The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'How did the son of Srinjaya become Suvarnashthivin? 1 Why also did Parvata give Srinjaya that child? And why did he die? When the lives of all men in those days extended for a thousand years, why did Srinjaya's son die in infancy? Or, was he in name only Suvarnashthivin? How also did he come to be so? I desire to know all this.'
"Krishna said, "I will recite to thee, O king, the facts as they happened. There are two Rishis, the foremost ones in the world, named Narada and Parvata. Narada is the maternal uncle and Parvata is his sister's son. With cheerful hearts, the uncle Narada and the nephew Parvata had, in days of old, O king, left heaven for a pleasant ramble on earth for tasting clarified butter and rice. Both of them, possessed of great ascetic merit, wandered over the earth, subsisting on food taken by human beings. Filled with joy and entertaining great affection for each other, they entered into a compact that, whatever wish, good or bad, would be entertained by one should be disclosed to the other, but on the event of one of them acting otherwise, he should be subject to the other's curse. Agreeing to that understanding, those two great Rishis, adored of all the worlds, repaired to king Srinjaya, the son of Sitya and said unto him, 'We two, for thy good, shall dwell with thee for a few days. O lord of earth, do thou attend to all our wants duly.' The king, saying, So be it, set himself to attend upon them hospitably. After a while, one day, the king filled with joy, introduced to those illustrious ascetics his daughter of the fairest complexion, saying, 'This my daughter will wait upon you both. Bright as the filaments of the lotus, she is beautiful and of faultless limbs, accomplished and of sweet manners, and is called Sukumari by name.' 'Very well,' said the Rishis in reply, upon which the king directed his daughter, telling her, 'O child, attend upon these two Brahmanas as thou wouldst upon the gods or thy sire.' The virtuous princess, saying, 'So be it' began to attend upon them in obedience to her father's behest. Her dutiful services and her unrivalled beauty very soon inspired Narada with a tender flame towards her. That tender sentiment began to grow in the heart of the illustrious saint like the moon gradually waxing on the accession of the lighted fortnight. The virtuous Narada, however, overwhelmed by shame, could not disclose that burning attachment to his sister's son, the high-souled Parvata. By his ascetic power, as also by signs, Parvata understood all. Inflamed with rage, the latter thereupon resolved
to curse the love-afflicted Narada. And he said, 'Having of thy own accord made a compact with me that, whatever wish, good or bad, would be cherished by either of us should be disclosed to the other, thou hast violated it. These were thy own words. O Brahmana! It is for this that I shall curse thee. Thou didst not tell me before that thy heart has been pierced by the charms of the maiden Sukumari! It is for this that I shall curse thee. Thou art a Brahmacharin. Thou art my preceptor. Thou art an ascetic and a Brahmana. Yet hast thou broken the compact thou hadst made with me. Fitted with rage I shall, for this, curse even thee. Listen to me. This Sukumari shall, without doubt, become thy wife. From the time of thy marriage, however, O puissant one, both she and all men shall behold thee an ape, for thy true features having disappeared, an ape shalt thou appear unto all.' Hearing these words of his, the uncle Narada, filled with wrath, cursed his nephew Parvata in return, saying, 'Although thou hast ascetic merit and Brahmacharya and truth and self-restraint, and although thou art ever devoted to virtue, thou shalt not yet succeed in proceeding to heaven.' Filled with rage and desire of vengeance, they thus cursed and flamed against each other like a couple of infuriated elephants. From that time the high-souled Parvata began to wander over the earth, respected as he deserved, O Bharata, for his own energy. Narada then, that foremost of Brahmanas, obtained according to due rites the hand of Srinjaya's daughter, the faultless Sukumari. The princess, however, beheld Narada exactly as the curse had said. Indeed, just after the last of the wedding mantras had been recited, Sukumari beheld the celestial Rishi to have a face like that of an ape. She, however, did not on that account, disregard her lord. On the other hand, she dedicated her love to him. Indeed, the princess, chaste as she was, devoted herself entirely to her lord and did not in her heart even desire any one else among the gods, Munis, and Yakshas for a husband. One day, as the illustrious Parvata, in course of his wanderings, entered a solitary forest, he beheld Narada there. Saluting him, Parvata said, 'Show thy grace unto me by permitting me, O puissant one, to co to heaven.' Seeing the cheerless Parvata kneeling before him with joined hands, Narada, himself mere cheerless, said unto him, 'Thou hadst cursed me first, saying, 'Be thou an ape!' After thou hadst said so unto me, I cursed thee from anger, saying, 'From this day thou shalt not dwell in heaven!' It was not well of thee, since thou art like a son unto me.' The two saints then freed each other from their mutual curses. Beholding her husband possessed of celestial form and blazing with beauty, Sukumari fled from him, taking him to be somebody other than her lord. Seeing the beautiful princess flying away from her lord, Parvata addressed her, saying, 'This one is even thy husband. Do not entertain any scruple. This one is the illustrious and puissant Rishi Narada, that foremost of virtuous persons. He is thy lord, of one soul with thee. Do not have any doubt.' Assured in diverse ways by the high Parvata and formed also of the curse on her lord, the princess regained her equanimity. Then Parvata proceeded to heaven and Narada to his home."
"Vasudeva continued, 'The illustrious Rishi Narada, who was himself
an actor in this matter, is here. O best of men, asked by thee, he will tell thee everything that happened.'"
62:1 Literally, one whose excreta are gold.
Next: Section XXXI