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Chapter 179

Mahabharata English - ADI PARVA

“The Gandharva continued, ‘Beholding his asylum bereft of his children,the Muni afflicted with great grief left it again. And in course of hiswandering he saw, O Partha, a river swollen with the waters of the rainyseason, sweeping away numberless trees and plants that had grown on itsmargin.

Beholding this, O thou of Kuru’s race, the distressed Munithinking that he would certainly be drowned if he fell into the waters ofthat river, he tied himself strongly with several cords and flunghimself, under the influence of grief, into the current of that mightystream. But, O slayer of foes, that stream soon cut those cords and castthe Rishi ashore. And the Rishi rose from the bank, freed from the cordswith which he had tied himself. And because his cords were thus brokenoff by the violence of the current, the Rishi called the stream by thename of Vipasa (the cord-breaker). For his grief the Muni could not, fromthat time, stay in one place; he began to wander over mountains and alongrivers and lakes. And beholding once again a river named Haimavati(flowing from Himavat) of terrible aspect and full of fierce crocodilesand other (aquatic) monsters, the Rishi threw himself into it, but theriver mistaking the Brahmana for a mass of (unquenchable) fire,immediately flew in a hundred different directions, and hath been knownever since by the name of the Satadru (the river of a hundred courses).Seeing himself on the dry land even there he exclaimed, ‘O, I cannot dieby my own hands!’ Saying this, the Rishi once more bent his steps towardshis asylum. Crossing numberless mountains and countries, as he was aboutto re-enter his asylum, he was followed by his daughter-in-law namedAdrisyanti. As she neared him, he heard the sound from behind of a veryintelligent recitation of the Vedas with the six graces of elocution.Hearing that sound, the Rishi asked, ‘Who is it that followeth me?’ Hisdaughter-in-law then answered, ‘I am Adrisyanti, the wife of Saktri. I amhelpless, though devoted to asceticism.’ Hearing her, Vasishtha said, ‘Odaughter, whose is this voice that I heard, repeating the Vedas alongwith the Angas like unto the voice of Saktri reciting the Vedas with theAngas?’ Adrisyanti answered, ‘I bear in my womb a child by thy sonSaktri. He hath been here full twelve years. The voice thou hearest isthat of the Muni, who is reciting the Vedas.’

“The Gandharva continued, ‘Thus addressed by her the illustriousVasishtha became exceedingly glad. And saying, ‘O, there is a child (ofmy race)!’–he refrained, O Partha, from self-destruction. The sinlessone accompanied by his daughter-in-law, then returned to his asylum. Andthe Rishi saw one day in the solitary woods (the Rakshasa) Kalmashapada.The king, O Bharata, possessed by fierce Rakshasa, as he saw the Rishi,became filled with wrath and rose up, desiring to devour him. AndAdrisyanti beholding before her that the Rakshasa of cruel deeds,addressed Vasishtha in these words, full of anxiety and fear, ‘Oillustrious one, the cruel Rakshasa, like unto Death himself armed with(his) fierce club, cometh towards us with a wooden club in hand! There isnone else on earth, except thee, O illustrious one, and, O foremost ofall that are conversant with the Vedas to restrain him today. Protect me,O illustrious one, from this cruel wretch of terrible mien. Surely, theRakshasa cometh hither to devour us’ Vasishtha, hearing this, said, ‘Fearnot, O daughter, there is no need of any fear from any Rakshasa. This oneis no Rakshasa from whom thou apprehendest such imminent danger. This isking Kalmashapada endued with great energy and celebrated on earth. Thatterrible man dwelleth in these woods.’

“The Gandharva continued, ‘Beholding him advancing, the illustrious RishiVasishtha, endued with great energy, restrained him, O Bharata, byuttering the sound Hum. Sprinkling him again with water sanctified withincantations the Rishi freed the monarch from that terrible curse. Fortwelve years the monarch had been overwhelmed by the energy ofVasishtha’s son like Surya seized by the planet (Rahu) during the seasonof an eclipse. Freed from the Rakshasa the monarch illumined that largeforest by his splendour like the sun illumining the evening clouds.Recovering his power of reason, the king saluted that best of Rishis withjoined palms and said, ‘O illustrious one, I am the son of Sudasa and thydisciple, O best of Munis! O, tell me what is thy pleasure and what I amto do.’ Vasishtha replied, saying, ‘My desire hath already beenaccomplished. Return now to thy kingdom and rule thy subjects. And, Ochief of men, never insult Brahmanas any more.’ The monarch replied, ‘Oillustrious one, I shall never more insult superior Brahmanas. Inobedience to thy command I shall always worship Brahmanas. But, O best ofBrahmanas, I desire to obtain from thee that by which, O foremost of allthat are conversant with the Vedas, I may be freed from the debt I owe tothe race of Ikshvaku! O best of men, it behoveth thee to grant me, forthe perpetuation of Ikshvaku’s race, a desirable son possessing beautyand accomplishments and good behaviour.’

“The Gandharva continued, ‘Thus addressed, Vasishtha, that best ofBrahmanas devoted to truth replied unto that mighty bowman of a monarch,saying, ‘I will give you.’ After some time, O prince of men, Vasishtha,accompanied by the monarch, went to the latter’s capital known all overthe earth by the name of Ayodhya. The citizens in great joy came out toreceive the sinless and illustrious one, like the dwellers in heavencoming out to receive their chief. The monarch, accompanied by Vasishtha,re-entered his auspicious capital after a long time. The citizens ofAyodhya beheld their king accompanied by his priest, as if he were therising sun. The monarch who was superior to everyone in beauty filled byhis splendour the whole town of Ayodhya, like the autumnal moon fillingby his splendour the whole firmament. And the excellent city itself, inconsequence of its streets having been watered and swept, and of the rowsof banners and pendants beautifying it all around, gladdened themonarch’s heart. And, O prince of Kuru’s race, the city filled as it waswith joyous and healthy souls, in consequence of his presence, looked gaylike Amaravati with the presence of the chief of the celestials. Afterthe royal sage had entered his capital, the queen, at the king’s command,approached Vasishtha. The great Rishi, making a covenant with her, unitedhimself with her according to the high ordinance. And after a littlewhile, when the queen conceived, that best of Rishis, receiving thereverential salutations of the king, went back to his asylum. The queenbore the embryo in her womb for a long time. When she saw that she didnot bring forth anything, she tore open her womb by a piece of stone. Itwas then that at the twelfth year (of the conception) was born Asmaka,that bull amongst men, that royal sage who founded (the city of)Paudanya.'”

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