should have a hundred sons, but here is only a ball of
flesh for those hundred sons!’ Vyasa then said, ‘Daughter of Suvala, it
is even so. But my words can never be futile. I have not spoken an
untruth even in jest. I need not speak of other occasions. Let a hundred
pots full of clarified butter be brought instantly, and let them be
placed at a concealed spot. In the meantime, let cool water be sprinkled
over this ball of flesh.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘That ball of flesh then, sprinkled over with
water, became, in time, divided into a hundred and one parts, each about
the size of the thumb. These were then put into those pots full of
clarified butter that had been placed at a concealed spot and were
watched with care. The illustrious Vyasa then said unto the daughter of
Suvala that she should open the covers of the pots after full two years.
And having said this and made these arrangements, the wise Dwaipayana
went to the Himavat mountains for devoting himself to asceticism.

“Then in time, king Duryodhana was born from among those pieces of the
ball of flesh that had been deposited in those pots. According to the
order of birth, king Yudhishthira was the oldest. The news of
Duryodhana’s birth was carried to Bhishma and the wise Vidura. The day
that the haughty Duryodhana was born was also the birth-day of Bhima of
mighty arms and great prowess.

“As soon as Duryodhana was born, he began to cry and bray like an ass.
And hearing that sound, the asses, vultures, jackals and crows uttered
their respective cries responsively. Violent winds began to blow, and
there were fires in various directions. Then king Dhritarashtra in great
fear, summoning Bhishma and Vidura and other well-wishers and all the
Kurus, and numberless Brahmanas, addressed them and said, ‘The oldest of
those princes, Yudhishthira, is the perpetuator of our line. By virtue of
his birth he hath acquired the kingdom. We have nothing to say to this.
But shall this my son born after him become king? Tell me truly what is
lawful and right under these circumstances.’ As soon as these words were
spoken, O Bharata, jackals and other carnivorous animals began to howl
ominously And marking those frightful omens all around, the assembled
Brahmanas and the wise Vidura replied, ‘O king, O bull among men, when
these frightful omens are noticeable at the birth of thy eldest son, it
is evident that he shall be the exterminator of thy race. The prosperity
of all dependeth on his abandonment. Calamity there must be in keeping
him. O king, if thou abandonest him, there remain yet thy nine and ninety
sons. If thou desirest the good of thy race, abandon him, O Bharata! O
king, do good to the world and thy own race by casting off this one child
of thine. It hath been said that an individual should be cast off for the
sake of the family; that a family should be cast off for the sake of a
village; that a village may be abandoned for the sake of the whole
country; and that the earth itself may be abandoned for the sake of the
soul.’ When Vidura and those Brahmanas had stated so, king Dhritarashtra
out of affection for his son had not the heart to follow that advice.
Then, O king, within a month, were born a full hundred sons unto
Dhritarashtra and a daughter also in excess of this hundred. And during
the time when Gandhari was in a state of advanced pregnancy, there was a
maid servant of the Vaisya class who used to attend on Dhritarashtra.
During that year, O king, was begotten upon her by the illustrious
Dhritarashtra a son endued with great intelligence who was afterwards
named Yuvutsu. And because he was begotten by a Kshatriya upon a Vaisya
woman, he came to be called Karna.

“Thus were born unto the wise Dhritarashtra a hundred sons who were all
heroes and mighty chariot-fighters, and a daughter over and above the
hundred, and another son Yuyutsu of great energy and prowess begotten
upon a Vaisya woman.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Janamejaya said, ‘O sinless one, thou hast narrated to me from the
beginning all about the birth of Dhritarashtra’s hundred sons owing to
the boon granted by the Rishi. But thou hast not told me as yet any
particulars about the birth of the daughter. Thou hast merely said that
over and above the hundred sons, there was another son named Yuyutsu
begotten upon a Vaisya woman, and a daughter. The great Rishi Vyasa of
immeasurable energy said unto the daughter of the king of Gandhara that
she would become the mother of a hundred sons. Illustrious one, how is
that thou sayest Gandhari had a daughter over and above her hundred sons?
If the ball of flesh was distributed by the great Rishi only into a
hundred parts, and if Gandhari did not conceive on any other occasion,
how was then Duhsala born. Tell me this, O Rishi! my curiosity hath been

“Vaisampayana said, ‘O descendant of the Pandavas, thy question is just,
and I will tell thee how it happened. The illustrious and great Rishi
himself, by sprinkling water over that ball of flesh, began to divide it
into parts. And as it was being divided into parts, the nurse began to
take them up and put them one by one into those pots filled with
clarified butter. While this process was going on, the beautiful and
chaste Gandhari of rigid vows, realising the affection that one feeleth
for a daughter, began to think within herself, ‘There is no doubt that I
shall have a hundred sons, the Muni having said so. It can never be
otherwise. But I should be very happy if a daughter were born of me over
and above these hundred sons and junior to them all. My husband then may
attain to those worlds that the possession of a daughter’s sons
conferreth. Then again, the affection the women feel for their
sons-in-law is great. If, therefore, I obtain a daughter over and above
my hundred sons, then, surrounded by sons and daughter’s sons, I may feel
supremely blest. If I have ever practised ascetic austerities, if I have
ever given anything in charity, if I have ever performed the homa
(through Brahamanas), if I have ever gratified my superiors by respectful
attentions, then (as the fruit of those acts) let a daughter be born unto
me.’ All this while that illustrious and best of Rishis,
Krishna-Dwaipayana himself was dividing the ball of flesh; and counting a
full hundred of the parts, he said unto the daughter of Suvala, ‘Here are
thy hundred sons. I did not speak aught unto thee that was false. Here,
however, is one part in excess of the hundred, intended for giving thee a
daughter’s son. This part shall develop into an amiable and fortunate
daughter, as thou hast desired’ Then that great ascetic brought another
pot full of clarified butter, and put the part intended for a daughter
into it.

“Thus have I, O Bharata, narrated unto thee all about the birth of
Duhsala. Tell me, O sinless one, what more I am now to narrate.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Janamejaya said, ‘Please recite the names of Dhritarashtra’s sons
according to the order of their birth.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Their names, O king, according to the order of
birth, are Duryodhana, Yuyutsu, Duhsasana, Duhsaha, Duhsala, Jalasandha,
Sama, Saha, Vinda and Anuvinda, Durdharsha, Suvahu, Dushpradharshana,
Durmarshana and Durmukha, Dushkarna, and Karna; Vivinsati and Vikarna,
Sala, Satwa, Sulochana, Chitra and Upachitra, Chitraksha, Charuchitra,
Sarasana, Durmada and Durvigaha, Vivitsu, Vikatanana; Urnanabha and
Sunabha, then Nandaka and Upanandaka; Chitravana, Chitravarman, Suvarman,
Durvimochana; Ayovahu, Mahavahu, Chitranga, Chitrakundala, Bhimavega,
Bhimavala, Balaki, Balavardhana, Ugrayudha; Bhima, Karna, Kanakaya,
Dridhayudha, Dridhavarman, Dridhakshatra, Somakitri, Anudara;
Dridhasandha, Jarasandha, Satyasandha, Sada, Suvak, Ugrasravas, Ugrasena,
Senani, Dushparajaya, Aparajita, Kundasayin, Visalaksha, Duradhara;
Dridhahasta, Suhasta, Vatavega, and Suvarchas; Adityaketu, Vahvashin,
Nagadatta, Agrayayin; Kavachin, Krathana, Kunda, Kundadhara, Dhanurdhara;
the heroes, Ugra and Bhimaratha, Viravahu, Alolupa; Abhaya, and
Raudrakarman, and Dridharatha; Anadhrishya, Kundabhedin, Viravi,
Dhirghalochana Pramatha, and Pramathi and the powerful Dhirgharoma;
Dirghavahu, Mahavahu, Vyudhoru, Kanakadhvaja; Kundasi and Virajas.
Besides these hundred sons, there was a daughter named Duhsala. All were
heroes and Atirathas, and were well-skilled in warfare. All were learned
in the Vedas, and all kinds of weapons. And, O, king, worthy wives were
in time selected for all of them by Dhritarashtra after proper
examination. And king Dhritarashtra, O monarch, also bestowed Duhsala, in
proper time and with proper rites, upon Jayadratha (the king of Sindhu).’


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Janamejaya said, ‘O utterer of Brahma, thou hast recited (everything
about) the extraordinary birth among men, of the sons of Dhritarashtra in
consequence of the Rishi’s grace. Thou hast also said what their names
are, according to the order of their birth. O Brahmana, I have heard all
these from thee. But tell me now all about the Pandavas. While reciting
the incarnations on earth of the celestial, the Asuras, and the beings of
other classes, thou saidst that the Pandavas were all illustrious and
endued with the prowess of gods, and that they were incarnate portion of
the celestials themselves. I desire, therefore, to hear all about those
beings of extraordinary achievements beginning from the moment of their
birth. O Vaisampayana, recite thou their achievements.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘O king, one day Pandu, while roaming about in the
woods (on the southern slopes of the Himavat) that teemed with deer and
wild animals of fierce disposition, saw a large deer, that seemed to be
the leader of a herd, serving his mate. Beholding the animals, the
monarch pierced them both with five of his sharp and swift arrows winged
with golden feathers. O monarch, that was no deer that Pandu struck at,
but a Rishi’s son of great ascetic merit who was enjoying his mate in the
form of a deer. Pierced by Pandu, while engaged in the act of
intercourse, he fell down to the ground, uttering cries that were of a
man and began to weep bitterly.

“The deer then addressed Pandu and said, ‘O king, even men that are
slaves to lust and wrath, and void of reason, and ever sinful, never
commit such a cruel act as this. Individual judgment prevaileth not
against the ordinance, the ordinance prevaileth against individual
judgment. The wise never sanction anything discountenanced by the
ordinance. Thou art born, O Bharata, in a race that hath ever been
virtuous. How is it, therefore, that even thou, suffering thyself to be
overpowered by passion and wrath losest thy reason?’ Hearing this, Pandu
replied, ‘O deer, kings behave in the matter of slaying animals of thy
species exactly as they do in the matter of slaying foes. It behoveth
thee not, therefore, to reprove me thus from ignorance. Animals of thy
species are slain by open or covert means. This, indeed, is the practice
of kings. Then why dost thou reprove me? Formerly, the Rishi Agastya,
while engaged in the performance of a grand sacrifice, chased the deer,
and devoted every deer in the forest unto the gods in general. Thou hast
been slain, pursuant to the usage sanctioned by such precedent. Wherefore
reprovest us then? For his especial sacrifices Agastya performed the homa
with fat of the deer.’

“The deer then said, ‘O king, men do not let fly their arrows at their
enemies when the latter are unprepared. But there is a time for doing it
(viz., after declaration of hostilities). Slaughter at such a time is not

“Pandu replied, ‘It is well-known that men slay deer by various effective
means without regarding whether the animals are careful or careless.
Therefore, O deer, why dost thou reprove me?’

“The deer then said, ‘O, king, I did not blame thee for thy having killed
a deer, or for the injury thou hast done to me. But, instead of acting so
cruelly, thou shouldst have waited till the completion of my act of
intercourse. What man of wisdom and virtue is there that can kill a deer
while engaged in such an act? The time of sexual intercourse is agreeable
to every creature and productive of good to all. O king, with this my
mate I was engaged in the gratification of my sexual desire. But that
effort of mine hath been rendered futile by thee. O king of the Kurus, as
thou art born in the race of the Pauravas ever noted for white (virtuous)
deeds, such an act hath scarcely been worthy of thee. O Bharata, this act
must be regarded as extremely cruel, deserving of universal execration,
infamous, and sinful, and certainly leading to hell. Thou art acquainted
with the pleasures of sexual intercourse. Thou art acquainted also with
the teaching of morality and dictates of duty. Like unto a celestial as
thou art, it behoveth thee not to do such an act as leadeth to hell. O
best of kings, thy duty is to chastise all who act cruelly, who are
engaged in sinful practices and who have thrown to the winds religion,
profit, and pleasure as explained in the scriptures. What hast thou done,
O best of men, in killing me who have given thee no offence? I am, O
king, a Muni who liveth on fruits and roots, though disguised as a deer.
I was living in the woods in peace with all. Yet thou hast killed me, O
king, for which I will curse thee certainly. As thou hast been cruel unto
a couple of opposite sexes, death shall certainly overtake thee as soon
as thou feelest the influence of sexual desire. I am a Muni of the name
of Kindama, possessed of ascetic merit. I was engaged in sexual
intercourse with this deer, because my feelings of modesty did not permit
me to indulge in such an act in human society. In the form of a deer I
rove in the deep woods in the company of other deer. Thou hast slain me
without knowing that I am a Brahmana, the sin of having slain a Brahmana
shall not, therefore, be thine. But senseless man, as you have killed me,
disguised as a deer, at such a time, thy fate shall certainly be even
like mine. When, approaching thy wife lustfully, thou wilt unite with her
even as I had done with mine, in that very state shalt thou have to go to
the world of the spirits. And that wife of thine with whom thou mayst be
united in intercourse at the time of thy death shall also follow thee
with affection and reverence to the domains of the king of the dead. Thou
hast brought me grief when I was happy. So shall grief come to thee when
thou art in happiness.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Saying this, that deer, afflicted with grief
gave up the ghost; and Pandu also was plunged in woe at the sight.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘After the death of that deer, king Pandu with his
wives was deeply afflicted and wept bitterly. And he exclaimed, ‘The
wicked, even if born in virtuous families, deluded by their own passions,
become overwhelmed with misery as the fruit of their own deeds. I have
heard that my father, though begotten by Santanu of virtuous soul, was
cut off while still a youth, only because he had become a slave to his
lust. In the soil of that lustful king, the illustrious Rishi
Krishna-Dwaipayana himself, of truthful speech, begot me. A son though I
am of such a being, with my wicked heart wedded to vice, I am yet leading
a wandering life in the woods in the chase of the deer. Oh, the very gods
have forsaken me! I shall seek salvation now. The great impediments to
salvation are the desire to beget children, and other concerns of the
world. I shall now adopt the Brahmacharya mode of life and follow in the
imperishable wake of my father. I shall certainly bring my passions under
complete control by severe ascetic penances. Forsaking my wives and other
relatives and shaving my head, alone shall I wander over the earth,
begging for my subsistence from each of these trees standing here.
Forsaking every object of affection and aversion, and covering my body
with dust, I shall make the shelter of trees or deserted houses my home.
I shall never yield to influence of sorrow or joy, and I shall regard
slander and eulogy in the same light. I shall not seek benedictions or
bows. I shall be at peace with all, and shall not accept gifts. I shall
not mock anybody, nor shall I knit my brows at any one, but shall be ever
cheerful and devoted to the good of all creatures. I shall not harm any
of the four orders of life gifted with power of locomotion or otherwise,
viz., oviparous and viviparous creatures and worms and vegetables. But on
the contrary, preserve an equality of behaviour towards all, as if they
were, my own children. Once a day shall I beg of five or ten families at
the most, and if I do not succeed in obtaining alms, I shall then go
without food. I shall rather stint myself than beg more than once of the
same person. If I do not obtain anything after completing my round of
seven or ten houses, moved by covetousness, I shall not enlarge my round.
Whether I obtain or fail to obtain alms. I shall be equally unmoved like
a great ascetic. One lopping off an arm of mine with a hatchet, and one
smearing another arm with sandal-paste, shall be regarded by me equally.
I shall not wish prosperity to the one or misery to the other. I shall
not be pleased with life or displeased with death. I shall neither desire
to live nor to die. Washing my heart of all sins, I shall certainly
transcend those sacred rites productive of happiness, that men perform in
auspicious moments, days, and periods. I shall also abstain from all acts
of religion and profit and also those that lead to the gratification of
the senses. Freed from all sins and snares of the world, I shall be like
the wind subject to none. Following the path of fearlessness and bearing
myself in this way I shall at last lay down my life. Destitute of the
power of begetting children, firmly adhering to the line of duty I shall
not certainly deviate therefrom in order to tread in the vile path of the
world that is so full of misery. Whether respected or disrespected in the
world that man who from covetousness casteth on others a begging look,
certainly behaveth like a dog. (Destitute as I am of the power of
procreation, I should not certainly, from desire of offspring, solicit
others to give me children).’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The king, having thus wept in sorrow, with a
sigh looked at his two wives Kunti and Madri, and addressing them said,
‘Let the princess of Kosala (my mother), Vidura, the king with our
friends, the venerable Satyavati, Bhishma, the priests of our family,
illustrious Soma-drinking Brahmanas of rigid vows and all elderly
citizens depending on us be informed, after being prepared for it, that
Pandu hath retired into the woods to lead a life of asceticism.’ Hearing
these words of their lord who had set his heart on a life of asceticism
in the woods, both Kunti and Madri addressed him in these proper words,
‘O bull of Bharata’s race, there are many other modes of life which thou
canst adopt and in which thou canst undergo the severest penances along
with us, thy wedded wives--in which for the salvation of thy body
(freedom from re-birth), thou mayest obtain heaven. We also, in the
company of our lord, and for his benefit, controlling our passions and
bidding adieu to all luxuries, shall subject ourselves to the severest
austerities. O king, O thou of great wisdom, if thou abandonest us, we
shall then this very day truly depart from this world.’

Pandu replied, ‘If, indeed, this your resolve springeth from virtue, then
with you both I shall follow the imperishable path of my fathers.
Abandoning the luxuries of cities and towns, clad in barks of trees, and
living on fruits and roots, I shall wander in deep woods, practising the
severest penances. Bathing morning and evening, I shall perform the homa.
I shall reduce my body by eating very sparingly and shall wear rags and
skins and knotted locks on my head. Exposing myself to heat and cold and
disregarding hunger and thirst, I shall reduce my body by severe ascetic
penances, I shall live in solitude and I shall give myself up to
contemplation; I shall eat fruit, ripe or green, that I may find. I shall
offer oblations to the Pitris (manes) and the gods with speech, water and
the fruits of the wilderness. I shall not see, far less harm, any of the
denizens of the woods, or any of my relatives, or any of the residents of
cities and towns. Until I lay down this body, I shall thus practise the
severe ordinances of the Vanaprastha scriptures, always searching for
severer ones that they may contain.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The Kuru king, having said this unto his wives,
gave away to Brahmanas the big jewel in his diadem, his necklace of
precious gold, his bracelets, his large ear-rings, his valuable robes and
all the ornaments of his wives. Then summoning his attendants, he
commended them, saying, ‘Return ye to Hastinapura and proclaim unto all
that Pandu with his wives hath gone into the woods, foregoing wealth,
desire, happiness, and even sexual appetite.’ Then those followers and
attendants, hearing these and other soft words of the king, set up a loud
wail, uttering, ‘Oh, we are undone!’ Then with hot tears trickling down
their cheeks they left the monarch and returned to Hastinapura with speed
carrying that wealth with them (that was to be distributed in charity).
Then Dhritarashtra, that first of men, hearing from them everything that
had happened in the woods, wept for his brother. He brooded over his
affliction continually, little relishing the comfort of beds and seats
and dishes.

“Meanwhile, the Kuru prince Pandu (after sending away his attendants)
accompanied by his two wives and eating fruits and roots went to the
mountains of Nagasata. He next went to Chaitraratha, and then crossed the
Kalakuta, and finally, crossing the Himavat, he arrived at Gandhamadana.
Protected by Mahabhutas, Siddhas, and great Rishis, Pandu lived, O king,
sometimes on level ground and sometimes on mountain slopes. He then
journeyed on to the lake of Indradyumna, whence crossing the mountains of
Hansakuta, he went to the mountain of hundred peaks (Sata-sringa) and
there continued to practise ascetic austerities.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Pandu, possessed of great energy, then devoted
himself to asceticism. Within a short time he became the favourite of the
whole body of the Siddhas and Charanas residing there. And, O Bharata,
devoted to the service of his spiritual masters, free from vanity, with
mind under complete control and the passions fully subdued, the prince,
becoming competent to enter heaven by his own energy, attained to great
(ascetic) prowess. Some of the Rishis would call him brother, some
friend, while others cherished him as their son. And, O bull of Bharata’s
race, having acquired after a long time great ascetic merit coupled with
complete singleness, Pandu became even like a Brahmarshi (though he was a
Kshatriya by birth).

“On a certain day of the new moon, the great Rishis of rigid vows
assembled together, and desirous of beholding Brahman were on the point
of starting on their expedition. Seeing them about to start, Pandu asked
those ascetics, saying, ‘Ye first of eloquent men, where shall we go?’
The Rishis answered, ‘There will be a great gathering today, in the abode
of Brahman, of celestials, Rishis and Pitris. Desirous of beholding the
Self-create we shall go there today.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing this, Pandu rose up suddenly, desirous
of visiting heaven along with the great Rishis. Accompanied by his two
wives, when he was on the point of following the Rishis in the northerly
direction from the mountain of hundred peaks, those ascetics addressed
him saying, ‘In our northward march, while gradually ascending the king
of mountains, we have seen on its delightful breast many regions
inaccessible to ordinary mortals; retreats also of the gods, and
Gandharvas and Apsaras, with palatial mansions by hundreds clustering
thick around and resounding with the sweet notes of celestial music, the
gardens of Kuvera laid out on even and uneven grounds, banks of mighty
rivers, and deep caverns. There are many regions also on those heights
that are covered with perpetual snow and are utterly destitute of
vegetable and animal existence. In some places the downpour of rain is so
heavy that they are perfectly inaccessible and incapable of being
utilised for habitation. Not to speak of other animals, even winged
creatures cannot cross them. The only thing that can go there is air, and
the only beings, Siddhas and great Rishis. How shall these princesses
ascend those heights of the king of mountains? Unaccustomed to pain,
shall they not droop in affliction? Therefore, come not with us, O bull
of Bharata’s race!’

“Pandu replied, ‘Ye fortunate ones, it is said that for the sonless there
is no admittance into heaven. I am sonless! I In affliction I speak’ unto
you! I am afflicted because I have not been able to discharge the debt I
owe to my ancestors. It is certain that with the dissolution of this my
body my ancestors perish! Men are born on this earth with four debts,
viz. those due unto the (deceased) ancestors, the gods, the Rishis, and
other men. In justice these must be discharged. The wise have declared
that no regions of bliss exist for them that neglect to pay these debts
in due time. The gods are paid (gratified) by sacrifices, the Rishis, by
study, meditation, and asceticism, the (deceased) ancestors, by begetting
children and offering the funeral cake, and, lastly other men, by leading
a humane and inoffensive life. I have justly discharged my obligations to
the Rishis, the gods, and other men. But those others than these three
are sure to perish with the dissolution of my body! Ye ascetics, I am not
yet freed from the debt I owe to my (deceased) ancestors. The best of men
are born in this world to beget children for discharging that debt. I
would ask you, should children be begotten in my soil (upon my wives) as
I myself was begotten in the soil of my father by the eminent Rishi?’

“The Rishis said, ‘O king of virtuous soul, there is progeny in store for
thee, that is sinless and blest with good fortune and like unto the gods.
We behold it all with our prophetic eyes. Therefore, O tiger among men,
accomplish by your own acts that which destiny pointeth at. Men of
intelligence, acting with deliberation, always obtain good fruits; it
behoveth thee, therefore, O king, to exert thyself. The fruits thou
wouldst obtain are distinctly visible. Thou wouldst really obtain
accomplished and agreeable progeny.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing these words of the ascetics, Pandu,
remembering the loss of his procreative powers owing to the curse of the
deer, began to reflect deeply. And calling his wedded wife the excellent
Kunti, unto him, he told her in private, ‘Strive thou to raise offspring
at this time of distress. The wise expounders of the eternal religion
declare that a son, O Kunti, is the cause of virtuous fame in the three
worlds. It is said that sacrifices, charitable gifts, ascetic penances,
and vows observed most carefully, do not confer religious merit on a
sonless man. O thou of sweet smiles, knowing all this, I am certain that
as I am sonless, I shall not obtain regions of true felicity. O timid
one, wretch that I was and addicted to cruel deeds, as a consequence of
the polluted life I led, my power of procreation hath been destroyed by
the curse of the deer. The religious institutes mention six kinds of sons
that are heirs and kinsmen, and six other kinds that are not heirs but
kinsmen. I shall speak of them presently. O Pritha, listen to me. They
are: 1st, the son begotten by one’s own self upon his wedded wife; 2nd,
the son begotten upon one’s wife by an accomplished person from motives
of kindness; 3rd, the son begotten upon one’s wife by a person for
pecuniary consideration; 4th, the son begotten upon the wife after the
husband’s death; 5th, the maiden-born son; 6th, the son born of an
unchaste wife; 7th, the son given; 8th, the son bought for a
consideration; 9th, the son self-given; 10th, the son received with a
pregnant bride; 11th, the brother’s son; and 12th, the son begotten upon
a wife of lower caste. On failure of offspring of a prior class, the
mother should desire to have offspring of the next class. In times of
distress, men solicit offspring from accomplished younger brothers. The
self-born Manu hath said that men failing to have legitimate offspring of
their own may have offspring begotten upon their wives by others, for
sons confer the highest religious merit. Therefore, O Kunti, being
destitute myself of the power of procreation, I command thee to raise
good offspring through some person who is either equal or superior to me.
O Kunti, listen to the history of the daughter of Saradandayana who was
appointed by her lord to raise offspring. That warrior-dame, when her
monthly season arrived, bathed duly and in the night went out and waited
on a spot where four roads met. She did not wait long when a Brahmana
crowned with ascetic success came there. The daughter of Saradandayana
solicited him for offspring. After pouring libations of clarified butter
on the fire (in the performance of the sacrifice known by the name of
Punsavana) she brought forth three sons that were mighty car-warriors and
of whom Durjaya was the eldest, begotten upon her by that Brahmana. O
thou of good fortune, do thou follow that warrior-dame’s example at my
command, and speedily raise offspring out of the seed of some Brahmana of
high ascetic merit.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Thus addressed, Kunti replied unto her heroic lord,
king Pandu, that bull amongst the Kurus, saying, ‘O virtuous one, it
behoveth thee not to say so unto me. I am, O thou lotus-eyed one, thy
wedded wife, devoted to thee. O, Bharata of mighty arms, thyself shalt,
in righteousness, beget upon me children endued with great energy. Then I
shall ascend to heaven with thee; O prince of Kuru’s race, receive me in
thy embrace for begetting children. I shall not certainly, even in
imagination, accept any other man except thee in my embraces. What other
man is there in this world superior to thee? O virtuous one, listen to
this Pauranic narrative that hath been, O thou of large eyes, heard by
me, and that I shall presently narrate.

“There was, in ancient times, a king in the race of Puru, known by the
name of Vyushitaswa. He was devoted to truth and virtue. Of virtuous soul
and mighty arms, on one occasion, while he was performing a sacrifice the
gods with Indra and the great Rishis came to him, and Indra was so
intoxicated with the Soma juice he drank and the Brahmanas with the large
presents they received, that both the gods and the great Rishis began
themselves to perform everything appertaining to that sacrifice of the
illustrious royal sage. And thereupon Vyushitaswa began to shine above
all men like the Sun appearing in double splendour after the season of
frost is over. And the powerful Vyushitaswa, who was endued with the
strength of ten elephants very soon performed the horse-sacrifice,
overthrowing, O best of monarchs, all the kings of the East, the North,
the West and the South, and exacted tributes from them all. There is an
anecdote, O best of the Kurus, that is sung by all reciters of the
Puranas, in connection with that first of all men, the illustrious
Vyushitaswa.--Having conquered the whole Earth up to the coast of the
sea, Vyushitaswa protected every class of his subjects as a father does
his own begotten sons.--Performing many great sacrifices he gave away
much wealth to the Brahmanas. After collecting unlimited jewels and
precious stones he made arrangements for performing still greater ones.
And he performed also the Agnishtoma, and other special Vedic sacrifices,
extracting great quantities of Soma juice. And, O king, Vyushitaswa had
for his dear wife, Bhadra, the daughter of Kakshivat, unrivalled for
beauty on earth. And it hath been heard by us that the couple loved each
other deeply. King Vyushitaswa was seldom separated from his wife. Sexual
excess, however, brought on an attack of phthisis and the king died
within a few days, sinking like the Sun in his glory. Then Bhadra, his
beautiful queen, was plunged into woe, and as she was sonless, O tiger
among men, she wept in great affliction. Listen to me, O king, as I
narrate to you all that Bhadra said with bitter tears trickling down her
cheeks. ‘O virtuous one’, she said, ‘Women serve no purpose when their
husbands are dead. She who liveth after her husband is dead, draggeth on
a miserable existence that can hardly be called life. O bull of the
Kshatriya order, death is a blessing to women without husbands. I wish to
follow the way thou hast gone. Be kind and take me with thee. In thy
absence, I am unable to bear life even for a moment. Be kind to me, O
king and take me hence pretty soon. O tiger among men, I shall follow
thee over the even and uneven ground. Thou hast gone away, O lord, never
to return. I shall follow thee, O king, as thy own shadow. O tiger among
men, I will obey thee (as thy slave) and will ever do what is agreeable
to thee and what is for thy good. O thou of eyes like lotus-petals,
without thee, from this day, mental agonies will overwhelm me and eat
into my heart. A wretch that I am, some loving couple had doubtless been
separated by me in a former life, for which, in this life, I am made to
suffer the pangs of separation from thee. O king, that wretched woman who
liveth even for a moment separated from her lord, liveth in woe and
suffereth the pangs of hell even here. Some loving couple had doubtless
been separated by me in a former life, for which sinful act I am
suffering this torture arising from my separation from thee. O king, from
this day I will lay myself down on a bed of Kusa grass and abstain from
every luxury, hoping to behold thee once more. O tiger among men, show
thyself to me. O king, O lord, command once more thy wretched and
bitterly weeping wife plunged in woe.’

“Kunti continued, ‘It was thus, O Pandu, that the beautiful Bhadra wept
over the death of her lord. And the weeping Bhadra clasped in her arms
the corpse in anguish of heart. Then she was addressed by an incorporeal
voice in these words, “Rise up, O Bhadra, and leave this place. O thou of
sweet smiles, I grant thee this boon. I will beget offspring upon thee.
Lie thou down with me on thy own bed, after the catamenial bath, on the
night of the eighth or the fourteenth day of the moon.’ Thus addressed by
the incorporeal voice, the chaste Bhadra did, as she was directed, for
obtaining offspring. And, O bull of the Bharatas, the corpse of her
husband begat upon her seven children viz., three Salwas and four Madras.
O bull of the Bharatas, do thou also beget offspring upon me, like the
illustrious Vyushitaswa, by the exercise of that ascetic power which thou


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Thus addressed by his loving wife, king Pandu,
well-acquainted with all rules of morality, replied in these words of
virtuous import, ‘O Kunti, what thou hast said is quite true. Vyushitaswa
of old did even as thou hast said. Indeed he was equal unto the
celestials themselves. But I shall now tell thee about the practices of
old indicated by illustrious Rishis, fully acquainted with every rule of
morality. O thou of handsome face and sweet smiles, women formerly were
not immured within houses and dependent on husbands and other relatives.
They used to go about freely, enjoying themselves as best as they liked.
O thou of excellent qualities, they did not then adhere to their husbands
faithfully, and yet, O handsome one, they were not regarded sinful, for
that was the sanctioned usage of the times. That very usage is followed
to this day by birds and beasts without any (exhibition of) jealousy.
That practice, sanctioned by precedent, is applauded by great Rishis. O
thou of taper thighs, the practice is yet regarded with respect amongst
the Northern Kurus. Indeed, that usage, so lenient to women, hath the
sanction of antiquity. The present practice, however (of women’s being
confined to one husband for life) hath been established but lately. I
shall tell thee in detail who established it and why.

“It hath been heard by us that there was a great Rishi of the name of
Uddalaka, who had a son named Swetaketu who also was an ascetic of merit.
O thou of eyes like lotus-petals, the present virtuous practice hath been
established by that Swetaketu from anger. Hear thou the reason. One day,
in the presence of Swetaketu’s father a Brahmana came and catching
Swetaketu’s mother by the hand, told her, ‘Let us go.’ Beholding his
mother seized by the hand and taken away apparently by force, the son was
greatly moved by wrath. Seeing his son indignant, Uddalaka addressed him
and said, ‘Be not angry. O son! This is the practice sanctioned by
antiquity. The women of all orders in this world are free, O son; men in
this matter, as regards their respective orders, act as kine.’ The
Rishi’s son, Swetaketu, however, disapproved of the usage and established
in the world the present practice as regards men and women. It hath been
heard by us, O thou of great virtue, that the existing practice dates
from that period among human beings but not among beings of other
classes. Accordingly, since the establishment of the present usage, it is
sinful for women not to adhere to their husbands. Women transgressing the
limits assigned by the Rishi became guilty of slaying the embryo. And,
men, too, viol ting a chaste and loving wife who hath from her maidenhood
observed the vow of purity, became guilty of the same sin. The woman also
who, being commanded by her husband to raise offspring, refuses to do his
bidding, becometh equally sinful.

