The Mahabharata Home
"Vasudeva said,--'Arjuna hath indicated what the inclination should be of one that is born in the Bharata race, especially of one who is the son of Kunti. We know not when death will overtake us, in the night or in the day. Nor have we ever heard that immortality hath been achieved by desisting from fight. This, therefore, is the duty of men, viz., to attack all enemies in accordance with the principles laid down in the ordinance. This always gives satisfaction to the heart. Aided by good policy, if not frustrated by Destiny, an undertaking becomes crowned with success. If both parties aided by such means encounter each other, one must obtain ascendency over the other, for both cannot win or lose. A battle however, if directed by bad policy which again is destitute of the well-known arts, ends in defeat or destruction. If, again, both parties are equally circumstanced, the result becomes doubtful. Both, however, cannot win. When such is the case, why should we not, aided by good policy, directly approach the foe; and destroy him, like the current of the river uprooting a tree? If, disguising our own faults, we attack the enemy taking advantage
of his loopholes, why should we not succeed? Indeed, the policy of intelligent men, is that one should not fight openly with foes that are exceedingly powerful and are at the head of their well-arrayed forces. This too is my opinion. If, however, we accomplish our purpose secretly entering the abode of our foe and attacking his person, we shall never earn obloquy. That bull among men--Jarasandha--alone enjoyeth unfaded glory, like unto him who is the self in the heart of every created being. But I see his destruction before me. Desirous of protecting our relatives we will either slay him in battle or shall ascend to heaven being ourselves slain in the end by him.'
Yudhishthira said--"O Krishna, who is this Jarasandha? What is his energy and what is his prowess, that having touched thee he hath not been burnt like an insect at the touch of fire?"
Krishna said,--'Hear, O monarch, who Jarasandha is; what his energy; and what is his prowess; and why also he hath been spared by us, Even though he hath repeatedly offended us. There was a mighty king of the name of Vrihadratha, the lord of the Magadhas. Proud in battle, he had three Akshauhinis of troops. Handsome and endued with energy, possessed of affluence and prowess beyond measure, and always bearing on his person marks indicating installation at sacrifices. He was like a second Indra. In glory he was like unto Suryya, in forgiveness like unto the Earth, in wrath like unto the destroyer Yama and in wealth like unto Vaisravana. And O thou foremost of the Bharata race, the whole earth was covered by his qualities that descended upon him from a long line of ancestors, like the rays emerging from the sun. And, O bull of the Bharata race, endued with great energy that monarch married two twin daughters of the king of Kasi, both endued with the wealth of beauty. And that bull among men made an engagement in secret with his wives that he would love them equally and would never show a preference for either. And the lord of the earth in the company of his two dearly loved wives, both of whom suited him well, passed his days in joy like a mighty elephant in the company of two cow-elephants, or like the ocean in his personified form between Ganga and Yamuna (also in their personified forms). The monarch's youth however, passed away in the enjoyment of his possessions, without any son being born unto him to perpetuate his line. The best of monarch failed to obtain a son to perpetuate his race, even by means of various auspicious rites, and homas, and sacrifices performed with the desire for having an offspring. One day the king heard that the high-souled Chanda-kausika, the son of Kakshivat of the illustrious Gautama race, having desisted from ascetic penances had come in course of his wanderings to his capital and had taken his seat under the shade of a mango tree. The king went unto that Muni accompanied by his two wives, and worshipping him with jewels and valuable presents gratified him highly. That best of Rishis truthful in speech and firmly attached to
truth, then told the king,--O king of kings, I have been pleased with thee. O thou of excellent vows, solicit thou a boon. King Vrihadratha then, with his wives, bending low unto that Rishi, spoke these words choked with tears in consequence of his despair of obtaining a child.--'O holy one forsaking my kingdom I am about to go into the woods to practise ascetic penances. I am very unfortunate for I have no son. What shall I do, therefore, with my kingdom or with a boon?'
Krishna continued,--"Hearing these words (of the king), the Muni controlling his outer senses entered into meditation, sitting in the shade of that very mango tree where he was. And there fell upon the lap of the seated Muni a mango that was juicy and untouched by the beak of a parrot or any other bird. That best of Munis, taking up the fruit and mentally pronouncing certain mantras over it, gave it unto the king as the means of his obtaining an incomparable offspring. And the great Muni, possessed also of extraordinary wisdom, addressing the monarch, said,--"Return, O king, thy wish is fulfilled. Desist, O king, from going (into the woods)".--Hearing these words of the Muni and worshipping his feet, the monarch possessed of great wisdom, returned to his own abode. And recollecting his former promise (unto them) the king gave, O bull of the Bharata race, unto his two wives that one fruit. His beautiful queens, dividing that single fruit into two parts, ate it up. In consequence of the certainty of the realisation of the Muni's words and his truthfulness, both of them conceived, as an effect of their having eaten that fruit. And the king beholding them in that state became filled with great joy. Then, O wise monarch, some time after, when the time came, each of the queens brought forth a fragmentary body. And each fragment had one eye, one arm, one leg, half a stomach, half a face, and half an anus. Beholding the fragmentary bodies, both the mothers trembled much. The helpless sisters then anxiously consulted each other, and sorrowfully abandoned those fragments endued with life. The two midwives (that waited upon the queens) then carefully wrapping up the still-born (?) fragments went out of the inner apartments (of the palace) by the back door and throwing away the bodies, returned in haste. A little while after, O tiger among men, a Rakshasa woman of the name of Jara living upon flesh and blood, took up the fragments that lay on a crossing. And impelled by force of fate, the female cannibal united the fragments for facility of carrying them away. And, O bull among men, as soon as the fragments were united they formed a sturdy child of one body (endued with life). Then, O king, the female cannibal, with eyes expanded in wonder, found herself unable to carry away that child having a body as hard and strong as the thunder-bolt. That infant then closing his fists red as copper and inserting them into its mouth, began to roar terribly as rain-charged clouds. Alarmed at the sound, the inmates of the palace, O tiger among men, suddenly came out with the king, O slayer of all foes. The helpless and
disappointed and sad queens also, with breasts full of milk, also came out suddenly to recover their child. The female cannibal beholding the queens in that condition and the king too so desirous of an offspring, and the child was possessed of such strength thought within herself--I live within dominions of the king who is so desirous of an offspring. It behoveth not me, therefore, to kill the infant child of such an illustrious and virtuous monarch. The Rakshasa woman then, holding the child in her arms like the clouds enveloping the sun, and assuming a human form, told the king these words,--O Vrihadratha, this is thy child. Given to thee by me, O, take it. It hath been born of both thy wives by virtue of the command of the great Brahmana. Cast away by the midwives, it hath been protected by me!
"Krishna continued,--O thou foremost of the Bharata race, the handsome daughters of the king of Kasi, having obtained the child, soon drenched it with their lacteal streams. The king ascertaining everything, was filled with joy, and addressing that female cannibal disguised as a human being possessing the complexion of gold, asked,--O thou of the complexion of the filament of the lotus, who art thou that givest me this child? O auspicious one, thou seemest to me as a goddess roaming at thy pleasure!"
Next: Section XVIII