The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said,--'O thou foremost of eloquent men, as thou hast described the different Sabhas unto me, it appeareth that almost all the monarchs of the earth are to be found in the Sabha of Yama. And, O master, almost all the Nagas, and principal Daityas, and rivers, and oceans, are to be found in the Sabha of Varuna. And so the Yakshas, the Guhyakas, the Rakshasas, the Gandharvas and Apsaras and the Deity (Yama) having the bull for his vehicle, are to be found in the Sabha of the lord of treasures. Thou hast said that in the Sabha of the Grandsire are to be seen all the great Rishis, all the gods, all the branches of learning. As regards the Sabha of Sakra, however, thou hast named, O Muni, all the gods, the Gandharvas, and various Rishis. But, O great Muni, thou hast mentioned one and only one king, viz., the royal Rishi Harishchandra as living in the Sabha of the illustrious chief of the gods. What act was performed by that celebrated king, or what ascetic penances with steady vows, in consequence of which he hath been equal to Indra himself? O Brahmana, how didst thou also meet with my father, the exalted Pandu, now a guest in the region of the Pitris? O exalted one of excellent vows hath he told thee anything? O tell me all as I am exceedingly curious to hear all this from thee."
"Narada said,--'O king of kings, I shall tell thee all that thou askest me about Harischandra, I shall presently tell thee of his high excellence. He was a powerful king, in fact, an emperor over all the kings of the earth. Indeed, all the kings of the earth obeyed his sway. O monarch, mounted alone upon a victorious car adorned with gold, that king by the prowess of his weapons brought the whole earth with her seven islands under his sway. And, O monarch, having subjugated the whole earth with her mountains, forests, and woods, he made preparations for the great sacrifice called the Rajasuya. And all the kings of the earth brought at his command wealth unto that sacrifice. All of them consented to become distributors of food and gifts unto the Brahmanas that were fed on the occasion. At that sacrifice king Harishchandra gave away unto all who asked, wealth that was five times what each had solicited. At the conclusion of the sacrifice, the king gratified the Brahmanas that came from various countries with large presents of various kinds of wealth. The Brahmanas gratified with various kinds of food and enjoyable articles, given away unto them to the extent of their desires, and with the heaps of jewels distributed amongst them, began to say,--King Harischandra is superior to all kings in energy and renown.--And know, O monarch, O bull of the Bharata race, it was for this reason that Harischandra shone more brightly than thousands of other kings. The powerful Harischandra having concluded his great sacrifice,
became installed, O king, in the sovereignty of the earth and looked resplendent on his throne. O bull of the Bharata race, all those monarchs that perform the sacrifice of Rajasuya, (attaining to the region of Indra) pass their time in felicity in Indra's company. And, O bull of the Bharata race, those kings also that yield up their lives without turning their backs on the field of battle attain to the mansion of Indra and live in joy with him. Those again that yield up their bodies after severe ascetic penances also attain to the same region and shine brightly there for ages. O king of the Kuru race, O son of Kunti, thy father Pandu, beholding the good fortune of Harischandra and wondering much thereat, hath told thee something. Knowing that I was coming to the world of men, he bowed unto me and said,--Thou shouldst tell Yudhishthira, O Rishi, that he can subjugate the whole Earth inasmuch as his brothers are all obedient to him. And having done this let him commence the grand sacrifice called Rajasuya. He is my son; if he performeth that sacrifice, I may, like Harischandra, soon attain to the region of Indra, and there in his Sabha pass countless years in continuous joy. I told him in reply,--O King, I shall tell thy son all this, if I go to the world of man. I have now told thee what he said, O tiger among men. Accomplish then, O son of Pandu, the desires of thy father. If thou performest that sacrifice, thou shall then be able to go, along with thy deceased ancestors, into the same region that is inhabited by the chief of the immortals. It hath been said,--O king, that the performance of this great sacrifice is attended with many obstacles. A class of Rakshasas called Brahma Rakshasas, employed in obstructing all sacrifices, always search for loop-holes when this great sacrifice is commenced. On the commencement of such a sacrifice a war may take place destroying the Kshatriyas and even furnishing occasion for the destruction of the whole Earth. A slight obstacle may involve the whole Earth in ruin. Reflecting upon all this, O king of kings do what is for thy good. Be thou watchful and ready in protecting the four orders of thy subjects. Grow, thou in prosperity, and enjoy thou felicity. Gratify thou the Brahmanas with gifts of wealth. I have now answered in detail all that thou hast asked me. With thy leave I will now go to the city (Dwaravati) of that Dasarhas."
Vaisampayana said,--'O Janamejaya, having said this unto the son of Pritha, Narada went away, accompanied by those Rishis with whom he had come. And after Narada had gone away, king Yudhishthira, O thou of the Kuru race, began to think, along with his brothers, of that foremost of sacrifices called Rajasuya.'
Next: Section XIII