“Thus, O timid one, was the existing usage established of old by
Swetaketu, the son of Uddalaka, in defiance of antiquity. O thou of taper
thighs, it hath also been heard by us that Madayanti, the wife of
Saudasa, commanded by her husband to raise offspring went unto Rishi
Vasishtha. And on going in unto him, the handsome Madayanti obtained a
son named Asmaka. She did this, moved by the desire of doing good to her
husband. O thou of lotus-eyes, thou knowest, O timid girl, how we
ourselves, for the perpetuation of the Kuru race, were begotten by
Krishna-Dwaipayana. O faultless one, beholding all these precedents it
behoveth thee to do my bidding, which is not inconsistent with virtue, O
princess, who is devoted to her husband, it hath also been said by those
acquainted with the rules of morality that a wife, when her monthly
season cometh, must ever seek her husband, though at other times she
deserveth liberty. The wise have declared this to be the ancient
practice. But, be the act sinful or sinless, those acquainted with the
Vedas have declared that it is the duty of wives to do what their
husbands bid them do. Especially, O thou of faultless features, I, who am
deprived of the power of procreation, having yet become desirous of
beholding offspring, deserve the more to be obeyed by thee. O amiable
one, joining my palms furnished with rosy fingers, and making of them a
cup as of lotus leaves, I place them on my head to propitiate thee. O
thou of lair looks, it behoveth thee to raise offspring, at my command,
through some Brahmana possessed of high ascetic merit. For then, owing to
thee, O thou of fair hips, I may go the way that is reserved for those
that are blessed with children.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed by Pandu, that subjugator of
hostile cities, the handsome Kunti, ever attentive to what was agreeable
and beneficial to her lord, then replied unto him, saying, ‘In my
girlhood, O lord, I was in my father’s house engaged in attending upon
all guests. I used to wait respectfully upon Brahmanas of rigid vows and
great ascetic merit. One day I gratified with my attentions that Brahmana
whom people call Durvasa, of mind under full control and possessing
knowledge of all the mysteries of religion. Pleased with my services,
that Brahmana gave me a boon in the form of a mantra (formula of
invocation) for calling into my presence any one of the celestials I
liked. And the Rishi, addressing me, said, ‘Anyone among the celestials
whom thou callest by this shall, O girl, approach thee and be obedient to
thy will, whether he liketh it or not. And, O princess, thou shall also
have offspring through his grace.’ O Bharata, that Brahmana told me this
when I lived in my father’s house. The words uttered by the Brahmana can
never be false. The time also hath come when they may yield fruit.
Commanded by thee, O royal sage, I can by that mantra summon any of the
celestials, so that we may have good children. O foremost of all truthful
men, tell me which of the celestials I shall summon. Know that, as
regards this matter, I await your commands.’

“Hearing this, Pandu replied, ‘O handsome one, strive duly this very day
to gratify our wishes. Fortunate one, summon thou the god of justice. He
is the most virtuous of the celestials. The god of justice and virtue
will never be able to pollute us with sin. The world also, O beautiful
princess, will then think that what we do can never be unholy. The son
also that we shall obtain from him shall in virtue be certainly the
foremost among the Kurus. Begotten by the god of justice and morality, he
would never set his heart upon anything that is sinful or unholy.
Therefore, O thou of sweet smiles, steadily keeping virtue before thy
eyes, and duly observing holy vows, summon thou the god of justice and
virtue by the help of thy solicitations and incantations.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then Kunti, that best of women, thus addressed
by her lord, said, ‘So be it.’ And bowing down to him and reverently
circumambulating his person, she resolved to do his bidding.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘O Janamejaya, when Gandhari’s conception had been a
full year old, it was then that Kunti summoned the eternal god of justice
to obtain offspring from him. And she offered without loss of time,
sacrifices unto the god and began to duly repeat the formula that Durvasa
had imparted to her some time before. Then the god, overpowered by her
incantations, arrived at the spot where Kunti was seated in his car
resplendent as the Sun. Smiling, he asked, ‘O Kunti, what am I to give
thee?’ And Kunti too smiling in her turn, replied, ‘Thou must even give
me offspring.’ Then the handsome Kunti was united (in intercourse) with
the god of justice in his spiritual form and obtained from him a son
devoted to the good of all creatures. And she brought his excellent
child, who lived to acquire a great fame, at the eighth Muhurta called
Abhijit, of the hour of noon of that very auspicious day of the seventh
month (Kartika), viz., the fifth of the lighted fortnight, when the star
Jyeshtha in conjunction with the moon was ascendant. And as soon as the
child was born, an incorporeal voice (from the skies) said, ‘This child
shall be the best of men, the foremost of those that are virtuous. Endued
with great prowess and truthful in speech, he shall certainly be the
ruler of the earth. And this first child of Pandu shall be known by the
name of Yudhishthira. Possessed of prowess and honesty of disposition, he
shall be a famous king, known throughout the three worlds.’

“Pandu, having obtained that virtuous son, again addressed his wife and
said. ‘The wise have declared that a Kshatriya must be endued with
physical strength, otherwise he is no Kshatriya.’ Therefore, ask thou for
an offspring of superior strength. Thus commanded by her lord, Kunti then
invoked Vayu. And the mighty god of wind, thus invoked, came unto her,
riding upon a deer, and said, ‘What, O Kunti, am I to give thee? Tell me
what is in thy heart” Smiling in modesty, she said to him, ‘Give me, O
best of celestials, a child endued with great strength and largeness of
limbs and capable of humbling the pride of every body.’ The god of wind
thereupon begat upon her the child afterwards known as Bhima of mighty
arms and fierce prowess. And upon the birth of that child endued with
extraordinary strength, an incorporeal voice, O Bharata, as before, said,
‘This child shall be the foremost of all endued with strength.’ I must
tell you, O Bharata, of another wonderful event that occurred alter the
birth of Vrikodara (Bhima). While he fell from the lap of his mother upon
the mountain breast, the violence of the fall broke into fragments the
stone upon which he fell without his infant body being injured in the
least. And he fell from his mother’s lap because Kunti, frightened by a
tiger, had risen up suddenly, unconscious of the child that lay asleep on
her lap. And as she had risen, the infant, of body hard as the
thunderbolt, falling down upon the mountain breast, broke into a hundred
fragments the rocky mass upon which he fell. And beholding this, Pandu
wondered much. And it so happened that that very day on which Vrikodara
was born, was also, O best of Bharatas, the birthday of Duryodhana who
afterwards became the ruler of the whole earth.’

“After the birth of Vrikodara, Pandu again began to think, ‘How am I to
obtain a very superior son who shall achieve world-wide fame? Every,
thing in the world dependeth on destiny and exertion. But destiny can
never be successful except by timely exertion. We have heard it said that
Indra is the chief of the gods. Indeed, he is endued with immeasurable
might and energy and prowess and glory. Gratifying him with my
asceticism, I shall obtain from him a son of great strength. Indeed, the
son he giveth me must be superior to all and capable of vanquishing in
battle all men and creatures other than men. I shall, therefore, practise
the severest austerities, with heart, deed and speech.’

“After this, the Kuru king Pandu, taking counsel with the great Rishis
commanded Kunti to observe an auspicious vow for one full year, while he
himself commenced, O Bharata, to stand upon one leg from morning to
evening, and practise other severe austerities with mind rapt in
meditation, for gratifying the lord of the celestials.

“It was after a long time that Indra (gratified with such devotion)
approached Pandu and, addressing him, said, ‘I shall give thee, O king, a
son who will be celebrated all over the three worlds and who will promote
the welfare of Brahmanas, kine and all honest men. The son I shall give
thee will be the smiter of the wicked and the delight of friends and
relatives. Foremost of all men, he will be an irresistible slayer of all
foes.’ Thus addressed by Vasava (the king of the celestials), the
virtuous king of the Kuru race, well-recollecting those words, said unto
Kunti, ‘O fortunate one, thy vow hath become successful. The lord of the
celestials hath been gratified, and is willing to give thee a son such as
thou desirest, of superhuman achievements and great fame. He will be the
oppressor of all enemies and possessed of great wisdom. Endued with a
great soul, in splendour equal unto the Sun, invincible in battles, and
of great achievements, he will also be extremely handsome. O thou of fair
hips and sweet smiles, the lord of the celestials hath become gracious to
thee. Invoking him, bring thou forth a child who will be the very home of
all Kshatriya virtues.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The celebrated Kunti, thus addressed by her
lord, invoked Sakra (the king of the gods) who thereupon came unto her
and begat him that was afterwards called Arjuna. And as soon as this
child was born, an incorporeal voice, loud and deep as that of the clouds
and filling the whole welkin, distinctly said, addressing Kunti in the
hearing of every creature dwelling in that asylum, ‘This child of thine,
O Kunti, will be equal unto Kartavirya in energy and Siva in prowess.
Invincible like Sakra himself he will spread thy fame far and wide. As
Vishnu (the youngest of Aditi’s sons) had enhanced Aditi’s joy, so shall
this child enhance thy joy. Subjugating the Madras, the Kurus along with
the Somakas, and the people of Chedi, Kasi and Karusha, he will maintain
the prosperity of the Kurus. (Surfeited with libations at the sacrifice
of king Swetaketu), Agni will derive great gratification from the fat of
all creatures dwelling in the Khandava woods (to be burnt down) by the
might of this one’s arms. This mighty hero, vanquishing all the
effeminate monarchs of the earth, will, with his brothers perform three
great sacrifices. In prowess, O Kunti, he will be even as Jamadagnya or
Vishnu. The foremost of all men endued with prowess, he will achieve
great fame. He will gratify in battle (by his heroism) Sankara, the god
of gods (Mahadeva), and will receive from him the great weapon named
Pasupata. This thy son of mighty arms will also slay, at the command of
Indra, those Daityas called the Nivatakavachas who are the enemies of the
gods. He will also acquire all kinds of celestial weapons, and this bull
among men will also retrieve the fortunes of his race.’

‘Kunti heard these extraordinary words, while lying in the room. And
hearing those words uttered so loudly, the ascetics dwelling on the
mountain of a hundred peaks, and the celestials with Indra sitting in
their cars, became exceedingly glad. The sounds of the (invisible) drum
filled the entire welkin. There were shouts of joy, and the whole region
was covered with flowers showered down by invisible agents. The various
tribes of celestials assembled together, began to offer their respectful
adorations to the son of Pritha. The sons of Kadru (Nagas), the son of
Vinata, the Gandharvas, the lords of the creation, and the seven great
Rishis, viz., Bharadwaja, Kasyapa, Gautama, Viswamitra, Jamadagni,
Vasishtha, and the illustrious Atri who illumined the world of old when
the Sun was lost, all came there. And Marichi, Angiras, Pulastya, Pulaha,
Kratu, Daksha the lord of creation, the Gandharvas, and Apsaras, came
there also. The various tribes of Apsaras, decked with celestial garlands
and every ornament, and attired in fine robes, came there and danced in
joy, chanting the praises of Vibhatsu (Arjuna). All around, the great
Rishis began to utter propitiatory formulas. And Tumvuru accompanied by
the Gandharvas began to sing in charming notes. And Bhimasena and
Ugrasena, Urnayus and Anagha. Gopati and Dhritarashtra and Suryavarchas
the eighth, Yugapa and Trinapa, Karshni, Nandi, and Chitraratha,
Salisirah the thirteenth, Parjanya the fourteenth, Kali the fifteenth,
and Narada the sixteenth in this list, Vrihatta, Vrihaka, Karala of great
soul, Brahmacharin, Vahuguna, Suvarna of great fame, Viswavasu, Bhumanyu,
Suchandra, Sam and the celebrated tribes of Haha and Huhu gifted with
wonderful melody of voice,--these celestial Gandharvas, O king, all went
there. Many illustrious Apsaras also of large eyes, decked with every
ornament came there to dance and sing. And Anuchana and Anavadya,
Gunamukhya and Gunavara, Adrika and Soma, Misrakesi and Alambusha,
Marichi and Suchika, Vidyutparna and Tilottama and Ambika, Lakshmana,
Kshema Devi, Rambha, Manorama, Asita, Suvahu, Supriya, Suvapuh,
Pundarika, Sugandha, Surasa, Pramathini, Kamya and Saradwati, all danced
there together. And Menaka, Sahajanya, Karnika, Punjikasthala,
Ritusthala, Ghritachi, Viswachi, Purvachiti, the celebrated Umlocha,
Pramlocha the tenth and Urvasi the eleventh,--these large-eyed dancing
girls of heaven,--came there and sang in chorus. And Dharti and Aryaman
and Mitra and Varuna, Bhaga and Indra, Vivaswat, Pushan, Tvastri and
Parjanya or Vishnu, these twelve Adityas came there to glorify Pandu’s
son. And, O king, Mrigavyadha, Sarpa, the celebrated Niriti, Ajaikapada,
Ahivradhna, Pinakin, Dahana, Iswara, Kapalin, Sthanu and the illustrious
Bhaga--these eleven Rudras,--also came there. And the twin Aswins, the
eight Vasus, the mighty Maruts, the Viswedevas, and the Sadhyas, also
came there. And Karkotaka, Vasuki, Kachchhapa, Kunda and the great Naga
Takshaka,--these mighty and wrathful snakes possessed of high ascetic
merit also came there. And Tarkshya, Arishtanemi, Garuda,
Asitadvaja,--these and many other Nagas, came there, so also Aruna and
Aruni of Vinata’s race also came there. And only great Rishis crowned
with ascetic success and not others saw those celestials and other beings
seated in their cars or waiting on the mountain peaks. Those best of
Munis beholding that wonderful sight, became amazed, and their love and
affection for the children of Pandu was in consequence enhanced.

“The celebrated Pandu, tempted by the desire of having more children
wished to speak again unto his wedded wife (for invoking some other god).
But Kunti addressed him, saying, ‘The wise do not sanction a fourth
delivery even in a season of distress. The woman having intercourse with
four different men is called a Swairini (heanton), while she having
intercourse with five becometh a harlot. Therefore, O learned one, as
thou art well-acquainted with the scripture on this subject, why dost
thou, beguiled by desire of offspring, tell me so in seeming
forgetfulness of the ordinance?’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘After the birth of Kunti’s sons and also of the
hundred sons of Dhritarashtra the daughter of the king of the Madras
privately addressed Pandu, saying, ‘O slayer of foes, I have no complaint
even if thou beest unpropitious to me. I have, O sinless one, also no
complaint that though by birth I am superior to Kunti yet I am inferior
to her in station. I do not grieve, O thou of Kuru’s race, that Gandhari
hath obtained a hundred sons. This, however, is my great grief that while
Kunti and I are equal, I should be childless, while it should so chance
that thou shouldst have offspring by Kunti alone. If the daughter of
Kuntibhoja should so provide that I should have offspring, she would then
be really doing me a great favour and benefiting thee likewise. She being
my rival, I feel a delicacy in soliciting any favour of her. If thou
beest, O king, propitiously disposed to me, then ask her to grant my

“Hearing her, Pandu replied, ‘O Madri, I do revolve this matter often in
my own mind, but I have hitherto hesitated to tell thee anything, not
knowing how thou wouldst receive it. Now that I know what your wishes
are, I shall certainly strive after that end. I think that, asked by me,
Kunti will not refuse.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘After this, Pandu addressed Kunti in private,
saying, ‘O Kunti, grant me some more offspring for the expansion of my
race and for the benefit of the world. O blessed one, provide thou that I
myself, my ancestors, and thine also, may always have the funeral cake
offered to us. O, do what is beneficial to me, and grant me and the world
what, indeed, is the best of benefits. O, do what, indeed, may be
difficult for thee, moved by the desire of achieving undying fame.
Behold, Indra, even though he hath obtained the sovereignty of the
celestials, doth yet, for fame alone, perform sacrifices. O handsome one,
Brahmanas, well-acquainted with the Vedas, and having achieved high
ascetic merit, do yet, for fame alone, approach their spiritual masters
with reverence. So also all royal sages and Brahmanas possessed of
ascetic wealth have achieved, for fame only, the most difficult of
ascetic feat. Therefore, O blameless one, rescue this Madri as by a raft
(by granting her the means of obtaining offspring), and achieve thou
imperishable fame by making her a mother of children.’

“Thus addressed by her lord, Kunti readily yielded, and said unto Madri,
‘Think thou, without loss of time, of some celestial, and thou shall
certainly obtain from him a child like unto him.’ Reflecting for a few
moments. Madri thought of the twin Aswins, who coming unto her with speed
begat upon her two sons that were twins named Nakula and Sahadeva,
unrivalled on earth for personal beauty. And as soon as they were born,
an incorporeal voice said, ‘In energy and beauty these twins shall
transcend even the twin Aswins themselves.’ Indeed possessed of great
energy and beauty, they illumined the whole region.

“O king, after all the children were born the Rishis dwelling on the
mountain of a hundred peaks uttering blessings on them and affectionately
performing the first rites of birth, bestowed appellations on them. The
eldest of Kunti’s children was called Yudhishthira, the second Bhimasena,
and the third Arjuna, and of Madri’s sons, the first-born of the twins
was called Nakula and the next Sahadeva. And those foremost sons born at
an interval of one year after one another, looked like an embodied period
of five years. And king Pandu, beholding his children of celestial beauty
and of super-abundant energy, great strength and prowess, and of
largeness of soul, rejoiced exceedingly. And the children became great
favourites of the Rishis, as also of their wives, dwelling on the
mountain of a hundred peaks.

“Some time after, Pandu again requested Kunti on behalf of Madri.
Addressed, O king, by her lord in private, Kunti replied, ‘Having given
her the formula of invocation only once, she hath, O king, managed to
obtain two sons. Have I not been thus deceived by her, I fear, O king,
that she will soon surpass me in the number of her children. This,
indeed, is the way of all wicked women. Fool that I was, I did not know
that by invoking the twin gods I could obtain at one birth twin children.
I beseech thee, O king, do not command me any further. Let this be the
boon granted (by thee) to me.’

“Thus, O king, were born unto Pandu five sons who were begotten by
celestials and were endued with great strength, and who all lived to
achieve great fame and expand the Kuru race. Each bearing every
auspicious mark on his person, handsome like Soma, proud as the lion,
well-skilled in the use of the bow, and of leonine tread, breast, heart,
eyes, neck and prowess, those foremost of men, resembling the celestials
themselves in might, began to grow up. And beholding them and their
virtues growing with years, the great Rishis dwelling on that snowcapped
sacred mountain were filled with wonder. And the five Pandavas and the
hundred sons of Dhritarashtra--that propagator of the Kuru race--grew up
rapidly like a cluster of lotuses in a lake.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, “Beholding his five handsome sons growing up before
him in that great forest on the charming mountain slope, Pandu felt the
last might of his arms revive once more. One day in the season of spring
which maddens every creature the king accompanied by his wife (Madri),
began to rove in the woods where every tree had put forth new blossoms.
He beheld all around Palasas and Tilakas and Mangoes and Champakas and
Parihadrakas and Karnikaras, Asokas and Kesaras and Atimuktas and
Kuruvakas with swarms of maddened bees sweetly humming about. And there
were flowers of blossoming Parijatas with the Kokilas pouring forth their
melodies from under every twig echoing with the sweet hums of the black
bees. And he beheld also various other kinds of trees bent down with the
weight of their flowers and fruits. And there were also many fine pools
of water overgrown with hundreds of fragrant lotuses. Beholding all
these, Pandu felt the soft influence of desire. Roving like a celestial
with a light heart amidst such scenery, Pandu was alone with his wife
Madri in semi-transparent attire. And beholding the youthful Madri thus
attired, the king’s desire flamed up like a forest-fire. And ill-able to
suppress his desire thus kindled at the sight of his wife of eyes like
lotus-petals, he was completely overpowered. The king then seized her
against her will, but Madri trembling in fear resisted him to the best of
her might. Consumed by desire, he forgot everything about his misfortune.
And, O thou of Kuru’s race unrestrained by the fear of (the Rishi’s)
curse and impelled by fate, the monarch, overpowered by passion, forcibly
sought the embraces of Madri, as if he wished to put an end to his own
life. His reason, thus beguiled by the great Destroyer himself by
intoxicating his senses, was itself lost with his life. And the Kuru king
Pandu, of virtuous soul, thus succumbed to the inevitable influence of
Time, while united in intercourse with his wife.

“Then Madri, clasping the body of her senseless lord, began to weep
aloud. And Kunti with her sons and the twins of Madri, hearing those
cries of grief, came to the spot where the king lay in that state. Then,
O king, Madri addressing Kunti in a piteous voice, said, ‘Come hither
alone, O Kunti, and let the children stay there.’ Hearing these words,
Kunti, bidding the children stay, ran with speed, exclaiming, ‘Woe to
me!’ And beholding both Pandu and Madri lying prostrate on the ground she
went in grief and affliction, saying, ‘Of passions under complete
control, this hero, O Madri, had all along been watched by me with care.
How did he then forgetting the Rishi’s curse, approach thee with
enkindled desire? O Madri, this foremost of men should have been
protected by thee. Why didst thou tempt him into solitude? Always
melancholy at the thought of the Rishi’s curse, how came he to be merry
with thee in solitude? O princess of Valhika, more fortunate than myself,
thou art really to be envied, for thou hast seen the face of our lord
suffused with gladness and joy.’

“Madri then replied, saying, ‘Revered sister, with tears in my eyes, I
resisted the king, but he could not control himself, bent on, as it were
making the Rishi’s curse true.’

“Kunti then said, ‘I am the older of his wedded wives; the chief
religious merit must be mine. Therefore, O Madri, prevent me not from
achieving that which must be achieved. I must follow our lord to the
region of the dead. Rise up, O Madri, and yield me his body. Rear thou
these children.’ Madri replied, saying, ‘I do clasp our lord yet, and
have not allowed him to depart; therefore, I shall follow him. My
appetite hath not been appeased. Thou art my older sister, O let me have
thy sanction. This foremost one of the Bharata princes had approached me,
desiring to have intercourse. His appetite unsatiated, shall I not follow
him in the region of Yama to gratify him? O revered one, if I survive
thee, it is certain I shall not be able to rear thy children as if they
were mine. Will not sin touch me on that account? But, thou, O Kunti,
shall be able to bring my sons up as if they were thine. The king, in
seeking me wishfully, hath gone to the region of spirits; therefore, my
body should be burnt with his. O revered sister, withhold not thy
sanction to this which is agreeable to me. Thou wilt certainly bring up
the children carefully. That indeed, would be very agreeable to me. I
have no other direction to give!’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Having said this, the daughter of the king of
Madras, the wedded wife of Pandu, ascended the funeral pyre of her lord,
that bull among men.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘The godlike Rishis, wise in counsels, beholding the
death of Pandu, consulted with one another, and said, ‘The virtuous and
renowned king Pandu, abandoning both sovereignty, and kingdom came hither
for practising ascetic austerities and resigned himself to the ascetics
dwelling on this mountain. He hath hence ascended to heaven, leaving his
wife and infant sons as a trust in our hands. Our duty now is to repair
to his kingdom with these his offspring, and his wife.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then those godlike Rishis of magnanimous
hearts, and crowned with ascetic success, summoning one another, resolved
to go to Hastinapura with Pandu’s children ahead, desiring to place them
in the hands of Bhishma and Dhritarashtra. The ascetics set out that very
moment, taking with them those children and Kunti and the two dead
bodies. And though unused to toil all her life, the affectionate Kunti
now regarded as very short the really long journey she had to perform.
Having arrived at Kurujangala within a short time, the illustrious Kunti
presented herself at the principal gate. The ascetics then charged the
porters to inform the king of their arrival. The men carried the message
in a trice to the court. And the citizens of Hastinapura, hearing of the
arrival of thousands of Charanas and Munis, were filled with wonder. And
it was soon after sunrise that they began to come out in numbers with
their wives and children to behold those ascetics. Seated in all kinds of
cars and conveyances by thousands, vast numbers of Kshatriyas with their
wives, and Brahmanas with theirs came out. And the concourse of Vaisyas
and Sudras too was as large on the occasion. The vast assemblage was very
peaceful, for every heart then was inclined to piety. And there also came
out Bhishma, the son of Santanu, and Somadatta or Valhika and the royal
sage (Dhritarashtra) endued with the vision of knowledge and Vidura
himself and the venerable Satyavati and the illustrious princess of
Kosala and Gandhari accompanied by the other ladies of the royal
household. And the hundred sons of Dhritarashtra, decked with various
ornaments, also came out.

“The Kauravas, then, accompanied by their priest, saluted the Rishis by
lowering their heads, and took their seats before them. The citizens also
saluting the ascetics and bowing down unto them with touching the ground,
took their seats there. Then Bhishma, setting that vast concourse
perfectly still, duly worshipped, O king, those ascetics by offering them
water to wash their feet with and the customary Arghya. And having done
this, he spoke unto them about the sovereignty and the kingdom. Then the
oldest of the ascetics with matted locks on head and loins covered with
animal skin, stood up, and with the concurrence of the other Rishis,
spoke as follows, ‘You all know that that possessor of the sovereignty of
the Kurus who was called king Pandu, had, after abandoning the pleasures
of the world, repaired hence to dwell on the mountain of a hundred peaks.
He adopted the Brahmacharya mode of life, but for some inscrutable
purpose the gods have in view, this his eldest son, Yudhishthira, was
born there, begotten by Dharma himself. Then that illustrious king
obtained from Vayu this other son--the foremost of all mighty men--called
Bhima. This other son, begotten upon Kunti by Indra, is Dhananjaya whose
achievements will humble all bowmen in the world. Look here again at
these tigers among men, mighty in the use of the bow, the twin children
begotten upon Madri by the twin Aswins. Leading in righteousness the life
of a Vanaprastha in the woods, illustrious Pandu hath thus revived the
almost extinct line of his grandfather. The birth, growth, and Vedic
studies of these children of Pandu, will, no doubt, give you great
pleasure. Steadily adhering to the path of the virtuous and the wise, and
leaving behind him these children, Pandu departed hence seventeen days
ago. His wife Madri, beholding him placed in the funeral pyre and about
to be consumed, herself ascended the same pyre, and sacrificing her life
thus, hath gone with her lord to the region reserved for chaste wives.
Accomplish now whatever rites should be performed for their benefit.
These are (the unburnt portions of) their bodies. Here also are their
children--these oppressors of foes--with their mother. Let these be now
received with due honours. After the completion of the first rites in
honour of the dead, let the virtuous Pandu, who had all along been the
supporter of the dignity of the Kurus, have the first annual Sraddha
(sapindakarana) performed with a view to installing him formally among
the Pitris.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The ascetics with Guhyakas, having said this
unto the Kurus, instantly disappeared in the very sight of the people.
And beholding the Rishis and the Siddhas thus vanish in their sight like
vapoury forms appearing and disappearing in the skies, the citizens
filled with wonder returned to their homes.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Dhritarashtra then said, ‘O Vidura, celebrate
the funeral ceremonies of that lion among kings viz., Pandu, and of Madri
also, in right royal style. For the good of their souls, distribute
cattle, cloths, gems and diverse kinds of wealth, every one receiving as
much as he asketh for. Make arrangements also for Kunti’s performing the
last rites of Madri in such a style as pleaseth her. And let Madri’s body
be so carefully wrapped up that neither the Sun nor Vayu (god of wind)
may behold it. Lament not for the sinless Pandu. He was a worthy king and
hath left behind him five heroic sons equal unto the celestials

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then Vidura, O Bharata, saying, ‘So be it,’ in
consultation with Bhishma, fixed upon a sacred spot for the funeral rites
of Pandu. The family priests went out of the city without loss of time,
carrying with them the blazing sacred fire fed with clarified butter and
rendered fragrant therewith. Then friends, relatives, and adherents,
wrapping it up in cloth, decked the body of the monarch with the flowers
of the season and sprinkled various excellent perfumes over it. And they
also decked the hearse itself with garlands and rich hangings. Then
placing the covered body of the king with that of his queen on that
excellent bier decked out so brightly, they caused it to be carried on
human shoulders. With the white umbrella (of state) held over the hearse
with waving yak-tails and sounds of various musical instruments, the
whole scene looked bright and grand. Hundreds of people began to
distribute gems among the crowd on the occasion of the funeral rites of
the king. At length some beautiful robes, and white umbrellas and larger
yak-tails, were brought for the great ceremony. The priests clad in white
walked in the van of the procession pouring libations of clarified butter
on the sacred fire blazing in an ornamental vessel. And Brahmanas, and
Kshatriyas, and Vaisyas, and Sudras by thousands followed the deceased
king, loudly wailing in these accents, ‘O prince, where dost thou go,
leaving us behind, and making us forlorn and wretched for ever?’ And
Bhishma, and Vidura, and the Pandavas, also all wept aloud. At last they
came to a romantic wood on the banks of the Ganga. There they laid down
the hearse on which the truthful and lion-hearted prince and his spouse
lay. Then they brought water in many golden vessels, washed the prince’s
body besmeared before with several kinds of fragrant paste, and again
smeared it over with sandal paste. They then dressed it in a white dress
made of indigenous fabrics. And with the new suit on, the king seemed as
if he was living and only sleeping on a costly bed.

“When the other funeral ceremonies also were finished in consonance with
the directions of the priests, the Kauravas set fire to the dead bodies
of the king and the queen, bringing lotuses, sandal-paste, and other
fragrant substances to the pyre.

“Then seeing the bodies aflame, Kausalya burst out, ‘O my son, my
son!’--and fell down senseless on the ground. And seeing her down the
citizens and the inhabitants of the provinces began to wail from grief
and affection for their king. And the birds of the air and the beasts of
the field were touched by the lamentations of Kunti. And Bhishma, the son
of Santanu, and the wise Vidura, and the others also that were there,
became disconsolate.

“Thus weeping, Bhishma, Vidura, Dhritarashtra, the Pandavas and the Kuru
ladies, all performed the watery ceremony of the king. And when all this
was over, the people, themselves filled with sorrow, began to console the
bereaved sons of Pandu. And the Pandavas with their friends began to
sleep on the ground. Seeing this the Brahmanas and the other citizens
also renounced their beds. Young and old, all the citizens grieved on
account of the sons of king Pandu, and passed twelve days in mourning
with the weeping Pandavas.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then Bhishma and Kunti with their friends celebrated
the Sraddha of the deceased monarch, and offered the Pinda. And they
feasted the Kauravas and thousands of Brahmanas unto whom they also gave
gems and lands. Then the citizens returned to Hastinapura with the sons
of Pandu, now that they had been cleansed from the impurity incident to
the demise of their father. All then fell to weeping for the departed
king. It seemed as if they had lost one of their own kin.

“When the Sraddha had been celebrated in the manner mentioned above, the
venerable Vyasa, seeing all the subjects sunk in grief, said one day to
his mother Satyavati, ‘Mother, our days of happiness have gone by and
days of calamity have succeeded. Sin beginneth to increase day by day.
The world hath got old. The empire of the Kauravas will no longer endure
because of wrong and oppression. Go thou then into the forest, and devote
thyself to contemplation through Yoga. Henceforth society will be filled
with deceit and wrong. Good work will cease. Do not witness the
annihilation of thy race, in thy old age.’

“Acquiescing in the words of Vyasa, Satyavati entered the inner
apartments and addressed her daughter-in-law, saying, ‘O Ambika, I hear
that in consequence of the deeds of your grandsons, this Bharata dynasty
and its subjects will perish. If thou permit, I would go to the forest
with Kausalya, so grieved at the loss of her son.’ O king, saying this
the queen, taking the permission of Bhishma also, went to the forest. And
arriving there with her two daughters-in-law, she became engaged in
profound contemplation, and in good time leaving her body ascended to

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then the sons of king Pandu, having gone
through all the purifying rites prescribed in the Vedas, began to grow up
in princely style in the home of their father. Whenever they were engaged
in play with the sons of Dhritarashtra, their superiority of strength
became marked. In speed, in striking the objects aimed at, in consuming
articles of food, and scattering dust, Bhimasena beat all the sons of
Dhritarashtra. The son of the Wind-god pulled them by the hair and made
them fight with one another, laughing all the while. And Vrikodara easily
defeated those hundred and one children of great energy as if they were
one instead of being a hundred and one. The second Pandava used to seize
them by the hair, and throwing them down, to drag them along the earth.
By this, some had their knees broken, some their heads, and some their
shoulders. That youth, sometimes holding ten of them, drowned them in
water, till they were nearly dead. When the sons of Dhritarashtra got up
to the boughs of a tree for plucking fruits, Bhima used to shake that
tree, by striking it with his foot, so that down came the fruits and the
fruitpluckers at the same time. In fact, those princes were no match for
Bhima in pugilistic encounters, in speed, or in skill. Bhima used to make
a display of his strength by thus tormenting them in childishness but not
from malice.

