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Chapter 195

Mahabharata English - UDYOGA PARAVA

“Bhishma said, ‘Hearing, O bull of Bharata’s race, those words ofSikhandini, afflicted by destiny, that Yaksha, said after reflecting inhis mind, these words, ‘Indeed, it was ordained to be so, and, O Kaurava,it was ordained for my grief!’ The Yaksha said, ‘O Blessed lady, I willcertainly do what thou wishest! Listen, however, to the condition I make.For a certain period I will give thee my manhood. Thou must, however,come back to me in due time. Pledge thyself to do so! Possessed ofimmense power, I am a ranger of the skies, wandering at my pleasure, andcapable of accomplishing whatever I intend. Through my grace, save thecity and thy kinsmen wholly! I will bear thy womanhood, O princess!Pledge thy truth to me, I will do what is agreeable to thee!’ Thusaddressed, Sikhandini said unto him, ‘O holy one of excellent vows, Iwill give thee back thy manhood! O wanderer of the night, bear thou mywomanhood for a short time! After the ruler of the Dasarnakas who iscased in a golden mail will have departed (from my city) I will once morebecome a maiden and thou wilt become a man!’

“Bhishma continued, ‘Having said this (unto each other), they both. Oking, made a covenant, and imparted unto each other’s body their sexes.And the Yaksha Sthuna, O Bharata, became a female, while Sikhandiniobtained the blazing form of the Yaksha. Then, O king, Sikhandini ofPanchala’s race, having obtained manhood, entered his city in great joyand approached his father. And he represented unto Drupada everythingthat had happened. And Drupada, bearing it all became highly glad. Andalong with his wife the king recollected the words of Maheswara. And heforthwith sent, O king, messenger unto the ruler of the Dasarnakas,saying, ‘This my child is a male. Let it be believed by thee!’ The kingof the Dasarnakas meanwhile, filled with sorrow and grief, suddenlyapproached Drupada, the ruler of the Panchalas. And arrived at Kampilya,the Dasarnaka king despatched, after paying him proper honours, an envoywho was one of the foremost of those conversant with the Vedas. And headdressed the envoy, saying, ‘Instructed by me, O messenger, say untothat worst of kings the ruler of the Panchalas, these words,–viz., Othou of wicked understanding, having selected my daughter as a wife forone who is thy daughter, thou shalt today, without doubt, behold thefruit of that act of deception.’ Thus addressed and despatched by him, Obest of kings, the Brahmana set out for Drupada’s city as Dasarnaka’senvoy. And having arrived at the city, the priest went unto Drupada’spresence. The king of the Panchalas then, with Sikhandin, offered theenvoy, O king, a cow and honey. The Brahmana, however, without acceptingthat worship, said unto him these words that had been communicatedthrough him by the brave ruler of the Dasarnakas who was cased in agolden mail. And he said, ‘O thou of vile behaviours, I have beendeceived by thee through thy daughter (as the means)! I will exterminatethee with thy counsellors and sons and kinsmen!’ Having, in the midst ofhis counsellors, been made by that priest to hear those words fraughtwith censure and uttered by the ruler of the Dasarnakas, king Drupadathen, O chief of Bharata’s race, assuming a mild behaviour from motivesof friendship, ‘said, The reply to these words of my brother that thouhast said unto me, O Brahmana, will be carried to that monarch by myenvoy!’ And king Drupada then, sent unto the high-souled Hiranyavarman aBrahmana learned in the Vedas as his envoy. And that envoy, going untoking Hiranyavarman, the ruler of the Dasarnakas, said unto him, ‘Omonarch, the word that Drupada had entrusted him with.’ And he said,’This my child is really a male. Let it be made clear by means ofwitness! Somebody has spoken falsely to thee. That should not bebelieved!’ Then the king of the Dasarnakas, having heard the words ofDrupada, was filled with sorrow and despatched a number of young ladiesof great beauty for ascertaining whether Sikhandin was a male or female.Despatched by him, those ladies, having ascertained (the truth) joyfullytold the king of the Dasarnakas everything, viz., that Sikhandin, O chiefof the Kurus, was a powerful person of the masculine sex. Hearing thattestimony, the ruler of the Dasarnakas was filled with great joy, andwending then unto his brother Drupada, passed a few days with him in joy.And the king, rejoiced as he was, gave unto Sikhandin much wealth, manyelephants and steeds and kine. And worshipped by Drupada (as long as hestayed), the Dasarnaka king then departed, having rebuked his daughter.And after king Hiranyavarman, the ruler of the Dasarnakas had departed injoy and with his anger quelled, Sikhandin began to rejoice exceedingly.Meanwhile, sometime after (the exchange of sexes had taken place) Kuvera,who was always borne on the shoulders of human beings, in course of ajourney (through the earth), came to the abode of Sthuna. Staying (in thewelkin) above that mansion, the protector of all the treasures saw thatthe excellent abode of the Yaksha Sthuna was well-adorned with beautifulgarland of flowers, and perfumed with fragrant roots of grass and manysweet scents. And it was decked with canopies, and scented incense. Andit was also beautiful with standards and banners. And it was filled withedibles and drink of every kind. And beholding that beautiful abode ofthe Yaksha decked all over, and filled also with garlands of jewels andgems and perfumed with the fragrance of diverse kinds of flowers, andwell-watered, and well-swept, the lord of the Yakshas addressed theYakshas that followed him, saying, ‘Ye that are endued with immeasurableprowess, this mansion of Sthuna is well-adorned! Why, however, doth notthat wight of wicked understanding come to me? And since thatwicked-souled one, knowing I am here, approacheth me not, therefore, somesevere punishment should be inflicted on him! Even this is my intention!’Hearing these words of his, the Yakshas said, ‘O king, the royal Drupadahad a daughter born unto him, of the name of Sikhandini! Unto her, forsome reason, Sthuna had given his own manhood, and having taken herwomanhood upon him, he stayeth within his abode having become a woman!Bearing as he doth a feminine form, he doth not, therefore, approach theein shame! It is for this reason, O king, that Sthuna cometh not to thee!Hearing all this, do what may be proper!’ Let the car be stopped here!Let Sthuna be brought to me,–were the words that the lord of the Yakshasuttered, and repeatedly said,–I will punish him!–Summoned then by theLord of Yakshas, Sthuna bearing a feminine form came thither, O king, andstood before him in shame. Then, O thou of Kuru’s race, the giver ofwealth cursed him in anger, saying, ‘Ye Guhyakas, let the femininity ofthe wretch remain as it is!’ And the high-souled lord of the Yakshas alsosaid, ‘Since humiliating all the Yakshas, thou hast, O thou of sinfuldeeds, given away thy own sex to Sikhandini and taken from her, O thou ofwicked understanding, her femininity,–since, O wicked wretch, thou hastdone what hath never been done by anybody,–therefore from this day, thoushalt remain a woman and she shall remain a man!’ At these words of his,all the Yakshas began to soften Vaisravana for the sake of Sthunakarnarepeatedly saying, ‘Set a limit to thy curse!’ The high-souled lord ofthe Yakshas then said unto all these Yakshas that followed him, fromdesire of setting a limit to his curse, these words, viz.,–AfterSikhandin’s death, ye Yakshas, this one will regain his own form!Therefore, let this high-souled Yaksha Sthuna be freed from his anxiety!Having said this, the illustrious and divine king of the Yakshas,receiving due worship, departed with all his followers who were capableof traversing a great distance within the shortest space of time. AndSthuna, with that curse pronounced on him, continued to live there. Andwhen the time came, Sikhandin without losing a moment came unto thatwanderer of the night. And approaching his presence he said, It have cometo thee, O holy one!’ Sthuna then repeatedly said unto him, ‘I am pleasedwith thee!’ Indeed, beholding that prince return to him without guile,Sthuna told Sikhandin everything that had happened. Indeed, the Yakshasaid, ‘O son of a king, for thee I have been cursed by Vaisravana. Gonow, and live happily amongst men as thou choosest. Thy coming here andthe arrival of Pulastya’s son were, I think, both ordained frombeforehand. All this was incapable of being prevented!’

