The Mahabharata Home
(Sambhava Parva continued)
"Vaisampayana said, 'After Dushmanta had left the asylum having made those promises unto Sakuntala, the latter of tapering thighs brought forth a boy of immeasurable energy. And when the child was three years old, he became in splendour like the blazing fire. And, O Janamejaya, he was possessed of beauty and magnanimity and every accomplishment. And that first of virtuous men, Kanwa, caused all the rites of religion to be performed in respect of that intelligent child thriving day by day. And the boy gifted with pearly teeth and shining locks, capable of slaying lions even then, with all auspicious signs on his palm, and broad expansive forehead, grew up in beauty and strength. And like unto a celestial child in splendour, he began to grow up rapidly. And when he was only six years of age, endued with great strength he used to seize and bind to the trees that stood around that asylum, lions and tigers and bears and buffaloes and elephants. And he rode on some animals, and pursued others in sportive mood. The dwellers at Kanwa's asylum thereupon bestowed on him a name. And they said, because he seizes and restrains an animals however strong, let him, be called Sarvadamana (the subduer of all). And it was thus that the boy came to be named Sarvadamana, endued as he was with prowess, and energy and strength. And the Rishi seeing the boy and marking also his extraordinary acts, told Sakuntala that the time had come for his installation as the heir-apparent. And beholding the strength of the boy, Kanwa commanded his disciples, saying, 'Bear ye without delay this Sakuntala with her son from this abode to that of her husband, blessed with every auspicious sign. Women should not live long in the houses of their paternal or maternal relations. Such residence is destructive of their reputation, their good conduct, their virtue. Therefore, delay not in bearing her hence.' These disciples of the Rishi thereupon, saying 'So be it,' went towards the city named after an elephant (Hastinapura) with Sakuntala and her son ahead of them. And then she of fair eye-brows, taking with her that boy of celestial beauty, endued with eyes like lotus petals, left the woods where she had been first known by Dushmanta. And having approached the king, she with her boy resembling in splendour the rising sun was introduced to him. And the disciples of the Rishi having introduced her, returned to the asylum. And Sakuntala having worshipped the king according to proper form, told him, 'This is thy son, O king! Let him be installed as thy heir-apparent. O king, this child, like unto a celestial, hath been begotten by thee upon me. Therefore, O best of men, fulfil now the promise thou gavest me. Call to mind, O thou of great good fortune, the agreement thou hadst made on the occasion of thy union with me in the asylum of Kanwa.'
"The king, hearing these her words, and remembering everything said, 'I do not remember anything. Who art thou, O wicked woman in ascetic guise? I do not remember having any connection with thee in respect of Dharma, Kama and Arthas. Go or stay or do as thou pleasest.' Thus addressed by him, the fair-coloured innocent one became abashed. Grief deprived her of consciousness and she stood for a time like an wooden post. Soon, however, her eyes became red like copper and her lips began to quiver. And the glances she now and then cast upon the king seemed to burn the latter. Her rising wrath however, and the fire of her asceticism, she extinguished within herself by an extraordinary effort. Collecting her thoughts in a moment, her heart possessed with sorrow and rage, she thus addressed her lord in anger, looking at him, 'Knowing everything, O monarch, how canst thou, like an inferior person, thus say that thou knowest it not? Thy heart is a witness to the truth or falsehood of this matter. Therefore, speak truly without degrading thyself. He who being one thing representeth himself as another thing to others, is like a thief and a robber of his own self. Of what sin is he not capable? Thou thinkest that thou alone hast knowledge of thy deed. But knowest thou not that the Ancient, Omniscient one (Narayana) liveth in thy heart? He knoweth all thy sins, and thou sinnest in His presence. He that sins thinks that none observes him. But he is observed by the gods and by Him also who is in every heart. The Sun, the Moon, the Air, the Fire, the Earth, the Sky, Water, the heart, Yama, the day, the night, both twilights, and Dharma, all witness the acts of man. Yama, the son of Surya, takes no account of the sins of him with whom Narayana the witness of all acts, is gratified. But he with whom Narayana is not gratified is tortured for his sins by Yama. Him who degradeth himself by representing his self falsely, the gods never bless. Even his own soul blesseth him not. I am a wife devoted to my husband. I have come of my own accord, it is true. But do not, on that account, treat me with disrespect. I am thy wife and, therefore, deserve to be treated respectfully. Wilt thou not treat me so, because I have come hither of my own accord? In the presence of so many, why dost thou treat me like an ordinary woman? I am not certainly crying in the wilderness. Dost thou not hear me? But if thou refuse to do what I supplicate thee for, O Dushmanta, thy head this moment shall burst into a hundred pieces! The husband entering the womb of the wife cometh out himself in the form of the son. Therefore is the wife called by those cognisant of the Vedas as Jaya (she of whom one is born). And the son that is so born unto persons cognisant of the Vedic Mantras rescueth the spirits of deceased ancestors. And because the son rescueth ancestors from the hell call Put, therefore, hath he been called by the Self-create himself as Puttra (the rescuer from Put). By a son one conquereth the three worlds. By a son's son, one enjoyeth eternity. And by a grandson's son great-grand-fathers enjoy everlasting happiness. She is a true wife who is skilful in household affairs.
