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Chapter 199

Mahabharata English - ADI PARVA

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Vyasa continued, ‘In days of yore, the celestialshad once commenced a grand sacrifice in the forest of Naimisha. At thatsacrifice, O king, Yama, the son of Vivaswat, became the slayer of thedevoted animals.

Yama, thus employed in that sacrifice, did not (duringthat period), O king, kill a single human being. Death being suspended inthe world, the number of human beings increased very greatly. Then Somaand Sakra and Varuna and Kuvera, the Sadhyas, the Rudras, the Vasus, thetwin Aswins,–these and other celestials went unto Prajapati, the Creatorof the universe. Struck with fear for the increase of the humanpopulation of the world they addressed the Master of creation and said,’Alarmed, O lord, at the increase of human beings on earth, we come tothee for relief. Indeed, we crave thy protection.’ Hearing those wordsthe Grandsire said, ‘Ye have little cause to be frightened at thisincrease of human beings. Ye all are immortal. It behoveth you not totake fright at human beings.’ The celestials replied, ‘The mortals haveall become immortal. There is no distinction now between us and them.Vexed at the disappearance of all distinction, we have come to thee inorder that thou mayest distinguish us from them.’ The Creator then said,’The son of Vivaswat is even now engaged in the grand sacrifice. It isfor this that men are not dying. But when Yama’s work in connection withthe sacrifice terminates, men will again begin to die as before.Strengthened by your respective energies, Yama will, when that timecomes, sweep away by thousands the inhabitants on earth who will scarcelyhave then any energy left in them.’

“Vyasa continued, ‘Hearing these words of the first-born deity, thecelestials returned to the spot where the grand sacrifice was beingperformed. And the mighty one sitting by the side of the Bhagirathi saw a(golden) lotus being carried along by the current. And beholding that(golden) lotus, they wondered much. And amongst them, that foremost ofcelestials, viz., Indra, desirous of ascertaining whence it came,proceeded up along the course of the Bhagirathi. And reaching that spotwhence the goddess Ganga issues perennially, Indra beheld a womanpossessing the splendour of fire. The woman who had come there to takewater was washing herself in the stream, weeping all the while. Thetear-drops she shed, falling on the stream, were being transformed intogolden lotuses. The wielder of the thunderbolt, beholding that wonderfulsight, approached the woman and asked her, ‘Who art thou, amiable lady?Why dost thou weep? I desire to know the truth. O, tell me everything.’

“Vyasa continued, ‘The woman thereupon answered, ‘O Sakra, thou mayestknow who I am and why, unfortunate that I am, I weep, if only, O chief ofthe celestials, thou comest with me as I lead the way. Thou shall thensee what it is I weep for.” Hearing these words of the lady, Indrafollowed her as she led the way. And soon he saw, not far off from wherehe was, a handsome youth with a young lady seated on a throne placed onone of the peaks of Himavat and playing at dice. Beholding that youth,the thief of the celestials said, ‘Know, intelligent youth, that thisuniverse is under my sway.’ Seeing, however, that the person addressedwas so engrossed in dice that he took no notice of what he said, Indrawas possessed by anger and repeated, ‘I am the lord of the universe. Theyouth who was none else than the god Mahadeva (the god of the gods),seeing Indra filled with wrath, only smiled, having cast a glance at him.At that glance, however, the chief of the celestials was at onceparalysed and stood there like a stake. When the game at dice was over,Isana addressing the weeping woman said, ‘Bring Sakra hither, for I shallsoon so deal with him that pride may not again enter his heart.’ As soonas Sakra was touched by that woman, the chief of the celestials withlimbs paralysed by that touch, fell down on the earth. The illustriousIsana of fierce energy then said unto him, ‘Act not, O Sakra, ever againin this way. Remove this huge stone, for thy strength and energy areimmeasurable, and enter the hole (it will disclose) where await someothers possessing the splendour of the sun and who are all like untothee.’ Indra, then, on removing that stone, beheld a cave in the breastof that king of mountains, within which were four others resemblinghimself. Beholding their plight, Sakra became seized with grief andexclaimed, ‘Shall I be even like these?’ Then the god Girisha, lookingfull at Indra with expanded eyes, said in anger, ‘O thou of a hundredsacrifices, enter this cave without loss of time, for thou hast fromfolly insulted me.’ Thus addressed by the lord Isana, the chief of thecelestials, in consequence of that terrible imprecation, was deeplypained, and with limbs weakened by fear trembled like the wind-shakenleaf of a Himalayan fig. And cursed unexpectedly by the god owning a bullfor his vehicle, Indra, with joined hands and shaking from head to foot,addressed that fierce god of multi-form manifestations, saving, ‘Thouart, O Bhava, the over-looker of the infinite Universe!’ Hearing thesewords the god of fiery energy smiled and said, ‘Those that are ofdisposition like thine never obtain my grace. These others (within thecave) had at one time been like thee. Enter thou this cave, therefore,and lie there for some time. The fate of you all shall certainly be thesame. All of you shall have to take your birth in the world of men,where, having achieved many difficult feats and slaying a large number ofmen, ye shall again by the merits of your respective deeds, regain thevalued region of Indra. Ye shall accomplish all I have said and much morebesides, of other kinds of work.’ Then those Indras, of their shorn glorysaid, ‘We shall go from our celestial regions even unto the region of menwhere salvation is ordained to be difficult of acquisition. But let thegods Dharma, Vayu, Maghavat, and the twin Aswins beget us upon ourwould-be mother. Fighting with men by means of both celestial and humanweapons, we shall again come back into the region of Indra.’

