"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 line.'
"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 eyes.'
"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 great."
"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 censurable.'
"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).'