“Bhishma continued, ‘Thus addressed by the Kaksha, Sthuna, Sikhandin, OBharata, came to his city, filled with great joy. And he worshipped withdiverse scents and garlands of flower and costly presents persons of theregenerate class, deities, big trees and crossways. And Drupada, theruler of the Panchalas, along with his son Sikhandin whose wishes hadbeen crowned with success, and with also his kinsmen, became exceedinglyglad. And the king then, O bull of Kuru’s race, gave his son, Sikhandin,who had been a woman, as a pupil, O monarch, to Drona. An princeSikhandin obtained, along with yourselves, the whole science of arms withits four divisions. And (his brother) Dhrishtadyumna of Prishata’s racealso obtained the same. Indeed, all this way represented unto me, O sire,by the spies, disguised as idiots and as persons without the senses ofvision, and hearing whom I had set upon Drupada. It is thus, O king, thatthat best of Rathas. Sikhandin, the son of Drupada, having first beenborn a female, subsequently became a person of the other sex. And it wasthe eldest daughter of the ruler of Kasi, celebrated by the name of Amva,who was, O bull of Bharata’s race, born in Drupada’s line as Sikhandin.If he approacheth me bow in hand and desirous of fight, I will not lookat him even for a moment nor smite him, O thou of unfading glory!Even–this is my vow, known over all the world, viz., that I will not, Oson of Kuru’s race, shoot weapons upon a woman, or one that was a womanbefore or one bearing a feminine name, or one whose form resembleth awoman’s. I will not, for this reason, slay Sikhandin. Even this, O sire,is the story that I have ascertained of Sikhandin’s birth. I will not,therefore, slay him in battle even if he approacheth me weapon in hand.If Bhishma slayeth a woman the righteous will all speak ill of him. Iwill not, therefore, slay him even if I behold him waiting for battle!’

“Sanjaya continued, ‘Hearing these words of Bhishma, king Duryodhana ofKuru’s race, reflecting for a moment, thought even that behaviour wasproper for Bhishma.'”

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