The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'I have heard this great narrative, O perpetuator of Kuru's race. Thou, O foremost of eloquent men, hast said that the status of a Brahmana is exceedingly difficult of acquisition. It is heard, however, that in former times the status of a Brahmana had been acquired by Viswamitra. Thou, however, O best of men, tellest us that status is incapable of being acquired. I have also heard that king Vitahavya in ancient times succeeded in obtaining the status of a Brahmana. I desire to hear, O puissant son of Ganga, the story of Vitahavya's promotion. By what acts did that best of kings succeed in acquiring the status of a Brahmana? Was it through some boon (obtained from some one of great puissance) or was it through the virtue of penances? It behoveth thee to tell me everything.'
"Bhishma said, 'Hear, O monarch, how the royal sage Vitahavya of great celebrity succeeded in ancient times in acquiring the status of a Brahmana that is so difficult to attain and that is held in such high reverence by all the world. While the high-souled Manu in days of yore was employed in righteously ruling his subjects, he obtained a son of righteous soul who became celebrated under the name of Saryati. In Saryati's, race, O monarch, two kings took their birth, viz., Haihaya and Talajangha. Both of them were sons of Vatsa, O foremost of victorious kings. Haihaya, O monarch, had ten wives. Upon them he begot, O Bharata, a century of sons all of whom were highly inclined to fighting. All of them resembled one another in features and prowess. All of them were endued with great strength and all of them were possessed of great skill in battle. They all studied the Vedas and the science of weapons thoroughly. In Kasi also, O monarch, there was a king who was the grandfather of Divodasa. The foremost of victorious men, he was known by the name of Haryyaswa. The sons of king Haihaya, O chief of men (who was otherwise known by the name of Vitahavya), invaded the kingdom of Kasi and advancing to the country that lies between the rivers Ganga and Yamuna, fought a battle with king Haryyaswa and also slew him in it. Having slain king Haryyaswa in this way, the sons of Haihaya, those great car-warriors, fearlessly went back to their own delightful city in the country of the Vatsas. Meanwhile Haryyaswa's son Sudeva, who looked like a deity in splendour and who was a second god of righteousness, was installed on the throne of Kasi as its ruler. The delighter of Kasi, that righteous-souled prince ruled his kingdom for sometime, when the hundred sons of Vitahavya once more invaded his dominions and defeated him in battle. Having vanquished king Sudeva thus, the victors returned to their own city. After that Divodasa, the son of Sudeva, became installed on the throne of Kasi as its ruler. Realising the prowess of those high-souled princes, viz., the sons of Vitahavya, king Divodasa, endued with great energy, rebuilt and fortified the city of Baranasi at the command of Indra.
[paragraph continues] The territories of Divodasa were full of Brahmanas and Kshatriyas, and abounded with Vaisyas and Sudras. And they teemed with articles and provisions of every kind, and were adorned with shops and marts swelling with prosperity. Those territories, O best of kings, stretched northwards from the banks of Ganga to the southern banks of Gomati, and resembled a second Amravati (the city of Indra). The Haihayas once again, O Bharata, attacked that tiger among kings, as he ruled his kingdom. The mighty king Divodasa endued with great splendour, issuing out of his capital, gave them battle. The engagement between the two parties proved so fierce as to resemble the encounter in days of old between the deities and the Asuras. King Divodasa fought the enemy for a thousand days at the end of which, having lost a number of followers and animals, he became exceedingly distressed. 1 King Divodasa, O monarch, having lost his army and seeing his treasury exhausted, left his capital and fled away. Repairing to the delightful retreat of Bhardwaja endued with great wisdom the king, O chastiser of foes joining his hands in reverence, sought the Rishi's protection. Beholding King Divodasa before him, the eldest son of Vrihaspati, viz., Bharadwaja of excellent conduct, who was the monarch's priest, said unto him, What is the reason of thy coming here? Tell me everything, O king. I shall do that which is agreeable to thee, without any scruple.'
"The king said, 'O holy one, the sons of Vitahavya have slain all the children and men of my house. I only have escaped with life, totally discomfited by the foe. I seek thy protection. It behoveth thee, O holy one, to protect me with such affection as thou hast for a disciple. Those princes of sinful deeds have slaughtered my whole race, leaving myself only alive.'
