Thursday, January 20, 2022
The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa; Book1; Sections LXXXI ~ LXC
(Sambhava Parva continued) Vaisampayana said, 'After some length of time, O best of monarchs, Devayani of the fairest complexion went into the same woods for purposes of pleasure. And accompanied by Sarmishtha with her thousand maids she reached the same spot and began to wander freely. And waited upon by all those companions she felt supremely happy. And sporting with light hearts, they began drinking the honey in flowers, eating various kinds of fruit and biting some. And just at that time, king Yayati, the son of Nahusha, again came there tired and thirsty, in course of his wanderings, in search of deer.
And the king saw Devayani and Sarmishtha, and those other maidens also, all decked with celestial ornaments and full of voluptuous languor in consequence of the flower-honey they drank. And Devayani of sweet smiles, unrivalled for beauty and possessed of the fairest complexion amongst them all, was reclining at her ease. And she was waited upon by Sarmishtha who was gently kneading her feet. "And Yayati seeing all this, said, 'O amiable ones, I would ask you both your names and parentage. It seems that these two thousand maids wait on you two.' 'Hearing the monarch, Devayani then answered, 'Listen to me, O best of men. Know that I am the daughter of Sukra, the spiritual guide of the Asuras.
This my companion is my waiting-maid. She attendeth on me wherever I go. She is Sarmishtha, the daughter of the Asura king Vrishaparvan.' "Yayati then asked, 'I am curious to know why is this thy companion of fair eye-brows, this maiden of the fairest complexion, the daughter of the Asura chief thy waiting-maid!' Devayani replied, 'O best of king, everything resulteth from Fate. Knowing this also to be the result of Fate, wonder not at it. Thy feature and attire are both like a king's. Thy speech also is fair and correct as that of the Vedas. Tell me thy name, whence thou art and whose son also.' "The monarch replied, 'During my vow of Brahmacharya, the whole Vedas entered my ears. I am known as Yayati, a king's son and myself a king.' Devayani then enquired, 'O king, what hast thou come here for?
Is it to gather lotuses or to angle or to hunt?' Yayati said, 'O amiable one, thirsty from the pursuit of deer, I have come hither in search of water. I am very much fatigued. I await but your commands to leave this spot.' "Devayani answered, 'With my two thousand damsels and my waiting-maid Sarmishtha, I wait but your commands. Prosperity to thee. Be thou my friend and lord.' "Yayati, thereupon, replied, 'Beautiful one, I do not deserve thee. Thou art the daughter of Sukra far superior to me. Thy father cannot bestow thee even on a great king.' To this Devayani replied, 'Brahmanas had before
this been united with the Kshatriyas, and Kshatriyas with Brahmanas. Thou art the son of a Rishi and thyself a Rishi. Therefore, O son of Nahusha, marry me.' Yayati, however, replied, 'O thou of the handsomest features, the four orders have, indeed, sprung from one body. But their duties and purity are not the same, the Brahmana being truly superior to all.' Devayani answered, 'This hand of mine hath never been touched before by any man save thee. Therefore, do I accept thee for my lord. How, indeed, shall any other man touch my hand which had before been touched by thyself who art a Rishi ? Yayati then said, 'The wise know that a Brahmana is more to be avoided than an angry snake of virulent poison, or a blazing fire of spreading flames.' Devayani then told the monarch, 'O bull amongst men, why dost thou, indeed, say that Brahmana should be more avoided than an angry snake of virulent poison or a blazing fire of spreading flames?'
The monarch answered, 'The snake killeth only one. The sharpest weapon slayeth but a single person. The Brahmana, when angry destroyeth whole cities and kingdoms! Therefore, O timid one, do I deem a Brahmana as more to be avoided than either. I cannot hence wed thee, O amiable one, unless thy father bestoweth thee on me. Devayani then said, 'Thou art, indeed, chosen by me. And, O king, it is understood that thou wilt accept me if my father bestoweth me on thee. Thou needst not fear to accept my poor self bestowed on thee. Thou dost not, indeed, ask for me.' "Vaisampayana continued, 'After this, Devayani quickly sent a maidservant to her father. The maid represented to Sukra everything as it had happened.
And as soon as he had heard all, Bhargava came and saw Yayati. And beholding Bhargava come, Yayati worshipped and adored that Brahmana, and stood with joined palms in expectation of his commands.' "And Devayani then said, 'This O father, is the son of Nahusha. He took hold of my hand, when I was in distress. I bow to thee. Bestow me upon him. I shall not wed any other person in the world.' Sukra exclaimed, 'O thou of splendid courage, thou hast, indeed, been accepted as her lord by this my dear daughter. I bestow her on thee.
Therefore, O son of Nahusha, accept her as thy wife.' "Yayati then said, 'I solicit the boon, O Brahmana, that by so doing, the sin of begetting a half-breed might not touch me.' Sukra, however, assured him by saying, 'I shall absolve thee from the sin. Ask thou the boon that thou desirest. Fear not to wed her. I grant thee absolution. Maintain virtuously thy wife-- the slender-waisted Devayani. Transports of happiness be thine in her company. This other maiden, Vrishaparvan's daughter, Sarmishtha should ever be regarded by thee. But thou shall not summon her to thy bed.' "Vaisampayana continued, 'Thus addressed by Sukra, Yayati then walked round the Brahmana. And the king then went through the auspicious ceremony of marriage according to the rites of the scriptures.
