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Chapter 74

Mahabharata English - ADI PARVA

“Vaisampayana said, ‘After Dushmanta had left the asylum having madethose promises unto Sakuntala, the latter of tapering thighs broughtforth a boy of immeasurable energy. And when the child was three yearsold, he became in splendour like the blazing fire.

And, O Janamejaya, hewas possessed of beauty and magnanimity and every accomplishment. Andthat first of virtuous men, Kanwa, caused all the rites of religion to beperformed in respect of that intelligent child thriving day by day. Andthe boy gifted with pearly teeth and shining locks, capable of slayinglions even then, with all auspicious signs on his palm, and broadexpansive forehead, grew up in beauty and strength. And like unto acelestial child in splendour, he began to grow up rapidly. And when hewas only six years of age, endued with great strength he used to seizeand bind to the trees that stood around that asylum, lions and tigers andbears and buffaloes and elephants. And he rode on some animals, andpursued others in sportive mood. The dwellers at Kanwa’s asylum thereuponbestowed on him a name. And they said, because he seizes and restrains ananimals however strong, let him, be called Sarvadamana (the subduer ofall). And it was thus that the boy came to be named Sarvadamana, enduedas he was with prowess, and energy and strength. And the Rishi seeing theboy and marking also his extraordinary acts, told Sakuntala that the timehad come for his installation as the heir-apparent. And beholding thestrength of the boy, Kanwa commanded his disciples, saying, ‘Bear yewithout delay this Sakuntala with her son from this abode to that of herhusband, blessed with every auspicious sign. Women should not live longin the houses of their paternal or maternal relations. Such residence isdestructive of their reputation, their good conduct, their virtue.Therefore, delay not in bearing her hence.’ These disciples of the Rishithereupon, saying ‘So be it,’ went towards the city named after anelephant (Hastinapura) with Sakuntala and her son ahead of them. And thenshe of fair eye-brows, taking with her that boy of celestial beauty,endued with eyes like lotus petals, left the woods where she had beenfirst known by Dushmanta. And having approached the king, she with herboy resembling in splendour the rising sun was introduced to him. And thedisciples of the Rishi having introduced her, returned to the asylum. AndSakuntala having worshipped the king according to proper form, told him,’This is thy son, O king! Let him be installed as thy heir-apparent. Oking, this child, like unto a celestial, hath been begotten by thee uponme. Therefore, O best of men, fulfil now the promise thou gavest me. Callto mind, O thou of great good fortune, the agreement thou hadst made onthe occasion of thy union with me in the asylum of Kanwa.’

