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Chapter 52

Mahabharata English - DRONA PARVA

“Narada said, ‘The helpless lady, suppressing her arrow within her ownself, addressed, with joined hands, the Lord of the creation, bendingwith humility like a creeper. And she said, O foremost of speakers,created by thee how shall I, being a female, do such a cruel and evil actknowing it to be cruel and evil? I fear unrighteousness greatly. O divineLord, be inclined to grace. Sons and friends and brothers and sires andhusbands are always dear; (if I kill them), they who will suffer theselosses will seek to injure me. It is this that I fear. The tears thatwill fall from the eyes of woe-stricken and weeping persons, inspire mewith fear, O Lord! I seek thy protection. O divine Being, O foremost ofgods, I will not go to Yama’s abode. O boon-giving one, I implore thee orthy grace, bowing my head and joining my palms. O grandsire of theworlds, I solicit (the accomplishment of even) this wish at thyhands![84] I desire, with thy permission, to undergo ascetic penances, OLord of created things! Grant me this boon, O divine Being, O greatmaster! Permitted by thee, I will go to the excellent asylum of Dhenuka!Engaged in adoring Thyself, I will undergo the severest austeritiesthere. I will not be able, O Lord of the gods, to take away the dearlife-breaths of living creatures weeping in sorrow. Protect me fromunrighteousness.’

“Brahma said, ‘O Death, thou hast been intended for achieving thedestruction of creatures. Go, destroy all creatures, thou needst have noscruples. Even this must be. It cannot be otherwise. Do but my behest.Nobody in the world will find any fault in thee.’

“Narada continued, ‘Thus addressed, that lady became very muchaffrighted.[85] Looking at Brahma’s face, she stood with joined hands.From desire of doing good to creatures, she did not set her heart upontheir destruction. The divine Brahma also, that Lord of the lord of allcreatures, remained silent. And soon the Grandsire became gratified inhis own self. And casting his eyes upon all the creation he smiled. And,thereupon, creatures continued to live as before i.e., unaffected bypremature death. And upon that, invincible and illustrious Lord havingshaken off his wrath, that damsel left the presence of that wise Deity.Leaving Brahma, without having agreed to destroy creatures, the damselcalled Death speedily proceeded to the retreat called Dhenuka. Arrivedthere, she practised excellent and highly austere vows. And she stoodthere on one leg for sixteen billions of years, and five times tenbillions also, through pity for living creatures and from desire of doingthem good, and all the time restraining her senses from their favouriteobjects. And once again, O king she stood there on one leg for one andtwenty times ten billions of years. And then she wandered for ten timesten thousand billions of years with the creatures (of the earth), Next,repairing to the sacred Nanda that was full of cool and pure water, shepassed in those waters eight thousand years. Observing rigid vows atNanda, she cleansed herself of all her sins. Then she proceeded, first ofall, to the sacred Kausiki, observant of vow. Living upon air and wateronly, she practised austerities there, Repairing then to Panchaganga andnext to Vetasa, that cleansed damsel, by diverse kinds of especialausterities, emaciated her own body. Going next to the Ganga and thenceto the great Meru, she remained motionless like a stone, suspending herlife-breath. Thence going to the top of Himavat, where the gods hadperformed their sacrifice (in days of yore), that amiable and auspiciousgirl remained for a billion of years standing on the toe only of herfeet. Wending then to Pushkara, and Gokarna, and Naimisha, and Malaya,she emaciated her body, practising austerities agreeable to her heart.Without acknowledging any other god, with steady devotion to theGrandsire, she lived and gratified the Grandsire in every way. Then theunchangeable Creator of the worlds, gratified said unto her, with asoftened and delighted heart. ‘O Death, why dost thou undergo asceticausterities so severe?’ Thus addressed, Death said unto the divineGrandsire, ‘Creatures, O Lord, are living in health. They do not injureone another even by words. I shall not be able to slay them. O Lord, Idesire even this boon at thy hands. I fear sin, and it is for this that Iam engaged in ascetic austerities. O blessed one, undertake to remove forever my fears. I am a woman, in distress, and without fault. I beg thee,be thou protector. Unto her the divine Brahman acquainted with the past,the present and the future, said, ‘Thou shalt commit no sin, O Death, byslaying these creatures. My words can never be futile., O amiable one!Therefore, O auspicious damsel, slay these creatures of four kinds.Eternal virtue shall always be thine. That Regent of the world, viz.,Yama, and the diverse disease shall become thy helpmates. I myself andall the gods will grant thee boons, so that, freed from sin and perfectlycleansed, thou mayst even acquire glory.’ Thus addressed, O monarch, thatlady, joining her hands, once more said these words, seeking her grace bybowing down unto him with her head, If, O Lord, this is not to be withoutme, then thy command I place upon my head. Listen, however, to what Isay, Let covetousness, wrath, malice, jealousy, quarrel, folly andshamelessness, and other stern passions tear the bodies of all embodiedcreatures.’