And having received from Sukra this rich treasure of the excellent Devayani with Sarmishtha and those two thousand maidens, and duly honoured also by Sukra himself and the Asuras, the best of monarchs, then, commanded by the high-souled Bhargava, returned to his capital with a joyous heart.'"
(Sambhava Parva continued) "Vaisampayana said, 'Yayati then, on returning to his capital which was like unto the city of Indra, entered his inner apartments and established there his bride Devayani. And the monarch, directed by Devayani, established Vrishaparvan's daughter Sarmishtha in a mansion especially erected near the artificial woods of Asokas in his gardens. And the king surrounded Vrishaparvan's daughter Sarmishtha with a thousand maids and honoured her by making every arrangement for her food and garments.
But it was with Devayani that the royal son of Nahusha sported like a celestial for many years in joy and bliss. And when her season came, the fair Devayani conceived. And she brought forth as her first child a fine boy. And when a thousand years had passed away, Vrishaparvan's daughter Sarmishtha having attained to puberty saw that her season had come. She became anxious and said to herself, 'My season hath arrived. But I have not yet chosen a husband. O, what hath happened, what should I do? How am I to obtain the fruition of my wishes? Devayani hath become mother. My youth is doomed to pass away in vain.
Shall I choose him also for my husband whom Devayani hath chosen? This is, indeed, my resolve: that monarch should give me a son. Will not the virtuous one grant me a private interview?' "Vaisampayana continued, 'While Sarmishtha was thus busy with her thoughts, the king wandering listlessly came to that very wood of Asokas, and beholding Sarmishtha before him, stood there in silence. Then Sarmishtha of sweet smiles seeing the monarch before her with nobody to witness what might pass, approached him and said with joined palms, 'O son of Nahusha, no one can behold the ladies that dwell in the inner apartments of Soma, of Indra, of Vishnu, of Yama, of Varuna, and of thee!
Thou knowest, O king, that I am both handsome and well-born. I solicit thee, O king! My season hath arrived. See that it goeth not in vain.' "Yayati answered, 'Well do I know that honour of birth is thine, born as thou art in the proud race of the Danavas. Thou art also gifted with beauty. I do not, indeed, see even the speck of a fault in thy feature. But Usanas commanded me, while I was united with Devayani, that never should Vrishaparvan's daughter he summoned to my bed.'
"Sarmishtha then said, 'It hath been said, O king, that it is not sinful to lie on the occasion of a joke, in respect of women sought to be enjoyed, on occasions of marriage, in peril of immediate death and of the loss of one's whole fortune. Lying is excusable on these five occasions. O king, it is not true that he is fallen who speaks not the truth when asked. Both Devayani and myself have been called hither as companions to serve the same purpose. When, therefore, thou hadst said that you wouldst confine thyself to one only amongst as, that was a lie thou hadst spoken.' Yayati replied, 'A king should ever be a model in the eyes of his people. That monarch certainly meets with destruction who speaks an untruth.
As for myself, I dare not speak an untruth even if the greatest loss threatens me!' Sarmishtha answered, 'O monarch, one may look upon her friend's husband as her own. One's friend's marriage is the same as one's own. Thou hast been chosen by my friend as her husband. Thou art as much my husband, therefore.' Yayati then said, 'It is, indeed my vow always to grant what one asketh. As thou askest me, tell me then what I am to do.' Sarmishtha then said, 'Absolve me, O king, from sin. Protect my virtue. Becoming a mother by thee, let me practise the highest virtue in this world. It is said, O king, that a wife, a slave, and a son can never earn wealth for themselves. What they earn always belongeth to him who owneth them. I am, indeed, the slave of Devayani.
Thou art Devayani's master and lord. Thou art, therefore, O king, my master and lord as much as Devayani's! I solicit thee! O, fulfil my wishes!' "Vaisampayana continued, 'Thus addressed by Sarmishtha, the monarch was persuaded into the truth of all she spoke. He therefore, honoured Sarmishtha by protecting her virtue. And they passed some time together. And taking affectionate farewell of each other, they then parted, each returning to whence he or she had come. "And it came to pass that Sarmishtha of sweet smiles and fair eyebrows conceived in consequence of that connection of hers with that best of monarchs. And, O king, that lotus-eyed lady then in due course of time brought forth a son of the splendour of a celestial child and of eyes like-lotus-petals.'"
(Sambhava Parva continued) "Vaisampayana said, 'When Devayani of sweet smiles heard of the birth of this child, she became jealous, and O Bharata, Sarmishtha became an object of her unpleasant reflections. And Devayani, repairing to her, addressed her thus, 'O thou of fair eye-brows, what sin is this thou hast committed by yielding to the influence of lust?' Sarmishtha replied, 'A certain Rishi of virtuous soul and fully conversant with the Vedas came to me.
