The Mahabharata Home
"Vyasa said, 'The ancient legend of Vrihaspati and the wise Marutta is cited in this connection. On hearing of the compact made by Angira's son Vrihaspati with the lord of the gods (Indra), king Marutta made the necessary preparations for a great sacrifice. The eloquent grandson of Karandhama, (Marutta) having conceived the idea of a sacrifice in his mind, went to Vrihaspati and addressed him thus, 'O worshipful ascetic, I have intended to perform the sacrifice which thou didst propose to me once on a previous occasion and in accordance with thy instructions, and I now desire to appoint thee as officiating priest in this sacrifice, the materials whereof have also been collected by me.--O excellent one, thou art our family priest, therefore do thou take those sacrificial things and perform the sacrifice thyself.'
Vrihaspati said, 'O lord of the earth, I do not desire to perform thy sacrifice. I have been appointed as priest by the Lord of the gods (Indra) and I have promised to him to act as such.'
Marutta said, 'Thou art our hereditary family priest, and for this reason I entertain great regard for thee, and I have acquired the right of being assisted at sacrifices by thee, and therefore it is meet that thou shouldst officiate as priest at my sacrifice.'
Vrihaspati said, 'Having, O Marutta, acted as priest to the Immortals, how can I act as such to mortal men, and whether thou dost depart hence or stay, I tell thee, I have ceased to act as priest to any but the Immortals. O thou of mighty arms, I am unable to act as thy priest now. And according to thy own desire, thou canst appoint any one as thy priest who will perform thy sacrifice.'
Vyasa said, 'Thus told, king Marutta became confused with shame, and while returning home with his mind oppressed by anxiety, he met Narada on his way. And that monarch on seeing the divine Rishi Narada stood before him with due salutation, with his hands clasped together. Then Narada addressing him thus said,--O royal sage, thou seemest to be not well-pleased in thy mind; is all well with thee? Where hast thou been, O sinless one, and whence the cause of this thy mental disquietude? And, O king, if there be no objection to thy telling it to me, do thou, O best of kings, disclose (the cause of thy anxiety) to me, so that, O prince, I may allay the disquietude of thy mind with all my efforts.'
Vaisampayana continued, 'Thus addressed by the great Rishi Narada, king Marutta informed him of the rebuff he had received from his religious preceptor.'
Marutta said, 'Seeking for a priest to officiate at my sacrifice, I went to that priest of the Immortals, Vrihaspati, the son of Angira, but he did not choose to accept my offer. Having met with this rebuff from him, I have no desire to live any longer now, for by his abandoning me thus, I have, O Narada, become contaminated with sin.'
Vyasa said, 'Thus told by that king, Narada, O mighty prince, made this
reply to him with words which seemed to revive that son of Avikshit.'
Narada said, 'The virtuous son of Angira, Samvarta by name is wandering over all the quarters of the earth in a naked state to the wonder of all creatures; do thou, O prince, go to him. If Vrihaspati does not desire to officiate at thy sacrifice, the powerful Samvarta, if pleased with thee, will perform thy sacrifice.'
Marutta said, 'I feel as if instilled with new life, by these thy words, O Narada, but O the best of speakers, do thou tell me where I can find Samvarta, and how I can remain by his side, and how I am to act so that he may not abandon me, for I do not desire to live if I meet with a rebuff from him also.'
Narada said, 'Desirous of seeing Maheswara, O prince, he wanders about at his pleasure in the city of Varanasi, in the garb of a mad man. And having reached the gate of that city, thou must place a dead body somewhere near it, and the man who shall turn away on seeing the corpse, do thou, O prince, know that man to be Samvarta, and knowing him, do thou follow his footsteps wheresoever that powerful man chooses to go and finding him (at length) in a lonely place thou must seek his protection with thy hands clasped together in supplication to him. And if he enquires of thee as to the person who has given thee the information about his own self, do thou tell him that Narada has informed thee about Samvarta. And if he should ask thee to follow me, thou must tell him without any hesitation, that I have entered into the fire.'
Vyasa said, 'Having signified his assent to the proposal of Narada, that royal sage after duly worshipping him, and taking his permission, repaired to the city of Varanasi, and having reached there, that famous prince did as he had been told, and remembering the words of Narada, he placed a corpse at the gate of the city. And by coincidence, that Brahmana also entered the gate of the city at the same time. Then on beholding the corpse, he suddenly turned away. And on seeing him turn back, that prince, the son of Avikshit followed his footsteps with his hands clasped together, and with the object of receiving instruction from him. And then finding him in a lonely place, Samvarta covered the king with mud and ashes and phlegm and spittle. And though thus worried and oppressed by Samvarta, the king followed that sage with his hands clasped together in supplication and trying to appease him. At length overcome with fatigue, and reaching the cool shade of a sacred fig tree with many branches, Samvarta desisted from his course and sat himself to rest.'
Next: Section VII