Adi Parva - Mahabharata of Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa
'UGRASRAVA SAUTI, the son of Lomaharshana, versed in the Puranas, while present in the forest of Naimisha, at the twelve years' sacrifice of Saunaka, surnamed Kulapati, stood before the Rishis in attendance. Having studied Puranas with meticulous devotion and thus being thoroughly acquainted with them, he addressed them with joined hands thus, 'I have graphically described to you the history of Utanka which is one of the causes of King Janamejaya's Snake-sacrifice. What, revered Sirs, do ye wish to hear now? What shall I relate to you?' The holy men replied, 'O son of Lomaharshana, we shall ask thee about what we are anxious to hear and thou wilt recount the tales one by one. Saunaka, our revered master, is at present attending the apartment of the holy fire. He is acquainted with those divine stories which relate to the gods and asuras. He adequately knoweth the histories of men, serpents, and Gandharvas. Further, O Sauti, in this sacrifice that learned Brahmana is the chief. He is able, faithful to his vows, wise, a master of the Sastras and the Aranyaka, a speaker of truth, a lover of peace, a mortifier of the flesh, and an observer of the penances according to the authoritative decrees. He is respected by us all. It behoveth us therefore to wait for him. And when he is seated on his highly respected seat, thou wilt answer what that best of Dwijas shall ask of thee.'
"Sauti said, 'Be it so. And when the high-souled master hath been seated I shall narrate, questioned by him, sacred stories on a variety of subjects." After a while that excellent Brahmana (Saunaka) having duly finished all his duties, and having propitiated the gods with prayers and the manes with oblations of water, came back to the place of sacrifice, where with Sauti seated before was the assembly of saints of rigid vows sitting at ease. And when Saunaka was seated in the midst of the Ritwiks and Sadhyas, who were also in their seats, he spake as followeth."
"Saunaka said, 'Child, thy father formerly read the whole of the Puranas, O son of Lomaharshana, and the Bharata with Krishna-Dwaipayana. Hast thou also made them thy study? In those ancient records are chronicled interesting stories and the history of the first generations of the wise men, all of which we heard being rehearsed by thy sire. In the first place, I am desirous of hearing the history of the race of Bhrigu. Recount thou that history, we shall attentively listen to thee."
"Sauti answered, 'By me hath been acquired all that was formerly studied by the high-souled Brahmanas including Vaisampayana and repeated by them; by me hath been acquired all that had been studied by my father. O descendant of the Bhrigu race, attend then to so much as relateth to the exalted race of Bhrigu, revered by Indra and all the gods, by the tribes of Rishis and Maruts (Winds). O great Muni, I shall first properly recount the story of this family, as told in the Puranas.
"The great and blessed saint Bhrigu, we are informed, was produced by the self-existing Brahma from the fire at the sacrifice of Varuna. And Bhrigu had a son, named Chyavana, whom he dearly loved. And to Chyavana was born a virtuous son called Pramati. And Pramati had a son named Ruru by Ghritachi (the celestial dancer). And to Ruru also by his wife Pramadvara, was born a son, whose name was Sunaka. He was, O Saunaka, thy great ancestor exceedingly virtuous in his ways. He was devoted to asceticism, of great reputation, proficient in law, and eminent among those having a knowledge of the Vedas. He was virtuous, truthful, and of well-regulated fare.'
"Saunaka said, 'O son of Suta, I ask thee why the illustrious son of Bhrigu was named Chyavana. Do tell me all.'
"Sauti replied, 'Bhrigu had a wife named Puloma whom he dearly loved. She became big with child by Bhrigu. And one day while the virtuous continent Puloma was in that condition, Bhrigu, great among those that are true to their religion, leaving her at home went out to perform his ablutions. It was then that the Rakshasa called Puloma came to Bhrigu's abode. And entering the Rishi's abode, the Rakshasa saw the wife of Bhrigu, irreproachable in everything. And seeing her he became filled with lust and lost his senses. The beautiful Puloma entertained the Rakshasa thus arrived, with roots and fruits of the forest. And the Rakshasa who burnt with desire upon seeing her, became very much delighted and resolved, O good sage, to carry her away who was so blameless in every respect.
