Mahabharata IV


(Astika Parva continued)

‘Sauti continued, ‘The ministers said, ‘That king of kings then, spent

with hunger and exertion, and having placed the snake upon the shoulders

of that Muni, came back to his capital. The Muni had a son, born of a

cow, of the name of Sringin. He was widely known, possessed of great

prowess and energy, and very wrathful. Going (every day) to his preceptor

he was in the habit of worshipping him. Commanded by him, Sringin was

returning home, when he heard from a friend of his about the insult of

his father by thy parent. And, O tiger among kings, he heard that his

father, without having committed any fault, was bearing, motionless like

a statue, upon his shoulders a dead snake placed thereon. O king, the

Rishi insulted by thy father was severe in ascetic penances, the foremost

of Munis, the controller of passions, pure, and ever engaged in wonderful

acts. His soul was enlightened with ascetic penances, and his organs and

their functions were under complete control. His practices and his speech

were both very nice. He was contented and without avarice. He was without

meanness of any kind and without envy. He was old and used to observe the

vow of silence. And he was the refuge whom all creatures might seek in


“Such was the Rishi insulted by thy father. The son, however, of that

Rishi, in wrath, cursed thy father. Though young in years, the powerful

one was old in ascetic splendour. Speedily touching water, he spake,

burning as it were with spiritual energy and rage, these words in

allusion to thy father, ‘Behold the power of my asceticism! Directed by

my words, the snake Takshaka of powerful energy and virulent poison,

shall, within seven nights hence, burn, with his poison the wretch that

hath placed the dead snake upon my un-offending father.’ And having said

this, he went to where his father was. And seeing his father he told him

of his curse. The tiger among Rishis thereupon sent to thy father a

disciple of his, named Gaurmukha, of amiable manners and possessed of

every virtue. And having rested a while (after arrival at court) he told

the king everything, saying in the words of his master, ‘Thou hast been

cursed, O king, by my son. Takshaka shall burn thee with his poison!

Therefore, O king, be careful.’ O Janamejaya, hearing those terrible

words, thy father took every precaution against the powerful snake


“And when the seventh day had arrived, a Brahmana Rishi, named Kasyapa,

desired to come to the monarch. But the snake Takshaka saw Kasyapa. And

the prince of snakes spake unto Kasyapa without loss of time, saying,

‘Where dost thou go so quickly, and what is the business on which thou

goest?’ Kasyapa replied, saying, ‘O Brahmana, I am going whither king

Parikshit, that best of the Kurus, is. He shall today be burnt by the

poison of the snake Takshaka. I go there quickly in order to cure him, in

fact, in order that, protected by me, the snake may not bite him to

death.’ Takshaka answered, saying, ‘Why dost thou seek to revive the king

to be bitten by me? I am that Takshaka. O Brahmana, behold the wonderful

power of my poison. Thou art incapable of reviving that monarch when bit

by me.’ So saying, Takshaka, then and there, bit a lord of the forest (a

banian tree). And the banian, as soon as it was bit by the snake, was

converted into ashes. But Kasyapa, O king, revived it. Takshaka thereupon

tempted him, saying, ‘Tell me thy desire.’ And Kasyapa, too, thus

addressed, spake again unto Takshaka, saying, ‘I go there from desire of

wealth.’ And Takshaka, thus addressed, then spake unto the high-souled

Kasyapa in these soft words, ‘O sinless one, take from me more wealth

than what thou expectest from that monarch, and go back!’ And Kasyapa,

that foremost of men, thus addressed by the snake, and receiving from him

as much wealth as he desired, wended his way back.

“And Kasyapa going back, Takshaka, approaching in disguise, blasted, with

the fire of his poison, thy virtuous father, the first of kings, then

staying in his mansion with all precautions. And after that, thou wast, O

tiger among men, been installed (on the throne). And, O best of monarchs,

we have thus told thee all that we have seen and heard, cruel though the

account is. And hearing all about the discomfiture of thy royal father,

and of the insult to the Rishi Utanka, decide thou that which should


‘Sauti continued, ‘King Janamejaya, that chastiser of enemies, then spake

upto all his ministers. And he said, ‘When did ye learn all that happened

upon that, banian reduced to ashes by Takshaka, and which, wonderful as

it is, was afterwards revived by Kasyapa? Assuredly, my father could not

have died, for the poison could have been neutralised by Kasyapa with his

mantras. That worst of snakes, of sinful soul, thought within his mind

that if Kasyapa resuscitated the king bit by him, he, Takshaka, would be

an object of ridicule in the world owing to the neutralisation of his

poison. Assuredly, having thought so, he pacified the Brahmana. I have

devised a way, however, of inflicting punishment upon him. I like to

know, however, what ye saw or heard, what happened in the deep solitude

of the forest,–viz., the words of Takshaka and the speeches of Kasyapa.

Having known it, I shall devise the means of exterminating the snake


“The ministers said, ‘Hear, O monarch of him who told us before of the

meeting between that foremost Brahmana and that prince of snakes in the

woods. A certain person, O monarch, had climbed up that tree containing

some dry branches with the object of breaking them for sacrificial fuel.

He was not perceived either by the snake or by the Brahmana. And, O king,

that man was reduced to ashes along with the tree itself. And, O king of

kings, he was revived with the tree by the power of the Brahmana. That

man, a Brahmana’s menial, having come to us, represented fully everything

as it happened between Takshaka and the Brahmana. Thus have we told thee,

O king, all that we have seen and heard. And having heard it, O tiger

among kings, ordain that which should follow.’

“Sauti continued, ‘King Janamejaya, having listened to the words of his

ministers, was sorely afflicted with grief, and began to weep. And the

monarch began to squeeze his hands. And the lotus-eyed king began to

breathe a long and hot breath, shed tears, and shrieked aloud. And

possessed with grief and sorrow, and shedding copious tears, and touching

water according to the form, the monarch spake. And reflecting for a

moment, as if settling something in his mind, the angry monarch,

addressing all ministers, said these words.

‘I have heard your account of my father’s ascension to heaven. Know ye

now what my fixed resolve is. I think no time must be lost in avenging

this injury upon the wretch Takshaka that killed my father. He burnt my

father making Sringin only a secondary cause. From malignity alone he

made Kasyapa return. If that Brahmana had arrived, my father assuredly

would have lived. What would he have lost if the king had revived by the

grace of Kasyapa and the precautionary measures of his ministers? From

ignorance of the effects of my wrath, he prevented Kasyapa–that

excellent of Brahmanas–whom he could not defeat, from coming to my

father with the desire of reviving him. The act of aggression is great on

the part of the wretch Takshaka who gave wealth unto that Brahmana in

order that he might not revive the king. I must now avenge myself on my

father’s enemy to please myself, the Rishi Utanka and you all.'”


(Astika Parva continued)

‘Sauti said, ‘King Janamejaya having said so, his ministers expressed

their approbation. And the monarch then expressed his determination to

perform a snake-sacrifice. And that lord of the Earth–that tiger of the

Bharata race–the son of Parikshit, then called his priest and Ritwiks.

And accomplished in speech, he spake unto them these words relating to

the accomplishment of his great task. ‘I must avenge myself on the wretch

Takshaka who killed my father. Tell me what I must do. Do you know any

act by which I may cast into the blazing fire the snake Takshaka with his

relatives? I desire to burn that wretch even as he burnt, of yore, by the

fire of his poison, my father.’

‘The chief priest answered, ‘There is, O king, a great sacrifice for thee

devised by the gods themselves. It is known as the snake-sacrifice, and

is read of in the Puranas. O king, thou alone canst accomplish it, and no

one else. Men versed in the Puranas have told us, there is such a


“Sauti continued, ‘Thus addressed, the king, O excellent one, thought

Takshaka to be already burnt and thrown into the blazing mouth of Agni,

the eater of the sacrificial butter. The king then said unto those

Brahmanas versed in mantras, ‘I shall make preparations for that

sacrifice. Tell me the things that are necessary.’ And the king’s

Ritwiks, O excellent Brahmana, versed in the Vedas and acquainted with

the rites of that sacrifice measured, according to the scriptures, the

land for the sacrificial platform. And the platform was decked with

valuable articles and with Brahmanas. And it was full of precious things

and paddy. And the Ritwika sat upon it at ease. And after the sacrificial

platform had been thus constructed according to rule and as desired, they

installed the king at the snake-sacrifice for the attainment of its

object. And before the commencement of the snake-Sacrifice that was to

come, there occurred this very important incident foreboding obstruction

to the sacrifice. For when the sacrificial platform was being

constructed, a professional builder of great intelligence and well-versed

in the knowledge of laying foundations, a Suta by caste, well-acquainted

with the Puranas, said, ‘The soil upon which and the time at which the

measurement for the sacrificial platform has been made, indicate that

this sacrifice will not be completed, a Brahmana becoming the reason

thereof.’ Hearing this, the king, before his installation, gave orders to

his gate-keepers not to admit anybody without his knowledge.”


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘The snake-sacrifice then commenced according to due form.

And the sacrificial priests, competent in their respective duties

according to the ordinance, clad in black garments and their eyes red

from contact with smoke, poured clarified butter into the blazing fire,

uttering the appropriate mantras. And causing the hearts of all the

snakes to tremble with fear, they poured clarified butter into the mouth

of Agni uttering the names of the snakes. And the snakes thereupon began

to fall into the blazing fire, benumbed and piteously calling upon one

another. And swollen and breathing hard, and twining each other with

their heads and tails, they came in large numbers and fell into the fire.

The white, the black, the blue, the old and the young–all fell alike

into the fire, uttering various cries. Those measuring a krosa, and those

measuring a yojana, and those of the measure of a gokarna, fell

continuously with great violence into that first of all fires. And

hundreds and thousands and tens of thousands of snakes, deprived of all

control over their limbs, perished on that occasion. And amongst those

that perished, there were some that were like horses, other like trunks

of elephants, and others of huge bodies and strength like maddened

elephants Of various colours and virulent poison, terrible and looking

like maces furnished with iron-spikes, of great strength, ever inclined

to bite, the snakes, afflicted with their mother’s curse, fell into the



(Astika Parva continued)

“Saunaka asked, ‘What great Rishis became the Ritwiks at the

snake-sacrifice of the wise king Janamejaya of the Pandava line? Who also

became the Sadasyas in that terrible snake-sacrifice, so frightful to the

snakes, and begetting such sorrow in them? It behoveth thee to describe

all these in detail, so that, O son of Suta, we may know who were

acquainted with the rituals of the snake-sacrifice.’

“Sauti replied, ‘I will recite the names of those wise ones who became

the monarch’s Ritwiks and Sadasyas. The Brahmana Chandabhargava became

the Hotri in that sacrifice. He was of great reputation, and was born in

the race of Chyavana and was the foremost of those acquainted with the

Vedas. The learned old Brahmana, Kautsa, became the Udgatri, the chanter

of the Vedic hymns. Jaimini became the Brahmana, and Sarngarva and

Pingala the Adhvaryus, Vyasa with his son and disciples, and Uddalaka,

Pramataka, Swetaketu, Pingala, Asita, Devala, Narada, Parvata, Atreya,

Kundajathara, the Brahmana Kalaghata, Vatsya, old Srutasravas ever

engaged in japa and the study of the Vedas. Kohala Devasarman, Maudgalya,

Samasaurava, and many other Brahmanas who had got through the Vedas

became the Sadasyas at that sacrifice of the son of Parikshit.

“When the Ritwiks in that snake-sacrifice began to pour clarified butter

into the fire, terrible snakes, striking fear into every creature, began

to fall into it. And the fat and the marrow of the snakes thus falling

into the fire began to flow in rivers. And the atmosphere was filled with

an insufferable stench owing to the incessant burning of the snakes. And

incessant also were the cries of the snakes fallen into the fire and

those in the air about to fall into it.

‘Meanwhile, Takshaka, that prince of snakes, as soon as he heard that

king Janamejaya was engaged in the sacrifice, went to the palace of

Purandara (Indra). And that best of snakes, having represented all that

had taken place, sought in terror the protection of Indra after having

acknowledged his fault. And Indra, gratified, told him, ‘O prince of

snakes, O Takshaka, here thou hast no fear from that snake-sacrifice. The

Grandsire was pacified by me for thy sake. Therefore, thou hast no fear.

Let this fear of thy heart be allayed.’

Sauti continued, ‘Thus encouraged by him, that best of snakes began to

dwell in Indra’s abode in joy and happiness. But Vasuki, seeing that the

snakes were incessantly falling into the fire and that his family was

reduced to only a few, became exceedingly sorry. And the king of the

snakes was afflicted with great grief, and his heart was about to break.

And summoning his sister, he spake unto her, saying, ‘O amiable one, my

limbs are burning and I no longer see the points of the heavens. I am

about to fall down from loss of consciousness. My mind is turning, my

sight is falling and my heart is breaking. Benumbed, I may fall today

into that blazing fire! This sacrifice of the son of Parikshit is for the

extermination of our race. It is evident I also shall have to go to the

abode of the king of the dead. The time is come, O my sister, on account

of which thou wert bestowed by me on Jaratkaru to protect us with our

relatives. O best of the women of the snake race, Astika will put an end

to the sacrifice that is going on. The Grandsire told me this of old.

Therefore, O child, solicit thy dear son who is fully conversant with the

Vedas and regarded even by the old, for the protection of myself and also

of those dependent on me.”‘


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘Then the snake-dame Jaratkaru, calling her own son, told

him the following words according to the directions of Vasuki, the king

of the snakes. ‘O son, the time is come for the accomplishment of that

object for which I was bestowed on thy father by my brother. Therefore,

do thou that which should be done.’

“Astika asked, ‘Why wert thou, O mother, bestowed on my father by my

uncle? Tell me all truly so that on hearing it, I may do what is proper.’

“Then Jaratkaru, the sister of the king of the snakes, herself unmoved by

the general distress, and even desirous of the welfare of her relatives,

said unto him, ‘O son, it is said that the mother of all the snakes is

Kadru. Know thou why she cursed in anger her sons.’ Addressing the snakes

she said, ‘As ye have refused to falsely represent Uchchaihsravas, the

prince of horses, for bringing about Vinata’s bondage according to the

wager, therefore, shall he whose charioteer is Vayu burn you all in

Janamejaya’s sacrifice. And perishing in that sacrifice, ye shall go to

the region of the unredeemed spirits.’ The Grandsire of all the worlds

spake unto her while uttering this curse, ‘Be it so,’ and thus approved

of her speech. Vasuki, having heard that curse and then the words of the

Grandsire, sought the protection of the gods, O child, on the occasion

when the amrita was being churned for. And the gods, their object

fulfilled, for they had obtained the excellent amrita, with Vasuki ahead,

approached the Grandsire. And all the gods, with king Vasuki, sought to

incline Him who was born of the lotus to be propitious, so that the curse

might be made abortive.’

“And the gods said, ‘O Lord, Vasuki, the king of the snakes, is sorry on

account of his relatives. How may his mother’s curse prove abortive?’

“Brahman thereupon replied, saying, ‘Jaratkaru will take unto himself a

wife of the name of Jaratkaru; the Brahmana born of her will relieve the


“Vasuki, the best of snakes, hearing those words, bestowed me, O thou of

godlike looks, on thy high-souled father some time before the

commencement of the sacrifice. And from that marriage thou art born of

me. That time has come. It behoveth thee to protect us from this danger.

It behoveth thee to protect my brother and myself from the fire, so that

the object, viz., our relief, for which I was bestowed on thy wise

father, may not be unfulfilled. What dost thou think, O son?’

“Sauti continued, ‘Thus addressed, Astika said unto his mother, ‘Yes, I

will.’ And he then addressed the afflicted Vasuki, and as if infusing

life into him, said, ‘O Vasuki, thou best of snakes, thou great being,

truly do I say, I shall relieve thee from that curse. Be easy, O snake!

There is no fear any longer. I shall strive earnestly so that good may

come! Nobody hath ever said that my speech, even in jest, hath proved

false. Hence on serious occasions like this, I need not say anything

more, O uncle, going thither today I shall gratify, with words mixed with

blessings, the monarch Janamejaya installed at the sacrifice, so that, O

excellent one, the sacrifice may stop. O highminded one, O king of the

snakes, believe all that I say. Believe me, my resolve can never be


“And Vasuki then said, ‘O Astika, my head swims and my heart breaks. I

cannot discern the points of the earth, as I am afflicted with a mother’s


“And Astika said, ‘Thou best of snakes, it behoveth thee not to grieve

any longer. I shall dispel this fear of thine from the blazing fire. This

terrible punishment, capable of burning like the fire at the end of the

Yuga, I shall extinguish. Nurse not thy fear any longer.’

