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Chapter 104

Mahabharata English - ADI PARVA

“Bhishma continued, ‘In olden days, Rama, the son of Jamadagni, in angerat the death of his father, slew with his battle axe the king of theHaihayas. And Rama, by cutting off the thousand arms of Arjuna (theHaihaya king), achieved a most difficult feat in the world.

Not contentwith this, he set out on his chariot for the conquest of the world, andtaking up his bow he cast around his mighty weapons to exterminate theKshatriyas. And the illustrious scion of Bhrigu’s race, by means of hisswift arrows annihilated the Kshatriya tribe one and twenty times.

“And when the earth was thus deprived of Kshatriyas by the great Rishi,the Kshatriya ladies all over the land had offspring raised by Brahmanasskilled in the Vedas. It has been said in the Vedas that the sons soraised belongeth to him that had married the mother. And the Kshatriyaladies went in unto the Brahamanas not lustfully but from motives ofvirtue. Indeed, it was thus that the Kshatriya race was revived.

“In this connection there is another old history that I will recite toyou. There was in olden days a wise Rishi of the name of Utathya. He hada wife of the name Mamata whom he dearly loved. One day Utathya’s youngerbrother Vrihaspati, the priest of the celestials, endued with greatenergy, approached Mamata. The latter, however, told her husband’syounger brother–that foremost of eloquent men–that she had conceivedfrom her connection with his elder brother and that, therefore, he shouldnot then seek for the consummation of his wishes. She continued, ‘Oillustrious Vrihaspati, the child that I have conceived hath studied inhis mother’s womb the Vedas with the six Angas, Semen tuum frustra perdinon potest. How can then this womb of mine afford room for two childrenat a time? Therefore, it behoveth thee not to seek for the consummationof thy desire at such a time. Thus addressed by her, Vrihaspati, thoughpossessed of great wisdom, succeeded not in suppressing his desire. Quumauten jam cum illa coiturus esset, the child in the womb then addressedhim and said, ‘O father, cease from thy attempt. There is no space herefor two. O illustrious one, the room is small. I have occupied it first.Semen tuum perdi non potest. It behoveth thee not to afflict me.’ ButVrihaspati without listening to what that child in the womb said, soughtthe embraces of Mamata possessing the most beautiful pair of eyes. Illetamen Muni qui in venture erat punctum temporis quo humor vitalis jamemissum iret providens, viam per quam semen intrare posset pedibusobstruxit. Semen ita exhisum, excidit et in terram projectumest. And theillustrious Vrihaspati, beholding this, became indignant, and reproachedUtathya’s child and cursed him, saying, ‘Because thou hast spoken to mein the way thou hast at a time of pleasure that is sought after by allcreatures, perpetual darkness shall overtake thee.’ And from this curseof the illustrious Vrishaspati Utathya’s child who was equal untoVrihaspati in energy, was born blind and came to be called Dirghatamas(enveloped in perpetual darkness). And the wise Dirghatamas, possessed ofa knowledge of the Vedas, though born blind, succeeded yet by virtue ofhis learning, in obtaining for a wife a young and handsome Brahmanamaiden of the name of Pradweshi. And having married her, the illustriousDirghatamas, for the expansion of Utathya’s race, begat upon her severalchildren with Gautama as their eldest. These children, however, were allgiven to covetousness and folly. The virtuous and illustrious Dirghatamaspossessing complete mastery over the Vedas, soon after learnt fromSurabhi’s son the practices of their order and fearlessly betook himselfto those practices, regarding them with reverence. (For shame is thecreature of sin and can never be where there is purity of intention).Then those best of Munis that dwelt in the same asylum, beholding himtransgress the limits of propriety became indignant, seeing sin where sinwas not. And they said, ‘O, this man, transgresseth the limit ofpropriety. No longer doth he deserve a place amongst us. Therefore, shallwe all cast this sinful wretch off.’ And they said many other thingsregarding the Muni Dirghatamas. And his wife, too, having obtainedchildren, became indignant with him.

“The husband then addressing his wife Pradweshi, said, ‘Why is it thatthou also hast been dissatisfied with me?’ His wife answered, ‘Thehusband is called the Bhartri because he supporteth the wife. He iscalled Pati because he protecteth her. But thou art neither, to me! Othou of great ascetic merit, on the other hand, thou hast been blind frombirth, it is I who have supported thee and thy children. I shall not doso in future.’

“Hearing these words of his wife, the Rishi became indignant and saidunto her and her children, ‘Take me unto the Kshatriyas and thou shaltthen be rich.’ His wife replied (by saying), ‘I desire not wealth thatmay be procured by thee, for that can never bring me happiness. O best ofBrahmanas, do as thou likest. I shall not be able to maintain thee asbefore.’ At these words of his wife, Dirghatamas said, ‘I lay down fromthis day as a rule that every woman shall have to adhere to one husbandfor her life. Be the husband dead or alive, it shall not be lawful for awoman to have connection with another. And she who may have suchconnection shall certainly be regarded as fallen. A woman without husbandshall always be liable to be sinful. And even if she be wealthy she shallnot be able to enjoy that wealth truly. Calumny and evil report shallever dog her.’ Hearing these words of her husband Pradweshi became veryangry, and commanded her sons, saying, ‘Throw him into the waters ofGanga!’ And at the command of their mother, the wicked Gautama and hisbrothers, those slaves of covetousness and folly, exclaiming, ‘Indeed,why should we support this old man?–‘tied the Muni to a raft andcommitting him to the mercy of the stream returned home withoutcompunction. The blind old man drifting along the stream on that raft,passed through the territories of many kings. One day a king named Valiconversant with every duty went to the Ganges to perform his ablutions.And as the monarch was thus engaged, the raft to which the Rishi wastied, approached him. And as it came, the king took the old man. Thevirtuous Vali, ever devoted to truth, then learning who the man was thatwas thus saved by him, chose him for raising up offspring. And Vali said,’O illustrious one, it behoveth thee to raise upon my wife a few sonsthat shall be virtuous and wise.’ Thus addressed, the Rishi endued withgreat energy, expressed his willingness. Thereupon king Vali sent hiswife Sudeshna unto him. But the queen knowing that the latter was blindand old went not unto him, she sent unto him her nurse. And upon thatSudra woman the virtuous Rishi of passions under full control begateleven children of whom Kakshivat was the eldest. And beholding thoseeleven sons with Kakshivat as the eldest, who had studied all the Vedasand who like Rishis were utterers of Brahma and were possessed of greatpower, king Vali one day asked the Rishi saying, ‘Are these childrenmine?’ The Rishi replied, ‘No, they are mine. Kakshivat and others havebeen begotten by me upon a Sudra woman. Thy unfortunate queen Sudeshna,seeing me blind and old, insulted me by not coming herself but sendingunto me, instead, her nurse.’ The king then pacified that best of Rishisand sent unto him his queen Sudeshna. The Rishi by merely touching herperson said to her, ‘Thou shalt have five children named Anga, Vanga,Kalinga, Pundra and Suhma, who shall be like unto Surya (Sun) himself inglory. And after their names as many countries shall be known on earth.It is after their names that their dominions have come to be called Anga,Vanga, Kalinga, Pundra and Suhma.’

“It was thus that the line of Vali was perpetuated, in days of old, by agreat Rishi. And it was thus also that many mighty bowmen and greatcar-warriors wedded to virtue, sprung in the Kshatriya race from the seedof Brahmanas. Hearing this, O mother, do as thou likest, as regards thematter in hand.'”

FOLLOW US ON:
Chapter 105
Chapter 103
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