'My design is accomplished,' said the Rakshasa, and so seizing that beautiful matron he carried her away. And, indeed, she of agreeable smiles, had
been betrothed by her father himself, to him, although the former subsequently bestowed her, according to due rites, on Bhrigu. O thou of the Bhrigu race, this wound rankled deep in the Rakshasa's mind and he thought the present moment very opportune for carrying the lady away.
"And the Rakshasa saw the apartment in which the sacrificial fire was kept burning brightly. The Rakshasa then asked the flaming element 'Tell me, O Agni, whose wife this woman rightfully is. Thou art the mouth of gods; therefore thou art bound to answer my question. This lady of superior complexion had been first accepted by me as wife, but her father subsequently bestowed her on the false Bhrigu. Tell me truly if this fair one can be regarded as the wife of Bhrigu, for having found her alone, I have resolved to take her away by force from the hermitage. My heart burneth with rage when I reflect that Bhrigu hath got possession of this woman of slender waist, first betrothed to me.'"
"Sauti continued, 'In this manner the Rakshasa asked the flaming god of fire again and again whether the lady was Bhrigu's wife. And the god was afraid to return an answer. 'Thou, O god of fire,' said he, residest constantly within every creature, as witness of her or his merits and demerits. O thou respected one, then answer my question truly. Has not Bhrigu appropriated her who was chosen by me as my wife? Thou shouldst declare truly whether, therefore, she is my wife by first choice. After thy answer as to whether she is the wife of Bhrigu, I will bear her away from this hermitage even in sight of thee. Therefore answer thou truly.'"
"Sauti continued, 'The Seven flamed god having heard these words of the Rakshasa became exceedingly distressed, being afraid of telling a falsehood and equally afraid of Bhrigu's curse. And the god at length made answer in words that came out slowly. 'This Puloma was, indeed, first chosen by thee, O Rakshasa, but she was not taken by thee with holy rites and invocations. But this far-famed lady was bestowed by her father on Bhrigu as a gift from desire of blessing. She was not bestowed on thee O Rakshasa, this lady was duly made by the Rishi Bhrigu his wife with Vedic rites in my presence. This is she--I know her. I dare not speak a falsehood. O thou best of the Rakshasas, falsehood is never respected in this world.'"
"Sauti said, 'O Brahmana, having heard these words from the god of fire, the Rakshasa assumed the form of a boar, and seizing the lady carried her away with the speed of the wind--even of thought. Then the child of Bhrigu lying in her body enraged at such violence, dropped from his mother's womb, for which he obtained the name of Chyavana. And the
[paragraph continues] Rakshasa perceiving the infant drop from the mother's womb, shining like the sun, quitted his grasp of the woman, fell down and was instantly converted into ashes. And the beautiful Pauloma, distracted with grief, O Brahmana of the Bhrigu race, took up her offspring Chyavana, the son of Bhrigu and walked away. And Brahma, the Grandfather of all, himself saw her, the faultless wife of his son, weeping. And the Grandfather of all comforted her who was attached to her son. And the drops of tears which rolled down her eyes formed a great river. And that river began to follow the foot-steps of the wife of the great ascetic Bhrigu. And the Grandfather of the worlds seeing that river follow the path of his son's wife gave it a name himself, and he called it Vadhusara. And it passeth by the hermitage of Chyavana. And in this manner was born Chyavana of great ascetic power, the son of Bhrigu.
"And Bhrigu saw his child Chyavana and its beautiful mother. And the Rishi in a rage asked her, 'By whom wast thou made known to that Rakshasa who resolved to carry thee away? O thou of agreeable smiles, the Rakshasa could not know thee as my wile. Therefore tell me who it was that told the Rakshasa so, in order that I may curse him through anger.' And Pauloma replied, 'O possessor of the six attributes! I was identified to the Rakshasa by Agni (the god of fire). And he (the Rakshasa) bore me away, who cried like the Kurari (female osprey). And it was only by the ardent splendour of this thy son that I was rescued, for the Rakshasa (seeing this infant) let me go and himself falling to the ground was turned into ashes.'