“Sauti continued, ‘Then that best of Brahmanas, Astika, quelling the

terrible fear of the Vasuki’s heart, and taking it, as it were, on

himself, wended, for the relief of the king of the snakes, with speed to

Janamejaya’s sacrifice blessed with every merit. And Astika having gone

thither, beheld the excellent sacrificial compound with numerous Sadasyas

on it whose splendour was like unto that of the Sun or Agni. But that

best of Brahmanas was refused admittance by the door-keepers. And the

mighty ascetic gratified them, being desirous of entering the sacrificial

compound. And that best of Brahmanas, that foremost of all virtuous men,

having entered the excellent sacrificial compound, began to adore the

king of infinite achievements, Ritwiks, the Sadasyas, and also the sacred



(Astika Parva continued)

“Astika said, ‘Soma and Varuna and Prajapati performed sacrifices of old

in Prayaga. But thy sacrifice, O foremost one of Bharata’s race, O son of

Parikshit, is not inferior to any of those. Let those dear unto us be

blessed! Sakra performed a hundred sacrifices. But this sacrifice of

thine, O foremost one of Bharata’s race, O son of Parikshit, is fully

equal to ten thousand sacrifices of Sakra. Let those dear unto us be

blessed! Like the sacrifice of Yama, of Harimedha, or of king Rantideva,

is the sacrifice of thine, O foremost one of Bharata’s race, O son of

Parikshit. Let those dear unto us be blessed! Like the sacrifice of Maya,

of king Sasavindu, or of king Vaisravana, is this sacrifice of thine, O

foremost one of Bharata’s race, O son of Satyavati, in which he himself

was the chief priest, is this sacrifice of Nriga, of Ajamida, of the son

of Dasaratha, is this sacrifice of thine, O foremost one of Bharata’s

race, O son of Parikshit. Let those dear unto us be blessed! Like the

sacrifice of king Yudhishthira, the son of a god and belonging to Ajamida

race, heard of (even) in the heavens, is this sacrifice of thine. O

foremost one of Bharata’s race, O son of Parikshit, let those dear unto

us be blessed! Like the sacrifice of Krishna (Dwaipayana), the son of

Satyavati, in which he himself was the chief priest, is this sacrifice of

thine, O foremost one of Bharata’s race, O son of Parikshit Let those

dear unto us be blessed! These (Ritwiks and Sadasyas) that are here

engaged in making thy sacrifice, like unto that of the slayer of Vritra,

are of splendour equal to that of the sun. There now remains nothing for

them to know, and gifts made to them become inexhaustible (in merit). It

is my conviction that there is no Ritwik in all the worlds who is equal

to thy Ritwik, Dwaipayana. His disciples, becoming Ritwiks, competent for

their duties, travel over the earth. The high-souled bearer of libation

(viz., Agni), called also Vibhavasu and Chitrabhanu, having gold for his

vital seed and having his path, marked by black smoke, blazing up with

flames inclined to the right, beareth these thy libations of clarified

butter to the gods. In this world of men there is no other monarch equal

to thee in the protection of subjects. I am ever well-pleased with thy

abstinence. Indeed, thou art either Varuna, or Yama, the god of Justice.

Like Sakra himself, thunderbolt in hand, thou art, in this world, the

protector of all creatures. In this earth there is no man so great as

thou and no monarch who is thy equal in sacrifice. Thou art like

Khatwanga, Nabhaga, and Dilipa. In prowess thou art like Yayati and

Mandhatri. In splendour equal to the sun, and of excellent vows, thou art

O monarch, like Bhishma! Like Valmiki thou art of energy concealed. Like

Vasishtha thou hast controlled thy wrath. Like Indra is thy lordship. Thy

splendour also shines like that of Narayana. Like Yama art thou

conversant with the dispensation of justice. Thou art like Krishna

adorned with every virtue. Thou art the home of the good fortune that

belongs to the Vasus. Thou art also the refuge of the sacrifices. In

strength thou art equal to Damvodbhava. Like Rama (the son of Jamadagni)

thou art conversant with the scriptures and arms. In energy thou art

equal to Aurva and Trita. Thou inspirest terror by thy looks like


“Sauti said, ‘Astika, having thus adored them, gratified them all, viz.,

the king, the Sadasyas, the Ritwiks and the sacrificial fire. And king

Janamejaya beholding the signs and indications manifested all around,

addressed them as follows.'”


(Astika Parva continued)

Janamejaya said, ‘Though this one is but a boy, he speaks yet like a wise

old man. He is not a boy but one wise and old. I think, I desire to

bestow on him a boon. Therefore, ye Brahmanas, give me the necessary


“The Sadasyas said, ‘A Brahmana, though a boy, deserves the respect of

kings. The learned ones do more so. This boy deserves every desire of his

being fulfilled by thee, but not before Takshaka comes with speed.’

“Sauti continued, ‘The king, being inclined to grant the Brahmana a boon,

said ‘Ask thou a boon.’ The Hotri, however, being rather displeased,

said, ‘Takshaka hath not come as yet into this sacrifice.’

“Janamejaya replied, ‘Exert ye to the best of your might, so that this

sacrifice of mine may attain completion, and Takshaka also may soon come

here. He is my enemy.’

“The Ritwiks replied, ‘As the scriptures declare unto us, and as the fire

also saith, O monarch, (it seems that) Takshaka is now staying in the

abode of Indra, afflicted with fear.’

“Sauti continued, ‘The illustrious Suta named Lohitaksha also, conversant

with the Puranas, had said so before.

“Asked by the king on the present occasion he again told the monarch,

‘Sire, it is even so as the Brahmanas have said–Knowing the Puranas, I

say, O monarch, that Indra hath granted him this boon, saying, ‘Dwell

with me in concealment, and Agni shall not burn thee.’

‘Sauti continued, ‘Hearing this, the king installed in the sacrifice

became very sorry and urged the Hotri to do his duty. And as the Hotri,

with mantras, began to pour clarified butter into the fire Indra himself

appeared on the scene. And the illustrious one came in his car, adorned

by all the gods standing around, followed by masses of clouds, celestial

singers, and the several bevies of celestial dancing girls. And Takshaka

anxious with fear, hid himself in the upper garment of Indra and was not

visible. Then the king in his anger again said unto his mantra-knowing

Brahmanas these words, bent upon the destruction of Takshaka, ‘If the

snake Takshaka be in the abode of Indra, cast him into the fire with

Indra himself.’

‘Sauti continued, ‘Urged thus by the king Janamejaya about Takshaka, the

Hotri poured libations, naming that snake then staying there. And even as

the libations were poured, Takshaka, with Purandara himself, anxious and

afflicted, became visible in a moment in the skies. Then Purandara,

seeing that sacrifice, became much alarmed, and quickly casting Takshaka

off, went back to his own abode. After Indra had gone away, Takshaka, the

prince of snakes, insensible with fear, was by virtue of the mantras,

brought near enough the flames of the sacrificial fire.’

“The Ritwiks then said, ‘O king of kings, the sacrifice of thine is being

performed duly. It behoveth thee, O Lord, to grant a boon now to this

first of Brahmanas.’

“Janamejaya then said, ‘Thou immeasurable one of such handsome and

child-like features, I desire to grant thee a worthy boon. Therefore, ask

thou that which thou desirest in thy heart. I promise thee, that I will

grant it even if it be ungrantable.’

‘The Ritwiks said, ‘O monarch, behold, Takshaka is soon coming under thy

control! His terrible cries, and loud roar is being heard. Assuredly, the

snake hath been forsaken by the wielder of thunder. His body being

disabled by your mantras, he is falling from heaven. Even now, rolling in

the skies, and deprived of consciousness, the prince of snakes cometh,

breathing loudly.’

‘Sauti continued, ‘While Takshaka, the prince of snakes was about to fall

into the sacrificial fire, during those few moments Astika spoke as

follows, ‘O Janamejaya, if thou wouldst grant me a boon, let this

sacrifice of thine come to an end and let no more snakes fall into the


‘O Brahmana, the son of Parikshit, being thus addressed by Astika, became

exceedingly sorry and replied unto Astika thus, ‘O illustrious one, gold,

silver, kine, whatever other possessions thou desirest I shall give unto

thee. But let not my sacrifice come to an end.’

“Astika thereupon replied, ‘Gold, silver or kine, I do not ask of thee, O

monarch! But let thy sacrifice be ended so that my maternal relations be


“Sauti continued, ‘The son of Parikshit, being thus addressed by Astika,

repeatedly said this unto that foremost of speakers, ‘Best of the

Brahmanas, ask some other boon. O, blessed be thou!’ But, O thou of

Bhrigu’s race, he did not beg any other boon. Then all the Sadasyas

conversant with the Vedas told the king in one voice, ‘Let the Brahmana

receive his boon!'”


(Astika Parva continued)

“Saunaka said, ‘O son of a Suta, I desire to hear the names of all those

snakes that fell into the fire of this snake-sacrifice!’

“Sauti replied, ‘Many thousands and tens of thousands and billions of

snakes fell into the fire. O most excellent Brahmana, so great is the

number that I am unable to count them all. So far, however, as I

remember, hear the names I mention of the principal snakes cast into the

fire. Hear first the names of the principal ones of Vasuki’s race alone,

of colour blue, red and white of terrible form and huge body and deadly

poison. Helpless and miserable and afflicted with their mother’s curse,

they fell into the sacrificial fire like libations of butter.

“Kotisa, Manasa, Purna, Cala, Pala Halmaka, Pichchala, Kaunapa, Cakra,

Kalavega, Prakalana, Hiranyavahu, Carana, Kakshaka, Kaladantaka–these

snakes born of Vasuki, fell into the fire. And, O Brahmana, numerous

other snakes well-born, and of terrible form and great strength, were

burnt in the blazing fire. I shall now mention those born in the race of

Takshaka. Hear thou their names. Puchchandaka, Mandalaka, Pindasektri,

Ravenaka; Uchochikha, Carava, Bhangas, Vilwatejas, Virohana; Sili,

Salakara, Muka, Sukumara, Pravepana, Mudgara and Sisuroman, Suroman and

Mahahanu. These snakes born of Takshaka fell into the fire. And Paravata,

Parijata, Pandara, Harina, Krisa, Vihanga, Sarabha, Meda, Pramoda,

Sauhatapana–these born in the race of Airavata fell into the fire. Now

hear, O best of Brahmanas, the names of the snakes I mention born in the

race of Kauravya: Eraka, Kundala Veni, Veniskandha, Kumaraka, Vahuka,

Sringavera, Dhurtaka, Pratara and Astaka. There born in the race of

Kauravya fell into the fire. Now hear the names I mention, in order, of

those snakes endued with the speed of the wind and with virulent poison,

born in the race of Dhritarashtra: Sankukarna, Pitharaka, Kuthara,

Sukhana, and Shechaka; Purnangada, Purnamukha, Prahasa, Sakuni, Dari,

Amahatha, Kumathaka, Sushena, Vyaya, Bhairava, Mundavedanga, Pisanga,

Udraparaka, Rishabha, Vegavat, Pindaraka; Raktanga, Sarvasaranga,

Samriddha, Patha and Vasaka; Varahaka, Viranaka, Suchitra, Chitravegika,

Parasara, Tarunaka, Maniskandha and Aruni.

“O Brahmana, thus I have recited the names of the principal snakes known

widely for their achievements–I have not been able to name all, the

number being countless. The sons of these snakes, the sons of those sons,

that were burnt having fallen into the fire, I am unable to mention. They

are so many! Some of three heads, some of seven, others of ten, of poison

like unto the fire at the end of the yuga and terrible in form,–they

were burnt by thousands!

“Many others, of huge bodies, of great speed, tall as mountain summits,

of the length of a yama, of a yojana, and of two yojanas, capable of

assuming at will any form and of mastering at will any degree of

strength, of poison like unto blazing fire, afflicted by the curse of a

mother, were burnt in that great ‘sacrifice.'”


(Astika Parva, continued)

“Sauti said, ‘Listen now to another very wonderful incident in connection

with Astika. When king Janamejaya was about to gratify Astika by granting

the boon, the snake (Takshaka), thrown off Indra’s hands, remained in mid

air without actually falling. King Janamejaya thereupon became curious,

for Takshaka, afflicted with fear, did not at once fall into the fire

although libations were poured in proper form into the blazing

sacrificial Agni in his name.’

“Saunaka said, ‘Was it, O Suta, that the mantras of those wise Brahmanas

were not potent; since Takshaka did not fall into the fire?’

“Sauti replied, ‘Unto the unconscious Takshaka, that best of snakes,

after he had been cast off Indra’s hands, Astika had thrice said, ‘Stay,’

‘Stay,’ ‘Stay.’ And he succeeded in staying in the skies, with afflicted

heart, like a person somehow staying between the welkin and the earth.

“The king then, on being repeatedly urged by his Sadasyas, said, ‘Let it

be done as Astika hath said. Let the sacrifice be ended, let the snakes

be safe, let this Astika also be gratified, O Suta, thy words also be

true.’ When the boon was granted to Astika, plaudits expressive of joy

rang through the air. Thus the sacrifice of the son of Parikshit–that

king of the Pandava race–came to an end. The king Janamejaya of the

Bharata race was himself pleased, and on the Ritwiks with the Sadasyas,

and on all who had come there, the king, bestowed money by hundreds and

thousands. And unto Suta Lohitaksha–conversant with the rules of

building and foundations–who had at the commencement said that a

Brahmana would be the cause of the interruption of the snake-sacrifice,

the king gave much wealth. The king, of uncommon kindness, also gave him

various things, with food and wearing apparel, according to his desire,

and became very much pleased. Then he concluded his sacrifice according

to the prescribed rites, and after treating him with every respect, the

king in joy sent home the wise Astika exceedingly gratified, for he had

attained his object. And the king said unto him, ‘Thou must come again to

become a Sadasya in my great Horse-sacrifice.’ And Astika said, ‘yes’ and

then returned home in great joy, having achieved his great end after

gratifying the monarch. And returning in joy to his uncle and mother and

touching their feet, he recounted to them everything as it had happened.’

“Sauti continued, ‘Hearing all he had said, the snakes that had come

thither became very much delighted, and their fears were allayed. They

were much pleased with Astika and asked him to solicit a boon, saying, ‘O

learned one, what good shall we do unto thee? We have been very much

gratified, having been all saved by thee. What shall we accomplish for

thee, O child!’

“Astika said, ‘Let those Brahmanas, and other men, who shall, in the

morning or in the evening, cheerfully and with attention, read the sacred

account of this my act, have no fear from any of you.’ And the snakes in

joy thereupon said, ‘O nephew, in the nature of thy boon, let it be

exactly as thou sayest. That which thou askest we all shall cheerfully

do, O nephew! And those also that call to mind Astika, Artiman and

Sunitha, in the day or in the night, shall have no fear of snakes. He

again shall have no fear of snakes who will say, ‘I call to mind the

famous Astika born of Jaratkaru, that Astika who saved the snakes from

the snake-sacrifice. Therefore, ye snakes of great good fortune, it

behoveth you not to bite me. But go ye away, blessed be ye, or go away

thou snake of virulent poison, and remember the words of Astika after the

snake sacrifice of Janamejaya. That snake who does not cease from biting

after hearing such mention of Astika, shall have his hood divided a

hundredfold like the fruit of Sinsa tree.’

“Sauti continued, ‘That first of Brahmanas, thus addressed by the

foremost of the chief snakes assembled together, was very much gratified.

And the high-souled one then set his heart upon going away.

“And that best of Brahmanas, having saved the snakes from the

snake-sacrifice, ascended to heaven when his time came, leaving sons and

grandsons behind him.

‘Thus have I recited to thee this history of Astika exactly as it

happened. Indeed, the recitation of this history dispelleth all fear of


‘Sauti continued, ‘O Brahmanas, O foremost one of Bhrigu’s race, as thy

ancestor Pramati had cheerfully narrated unto his inquiring son Ruru, and

as I had heard it, thus have I recited this blessed history, from the

beginning, of the learned Astika. And, O Brahmana, O oppressor of all

enemies, having heard this holy history of Astika that increaseth virtue,

and which thou hadst asked me about after hearing the story of the

Dundubha, let thy ardent curiosity be satisfied.'”


(Adivansavatarana Parva)

“Saunaka said, ‘O son, thou hast narrated to me this extensive and great

history commencing from the progeny of Bhrigu. O son of Suta, I have been

much gratified with thee. I ask thee again, to recite to me, O son of a

Suta, the history composed by Vyasa. The varied and wonderful narrations

that were recited amongst those illustrious Sadasyas assembled at the

sacrifice, in the intervals of their duties of that long-extending

ceremony, and the objects also of those narrations, I desire to hear from

thee, O son of a Suta! Recite therefore, all those to me fully.’

