The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, 'Listen truly in detail, O son of Pritha, how in olden times Viswamitra attained to the status of a Brahmana Rishi. There was, O foremost of Bharata's descendants, in the race of Bharata, a king of the name of Ajamida, who performed many sacrifices and was the best of all virtuous men. His son was the great king named Jahnu. Ganga was the daughter of this high-minded prince. The farfamed and equally virtuous Sindhudwipa was the son of this prince. From Sindhudwipa
sprung the great royal sage Valakaswa. His son was named Vallabha who was like a second Dharma in embodied form. His son again was Kusika who was refulgent with glory like unto the thousand-eyed Indra. Kusika's son was the illustrious King Gadhi who, being childless and desiring to have a son born unto him, repaired to the forest. Whilst living there, a daughter was born unto him. She was called Satyavati by name, and in beauty of appearance she had no equal on Earth. The illustrious son of Chyavana, celebrated by the name of Richika, of the race of Bhrigu, endued with austere penances, sought the hand of this lady. Gadhi, the destroyer of his enemies, thinking him to be poor, did not bestow her in marriage upon the high-souled Richika. But when the latter, thus dismissed, was going away, the excellent king, addressing him said,--'If thou givest me a marriage dower thou shalt have my daughter for thy wife.'
"Richika said, 'What dower, O king, shall I offer thee for the hand of thy daughter? Tell me truly, without feeling any hesitation in the matter. Gadhi said,--'O descendant of Bhrigu, do thou give me a thousand horses fleet as the wind, and possessing the hue of moon-beams, and each having one ear black.'
"Bhishma said, 'Then that mighty son of Chyavana who was the foremost of Bhrigu's race, besought the deity Varuna, the son of Aditi, who was the lord of all the waters.--O best of gods, I pray to thee to give me a thousand horses, all endued with the speed of the wind and with complexion as effulgent as the moon's, but each having one ear black. The god Varuna, the son of Aditi, said to that excellent scion of Bhrigu's race,--Be it so. Wheresoever thou shalt seek, the horses shalt arise (in thy presence).--As soon as Richika thought of them, there arose from the waters of Ganga thousand high-mettled horses, as lustrous in complexion as the moon. Not far from Kanyakubja, the sacred bank of Ganga is still famous among men as Aswatirtha in consequence of the appearance of those horses at that place. Then Richika, that best of ascetics, pleased in mind, gave those thousand excellent horses unto Gadhi as the marriage-dower. King Gadhi, filled with wonder and fearing to be cursed, gave his daughter, bedecked with jewels, unto that son of Bhrigu. That foremost of regenerate Rishis accepted her hand in marriage according to the prescribed rites. The princess too was well-pleased at finding herself the wife of that Brahmana. That foremost of regenerate Rishis, O Bharata, was well pleased with her conduct and expressed a wish to grant her boon. The princess, O excellent king, related this to her mother. The mother addressed the daughter that stood before her with down-cast eyes, saving,--It behoves thee, O my daughter, to secure a favour for me also from thy husband. That sage of austere penances is capable of granting a boon to me, the boon, viz. of the birth of a son to me.--Then, O king, returning quickly to her husband Richika, the princess related to him all that had been desired by her mother. Richika said,--By my favour, O blessed one, she will soon give birth to a son possessed of every virtue. May thy request be fulfilled. Of thee too shall be born a mighty and
glorious son who, endued with virtue, shall perpetuate my race. Truly do I say this unto thee! When you two shall bathe in your season, she shall embrace a peepul tree, and thou, O excellent lady, shalt likewise embrace a fig tree, and by so doing shall ye attain the object of your desire. O sweetly-smiling lady, both she and you shall have to partake of these two sacrificial offerings (charu) 1rated with hymns, and then shall ye obtain sons (as desired).