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Chapter 108

Mahabharata English - ARANYAKA PARVA

“Lomasa said, ‘That same king, of a powerful bow, standing at the head ofthe surrounding, (i.e., the occupant of an imperial throne) of a powerfulcar, (i.e., possessing every great fighting power) became the delight ofthe eyes and the soul of all the world. And he of the powerful arm cameto learn how his forefathers had met an awful end from Kapila of mightysoul, and how they had been unable to attain the region of gods. And hewith a sorrowful heart made over his kingly duties to his minister, and,O lord of men! for practising austerities, went to the side of the snowyMountain (the Himalayas). And, O most praiseworthy of men, desirous ofextinguishing his sins by leading an austere life, and (thereby)obtaining the favour of the (goddess) Ganga, he visited that foremost ofmountains–Himalaya. And he beheld it adorned with peaks of diverse formsfull of mineral earth; besprinkled on all sides with drops from cloudswhich were resting themselves upon the breeze; beautiful with rivers andgroves and rocky spurs, looking like (so many) palaces (in a city);attended upon by lions and tigers that had concealed themselves in itscaves and pits; and also inhabited by birds of checkered forms, whichwere uttering diverse sounds, such as the Bhringarajas, and ganders, andDatyuhas, and water-cocks, and peacocks and birds with a hundredfeathers, and Jivanjivakas, and black birds, and Chakoras of eyesfurnished with black corners, and the birds that love their young. And hesaw the mountain abounding in lotus plants growing in delightfulreservoirs of water. And the cranes rendered it charming with theirsounds; and the Kinnaras and the celestial nymphs were seated on itsstony slabs. And the elephants occupying the cardinal points hadeverywhere robbed its trees with the end of their tusks; and thedemi-gods of the Vidyadhara class frequented the hill. And it was full ofvarious gems, and was also infested by snakes bearing terrible poison andof glowing tongues. And the mountain at places looked like (massive)gold, and elsewhere it resembled a silvery (pile), and at some places itwas like a (sable) heap of collyrium. Such was the snowy hill where theking now found himself. And that most praiseworthy of men at that spotbetook himself to an awful austere course of life. And for one thousandyears his subsistence was nothing but water, fruit and roots. When,however, a thousand years according to the calculation of gods hadelapsed, then the great river Ganga having assumed a material form,manifested to him her (divine) self.’

“Ganga said. ‘O great king! what dost thou desire of me? And what must Ibestow on thee? Tell me the same, O most praiseworthy of men! I shall doas thou mayst ask me.’ Thus addressed, the king then made his reply toGanga, the daughter of the snowy Hill, saying, ‘O grantress of boons! Ogreat river! my father’s fathers, while searching for the horse, weresent by Kapila to the abode of the god of death. And those same sixtythousand sons of Sagara of mighty soul, having met with the majesticKapila, perished, (to a soul) in an instant of time. Having thusperished, there hath been no place for them in the region of heaven. Ogreat river! So long as thou dost not besprinkle those same bodies withthy water, there is no salvation for these same Sagara’s sons. O blessedgoddess! carry thou my forefathers, Sagara’s sons, to the region ofheaven. O great river! on their account am I beseeching thee forsooth.”

“Lomasa said, ‘Ganga, the goddess saluted by the world, having heardthese words of the king, was well pleased, and spake to Bhagiratha thefollowing words: ‘O great king! I am prepared to do what thou dost askme; there is no doubt therein. But when I shall descend from the sky tothe earth, the force of my fall will be difficult to sustain. O protectorof men! In the three worlds there exists none who is able to sustain thesame, excepting Siva, the most praiseworthy of gods, the great Lord withthe throat of sable blue. O (prince) of a powerful arm! Obtain thefavour, by practising austerities, of that same Siva-giver of boons. Thatsame god will sustain my descent upon his head. Thy desire he willfulfill, the desire, namely, to be of service to thy fathers, O king!’Then the great king Bhagiratha having heard the same, went to the Kailasahill, and betaking himself to a severe course of penances, at theexpiration of a certain length of time obtained the favour of that workerof blessings (Siva). And, O protector of men! that same best of men, inorder that his forefathers might have a place in heaven secured to them,received from that very Siva the fulfilment of his wish, namely the wishthat the descending Ganga might be sustained.'”

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