‘Sauti said, ‘The Brahmanas, in the intervals of the duties, spoke of

many things founded upon the Vedas. But Vyasa recited the wonderful and

great history called the Bharata.’

“Saunaka said, ‘That sacred history called the Mahabharata, spreading the

fame of the Pandavas, which Krishna-Dwaipayana, asked by Janamejaya,

caused to be duly recited after the completion of the sacrifice. I desire

to hear duly. That history hath been born of the ocean-like mind of the

great Rishi of soul purified by yoga. Thou foremost of good men, recite

it unto me, for, O son of a Suta, my thirst hath not been appeased by all

thou hast said.’

‘Sauti said, ‘I shall recite to thee from the beginning of that great and

excellent history called the Mahabharata composed by Vyasa. O Brahmana,

listen to it in full, as I recite it. I myself feel a great pleasure in

reciting it.'”


(Adivansavatarana Parva continued)

‘Sauti said, ‘Hearing that Janamejaya was installed in the

snake-sacrifice, the learned Rishi Krishna-Dwaipayana went thither on the

occasion. And he, the grand-father of the Pandavas, was born in an island

of the Yamuna, of the virgin Kali by Sakti’s son, Parasara. And the

illustrious one developed by his will alone his body as soon as he was

born, and mastered the Vedas with their branches, and all the histories.

And he readily obtained that which no one could obtain by asceticism, by

the study of the Vedas, by vows, by fasts, by progeny, and by sacrifice.

And the first of Veda-knowing ones, he divided the Vedas into four parts.

And the Brahmana Rishi had knowledge of the supreme Brahma, knew the past

by intuition, was holy, and cherished truth. Of sacred deeds and great

fame, he begot Pandu and Dhritarashtra and Vidura in order to continue

the line of Santanu.

“And the high-souled Rishi, with his disciples all conversant with the

Vedas and their branches, entered the sacrificial pavilion of the royal

sage, Janamejaya. And he saw that the king Janamejaya was seated in the

sacrificial region like the god Indra, surrounded by numerous Sadasyas,

by kings of various countries whose coronal locks had undergone the

sacred bath, and by competent Ritwiks like unto Brahman himself. And that

foremost one of Bharata’s race, the royal sage Janamejaya, beholding the

Rishi come, advanced quickly with his followers and relatives in great

joy. And the king with the approval of his Sadasyas, gave the Rishi a

golden seat as Indra did to Vrihaspati. And when the Rishi, capable of

granting boons and adored by the celestial Rishis themselves, had been

seated, the king of kings worshipped him according to the rites of the

scriptures. And the king then offered him–his grandfather Krishna–who

fully deserved them, water to wash his feet and mouth, and the Arghya,

and kine. And accepting those offerings from the Pandava Janamejaya and

ordering the kine also not to be slain, Vyasa became much gratified. And

the king, after those adorations bowed to his great-grandfather, and

sitting in joy asked him about his welfare. And the illustrious Rishi

also, casting his eyes upon him and asking him about his welfare,

worshipped the Sadasyas, having been before worshipped by them all. And

after all this, Janamejaya with all his Sadasyas, questioned that first

of Brahmanas, with joined palms as follows:

‘O Brahmana, thou hast seen with thy own eyes the acts of the Kurus and

the Pandavas. I am desirous of hearing thee recite their history. What

was the cause of the disunion amongst them that was fruitful of such

extraordinary deeds? Why also did that great battle, which caused the

death of countless creatures occur between all my grandfathers–their

clear sense over-clouded by fate? O excellent Brahmana, tell me all this

in full as everything had happened.’

“Hearing those words of Janamejaya, Krishna-Dwaipayana directed his

disciple Vaisampayana seated by his side, saying, ‘The discord that

happened between the Kurus and the Pandavas of old, narrate all to the

king even as thou hast heard from me.’

“Then that blessed Brahmana, at the command of his preceptor recited the

whole of that history unto the king, the Sadasyas, and all the chieftains

there assembled. And he told them all about the hostility and the utter

extinction of the Kurus and the Pandavas.'”


(Adivansavatarana Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Bowing down in the first place to my preceptor with

the eight parts of my body touching the ground, with devotion and

reverence, and with all my heart, worshipping the whole assembly of

Brahmanas and other learned persons, I shall recite in full what I have

heard from the high-souled and great Rishi Vyasa, the first of

intelligent men in the three worlds. And having got it within thy reach,

O monarch, thou also art a fit person to hear the composition called

Bharata. Encouraged by the command of my preceptor my heart feeleth no


“Hear, O monarch, why that disunion occurred between the Kurus and the

Pandavas, and why also that exile into the woods immediately proceeding

from the game at dice prompted by the desire (of the Kurus) for rule. I

shall relate all to thee who askest it thou best of the Bharata race!

“On the death of their father those heroes (the Pandavas) came to their

own home. And within a short time they became well-versed in archery. And

the Kurus beholding the Pandavas gifted with physical strength, energy,

and power of mind, popular also with the citizens, and blessed with good

fortune, became very jealous. Then the crookedminded Duryodhana, and

Karna, with (the former’s uncle) the son of Suvala began to persecute

them and devise means for their exile. Then the wicked Duryodhana, guided

by the counsels of Sakuni (his maternal uncle), persecuted the Pandavas

in various ways for the acquirement of undisputed sovereignty. The wicked

son of Dhritarashtra gave poison to Bhima, but Bhima of the stomach of

the wolf digested the poison with the food. Then the wretch again tied

the sleeping Bhima on the margin of the Ganges and, casting him into the

water, went away. But when Bhimasena of strong arms, the son of Kunti

woke, he tore the strings with which he had been tied and came up, his

pains all gone. And while asleep and in the water black snakes of

virulent poison bit him in every part of his body. But that slayer of

foes did not still perish. And in all those persecutions of the Pandavas

by their cousins, the Kurus, the high-minded Vidura attentively engaged

himself neutralising those evil designs and rescuing the persecuted ones.

And as Sakra from the heavens keeps in happiness the world of men, so did

Vidura always keep the Pandavas from evil.

“When Duryodhana, with various means, both secret and open, found himself

incapable of destroying the Pandavas who were protected by the fates and

kept alive for grave future purposes (such as the extermination of the

Kuru race), then called together his counsellors consisting of Vrisha

(Karna), Duhsasana and others, and with the knowledge of Dhritarashtra

caused a house of lac to be constructed. And king Dhritarashtra, from

affection for his children, and prompted by the desire of sovereignty,

sent the Pandavas tactfully into Varanavata. And the Pandavas then went

away with their mother from Hastinapura. And when they were leaving the

city, Vidura gave them some idea of impending danger and how they could

come out of it.

‘The sons of Kunti reached the town of Varanavata and lived there with

their mother. And, agreeably to the command of Dhritarashtra, those

illustrious slayers of all enemies lived in the palace of lac, while in

that town. And they lived in that place for one year, protecting

themselves from Purochana very wakefully. And causing a subterranean

passage to be constructed, acting according to the directions of Vidura,

they set fire to that house of lac and burnt Purochana (their enemy and

the spy of Duryodhana) to death. Those slayers of all enemies, anxious

with fear, then fled with their mother. In the woods beside a fountain

they saw a Rakshasa. But, alarmed at the risk they ran of exposure by

such an act the Pandavas fled in the darkness, out of fear from the sons

of Dhritarashtra. It was here that Bhima gained Hidimva (the sister of

the Rakshasa he slew) for a wife, and it was of her that Ghatotkacha was

born. Then the Pandavas, of rigid vows, and conversant with the Vedas

wended to a town of the name of Ekachakra and dwelt there in the guise of

Brahmacharins. And those bulls among men dwelt in that town in the house

of a Brahmana for some time, with temperance and abstinence. And it was

here that Bhima of mighty arms came upon a hungry and mighty and

man-eating Rakshasa of the name of Vaka. And Bhima, the son of Pandu,

that tiger among men, slew him speedily with the strength of his arms and

made the citizens safe and free from fear. Then they heard of Krishna

(the princess of Panchala) having become disposed to select a husband

from among the assembled princes. And, hearing of it, they went to

Panchala, and there they obtained the maiden. And having obtained

Draupadi (as their common wife) they then dwelt there for a year. And

after they became known, those chastisers of all enemies went back to

Hastinapura. And they were then told by king Dhritarashtra and the son of

Santanu (Bhishma) as follows: ‘In order, O dear ones, dissensions may not

take place between you and your cousins, we have settled that

Khandavaprastha should be your abode. Therefore, go ye, casting off all

jealousy, to Khandavaprastha which contains many towns served by many

broad roads, for dwelling there.’ And accordingly the Pandavas went, with

all their friends and followers, to Khandavaprastha taking with them many

jewels and precious stones. And the sons of Pritha dwelt there for many

years. And they brought, by force of arms, many a prince under their

subjection. And thus, setting their hearts on virtue and firmly adhering

to truth, unruffled by affluence, calm in deportment, and putting down

numerous evils, the Pandavas gradually rose to power. And Bhima of great

reputation subjugated the East, the heroic Arjuna, the North, Nakula, the

West; Sahadeva that slayer of all hostile heroes, the South. And this

having been done, their domination was spread over the whole world. And

with the five Pandavas, each like unto the Sun, the Earth looked as if

she had six Suns.

“Then, for some reason, Yudhishthira the just, gifted with great energy

and prowess, sent his brother Arjuna who was capable of drawing the bow

with the left hand, dearer unto him than life itself, into the woods. And

Arjuna, that tiger among men, of firm soul, and gifted with every virtue,

lived in the woods for eleven years and months. And during this period,

on a certain occasion, Arjuna went to Krishna in Dwaravati. And Vibhatsu

(Arjuna) there obtained for a wife the lotus-eyed and sweet-speeched

younger sister of Vasudeva, Subhadra by name. And she became united, in

gladness, with Arjuna, the son of Pandu, like Sachi with the great Indra,

or Sri with Krishna himself. And then, O best of monarchs, Arjuna, the

son of Kunti, with Vasudeva, gratified Agni; the carrier of the

sacrificial butter, in the forest of Khandava (by burning the medicinal

plants in that woods to cure Agni of his indigestion). And to Arjuna,

assisted as he was by Kesava, the task did not at all appear heavy even

as nothing is heavy to Vishnu with immense design and resources in the

matter of destroying his enemies. And Agni gave unto the son of Pritha

the excellent bow Gandiva and a quiver that was inexhaustible, and a

war-chariot bearing the figure of Garuda on its standard. And it was on

this occasion that Arjuna relieved the great Asura (Maya) from fear (of

being consumed in the fire). And Maya, in gratitude, built (for the

Pandavas) a celestial palace decked with every sort of jewels and

precious stones. And the wicked Duryodhana, beholding that building, was

tempted with the desire of possessing it. And deceiving Yudhishthira by

means of the dice played through the hands of the son of Suvala,

Duryodhana sent the Pandavas into the woods for twelve years and one

additional year to be passed in concealment, thus making the period full


“And the fourteenth year, O monarch, when the Pandavas returned and

claimed their property, they did not obtain it. And thereupon war was

declared, and the Pandavas, after exterminating the whole race of

Kshatriyas and slaying king Duryodhana, obtained back their devastated


“This is the history of the Pandavas who never acted under the influence

of evil passions; and this the account, O first of victorious monarchs of

the disunion that ended in the loss of their kingdom by the Kurus and the

victory of the Pandavas.'”


(Adivansavatarana Parva continued)

“Janamejaya said, ‘O excellent Brahmana, thou hast, indeed, told me, in

brief, the history, called Mahabharata, of the great acts of the Kurus.

But, O thou of ascetic wealth, recite now that wonderful narration fully.

I feel a great curiosity to hear it. It behoveth thee to recite it,

therefore, in full. I am not satisfied with hearing in a nutshell the

great history. That could never have been a trifling cause for which the

virtuous ones could slay those whom they should not have slain, and for

which they are yet applauded by men. Why also did those tigers among men,

innocent and capable of avenging themselves upon their enemies, calmly

suffer the persecution of the wicked Kurus? Why also, O best of

Brahmanas, did Bhima of mighty arms and of the strength of ten thousand

elephants, control his anger, though wronged? Why also did the chaste

Krishna, the daughter of Drupada, wronged by those wretches and able to

burn them, not burn the sons of Dhritarashtra with her wrathful eyes? Why

also did the two other sons of Pritha (Bhima and Arjuna) and the two sons

of Madri (Nakula and Sahadeva), themselves injured by the wretched Kurus,

follow Yudhishthira who was greatly addicted to the evil habit of

gambling? Why also did Yudhishthira, that foremost of all virtuous men,

the son of Dharma himself, fully acquainted with all duties, suffer that

excess of affliction? Why also did the Pandava Dhananjaya, having Krishna

for his charioteer, who by his arrows sent to the other world that

dauntless host of fighting men (suffer such persecution)? O thou of

ascetic wealth, speak to me of all these as they took place, and

everything that those mighty charioteers achieved.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘O monarch, appoint thou a time for hearing it. This

history told by Krishna-Dwaipayana is very extensive. This is but the

beginning. I shall recite it. I shall repeat the whole of the composition

in full, of the illustrious and great Rishi Vyasa of immeasurable mental

power, and worshipped in all the worlds. This Bharata consists of a

hundred thousand sacred slokas composed by the son of Satyavati, of

immeasurable mental power. He that reads it to others, and they that hear

it read, attain to the world of Brahman and become equal to the very

gods. This Bharata is equal unto the Vedas, is holy and excellent; is the

worthiest of all to be listened to, and is a Purana worshipped by the

Rishis. It contains much useful instruction on Artha and Kama (profit and

pleasure). This sacred history maketh the heart desire for salvation.

Learned persons by reciting this Veda of Krishna-Dwaipayana to those that

are liberal, truthful and believing, earn much wealth. Sins, such as

killing the embryo in the womb, are destroyed assuredly by this. A

person, however cruel and sinful, by hearing this history, escapes from

all his sins like the Sun from Rahu (after the eclipse is over). This

history is called Jaya. It should be heard by those desirous of victory.

A king by hearing it may bring the whole world under subjection and

conquer all his foes. This history in itself is a mighty act of

propitiation, a mighty sacrifice productive of blessed fruit. It should

always be heard by a young monarch with his queen, for then they beget a

heroic son or a daughter to occupy a throne. This history is the high and

sacred science of Dharma, Artha, and also of Moksha; it hath been so said

by Vyasa himself of mind that is immeasurable. This history is recited in

the present age and will be recited in the future. They that hear it,

read, have sons and servants always obedient to them and doing their

behests. All sins that are committed by body, word, or mind, immediately

leave them that hear this history. They who hear, without the spirit of

fault finding, the story of the birth of the Bharata princes, can have no

fear of maladies, let alone the fear of the other world.

“For extending the fame of the high-souled Pandavas and of other

Kshatriyas versed in all branches of knowledge, high spirited, and

already known in the world for their achievements, Krishna-Dwaipayana,

guided also by the desire of doing good to the world, hath composed this

work. It is excellent, productive of fame, grants length of life, is

sacred and heavenly. He who, from desire of acquiring religious merit,

causeth this history to be heard by sacred Brahmanas, acquireth great

merit and virtue that is inexhaustible. He that reciteth the famous

generation of the Kurus becometh immediately purified and acquireth a

large family himself, and becometh respected in the world. That Brahmana

who regularly studies this sacred Bharata for the four months of the

rainy season, is cleansed from all his sins. He that has read the Bharata

may be regarded as one acquainted with the Vedas.

“This work presents an account of the gods and royal sages and sacred

regenerate Rishis, the sinless Kesava; the god of gods, Mahadeva and the

goddess Parvati; the birth of Kartikeya who sprang from union of Parvati

with Mahadeva and was reared by many mothers; the greatness of Brahmanas

and of kine. This Bharata is a collection of all the Srutis, and is fit

to be heard by every virtuous person. That learned man who reciteth it to

Brahmanas during the sacred lunations, becometh cleansed of all sins,

and, not caring for heaven as it were, attaineth to a union with Brahma.

