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Chapter 173

Mahabharata English - ADI PARVA

“Arjuna said, ‘Thou hast addressed me (more than once) as Tapatya. Itherefore wish to know what the precise significance of this word is, Ovirtuous Gandharva, being sons of Kunti, we are, indeed, Kaunteyas. Butwho is Tapati that we should be called Tapatyas?’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed, the Gandharva related toDhananjaya, the son of Kunti, the (following) story well-known in thethree worlds.’

“The Gandharva said, ‘O son of Pritha, O foremost of all intelligent men,I will duly recite to you in full this charming narrative. O, listen withattention to what I say in explanation of why I have addressed thee asTapatya. That one in heaven who pervadeth by his light the wholefirmament had a daughter named Tapati equal unto himself. Tapati, thedaughter of the god Vivaswat, was the younger sister of Savitri, and shewas celebrated throughout the three worlds and devoted to asceticpenances. There was no woman amongst the celestials, the Asuras, theYakshas, the Rakshasas, the Apsaras, and the Gandharvas, who was equal toher in beauty. Of perfect, symmetrical and faultless features, of blackand large eyes, and in beautiful attire, the girl was chaste and ofperfect conduct. And, O Bharata, seeing her Savitri (the sun) thoughtthat there was none in the three worlds who, for his beauty,accomplishments, behaviour, and learning, deserved to be her husband.Beholding her attain the age of puberty and, therefore, worthy of beingbestowed on a husband, her father knew no peace of mind, always thinkingof the person he should select. At that time, O son of Kunti, Riksha’sson, that bull amongst the Kurus, the mighty king Samvarana, was dulyworshipping Surya with offerings of Arghya and flower-garlands andscents, and with vows and fasts and ascetic penances of various kinds.Indeed, Samvarana was worshipping Surya constantly in all his glory, withdevotion and humility and piety. And beholding Samvarana conversant withall rules of virtue and unequalled on earth for beauty, Surya regardedhim as the fit husband for his daughter, Tapati. And, O thou of Kuru’srace, Vivaswat then resolved to bestow his daughter on that best ofkings, viz., Samvarana, the scion of a race of world-wide fame. As Suryahimself in the heavens filleth the firmament with his splendour, so didking Samvarana on earth fill every region with the splendour of his goodachievements. And all men, O Partha, except Brahmanas, worshippedSamvarana. Blest with good luck, king Samvarana excelled Soma in soothingthe hearts of friends and Surya in scorching the hearts of foes. And, OKaurava, Tapana (Surya) himself was resolved upon bestowing his daughterTapati upon king Samvarana, who was possessed of such virtues andaccomplishments.

“Once on a time, O Partha, king Samvarana, endued with beauty (of person)and immeasurable prowess, went on a hunting expedition to the under-woodson the mountain-breast. While wandering in quest of deer, the excellentsteed the king rode, overcome, O Partha, with hunger, thirst and fatigue,died on the mountains. Abandoning the steed, the king, O Arjuna, began towander about upon the mountain-breast on foot and in course of hiswandering the monarch saw a maiden of large eyes and unrivalled beauty,That grinder of hostile host–that tiger among kings–himself without acompanion, beholding there that maiden without a companion, stoodmotionless gazing at her steadfastly. For her beauty, the monarch forsome moment believed her to be (the goddess) Sri herself. Next heregarded her to be the embodiment of the rays emanating from Surya. Insplendour of her person she resembled a flame of fire, though inbenignity and loveliness she resembled a spotless digit of the moon. Andstanding on the mountain-breast, the black-eyed maiden appeared like abright statue of gold. The mountain itself with its creepers and plants,because of the beauty and attire of that damsel, seemed to be convertedinto gold. The sight of that maiden inspired the monarch with a contemptfor all women that he had seen before. By beholding her, the kingregarded his eye-sight truly blessed. Nothing the king had seen from theday of his birth could equal, he thought, the beauty of that girl. Theking’s heart and eyes were captivated by that damsel, as if they werebound with a cord and he remained rooted to that spot, deprived of hissenses. The monarch thought that the artificer of so much beauty hadcreated it only after churning the whole world of gods Asuras and humanbeings. Entertaining these various thoughts, king Samvarana regarded thatmaiden as unrivalled in the three worlds for wealth of beauty.

“And the monarch of pure descent, beholding the beautiful maiden, waspierced with Kama’s (Cupid’s) shafts and lost his peace of mind. Burntwith the strong flame of desire the king asked that charming maiden,still innocent, though in her full youth, saying, ‘Who art thou andwhose? Why also dost thou stay here? O thou of sweet smiles, why dostthou wander alone in these solitary woods? Of every feature perfectlyfaultless, and decked with every ornament, thou seemest to be the covetedornament of these ornaments themselves! Thou seemest not to be ofcelestial or Asura or Yaksha or Rakshasa or Naga or Gandharva or humanorigin. O excellent lady, the best of women that I have ever seen orheard of would not compare with thee in beauty! O thou of handsome face,at sight of thee lovelier than the moon and graced with eyes likelotus-petals, the god of desire is grinding me.’

“King Samvarana thus addressed that damsel in the forest, who however,spoke not a word unto the monarch burning with desire. Instead, likelightning in the clouds, that large-eyed maiden quickly disappeared inthe very sight of the monarch. The king then wandered through the wholeforest, like one out of his senses, in search of that girl of eyes likelotus-petals. Failing to find her, that best of monarchs indulged incopious lamentations and for a time stood motionless with grief.'”

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