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Chapter 3

Mahabharata English - ANUSASANA PARVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘If, O prince, Brahmanahood be so difficult ofattainment by the three classes (Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras), howthen did the high souled Viswamitra, O king, though a Kshatriya (bybirth), attain to the status of a Brahmana? I desire to know this, Osire. Therefore, do thou truly relate this matter to me. That powerfulman, O sire, by virtue of his austerities, destroyed in a moment thehundred sons of the high-souled Vasishtha. While under the influence ofanger, he created numerous evil spirits and Rakshasas of mighty vigourand resembling the great destroyer Kala himself. The great and learnedrace of Kusika, numbering hundreds of regenerate sages and belauded bythe Brahmanas, was founded in this world of men by him. Sunasepha ofaustere penances, the son of Richika, having been sought to be slain asan animal in the great sacrifice of Amvarisha, obtained his deliverancethrough Viswamitra. Harishchandra, having pleased the gods at asacrifice, became a son of the wise Viswamitra. For not having honouredtheir eldest brother Devarat, whom Viswamitra got as a son from the gods,the other fifty brothers of his were cursed, and all of them becameChandalas. Trisanku, the son of Ikshwaku, through the curse of Vasisthabecame a Chandala, and when abandoned by his friends, and remainingsuspended with his head downwards in the lower regions, was translated toheaven at the pleasure of Viswamitra. Viswamitra had a large river, byname Kausika, that was frequented by celestial Rishis. This sacred andauspicious stream was frequented by the gods and regenerate Rishis. Fordisturbing his devotions, the famous celestial nymph Rambha of finebracelets, was cursed and metamorphosed into a rock. Through fear ofViswamitra the glorious Vasishtha, in olden times, binding himself withcreepers, threw himself down into a river and again rose released fromhis bonds. In consequence of this, that large and sacred river becomethenceforth celebrated by the name of Vipasa.[3] He prayed to theglorious and puissant Indra who was pleased with him and absolved himfrom a curse.[4] Remaining on the northern side of the firmament, hesheds his lustre from a position in the midst of the seven regenerateRishis,[5] and Dhruva the son of Uttanpada[6]. These are his achievementsas well as many others. O descendant of Kuru, as they were performed by aKshatriya, my curiosity has been roused in this matter. Therefore, Oforemost one of Bharata’s race, do thou relate this matter to me truly.How without casting off his corporeal frame and taking another tenementof flesh could he become a Brahmana? Do thou, O sire, truly relate thismatter to me as thou hast related to me the story of Matanga. Matanga wasborn as a Chandala,[7] and could not attain to Brahmanahood,(with all hisausterities) but how could this man attain to the status of a Brahmana?”

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