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Chapter 76

Mahabharata English - ADI PARVA

“Janamejaya said, ‘O thou of the wealth of asceticism, tell me how ourancestor Yayati, who is the tenth from Prajapati, obtained for a wife theunobtainable daughter of Sukra. I desire to hear of it in detail. Tell mealso, one after another, of those monarchs separately who were thefounders of dynasties.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘The monarch Yayati was in splendour like unto Indrahimself. I will tell thee, in reply to thy question, O Janamejaya, howboth Sukra and Vrishaparvan bestowed upon him, with due rites, theirdaughters, and how his union took place with Devayani in special.

“Between the celestials and the Asuras, there happened, of yore, frequentencounters for the sovereignty of the three worlds with everything inthem. The gods, then, from desire of victory, installed the son ofAngiras (Vrihaspati) as their priest to conduct their sacrifices; whiletheir opponents installed the learned Usanas as their priest for the samepurpose. And between those two Brahmanas there are always much boastfulrivalry. Those Danavas assembled for encounter that were slain by thegods were all revived by the seer Sukra by the power of his knowledge.And then starting again, into life,–these fought with the gods. TheAsuras also slew on the field of battle many of the celestials. But theopen-minded Vrihaspati could not revive them, because he knew not thescience called Sanjivani (re-vivification) which Kavya endued with greatenergy knew so well. And the gods were, therefore, in great sorrow. Andthe gods, in great anxiety of heart and entertaining a fear of thelearned Usanas, then went to Kacha, the eldest son of Vrihaspati, andspoke unto him, saying, ‘We pay court to thee, be kind to us and do us aservice that we regard as very great. That knowledge which resides inSukra, that Brahmana of immeasurable prowess, make thy own as soon asthou canst. Thou shalt find the Brahmana in the court of Vrishaparvan. Healways protects the Danavas but never us, their opponents. Thou art hisjunior in age, and, therefore, capable of adoring him with reverence.Thou canst also adore Devayani, the favourite daughter of thathigh-souled Brahmana. Indeed, thou alone art capable of propitiating themboth by worship. There is none else that can do so. By gratifyingDevayani with thy conduct, liberality, sweetness, and general behaviour,thou canst certainly obtain that knowledge.’ The son of Vrihaspati, thussolicited by the gods, said ‘So be it, and went to where Vrishaparvanwas. Kacha, thus sent by the gods, soon went to the capital of the chiefof the Asuras, and beheld Sukra there. And beholding him, he thus spokeunto him, ‘Accept me as thy disciple. I am the grandson of the RishiAngiras and son of Vrihaspati. By name I am known as Kacha. Thyselfbecoming my preceptor, I shall practise the Brahmacharya mode of life fora thousand years. Command me, then, O Brahmana!’

“Sukra (hearing this) said, ‘Welcome art thou, O Kacha! I accept thyspeech. I will treat thee with regard; for by so doing, it is Vrihaspatiwho will be regarded.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Kacha commanded by Kavya or Usanas himself,called also Sukra, then said, ‘So be it,’ and took the vow he had spokenof. And, O Bharata, accepting the vow of which he had spoken, at theproper time, Kacha began to conciliate regardfully both his preceptor and(his daughter) Devayani. Indeed, he began to conciliate both. And as hewas young, by singing and dancing and playing on different kinds ofinstruments, he soon gratified Devayani who was herself in her youth.And, O Bharata, with his whole heart set upon it, he soon gratified themaiden Devayani who was then a young lady, by presents of flowers andfruits and services rendered with alacrity. And Devayani also with hersongs and sweetness of manners used, while they were alone, to attendupon that youth carrying out his vow. And when five hundred years hadthus passed of Kacha’s vow, the Danavas came to learn his intention. Andhaving no compunctions about slaying a Brahmana, they became very angrywith him. And one day they saw Kacha in a solitary part of the woodsengaged in tending (his preceptor’s) kine. They then slew Kacha fromtheir hatred of Vrihaspati and also from their desire of protecting theknowledge of reviving the dead from being conveyed by him. And havingslain him, they hacked his body into pieces and gave them to be devouredby jackals and wolves. And (when twilight came) the kine returned to thefold without him who tended them. And Devayani, seeing the kine returnedfrom the woods without Kacha, spoke, O Bharata, unto her father thus:

