The Mahabharata Home
(Sambhava Parva continued)
"Vaisampayana said, 'Then the king with his followers, having killed thousands of animals, entered another forest with a view to hunting. And attended by a single follower and fatigued with hunger and thirst, he came upon a large desert on the frontiers of the forest. And having crossed this herbless plain, the king came upon another forest full of the retreats of ascetics, beautiful to look at, delightful to the heart and of cool agreeable breezes. And it was full of trees covered with blossoms, the soil overgrown with the softest and greenest grass, extending for many miles around, and echoing with the sweet notes of winged warblers. And it resounded with the notes of the male Kokila and of the shrill cicala. And it was full of magnificent trees with outstretched branches forming a shady canopy overhead. And the bees hovered over flowery creepers all around. And there were beautiful bowers in every place. And there was no tree without fruits, none that had prickles on it, none that had no bees swarming around it. And the whole forest resounded with the melody of winged choristers. And it was decked with the flowers of every season. And there were refreshing shades of blossoming trees.
"Such was the delicious and excellent forest that the great bowman entered. And trees with branches beautified with clusters began to wave gently at the soft breeze and rain their flowers over the monarch's head. And the trees, clad in their flowery attires of all colours, with sweet-throated warblers perched on them, stood there in rows with heads touching the very heavens. And around their branches hanging down with the weight of flowers the bees tempted by the honey hummed in sweet chorus. And the king, endued with great energy, beholding innumerable spots covered with bowers of creepers decked with clusters of flowers, from excess of gladness, became very much charmed. And the forest was exceedingly beautiful in consequence of those trees ranged around with flowery branches twining with each other and looking like so many rainbows for gaudiness and variety of colour. And it was the resort of bands of Siddhas, of the Charanas, of tribes of Gandharvas, and Apsaras, of monkeys and Kinnaras drunk with delight. Delicious cool, and fragrant breezes, conveying the fragrance from fresh flowers, blew in all directions as if they had come there to sport with the trees. And the king saw that charming forest gifted with such beauties. And it was situated in a delta of the river, and the cluster of high trees standing together lent the place the look of a gaudy pole erected to Indra's honour.
"And in that forest which was the resort of ever cheerful birds, the monarch saw a delightful and charming retreat of ascetics. And there were many trees around it. And the sacred fire was burning within it. And
the king worshipped that unrivalled retreat. And he saw seated in it numerous Yotis, Valakhilyas and other Munis. And it was adorned with many chambers containing sacrificial fire. And the flowers dropping from the trees had formed a thick carpet spread over the ground. And the spot looked exceedingly beautiful with those tall trees of large trunks. And by it flowed, O king, the sacred and transparent Malini with every species of water-fowl playing on its bosom. And that stream infused gladness into the hearts of the ascetics who resorted to it for purposes of ablutions. And the king beheld on its banks many innocent animals of the deer species and was exceedingly delighted with all that he saw.
"And the monarch, the course of whose chariot no foe could obstruct, then entered that asylum which was like unto the region of the celestials, being exceedingly beautiful all over. And the king saw that it stood on the margin of the sacred stream which was like the mother of all the living creatures residing in its vicinage. And on its bank sported the Chakravaka, and waves of milkwhite foam. And there stood also the habitations of Kinnaras. And monkeys and bears too disported themselves in numbers. And there lived also holy ascetics engaged in studies and meditation. And there could be seen also elephants and tigers and snakes. And it was on the banks of that stream that the excellent asylum of the illustrious Kasyapa stood, offering a home to numerous Rishis of great ascetic merit. And beholding that river, and also the asylum washed by that river which was studded with many islands and which possessed banks of so much beauty,--an asylum like unto that of Nara and Narayana laved by the water of the Ganga--the king resolved to enter into that sacred abode. And that bull among men, desirous of beholding the great Rishi of ascetic wealth, the illustrious Kanwa of the race of Kasyapa, one who possessed every virtue and who, for his splendour, could be gazed at with difficulty, approached that forest resounding with the notes of maddened peacocks and like unto the gardens of the great Gandharva, Chitraratha, himself. And halting his army consisting of flags, cavalry, infantry, and elephants at the entrance of the forest, the monarch spoke as follows, 'I shall go to behold the mighty ascetic of Kasyapa's race, one who is without darkness. Stay ye here until my return!'
"And the king having entered that forest which was like unto Indra's garden, soon forgot his hunger and thirst. And he was pleased beyond measure. And the monarch, laying aside all signs of royalty, entered that excellent asylum with but his minister and his priest, desirous of beholding that Rishi who was an indestructible mass of ascetic merit. And the king saw that the asylum was like unto the region of Brahman. Here were bees sweetly humming and there were winged warblers of various species pouring forth their melodies. At particular places that tiger among men heard the chanting of Rik hymns by first-rate Brahmanas according to the just rules of intonation. Other places again were graced with Brahmanas
acquainted with ordinances of sacrifice, of the Angas and of the hymns of the Yajurveda. Other places again were filled with the harmonious strains of Saman hymns sung by vow-observing Rishis. At other places the asylum was decked with Brahmanas learned in the Atharvan Veda. At other places again Brahmanas learned in the Atharvan Veda and those capable of chanting the sacrificial hymns of the Saman were reciting the Samhitas according to the just rules of voice. And at other places again, other Brahmanas well-acquainted with the science of orthoepy were reciting mantras of other kinds. In fact, that sacred retreat resounding with these holy notes was like unto a second region of Brahman himself. And there were many Brahmanas skilled in the art of making sacrificial platforms and in the rules of Krama in sacrifices, conversant with logic and the mental sciences, and possessing a complete knowledge of the Vedas. There were those also who were fully acquainted with the meanings of all kinds of expressions; those that were conversant with all special rites, those also that were followers of Moksha-Dharma; those again that were well-skilled in establishing propositions; rejecting superfluous causes, and drawing right conclusions. There were those having a knowledge of the science of words (grammar), of prosody, of Nirukta; those again that were conversant with astrology and learned in the properties of matter and the fruits of sacrificial rites, possessing a knowledge of causes and effects, capable of understanding the cries of birds and monkeys, well-read in large treatises, and skilled in various sciences. And the king, as he proceeded, heard their voices. And the retreat resounded also with voice of men capable of charming human hearts. And the slayer of hostile heroes also saw around him learned Brahmanas of rigid vows engaged in Japa (the repeated muttering of the names of gods) and Homa (burnt-offering). And the king wondered much on beholding the beautiful carpets which those Brahmanas offered to him respectfully. And that best of monarchs, at the sight of the rites with which those Brahmanas worshipped the gods and the great Rishis, thought within himself that he was in the region of Brahman. And the more the king saw that auspicious and sacred asylum of Kasyapa protected by that Rishi's ascetic virtues and possessing all the requisites of a holy retreat, the more he desired to see it. In fact, he was not satisfied with his short survey. And the slayer of heroes at last, accompanied by his minister and his priest, entered that charming and sacred retreat of Kasyapa inhabited all around by Rishis of ascetic wealth and exalted vows.'"
Next: Section LXXI