[paragraph continues] She is a true wife who hath borne a son. She is a true wife whose heart is devoted to her lord. She is a true wife who knoweth none but her lord. The wife is a man's half. The wife is the first of friends. The wife is the root of religion, profit, and desire. The wife is the root of salvation. They that have wives can perform religious acts. They that have wives can lead domestic lives. They that have wives have the means to be cheerful. They that have wives can achieve good fortune. Sweet-speeched wives are friends on occasions of joy. They are as fathers on occasions of religious acts. They are mothers in sickness and woe. Even in the deep woods to a traveller a wife is his refreshment and solace. He that hath a wife is trusted by all. A wife, therefore, is one's most valuable possession. Even when the husband leaving this world goeth into the region of Yama, it is the devoted wife that accompanies him thither. A wife going before waits for the husband. But if the husband goeth before, the chaste wife followeth close. For these reasons, O king, doth marriage exist. The husband enjoyth the companionship of the wife both in this and in the other worlds. It hath been said by learned persons that one is himself born as one's son. Therefore, a man whose wife hath borne a son should look upon her as his mother. Beholding the face of the son one hath begotten upon his wife, like his own face in a mirror, one feeleth as happy as a virtuous man, on attaining to heaven. Men scorched by mental grief, or suffering under bodily pain, feel as much refreshed in the companionship of their wives as a perspiring person in a cool bath. No man, even in anger, should ever do anything that is disagreeable to his wife, seeing that happiness, joy, and virtue,--everything dependeth on the wife. A wife is the sacred field in which the husband is born himself. Even Rishis cannot create creatures without women. What happiness is greater than what the father feeleth when the son running towards him, even though his body be covered with dust, claspeth his limbs? Why then dost thou treat with indifference such a son, who hath approached thee himself and who casteth wistful glances towards thee for climbing thy knees? Even ants support their own eggs without destroying them; then why shouldst not thou, a virtuous man that thou art, support thy own child? The touch of soft sandal paste, of women, of (cool) water is not so agreeable as the touch of one's own infant son locked in one's embrace. As a Brahmana is the foremost of all bipeds, a cow, the foremost of all quadrupeds, a protector, the foremost of all superiors, so is the son the foremost of all objects, agreeable to the touch. Let, therefore, this handsome child touch thee in embrace. There is nothing in the world more agreeable to the touch than the embrace of one's son. O chastiser of foes, I have brought forth this child, O monarch, capable of dispelling all thy sorrows after bearing him in my womb for full three years. O monarch of Puru's race, 'He shall perform a hundred horse-sacrifices'--these were the words uttered from the sky when I was in the lying-in room. Indeed, men going into
places remote from their homes take up there others' children on their laps and smelling their heads feel great happiness. Thou knowest that Brahmanas repeat these Vedic mantras on the occasion of the consecrating rites of infancy.--Thou art born, O son, of my body! Thou art sprung from my heart. Thou art myself in the form of a son. Live thou to a hundred years! My life dependeth on thee, and the continuation of my race also, on thee. Therefore, O son, live thou in great happiness to a hundred years. He hath sprung from thy body, this second being from thee! Behold thyself in thy son, as thou beholdest thy image in the clear lake. As the sacrificial fire is kindled from the domestic one, so hath this one sprung from thee. Though one, thou hast divided thyself. In course of hunting while engaged in pursuit of the deer, I was approached by thee, O king, I who was then a virgin in the asylum of my father. Urvasi, Purvachitti, Sahajanya, Menaka, Viswachi and Ghritachi, these are the six foremost of Apsaras. Amongst them again, Menaka, born of Brahman, is the first. Descending from heaven on Earth, after intercourse with Viswamitra, she gave birth to me. That celebrated Apsara, Menaka, brought me forth in a valley of Himavat. Bereft of all affection, she went away, cast me there as if I were the child of somebody else. What sinful act did I do, of old, in some other life that I was in infancy cast away by my parents and at present am cast away by thee! Put away by thee, I am ready to return to the refuge of my father. But it behoveth thee not to cast off this child who is thy own.'