Beholding him, I had not, any need to make these enquiries--' Devayani then said, 'If this is true, if indeed, thou hast obtained thy child from such a superior Brahmana, then, O Sarmishtha, I have no cause of anger.' "Vaisampayana continued, 'Having thus talked and laughed with each other, they separated, Devayani returning to the palace with the knowledge imparted to her by Sarmishtha.
And, O king, Yayati also begot on Devayani two sons called Yadu and Turvasu, who were like Indra and Vishnu. And Sarmishtha, the daughter of Vrishaparvan, became through the royal sage the mother of three sons in all, named Drahyu, Anu, and Puru. "And, O king, it so came to pass that one day Devayani of sweet smiles, accompanied by Yayati, went into a solitary part of the woods, (in the king's extensive park). And there she saw three children of celestial beauty playing with perfect trustfulness. And Devayani asked in surprise, 'Whose children are they, O king, who are so handsome and so like unto the children of the celestials? In splendour and beauty they are like thee, I should think.' "Vaisampayana continued, 'And Devayani without waiting for a reply from the king, asked the children themselves, 'Ye children, what is your lineage?
Who is your father? Answer me truly. I desire to know all.' Those children then pointed at the king (with their forefingers) and spoke of Sarmishtha as their mother. And having so said, the children approached the king to clasp his knees. But the king dared not caress them in the presence of Devayani. The boys then left the place, and made towards their mother, weeping in grief. And the king, at this conduct of the boys, became very much abashed. But Devayani, marking the affection of the children for the king learnt the secret and addressing Sarmishtha, said, 'How hast thou dared to do me an injury, being, as thou art, dependent on me?
Dost thou not fear to have recourse once more to that Asura custom of thine?' "Sarmishtha said, 'O thou of sweet smiles, all that I told thee of a Rishi is perfectly true. I have acted rightly and according to the precepts of virtue, and therefore, do I not fear thee. When thou hadst chosen the king for thy husband, I, too, chose him as mine. O beautiful one, a friend's husband is, according to usage, one's own husband as well. Thou art the daughter of a Brahmana and, therefore, deservest my worship and regard.
[paragraph continues] But dost thou not know that this royal sage is held by me in greater esteem still?' "Vaisampayana said, 'Devayani then, hearing those words of hers, exclaimed, O king, thus, 'Thou hast wronged me, O monarch! I shall not live here any longer.' And saying this, she quickly rose, with tearful eyes, to go to her father. And the king was grieved to see her thus, and alarmed greatly, followed in her foot-steps, endeavouring to appease her wrath. But Devayani, with eyes red with anger, would not desist. Speaking not a word to the king, with eyes bathed in tears, she soon reached the side of her father Usanas, the son of Kavi. And beholding her father, she stood before him, after due salutations.
And Yayati also, immediately after, saluted and worshipped Bhargava.' "And Devayani said, 'O father, virtue hath been vanquished by vice. The low have risen, and the high have fallen. I have been offended again by Sarmishtha, the daughter of Vrishaparvan. Three sons have been begotten upon her by this king Yayati. But, O father, being luckless I have got only two sons! O son of Bhrigu, this king is renowned for his knowledge of the precepts of religion. But, O Kavya, I tell thee that he hath deviated from the path of rectitude.' "Sukra, hearing all this, said, 'O monarch, since thou hast made vice thy beloved pursuit, though fully acquainted with the precepts of religion, invincible decrepitude shall paralyse thee!' Yayati answered, 'Adorable one, I was solicited by the daughter of the Danava king to fructify her season. I did it from a sense of virtue and not from other motives.
That male person, who being solicited by a woman in her season doth not grant her wishes, is called, O Brahmana, by those conversant with the Vedas, a slayer of the embryo. He who, solicited in secret by a woman full of desire and in season, goeth not in unto her, loseth virtue and is called by the learned a killer of the embryo, O son of Bhrigu, for these reasons, and anxious to avoid sin, I went into Sarmishtha.' Sukra then replied, 'Thou art dependent on me. Thou shouldst have awaited my command. Having acted falsely in the matter of thy duty, O son of Nahusha, thou hast been guilty of the sin of theft.' "Vaisampayana continued, 'Yayati, the son of Nahusha, thus cursed by the angry Usanas, was then divested of his youth and immediately overcome by decrepitude.
And Yayati said, 'O son of Bhrigu, I have not yet been satiated with youth or with Devayani. Therefore, O Brahmana, be graceful unto me so that decrepitude might not touch me.' Sukra then answered, 'I never speak an untruth. Even now, O king, art thou attacked by decrepitude. But if thou likest, thou art competent to transfer this thy decrepitude to another.' Yayati said, 'O Brahmana, let it be commanded by thee that that son of mine who giveth me his youth shall enjoy my kingdom, and shall achieve both virtue and fame.' Sukra replied, 'O son of Nahusha, thinking of me thou mayst transfer this thy decrepitude to whomsoever thou likest. That son who shall give thee his youth shall become thy successor to the throne. He shall also have long life, wide fame, and numerous progeny!'"