He that causeth even a single foot of this poem to be heard by Brahmanas

during the performance of a Sraddha, maketh that Sraddha inexhaustible,

the Pitris becoming ever gratified with the articles once presented to

them. The sins that are committed daily by our senses or the mind, those

that are committed knowingly or unknowingly by any man, are all destroyed

by hearing the Mahabharata. The history of the exalted birth of the

Bharata princes is called the Mahabharata. He who knoweth this etymology

of the name is cleansed of all his sins. And as this history of the

Bharata race is so wonderful, that, when recited, it assuredly purifieth

mortals from all sins. The sage Krishna-Dwaipayana completed his work in

three years. Rising daily and purifying himself and performing his

ascetic devotions, he composed this Mahabharata. Therefore, this should

be heard by Brahmanas with the formality of a vow. He who reciteth this

holy narration composed by Krishna (Vyasa) for the hearing of others, and

they who hear it, in whatever state he or they may be, can never be

affected by the fruit of deeds, good or bad. The man desirous of

acquiring virtue should hear it all. This is equivalent to all histories,

and he that heareth it always attaineth to purity of heart. The

gratification that one deriveth from attaining to heaven is scarcely

equal to that which one deriveth from hearing this holy history. The

virtuous man who with reverence heareth it or causeth it to be heard,

obtaineth the fruit of the Rajasuya and the horse-sacrifice. The Bharata

is said to be as much a mine of gems as the vast Ocean or the great

mountain Meru. This history is sacred and excellent, and is equivalent to

the Vedas, worthy of being heard, pleasing to the ear, sin-cleansing, and

virtue-increasing. O monarch, he that giveth a copy of the Bharata to one

that asketh for it doth indeed make a present of the whole earth with her

belt of seas. O son of Parikshit, this pleasant narration that giveth

virtue and victory I am about to recite in its entirety: listen to it.

The sage Krishna-Dwaipayana regularly rising for three years, composed

this wonderful history called Mahabharata. O bull amongst the Bharata

monarchs, whatever is spoken about virtue, wealth, pleasure, and

salvation may be seen elsewhere; but whatever is not contained in this is

not to be found anywhere.'”


(Adivansavatarana Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘There was a king of the name of Uparichara. That

monarch was devoted to virtue. He was very much addicted also to hunting.

That king of the Paurava race, called also Vasu, conquered the excellent

and delightful kingdom of Chedi under instructions from Indra. Some time

after, the king gave up the use of arms and, dwelling in a secluded

retreat, practised the most severe austerities. The gods with Indra at

their head once approached the monarch during this period, believing that

he sought the headship of the gods, by those severe austerities of his.

The celestials, becoming objects of his sight, by soft speeches succeeded

in winning him away from his ascetic austerities.’

“The gods said, ‘O lord of the earth, thou shouldst take care so that

virtue may not sustain a diminution on earth! Protected by thee, virtue

itself will in return protect the universe.’ And Indra said, ‘O king,

protect virtue on earth attentively and rigidly. Being virtuous, thou

shalt, for all time, behold (in after life) many sacred regions. And

though I am of Heaven, and thou art of earth, yet art thou my friend and

dear to me. And, O king of men, dwell thou in that region on earth which

is delightful, and aboundeth in animals, is sacred, full of wealth and

corn, is well-protected like heaven, which is of agreeable climate,

graced with every object of enjoyment, and blessed with fertility. And, O

monarch of Chedi, this thy dominion is full of riches, of gems and

precious stones, and containeth, besides, much mineral wealth. The cities

and towns of this region are all devoted to virtue; the people are honest

and contented; they never lie even in jest. Sons never divide their

wealth with their fathers and are ever mindful of the welfare of their

parents. Lean cattle are never yoked to the plough or the cart or engaged

in carrying merchandise; on the other hand, they are well-fed and

fattened. In Chedi the four orders are always engaged in their respective

vocations. Let nothing be unknown to thee that happens in the three

worlds. I shall give thee a crystal car such as the celestials alone are

capable of carrying the car through mid air. Thou alone, of all mortals

on earth, riding on that best of cars, shall course through mid-air like

a celestial endued with a physical frame. I shall also give thee a

triumphal garland of unfading lotuses, with which on, in battle, thou

shall not be wounded by weapons. And, O king, this blessed and

incomparable garland, widely known on earth as Indra’s garland, shall be

thy distinctive badge.

“The slayer of Vritra (Indra) also gave the king, for his gratification,

a bamboo pole for protecting the honest and the peaceful. After the

expiry of a year, the king planted it in the ground for the purpose of

worshipping the giver thereof, viz., Sakra. From that time forth, O

monarch, all kings, following Vasu’s example, began to plant a pole for

the celebration of Indra’s worship. After erecting the pole they decked

it with golden cloth and scents and garlands and various ornaments. And

the god Vasava is worshipped in due form with such garlands and

ornaments. And the god, for the gratification of the illustrious Vasu,

assuming the form of a swan, came himself to accept the worship thus

offered. And the god, beholding the auspicious worship thus made by Vasu,

that first of monarchs, was delighted, and said unto him, ‘Those men, and

kings also, who will worship me and joyously observe this festival of

mine like the king of Chedi, shall have glory and victory for their

countries and kingdom. Their cities also shall expand and be ever in


“King Vasu was thus blessed by the gratified Maghavat, the high-souled

chief of the gods. Indeed, those men who cause this festivity of Sakra to

be observed with gifts of land, of gems and precious stones, become the

respected of the world. And king Vasu, the lord of Chedis bestowing boons

and performing great sacrifices and observing the festivity of Sakra, was

much respected by Indra. And from Chedi he ruled the whole world

virtuously. And for the gratification of Indra, Vasu, the lord of the

Chedis, observed the festivity of Indra.

“And Vasu had five sons of great energy and immeasurable prowess. And the

emperor installed his sons as governors of various provinces.

“And his son Vrihadratha was installed in Magadha and was known by the

name of Maharatha. Another son of his was Pratyagraha; and another,

Kusamva, who was also called Manivahana. And the two others were Mavella,

and Yadu of great prowess and invincible in battle.

“These, O monarch, were the sons of that royal sage of mighty energy. And

the five sons of Vasu planted kingdoms and towns after their own names

and founded separate dynasties that lasted for long ages.

“And when king Vasu took his seat in that crystal car, with the gift of

Indra, and coursed through the sky, he was approached by Gandharvas and

Apsaras (the celestial singers and dancers). And as he coursed through

the upper regions, he was called Uparichara. And by his capital flowed a

river called Suktimati. And that river was once attacked by a life-endued

mountain called Kolahala maddened by lust. And Vasu, beholding the foul

attempt, struck the mountain with his foot. And by the indentation caused

by Vasu’s stamp, the river came out (of the embraces of Kolahala). But

the mountain begat on the river two children that were twins. And the

river, grateful to Vasu for his having set her free from Kolahala’s

embraces, gave them both to Vasu. And the son was made the generalissimo

to his forces by Vasu, that best of royal sages and giver of wealth and

punisher of enemies. And the daughter called Girika, was wedded by Vasu.

‘And Girika, the wife of Vasu, after her menstrual course, purifying

herself by a bath, represented her state unto her lord. But that very day

the Pitris of Vasu came unto that best of monarchs and foremost of wise

men, and asked him to slay deer (for their Sraddha). And the king,

thinking that the command of the Pitris should not be disobeyed, went

a-hunting thinking of Girika alone who was gifted with great beauty and

like unto another Sri herself. And the season being the spring, the woods

within which the king was roaming, had become delightful like unto the

gardens of the king of the Gandharvas himself. There were Asokas and

Champakas and Chutas and Atimuktas in abundance: and there were Punnagas

and Karnikaras and Vakulas and Divya Patalas and Patalas and Narikelas

and Chandanas and Arjunas and similar other beautiful and sacred trees

resplendent with fragrant flowers and sweet fruits. And the whole forest

was maddened by the sweet notes of the kokila and echoed with the hum of

maddened bees. And the king became possessed with desire, and he saw not

his wife before him. Maddened by desire he was roaming hither and

thither, when he saw a beautiful Asoka decked with dense foliage, its

branches covered with flowers. And the king sat at his ease in the shade

of that tree. And excited by the fragrance of the season and the charming

odours of the flowers around, and excited also by the delicious breeze,

the king could not keep his mind away from the thought of the beautiful

Girika. And beholding that a swift hawk was resting very near to him, the

king, acquainted with the subtle truths of Dharma and Artha, went unto

him and said, ‘Amiable one, carry thou this seed (semen) for my wife

Girika and give it unto her. Her season hath arrived.’

“The hawk, swift of speed, took it from the king and rapidly coursed

through the air. While thus passing, the hawk was seen by another of his

species. Thinking that the first one was carrying meat, the second one

flew at him. The two fought with each other in the sky with their beaks.

While they were fighting, the seed fell into the waters of the Yamuna.

And in those waters dwelt an Apsara of the higher rank, known by the name

of Adrika, transformed by a Brahmana’s curse into a fish. As soon as

Vasu’s seed fell into the water from the claws of the hawk, Adrika

rapidly approached and swallowed it at once. That fish was, some time

after, caught by the fishermen. And it was the tenth month of the fish’s

having swallowed the seed. From the stomach of that fish came out a male

and a female child of human form. The fishermen wondered much, and

wending unto king Uparichara (for they were his subjects) told him all.

They said, ‘O king, these two beings of human shape have been found in

the body of a fish!’ The male child amongst the two was taken by

Uparichara. That child afterwards became the virtuous and truthful

monarch Matsya.

“After the birth of the twins, the Apsara herself became freed from her

curse. For she had been told before by the illustrious one (who had

cursed her) that she would, while living in her piscatorial form, give

birth to two children of human shape and then would be freed from the

curse. Then, according to these words, having given birth to the two

children, and been killed by the fishermen, she left her fish-form and

assumed her own celestial shape. The Apsara then rose up on the path

trodden by the Siddhas, the Rishis and the Charanas.

“The fish-smelling daughter of the Apsara in her piscatorial form was

then given by the king unto the fishermen, saying, ‘Let this one be thy

daughter.’ That girl was known by the name of Satyavati. And gifted with

great beauty and possessed of every virtue, she of agreeable smiles,

owing to contact with fishermen, was for some time of the fishy smell.

Wishing to serve her (foster) father she plied a boat on the waters of

the Yamuna.

“While engaged in this vocation, Satyavati was seen one day by the great

Rishi Parasara, in course of his wanderings. As she was gifted with great

beauty, an object of desire even with an anchorite, and of graceful

smiles, the wise sage, as soon as he beheld her, desired to have her. And

that bull amongst Munis addressed the daughter of Vasu of celestial

beauty and tapering thighs, saying, ‘Accept my embraces, O blessed one!’

Satyavati replied, ‘O holy one, behold the Rishis standing on either bank

of the river. Seen by them, how can I grant thy wish?’

“Thus addressed by her, the ascetic thereupon created a fog (which

existed not before and) which enveloped the whole region in darkness. And

the maiden, beholding the fog that was created by the great Rishi

wondered much. And the helpless one became suffused with the blushes of

bashfulness. And she said, ‘O holy one, note that I am a maiden under the

control of my father. O sinless one, by accepting your embraces my

virginity will be sullied. O best of Brahmanas, my virginity being

sullied, how shall I, O Rishi, be able to return home? Indeed, I shall

not then be able to bear life. Reflecting upon all this, O illustrious

one, do that which should be done.’ That best of Rishis, gratified with

all she said, replied, “Thou shall remain a virgin even if thou grantest

my wish. And, O timid one, O beauteous lady, solicit the boon that thou

desirest. O thou of fair smiles, my grace hath never before proved

fruitless.’ Thus addressed, the maiden asked for the boon that her body

might emit a sweet scent (instead of the fish-odour that it had). And the

illustrious Rishi thereupon granted that wish of her heart.

“Having obtained her boon, she became highly pleased, and her season

immediately came. And she accepted the embraces of that Rishi of

wonderful deeds. And she thenceforth became known among men by the name

of Gandhavati (the sweet-scented one). And men could perceive her scent

from the distance of a yojana. And for this she was known by another name

which was Yojanagandha (one who scatters her scent for a yojana all

around). And the illustrious Parasara, after this, went to his own asylum.

“And Satyavati gratified with having obtained the excellent boon in

consequence of which she became sweet-scented and her virginity remained

unsullied conceived through Parasara’s embraces. And she brought forth

the very day, on an island in the Yamuna, the child begot upon her by

Parasara and gifted with great energy. And the child, with the permission

of his mother, set his mind on asceticism. And he went away saying, ‘As

soon as thou rememberest me when occasion comes, I shall appear unto


“And it was thus that Vyasa was born of Satyavati through Parasara. And

because he was born in an island, he was called Dwaipayana (Dwaipa or

islandborn). And the learned Dwaipayana, beholding that virtue is

destined to become lame by one leg each yuga (she having four legs in

all) and that the period of life and the strength of men followed the

yugas, and moved by the desire of obtaining the favour of Brahman and the

Brahmanas, arranged the Vedas. And for this he came to be called Vyasa

(the arranger or compiler). The boon-giving great one then taught

Sumanta, Jaimini, Paila, his son Suka, and Vaisampayana, the Vedas having

the Mahabharata for their fifth. And the compilation of the Bharata was

published by him through them separately.

“Then Bhishma, of great energy and fame and of immeasurable splendour,

and sprung from the component parts of the Vasus, was born in the womb of

Ganga through king Santanu. And there was a Rishi of the name of

Animandavya of great fame. And he was conversant with the interpretations

of the Vedas, was illustrious, gifted with great energy, and of great

reputation. And, accused of theft, though innocent, the old Rishi was

impaled. He thereupon summoned Dharma and told him these words, ‘In my

childhood I had pierced a little fly on a blade of grass, O Dharma! I

recollect that one sin: but I cannot call to mind any other. I have,

however, since practised penances a thousandfold. Hath not that one sin

been conquered by this my asceticism? And because the killing of a

Brahmana is more heinous than that of any other living thing, therefore,

hast thou, O Dharma, been sinful. Thou shalt, therefore, be born on earth

in the Sudra order.’ And for that curse Dharma was born a Sudra in the

form of the learned Vidura of pure body who was perfectly sinless. And

the Suta was born of Kunti in her maidenhood through Surya. And he came

out of his mother’s womb with a natural coat of mail and face brightened

by ear-rings. And Vishnu himself, of world-wide fame, and worshipped of

all the worlds, was born of Devaki through Vasudeva, for the benefit of

the three worlds. He is without birth and death, of radiant splendour,

the Creator of the universe and the Lord of all! Indeed, he who is the

invisible cause of all, who knoweth no deterioration, who is the

all-pervading soul, the centre round which everything moveth, the

substance in which the three attributes of Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas

co-inhere, the universal soul, the immutable, the material out of which

hath been created this universe, the Creator himself, the controlling

lord, the invisible dweller in every object, progenitor of this universe

of five elements, who is united with the six high attributes, is the

Pranava or Om of the Vedas, is infinite, incapable of being moved by any

force save his own will, illustrious, the embodiment of the mode of life

called Sannyasa, who floated on the waters before the creation, who is

the source whence hath sprung this mighty frame, who is the great

combiner, the uncreate, the invisible essence of all, the great

immutable, bereft of those attributes that are knowable by the senses,

who is the universe itself, without beginning, birth, and decay,–is

possessed of infinite wealth, that Grandsire of all creatures, became

incarnate in the race of the Andhaka-Vrishnis for the increase of virtue.

“And Satyaki and Kritavarma, conversant with (the use of) weapons

possessed of mighty energy, well-versed in all branches of knowledge, and

obedient to Narayana in everything and competent in the use of weapons,

had their births from Satyaka and Hridika. And the seed of the great

Rishi Bharadwaja of severe penances, kept in a pot, began to develop. And

from that seed came Drona (the pot-born). And from the seed of Gautama,

fallen upon a clump of reeds, were born two that were twins, the mother

of Aswatthaman (called Kripi), and Kripa of great strength. Then was born

Dhrishtadyumna, of the splendour of Agni himself, from the sacrificial

fire. And the mighty hero was born with bow in hand for the destruction

of Drona. And from the sacrificial altar was born Krishna (Draupadi)

resplendent and handsome, of bright features and excellent beauty. Then

was born the disciple of Prahlada, viz., Nagnajit, and also Suvala. And

from Suvala was born a son, Sakuni, who from the curse of the gods became

the slayer of creatures and the foe of virtue. And unto him was also born

a daughter (Gandhari), the mother of Duryodhana. And both were

well-versed in the arts of acquiring worldly profits. And from Krishna

was born, in the soil of Vichitravirya, Dhritarashtra, the lord of men,

and Pandu of great strength. And from Dwaipayana also born, in the Sudra

caste, the wise and intelligent Vidura, conversant with both religion and

profit, and free from all sins. And unto Pandu by his two wives were born

five sons like the celestials. The eldest of them was Yudhishthira. And

Yudhishthira was born (of the seed) of Dharma (Yama, the god of justice);

and Bhima of the wolf’s stomach was born of Marut (the god of wind), and

Dhananjaya, blessed with good fortune and the first of all wielders of

weapons, was born of Indra; and Nakula and Sahadeva, of handsome features

and ever engaged in the service of their superiors, were born of the twin

Aswins. And unto the wise Dhritarashtra were born a hundred sons, viz.,

Duryodhana and others, and another, named Yuyutsu, who was born of a

vaisya woman. And amongst those hundred and one, eleven, viz., Duhsasana,

Duhsaha, Durmarshana, Vikarna, Chitrasena, Vivinsati, Jaya, Satyavrata,

Purumitra, and Yuyutsu by a Vaisya wife, were all Maharathas (great

car-warriors). And Abhimanyu was born of Subhadra, the sister of Vasudeva

through Arjuna, and was, therefore, the grandson of the illustrious

Pandu. And unto the five Pandavas were born five sons by (their common

wife) Panchali. And these princes were all very handsome and conversant

with all branches of knowledge. From Yudhishthira was born Pritivindhya;

from Vrikodara, Sutasoma; from Arjuna, Srutakirti; from Nakula, Satanika;

and from Sahadeva, Srutasena of great prowess; and Bhima, in the forest

begot on Hidimva a son named Ghatotkacha. And from Drupada was born a

daughter Sikhandin who was afterwards transformed into a male child.