“The king, hearing these her words, and remembering everything said, ‘Ido not remember anything. Who art thou, O wicked woman in ascetic guise?I do not remember having any connection with thee in respect of Dharma,Kama and Arthas. Go or stay or do as thou pleasest.’ Thus addressed byhim, the fair-coloured innocent one became abashed. Grief deprived her ofconsciousness and she stood for a time like an wooden post. Soon,however, her eyes became red like copper and her lips began to quiver.And the glances she now and then cast upon the king seemed to burn thelatter. Her rising wrath however, and the fire of her asceticism, sheextinguished within herself by an extraordinary effort. Collecting herthoughts in a moment, her heart possessed with sorrow and rage, she thusaddressed her lord in anger, looking at him, ‘Knowing everything, Omonarch, how canst thou, like an inferior person, thus say that thouknowest it not? Thy heart is a witness to the truth or falsehood of thismatter. Therefore, speak truly without degrading thyself. He who beingone thing representeth himself as another thing to others, is like athief and a robber of his own self. Of what sin is he not capable? Thouthinkest that thou alone hast knowledge of thy deed. But knowest thou notthat the Ancient, Omniscient one (Narayana) liveth in thy heart? Heknoweth all thy sins, and thou sinnest in His presence. He that sinsthinks that none observes him. But he is observed by the gods and by Himalso who is in every heart. The Sun, the Moon, the Air, the Fire, theEarth, the Sky, Water, the heart, Yama, the day, the night, bothtwilights, and Dharma, all witness the acts of man. Yama, the son ofSurya, takes no account of the sins of him with whom Narayana the witnessof all acts, is gratified. But he with whom Narayana is not gratified istortured for his sins by Yama. Him who degradeth himself by representinghis self falsely, the gods never bless. Even his own soul blesseth himnot. I am a wife devoted to my husband. I have come of my own accord, itis true. But do not, on that account, treat me with disrespect. I am thywife and, therefore, deserve to be treated respectfully. Wilt thou nottreat me so, because I have come hither of my own accord? In the presenceof so many, why dost thou treat me like an ordinary woman? I am notcertainly crying in the wilderness. Dost thou not hear me? But if thourefuse to do what I supplicate thee for, O Dushmanta, thy head thismoment shall burst into a hundred pieces! The husband entering the wombof the wife cometh out himself in the form of the son. Therefore is thewife called by those cognisant of the Vedas as Jaya (she of whom one isborn). And the son that is so born unto persons cognisant of the VedicMantras rescueth the spirits of deceased ancestors. And because the sonrescueth ancestors from the hell call Put, therefore, hath he been calledby the Self-create himself as Puttra (the rescuer from Put). By a son oneconquereth the three worlds. By a son’s son, one enjoyeth eternity. Andby a grandson’s son great-grand-fathers enjoy everlasting happiness. Sheis a true wife who is skilful in household affairs. She is a true wifewho hath borne a son. She is a true wife whose heart is devoted to herlord. She is a true wife who knoweth none but her lord. The wife is aman’s half. The wife is the first of friends. The wife is the root ofreligion, profit, and desire. The wife is the root of salvation. Theythat have wives can perform religious acts. They that have wives can leaddomestic lives. They that have wives have the means to be cheerful. Theythat have wives can achieve good fortune. Sweet-speeched wives arefriends on occasions of joy. They are as fathers on occasions ofreligious acts. They are mothers in sickness and woe. Even in the deepwoods to a traveller a wife is his refreshment and solace. He that hath awife is trusted by all. A wife, therefore, is one’s most valuablepossession. Even when the husband leaving this world goeth into theregion of Yama, it is the devoted wife that accompanies him thither. Awife going before waits for the husband. But if the husband goeth before,the chaste wife followeth close. For these reasons, O king, doth marriageexist. The husband enjoyth the companionship of the wife both in this andin the other worlds. It hath been said by learned persons that one ishimself born as one’s son. Therefore, a man whose wife hath borne a sonshould look upon her as his mother. Beholding the face of the son onehath begotten upon his wife, like his own face in a mirror, one feelethas happy as a virtuous man, on attaining to heaven. Men scorched bymental grief, or suffering under bodily pain, feel as much refreshed inthe companionship of their wives as a perspiring person in a cool bath.No man, even in anger, should ever do anything that is disagreeable tohis wife, seeing that happiness, joy, and virtue,–everything dependethon the wife. A wife is the sacred field in which the husband is bornhimself. Even Rishis cannot create creatures without women. Whathappiness is greater than what the father feeleth when the son runningtowards him, even though his body be covered with dust, claspeth hislimbs? Why then dost thou treat with indifference such a son, who hathapproached thee himself and who casteth wistful glances towards thee forclimbing thy knees? Even ants support their own eggs without destroyingthem; then why shouldst not thou, a virtuous man that thou art, supportthy own child? The touch of soft sandal paste, of women, of (cool) wateris not so agreeable as the touch of one’s own infant son locked in one’sembrace. As a Brahmana is the foremost of all bipeds, a cow, the foremostof all quadrupeds, a protector, the foremost of all superiors, so is theson the foremost of all objects, agreeable to the touch. Let, therefore,this handsome child touch thee in embrace. There is nothing in the worldmore agreeable to the touch than the embrace of one’s son. O chastiser offoes, I have brought forth this child, O monarch, capable of dispellingall thy sorrows after bearing him in my womb for full three years. Omonarch of Puru’s race, ‘He shall perform a hundredhorse-sacrifices’–these were the words uttered from the sky when I wasin the lying-in room. Indeed, men going into places remote from theirhomes take up there others’ children on their laps and smelling theirheads feel great happiness. Thou knowest that Brahmanas repeat theseVedic mantras on the occasion of the consecrating rites of infancy.–Thouart born, O son, of my body! Thou art sprung from my heart. Thou artmyself in the form of a son. Live thou to a hundred years! My lifedependeth on thee, and the continuation of my race also, on thee.Therefore, O son, live thou in great happiness to a hundred years. Hehath sprung from thy body, this second being from thee! Behold thyself inthy son, as thou beholdest thy image in the clear lake. As thesacrificial fire is kindled from the domestic one, so hath this onesprung from thee. Though one, thou hast divided thyself. In course ofhunting while engaged in pursuit of the deer, I was approached by thee, Oking, I who was then a virgin in the asylum of my father. Urvasi,Purvachitti, Sahajanya, Menaka, Viswachi and Ghritachi, these are the sixforemost of Apsaras. Amongst them again, Menaka, born of Brahman, is thefirst. Descending from heaven on Earth, after intercourse withViswamitra, she gave birth to me. That celebrated Apsara, Menaka, broughtme forth in a valley of Himavat. Bereft of all affection, she went away,cast me there as if I were the child of somebody else. What sinful actdid I do, of old, in some other life that I was in infancy cast away bymy parents and at present am cast away by thee! Put away by thee, I amready to return to the refuge of my father. But it behoveth thee not tocast off this child who is thy own.’