“Seeing these wonderful exhibitions of the might of Bhima, the powerful
Duryodhana, the eldest son of Dhritarashtra, began to conceive hostility
towards him. And the wicked and unrighteous Duryodhana, through ignorance
and ambition, prepared himself for an act of sin. He thought, ‘There is
no other individual who can compare with Bhima, the second son of Pandu,
in point of prowess. I shall have to destroy him by artifice. Singly,
Bhima dares a century of us to the combat. Therefore, when he shall sleep
in the garden, I shall throw him into the current of the Ganga.
Afterwards, confining his eldest brother Yudhishthira and his younger
brother Arjuna, I shall reign sole king without molestation.’ Determined
thus, the wicked Duryodhana was ever on the watch to find out an
opportunity for injuring Bhima. And, O Bharata, at length at a beautiful
place called Pramanakoti on the banks of the Ganga, he built a palace
decorated with hangings of broad-cloth and other rich stuffs. And he
built this palace for sporting in the water there, and filled it with all
kinds of entertaining things and choice viands. Gay flags waved on the
top of this mansion. The name of the house was ‘the water-sport house.’
Skilful cooks prepared various kinds of viands. When all was ready, the
officers gave intimation to Duryodhana. Then the evil-minded prince said
unto the Pandavas, ‘Let us all go to the banks of the Ganga graced with
trees and crowned with flowers and sport there in the water.’ And upon
Yudhishthira agreeing to this, the sons of Dhritarashtra, taking the
Pandavas with them, mounted country-born elephants of great size and cars
resembling towns, and left the metropolis.

“On arriving at the place, the princes dismissed their attendants, and
surveying the beauty of the gardens and the groves, entered the palace,
like lions entering their mountain caves. On entering they saw that the
architects had handsomely plastered the walls and the ceilings and that
painters had painted them beautifully. The windows looked very graceful,
and the artificial fountains were splendid. Here and there were tanks of
pellucid water in which bloomed forests of lotuses. The banks were decked
with various flowers whose fragrance filled the atmosphere. The Kauravas
and the Pandavas sat down and began to enjoy the things provided for
them. They became engaged in play and began to exchange morsels of food
with one another. Meanwhile the wicked Duryodhana had mixed a powerful
poison with a quantity of food, with the object of making away with
Bhima. That wicked youth who had nectar in his tongue and a razor in his
heart, rose at length, and in a friendly way fed Bhima largely with that
poisoned food, and thinking himself lucky in having compassed his end,
was exceedingly glad at heart. Then the sons of Dhritarashtra and Pandu
together became cheerfully engaged in sporting in the water. Their sport
having been finished, they dressed themselves in white habiliments, and
decked themselves with various ornaments. Fatigued with play, they felt
inclined in the evening to rest in the pleasurehouse belonging to the
garden. Having made the other youths take exercise in the waters, the
powerful second Pandava was excessively fatigued. So that on rising from
the water, he lay down on the ground. He was weary and under the
influence of the poison. And the cool air served to spread the poison
over all his frame, so that he lost his senses at once. Seeing this
Duryodhana bound him with chords of shrubs, and threw him into the water.
The insensible son of Pandu sank down till he reached the Naga kingdom.
Nagas, furnished with fangs containing virulent venom, bit him by
thousands. The vegetable poison, mingled in the blood of the son of the
Wind god, was neutralised by the snake-poison. The serpents had bitten
all over his frame, except his chest, the skin of which was so tough that
their fangs could not penetrate it.

“On regaining consciousness, the son of Kunti burst his bands and began
to press the snakes down under the ground. A remnant fled for life, and
going to their king Vasuki, represented, ‘O king of snakes, a man drowned
under the water, bound in chords of shrubs; probably he had drunk poison.
For when he fell amongst us, he was insensible. But when we began to bite
him, he regained his senses, and bursting his fetters, commenced laying
at us. May it please Your Majesty to enquire who is.’

“Then Vasuki, in accordance with the prayer of the inferior Nagas, went
to the place and saw Bhimasena. Of the serpents, there was one, named
Aryaka. He was the grandfather of the father of Kunti. The lord of
serpents saw his relative and embraced him. Then, Vasuki, learning all,
was pleased with Bhima, and said to Aryaka with satisfaction, ‘How are we
to please him? Let him have money and gems in profusion.”

“On hearing the words of Vasuki, Aryaka said, ‘O king of serpents, when
Your Majesty is pleased with him, no need of wealth for him! Permit him
to drink of rasakunda (nectar-vessels) and thus acquire immeasurable
strength. There is the strength of a thousand elephants in each one of
those vessels. Let this prince drink as much as he can.’

“The king of serpents gave his consent. And the serpents thereupon began
auspicious rites. Then purifying himself carefully, Bhimasena facing the
east began to drink nectar. At one breath, he quaffed off the contents of
a whole vessel, and in this manner drained off eight successive jars,
till he was full. At length, the serpents prepared an excellent bed for
him, on which he lay down at ease.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Meanwhile the Kauravas and the Pandavas, after
having thus sported there, set out, without Bhima, for Hastinapura, some
on horses, some on elephants, while others preferred cars and other
conveyances. And on their way they said to one another, ‘Perhaps, Bhima
hath gone before us.’ And the wicked Duryodhana was glad at heart to miss
Bhima, and entered the city with his brothers in joy.

“The virtuous Yudhishthira, himself unacquainted with vice and
wickedness, regarded others to be as honest as himself. The eldest son of
Pritha, filled with fraternal love, going unto his mother, said, after
making obeisance to her, ‘O mother, hath Bhima come? O good mother, I
don’t find him here. Where may he have gone? We long sought for him
everywhere in the gardens and the beautiful woods; but found him nowhere.
At length, we thought that the heroic Bhima preceded us all. O
illustrious dame, we came hither in great anxiety. Arrived here, where
hath he gone? Have you sent him anywhere? O tell me, I am full of doubts
respecting the mighty Bhima. He had been asleep and hath not come. I
conclude he is no more.’

“Hearing these words of the highly intelligent Yudhishthira, Kunti
shrieked, in alarm, and said, ‘Dear son, I have not seen Bhima. He did
not come to me. O, return in haste, and with your brothers search for

“Having said this in affliction to her eldest son, she summoned Vidura,
and said, ‘O illustrious Kshattri, Bhimasena is missing! Where has he
gone? The other brothers have all come back from the gardens, only Bhima
of mighty arms does not come home! Duryodhana likes him not. The Kaurava
is crooked and malicious and low-minded and imprudent. He coveteth the
throne openly. I am afraid he may have in a fit of anger slain my
darling. This afflicts me sorely, indeed, it burns my heart.’

“Vidura replied, ‘Blessed dame, say not so! Protect thy other sons with
care. If the wicked Duryodhana be accused, he may slay thy remaining
sons. The great sage hath said that all thy sons will be long-lived.
Therefore, Bhima will surely return and gladden thy heart.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The wise Vidura, having said this unto Kunti,
returned to his abode, while Kunti, in great anxiety, continued to stay
at home with her children.

“Meanwhile, Bhimasena awoke from that slumber on the eighth day, and felt
strong beyond measure in consequence of the nectar he had taken having
been all digested. Seeing him awake, the Nagas began to console and cheer
him, saying, ‘O thou of mighty arms, the strength-giving liquor thou hast
drunk will give thee the might of ten thousand elephants! No one now will
be able to vanquish thee in fight. O bull of Kuru’s race, do thou bath in
this holy and auspicious water and return home. Thy brothers are
disconsolate because of thee.’

“Then Bhima purified himself with a bath in those waters, and decked in
white robes and flowery garlands of the same hue, ate of the paramanna
(rice and sugar pudding) offered to him by the Nagas. Then that oppressor
of all foes, decked in celestial ornaments, received the adorations and
blessings of the snakes, and saluting them in return, rose from the
nether region. Bearing up the lotus-eyed Pandava from under the waters,
the Nagas placed him in the selfsame gardens wherein he had been
sporting, and vanished in his very sight.

“The mighty Bhimasena, arrived on the surface of the earth, ran with
speed to his mother. And bowing down unto her and his eldest brother, and
smelling the heads of his younger brothers, that oppressor of all foes
was himself embraced by his mother and every one of those bulls among
men. Affectionate unto one another, they all repeatedly exclaimed, ‘What
is our joy today, O what joy!’

‘Then Bhima, endued with great strength and prowess, related to his
brothers everything about the villainy of Duryodhana, and the lucky and
unlucky incidents that had befallen him in the world of the Serpents.
Thereupon Yudhishthira said, ‘Do thou observe silence on this. Do not
speak of this to any one. From this day, protect ye all one another with
care.’ Thus cautioned by the righteous Yudhishthira, they all, with
Yudhishthira himself, became very vigilant from that day. And lest
negligence might occur on the part of the sons of Kunti, Vidura
continually offered them sage advice.

“Some time after, Duryodhana again mixed in the food of Bhima a poison
that was fresh, virulent, and very deadly. But Yuyutsu (Dhritarashtra’s
son by a Vaisya wife), moved by his friendship for the Pandavas, informed
them of this. Vrikodara, however, swallowed it without any hesitation,
and digested it completely. And, though virulent the poison produced no
effects on Bhima.

“When that terrible poison intended for the destruction of Bhima failed
of its effect, Duryodhana. Karna and Sakuni, without giving up their
wicked design had recourse to numerous other contrivances for
accomplishing the death of the Pandavas. And though every one of these
contrivances was fully known to the Pandavas, yet in accordance with the
advice of Vidura they suppressed their indignation.

“Meanwhile, the king (Dhritarashtra), beholding the Kuru princes passing
their time in idleness and growing naughty, appointed Gautama as their
preceptor and sent them unto him for instruction. Born among a clump of
heath, Gautama was well-skilled in the Vedas and it was under him (also
called Kripa) that the Kuru princes began to learn the use of arms.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Janamejaya said, ‘O Brahmana, it behoveth thee to relate to me
everything about the birth of Kripa. How did he spring from a clump of
heath? Whence also did he obtain his weapons?’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘O king, the great sage Gautama had a son named
Saradwat. This Saradwat was born with arrows (in hand). O oppressor of
foes, the son of Gautama exhibited great aptitude for the study of the
science of weapons, but none for the other sciences. Saradwat acquired
all his weapons by those austerities by which Brahmanas in student life
acquire the knowledge of Vedas. Gautama (the son of Gotama) by his
aptitude for the science of weapons and by his austerities made Indra
himself greatly afraid of him. Then, O thou of Kuru’s race, the chief of
the gods summoned a celestial damsel named Janapadi and sent her unto
Gautama, saying, ‘Do thy best to disturb the austerities of Gautama.’
Repairing unto the charming asylum of Saradwat, the damsel began to tempt
the ascetic equipped with bow and arrows. Beholding that Apsara, of
figure unrivalled on earth for beauty, alone in those woods and clad in a
single piece of cloth, Saradwat’s eyes expanded with delight. At the
sight of the damsel, his bow and arrows slipped from his hand and his
frame shook all over with emotion; but possessed of ascetic fortitude and
strength of soul, the sage mustered sufficient patience to bear up
against the temptation. The suddenness, however, of his mental agitation,
caused an unconscious emission of his vital fluid. Leaving his bow and
arrows and deer-skin behind, he went away, flying from the Apsara. His
vital fluid, however, having fallen upon a clump of heath, was divided
into two parts, whence sprang two children that were twins.

“And it happened that a soldier in attendance upon king Santanu while the
monarch was out a-hunting in the woods, came upon the twins. And seeing
the bow and arrows and deer-skin on the ground, he thought they might be
the offspring of some Brahmana proficient in the science of arms.
Deciding thus, he took up the children along with the bow and arrows, and
showed what he had to the king. Beholding them the king was moved with
pity, and saying, ‘Let these become my children,’ brought them to his
palace. Then that first of men, Santanu, the son of Pratipa having
brought Gautama’s twins into his house, performed in respect of them the
usual rites of religion. And he began to bring them up and called them
Kripa and Kripi, in allusion to the fact that he brought them up from
motives of pity (Kripa). The son of Gotama having left his former asylum,
continued his study of the science of arms in right earnest. By his
spiritual insight he learnt that his son and daughter were in the palace
of Santanu. He thereupon went to the monarch and represented everything
about his lineage. He then taught Kripa the four branches of the science
of arms, and various other branches of knowledge, including all their
mysteries and recondite details. In a short time Kripa became an eminent
professor of the science (of arms). And the hundred sons of
Dhritarashtra, and the Pandavas along with the Yadavas, and the Vrishnis,
and many other princes from various lands, began to receive lessons from
him in that science.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Desirous of giving his grandsons a superior
education, Bhishma was on the look-out for a teacher endued with energy
and well-skilled in the science of arms. Deciding, O chief of the
Bharatas, that none who was not possessed of great intelligence, none who
was not illustrious or a perfect master of the science of arms, none who
was not of godlike might, should be the instructor of the Kuru (princes),
the son of Ganga, O tiger among men, placed the Pandavas and the Kauravas
under the tuition of Bharadwaja’s son, the intelligent Drona skilled in
all the Vedas. Pleased with the reception given him by the great Bhishma,
that foremost of all men skilled in arms, viz., illustrious Drona of
world-wide fame, accepted the princes as his pupils. And Drona taught
them the science of arms in all its branches. And, O monarch, both the
Kauravas and the Pandavas endued with immeasurable strength, in a short
time became proficient in the use of all kinds of arms.’

“Janamejaya asked, ‘O Brahmana, how was Drona born? How and whence did he
acquire his arms? How and why came he unto the Kurus? Whose son also was
he endued with such energy? Again, how was his son Aswatthaman, the
foremost of all skilled in arms born? I wish to hear all this! Please
recite them in detail.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘There dwelt at the source of the Ganga, a great sage
named Bharadwaja, ceaselessly observing the most rigid vows. One day, of
old, intending to celebrate the Agnihotra sacrifice he went along with
many great Rishis to the Ganga to perform his ablutions. Arrived at the
bank of the stream, he saw Ghritachi herself, that Apsara endued with
youth and beauty, who had gone there a little before. With an expression
of pride in her countenance, mixed with a voluptuous languor of attitude,
the damsel rose from the water after her ablutions were over. And as she
was gently treading on the bank, her attire which was loose became
disordered. Seeing her attire disordered, the sage was smitten with
burning desire. The next moment his vital fluid came out, in consequence
of the violence of his emotion. The Rishi immediately held it in a vessel
called a drona. Then, O king, Drona sprang from the fluid thus preserved
in that vessel by the wise Bharadwaja. And the child thus born studied
all the Vedas and their branches. Before now Bharadwaja of great prowess
and the foremost of those possessing a knowledge of arms, had
communicated to the illustrious Agnivesa, a knowledge of the weapon
called Agneya. O foremost one of Bharata’s race, the Rishi (Agnivesa)
sprung from fire now communicated the knowledge of that great weapon to
Drona the son of his preceptor.

“There was a king named Prishata who was a great friend of Bharadwaja.
About this time Prishata had a son born unto him, named Drupada. And that
bull among Kshatriyas, viz., Drupada, the son of Prishata, used every day
to come to the hermitage of Bharadwaja to play with Drona and study in
his company. O monarch, when Prishata was dead, this Drupada of mighty
arms became the king of the northern Panchalas. About this time the
illustrious Bharadwaja also ascended to heaven. Drona continuing to
reside in his father’s hermitage devoted himself to ascetic austerities.
Having become well-versed in the Vedas and their branches and having
burnt also all his sins by asceticism, the celebrated Drona, obedient to
the injunctions of his father and moved by the desire of offspring
married Kripi, the daughter of Saradwat. And this woman, ever engaged in
virtuous acts and the Agnihotra, and the austerest of penances, obtained
a son named Aswatthaman. And as soon as Aswatthaman was born, he neighed
like the (celestial) steed Ucchaihsravas. Hearing that cry, an invisible
being in the skies said, ‘The voice of this child hath, like the neighing
of a horse, been audible all around. The child shall, therefore, be known
by the name of Aswatthaman, (the horse-voiced). The son of Bharadwaja
(Drona) was exceedingly glad at having obtained that child. Continuing to
reside in that hermitage he devoted himself to the study of the science
of arms.

“O king, it was about this time that Drona heard that the illustrious
Brahmana Jamadagnya, that slayer of foes, that foremost one among all
wielders of weapons, versed in all kinds of knowledge, had expressed a
desire of giving away all his wealth to Brahmanas. Having heard of Rama’s
knowledge of arms and of his celestial weapons also, Drona set his heart
upon them as also upon the knowledge of morality that Rama possessed.
Then Drona of mighty arms, endued with high ascetic virtues, accompanied
by disciples who were all devoted to vows ascetic austerities, set out
for the Mahendra mountains. Arrived at Mahendra, the son of Bharadwaja
possessed of high ascetic merit, beheld the son of Bhrigu, the
exterminator of all foes, endued with great patience and with mind under
complete control. Then, approaching with his disciples that scion of the
Bhrigu race Drona, giving him his name, told him of his birth in the line
of Angiras. And touching the ground with his head, he worshipped Rama’s
feet. And beholding the illustrious son of Jamadagni intent upon retiring
into the woods after having given away all his wealth, Drona said, ‘Know
me to have sprung from Bharadwaja, but not in any woman’s womb! I am a
Brahmana of high birth, Drona by name, come to thee with the desire of
obtaining thy wealth.’

“On hearing him, that illustrious grinder of the Kshatriya race replied,
Thou art welcome, O best of regenerate ones! Tell me what thou desirest.
Thus addressed by Rama, the son of Bharadwaja replied unto that foremost
of all smiters, desirous of giving away the whole of his wealth, ‘O thou
of multifarious vows, I am a candidate for thy eternal wealth,’ ‘O thou
of ascetic wealth, returned Rama, ‘My gold and whatever other wealth I
had, have all been given away unto Brahmanas! This earth also, to the
verge of the sea, decked with towns and cities, as with a garland of
flowers, I have given unto Kasyapa. I have now my body only and my
various valuable weapons left. I am prepared to give either my body or my
weapons. Say, which thou wouldst have! I would give it thee! Say quickly!’

“Drona answered, O son of Bhrigu, it behoveth thee to give me all thy
weapons together with the mysteries of hurling and recalling them.’

“Saying, ‘So be it,’ the son of Bhrigu gave all his weapons unto
Drona,--indeed, the whole science of arms with its rules and mysteries.
Accepting them all, and thinking himself amply rewarded that best of
Brahmanas then, glad at heart, set out, for (the city of) his friend


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then, O king, the mighty son of Bharadyaja presented
himself before Drupada, and addressing that monarch, said, ‘Know me for
thy friend.’ Thus addressed by his friend, the son of Bharadwaja, with a
joyous heart, the lord of the Panchalas was ill-able to bear that speech.
The king, intoxicated with the pride of wealth, contracted his brows in
wrath, and with reddened eyes spake these words unto Drona, ‘O Brahmana,
thy intelligence is scarcely of a high order, inasmuch as thou sayest
unto me, all on a sudden, that thou art my friend! O thou of dull
apprehension, great kings can never be friends with such luckless and
indigent wights as thou! It is true there had been friendship between
thee and me before, for we were then both equally circumstanced. But Time
that impaireth everything in its course, impaireth friendship also. In
this world, friendship never endureth for ever in any heart. Time weareth
it off and anger destroyeth it too. Do not stick, therefore, to that
worn-off friendship. Think not of it any longer. The friendship I had
with thee, O first of Brahmanas, was for a particular purpose. Friendship
can never subsist between a poor man and a rich man, between a man of
letters and an unlettered mind, between a hero and a coward. Why dost
thou desire the continuance of our former friendship? There may be
friendship or hostility between persons equally situated as to wealth or
might. The indigent and the affluent can neither be friends nor quarrel
with each other. One of impure birth can never be a friend to one of pure
birth; one who is not a car-warrior can never be a friend to one who is
so; and one who is not a king never have a king for his friend.
Therefore, why dost thou desire the continuance of our former friendship?’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed by Drupada, the mighty son of
Bharadwaja became filled with wrath, and reflecting for a moment, made up
his mind as to his course of action. Seeing the insolence of the Panchala
king, he wished to check it effectually. Hastily leaving the Panchala
capital Drona bent his steps towards the capital of the Kurus, named
after the elephant.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Arrived at Hastinapura, that best of Brahmanas, the
son of Bharadwaja, continued to live privately in the house of Gautama
(Kripa). His mighty son (Aswatthaman) at intervals of Kripa’s teaching,
used to give the sons of Kunti lessons in the use of arms. But as yet
none knew of Aswatthaman’s prowess.

“Drona had thus lived privately for some time in the house of Kripa when
one day the heroic princes, all in a company, came out of Hastinapura.
And coming out of the city, they began to play with a ball and roam about
in gladness of heart. And it so happened that the ball with which they
had been playing fell into a well. And thereupon the princes strove their
best to recover it from the well. But all the efforts the princes made to
recover it proved futile. They then began to eye one another bashfully,
and not knowing how to recover it, their anxiety became great. Just at
this time they beheld a Brahmana near enough unto them, of darkish hue,
decrepit and lean, sanctified by the performance of the Agnihotra and who
had finished his daily rites of worship. And beholding that illustrious
Brahmana, the princes who had despaired of success surrounded him
immediately. Drona (for that Brahmana was no other), seeing the princes
unsuccessful, and conscious of his own skill, smiled a little, and
addressing them said, ‘Shame on your Kshatriya might, and shame also on
your skill in arms! You have been born in the race of Bharata! How is it
that ye cannot recover the ball (from the bottom of this well)? If ye
promise me a dinner today, I will, with these blades of grass, bring up
not only the ball ye have lost but this ring also that I now throw down!’
Thus saying, Drona that oppressor of foes, taking off his ring, threw it
down into the dry well. Then Yudhishthira, the son of Kunti, addressing
Drona, said, ‘O Brahmana (thou askest for a trifle)! Do thou, with
Kripa’s permission, obtain of us that which would last thee for life!’
Thus addressed, Drona with smiles replied unto the Bharata princes,
saying, ‘This handful of long grass I would invest, by my mantras, with
the virtue of weapons. Behold these blades possess virtues that other
weapons, have not! I will, with one of these blades, pierce the ball, and
then pierce that blade with another, and that another with a third, and
thus shall I, by a chain, bring up the ball.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then Drona did exactly what he had said. And
the princes were all amazed and their eyes expanded with delight. And
regarding what they had witnessed to be very extraordinary, they said, O
learned Brahmana, do thou bring up the ring also without loss of time.’

“Then the illustrious Drona, taking a bow with an arrow, pierced the ring
with that arrow and brought it up at once. And taking the ring thus
brought up from the well still pierced with his arrow, he coolly gave it
to the astonished princes. Then the latter, seeing the ring thus
recovered, said, ‘We bow to thee, O Brahmana! None else owneth such
skill. We long to know who thou art and whose son. What also can we do
for thee?’

“Thus addressed, Drona replied unto the princes, saying, ‘Do ye repair
unto Bhishma and describe to him my likeness and skill. The mighty one
will recognize me.’ The princes then saying, ‘So be it,’ repaired unto
Bhishma and telling him of the purport of that Brahmana’s speech, related
everything about his (extraordinary) feat. Hearing everything from the
princes, Bhishma at once understood that the Brahmana was none else than
Drona, and thinking that he would make the best preceptor for the
princes, went in person unto him and welcoming him respectfully, brought
him over to the place. Then Bhishma, that foremost of all wielders of
arms, adroitly asked him the cause of his arrival at Hastinapura. Asked
by him, Drona represented everything as it had happened, saying, ‘O sir,
in times past I went to the great Rishi Agnivesa for obtaining from him
his weapons, desirous also of learning the science of arms. Devoted to
the service of my preceptor, I lived with him for many years in the
humble guise of a Brahmacharin, with matted locks on my head. At that
time, actuated by the same motives, the prince of Panchala, the mighty
Yajnasena, also lived in the same asylum. He became my friend, always
seeking my welfare. I liked him much. Indeed, we lived together for many,
many years. O thou of Kuru’s race, from our earliest years we had studied
together and, indeed, he was my friend from boyhood, always speaking and
doing what was agreeable to me. For gratifying me, O Bhishma, he used to
tell me, ‘O Drona, I am the favourite child of my illustrious father.
When the king installeth me as monarch of the Panchalas, the kingdom
shall be thine. O friend, this, indeed, is my solemn promise. My
dominion, wealth and happiness, shall all be dependent on thee.’ At last
the time came for his departure. Having finished his studies, he bent his
steps towards his country. I offered him my regards at the time, and,
indeed, I remembered his words ever afterwards.

“Some time after, in obedience to the injunctions of my father and
tempted also by the desire of offspring, I married Kripi of short hair,
who gifted with great intelligence, had observed many rigid vows, and was
ever engaged in the Agnihotra and other sacrifices and rigid austerities.
Gautami, in time, gave birth to a son named Aswatthaman of great prowess
and equal in splendour unto the Sun himself. Indeed, I was pleased on
having obtained Aswatthaman as much as my father had been on obtaining me.

“And it so happened that one day the child Aswatthaman observing some
rich men’s sons drink milk, began to cry. At this I was so beside myself
that I lost all knowledge of the point of the compass. Instead of asking
him who had only a few kine (so that if he gave me one, he would no
longer be able to perform his sacrifices and thus sustain a loss of
virtue), I was desirous of obtaining a cow from one who had many, and for
that I wandered from country to country. But my wanderings proved
unsuccessful, for I failed to obtain a milch cow. After I had come back
unsuccessful, some of my son’s playmates gave him water mixed with
powdered rice. Drinking this, the poor boy, was deceived into the belief
that he had taken milk, and began to dance in joy, saying, ‘O, I have
taken milk. I have taken milk!’ Beholding him dance with joy amid these
playmates smiling at his simplicity, I was exceedingly touched. Hearing
also the derisive speeches of busy-bodies who said, ‘Fie upon the
indigent Drona, who strives not to earn wealth, whose son drinking water
mixed with powdered rice mistaketh it for milk and danceth with joy,
saying, ‘I have taken milk,--I have taken milk!’--I was quite beside
myself. Reproaching myself much, I at last resolved that even if I should
have to live cast off and censured by Brahmanas, I would not yet, from
desire of wealth, be anybody’s servant, which is ever hateful. Thus
resolved, O Bhishma, I went, for former friendship, unto the king of the
Somakas, taking with me my dear child and wife. Hearing that he had been
installed in the sovereignty (of the Somakas), I regarded myself as
blessed beyond compare. Joyfully I went unto that dear friend of mine
seated on the throne, remembering my former friendship with him and also
his own words to me. And, O illustrious one, approaching Drupada, I said,
‘O tiger among men, know me for thy friend!’--Saying this, I approached
him confidently as a friend should. But Drupada, laughing in derision
cast me off as if I were a vulgar fellow. Addressing me he said, ‘Thy
intelligence scarcely seemeth to be of a high order inasmuch as
approaching me suddenly, thou sayest thou art my friend! Time that
impaireth everything, impaireth friendship also. My former friendship
with thee was for a particular purpose. One of impure birth can never be
a friend of one who is of pure birth. One who is not a car-warrior can
never be a friend of one who is such. Friendship can only subsist between
persons that are of equal rank, but not between those that are unequally
situated. Friendship never subsisteth for ever in my heart. Time
impaireth friendships, as also anger destroyeth them. Do thou not stick,
therefore, to that worn-off friendship between us. Think not of it any
longer. The friendship I had with thee, O best of Brahmanas, was for a
special purpose. There cannot be friendship between a poor man and a rich
man, between an unlettered hind and a man of letters, between a coward
and a hero. Why dost thou, therefore, desire, the revival of our former
friendship? O thou of simple understanding, great kings can never have
friendship with such indigent and luckless wight as thou? One who is not
a king can never have a king for his friend. I do not remember ever
having promised thee my kingdom. But, O Brahmana, I can now give thee
food and shelter for one night.’--Thus addressed by him, I left his
presence quickly with my wife, vowing to do that which I will certainly
do soon enough. Thus insulted by Drupada, O Bhishma, I have been filled
with wrath, I have come to the Kurus, desirous of obtaining intelligent
and docile pupils. I come to Hastinapura to gratify thy wishes. O, tell
me what I am to do.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed by the son of Bharadwaja,
Bhishma said unto him, ‘String thy bow, O Brahmana, and make the Kuru
princes accomplished in arms. Worshipped by the Kurus, enjoy with a glad
heart to thy fill every comfort in their abode. Thou art the absolute
lord, O Brahmana, of what ever wealth the Kurus have and of their
sovereignty and kingdom! The Kurus are thine (from this day). Think that
as already accomplished which may be in thy heart. Thou art, O Brahmana,
obtained by us as the fruit of our great good luck. Indeed, the favour
thou hast conferred upon me by thy arrival is great.’


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Thus worshipped by Bhishma, Drona, that first of
men, endued with great energy, took up his quarters in the abode of the
Kurus and continued to live there, receiving their adorations. After he
had rested a while, Bhishma, taking with him his grandsons, the Kaurava
princes, gave them unto him as pupils, making at the same time many
valuable presents. And the mighty one (Bhishma) also joyfully gave unto
the son of Bharadwaja a house that was tidy and neat and well-filled with
paddy and every kind of wealth. And that first of archers, Drona,
thereupon joyfully, accepted the Kauravas, viz., the sons of Pandu and
Dhritarashtra, as his pupils. And having accepted them all as his pupils,
one day Drona called them apart and making them touch his feet, said to
them with a swelling heart, ‘I have in my heart a particular purpose.
Promise me truly, ye sinless ones, that when ye have become skilled in
arms, ye will accomplish it.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing these words, the Kuru princes remained
silent. But Arjuna, O king, vowed to accomplish it whatever it was. Drona
then cheerfully clasped Arjuna to his bosom and took the scent of his
head repeatedly, shedding tears of joy all the while. Then Drona endued
with great prowess taught the sons of Pandu (the use of) many weapons
both celestial and human. And, O bull of the Bharata race, many other
princes also flocked to that best of Brahmanas for instruction in arms.
The Vrishnis and the Andhakas, and princes from various lands, and the
(adopted) son of Radha of the Suta caste, (Karna), all became pupils of
Drona. But of them all, the Suta child Karna, from jealousy, frequently
defied Arjuna, and supported by Duryodhana, used to disregard the
Pandavas. Arjuna, however, from devotion to the science of arms, always
stayed by the side of his preceptor, and in skill, strength of arms, and
perseverance, excelled all (his class-fellows). Indeed, although the
instruction the preceptor gave, was the same in the case of all, yet in
lightness and skill Arjuna became the foremost of all his fellow-pupils.
And Drona was convinced that none of his pupils would (at any time) be
able to be equal to that son of Indra.

