(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 possessest.'"
(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, violating 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 after 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 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 (wanton), 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 desire.'
"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, 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 themselves.'
"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 heaven.'
"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 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 him.'
"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 power, 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 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 Drupada.'"
(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.