Sikhandini was so transformed into a male by Yaksha named Sthuna from the

desire of doing her good.

“In that great battle of the Kurus came hundreds of thousands of monarchs

for fighting against one another. The names of the innumerable host I am

unable to recount even in ten thousand years. I have named, however, the

principal ones who have been mentioned in this history.'”


(Adivansavatarana Parva continued)

“Janamejaya said, ‘O Brahmana, those thou hast named and those thou hast

not named, I wish to hear of them in detail, as also of other kings by

thousands. And, O thou of great good fortune, it behoveth thee to tell me

in full the object for which those Maharathas, equal unto the celestials

themselves, were born on earth.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘It hath been heard by us, O monarch, that what thou

askest is a mystery even to the gods. I shall, however, speak of it unto

thee, after bowing down (to the self-born). The son of Jamadagni

(Parasurama), after twenty-one times making the earth bereft of

Kshatriyas wended to that best of mountains Mahendra and there began his

ascetic penances. And at that time when the earth was bereft of

Kshatriyas, the Kshatriya ladies, desirous of offspring, used to come, O

monarch, to the Brahmanas and Brahmanas of rigid vows had connection with

them during the womanly season alone, but never, O king, lustfully and

out of season. And Kshatriya ladies by thousands conceived from such

connection with Brahmanas. Then, O monarch, were born many Kshatriyas of

greater energy, boys and girls, so that the Kshatriya race, might thrive.

And thus sprang the Kshatriya race from Kshatriya ladies by Brahmanas of

ascetic penances. And the new generation, blessed with long life, began

to thrive in virtue. And thus were the four orders having Brahmanas at

their head re-established. And every man at that time went in unto his

wife during her season and never from lust and out of season. And, O bull

of the Bharata race, in the same way, other creatures also, even those

born in the race of birds went in unto their wives during the season

alone. And, O protector of the earth, hundreds of thousands of creatures

were born, and all were virtuous and began to multiply in virtue, all

being free from sorrow and disease. And, O thou of the elephant’s tread,

this wide earth having the ocean for her boundaries, with her mountains

and woods and towns, was once more governed by the Kshatriyas. And when

the earth began to be again governed virtuously by the Kshatriyas, the

other orders having Brahmanas for their first were filled with great joy.

And the kings giving up all vices born of lust and anger and justly

awarding punishments to those that deserved them protected the earth. And

he of a hundred sacrifices, possessed also of a thousand eyes, beholding

that the Kshatriya monarchs ruled so virtuously, poured down vivifying

showers at proper times and places and blessed all creatures. Then, O

king, no one of immature years died, and none knew a woman before

attaining to age. And thus, O bull of the Bharata race, the earth, to the

very coasts of the ocean, became filled with men that were all

long-lived. The Kshatriyas performed great sacrifices bestowing much

wealth. And the Brahmanas also all studied the Vedas with their branches

and the Upanishads. And, O king, no Brahmana in those days ever sold the

Vedas (i.e., taught for money) or ever read aloud the Vedas in the

presence of a Sudra. The Vaisyas, with the help of bullocks, caused the

earth to be tilled. And they never yoked the cattle themselves. And they

fed with care all cattle that were lean. And men never milked kine as

long as the calves drank only the milk of their dams (without having

taken to grass or any other food). And no merchant in those days ever

sold his articles by false scales. And, O tiger among men, all persons,

holding to the ways of virtue, did everything with eyes set upon virtue.

And, O monarch, all the orders were mindful of their own respective

duties. Thus, O tiger among men, virtue in those days never sustained any

diminution. And, O bull of the Bharata race, both kine and women gave

birth to their offspring at the proper time. And trees bore flowers and

fruit duly according to the seasons. And thus, O king, the krita age

having then duly set in, the whole earth was filled with numerous


“And, O bull of the Bharata race, when such was the blessed state of the

terrestrial world, the Asuras, O lord of men, began to be born in kingly

lines. And the sons of Diti (Daityas) being repeatedly defeated in war by

the sons of Aditi (celestials) and deprived also of sovereignty and

heaven, began to be incarnated on the earth. And, O king, the Asuras

being possessed of great powers, and desirous of sovereignty began to be

born on earth amongst various creatures, such as kine, horses, asses,

camels, buffaloes, among creatures such as Rakshasas and others, and

among elephants and deer. And, O protector of the earth, owing to those

already born and to those that were being born, the earth became

incapable of supporting herself. And amongst the sons of Diti and of

Danu, cast out of heaven, some were born on the earth as kings of great

pride and insolence. Possessed of great energy, they covered the earth in

various shapes. Capable of oppressing all foes, they filled the earth

having the ocean for its boundaries. And by their strength they began to

oppress Brahmanas and Kshatriyas and Vaisyas and Sudras and all other

creatures also. Terrifying and killing all creatures, they traversed the

earth, O king, in bands of hundreds and thousands. Devoid of truth and

virtue, proud of their strength, and intoxicated with (the wine of)

insolence, they even insulted the great Rishis in their hermitages.

“And the earth, thus oppressed by the mighty Asuras endued with great

strength and energy and possessed of abundant means, began to think of

waiting on Brahman. The united strength of the creatures (such as Sesha,

the Tortoise, and the huge Elephant), and of many Seshas too, became

capable of supporting the earth with her mountains, burdened as she was

with the weight of the Danavas. And then, O king, the earth, oppressed

with weight and afflicted with fear, sought the protection of the

Grandsire of all creatures. And she beheld the divine Brahman–the

Creator of the worlds who knoweth no deterioration–surrounded by the

gods, Brahmanas, and great Rishis, of exceeding good fortune, and adored

by delighted Gandharvas and Apsaras always engaged in the service of the

celestials. And the Earth, desirous of protection, then represented

everything to him, in the presence, O Bharata, of all the Regents of the

worlds. But, O king, the Earth’s object had been known beforehand to the

Omniscient, Self-create, and Supreme Lord. And, O Bharata, Creator as he

is of the universe, why should he not know fully what is in the minds of

his creatures including the very gods and the Asuras? O king, the Lord of

the Earth, the Creator of all creatures, also called Isa, Sambhu,

Prajapati, then spake unto her. And Brahman said, ‘O holder of wealth,

for the accomplishment of the object for which thou hast approached me, I

shall appoint all the dwellers in the heavens.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Having said so unto the Earth, O king, the

divine Brahman bade her farewell. And the Creator then commanded all the

gods saying, ‘To ease the Earth of her burden, go ye and have your births

in her according to your respective parts and seek ye strife (with the

Asuras already born there)’. And the Creator of all, summoning also all

the tribes of the Gandharvas and the Apsaras, spake unto them these words

of deep import, ‘Go ye and be born amongst men according to your

respective parts in forms that ye like.’

“And all the gods with Indra, on hearing these words of the Lord of the

celestials–words that were true, desirable under the circumstances, and

fraught with benefit,–accepted them. And they all having resolved to

come down on earth in their respected parts, then went to Narayana, the

slayer of all foes, at Vaikunth–the one who has the discus and the mace

in his hands, who is clad in purple, who is of great splendour, who hath

the lotus on his navel, who is the slayer of the foes of the gods, who is

of eyes looking down upon his wide chest (in yoga attitude), who is the

lord of the Prajapati himself, the sovereign of all the gods, of mighty

strength, who hath the mark of the auspicious whirl on his breast, who is

the mover of every one’s faculties and who is adored by all the gods.

Him, Indra the most exalted of persons, addressed, saying, “Be

incarnate.” And Hari replied,–‘Let it be.'”


(Sambhava Parva)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then Indra had a consultation with Narayana about

the latter’s descent on the earth from heaven with all the gods according

to their respective parts. And, having commanded all the dwellers in

heaven, Indra returned from the abode of Narayana. And the dwellers in

heaven gradually became incarnate on earth for the destruction of the

Asuras and for the welfare of the three worlds. And then, O tiger among

kings, the celestials had their births, according as they pleased, in the

races of Brahmarshis and royal sages. And they slew the Danavas,

Rakshasas, Gandharvas and Snakes, other man-eaters, and many other

creatures. And, O bull in the Bharata race, the Danavas, Rakshasas and

Gandharvas and Snakes, could not slay the incarnate celestials even in

their infancy, so strong they were.’

“Janamejaya said, ‘I desire to hear from the beginning of the births of

the gods, the Danavas, the Gandharvas, the Apsaras, men, Yakshas and

Rakshasas. Therefore, it behoveth thee to tell me about the births of all


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Indeed, I shall, having bowed down to the

Self-create, tell thee in detail the origin of the celestials and other

creatures. It is known that Brahman hath six spiritual sons, viz.,

Marichi, Atri, Angiras, Pulastya, Pulaha and Kratu. And Marichi’s son is

Kasyapa, and from Kasyapa have sprung these creatures. Unto Daksha (one

of the Prajapatis) were born thirteen daughters of great good fortune.

The daughters of Daksha are, O tiger among men and prince of the Bharata

race, Aditi, Diti, Danu, Kala, Danayu, Sinhika, Krodha, Pradha, Viswa,

Vinata, Kapila, Muni, and Kadru. The sons and grandsons of these, gifted

with great energy, are countless. From Aditi have sprung the twelve

Adityas who are the lords of the universe. And, O Bharata, as they are

according to their names, I shall recount them to thee. They are Dhatri,

Mitra, Aryaman, Sakra, Varuna, Ansa, Vaga, Vivaswat, Usha, Savitri,

Tvashtri, and Vishnu. The youngest, however, is superior to them all in

merit. Diti had one son called Hiranyakasipu. And the illustrious

Hiranyakasipu had five sons, all famous throughout the world. The eldest

of them all was Prahlada, the next was Sahradha; the third was Anuhrada;

and after him were Sivi and Vashkala. And, O Bharata, it is known

everywhere that Prahlada had three sons. They were Virochana, Kumbha, and

Nikumbha. And unto Virochana was born a son, Vali, of great prowess. And

the son of Vali is known to be the great Asura, Vana. And blessed with

good fortune, Vana was a follower of Rudra, and was known also by the

name of Mahakala. And Danu had forty sons, O Bharata! The eldest of them

all was Viprachitti of great fame Samvara, and Namuchi and Pauloman;

Asiloman, and Kesi and Durjaya; Ayahsiras, Aswasiras, and the powerful

Aswasanku; also Gaganamardhan, and Vegavat, and he called Ketumat;

Swarbhanu, Aswa, Aswapati, Vrishaparvan, and then Ajaka; and Aswagriva,

and Sukshama, and Tuhunda of great strength, Ekapada, and Ekachakra,

Virupaksha, Mahodara, and Nichandra, and Nikumbha, Kupata, and then

Kapata; Sarabha, and Sulabha, Surya, and then Chandramas; these in the

race of Danu are stated to be well-known. The Surya and Chandramas (the

Sun and the Moon) of the celestials are other persons, and not the sons

of Danu as mentioned above. The following ten, gifted with great strength

and vigour, were also, O king, born in the race of Danu;–Ekaksha,

Amritapa of heroic courage, Pralamva and Naraka, Vatrapi, Satrutapana,

and Satha, the great Asura; Gavishtha, and Vanayu, and the Danava called

Dirghajiva. And, O Bharata, the sons and the grandsons of these were

known to be countless. And Sinhika gave birth to Rahu, the persecutor of

the Sun and the Moon, and to three others, Suchandra, Chandrahantri, and

Chandrapramardana. And the countless progeny of Krura (krodha) were as

crooked and wicked as herself. And the tribe was wrathful, of crooked

deeds, and persecutors of their foes. And Danayu also had four sons who

were bulls among the Asuras. They were Vikshara, Vala, Vira, and Vritra

the great Asura. And the sons of Kala were all like Yama himself and

smiter of all foes. And they were of great energy, and oppressors of all

foes. And the sons of Kala were Vinasana and Krodha, and then

Krodhahantri, and Krodhasatru. And there were many others among the sons

of Kala. And Sukra, the son of a Rishi, was the chief priest of the

Asuras. And the celebrated Sukra had four sons who were priests of the

Asuras. And they were Tashtadhara and Atri, and two others of fierce

deeds. They were like the Sun himself in energy, and set their hearts on

acquiring the regions of Brahman.

“Thus hath been recited by me, as heard in the Purana, of progeny of the

gods and the Asuras, both of great strength and energy. I am incapable, O

king, of counting the descendants of these, countless as they are, are

not much known to fame.

“And the sons of Vinata were Tarkhya and Arishtanemi, and Garuda and

Aruna, and Aruni and Varuni. And Sesha or Ananta, Vasuki, Takshaka,

Kumara, and Kulika are known to be the sons of Kadru; and Bhimasena,

Ugrasena, Suparna, Varuna, Gopati, and Dhritarashtra, and Suryavarchas

the seventh, Satyavachas, Arkaparna, Prayuta, Bhima, and Chitraratha

known to fame, of great learning, and a controller of his passions, and

then Kalisiras, and, O king, Parjanya, the fourteenth in the list, Kali,

the fifteenth, and Narada, the sixteenth–these Devas and Gandharvas are

known to be the sons of Muni (Daksha’s daughter as mentioned before). I

shall recount many others, O Bharata! Anavadya Manu, Vansa, Asura,

Marganapria, Anupa, Subhaga, Vasi, were the daughters brought forth by

Pradha, Siddha, and Purna, and Varhin, and Purnayus of great fame,

Brahmacharin, Ratiguna, and Suparna who was the seventh; Viswavasu,

Bhanu, and Suchandra who was the tenth, were also the sons of Pradha. All

these were celestial Gandharvas. And it is also known that this Pradha of

great fortune, through the celestial Rishi (Kasyapa, her husband),

brought forth the sacred of the Apsaras, Alamvusha, Misrakesi,

Vidyutparna, Tilottama, Aruna, Rakshita, Rambha, Manorama, Kesini,

Suvahu, Surata, Suraja, and Supria were the daughters, and Ativahu and

the celebrated Haha and Huhu, and Tumvuru were the sons–the best of

Gandharvas–of Pradha and Amrita. The Brahmanas, kine, Gandharvas, and

Apsaras, were born of Kapila as stated in the Purana.

“Thus hath been recited to thee by me the birth of all creatures duly–of

Gandharvas and Apsaras, of Snakes, Suparnas, Rudras, and Maruts; of kine

and of Brahmanas blessed with great good fortune, and of sacred deeds.

And this account (if read) extendeth the span of life, is sacred, worthy

of all praise, and giveth pleasure to the ear. It should be always heard

and recited to others, in a proper frame of mind.

