The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, 'King Nahusha hearing the pass to which Chyavana was reduced, quickly proceeded to that spot accompanied by his ministers and priest. Having cleansed himself duly, the king, with joined palms and concentrated attention, introduced himself unto the high-souled Chyavana. The king's priest then worshipped with due ceremonies that Rishi, O monarch, who was observant of the vow of truth and endued with a high soul, and who resembled a god himself (in splendour and energy).'
"Nahusha said, 'Tell me, O best of regenerate persons, what act shall we do that may be agreeable to thee? However difficult that act may be, there is nothing, O holy one, that I shall not be able to accomplish at thy bidding.'
"Chyavana said, 'These men that live by catching fish have all been tried with labour. Do thou pay them the price that may be set upon me along with the value of these fish.'
"Nahusha said, 'Let my priest give unto these Nishadas a thousand coins as a price for purchasing these sacred one as he himself has commanded.'
"Chyavana said, 'A thousand coins cannot represent my price. The question depends upon your discretion. Give them a fair value, settling with thy own intelligence what it should be.'
"Nahusha said, 'Let, O learned Brahmana, a hundred thousand coins be given unto these Nishadas. Shall this be thy price, O holy one, or dost think otherwise?'
"Chyavana said, 'I should not be purchased for a hundred thousand coins, O best of monarchs! Let a proper price be given unto them. Do thou consult with thy ministers.'
"Nahusha said, 'Let my priest give unto these Nishadas a crore of coins. If even this does not represent thy price, let more be paid unto them.'
"Chyavana said, 'O king, I do not deserve to be purchased for a crore of coins or even more. Let that price be given unto those men which would be fair or proper. Do thou 'consult with the Brahmanas.'
"Nahusha said, 'Let half of my kingdom or even the whole be given away unto these Nishadas. I think that would represent thy price. What, however, dost thou think, O regenerate one?'
"Chyavana said, 'I do not deserve to be purchased with half thy kingdom or even the whole of it, O king! Let thy price which is proper be given unto these men. Do thou consult with the Rishis.'
"Bhishma continued, 'Hearing these words of the great Rishi, Nahusha became afflicted with great grief. With his ministers and priest he began to deliberate on the matter. There then came unto king Nahusha an ascetic living in the woods and subsisting upon fruit and roots and born of a cow. That best of regenerate persons, addressing the monarch, O king, said these words, 'I shall soon gratify thee. The Rishi also will be gratified. I shall never speak an untruth.--no, not even in jest, what then need I
say of other occasions? Thou shouldst, without any scruple, do what I bid thee.'
"Nahusha said, 'Do thou, O illustrious one, say what the price is of that great Rishi of Bhrigu's race. O, save me from this terrible pass, save my kingdom, and save my race! If the holy Chyavana became angry, he would destroy the three worlds: what need I say them of my poor self who is destitute of penances and who depends only upon the might of his arm? O great Rishi, do thou become the raft unto us that have all fallen into a fathomless ocean with all our counsellors and our priest! Do thou settle what the price should be of the Rishi.'
"Bhishma said, 'Hearing these words of Nahusha, the ascetic born of a cow and endued with great energy spoke in this strain, gladdening the monarch and all his counsellors, 'Brahmanas, O king, belong to the foremost of the four orders. No value, however great, can be set upon them. Cows also are invaluable. Therefore, O chief of men, do thou regard a cow as the value of the Rishi.' Hearing these words of the great Rishi, Nahusha became, O king, filled with joy along with all his counsellors and priest. Proceeding then to the presence of Bhrigu's son, Chyavana, of rigid vows, h e addressed him thus, O monarch, for gratifying him to the best of his ability.'
'Nahusha said, 'Rise, rise, O regenerate Rishi, thou hast been purchased. O son of Bhirgu, with a cow as thy price. O foremost of righteous persons, even this, I think, is thy price.'
