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Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa Bk. 3 Pt. 1 by Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa

Part 4 out of 7

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on account of my husband?"

"'Unto Bhima's daughter, Damayanti, lamenting forlorn in that forest,
the truth-telling ascetics replied, saying, "O blessed and beauteous
one, we see by ascetic power that the future will bring happiness to
thee, and that thou wilt soon behold Naishadha. O daughter of Bhima,
thou wilt behold Nala, the lord of the Nishadhas, the slayer of foes,
and the foremost of the virtuous freed from distress. And O blessed
lady, thou wilt behold the king--thy lord--freed from all sins and
decked with all kinds of gems, and ruling the selfsame city, and
chastising his enemies, and striking terror into the hearts of foes, and
gladdening the hearts of friends, and crowned with every blessing."

"'Having spoken unto that princess--the beloved queen of Nala--the
ascetics with their sacred fires and asylum vanished from sight. And
beholding that mighty wonder, the daughter-in-law of king Virasena,
Damayanti of faultless limbs, was struck with amazement. And she asked
herself, "Was it a dream that I saw? What an occurrence hath taken
place! Where are all those ascetics? And where is that asylum? Where,
further, is that delightful river of sacred waters--the resort of
diverse kinds of fowls? And where, again, are those charming trees
decked with fruits and flowers?" And after thinking so for some time,
Bhima's daughter, Damayanti of sweet smiles melancholy and afflicted
with grief on account of her lord, lost the colour of her face (again).
And going to another part of the wood, she saw an _Asoka_ tree. And
approaching that first of trees in the forest, so charming with blossoms
and its load of foliage, and resounding with the notes of birds,
Damayanti, with tears in her eyes and accents choked in grief, began to
lament, saying, "Oh, this graceful tree in the heart of the forest,
decked in flowers, looketh beautiful, like a charming king of hills. O
beauteous _Asoka_, do thou speedily free me from grief. Hast thou seen
king Nala, the slayer of foes and the beloved husband of
Damayanti,--freed from fear and grief and obstacles? Hast thou seen my
beloved husband, the ruler of the Nishadhas, clad in half a piece of
cloth, with delicate skin, that hero afflicted with woe and who hath
come into this wilderness? O _Asoka_ tree, do thou free me from grief! O
_Asoka_, vindicate thy name, for _Asoka_ meaneth _destroyer of grief_."
And going round that tree thrice, with an afflicted heart, that best of
women, Bhima's daughter, entered a more terrible part of the forest. And
wandering in quest of her lord, Bhima's daughter beheld many trees and
streams and delightful mountains, and many beasts and birds, and caves,
and precipices, and many rivers of wonderful appearance. And as she
proceeded she came upon a broad way where she saw with wonder a body of
merchants, with their horses and elephants, landing on the banks of a
river, full of clear and cool water, and lovely and charming to behold,
and broad, and covered with bushes of canes, and echoing with the cries
of cranes and ospreys and _Chakravakas_, and abounding in tortoises and
alligators and fishes, and studded with innumerable islets. And as soon
as she saw that caravan, the beauteous and celebrated wife of Nala,
wild like a maniac, oppressed with grief, clad in half a garment, lean
and pale and smutted, and with hair covered with dust, drew near and
entered into its midst. And beholding her, some fled in fear, and some
became extremely anxious, and some cried aloud, and some laughed at her,
and some hated her. And some, O Bharata, felt pity for, and even
addressed, her, saying, "O blessed one, who art thou, and whose? What
seekest thou in woods? Seeing thee here we have been terrified. Art thou
human? Tell us truly, O blessed one if thou art the goddess of this wood
or of this mountain or of the points of the heaven. We seek thy
protection. Art thou a female _Yaksha_, or a female _Rakshasa_, or a
celestial damsel? O thou of faultless features, do thou bless us wholly
and protect us. And, O blessed one, do thou so act that this caravan may
soon go hence in prosperity and that the welfare of all of us may be
secured." Thus addressed by that caravan, the princess Damayanti,
devoted to her husband and oppressed by the calamity that had befallen
her, answered, saying, "O leader of the caravan, ye merchants, ye
youths, old men, and children, and ye that compose this caravan, know me
for a human being. I am the daughter of a king, and the daughter in-law
of a king, and the consort also of a king, eager for the sight of my
lord. The ruler of the Vidarbhas is my father, and my husband is the
lord of the Nishadhas, named Nala. Even now I am seeking that
unvanquished and blessed one. If ye have chanced to see my beloved one,
king Nala, that tiger among men, that destroyer of hostile hosts, O tell
me quick." Thereupon the leader of that great caravan, named Suchi,
replied unto Damayanti of faultless limbs, saying, "O blessed one,
listen to my words. O thou of sweet smiles, I am a merchant and the
leader of this caravan. O illustrious lady, I have not seen any man of
the name of Nala. In this extensive forest uninhabited by men, there are
only elephants and leopards and buffaloes, and tigers and bears and
other animals. Except thee, I have not met with any man or woman here,
so help us now Manibhadra, the king of Yakshas!" Thus addressed by them
she asked those merchants as well as the leader of the host saying, "It
behoveth you to tell me whither this caravan is bound." The leader of
the band said, "O daughter of a great king, for the purpose of profit
this caravan is bound direct for the city of Suvahu, the truth-telling
ruler of the Chedis."'"


