“Arjuna asked, ‘What for, O Gandharva, did king Kalmashapada command hisqueen to go unto that foremost of all persons conversant with theVedas–the master Vasishtha? Why also did that illustrious and greatRishi Vasishtha himself who was acquainted with every rule of moralityknow a woman he should not have known?
O friend, was this an act of sinon the part of Vasishtha? It behoveth thee to remove the doubts Ientertain and refer to thee for solution.’
“The Gandharva replied, saying, ‘O irrepressible Dhananjaya, listen to meas I answer the question thou hast asked in respect of Vasishtha and kingKalmashapada that cherisher of friends. O thou best of the Bharatas, Ihave told thee all about the curse of king Kalmashapada by Saktri, theillustrious son of Vasishtha. Brought under the influence of the curse,that smiter of all foes–king Kalmashapada–with eyes whirling in angerwent out of his capital accompanied by his wife. And entering with hiswife the solitary woods the king began to wander about. And one day whilethe king under the influence of the curse was wandering through thatforest abounding in several kinds of deer and various other animals andovergrown with numerous large trees and shrubs and creepers andresounding with terrible cries, he became exceedingly hungry. And themonarch thereupon began to search for some food. Pinched with hunger, theking at last saw, in a very solitary part of the woods, a Brahmana andhis wife enjoying each other. Alarmed at beholding the monarch the coupleran away, their desire ungratified. Pursuing the retreating pair, theking forcibly seized the Brahmana. Then the Brahmani, beholding her lordseized, addressed the monarch, saying, ‘Listen to what I say, O monarchof excellent vows! It is known all over the world that thou art born inthe solar race, and that thou art ever vigilant in the practice ofmorality and devoted to the service of thy superiors. It behoveth theenot to commit sin, O thou irrepressible one, deprived though thou hastbeen of thy senses by (the Rishi’s) curse. My season hath come, andwishful of my husband’s company I was connected with him. I have not beengratified yet. Be propitious unto us, O thou best of kings! Liberate myhusband.’ The monarch, however, without listening to her cries cruellydevoured her husband like a tiger devouring its desirable prey. Possessedwith wrath at this sight, the tears that that woman shed blazed up likefire and consumed everything in that place. Afflicted with grief at thecalamity that overtook her lord, the Brahmani in anger cursed the royalsage Kalmashapada, ‘Vile wretch, since thou hast today cruelly devouredunder my very nose my illustrious husband dear unto me, even before mydesires have been gratified, therefore shall thou, O wicked one afflictedby my curse, meet with instant death when thou goest in for thy wife inseason. And thy wife, O wretch, shall bring forth a son uniting herselfwith that Rishi Vasishtha whose children have been devoured by thee. Andthat child, O worst of kings, shall be the perpetuator of thy race.’ Andcursing the monarch thus, that lady of Angira’s house bearing everyauspicious mark, entered the blazing fire in the very sight of themonarch. And, O thou oppressor of all foes, the illustrious and exaltedVasishtha by his ascetic power and spiritual insight immediately knewall. And long after this, when the king became freed from his curse, heapproached his wife Madayanati when her season came. But Madayanatisoftly sent him away. Under the influence of passion the monarch had norecollection of that curse. Hearing, however, the words of his wife, thebest of kings became terribly alarmed. And recollecting the curse herepented bitterly of what he had done. It was for this reason, O thoubest of men, that the monarch infected with the Brahmani’s curse,appointed Vasishtha to beget a son upon his queen.'”