Chapter 110

Mahabharata English - ARANYAKA PARVA

Vaisampayana said, “O chief of the Bharata race! then the son of Kuntiwent at a slow pace to the two rivers Nanda and Aparananda, which had thevirtue of destroying the dread of sin. And the protector of men havingreached the healthy hill Hemakuta, beheld there very many strange andinconceivable sights. There the very utterance of words caused thegathering of clouds, and a thousand volleys of stones. And people at itssight, were struck sad, and were unable to ascend the hill. There thewinds blew for aye, and the heavens always poured down rains; andlikewise the sounds of the recitation of the sacred writ were heard, yetnobody was seen. In the evening and in the morning would be seen theblessed fire that carries offerings to the gods and there flies wouldbite and interrupt the practice of austerities. And there a sadness wouldovertake the soul, and people would become sick. The son of Pandu, havingobserved very many strange circumstances of this character againaddressed his questions to Lomasa with reference to these wonderfulthings.

“Lomasa said, ‘O slayer of foes! O king! I am going to tell thee as weheard it before; do thou attend to the same with intent mind. In thispeak of Rishava, there was once a saint known by that name. And his lifehad lasted for many hundred years. And he was devoted to penances and wasgreatly wrathful. And he, forsooth, for having been spoken to by others,from wrath addressed the hill thus, ‘Whoever should utter any words here,thou must throw stones at him, and thou must call up the winds to preventhim from making any noise.’ This was what the saint said. And so at thisplace, as soon as a man utters any words, he is forbidden by a roaringcloud. O king! thus these deeds were performed by that great saint, andfrom wrath he also forbade other acts. O king! tradition says that whenthe gods of yore had come to the Nanda, suddenly came over (there) anumber of men to look at the celestials. Those same gods at whose headstood Indra did not, however, like to be seen; and so they rendered thisspot inaccessible, by raising obstructions in the form of hills. And fromthat day forward, O Kunti’s son! men could not cast their eyes at anytime on what looked like a hill, far less could they ascend the same.This big mountain is incapable of being seen by one who hath not led anaustere life, nor can such a one ascend it. Therefore, O son of Kunti!keep thou thy tongue under control. Here at that time all those godsperformed the best sacrificial rites. O Bharata’s son! Even up to thisday these marks thereof may be seen. This grass here hath the form of thesacred kusa grass: the ground here seemeth to be overspread with thesacred grass; and. O lord of men! many of these trees here look like thespots for tying the sacrificial beasts. O Bharata’s son! still the Godsand saints have residence here; and their sacred fire is observed in themorning and in the evening. Here if one bathes, his sin is forthwithdestroyed, O Kunti’s son! O most praiseworthy of the race of Kuru! dothou, therefore, perform thy ablutions, together with thy youngerbrothers. Then after having washed thyself in the Nanda, thou wilt repairto the river Kausiki, the spot where the most excellent and severest formof penances was practised by Viswamitra. Then the king with hisattendants, having washed his body there, proceeded to the river Kausiki,which was pure and delightful and pleasant with cool water.’

“Lomasa said, ‘This is the pure divine river by name Kausiki. O chief ofBharata’s race! and this is the delightful hermitage of Viswamitra,conspicuous here. And this is a hermitage, with a holy name, belonging toKasyapa of mighty soul; whose son was Rishyasringa, devoted to penances,and of passions under control. He by force of his penances caused Indrato rain; and that god, the slayer of the demons Vala and Vritra, dreadinghim, poured down rain during a drought. That powerful and mighty son ofKasyapa was born of a hind. He worked a great marvel in the territory ofLomapada. And when the crops had been restored, king Lomapada gave hisdaughter Santa in marriage to him, as the sun gave in marriage hisdaughter Savitri.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘How was the son of Kasyapa, Rishyasringa, born of ahind? And how was he endowed with holiness, being the issue of areprehensible sexual connexion? And for what reason was Indra, the slayerof the demons Vala and Vritra, afraid of that same sagacious boy, andpoured down rain during a period of drought? And how beautiful was thatprincess Santa, pure in life, she who allured the heart of him when hehad turned himself into a stag? And since the royal saint Lomapada issaid to have been of a virtuous disposition, why was it that in histerritory, Indra, the chastiser of the demon Paka, had withheld rain? Oholy saint! all this in detail, exactly as it happened, thou wilt bepleased to narrate to me, for I am desirous of hearing the deeds ofRishyasringa’s life.’

