The Mahabharata Home
(Sambhava Parva continued)
"Vaisampayana said, 'Yayati, then, overcome with decrepitude, returned to his capital and summoning his eldest son Yadu who was also the most accomplished, addressed him thus, 'Dear child, from the curse of Kavya called also Usanas, decrepitude and wrinkles and whiteness of hair have come over me. But I have not been gratified yet with the enjoyment of youth. Do thou, O Yadu, take this my weakness along with my decrepitude. I shall enjoy with thy youth. And when a full thousand years will have elapsed, returning to thee thy youth, I shall take back my weakness with this decrepitude!'
"Yadu replied, 'There are innumerable inconveniences in decrepitude, in respect of drinking and eating. Therefore, O king, I shall not take thy decrepitude. This is, indeed, my determination. White hair on the head, cheerlessness and relaxation of the nerves, wrinkles all over the body, deformities, weakness of the limbs, emaciation, incapacity to work, defeat at the hands of friends and companions--these are the consequences of decrepitude. Therefore, O king, I desire not to take it. O king, thou hast many sons some of whom are dearer to thee. Thou art acquainted with the precepts of virtue. Ask some other son of thine to take thy decrepitude.
"Yayati replied, 'Thou art sprung from my heart, O son, but thou givest me not thy youth. Therefore, thy children shall never be kings.' And he continued, addressing another son of his, 'O Turvasu, take thou this weakness of mine along with my decrepitude. With thy youth, O son, I like to enjoy the pleasure of life. After the lapse of a full thousand years I shall give back to thee thy youth, and take back from thee my weakness and decrepitude.'
"Turvasu replied, 'I do not like decrepitude, O father, it takes away all appetites and enjoyments, strength and beauty of person, intellect, and even life.' Yayati said to him, 'Thou art sprung from my heart, O son! But thou givest me not thy youth! Therefore, O Turvasu, thy race shall be extinct. Wretch, thou shall be the king of those whose practices and precepts are impure, amongst whom men of inferior blood procreate children upon women of blue blood, who live on meat, who are mean, who hesitate not to appropriate the wives of their superiors, whose practices are those of birds and beasts, who are sinful, and non-Aryan.'
"Vaisampayana said, 'Yayati, having thus cursed his son Turvasu, then, addressed Sarmishtha's son Drahyu thus, 'O Drahyu, take thou for a thousand
years my decrepitude destructive of complexion and personal beauty and give me thy youth. When a thousand years have passed away, I shall return thee thy youth and take back my own weakness, and decrepitude.' To this Drahyu replied, 'O king, one that is decrepit can never enjoy elephants and cars and horses and women. Even his voice becometh hoarse. Therefore, I do not desire (to take) thy decrepitude.' Yayati said to him, 'Thou art sprung from my heart, O son! But thou refusest to give me thy youth. Therefore, thy most cherished desires shall never be fulfilled. Thou shalt be king only in name, of that region where there are no roads for (the passage of) horses and cars and elephants, and good vehicles, and asses, and goats and bullocks, and palanquins; where there is swimming only by rafts and floats.' Yayati next addressed Anu and said, 'O Anu, take my weakness and decrepitude. I shall with thy youth enjoy the pleasures of life for a thousand years.' To this Anu replied, 'Those that are decrepit always eat like children and are always impure. They cannot pour libations upon fire in proper times. Therefore, I do not like to take thy decrepitude.' Yayati said to him, 'Thou art sprung from my heart, thou givest not thy youth. Thou findest so many faults in decrepitude. Therefore, decrepitude shall overcome thee! And, O Anu, thy progeny also as soon as they attain to youth, shall die. And thou shalt also not be able to perform sacrifices before fire.'
"Yayati at last turned to his youngest child, Puru, and addressing him said, 'Thou art, O Puru, my youngest son! But thou shall be the first of all! Decrepitude, wrinkles, and whiteness of hair have come over me in consequence of the curse of Kavya called also Usanas. I have not yet however, been satiated with my youth. O Puru, take thou this my weakness and decrepitude! With thy youth I shall enjoy for some years the pleasures of life. And when a thousand years have passed away, I shall give back to thee thy youth and take back my own decrepitude.'
"Vaisampayana said, 'Thus addressed by the king, Puru answered with humility, 'I shall do, O monarch, as thou bidest me. I shall take, O king, thy weakness and decrepitude. Take thou my youth and enjoy as thou listest the pleasures of life. Covered with thy decrepitude and becoming old, I shall, as thou commandest, continue to live, giving thee my youth.' Yayati then said, 'O Puru, I have been gratified with thee. And being gratified, I tell thee that the people in thy kingdom shall have all their desires fulfilled.'
"And having said this, the great ascetic Yayati, then thinking of Kavya, transferred his decrepitude unto the body of the high-souled Puru.'"
Next: Section LXXXV