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Chapter 12

Mahabharata English - SABHAKRIYA PARVA

“Yudhishthira said,–‘O thou foremost of eloquent men, as thou hastdescribed the different Sabhas unto me, it appeareth that almost all themonarchs of the earth are to be found in the Sabha of Yama.

And, Omaster, almost all the Nagas, and principal Daityas, and rivers, andoceans, are to be found in the Sabha of Varuna. And so the Yakshas, theGuhyakas, the Rakshasas, the Gandharvas and Apsaras and the Deity (Yama)having the bull for his vehicle, are to be found in the Sabha of the lordof treasures. Thou hast said that in the Sabha of the Grandsire are to beseen all the great Rishis, all the gods, all the branches of learning. Asregards the Sabha of Sakra, however, thou hast named, O Muni, all thegods, the Gandharvas, and various Rishis. But, O great Muni, thou hastmentioned one and only one king, viz., the royal Rishi Harishchandra asliving in the Sabha of the illustrious chief of the gods. What act wasperformed by that celebrated king, or what ascetic penances with steadyvows, in consequence of which he hath been equal to Indra himself? OBrahmana, how didst thou also meet with my father, the exalted Pandu, nowa guest in the region of the Pitris? O exalted one of excellent vows hathhe told thee anything? O tell me all as I am exceedingly curious to hearall this from thee.”

“Narada said,–‘O king of kings, I shall tell thee all that thou askestme about Harischandra, I shall presently tell thee of his highexcellence. He was a powerful king, in fact, an emperor over all thekings of the earth. Indeed, all the kings of the earth obeyed his sway. Omonarch, mounted alone upon a victorious car adorned with gold, that kingby the prowess of his weapons brought the whole earth with her sevenislands under his sway. And, O monarch, having subjugated the whole earthwith her mountains, forests, and woods, he made preparations for thegreat sacrifice called the Rajasuya. And all the kings of the earthbrought at his command wealth unto that sacrifice. All of them consentedto become distributors of food and gifts unto the Brahmanas that were fedon the occasion. At that sacrifice king Harishchandra gave away unto allwho asked, wealth that was five times what each had solicited. At theconclusion of the sacrifice, the king gratified the Brahmanas that camefrom various countries with large presents of various kinds of wealth.The Brahmanas gratified with various kinds of food and enjoyablearticles, given away unto them to the extent of their desires, and withthe heaps of jewels distributed amongst them, began to say,–KingHarischandra is superior to all kings in energy and renown.–And know, Omonarch, O bull of the Bharata race, it was for this reason thatHarischandra shone more brightly than thousands of other kings. Thepowerful Harischandra having concluded his great sacrifice, becameinstalled, O king, in the sovereignty of the earth and looked resplendenton his throne. O bull of the Bharata race, all those monarchs thatperform the sacrifice of Rajasuya, (attaining to the region of Indra)pass their time in felicity in Indra’s company. And, O bull of theBharata race, those kings also that yield up their lives without turningtheir backs on the field of battle attain to the mansion of Indra andlive in joy with him. Those again that yield up their bodies after severeascetic penances also attain to the same region and shine brightly therefor ages. O king of the Kuru race, O son of Kunti, thy father Pandu,beholding the good fortune of Harischandra and wondering much thereat,hath told thee something. Knowing that I was coming to the world of men,he bowed unto me and said,–Thou shouldst tell Yudhishthira, O Rishi,that he can subjugate the whole Earth inasmuch as his brothers are allobedient to him. And having done this let him commence the grandsacrifice called Rajasuya. He is my son; if he performeth that sacrifice,I may, like Harischandra, soon attain to the region of Indra, and therein his Sabha pass countless years in continuous joy. I told him inreply,–O King, I shall tell thy son all this, if I go to the world ofman. I have now told thee what he said, O tiger among men. Accomplishthen, O son of Pandu, the desires of thy father. If thou performest thatsacrifice, thou shall then be able to go, along with thy deceasedancestors, into the same region that is inhabited by the chief of theimmortals. It hath been said,–O king, that the performance of this greatsacrifice is attended with many obstacles. A class of Rakshasas calledBrahma Rakshasas, employed in obstructing all sacrifices, always searchfor loop-holes when this great sacrifice is commenced. On thecommencement of such a sacrifice a war may take place destroying theKshatriyas and even furnishing occasion for the destruction of the wholeEarth. A slight obstacle may involve the whole Earth in ruin. Reflectingupon all this, O king of kings do what is for thy good. Be thou watchfuland ready in protecting the four orders of thy subjects. Grow, thou inprosperity, and enjoy thou felicity. Gratify thou the Brahmanas withgifts of wealth. I have now answered in detail all that thou hast askedme. With thy leave I will now go to the city (Dwaravati) of thatDasarhas.”

Vaisampayana said,–‘O Janamejaya, having said this unto the son ofPritha, Narada went away, accompanied by those Rishis with whom he hadcome. And after Narada had gone away, king Yudhishthira, O thou of theKuru race, began to think, along with his brothers, of that foremost ofsacrifices called Rajasuya.’

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