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Chapter 96

Mahabharata English - ADI PARVA

“Vaisampayana said, ‘There was a king known by the name of Mahabhishaborn in the race of Ikshvaku. He was the lord of all the earth, and wastruthful (in speech) and of true prowess. By a thousand horse-sacrificesand a hundred Rajasuyas he had gratified the chief of the celestials andultimately attained to heaven.

“One day the celestials had assembled together and were worshippingBrahman. Many royal sages and king Mahabhisha also were present on thespot. And Ganga, the queen of rivers, also came there to pay heradorations to the Grandsire. And her garments white as the beams of themoon was displaced by the action of the wind. And as her person becameexposed, the celestials bent down their heads. But the royal sageMahabhisha rudely stared at the queen of rivers. And Mahabhisha was forthis cursed by Brahman, who said, ‘Wretch, as thou hast forgotten thyselfat the sight of Ganga, thou shalt be re-born on earth. But thou shallagain and again attain to these regions. And she, too, shall be born inthe world of men and shall do thee injuries. But when thy wrath shall beprovoked, thou shalt then be freed from my curse.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘King Mahabhisha then recollecting all themonarchs and ascetics on earth, wished to be born as son to Pratipa ofgreat prowess. And the queen of rivers, too, seeing king Mahabhisha losehis firmness, went away, thinking of him wishfully. And on her way, shesaw those dwellers in heaven, the Vasus, also pursuing the same path. Andthe queen of rivers beholding them in the predicament, asked them, ‘Whylook ye so dejected? Ye dwellers in heaven, is everything right withyou?’ Those celestials, the Vasus, answered her, saying, ‘O queen ofrivers, we have been cursed, for a venial fault, by the illustriousVasishtha in anger. The foremost of excellent Rishis, Vasishtha, had beenengaged in his twilight adorations and seated as he was, he could not beseen by us. We crossed him in ignorance. Therefore, in wrath he hathcursed us, saying, Be ye born among men!’ It is beyond our power tofrustrate what hath been said by that utterance of Brahma. Therefore, Oriver, thyself becoming a human female make us the Vasus, thy children. Oamiable one, we are unwilling to enter the womb of any human female.’Thus addressed, the queen of rivers told them, ‘Be it so and asked them,’On earth, who is that foremost of men whom ye will make your father?’

“The Vasus replied, ‘On earth, unto Pratipa shall be born a son, Santanu,who will be a king of world-wide fame.’ Ganga then said, ‘Ye celestials,that is exactly my wish which ye sinless ones have expressed. I shall,indeed, do good to that Santanu. That is also your desire as justexpressed.’ The Vasus then said, ‘It behoveth thee to throw thy childrenafter birth, into the water, so that, O thou of three courses (celestial,terrestrial, and subterranean) we may be rescued soon without having tolive on earth for any length of time.’ Ganga then answered, ‘I shall dowhat ye desire. But in order that his intercourse with me may not beentirely fruitless, provide ye that one son at least may live.’ The Vasusthen replied, ‘We shall each contribute an eighth part of our respectiveenergies With the sum thereof, thou shall have one son according to thyand his wishes. But this son shall not begat any children on earth.Therefore, that son of thine endued with great energy, shall bechildless.’

“The Vasus, making this arrangement with Ganga, went away without Waitingto the place they liked.'”

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