The Mahabharata Home
(Sambhava Parva continued)
"Vaisampayana said, 'There was a king known by the name of Mahabhisha born in the race of Ikshvaku. He was the lord of all the earth, and was truthful (in speech) and of true prowess. By a thousand horse-sacrifices and a hundred Rajasuyas he had gratified the chief of the celestials and ultimately attained to heaven.
"One day the celestials had assembled together and were worshipping Brahman. Many royal sages and king Mahabhisha also were present on the spot. And Ganga, the queen of rivers, also came there to pay her adorations to the Grandsire. And her garments white as the beams of the
moon was displaced by the action of the wind. And as her person became exposed, the celestials bent down their heads. But the royal sage Mahabhisha rudely stared at the queen of rivers. And Mahabhisha was for this cursed by Brahman, who said, 'Wretch, as thou hast forgotten thyself at the sight of Ganga, thou shalt be re-born on earth. But thou shall again and again attain to these regions. And she, too, shall be born in the world of men and shall do thee injuries. But when thy wrath shall be provoked, thou shalt then be freed from my curse.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'King Mahabhisha then recollecting all the monarchs and ascetics on earth, wished to be born as son to Pratipa of great prowess. And the queen of rivers, too, seeing king Mahabhisha lose his firmness, went away, thinking of him wishfully. And on her way, she saw those dwellers in heaven, the Vasus, also pursuing the same path. And the queen of rivers beholding them in the predicament, asked them, 'Why look ye so dejected? Ye dwellers in heaven, is everything right with you?' Those celestials, the Vasus, answered her, saying, 'O queen of rivers, we have been cursed, for a venial fault, by the illustrious Vasishtha in anger. The foremost of excellent Rishis, Vasishtha, had been engaged in his twilight adorations and seated as he was, he could not be seen by us. We crossed him in ignorance. Therefore, in wrath he hath cursed us, saying, Be ye born among men!' It is beyond our power to frustrate what hath been said by that utterance of Brahma. Therefore, O river, thyself becoming a human female make us the Vasus, thy children. O amiable one, we are unwilling to enter the womb of any human female.' Thus addressed, the queen of rivers told them, 'Be it so and asked them, 'On earth, who is that foremost of men whom ye will make your father?'
"The Vasus replied, 'On earth, unto Pratipa shall be born a son, Santanu, who will be a king of world-wide fame.' Ganga then said, 'Ye celestials, that is exactly my wish which ye sinless ones have expressed. I shall, indeed, do good to that Santanu. That is also your desire as just expressed.' The Vasus then said, 'It behoveth thee to throw thy children after birth, into the water, so that, O thou of three courses (celestial, terrestrial, and subterranean) we may be rescued soon without having to live on earth for any length of time.' Ganga then answered, 'I shall do what ye desire. But in order that his intercourse with me may not be entirely fruitless, provide ye that one son at least may live.' The Vasus then replied, 'We shall each contribute an eighth part of our respective energies With the sum thereof, thou shall have one son according to thy and his wishes. But this son shall not begat any children on earth. Therefore, that son of thine endued with great energy, shall be childless.'
"The Vasus, making this arrangement with Ganga, went away without Waiting to the place they liked.'"
Next: Section XCVII