(Sambhava Parva continued) "Vaisampayana said, 'Yayati, then, overcome with decrepitude, returned to his capital and summoning his eldest son Yadu who was also the most accomplished, addressed him thus, 'Dear child, from the curse of Kavya called also Usanas, decrepitude and wrinkles and whiteness of hair have come over me. But I have not been gratified yet with the enjoyment of youth. Do thou, O Yadu, take this my weakness along with my decrepitude. I shall enjoy with thy youth. And when a full thousand years will have elapsed, returning to thee thy youth, I shall take back my weakness with this decrepitude!' "Yadu replied, 'There are innumerable inconveniences in decrepitude, in respect of drinking and eating.
Therefore, O king, I shall not take thy decrepitude. This is, indeed, my determination. White hair on the head, cheerlessness and relaxation of the nerves, wrinkles all over the body, deformities, weakness of the limbs, emaciation, incapacity to work, defeat at the hands of friends and companions--these are the consequences of decrepitude. Therefore, O king, I desire not to take it. O king, thou hast many sons some of whom are dearer to thee. Thou art acquainted with the precepts of virtue. Ask some other son of thine to take thy decrepitude. "Yayati replied, 'Thou art sprung from my heart, O son, but thou givest me not thy youth. Therefore, thy children shall never be kings.' And he continued, addressing another son of his, 'O Turvasu, take thou this weakness of mine along with my decrepitude. With thy youth, O son, I like to enjoy the pleasure of life.
After the lapse of a full thousand years I shall give back to thee thy youth, and take back from thee my weakness and decrepitude.' "Turvasu replied, 'I do not like decrepitude, O father, it takes away all appetites and enjoyments, strength and beauty of person, intellect, and even life.' Yayati said to him, 'Thou art sprung from my heart, O son! But thou givest me not thy youth! Therefore, O Turvasu, thy race shall be extinct. Wretch, thou shall be the king of those whose practices and precepts are impure, amongst whom men of inferior blood procreate children upon women of blue blood, who live on meat, who are mean, who hesitate not to appropriate the wives of their superiors, whose practices are those of birds and beasts, who are sinful, and non-Aryan.' "Vaisampayana said, 'Yayati, having thus cursed his son Turvasu, then, addressed Sarmishtha's son Drahyu thus, 'O Drahyu, take thou for a thousand
years my decrepitude destructive of complexion and personal beauty and give me thy youth. When a thousand years have passed away, I shall return thee thy youth and take back my own weakness, and decrepitude.' To this Drahyu replied, 'O king, one that is decrepit can never enjoy elephants and cars and horses and women. Even his voice becometh hoarse. Therefore, I do not desire (to take) thy decrepitude.' Yayati said to him, 'Thou art sprung from my heart, O son! But thou refusest to give me thy youth. Therefore, thy most cherished desires shall never be fulfilled.
Thou shalt be king only in name, of that region where there are no roads for (the passage of) horses and cars and elephants, and good vehicles, and asses, and goats and bullocks, and palanquins; where there is swimming only by rafts and floats.' Yayati next addressed Anu and said, 'O Anu, take my weakness and decrepitude. I shall with thy youth enjoy the pleasures of life for a thousand years.' To this Anu replied, 'Those that are decrepit always eat like children and are always impure. They cannot pour libations upon fire in proper times.
Therefore, I do not like to take thy decrepitude.' Yayati said to him, 'Thou art sprung from my heart, thou givest not thy youth. Thou findest so many faults in decrepitude. Therefore, decrepitude shall overcome thee! And, O Anu, thy progeny also as soon as they attain to youth, shall die. And thou shalt also not be able to perform sacrifices before fire.' "Yayati at last turned to his youngest child, Puru, and addressing him said, 'Thou art, O Puru, my youngest son! But thou shall be the first of all! Decrepitude, wrinkles, and whiteness of hair have come over me in consequence of the curse of Kavya called also Usanas.
I have not yet however, been satiated with my youth. O Puru, take thou this my weakness and decrepitude! With thy youth I shall enjoy for some years the pleasures of life. And when a thousand years have passed away, I shall give back to thee thy youth and take back my own decrepitude.' "Vaisampayana said, 'Thus addressed by the king, Puru answered with humility, 'I shall do, O monarch, as thou bidest me. I shall take, O king, thy weakness and decrepitude. Take thou my youth and enjoy as thou listest the pleasures of life. Covered with thy decrepitude and becoming old, I shall, as thou commandest, continue to live, giving thee my youth.' Yayati then said, 'O Puru, I have been gratified with thee. And being gratified, I tell thee that the people in thy kingdom shall have all their desires fulfilled.' "And having said this, the great ascetic Yayati, then thinking of Kavya, transferred his decrepitude unto the body of the high-souled Puru.'"
(Sambhava Parva continued) "Vaisampayana said, 'The excellent monarch Yayati, the son of Nahusha, having received Puru's youth, became exceedingly gratified. And with it he once more began to indulge in his favourite pursuits to the full extent of his desires and to the limit of his powers, according to seasons, so as to derive the greatest pleasure therefrom. And, O king, in nothing that he did, he acted against the precepts of his religion as behoved him well. He gratified the gods by his sacrifices; the pitris, by Sraddhas; the poor, by his charities; all excellent Brahmanas, by fulfilling their desires; all persons entitled to the rites of hospitality, with food and drink; the Vaisyas, by protection; and the Sudras, by kindness.