“Thus Drona continued giving lessons to the princes in the science of
weapons. And while he gave unto every one of his pupils a narrow-mouthed
vessel (for fetching water) in order that much time may be spent in
filling them, he gave unto his own son Aswatthaman a broad-mouthed
vessel, so that, filling it quickly, he might return soon enough. And in
the intervals so gained, Drona used to instruct his own son in several
superior methods (of using weapons). Jishnu (Arjuna) came to know of
this, and thereupon filling his narrow-mouthed vessel with water by means
of the Varuna weapon he used to come unto his preceptor at the same time
with his preceptor’s son. And accordingly the intelligent son of Pritha,
that foremost of all men possessing a knowledge of weapons, had no
inferiority to his preceptor’s son in respect of excellence. Arjuna’s
devotion to the service of his preceptor as also to arms was very great
and he soon became the favourite of his preceptor. And Drona, beholding
his pupil’s devotion to arms, summoned the cook, and told him in secret,
‘Never give Arjuna his food in the dark, nor tell him that I have told
thee this.’ A few days after, however, when Arjuna was taking his food, a
wind arose, and thereupon the lamp that had been burning went out. But
Arjuna, endued with energy, continued eating in the dark, his hand, from
habit, going to his mouth. His attention being thus called to the force
of habit, the strong-armed son of Pandu set his heart upon practising
with his bow in the night. And, O Bharata, Drona, hearing the twang of
his bowstring in the night, came to him, and clasping him, said, ‘Truly
do I tell thee that I shall do that unto thee by which there shall not be
an archer equal to thee in this world.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thereafter Drona began to teach Arjuna the art
of fighting on horse-back, on the back of elephants, on car, and on the
ground. And the mighty Drona also instructed Arjuna in fighting with the
mace, the sword, the lance, the spear, and the dart. And he also
instructed him in using many weapons and fighting with many men at the
same time. And hearing reports of his skill, kings and princes, desirous
of learning the science of arms, flocked to Drona by thousands. Amongst
those that came there, O monarch, was a prince named Ekalavya, who was
the son of Hiranyadhanus, king of the Nishadas (the lowest of the mixed
orders). Drona, however, cognisant of all rules of morality, accepted not
the prince as his pupil in archery, seeing that he was a Nishada who
might (in time) excel all his high-born pupils. But, O oppressor of all
enemies, the Nishada prince, touching Drona’s feet with bent head, wended
his way into the forest, and there he made a clay-image of Drona, and
began to worship it respectfully, as if it was his real preceptor, and
practised weapons before it with the most rigid regularity. In
consequence of his exceptional reverence for his preceptor and his
devotion to his purpose, all the three processes of fixing arrows on the
bowstring, aiming, and letting off became very easy for him.

“And one day, O grinder of foes, the Kuru and the Pandava princes, with
Drona’s leave, set out in their cars on a hunting excursion. A servant, O
king, followed the party at leisure, with the usual implements and a dog.
Having come to the woods, they wandered about, intent on the purpose they
had in view. Meanwhile, the dog also, in wandering alone in the woods,
came upon the Nishada prince (Ekalavya). And beholding the Nishada of
dark hue, of body besmeared with filth, dressed in black and bearing
matted locks on head, the dog began to bark aloud.

“Thereupon the Nishada prince, desirous of exhibiting his lightness of
hand, sent seven arrows into its mouth (before it could shut it). The
dog, thus pierced with seven arrows, came back to the Pandavas. Those
heroes, who beheld that sight, were filled with wonder, and, ashamed of
their own skill, began to praise the lightness of hand and precision of
aim by auricular precision (exhibited by the unknown archer). And they
thereupon began to seek in those woods for the unknown dweller therein
that had shown such skill. And, O king, the Pandavas soon found out the
object of their search ceaselessly discharging arrows from the bow. And
beholding that man of grim visage, who was totally a stranger to them,
they asked, ‘Who art thou and whose son?’ Thus questioned, the man
replied, ‘Ye heroes, I am the son of Hiranyadhanus, king of the Nishadas.
Know me also for a pupil of Drona, labouring for the mastery of the art
of arms.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The Pandavas then, having made themselves
acquainted with everything connected with him, returned (to the city),
and going unto Drona, told him of that wonderful feat of archery which
they had witnessed in the woods. Arjuna, in particular, thinking all the
while, O king, Ekalavya, saw Drona in private and relying upon his
preceptor’s affection for him, said, ‘Thou hadst lovingly told me,
clasping me, to thy bosom, that no pupil of thine should be equal to me.
Why then is there a pupil of thine, the mighty son of the Nishada king,
superior to me?”

‘Vaisampayana continued, ‘On hearing these words, Drona reflected for a
moment, and resolving upon the course of action he should follow, took
Arjuna with him and went unto the Nishada prince. And he beheld Ekalavya
with body besmeared with filth, matted locks (on head), clad in rags,
bearing a bow in hand and ceaselessly shooting arrows therefrom. And when
Ekalavya saw Drona approaching towards him, he went a few steps forward,
and touched his feet and prostrated himself on the ground. And the son of
the Nishada king worshipping Drona, duly represented himself as his
pupil, and clasping his hands in reverence stood before him (awaiting his
commands). Then Drona, O king, addressed Ekalavya, saying, ‘If, O hero,
thou art really my pupil, give me then my fees.’ On hearing these words,
Ekalavya was very much gratified, and said in reply, ‘O illustrious
preceptor, what shall I give? Command me; for there is nothing, O
foremost of all persons conversant with the Vedas, that I may not give
unto my preceptor.’ Drona answered, ‘O Ekalavya, if thou art really
intent on making me a gift, I should like then to have the thumb of thy
right hand.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing these cruel words of Drona, who had
asked of him his thumb as tuition-fee, Ekalavya, ever devoted to truth
and desirous also of keeping his promise, with a cheerful face and an
unafflicted heart cut off without ado his thumb, and gave it unto Drona.
After this, when the Nishada prince began once more to shoot with the
help of his remaining fingers, he found, O king, that he had lost his
former lightness of hand. And at this Arjuna became happy, the fever (of
jealousy) having left him.

“Two of Drona’s pupils became very much accomplished in the use of mace.
These were Druvodhana and Bhima, who were, however, always jealous of
each other. Aswatthaman excelled everyone (in the mysteries of the
science of arms). The twins (Nakula and Sahadeva) excelled everybody in
handling the sword. Yudhishthira surpassed everybody as a car-warrior;
but Arjuna, however, outdistanced everyone in every respect--in
intelligence, resourcefulness, strength and perseverance. Accomplished in
all weapons, Arjuna became the foremost of even the foremost of
car-warriors; and his fame spread all over the earth to the verge of the
sea. And although the instruction was the same, the mighty Arjuna
excelled all (the princes in lightness of hand). Indeed, in weapons as in
devotion to his preceptor, he became the foremost of them all. And
amongst all the princes, Arjuna alone became an Atiratha (a car-warrior
capable of fighting at one time with sixty thousand foes). And the wicked
sons of Dhritarashtra, beholding Bhimasena endued with great strength and
Arjuna accomplished in all arms, became very jealous of them.

“O bull among men, one day Drona desirous of testing the comparative
excellence of all his pupils in the use of arms, collected them all
together after their education had been completed. And before assembling
them together, he had caused an artificial bird, as the would be aim, to
be placed on the top of a neighbouring tree. And when they were all
together, Drona said unto them, ‘Take up your bows quickly and stand here
aiming at that bird on the tree, with arrows fixed on your bowstrings;
shoot and cut off the bird’s head, as soon as I give the order. I shall
give each of you a turn, one by one, my children.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then Drona, that foremost of all Angira’s sons
first addressed Yudhishthira saying, ‘O irrepressible one, aim with thy
arrow and shoot as soon as I give the order. Yudhishthira took up the bow
first, as desired, O king, by his preceptor, and stood aiming at the
bird. But, O bull of Bharata’s race, Drona in an instant, addressing the
Kuru prince standing with bow in hand, said, ‘Behold, O prince, that bird
on top of the tree.’ Yudhishthira replied unto his preceptor, saying, ‘I
do.’ But the next instant Drona again asked him, ‘What dost thou see now,
O prince? Seest thou the tree, myself or thy brothers?’ Yudhishthira
answered, ‘I see the tree, myself, my brothers, and the bird.’ Drona
repeated his question, but was answered as often in the same words. Drona
then, vexed with Yudhishthira, reproachingly said, ‘Stand thou apart. It
is not for thee to strike the aim.’ Then Drona repeated the experiment
with Duryodhana and the other sons of Dhritarashtra, one after another,
as also with his other pupils, Bhima and the rest, including the princes
that had come unto him from other lands. But the answer in every case was
the same as Yudhishthira’s viz., ‘We behold the tree, thyself, our
fellow-pupils, and the bird.’ And reproached by their preceptor, they
were all ordered, one after another, to stand apart.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘When everyone had failed, Drona smilingly called
Arjuna and said unto him, ‘By thee the aim must be shot; therefore, turn
thy eyes to it. Thou must let fly the arrow as soon as I give the order.
Therefore, O son, stand here with bow and arrow for an instant.’ Thus
addressed, Arjuna stood aiming at the bird as desired by his preceptor,
with his bow bent. An instant after Drona asked him as in the case of
others, ‘Seest thou, O Arjuna, the bird there, the tree, and myself?’
Arjuna replied, ‘I see the bird only, but nor the tree, or thyself.’ Then
the irrepressible Drona, well-pleased with Arjuna, the instant after,
again said unto that mighty car-warrior amongst the Pandavas, ‘If thou
seest the vulture, then describe it to me.’ Arjuna said, I see only the
head of the vulture, not its body.’ At these words of Arjuna, the hair
(on Drona’s body) stood on end from delight. He then said to Partha,
‘Shoot.’ And the latter instantly let fly (his arrow) and with his sharp
shaft speedily struck off the head of the vulture on the tree and brought
it down to the ground. No sooner was the deed done than Drona clasped
Phalguna to his bosom and thought Drupada with his friends had already
been vanquished in fight.

“Some time after, O bull of Bharata’s race, Drona, accompanied by all of
his pupils, went to the bank of the Ganga to bathe in that sacred stream.
And when Drona had plunged into the stream, a strong alligator, sent as
it were, by Death himself seized him by the thigh. And though himself
quite capable, Drona in a seeming hurry asked his pupil to rescue him.
And he said, ‘O, kill this monster and rescue me.’ Contemporaneously with
this speech, Vibhatsu (Arjuna) struck the monster within the water with
five sharp arrows irresistible in their course, while the other pupils
stood confounded, each at his place. Beholding Arjuna’s readiness, Drona
considered him to be the foremost of all his pupils, and became highly
pleased. The monster, in the meantime cut into pieces by the arrows of
Arjuna, released the thigh of illustrious Drona and gave up the ghost.
The son of Bharadwaja then addressed the illustrious and mighty
car-warrior Arjuna and said, ‘Accept, O thou of mighty arms, this very
superior and irresistible weapon called Brahmasira with the methods of
hurling and recalling it. Thou must not, however, ever use it against any
human foe, for if hurled at any foe endued with inferior energy, it might
burn the whole universe. It is said, O child, that this weapon hath not a
peer in the three worlds. Keep it, therefore, with great care, and listen
to what I say. If ever, O hero, any foe, not human, contendeth against
thee thou mayst then employ it against him for compassing his death in
battle.’ Pledging himself to do what he was bid, Vibhatsu then, with
joined hands, received that great weapon.

The preceptor then, addressing him again, said, ‘None else in this world
will ever become a superior bowman to thee. Vanquished thou shall never
be by any foe, and thy achievements will be great.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘O thou of Bharata’s race, beholding the sons of
Dhritarashtra and Pandu accomplished in arms, Drona, O monarch, addressed
king Dhritarashtra, in the presence of Kripa, Somadatta, Valhika, the
wise son of Ganga (Bhishma), Vyasa, and Vidura, and said, ‘O best of Kuru
kings, thy children have completed their education. With thy permission,
O king, let them now show their proficiency.’ Hearing him, the king said
with a gladdened heart, ‘O best of Brahmanas, thou hast, indeed,
accomplished a great deed. Command me thyself as to the place and the
time where and when and the manner also in which the trial may be held.
Grief arising from my own blindness maketh me envy those who, blessed
with sight, will behold my children’s prowess in arm. O Kshatri (Vidura),
do all that Drona sayeth. O thou devoted to virtue, I think there is
nothing that can be more agreeable to me.’ Then Vidura, giving the
necessary assurance to the king, went out to do what he was bid. And
Drona endued with great wisdom, then measured out a piece of land that
was void of trees and thickets and furnished with wells and springs. And
upon the spot of land so measured out, Drona, that first of eloquent men,
selecting a lunar day when the star ascendant was auspicious, offered up
sacrifice unto the gods in the presence of the citizens assembled by
proclamation to witness the same. And then, O bull among men, the
artificers of the king built thereon a large and elegant stage according
to the rules laid down in the scriptures, and it was furnished with all
kinds of weapons. They also built another elegant hall for the
lady-spectators. And the citizens constructed many platforms while the
wealthier of them pitched many spacious and high tents all around.

“When the day fixed for the Tournament came, the king accompanied by his
ministers, with Bhishma and Kripa, the foremost of preceptors, walking
ahead, came unto that theatre of almost celestial beauty constructed of
pure gold, and decked with strings of pearls and stones of lapis lazuli.
And, O first of victorious men, Gandhari blessed with great good fortune
and Kunti, and the other ladies of the royal house-hold, in gorgeous
attire and accompanied by their waiting women, joyfully ascended the
platforms, like celestial ladies ascending the Sumeru mountain. And the
four orders including the Brahmanas and Kshatriyas, desirous of beholding
the princes’ skill in arms, left the city and came running to the spot.
And so impatient was every one to behold the spectacle, that the vast
crowd assembled there in almost an instant. And with the sounds of
trumpets and drums and the noise of many voices, that vast concourse
appeared like an agitated ocean.

“At last, Drona accompanied by his son, dressed in white (attire), with a
white sacred thread, white locks, white beard, white garlands, and white
sandal-paste rubbed over his body, entered the lists. It seemed as if the
Moon himself accompanied by the planet Mars appeared in an unclouded sky.
On entering Bharadwaja performed timely worship and caused Brahmanas
versed in mantras to celebrate the auspicious rites. And after auspicious
and sweet-sounding musical instruments had been struck up as a
propitiatory ceremony, some persons entered, equipped with various arms.
And then having girded up their loins, those mighty warriors, those
foremost ones of Bharata’s race (the princes) entered, furnished with
finger-protectors (gauntlet), and bows, and quivers. And with
Yudhishthira at their head, the valiant princes entered in order of age
and began to show wonderful skill with their weapons. Some of the
spectators lowered their heads, apprehending fall of arrows while others
fearlessly gazed on with wonder. And riding swiftly on horses and
managing them ‘dexterously’ the princes began to hit marks with shafts
engraved with their respective names. And seeing the prowess of the
princes armed with bows and arrows, the spectators thought that they were
beholding the city of the Gandharvas, became filled with amazement. And,
O Bharata, all on a sudden, some hundreds and thousands, with eyes wide
open in wonder, exclaimed, ‘Well done! Well done!’ And having repeatedly
displayed their skill and dexterity in the use of bows and arrows and in
the management of cars, the mighty warriors took up their swords and
bucklers, and began to range the lists, playing their weapons. The
spectators saw (with wonder) their agility, the symmetry of their bodies,
their grace, their calmness, the firmness of their grasp and their
deftness in the use of sword and buckler. Then Vrikodara and Suyodhana,
internally delighted (at the prospect of fight), entered the arena, mace
in hand, like two single-peaked mountains. And those mighty-armed
warriors braced their loins, and summoning all their energy, roared like
two infuriate elephants contending for a cow-elephant; and like two
infuriated elephants those mighty heroes faultlessly (in consonance with
the dictates of the science of arm) careered right and left, circling the
lists. And Vidura described to Dhritarashtra and the mother of the
Pandavas (Kunti) and Gandhari, all the feats of the princes.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Upon the Kuru king and Bhima, the foremost of
all endued with strength, having entered the arena, the spectators were
divided into two parties in consequence of the partiality swaying their
affections. Some cried, ‘Behold the heroic king of the
Kurus!’--some--‘Behold Bhima!’--And on account of these cries, there was,
all on a sudden, a loud uproar. And seeing the place become like a
troubled ocean, the intelligent Bharadwaja said unto his dear son,
Aswatthaman, ‘Restrain both these mighty warriors so proficient in arms.
Let not the ire of the assembly be provoked by this combat of Bhima and

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then the son of the preceptor of the princes
restrained those combatants with their maces uplifted and resembling two
swollen oceans agitated by the winds that blow at the universal
dissolution. And Drona himself entering the yard of the arena commanded
the musicians to stop, and with a voice deep as that of the clouds
addressed these words, ‘Behold ye now that Partha who is dearer to me
than my own son, the master of all arms, the son of Indra himself, and
like unto the younger brother of Indra, (Vishnu)! And having performed
the propitiatory rites, the youthful Phalguna, equipped with the finger
protector (gauntlet) and his quiver full of shafts and bow in hand,
donning his golden mail, appeared in the lists even like an evening cloud
reflecting the rays of the setting sun and illumined by the hues of the
rainbow and flashes of lightning.

“On seeing Arjuna, the whole assembly were delighted and conchs began to
be blown all around with other musical instruments. And there arose a
great uproar in consequence of the spectators’ exclaiming,--‘This is the
graceful son of Kunti!’--‘This is the middle (third) Pandava!’--‘This is
the son of the mighty Indra!’--‘This is the protector of the
Kurus’--‘This is the foremost of those versed in arms!’--‘This is the
foremost of all cherishers of virtue!’--‘This is the foremost of the
persons of correct behaviour, the great repository of the knowledge of
manners!’ At those exclamations, the tears of Kunti, mixing with the milk
of her breast, wetted her bosom. And his ears being filled with that
uproar, that first of men, Dhritarashtra, asked Vidura in delight, ‘O
Kshatri, what is this great uproar for, like unto that of the troubled
ocean, arising all on a sudden and rending the very heavens?’ Vidura
replied, ‘O mighty monarch, the son of Pandu and Pritha, Phalguna, clad
in mail hath entered the lists. And hence this uproar!’ Dhritarashtra
said, ‘O thou of soul so great, by the three fires sprung from Pritha who
is even like the sacred fuel, I have, indeed, been blessed, favoured and

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘When the spectators, excited with delight, had
somewhat regained their equanimity, Vibhatsu began to display his
lightness in the use of weapons. By the Agneya weapon, he created fire,
and by the Varuna weapon he created water, by the Vayavya weapon, he
created air, and by the Parjanya weapon he created clouds. And by the
Bhauma weapon, he created land, and by the Parvatya weapon, he brought
mountains into being. By the Antardhana weapon all these were made to
disappear. Now the beloved one of his preceptor (Arjuna) appeared tall
and now short; now he was seen on the yoke of his car, and now on the car
itself; and the next moment he was on the ground. And the hero favoured
by his practised dexterity, hit with his various butts--some tender, some
fine and some of thick composition. And like one shaft, he let fly at a
time into the mouth of a moving iron-boar five shafts together from his
bow-string. And that hero of mighty energy discharged one and twenty
arrows into the hollow of a cow’s horn hung up on a rope swaying to and
fro. In this manner, O sinless one, Arjuna showed his profound skill in
the use of sword, bow, and mace, walking over the lists in circles.

“And, O Bharata, when the exhibition had well-nigh ended, the excitement
of the spectators had cooled, and the sounds of instruments had died out
there was heard proceeding from the gate, the slapping of arms,
betokening might and strength, and even like unto the roar of the
thunder. And, O king, as soon as this sound was heard, the assembled
multitude instantly thought, ‘Are the mountains splitting or is the earth
itself rending asunder, or is the welkin resounding with the roar of
gathering clouds? And then all the spectators turned their eyes towards
the gate. And Drona stood, surrounded by the five brothers, the sons of
Pritha, and looked like the moon in conjunction with the five-starred
constellation Hasta. And Duryodhana, that slayer of foes, stood up in
haste and was surrounded by his century of haughty brothers with
Aswatthaman amongst them. And that prince, mace in hand, thus surrounded
by his hundred brothers with uplifted weapons appeared like Purandara in
days of yore, encircled by the celestial host on the occasion of the
battle with the Danavas.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘When the spectators, with eyes expanded with
wonder, made way for that subjugator of hostile cities, Karna, that hero
with his natural mail and face brightened with ear-rings, took up his bow
and girded on his sword, and then entered the spacious lists, like a
walking cliff. That far-famed destroyer of hostile hosts, the large-eyed
Karna, was born of Pritha in her maidenhood. He was a portion of the
hot-beamed Sun and his energy and prowess were like unto those of the
lion, or the bull, or the leader of a herd of elephants. In splendour he
resembled the Sun, in loveliness the Moon, and in energy the fire.
Begotten by the Sun himself, he was tall in stature like a golden palm
tree, and, endued with the vigour of youth, he was capable of slaying a
lion. Handsome in features, he was possessed of countless
accomplishments. The mighty-armed warrior, eyeing all around the arena,
bowed indifferently to Drona and Kripa. And the entire assembly,
motionless and with steadfast gaze, thought, ‘Who is he?’ And they became
agitated in their curiosity to know the warrior. And that foremost of
eloquent men, the offspring of the Sun, in a voice deep as that of the
clouds, addressed his unknown brother, the son of the subduer of the
Asura, Paka (Indra), saying, ‘O Partha, I shall perform feats before this
gazing multitude; excelling all thou hast performed! Beholding them, thou
shall be amazed.’ And, O thou best of those blest with speech, he had
hardly done when the spectators stood up all at once, uplifted by some
instrument, as it were. And, O tiger among men, Duryodhana was filled
with delight, while Vibhatsu was instantly all abashment and anger. Then
with the permission of Drona, the mighty Karna, delighting in battle,
there did all that Partha had done before. And, O Bharata, Duryodhana
with his brothers thereupon embraced Karna in joy and then addressed him
saying, ‘Welcome O mighty-armed warrior! I have obtained thee by good
fortune, O polite one! Live thou as thou pleasest, and command me, and
the kingdom of the Kurus.’ Kama replied, ‘When thou hast said it, I
regard it as already accomplished. I only long for thy friendship. And, O
lord, my wish is even for a single combat with Arjuna.’ Duryodhana said,
‘Do thou with me enjoy the good things of life! Be thou the benefactor of
thy friend, and, O represser of enemies, place thou thy feet on the heads
of all foes.”

“Vaisampayanacontinued, ‘Arjuna, after this, deeming himself disgraced,
said unto Karna stationed amidst the brothers like unto a cliff, ‘That
path which the unwelcome intruder and the uninvited talker cometh to,
shall be thine, O Karna, for thou shall be slain by me.’ Karna replied,
‘This arena is meant for all, not for thee alone, O Phalguna! They are
kings who are superior in energy; and verily the Kshatriya regardeth
might and might alone. What need of altercation which is the exercise of
the weak? O Bharata, speak then in arrows until with arrows I strike off
thy head today before the preceptor himself!’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hastily embraced by his brothers, Partha that
subduer of hostile cities, with the permission of Drona, advanced for the
combat. On the other side, Karna, having been embraced by Duryodhana with
his brothers, taking up his bow and arrows, stood ready for the fight.
Then the firmament became enveloped in clouds emitting flashes of
lightning, and the coloured bow of Indra appeared shedding its effulgent
rays. And the clouds seemed to laugh on account of the rows of white
cranes that were then on the wing. And seeing Indra thus viewing the
arena from affection (for his son), the sun too dispersed the clouds from
over his own offspring. And Phalguna remained deep hid under cover of the
clouds, while Karna remained visible, being surrounded by the rays of the
Sun. And the son of Dhritarashtra stood by Karna, and Bharadwaja and
Kripa and Bhishma remained with Partha. And the assembly was divided, as
also the female spectators. And knowing the state of things, Kunti the
daughter of Bhoja, swooned away. And by the help of female attendants,
Vidura, versed in the lore of all duties, revived the insensible Kunti by
sprinkling sandal-paste and water on her person. On being restored to
consciousness, Kunti, seeing her two sons clad in mail, was seized with
fear, but she could do nothing (to protect them). And beholding both the
warriors with bows strung in their hands the son of Saradwat, viz.,
Kripa, knowing all duties and cognisant of the rules regulating duels,
addressed Karna, saying ‘This Pandava, who is the youngest son of Kunti,
belongeth to the Kaurava race: he will engage in combat with thee. But, O
mighty-armed one, thou too must tell us thy lineage and the names of thy
father and mother and the royal line of which thou art the ornament.
Learning all this, Partha will fight with thee or not (as he will think
fit). Sons of kings never fight with men of inglorious lineage.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘When he was thus addressed by Kripa, Karna’s
countenance became like unto a lotus pale and torn with the pelting
showers in the rainy season. Duryodhana said, ‘O preceptor, verily the
scriptures have it that three classes of persons can lay claim to
royalty, viz., persons of the blood royal, heroes, and lastly, those that
lead armies. If Phalguna is unwilling to fight with one who is not a
king, I will install Karna as king of Anga.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘At that very moment, seated on a golden seat, with
parched paddy and with flowers and water-pots and much gold, the mighty
warrior Karna was installed king by Brahmanas versed in mantras. And the
royal umbrella was held over his head, while Yak-tails waved around that
redoubtable hero of graceful mien. And the cheers, having ceased, king
(Karna) said unto the Kaurava Duryodhana, ‘O tiger among monarchs, what
shall I give unto thee that may compare with thy gift of a kingdom? O
king, I will do all thou biddest!’ And Suyodhana said unto him, ‘I
eagerly wish for thy friendship.’ Thus spoken to, Karna replied, ‘Be it
so.’ And they embraced each other in joy, and experienced great


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘After this, with his sheet loosely hanging down,
Adhiratha entered the lists, perspiring and trembling, and supporting
himself on a staff.

“Seeing him, Karna left his bow and impelled by filial regard bowed down
his head still wet with the water of inauguration. And them the
charioteer, hurriedly covering his feet with the end of his sheet,
addressed Karna crowned with success as his son. And the charioteer
embraced Karna and from excess of affection bedewed his head with tears,
that head still wet with the water sprinkled over it on account of the
coronation as king of Anga. Seeing the charioteer, the Pandava Bhimasena
took Karna for a charioteer’s son, and said by way of ridicule, ‘O son of
a charioteer, thou dost not deserve death in fight at the hands of
Partha. As befits thy race take thou anon the whip. And, O worst of
mortals, surely thou art not worthy to sway the kingdom of Anga, even as
a dog doth not deserve the butter placed before the sacrificial fire.’
Karna, thus addressed, with slightly quivering lips fetched a deep sigh,
looked at the God of the day in the skies. And even as a mad elephant
riseth from an assemblage of lotuses, the mighty Duryodhana rose in wrath
from among his brothers, and addressed that performer of dreadful deeds,
Bhimasena, present there, ‘O Vrikodara, it behoveth thee not to speak
such words. Might is the cardinal virtue of a Kshatriya, and even a
Kshatriya of inferior birth deserveth to be fought with. The lineage of
heroes, like the sources of a lordly river, is ever unknown. The fire
that covereth the whole world riseth from the waters. The thunder that
slayeth the Danavas was made of a bone of (a mortal named) Dadhichi. The
illustrious deity Guha, who combines in his composition the portions of
all the other deities is of a lineage unknown. Some call him the
offspring of Agni; some, of Krittika, some, of Rudra, and some of Ganga.
It hath been heard by us that persons born in the Kashatriya order have
become Brahmanas. Viswamitra and others (born Kshatriyas) have obtained
the eternal Brahma. The foremost of all wielders of weapons, the
preceptor Drona hath been born in a waterpot and Kripa of the race of
Gotama hath sprung from a clump of heath. Your own births, ye Pandava
princes, are known to me. Can a she-deer bring forth a tiger (like
Karna), of the splendour of the Sun, and endued with every auspicious
mark, and born also with a natural mail and ear-rings? This prince among
men deserveth the sovereignty of the world, not of Anga only, in
consequence of the might of his arm and my swearing to obey him in
everything. If there be anybody here to whom all that I have done unto
Karna hath become intolerable, let him ascend his chariot and bend his
bow with the help of his feet.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then there arose a confused murmur amongst the
spectators approving of Duryodhana’s speech. The sun, however, went down,
but prince Duryodhana taking Karna’s hand led him out of the arena
lighted with countless lamps. And, O king, the Pandavas also, accompanied
by Drona and Kripa and Bhishma, returned to their abodes. And the people,
too, came away, some naming Arjuna, some Karna, and some Duryodhana (as
the victor of the day). And Kunti, recognising her son in Karna by the
various auspicious marks on his person and beholding him installed in the
sovereignty of Anga, was from motherly affection, very pleased. And
Duryodhana, O monarch, having obtained Karna (in this way), banished his
fears arising out of Arjuna’s proficiency in arms. And the heroic Karna,
accomplished in arms, began to gratify Duryodhana by sweet speeches,
while Yudhishthira was impressed with the belief that there was no
warrior on earth like unto Karna.’”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Beholding the Pandavas and the son of
Dhritarashtra accomplished in arms, Drona thought the time had come when
he could demand the preceptorial fee. And, O king, assembling his pupils
one day together, the preceptor Drona asked of them the fee, saying,
‘Seize Drupada, the king of Panchala in battle and bring him unto me.
That shall be the most acceptable fee.’ Those warriors then answering,
‘So be it’, speedily mounted up on their chariots, and for bestowing upon
their preceptor the fee he had demanded, marched out, accompanied by him.
Those bulls among men, smiting the Panchalas on their way, laid siege to
the capital of the great Drupada. And Duryodhana and Karna and the mighty
Yuyutsu, and Duhsasana and Vikarna and Jalasandha and Sulochana,--these
and many other foremost of Kshatriya princes of great prowess, vied with
one another in becoming the foremost in the attack. And the princes,
riding in first class chariots and following the cavalry, entered the
hostile capital, and proceeded along the streets.

“Meanwhile, the king of Panchala, beholding that mighty force and hearing
its loud clamour, came out of his palace, accompanied by his brothers.
Though king Yajnasena was well-armed, the Kuru army assailed him with a
shower of arrows, uttering their war-cry. Yajnasena, however, not easy to
be subdued in battle, approaching the Kurus upon his white chariot, began
to rain his fierce arrows around.

“Before the battle commenced, Arjuna, beholding the pride of prowess
displayed by the princes, addressed his preceptor, that best of
Brahmanas, Drona, and said, ‘We shall exert ourselves after these have
displayed their prowess. The king of Panchala can never be taken on the
field of the battle by any of these. Having said this, the sinless son of
Kunti surrounded by his brothers, waited outside the town at a distance
of a mile from it. Meanwhile Drupada beholding the Kuru host, rushed
forward and pouring a fierce shower of arrows around, terribly afflicted
the Kuru ranks. And such was his lightness of motion on the field of
battle that, though he was fighting unsupported on a single chariot, the
Kurus from panic supposed that there were many Drupadas opposed to them.
And the fierce arrows of that monarch fell fast on all sides, till conchs
and trumpets and drums by thousands began to be sounded by the Panchalas
from their houses (giving the alarm). Then there arose from the mighty
Panchala host a roar terrible as that of the lion, while the twang of
their bow-strings seemed to rend the very heavens. Then Duryodhana and
Vikarna, Suvahu and Dirghalochana and Duhsasana becoming furious, began
to shower their arrows upon the enemy. But the mighty bowman, Prishata’s
son, invincible in battle, though very much pierced with the arrows of
the enemy, instantly began, O Bharata, to afflict the hostile ranks with
greater vigour. And careering over the field of battle like a fiery
wheel, king Drupada with his arrows smote Duryodhana and Vikarna and even
the mighty Karna and many other heroic princes and numberless warriors,
and slaked their thirst for battle. Then all the citizens showered upon
the Kurus various missiles like clouds showering rain-drops upon the
earth. Young and old, they all rushed to battle, assailing the Kurus with
vigour. The Kauravas, then, O Bharata, beholding the battle become
frightful, broke and fled wailing towards the Pandavas.

