Chapter 116

Mahabharata English - ARANYAKA PARVA

“Akritavrana said, ‘Jamadagni devoted himself to the study of the Vedaand the practice of sacred penances, and became famous for his greatausterities. Then he pursued a methodical course of study and obtained amastery over the entire Veda. And, O king, he paid a visit to Prasenajitand solicited the hand of Renuka in marriage. And this prayer was grantedby the king. And the delight of Bhrigu’s race having thus obtained Renukafor his wife, took his residence with her in a hermitage, and began topractice penances, being assisted by her. And four boys were born of her,with Rama for the fifth. And although the youngest, Rama was superior toall in merit. Now once upon a time, when her sons had gone out for thepurpose of gathering fruits, Renuka who had a pure and austere life, wentout to bathe. And, O king, while returning home, she happened to cast herglance towards the king of Martikavata, known by the name of Chitraratha.The king was in the water with his wives, and wearing on his breast alotus wreath, was engaged in sport. And beholding his magnificent form,Renuka was inspired with desire. And this unlawful desire she could notcontrol, but became polluted within the water, and came back to thehermitage frightened at heart. Her husband readily perceived what stateshe was in. And mighty and powerful and of a wrathful turn of mind, whenhe beheld that she had been giddy and that the lustre of chastity hadabandoned her, he reproached her by crying out ‘Fie!’ At that very momentcame in the eldest of Jamadagni’s sons, Rumanvan; and then, Sushena, andthen, Vasu, and likewise, Viswavasu. And the mighty saint directed themall one by one to put an end to the life of their mother. They, however,were quite confounded and lost heart. And they could not utter a singleword. Then he in ire cursed them. And on being cursed they lost theirsense and suddenly became like inanimate objects, and comparable inconduct to beasts and birds. And then Rama, the slayer of hostile heroes,came to the hermitage, last of all. Him the mighty-armed Jamadagni, ofgreat austerities, addressed, saying, ‘Kill this wicked mother of thine,without compunction, O my son.’ Thereupon Rama immediately took up an axeand therewith severed his mother’s head. Then, O great king, the wrath ofJamadagni of mighty soul, was at once appeased; and well-pleased, hespake the following words, ‘Thou hast, my boy, performed at my biddingthis difficult task, being versed in virtue. Therefore, whatsoever wishesthere may be in thy heart, I am ready to grant them all. Do thou ask me.’Thereupon Rama solicited that his mother might be restored to life, andthat he might not be haunted by the remembrance of this cruel deed andthat he might not be affected by any sin, and that his brothers mightrecover their former state, and that he might be unrivalled on the fieldof battle, and that he might obtain long life. And, O Bharata’s son,Jamadagni, whose penances were the most rigid, granted all those desiresof his son. Once, however, O lord, when his sons had gone out as before,the valourous son of Kartavirya, the lord of the country near the shoreof the sea, came up to the hermitage. And when he arrived at thathermitage, the wife of the saint received him hospitably. He, however,intoxicated with a warrior’s pride, was not at all pleased with thereception accorded to him, and by force and in defiance of allresistance, seized and carried off from that hermitage the chief of thecows whose milk supplied the sacred butter, not heeding the loud lowingof the cow. And he wantonly pulled down the large trees of the wood. WhenRama came home, his father himself told him all that had happened. Thenwhen Rama saw how the cow was lowing for its calf, resentment arose inhis heart. And he rushed towards Kartavirya’s son, whose last moments haddrawn nigh. Then the descendant of Bhrigu, the exterminator of hostileheroes, put forth his valour on the field of battle, and with sharpenedarrows with flattened tips, which were shot from a beautiful bow, cutdown Arjuna’s arms, which numbered a thousand, and were massive like(wooden) bolts for barring the door. He, already touched by the hand ofdeath, was overpowered by Rama, his foe. Then the kinsmen of Arjuna,their wrath excited against Rama, rushed at Jamadagni in his hermitage,while Rama was away. And they slew him there; for although his strengthwas great, yet being at the time engaged in penances, he would not fight.And while thus attacked by his foes, he repeatedly shouted the name ofRama in a helpless and piteous way. And, O Yudhishthira, the sons ofKartavirya shot Jamadagni, with their arrows, and having thus chastisedtheir foe, went their way. And when they had gone away, and whenJamadagni had breathed his last, Rama, the delight of Bhrigu’s race,returned to the hermitage, bearing in his arms, fuel for religious rites.And the hero beheld his father who had been put to death. And grievedexceedingly he began to bewail the unworthy fate that had laid his fatherlow.”

Chapter 137
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