And the king repressed all criminals by proper punishments. And Yayati, gratifying all sections of his subjects, protected them virtuously like another Indra. And the monarch possessed of the prowess of a lion, with youth and every object of enjoyment under control, enjoyed unlimited happiness without transgressing the precepts of religion. And the king became very happy in thus being able to enjoy all the excellent objects of his desires. And he was only sorry when he thought that those thousand years would come to an end. And having obtained youth for a thousand years, the king acquainted with the mysteries of time, and watching proper Kalas and Kashthas sported with (the celestial damsel) Viswachi, sometimes in the beautiful garden of Indra, sometimes in Alaka (the city of Kuvera), and sometimes on the summit of the mountain Meru on the north.
And when the virtuous monarch saw that the thousand years were full, he summoned his son, Puru, and addressed him thus, 'O oppressor of foes, with thy youth, O son, I have enjoyed the pleasures of life, each according to its season to the full extent of my desires, to the limit of my powers. Our desires, however, are never gratified by indulgence. On the other hand, with indulgence, they only flame up like fire with libations of sacrificial butter. If a single person were owner of everything on Earth--all her yields of paddy and barley, her silver, gold, and gems, her animals and women, he would not still be content. Thirst of enjoyment, therefore, should be given up.
Indeed, true happiness belongeth to them that have cast off their thirst for worldly objects--a thirst which is difficult to be thrown off by the wicked and the sinful, which faileth not with the failing life, and which is truly the fatal disease of man. My heart hath for a full thousand years been fixed upon the objects of desires. My thirst for these, however, increaseth day by day without abating. Therefore, I shall cast it off, and fixing my mind on Brahma I shall pass the rest of my days with the innocent deer in the forest peacefully and with no heart for any worldly objects. And O Puru, I have been exceedingly gratified with thee!
Indeed, Yadu is thy eldest son; after him hath been born Turvasu; and of Sarmishtha's sons, the first is Drahyu, then Anu and then Puru. How doth the youngest deserve the throne, passing all his elder brothers over? This we represent to thee! O, conform to virtuous practice.' "Yayati then said, 'Ye four orders with Brahmanas at their head, hear my words as to why my kingdom should not be given to my eldest son. My commands have been disobeyed by my eldest son, Yadu. The wise say that he is no son who disobeyeth his father. That son, however, who doth the bidding of his parents, who seeketh their good, who is agreeable to them, is indeed, the best of sons.
I have been disregarded by Yadu and by Turvasu, too. Much I have been disregarded by Drahyu and by Anu also. By Puru alone hath my word been obeyed. By him have I been much regarded. Therefore, the youngest shall be my heir. He took my decrepitude. Indeed, Puru is my friend. He did what was so agreeable to me. It hath also been commanded by Sukra himself, the son of Kavi, that, that son of mine who should obey me will become king after me and bring the whole Earth under his sway. I, therefore, beseech thee, let Puru be installed on the throne.' "The people then said, 'True it is, O king, that, that son who is accomplished and who seeketh the good of his parents, deserveth prosperity even if he be the youngest.
Therefore, doth Puru, who hath done the good, deserve the crown. And as Sukra himself hath commanded it, we have nothing to say to it.' "Vaisampayana continued., 'The son of Nahusha, thus addressed by the contented people, then installed his son, Puru, on the throne. And having bestowed his kingdom on Puru, the monarch performed the initiatory ceremonies for retiring into the woods. And soon after he left his capital, followed by Brahmanas and ascetics. "The sons of Yadu are known by the name of the Yadavas: while those of Turvasu have come to be called the Yavanas. And the sons of Drahyu are the Bhojas, while those of Anu, the Mlechchhas. The progeny of Puru, however, are the Pauravas, amongst whom, O monarch, thou art born, in order to rule for a thousand years with thy passions under complete control.'"
(Sambhava Parva continued) "Vaisampayana said, 'King Yayati, the son of Nahusha, having thus installed his dear son on the throne, became exceedingly happy, and entered into the woods to lead the life of a hermit. And having lived for some time into forest in the company of Brahmanas, observing many rigid vows, eating fruits and roots, patiently bearing privations of all sorts, the monarch at last ascended to heaven. And having ascended to heaven he lived there in bliss. But soon, however, he was hurled down by Indra. And it hath been heard by me, O king, that, though hurled from heaven, Yayati, without reaching the surface of the Earth, stayed in the firmament.
I have heard that some time after he again entered the region of the celestials in company with Vasuman, Ashtaka, Pratarddana, and Sivi.' "Janamejaya said, 'I desire to hear from thee in detail why Yayati, having first obtained admission into heaven, was hurled therefrom, and why also he gained re-admittance. Let all this, O Brahmana, be narrated by thee in the presence of these regenerate sages. Yayati, lord of Earth, was, indeed, like the chief of the celestials. The progenitor of the extensive race of the Kurus, he was of the splendour of the Sun. I desire to hear in full the story of his life both in heaven and on Earth, as he was illustrious, and of world-wide celebrity and of wonderful achievements.' "Vaisampayana said, 'Indeed, I shall recite to thee the excellent story of Yayati's adventures on Earth and in heaven.