"Chyavana said. 'Yes, O king of kings, I do rise up. I have been properly purchased by thee, O sinless one! I do not, O thou of unfading glory, see any wealth that is equal to kine. To speak of kine, to hear others speak of them, to make gifts of kine, and to see kine, O king, are acts that are all applauded, O hero, and that are highly auspicious and sin-cleansing. Kine are always the root of prosperity. There is no fault in kine. Kine always afford the best food, in the form of Havi, unto the deities. The sacred Mantras, Swaha and Vashat, are always established upon kine. Kine are the chief conductresses of sacrifices. They constitute the mouth of sacrifice. They bear and yield excellent and strength-giving nectar. They receive the worship of all the worlds and are regarded as the source of nectar. On earth, kine resemble fire in energy and form. Verily, kine represent high energy, and are bestowers of great happiness upon all creatures. That country where kine, established by their owners, breathe fearlessly, shines in beauty. The sins, also of that country are all washed off. Kine constitute the stairs that lead to heaven. Kine are adorned in heaven itself. Kine are goddesses that are competent to give everything and grant every wish. There is nothing else in the world that is so high or so superior!' 1
"Bhishma continued, "Even this is what I say unto thee on the subject of the glory and superiority of kine, O chief of Bharata's race. I am competent to proclaim a part only of the merits that attach to kine. I have not the ability to exhaust the subject!'
"Then Nishadas said, 'O ascetic, thou hast seen us and hast also spoken with us. It has been said that friendship with those that are good, depends upon only seven words 1. Do thou then, O lord, show us thy grace. The blazing sacrificial fire eats all the oblations of clarified butter poured upon it. Of righteous soul, and possessed of great energy thou art among men, a blazing fire in energy. We propitiate thee, O thou of great learning! We surrender ourselves to thee. Do thou, for showing us favour, take back from us this cow.'
"Chyavana said, 'The eye of a person that is poor or that has fallen into distress, the eye of an ascetic, or the eye of a snake of virulent poison, consumes a man with his very roots, even as a fire that, blazing up with the assistance of the wind, consumes a stack of dry grass or straw. I shall accent the cow that ye desire to present me. Ye fishermen, freed from every sin, go ye to heaven without any delay, with these fishes also that ye have caught with your nets.'
"Bhishma continued, 'After this, in consequence of the energy of the great Rishi of cleansed soul, those fishermen along with all those fish through virtue of those words that he had uttered, proceeded to heaven. King Nahusha, beholding the fishermen ascending to heaven with those fishes in their company, became filled with wonder, O chief of Bharata's race. After this, the two Rishis, viz., the one born of a cow and the other who was Chyavana of Bhrigu's race, gladdened king Nahusha by granting him many boons. Then king Nahusha of great energy, that lord of all the earth, filled with joy, O best of the Bharatas, said, 'Sufficient!' Like unto a second Indra, the chief of the celestials, he accepted the boon about his own steadiness in virtue. The Rishis having granted him the boon, the delighted king worshipped them both with great reverence. As regards Chyavana, his vow having been completed, he returned to his own asylum. The Rishi that had taken his birth from the cow, and who was endued with great energy, also proceeded to his own retreat. The Nishadas all ascended to heaven as also the fishes they had caught, O monarch. King Nahusha, too, having obtained those valuable boons, entered his own city. I have thus, O son, told thee everything respecting what thou hadst asked me. The affection that is generated by the sight alone of others as also by the fact of living with them, O Yudhishthira, and the high-blessedness of kine too, and the ascertainment of true righteousness, are the topics upon which I have discoursed. Tell me, O hero what else is in thy breast.'"
41:1 There is no fault in kine, etc., and kine are like fire etc. The Hindu idea is that kine are cleansing or sanctifying. The Rishis discovered that the magnetism of the cow is something that is possessed of extraordinary virtues. Give the same kind of food to a p. 42 cow and a horse. The horse-dung emits an unhealthy stench, while the cowdung is an efficacious disinfectant. Western science has not yet turned its attention to the subject, but there can be little doubt that the urine and dung of the cow possess untold virtues.
42:1 Saptopadam mitram means that by speaking only seven words or walking only seven steps together, two persons, if they be good, become friends.
Next: Section LII