“The Pandavas, hearing the terrible wail of the beaten host,
reverentially saluted Drona and ascended their chariots. Then Arjuna
hastily bidding Yudhishthira not to engage in the fight, rushed forward,
appointing the sons of Madri (Nakula and Sahadeva) the protectors of his
chariot-wheels, while Bhimasena ever fighting in the van, mace in hand,
ran ahead. The sinless Arjuna, thus accompanied by his brothers, hearing
the shouts of the enemy, advanced towards them, filling the whole region
with the rattle of his chariot-wheels. And like a Makara entering the
sea, the mighty-armed Bhima, resembling a second Yama, mace in hand,
entered the Panchala ranks, fiercely roaring like the ocean in a tempest.
And Bhima, mace in hand, first rushed towards the array of elephants in
the hostile force, while Arjuna, proficient in battle, assailed that
force with the prowess of his arms. And Bhima, like the great Destroyer
himself, began to slay those elephants with his mace. Those huge animals,
like unto mountains, struck with Bhima’s mace, had their heads broken
into pieces. Covered with stream of blood, they began to fall upon the
ground like cliffs loosened by thunder. And the Pandavas prostrated on
the ground elephants and horses and cars by thousands and slew many
foot-soldiers and many car-warriors. Indeed, as a herdsman in the woods
driveth before him with his staff countless cattle with ease, so did
Vrikodara drive before him the chariots and elephants of the hostile

“Meanwhile, Phalguna, impelled by the desire of doing good unto
Bharadwaja’s son, assailed the son of Prishata with a shower of arrows
and felled him from the elephant on which he was seated. And, O monarch,
Arjuna, like unto the terrible fire that consumeth all things at the end
of the Yuga, began to prostrate on the ground horses and cars and
elephants by thousands. The Panchalas and the Srinjayas, on the other
hand, thus assailed by the Pandava, met him with a perfect shower of
weapons of various kinds. And they sent up a loud shout and fought
desperately with Arjuna. The battle became furious and terrible to
behold. Hearing the enemy’s shouts, the son of Indra was filled with
wrath and assailing the hostile host with a thick shower of arrows,
rushed towards it furiously afflicting it with renewed vigour. They who
observed the illustrious Arjuna at that time could not mark any interval
between his fixing the arrows on the bowstring and letting them off. Loud
were the shouts that rose there, mingled with cheers of approval. Then
the king of the Panchalas, accompanied by (the generalissimo of his
forces) Satyajit, rushed with speed at Arjuna like the Asura Samvara
rushing at the chief of the celestials (in days of yore). Then Arjuna
covered the king of Panchala with a shower of arrows. Then there arose a
frightful uproar among the Panchala host like unto the roar of a mighty
lion springing at the leader of a herd of elephants. And beholding Arjuna
rushing at the king of Panchala to seize him, Satyajit of great prowess
rushed at him. And the two warriors, like unto Indra and the Asura
Virochana’s son (Vali), approaching each other for combat, began to grind
each other’s ranks. Then Arjuna with great force pierced Satyajit with
ten keen shafts at which feat the spectators were all amazed. But
Satyajit, without losing any time, assailed Arjuna with a hundred shafts.
Then that mighty car-warrior, Arjuna, endued with remarkable lightness of
motion, thus covered by that shower of arrows, rubbed his bow-string to
increase the force and velocity of his shafts. Then cutting in twain his
antagonist’s bow, Arjuna rushed at the king of the Panchalas, but
Satyajit, quickly taking up a tougher bow, pierced with his arrows
Partha, his chariot, charioteer, and horses. Arjuna, thus assailed in
battle by the Panchala warrior, forgave not his foe. Eager to slay him at
once, he pierced with a number of arrows his antagonist’s horses, flags,
bow, clenched (left) fist, charioteer, and the attendant at his back.
Then Satyajit, finding his bows repeatedly cut in twain and his horses
slain, desisted from the fight.

“The king of the Panchalas, beholding his general thus discomfited in the
encounter, himself began to shower his arrows upon the Pandava prince.
Then Arjuna, that foremost of warriors, crowned with success, began to
fight furiously, and quickly cutting his enemy’s bow in twain as also his
flagstaff which he caused to fall down, pierced his antagonist’s horses,
and charioteer also with five arrows. Then throwing aside his bow Arjuna
took his quiver, and taking out a scimitar and sending forth a loud
shout, leaped from his own chariot upon that of his foe. And standing
there with perfect fearlessness he seized Drupada as Garuda seizeth a
huge snake after agitating the waters of the ocean. At the sight of this,
the Panchala troops ran away in all directions.

“Then Dhananjaya, having thus exhibited the might of his arm in the
presence of both hosts, sent forth a loud shout and came out of the
Panchala ranks. And beholding him returning (with his captive), the
princes began to lay waste Drupada’s capital. Addressing them Arjuna
said, ‘This best of monarchs, Drupada, is a relative of the Kuru heroes.
Therefore, O Bhima, slay not his soldiers. Let us only give unto our
preceptor his fee.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘O king, thus prevented by Arjuna, the mighty
Bhimasena, though unsatiated with the exercise of battle, refrained from
the act of slaughter. And, O bull of the Bharata race, the princes then,
taking Drupada with them after having seized him on the field of battle
along with his friends and counsellors, offered him unto Drona. And Drona
beholding Drupada thus brought under complete control--humiliated and
deprived of wealth--remembered that monarch’s former hostility and
addressing him said, ‘Thy kingdom and capital have been laid waste by me.
But fear not for thy life, though it dependeth now on the will of thy
foe. Dost thou now desire to revive thy friendship (with me)?’ Having
said this, he smiled a little and again said, ‘Fear not for thy life,
brave king! We, Brahmanas, are ever forgiving. And, O bull among
Kshatriyas, my affection and love for thee have grown with me in
consequence of our having sported together in childhood in the hermitage.
Therefore, O king, I ask for thy friendship again. And as a boon
(unasked), I give thee half the kingdom (that was thine). Thou toldest me
before that none who was not a king could be a king’s friend. Therefore
is it, O Yajnasena, that I retain half thy kingdom. Thou art the king of
all the territory lying on the southern side of the Bhagirathi, while I
become king of all the territory on the north of that river. And, O
Panchala, if it pleaseth thee, know me hence for thy friend.’

“On hearing these words, Drupada answered, ‘Thou art of noble soul and
great prowess. Therefore, O Brahmana, I am not surprised at what thou
doest. I am very much gratified with thee, and I desire thy eternal

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘After this, O Bharata, Drona released the king
of Panchala, and cheerfully performing the usual offices of regard,
bestowed upon him half the kingdom. Thenceforth Drupada began to reside
sorrowfully in (the city of) Kampilya within (the province of) Makandi on
the banks of the Ganga filled with many towns and cities. And after his
defeat by Drona, Drupada also ruled the southern Panchalas up to the bank
of the Charmanwati river. And Drupada from that day was well-convinced
that he could not, by Kshatriya might alone, defeat Drona, being very
much his inferior in Brahma (spiritual) power. And he, therefore, began
to wander over the whole earth to find out the means of obtaining a son
(who would subjugate his Brahmana foe).

“Meanwhile Drona continued to reside in Ahicchatra. Thus, O king, was the
territory of Ahicchatra full of towns and cities, obtained by Arjuna, and
bestowed upon Drona.’


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘After the expiration, O king, of a year from
this, Dhritarashtra, moved by kindness for the people, installed
Yudhishthira, the son of Pandu, as the heir-apparent of the kingdom on
account of his firmness, fortitude, patience, benevolence, frankness and
unswerving honesty (of heart). And within a short time Yudhishthira, the
son of Kunti, by his good behaviour, manners and close application to
business, overshadowed the deeds of his father. And the second Pandava,
Vrikodara, began to receive continued lessons from Sankarshana (Valarama)
in encounters with the sword and the mace and on the chariot. And after
Bhima’s education was finished, he became in strength like unto
Dyumatsena himself and continuing to live in harmony with his brothers,
he began to exert his prowess. And Arjuna became celebrated for the
firmness of his grasp (of weapons), for his lightness of motion,
precision of aim, and his proficiency in the use of the Kshura, Naracha,
Vala and Vipatha weapons, indeed, of all weapons, whether straight or
crooked or heavy. And Drona certified that there was none in the world
who was equal to Arjuna in lightness of hand and general proficiency.

“One day, Drona, addressing Arjuna before the assembled Kaurava princes,
said, ‘There was a disciple of Agastya in the science of arms called
Agnivesa. He was my preceptor and I, his disciple. By ascetic merit I
obtained from him a weapon called Brahmasira which could never be futile
and which was like unto thunder itself, capable of consuming the whole
earth. That weapon, O Bharata, from what I have done, may now pass from
disciple to disciple. While imparting it to me, my preceptor said, ‘O son
of Bharadwaja, never shouldst thou hurl this weapon at any human being,
especially at one who is of poor energy. Thou hast, O hero, obtained that
celestial weapon. None else deserveth it. But obey the command of the
Rishi (Agnivesa). And, look here, Arjuna, give me now the preceptorial
fee in the presence of these thy cousins and relatives.’ When Arjuna, on
hearing this, pledged his word that he would give what the preceptor
demanded, the latter said, ‘O sinless one, thou must fight with me when I
fight with thee.’ And that bull among the Kuru princes thereupon pledged
his word unto Drona and touching his feet, went away northward. Then
there arose a loud shout covering the whole earth bounded by her belt of
seas to the effect that there was no bowman in the whole world like unto
Arjuna. And, indeed, Dhananjaya, in encounters with the mace and the
sword and on the chariot as also with the bow, acquired wonderful
proficiency. Sahadeva obtained the whole science of morality and duties
from (Vrihaspati) the spiritual chief of celestials, and continued to
live under the control of his brothers. And Nakula, the favourite of his
brothers taught by Drona, became known as a skilful warrior and a great
car-warrior (Ati-ratha). Indeed, Arjuna and the other Pandava princes
became so powerful that they slew in battle the great Sauvira who had
performed a sacrifice extending over three years, undaunted by the raids
of the Gandharvas. And the king of the Yavanas himself whom the powerful
Pandu even had failed to bring under subjection was brought by Arjuna
under control. Then again Vipula, the king of the Sauviras, endued with
great prowess, who had always shown a disregard for the Kurus, was made
by the intelligent Arjuna to feel the edge of his power. And Arjuna also
repressed by means of his arrows (the pride of) king Sumitra of Sauvira,
also known by the name of Dattamitra who had resolutely sought an
encounter with him. The third of the Pandava princes, assisted by Bhima,
on only a single car subjugated all the kings of the East backed by ten
thousand cars. In the same way, having conquered on a single car the
whole of the south, Dhananjaya sent unto the kingdom of the Kurus a large

“Thus did those foremost of men, the illustrious Pandavas, conquering the
territories of other kings, extend the limits of their own kingdom. But
beholding the great prowess and strength of those mighty bowmen, king
Dhritarashtra’s sentiments towards the Pandavas became suddenly poisoned,
and from that day the monarch became so anxious that he could hardly


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘On hearing that the heroic sons of Pandu endued
with excess of energy had become so mighty, king Dhritarashtra became
very miserable with anxiety. Then summoning unto his side Kanika, that
foremost of minister, well-versed in the science of politics and an
expert in counsels the king said, ‘O best of Brahmanas, the Pandavas are
daily overshadowing the earth. I am exceedingly jealous of them. Should I
have peace or war with them? O Kanika, advise me truly, for I shall do as
thou biddest.

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘That best of Brahmanas, thus addressed by the
king, freely answered him in these pointed words well-agreeing with the
import of political science.”

“Listen to me, O sinless king, as I answer thee. And, O best of Kuru
kings, it behoveth thee not to be angry with me after hearing all I say.
Kings should ever be ready with uplifted maces (to strike when
necessary), and they should ever increase their prowess. Carefully
avoiding all faults themselves they should ceaselessly watch over the
faults of their foes and take advantage of them. If the king is always
ready to strike, everybody feareth him. Therefore the king should ever
have recourse to chastisement in all he doeth. He should so conduct
himself that, his foe may not detect any weak side in him. But by means
of the weakness he detecteth in his foe he should pursue him (to
destruction). He should always conceal, like the tortoise concealing its
body, his means and ends, and he should always keep back his own weakness
from, the sight of others. And having begun a particular act, he should
ever accomplish it thoroughly. Behold, a thorn, if not extracted wholly,
produceth a festering sore. The slaughter of a foe who doeth thee evil is
always praiseworthy. If the foe be one of great prowess, one should
always watch for the hour of his disaster and then kill him without any
scruples. If he should happen to be a great warrior, his hour of disaster
also should be watched and he should then be induced to fly. O sire, an
enemy should never be scorned, however contemptible. A spark of fire is
capable of consuming an extensive forest if only it can spread from one
object to another in proximity. Kings should sometimes feign blindness
and deafness, for if impotent to chastise, they should pretend not to
notice the faults that call for chastisement. On occasions, such as
these, let them regard their bows as made of straw. But they should be
always on the alert like a herd of deer sleeping in the woods. When thy
foe is in thy power, destroy him by every means open or secret. Do not
show him any mercy, although he seeketh thy protection. A foe, or one
that hath once injured thee, should be destroyed by lavishing money, if
necessary, for by killing him thou mayest be at thy ease. The dead can
never inspire fear. Thou must destroy the three, five and seven
(resources) of thy foes. Thou must destroy thy foes root and branch. Then
shouldst thou destroy their allies and partisans. The allies and
partisans can never exist if the principal be destroyed. If the root of
the tree is torn up, the branches and twigs can never exist as before.
Carefully concealing thy own means and ends, thou shouldst always watch
thy foes, always seeking their flaws. Thou shouldst, O king, rule thy
kingdom, always anxiously watching thy foes. By maintaining the perpetual
fire by sacrifices, by brown cloths, by matted locks, and by hides of
animals for thy bedding, shouldst thou at first gain the confidence of
thy foes, and when thou has gained it thou shouldst then spring upon them
like a wolf. For it hath been said that in the acquisition of wealth even
the garb of holiness might be employed as a hooked staff to bend down a
branch in order to pluck the fruits that are ripe. The method followed in
the plucking of fruits should be the method in destroying foes, for thou
shouldst proceed on the principle of selection. Bear thy foe upon thy
shoulders till the time cometh when thou canst throw him down, breaking
him into pieces like an earthen pot thrown down with violence upon a
stony surface. The foe must never be let off even though he addresseth
thee most piteously. No pity shouldst thou show him but slay him at once.
By the arts of conciliation or the expenditure of money should the foe be
slain. By creating disunion amongst his allies, or by the employment of
force, indeed by every means in thy power shouldst thou destroy thy foe.’

“Dhritarashtra said, ‘Tell me truly how a foe can be destroyed by the
arts of conciliation or the expenditure of money, or by producing
disunion or by the employment of force.’

“Kanika replied, ‘Listen, O monarch, to the history of a jackal dwelling
in days of yore in the forest and fully acquainted with the science of
politics. There was a wise jackal, mindful of his own interests who lived
in the company of four friends, viz., a tiger, a mouse, a wolf, and a
mongoose. One day they saw in the woods a strong deer, the leader of a
herd, whom, however, they could not seize for his fleetness and strength.
They thereupon called a council for consultation. The jackal opening the
proceedings said, ‘O tiger, thou hast made many an effort to seize this
deer, but all in vain simply because this deer is young, fleet and very
intelligent. Let now the mouse go and eat into its feet when it lieth
asleep. And when this is done, let the tiger approach and seize it. Then
shall we all, with great pleasure feast on it.’ Hearing these words of
the jackal, they all set to work very cautiously as he directed. And the
mouse ate into the feet of the deer and the tiger killed it as
anticipated. And beholding the body of the deer lying motionless on the
ground, the jackal said unto his companions, ‘Blessed be ye! Go and
perform your ablutions. In the meantime I will look after the deer.’
Hearing what the jackal said, they all went into a stream. And the jackal
waited there, deeply meditating upon what he should do. The tiger endued
with great strength, returned first of all to the spot after having
performed his ablutions. And he saw the jackal there plunged in
meditation. The tiger said, ‘Why art thou so sorrowful, O wise one! Thou
art the foremost of all intelligent beings. Let us enjoy ourselves today
by feasting on this carcass.’ The jackal said, ‘Hear, O mighty-armed one,
what the mouse hath said. He hath even said, O, fie on the strength of
the king of the beasts! This deer hath been slain by me. By might of my
arm he will today gratify his hunger.’ When he hath boasted in such a
language, I, for my part, do not wish to touch this food.’ The tiger
replied, ‘If, indeed, the mouse hath said so, my sense is now awakened. I
shall, from this day, slay with the might of my own arms, creatures
ranging the forest and then feast on their flesh.’ Having said this, the
tiger went away.

“And after the tiger had left the spot, the mouse came. And seeing the
mouse come, the jackal addressed him and said, ‘Blest be thou, O mouse,
but listen to what the mongoose hath said. He hath even said, The carcass
of this deer is poison (the tiger having touched it with his claws). I
will not eat of it. On the other hand, if thou, O jackal, permittest it,
I will even slay the mouse and feast on him.’ Hearing this the mouse
became alarmed and quickly entered his hole. And after the mouse had
gone, the wolf, O king, came there having performed his ablutions. And
seeing the wolf come, the jackal said unto him, ‘The king of the beasts
hath been angry with thee. Evil is certain to overtake thee. He is
expected here with his wife. Do as thou pleasest.’ Thus was the wolf
also, fond of animal flesh, got rid of by the jackal. And the wolf fled,
contracting his body into the smallest dimensions. It was then that the
mongoose came. And, O king, the jackal, seeing him come, said, ‘By the
might of my arm have I defeated the others who have already fled. Fight
with me first and then eat of this flesh as you please.’ The mongoose
replied, ‘When, indeed, the tiger, the wolf, and the intelligent mouse
have all been defeated by thee, heroes as they are, thou seemest to be a
greater hero still. I do not desire to fight with thee.’ Saying this, the
mongoose also went away.

“Kanika continued, ‘When they all had thus left the place, the jackal,
well-pleased with the success of his policy, alone ate up that flesh. If
kings always act in this way, they can be happy. Thus should the timid by
exciting their fears, the courageous by the arts of conciliation, the
covetous by gift of wealth, and equals and inferiors by exhibition of
prowess be brought under thy sway. Besides all this, O king, that I have
said, listen now to something else that I say.’

“Kanika continued, ‘If thy son, friend, brother, father, or even the
spiritual preceptor, anyone becometh thy foe, thou shouldst, if desirous
of prosperity, slay him without scruples. By curses and incantations, by
gift of wealth, by poison, or by deception, the foe should be slain. He
should never be neglected from disdain. If both the parties be equal and
success uncertain, then he that acteth with diligence groweth in
prosperity. If the spiritual preceptor himself be vain, ignorant of what
should be done and what left undone, and vicious in his ways, even he
should be chastised. If thou art angry, show thyself as if thou art not
so, speaking even then with a smile on thy lips. Never reprove any one
with indications of anger (in thy speech). And O Bharata, speak soft
words before thou smitest and even while thou art smiting! After the
smiting is over, pity the victim, and grieve for him, and even shed
tears. Comforting thy foe by conciliation, by gift of wealth, and smooth
behaviour, thou must smite him when he walketh not aright. Thou shouldst
equally smile the heinous offender who liveth by the practice of virtue,
for the garb of virtue simply covereth his offences like black clouds
covering the mountains. Thou shouldst burn the house of that person whom
thou punishest with death. And thou shouldst never permit beggars and
atheists and thieves to dwell in thy kingdom. By a sudden sally or
pitched battle by poison or by corrupting his allies, by gift of wealth,
by any means in thy power, thou shouldst destroy thy foe. Thou mayest act
with the greatest cruelty. Thou shouldst make thy teeth sharp to give a
fatal bite. And thou should ever smite so effectually that thy foe may
not again raise his head. Thou shouldst ever stand in fear of even one
from whom there is no fear, not to speak of him from whom there is such.
For if the first be ever powerful he may destroy thee to the root (for
thy unpreparedness). Thou shouldst never trust the faithless, nor trust
too much those that are faithful, for if those in whom thou confidest
prove thy foes, thou art certain to be annihilated. After testing their
faithfulness thou shouldst employ spies in thy own kingdom and in the
kingdoms of others. Thy spies in foreign kingdoms should be apt deceivers
and persons in the garb of ascetics. Thy spies should be placed in
gardens, places of amusement, temples and other holy places, drinking
halls, streets, and with the (eighteen) tirthas (viz., the minister, the
chief priest, the heir-presumptive, the commander-in-chief, the
gate-keepers of the court, persons in the inner apartments, the jailor,
the chief surveyor, the head of the treasury, the general executant of
orders, the chief of the town police, the chief architect, the chief
justice, the president of the council, the chief of the punitive
department, the commander of the fort, the chief of the arsenal, the
chief of the frontier guards, and the keeper of the forests), and in
places of sacrifice, near wells, on mountains and in rivers, in forests,
and in all places where people congregate. In speech thou shouldst ever
be humble, but let thy heart be ever sharp as razor. And when thou art
engaged in doing even a very cruel and terrible act, thou shouldst talk
with smiles on thy lips. If desirous of prosperity, thou shouldst adopt
all arts--humility, oath, conciliation. Worshipping the feet of others by
lowering thy head, inspiring hope, and the like. And, a person conversant
with the rules of policy is like a tree decked with flowers but bearing
no fruit; or, if bearing fruit, these must be at a great height not
easily attainable from the ground; and if any of these fruits seem to be
ripe care must be taken to make it appear raw. Conducting himself in such
a way, he shall never fade. Virtue, wealth and pleasure have both their
evil and good effects closely knit together. While extracting the effects
that are good, those that are evil should be avoided. Those that practise
virtue (incessantly) are made unhappy for want of wealth and the neglect
of pleasure. Those again in pursuit of wealth are made unhappy for the
neglect of two others. And so those who pursue pleasure suffer for their
inattention to virtue and wealth. Therefore, thou shouldst pursue virtue,
wealth and pleasure, in such a way that thou mayest not have to suffer
therefrom. With humiliation and attention, without jealousy and
solicitous of accomplishing thy purpose, shouldst thou, in all sincerity,
consult with the Brahmanas. When thou art fallen, thou shouldst raise
thyself by any means, gentle or violent; and after thou hast thus raised
thyself thou shouldst practise virtue. He that hath never been afflicted
with calamity can never have prosperity. This may be seen in the life of
one who surviveth his calamities. He that is afflicted with sorrow should
be consoled by the recitation of the history of persons of former times
(like those of Nala and Rama). He whose heart hath been unstrung by
sorrow should be consoled with hopes of future prosperity. He again who
is learned and wise should be consoled by pleasing offices presently
rendered unto him. He who, having concluded a treaty with an enemy,
reposeth at ease as if he hath nothing more to do, is very like a person
who awaketh, fallen down from the top of a tree whereon he had slept. A
king should ever keep to himself his counsels without fear of calumny,
and while beholding everything with the eyes of his spies, he should take
care to conceal his own emotions before the spies of his enemies. Like a
fisherman who becometh prosperous by catching and killing fish, a king
can never grow prosperous without tearing the vitals of his enemy and
without doing some violent deeds. The might of thy foe, as represented by
his armed force, should ever be completely destroyed, by ploughing it up
(like weeds) and mowing it down and otherwise afflicting it by disease,
starvation, and want of drink. A person in want never approacheth (from
love) one in affluence; and when one’s purpose hath been accomplished,
one hath no need to approach him whom he had hitherto looked to for its
accomplishment. Therefore, when thou doest anything never do it
completely, but ever leave something to be desired for by others (whose
services thou mayest need). One who is desirous of prosperity should with
diligence seek allies and means, and carefully conduct his wars. His
exertions in these respects should always be guided by prudence. A
prudent king should ever act in such a way that friends and foes may
never know his motive before the commencement of his acts. Let them know
all when the act hath been commenced or ended, and as long as danger doth
not come, so long only shall thou act as if thou art afraid. But when it
hath overtaken thee, thou must grapple with it courageously. He who
trusteth in a foe who hath been brought under subjection by force,
summoneth his own death as a crab by her act of conception. Thou shouldst
always reckon the future act as already arrived (and concert measures for
meeting it), else, from want of calmness caused by haste, thou mayest
overlook an important point in meeting it when it is before thee. A
person desirous of prosperity should always exert with prudence, adopting
his measures to time and place. He should also act with an eye to destiny
as capable of being regulated by mantras and sacrificial rites; and to
virtue, wealth, and pleasure. It is well-known that time and place (if
taken into consideration) always produce the greatest good. If the foe is
insignificant, he should not yet be despised, for he may soon grow like a
palmyra tree extending its roots or like a spark of fire in the deep
woods that may soon burst into an extensive conflagration. As a little
fire gradually fed with faggots soon becometh capable of consuming even
the biggest blocks, so the person who increaseth his power by making
alliances and friendships soon becometh capable of subjugating even the
most formidable foe. The hope thou givest unto thy foe should be long
deferred before it is fulfilled; and when the time cometh for its
fulfilment, invent some pretext for deferring it still. Let that pretext
be shown as founded upon some reason, and let that reason itself be made
to appear as founded on some other reason. Kings should, in the matter of
destroying their foes, ever resemble razors in every particular;
unpitying as these are sharp, hiding their intents as these are concealed
in their leathern cases, striking when the opportunity cometh as these
are used on proper occasions, sweeping off their foes with all their
allies and dependants as these shave the head or the chin without leaving
a single hair. O supporter of the dignity of the Kurus, bearing thyself
towards the Pandavas and others also as policy dictateth, act in such a
way that thou mayest not have to grieve in future. Well do I know that
thou art endued with every blessing, and possessed of every mark of good
fortune. Therefore, O king, protect thyself from the sons of Pandu! O
king, the sons of Pandu are stronger than their cousins (thy sons);
therefore, O chastiser of foes, I tell thee plainly what thou shouldst
do. Listen to it, O king, with thy children, and having listened to it,
exert yourselves (to do the needful). O king, act in such a way that
there may not be any fear for thee from the Pandavas. Indeed, adopt such
measures consonant with the science of policy that thou mayest not have
to grieve in the future.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Having delivered himself thus Kanika returned
to his abode, while the Kuru king Dhritarashtra became pensive and


(Jatugriha Parva)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then the son of Suvala (Sakuni), king Duryodhana,
Duhsasana and Kama, in consultation with one another, formed an evil
conspiracy. With the sanction of Dhritarashtra, the king of the Kurus,
they resolved to burn to death Kunti and her (five) sons. But that wise
Vidura, capable of reading the heart by external signs, ascertained the
intention of these wicked persons by observing their countenances alone.
Then the sinless Vidura, of soul enlightened by true knowledge, and
devoted to the good of the Pandavas, came to the conclusion that Kunti
with her children should fly away from her foes. And providing for that
purpose a boat strong enough to withstand both wind and wave, he
addressed Kunti and said, ‘This Dhritarashtra hath been born for
destroying the fame and offspring of the (Kuru) race. Of wicked soul, he
is about to cast off eternal virtue. O blessed one, I have kept ready on
the stream a boat capable of withstanding both wind and wave. Escape by
it with thy children from the net that death hath spread around you.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing these words, the illustrious Kunti was
deeply grieved, and with her children, O bull of Bharata’s race, stepped
into the boat and went over the Ganges. Then leaving the boat according
to the advice of Vidura, the Pandavas took with them the wealth that had
been given to them (while at Varanavata) by their enemies and safely
entered the deep woods. In the house of lac, however, that had been
prepared for the destruction of the Pandavas, an innocent Nishada woman
who had come there for some purpose, was, with her children burnt to
death. And that worst of Mlechchhas, the wretched Purochana (who was the
architect employed in building the house of lac) was also burnt in the
conflagration. And thus were the sons of Dhirtarashtra with their
counsellors deceived in their expectations. And thus also were the
illustrious Pandavas, by the advice of Vidura, saved with their mother.
But the people (of Varanavata) knew not of their safety. And the citizens
of Varanavata, seeing the house of lac consumed (and believing the
Pandavas to have been burnt to death) became exceedingly sorry. And they
sent messengers unto king Dhritarashtra to represent everything that had
happened. And they said to the monarch, ‘Thy great end hath been
achieved! Thou hast at last burnt the Pandavas to death! Thy desire
fulfilled, enjoy with thy children. O king of the Kurus, the kingdom.’
Hearing this, Dhritarashtra with his children, made a show of grief, and
along with his relatives, including Kshattri (Vidura) and Bhishma the
foremost of the Kurus, performed the last honours of the Pandavas.’

“Janamejaya said, ‘O best of Brahmanas, I desire to hear in full this
history of the burning of the house of lac and the escape of the Pandavas
there from. That was a cruel act of theirs (the Kurus), acting under the
counsels of the wicked (Kanika). Recite the history to me of all that
happened. I am burning with curiosity to hear it.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘O chastiser of all foes, listen to me, O monarch, as
I recite the (history of the) burning of the house of lac and the escape
of the Pandavas. The wicked Duryodhana, beholding Bhimasena surpass
(everybody) in strength and Arjuna highly accomplished in arms became
pensive and sad. Then Karna, the offspring of the Sun, and Sakuni, the
son of Suvala, endeavoured by various means to compass the death of the
Pandavas. The Pandavas too counteracted all those contrivances one after
another, and in obedience to the counsels of Vidura, never spoke of them
afterwards. Then the citizens, beholding the son of Pandu possessed of
accomplishments, began, O Bharata, to speak of them in all places of
public resort. And assembled in courtyards and other places of gathering,
they talked of the eldest son of Pandu (Yudhishthira) as possessed of the
qualifications for ruling the kingdom. And they said, ‘Dhritarashtra,
though possessed of the eye of knowledge, having been (born) blind, had
not obtained the kingdom before. How can he (therefore) become king now?
Then Bhishma, the son of Santanu, of rigid vows and devoted to truth,
having formerly relinquished the sovereignty would never accept it now.
We shall, therefore, now install (on the throne) with proper ceremonies
the eldest of the Pandavas endued with youth, accomplished in battle,
versed in the Vedas, and truthful and kind. Worshipping Bhishma, the son
of Santanu and Dhritarashtra conversant with the rules of morality, he
will certainly maintain the former and the latter with his children in
every kind of enjoyment.

“The wretched Duryodhana, hearing these words of the parting partisans of
Yudhishthira, became very much distressed. Deeply afflicted, the wicked
prince could not put up with those speeches. Inflamed with jealousy, he
went unto Dhritarashtra, and finding him alone he saluted him with
reverence and distressed at (the sight of) the partiality of the citizens
for Yudhishthira, he addressed the monarch and said, ‘O father, I have
heard the parting citizens utter words of ill omen. Passing thee by, and
Bhishma too, they desire the son of Pandu to be their king. Bhishma will
sanction this, for he will not rule the kingdom. It seems, therefore,
that the citizens are endeavouring to inflict a great injury on us. Pandu
obtained of old the ancestral kingdom by virtue of his own
accomplishments, but thou, from blindness, didst not obtain the kingdom,
though fully qualified to have it. If Pandu’s son now obtaineth the
kingdom as his inheritance from Pandu, his son will obtain it after him
and that son’s son also, and so on will it descend in Pandu’s line. In
that case, O king of the world, ourselves with our children, excluded
from the royal line, shall certainly be disregarded by all men.
Therefore, O monarch, adopt such counsels that we may not suffer
perpetual distress, becoming dependent on others for our food. O king, if
thou hadst obtained the sovereignty before, we would certainly have
succeeded to it, however much the people might be unfavourable to us.’”


(Jatugriha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana continued, “King Dhritarashtra whose knowledge only was his
eyes, on hearing these words of his son and recollecting everything that
Kanika had, said unto him, became afflicted with sorrow, and his mind
also thereupon began to waver. Then Duryodhana and Karna, and Sakuni, the
son of Suvala, and Duhsasana as their fourth, held a consultation
together. Prince Duryodhana said unto Dhritarashtra, ‘Send, O father, by
some clever contrivance, the Pandavas to the town of Varanavata. We shall
then have no fear of them.’ Dhritarashtra, on hearing these words uttered
by his son, reflected for a moment and replied unto Duryodhana, saying,
‘Pandu, ever devoted to virtue, always behaved dutifully towards all his
relatives but particularly towards me. He cared very little for the
enjoyments of the world, but devotedly gave everything unto me, even the
kingdom. His son is as much devoted to virtue as he, and is possessed of
every accomplishment. Of world-wide fame, he is again the favourite of
the people. He is possessed of allies; how can we by force exile him from
his ancestral kingdom? The counsellors and soldiers (of the state) and
their sons and grandsons have all been cherished and maintained by Pandu.
Thus benefited of old by Pandu, shall not, O child, the citizens slay us
with all our friends and relatives now on account of Yudhishthira?”

“Duryodhana replied, ‘What thou sayest, O father, is perfectly true. But
in view of the evil that is looming on the future as regards thyself, if
we conciliate the people with wealth and honours, they would assuredly
side with us for these proofs of our power. The treasury and the
ministers of state, O king, are at this moment under our control.
Therefore, it behoveth thee now to banish, by some gentle means, the
Pandavas to the town of Varanavata; O king, when the sovereignty shall
have been vested in me, then, O Bharata, may Kunti with her children come
back from that place.’

“Dhritarashtra replied, ‘This, O Duryodhana, is the very thought existing
in my mind. But from its sinfulness I have never given expression to it.
Neither Bhishma, nor Drona, nor Kshattri, nor Gautama (Kripa) will ever
sanction the exile of the Pandavas. In their eyes, O dear son, amongst
the Kurus ourselves and the Pandavas are equal. Those wise and virtuous
persons will make no difference between us. If therefore, we behave so
towards the Pandavas, shall we not, O son, deserve death at the hands of
the Kurus, of these illustrious personages, and of the whole world?’

