The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, 'Thinking of Emancipation, Suka approached his sire and possessed as he was of humility and desirous of achieving his highest good, he saluted his great preceptor and said,--Thou art well versed in the religion of Emancipation. Do thou O illustrious one, discourse to me upon it, so that supreme tranquillity of mind, O puissant one, may be mine!--Hearing these words of his son, the great Rishi said unto him,--Do thou study, O son, the religion of Emancipation and all the diverse duties of life!--At the command of his sire, Suka, that foremost of all righteous men, mastered all the treatises on Yoga, O Bharata. as also the science promulgated by Kapila. When Vyasa behind his son to be possessed of the resplendence of the Vedas, endued with the energy of Brahma, and fully conversant with the religion of Emancipation, he addressed him, saying,--Go thou to Janaka the ruler of Mithila. The king of Mithila will tell thee everything for thy Emancipation.--Bearing the command of his sire, O king, Suka proceeded to Mithila for enquiring of its king about the truth of duties and the Refuge of Emancipation. Before he set out, his sire further told him,--Do thou go thither by that path which ordinary human beings take. Do not have recourse to thy Yoga-puissance for proceeding through the skies--At this Suka was not at all surprised (for he was humble by nature). He was further told that he should proceed thither with simplicity and not from desire of pleasure.--Along your way do not seek for friends and spouses, since friends and spouses are causes of attachment to the world. Although the ruler of Mithila is one in whose sacrifices we officiate, still thou shouldst not indulge in any feeling of superiority while living with him. Thou shouldst live under his direction and in obedience to him. Even he will dispel all thy doubts. 1 That king is well versed in all duties and well acquainted with the scriptures on Emancipation. He is one for whom I officiate in sacrifices. Thou shouldst, without any scruple, do what he bids.--Thus instructed, the righteous-souled Suka proceeded to Mithila on foot although he was able to traverse through the skies over the whole Earth with her seas. Crossing many hills and mountains, many rivers, many waters and lakes, and many woods and forests abounding with beasts of prey and other animals, crossing, the two Varshas of Meru and Hari successively and next the Varsha of Himavat, he came at last to the Varsha known by the name of Bharata. Having seen many countries inhabited by Chins and Huns, the great ascetic at last reached Aryavarta. In obedience to the
commands of his sire and bearing them constantly in his mind, he gradually passed along his way on the Earth like a bird passing through the air. Passing through many delightful towns and populous cities, he saw diverse kinds of wealth without waiting to observe them. On his way he passed through many delightful gardens and planes and many sacred waters. Before much time had passed he reached the country of the Videhas that was protected by the virtuous and high-souled Janaka. There he beheld many populous villages, and many kinds of food and drink and viands and habitations of cowherds swelling with men and many herds of cattle. He beheld many fields abounding with paddy and barley and other grain, and many lakes and waters inhabited by swans and cranes and adorned with beautiful lotuses. Passing through the Videha country teeming with well-to-do people, he arrived at the delightful gardens of Mithila rich with many species of trees. Abounding with elephants and horses and cars, and peopled by men and women, he passed through them without waiting to observe any of the things that were presented to his eye. Bearing that burthen in his mind and ceaselessly dwelling upon it (viz., the desire of mastering the religion of Emancipation), Suka of cheerful soul and taking delight in internal survey only, reached Mithila at last. Arrived at the gate, he sent word through the keepers. Endued with tranquillity of mind, devoted to contemplation and Yoga, he entered the city, having obtained permission. Proceeding along the principal street abounding with well-to-do men, he reached the king's palace and entered it without any scruples. The porters forbade him with rough words. Thereat, Suka, without any anger, stopped and waited. Neither the sun nor the long distance he had walked had fatigued him in the least. Neither hunger, nor thirst, nor the exertion he had made, had weakened him. The heat of the Sun had not scorched or pained or distressed him in any degree. Among those porters there was one who felt compassion for him, beholding him staying there like the midday Sun in his effulgence. Worshipping him in due form and saluting him properly, with joined hands he led him to the first chamber of the palace. Seated there, Suka, O son, began to think of Emancipation only. Possessed of equable splendour he looked with an equal eye upon a shaded spot and one exposed to the Sun's rays. Very soon after, the king's minister, coming to that place with joined hands, led him to the second chamber of the palace. That chamber led to a spacious garden which formed a portion of the inner apartments of the palace. It looked like a second Chaitraratha. Beautiful pieces of water occurred here and there at regular intervals. Delightful trees, all of which were in their flowering season, stood in that garden. Bevies of damsels, of transcendent beauty, were in attendance. The minister led Suka from the second chamber to that delightful spot. Ordering those damsels to give the ascetic a seat, the minister left him there. Those well-dressed damsels were of beautiful features, possessed of excellent hips, young in years, clad in red robes of fine texture, and decked with many ornaments of burnished
gold. They were well-skilled in agreeable conversation and maddening revelry, and thorough mistresses of the arts of dance and singing. Always opening their lips with smiles, they were equal to the very Apsaras in beauty. Well-skilled in all the acts of dalliance, competent to read the thoughts of men upon whom they wait, possessed of every accomplishment, fifty damsels, of a very superior order and of easy virtue, surrounded the ascetic. Presenting him with water for washing his feet, and worshipping him respectfully with the offer of the usual articles, they gratified him with excellent viands agreeable to the season. After he had eaten, those damsels then, one after another, singly led him through the grounds, showing him every object of interest, O Bharata. Sporting and laughing and singing, those damsels, conversant with the thoughts of all men, entertained that auspicious ascetic of noble soul. The pure-souled ascetic born in the fire-sticks, observant without scruples of any kind of his duties, having all his senses under complete control, and a thorough master of his wrath, was neither pleased nor angered at all this. Then those foremost of beautiful women gave him an excellent seat. Washing his feet and other limbs, Suka said his evening prayers, sat on that excellent seat, and began to think of the object for which he had come there. In the first part of the night, he devoted himself to Yoga. The puissant ascetic, passed the middle portion of the night in sleep. Very soon waking up from his slumber, he went through the necessary rites of cleansing his body, and though surrounded by those beautiful women, he once again devoted himself to Yoga. It was in this way, O Bharata, that the son of the Island-born Krishna passed the latter part of that day and the whole of that night in the palace of king Janaka.'"
85:1 Vyasa was the priest or Ritwija of the house of Mithila and as such the kings of Mithila were his Yajyas or Yajamanas. The duty of a Yajamana is to reverence every member of the priest's family. The sire, therefore, cautions the son that he should not, while living with the king of Mithila, assert his superiority over him in any respect.
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