--At this, Satyavati, delighted at heart, told her mother all that had been said by Richika as also of the two balls of charu. Then the mother, addressing her daughter Satyavati, said:--O daughter, as I am deserving of greater consideration from thee than thy husband, do thou obey my words. The charu, duly consecrated with hymns, which thy husband has given to thee, do thou give unto me and thyself take the one that has been prescribed for me. O sweetly-smiling one of blameless character, if thou hast any respect for my word, let us change the trees respectively designed for us. Every one desires to possess an excellent and stainless being for his own son. The glorious Richika too must have acted from a similar motive in this matter, as will appear in the end. For this reason, O beautiful girl, my heart inclines towards thy charu, and thy tree, and thou too shouldst consider how to secure an excellent brother for thyself.--The mother and the daughter Satyavati having acted in this way, they both, O Yudhishthira, became big with child. And that great Rishi, the excellent descendant of Bhrigu, finding his wife quick with child, was pleased at heart, and addressing her, said,--O excellent lady, thou hast not done well in exchanging the charu as will soon become apparent. It is also clear that thou hast changed the trees. I had placed the entire accumulated energy of Brahma in thy charu and Kshatriya energy in the charu of thy mother. I had so ordered that thou wouldst give birth to a Brahmana whose virtues would be famous throughout the three worlds, and that she (thy mother) would give birth to an excellent Kshatriya. But now, O excellent lady, that thou hast reversed the order (of the charu) so, thy mother will give birth to an excellent Brahmana and thou too, O excellent lady, will give birth to a Kshatriya terrible in action. Thou hast not done will, O lady, by acting thus out of affection for thy mother.--Hearing this, O king the excellent lady Satyavati, struck with sorrow, fell upon the ground like a beautiful creeper cut in twain. Regaining her senses and bowing unto her lord with head (bent), the daughter of Gadhi said to her husband, that foremost one of Bhrigu's race,--O regenerate Rishi, O thou that art foremost amongst those versed in Brahma, do thou take pity on me, thy wife, who is thus appeasing thee and so order that a Kshatriya son may not be born unto me. Let my grandson be such a one as will be famous for his terrible achievements, if it be thy desire, but not my son, O Brahmana. Do thou confer this favour on me.--Be it so,--said that man of austere
penances to his wife and then, O king, she gave birth to a blessed son named Jamadagni. The celebrated wife of Gadhi too gave birth to the regenerate Rishi Viswamitra versed in the knowledge of Brahma, by favour of that Rishi. The highly devout Viswamitra, though a Kshatriya, attained to the state of a Brahmana and became the founder of a race of Brahmanas. His sons became high-souled progenitors of many races of Brahmanas who were devoted to austere penances, learned in the Vedas, and founders, of many clans. The adorable Madhuchcchanda and the mighty Devrat, Akshina, Sakunta, Vabhru, Kalapatha, the celebrated Yajnavalkya, Sthula of high vows, Uluka, Mudgala, and the sage Saindhavayana, the illustrious Valgujangha and the great Rishi Galeva, Ruchi, the celebrated Vajra, as also Salankayana, Liladhya and Narada, the one known as Kurchamuka, and Vahuli, Mushala, as also Vakshogriva, Anghrika, Naikadrik, Silayupa, Sita, Suchi, Chakraka, Marrutantavya, Vataghna, Aswalayana, and Syamayana, Gargya, and Javali, as also Susruta, Karishi, Sangsrutya, and Para Paurava, and Tantu, the great sage Kapila, Tarakayana, Upagahana, Asurayani, Margama, Hiranyksha, Janghari, Bhavravayani, and Suti, Bibhuti, Suta, Surakrit, Arani, Nachika, Champeya, Ujjayana, Navatantu, Vakanakha, Sayanya, Yati, Ambhoruha, Amatsyasin, Srishin, Gardhavi Urjjayoni, Rudapekahin, and the great Rishi Naradin,--these Munis were all sons of Viswamitra and were versed in the knowledge of Brahma. O king Yudhishthira, the highly austere and devout Viswamitra, although a Kshatriya (by descent), became a Brahmana for Richika having placed the energy of supreme Brahma (in the charu), O foremost prince of Bharata's race, I have now related to you, with all details, the story of the birth of Viswamitra who was possessed of energy of the sun, the moon, and the fire-god. O best of kings, if thou hast any doubt with regard to any other matter, do thou let me know it, so that I may remove it.'"
13:1 Charu is properly an oblation or rice, barley, and pulse, boiled with butter and milk, for presentation to the gods in a sacrifice or ordinary worship.
Next: Section V