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Chapter 127

Mahabharata English - ARANYAKA PARVA

Yudhishthira said, ‘O best of speakers! what was the extent of power andstrength possessed by king Somaka? I am desirous of hearing an exactaccount of his deeds and of his power.”

“Lomasa said, ‘O Yudhishthira! there was a virtuous king Somaka by name.He had one hundred wives, O king, all suitably matched to their husband.He took great care, but could not succeed in getting a single son fromany one of them, and a long time elapsed during which he continued asonless man. Once upon a time, when he had become old, and was tryingevery means to have a son, a son was born to him, Jantu by name, out ofthat century of women. And, O ruler of men! All the mothers used to sitsurrounding their son and every one giving him such objects as mightconduce to his enjoyment and pleasure. And it came to pass that one dayan ant stung the boy at his hip. And the boy screamed loudly on accountof the pain caused by the sting. And forthwith the mothers wereexceedingly distressed to see how the child had been stung by the ant.And they stood around him and set up cries. Thus there arose a tumultuousnoise. And that scream of pain suddenly reached (the ears of) thesovereign of the earth, when he was seated in the midst of his ministers,with the family priest at his side. Then the king sent for information asto what it was about. And the royal usher explained to him precisely whatthe matter was with reference to his son. And Somaka got up together withhis ministers and hastened towards the female apartments. And on comingthere, O subjugator of foes! he soothed his son. And having done so andcoming out from the female apartments, the king sat with his familypriest and ministers.’

“Somaka then spoke thus, ‘Fie on having only a single son! I had ratherbe a sonless man. Considering how constantly liable to disease are allorganized beings, to have an only son is but a trouble. O Brahmana! O mylord! With the view that I might have many sons born to me, this centuryof wives hath been wedded by me, after inspection, and after I hadsatisfied myself that they would prove suitable to me. But issue theyhave none. Having tried every means, and put forth great efforts, theyhave borne this single son, Jantu. What grief can be greater than this? Omost excellent of the twice-born caste! I am grown old in years and soare my wives too. And yet this only son is like the breath of theirnostrils, and so he is to me also. But is there any ceremony, bycelebrating which one may get a hundred sons? (And if there is one such),tell me whether it is great or small, and easy or difficult to perform.’

“The family priest said, ‘There is a ceremony by virtue of which a manmay get a century of sons. If thou art able to perform it, O Somaka, thenI shall explain it to thee.’

“Somaka said, ‘Whether it be a good or an evil deed, the ceremony bywhich a hundred sons may be born, may be taken by thee as alreadyperformed. Let thy blessed self explain it to me.’

“The family priest thereupon said, ‘O king! Let me set on foot asacrifice and thou must sacrifice thy son, Jantu in it. Then on nodistant date, a century of handsome sons will be born to thee. WhenJantu’s fat will be put into the fire as an offering to the gods, themothers will take a smell of that smoke, and bring forth a number ofsons, valourous and strong. And Jantu also will once more be born as aself-begotten son of thine in that very (mother); and on his back therewill appear a mark of gold.'”

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