“Duryodhana answered, ‘Bhishma hath no excess of affection for either
side, and will, therefore, be neutral (in case of dispute). The son of
Drona (Aswatthaman) is on my side. There is no doubt that where the son
is, there the father will be. Kripa, the son of Saradwat, must be on the
side on which Drona and Aswatthaman are. He will never abandon Drona and
his sister’s son (Aswatthaman). Kshattri (Vidura) is dependent on us for
his means of life, though he is secretly with the foe. It he sides the
Pandavas, he alone can do us no injury, Therefore, exile thou the
Pandavas to Varanavata without any fear. And take such steps that they
may go thither this very day. By this act, O father, extinguish the grief
that consumeth me like a blazing fire, that robbeth me of sleep, and that
pierces my heart even like a terrible dart.’”


(Jatugriha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, Then prince Duryodhana, along with his brothers began
to gradually win over the people to his side by grants of wealth and
honours. Meanwhile, some clever councillors, instructed by Dhritarashtra,
one day began to describe (in court) the town of Varanavata as a charming
place. And they said, The festival of Pasupati (Siva) hath commenced in
the town of Varanavata. The concourse of people is great and the
procession is the most delightful of all ever witnessed on earth. Decked
with every ornament, it charmed the hearts of all spectators.’ Thus did
those councillors, instructed by Dhritarashtra, speak of Varanavata, and
whilst they were so speaking, the Pandavas, O king, felt the desire of
going to that delightful town. And when the king (Dhritarashtra)
ascertained that the curiosity of the Pandavas had been awakened, the son
of Ambika addressed them, saying, ‘These men of mine often speak of
Varanavata as the most delightful town in the world. If therefore, ye
children, ye desire to witness that festival, go to Varanavata with your
followers and friends and enjoy yourselves there like the celestials. And
give ye away pearls and gems unto the Brahmanas and the musicians (that
may be assembled there). And sporting there for some time as ye please
like the resplendent celestials and enjoying as much pleasure as ye like,
return ye to Hastinapura again.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Yudhishthira, fully understanding the motives
of Dhritarashtra and considering that he himself was weak and friendless,
replied unto the king, saying, ‘So be it.’ Then addressing Bhishma, the
son of Santanu, the wise Vidura, Drona, Valhika, the Kaurava, Somadatta,
Kripa, Aswatthaman, Bhurisravas, and the other councillors, and Brahmanas
and ascetics, and the priests and the citizens, and the illustrious
Gandhari, he said slowly and humbly, ‘With our friends and followers we
go to the delightful and populous town of Varanavata at the command of
Dhritarashtra. Cheerfully give us your benedictions so that acquiring
prosperity, therewith we may not be touched by sin.’ Thus addressed by
the eldest of Pandu’s sons, the Kaurava chiefs all cheerfully pronounced
blessings on them, saying, ‘Ye sons of Pandu, let all the elements bless
you along your way and let not the slightest evil befall you.’

“The Pandavas, having performed propitiatory rites for obtaining (their
share of) the kingdom, and finishing their preparations, set out for


(Jatugriha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘The wicked Duryodhana became very pleased when the
king, O Bharata, had said so unto Pandavas. And, O bull of Bharata’s
race, Duryodhana, then, summoning his counsellor, Purochana in private,
took hold of his right hand and said, ‘O Purochana, this world, so full
of wealth, is mine. But it is thine equally with me. It behoveth thee,
therefore, to protect it. I have no more trustworthy counsellor than thee
with whom to consult. Therefore, O sire, keep my counsel and exterminate
my foes by a clever device. O, do as I bid thee. The Pandavas have, by
Dhritarashtra, been sent to Varanavata, where they will, at
Dhritarashtra’s command, enjoy themselves during the festivities. Do that
by which thou mayest this very day reach Varanavata in a car drawn by
swift mules. Repairing thither, cause thou to be erected a quadrangular
palace in the neighbourhood of the arsenal, rich in the materials and
furniture, and guard thou the mansion well (with prying eyes). And use
thou (in erecting that house) hemp and resin and all other inflammable
materials that are procurable. And mixing a little earth with clarified
butter and oil and fat and a large quantity of lac, make thou a plaster
for lining the walls, and scatter thou all around that house hemp and oil
and clarified butter and lac and wood in such a way that the Pandavas, or
any others, may not, even with scrutiny behold them there or conclude the
house to be an inflammable one. And having erected such mansion, cause
thou the Pandavas, after worshipping them with great reverence, to dwell
in it with Kunti and all their friends. And place thou there seats and
conveyances and beds, all of the best workmanship, for the Pandavas, so
that Dhritarashtra may have no reason to complain. Thou must also so
manage it all that none of Varanavata may know anything till the end we
have in view is accomplished. And assuring thyself that the Pandavas are
sleeping within in confidence and without fear, thou must then set fire
to that mansion beginning at the outer door. The Pandavas thereupon must
be burnt to death, but the people will say that they have been burnt in
(an accidental) conflagration of their house.

“Saying, ‘So be it’ unto the Kuru prince, Purochana repaired to
Varanavata in a car drawn by fleet mules. And going thither, O king,
without loss of time, obedient to the instructions of Duryodhana, did
everything that the prince had bid him do.”


(Jatugriha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Meanwhile the Pandavas got into their cars, yoking
thereto some fine horses endued with the speed of wind. While they were
on the point of entering their cars, they touched, in great sorrow, the
feet of Bhishma, of king Dhritarashtra, of the illustrious Drona, of
Kripa, of Vidura and of the other elders of the Kuru race. Then saluting
with reverence all the older men, and embracing their equals, receiving
the farewell of even the children, and taking leave of all the venerable
ladies in their household, and walking round them respectfully, and
bidding farewell unto all the citizens, the Pandavas, ever mindful of
their vows, set out for Varanavata. And Vidura of great wisdom and the
other bulls among the Kurus and the citizens also, from great affliction,
followed those tigers among men to some distance. And some amongst the
citizens and the country people, who followed the Pandavas, afflicted
beyond measure at beholding the sons of Pandu in such distress, began to
say aloud, ‘King Dhritarashtra of wicked soul seeth no things with the
same eye. The Kuru monarch casteth not his eye on virtue. Neither the
sinless Yudhishthira, nor Bhima the foremost of mighty men, nor
Dhananjaya the (youngest) son of Kunti, will ever be guilty (of the sin
of waging a rebellious war). When these will remain quiet, how shall the
illustrious son of Madri do anything? Having inherited the kingdom from
their father, Dhritarashtra could not bear them. How is that Bhishma who
suffers the exile of the Pandavas to that wretched place, sanctions this
act of great injustice? Vichitravirya, the son of Santanu, and the royal
sage Pandu of Kuru’s race both cherished us of old with fatherly care.
But now that Pandu that tiger among men, hath ascended to heaven,
Dhritarashtra cannot bear with these princes his children. We who do not
sanction this exile shall all go, leaving this excellent town and our own
homes, where Yudhishthira will go.’

“Unto those distressed citizens talking in this way, the virtuous
Yudhishthira, himself afflicted with sorrow, reflecting for a few moments
said, ‘The king is our father, worthy of regard, our spiritual guide, and
our superior. To carry out with unsuspicious hearts whatever he biddeth,
is indeed, our duty. Ye are our friends. Walking round us and making us
happy by your blessings, return ye to your abodes. When the time cometh
for anything to be done for us by you, then, indeed, accomplish all that
is agreeable and beneficial to us.’ Thus addressed, the citizens walked
round the Pandavas and blessed them with their blessings and returned to
their respective abodes.

“And after the citizens had ceased following the Pandavas, Vidura,
conversant with all the dictates of morality, desirous of awakening the
eldest of the Pandavas (to a sense of his dangers), addressed him in
these words. The learned Vidura, conversant with the jargon (of the
Mlechchhas), addressed the learned Yudhishthira who also was conversant
with the same jargon, in the words of the Mlechchha tongue, so as to be
unintelligible to all except Yudhishthira. He said, ‘He that knoweth the
schemes his foes contrive in accordance with the dictates of political
science, should, knowing them, act in such a way as to avoid all danger.
He that knoweth that there are sharp weapons capable of cutting the body
though not made of steel, and understandeth also the means of warding
them off, can never be injured by foes. He liveth who protecteth himself
by the knowledge that neither the consumer of straw and wood nor the
drier of the dew burneth the inmates of a hole in the deep woods. The
blind man seeth not his way: the blind man hath no knowledge of
direction. He that hath no firmness never acquireth prosperity.
Remembering this, be upon your guard. The man who taketh a weapon not
made of steel (i.e., an inflammable abode) given him by his foes, can
escape from fire by making his abode like unto that of a jackal (having
many outlets). By wandering a man may acquire the knowledge of ways, and
by the stars he can ascertain the direction, and he that keepeth his five
(senses) under control can never be oppressed y his enemies.’

“Thus addressed, Pandu’s son, Yudhishthira the just replied unto Vidura,
that foremost of all learned men, saying, ‘I have understood thee.’ Then
Vidura, having instructed the Pandavas and followed them (thus far),
walked around them and bidding them farewell returned to his own abode.
When the citizens and Bhishma and Vidura had all ceased following, Kunti
approached Yudhishthira and said, ‘The words that Kshattri said unto thee
in the midst of many people so indistinctly as if he did not say
anything, and thy reply also to him in similar words and voice, we have
not understood. If it is not improper; for us to know them I should then
like to hear everything that had passed between him and thee.’

“Yudhishthira replied, ‘The virtuous Vidura said unto me that we should
know that the mansion (for our accommodation at Varanavata) hath been
built of inflammable materials. He said unto me, ‘The path of escape too
shall not be unknown to thee,’--and further,--‘Those that can control
their senses can acquire the sovereignty of the whole world.’--The reply
that I gave unto Vidura was, ‘I have understood thee.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The Pandavas set out on the eighth day of the
month of Phalguna when the star Rohini was in the ascendant, and arriving
at Varanavata they beheld the town and the people.’”


(Jatugriha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then all the citizens (of Varanavata) on hearing
that the son of Pandu had come, were filled with joy at the tidings,
speedily came out of Varanavata, in vehicles of various kinds numbering
by thousands, taking with them every auspicious article as directed by
the Sastras, for receiving those foremost of men. And the people of
Varanavata, approaching the sons of Kunti blessed them by uttering the
Jaya and stood surrounding them. That tiger among men, viz., the virtuous
Yudhishthira thus surrounded by them looked resplendent like him having
the thunderbolt in his hands (viz., Indra) in the midst of the
celestials. And those sinless ones, welcomed by the citizens and
welcoming the citizens in return, then entered the populous town of
Varanavata decked with every ornament. Entering the town those heroes
first went, O monarch, to the abodes of Brahmanas engaged in their proper
duties. Those foremost of men then went to the abodes of the officials of
the town, and then of the Sutas and the Vaisyas and then to those of even
the Sudras, O bull of Bharata’s race, thus adored by the citizens, the
Pandavas at last went with Purochana going before them, to the palace
that had been built for them, Purochana then began to place before them
food and drink and beds and carpets, all of the first and most agreeable
order. The Pandavas attired in costly robes, continued to live there,
adored by Purochana and the people having their homes in Varanavata.

“After the Pandavas had thus lived for ten nights, Purochana spoke to
them of the mansion (he had built) called ‘The Blessed Home,’ but in
reality the cursed house. Then those tigers among men, attired in costly
dress, entered that mansion at the instance of Purochana like Guhyakas
entering the palace (of Siva) on the Kailasa mount. The foremost of all
virtuous men, Yudhishthira, inspecting the house, said unto Bhima that it
was really built of inflammable materials. Smelling the scent of fat
mixed with clarified butter and preparations of lac, he said unto Bhima,
‘O chastiser of foes, this house is truly built of inflammable materials!
Indeed, it is apparent that such is the case! The enemy, it is evident,
by the aid of trusted artists well-skilled in the construction of houses,
have finely built this mansion, after procuring hemp, resin, heath,
straw, and bamboos, all soaked in clarified butter. This wicked wretch,
Purochana, acting under the instruction of Duryodhana, stayeth here with
the object of burning me to death when he seeth me trustful. But, O son
of Pritha, Vidura of great intelligence, knew of this danger, and,
therefore, hath warned me of it beforehand. Knowing it all, that youngest
uncle of ours, ever wishing our good from affection hath told us that
this house, so full of danger, hath been constructed by the wretches
under Duryodhana acting in secrecy.’

“Hearing this, Bhima replied, ‘If, sir, you know this house to be so
inflammable, it would then be well for us to return thither where we had
taken up our quarters first.’ Yudhishthira replied, ‘It seems to me that
we should rather continue to live here in seeming unsuspiciousness but
all the while with caution and our senses wide awake and seeking for some
certain means of escape. If Purochana findeth from our countenances that
we have fathomed designs, acting with haste he may suddenly burn us to
death. Indeed, Purochana careth little for obloquy or sin. The wretch
stayeth here acting under the instruction of Duryodhana. If we are burnt
to death, will our grandfather Bhishma be angry? Why will he, by showing
his wrath, make the Kauravas angry with him? Or, perhaps, our grandfather
Bhishma and the other bull of Kuru’s race, regarding indignation at such
a sinful act to be virtuous, may become wrathful. If however, from fear
of being burnt, we fly from here, Duryodhana, ambitious of sovereignty
will certainly compass our death by means of spies. While we have no rank
and power, Duryodhana hath both; while we have no friends and allies,
Duryodhana hath both; while we are without wealth, Duryodhana hath at his
command a full treasury. Will he not, therefore, certainly destroy us by
adopting adequate means? Let us, therefore, by deceiving this wretch
(Purochana) and that other wretch Duryodhana, pass our days, disguising
ourselves at times. Let us also lead a hunting life, wandering over the
earth. We shall then, if we have to escape our enemies, be familiar with
all paths. We shall also, this very day, cause a subterranean passage to
be dug in our chamber in great secrecy. If we act in this way, concealing
what we do from all, fire shall never be able to consume us. We shall
live here, actively doing everything for our safety but with such privacy
that neither Purochana nor any of the citizens of Varanavata may know
what we are after.’”


(Jatugriha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘A friend of Vidura’s, well-skilled in mining,
coming unto the Pandavas, addressed them in secret, saying, ‘I have been
sent by Vidura and am a skilful miner. I am to serve the Pandavas. Tell
me what I am to do for ye. From the trust he reposeth in me Vidura hath
said unto me, ‘Go thou unto the Pandavas and accomplish thou their good.
What shall I do for you? Purochana will set fire to the door of thy house
on the fourteenth night of this dark fortnight. To burn to death those
tigers among men, the Pandavas, with their mother, is the design of that
wicked wretch, the son of Dhritarashtra. O son of Pandu, Vidura also told
thee something in the Mlechchha tongue to which thou also didst reply in
same language. I state these particulars as my credentials.’ Hearing
these words, Yudhishthira, the truthful son of Kunti replied, ‘O amiable
one, I now know thee as a dear and trusted friend of Vidura, true and
ever devoted to him. There is nothing that the learned Vidura doth not
know. As his, so ours art thou. Make no difference between him and us. We
are as much thine as his. O, protect us as the learned Vidura ever
protecteth us. I know that this house, so inflammable, hath been
contrived for me by Purochana at the command of Dhritarashtra’s son. That
wicked wretch commanding wealth and allies pursueth us without
intermission. O, save us with a little exertion from the impending
conflagration. If we are burnt to death here, Duryodhana’s most cherished
desire will be satisfied. Here is that wretch’s well-furnished arsenal.
This large mansion hath been built abutting the high ramparts of the
arsenal without any outlet. But this unholy contrivance of Duryodhana was
known to Vidura from the first, and he it was who enlightened us
beforehand. The danger of which Kshattri had foreknowledge is now at our
door. Save us from it without Purochana’s knowledge thereof.’ On hearing
these words, the miner said, ‘So be it,’ and carefully beginning his work
of excavation, made a large subterranean passage. And the mouth of that
passage was in the centre of that house, and it was on a level with the
floor and closed up with planks. The mouth was so covered from fear of
Purochana, that wicked wretch who kept a constant watch at the door of
the house. The Pandavas used to sleep within their chambers with arms
ready for use, while, during the day, they went a-hunting from forest to
forest. Thus, O king, they lived (in that mansion) very guardedly,
deceiving Purochana by a show of trustfulness and contentment while in
reality they were trustless and discontented. Nor did the citizens of
Varanavata know anything about these plans of the Pandavas. In fact, none
else knew of them except Vidura’s friend, that good miner.’”


(Jatugriha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Seeing the Pandavas living there cheerfully and
without suspicion for a full year, Purochana became exceedingly glad. And
beholding Purochana so very glad, Yudhishthira, the virtuous son of
Kunti, addressing Bhima and Arjuna and the twins (Nakula and Sahadeva)
said, ‘The cruel-hearted wretch hath been well-deceived. I think the time
is come for our escape. Setting fire to the arsenal and burning Purochana
to death and letting his body lie here, let us, six persons, fly hence
unobserved by all!’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then on the occasion of an almsgiving, O king,
Kunti fed on a certain night a large number of Brahmanas. There came also
a number of ladies who while eating and drinking, enjoyed there as they
pleased, and with Kunti’s leave returned to their respective homes.
Desirous of obtaining food, there came, as though impelled by fate, to
that feast, in course of her wanderings, a Nishada woman, the mother of
five children, accompanied by all her sons. O king, she, and her
children, intoxicated with the wine they drank, became incapable.
Deprived of consciousness and more dead than alive, she with all her sons
lay down in that mansion to sleep. Then when all the inmates of the house
lay down to sleep, there began to blow a violent wind in the night. Bhima
then set fire to the house just where Purochana was sleeping. Then the
son of Pandu set fire to the door of that house of lac. Then he set fire
to the mansion in several parts all around. Then when the sons of Pandu
were satisfied that the house had caught fire in several parts those
chastisers of foes with their mother, entered the subterranean passage
without losing any time. Then the heat and the roar of the fire became
intense and awakened the townspeople. Beholding the house in flames, the
citizens with sorrowful faces began to say, ‘The wretch (Purochana) of
wicked soul had under the instruction of Duryodhana built his house for
the destruction of his employer’s relatives. He indeed hath set fire to
it. O, fie on Dhritarashtra’s heart which is so partial. He hath burnt to
death, as if he were their foe, the sinless heirs of Pandu! O, the sinful
and wicked-souled (Purochana) who hath burnt those best of men, the
innocent and unsuspicious princes, hath himself been burnt to death as
fate would have it.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The citizens of Varanavata thus bewailed (the
fate of the Pandavas), and waited there for the whole night surrounding
that house. The Pandavas, however, accompanied by their mother coming out
of the subterranean passage, fled in haste unnoticed. But those
chastisers of foes, for sleepiness and fear, could not with their mother
proceed in haste. But, O monarch, Bhimasena, endued with terrible prowess
and swiftness of motion took upon his body all his brothers and mother
and began to push through the darkness. Placing his mother on his
shoulder, the twins on his sides, and Yudhishthira and Arjuna on both his
arms, Vrikodara of great energy and strength and endued with the speed of
the wind, commenced his march, breaking the trees with his breast and
pressing deep the earth with his stamp.’”


(Jatugriha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘About this time, the learned Vidura had sent into
those woods a man of pure character and much trusted by him. This person
going to where he had been directed, saw the Pandavas with their mother
in the forest employed in a certain place in measuring the depth of a
river. The design that the wicked Duryodhana had formed had been, through
his spies, known to Vidura of great intelligence, and, therefore, he had
sent that prudent person unto the Pandavas. Sent by Vidura unto them, he
showed the Pandavas on the sacred banks of the Ganga a boat with engines
and flags, constructed by trusted artificers and capable of withstanding
wind and wave and endued with the speed of the tempest or of thought. He
then addressed the Pandavas in these words to show that he had really
been sent by Vidura, ‘O Yudhishthira, he said, “listen to these words the
learned Vidura had said (unto thee) as a proof of the fact that I come
from him. Neither the consumer of straw and the wood nor the drier of dew
ever burneth the inmates of a hole in the forest. He escapeth from death
who protecteth himself knowing this, etc.’ By these credentials know me
to be the person who has been truly sent by Vidura and to be also his
trusted agent. Vidura, conversant with everything, hath again said, ‘O
son of Kunti, thou shalt surely defeat in battle Karna, and Duryodhana
with his brothers, and Sakuni.’ This boat is ready on the waters, and it
will glide pleasantly thereon, and shall certainly bear you all from
these regions!’

“Then beholding those foremost of men with their mother pensive and sad
he caused them to go into the boat that was on the Ganga, and accompanied
them himself. Addressing them again, he said, ‘Vidura having smelt your
heads and embraced you (mentally), hath said again that in commencing
your auspicious journey and going alone you should never be careless.’

“Saying these words unto those heroic princes, the person sent by Vidura
took those bulls among men over to the other side of the Ganga in his
boat. And having taken them over the water and seen them all safe on the
opposite bank, he uttered the word ‘Jaya’ (victory) to their success and
then left them and returned to the place whence he had come.

“The illustrious Pandavas also sending through that person some message
to Vidura, began, after having crossed the Ganga, to proceed with haste
and in great secrecy.’”


(Jatugriha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then, when the night had passed away, a large
concourse of the townspeople came there in haste to see the sons of
Pandu. After extinguishing the fire, they saw that the house just burnt
down had been built of lac in materials and that (Duryodhana’s)
counsellor Purochana had been burnt to death. And the people began to
bewail aloud saying, ‘Indeed, this had been contrived by the sinful
Duryodhana for the destruction of the Pandavas. There is little doubt
that Duryodhana hath, with Dhritarashtra’s knowledge, burnt to death the
heirs of Pandu, else the prince would have been prevented by his father.
There is little doubt that even Bhishma, the son of Santanu, and Drona
and Vidura and Kripa and other Kauravas have not, any of them, followed
the dictates of duty. Let us now send to Dhritarashtra to say, ‘Thy great
desire hath been achieved! Thou hast burnt to death the Pandavas!’

“They then began to extinguish the members to obtain some trace of the
Pandavas, and they saw the innocent Nishada woman with her five sons
burnt to death. Then the miner sent by Vidura, while removing the ashes,
covered the hole he had dug with those ashes in such a way that it
remained unnoticed by all who had gone there.

“The citizens then sent to Dhritarashtra to inform him that the Pandavas
along with (Duryodhana’s) counsellor Purochana had been burnt to death.
King Dhritarashtra, on hearing the evil news of the death of the
Pandavas, wept in great sorrow. And he said, ‘King Pandu, my brother of
great fame, hath, indeed, died today when those heroic sons of his
together with their mother have been burnt to death. Ye men, repair
quickly to Varanavata and cause the funeral rites to be performed of
those heroes and of the daughter of Kuntiraj! Let also the bones of the
deceased be sanctified with the usual rites, and let all the beneficial
and great acts (usual on such occasions) be performed. Let the friends
and relatives of those that have been burnt to death repair thither. Let
also all other beneficial acts that ought, under the circumstances, to be
performed by us for the Pandavas and Kunti be accomplished by wealth.’

“Having said this, Dhritarashtra, the son of Ambika, surrounded by his
relatives, offered oblations of water to the sons of Pandu. And all of
them, afflicted with excessive sorrow, bewailed aloud, exclaiming, ‘O
Yudhishthira! Oh prince of the Kuru race!’--While others cried aloud,
‘Oh, Bhima!--O Phalguna!’--while some again,--‘Oh, the twins!--Oh,
Kunti!’--Thus did they sorrow for the Pandavas and offer oblations of
water unto them. The citizens also wept for the Pandavas but Vidura did
not weep much, because he knew the truth.

“Meanwhile the Pandavas endued with great strength with their mother
forming a company of six going out of the town of Varanavata arrived at
the banks of the Ganga. They then speedily reached the opposite bank
aided by the strength of the boatmen’s arms, the rapidity of the river’s
current, and a favourable wind. Leaving the boat, they proceeded in the
southern direction finding their way in the dark by the light of the
stars. After much suffering they at last reached, O king, a dense forest.
They were then tired and thirsty; sleep was closing their eyes every
moment. Then Yudhishthira, addressing Bhima endued with great energy,
said, ‘What can be more painful than this? We are now in the deep woods.
We know not which side is which, nor can we proceed much further. We do
not know whether that wretch Purochana hath or hath not been burnt to
death. How shall we escape from these dangers unseen by others? O
Bharata, taking us on thyself, proceed thou as before. Thou alone amongst
us art strong and swift as the wind.’

“Thus addressed by Yudhishthira the just, the mighty Bhimasena, taking up
on his body Kunti and his brothers, began to proceed with great


(Jatugriha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said,” As the mighty Bhima proceeded, the whole forest with
its trees and their branches seemed to tremble, in consequence of their
clash with his breast. The motion of his thighs raised a wind like unto
that which blows during the months of Jyaishtha and Ashadha (May and
June). And the mighty Bhima proceeded, making a path for himself, but
treading down the trees and creepers before him. In fact, he broke (by
the pressure of his body) the large trees and plants, with their flowers
and fruits, standing on his way. Even so passeth through the woods
breaking down mighty trees, the leader of a herd of elephants, of the age
of sixty years, angry and endued with excess of energy, during the season
of rut when the liquid juice trickle down the three parts of his body.
Indeed, so great was the force with which Bhima endued with the speed of
Garuda or of Marut (the god of wind), proceeded that the Pandavas seemed
to faint in consequence. Frequently swimming across streams difficult of
being crossed, the Pandavas disguised themselves on their way from fear
of the sons of Dhritarashtra. And Bhima carried on his shoulder his
illustrious mother of delicate sensibilities along the uneven banks of
rivers. Towards the evening, O bull of Bharata’s race, Bhima (bearing his
brothers and mother on his back) reached a terrible forest where fruits
and roots and water were scarce and which resounded with the terrible
cries of birds and beasts. The twilight deepened the cries of birds and
beasts became fiercer, darkness shrouded everything from the view and
untimely winds began to blow that broke and laid low many a tree large
and small and many creepers with dry leaves and fruits. The Kaurava
princes, afflicted with fatigue and thirst, and heavy with sleep, were
unable to proceed further. They then all sat down in that forest without
food and drink. Then Kunti, smitten with thirst, said unto her sons, ‘I
am the mother of the five Pandavas and am now in their midst. Yet I am
burning with thirst!’ Kunti repeatedly said this unto her sons. Hearing
these words, Bhima’s heart, from affection for his mother, was warmed by
compassion and he resolved to go (along as before). Then Bhima,
proceeding through that terrible and extensive forest without a living
soul, saw a beautiful banian tree with widespreading branches. Setting
down there his brothers and mother, O bull of Bharata’s race; he said
unto them, ‘Rest you here, while I go in quest of water. I hear the sweet
cries of aquatic fowls. I think there must be a large pool here.’
Commanded, O Bharata, by his elder brother who said unto him, ‘Go’, Bhima
proceeded in the direction whence the cries of those aquatic fowls were
coming. And, O bull of Bharata’s race, he soon came upon a lake and
bathed and slaked his thirst. And affectionate unto his brothers, he
brought for them, O Bharata, water by soaking his upper garments. Hastily
retracing his way over those four miles he came unto where his mother was
and beholding her he was afflicted with sorrow and began to sigh like a
snake. Distressed with grief at seeing his mother and brothers asleep on
the bare ground, Vrikodara began to weep, ‘Oh, wretch that I am, who
behold my brothers asleep on the bare ground, what can befall me more
painful than this? Alas, they who formerly at Varanavata could not sleep
on the softest and costliest beds are now asleep on the bare ground! Oh,
what more painful sight shall I ever behold than that of Kunti--the
sister of Vasudeva, that grinder of hostile hosts--the daughter of
Kuntiraja,--herself decked with every auspicious mark, the
daughter-in-law of Vichitravirya,--the wife of the illustrious
Pandu,--the mother of us (five brothers),--resplendent as the filaments
of the lotus and delicate and tender and fit to sleep on the costliest
bed--thus asleep, as she should never be, on the bare ground! Oh, she who
hath brought forth these sons by Dharma and Indra and Maruta--she who
hath ever slept within palaces--now sleepeth, fatigued, on the bare
ground! What more painful sight shall ever be beheld by me than that of
these tigers among men (my brothers) asleep on the ground! Oh, the
virtuous Yudhishthira, who deserveth the sovereignty of the three worlds,
sleepeth, fatigued, like an ordinary man, on the bare ground! This Arjuna
of the darkish hue of blue clouds, and unequalled amongst men sleepeth on
the ground like an ordinary person! Oh, what can be more painful than
this? Oh the twins, who in beauty are like the twin Aswins amongst the
celestials, are asleep like ordinary mortals on the bare ground! He who
hath no jealous evil-minded relatives, liveth in happiness in this world
like a single tree in a village. The tree that standeth single in a
village with its leaves and fruits, from absence of other of the same
species, becometh sacred and is worshipped and venerated by all. They
again that have many relatives who, however, are all heroic and virtuous,
live happily in the world without sorrow of any kind. Themselves powerful
and growing in prosperity and always gladdening their friends and
relatives, they live, depending on each other, like tall trees growing in
the same forest. We, however, have been forced in exile by the wicked
Dhritarashtra and his sons having escaped with difficulty, from sheer
good fortune, a fiery death. Having escaped from that fire, we are now
resting in the shade of this tree. Having already suffered so much, where
now are we to go? Ye sons of Dhritarashtra of little foresight, ye wicked
fellows, enjoy your temporary success. The gods are certainly auspicious
to you. But ye wicked wretches, ye are alive yet, only because
Yudhishthira doth not command me to take your lives. Else this very day,
filled with wrath, I would send thee, (O Duryodhana), to the regions of
Yama (Pluto) with thy children and friends and brothers, and Karna, and
(Sakuni) the son of Suvala! But what can I do, for, ye sinful wretches,
the virtuous king Yudhishthira, the eldest of the Pandavas, is not yet
angry with you?’

“Having said this, Bhima of mighty arms, fired with wrath, began to
squeeze his palms, sighing deeply in affliction. Excited again with wrath
like an extinguished fire blazing up all on a sudden, Vrikodara once more
beheld his brothers sleeping on the ground like ordinary persons sleeping
in trustfulness. And Bhima said unto himself, ‘I think there is some town
not far off from this forest. These all are asleep, so I will sit awake.
And this will slake their thirst after they rise refreshed from sleep.’
Saying this, Bhima sat there awake, keeping watch over his sleeping
mother and brothers.’”


(Hidimva-vadha Parva)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Not far from the place where the Pandavas were
asleep, a Rakshasa by name Hidimva dwelt on the Sala tree. Possessed of
great energy and prowess, he was a cruel cannibal of visage that was grim
in consequence of his sharp and long teeth. He was now hungry and longing
for human flesh. Of long shanks and a large belly, his locks and beard
were both red in hue. His shoulders were broad like the neck of a tree;
his ears were like unto arrows, and his features were frightful. Of red
eyes and grim visage, the monster beheld, while casting his glances
around, the sons of Pandu sleeping in those woods. He was then hungry and
longing for human flesh. Shaking his dry and grizzly locks and scratching
them with his fingers pointed upwards, the large-mouthed cannibal
repeatedly looked at the sleeping sons of Pandu yawning wistfully at
times. Of huge body and great strength, of complexion like the colour of
a mass of clouds, of teeth long and sharp-pointed and face emitting a
sort of lustre, he was ever pleased with human flesh. And scenting the
odour of man, he addressed his sister, saying, ‘O sister, it is after a
long time that such agreeable food hath approached me! My mouth waters at
the anticipated relish of such food. My eight teeth, so sharp-pointed and
incapable of being resisted by any substance, I shall, today, after a
long time, put into the most delicious flesh. Attacking the human throat
and even opening the veins, I shall (today) drink a plentiful quantity of
human blood, hot and fresh and frothy. Go and ascertain who these are,
lying asleep in these woods. The strong scent of man pleaseth my
nostrils. Slaughtering all these men, bring them unto me. They sleep
within my territory. Thou needest have no fear from them. Do my bidding
soon, for we shall then together eat their flesh, tearing off their
bodies at pleasure. And after feasting to our fill on human flesh we
shall then dance together to various measures!’

