The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, 'Issuing out of the city, Amva reflected sorrowfully in this strain. 'There is not in the whole world a young woman in such a miserable plight as I! Alas, destitute of friends, I am rejected by Salwa also! I cannot go back to the city named after an elephant, for I was permitted by Bhishma to leave that city, expectant of Salwa! Whom then shall I blame? Myself? Or, the invincible Bhishma? Or, that foolish father of mine who made arrangements for my self-choice? Perhaps, it is my own fault! Why did I not leap down before from Bhishma's car, when that fierce battle took place, for coming to Salwa? That I am so
afflicted now, as if deprived of my senses, is the fruit of that omission of mine! Cursed be Bhishma! Cursed be my own wretched father of foolish understanding, who had arranged prowess to be my dower, sending me out as if I were a woman (disposed) for a consideration! Cursed be myself! Cursed be king Salwa himself and cursed be my creator too! Cursed be they through whose fault such great misery hath been mine! Human beings always suffer what is destined for them. The cause, however, of my present affliction is Bhishma, the son of Santanu; I, therefore, see that at present my vengeance should fall upon him, either through ascetic austerities or by battle, for he is the cause of my woe! But what king is there that would venture to vanquish Bhishma in battle? Having settled this, she issued out of the city for repairing to an asylum of the high-souled ascetics of virtuous deeds. The night she stayed there, surrounded by those ascetics. And that lady of sweet smiles told those ascetics, O Bharata, all that had happened to herself with the minutest details, O mighty-armed one, about her abduction, and her rejection by Salwa.'
"There lived in that asylum an eminent Brahmana of rigid vows, and his name was Saikhavatya. Endued with ascetic merit of a high order, he was a preceptor of the scriptures and the Aranyakas. And the sage Saikhavatya, of great ascetic merit, addressed that afflicted maiden, that chaste girl sighing heavily in grief, and said, 'If it hath been so, O blessed lady, what can high-souled ascetics residing in their (woody) retreats and engaged in penances do?' That maiden, however, O king, answered him, saying, 'Let mercy be shown to me; I desire a life in the woods, having renounced the world. I will practise the severest of ascetic austerities. All that I now suffer is certainly the fruit of those sins that I had committed from ignorance in my former life. I do not venture to go back to my relatives, ye ascetics, rejected and cheerless that I am knowing that I have been humiliated by Salwa! Ye that have washed away your sins, godlike as ye are, I desire that ye should instruct me in ascetic penance! Oh, let mercy be shown to me!' Thus addressed, that sage then comforted the maiden by examples and reasons borrowed from the scriptures. And having consoled her thus, he promised, with the other Brahmanas, to do what she desired.'"
Next: Section CLXXVIII