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Chapter 6

Mahabharata English - ASWAMEDHA PARVA

“Vyasa said, ‘The ancient legend of Vrihaspati and the wise Marutta iscited in this connection. On hearing of the compact made by Angira’s sonVrihaspati with the lord of the gods (Indra), king Marutta made thenecessary preparations for a great sacrifice. The eloquent grandson ofKarandhama, (Marutta) having conceived the idea of a sacrifice in hismind, went to Vrihaspati and addressed him thus, ‘O worshipful ascetic, Ihave intended to perform the sacrifice which thou didst propose to meonce on a previous occasion and in accordance with thy instructions, andI now desire to appoint thee as officiating priest in this sacrifice, thematerials whereof have also been collected by me.–O excellent one, thouart our family priest, therefore do thou take those sacrificial thingsand perform the sacrifice thyself.’

Vrihaspati said, ‘O lord of the earth, I do not desire to perform thysacrifice. I have been appointed as priest by the Lord of the gods(Indra) and I have promised to him to act as such.’

Marutta said, ‘Thou art our hereditary family priest, and for this reasonI entertain great regard for thee, and I have acquired the right of beingassisted at sacrifices by thee, and therefore it is meet that thoushouldst officiate as priest at my sacrifice.’

Vrihaspati said, ‘Having, O Marutta, acted as priest to the Immortals,how can I act as such to mortal men, and whether thou dost depart henceor stay, I tell thee, I have ceased to act as priest to any but theImmortals. O thou of mighty arms, I am unable to act as thy priest now.And according to thy own desire, thou canst appoint any one as thy priestwho will perform thy sacrifice.’

Vyasa said, ‘Thus told, king Marutta became confused with shame, andwhile returning home with his mind oppressed by anxiety, he met Narada onhis way. And that monarch on seeing the divine Rishi Narada stood beforehim with due salutation, with his hands clasped together. Then Naradaaddressing him thus said,–O royal sage, thou seemest to be notwell-pleased in thy mind; is all well with thee? Where hast thou been, Osinless one, and whence the cause of this thy mental disquietude? And, Oking, if there be no objection to thy telling it to me, do thou, O bestof kings, disclose (the cause of thy anxiety) to me, so that, O prince, Imay allay the disquietude of thy mind with all my efforts.’

Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed by the great Rishi Narada, kingMarutta informed him of the rebuff he had received from his religiouspreceptor.’

Marutta said, ‘Seeking for a priest to officiate at my sacrifice, I wentto that priest of the Immortals, Vrihaspati, the son of Angira, but hedid not choose to accept my offer. Having met with this rebuff from him,I have no desire to live any longer now, for by his abandoning me thus, Ihave, O Narada, become contaminated with sin.’

Vyasa said, ‘Thus told by that king, Narada, O mighty prince, made thisreply to him with words which seemed to revive that son of Avikshit.’

Narada said, ‘The virtuous son of Angira, Samvarta by name is wanderingover all the quarters of the earth in a naked state to the wonder of allcreatures; do thou, O prince, go to him. If Vrihaspati does not desire toofficiate at thy sacrifice, the powerful Samvarta, if pleased with thee,will perform thy sacrifice.’

Marutta said, ‘I feel as if instilled with new life, by these thy words,O Narada, but O the best of speakers, do thou tell me where I can findSamvarta, and how I can remain by his side, and how I am to act so thathe may not abandon me, for I do not desire to live if I meet with arebuff from him also.’

Narada said, ‘Desirous of seeing Maheswara, O prince, he wanders about athis pleasure in the city of Varanasi, in the garb of a mad man. Andhaving reached the gate of that city, thou must place a dead bodysomewhere near it, and the man who shall turn away on seeing the corpse,do thou, O prince, know that man to be Samvarta, and knowing him, do thoufollow his footsteps wheresoever that powerful man chooses to go andfinding him (at length) in a lonely place thou must seek his protectionwith thy hands clasped together in supplication to him. And if heenquires of thee as to the person who has given thee the informationabout his own self, do thou tell him that Narada has informed thee aboutSamvarta. And if he should ask thee to follow me, thou must tell himwithout any hesitation, that I have entered into the fire.’

Vyasa said, ‘Having signified his assent to the proposal of Narada, thatroyal sage after duly worshipping him, and taking his permission,repaired to the city of Varanasi, and having reached there, that famousprince did as he had been told, and remembering the words of Narada, heplaced a corpse at the gate of the city. And by coincidence, thatBrahmana also entered the gate of the city at the same time. Then onbeholding the corpse, he suddenly turned away. And on seeing him turnback, that prince, the son of Avikshit followed his footsteps with hishands clasped together, and with the object of receiving instruction fromhim. And then finding him in a lonely place, Samvarta covered the kingwith mud and ashes and phlegm and spittle. And though thus worried andoppressed by Samvarta, the king followed that sage with his hands claspedtogether in supplication and trying to appease him. At length overcomewith fatigue, and reaching the cool shade of a sacred fig tree with manybranches, Samvarta desisted from his course and sat himself to rest.’

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