“Hearing all this, Dushmanta said, ‘O Sakuntala, I do not know havingbegot upon thee this son. Women generally speak untruths. Who shallbelieve in thy words? Destitute of all affection, the lewd Menaka is thymother, and she cast thee off on the surface of the Himavat as one throwsaway, after the worship is over, the flowery offering made to his gods.Thy father too of the Kshatriya race, the lustful Viswamitra, who wastempted to become a Brahmana, is destitute of all affection. However,Menaka is the first of Apsaras, and thy father also is the first ofRishis. Being their daughter, why dost thou speak like a lewd woman? Thywords deserve no credit. Art thou not ashamed to speak them, especiallybefore me? Go hence, O wicked woman in ascetic guise. Where is thatforemost of great Rishis, where also is that Apsara Menaka? And why artthou, low as thou art, in the guise of an ascetic? Thy child too is grownup. Thou sayest he is a boy, but he is very strong. How hath he soongrown like a Sala sprout? Thy birth is low. Thou speakest like a lewdwoman. Lustfully hast thou been begotten by Menaka. O woman of asceticguise, all that thou sayest is quite unknown to me. I don’t know thee. Gowithersoever thou choosest.’

“Sakuntala replied, ‘Thou seest, O king, the fault of others, even thoughthey be as small as a mustard seed. But seeing, thou noticest not thy ownfaults even though they be as large as the Vilwa fruit. Menaka is one ofthe celestials. Indeed, Menaka is reckoned as the first of celestials. Mybirth, therefore, O Dushmanta, is far higher than thine. Thou walkestupon the Earth, O king, but I roam in the skies! Behold, the differencebetween ourselves is as that between (the mountain) Meru and a mustardseed! Behold my power, O king! I can repair to the abodes of Indra,Kuvera, Yama, and Varuna! The saying is true which I shall refer tobefore thee, O sinless one! I refer to it for example’s sake and not fromevil motives. Therefore, it behoveth thee to pardon me after thou hastheard it. An ugly person considereth himself handsomer than others untilhe sees his own face in the mirror. But when he sees his own ugly face inthe mirror, it is then that he perceiveth the difference between himselfand others. He that is really handsome never taunts anybody. And he thatalways talketh evil becometh a reviler. And as the swine always look fordirt and filth even when in the midst of a flower-garden, so the wickedalways choose the evil out of both evil and good that others speak.Those, however, that are wise, on hearing the speeches of others that areintermixed with both good and evil, accept only what is good, like geesethat always extract the milk only, though it be mixed with water. As thehonest are always pained at speaking ill of others, so do the wickedalways rejoice in doing the same thing. As the honest always feelpleasure in showing regard for the old, so do the wicked always takedelight in aspersing the good. The honest are happy in not seeking forfaults. The wicked are happy in seeking for them. The wicked ever speakill of the honest. But the latter never injure the former, even ifinjured by them. What can be more ridiculous in the world than that thosethat are themselves wicked should represent the really honest as wicked?When even atheists are annoyed with those that have fallen off from truthand virtue and who are really like angry snakes of virulent poison, whatshall I say of myself who am nurtured in faith? He that having begotten ason who is his own image, regardeth him not, never attaineth to theworlds he coveteth, and verily the gods destroy his good fortune andpossessions. The Pitris have said that the son continueth the race andthe line and is, therefore, the best of all religious acts. Therefore,none should abandon a son. Manu hath said that there are five kinds ofsons; those begotten by one’s self upon his own wife, those obtained (asgift) from others, those purchased for a consideration, those reared withaffection and those begotten upon other women than upon wedded wives.Sons support the religion and achievements of men, enhance their joys,and rescue deceased ancestors from hell. It behoveth thee not, therefore,O tiger among kings, to abandon a son who is such. Therefore, O lord ofEarth, cherish thy own self, truth, and virtue by cherishing thy son. Olion among monarchs, it behoveth thee not to support this deceitfulness.The dedication of a tank is more meritorious than that of a hundredwells. A sacrifice again is more meritorious than the dedication of atank. A son is more meritorious than a sacrifice. Truth is moremeritorious than a hundred sons. A hundred horse-sacrifices had once beenweighed against Truth, and Truth was found heavier than a hundredhorse-sacrifices. O king, Truth, I ween, may be equal to the study of,the entire Vedas and ablutions in all holy places. There is no virtueequal to Truth: there is nothing superior to Truth. O king, Truth is Godhimself; Truth is the highest vow. Therefore, violate not thy pledge, Omonarch! Let Truth and thee be even united. If thou placest no credit inmy words, I shall of my own accord go hence. Indeed, thy companionshipshould be avoided. But thou, O Dushmanta, that when thou art gone, thisson of mine shall rule the whole Earth surrounded by the four seas andadorned with the king of the mountains.”