“Vyasa continued, ‘Hearing these words of the former Indras, the wielderof the thunderbolt once more addressed that foremost of gods, saying,’Instead of going myself, I shall, with a portion of my energy, createfrom myself a person for the accomplishment of the task (thou assignest)to form the fifth among these!’ Vishwabhuk, Bhutadhaman, Sivi of greatenergy, Santi the fourth, and Tejaswin, these it is said were the fiveIndras of old. And the illustrious god of the formidable bow, from hiskindness, granted unto the five Indras the desire they cherished. And healso appointed that woman of extraordinary beauty, who was none else thancelestial Sri (goddess of grace) herself, to be their common wife in theworld of men. Accompanied by all those Indras, the god Isana then wentunto Narayana of immeasurable energy, the Infinite, the Immaterial, theUncreate, the Old, the Eternal, and the Spirit of these universes withoutlimits. Narayana approved of everything. Those Indras then were born inthe world of men. And Hari (Narayana) took up two hairs from his body,one of which hairs was black and the other white. And those two hairsentered the wombs of two of the Yadu race, by name Devaki and Rohini. Andone of these hairs viz., that which was white, became Valadeva. And thehair that was black was born as Kesava’s self, Krishna. And those Indrasof old who had been confined in the cave on the Himavat are none elsethan the sons of Pandu, endued with great energy. And Arjuna amongst thePandavas, called also Savyasachin (using both hands with equal dexterity)is a portion of Sakra.’

“Vyasa continued, ‘Thus, O king, they who have been born as the Pandavasare none else than those Indras of old. And the celestial Sri herself whohad been appointed as their wife is this Draupadi of extraordinarybeauty. How could she whose effulgence is like that of the sun or themoon, whose fragrance spreads for two miles around, take her birth in anyother than an extraordinary way, viz., from within the earth, by virtueof the sacrificial rites? Unto thee, O king, I cheerfully grant thisother boon in the form of spiritual sight. Behold now the sons of Kuntiendued with their sacred and celestial bodies of old!’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Saying this, that sacred Brahmana Vyasa ofgenerous deeds, by means of his ascetic power, granted celestial sightunto the king. Thereupon the king beheld all the Pandavas endued withtheir former bodies. And the king saw them possessed of celestial bodies,with golden crowns and celestial garlands, and each resembling Indrahimself, with complexions radiant as fire or the sun, and decked withevery ornament, and handsome, and youthful, with broad chests andstatures measuring about five cubits. Endued with every accomplishment,and decked with celestial robes of great beauty and fragrant garlands ofexcellent making the king beheld them as so many three-eyed gods(Mahadeva), or Vasus, or Rudras, or Adityas themselves. And observing thePandavas in the forms of those Indras of old, and Arjuna also in the formof Indra sprung from Sakra himself, king Drupada was highly pleased. Andthe monarch wondered much on beholding that manifestation of celestialpower under deep disguise. The king looking at his daughter, thatforemost of women endued with great beauty, like unto a celestial damseland possessed of the splendour of fire or the moon, regarded her as theworthy wife of those celestial beings, for her beauty, splendour andfame. And beholding that wonderful sight, the monarch touched the feet ofSatyavati’s son, exclaiming, ‘O great Rishi, nothing is miraculous inthee!’ The Rishi then cheerfully continued, ‘In a certain hermitage therewas an illustrious Rishi’s daughter, who, though handsome and chaste,obtained not a husband. The maiden gratified, by severe ascetic penances,the god Sankara (Mahadeva). The lord Sankara, gratified at her penances,told her himself. ‘Ask thou the boon thou desirest’ Thus addressed, themaiden repeatedly said unto the boon-giving Supreme Lord, ‘I desire toobtain a husband possessed of every accomplishment. Sankara, the chief ofthe gods, gratified with her, gave her the boon she asked, saying, ‘Thoushall have, amiable maiden, five husbands.’ The maiden, who had succeededin gratifying the god, said again, ‘O Sankara, I desire to have from theeonly one husband possessed of every virtue?’ The god of gods,well-pleased with her, spake again, saying, ‘Thou hast, O maiden,addressed me five full times, repeating, ‘Give me a husband.’ Therefore,O amiable one, it shall even be as thou hast asked. Blessed be thou. Allthis, however, will happen in a future life of thine!’

“Vyasa continued, ‘O Drupada, this thy daughter of celestial beauty isthat maiden. Indeed, the faultless Krishna sprung from Prishata’s racehath been pre-ordained to become the common wife of five husbands. Thecelestial Sri, having undergone severe ascetic penances, hath, for thesake of the Pandavas, had her birth as thy daughter, in the course of thygrand sacrifice. That handsome goddess, waited upon by all thecelestials, as a consequence of her own acts becomes the (common) wife offive husbands. It is for this that the self-create had created her.Having listened to all this, O king Drupada, do what thou desirest.'”

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