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Chapter 58

Mahabharata English - ASWAMEDHA PARVA

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Utanka, coming back to king Saudasa who was alwayswell-disposed towards all his friends, solicited him for some sign (toconvince Madayanti of the fact of his being really commissioned by theking). That foremost one of Ikshwaku’s race then gave him a sign.’

“Saudasa said, ‘This my present condition is intolerable. I do not beholdany refuge. Knowing this to be my wish, do thou give away the jewelledear-rings.'[172] Thus addressed by the king, Utanka went back to thequeen and reported to her the words of her lord. Hearing those words, thequeen gave unto Utanka her jewelled ear-rings. Having obtained theear-rings, Utanka came back to the king and said unto him, ‘I desire tohear, O monarch, what the import is of those mysterious words Which thousaidst as a sign to thy queen.’

“Saudasa said, ‘Kshatriyas are seen to honour the Brahmanas from the verybeginning of the creation. Towards the Brahmanas, however, many offencesarise (on the part of Kshatriyas). As regards myself, I am always bent inhumility before them. I am overtaken by a calamity through a Brahmana.Possessed of Madayanti, I do not see any other refuge. Indeed, O foremostof all persons having of a high goal, I do not behold any other refugefor myself in the matter of approaching the gates of Heaven, or incontinuing here, O best of regenerate ones. It is impossible for a kingthat is hostile to Brahmanas to continue living in this world or inattaining to happiness in the next. Hence have I given thee these myjewelled ear-rings which were coveted by thee.[173] Do thou now keep thecompact which thou hast made with me today.’

“Utanka said, ‘O king, I shall certainly act according to my promise. Ishall truly come back and place myself under thy power. There is,however, a question, O scorcher of foes, which I wish to ask thee.’

“Saudasa said, ‘Say, O learned Brahmana, what is in thy mind. I shallcertainly reply unto thy words. I shall dispel whatever doubt may be inthy mind. I have no hesitation in this.’

“Utanka said, ‘Those who are skilled in the rules of duty say thatBrahmanas are of restrained speech. One who behaves wrongly towardsfriends is regarded as vile as a thief.'[174] Thou, again, O king, hastbecome my friend today. Do thou then, O foremost of men, give me suchcounsel as is approved by the wise. As regards myself, I have nowobtained the fruition of my wishes. Thou, again, art a cannibal. Is itproper for me to come back to thee or not?’

“Saudasa said, ‘If it is proper (for me), O foremost of superiorBrahmanas, to say what thou askest, I should then, O best of regenerateones, tell thee that thou shouldst never come back to me. O perpetuatorof Bhrigu’s race, by acting even thus, thou wilt attain to what isbeneficial to thee. If thou comest back, O learned Brahmana, thou wiltsurely meet with death.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed by the intelligent king inrespect of what was beneficial for him. Utanka took leave of the monarchand set out for the presence of Ahalya. Desirous of doing what wasagreeable to the wife of his preceptor, he took the ear-rings with himand set out with great speed for reaching the retreat of Gautama.Protecting them even in the manner directed by Madayanti, that is,binding them within the folds of his black deer-skin, he proceeded on hisway. After he had proceeded for some distance, he became afflicted byhunger. He there beheld a Vilwa tree bent down with the weight of (ripe)fruits.[175] He climbed that tree. Causing his deer-skin, O chastiser offoes, to hang on a branch, that foremost of regenerate persons then beganto pluck some fruits. While he was employed in plucking those fruits witheyes directed towards them, some of them fell, O king, on that deerskinin which those ear-rings had been carefully tied by that foremost ofBrahmanas. With the strokes of the fruits, the knot became untied.Suddenly that deer-skin, with the ear-rings in it, fell down. When theknot being unfastened, the deer-skin fell down on the ground, a snake whowas there beheld those jewelled ear-rings. That snake belonged to therace of Airavata. With great promptness he took up the ear-rings in hismouth and then entered an anthill. Beholding the ear-rings taken away bythat snake, Utanka, filled with wrath and in great anxiety of mind, camedown from the tree. Taking his staff he began to pierce that anthill.That best of Brahmanas, burning with wrath and the desire for revenge,ceaselessly employed himself for five and thirty days in that task. Thegoddess Earth, unable to bear the force of Utanka’s walking staff andwith body torn therewith, became exceedingly anxious. Unto thatregenerate Rishi then, who continued to dig the Earth from desire ofmaking a path to the nether regions inhabited by the Nagas, the chief ofthe celestials, armed with the thunder, came there, on his car drawn bygreen horses. Endued with great energy, he beheld that foremost ofBrahmanas, as he sat there engaged in his task.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Assuming the garb of a Brahmana afflicted withthe sorrow of Utanka, the chief of the celestials addressed him, saying,’This (purpose of thine) is incapable of being achieved. The regions ofthe Nagas are thousands of Yojanas removed from this place. I think thatthy purpose is not capable of being achieved with thy walking staff.’

