The Mahabharata Home
Vaishampayana said, "Then Valadeva, O king, proceeded to Vinasana where the Sarasvati hath become invisible in consequence of her contempt for Sudras and Abhiras. And since the Sarasvati, in consequence of such contempt, is lost at that spot, the Rishis, for that reason, O chief of the Bharatas, always name the place as Vinasana. Having bathed in that tirtha of the Sarasvati, the mighty Baladeva then proceeded to Subhumika, situated on the excellent bank of the same river. There many fair-complexioned Apsaras, of beautiful faces, are always engaged in sports of a pure character without any intermission. The gods and the Gandharvas, every month, O ruler of men, repair to that sacred tirtha which is the resort of Brahman himself. The Gandharvas and diverse tribes of Apsaras are to be seen there, O king, assembled together and passing the time as happily as they like. There the gods and the Pitris sport in joy, with sacred and auspicious flowers repeatedly rained over them, and all the creepers also were adorned with flowery loads. And because, O king, that spot is the beautiful sporting ground of those Apsaras, therefore is that tirtha on the excellent bank of the Sarasvati called Subhumika. Baladeva of Madhu's race, having bathed in that tirtha and given away much wealth unto the Brahmanas, heard the sound of those celestial songs and musical instruments. He also saw there many shadows of gods, Gandharvas, and Rakshasas. The son of Rohini then proceeded to the tirtha of the Gandharvas. There many Gandharvas headed by Viswavasu and possessed of ascetic merit, pass their time in dance and song of the most charming kind. Giving away diverse kinds of wealth unto the Brahmanas, as also goats and sheep and kine and mules and camels and gold and silver, and feeding many Brahmanas and gratifying them with many costly gifts that were desired by them. Baladeva of Madhu's race proceeded thence, accompanied by many Brahmanas and eulogised by them. Leaving that tirtha resorted to by Gandharvas, that mighty-armed chastiser of foes, having but one earring, then proceeded to the famous tirtha called Gargasrota. There, in that sacred tirtha of the Sarasvati, the illustrious Garga of venerable years and soul cleansed by ascetic penances, O Janamejaya, had acquired a knowledge of Time and its course, of the deviations of luminous bodies (in the firmament), and of all auspicious and inauspicious portents. That tirtha, for this reason, came to be called after his name as Gargasrota. There, O king, highly blessed Rishis of excellent vows always waited upon Garga, O lord, for obtaining a knowledge of Time. Smeared with white sandal-paste, O king, Baladeva, repairing to that tirtha, duly gave away wealth unto many ascetics of cleansed souls. Having given also many kinds of costly viands unto the Brahmanas, that illustrious one attired in blue robes then proceeded to the tirtha called Sankha. There, on the bank of the Sarasvati, that mighty hero having the palmyra on his banner beheld a gigantic tree, called Mohasankha, tall as Meru, looking like the White-mountain, and resorted to by Rishis. There dwell Yakshas, and Vidyadharas, and Rakshasas of immeasurable energy and Pisachas of immeasurable might, and Siddhas, numbering thousands. All of them, abandoning other kinds of food, observe vows and regulations, and take at due seasons the fruits of that lord of the forest for their sustenance and wander in separate bands, unseen by men, O foremost of human beings! That monarch of the forest, O king, is known for this throughout the world! That tree is the cause of this celebrated and sacred tirtha on the Sarasvati. Having given away in that tirtha many milch cows, and vessels of copper and iron, and diverse kinds of other vessels, that tiger of Yadu's race, Baladeva, having the plough for his weapon, worshipped the Brahmanas and was worshipped by them in return. He then, O king, proceeded to the Dwaita lake. Arrived there, Vala saw diverse kinds of ascetics in diverse kinds of attire. Bathing in its waters, he worshipped the Brahmanas. Having given away unto the Brahmanas diverse articles of enjoyment in profusion, Baladeva then, O king, proceeded along the southern bank of the Sarasvati. The mighty-armed and illustrious Rama of virtuous soul and unfading glory then proceeded to the tirtha called Nagadhanwana. Swarming with numerous snakes, O monarch, it was the abode of Vasuki of great splendour, the king of the snakes. There 14,000 Rishis also had their permanent home. The celestials, having come there (in days of yore), had according to due rites, installed the excellent snake Vasuki as king of all the snakes. There is no fear of snakes in that place, O thou of Kuru's race! Duly giving away many valuables there unto the Brahmanas, Baladeva then set out with face towards the east and reached, one after another, hundreds and thousands of famous tirthas that occurred at every step. Bathing in all those tirthas, and observing fasts and other vows as directed by the Rishis, and giving away wealth in profusion, and saluting all the ascetics who had taken up their residence there, Baladeva once more set out, along the way that those ascetics pointed out to him, for reaching that spot where the Sarasvati turns in an eastward direction, like torrents of rain bent by the action of the wind. The river took that course for beholding the high-souled Rishis dwelling in the forest of Naimisha. Always smeared with white sandalpaste, Vala, having the plough for his weapon, beholding that foremost of rivers change her course, became, O king, filled with wonder."
