The Mahabharata Home
"Narada said, 'Even king Bhagiratha, O Srinjaya, we hear, was dead. He caused the shores of Ganga, called after his name Bhagirath to be covered with flights of steps made of gold. 3 Surpassing all kings and all princes, he gave unto the Brahmanas a thousand times thousand damsels decked with ornaments of gold. All those damsels were upon cars. And unto every car were yoked four steeds, and behind each car were a hundred kine. And behind each cow were (many) goats and sheep. King Bhagiratha gave enormous presents at his sacrifices. For that reason a large concourse of men assembled there. Afflicted there with Ganga was much pained. 'Protect Me,' she said and sat down on his lap. And because Ganga thus sat upon his lap in days of old, therefore, she, like the celestial dancer Urvasi came to be regarded as his daughter and was named after his name. And having become the king's daughter, she became his son (by becoming like a son, the means of salvation unto his deceased
ancestors). 1 Sweet-speeched Gandharvas of celestial splendour, gratified, sang all this in the hearing of the Rishis, the gods, and human beings. 2 Thus, O Srinjaya, did that goddess, viz., the ocean-going Ganga, select lord Bhagiratha, descendant of Ikshvaku, the performer of sacrifices with profuse gifts (to the Brahmanas), as her father. His sacrifices were always graced with (the presence of) the very gods with Indra at their head. And the gods used to take their respective shares, by removing all impediments, to facilitate those sacrifices in every way. Possessed of great ascetic merit, Bhagiratha gave unto the Brahmanas whatever benefit they desired without obliging them to stir from the place wherever they might entertain those desires. There was nothing which he could withhold from the Brahmanas. Every one received from him everything he coveted. At last, the king ascended to the region of Brahman, through the grace of the Brahmanas. For that object on which the Rishis that subsisted on the rays of the sun used to wait upon the sun and the presiding deity of the sun, for that very object they used to wait upon the lord Bhagiratha, that ornament of the three worlds. When he died, O Srinjaya, who was superior to thee, as regards the four cardinal virtues, and who, superior to thee, was much superior to thy son, thou shouldst not grieve, saying 'Oh, Swaitya, Oh, Swaitya,' for the latter who performed no sacrifice and made no sacrificial present.'"
122:3 These were ghats for facilitating access to the sacred stream.
123:1 Both 5 and 6 are difficult slokas. But for Nilakantha I could never have understood their sense. The reading Jalaughena, occuring in both the Bengal and the Bombay editions, is a mistake for Janaughena. The construction of 5 is this: Dakshina Bhuyasirdadat: tena hetuna Janaughena akaranta. The story of the salvation of Bhagiratha's ancestors is a beautiful myth. King Sagara (whence Sagara or the Ocean) had sixty thousand sons. They were all reduced to ashes by the curse of the sage Kapila, an incarnation of Vishnu himself. Bhagiratha, a remote descendant, caused the sacred Ganga to roll over the spot where the ashes of his ancestors lay, and thus procured their salvation.
123:2 The correct reading is Valguvadinas, and not the form in the genitive plural.
Next: Section LXI