“Brahman said, ‘It will be, O Death, as thou sayest. Meanwhile, slaycreatures duly. Sin shall not be thine, nor shall I seek to injure thee,O auspicious one. Those tear-drops of thine that are in my hands, eventhey will become diseases, springing from living creatures themselves.They will kill men; and if men are killed, sin shall not be thine.Therefore, do not fear, Indeed, sin shall not be thine. Devoted torighteousness, and observant of thy duty, thou shalt sway (allcreatures). Therefore, take thou always the fives of these livingcreatures. Casting off both desire and wrath, take thou the life of allliving creatures. Even thus will eternal virtue be thine. Sin will staythose that are of wicked behaviour. By doing my bidding cleanse thyself.It will be thine to sink them in their sins that are wicked. Therefore,cast off both desire and wrath, and kill these creatures endued withlife.’

“Narada continued, ‘That damsel, seeing that she was (persistently)called by the name of Death, feared (to act otherwise). And in terroralso of Brahma’s curse, she said, ‘Yes!’ Unable to do otherwise, shebegan, casting off desire and wrath, to take the lives of livingcreatures when the time came (for their dissolution). It is only livingcreatures that die. Diseases spring from living creatures themselves.Disease is the abnormal condition of creatures. They are pained by it.Therefore, indulge not in fruitless grief for creatures after they aredead. The senses, upon the death of creatures, go with the latter (to theother world), and achieving their (respective) functions, once more comeback (with creatures when the latter are reborn). Thus all creatures, Olion among beings, the very gods included going, thither, have to act,like mortals.[86] The wind, that is awful, of terrible roars and greatstrength, omnipresent and endued with infinite energy, it is the windthat will rive the bodies of living creatures. It will, in this matterput forth no active energy, nor will it suspend its functions; (but dothis naturally). Even all the gods have the appellation of mortalsattached to them. Therefore, O lion among kings, do not grieve for thyson! Repairing to heaven, the son of thy body is passing his days inperpetual happiness, having obtained those delightful regions that arefor heroes. Casting off all sorrows, he hath attained to thecompanionship of the righteous. Death hath been ordained by the Creatorhimself for all creatures! When their hour comes, creatures are destroyedduly. The death of creatures arises from the creatures themselves.Creatures kill themselves. Death doth not kill any one, armed with herbludgeon! Therefore, they that are wise, truly knowing death to beinevitable, because ordained by Brahma himself, never grieve forcreatures that are dead. Knowing this death to be ordained by the SupremeGod, cast off, without delay; thy grief for thy dead son!’

“Vyasa continued, ‘Hearing these words of grave import spoken by Narada,king Akampana, addressing his friend, said, ‘O illustrious one, Oforemost of Rishi, my grief is gone, and I am contented. Hearing thishistory from thee, I am grateful to thee and I worship thee.’ Thatforemost of superior Rishi, that celestial ascetic of immeasurable soul,thus addressed by the king, proceeded to the woods of Nandava. Thefrequent recital of this history for the hearing of others, as also thefrequent hearing of this history, is regarded as cleansing, leading tofame and heaven and worthy of approbation. It enhanceth besides, theperiod of life. Having listened to this instructive story, cast off thygrief, O Yudhishthira, reflecting besides or, the duties of a Kshatriyaand the high state (of blessedness) attainable by heroes. Abhimanyu, thatmighty car-warrior, endued with mighty energy, having slain (numerous)foes before the gaze of all bowmen, hath attained to heaven. The greatbowman, that mighty car-warrior, struggling on the field, hath fallen inthe battle struck with sword and mace and dart, and bow. Sprung fromSoma, he hath disappeared in the lunar essence, cleansed of all hisimpurities. Therefore, O son of Pandu, mustering all thy fortitude.thyself with thy brothers, without allowing your senses to be stupefiedspeedily set out, inflamed with rage, for battle.'”[87]

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