"Sauti continued, 'Bhrigu, upon hearing this account from Pauloma, became exceedingly enraged. And in excess of passion the Rishi cursed Agni, saying, 'Thou shalt eat of all things.'"
So ends the sixth section called "the curse on Agni" in the Adi Parva.
"Sauti said, 'the god of fire enraged at the curse of Bhrigu, thus addressed the Rishi, 'What meaneth this rashness, O Brahmana, that thou hast displayed towards me? What transgression can be imputed to me who was labouring to do justice and speak the truth impartially? Being asked I gave the true answer. A witness who when interrogated about a fact of which he hath knowledge, representeth otherwise than it is, ruineth his ancestors and descendants both to the seventh generation. He, too, who, being fully cognisant of all the particulars of an affair, doth not disclose what he knoweth, when asked, is undoubtedly stained with guilt. I can also curse thee, but Brahmanas are held by me in high respect. Although these are known to thee, O Brahmana, I will yet speak of them, so please
attend! Having, by ascetic power, multiplied myself, I am present in various forms, in places of the daily homa, at sacrifices extending for years, in places where holy rites are performed (such as marriage, etc.), and at other sacrifices. With the butter that is poured upon my flame according to the injunctions prescribed in the Vedas, the Devas and the Pitris are appeased. The Devas are the waters; the Pitris are also the waters. The Devas have with the Pitris an equal right to the sacrifices called Darshas and Purnamasas. The Devas therefore are the Pitris and the Pitris, the Devas. They are identical beings, worshipped together and also separately at the changes of the moon. The Devas and the Pitris eat what is poured upon me. I am therefore called the mouth of the Devas and the Pitris. At the new moon the Pitris, and at the full moon the Devas, are fed through my mouth, eating of the clarified butter that is poured on me. Being, as I am, their mouth, how am I to be an eater of all things (clean and unclean)?
"Then Agni, alter reflecting for a while, withdrew himself from all places; from places of the daily homa of the Brahmanas, from all long-extending sacrifices, from places of holy rites, and from other ceremonies. Without their Oms and Vashats, and deprived of their Swadhas and Swahas (sacrificial mantras during offerings), the whole body of creatures became much distressed at the loss of their (sacrificial) fire. The Rishis in great anxiety went to the gods and addressed them thus, 'Ye immaculate beings! The three regions of the universe are confounded at the cessation of their sacrifices and ceremonies in consequence of the loss of fire! Ordain what is to be done in tins matter, so that there may be no loss of time.' Then the Rishis and the gods went together to the presence of Brahma. And they represented to him all about the curse on Agni and the consequent interruption of all ceremonies. And they said, 'O thou greatly fortunate! Once Agni hath been cursed by Bhrigu for some reason. Indeed, being the mouth of the gods and also the first who eateth of what is offered in sacrifices, the eater also of the sacrificial butter, how will Agni be reduced to the condition of one who eateth of all things promiscuously?' And the creator of the universe hearing these words of theirs summoned Agni to his presence. And Brahma addressed Agni, the creator of all and eternal as himself, in these gentle words, 'Thou art the creator of the worlds and thou art their destroyer! Thou preserves! the three worlds and thou art the promoter of all sacrifices and ceremonies! Therefore behave thyself so that ceremonies be not interrupted. And, O thou eater of the sacrificial butter, why dost thou act so foolishly, being, as thou art, the Lord of all? Thou alone art always pure in the universe and thou art its stay! Thou shall not, with all thy body, be reduced to the state of one who eateth of all things promiscuously. O thou of flames, the flame that is in thy viler parts shall alone eat of all things alike. The body of thine which eateth of flesh (being in the stomach of all carnivorous animals) shall also eat
of all things promiscuously. And as every thing touched by the sun's rays becometh pure, so shall everything be pure that shall be burnt by thy flames. Thou art, O fire, the supreme energy born of thy own power. Then, O Lord, by that power of thine make the Rishi's curse come true. Continue to 'receive thy own portion and that of the gods, offered at thy mouth.'