“Utanka said, ‘If, O Brahmana, the ear-rings be not recovered by me fromthe regions of the Nagas, I shall cast off my life-breaths before thyeyes, O foremost of regenerate persons!’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘When the thunder-armed Indra failed to divert Utankafrom his purpose, he united the latter’s walking staff with the force ofthunder. Then, O Janamejaya, the Earth, opening with those strokes havingthe force of thunder, yielded a way to the (nether) regions inhabited bythe Nagas. By that path Utanka entered the world of Nagas. He saw thatthat region lay extended thousands of Yojanas on all sides. Indeed, Oblessed one, it was equipt with many walls made of pure gold and deckedwith jewels and gems. There were many fine tanks of water furnished withflights of stair-cases made of pure crystal, and many rivers of clear andtransparent water. He saw also many trees with diverse species of birdsperching on them. That perpetuator of Bhrigu’s race behold the gate ofthat region which was full five Yojanas high and a hundred Yojanas inwidth. Beholding the region of the Nagas, Utanka became very cheerless.Indeed, he, despaired of getting back the earrings. Then there appearedunto him a black steed with a white tail. His face and eyes were of acoppery hue, O thou of Kuru’s race, and he seemed to blaze forth withenergy. Addressing Utanka, he said, ‘Do thou blow into the Apana duct ofmy body. Thou wilt then, O learned Brahmana, get back thy ear-rings whichhave been taken away by a descendant of Airavata’s race! Do not loathe todo my bidding, O son. Thou didst it often at the retreat of Gautama informer days.’

“Utanka said, ‘How did I know thee in the retreat of my preceptor?Indeed, I wish to hear how I did in those days what thou biddest me donow.’

“The steed said, ‘Know, O learned Brahmana, that I am the preceptor ofthy preceptor, for I am the blazing Jatavedas (deity of fire). By thee Iwas often worshipped for the sake of thy preceptor, O child of Bhrigu’srace, duly and with a pure heart and body. For that reason I shallaccomplish what is for thy good. Do my bidding without delay.’ Thusaddressed by the deity of fire, Utanka did as he was directed. The deitythen, gratified with him, blazed up for consuming everything. From thepores of his body, O Bharata, in consequence of his very nature, a thicksmoke issued threatening terrors to the world of Nagas. With that mightyand wide-spreading smoke, O Bharata, everything became enveloped ingloom, so that nothing, O king, could any longer be seen in the world ofthe Nagas. Cries of woe were heard throughout the mansions of theAiravatas, uttered by the Nagas headed by Vasuki, O Janamejaya. Envelopedby that smoke, the palaces could no longer be seen, O Bharata. Theseresembled woods and hill overwhelmed by a thick forest. With eyes thatwere red in consequence of that smoke, and afflicted by the energy of thedeity of fire, the Nagas came out of their mansions to the high-souledson of Bhrigu’s race for ascertaining what was the matter. Having heardwhat the matter was from that ascetic of immeasurable energy, all theNagas, with fear depicted on their eyes, offered him their worshipaccording to due forms. Indeed, all the Nagas placing the old and theyoung one’s before them, bowed unto him with their heads and joiningtheir hands addressed him, saying, ‘Be gratified with us, O holy one!’Having gratified that Brahmana and offered him water to wash his feet andthe ingredients of the Arghya (for honouring him), the Nagas gave himthose celestial and highly-adored ear-rings. Thus honoured by them,Utanka of great prowess, circumambulating the deity of fire, started forthe retreat of his preceptor. Indeed, repairing quickly to Gautama’sasylum, O king, he presented those ear-rings unto the wife of hispreceptor, O sinless one. That best of Brahmanas also told his preceptoreverything about Vasuki and the other Nagas that had occurred. It waseven thus, O Janamejaya, that the high-souled Utanka, having wanderedthrough the three worlds, fetched those jewelled ear-rings (for hispreceptor’s wife). Of such prowess, O chief of Bharata’s race, was theascetic Utanka. So austere were the penances with which he was endued. Ihave thus told thee what thou hadst asked me.'”

Chapter 59
Chapter 57


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