Chapter 52

Mahabharata English - SHALYA PARVA

Janamejaya said, “Why, O regenerate one, did that maiden betake herselfto ascetic penances, in days of old? For what reason did she practisepenances, and what was her vow? Unrivalled and fraught with mystery isthe discourse that I have already heard from thee! Tell me (now) all theparticulars in detail regarding how that maid engaged herself inpenances.”

Vaishampayana said, “There was a rishi of abundant energy and great fame,named Kuni-Garga. That foremost of ascetics, having practised theausterest of penances, O king, created a fair-browed daughter by a fiatof his will. Beholding her, the celebrated ascetic Kuni-Garga becamefilled with joy. He abandoned his body, O king, and then went to heaven.That faultless and amiable and fair-browed maiden, meanwhile, of eyeslike lotus petals continued to practise severe and very rigid penances.She worshipped the pitris and the gods with fasts. In the practice ofsuch severe penances a long period elapsed. Though her sire had been forgiving her away to a husband, she yet did not wish for marriage, for shedid not see a husband that could be worthy of her.

Continuing to emaciate her body with austere penances, she devotedherself to the worship of the pitris and the gods in that solitaryforest. Although engaged in such toil, O monarch, and although sheemaciated herself by age and austerities, yet she regarded herself happy.At last when she (became very old so that she) could no longer move evena single step without being aided by somebody, she set her heart upondeparting for the other world.

Beholding her about to cast off her body, Narada said unto her, ‘Osinless one, thou hast no regions of blessedness to obtain in consequenceof thy not having cleansed thyself by rite of marriage! O thou of greatvows, we have heard this in heaven! Great hath been thy asceticausterities, but thou hast no claim to regions of blessedness!’

Hearing these words of Narada, the old lady went to a concourse of rishisand said, ‘I shall give him half my penances who will accept my hand inmarriage!’ After she had said those words, Galava’s son, a rishi, knownby the name of Sringavat, accepted her hand, having proposed this compactto her, ‘With this compact, O beautiful lady, I shall accept thy hand,that thou shalt live with me for only one night!’ Having agreed to thatcompact, she gave him her hand.

Indeed, Galava’s son, according to the ordinances laid down and havingduly poured libations on the fire, accepted her hand and married her. Onthat night, she became a young lady of the fairest complexion, robed incelestial attire and decked in celestial ornaments and garlands andsmeared with celestial unguents and perfumes. Beholding her blazing withbeauty, Galava’s son became very happy and passed one night in hercompany.

At morn she said unto him, ‘The compact, O brahmana, I had made withthee, hath been fulfilled, O foremost of ascetics! Blessed be thou, Ishall now leave thee!’ After obtaining his permission, she once moresaid, ‘He that will, with rapt attention, pass one night in this tirthaafter having gratified the denizens of heaven with oblations of water,shall obtain that merit which is his who observes the vow of brahmacaryafor eight and fifty years!’ Having said these words, that chaste ladydeparted for heaven.

The Rishi, her lord, became very cheerless, by dwelling upon the memoryof her beauty. In consequence of the compact he had made, he acceptedwith difficulty half her penances. Casting off his body he soon followedher, moved by sorrow, O chief of Bharata’s race, and forced to it by herbeauty.

Even this is the glorious history of the old maid that I have told thee!Even this is the account of her brahmacarya and her auspicious departurefor heaven. While there Baladeva heard of the slaughter of Shalya. Havingmade presents unto the brahmanas there, he gave way to grief, O scorcherof his foes, for Shalya who had been slain by the Pandavas in battle.Then he of Madhu’s race, having come out of the environs ofSamantapanchaka, enquired of the rishis about the results of the battleat Kurukshetra. Asked by that lion of Yadu’s race about the results ofthe battle at Kurukshetra, those high-souled ones told him everything asit had happened.”

Chapter 51
Chapter 53
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