The Mahabharata Home
"'Shalya said, "These, O Karna, are ravings that thou utterest regarding the foe. As regards myself without a 1,000 Karnas I am able to vanquish the foe in battle.'"
"Sanjaya continued, 'Unto the ruler of Madras, of harsh features, who was saying such disagreeable things unto Karna, the latter once more said words that were twice bitter.
"'Karna said, "Listen with devoted attention to this, O ruler of the Madras, that was heard by me while it was recited in the presence of Dhritarashtra. In Dhritarashtra's abode the brahmanas used to narrate the accounts of diverse delightful regions and many kings of ancient times. A foremost one among brahmanas, venerable in years while reciting old histories, said these words, blaming the Vahikas and Madrakas, 'One should always avoid the Vahikas, those impure people that are out of the pale of virtue, and that live away from the Himavat and the Ganga and Sarasvati and Yamuna and Kurukshetra and the Sindhu and its five tributary rivers. I remember from the days of my youth that a slaughter-ground for kine and a space for storing intoxicating spirits always distinguish the entrances of the abodes of the (Vahika) kings. On some very secret mission I had to live among the Vahikas. In consequence of such residence the conduct of these people is well known to me. There is a town of the name of Sakala, a river of the name of Apaga, and a clan of the Vahikas known by the name of the Jarttikas. The practices of these people are very censurable. They drink the liquor called Gauda, and eat fried barley with it. They also eat beef with garlic. They also eat cakes of flour mixed with meat, and boiled rice that is bought from others. Of righteous practices they have none. Their women, intoxicated with drink and divested of robes, laugh and dance outside the walls of the houses in cities, without garlands and unguents, singing while drunk obscene songs of diverse kinds that are as musical as the bray of the ass or the bleat of the camel. In intercourse they are absolutely without any restraint, and in all other matters they act as they like. Maddened with drink, they call upon one another, using many endearing epithets. Addressing many drunken exclamations to their husbands and lords, the fallen women among the Vahikas, without observing restrictions even on sacred days, give themselves up to dancing. One of those wicked Vahikas,--one that is, that lived amongst those arrogant women,--who happened to live for some days in Kurujangala, burst out with cheerless heart, saying, "Alas, that (Vahika) maiden of large proportions, dressed in thin blankets, is thinking of me,--her Vahika lover--that is now passing his days in Kurujangala, at the hour of her going to bed." Crossing the Sutlej and the delightful Iravati, and arriving at my own country, when shall I cast my eyes upon those beautiful women with thick frontal bones, with blazing circlets of red arsenic on their foreheads, with streaks of jet black collyrium on their eyes, and their beautiful forms attired in blankets and skins and themselves uttering shrill cries! When shall I be happy, in the company of those intoxicated ladies amid the music of drums and kettle-drums and conchs sweet as the cries of asses and camels and mules! When shall I be amongst those ladies eating cakes of flour and meat and balls of pounded barley mixed with skimmed milk, in the forests, having many pleasant paths of Sami and Pilu and Karira! When shall I, amid my own countrymen, mustering in strength on the high-roads, fall upon passengers, and snatching their robes and attires beat them repeatedly! What man is there that would willingly dwell, even for a moment amongst the Vahikas that are so fallen and wicked, and so depraved in their practises?' Even thus did that brahmana describe the Vahikas of base behaviour, a sixth of whose merits and demerits is thine, O Shalya. Having said this, that pious brahmana began once more to say what I am about to repeat respecting the wicked Vahikas. Listen to what I say, 'In the large and populous town of Sakala, a Rakshasa woman used to sing on every fourteenth day of the dark fortnight, in accompaniment with a drum, "When shall I next sing the songs of the Vahikas in this Sakala town, having gorged myself with beef and drunk the Gauda liquor? When shall I again, decked in ornaments, and with those maidens and ladies of large proportions, gorge upon a large number of sheep and large quantities of pork and beef and the meat of fowls and asses and camels? They who do not eat sheep live in vain!"' Even thus, O Shalya, the young and old, among the inhabitants of Sakala, intoxicated with spirits, sing and cry. How can virtue be met with among such a people? Thou shouldst know this. I must, however, speak again to thee about what another brahmana had said unto us in the Kuru court, 'There where forests of Pilus stand, and those five rivers flow, viz., the Satadru, the Vipasa, the Iravati, the Candrabhaga, and the Vitasa and which have the Sindhu for their sixth, there in those regions removed from the Himavat, are the countries called by the name of the Arattas. Those regions are without virtue and religion. No one should go thither. The gods, the pitris, and the brahmanas, never accept gifts from those that are fallen, or those that are begotten by Shudras on the girls of other castes, or the Vahikas who never perform sacrifices and are exceedingly irreligious.' That learned brahmana had also said in the Kuru court, 'The Vahikas, without any feelings of revulsion, eat of wooden vessels having deep stomachs and earthen plates and vessels that have been licked by dogs and that are stained with pounded barley and other corn. The Vahikas drink the milk of sheep and camels and asses and eat curds and other preparations from those different kinds of milk. Those degraded people number many bastards among them. There is no food and no milk that they do not take. The Aratta-Vahikas that are steeped in ignorance, should be avoided.' Thou shouldst know this, O Shalya. I must, however, again speak to thee about what another brahmana had said unto me in the Kuru court, 'How can one go to heaven, having drunk milk in the town called Yugandhara, and resided in the place called Acyutasthala, and bathed in the spot called Bhutilaya? There where the five rivers flow just after issuing from the mountains, there among the Aratta-Vahikas, no respectable person should dwell even for two days. There are two Pishacas named Vahi and Hika in the river Vipasa. The Vahikas are the offspring of those two Pishacas. They are not creatures created by the Creator. Being of such low origin, how can they be conversant with the duties ordained in the scriptures? The Karashakas, the Mahishakas, the Kalingas, the Keralas, the Karkotakas, the Virakas, and other peoples of no religion, one should always avoid.' Even thus did a Rakshasa woman of gigantic hips speak unto a brahmana who on a certain occasion went to that country for bathing in a sacred water and passed a single night there. The regions are called by the name of Arattas. The people residing there are called the Vahikas. The lowest of brahmanas also are residing there from very remote times. They are without the Veda and without knowledge, without sacrifice and without the power to assist at other's sacrifices. They are all fallen and many amongst them have been begotten by Shudras upon other peoples' girls. The gods never accept any gifts from them. The Prasthalas, the Madras, the Gandharas, the Arattas, those called Khasas, the Vasatis, the Sindhus and the Sauviras are almost as blamable in their practices.'"
Next: Section 45