“He who duly readeth this account of the birth of all high-souled

creatures in the presence of the gods and Brahmanas, obtaineth large

progeny, good fortune, and fame, and attaineth also to excellent worlds



(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘It is known that the spiritual sons of Brahman were

the six great Rishis (already mentioned). There was another of the name

of Sthanu. And the sons of Sthanu, gifted with great energy, were, it is

known, eleven. They were Mrigavayadha, Sarpa, Niriti of great fame:

Ajaikapat, Ahivradhna, and Pinaki, the oppressor of foes; Dahana and

Iswara, and Kapali of great splendour; and Sthanu, and the illustrious

Bharga. These are called the eleven Rudras. It hath been already said,

that Marichi, Angiras. Atri, Pulastya, Pulaha, and Kratu–these six great

Rishis of great energy–are the sons of Brahman. It is well-known in the

world that Angiras’s sons are three,–Vrihaspati, Utathya, and Samvarta,

all of rigid vows. And, O king, it is said that the sons of Atri are

numerous. And, being great Rishis, they are all conversant with the

Vedas, crowned with ascetic success, and of souls in perfect peace. And,

O tiger among kings, the sons of Pulastya of great wisdom are Rakshasas,

Monkeys, Kinnaras (half-men and half-horses), and Yakshas. And, O king,

the son of Pulaha were, it is said, the Salabhas (the winged insects),

the lions, the Kimpurushas (half-lions and half-men), the tigers, bears,

and wolves. And the sons of Kratu, sacred as sacrifices, are the

companions of Surya, (the Valikhilyas), known in three worlds and devoted

to truth and vows. And, O protector of the Earth, the illustrious Rishi

Daksha, of soul in complete peace, and of great asceticism, sprung from

the right toe of Brahman. And from the left toe of Brahman sprang the

wife of the high-souled Daksha. And the Muni begat upon her fifty

daughters; and all those daughters were of faultless features and limbs

and of eyes like lotus-petals. And the lord Daksha, not having any sons,

made those daughters his Putrikas (so that their sons might belong both

to himself and to their husbands). And Daksha bestowed, according to the

sacred ordinance, ten of his daughters on Dharma, twenty-seven on Chandra

(the Moon), and thirteen on Kasyapa. Listen as I recount the wives of

Dharma according to their names. They are ten in all–Kirti, Lakshmi,

Dhriti, Medha, Pushti, Sraddha, Kria, Buddhi, Lajja, and Mali. These are

the wives of Dharma as appointed by the Self-create. It is known also

throughout the world that the wives of Soma (Moon) are twenty-seven. And

the wives of Soma, all of sacred vows, are employed in indicating time;

and they are the Nakshatras and the Yoginis and they became so for

assisting the courses of the worlds.

“And Brahman had another son named Manu. And Manu had a son of the name

of Prajapati. And the sons of Prajapati were eight and were called Vasus

whom I shall name in detail. They were Dhara, Dhruva, Soma, Aha, Anila,

Anala, Pratyusha, and Prabhasa. These eight are known as the Vasus. Of

these, Dhara and the truth-knowing Dhruva were born of Dhumra; Chandramas

(Soma) and Swasana (Anila) were born of the intelligent Swasa; Aha was

the son of Rata: and Hutasana (Anala) of Sandilya; and Pratyusha and

Prabhasa were the sons of Prabhata. And Dhara had two sons, Dravina and

Huta-havya-vaha. And the son of Dhruva is the illustrious Kala (Time),

the destroyer of the worlds. And Soma’s son is the resplendent Varchas.

And Varchas begot upon his wife Manohara three sons–Sisira, and Ramana.

And the son of Aha were Jyotih, Sama, Santa, and also Muni. And the son

of Agni is the handsome Kumara born in a forest of reeds. And, he is also

called Kartikeya because he was reared by Krittika and others. And, after

Kartikeya, there were born his three brothers Sakha, Visakha, Naigameya.

And the wife of Anila is Siva, and Siva’s son were Manojava and

Avijnataagati. These two were the sons of Anila. The son of Pratyusha,

you must know, is the Rishi named Devala; and Devala had two sons who

were both exceedingly forgiving and of great mental power. And the sister

of Vrihaspati, the first of women, uttering the sacred truth, engaged in

ascetic penances, roamed over the whole earth; and she became the wife of

Prabhasa, the eighth Vasu. And she brought forth the illustrious

Viswakarman, the founder of all arts. And he was the originator of a

thousand arts, the engineer of the immortals, the maker of all kinds of

ornaments, and the first of artists. And he it was who constructed the

celestial cars of the gods, and mankind are enabled to live in

consequence of the inventions of that illustrious one. And he is

worshipped, for that reason, by men. And he is eternal and immutable,

this Viswakarman.

“And the illustrious Dharma, the dispenser of all happiness, assuming a

human countenance, came out through the right breast of Brahman. And

Ahasta (Dharma) hath three excellent sons capable of charming every

creature. And they are Sama, Kama, Harsha (Peace, Desire, and Joy). And

by their energy they are supporting the worlds. And the wife of Kama is

Rati, of Sama is Prapti; and the wife of Harsha is Nanda. And upon them,

indeed, are the worlds made to depend.

“And the son of Marichi is Kasyapa. And Kasyapa’s offspring are the gods

and the Asuras. And, therefore, is Kasyapa, the Father of the worlds. And

Tvashtri, of the form of Vadava (a mare), became the wife of Savitri. And

she gave birth, in the skies, to two greatly fortunate twins, the Aswins.

And, O king, the sons of Aditi are twelve with Indra heading them all.

And the youngest of them all was Vishnu upon whom the worlds depend.

“These are the thirty-three gods (the eight Vasus, the eleven Rudras, the

twelve Adityas, Prajapati, and Vashatkara). I shall now recount their

progeny according to their Pakshas, Kulas, and Ganas. The Rudras, the

Saddhyas, the Maruts, the Vasus, the Bhargavas, and the Viswedevas are

each reckoned as a Paksha. Garuda the son of Vinata and the mighty Aruna

also, and the illustrious Vrihaspati are reckoned among the Adityas. The

twin Aswins, all annual plants, and all inferior animals, are reckoned

among the Guhyakas.

“These are the Ganas of the gods recited to thee, O king! This recitation

washes men of all sins.

“The illustrious Bhrigu came out, ripping open the breast of Brahman. The

learned Sukra is Bhrigu’s son. And the learned Sukra becoming a planet

and engaged according to the command of the Self-existent in pouring and

withholding rain, and in dispensing and remitting calamities, traverses,

for sustaining the lives of all the creatures in the three worlds,

through the skies. And the learned Sukra, of great intelligence and

wisdom, of rigid vows, leading the life of a Brahmacharin, divided

himself in twain by power of asceticism, and became the spiritual guide

of both the Daityas and the gods. And after Sukra was thus employed by

Brahman in seeking the welfare (of the gods and the Asuras), Bhrigu begot

another excellent son. This was Chyavana who was like the blazing sun, of

virtuous soul, and of great fame. And he came out of his mother’s womb in

anger and became the cause of his mother’s release, O king (from the

hands of the Rakshasas). And Arushi, the daughter of Manu, became the

wife of the wise Chyavana. And, on her was begotten Aurva of great

reputation. And he came out, ripping open the thigh of Arushi. And Aurva

begot Richika. And Richika even in his boyhood became possessed of great

power and energy, and of every virtue. And Richika begot Jamadagni. And

the high-souled Jamadagni had four sons. And the youngest of them all was

Rama (Parasurama). And Rama was superior to all his brothers in the

possession of good qualities. And he was skilful in all weapons, and

became the slayer of the Kshatriyas. And he had his passions under

complete control. And Aurva had a hundred sons with Jamadagni the eldest.

And these hundred sons had offspring by thousands spread over this earth.

“And Brahman had two other sons, viz., Dhatri and Vidhatri who stayed

with Manu. Their sister is the auspicious Lakshmi having her abode amid

lotuses. And the spiritual sons of Lakshmi are the sky-ranging horses.

And the daughter born of Sukra, named Divi, became the eldest wife of

Varuna. Of her were born a son named Vala and a daughter named Sura

(wine), to the joy of the gods. And Adharma (Sin) was born when creatures

(from want of food) began to devour one another. And Adharma always

destroys every creature. And Adharma hath Niriti for his wife, whence the

Rakshasas who are called Nairitas (offspring of Niriti). And she hath

also three other cruel sons always engaged in sinful deeds. They are

Bhaya (fear), Mahabhaya (terror), and Mrityu (Death) who is always

engaged in slaying every created thing. And, as he is all-destroying, he

hath no wife, and no son. And Tamra brought forth five daughters known

throughout the worlds. They are Kaki (crow), Syeni (hawk), Phasi (hen),

Dhritarashtri (goose), and Suki (parrot). And Kaki brought forth the

crows; Syeni, the hawks, the cocks and vultures, Dhritarashtri, all ducks

and swans; and she also brought forth all Chakravakas; and the fair Suki,

of amiable qualities, and possessing all auspicious signs brought forth

all the parrots. And Krodha gave birth to nine daughters, all of wrathful

disposition. And their names were Mrigi, Mrigamanda, Hari, Bhadramana,

Matangi, Sarduli, Sweta, Surabhi, and the agreeable Surasa blessed with

every virtue. And, O foremost of men, the offspring of Mrigi are all

animals of the deer species. And the offspring of Mrigamanda are all

animals of the bear species and those called Srimara (sweet-footed). And

Bhadramana begot the celestial elephants, Airavata. And the offspring of

Hari are all animals of the simian species endued with great activity, so

also all the horses. And those animals also, that are called Go-langula

(the cow-tailed), are said to be the offspring of Hari. And Sarduli begot

lions and tigers in numbers, and also leopards and all other strong

animals. And, O king, the offspring of Matangi are all the elephants. And

Sweta begat the large elephant known by the name of Sweta, endued with

great speed. And, O king, Surabhi gave birth to two daughters, the

amiable Rohini and the far-famed Gandharvi. And, O Bharata, she had also

two other daughters named Vimala and Anala. From Rohini have sprung all

kine, and from Gandharvi all animals of the horse species. And Anala

begat the seven kinds of trees yielding pulpy fruits. (They are the date,

the palm, the hintala, the tali, the little date, the nut, and the

cocoanut.) And she had also another daughter called Suki (the mother of

the parrot species). And Surasa bore a son called Kanka (a species of

long-feathered birds). And Syeni, the wife of Aruna, gave birth to two

sons of great energy and strength, named Sampati and the mighty Jatayu.

Surasa also bore the Nagas, and Kadru, the Punnagas (snakes). And Vinata

had two sons Garuda and Aruna, known far and wide. And, O king of men, O

foremost of intelligent persons, thus hath the genealogy of all the

principal creatures been fully described by me. By listening to this, a

man is fully cleansed of all his sins, and acquireth great knowledge, and

finally attaineth to the first of states in after-life!'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Janamejaya said, ‘O worshipful one, I wish to hear from thee in detail

about the birth, among men, of the gods, the Danavas, the Gandharvas, the

Rakshasas, the lions, the tigers, and the other animals, the snakes, the

birds, and in fact, of all creatures. I wish also to hear about the acts

and achievements of those, in due order, after they became incarnate in

human forms.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘O king of men, I shall first tell thee all about

those celestials and Danavas that were born among men–The first of

Danavas, who was known by the name of Viprachitti, became that bull among

men, noted as Jarasandha. And, O king, that son of Diti, who was known as

Hiranyakasipu, was known in this world among men as the powerful

Sisupala. He who had been known as Samhlada, the younger brother of

Prahlada, became among men the famous Salya, that bull amongst Valhikas.

The spirited Anuhlada who had been the youngest became noted in the world

as Dhrishtaketu. And, O king, that son of Diti who had been known as Sivi

became on earth the famous monarch Druma. And he who was known as the

great Asura Vashkala became on earth the great Bhagadatta. The five great

Asuras gifted with great energy, Ayahsira, Aswasira, the spirited

Aysanku, Gaganamurdhan, and Vegavat, were all born in the royal line of

Kekaya and all became great monarchs. That other Asura of mighty energy

who was known by the name of Ketumat became on earth the monarch

Amitaujas of terrible deeds. That great Asura who was known as Swarbhanu

became on earth the monarch Ugrasena of fierce deeds. That great Asura

who was known as Aswa became on earth the monarch Asoka of exceeding

energy and invincible in battle. And, O king, the younger brother of Aswa

who was known as Aswapati, a son of Diti, became on earth the mighty

monarch Hardikya. The great and fortunate Asura who was known as

Vrishaparvan became noted on earth as king Dirghaprajna. And, O king, the

younger brother of Vrishaparvan who was known by the name of Ajaka became

noted on earth as king Salwa. The powerful and mighty Asura who was known

as Aswagriva became noted on earth as king Rochamana. And, O king, the

Asura who was known as Sukshma, endued with great intelligence and whose

achievements also were great, became on earth the famous king

Vrihadratha. And that first of Asuras who was known by the name of

Tuhunda, became noted on earth as the monarch, Senavindu. That Asura of

great strength who was known as Ishupa became the monarch Nagnajita of

famous prowess. The great Asura who was known as Ekachakra became noted

on earth as Pritivindhya. The great Asura Virupaksha capable of

displaying various modes of fight became noted on earth as king

Chitravarman. The first of Danavas, the heroic Hara, who humbled the

pride of all foes became on earth the famous and fortunate Suvahu. The

Asura Suhtra of great energy and the destroyer of foemen, became noted on

earth as the fortunate monarch, Munjakesa. That Asura of great

intelligence called Nikumbha, who was never vanquished in battle was born

on earth as king Devadhipa, the first among monarchs. That great Asura

known amongst the sons of Diti by the name of Sarabha became on earth the

royal sage called Paurava. And, O king, the great Asura of exceeding

energy, the fortunate Kupatha, was born on earth as the famous monarch

Suparswa. The great Asura, O king, who was called Kratha, was born on

earth as the royal sage Parvateya of form resplendent like a golden

mountain. He amongst the Asura who was known as Salabha the second,

became on earth the monarch Prahlada in the country of the Valhikas. The

foremost, among the sons of Diti known by the name of Chandra and

handsome as the lord of the stars himself, became on earth noted as

Chandravarman, the king of the Kamvojas. That bull amongst the Danavas

who was known by the name of Arka became on earth, O king, the royal sage

Rishika. That best of Asuras who was known as Mritapa became on earth, O

best of kings, the monarch, Pascimanupaka. That great Asura of surpassing

energy known as Garishtha became noted on earth as king Drumasena. The

great Asura who was known as Mayura became noted on earth as the monarch

Viswa. He who was the younger brother of Mayura and called Suparna became

noted on earth as the monarch, Kalakirti. The mighty Asura who was known

as Chandrahantri became on earth the royal sage Sunaka. The great Asura

who was called Chandravinasana became noted on earth as the monarch,

Janaki. That bull amongst the Danavas, O prince of the Kuru race, who was

called Dhirghajihva, became noted on earth as Kasiraja. The Graha who was

brought forth by Sinhika and who persecuted the Sun and the Moon became

noted on earth as the monarch Kratha. The eldest of the four sons of

Danayu, who was known by the name of Vikshara, became known on earth the

spirited monarch, Vasumitra. The second brother of Vikshara, the great

Asura, was born on earth as the king of the country, called Pandya. That

best of Asuras who was known by the name of Valina became on earth the

monarch Paundramatsyaka. And, O king, that great Asura who was known as

Vritra became on earth the royal sage known by the name of Manimat. That

Asura who was the younger brother of Vritra and known as Krodhahantri

became noted on earth as king Danda. That other Asura who was known by

the name Krodhavardhana became noted on earth as the monarch, Dandadhara.

The eight sons of the Kaleyas that were born on earth all became great

kings endued with the prowess of tigers. The eldest of them all became

king Jayatsena in Magadha. The second of them, in prowess, like Indra,

became noted on earth as Aparajita. The third of them, endued with great

energy and power of producing deception, was born on earth as the king of

the Nishadas gifted with great prowess. That other amongst them who was

known as the fourth was noted on earth as Srenimat, that best of royal

sages. That great Asura amongst them who was the fifth, became noted on

earth as king Mahanjas, the oppressor of enemies. That great Asura

possessing great intelligence who was the sixth of them became noted on

earth as Abhiru, that best of royal sages. The seventh of them became

known throughout earth, from the centre to the sea, as king Samudrasena

well acquainted with the truths of the scriptures. The eighth of the

Kaleyas known as Vrihat became on earth a virtuous king ever engaged in

the good of all creatures. The mighty Danava known by the name of Kukshi

became on earth as Parvatiya from his brightness as of a golden mountain.

The mighty Asura Krathana gifted with great energy became noted on earth

as the monarch Suryaksha. The great Asura of handsome features known by

the name of Surya, became on earth the monarch of the Valhikas by name

Darada, that foremost of all kings. And, O king, from the tribe of Asuras

called Krodhavasa, of whom I have already spoken to thee, were born many

heroic kings on earth. Madraka, and Karnaveshta, Siddhartha, and also

Kitaka; Suvira, and Suvahu, and Mahavira, and also Valhika, Kratha,

Vichitra, Suratha, and the handsome king Nila; and Chiravasa, and

Bhumipala; and Dantavakra, and he who was called Durjaya; that tiger

amongst kings named Rukmi; and king Janamejaya, Ashada, and Vayuvega, and

also Bhuritejas; Ekalavya, and Sumitra, Vatadhana, and also Gomukha; the

tribe of kings called the Karushakas, and also Khemadhurti; Srutayu, and

Udvaha, and also Vrihatsena; Kshema, Ugratirtha, the king of the

Kalingas; and Matimat, and he was known as king Iswara; these first of

kings were all born of the Asura class called Krodhavasa.