"Vrihadaswa said, 'Having heard the words of the leader of that caravan,
Damayanti of faultless limbs proceeded with that caravan itself anxious
to behold her lord. And after having proceeded for many days the
merchants saw a large lake fragrant with lotuses in the midst of that
dense and terrible forest. And it was beautiful all over, and
exceedingly delightful, (with banks) abounding in grass and fuel and
fruits and flowers. And it was inhabited by various kinds of fowls and
birds, and fall of water that was pure and sweet. And it was cool and
capable of captivating the heart. And the caravan, worn out with toil,
resolved to halt there. And with the permission of their leader, they
spread themselves around those beautiful woods. And that mighty caravan
finding it was evening halted at that place. And (it came to pass that)
at the hour of midnight when everything was hushed and still and the
tired caravan had fallen asleep, a herd of elephants in going towards a
mountain stream to drink of its water befouled by their temporal juice,
saw that caravan as also the numerous elephants belonging to it. And
seeing their domesticated fellows the wild elephants infuriated and with
the temporal juice trickling down rushed impetuously on the former, with
the intention of killing them. And the force of the rush of those
elephants was hard to bear, like the impetuosity of peaks lessened from
mountain summits rolling towards the plain. The rushing elephants found
the forest paths to be all blocked up, for the goodly caravan was
sleeping obstructing the paths around that lake of lotuses. And the
elephants all of a sudden, began to crush the men lying insensible on
the ground. And uttering cries of "_Oh!_" and "_Alas!_" the merchants,
blinded by sleep, fled, in order to escape that danger, to copses and
woods for refuge. And some were slain by the tusks, and some by the
trunks, and some by the legs of those elephants. And innumerable camels
and horses were killed, and crowds of men on foot, running in fright,
killed one another. And uttering loud cries some fell down on the
ground, and some in fear climbed on trees, and some dropped down on
uneven ground. And, O king, thus accidentally attacked by that large herd
of elephants, that goodly caravan suffered a great loss. And there arose
a tremendous uproar calculated to frighten the three worlds, "Lo! a
great fire hath broken out. Rescue us. Do ye speedily fly away. Why do
ye fly? Take the heaps of jewels scattered around. All this wealth is a
trifle. I do not speak falsely, I tell you again, (exclaimed some one)
think on my words, O ye distracted one!" With such exclamation they ran
about in fright. And Damayanti awoke in fear and anxiety, while that
terrible slaughter was raging there. And beholding slaughter capable of
awaking the fear of all the worlds, and which was so unforeseen, the
damsel of eyes like lotus leaves rose up, wild with fright, and almost
out of breath. And those of the caravan that had escaped unhurt, met
together, and asked one another, "Of what deed of ours is this the
consequence? Surely, we have failed to worship the illustrious
Manibhadras, and likewise the exalted and graceful Vaisravana, the king
of the Yaksha. Perhaps, we have not worshipped the deities that cause
calamities, or perhaps, we have not paid them the first homage. Or,
perhaps, this evil is the certain consequence of the birds (we saw). Our
stars are not unpropitious. From what other cause, then hath this
disaster come?" Others, distressed and bereft of wealth and relatives,
said, "That maniac-like woman who came amongst this mighty caravan in
guise that was strange and scarcely human, alas, it is by her that this
dreadful illusion had been pre-arranged. Of a certainty, she is a
terrible Rakshasa or a Yaksha or a Pisacha woman. All this evil is her
work, what need of doubts? If we again see that wicked destroyer of
merchants, that giver of innumerable woes, we shall certainly slay that
injurer of ours, with stones, and dust, and grass, and wood, and cuffs."
And hearing these dreadful words of the merchants, Damayanti, in terror
and shame and anxiety, fled into the woods apprehensive of evil. And
reproaching herself she said, "Alas! fierce and great is the wrath of
God on me. Peace followeth not in my track. Of what misdeed is this the
consequence? I do not remember that I did ever so little a wrong to any
one in thought, word, or deed. Of what deed, then, is this the
consequence? Certainly, it is on account of the great sins I had
committed in a former life that such calamity hath befallen me, _viz_.,
the loss of my husband's kingdom, his defeat at the hands of his own
kinsmen, this separation from my lord and my son and daughter, this my
unprotected state, and my presence in this forest abounding in
innumerable beasts of prey!"

