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Chapter 95

Mahabharata English - ARANYAKA PARVA

Vaisampayana said, “The heroic sons of Pandu, accompanied by theirfollowers, proceeding from place to place, at last arrived at Naimisha. Oking, reaching the Gomati, the Pandavas bathed in the sacred tirtha ofthat stream, and having performed their ablutions there, they gave away,O Bharata, both kine and wealth! And repeatedly offering oblations ofwater, O Bharata, to the gods, the pitris, and the Brahmanas, in thetirthas called Kanya, Aswa, and Go and staying (as directed) in Kalakotiand the Vishaprastha hills, the Kauravas then, O king, reached Vahuda andperformed their ablution in that stream. Proceeding next, O lord ofearth, to the sacrificial region of the gods known by the name Prayaga,they bathed in the confluence of Ganga and Yamuna and residing therepractised ascetic penances of great merit. And the Pandavas, of truthfulpromises, bathing in the tirtha, cleansed themselves of every sin. Thesons of Pandu then, O king of the Bharata race, accompanied by thoseBrahmanas, proceeded to the tirtha called Vedi, sacred to the Creator andadored by the ascetics. Residing there for some time and gratifying theBrahmanas with the fruit and roots of the wilderness and clarifiedbutter, those heroes began to practise ascetic penances of great merit.They then proceeded to Mahidhara consecrated by that virtuous royal sageGaya of unrivalled splendour. In that region is the hill called Gayasira,as well as the delightful river called Mahanadi, with fine banks gracedby bushes of canes. On that celestial hill of holy peaks is a sacredtirtha called Brahmasara  which is much adored by ascetics. There on thebanks of that lake had dwelt of yore the eternal god himself of justice,and it was thither that the illustrious Rishi Agastya had repaired tobehold that deity. It is from that lake that all the rivers take theirrise and there in that tirtha, Mahadeva the wielder of the Pinaka, ispresent for aye. Arriving at that spot, the heroic sons of Pandupractised the vow that is known by the name of the Chaturmasya accordingto all the rites and ordinances of the great sacrifice called Rishiyajna.It is there that that mighty tree called the Eternal banian stands. Anysacrifice performed there produces merit that is eternal. In thatsacrificial platform of the gods producing eternal merit, the Pandavasbegan to fast with concentrated souls. And there came unto them Brahmanasby hundreds endued with wealth of asceticism. And those Brahmanas alsoall performed the Chaturmasya sacrifice according to the rites inculcatedby the Rishis. And there in that tirtha, those Brahmanas old in knowledgeand ascetic merit and fully versed in the Vedas, that constituted thecourt of the illustrious sons of Pandu, talked in their presence uponvarious subject of sacred import. And it was in that place that thelearned vow-observing, and sacred Shamatha, leading, besides, a life ofcelibacy, spake unto them, O king, of Gaya, the son of Amurttaraya. AndShamatha said, ‘Gaya, the son of Amurttaraya, was one of the foremost ofroyal sages. Listen to me, O Bharata, as I recite his meritorious deeds.It was here, O king, that Gaya had performed many sacrificesdistinguished by the enormous quantities of food (that were distributed)and the profuse gifts that were given away (unto Brahmanas). Thosesacrifices, O king, were distinguished by mountains in hundreds andthousands of cooked rice, lakes of clarified butter and rivers of curdsin many hundreds, and streams of richly-dressed curries in thousands. Dayafter day were these got ready and distributed amongst all comers, while,over and above this, Brahmanas and others, O king, received food that wasclean and pure. During the conclusion also (of every sacrifice) whengifts were dedicated to the Brahmanas, the chanting of the Vedas reachedthe heavens. And so loud, indeed, was the sound of the Vedic Mantras thatnothing else, O Bharata, could be heard there. Thus sacred sounds, Oking, filled the earth, the points of the horizon, the sky and heavenitself. Even these were the wonders that persons noticed on thoseoccasions. And gratified with the excellent viands and drinks that theillustrious Gaya provided, men, O bull of the Bharata race, went aboutsinging these verses. In Gaya’s great sacrifice, who is there today,amongst creatures, that still desireth to eat? There are yet twenty-fivemountains of food there after all have been fed! What the royal sage Gayaof immense splendour hath achieved in his sacrifice was never achieved bymen before, nor will be by any in future. The gods have been so surfeitedby Gaya with clarified butter that they are not able to take anythingthat anybody else may offer. As sand grains on earth, as stars in thefirmament, as drops showered by rain-charged clouds, cannot ever becounted by anybody, so can none count the gifts in Gaya’s sacrifice!”

“O son of the Kuru race, many times did king Gaya perform sacrifices ofthis description, here, by the side of this Brahmasara!”

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