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Chapter 171

Mahabharata English - SANTI PARVA

“Bhishma said, ‘Led into a spacious apartment, Gautama was introduced tothe king of the Rakshasas. Worshipped by the latter (with the usualofferings), he took his seat on an excellent seat. The king asked himabout the race of his birth and his practices, his study of the Vedas andhis observance of the Brahmacharya vow. The Brahmana, however, withoutanswering the other queries, only stated his name and race. The kinghaving ascertained only the name and the race of his guest, and seeingthat he was destitute of Brahmanic splendour and Vedic studies, nextenquired about the country of his residence.’

“The Rakshasa said, ‘Where is thy residence, O blessed one, and to whatrace does thy wife belong? Tell us truly, do not fear. Trust us withoutanxiety.’

“Gautama said, ‘I belong by birth to the Middle country. I live in avillage of hunters. I have married a Sudra spouse who had been a widow.All this that I tell you is the truth.’

“Bhishma continued, ‘The king then began to reflect as to what he shoulddo. Indeed, the king began to think how he might succeed in acquiringmerit. He said unto himself. ‘This man is by birth a, Brahmana. He is,again a friend of the high-souled Rajadharman. He has been sent to me bythat son of Kasyapa. I must do what is agreeable to my friend. He is veryintimate with me. Indeed, he is my brother, and a dear relative. He istruly a friend of my heart. On this day of the month of Kartika, athousand Brahmanas of the foremost order are to be entertained in myhouse. This Gautama also shall be entertained with them and I shall givewealth unto him too. This is a sacred day. Gautama has come hither as aguest. The wealth that is to be given away (unto the Brahmanas) is ready.What is there then to think of?’ Just about this time a thousandBrahmanas, possessed of great learning, with persons purified by bathsand adorned (with sandalpaste and flowers) and attired in long robes oflinen, came to the palace. The Rakshasa king Virupaksha, O monarch,received the guests, as they came, duly and according to the rites laiddown in the scriptures. At the command of the king, skins were spread outfor them. The royal servants then, O best of the Bharatas, placed mats ofKusa grass on the ground.[495] Those foremost of Brahmanas, having beenduly worshipped by the king sat down on those seats. The Rakshasa chiefonce more worshipped his guests, as provided by the ordinance, withsesame seeds, green blades of grass, and water. Some amongst them wereselected for representing the Viswedevas, the Pitris, and the deities offire. These were smeared with sandal-paste, and flowers were offered untothem. They were also adored with other kinds of costly offerings. Aftersuch worship, every one of them looked as effulgent as the moon in thefirmament. Then bright and polished plates of gold, adorned withengravings, and filled with excellent food prepared with ghee and honey,were given unto those Brahmanas. Every year (on the days of full moon) ofthe months of Ashadha and Magha, a large number of Brahmanas used toreceive from the Rakshasa chief, after proper honours, the best kinds offood that they desired. Especially, on the day of full moon in the monthof Kartika, after the expiry of autumn, the king used to give unto theBrahmanas much wealth of diverse kinds, including gold, silver, jewels,gems, pearls, diamonds of great value, stones of the lapis lazulivariety, deer-skins, and skins of the Ranku deer. Indeed, O Bharata,throwing a heap of wealth of many kinds for giving it away as Dakshina(unto his regenerate guests), the mighty Virupaksha, addressing thoseforemast of Brahmanas, said unto them, ‘Take from these jewels and gemsas much as ye wish and can hope to bear away.’ And he also used to sayunto them, O Bharata, these words: ‘Taking those plates of gold andvessels which you have used for your dinner, go ye away, O foremost ofBrahmanas.’ When these words were uttered by the high-souled Rakshasaking (on the occasion of that particular feast), those bulls amongBrahmanas took as much wealth as each desired. Worshipped with thosecostly jewels and gems, those best of Brahmanas, attired in excellentrobes, became filled with delight. Once more, the Rakshasa king, havingrestrained the Rakshasas that had come to his palace from diverse lands,addressed those Brahmanas and said, ‘This one day, ye regenerate ones, yeneed have no fear from the Rakshasas here. Sport ye as ye wish, and thengo away with speed.’ The Brahmanas then, leaving that spot, went away inall directions with great speed. Gautama also, having taken up a heavyquantity of gold without any loss of time, went away. Carrying theburthen with difficulty, he reached that same banian (under which he hadmet the crane). He sat himself down, fatigued, toil worn, and hungry.While Gautama was resting there, that best of birds viz., Rajadharman, Oking, came there. Devoted to friends, he gladdened Gautama by bidding himwelcome. By flapping his wings he began to fan his guest and dispel hisfatigue. Possessed of great intelligence, he worshipped Gautama, and madearrangements for his food. Having eaten and refreshed himself, Gautamabegan to think, ‘Heavy is this load that I have taken of bright gold,moved by covetousness and folly. I have a long way to travel. I have nofood by which to support life on my way. What should I do for supportinglife?’ Even these were his thoughts then. It so happened that even uponmuch thinking he failed to see any food which he could eat on the way.Ungrateful as he was, O tiger among men, even this was the thought thathe then conceived, ‘This prince of cranes, so large and containing a heapof flesh, stayeth by my side. Staying and bagging him, I shall leave thisspot and go along with great speed.'”

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