‘Thy evening-fire hath been kindled. The Sun also hath set, O father! Thekine have returned without him who tendeth them. Kacha is, indeed, not tobe seen. It is plain that Kacha hath been lost, or is dead. Truly do Isay, O father, that without him I will not live.’

“Sukra hearing this said, I will revive him by saying, ‘Let this onecome.’ Then having recourse to the science of reviving the dead, Sukrasummoned Kacha. And summoned by his preceptor, Kacha appeared before himin the gladness of heart tearing by virtue of his preceptor’s science thebodies of the wolves (that had devoured him). And asked about the causeof his delay, he thus spoke unto Bhargava’s daughter. Indeed, asked bythat Brahman’s daughter, he told her, ‘I was dead. O thou of puremanners, burdened with sacrificial fuel, Kusa grass, and logs of wood, Iwas coming towards our abode. I sat under a banian tree. The kine also,having been brought together, were staying under the shade of that samebanian tree. The Asuras, beholding me, asked ‘Who art thou?’ They heardme answer, ‘I am the son of Vrihaspati.’ As soon as I said this, theDanavas slew me, and hacking my body into pieces gave my remains tojackals and wolves. And they then went home in the gladness of heart. Oamiable one, summoned by the high-souled Bhargava, I after all comebefore thee fully revived.’

“On another occasion, asked by Devayani, the Brahmana Kacha went into thewoods. And as he was roving about for gathering flowers, the Danavasbeheld him. They again slew him, and pounding him into a paste they mixedit with the water of the ocean. Finding him long still (in coming), themaiden again represented the matter unto her father. And summoned againby the Brahmana with the aid of his science, Kacha appearing before hispreceptor and his daughter told everything as it had happened. Thenslaying him for the third time and burning him and reducing him to ashes,the Asuras gave those ashes to the preceptor himself, mixing them withhis wine. And Devayani again spoke unto her father, saying, ‘O father,Kacha was sent to gather flowers. But he is not to be seen. It is plainhe hath been lost, or has died. I tell thee truly, I would not livewithout him.’

“Sukra hearing this said, ‘O daughter, the son of Vrihaspati hath gone tothe region of the dead. Though revived by my science, he is thus slainfrequently. What, indeed, am I to do? O Devayani, do not grieve, do notcry. One like thee should not grieve for one that is mortal. Thou artindeed, O daughter, in consequence of my prowess, worshipped thrice a dayduring the ordained hours of prayer, by Brahmanas, the gods with Indra,the Vasus, the Aswins, the Asuras, in fact, by the whole universe. It isimpossible to keep him alive, for revived by me he is often killed.’ Toall this Devayani replied, ‘Why shall I, O father, not grieve for himwhose grandfather is old Angiras himself, whose father is Vrihaspati whois an ocean of ascetic merit, who is the grandson of a Rishi and the sonalso of a Rishi? He himself too was a Brahmacharin and an ascetic; alwayswakeful and skilled in everything. I will starve and follow the way Kachahas gone. The handsome Kacha is, O father, dear unto me.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The great Rishi Kavya, then, afflicted by whatDevayani said, cried in anger, ‘Certainly, the Asuras seek to injure me,for they slay my disciple that stayeth with me. These followers of Rudradesire to divest me of my character as a Brahmana by making meparticipate in their crime. Truly, this crime hath a terrible end. Thecrime of slaying a Brahmana would even burn Indra himself.’ Having saidthis, the Brahmana Sukra, urged by Devayani, began to summon Kacha whohad entered the jaws of Death. But Kacha, summoned with the aid ofscience, and afraid of the consequence to his preceptor, feebly repliedfrom within the stomach of his preceptor, saying, ‘Be graceful unto me, Olord! I am Kacha that worshippeth thee. Behave unto me as to thy owndearly-loved son.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Sukra then said, ‘By what path, O Brahmana,hast thou entered my stomach, where thou stayest now? Leaving the Asurasthis very moment, I shall go over to the gods.” Kacha replied, ‘By thygrace, memory hath not failed me. Indeed, I do recollect everything as ithath happened. My ascetic virtues have not been destroyed. It is,therefore, that I am able to bear this almost insufferable pain. O Kavya,slain by the Asuras and burnt and reduced to powder, I have been given tothee with thy wine. When thou art present, O Brahmana, the art of theAsuras will never be able to vanquish, the science of the Brahmana.’