'Sauti continued, 'Then Agni replied to the Grandfather, 'So be it.' And he then went away to obey the command of the supreme Lord. The gods and the Rishis also returned in delight to the place whence they had come. And the Rishis began to perform as before their ceremonies and sacrifices. And the gods in heaven and all creatures of the world rejoiced exceedingly. And Agni too rejoiced in that he was free from the prospect of sin.
"Thus, O possessor of the six attributes, had Agni been cursed in the days of yore by Bhrigu. And such is the ancient history connected with the destruction of the Rakshasa, Pauloma and the birth of Chyavana.'"
Thus endeth the seventh section of the Pauloma Parva of the Adi Parva of the blessed Mahabharata.
"Sauti said, 'O Brahmana, Chyavana, the son of Bhrigu, begot a son in the womb of his wife Sukanya. And that son was the illustrious Pramati of resplendent energy. And Pramati begot in the womb of Ghritachi a son called Ruru. And Ruru begot on his wife Pramadvara a son called Sunaka. And I shall relate to you in detail, O Brahmana, the entire history of Ruru of abundant energy. O listen to it then in full!
"Formerly there was a great Rishi called Sthulakesa possessed of ascetic power and learning and kindly disposed towards all creatures. At that time, O Brahmana sage, Viswavasu, the King of the Gandharvas, it is said, had intimacy with Menaka, the celestial dancing-girl. And the Apsara, Menaka, O thou of the Bhrigu race, when her time was come, brought forth an infant near the hermitage of Sthulakesa. And dropping the newborn infant on the banks of the river, O Brahmana, Menaka, the Apsara, being destitute of pity and shame, went away. And the Rishi, Sthulakesa, of great ascetic power, discovered the infant lying forsaken in a lonely part of the river-side. And he perceived that it was a female child, bright as the offspring of an Immortal and blazing, as it were, with beauty: And the great Brahmana, Sthulakesa, the first of Munis, seeing that female child, and filled with compassion, took it up and reared it. And the lovely child grew up in his holy habitation, the noble-minded and blessed Rishi Sthulakesa performing in due succession all the ceremonies beginning with that at birth as ordained by the divine law. And because she surpassed all
of her sex in goodness, beauty, and every quality, the great Rishi called her by the name of Pramadvara. And the pious Ruru having seen Pramadvara in the hermitage of Sthulakesa became one whose heart was pierced by the god of love. And Ruru by means of his companions made his father Pramati, the son of Bhrigu, acquainted with his passion. And Pramati demanded her of the far-famed Sthulakesa for his son. And her foster-father betrothed the virgin Pramadvara to Ruru, fixing the nuptials for the day when the star Varga-Daivata (Purva-phalguni) would be ascendant.
"Then within a few days of the time fixed for the nuptials, the beautiful virgin while at play with companions of her own sex, her time having come, impelled by fate, trod upon a serpent which she did not perceive as it lay in coil. And the reptile, urged to execute the will of Fate, violently darted its envenomed fangs into the body of the heedless maiden. And stung by that serpent, she instantly dropped senseless on the ground, her colour faded and all the graces of her person went off. And with dishevelled hair she became a spectacle of woe to her companions and friends. And she who was so agreeable to behold became on her death what was too painful to look at. And the girl of slender waist lying on the ground like one asleep--being overcome with the poison of the snake-once more became more beautiful than in life. And her foster-father and the other holy ascetics who were there, all saw her lying motionless upon the ground with the splendour of a lotus. And then there came many noted Brahmanas filled with compassion, and they sat around her. And Swastyatreya, Mahajana, Kushika, Sankhamekhala, Uddalaka, Katha, and Sweta of great renown, Bharadwaja, Kaunakutsya, Arshtishena, Gautama, Pramati, and Pramati's son Ruru, and other inhabitants of the forest, came there. And when they saw that maiden lying dead on the ground overcome with the poison of the reptile that had bitten her, they all wept filled with compassion. But Ruru, mortified beyond measure, retired from the scene.'"