“There was also born on earth a mighty Asura known amongst the Danavas by

the name of Kalanemi, endued with great strength, of grand achievements,

and blessed with a large share of prosperity. He became the mighty son of

Ugrasena and was known on earth by the name of Kansa. And he who was

known among the Asuras by the name of Devaka and was besides in splendour

like unto Indra himself, was born on earth as the foremost king of the

Gandharvas. And, O monarch, know thou that Drona, the son of Bharadwaja,

not born of any woman, sprung from a portion of the celestial Rishi

Vrihaspati of grand achievements. And he was the prince of all bowmen,

conversant with all weapons, of mighty achievements, of great energy.

Thou shouldst know he was also well-acquainted with the Vedas and the

science of arms. And he was of wonderful deeds and the pride of his race.

And, O king, his son the heroic Aswatthaman, of eyes like the

lotus-petals, gifted with surpassing energy, and the terror of all foes,

the great oppressor of all enemies, was born on earth, of the united

portions of Mahadeva, Yama, Kama, and Krodha. And from the curse of

Vasishtha and the command also of Indra, the eight Vasus were born of

Ganga by her husband Santanu. The youngest of them was Bhishma, the

dispeller of the fears of the Kurus, gifted with great intelligence,

conversant with the Vedas, the first speakers, and the thinner of the

enemy’s ranks. And possessed of mighty energy and the first of all

persons acquainted with weapons, he encountered the illustrious Rama

himself, the son of Jamadagni of the Bhrigu race. And, O king, that

Brahman sage who, on earth, was known by the name of Kripa and was the

embodiment of all manliness was born of the tribe of the Rudras. And the

mighty chariot-fighter and king who on earth was known by the name of

Sakuni, that crusher of foes, thou shouldst know, O king, was Dwapara

himself (the third yuga). And he who was Satyaki of sure aim, that

upholder of the pride of Vrishni race, that oppressor of foes, begotten

of the portion of gods called the Maruts. And that royal sage Drupada who

on earth was a monarch, the first among all persons bearing arms, was

also born of the same tribe of the celestials. And, O king, thou shouldst

also know that Kritavarman, that prince among men, of deeds unsurpassed

by any one, and the foremost of all bulls amongst Kshatriyas, was born of

the portion of the same celestials. And that royal sage also, Virata by

name, the scorcher of the kingdoms of others, and the great oppressor of

all foes, was born of the portion of the same gods. That son of Arishta

who was known by the name of Hansa, was born in the Kuru race and became

the monarch of the Gandharvas. He who was known as Dhritarashtra born of

the seed of Krishna-Dwaipayana, and gifted with long arms and great

energy, also a monarch, of the prophetic eye, became blind in consequence

of the fault of his mother and the wrath of the Rishi. His younger

brother who was possessed of great strength and was really a great being

known as Pandu, devoted to truth and virtue, was Purity’s self. And, O

king, thou shouldst know that he who was known on earth as Vidura, who

was the first of all virtuous men, who was the god of Justice himself,

was the excellent and greatly fortunate son of the Rishi Atri. The

evil-minded and wicked king Duryodhana, the destroyer of the fair fame of

the Kurus, was born of a portion of Kali on earth. He it was who caused

all creatures to be slain and the earth to be wasted; and he it was who

fanned the flame of hostility that ultimately consumed all. They who had

been the sons of Pulastya (the Rakshasas) were born on earth among men of

Duryodhana’s brothers, that century of wicked individuals commencing with

Duhasasana as their first. And, O bull among the Bharata princes,

Durmukha, Duhsaha, and others whose names I do not mention, who always

supported Duryodhana (in all his schemes), were, indeed, the sons of

Pulastya. And over and above these hundred, Dhritarashtra had one son

named Yuyutsu born of a Vaisya wife.’

“Janamejaya said, ‘O illustrious one, tell me the names of

Dhritarashtra’s sons according to the order of their birth beginning from

the eldest.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘O king, they are as follows: Duryodhana, and

Yuyutsu, and also Duhsasana; Duhsaha and Duhshala, and then Durmukha;

Vivinsati, and Vikarna, Jalasandha, Sulochna, Vinda and Anuvinda,

Durdharsha, Suvahu, Dushpradharshana; Durmarshana, and Dushkarna, and

Karna; Chitra and Vipachitra, Chitraksha, Charuchitra, and Angada,

Durmada, and Dushpradharsha, Vivitsu, Vikata, Sama; Urananabha, and

Padmanabha, Nanda and Upanandaka; Sanapati, Sushena, Kundodara; Mahodara;

Chitravahu, and Chitravarman, Suvarman, Durvirochana; Ayovahu, Mahavahu,

Chitrachapa and Sukundala, Bhimavega, Bhimavala, Valaki, Bhimavikrama,

Ugrayudha, Bhimaeara, Kanakayu, Dridhayudha, Dridhavarman, Dridhakshatra

Somakirti, Anadara; Jarasandha, Dridhasandha, Satyasandha, Sahasravaeh;

Ugrasravas, Ugrasena, and Kshemamurti; Aprajita, Panditaka, Visalaksha,

Duradhara, Dridhahasta, and Suhasta, Vatavega, and Suvarchasa;

Adityaketu, Vahvasin, Nagadatta and Anuyaina; Nishangi, Kuvachi, Dandi,

Dandadhara, Dhanugraha; Ugra, Bhimaratha, Vira, Viravahu, Alolupa;

Abhaya, and Raudrakarman, also he who was Dridharatha; Anadhrishya,

Kundaveda, Viravi, Dhirghalochana; Dirghavahu; Mahavahu; Vyudhoru,

Kanakangana; Kundaja and Chitraka. There was also a daughter named

Duhsala who was over and above the hundred. And Yuyutsu who was

Dhritarashtra’s son by a Vaisya wife, was also over and above the

hundred. Thus, O king, have I recited the names of the hundred sons and

also that of the daughter (of Dhritarashtra). Thou hast now known their

names according to the order of their births. All of them were heroes and

great car-warriors, and skilled in the art of warfare. Besides, all of

them were versed in the Vedas, and, O king, all of them had got through

the scriptures. All of them were mighty in attack and defence, and all

were graced with learning. And, O monarch, all of them had wives suitable

to them in grace and accomplishments. And, O king, when the time came,

the Kaurava monarch bestowed his daughter Duhsala on Jayadratha, the king

of the Sindhus, agreeably to the counsels of Sakuni.

“And, O monarch, learn that king Yudhishthira was a portion of Dharma;

that Bhimasena was of the deity of wind; that Arjuna was of Indra, the

chief of the celestials; and that Nakula and Sahadeva, the handsomest

beings among all creatures, and unrivalled for beauty on earth, were

similarly portions of the twin Aswins. And he who was known as the mighty

Varchas, the son of Soma, became Abhimanyu of wonderful deeds, the son of

Arjuna. And before his incarnation, O king, the god Soma had said these

words to the celestials, ‘I cannot give (part with) my son. He is dearer

to me than life itself. Let this be the compact and let it be not

transgressed. The destruction of the Asuras on earth is the work of the

celestials, and, therefore, it is our work as well. Let this Varchas,

therefore, go thither, but let him not stay there long. Nara, whose

companion is Narayana, will be born as Indra’s son and indeed, will be

known as Arjuna, the mighty son of Pandu. This boy of mine shall be his

son and become a mighty car-warrior in his boyhood. And let him, ye best

of immortals, stay on earth for sixteen years. And when he attaineth to

his sixteenth year, the battle shall take place in which all who are born

of your portions shall achieve the destruction of mighty warriors. But a

certain encounter shall take place without both Nara and Narayana (taking

any part in it). And, indeed, your portions, ye celestials, shall fight,

having made that disposition of the forces which is known by the name of

the Chakra-vyuha. And my son shall compel all foes to retreat before him.

The boy of mighty arms having penetrated the impenetrable array, shall

range within it fearlessly and send a fourth part of the hostile force,

in course of half a day, unto the regions of the king of the dead. Then

when numberless heroes and mighty car-warriors will return to the charge

towards the close of the day, my boy of mighty arms, shall reappear

before me. And he shall beget one heroic son in his line, who shall

continue the almost extinct Bharata race.’ Hearing these words of Soma,

the dwellers in heaven replied, ‘So be it.’ And then all together

applauded and worshipped (Soma) the king of stars. Thus, O king, have I

recited to thee the (particulars of the) birth of thy father’s father.

“Know also, O monarch, that the mighty car-warrior Dhrishtadyumna was a

portion of Agni. And know also that Sikhandin, who was at first a female,

was (the incarnation of) a Rakshasa. And, O bull in Bharata’s race, they

who became the five sons of Draupadi, those bulls amongst the Bharata

princes, were the celestials known as the Viswas. Their names were

Pritivindhya, Sutasoma, Srutakirti, Satanika, Nakula, and Srutasena,

endued with mighty energy.

“Sura, the foremost of the Yadus, was the father of Vasudeva. He had a

daughter called Pritha, who for her beauty, was unrivalled on earth. And

Sura, having promised in the presence of fire that he would give his

firstborn child to Kuntibhoja, the son of his paternal aunt, who was

without offspring, gave his daughter unto the monarch in expectation of

his favours. Kuntibhoja thereupon made her his daughter. And she became,

thenceforth, in the house of her (adoptive) father, engaged in attending

upon Brahmanas and guests. One day she had to wait upon the wrathful

ascetic of rigid vows, Durvasa by name, acquainted with truth and fully

conversant with the mysteries of religion. And Pritha with all possible

care gratified the wrathful Rishi with soul under complete control. The

holy one, gratified with the attentions bestowed on him by the maiden,

told her, ‘I am satisfied, O fortunate one, with thee! By this mantra

(that I am about to give thee), thou shall be able to summon (to thy

side) whatever celestials thou likest. And, by their grace, shall thou

also obtain children.’ Thus addressed, the girl (a little while after),

seized with curiosity, summoned, during the period of her maiden-hood,

the god Surya. And the lord of light thereupon made her conceive and

begot on her a son who became the first of all wielders of weapons. From

fear of relatives she brought forth in secrecy that child who had come

out with ear-rings and coat of mail. And he was gifted with the beauty of

a celestial infant, and in splendour was like unto the maker of day

himself. And every part of his body was symmetrical and well-adorned. And

Kunti cast the handsome child into the water. But the child thus thrown

into the water was taken up by the excellent husband of Radha and given

by him to his wife to be adopted by her as their son. And the couple gave

him the name of Vasusena, by which appellation the child soon became

known all over the land. And, as he grew up, he became very strong and

excelled in all weapons. The first of all successful persons, he soon

mastered the sciences. And when the intelligent one having truth for his

strength recited the Vedas, there was nothing he would not then give to

the Brahmanas. At that time Indra, the originator of all things, moved by

the desire of benefiting his own son Arjuna, assumed the guise of a

Brahmana, came to him, and begged of the hero his ear-rings and natural

armour. And the hero taking off his ear-rings and armour gave them unto

the Brahmana. And Sakra (accepting the gift) presented to the giver a

dart, surprised (at his open handedness), and addressed him in these

words, ‘O invincible one, amongst the celestials, Asuras, men,

Gandharvas, Nagas, and Rakshasas, he at whom thou hurlest (this weapon),

that one shall certainly be slain.’ And the son of Surya was at first

known in the world by the name of Vasusena. But, for his deeds, he

subsequently came to be called Karna. And because that hero of great fame

had taken off his natural armour, therefore was he–the first son of

Pritha–called Kama. And, O best of kings, the hero began to grow up in

the Suta caste. And, O king, know thou that Kama–the first of all

exalted men–the foremost of all wielders of weapons–the slayer of

foes–and the best portion of the maker of day–was the friend and

counsellor of Duryodhana. And he, called Vasudeva, endued with great

valour, was among men a portion of him called Narayana–the god of

gods–eternal. And Valadeva of exceeding strength was a portion of the

Naga, Sesha. And, O monarch, know that Pradyumna of great energy was

Sanatkumara. And in this way the portion of various other dwellers in

heaven became exalted men in the race of Vasudeva, increasing the glory

thereof. And, O king, the portions of the tribe of Apsaras which I have

mentioned already, also became incarnate on earth according to Indra’s

commands–And sixteen thousand portions of those goddesses became, O

king, in this world of men, the wives of Vasudeva. And a portion of Sri

herself became incarnate on earth, for the gratification of Narayana, in

the line of Bhishmaka. And she was by name the chaste Rukmini. And the

faultless Draupadi, slender-waisted like the wasp, was born of a portion

of Sachi (the queen of the celestials), in the line of Drupada. And she

was neither low nor tall in stature. And she was of the fragrance of the

blue lotus, of eyes large as lotus-petals, of thighs fair and round, of

dense masses of black curly hair. And endued with every auspicious

feature and of complexion like that of the emerald, she became the

charmer of the hearts of five foremost of men. And the two goddesses

Siddhi and Dhriti became the mothers of those five, and were called Kunti

and Madri. And she who was Mati became the daughter (Gandhari) of Suvala.

“Thus, O king, have I recited to thee all about the incarnation,

according to their respective portions, of the gods, the Asuras, the

Gandharvas, the Apsaras, and of the Rakshasas. They who were born on

earth as monarchs invincible in battle, those high-souled ones who were

born in the wide extended line of the Yadus, they who were born as mighty

monarchs in other lines, they who were born as Brahmanas and Kshatriyas

and Vaisyas, have all been recited by me duly. And this account of the

incarnation (of superior beings according to their respective portions)

capable of bestowing wealth, fame, offspring, long life, and success,

should always be listened to in a proper frame of mind. And having

listened to this account of incarnation, according to their portions, of

gods, Gandharvas, and Rakshasas, the hearer becoming acquainted with the

creation, preservation, and destruction of the universe and acquiring

wisdom, is never cast down even under the most engrossing sorrows.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Janamejaya said, ‘O Brahmana, I have, indeed, heard from thee this

account of the incarnation, according to their portions, of the gods, the

Danavas, the Rakshasas, and also of the Gandharvas and the Apsaras. I

however, again desire to hear of the dynasty of the Kurus from the very

beginning. Therefore, O Brahmana, speak of this in the presence of all

these regenerate Rishis.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘O exalted one of Bharata’s race, the founder of the

Paurava line was Dushmanta gifted with great energy. And he was the

protector of the earth bounded by the four seas. And that king had full

sway over four quarters of this world. And he was the lord also of

various regions in the midst of the sea. And that great oppressor of all

foes had sway over the countries even of the Mlechchhas.

“And during his rule there were no men of mixed castes, no tillers of the

soil (for the land, of itself, yielded produce), no workers of mines (for

the surface of the earth yielded in abundance), and no sinful men. All

were virtuous, and did everything from virtuous motives, O tiger among

men. There was no fear of thieves, O dear one, no fear of famine, no fear

off disease. And all four orders took pleasure in doing their respective

duties and never performed religious acts for obtaining fruition of

desires. And his subjects, depending upon him, never entertained any

fear. And Parjanya (Indra) poured showers at the proper time, and the

produce of the fields was always pulpy and juicy. And the earth was full

of all kinds of wealth and all kinds of animals. And the Brahmanas were

always engaged in their duties and they were always truthful. And the

youthful monarch was endued with wonderful prowess and a physical frame

hard as the thunderbolt, so that he could, taking up the mountain Mandara

with its forests and bushes, support it on his arms. And he was

well-skilled in four kinds of encounters with the mace (hurling it at

foes at a distance, striking at those that are near, whirling it in the

midst of many, and driving the foe before). And he was skilled also in

the use of all kinds of weapons and in riding elephants and horses. And

in strength he was like unto Vishnu, in splendour like unto the maker of

day, in gravity like unto the ocean, and in patience, like unto the

earth. And the monarch was loved by all his subjects, and he ruled his

contented people virtuously.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Janamejaya said, ‘I desire to hear from thee about the birth and life of

the high-souled Bharata and of the origin of Sakuntala. And, O holy one,

I also desire to hear all about Dushmanta–that lion among men–and how

the hero obtained Sakuntala. It behoveth thee, O knower of truth and the

first of all intelligent men, to tell me everything.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Once on a time (king Dushmanta) of mighty arms,

accompanied by a large force, went into the forest. And he took with him

hundreds of horses and elephants. And the force that accompanied the

monarch was of four kinds (foot-soldiers, car-warriors, cavalry, and

elephants)–heroes armed with swords and darts and bearing in their hands

maces and stout clubs. And surrounded by hundreds of warriors with lances

and spears in their hands, the monarch set out on his journey. And with

the leonine roars of the warriors and the notes of conchs and sound of

drums, with the rattle of the car-wheels and shrieks of huge elephants,

all mingling with the neighing of horses and the clash of weapons of the

variously armed attendants in diverse dresses, there arose a deafening

tumult while the king was on his march. And ladies gifted with great

beauty beheld from the terraces of goodly mansions that heroic monarch,

the achiever of his own fame. And the ladies saw that he was like unto

Sakra, the slayer of his enemies, capable of repulsing the elephants of

foes–And they believed that he was the wielder of the thunderbolt

himself. And they said, ‘This is that tiger among men who in battle is

equal unto the Vasus in prowess, and in consequence of the might of whose

arms no foes are left.’ And saying this, the ladies from affection

gratified the monarch by showering flowers on his head. And followed by

foremost of Brahmanas uttering blessings all the way, the king in great

gladness of heart went towards the forest, eager for slaying the deer.