“Thus addressed by Hidimva in those woods, Hidimva, the female cannibal,
at the command of her brother, went, O bull of Bharata’s race, to the
spot where the Pandavas were. And on going there, she beheld the Pandavas
asleep with their mother and the invincible Bhimasena sitting awake. And
beholding Bhimasena unrivalled on earth for beauty and like unto a
vigorous Sala tree, the Rakshasa woman immediately fell in love with him,
and she said to herself, ‘This person of hue like heated gold and of
mighty arms, of broad shoulders as the lion, and so resplendent, of neck
marked with three lines like a conch-shell and eyes like lotus-petals, is
worthy of being my husband. I shall not obey the cruel mandate of my
brother. A woman’s love for her husband is stronger than her affection
for her brother. If I slay him, my brother’s gratification as well as
mine will only be momentary. But if I slay him not, I can enjoy, with him
for ever and ever.’ Thus saying, the Rakshasa woman, capable of assuming
form at will, assumed an excellent human form and began to advance with
slow steps towards Bhima of mighty arms. Decked with celestial ornaments
she advanced with smiles on her lips and a modest gait, and addressing
Bhima said, ‘O bull among men, whence hast thou come here and who art
thou? Who, besides, are these persons of celestial beauty sleeping here?
Who also, O sinless one, is this lady of transcendent beauty sleeping so
trustfully in these woods as if she were lying in her own chamber? Dost
thou not know that this forest is the abode of a Rakshasa. Truly do I
say, here liveth the wicked Rakshasa called Hidimva. Ye beings of
celestial beauty, I have been sent hither even by that Rakshasa--my
brother--with the cruel intent of killing you for his food. But I tell
thee truly that beholding thee resplendent as a celestial, I would have
none else for my husband save thee! Thou who art acquainted with all
duties, knowing this, do unto me what is proper. My heart as well as my
body hath been pierced by (the shafts of) Kama (Cupid). O, as I am
desirous of obtaining thee, make me thine. O thou of mighty arms, I will
rescue thee from the Rakshasa who eateth human flesh. O sinless one, be
thou my husband. We shall then live on the breasts of mountains
inaccessible to ordinary mortals. I can range the air and I do so at
pleasure. Thou mayest enjoy great felicity with me in those regions.’

“Hearing these words of hers, Bhima replied, ‘O Rakshasa woman, who can,
like a Muni having all his passions under control, abandon his sleeping
mother and elder and younger brothers? What man like me would go to
gratify his lust, leaving his sleeping mother and brothers as food for a

“The Rakshasa woman replied, ‘O, awaken all these, I shall do unto you
all that is agreeable to thee! I shall certainly rescue you all from my
cannibal brother?’

“Bhima then said, ‘O Rakshasa woman, I will not, from fear of thy wicked
brother, awaken my brothers and mother sleeping comfortably in the woods.
O timid one, Rakshasas are never able to bear the prowess of my arms.
And, O thou of handsome eyes, neither men, nor Gandharvas, nor Yakshas
are able to bear my might. O amiable one, thou mayst stay or go as thou
likest, or mayst even send thy cannibal brother, O thou of delicate
shape. I care not.’”


(Hidimva-vadha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Hidimva, the chief of the Rakshasas, seeing that his
sister returned not soon enough, alighted from the tree, proceeded
quickly to the spot where the Pandavas were. Of red eyes and strong arms
and the arms and the hair of his head standing erect, of large open mouth
and body like unto a mass of dark clouds, teeth long and sharp-pointed,
he was terrible to behold. And Hidimva, beholding her brother of
frightful visage alight from the tree, became very much alarmed, and
addressing Bhima said, ‘The wicked cannibal is coming hither in wrath. I
entreat thee, do with thy brothers, as I bid thee. O thou of great
courage, as I am endued with the powers of a Rakshasa, I am capable of
going whithersoever I like. Mount ye on my hips, I will carry you all
through the skies. And, O chastiser of foes, awaken these and thy mother
sleeping in comfort. Taking them all on my body, I will convey you
through the skies.’

“Bhima then said, ‘O thou of fair hips, fear not anything. I am sure that
as long as I am here, there is no Rakshasa capable of injuring any of
these, O thou of slender waist. I will slay this (cannibal) before thy
very eyes. This worst of Rakshasas, O timid one, is no worthy antagonist
of mine, nor can all the Rakshasas together bear the strength of my arms.
Behold these strong arms of mine, each like unto the trunk of an
elephant. Behold also these thighs of mine like unto iron maces, and this
broad and adamantine chest. O beautiful one, thou shall today behold my
prowess like unto that of Indra. O thou of fair hips, hate me not,
thinking that I am a man.’

“Hidimva replied saying, ‘O tiger among men, O thou of the beauty of a
celestial, I do not certainly hold thee in contempt. But I have seen the
prowess that Rakshasas exert upon men.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then, O Bharata, the wrathful Rakshasa eating
human flesh heard these words of Bhima who had been talking in that way.
And Hidimva beheld his sister disguised in human form, her head decked
with garlands of flowers and her face like the full moon and her eyebrows
and nose and eyes and ringlets all of the handsomest description, and her
nails and complexion of the most delicate hue, and herself wearing every
kind of ornament and attired in fine transparent robes. The cannibal,
beholding her in that charming human form, suspected that she was
desirous of carnal intercourse and became indignant. And, O best of the
Kurus, becoming angry with his sister, the Rakshasa dilated his eyes and
addressing her said, ‘What senseless creature wishes to throw obstacles
in my path now that I am so hungry? Hast thou become so senseless, O
Hidimva, that thou fearest not my wrath? Fie on thee, thou unchaste
woman! Thou art even now desirous of carnal intercourse and solicitous of
doing me an injury. Thou art ready to sacrifice the good name and honour
of all the Rakshasas, thy ancestors! Those with whose aid thou wouldst do
me this great injury, I will, even now, slay along with thee.’ Addressing
his sister thus, Hidimva, with eyes red with anger and teeth pressing
against teeth, ran at her to kill her then and there. But beholding him
rush at his sister, Bhima, that foremost of smiter, endued with great
energy, rebuked him and said, Stop--Stop!”

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘And Bhima, beholding the Rakshasa angry with
his sister, smiled (in derision), and said, addressing him, ‘O Hidimva,
what need is there for thee to awaken these persons sleeping so
comfortably? O wicked cannibal, approach me first without loss of time.
Smite me first,--it behoveth thee not to kill a woman, especially when
she hath been sinned against instead of sinning. This girl is scarcely
responsible for her act in desiring intercourse with me. She hath, in
this, been moved by the deity of desire that pervadeth every living form.
Thou wicked wretch and the most infamous of Rakshasas, thy sister came
here at thy command. Beholding my person, she desireth me. In that the
timid girl doth no injury to thee. It is the deity of desire that hath
offended. It behoveth thee not to injure her for this offence. O wicked
wretch, thou shalt not slay a woman when I am here. Come with me, O
cannibal, and fight with myself singly. Singly shall I send thee today to
the abode of Yama (Pluto). O Rakshasa, let thy head today, pressed by my
might, be pounded to pieces, as though pressed by the tread of a mighty
elephant. When thou art slain by me on the field of battle, let herons
and hawks and jackals tear in glee thy limbs today on the ground. In a
moment I shall today make this forest destitute of Rakshasas,--this
forest that had so long been ruled by thee, devourer of human beings! Thy
sister, O Rakshasa, shall today behold thyself, huge though thou art like
a mountain, like a huge elephant repeatedly dragged by a lion, O worst of
Rakshasas, thyself slain by me, men ranging these woods will henceforth
do so safely and without fear.’

“Hearing these words, Hidimva said, ‘What need is there, O man, for this
thy vaunt and this thy boast? Accomplish all this first, and then mayst
thou vaunt indeed. Therefore, delay thou not. Thou knowest thyself to be
strong and endued with prowess, so thou shalt rightly estimate thy
strength today in thy encounter with me. Until that, I will not slay
these (thy brothers). Let them sleep comfortably. But I will, as thou art
a fool and the utterer of evil speeches, slay thee first. After drinking
thy blood, I will slay these also, and then last of all, this (sister of
mine) that hath done me an injury.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Saying this, the cannibal, extending his arms
ran in wrath towards Bhimasena, that chastiser of foes. Then Bhima of
terrible prowess quickly seized, as though in sport, with great force,
the extended arms of the Rakshasa who had rushed at him. Then seizing the
struggling Rakshasa with violence, Bhima dragged him from that spot full
thirty-two cubits like a lion dragging a little animal. Then the
Rakshasa, thus made to feel the weight of Bhima’s strength, became very
angry and clasping the Pandava, sent forth a terrible yell. The mighty
Bhima then dragged with force the Rakshasa to a greater distance, lest
his yells should awaken his brothers sleeping in comfort. Clasping and
dragging each other with great force, both Hidimva and Bhimasena put
forth their prowess. Fighting like two full-grown elephants mad with
rage, they then began to break down the trees and tear the creepers that
grew around. And at those sounds, those tigers among men (the sleeping
Pandavas) woke up with their mother, and saw Hidimva sitting before


(Hidimva-vadha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Roused from sleep, those tigers among men, with
their mother, beholding the extraordinary beauty of Hidimva, were filled
with wonder. And Kunti, gazing at her with wonder at her beauty,
addressed her sweetly and gave her every assurance. She asked, ‘O thou of
the splendour of a daughter of the celestials, whose art thou and who art
thou? O thou of the fairest complexion, on what business hast thou come
hither and whence hast thou come? If thou art the deity of these woods or
an Apsara, tell me all regarding thyself and also why thou stayest here?’
Thereupon Hidimva replied, ‘This extensive forest that thou seest, of the
hue of blue cloud, is the abode of a Rakshasa of the name of Hidimva. O
handsome lady, know me as the sister of that chief of the Rakshasa.
Revered dame, I had been sent by that brother of mine to kill thee with
all thy children. But on arriving here at the command of that cruel
brother of mine, I beheld thy mighty son. Then, O blessed lady, I was
brought under the control of thy son by the deity of love who pervadeth
the nature of every being, and I then (mentally) chose that mighty son of
thine as my husband. I tried my best to convey you hence, but I could not
(because of thy son’s opposition). Then the cannibal, seeing my delay,
came hither to kill all these thy children. But he hath been dragged
hence with force by that mighty and intelligent son of thine--my husband.
Behold now that couple--man and Rakshasa--both endued with great strength
and prowess, engaged in combat, grinding each other and filling the whole
region with their shouts.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing those words of hers, Yudhishthira
suddenly rose up and Arjuna also and Nakula and Sahadeva of great energy
and they beheld Bhima and the Rakshasa already engaged in fight, eager to
overcome each other and dragging each other with great force, like two
lions endued with great might. The dust raised by their feet in
consequence of that encounter looked like the smoke of a
forest-conflagration. Covered with that dust their huge bodies resembled
two tall cliffs enveloped in mist. Then Arjuna, beholding Bhima rather
oppressed in the fight by the Rakshasa, slowly, said with smiles on his
lips, ‘Fear not, O Bhima of mighty arms! We (had been asleep and
therefore) knew not that thou wast engaged with a terrible Rakshasa and
tired in fight. Here do I stand to help thee, let me slay the Rakshasa,
and let Nakula and Sahadeva protect our mother.’ Hearing him, Bhima said,
‘Look on this encounter, O brother, like a stranger. Fear not for the
result. Having come within the reach of my arms, he shall not escape with
life.’ Then Arjuna said, ‘What need, O Bhima, for keeping the Rakshasa
alive so long? O oppressor of enemies, we are to go hence, and cannot
stay here longer. The east is reddening, the morning twilight is about to
set in. The Rakshasa became stronger by break of day, therefore, hasten,
O Bhima! Play not (with thy victim), but slay the terrible Rakshasa soon.
During the two twilights Rakshasas always put forth their powers of
deception. Use all the strength of thy arms.

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘At this speech of Arjuna, Bhima blazing up with
anger, summoned the might that Vayu (his father) puts forth at the time
of the universal dissolution. And filled with rage, he quickly raised
high in the air the Rakshasa’s body, blue as the clouds of heaven, and
whirled it a hundred times. Then addressing the cannibal, Bhima said, ‘O
Rakshasa, thy intelligence was given thee in vain, and in vain hast thou
grown and thriven on unsanctified flesh. Thou deservest, therefore, an
unholy death and I shall reduce thee today to nothing. I shall make this
forest blessed today, like one without prickly plants. And, O Rakshasa,
thou shalt no longer slay human beings for thy food.’ Arjuna at this
juncture, said, ‘O Bhima, if thou thinkest it a hard task for thee to
overcome this Rakshasa in combat, let me render thee help, else, slay him
thyself without loss of time. Or, O Vrikodara, let me alone slay the
Rakshasa. Thou art tired, and hast almost finished the affair. Well dost
thou deserve rest.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing these words of Arjuna, Bhima was fired
with rage and dashing the Rakshasa on the ground with all his might slew
him as if he were an animal. The Rakshasa, while dying, sent forth a
terrible yell that filled the whole forest, and was deep as the sound of
a wet drum. Then the mighty Bhima, holding the body with his hands, bent
it double, and breaking it in the middle, greatly gratified his brothers.
Beholding Hidimva slain, they became exceedingly glad and lost no time in
offering their congratulations to Bhima, that chastiser of all foes. Then
Arjuna worshipping the illustrious Bhima of terrible prowess, addressed
him again and said, ‘Revered senior, I think there is a town not far off
from this forest. Blest be thou, let us go hence soon, so that Duryodhana
may not trace us.’

“Then all those mighty car-warriors, those tigers among men, saying, ‘So
be it,’ proceeded along with their mother, followed by Hidimva, the
Rakshasa woman.’”


(Hidimva-vadha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Bhima, beholding Hidimva following them, addressed
her, saying, ‘Rakshasas revenge themselves on their enemies by adopting
deceptions that are incapable of being penetrated. Therefore, O Hidimva,
go thou the way on which thy brother hath gone.’ Then Yudhishthira
beholding Bhima in rage, said, ‘O Bhima, O tiger among men, however
enraged, do not slay a woman. O Pandava, the observance of virtue is a
higher duty than the protection of life. Hidimva, who had come with the
object of slaying us, thou hast already slain. This woman is the sister
of that Rakshasa, what can she do to us even if she were angry?’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then Hidimva reverentially saluting Kunti and
her son Yudhishthira also, said, with joined palms, ‘O revered lady, thou
knowest the pangs that women are made to feel at the hands of the deity
of love. Blessed dame, these pangs, of which Bhimasena hath been the
cause, are torturing me. I had hitherto borne these insufferable pangs,
waiting for the time (when thy son could assuage them). That time is now
come, when I expected I would be made happy. Casting off my friends and
relations and the usage of my race, I have, O blessed lady, chosen this
son of thine, this tiger among men, as my husband. I tell thee truly, O
illustrious lady, that if I am cast off by that hero or by thee either, I
will no longer bear this life of mine. Therefore, O thou of the fairest
complexion, it behoveth thee to show me mercy, thinking me either as very
silly or thy obedient slave. O illustrious dame, unite me with this thy
son, my husband. Endued as he is with the form of a celestial, let me go
taking him with me wherever I like. Trust me, O blessed lady, I will
again bring him back unto you all. When you think of me I will come to
you immediately and convey you whithersoever ye may command. I will
rescue you from all dangers and carry you across inaccessible and uneven
regions. I will carry you on my back whenever ye desire to proceed with
swiftness. O, be gracious unto me and make Bhima accept me. It hath been
said that in a season of distress one should protect one’s life by any
means. He, that seeketh to discharge that duty should not scruple about
the means. He, that in a season of distress keepeth his virtue, is the
foremost of virtuous men. Indeed, distress is the greatest danger to
virtue and virtuous men. It is virtue that protecteth life; therefore is
virtue called the giver of life. Hence the means by which virtue or the
observance of a duty is secured can never be censurable.’

“Hearing these words of Hidimva, Yudhishthira said. ‘It is even so, O
Hidimva, as thou sayest. There is no doubt of it. But, O thou of slender
waist, thou must act even as thou hast said. Bhima will, after he hath
washed himself and said his prayers and performed the usual propitiatory
rites, pay his attentions to thee till the sun sets. Sport thou with him
as thou likest during the day, O thou that art endued with the speed of
the mind! But thou must bring back Bhimasena hither every day at

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then Bhima, expressing his assent to all that
Yudhishthira said, addressed Hidimva, saying, ‘Listen to me, O Rakshasa
woman! Truly do I make this engagement with thee that I will stay with
thee, O thou of slender waist, until thou obtainest a son.’ Then Hidimva,
saying, ‘So be it,’ took Bhima upon her body and sped through the sides.
On mountain peaks of picturesque scenery and regions sacred to the gods,
abounding with dappled herds and echoing with the melodies of feathered
tribes, herself assuming the handsomest form decked with every ornament
and pouring forth at times mellifluous strains. Hidimva sported with the
Pandava and studied to make him happy. So also, in inaccessible regions
of forests, and on mountain-breasts overgrown with blossoming trees on
lakes resplendent with lotuses and lilies, islands of rivers and their
pebbly banks, on sylvan streams with beautiful banks and
mountain-currents, in picturesque woods with blossoming trees and
creepers in Himalayan bowers, and various caves, on crystal pools smiling
with lotuses, on sea-shores shining with gold and pearls, in beautiful
towns and fine gardens, in woods sacred to the gods and on hill-sides, in
the regions of Guhyakas and ascetics, on the banks of Manasarovara
abounding with fruits and flowers of every season Hidimva, assuming the
handsomest form, sported with Bhima and studied to make him happy. Endued
with the speed of the mind, she sported with Bhima in all these regions,
till in time, she conceived and brought forth a mighty son begotten upon
her by the Pandava. Of terrible eyes and large mouth and straight arrowy
ears, the child was terrible to behold. Of lips brown as copper and sharp
teeth and loud roar, of mighty arms and great strength and excessive
prowess, this child became a mighty bowman. Of long nose, broad chest,
frightfully swelling calves, celerity of motion and excessive strength,
he had nothing human in his countenance, though born of man. And he
excelled (in strength and prowess) all Pisachas and kindred tribes as
well as all Rakshasas. And, O monarch, though a little child, he grew up
a youth the very hour he was born. The mighty hero soon acquired high
proficiency in the use of all weapons. The Rakshasa women bring forth the
very day they conceive, and capable of assuming any forms at will, they
always change their forms. And the bald-headed child, that mighty bowman,
soon after his birth, bowing down to his mother, touched her feet and the
feet also of his father. His parents then bestowed upon him a name. His
mother having remarked that his head was (bald) like unto a Ghata
(water-pot), both his parents thereupon called him Ghatotkacha (the
pot-headed). And Ghatotkacha who was exceedingly devoted to the Pandavas,
became a great favourite with them, indeed almost one of them.

“Then Hidimva, knowing that the period of her stay (with her husband) had
come to an end, saluted the Pandavas and making a new appointment with
them went away whithersoever she liked. And Ghatotkacha also--that
foremost of Rakshasas--promising unto his father that he would come when
wanted on business, saluted them and went away northward. Indeed, it was
the illustrious Indra who created (by lending a portion of himself) the
mighty car-warrior Ghatotkacha as a fit antagonist of Karna of unrivalled
energy, in consequence of the dart he had given unto Karna (and which was
sure to kill the person against whom it would be hurled).’”


(Hidimva-vadha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Those mighty car-warriors, the heroic Pandavas, then
went, O king, from forest to forest killing deer and many animals (for
their food). And in the course of their wanderings they saw the countries
of the Matsyas, the Trigartas, the Panchalas and then of the Kichakas,
and also many beautiful woods and lakes therein. And they all had matted
locks on their heads and were attired in barks of trees and the skins of
animals. Indeed, with Kunti in their company those illustrious heroes
were attired in the garbs of ascetics. And those mighty car-warriors
sometimes proceeded in haste, carrying their mother on their backs; and
sometimes they proceeded in disguise, and sometimes again with great
celerity. And they used to study the Rik and the other Vedas and also all
the Vedangas as well as the sciences of morals and politics. And the
Pandavas, conversant with the science of morals, met, in course of their
wanderings their grandfather (Vyasa). And saluting the illustrious
Krishna-Dwaipayana, those chastisers of enemies, with their mother, stood
before him with joined hands.’

“Vyasa then said, ‘Ye bulls of Bharata’s race, I knew beforehand of this
affliction of yours consisting in your deceitful exile by the son of
Dhritarashtra. Knowing this, I have come to you, desirous of doing you
some great good. Do not grieve for what hath befallen you. Know that all
this is for your happiness. Undoubtedly, the sons of Dhritarashtra and
you are all equal in my eye. But men are always partial to those who are
in misfortune or of tender years. It is therefore, that my affection for
you is greater now. And in consequence of that affection, I desire to do
you good. Listen to me! Not far off before you is a delightful town where
no danger can overtake you. Live ye there in disguise, waiting for my

‘Vaisampayana continued, ‘Vyasa, the son of Satyavati, thus comforting
the Pandavas, led them into the town of Ekachakra. And the master also
comforted Kunti, saying, ‘Live, O daughter! This son of thine,
Yudhishthira, ever devoted to truth, this illustrious bull among men,
having by his justice conquered the whole world, will rule over all the
other monarchs of the earth. There is little doubt that, having by means
of Bhima’s and Arjuna’s prowess conquered the whole earth with her belt
of seas, he will enjoy the sovereignty thereof. Thy sons as well as those
of Madri--mighty car-warriors all--will cheerfully sport as pleaseth them
in their dominions. These tigers among men will also perform various
sacrifices, such as the Rajasuya and the horse-sacrifice, in which the
presents unto the Brahmanas are very large. And these thy sons will rule
their ancestral kingdom, maintaining their friends and relatives in
luxury and affluence and happiness.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘With these words Vyasa introduced them into the
dwelling of a Brahmana. And the island-born Rishi, addressing the eldest
of the Pandavas, said, ‘Wait here for me! I will come back to you! By
adapting yourselves to the country and the occasion you will succeed in
becoming very happy.’

“Then, O king, the Pandavas with joined hands said unto the Rishi, ‘So be
it.’ And the illustrious master, the Rishi Vyasa, then went away to the
region whence he had come.’”


(Vaka-vadha Parva)

“Janamejaya asked, ‘O first of Brahmanas, what did the Pandavas, those
mighty car-warriors, the sons of Kunti, do after arriving at Ekachakra?’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Those mighty car-warriors, the sons of Kunti, on
arriving at Ekachakra, lived for a short time in the abode of a Brahmana.
Leading an eleemosynary life, they behold (in course of their wanderings)
various delightful forests and earthly regions, and many rivers and
lakes, and they became great favourites of the inhabitants of that town
in consequence of their own accomplishments. At nightfall they placed
before Kunti all they gathered in their mendicant tours, and Kunti used
to divide the whole amongst them, each taking what was allotted to him.
And those heroic chastisers of foes, with their mother, together took one
moiety of the whole, while the mighty Bhima alone took the other moiety.
In this way, O bull of Bharata’s race, the illustrious Pandavas lived
there for some time.

“One day, while those bulls of the Bharata race were out on their tour of
mendicancy, it so happened that Bhima was (at home) with (his mother)
Pritha. That day, O Bharata, Kunti heard a loud and heart-rending wail of
sorrow coming from within the apartments of the Brahmana. Hearing the
inmates of the Brahmana’s house wailing and indulging in piteous
lamentations, Kunti, O king, from compassion and the goodness of her
heart, could not bear it with indifference. Afflicted with sorrow, the
amiable Pritha, addressing Bhima, said these words full of compassion.
‘Our woes assuaged, we are, O son, living happily in the house of this
Brahmana, respected by him and unknown to Dhritarashtra’s son. O son, I
always think of the good I should do to this Brahmana, like what they do
that live happily in others’ abodes! O child, he is a true man upon whom
favours are never lost. He payeth back to others more than what he
receiveth at their hands. There is no doubt, some affliction hath
overtaken this Brahmana. If we could be of any help to him, we should
then be requiting his services.’

“Hearing these words of his mother, Bhima said, ‘Ascertain, O mother the
nature of the Brahmana’s distress and whence also it hath arisen.
Learning all about it, relieve it I will however difficult may the task

“Vaisampayana continued ‘While mother and son were thus talking with each
other, they heard again, O king, another wail of sorrow proceeding from
the Brahmana and his wife. Then Kunti quickly entered the inner
apartments of that illustrious Brahmana, like unto a cow running towards
her tethered calf. She beheld the Brahmana with his wife, son and
daughter, sitting with a woeful face, and she heard the Brahmana say,
‘Oh, fie on this earthly life which is hollow as the reed and so
fruitless after all which is based on sorrow and hath no freedom, and
which hath misery for its lot! Life is sorrow and disease; life is truly
a record of misery! The soul is one: but it hath to pursue virtue, wealth
and pleasure. And because these are pursued at one and the same time,
there frequently occurs a disagreement that is the source of much misery.
Some say that salvation is the highest object of our desire. But I
believe it can never be attained. The acquisition of wealth is hell; the
pursuit of wealth is attended with misery; there is more misery after one
has acquired it, for one loves one’s possessions, and if any mishap
befalls them, the possessor becomes afflicted with woe. I do not see by
what means I can escape from this danger, nor how I can fly hence, with
my wife to some region free from danger. Remember, O wife, that I
endeavoured to migrate to some other place where we would be happy, but
thou didst not then listen to me. Though frequently solicited by me,
thou, O simple woman, said to me, ‘I have been born here, and here have I
grown old; this is my ancestral homestead.’ Thy venerable father, O wife,
and thy mother also, have, a long time ago, ascended to heaven. Thy
relations also had all been dead. Oh why then didst thou yet like to live
here? Led by affection for thy relatives thou didst not then hear what I
said. But the time is now come when thou art to witness the death of a
relative. Oh, how sad is that spectacle for me! Or perhaps the time is
come for my own death, for I shall never be able to abandon cruelly one
of my own as long as I myself am alive. Thou art my helpmate in all good
deeds, self-denying and always affectionate unto me as a mother. The gods
have given thee to me as a true friend and thou art ever my prime stay.
Thou hast, by my parents, been made the participator in my domestic
concerns. Thou art of pure lineage and good disposition, the mother of
children, devoted to me, and so innocent; having chosen and wedded thee
with due rites, I cannot abandon thee, my wife, so constant in thy vows,
to save my life. How shall I myself be able to sacrifice my son a child
of tender years and yet without the hirsute appendages (of manhood)? How
shall I sacrifice my daughter whom I have begotten myself, who hath been
placed, as a pledge, in my hands by the Creator himself for bestowal on a
husband and through whom I hope to enjoy, along with my ancestors, the
regions attainable by those only that have daughters’ sons? Some people
think that the father’s affection for a son is greater; others, that his
affection for a daughter is greater, mine, however, is equal. How can I
be prepared to give up the innocent daughter upon whom rest the regions
of bliss obtainable by me in after life and my own lineage and perpetual
happiness? If, again, I sacrifice myself and go to the other world, I
should scarcely know any peace, for, indeed, it is evident that, left by
me these would not be able to support life. The sacrifice of any of these
would be cruel and censurable. On the other hand, if I sacrifice myself,
these, without me, will certainly perish. The distress into which I have
fallen is great; nor do I know the means of escape. Alas, what course
shall I take today with my near ones. It is well that I should die with
all these, for I can live no longer.’”


(Vaka-vadha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, “On hearing these words of the Brahmana, his wife
said, ‘Thou shouldst not, O Brahmana, grieve like an ordinary man. Nor is
this the time for mourning. Thou hast learning; thou knowest that all men
are sure to die; none should grieve for that which is inevitable. Wife,
son, and daughter, all these are sought for one’s own self. As thou art
possessed of a good understanding, kill thou thy sorrows. I will myself
go there. This indeed, is the highest and the eternal duty of a woman,
viz., that by sacrificing her life she should seek the good of her
husband. Such an act done by me will make thee happy, and bring me fame
in this world and eternal bliss hereafter. This, indeed, is the highest
virtue that I tell thee, and thou mayest, by this, acquire both virtue
and happiness. The object for which one desireth a wife hath already been
achieved by thee through me. I have borne thee a daughter and a son and
thus been freed from the debt I had owed thee. Thou art well able to
support and cherish the children, but I however, can never support and
cherish them like thee. Thou art my life, wealth, and lord; bereft of
thee, how shall these children of tender years--how also shall I myself,
exist? Widowed and masterless, with two children depending on me, how
shall I, without thee, keep alive the pair, myself leading an honest
life? If the daughter of thine is solicited (in marriage) by persons
dishonourable and vain and unworthy of contracting an alliance with thee,
how shall I be able to protect the girl? Indeed, as birds seek with
avidity for meat that hath been thrown away on the ground, so do men
solicit a woman that hath lost her husband. O best of Brahmanas,
solicited by wicked men, I may waver and may not be able to continue in
the path that is desired by all honest men. How shall I be able to place
this sole daughter of thy house--this innocent girl--in the way along
which her ancestors have always walked? How shall I then be able to
impart unto this child every desirable accomplishment to make him
virtuous as thyself, in that season of want when I shall become
masterless? Overpowering myself who shall be masterless, unworthy persons
will demand (the hand of) this daughter of thine, like Sudras desiring to
hear the Vedas. And if I bestow not upon them this girl possessing thy
blood and qualities, they may even take her away by force, like crows
carrying away the sacrificial butter. And beholding thy son become so
unlike to thee, and thy daughter placed under the control of some
unworthy persons, I shall be despised in the world by even persons that
are dishonourable, and I will certainly die. These children also, bereft
of me and thee, their father, will, I doubt not, perish like fish when
the water drieth up. There is no doubt that bereft of thee the three will
perish: therefore it behoveth thee to sacrifice me. O Brahmana, persons
conversant with morals have said that for women that have borne children,
to predecease their lords is an act of the highest merit. Ready am I to
abandon this son and this daughter, these my relations, and life itself,
for thee. For a woman to be ever employed in doing agreeable offices to
her lord is a higher duty than sacrifices, asceticism, vows, and
charities of every description. The act, therefore, which I intend to
perform is consonant with the highest virtue and is for thy good and that
of thy race. The wise have declared that children and relatives and wife
and all things held dear are cherished for the purpose of liberating
one’s self from danger and distress. One must guard one’s wealth for
freeing one’s self from danger, and it is by his wealth that he should
cherish and protect his wife. But he must protect his own self both by
(means of) his wife and his wealth. The learned have enunciated the truth
that one’s wife, son, wealth, and house, are acquired with the intention
of providing against accidents, foreseen or unforeseen. The wise have
also said that all one’s relations weighed against one’s own self would
not be equal unto one’s self. Therefore, revered sir, protect thy own
self by abandoning me. O, give me leave to sacrifice myself, and cherish
thou my children. Those that are conversant with the morals have, in
their treatises, said, that women should never be slaughtered and that
Rakshasas are not ignorant of the rules of morality. Therefore, while it
is certain that the Rakshasa will kill a man, it is doubtful whether he
will kill a woman. It behoveth thee, therefore, being conversant with the
rules of morality, to place me before the Rakshasa. I have enjoyed much
happiness, have obtained much that is agreeable to me, and have also
acquired great religious merit. I have also obtained from thee children
that are so dear to me. Therefore, it grieveth not me to die. I have
borne thee children and have also grown old; I am ever desirous of doing
good to thee; remembering all these I have come to this resolution. O
revered sir, abandoning me thou mayest obtain another wife. By her thou
mayest again acquire religious merit. There is no sin in this. For a man
polygamy is an act of merit, but for a woman it is very sinful to betake
herself to a second husband after the first. Considering all this, and
remembering too that sacrifice of thy own self is censurable, O, liberate
today without loss of time thy own self, thy race, and these thy children
(by abandoning me).’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed by her, O Bharata, the Brahmana
embraced her, and they both began to weep in silence, afflicted with


(Vaka-vadha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘On hearing these words of her afflicted parents, the
daughter was filled with grief, and she addressed them, saying, ‘Why are
you so afflicted and why do you so weep, as if you have none to look
after you? O, listen to me and do what may be proper. There is little
doubt that you are bound in duty to abandon me at a certain time. Sure to
abandon me once, O, abandon me now and save every thing at the expense of
me alone. Men desire to have children, thinking that children would save
them (in this world as well as in the region hereafter). O, cross the
stream of your difficulties by means of my poor self, as if I were a
raft. A child rescueth his parents in this and the other regions;
therefore is the child called by the learned Putra (rescuer). The
ancestors desire daughter’s sons from me (as a special means of
salvation). But (without waiting for my children) I myself will rescue
them by protecting the life of my father. This my brother is of tender
years, so there is little doubt that he will perish if thou diest now. If
thou, my father, diest and my brother followeth thee, the funeral cake of
the Pitris will be suspended and they will be greatly injured. Left
behind by my father and brother, and by my mother also (for she will not
survive her husband and son) I shall be plunged deeper and deeper in woe
and ultimately perish in great distress. There can be little doubt that
if thou escape from this danger as also my mother and infant brother,
then thy race and the (ancestral) cake will be perpetuated. The son is
one’s own self; the wife is one’s friend; the daughter, however, is the
source of trouble. Do thou save thyself, therefore, by removing that
source of trouble, and do thou thereby set me in the path of virtue. As I
am a girl, O father, destitute of thee, I shall be helpless and plunged
in woe, and shall have to go everywhere. It is therefore that I am
resolved to rescue my father’s race and share the merit of that act by
accomplishing this difficult task. If thou, O best of Brahmanas, goest
thither (unto the Rakshasa), leaving me here, then I shall be very much
pained. Therefore, O father, be kind to me. O thou best of men, for our
sake, for that of virtue and also thy race, save thyself, abandoning me,
whom at one time thou shall be constrained to part from. There need be no
delay, O father, in doing that which is inevitable. What can be more
painful than that, when thou hast ascended to heaven, we shall have to go
about begging our food, like dogs, from strangers. But if thou art
rescued with thy relations from these difficulties, I shall then live
happily in the region of the celestials. It hath been heard by us that if
after bestowing thy daughter in this way, thou offerest oblations to the
gods and the celestials, they will certainly be propitious.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The Brahmana and his wife, hearing these
various lamentations of their daughter, became sadder than before and the
three began to weep together. Their son, then, of tender years, beholding
them and their daughter thus weeping together, lisped these words in a
sweet tone, his eyes having dilated with delight, ‘Weep not, O father,
nor thou, O mother, nor thou O sister!’ And smilingly did the child
approach each of them, and at last taking up a blade of grass said in
glee, ‘With this will I slay the Rakshasa who eateth human beings!’
Although all of them had been plunged in woe, yet hearing what the child
lisped so sweetly, joy appeared on their faces. Then Kunti thinking that
to be the proper opportunity, approached the group and said these words.
Indeed, her words revived them as nectar reviveth a person that is dead.’”