"Bhishma continued, 'Unto him who pleaded so piteously, Bharadwaja of great energy said, Do not fear! Do not fear! O son of Sudeva, let thy fears be dispelled. I shall perform a sacrifice, O monarch, in order that thou mayst have a son through whom thou shalt be able to smite thousands upon thousands of Vitahavya's party. After this, the Rishi performed a sacrifice with the object of bestowing a son on Divodasa. As the result thereof, unto Divodasa was born a son named Pratarddana. Immediately on his birth he grew up like a boy of full three and ten years and quickly mastered the entire Vedas and the whole of arms. Aided by his Yoga powers, Bharadwaja of great intelligence had entered into the prince. Indeed, collecting all the energy that occurs in the object of the universe, Bharadwaja put them together in the body of prince Pratarddana. Put on shining mail on his person and armed with the bow, Pratarddana, his praises sung by bards and the celestial Rishis, shone resplendent like the risen star of day. Mounted on his car and with the scimitar tied to his belt, he shone like a blazing fire. With scimitar and shield and whirling
his shield as he went, he proceeded to the presence of his sire. Beholding the prince, the son of Sudeva, viz., king Divodasa, became filled with joy. Indeed, the old king thought the sons of his enemy Vitahavya as already slain. Divodasa then installed his son Pratarddana as Yuvaraja, and regarding himself crowned with success became exceedingly happy. After this, the old king commanded that chastiser of foes, viz., prince Pratarddana to march against the sons of Vitahavya and slay them in battle. Endued with great powers. Pratarddana, that subjugator of hostile cities speedily crossed Ganga on his car and proceeded against the city of the Vitahavyas. Hearing the clatter produced by the wheels of his car, the sons of Vitahavya, riding on their own cars that looked like fortified citadels and that were capable of destroying hostile vehicles, issued out of their city. Issuing out of their capital, those tigers among men, viz., the sons of Vitahavya, who were all skilful warriors cased in mail, rushed with uplifted weapons towards Pratarddana, covering him with showers of arrows. Encompassing him with innumerable cars, O Yudhisthira, the Vitahavyas poured upon Pratarddana showers of weapons of various kinds like clouds pouring torrents of rain on the breast of Himavat. Baffling their weapons with his own, prince Pratarddana endued with mighty energy slew them all with his shafts that resembled the lighting fire of Indra. Their heads struck off, O king, with hundreds and thousands of broad-headed arrows, the warriors of Vitahavya fell down with blood-dyed bodies like Kinsuka trees felled by woodmen with their axes on every side. After all his warriors and sons had fallen in battle, king Vitahavya fled away from his capital to the retreat of Bhrigu. Indeed, arrived there, the royal fugitive sought the protection of Bhrigu. The Rishi Bhrigu, O monarch, assured the defeated king of his protection. Pratarddana followed in the footsteps of Vitahavya. Arrived at the Rishi's retreat, the son of Divodasa said in a loud voice.--Ho, listen ye disciples of the high souled Bhrigu that may happen to be present, I wish to see the sage. Go and inform him of this. Recognising that it was Pratarddana who had come, the Rishi Bhrigu himself came out of his retreat and worshipped that best of kings according to due rites. Addressing him then, the Rishi said,--Tell me, O king, what is thy business. The king, at this, informed the Rishi of the reason of his presence.'
"The king said, 'King Vitahavya has come here, O Brahmana. Do thou give him up. His sons, O Brahmana, had destroyed my race. They had laid waste the territories and the wealth of the kingdom of Kasi. Hundred sons, however, of this king proud of his might, have all been slain by me. By slaying that king himself I shall today pay off the debt I owe to my father. Unto him that foremost of righteous men, viz., the Rishi Bhrigu, penetrated with compassion, replied by saying,--There is no Kshatriya in this retreat. They that are here are all Brahmanas. Hearing these words of Bhrigu that must accord he thought with truth, Pratarddana touched the Rishi's feet slowly and, filled with delight, said,--By this, O holy one, I am without doubt, crowned with success, since this king becomes
abandoned by the very order of his birth in consequence of my prowess. Give me thy permission, O Brahmana, to leave thee, and let me solicit thee to pray for my welfare. This king, O founder of the race that goes by the name, has been compelled to leave of the very community of his birth, in consequence of my might. Dismissed by the Rishi Bhrigu, king Pratarddana then departed from that retreat, having even as a snake vomits forth its real poison and repaired to the place he had come from. Meanwhile, king Vitahavya attained to the status of a Brahmana sage by virtue of the words only of Bhrigu. And he acquired also a complete mastery over all the Vedas through the same cause. Vitahavya had a son named Gritsamada who in beauty of person was a second Indra. Once on a time the Daityas afflicted him much, believing him to be none else than Indra. With regard to that high-souled Rishi, one foremost of Srutis in the Richs goes like this viz., He with whom Gritsamada stays, O Brahmana, is held in high respect by all Brahmanas. Endued with great intelligence, Gritsamada become a regenerate Rishi in the observance of Brahmacharyya. Gritsamada had a regenerate son of the name of Sutejas. Sutejas had a son of the name of Varchas, and the son of Varchas was known by the name of Vihavya. Vihavya had a son of his loins who was named Vitatya and Vitatya had a son of name Satya. Satya had a son of name Santa. Santa had a son, viz., the Rishi Sravas. Sravas begot a son named Tama. Tama begot a son named Prakasa, who was a very superior Brahmana. Prakasa had a son named Vagindra who was the foremost of all silent reciters of sacred Mantras. Vagindra begot a son named Pramati who was a complete master of all the Vedas and their branches. Pramati begot upon the Apsara Ghritachi a son who was named Ruru. Ruru begot a son upon his spouse Pramadvara. That son was the regenerate Rishi Sunaka. Sunaka begot a son who is named Saunaka. It was even thus, O foremost of monarchs, that king Vitahavya, though a Kshatriya by the order of his birth, obtained the status of a Brahmana, O chief of Kshatriyas, through the grace of Bhrigu. I have also told thee the genealogy of the race that sprung from Gritsamada. What else wouldst thou ask?'
148:1 Dasatirdasa is ten times hundred or one thousand Dasati, like Saptati, Navati, etc., means ten times ten. Both the Vernacular translators have erred in rendering the word.
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