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Sakuntala having spoken to the monarch in thiswise, left his presence. But as soon as she had left, a voice from theskies, emanating from no visible shape, thus spoke unto Dushmanta as hewas sitting surrounded by his occasional and household priests, hispreceptors, and ministers. And the voice said, ‘The mother is but thesheath of flesh; the son sprung from the father is the father himself.Therefore, O Dushmanta, cherish thy son, and insult not Sakuntala. O bestof men, the son, who is but a form of one’s own seed, rescueth(ancestors) from the region of Yama. Thou art the progenitor of this boy.Sakuntala hath spoken the truth. The husband, dividing his body in twain,is born of his wife in the form of son. Therefore, O Dushmanta, cherish,O monarch, thy son born of Sakuntala. To live by forsaking one’s livingson is a great, misfortune. Therefore, O thou of Puru’s race, cherish thyhigh-souled son born of Sakuntala–And because this child is to becherished by thee even at our word, therefore shall this thy son be knownby the name of Bharata (the cherished).’ Hearing these words uttered bythe dwellers in heaven, the monarch of Puru’s race became overjoyed andspoke as follows unto his priests and ministers, ‘Hear ye these wordsuttered by the celestial messenger? I myself know this one to be my son.If I had taken him as my son on the strength of Sakuntala’s words alone,my people would have been suspicious and my son also would not have beenregarded as pure.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The monarch, then, O thou of Bharata’s race,seeing the purity of his son established by the celestial messenger,became exceedingly glad. And he took unto him that son with joy. And theking with a joyous heart then performed all those rites upon his son thata father should perform. And the king smelt his child’s head and huggedhim with affection. And the Brahmanas began to utter blessings upon himand the bards began to applaud him. And the monarch then experienced thegreat delight that one feeleth at the touch of one’s son. And Dushmantaalso received mat wife of his with affection. And he told her thesewords, pacifying her affectionately, ‘O goddess, my union with the? tookplace privately Therefore, I was thinking of how best to establish thypurity. My people might think that we were only lustfully united and notas husband and wife, and therefore, this son that I would have installedas my heir apparent would only have been regarded as one of impure birth.And dearest, every hard word thou hast uttered in thy anger, have I, Olarge-eyed one, forgiven thee. Thou art my dearest!’ And the royal sageDushmanta, having spoken thus unto his dear wife, O Bharata, received herwith offerings of perfume, food, and drink. And king Dushmanta, then,bestowed the name of Bharata upon his child, and formally installed himas the heir apparent. And the famous and bright wheels of Bharata’s car,invincible and like unto the wheels of the cars owned by the gods,traversed every region, filling the whole Earth with their rattle. Andthe son of Dushmanta reduced to subjection all kings of the Earth. And heruled virtuously and earned great fame. And that monarch of great prowesswas known by the titles of Chakravarti and Sarvabhauma. And he performedmany sacrifices like Sakra, the lord of the Maruts. And Kanwa was thechief priest at those sacrifices, in which the offerings to Brahmanaswere great. And the blessed monarch performed both the cow and thehorse-sacrifices. And Bharata gave unto Kanwa a thousand gold coins asthe sacerdotal fee. It is that Bharata from whom have emanated so manymighty achievements. It is from him that the great race called after himin his race are called after him. And in the Bharata race there have beenborn many godlike monarchs gifted with great energy, and like untoBrahman himself. Their number cannot be counted. But, O thou of Bharata’srace, I shall name the principal ones that were blessed with great goodfortune, like unto the gods, and devoted to truth and honesty.'”

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