So ends the eighth section of the Pauloma Parva of the Adi Parva of the blessed Mahabharata.
"Sauti said, 'While those illustrious Brahmanas were sitting around the dead body of Pramadvara, Ruru, sorely afflicted, retired into a deep wood and wept aloud. And overwhelmed with grief he indulged in much piteous lamentation. And, remembering his beloved Pramadvara, he gave vent to his sorrow in the following words, 'Alas! The delicate fair one that increaseth my affliction lieth upon the bare ground. What can be more deplorable to us, her friends? If I have been charitable, if I have performed acts of penance, if I have ever revered my superiors, let the merit of
these arts restore to life my beloved one! If from my birth I have been controlling my passions, adhered to my vows, let the fair Pramadvara rise from the ground.
"And while Ruru was indulging in these lamentations for the loss of his bride, a messenger from heaven came to him in the forest and addressed him thus, 'The words thou utterest, O Ruru, in thy affliction are certainly ineffectual. For, O pious man, one belonging to this world whose days have run out can never come back to life. This poor child of a Gandharva and Apsara has had her days run out! Therefore, O child, thou shouldst not consign thy heart to sorrow. The great gods, however, have provided beforehand a means of her restoration to life. And if thou compliest with it, thou mayest receive back thy Pramadvara.'
"And Ruru replied, O messenger of heaven! What is that which the gods have ordained. Tell me in full so that (on hearing) I may comply with it. It behoveth thee to deliver me from grief!' And the celestial messenger said unto Ruru, 'Resign half of thy own life to thy bride, and then, O Ruru of the race of Bhrigu, thy Pramadvara shall rise from the ground.' 'O best of celestial messengers, I most willingly offer a moiety of my own life in favour of my bride. Then let my beloved one rise up once more in her dress and lovable form.'
"Sauti said, 'Then the king of Gandharvas (the father of Pramadvara) and the celestial messenger, both of excellent qualities, went to the god Dharma (the Judge of the dead) and addressed him, saying, 'If it be thy will, O Dharmaraja, let the amiable Pramadvara, the betrothed wife of Ruru, now lying dead, rise up with a moiety of Ruru's life.' And Dharmaraja answered, 'O messenger of the gods, if it be thy wish, let Pramadvara, the betrothed wife of Ruru, rise up endued with a moiety of Ruru's life.'
"Sauti continued, 'And when Dharmaraja had said so, that maiden of superior complexion, Pramadvara, endued with a moiety of Ruru's life, rose as from her slumber. This bestowal by Ruru of a moiety of his own span of life to resuscitate his bride afterwards led, as it would be seen, to a curtailment of Ruru's life.
"And on an auspicious day their fathers gladly married them with due rites. And the couple passed their days, devoted to each other. And Ruru having obtained such a wife, as is hard to be found, beautiful and bright as the filaments of the lotus, made a vow for the destruction of the serpent-race. And whenever he saw a serpent he became filled with great wrath and always killed it with a weapon.
"One day, O Brahmana, Ruru entered an extensive forest. And there he saw an old serpent of the Dundubha species lying stretched on the ground. And Ruru thereupon lifted up in anger his staff, even like to the staff of Death, for the purpose of killing it. Then the Dundubha, addressing Ruru, said, 'I have done thee no harm, O Brahmana! Then wherefore wilt thou slay me in anger?'"
So ends the ninth section of the Pauloma Parva of the Adi Parva of the blessed Mahabharata.
Sauti said, 'And Ruru, on hearing those words, replied, 'My wife, dear to me as life, was bit by a snake; upon which, I took, O snake, a dreadful vow, viz., that I would kill every snake that I might come across. Therefore shall I smite thee and thou shalt be deprived of life.'
