Chapter 16

Mahabharata English - ADI PARVA

“Saunaka said, ‘O Sauti, relate once more in detail this history of thelearned and virtuous Astika. Our curiosity for hearing it is great. Oamiable one, thou speakest sweetly, with proper accent and emphasis; andwe are well-pleased with thy speech. Thou speakest even as thy father.Thy sire was ever ready to please us. Tell us now the story as thy fatherhad related it.’

“Sauti said, ‘O thou that art blest with longevity, I shall narrate thehistory of Astika as I heard it from my father. O Brahmana, in the goldenage, Prajapati had two daughters. O sinless one, the sisters were endowedwith wonderful beauty. Named Kadru and Vinata, they became the wives ofKasyapa. Kasyapa derived great pleasure from his two wedded wives andbeing gratified he, resembling Prajapati himself, offered to give each ofthem a boon. Hearing that their lord was willing to confer on them theirchoice blessings, those excellent ladies felt transports of joy. Kadruwished to have for sons a thousand snakes all of equal splendour. AndVinata wished to bring forth two sons surpassing the thousand offspringsof Kadru in strength, energy, size of body, and prowess. Unto Kadru herlord gave that boon about a multitude of offspring. And unto Vinata also,Kasyapa said, ‘Be it so!’ Then Vinata, having; obtained her prayer,rejoiced greatly. Obtaining two sons of superior prowess, she regardedher boon fulfilled. Kadru also obtained her thousand sons of equalsplendour. ‘Bear the embryos carefully,’ said Kasyapa, and then he wentinto the forest, leaving his two wives pleased with his blessings.’

“Sauti continued, ‘O best of regenerate ones, after a long time, Kadrubrought forth a thousand eggs, and Vinata two. Their maid-servantsdeposited the eggs separately in warm vessels. Five hundred years passedaway, and the thousand eggs produced by Kadru burst and out came theprogeny. But the twins of Vinata did not appear. Vinata was jealous, andtherefore she broke one of the eggs and found in it an embryo with theupper part developed but the lower one undeveloped. At this, the child inthe egg became angry and cursed his mother, saying. ‘Since thou hastprematurely broken this egg, thou shall serve as a slave. Shouldst thouwait five hundred years and not destroy, or render the other egghalf-developed, by breaking it through impatience, then the illustriouschild within it will deliver thee from slavery! And if thou wouldst havethe child strong, thou must take tender care of the egg for all thistime!’ Thus cursing his mother, the child rose to the sky. O Brahmana,even he is the charioteer of Surya, always seen in the hour of morning!

“Then at the expiration of the five hundred years, bursting open theother egg, out came Garuda, the serpent-eater. O tiger of Bhrigu’s race,immediately on seeing the light, that son of Vinata left his mother. Andthe lord of birds, feeling hungry, took wing in quest of the foodassigned to him by the Great Ordainer of all.”.

So ends the sixteenth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.

Chapter 17
Chapter 15
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