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Tuesday, January 25, 2022
The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa; Book 1; SECTIONS CI-CX
(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, p. 220 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.
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 p. 221 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 oceangoing 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 p. 229 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. I
f 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 p. 230 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 tranquility 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 wellskilled 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 p. 235 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.'