"And the Dundubha replied, 'O Brahmana, the snakes that bite man are quite different in type. It behoveth thee not to slay Dundubhas who are serpents only in name. Subject like other serpents to the same calamities but not sharing their good fortune, in woe the same but in joy different, the Dundubhas should not be slain by thee under any misconception.'
"Sauti continued, 'And the Rishi Ruru hearing these words of the serpent, and seeing that it was bewildered with fear, albeit a snake of the Dundubha species, killed it not. And Ruru, the possessor of the six attributes, comforting the snake addressed it, saying, 'Tell me fully, O snake, who art thou thus metamorphosed?' And the Dundubha replied, 'O Ruru! I was formerly a Rishi by name Sahasrapat. And it is by the curse of a Brahmana that I have been transformed into a snake. And Ruru asked, 'O thou best of snakes, for what wast thou cursed by a Brahmana in wrath? And how long also will thy form continue so?'"
And so ends the tenth section of the Pauloma Parva of the Adi Parva.
"Sauti continued 'The Dundubha then said, 'In former times, I had a friend Khagama by name. He was impetuous in his speech and possessed of spiritual power by virtue of his austerities. And one day when he was engaged in the Agni-hotra (Fire-sacrifice), I made a mock snake of blades of grass, and in a frolic attempted to frighten him with it. And anon he fell into a swoon. On recovering his senses, that truth-telling and vow-observing ascetic, burning with wrath, exclaimed, 'Since thou hast made a powerless mock snake to frighten me, thou shalt be turned even into a venomless serpent thyself by my curse.' O ascetic, I well knew the power of his penances; therefore with an agitated heart, I addressed him thus, bending low with joined hands, 'Friend, I did this by way of a joke, to excite thy laughter. It behoveth thee to forgive me and revoke thy curse.' And seeing me sorely troubled, the ascetic was moved, and
he replied, breathing hot and hard. 'What I have said must come to pass. Listen to what I say and lay it to thy heart. O pious one! when Ruru the pure son of Pramati, will appear, thou shall be delivered from the curse the moment thou seest him. Thou art the very Ruru and the son of Pramati. On regaining my native form, I will tell thee something for thy good.
"And that illustrious man and the best of Brahmanas then left his snake-body, and attained his own form and original brightness. He then addressed the following words to Ruru of incomparable power, 'O thou first of created beings, verily the highest virtue of man is sparing the life of others. Therefore a Brahmana should never take the life of any creature. A Brahmana should ever be mild. This is the most sacred injunction of the Vedas. A Brahmana should be versed in the Vedas and Vedangas, and should inspire all creatures with belief in God. He should be benevolent to all creatures, truthful, and forgiving, even as it is his paramount duty to retain the Vedas in his memory. The duties of the Kshatriya are not thine. To be stern, to wield the sceptre and to rule the subjects properly are the duties of the Kshatriya. Listen, O Ruru, to the account of the destruction of snakes at the sacrifice of Janamejaya in days of yore, and the deliverance of the terrified reptiles by that best of Dwijas, Astika, profound in Vedic lore and might in spiritual energy.'"
And so ends the eleventh section of the Pauloma Parva of the Adi Parva.
"Sauti continued, 'Ruru then asked, 'O best of Dwijas, why was king Janamejaya bent upon destroying the serpents?--And why and how were they saved by the wise Astika? I am anxious to hear all this in detail.'
"The Rishi replied, 'O Ruru, the important history of Astika you will learn from the lips of Brahmanas.' Saying this, he vanished.
"Sauti continued, 'Ruru ran about in search of the missing Rishi, and having failed to find him in all the woods, fell down on the ground, fatigued. And revolving in his mind the words of the Rishi, he was greatly confounded and seemed to be deprived of his senses. Regaining consciousness, he came home and asked his father to relate the history in question. Thus asked, his father related all about the story.'"
So ends the twelfth section in the Pauloma Parva of the Adi Parva.