That story is sacred and destroyeth the sins of those that hear it. "King Yayati, the son of Nahusha, having installed his youngest son, Puru, on the throne after casting his sons with Yadu for their eldest amongst the Mlechchhas, entered the forest to lead the life of a hermit. And the king eating fruits and roots lived for some time in the forest. Having his mind and passions under complete control, the king gratified by sacrifices the Pitris and the gods. And he poured libations of clarified butter upon the fire according to the rites prescribed for those leading the Vanaprastha mode of life. And the illustrious one entertained guests and strangers with the fruit of the forest and clarified butter, while he himself supported life by gleaning scattered corn seeds.
And the king; led this sort of life for a full thousand years. And observing the vow of silence and with mind under complete control he passed one full year, living upon air alone and without sleep. And he passed another year practising the severest austerities in the midst of four fires around and the Sun overhead. And, living upon air alone, he stood erect upon one leg for six months. And the king of sacred deeds ascended to heaven, covering heaven as well as the Earth (with the fame of his achievements).'"
(Sambhava Parva continued) "Vaisampayana said, 'While that king of kings dwelt in heaven--the home of the celestials, he was reverenced by the gods, the Sadhyas, the Maruts, and the Vasus. Of sacred deeds, and mind under complete control, the monarch used to repair now and then from the abode of the celestials unto the region of Brahman. And it hath been heard by me that he dwelt for a long time in heaven. "One day that best of kings, Yayati, went to Indra and there in course of conversation the lord of Earth was asked by Indra as follows: 'What didst thou say, O king, when thy son Puru took thy decrepitude on Earth and when thou gavest him thy kingdom?' "Yayati answered, 'I told him that the whole country between the rivers Ganga and Yamuna was his.
That is, indeed, the central region of the Earth, while the out-lying regions are to be the dominions of thy brothers. I also told him that those without anger were ever superior to those under its sway, those disposed to forgive were ever superior to the unforgiving. Man is superior to the lower animals. Among men again the learned are superior to the un-learned. If wronged, thou shouldst not wrong in return. One's wrath, if disregarded, burneth one's own self; but he that regardeth it not taketh away all the virtues of him that exhibiteh it. Never shouldst thou pain others by cruel speeches. Never subdue thy foes by despicable means; and never utter such scorching and sinful words as may torture others.
He that pricketh as if with thorns men by means of hard and cruel words, thou must know, ever carrieth in his mouth the Rakshasas. Prosperity and luck fly away at his very sight. Thou shouldst ever keep the virtuous before thee as thy models; thou shouldst ever with retrospective eye compare thy acts with those of the virtuous; thou shouldst ever disregard the hard words of the wicked. Thou shouldst ever make the conduct of the wise the model upon which thou art to act thyself. The man hurt by the arrows of cruel speech hurled from one's lips, weepeth day and night. Indeed, these strike at the core of the body. Therefore the wise never fling these arrows at others. There is nothing in the three worlds by which thou canst worship and adore the deities better than by kindness, friendship, charity and sweet speeches unto all. Therefore, shouldst thou always utter words that soothe, and not those that scorch. And thou shouldst regard those that deserve, thy regards, and shouldst always give but never beg!"'
(Sambhava Parva continued) "Vaisampayana said, 'Alter this Indra again asked Yayati, 'Thou didst retire into the woods, O king, after accomplishing all thy duties. O Yayati, son of Nahusha, I would ask thee to whom thou art equal in ascetic austerities.' Yayati answered, 'O Vasava, I do not, in the matter of ascetic austerities, behold my equal among men. the celestials, the Gandharvas, and the great Rishis.' Indra then said, 'O monarch, because thou disregardest those that are thy superiors, thy equals, and even thy inferiors, without, in fact, knowing their real merits, thy virtues have suffered diminution and thou must fall from heaven.' Yayati then said, 'O Sakra, if, indeed, my virtues have really sustained diminution and I must on that account fall down from heaven, I desire, O chief of the celestials, that I may at least fall among the virtuous and the honest.'
Indra replied, 'O king, thou shall fall among those that are virtuous and wise, and thou shall acquire also much renown. And after this experience of thine, O Yayati, never again disregard those that are thy superiors or even thy equals.' "Vaisampayana continued, 'Upon this, Yayati fell from the region of the celestials. And as he was falling, he was beheld by that foremost of royal sages, viz., Ashtaka, the protector of his own religion. Ashtaka beholding him, enquired, 'Who art thou, O youth of a beauty equal to that of Indra, in splendour blazing as the fire, thus falling from on high? Art thou that foremost of sky-ranging bodies--the sun-- emerging from, dark masses of clouds?
Beholding thee falling from the solar course, possessed of immeasurable energy and the splendour of fire or the sun, every one is curious as to what it is that is so falling, and is, besides, deprived of consciousness! Beholding thee in the path of the celestials, possessed of energy like that of Sakra, or Surya, or Vishnu, we have approached thee to ascertain the truth. If thou hast first asked us who we were, we would never have been guilty of the incivility of asking thee first. We now ask thee who thou art and why thou approachest hither. Let thy fears be dispelled; let thy woes and afflictions cease. Thou art now in the presence of the virtuous and the wise.
