Vaishampayana said, “There, in that tirtha, O Bharata, where the Lord ofstars had in former days performed the rajasuya sacrifice, a great battlewas fought in which Taraka was the root of the evil. Bathing in thattirtha and making many presents, the virtuous Bala of cleansed soulproceeded to the tirtha of the muni named Sarasvata. There, during adrought extending for twelve years, the sage Sarasvata, in former days,taught the Vedas unto many foremost of brahmanas.”
Janamejaya said, “Why did the sage Sarasvata, O thou of ascetic merit,teach the Vedas unto the rishis during a twelve years’ drought?”
Vaishampayana continued, “In days of yore, O monarch, there was anintelligent sage of great ascetic merit. He was celebrated by the name ofDadhica. Possessing a complete control over his senses, he led the lifeof a brahmacari. In consequence of his excessive ascetic austeritiesShakra was afflicted with a great fear. The sage could not be turned(away from his penance) by the offer of even diverse kinds of rewards. Atlast the chastiser of Paka, for tempting the sage, despatched unto himthe exceedingly beautiful and celestial apsara, by name Alambusa. Thitherwhere on the banks of the Sarasvati the high-souled sage was engaged inthe act of gratifying the gods, the celestial damsel named above, Omonarch, made her appearance. Beholding that damsel of beautiful limbs,the vital seed of that ascetic of cleansed soul came out. It fell intothe Sarasvati, and the latter held it with care. Indeed, O bull amongmen, the River, beholding that seed, held it in her womb. In time theseed developed into a foetus and the great river held it so that it mightbe inspired with life as a child. When the time came, the foremost ofrivers brought forth that child and then went, O lord, taking it withher, to that rishi.
Beholding that best of rishis in a conclave, Sarasvati, O monarch, whilemaking over the child, said these words, ‘O regenerate rishi, this is thyson whom I held through devotion for thee! That seed of thine which fellat sight of the apsara Alambusa, had been held by me in my womb, Oregenerate rishi, through devotion for thee, well knowing that thatenergy of thine would never suffer destruction! Given by me, accept thisfaultless child of thy own!’ Thus addressed by her, the rishi acceptedthe child and felt great joy. Through affection, that foremost ofbrahmanas then smelt the head of his son and held him in a close embrace,O foremost one of Bharata’s race, for some time. Gratified with theRiver, the great ascetic Dadhica then gave a boon to her, saying, ‘Thevishvadevas, the rishis, and all the tribes of the gandharvas and theapsaras, will henceforth, O blessed one, derive great happiness whenoblations of thy water are presented unto them!’
Having said so unto that great river, the sage, gratified and filled withjoy, then praised her in these words. Listen to them duly, O king! ‘Thouhast taken thy rise, O highly blessed one, from the lake of Brahman indays of old. All ascetics of rigid vows know thee, O foremost of rivers!Always of agreeable features, thou hast done me great good! This thygreat child, O thou of the fairest complexion, will be known by the nameof Sarasvata! This thy son, capable of creating new worlds, will becomeknown after thy name! Indeed, that great ascetic will be known by thename of Sarasvata! During a drought extending for twelve years, thisSarasvata, O blessed one, will teach the Vedas unto many foremost ofbrahmanas! O blessed Sarasvati, through my grace, thou shalt, O beautifulone, always become the foremost of all sacred rivers!’ Even thus was thegreat River praised by the sage after the latter had granted her boons.The River then, in great joy, went away, O bull of Bharata’s race, takingwith her that child.
Meanwhile, on the occasion of a war between the gods and the danavas,Shakra wandered through the three worlds in search of weapons. The greatgod, however, failed to find such weapons as were fit to slay the foes ofthe celestials. Shakra then said unto the gods. ‘The great asuras areincapable of being dealt with by me! Indeed, without the bones ofDadhica, our foes could not be slain! Ye best of celestials, repair,therefore, to that foremost of rishis and solicit him, saying, “Grant us,O Dadhica, thy bones! With them we will slay our foes!”
Besought by them for his bones, that foremost of rishis, O chief ofKuru’s race, unhesitatingly gave up his life. Having done what wasagreeable to the gods, the sage obtained many regions of inexhaustiblemerit. With his bones, meanwhile, Shakra joyfully caused to be made manykinds of weapons, such as thunderbolts, discs, heavy maces, and manykinds of clubs and bludgeons. Equal unto the Creator himself, Dadhica,had been begotten by the great rishi Bhrigu, the son of the Lord of allcreatures, with the aid of his austere penances. Of stout limbs andpossessed of great energy, Dadhica had been made the strongest ofcreatures in the world. The puissant Dadhica, celebrated for his glory,became tall like the king of mountains. The chastiser of Paka had alwaysbeen anxious on account of his energy. With the thunderbolt born ofbrahma energy, and inspired with mantras, O Bharata, Indra made a loudnoise when he hurled it, and slew nine and ninety heroes among thedaityas. After a long and dreadful time had elapsed since then, adrought, O king, occurred that extended for twelve years. During thatdrought extending for twelve years, the great rishis, for the sake ofsustenance, fled away, O monarch, on all sides.
Beholding them scattered in all directions, the sage Sarasvata also sethis heart on flight. The river Sarasvati then said unto him, ‘Thou needstnot, O son, depart hence, for I will always supply thee with food evenhere by giving thee large fishes! Stay thou, therefore, even here!’ Thusaddressed (by the river), the sage continued to live there and offeroblations of food unto the rishis and the gods. He got also his dailyfood and thus continued to support both himself and the gods.
After that twelve year’s drought had passed away, the great rishissolicited one another for lectures on the Vedas. While wandering withfamished stomachs, the rishis had lost the knowledge of the Vedas. Therewas, indeed, not one amongst them that could understand the scriptures.It chanced that someone amongst them encountered Sarasvata, that foremostof rishis, while the latter was reading the Vedas with concentratedattention. Coming back to the conclave of rishis, he spoke to them ofSarasvata of unrivalled splendour and god-like mien engaged in readingthe Vedas in a solitary forest. Then all the great rishis came to thatspot, and jointly spoke unto Sarasvata, that best of ascetics, thesewords, ‘Teach us, O sage!’ Unto them the ascetic replied, saying, ‘Becomeye my disciples duly!’ The conclave of ascetics answered, ‘O son, thouart too young in years!’ Thereupon he answered the ascetics, ‘I must actin such a way that my religious merit may not suffer a diminution! Hethat teaches improperly, and he that learns improperly, are both lost inno time and come to hate each other! It is not upon years, ordecrepitude, or wealth, or the number of kinsmen, that rishis found theirclaim to merit! He amongst us is great who is capable of reading andunderstanding the Vedas!’
Hearing these words of his, those munis duly became his disciples andobtaining from him their Vedas, once more began to praise their rites.60,000 munis became disciples of the regenerate rishi Sarasvata for thesake of acquiring their Vedas from him. Owning obedience to thatagreeable rishi, though a boy, the munis each brought a handful of grassand offered it to him for his seat. The mighty son of Rohini, and elderbrother of Keshava, having given away wealth in that tirtha, thenjoyfully proceeded to another place where lived (in days of yore) an oldlady without having passed through the ceremony of marriage.”