The Mahabharata Home
"Vaisampayana said, 'They passed that night which was characterised by auspicious constellations even thus, O king, in that retreat of righteous ascetics. The conversation that occurred was characterised by many reflections on morality and wealth. Consisting of delightful and sweet words, it was graced with diverse citations from the Srutis. The Pandavas, O king, leaving costly beds, laid themselves down, near their mother, on the bare ground. Indeed, those heroes passed that night, having eaten the food which was the food of the high-souled king Dhritarashtra. After the night had passed away, king Yudhishthira, having gone through his morning acts, proceeded to survey that retreat in the company of his brothers. With the ladies of his household the servants, and his priest, the king roved about the retreat in all directions, as he pleased, at the command of Dhritarashtra. He beheld many sacrificial altars with sacred fires blazing on them and with many ascetics seated on them, that had performed their oblations and poured libations in honour of the deities. Those altars were overspread with fruits and roots of the forest, and with heaps of flowers. The smoke of clarified butter curled upwards from them. They were graced, besides, with many ascetics possessed of bodies that looked like the embodied Vedas and with many that belonged to the lay brotherhood. Herds of deer were grazing, or resting here and there, freed from every fear. Innumerable birds also were there, engaged in uttering their melodious notes, O king. The whole forest seemed to resound with the notes of peacocks and Datyuhas and Kokilas and the sweet songs of other warblers. 1 Some spots echoed with the chant of Vedic hymns recited by learned Brahmanas. Some were adorned with large heaps of fruits and roots gathered from the wilderness. King Yudhishthira then gave those ascetics jars made of
gold or copper which he had brought for them, and many deer-skins and blankets and sacrificial ladles made of wood, and Kamandalus and wooden platters, and pots and pans, O Bharata. 1 Diverse kinds of vessels, made of iron, and smaller vessels and cups of various sizes, were also given away by the king, the ascetics taking them away, each as many as he liked. King Yudhishthira of righteous soul, having thus roved through the woods and beheld the diverse retreats of ascetics and made many gifts, returned to the place where his uncle was. He saw king Dhritarashtra, that lord of Earth, at his ease, with Gandhari beside him, after having finished his morning rites. The righteous-souled monarch saw also his mother, Kunti, seated not much remote from that place, like a disciple with bent head, endued with humility. He saluted the old king, proclaiming his name. 'Sit down' were the words the old king said. Receiving Dhritarashtra's permission, Yudhishthira sat himself down on a mat of Kusa grass. Then the other sons of Pandu with Bhima among them, O thou of Bharata's race, saluted the king and touched his feet and sat themselves down, receiving his permission. The old Kuru king, surrounded by them, looked exceedingly beautiful. Indeed, he blazed with a Vedic splendour like Vrihaspati in the midst of the celestials. After they had sat themselves down, many great Rishis, viz., Satayupa and others, who were denizens of Kurukshetra, came there. The illustrious and learned Vyasa, possessed of great energy, and reverenced by even the celestial Rishis, showed himself, at the head of his numerous disciples, unto Yudhishthira. The Kuru king Dhritarashtra, Kunti's son Yudhishthira of great energy, and Bhimasena and others, stood up and advancing a few steps, saluted those guests. Approaching near, Vyasa, surrounded by Satayupa and others, addressed king Dhritarashtra, saying,--'Be thou seated.' The illustrious Vyasa then took an excellent seat made of Kusa grass placed upon a black deer-skin and covered with a piece of silken cloth. They had reserved that seat for him. After Vyasa had been seated, all those foremost of regenerate persons, endued with abundant energy, sat themselves down, having received the permission of the Island-born sage."
41:1 Nilakantha here implies the peacock and not the blue jay, for the word keka is applied to the notes of the peacock alone. Datyuhas are gallinules or a species of Chatakas whose cry resembles, Phatik jal--phatik jal--phatik jal! repeated very distinctly, the second syllable being lengthened greatly.
Next: Section XXVIII