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Chapter 96

Mahabharata English - ARANYAKA PARVA

Vaisampayana said, “After this the royal son of Kunti who was everdistinguished for his profuse gifts unto Brahmanas, proceeded to theasylum of Agastya and took up his abode in Durjaya. It was here that thatforemost of speakers, king Yudhishthira asked Lomasa as to why Agastyahad slain Vatapi there. And the king also enquired after the extent ofthat man-destroying Daitya’s prowess, and the reason also of theillustrious Agastya’s wrath being excited against that Asura.

“Thus questioned, Lomasa said, ‘O son of Kuru race, there was in the citycalled Manimati, in days of yore, a Daitya named Ilwala, whose youngerbrother was Vatapi. One day that son of Diti addressed the Brahmanaendued with ascetic merit, saying, ‘O holy one, grant me a son equal untoIndra.’ The Brahmana, however, did not grant the Asura a son like Indra.And at this, the Asura was inflamed with wrath against the Brahmana. Andfrom that day, O king, the Asura Ilwala became a destroyer of Brahmanas.And endued with power of illusion the angry Asura transformed his brotherinto a ram. And Vatapi also capable of assuming any form at will, wouldimmediately assume the shape of a ram. And the flesh of that ram, afterbeing properly dressed, was offered to Brahmanas as food. And after theyhad eaten of it, they were slain. For whomsoever Ilwala summoned with hisvoice, he would come back to Ilwala even if he had gone to the abode ofYama, in re-embodied form endued with life, and show himself to Ilwala.And so having transformed the Asura Vatapi into a ram and properly cookedhis flesh and feeding Brahmanas therewith, he would summon Vatapi. Andthe mighty Asura Vatapi, that foe of Brahmanas, endued with greatstrength and power of illusion, hearing, O king, those sounds utteredwith a loud voice by Ilwala, and ripping open the flanks of the Brahmanawould come laughingly out, O lord of earth! And it was thus, O monarch,that the wicked-hearted Daitya Ilwala, having fed Brahmanas, frequentlytook away their lives.

“Meanwhile, the illustrious Agastya beheld his deceased ancestors hangingin a pit with heads downwards. And he asked those personages thussuspended in that hole, saying, ‘What is the matter with you? Thusquestioned those utterers of Brahma replied, ‘It is even for offspring.’And they also told him, ‘We are your ancestors. It is even for offspringthat we stay suspended in this pit. If O Agastya, thou canst beget us agood son, we may then be saved from this hell and thou also wilt obtainthy blessed state of those having offspring.’ Endued with great energyand observant of truth and morality Agastya replied, saying, ‘Ye Pitris,I will accomplish your desire. Let this anxiety of yours be dispelled.’And the illustrious Rishi then began to think of perpetuating his race.But he saw not a wife worthy of him on whom he himself could take hisbirth in the form of a son. The Rishi accordingly, taking those partsthat were regarded as highly beautiful, from creatures possessing them,created therewith an excellent woman. And the Muni, endued with greatascetic merit, thereupon gave that girl created for himself to the kingof the Vidharbhas who was then undergoing ascetic penances for obtainingoffspring. And that blessed girl of sweet face (thus disposed of) thentook her birth (in Vidarbha’s royal line) and, beautiful as the effulgentlightning, her limbs began to grow day by day. And as soon as that lordof earth–the ruler of the Vidarbhas–saw her ushered into life, hejoyfully communicated the intelligence, O Bharata, unto the Brahmanas.And the Brahmanas thereupon, O lord of earth, blessed the girl and theybestowed upon her the name Lopamudra. And possessed of great beauty, shebegan, O monarch, to grow quickly like unto a lotus in the midst of wateror the effulgent flame of a fire. And when the girl grew and attained topuberty, a hundred virgins decked in ornaments and a hundred maids waitedin obedience upon her blessed self. And surrounded by those hundred maidsand virgins, she shone in their midst, endued as she was with brighteffulgence, like Rohini in the firmament amid an inferior multitude ofstars. And possessed as she was of good behaviour and excellent manners,none dared ask for her hand even when she attained to puberty, throughfear of her father, the king of the Vidharbhas. And Lopamudra, devoted totruth, surpassing the Apsaras even in beauty, gratified her father andrelatives by means of her conduct. And her father, beholding hisdaughter-the princess of Vidharbha-attain to puberty, began to reflect inhis mind, saying, ‘To whom should I give this daughter of mine?'”

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