The Mahabharata Home
(Sambhava Parva continued)
"Bhishma continued, 'In olden days, Rama, the son of Jamadagni, in anger at the death of his father, slew with his battle axe the king of the Haihayas. And Rama, by cutting off the thousand arms of Arjuna (the Haihaya king), achieved a most difficult feat in the world. Not content with this, he set out on his chariot for the conquest of the world, and taking up his bow he cast around his mighty weapons to exterminate the Kshatriyas. And the illustrious scion of Bhrigu's race, by means of his swift arrows annihilated the Kshatriya tribe one and twenty times.
"And when the earth was thus deprived of Kshatriyas by the great Rishi, the Kshatriya ladies all over the land had offspring raised by Brahmanas skilled in the Vedas. It has been said in the Vedas that the sons so raised belongeth to him that had married the mother. And the Kshatriya ladies went in unto the Brahamanas not lustfully but from motives of virtue. Indeed, it was thus that the Kshatriya race was revived.
"In this connection there is another old history that I will recite to you. There was in olden days a wise Rishi of the name of Utathya. He had a wife of the name Mamata whom he dearly loved. One day Utathya's younger brother Vrihaspati, the priest of the celestials, endued with great energy, approached Mamata. The latter, however, told her husband's younger brother--that foremost of eloquent men--that she had conceived from her connection with his elder brother and that, therefore, he should not then seek for the consummation of his wishes. She continued, 'O illustrious Vrihaspati, the child that I have conceived hath studied in his mother's womb the Vedas with the six Angas, Semen tuum frustra perdi non potest. How can then this womb of mine afford room for two children at a time? Therefore, it behoveth thee not to seek for the consummation of thy desire at such a time. Thus addressed by her, Vrihaspati, though possessed of great wisdom, succeeded not in suppressing his desire. Quum auten jam cum illa coiturus esset, the child in the womb then addressed him and said, 'O father, cease from thy attempt. There is no space here for two. O illustrious one, the room is small. I have occupied it first. Semen tuum perdi non potest. It behoveth thee not to afflict me.' But Vrihaspati without listening to what that child in the womb said, sought the embraces of Mamata possessing the most beautiful pair of eyes. Ille tamen Muni qui in venture erat punctum temporis quo humor vitalis jam emissum iret providens, viam per quam semen intrare posset pedibus obstruxit. Semen ita exhisum, excidit et in terram projectumest. And the illustrious Vrihaspati, beholding this, became indignant, and reproached Utathya's child and cursed him, saying, 'Because thou hast spoken to me in the way thou hast at a time of pleasure that is sought after by all creatures,
perpetual darkness shall overtake thee.' And from this curse of the illustrious Vrishaspati Utathya's child who was equal unto Vrihaspati in energy, was born blind and came to be called Dirghatamas (enveloped in perpetual darkness). And the wise Dirghatamas, possessed of a knowledge of the Vedas, though born blind, succeeded yet by virtue of his learning, in obtaining for a wife a young and handsome Brahmana maiden of the name of Pradweshi. And having married her, the illustrious Dirghatamas, for the expansion of Utathya's race, begat upon her several children with Gautama as their eldest. These children, however, were all given to covetousness and folly. The virtuous and illustrious Dirghatamas possessing complete mastery over the Vedas, soon after learnt from Surabhi's son the practices of their order and fearlessly betook himself to those practices, regarding them with reverence. (For shame is the creature of sin and can never be where there is purity of intention). Then those best of Munis that dwelt in the same asylum, beholding him transgress the limits of propriety became indignant, seeing sin where sin was not. And they said, 'O, this man, transgresseth the limit of propriety. No longer doth he deserve a place amongst us. Therefore, shall we all cast this sinful wretch off.' And they said many other things regarding the Muni Dirghatamas. And his wife, too, having obtained children, became indignant with him.
"The husband then addressing his wife Pradweshi, said, 'Why is it that thou also hast been dissatisfied with me?' His wife answered, 'The husband is called the Bhartri because he supporteth the wife. He is called Pati because he protecteth her. But thou art neither, to me! O thou of great ascetic merit, on the other hand, thou hast been blind from birth, it is I who have supported thee and thy children. I shall not do so in future.'
"Hearing these words of his wife, the Rishi became indignant and said unto her and her children, 'Take me unto the Kshatriyas and thou shalt then be rich.' His wife replied (by saying), 'I desire not wealth that may be procured by thee, for that can never bring me happiness. O best of Brahmanas, do as thou likest. I shall not be able to maintain thee as before.' At these words of his wife, Dirghatamas said, 'I lay down from this day as a rule that every woman shall have to adhere to one husband for her life. Be the husband dead or alive, it shall not be lawful for a woman to have connection with another. And she who may have such connection shall certainly be regarded as fallen. A woman without husband shall always be liable to be sinful. And even if she be wealthy she shall not be able to enjoy that wealth truly. Calumny and evil report shall ever dog her.' Hearing these words of her husband Pradweshi became very angry, and commanded her sons, saying, 'Throw him into the waters of Ganga!' And at the command of their mother, the wicked Gautama and his brothers, those slaves of covetousness and folly, exclaiming, 'Indeed, why should we support this old man?--'tied the Muni to a raft and committing
him to the mercy of the stream returned home without compunction. The blind old man drifting along the stream on that raft, passed through the territories of many kings. One day a king named Vali conversant with every duty went to the Ganges to perform his ablutions. And as the monarch was thus engaged, the raft to which the Rishi was tied, approached him. And as it came, the king took the old man. The virtuous Vali, ever devoted to truth, then learning who the man was that was thus saved by him, chose him for raising up offspring. And Vali said, 'O illustrious one, it behoveth thee to raise upon my wife a few sons that shall be virtuous and wise.' Thus addressed, the Rishi endued with great energy, expressed his willingness. Thereupon king Vali sent his wife Sudeshna unto him. But the queen knowing that the latter was blind and old went not unto him, she sent unto him her nurse. And upon that Sudra woman the virtuous Rishi of passions under full control begat eleven children of whom Kakshivat was the eldest. And beholding those eleven sons with Kakshivat as the eldest, who had studied all the Vedas and who like Rishis were utterers of Brahma and were possessed of great power, king Vali one day asked the Rishi saying, 'Are these children mine?' The Rishi replied, 'No, they are mine. Kakshivat and others have been begotten by me upon a Sudra woman. Thy unfortunate queen Sudeshna, seeing me blind and old, insulted me by not coming herself but sending unto me, instead, her nurse.' The king then pacified that best of Rishis and sent unto him his queen Sudeshna. The Rishi by merely touching her person said to her, 'Thou shalt have five children named Anga, Vanga, Kalinga, Pundra and Suhma, who shall be like unto Surya (Sun) himself in glory. And after their names as many countries shall be known on earth. It is after their names that their dominions have come to be called Anga, Vanga, Kalinga, Pundra and Suhma.'
"It was thus that the line of Vali was perpetuated, in days of old, by a great Rishi. And it was thus also that many mighty bowmen and great car-warriors wedded to virtue, sprung in the Kshatriya race from the seed of Brahmanas. Hearing this, O mother, do as thou likest, as regards the matter in hand.'"
Next: Section CV