And many Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, and Sudras, followed the monarch

who was like unto the king of the celestials seated on the back of a

proud elephant. The citizens and other classes followed the monarch for

some distance. And they at last refrained from going farther at the

command of the king. And the king, then, ascending his chariot of winged

speed, filled the whole earth and even the heavens, with the rattle of

his chariot wheels. And, as he went, he saw around him a forest like unto

Nandana itself (the celestial garden). And it was full of Vilwa, Arka,

Khadira (catechu), Kapittha (wood-apple) and Dhava trees. And he saw that

the soil was uneven and scattered over with blocks of stone loosened from

the neighbouring cliffs. And he saw that it was without water and without

human beings and lay extended for many Yojanas around. And it was full of

deer, and lions, and other terrible beasts of prey.

“And king Dushmanta, that tiger among men, assisted by his followers and

the warriors in his train, agitated that forest, killing numerous

animals. And Dushmanta, piercing them with his arrows, felled numerous

tigers that were within shooting range. And the king wounded many that

were too distant, and killed many that were too near with his heavy

sword. And that foremost of all wielders of darts killed many by hurling

his darts at them. And well-conversant with the art of whirling the mace,

the king of immeasurable prowess fearlessly wandered over the forest. And

the king roamed about, killing the denizens of the wilderness sometimes

with his sword and sometimes by fast-descending blows of his mace and

heavy club.

“And when the forest was so disturbed by the king possessed of wonderful

energy and by the warriors in his train delighting in warlike sports, the

lions began to desert it in numbers. And herds of animals deprived of

their leaders, from fear and anxiety began to utter loud cries as they

fled in all directions. And fatigued with running, they began to fall

down on all sides, unable to slake their thirst, having reached

river-beds that were perfectly dry. And many so falling were eaten up by

the hungry warriors. While others were eaten up after having been duly

quartered and roasted in fires lit up by them. And many strong elephants,

maddened with the wounds they received and alarmed beyond measure, fled

with trunks raised on high. And those wild elephants, betraying the usual

symptoms of alarm by urinating and ejecting the contents of their

stomachs and vomiting blood in large quantities, trampled, as they ran,

many warriors to death. And that forest which had been full of animals,

was by the king with his bands of followers and with sharp weapons soon

made bereft of lions and tigers and other monarchs of the wilderness.'”


(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then the king with his followers, having killed

thousands of animals, entered another forest with a view to hunting. And

attended by a single follower and fatigued with hunger and thirst, he

came upon a large desert on the frontiers of the forest. And having

crossed this herbless plain, the king came upon another forest full of

the retreats of ascetics, beautiful to look at, delightful to the heart

and of cool agreeable breezes. And it was full of trees covered with

blossoms, the soil overgrown with the softest and greenest grass,

extending for many miles around, and echoing with the sweet notes of

winged warblers. And it resounded with the notes of the male Kokila and

of the shrill cicala. And it was full of magnificent trees with

outstretched branches forming a shady canopy overhead. And the bees

hovered over flowery creepers all around. And there were beautiful bowers

in every place. And there was no tree without fruits, none that had

prickles on it, none that had no bees swarming around it. And the whole

forest resounded with the melody of winged choristers. And it was decked

with the flowers of every season. And there were refreshing shades of

blossoming trees.

“Such was the delicious and excellent forest that the great bowman

entered. And trees with branches beautified with clusters began to wave

gently at the soft breeze and rain their flowers over the monarch’s head.

And the trees, clad in their flowery attires of all colours, with

sweet-throated warblers perched on them, stood there in rows with heads

touching the very heavens. And around their branches hanging down with

the weight of flowers the bees tempted by the honey hummed in sweet

chorus. And the king, endued with great energy, beholding innumerable

spots covered with bowers of creepers decked with clusters of flowers,

from excess of gladness, became very much charmed. And the forest was

exceedingly beautiful in consequence of those trees ranged around with

flowery branches twining with each other and looking like so many

rainbows for gaudiness and variety of colour. And it was the resort of

bands of Siddhas, of the Charanas, of tribes of Gandharvas, and Apsaras,

of monkeys and Kinnaras drunk with delight. Delicious cool, and fragrant

breezes, conveying the fragrance from fresh flowers, blew in all

directions as if they had come there to sport with the trees. And the

king saw that charming forest gifted with such beauties. And it was

situated in a delta of the river, and the cluster of high trees standing

together lent the place the look of a gaudy pole erected to Indra’s


“And in that forest which was the resort of ever cheerful birds, the

monarch saw a delightful and charming retreat of ascetics. And there were

many trees around it. And the sacred fire was burning within it. And the

king worshipped that unrivalled retreat. And he saw seated in it numerous

Yotis, Valakhilyas and other Munis. And it was adorned with many chambers

containing sacrificial fire. And the flowers dropping from the trees had

formed a thick carpet spread over the ground. And the spot looked

exceedingly beautiful with those tall trees of large trunks. And by it

flowed, O king, the sacred and transparent Malini with every species of

water-fowl playing on its bosom. And that stream infused gladness into

the hearts of the ascetics who resorted to it for purposes of ablutions.

And the king beheld on its banks many innocent animals of the deer

species and was exceedingly delighted with all that he saw.

“And the monarch, the course of whose chariot no foe could obstruct, then

entered that asylum which was like unto the region of the celestials,

being exceedingly beautiful all over. And the king saw that it stood on

the margin of the sacred stream which was like the mother of all the

living creatures residing in its vicinage. And on its bank sported the

Chakravaka, and waves of milkwhite foam. And there stood also the

habitations of Kinnaras. And monkeys and bears too disported themselves

in numbers. And there lived also holy ascetics engaged in studies and

meditation. And there could be seen also elephants and tigers and snakes.

And it was on the banks of that stream that the excellent asylum of the

illustrious Kasyapa stood, offering a home to numerous Rishis of great

ascetic merit. And beholding that river, and also the asylum washed by

that river which was studded with many islands and which possessed banks

of so much beauty,–an asylum like unto that of Nara and Narayana laved

by the water of the Ganga–the king resolved to enter into that sacred

abode. And that bull among men, desirous of beholding the great Rishi of

ascetic wealth, the illustrious Kanwa of the race of Kasyapa, one who

possessed every virtue and who, for his splendour, could be gazed at with

difficulty, approached that forest resounding with the notes of maddened

peacocks and like unto the gardens of the great Gandharva, Chitraratha,

himself. And halting his army consisting of flags, cavalry, infantry, and

elephants at the entrance of the forest, the monarch spoke as follows, ‘I

shall go to behold the mighty ascetic of Kasyapa’s race, one who is

without darkness. Stay ye here until my return!’

“And the king having entered that forest which was like unto Indra’s

garden, soon forgot his hunger and thirst. And he was pleased beyond

measure. And the monarch, laying aside all signs of royalty, entered that

excellent asylum with but his minister and his priest, desirous of

beholding that Rishi who was an indestructible mass of ascetic merit. And

the king saw that the asylum was like unto the region of Brahman. Here

were bees sweetly humming and there were winged warblers of various

species pouring forth their melodies. At particular places that tiger

among men heard the chanting of Rik hymns by first-rate Brahmanas

according to the just rules of intonation. Other places again were graced

with Brahmanas acquainted with ordinances of sacrifice, of the Angas and

of the hymns of the Yajurveda. Other places again were filled with the

harmonious strains of Saman hymns sung by vow-observing Rishis. At other

places the asylum was decked with Brahmanas learned in the Atharvan Veda.

At other places again Brahmanas learned in the Atharvan Veda and those

capable of chanting the sacrificial hymns of the Saman were reciting the

Samhitas according to the just rules of voice. And at other places again,

other Brahmanas well-acquainted with the science of orthoepy were

reciting mantras of other kinds. In fact, that sacred retreat resounding

with these holy notes was like unto a second region of Brahman himself.

And there were many Brahmanas skilled in the art of making sacrificial

platforms and in the rules of Krama in sacrifices, conversant with logic

and the mental sciences, and possessing a complete knowledge of the

Vedas. There were those also who were fully acquainted with the meanings

of all kinds of expressions; those that were conversant with all special

rites, those also that were followers of Moksha-Dharma; those again that

were well-skilled in establishing propositions; rejecting superfluous

causes, and drawing right conclusions. There were those having a

knowledge of the science of words (grammar), of prosody, of Nirukta;

those again that were conversant with astrology and learned in the

properties of matter and the fruits of sacrificial rites, possessing a

knowledge of causes and effects, capable of understanding the cries of

birds and monkeys, well-read in large treatises, and skilled in various

sciences. And the king, as he proceeded, heard their voices. And the

retreat resounded also with voice of men capable of charming human

hearts. And the slayer of hostile heroes also saw around him learned

Brahmanas of rigid vows engaged in Japa (the repeated muttering of the

names of gods) and Homa (burnt-offering). And the king wondered much on

beholding the beautiful carpets which those Brahmanas offered to him

respectfully. And that best of monarchs, at the sight of the rites with

which those Brahmanas worshipped the gods and the great Rishis, thought

within himself that he was in the region of Brahman. And the more the

king saw that auspicious and sacred asylum of Kasyapa protected by that

Rishi’s ascetic virtues and possessing all the requisites of a holy

retreat, the more he desired to see it. In fact, he was not satisfied

with his short survey. And the slayer of heroes at last, accompanied by

his minister and his priest, entered that charming and sacred retreat of

Kasyapa inhabited all around by Rishis of ascetic wealth and exalted



(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘The monarch then, as he proceeded, left even his

reduced retinue at the entrance of the hermitage. And entering quite

alone he saw not the Rishi (Kanwa) of rigid vows. And not seeing the

Rishi and finding that the abode was empty, he called loudly, saying,

‘What ho, who is here?’ And the sound of his voice was echoed back. And

hearing the sound of his voice, there came out of the Rishi’s abode a

maiden beautiful as Sri herself but dressed as an ascetic’s daughter. And

the black-eyed fair one, as she saw king Dushmanta, bade him welcome and

received him duly. And, showing him due respect by the offer of a seat,

water to wash his feet, and Arghya, she enquired about the monarch’s

health and peace. And having worshipped the king and asked him about his

health and peace, the maiden reverentially asked, ‘What must be done, O

king! I await your commands.’ The king, duly worshipped by her, said unto

that maiden of faultless features and sweet speech, ‘I have come to

worship the highly-blessed Rishi Kanwa. Tell me, O amiable and beautiful

one, where has the illustrious Rishi gone?’

“Sakuntala then answered, ‘My illustrious father hath gone away from the

asylum to fetch fruit. Wait but a moment and thou wilt see him when he


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The king not seeing the Rishi and addressed

thus by her, beheld that the maiden was exceedingly beautiful and endued

with perfect symmetry of shape. And he saw that she was of sweet smiles.

And she stood decked with the beauty of her faultless features, her

ascetic penances, and her humility. And he saw that she was in the bloom

of youth. He therefore asked her, ‘Who art thou? And whose daughter, O

beautiful one? Why hast thou come into the woods also? O handsome one,

gifted with so much beauty and such virtues, whence hast thou come? O

charming one, at the very first glance hast thou stolen my heart! I

desire to learn all about thee; therefore tell me all.’ And thus

addressed by the monarch, the maiden smilingly replied in these sweet

words, ‘O Dushmanta, I am the daughter of the virtuous, wise,

high-souled, and illustrious ascetic Kanwa.’

“Dushmanta, hearing this, replied, ‘The universally-worshipped and

highly-blessed Rishi is one whose seed hath been drawn up. Even Dharma

himself might fall off from his course but an ascetic of rigid vows can

never fall off so. Therefore, O thou of the fairest complexion, how hast

thou been born as his daughter? This great doubt of mine it behoveth thee

to dispel.’

“Sakuntala then replied, ‘Hear, O king, what I have learnt regarding all

that befell me of old and how I became the daughter of the Muni. Once on

a time, a Rishi came here and asked about my birth. All that the

illustrious one (Kanwa) told him, hear now from me, O king!

“My father Kanwa, in answer to that Rishi’s enquiries, said, ‘Viswamitra,

of old, having been engaged in the austerest penances alarmed Indra, the

chief of the celestials, who thought that the mighty ascetic of blazing

energy would, by his penances, hurl him down from his high seat in

heaven.’ Indra, thus alarmed, summoned Menaka and told her, ‘Thou, O

Menaka, art the first of celestial Apsaras. Therefore, O amiable one, do

me this service. Hear what I say. This great ascetic Viswamitra like unto

the Sun in splendour, is engaged in the most severe of penances. My heart

is trembling with fear. Indeed, O slender-waisted Menaka, this is thy

business. Thou must see that Viswamitra of soul rapt in contemplation and

engaged in the austerest penances, who might hurl me down from my seat.

Go and tempt him and frustrating his continued austerities accomplish my

good. Win him away from his penances, O beautiful one, by tempting him

with thy beauty, youth, agreeableness, arts, smiles and speech.’ Hearing

all this, Menaka replied, ‘The illustrious Viswamitra is endued with

great energy and is a mighty ascetic. He is very short-tempered too, as

is known to thee. The energy, penances, and wrath of the high-souled one

have made even thee anxious. Why should I not also be anxious? He it was

who made even the illustrious Vasishtha bear the pangs of witnessing the

premature death of his children. He it was who, though at first born as

Kshatriya, subsequently became a Brahmana by virtue of his ascetic

penances. He it was who, for purposes of his ablutions, created a deep

river that can with difficulty be forded, and which sacred stream is

known by the name of the Kausiki. It was Viswamitra whose wife, in a

season of distress, was maintained by the royal sage Matanga (Trisanku)

who was then living under a father’s curse as a hunter. It was Viswamitra

who, on returning after the famine was over, changed the name of the

stream having his asylum from Kausik into Para. It was Viswamitra who in

return for the services of Matanga, himself became the latter’s priest

for purposes of a sacrifice. The lord of the celestials himself went

through fear to drink the Soma juice. It was Viswamitra who in anger

created a second world and numerous stars beginning with Sravana. He it

was who granted protection to Trisanku smarting under a superior’s curse.

I am frightened to approach him of such deeds. Tell me, O Indra, the

means that should be adopted so that I may not be burnt by his wrath. He

can burn the three worlds by his splendour, can, by a stamp (of his

foot), cause the earth to quake. He can sever the great Meru from the

earth and hurl it to any distance. He can go round the ten points of the

earth in a moment. How can a woman like me even touch such a one full of

ascetic virtues, like unto a blazing fire, and having his passions under

complete control? His mouth is like unto a blazing fire; the pupils of

his eyes are like the Sun and the Moon; his tongue is like unto Yama

himself. How shall, O chief of the celestials, a woman like me even touch

him? At the thought of his prowess Yama, Soma, the great Rishis, the

Saddhyas, the Viswas, Valakhilyas, are terrified! How can a woman like me

gaze at him without alarm? Commanded, however, by thee, O king of the

celestials, I shall somehow approach that Rishi. But, O chief of the

gods, devise thou some plan whereby protected by thee, I may safely move

about that Rishi. I think that when I begin to play before the Rishi,

Marut (the god of wind) had better go there and rob me of my dress, and

Manmatha (the god of love) had also, at thy command, better help me then.

Let also Marut on that occasion bear thither fragrance from the woods to

tempt the Rishi.’ Saying this and seeing that all she had spoken about

had been duly provided, Menaka went to the retreat of the great Kausika.'”



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