Even Sakra himself--the slayer of Vala--cannot here do thee any injury. O thou of the prowess of the chief of the celestials, the wise and the virtuous are the support of their brethren in grief. Here there are none but the wise and virtuous like thee assembled together. Therefore, stay thou here in peace. Fire alone hath power to give heat. The Earth alone hath power to infuse life into the seed. The sun alone hath power to illuminate everything. So the guest alone hath power to command the virtuous and the wise.'"
(Sambhava Parva continued) "Yayati said, 'I am Yayati, the son of Nahusha and the father of Puru. Cast off from the region of the celestials and of Siddhas and Rishis for having disregarded every creature, I am falling down, my righteousness having sustained diminution. In years I am older than you; therefore, I have not saluted you first. Indeed, the Brahmanas always reverence him who is older in years or superior in learning or in ascetic merit.' "Ashtaka then replied, 'Thou sayest, O monarch, that he who is older in years is worthy of regard. But it is said that he is truly worthy of worship who is superior in learning and ascetic merit.' "Yayati replied to this, 'It is said that sin destroyeth the merits of four virtuous acts.
Vanity containeth the element of that which leadeth to hell. The virtuous never follow in the footsteps of the vicious. They act in such a way that their religious merit always increaseth. I myself had great religious merit, but all that, however, is gone. I will scarcely be able to regain it even by my best exertions. Beholding my fate, he that is bent upon (achieving) his own good, will certainly suppress vanity. He who having acquired great wealth performeth meritorious sacrifices, who having acquired all kinds of learning remaineth humble, and who having studied the entire Vedas devoteth himself to asceticism with a heart withdrawn from all mundane enjoyments, goeth to heaven.
None should exult in having acquired great wealth. None should be vain of having studied the entire Vedas. In the world men are of different dispositions. Destiny is supreme. Both power and exertion are all fruitless. Knowing Destiny to be all-powerful, the wise, whatever their portions may be, should neither exult nor grieve. When creatures know that their weal and woe are dependent on Destiny and not on their own exertion or power, they should neither grieve nor exult, remembering that Destiny is all powerful. The wise should ever live contented, neither grieving at woe nor exulting at weal. When Destiny is supreme, both grief and exultation are unbecoming.
O Ashtaka, I never suffer myself to be overcome by fear, nor do I ever entertain grief, knowing for certain that I shall be in the world what the great disposer of all hath ordained. Insects and worms, all oviparous creatures, vegetable existences, all crawling animals, vermin, the fish in the water, stones, grass, wood--in fact, all created things, when they are freed from the effects of their acts, are united with the Supreme Soul. Happiness and misery are both transient. Therefore, O Ashtaka, why should I grieve? We can never know how we are to act in order to avoid misery. Therefore, none should grieve for misery.' "Possessed of every virtue, king Yayati who was the maternal grandfather of Ashtaka, while staying in the welkin, at the conclusion of his speech, was again questioned by Ashtaka.
The latter said, 'O king of kings, tell me, in detail, of all those regions that thou hast visited and enjoyed, as well as the period for which thou hast enjoyed each. Thou speakest of the precepts of religion even like the clever masters acquainted with the acts and sayings of great beings!' Yayati replied, 'I was a great king on Earth, owning the whole world for my dominion. Leaving it, I acquired by dint of religious merit many high regions. There I dwelt for a full thousand years, and then I attained to a very high region the abode of Indra, of extraordinary beauty having a thousand gates, and extending over a hundred yojanas all round.
There too, I dwelt a full thousand years and then attained to a higher region still. That is the region of perfect beatitude, where decay never exists, the region, viz., that of the Creator and the Lord of Earth, so difficult of attainment. There also I dwelt for a full thousand years, and then attained to another very high region viz., that of the god of gods (Vishnu) where, too, I had lived in happiness. Indeed, I dwelt in various regions, adored by all the celestials, and possessed of prowess and splendour equal unto those of the celestials themselves. Capable of assuming any form at will, I lived for a million years in the gardens of Nandana sporting with the Apsaras and beholding numberless beautiful trees clad in flowery vesture and sending forth delicious perfume all round.
And after many, many years had elapsed, while still residing there in enjoyment of perfect beatitude, the celestial messenger of grim visage, one day, in a loud and deep voice, thrice shouted to me--Ruined! Ruined! Ruined!--O lion among kings, this much do I remember. I was then fallen from Nandana, my religious merits gone! I heard in the skies, O king, the voices of the celestials exclaiming in grief,--Alas! What a misfortune! Yayati, with his religious merits destroyed, though virtuous and of sacred deeds, is falling!--And as I was falling, I asked them loudly, 'Where, ye celestials, are those wise ones amongst whom I am to fall?' They pointed out to me this sacred sacrificial region belonging to you. Beholding the curls of smoke blackening the atmosphere and smelling the perfume of clarified butter poured incessantly upon fire, and guided thereby, I am approaching this region of yours, glad at heart that I come amongst you.'"