“Hearing this, Sukra said, ‘O daughter, what good can I do to thee? It iswith my death that Kacha can get his life back. O Devayani, Kacha is evenwithin me. There is no other way of his coming out except by ripping openmy stomach.’ Devayani replied, ‘Both evils shall, like fire, burn me! Thedeath of Kacha and thy own death are to me the same! The death of Kachawould deprive me of life. If thou also diest, I shall not be able to bearmy life.’ Then Sukra said, ‘O son of Vrihaspati, thou art, indeed, onealready crowned with success, because Devayani regards thee so well.Accept the science that I will today impart to thee, if, indeed, thou benot Indra in the form of Kacha. None can come out of my stomach withlife. A Brahmana, however, must not be slain, therefore, accept thou thescience I impart to thee. Start thou into life as my son. And possessedof the knowledge received from me, and revived by me, take care that, oncoming out of my body, thou dost act gracefully.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Receiving the science imparted to him by hispreceptor the handsome Kacha, ripped open his stomach, came out like themoon at evening on the fifteenth day of the bright fort-night. Andbeholding the remains of his preceptor lying like a heap of penances,Kacha revived him, aided by the science he had learned. Worshipping himwith regard, Kacha said unto his preceptor, ‘Him who poureth the nectarof knowledge into one’s ears, even as thou hast done into those of myselfwho was void of knowledge, him do I regard both as my father and mother.And remembering the immense service done by him, who is there soungrateful as to injure him? They that, having acquired knowledge, injuretheir preceptor who is always an object of worship, who is the giver ofknowledge, who is the most precious of all precious objects on Earth,come to be hated on Earth and finally go to the regions of the sinful.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The learned Sukra, having been deceived whileunder the influence of wine, and remembering the total loss ofconsciousness that is one of the terrible consequences of drink, andbeholding too before him the handsome Kacha whom he had, in a state ofunconsciousness, drunk with his wine, then thought of effecting a reformin the manners of Brahmanas. The high-souled Usanas rising up from theground in anger, then spoke as follows: “The wretched Brahmana who fromthis day, unable to resist the temptation, will drink wine shall beregarded as having lost his virtue, shall be reckoned to have committedthe sin of slaying a Brahmana, shall be hated both in this and the otherworlds. I set this limit to the conduct and dignity of Brahmanaseverywhere. Let the honest, let Brahmanas, let those with regard fortheir superiors, let the gods, let the three worlds, listen!’ Having saidthese words that high-souled one, that ascetic of ascetics, thensummoning the Danavas who had been deprived by fate of the good sense,told them these words, Ye foolish Danavas, know ye that Kacha hathobtained his wishes. He will henceforth dwell with me. Having obtainedthe valuable knowledge of reviving the dead, that Brahmana hath, indeed,become in prowess even as Brahman himself!’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Bhargava having said so much cut short hisspeech. The Danavas were surprised and went away to their homes. Kacha,too, having stayed with his preceptor for a full thousand years, thenprepared to return to the abode of the celestials, after having obtainedhis preceptor’s permission.'”

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