The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'Tell me why had that lady no fear of Ashtavakra's curse although Ashtavakra was endued with great energy? How also did Ashtavakra succeed in coming back from that place?'"
"Bhishma said, 'Ashtavakra asked her, saying,--How dost thou succeed in altering thy form so? Thou shouldst not say anything that is untrue. I wish to know this. Speakest thou truly before a Brahmana.'
"The lady said, 'O best of Brahmana, wherever thou mayst reside in heaven or on Earth, this desire of union between the sexes is to be observed. O thou of infallible prowess, listen, with concentrated attention, to this all. This trial was devised by me. O sinless one, for testing thee aright. O thou of infallible prowess, thou hast subjugated all the worlds for not foregoing your previous resolution. Know that I am the embodiment of the Northern point of the compass. Thou hast seen the lightness of the female character. Even women that are aged are tortured by the desire of sexual union. The Grandsire himself and all the deities with Indra have been pleased with thee. The object for which thy illustrious self has come here (is known to me). O foremost of regenerate persons, thou hast been despatched higher by the Rishi Vadanya--the father of thy bride--in order
that I may instruct thee. Agreeably to the wishes of that Rishi I have already instructed thee. Thou wilt return home in safety. Thy journey back will not be toilsome. Thou wilt obtain for wife and girl thou hast chosen. She will bear thee a son. Through desire I had solicited thee, thou madest me the very best answer. The desire for sexual union is incapable of being transcended in the three worlds. Go back to thy quarters, having achieved such merit. What else is there that thou wishest to hear from me? I shall discourse on it, O Ashtavakra, in accordance with the truth. I was gratified by the Rishi Vadanya in the first instance for thy sake, O regenerate ascetic For the sake of honouring him, I have said all this to thee.'
"Bhishma continued, 'Hearing these words of hers, the regenerate Ashtavakra joined his hands in a reverential attitude. He then solicited the lady for her permission to go back. Obtaining the permission he came back to his own asylum. Resting himself for some time at home and obtaining the permission of his kinsmen and friends, he then in a proper way, proceeded, O delighter of the Kurus, to the Brahmana Vadanya. Welcomed with the usual enquiries by Vadanya, the Rishi Ashtavakra, with a well-pleased heart, narrated all that he had seen (in course of his sojourn to the North). He said,--Commanded by thee I proceeded to the mountains of Gandhamadana. In the regions lying to the north of these mountains I beheld a very superior goddess. I was received by her with courtesy. She named you in my hearing and also instructed me in various matters. Having listened to her I have come back, O lord. Unto him that said so, the learned Vadanya said,--Take my daughter's hand according to due rites and under the proper constellations. Thou art the fittest bridegroom I can select for the girl.'
'Bhishma continued, 'Ashtavakra said,--So be it and took the hand of the girl. Indeed, the highly righteous Rishi, having espoused the girl, became filled with joy. Having taken as his wife that beautiful damsel, the Rishi continued to dwell in his own asylum, freed from (mental) fever of every kind.'"
Next: Section XXII