The Mahabharata Home
Vaishampayana said, "Baladeva (as already said), proceeded next to the tirtha called Udapana in the Sarasvati, that had formerly been the residence, O king, of the illustrious (ascetic) Trita. Having given away much wealth and worshipped the Brahmanas, the hero having the plough for his weapon bathed there and became filled with joy. Devoted to righteousness, the great ascetic Trita had lived there. While in a hole, that high-souled one had drunk the Soma juice. His two brothers, dashing him down into that pit, had returned to their home. That foremost of Brahmanas, Trita, had thereupon cursed them both."
Janamejaya said, "What is the origin of Udapana? How did the great ascetic (Trita) fall into a pit, there? Why was that foremost of Brahmanas thrown into that pit by his brothers? How did his brothers, after throwing him into that hole, return home? How did Trita perform his sacrifice and how did he drink Soma? Tell me all this, O Brahmana, if thou thinkest that I may listen to it without impropriety!"
Vaishampayana continued, "In a former Yuga, O king, there were three brothers that were ascetics. They were called Ekata, Dwita, and Trita, and all three were endued with effulgence like that of the sun. They were like Lords of the creation and were blessed with children. Utterers of Brahma, they had by their penances, acquired the privilege of attaining to the regions of Brahman (after death). With their penances, vows, and self-restraint, their sire Gautama, who was ever devoted to virtue, became highly and always pleased with them. Having obtained great joy in consequence of his sons, the adorable Gautama, after passing a long life here, went at last to the region (in the other world) that was fit for him. Those kings, however, O monarch, that had been the Yajamanas of Gautama, continued to worship Gautama's sons after the sire had proceeded to heaven. Amongst them, however, Trita, by his acts and study (of the Vedas), O king, became the foremost, even like his sire Gautama. Then all the highly blessed ascetics, characterised by righteousness, began to worship Trita as they had worshipped his sire Gautama before him. Once upon a time, the two brothers Ekata and Dwita thought of performing a sacrifice and became anxious for wealth. The plan they formed, O scorcher of foes, was to take Trita with them, and calling upon all their Yajamanas and collecting the needful number of animals, they would joyfully drink the Soma juice and acquire the great merits of sacrifice. The three brothers then, O monarch, did as settled. Calling upon all their Yajamanas for (obtaining) animals, and assisting them in their sacrifices and receiving a large number of animals from them, and having duly accepted them in gift in consequence of those priestly services which they rendered, those high-souled and great Rishis came towards the east. Trita, O king, with a cheerful heart was walking before them. Ekata and Dwita were in his rear, bringing up the animals. Beholding that large herd of animals, they began to reflect as to how they two could appropriate that property without giving a share unto Trita. Hear, O king, what those two sinful wretches, Ekata and Dwita, said while conversing with each other! They said, 'Trita is skilled in assisting at sacrifices. Trita is devoted to the Vedas. Trita is capable of earning many other kine. Let us two, therefore, go away, taking the kine with us! Let Trita go whithersoever he chooses, without being in our company!' As they proceeded, night came upon them on the way. They then saw a wolf before them. Not far from that spot was a deep hole on the bank of the Sarasvati. Trita, who was in advance of his brothers, seeing the wolf, ran in fright and fell into that hole. That hole was fathomless and terrible and capable of inspiring all creatures with fear. Then Trita, O king, that best of ascetics, from within that hole, began to utter wails of woe. His two brothers heard his cries. Understanding that he had fallen into a pit, his brothers Ekata and Dwita, moved by fear of the wolf as also by temptation, went on, deserting their brother. Thus deserted by his two brothers, who were moved by the temptation of appropriating those animals, the great ascetic Trita, O king, while within that lonely well covered with dust and herbs and creepers, thought himself plunged, O chief of the Bharatas, into hell itself like a sinful wretch. He feared to die inasmuch as he had not earned the merit of drinking Soma juice. Possessed of great wisdom, he began to reflect with the aid of his intelligence as to how he could succeed in drinking Soma even there. While thinking on that subject, the great ascetic, standing in that pit, beheld a creeper hanging down into it in course of its growth. Although the pit was dry, the sage imagined the existence of water and of sacrificial fires there. Constituting himself the Hotri (in imagination), the great ascetic imagined the creeper he saw to be the Soma plant. He then mentally uttered the Richs, the Yayushes and the Samans (that were necessary for the performance of a sacrifice). The pebbles (lying at the bottom of the well) Trita converted into grains of sugar (in imagination). He then, O king, (mentally) performed his ablutions. He conceived the water (he had imagined) to be clarified butter. He allotted to the celestials their respective shares (of those sacrificial offerings). Having next (mentally) drunk Soma, he began to utter a loud noise. Those sounds, O king, first uttered by the sacrificing Rishi, penetrated into heaven, and Trita completed that sacrifice after the manner laid down by utterers of Brahma. During the progress of that sacrifice of the high-souled Trita, the whole region of the celestials became agitated. None knew, however, the cause. Brihaspati (the preceptor of the gods) heard that loud noise (made by Trita). The priests of the celestials said unto the latter, 'Trita is performing a sacrifice. We must go there, ye gods! Endued with great ascetic merit, if angry, he is competent to create other gods!' Hearing these words of Brihaspati, all the gods, united together, repaired to that spot where the sacrifice of Trita was going on. Having proceeded to that spot, the gods beheld the high-souled Trita installed in the performance of his sacrifice. Beholding that high-souled one resplendent with beauty, the gods addressed him, saying, 'We have come hither for our shares (in thy offerings)!' The Rishi said unto them, 'Behold me, ye denizens of heaven, fallen into this terrible well, almost deprived of my senses!' Then, Trita, O monarch, duly gave unto them their shares with proper mantras. The gods took them and became very glad. Having duly obtained their allotted shares, the denizens of heaven, gratified with him, gave him such boons as he desired. The boon, however, that he solicited was that the gods should relieve him from his distressful situation (in the well). He also said, 'Let him that bathes in this well, have the end that is attained by persons that have drunk Soma!' At these words, O king, the Sarasvati with her waves appeared within that well. Raised aloft by her, Trita came up and worshipped the denizens of heaven. The gods then said unto him 'Be it as thou wishest!' All of them, then, O king, went to the place whence they had come, and Trita, filled with joy, proceeded to his own abode. Meeting with those two Rishis, his brothers, he became enraged with them. Possessed of great ascetic merit, he said certain harsh words unto them and cursed them, saying, 'Since, moved by covetousness, you ran away, deserting me, therefore, you shall become fierce wolves with sharp teeth and range the forest, cursed by me in consequence of that sinful act of yours! The offspring also that you shall have will consist of leopards, and bears and apes!' After Trita had said these words, O monarch, his two brothers were seen to be very soon transformed into these shapes in consequence of the words of that truthful sage. Of immeasurable prowess, Valadeva touched the waters of Udapana. And he gave away diverse kinds of wealth there and worshipped many Brahmanas. Beholding Udapana and applauding it repeatedly, Valadeva next proceeded to Vinasana which also was on the Sarasvati."
Next: Section 37