(Sambhava Parva continued) "Ashtaka said, 'Capable of assuming any form at will, thou hast lived for a million years in the gardens of Nandana. For what cause, O foremost of those that flourished in the Krita age, hast thou been compelled to leave that region and come hither?' Yayati answered, 'As kinsmen, friends, and relatives forsake, in this world, those whose wealth disappears
so, in the other world, the celestials with Indra as their chief, forsake him who hath lost his righteousness.' Ashtaka said, 'I am extremely anxious to know how in the other world men can lose virtue. Tell me also, O king, what regions are attainable by what courses of action. Thou art acquainted, I know, with the acts and sayings of great beings." "Yayati answered, 'O pious one, they that speak of their own merits are doomed to suffer the hell called Bhauma. Though really emaciated and lean, they appear to grow on Earth (in the shape of their sons and grandsons) only to become food for vultures, dogs, and jackals. Therefore, O king, this highly censurable and wicked vice should be repressed. I have now, O king, told thee all. Tell me what more I shall say.'
"Ashtaka said, 'When life is destroyed with age, vultures, peacocks, insects, and worms eat up the human body. Where doth man then reside? How doth he also come back to life? I have never heard of any hell called Bhauma on Earth!' "Yayati answered, 'After the dissolution of the body, man, according to his acts, re-entereth the womb of his mother and stayeth there in an indistinct form, and soon after assuming a distinct and visible shape reappeareth in the world and walketh on its surface. This is that Earth-hell (Bhauma) where he falleth, for he beholdeth not the termination of his existence and acteth not towards his emancipation.
Some dwell for sixty thousand years, some, for eighty-thousand years in heaven, and then they fall. And as they fall, they are attacked by certain Rakshasas in the form of sons, grandsons, and other relatives, that withdraw their hearts from acting for their own emancipation.' "Ashtaka asked, 'For what sin are beings, when they fall from heaven, attacked by these fierce and sharptoothed Rakshasas? Why are they not reduced to annihilation? How do they again enter the womb, furnished with senses?'
"Yayati answered, 'After falling from heaven, the being becometh a subtile substance living in water. This water becometh the semen whence is the seed of vitality. Thence entering the mother's womb in the womanly season, it developeth into the embryo and next into visible life like the fruit from the flower. Entering trees, plants, and other vegetable substances, water, air, earth, and space, that same watery seed of life assumeth the quadrupedal or bipedal form. This is the case with all creatures that you see.'
"Ashtaka said, 'O tell me, I ask thee because I have my doubts. Doth a being that hath received a human form enter the womb in its own shape or in some other? How doth it also acquire its distinct and visible shape, eyes and ears and consciousness as well? Questioned by me, O, explain it all! Thou art, O father, one acquainted with the acts and sayings of great beings.' Yayati answered, 'According to the merits of one's acts, the being that in a subtile form co-inheres in the seed that is dropped into
the womb is attracted by the atmospheric force for purposes of re-birth. It then developeth there in course of time; first it becomes the embryo, and is next provided with the visible physical organism. Coming out of the womb in due course of time, it becometh conscious of its existence as man, and with his ears becometh sensible of sound; with his eyes, of colour and form; with his nose, of scent; with his tongue, of taste; by his whole body, of touch; and by his mind, of ideas. It is thus, O Ashtaka, that the gross and visible body developeth from the subtile essence.' "Ashtaka asked, 'After death, the body is burnt, or otherwise destroyed.
Reduced to nothing upon such dissolution, by what principle is one revived?' Yayati said, 'O lion among kings, the person that dies assumes a subtil form; and retaining consciousness of all his acts as in a dream, he enters some other form with a speed quicker than that of air itself. The virtuous attain to a superior, and the vicious to an inferior form of existence. The vicious become worms and insects. I have nothing more to say, O thou of great and pure soul! I have told thee how beings are born, after development of embryonic forms, as four-footed, six-footed creatures and others with more feet. What more wilt thou ask me?' "Ashtaka said, 'How, O father, do men attain to those superior regions whence there is no return to earthly life? I
s it by asceticism or by knowledge? How also can one gradually attain to felicitous regions? Asked by me, O answer it in full.' "Yayati answered, 'The wise say that for men there are seven gates through which admission may be gained into Heaven. There are asceticism, benevolence, tranquillity of mind, self-command, modesty, simplicity, and kindness to all creatures. The wise also say that a person loseth all these in consequence of vanity. That man who having acquired knowledge regardeth himself as learned, and with his learning destroyed the reputation of others, never attaineth to regions of indestructible felicity. That knowledge also doth not make its possessor competent to attain to Brahma. Study, taciturnity, worship before fire, and sacrifices, these four remove all fear.
When, however, these are mixed with vanity, instead of removing it, they cause fear. The wise should never exult at (receiving) honours nor should they grieve at insults. For it is the wise alone that honour the wise; the wicked never act like the virtuous. I have given away so much--I have performed so many sacrifices,--I have studied so much,--I have observed these vows,--such vanity is the root of fear. Therefore, thou must not indulge in such feelings. Those learned men who accept as their support the unchangeable, inconceivable Brahma alone that ever showereth blessings on persons virtuous like thee, enjoy perfect peace here and hereafter.'"
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