Janamejaya said, "Why, O Brahmana, did the Sarasvati bend her course there in an easternly direction? O best of Adharyus, it behoveth thee to tell me everything relating to this! For what reason was that daughter of the Yadus filled with wonder? Why, indeed, did that foremost of rivers thus alter her course?"
Vaishampayana said, "Formerly, in the Krita age, O king, the ascetics dwelling in Naimisha were engaged in a grand sacrifice extending for twelve years. Many were the Rishis, O king, that came to that sacrifice. Passing their days, according to due rites, in the performance of that sacrifice, those highly blessed ones, after the completion of that twelve years' sacrifice at Naimisha, set out in large number for visiting the tirthas. In consequence of the number of the Rishis, O king, the tirthas on the southern banks of the Sarasvati all looked like towns and cities. Those foremost of Brahmanas, O tiger among men, in consequence of their eagerness for enjoying the merits of tirthas, took up their abodes on the bank of the river up to the site of Samantapanchaka. The whole region seemed to resound with the loud Vedic recitations of those Rishis of cleansed souls, all employed in pouring libations on sacrificial fires. That foremost of rivers looked exceedingly beautiful with those blazing homa fires all around, over which those high-souled ascetics poured libations of clarified butter. Valkhilyas and Asmakuttas, Dantolakhalinas, Samprakshanas and other ascetics, as also those that subsisted on air, and those that lived on water, and those that lived on dry leaves of trees, and diverse others that were observant of diverse kinds of vows, and those that forswore beds for the bare and hard earth, all came to that spot in the vicinity of the Sarasvati. And they made that foremost of rivers exceedingly beautiful, like the celestials beautifying (with their presence) the heavenly stream called Mandakini. Hundreds upon hundreds of Rishis, all given to the observance of sacrifices, came thither. Those practisers of high vows, however, failed to find sufficient room on the banks of the Sarasvati. Measuring small plots of land with their sacred threads, they performed their Agnihotras and diverse other rites. The river Sarasvati beheld, O monarch, that large body of Rishis penetrated with despair and plunged into anxiety for want of a broad tirtha wherein to perform their rites. For their sake, that foremost of streams came there, having made many abodes for herself in that spot, through kindness for those Rishis of sacred penances, O Janamejaya! Having thus, O monarch, turned her course for their sake, the Sarasvati, that foremost of rivers, once more flowed in a westerly direction, as if she said, 'I must go hence, having prevented the arrival of these Rishis from becoming futile!' This wonderful feat, O king, was accomplished there by that great river. Even thus those receptacles of water, O king, were formed in Naimisha. There, at Kurukshetra, O foremost of Kuru's care, do thou perform grand sacrifices and rites! As he beheld those many receptacles of water and seeing that foremost of rivers turn her course, wonder filled the heart of the high-souled Rama. Bathing in those tirthas duly and giving away wealth and diverse articles of enjoyment unto the Brahmanas, that delighter of Yadu's race also gave away diverse kinds of food and diverse desirable articles unto them. Worshipped by those regenerate ones, Vala, O king, then set out from that foremost of all tirthas on the Sarasvati (Sapta-Saraswat). Numerous feathery creatures have their home there. And it abounded with Vadari, Inguda, Ksamarya, Plaksha, Aswattha, Vibhitaka, Kakkola, Palasa, Karira, Pilu, and diverse other kinds of trees that grow on the banks of the Sarasvati. And it was adorned with forest of Karushakas, Vilwas, and Amratakas, and Atimuktas and Kashandas and Parijatas. Agreeable to the sight and most charming, it abounded with forests of plantains. And it was resorted to by diverse tribes of ascetics, some living on air, some on water, some on fruit, some on leaves, some on raw grain which they husked with the aid only of stones, and some that were called Vaneyas. And it resounded with the chanting of the Vedas, and teemed with diverse kinds of animals. And it was the favourite abode of men without malice and devoted to righteousness. Valadeva, having the plough for his weapon, arrived at that tirtha called Sapta-Saraswat, where the great ascetic Mankanaka had performed his penances and became crowned with success."
Next: Section 38