“Lomasa said, ‘Hear how Rishyasringa, of dreaded name, was born as a sonto Vibhandaka, who was a saint of the Brahmana caste, who had culturedhis soul by means of religious austerities, whose seed never failed incausing generation, and who was learned and bright like the Lord ofbeings. And the father was highly honoured, and the son was possessed ofa mighty spirit, and, though a boy, was respected by aged man. And thatson of Kasyapa, Vibhandaka, having proceeded to a big lake, devotedhimself to the practice of penances. And that same saint, comparable to agod, laboured for a long period. And once while he was washing his mouthin the waters, he beheld the celestial nymph Urvasi–whereupon came outhis seminal fluid. And, O king! a hind at that time lapped it up alongwith the water that she was drinking, being athirst; and from this causeshe became with child. That same hind had really been a daughter of thegods, and had been told of yore by the holy Brahma, the creator of theworlds, ‘Thou shall be a hind; and when in that form, thou shall givebirth to a saint; thou shalt then be freed.’ As Destiny would have it,and as the word of the creator would not be untrue, in that same hind wasborn his (Vibhandaka’s) son a mighty saint. And Rishyasringa, devoted topenances, always passed his days in the forest. O king! there was a hornon the head of that magnanimous saint and for this reason did he come tobe known at the time by the name of Rishyasringa. And barring his father,not a man had ever before been seen by him; therefore his mind, Oprotector of men! was entirely devoted to the duties of a continent life.At this very period there was a ruler of the land of Anga known by thename of Lomapada who was a friend of Dasaratha. We have heard that hefrom love of pleasure had been guilty of a falsehood towards a Brahmana.And that same ruler of the world had at that time been shunned by allpersons of the priestly class. And he was without a ministering priest(to assist him in his religious rites). And the god of a thousand eyes(Indra) suddenly abstained from giving rain in his territory; so that hispeople began to suffer and O lord of the earth! he questioned a number ofBrahmanas, devoted to penances, of cultivated minds, and possessed ofcapabilities with reference to the matter of rain being granted by thelord of gods, saying, ‘How may the heavens grant us the rain? Think of anexpedient (for this purpose).’ And those same cultured men, being thusquestioned, gave expression to their respective views. And one amongthem–the best of saints–spake to that same king, saying, ‘O lord ofkings! the Brahmanas are angry with thee. Do some act (therefore) forappeasing them. O ruler of the earth! send for Rishyasringa, the son of asaint, resident of the forest knowing nothing of the female sex, andalways taking delight in simplicity. O king! if he, great in the practiceof penances, should show himself in thy territory, forthwith rain wouldbe granted by the heavens, herein I have no doubt at all.’ And, O king!having heard these words Lomapada made atonement for his sins. And hewent away; and when the Brahmanas had been appeased, he returned again,and seeing the king returned, the people were again glad at heart. Thenthe king of Anga convened a meeting of his ministers, proficient ingiving counsel. And he took great pains in order to settle some plan forsecuring a visit from Rishyasringa. And, O unswerving (prince)! withthose ministers, who were versed in all branches of knowledge, andexceedingly proficient in worldly matters, and had a thorough training inpractical affairs, he at last settled a plan (for gaining his object).And then he sent for a number of courtesans, women of the town, clever ineverything. And when they came, that same ruler of the earth spake tothem, saying, ‘Ye lovely women! Ye must find some means to allure, andobtain the confidence of the son of the saint–Rishyasringa, whom ye mustbring over to my territory.’ And those same women, on the one hand afraidof the anger of the king and on the other, dreading a curse from thesaint, became sad and confounded, and declared the business to be beyondtheir power. One, however, among them–a hoary woman, thus spake to theking, ‘O great king! him whose wealth solely consists in penances, Ishall try to bring over here. Thou wilt, however, have to procure for mecertain things, in connection with the plan. In that case, I may be ableto bring over the son of the saint–Rishyasringa.’ Thereupon the kinggave an order that all that she might ask for should be procured. And healso gave a good deal of wealth and jewels of various kinds. And then, OLord of the earth, she took with herself a number of women endowed withbeauty and youth, and went to the forest without delay.”

Chapter 109
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