"Hearing all this, Dushmanta said, 'O Sakuntala, I do not know having begot upon thee this son. Women generally speak untruths. Who shall believe in thy words? Destitute of all affection, the lewd Menaka is thy mother, and she cast thee off on the surface of the Himavat as one throws away, after the worship is over, the flowery offering made to his gods. Thy father too of the Kshatriya race, the lustful Viswamitra, who was tempted to become a Brahmana, is destitute of all affection. However, Menaka is the first of Apsaras, and thy father also is the first of Rishis. Being their daughter, why dost thou speak like a lewd woman? Thy words deserve no credit. Art thou not ashamed to speak them, especially before me? Go hence, O wicked woman in ascetic guise. Where is that foremost of great Rishis, where also is that Apsara Menaka? And why art thou, low as thou art, in the guise of an ascetic? Thy child too is grown up. Thou sayest he is a boy, but he is very strong. How hath he soon grown like a Sala sprout? Thy birth is low. Thou speakest like a lewd woman. Lustfully hast thou been begotten by Menaka. O woman of ascetic guise, all that thou sayest is quite unknown to me. I don't know thee. Go withersoever thou choosest.'
"Sakuntala replied, 'Thou seest, O king, the fault of others, even though they be as small as a mustard seed. But seeing, thou noticest not thy own faults even though they be as large as the Vilwa fruit. Menaka is one of
the celestials. Indeed, Menaka is reckoned as the first of celestials. My birth, therefore, O Dushmanta, is far higher than thine. Thou walkest upon the Earth, O king, but I roam in the skies! Behold, the difference between ourselves is as that between (the mountain) Meru and a mustard seed! Behold my power, O king! I can repair to the abodes of Indra, Kuvera, Yama, and Varuna! The saying is true which I shall refer to before thee, O sinless one! I refer to it for example's sake and not from evil motives. Therefore, it behoveth thee to pardon me after thou hast heard it. An ugly person considereth himself handsomer than others until he sees his own face in the mirror. But when he sees his own ugly face in the mirror, it is then that he perceiveth the difference between himself and others. He that is really handsome never taunts anybody. And he that always talketh evil becometh a reviler. And as the swine always look for dirt and filth even when in the midst of a flower-garden, so the wicked always choose the evil out of both evil and good that others speak. Those, however, that are wise, on hearing the speeches of others that are intermixed with both good and evil, accept only what is good, like geese that always extract the milk only, though it be mixed with water. As the honest are always pained at speaking ill of others, so do the wicked always rejoice in doing the same thing. As the honest always feel pleasure in showing regard for the old, so do the wicked always take delight in aspersing the good. The honest are happy in not seeking for faults. The wicked are happy in seeking for them. The wicked ever speak ill of the honest. But the latter never injure the former, even if injured by them. What can be more ridiculous in the world than that those that are themselves wicked should represent the really honest as wicked? When even atheists are annoyed with those that have fallen off from truth and virtue and who are really like angry snakes of virulent poison, what shall I say of myself who am nurtured in faith? He that having begotten a son who is his own image, regardeth him not, never attaineth to the worlds he coveteth, and verily the gods destroy his good fortune and possessions. The Pitris have said that the son continueth the race and the line and is, therefore, the best of all religious acts. Therefore, none should abandon a son. Manu hath said that there are five kinds of sons; those begotten by one's self upon his own wife, those obtained (as gift) from others, those purchased for a consideration, those reared with affection and those begotten upon other women than upon wedded wives. Sons support the religion and achievements of men, enhance their joys, and rescue deceased ancestors from hell. It behoveth thee not, therefore, O tiger among kings, to abandon a son who is such. Therefore, O lord of Earth, cherish thy own self, truth, and virtue by cherishing thy son. O lion among monarchs, it behoveth thee not to support this deceitfulness. The dedication of a tank is more meritorious than that of a hundred wells. A sacrifice again is more meritorious than the dedication of a tank. A son is more
meritorious than a sacrifice. Truth is more meritorious than a hundred sons. A hundred horse-sacrifices had once been weighed against Truth, and Truth was found heavier than a hundred horse-sacrifices. O king, Truth, I ween, may be equal to the study of, the entire Vedas and ablutions in all holy places. There is no virtue equal to Truth: there is nothing superior to Truth. O king, Truth is God himself; Truth is the highest vow. Therefore, violate not thy pledge, O monarch! Let Truth and thee be even united. If thou placest no credit in my words, I shall of my own accord go hence. Indeed, thy companionship should be avoided. But thou, O Dushmanta, that when thou art gone, this son of mine shall rule the whole Earth surrounded by the four seas and adorned with the king of the mountains."
