Chapter 176

Mahabharata English - ADI PARVA

“Vaisampayana said, ‘That bull among the Bharatas, Arjuna, hearing thesewords of the Gandharva, was inspired with feelings of devotion and stoodshes (???–JBH), killing deer and wild boars. Once on a time, while outin quest of deer, the king became weak with exertion and thirst.

Themonarch arrived in that state at the asylum of Vasishtha, and the blessedand illustrious Rishi beholding him arrive, reverenced with his homagethat best of men, king Viswamitra. And O Bharata, the Rishi saluted themonarch by offering him water to wash his face and feet with, and Arghya,and wild fruits, and clarified butter. For the illustrious Rishi had acow yielding anything that was desired of her. When she was addressed,saying, ‘O give’,–she always yielded the article that was sought. Andshe yielded various fruits and corn, wild or grown in gardens and fields,and milk, and many excellent nutritive viands full of six different kindsof juice (taste?) and like unto nectar itself, and various other kinds ofenjoyable things, O Arjuna, of ambrosial taste for drinking and eating,and for licking and sucking, and also many precious gems and robes ofvarious kinds. With these desirable objects in profusion the monarch wasworshipped. And the king with his minister and troops became highlypleased. And the monarch wondered much, beholding that cow with sixelevated limbs and the beautiful flanks and hips, and five limbs thatwere broad, and eyes prominent like those of the frog and beautiful insize, and high udders, and faultless make, and straight and upliftedears, and handsome horns, and well-developed head and neck.

“And, O prince, the son of Gadhi, gratified with everything andapplauding the cow named Nandini, addressed the Rishi, saying, ‘OBrahmana, O great Muni, give me thy Naridini in exchange for ten thousandkine, or my kingdom. Enjoy thou my kingdom (giving me thy cow).’

“Hearing these words of Viswamitra, Vasishtha said, ‘O sinless one, thiscow hath been kept by me for the sake of the gods, guests, and thePitris, as also for my sacrifices. I cannot give Nandini in exchange foreven thy kingdom.’ Viswamitra replied, ‘I am a Kshatriya, but thou art aBrahmana devoted to asceticism and study. Is there any energy inBrahmanas who are peaceful and who have their souls under perfectcommand? When thou givest me not what I desire in exchange even for tenthousand cows, I will not abandon the practice of my order; I will takethy cow even by force!’

“Vasishtha said, ‘Thou art a Kshatriya endued with might of arms. Thouart a powerful monarch. O, do in haste what thou desirest; and stop notto consider its propriety.’

“The Gandharva continued, ‘Thus addressed by Vasishtha, Viswamitra, OPartha, then forcibly seized Nandini, that cow (white) like the swan orthe moon, and attempted to take her away, afflicting her with stripes andpersecuting her otherwise. The innocent Nandini then began, O Partha, tolow piteously, and approaching the illustrious Vasishtha stood before himwith uplifted face. Though persecuted very cruelly, she refused to leavethe Rishi’s asylum.’

“Beholding her in that plight, Vasishtha said, ‘O amiable one, thou artlowing repeatedly and I am hearing thy cries. But, O Nandini, evenViswamitra is taking thee away by force, what can I do in this matter, asI am a forgiving Brahmana?’

“The Gandharva continued, ‘Then, O bull in Bharata’s race, Nandini,alarmed at the sight of Viswamitra’s troops and terrified by Viswamitrahimself, approached the Rishi still closer, and said, ‘O illustrious one,why art thou so indifferent to my poor self afflicted with the stripes ofthe cruel troops of Viswamitra and crying so piteously as if I weremasterless?’ Hearing these words of the crying and persecuted Nandini,the great Rishi lost not his patience nor turned from his vow offorgiveness. He replied, ‘The Kshatriya’s might lies in physicalstrength, the Brahmana’s in forgiveness. Because I cannot give upforgiveness, go thou, O Nandini, if thou choosest.’ Nandini answered,’Castest thou me away, O illustrious one, that thou sayest so? If thoudost not cast me off, I cannot, O Brahmana, be taken away by force.’Vasishtha said, ‘O blessed one, I do not cast thee off! Stay if thoucanst! O, yonder is thy calf, tied with a stout cord, and even now beingweakened by it!’

“The Gandharva continued, ‘Then the cow of Vasishtha, hearing the wordstay, raised her head and neck upward, and became terrible to behold.With eyes red with rage and lowing repeatedly, she then attackedViswamitra’s troops on all sides. Afflicted with their stripes andrunning hither and thither with those red eyes of hers, her wrathincreased. Blazing with rage, she soon became terrible to behold likeunto the sun in his midday glory. And from her tail she began to rainshowers of burning coals all around. And some moments after, from hertail she brought forth an army of Palhavas, and from her udders, an armyof Dravidas and Sakas; and from her womb, an army of Yavanas, and fromher dung, an army of Savaras; and from her urine, an army of Kanchis; andfrom her sides, an army of Savaras. And from the froth of her mouth cameout hosts of Paundras and Kiratas, Yavanas and Sinhalas, and thebarbarous tribes of Khasas and Chivukas and Pulindas and Chinas and Hunaswith Keralas, and numerous other Mlechchhas. And that vast army ofMlechchhas in various uniforms, and armed with various weapons, as soonas it sprang into life, deploying in the very sight of Viswamitra,attacked that monarch’s soldiers. And so numerous was that Mlechchha hostthat each particular soldier of Viswamitra was attacked by a band of sixor seven of their enemies. Assailed with a mighty shower of weapons,Viswamitra’s troops broke and fled, panic-stricken, in all directions,before his very eyes. But, O bull in Bharata’s race, the troops ofVasishtha, though excited with wrath, took not the life of any ofViswamitra’s troops. Nandini simply caused the monarch’s army to berouted and driven off. And driven (from the asylum) twenty-seven fullmiles, panic-stricken, they shrieked aloud and beheld not anyone thatcould protect them. Viswamitra, beholding this wonderful feat thatresulted from Brahmana prowess, became disgusted with Kshatriya prowessand said, ‘O, fie on Kshatriya prowess! Brahmana prowess is true prowess!In judging of strength and weakness, I see that asceticism is truestrength.’ Saying this, the monarch, abandoning his large domains andregal splendour and turning his back upon all pleasures, set his mind onasceticism. Crowned with success in asceticism and filling the threeworlds with the heat of his ascetic penances, he afflicted all creaturesand finally became a Brahmana. The son of Kusika at last drank Soma withIndra himself (in Heaven).'”

Chapter 177
Chapter 175
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