(Vaka-vadha Parva continued)

‘Kunti said, ‘I desire to learn from you the cause of this grief, for I
will remove it, if possible.’

“The Brahmana replied, ‘O thou of ascetic wealth, thy speech is, indeed
worthy of thee. But this grief is incapable of being removed by any human
being. Not far from this town, there liveth a Rakshasa of the name of
Vaka, which cannibal is the lord of this country and town. Thriving on
human flesh, that wretched Rakshasa endued with great strength ruleth
this country. He being the chief of the Asuras, this town and the country
in which it is situate are protected by his might. We have no fear from
the machinations of any enemy, or indeed from any living soul. The fee,
however, fixed for that cannibal is his food, which consists of a
cart-load of rice, two buffaloes, and a human being who conveyeth them
unto him. One after another, the house-holders have to send him this
food. The turn, however, cometh to a particular family at intervals of
many long years. If there are any that seek to avoid it, the Rakshasa
slayeth them with their children and wives and devoureth them all. There
is, in this country, a city called Vetrakiya, where liveth the king of
these territories. He is ignorant of the science of government, and
possessed of little intelligence, he adopts not with care any measure by
which these territories may be rendered safe for all time to come. But we
certainly deserve it all, inasmuch as we live within the dominion of that
wretched and weak monarch in perpetual anxiety. Brahmanas can never be
made to dwell permanently within the dominions of any one, for they are
dependent on nobody, they live rather like birds ranging all countries in
perfect freedom. It hath been said that one must secure a (good) king,
then a wife, and then wealth. It is by the acquisition of these three
that one can rescue his relatives and sons. But as regards the
acquisition of these three, the course of my actions hath been the
reverse. Hence, plunged into a sea of danger, am suffering sorely. That
turn, destructive of one’s family, hath now devolved upon me. I shall
have to give unto the Rakshasa as his fee the food of the aforesaid
description and one human being to boot. I have no wealth to buy a man
with. I cannot by any means consent to part with any one of my family,
nor do I see any way of escape from (the clutches of) that Rakshasa. I am
now sunk in an ocean of grief from which there is no escape. I shall go
to that Rakshasa today, attended by all my family in order that that
wretch might devour us all at once’”


(Vaka-vadha Parva continued)

“Kunti said, Grieve not at all, O Brahmana, on account of this danger. I
see a way by which to rescue thee from that Rakshasa. Thou hast only one
son, who, besides, is of very tender years, also only one daughter, young
and helpless, so I do not like that any of these, or thy wife, or even
thyself should go unto the Rakshasa. I have five sons, O Brahmana, let
one of them go, carrying in thy behalf tribute of that Rakshasa.’

“Hearing this, the Brahmana replied, ‘To save my own life I shall never
suffer this to be done. I shall never sacrifice, to save myself, the life
of a Brahmana or of a guest. Indeed, even those that are of low origin
and of sinful practices refuse to do (what thou askest me to do). It is
said that one should sacrifice one’s self and one’s offspring for the
benefit of a Brahmana. I regard this advice excellent and I like to
follow it too. When I have to choose between the death of a Brahmana and
that of my own, I would prefer the latter. The killing of a Brahmana is
the highest sin, and there is no expiation for it. I think a reluctant
sacrifice of one’s own self is better than the reluctant sacrifice of a
Brahmana. O blessed lady, in sacrificing myself I do not become guilty of
self-destruction. No sin can attach to me when another will take my life.
But if I deliberately consent to the death of a Brahmana, it would be a
cruel and sinful act, from the consequence of which there is no escape.
The learned have said that the abandonment of one who hath come to thy
house or sought thy protection, as also the killing of one who seeketh
death at thy hands, is both cruel and sinful. The illustrious among those
conversant with practices allowable in seasons of distress, have before
now said that one should never perform an act that is cruel and
censurable. It is well for me that I should today perish myself with my
wife, but I would never sanction the death of a Brahmana.’

“Kunti said, ‘I too am firmly of opinion, O Brahmana, that Brahmanas
should ever be protected. As regards myself, no son of mine would be less
dear to me even if I had a hundred instead of the five I have. But this
Rakshasa will not be able to kill my son, for that son of mine is endued
with great prowess and energy, and skilled in mantras. He will faithfully
deliver to the Rakshasa his food, but will, I know to a certainty, rescue
himself. I have seen before many mighty Rakshasas of huge bodies engaged
in combat with my heroic son and killed too by him. But, O Brahmana, do
not disclose this fact to anybody, for if it be known, persons desirous
of obtaining this power, will, from curiosity, always trouble my sons.
The wise have said that if my son imparteth any knowledge, without the
assent of his preceptor, unto any person, my son himself will no longer
be able to profit by that knowledge.’

“Thus addressed by Pritha, the Brahmana with his wife became exceedingly
glad and assented to Kunti’s speech, which was unto them as nectar. Then
Kunti, accompanied by the Brahmana, went unto the son of Vayu (Bhima) and
asked him to accomplish (that difficult task). Bhima replied unto them,
saying, ‘So be it.’”


(Vaka-vadha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘After Bhima had pledged himself to accomplish the
task, saying, ‘I will do it,’ the Pandavas, O Bharata, returned home with
the alms they had obtained during the day. Then Yudhishthira, the son of
Pandu from Bhima’s countenance alone, suspected the nature of the task he
had undertaken to accomplish. Sitting by the side of his mother,
Yudhishthira asked her in private, ‘What is the task, O mother, that
Bhima of terrible prowess seeketh to accomplish? Doth he do so at thy
command or of his own accord?’ Kunti replied, ‘Bhima, that chastiser of
foes, will at my command, do this great deed for the good of the Brahmana
and the liberation of this town.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘What rash act hast thou done, O mother! It is
difficult of being performed and almost amounteth to suicide! The learned
never applaud the abandonment of one’s own child. Why dost thou, O
mother, wish to sacrifice thy own child for the sake of another’s? Thou
hast, O mother, by this abandonment of thy child, acted not only against
the course of human practices but also against the teachings of the
Vedas, That Bhima, relying on whose arms we sleep happily in the night
and hope to recover the kingdom of which we have been deprived by the
covetous son of Dhritarashtra, that hero of immeasurable energy,
remembering whose prowess Duryodhana and Sakuni do not sleep a wink
during the whole night and by whose prowess we were rescued from the
palace of lac and various other dangers, that Bhima who caused the death
of Purochana, and relying on whose might we regard ourselves as having
already slain the sons of Dhritarashtra and acquired the whole earth with
all her wealth, upon what considerations, O mother, hast thou resolved
upon abandoning him? Hast thou been deprived of thy reason? Hath thy
understanding been clouded by the calamities thou hast undergone?’

“On hearing these words of her son, Kunti said, ‘O Yudhishthira, thou
needst not be at all anxious on account of Vrikodara. I have not come to
this resolve owing to any weakness of understanding. Respected by him,
and with our sorrows assuaged, we have, O son, been living in the house
of this Brahmana, unknown to the sons of Dhritarashtra. For requiting, O
son, that Brahmana, I have resolved to do this. He, indeed, is a man upon
whom good offices are never lost. The measure of his requital becometh
greater than the measure of the services he receiveth. Beholding the
prowess of Bhima on the occasion of (our escape from) the house of lac,
and from the destruction also of Hidimva, my confidence in Vrikodara is
great. The might of Bhima’s arms is equal unto that of ten thousand
elephants. It was, therefore, that he succeeded in carrying you all, each
heavy as an elephant, from Varanavata. There is no one on earth equal
unto Bhima in might; he may even overcome that foremost of warriors, the
holder of the thunderbolt himself. Soon after his birth he fell from my
lap on the breast of the mountain. By the weight of his body the mass of
stone on which he fell down broke in pieces. From this also, O son of
Pandu, I have come to know Bhima’s might. For this reason have I resolved
to set him against the Brahmana’s foe. I have not acted in this from
foolishness or ignorance or from motive of gain. I have deliberately
resolved to do this virtuous deed. By this act, O Yudhishthira, two
objects will be accomplished; one is a requital of the services rendered
by the Brahmana and the other is the acquisition of high religious merit.
It is my conviction that the Kshatriya who rendereth help unto a Brahmana
in anything acquireth regions of bliss hereafter. So also a Kshatriya who
saveth the life of a Kshatriya achieveth that great fame in this world as
in the other. A Kshatriya rendering help unto a Vaisya also on this earth
certainly acquires world-wide popularity. One of the kingly tribe should
protect even the Sudra who cometh to him for protection. If he doeth so,
in his next life he receiveth his birth in a royal line, commanding
prosperity and the respect of other kings. O scion of Puru’s race, the
illustrious Vyasa of wisdom acquired by hard ascetic toil told me so in
bygone days. It is therefore, that I have resolved upon accomplishing


(Vaka-vadha Parva continued)

“Having heard these words of his mother, Yudhishthira said, ‘What thou, O
mother, hast deliberately done, moved by compassion for the afflicted
Brahmana, is, indeed, excellent Bhima will certainly come back with life,
after having slain the cannibal, inasmuch as thou art, O mother, always
compassionate unto Brahmanas. But tell the Brahmana, O mother, that he
doth not do anything whereby the dwellers in this town may know all about
it, and make him promise to keep thy request.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then, when the night passed away, Bhimasena,
the son of Pandu, taking with him the Rakshasa’s food set out for the
place where the cannibal lived. The mighty son of Pandu, approaching the
forest where the Rakshasa dwelt, began to eat himself the food he
carried, calling loudly to the Rakshasa by name. The Rakshasa, inflamed
with anger at Bhima’s words, came out and approached the place where
Bhima was.

“Of huge body and great strength, of red eyes, red beard, and red hair,
he was terrible to behold, and he came, pressing deep the earth with his
tread. The opening of his mouth, was from ear to ear and his ears
themselves were straight as arrows. Of grim visage, he had a forehead
furrowed into three lines. Beholding Bhima eating his food, the Rakshasa
advanced, biting his nether lip and expanding his eyes in wrath. And
addressing Bhima he said, ‘Who is this fool, who desiring to go to the
abode of Yama, eateth in my very sight the food intended for me?’ Hearing
these words, Bhima, O Bharata, smiled in derision and disregarding the
Rakshasa, continued eating with averted face. Beholding this, the
cannibal uttered a frightful yell and with both arms upraised ran at
Bhima desiring to kill him, there and then. Even then disregarding the
Rakshasa and casting only a single glance at him, Vrikodara, that slayer
of hostile heroes continued to eat the Rakshasa’s food. Filled with wrath
at this, the Rakshasa struck, from behind with both his arms a heavy blow
on the back of Vrikodara, the son of Kunti. But Bhima, though struck
heavily by the mighty Rakshasa, with both his hands, did not even look up
at the Rakshasa but continued to eat as before. Then the mighty Rakshasa,
inflamed with wrath, tore up a tree and ran at Bhima for striking him
again. Meanwhile the mighty Bhima, that bull among men had leisurely
eaten up the whole of that food and washing himself stood cheerfully for
fight. Then, O Bharata, possessed of great energy, Bhima, smiling in
derision, caught with his left hand the tree hurled at him by the
Rakshasa in wrath. Then that mighty Rakshasa, tearing up many more trees,
hurled them at Bhima, and the Pandava also hurled as many at the
Rakshasa. Then, O king, the combat with trees between that human being
and the Rakshasa, became so terrible that the region around soon became
destitute of trees. Then the Rakshasa, saying that he was none else than
Vaka, sprang upon the Pandava and seized the mighty Bhima with his arms.
That mighty hero also clasping with his own strong arms the strong-armed
Rakshasa, and exerting himself actively, began to drag him violently.
Dragged by Bhima and dragging Bhima also, the cannibal was overcome with
great fatigue. The earth began to tremble in consequence of the strength
they both exerted, and large trees that stood there broke in pieces. Then
Bhima, beholding the cannibal overcome with fatigue, pressed him down on
the earth with his knees and began to strike him with great force. Then
placing one knee on the middle of the Rakshasa’s back, Bhima seized his
neck with his right hand and the cloth on his waist with his left, and
bent him double with great force. The cannibal then roared frightfully.
And, O monarch, he also began to vomit blood while he was being thus
broken on Bhima’s knee.’”


(Vaka-vadha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said ‘Then Vaka, huge as a mountain, thus broken (on
Bhima’s knee), died, uttering frightful yells. Terrified by these sounds,
the relatives of that Rakshasa came out, O king, with their attendants.
Bhima, that foremost of smiters, seeing them so terrified and deprived of
reason, comforted them and made them promise (to give up cannibalism),
saying, ‘Do not ever again kill human beings. If ye kill men, ye will
have to die even as Vaka.’ Those Rakshasas hearing this speech of Bhima,
said, ‘So be it,’ and gave, O king, the desired promise. From that day, O
Bharata, the Rakshasas (of the region) were seen by the inhabitants of
that town to be very peaceful towards mankind. Then Bhima, dragging the
lifeless cannibal, placed him at one of the gates of the town and went
away unobserved by any one. The kinsmen of Vaka, beholding him slain by
the might of Bhima, became frightened and fled in different directions.

“Meanwhile Bhima, having slain the Rakshasa, returned to the Brahmana’s
abode and related to Yudhishthira all that had happened, in detail. The
next morning the inhabitants of the town in coming out saw the Rakshasa
lying dead on the ground, his body covered with blood. Beholding that
terrible cannibal, huge as a mountain cliff, thus mangled and lying on
the ground, the hair of the spectators stood erect. Returning to
Ekachakra, they soon gave the intelligence. Then, O king, the citizens by
thousands accompanied by their wives, young and old, all began to come to
the spot for beholding the Vaka and they were all amazed at seeing that
superhuman feat. Instantly, O monarch, they began to pray to their gods.
Then they began to calculate whose turn it had been the day before to
carry food to the Rakshasa. And ascertaining this, they all came to that
Brahmana and asked him (to satisfy their curiosity). Thus asked by them
repeatedly, that bull among Brahmanas, desirous of concealing the
Pandavas, said these words unto all the citizens, ‘A certain high-souled
Brahmana, skilled in mantras, beheld me weeping with my relatives after I
had been ordered to supply the Rakshasa’s food. Asking me the cause and
ascertaining the distress of the town, that first of Brahmanas gave me
every assurance and with smiles said, ‘I shall carry the food for that
wretched Rakshasa today. Do not fear for me.’ Saying this he conveyed the
food towards the forest of Vaka. This deed, so beneficial unto us all,
hath very certainly been done by him.’

Then those Brahmanas and Kshatriyas (of the city), hearing this, wondered
much. And the Vaisyas and the Sudras also became exceedingly glad, and
they all established a festival in which the worship of Brahmanas was the
principal ceremony (in remembrance of this Brahmana who had relieved them
from their fears of Vaka).


(Chaitraratha Parva)

After this citizens returned to their respective houses and the Pandavas
continued to dwell at Ekachakra as before.

“Janamejaya said, ‘O Brahmana, what did those tigers among men, the
Pandavas, do after they had slain the Rakshasa Vaka?’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘The Pandavas, O king, after slaying the Rakshasa
Vaka, continued to dwell in the abode of that Brahmana, employed in the
study of the Vedas. Within a few days there came a Brahmana of rigid vows
unto the abode of their host to take up his quarters there. Their host,
that bull among Brahmanas, ever hospitable unto all guests, worshipping
the newly-arrived Brahmana with due ceremonies, gave him quarters in his
own abode. Then those bulls among men, the Pandavas, with their mother
Kunti, solicited the new lodger to narrate to them his interesting
experiences. The Brahmana spake to them of various countries and shrines
and (holy) rivers, of kings and many wonderful provinces and cities. And
after this narration was over, that Brahmana, O Janamejaya, also spoke of
the wonderful self-choice of Yajnasena’s daughter, the princes of
Panchala, and of the births of Dhrishtadyumna and Sikhandi, and of the
birth, without the intervention of a woman, of Krishna (Draupadi) at the
great sacrifice of Drupada.

“Then those bulls among men, the Pandavas, hearing of these extraordinary
facts regarding that illustrious monarch (Drupada), and desiring to know
the details thereof, asked the Brahmana, after his narration was
concluded, to satisfy their curiosity. The Pandavas said, ‘How, O
Brahmana, did the birth of Dhrishtadyumna the son of Drupada, take place
from the (sacrificial) fire? How also did the extraordinary birth of
Krishna take place from the centre of the sacrificial platform? How also
did Drupada’s son learn all weapons from the great bowman Drona? And, O
Brahmana, how and for whom and for what reason was the friendship between
Drona and Drupada broken off?’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus questioned, O monarch, by those bulls
among men, the Brahmana narrated all the particulars about the birth of


(Chaitraratha Parva continued)

“The Brahmana said, ‘At that region where the Ganga entered the plains
there lived a great Rishi, devoted to the austerest of penances. Of rigid
vows and great wisdom, he bore the name Bharadwaja. One day, on coming to
the Ganga to perform his ablutions, the Rishi saw the Apsara Ghritachi,
who had come before, standing on the bank after her ablutions were over.
And it so happened that a wind arose and disrobed the Apsara standing
there. And the Rishi beholding her thus disrobed, felt the influence of
desire. Though practising the vow of continence from his very youth, as
soon as he felt the influence of desire, the Rishi’s vital fluid came
out. And as it came out, he held it in a pot (drana), and of that fluid
thus preserved in a pot was born a son who came to be called Drona (the
pot-born). And Drona studied all the Vedas and their several branches.
And Bharadwaja had a friend named Prishata who was the king of Panchalas.
And about the time that Drona was born, Prishata also obtained a son
named Drupada. And that bull amongst Kshatriyas, Prishata’s son, going
every day to that asylum of Bharadwaja, played and studied with Drona.
And after Prishata’s death, Drupada succeeded him on the throne. Drona
about this time heard that (the great Brahmana hero) Rama (on the eve of
his retiring into the weeds) was resolved to give away all his wealth.
Hearing this, the son of Bharadwaja repaired unto Rama who was about to
retire into the woods and addressing him, said, ‘O best of Brahmanas,
know me to be Drona who hath come to thee to obtain thy wealth.’ Rama
replied, saying, ‘I have given away everything. All that I now have is
this body of mine and my weapons. O Brahmana, thou mayest ask of me one
of these two, either my body or my weapons.’ Then Drona said, ‘It
behoveth thee, sir, to give me all thy weapons together with (the
mysteries of) their use and withdrawal.’

“The Brahmana continued, ‘Then Rama of Bhrigu’s race, saying, ‘So be it,’
gave all his weapons unto Drona, who obtaining them regarded himself as
crowned with success. Drona obtaining from Rama the most exalted of all
weapons, called the Brahma weapon, became exceedingly glad and acquired a
decided superiority over all men. Then the son of Bharadwaja, endued with
great prowess went to king Drupada, and approaching that monarch, that
tiger among men, said, ‘Know me for thy friend.’ Hearing this Drupada
said, ‘One of low birth can never be the friend of one whose lineage is
pure, nor can one who is not a car-warrior have a car-warrior for his
friend. So also one who is not a king cannot have a king as his friend.
Why dost thou, therefore, desire (to revive our) former friendship?’

“The Brahmana continued, ‘Drona, gifted with great intelligence, was
extremely mortified at this, and settling in his mind some means of
humiliating the king of the Panchala he went to the capital of the Kurus,
called after the name of an elephant. Then Bhishma, taking with him his
grandsons, presented them unto the wise son of Bharadwaja as his pupils
for instruction, along with various kinds of wealth. Then Drona, desirous
of humiliating king Drupada, called together his disciples and addressed
them, ‘Ye sinless ones, it behoveth you, after you have been accomplished
in arms, to give me as preceptorial fee something that I cherish in my
heart.’ Then Arjuna and others said unto their preceptor, ‘So be
it.’--After a time when the Pandavas became skilled in arms and sure
aims, demanding of them his fee, he again told them these words,
‘Drupada, the son of Prishata, is the king of Chhatravati. Take away from
him his kingdom, and give it unto me.’ Then the Pandavas, defeating
Drupada in battle and taking him prisoner along with his ministers,
offered him unto Drona, who beholding the vanquished monarch, said, ‘O
king, I again solicit thy friendship; and because none who is not a king
deserveth to be the friend of a king, therefore, O Yajnasena, I am
resolved to divide thy kingdom amongst ourselves. While thou art the king
of the country to the south of Bhagirathi (Ganga), I will rule the
country to the north.’

“The Brahmana continued, ‘The king of the Panchalas, thus addressed by
the wise son of Bharadwaja, told that best of Brahmanas and foremost of
all persons conversant with weapons, these words, ‘O high-souled son of
Bharadwaja, blest be thou, let it be so, let there be eternal friendship
between us as thou desirest!’ Thus addressing each other and establishing
a permanent bond between themselves, Drona and the king of Panchala, both
of them chastisers of foes, went away to the places they came from. But
the thought of that humiliation did not leave the king’s mind for a
single moment. Sad at heart, the king began to waste away.’”


(Chaitraratha Parva continued)

“The Brahmana continued, ‘King Drupada (after this), distressed at heart,
wandered among many asylums of Brahmanas in search of superior Brahmanas
well-skilled in sacrificial rites. Overwhelmed with grief and eagerly
yearning for children, the king always said, ‘Oh, I have no offspring
surpassing all in accomplishments.’ And the monarch, from great
despondency, always said ‘Oh, fie on those children that I have and on my
relatives!’ And ever thinking of revenging himself on Drona, the monarch
sighed incessantly. And that best of kings, O Bharata, even after much
deliberation, saw no way of overcoming, by his Kshatriya might, the
prowess and discipline and training and accomplishment of Drona.
Wandering along the banks of the Yamuna and the Ganga, the monarch once
came upon a sacred asylum of Brahmanas. There was in that asylum no
Brahmana who was not a Snataka, no one who was not of rigid vows, and
none who was not virtuous to a high degree. And the king saw there two
Brahmana sages named Yaja and Upayaja, both of rigid vows and souls under
complete control and belonging to the most superior order. They were both
devoted to the study of the ancient institutes and sprung from the race
of Kasyapa. And those best of Brahmanas were well-able to help the king
in the attainment of his object. The king then, with great assiduity and
singleness of purpose, began to court this pair of excellent Brahmanas.
Ascertaining the superior accomplishments of the younger of the two the
king courted in private Upayaja of rigid vows, by the offer of every
desirable acquisition. Employed in paying homage to the feet of Upayaja,
always addressing in sweet words and offering him every object of human
desire, Drupada, after worshipping that Brahmana, addressed him (one
day), saying, ‘O Upayaja, O Brahmana, if thou, performest those
sacrificial rites by (virtue of) which I may obtain a son who may slay
Drona, I promise thee ten thousand kine, or whatever else may be
agreeable to thee, O first of Brahmanas, truly am I ready to make gifts
to thee.’ Thus addressed by the king, the Rishi replied, saying, ‘I
cannot (perform such rites).’ But Drupada without accepting this reply as
final, once more began to serve and pay homage unto that Brahmana. Then,
after the expiration of a year, Upayaja, that first of Brahmanas, O
monarch, addressing Drupada in sweet tone, said, ‘My elder brother
(Yaja), one day, while wandering through the deep woods, took up a fruit
that had fallen upon a spot the purity of which he cared not to enquire
about. I was following him (at the time) and observed this unworthy act
of his. Indeed, he entertains no scruples in accepting things impure. In
accepting that (particular) fruit he saw not any impropriety of sinful
nature: Indeed, he who observeth not purity (in one instance) is not very
likely to observe it in the other instances. When he lived in the house
of his preceptor, employed in studying the institutes, he always used to
eat (impure) remnants of other people’s feasts. He always speaks
approvingly of food and entertains no dislike for anything. Arguing from
these, I believe that my brother covets earthy acquisitions. Therefore, O
king, go unto him; he will perform spiritual offices for thee.’ Hearing
these words of Upayaja, king Drupada, though entertaining a low opinion
of Yaja, nevertheless went to his abode. Worshipping Yaja who was (still)
worthy of homage, Drupada said unto him, ‘O master, perform thou
spiritual offices for me and I will give thee eighty thousand kine!
Enmity with Drona burneth my heart; it behoveth thee therefore to cool
that heart of mine. Foremost of those conversant with the Vedas, Drona is
also skilled in the Brahma weapon and for this, Drona hath overcome me in
a contest arising from (impaired) friendship. Gifted with great
intelligence, the son of Bharadwaja is (now) the chief preceptor of the
Kurus. There is no Kshatriya in this world superior to him. His bow is
full six cubits long and looks formidable, and his shafts are capable of
slaying every living being. That great bowman, the high-souled son of
Bharadwaja, habited as a Brahmana, is destroying the Kshatriya power all
over the earth. Indeed, he is like a second Jamadagnya intended for the
extermination of the Kshatriya race. There is no man on earth who can
overcome the terrible force of his weapons. Like a blazing fire fed with
clarified butter, Drona, possessed of Brahma might and uniting it with
Kshatriya might, consumeth every antagonist in battle. But (thy) Brahma
force is greater in itself than (Drona’s) Brahma force united with
Kshatriya might. Therefore, as I am inferior (to Drona) in consequence of
my possession of Kshatriya might alone, I solicit the aid of thy Brahma
force, having obtained thee so superior to Drona in knowledge of Brahma.
O Yaja, perform that sacrifice by means of which I may obtain a son
invincible in battle and capable of slaying Drona. Ready am I to give
thee ten thousand kine.’ Hearing these words of Drupada, Yaja said, ‘So
be it.’ Yaja then began to recollect the various ceremonies appertaining
to the particular sacrifice. And knowing the affair to be a very grave
one, he asked the assistance of Upayaja who coveted nothing. Then Yaja
promised to perform the sacrifice for the destruction of Drona. Then the
great ascetic Upayaja spoke unto king Drupada of everything required for
the grand sacrifice (by aid of fire) from which the king was to obtain
offspring. And he said, ‘O king, a child shall be born unto thee, endued,
as thou desirest, with great prowess, great energy, and great strength.’

“The Brahmana continued, ‘Then king Drupada, impelled by the desire of
obtaining a son who was to slay Drona, began, for the success of his
wish, to make the necessary preparations. (And when everything was
complete) Yaja, after having poured libations of clarified butter on the
sacrificial fire, commanded Drupada’s queen, saying, ‘Come hither, O
queen, O daughter-in-law of Prishata! A son and a daughter have arrived
for thee!’ Hearing this, the queen said, ‘O Brahmana, my mouth is yet
filled with saffron and other perfumed things. My body also beareth many
sweet scents; I am hardly fit for accepting (the sanctified butter which
is to give me offspring). Wait for me a little, O Yaja! Wait for that
happy consummation.’ Yaja, however, replied, ‘O lady, whether thou comest
or waitest, why should not the object of this sacrifice be accomplished
when the oblation hath already been prepared by me and sanctified by
Upayaja’s invocations?’

“The Brahmana continued, ‘Having said this, Yaja poured the sanctified
libation on the fire, whereupon arose from those flames a child
resembling a celestial who possessing the effulgence of fire, was
terrible to behold. With a crown on this head and his body encased in
excellent armour, sword in hand, and bearing a bow and arrows, he
frequently sent forth loud roars. And immediately after his birth, he
ascended an excellent chariot and went about in it for some time. Then
the Panchalas in great joy shouted, ‘Excellent, Excellent.’ The very
earth seemed at that time unable to bear the weight of the Panchalas mad
with joy. Then, marvellous to say, the voice of some invisible spirit in
the skies said, ‘This prince hath been born for the destruction of Drona.
He shall dispel all the fears of the Panchalas and spread their fame. He
shall also remove the sorrow of the king.’ And there arose, after this
from the centre of the sacrificial platform, a daughter also, called
Panchali, who, blest with great good fortune, was exceedingly handsome.
Her eyes were black, and large as lotus-petals, her complexion was dark,
and her locks were blue and curly. Her nails were beautifully convex, and
bright as burnished copper; her eye-brows were fair, and bosom was deep.
Indeed, she resembled the veritable daughter of a celestial born among
men. Her body gave out fragrance like that of a blue lotus, perceivable
from a distance of full two miles. Her beauty was such that she had no
equal on earth. Like a celestial herself, she could be desired (in
marriage) by a celestial, a Danava, or a: Yaksha. When this girl of fair
hips was born an incorporeal voice said, ‘This dark-complexioned girl
will be the first of all women, and she will be the cause of the
destruction of many Kshatriyas. This slender-waisted one will, in time,
accomplish the purpose of the gods, and along with her many a danger will
overtake the Kauravas.’ On hearing these words, the Panchalas uttered a
loud leonine roar, and the earth was unable to bear the weight of that
joyous concourse. Then beholding the boy and the girl, the
daughter-in-law of Prishata, desiring to have them, approached Yaja and
said, ‘Let not these know any one else except myself as their mother.’
Yaja, desiring to do good unto the king said, ‘So be it!’ Then the
Brahmanas (present there), their expectations fully gratified, bestowed
names upon the new-born pair, ‘Let this son of king Drupada, they said,
be called Dhrishtadyumna, because of his excessive audacity and because
of his being born like Dyumna with a natural mail and weapon.’ And they
also said, ‘Because this daughter is so dark in complexion, she should be
called Krishna (the dark).’

“The Brahmana continued, ‘Thus were born those twins of the great
sacrifice of Drupada. And the great Drona, bringing the Panchala prince
into his own abode, taught him all weapons in requital of half the
kingdom he had formerly taken from Drupada. The high-souled son of
Bharadwaja, regarding destiny to be inevitable, did what would perpetuate
his own great deeds.’”


(Chaitraratha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Hearing these words of the Brahmana, the sons of
Kunti seemed to be, as it were, pierced with darts. Indeed, all those
mighty heroes lost their peace of mind. Then the truthful Kunti,
beholding all her sons listless and inattentive, addressed Yudhishthira
and said, ‘We have now lived many nights in the abode of this Brahmana.
We have passed our time pleasantly in this town, living on the alms
obtained from many honest and illustrious persons. O oppressor of foes,
as we have now seen often and often all the agreeable woods and gardens
that are in this part of the country, seeing them again would no longer
give any pleasure. O heroic scion of Kuru’s race, alms also are not now
obtainable here as easily as before. If thou wishest it would be well for
us now to go to Panchala; we have not seen that country, it will, no
doubt, O hero, prove delightful to us. O crusher of foes, it hath been
heard by us that alms are obtainable in the country of the Panchala, and
that Yajnasena, the king thereof, is devoted to Brahmanas. I am of
opinion that it is not good to live long in one place. Therefore, O son,
if thou likest, it is good for us to go there.’

“Hearing these words, Yudhishthira said, ‘It is our duty to obey thy
command, which, besides, must be for our good, I do not, however, know
whether my younger brothers are willing to go.’”


(Chaitraratha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then Kunti spoke unto Bhimasena and Arjuna