Chapter 17

Mahabharata English - SABHAKRIYA PARVA

“Vasudeva said,–‘Arjuna hath indicated what the inclination should be ofone that is born in the Bharata race, especially of one who is the son ofKunti. We know not when death will overtake us, in the night or in theday.

Nor have we ever heard that immortality hath been achieved bydesisting from fight. This, therefore, is the duty of men, viz., toattack all enemies in accordance with the principles laid down in theordinance. This always gives satisfaction to the heart. Aided by goodpolicy, if not frustrated by Destiny, an undertaking becomes crowned withsuccess. If both parties aided by such means encounter each other, onemust obtain ascendency over the other, for both cannot win or lose. Abattle however, if directed by bad policy which again is destitute of thewell-known arts, ends in defeat or destruction. If, again, both partiesare equally circumstanced, the result becomes doubtful. Both, however,cannot win. When such is the case, why should we not, aided by goodpolicy, directly approach the foe; and destroy him, like the current ofthe river uprooting a tree? If, disguising our own faults, we attack theenemy taking advantage of his loopholes, why should we not succeed?Indeed, the policy of intelligent men, is that one should not fightopenly with foes that are exceedingly powerful and are at the head oftheir well-arrayed forces. This too is my opinion. If, however, weaccomplish our purpose secretly entering the abode of our foe andattacking his person, we shall never earn obloquy. That bull amongmen–Jarasandha–alone enjoyeth unfaded glory, like unto him who is theself in the heart of every created being. But I see his destructionbefore me. Desirous of protecting our relatives we will either slay himin battle or shall ascend to heaven being ourselves slain in the end byhim.’

Yudhishthira said–“O Krishna, who is this Jarasandha? What is his energyand what is his prowess, that having touched thee he hath not been burntlike an insect at the touch of fire?”

Krishna said,–‘Hear, O monarch, who Jarasandha is; what his energy; andwhat is his prowess; and why also he hath been spared by us, Even thoughhe hath repeatedly offended us. There was a mighty king of the name ofVrihadratha, the lord of the Magadhas. Proud in battle, he had threeAkshauhinis of troops. Handsome and endued with energy, possessed ofaffluence and prowess beyond measure, and always bearing on his personmarks indicating installation at sacrifices. He was like a second Indra.In glory he was like unto Suryya, in forgiveness like unto the Earth, inwrath like unto the destroyer Yama and in wealth like unto Vaisravana.And O thou foremost of the Bharata race, the whole earth was covered byhis qualities that descended upon him from a long line of ancestors, likethe rays emerging from the sun. And, O bull of the Bharata race, enduedwith great energy that monarch married two twin daughters of the king ofKasi, both endued with the wealth of beauty. And that bull among men madean engagement in secret with his wives that he would love them equallyand would never show a preference for either. And the lord of the earthin the company of his two dearly loved wives, both of whom suited himwell, passed his days in joy like a mighty elephant in the company of twocow-elephants, or like the ocean in his personified form between Gangaand Yamuna (also in their personified forms). The monarch’s youthhowever, passed away in the enjoyment of his possessions, without any sonbeing born unto him to perpetuate his line. The best of monarch failed toobtain a son to perpetuate his race, even by means of various auspiciousrites, and homas, and sacrifices performed with the desire for having anoffspring. One day the king heard that the high-souled Chanda-kausika,the son of Kakshivat of the illustrious Gautama race, having desistedfrom ascetic penances had come in course of his wanderings to his capitaland had taken his seat under the shade of a mango tree. The king wentunto that Muni accompanied by his two wives, and worshipping him withjewels and valuable presents gratified him highly. That best of Rishistruthful in speech and firmly attached to truth, then told the king,–Oking of kings, I have been pleased with thee. O thou of excellent vows,solicit thou a boon. King Vrihadratha then, with his wives, bending lowunto that Rishi, spoke these words choked with tears in consequence ofhis despair of obtaining a child.–‘O holy one forsaking my kingdom I amabout to go into the woods to practise ascetic penances. I am veryunfortunate for I have no son. What shall I do, therefore, with mykingdom or with a boon?’

Krishna continued,–“Hearing these words (of the king), the Municontrolling his outer senses entered into meditation, sitting in theshade of that very mango tree where he was. And there fell upon the lapof the seated Muni a mango that was juicy and untouched by the beak of aparrot or any other bird. That best of Munis, taking up the fruit andmentally pronouncing certain mantras over it, gave it unto the king asthe means of his obtaining an incomparable offspring. And the great Muni,possessed also of extraordinary wisdom, addressing the monarch,said,–“Return, O king, thy wish is fulfilled. Desist, O king, from going(into the woods)”.–Hearing these words of the Muni and worshipping hisfeet, the monarch possessed of great wisdom, returned to his own abode.And recollecting his former promise (unto them) the king gave, O bull ofthe Bharata race, unto his two wives that one fruit. His beautifulqueens, dividing that single fruit into two parts, ate it up. Inconsequence of the certainty of the realisation of the Muni’s words andhis truthfulness, both of them conceived, as an effect of their havingeaten that fruit. And the king beholding them in that state became filledwith great joy. Then, O wise monarch, some time after, when the timecame, each of the queens brought forth a fragmentary body. And eachfragment had one eye, one arm, one leg, half a stomach, half a face, andhalf an anus. Beholding the fragmentary bodies, both the mothers trembledmuch. The helpless sisters then anxiously consulted each other, andsorrowfully abandoned those fragments endued with life. The two midwives(that waited upon the queens) then carefully wrapping up the still-born(?) fragments went out of the inner apartments (of the palace) by theback door and throwing away the bodies, returned in haste. A little whileafter, O tiger among men, a Rakshasa woman of the name of Jara livingupon flesh and blood, took up the fragments that lay on a crossing. Andimpelled by force of fate, the female cannibal united the fragments forfacility of carrying them away. And, O bull among men, as soon as thefragments were united they formed a sturdy child of one body (endued withlife). Then, O king, the female cannibal, with eyes expanded in wonder,found herself unable to carry away that child having a body as hard andstrong as the thunder-bolt. That infant then closing his fists red ascopper and inserting them into its mouth, began to roar terribly asrain-charged clouds. Alarmed at the sound, the inmates of the palace, Otiger among men, suddenly came out with the king, O slayer of all foes.The helpless and disappointed and sad queens also, with breasts full ofmilk, also came out suddenly to recover their child. The female cannibalbeholding the queens in that condition and the king too so desirous of anoffspring, and the child was possessed of such strength thought withinherself–I live within dominions of the king who is so desirous of anoffspring. It behoveth not me, therefore, to kill the infant child ofsuch an illustrious and virtuous monarch. The Rakshasa woman then,holding the child in her arms like the clouds enveloping the sun, andassuming a human form, told the king these words,–O Vrihadratha, this isthy child. Given to thee by me, O, take it. It hath been born of both thywives by virtue of the command of the great Brahmana. Cast away by themidwives, it hath been protected by me!

“Krishna continued,–O thou foremost of the Bharata race, the handsomedaughters of the king of Kasi, having obtained the child, soon drenchedit with their lacteal streams. The king ascertaining everything, wasfilled with joy, and addressing that female cannibal disguised as a humanbeing possessing the complexion of gold, asked,–O thou of the complexionof the filament of the lotus, who art thou that givest me this child? Oauspicious one, thou seemest to me as a goddess roaming at thy pleasure!”

Chapter 18
Chapter 16
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