“Bhishma continued, ‘The Nagas of that city became exceedingly distressedwhen they saw that that Brahmana, devoted to the practice of penances,continued to reside in the forest, entirely abstaining all the while fromfood, in expectation of the arrival of the Naga chief. All the kinsmenand relatives of the great Naga, including his brother and children andwife, assembling together, repaired to the spot where the Brahmana wasstaying. Arrived on the banks of the Gomati, they beheld that regenerateperson seated in a secluded spot, abstaining from food of every kind,observant the while of excellent vows, and engaged in silently recitingcertain Mantras. Approaching the presence of the Brahmana and offeringhim due worship, the kinsmen and relatives of the great Naga said untohim these words fraught with candour:–O Brahmana, endued with wealth ofasceticism, this is the sixth day of thy arrival here, but thou sayest noword about thy food, O regenerate one, thou art devoted to righteousness.Thou hast come to us. We two are here in attendance upon thee. It isabsolutely necessary that we should do the duties of hospitality to thee.We are all relations of the Naga chief with whom thou hast business.Roots or fruits, leaves, or water, or rice or meat, O best of Brahmanas,it behoveth thee to take for thy food. In consequence of thy dwelling inthis forest under such circumstances of total abstention from food, thewhole community of Nagas, young and old, is being afflicted, since thisthy fast implies negligence on our part to discharge the duties ofhospitality. We have none amongst us that has been guilty ofBrahmanicide. None of us has ever lost a son immediately after birth. Noone has been born in our race that has eaten before serving the deitiesor guests or relatives arrived at his residence.
“The Brahmana said, ‘In consequence of these solicitations of you all, Imay be regarded to have broken my fast. Eight days are wanting for theday to come when the chief of the Nagas will return. If, on theexpiry of the eighth night hence, the chief of the Nagas does not comeback, I shall then break this fast by eating. Indeed, this vow ofabstaining from all food that I am observing is in consequence of myregard for the Naga chief. You should not grieve for what I am doing. Doyou all return to whence you came. This my vow is on his account. Youshould not do anything in consequence of which this my vow may bebroken.–The assembled Nagas, thus addressed by the Brahmana, weredismissed by him, whereupon, O foremost of men, they returned to theirrespective residences.'”