The Mahabharata Home
(Arjuna-vanavasa Parva continued)
"Vaisampayana said, 'Then that bull of Bharata's race went to the sacred waters on the banks of the southern ocean, all adorned with the ascetics
residing there. And there lay scattered five such regions where also dwelt many ascetics. But those five waters themselves were shunned by all of them. Those sacred waters were called Agastya, and Saubhadra and Pauloma of great holiness, and Karandhama of great propitiousness yielding the fruits of a horse-sacrifice unto those that bathed there, and Bharadwaja, that great washer of sins. That foremost one among the Kurus, beholding those five sacred waters, and finding them uninhabited, and ascertaining also that they were shunned by the virtuous ascetics dwelling around, asked those pious men with joined hands, saying, 'Why O ascetics, are these five sacred waters shunned by utterers of Brahma?' Hearing him, the ascetics replied, 'There dwell in these waters five large crocodiles which take away the ascetics that may happen to bathe in them. It is for this, O son of Kuru's race, that these waters are shunned.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Hearing these words of the ascetics, that foremost of men endued with mighty arms, though dissuaded by them went to behold those waters. Arrived at the excellent sacred water called Saubhadra after a great Rishi, the brave scorcher of all foes suddenly plunged into it to have a bath. As soon as that tiger among men had plunged into the water a great crocodile (that was in it) seized him by the leg. But the strong-armed Dhananjaya the son of Kunti, that foremost of all men endued with might, seized that struggling ranger of the water and dragged it forcibly to the shore. But dragged by the renowned Arjuna to the land, that crocodile became (transformed into) a beautiful damsel bedecked with ornament. O king, that charming damsel of celestial form seemed to shine for her beauty and complexion. Dhananjaya, the son of Kunti, beholding that strange sight, asked that damsel with a pleased heart, 'Who art thou, O beautiful one? Why hast thou been a ranger of the waters? Why also didst thou commit such a dreadful sin?' The damsel replied, saying, 'I am, O mighty-armed one, an Apsara that sported in the celestial woods. I am, O mighty one, Varga by name, and ever dear unto the celestial treasurer (Kuvera). I have four other companions, all handsome and capable of going everywhere at will. Accompanied by them I was one day going to the abode of Kuvera. On the way we beheld a Brahmana of rigid vows, and exceedingly handsome, studying the Vedas in solitude. The whole forest (in which he was sitting) seemed to be covered with his ascetic splendour. He seemed to have illuminated the whole region like the Sun himself. Beholding his ascetic devotion of that nature and his wonderful beauty, we alighted in that region, in order to disturb his meditations. Myself and Saurabheyi and Samichi and Vudvuda and Lata, approached that Brahmana, O Bharata, at the same time. We began to sing and smile and otherwise tempt that Brahmana. But, O hero, that Brahmana (youth) set not his heart even once upon us. His mind fixed on pure meditation, that youth of great energy suffered not his heart to waver, O bull among Kshatriyas, the glance he cast upon us was one of wrath. And he said, staring at us,
[paragraph continues] 'Becoming crocodiles, range ye the waters for a hundred years.'"
Next: Section CCXIX