The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, 'Then that best of Rishis, viz., the regenerate Rishabha, sitting in the midst of all those Rishis, smiled a little and said these words: 'Formerly, O tiger among kings, while travelling among sacred places, I arrived, O lord, at the beautiful asylum of Nara and Narayana. There lies the delightful spot called Vadri, and there also is that lake in the firmament (whence the sacred Ganga takes her rise). 1 There the sage Aswasiras, O king, (always) reads the eternal Vedas. Having performed my ablutions in that lake and offered with due rites oblations of water unto the Pitris and the dogs, I entered the asylum. Within that retreat the Rishis Nara and Narayana always pass their time in true pleasure. 2 Not far from that spot I repaired to another retreat for taking up my abode. While seated there I beheld a very tall and emaciated Rishi, clad in rags and skins, approaching towards me. Possessed of the wealth of penances, he was named Tanu. Compared, O mighty-armed one, with other men, his height seemed to be eight times greater. As regards his leanness, O royal sage, I can say that I have never beheld its like. His body, O king, was as thin as one's little finger. His neck and arms and legs and hair were all of extra-ordinary aspect. His head was proportionate to his body, and his cars and eyes also were the same. His speech, O best of kings, and his movements were exceedingly feeble. Beholding that exceedingly emaciated Brahmana I became very cheerless and frightened. Saluting his feet, I stood before him with joined hands. Having informed him of my name and family, and having told him also the name of my father, O bull among men, I slowly sat myself down on a seat that was indicated by him. Then, O monarch, that foremost of virtuous men, viz., Tanu, began to discourse in the midst of the Rishis dwelling in that asylum upon topics connected with Righteousness and Profit. While engaged in discourse, a king, possessed of eyes like lotus petals and accompanied by his forces and the ladies of his household, came to that spot on a car drawn by fleet steeds. The name of that king was Viradyumna. Of handsome features, he was possessed of great fame. His son's name was Bhuridyumna. The child had been missing, and the sire, exceedingly cheerless, came there in course of his wanderings amid the forest in pursuit of the missing one. 'I shall find my son here!' 'I shall find my son here!' Dragged on by hope in this way, the king wandered through that forest in those days. Addressing the emaciated Rishi he said, 'Without doubt that highly virtuous son of mine is exceedingly difficult to be traced by me. Alas he was my only child. He is lost and can nowhere be found! Though incapable of being found out, my hope, however, of finding him is very great. Filled with that hope (which is being constantly disappointed), I am verily on the point of death.' Hearing these words of the
king, that foremost of Munis, viz., the holy Tanu, remained for a short while with head hanging down and himself buried in contemplation. Beholding him buried in contemplation, the king became exceedingly cheerless. In great grief he began to say slowly and softly, 'What, O celestial Rishi, is unconquerable and what is greater than hope? O holy one, tell me this if I may hear it without impropriety.'
"The Muni said, 'A holy and great Rishi had been insulted by thy son. He had done it through ill-luck, moved by his foolish understanding. The Rishi had asked thy son for a golden jar and vegetable barks. Thy son contemptuously refused to gratify the ascetic. Thus treated by thy son, the great sage became disappointed. Thus addressed, the king worshipped that ascetic who was worshipped by all the world. Of virtuous soul, Viradyumna sat there, spent with fatigue even as thou, O best of men, now art. The great Rishi, in return, offered the king according to the rites observed by the dwellers of the forests water to wash his feet and the usual ingredients that make up the Arghya. Then all the Rishis, O tiger among kings, sat there, surrounding that bull among men like the stars of the constellation of Ursa Major surrounding the Pole star. And they asked the unvanquished king as to the cause of his arrival at that asylum.'"
276:1 This lake is at a great height on the Himalayas.
276:2 The spirits of those two immortal sages are supposed to dwell for ever, in that retreat in the enjoyment of true happiness.
Next: Section CXXVIII