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Sakuntala having spoken to the monarch in this wise, left his presence. But as soon as she had left, a voice from the skies, emanating from no visible shape, thus spoke unto Dushmanta as he was sitting surrounded by his occasional and household priests, his preceptors, and ministers. And the voice said, 'The mother is but the sheath of flesh; the son sprung from the father is the father himself. Therefore, O Dushmanta, cherish thy son, and insult not Sakuntala. O best of men, the son, who is but a form of one's own seed, rescueth (ancestors) from the region of Yama. Thou art the progenitor of this boy. Sakuntala hath spoken the truth. The husband, dividing his body in twain, is born of his wife in the form of son. Therefore, O Dushmanta, cherish, O monarch, thy son born of Sakuntala. To live by forsaking one's living son is a great, misfortune. Therefore, O thou of Puru's race, cherish thy high-souled son born of Sakuntala--And because this child is to be cherished by thee even at our word, therefore shall this thy son be known by the name of Bharata (the cherished).' Hearing these words uttered by the dwellers in heaven, the monarch of Puru's race became overjoyed and spoke as follows unto his priests and ministers, 'Hear ye these words uttered by the celestial messenger? I myself know this one to be my son. If I had taken him as my son on the strength of Sakuntala's words alone, my people would have been suspicious and my son also would not have been regarded as pure.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'The monarch, then, O thou of Bharata's race, seeing the purity of his son established by the celestial messenger, became exceedingly glad. And he took unto him that son with joy. And the king with a joyous heart then performed all those rites upon his son that a father should perform. And the king smelt his child's head and hugged him with affection. And the Brahmanas began to utter blessings upon him and the bards began to applaud him. And the monarch then experienced the great delight that one feeleth at the touch of one's son. And Dushmanta also received mat wife of his with affection. And he told her these words, pacifying her affectionately, 'O goddess, my union with the? took place privately Therefore, I was thinking of how best to establish thy
purity. My people might think that we were only lustfully united and not as husband and wife, and therefore, this son that I would have installed as my heir apparent would only have been regarded as one of impure birth. And dearest, every hard word thou hast uttered in thy anger, have I, O large-eyed one, forgiven thee. Thou art my dearest!' And the royal sage Dushmanta, having spoken thus unto his dear wife, O Bharata, received her with offerings of perfume, food, and drink. And king Dushmanta, then, bestowed the name of Bharata upon his child, and formally installed him as the heir apparent. And the famous and bright wheels of Bharata's car, invincible and like unto the wheels of the cars owned by the gods, traversed every region, filling the whole Earth with their rattle. And the son of Dushmanta reduced to subjection all kings of the Earth. And he ruled virtuously and earned great fame. And that monarch of great prowess was known by the titles of Chakravarti and Sarvabhauma. And he performed many sacrifices like Sakra, the lord of the Maruts. And Kanwa was the chief priest at those sacrifices, in which the offerings to Brahmanas were great. And the blessed monarch performed both the cow and the horse-sacrifices. And Bharata gave unto Kanwa a thousand gold coins as the sacerdotal fee. It is that Bharata from whom have emanated so many mighty achievements. It is from him that the great race called after him in his race are called after him. And in the Bharata race there have been born many godlike monarchs gifted with great energy, and like unto Brahman himself. Their number cannot be counted. But, O thou of Bharata's race, I shall name the principal ones that were blessed with great good fortune, like unto the gods, and devoted to truth and honesty.'"
Next: Section LXXV