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Chapter 105

Mahabharata English - ADI PARVA

“Bhishma, continued, ‘Listen, O mother, to me as I indicate the means bywhich the Bharata line may be perpetuated. Let an accomplished Brahmanabe invited by an offer of wealth, and let him raise offspring upon thewives of Vichitravirya.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Satyavati, then, smiling softly and in voicebroken in bashfulness, addressed Bhishma saying, ‘O Bharata of mightyarms, what thou sayest is true. From my confidence in thee I shall nowindicate the means of perpetuating our line. Thou shall not be able toreject it, being conversant, as thou art, with the practices permitted inseasons of distress. In our race, thou art Virtue, and thou art Truth,and thou art, too, our sole refuge. Therefore hearing what I say truly,do what may be proper.

“My father was a virtuous man. For virtue’s sake he had kept a (ferry)boat. One day, in the prime of my youth, I went to ply that boat. It sohappened that the great and wise Rishi Parasara, that foremost of allvirtuous men, came, and betook himself to my boat for crossing theYamuna. As I was rowing him across the river, the Rishi became excitedwith desire and began to address me in soft words. The fear of my fatherwas uppermost in my mind. But the terror of the Rishi’s curse at lastprevailed. And having obtained from him a precious boon, I could notrefuse his solicitations. The Rishi by his energy brought me under hiscomplete control, and gratified his desire then and there, having firstenveloped the region in a thick fog. Before this there was a revoltingfishy odour in my body; but the Rishi dispelled it and gave me my presentfragrance. The Rishi also told me that by bringing forth his child in anisland of the river, I would still continue (to be) a virgin. And thechild of Parasara so born of me in my maidenhood hath become a greatRishi endued with large ascetic powers and known by the name ofDwaipayana (the island-born). That illustrious Rishi having by hisascetic power divided the Vedas into four parts hath come to be called onearth by the name of Vyasa (the divider or arranger), and for his darkcolour, Krishna (the dark). Truthful in speech, free from passion, amighty ascetic who hath burnt all his sins, he went away with his fatherimmediately after his birth. Appointed by me and thee also, that Rishi ofincomparable splendour will certainly beget good children upon the wivesof thy brother. He told me when he went away, ‘Mother, think of me whenthou art in difficulty.’ I will now call him up, if thou, O Bhishma ofmighty arms so desirest. If thou art willing, O Bhishma, I am sure thatgreat ascetic will beget children upon Vichitravirya’s field.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Mention being made of the great Rishi, Bhishmawith joined palms said, ‘That man is truly intelligent who fixes his eyesjudiciously on virtue, profit, and pleasure, and who after reflectingwith patience, acteth in such a way that virtue may lead to futurevirtue, profit to future profit and pleasure to future pleasure.Therefore, that which hath been said by thee and which, besides beingbeneficial to us, is consistent with virtue, is certainly the best adviceand hath my full approval.’ And when Bhishma had said this, O thou ofKuru’s race, Kali (Satyavati) thought of the Muni Dwaipayana andDwaipayana who was then engaged in interpreting the Vedas, learning thathe was being called up by his mother, came instantly unto her withoutanybody’s knowing it. Satayavati then duly greeted her son and embracedhim with arms, bathing him in her tears, for the daughter of thefisherman wept bitterly at the sight of her son after so long a time. Andher first son, the great Vyasa, beholding her weeping, washed her withcool water, and bowing unto her, said, ‘I have come, O mother, to fulfilthy wishes. Therefore, O virtuous one, command me without delay. I shallaccomplish thy desire.’ The family priest of the Bharatas then worshippedthe great Rishi duly, and the latter accepted the offerings of worship,uttering the usual mantras. And gratified with the worship he received,he took his seat. Satyavati, beholding him seated at his ease, after theusual inquiries, addressed him and said, ‘O learned one, sons derivetheir birth both from the father and the mother. They are, therefore, thecommon property of both parents. There cannot be the least doubt about itthat the mother, hath as much power over them as the father. As thou art,indeed, my eldest son according to the ordinance, O Brahmarshi, so isVichitravirya my youngest son. And as Bhishma is Vichitravirya’s brotheron the father’s side, so art thou his brother on the same mother’s side.I do not know what you may think, but this is what, O son, I think. ThisBhishma, the son of Santanu, devoted to truth, doth not, for the sake, oftruth, entertain the desire of either begetting children or ruling thekingdom. Therefore, from affection for thy brother Vichitravirya, for theperpetuation of our dynasty, for the sake of this Bhishma’s request andmy command, for kindness to all creatures, for the protection of thepeople and from the liberality of thy heart, O sinless one, it behoveththee to do what I say. Thy younger brother hath left two widows like untothe daughters of the celestials themselves, endued with youth and greatbeauty. For the sake of virtue and religion, they have become desirous ofoffspring. Thou art the fittest person to be appointed. Therefore begetupon them children worthy of our race and for the continuance of ourline.’

“Vyasa, hearing this, said, ‘O Satyavati, thou knowest what virtue isboth in respect of this life and the other. O thou of great wisdom, thyaffections also are set on virtue. Therefore, at thy command, makingvirtue my motive, I shall do what thou desirest. Indeed, this practicethat is conformable to the true and eternal religion is known to me, Ishall give unto my brother children that shall be like unto Mitra andVaruna. Let the ladies then duly observe for one full year the vow Iindicate. They shall then be purified. No women shall ever approach mewithout having observed a rigid vow.’

“Satyavati then said, ‘O sinless one, it must be as thou sayest. Takesuch steps that the ladies may conceive immediately. In a kingdom wherethere is no king, the people perish from want of protection; sacrificesand other holy acts are suspended; the clouds send no showers; and thegods disappear. How can a kingdom be protected that hath no king?Therefore, see thou that the ladies conceive. Bhishma will watch over thechildren as long as they are in their mother’s wombs.

“Vyasa replied, ‘If I am to give unto my brother children sounseasonably, then let the ladies bear my ugliness. That in itself shall,in their case, be the austerest of penances. If the princess of Kosalacan bear my strong odour, my ugly and grim visage, my attire and body,she shall then conceive an excellent child.'”

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Having spoken thus unto Satyavati, Vyasa ofgreat energy addressed her and said, ‘Let the princess of Kosala clad inclean attire and checked with ornaments wait for me in her bed-chamber.’Saying this, the Rishi disappeared, Satyavati then went to herdaughter-in-law and seeing her in private spoke to her these words ofbeneficial and virtuous import, ‘O princess of Kosala, listen to what Isay. It is consistent with virtue. The dynasty of the Bharatas hathbecome extinct from my misfortune. Beholding my affliction and theextinction of his paternal line, the wise Bhishma, impelled also by thedesire of perpetuating our race, hath made me a suggestion, whichsuggestion, however, for its accomplishment is dependent on thee.Accomplish it, O daughter, and restore the lost line of the Bharatas. Othou of fair hips, bring thou forth a child equal in splendour unto thechief of the celestials. He shall bear the onerous burden of this ourhereditary kingdom.’

“Satyavati having succeeded with great difficulty in procuring the assentof her virtuous daughter-in-law to her proposal which was notinconsistent with virtue, then fed Brahmanas and Rishis and numberlessguests who arrived on die occasion.'”

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