"'The next day, O king, the remnant of that caravan left the place
bewailing the destruction that had overtaken them and lamenting for
their dead brothers and fathers and sons and friends. And the princess
of Vidarbha began to lament, saying, "Alas! What misdeed have I
perpetrated! The crowd of men that I obtained in this lone forest, hath
been destroyed by a herd of elephants, surely as a consequence of my ill
luck. Without doubt, I shall have to suffer misery for a long time. I
have heard from old men that no person dieth ere his time; it is for
this that my miserable self hath not been trodden to death by that herd
of elephants. Nothing that befalleth men is due to anything else than
Destiny, for even in my childhood I did not commit any such sin in
thought, word, or deed, whence might come this calamity. Methinks, I
suffer this severance from my husband through the potency of those
celestial _Lokapalas_, who had come to the Swayamvara but whom I
disregarded for the sake of Nala." Bewailing thus, O tiger among kings,
that excellent lady, Damayanti, devoted to her husband, went, oppressed
with grief and (pale) as the autumnal moon, with those Brahmanas versed
in the Vedas that had survived the slaughter of the caravan. And
departing speedily, towards evening, the damsel came to the mighty city
of the truth-telling Suvahu, the king of the Chedis. And she entered
that excellent city clad in half a garment. And the citizens saw her as
she went, overcome with fear, and lean, melancholy, her hair dishevelled
and soiled with dust, and maniac-like. And beholding her enter the city
of the king of the Chedis, the boys of the city, from curiosity, began
to follow her. And surrounded by them, she came before the palace of the
king. And from the terrace the queen-mother saw her surrounded by the
crowd. And she said to her nurse, "Go and bring that woman before me.
She is forlorn and is being vexed by the crowd. She hath fallen into
distress and standeth in need of succour. I find her beauty to be such
that it illumineth my house. The fair one, though looking like a maniac,
seemeth a very _Sree_ with her large eyes." Thus commanded, the nurse
went out and dispersing the crowd brought Damayanti to that graceful
terrace. And struck with wonder, O king, she asked Damayanti, saying,
"Afflicted though thou art with such distress, thou ownest a beautiful
form. Thou shinest like lightning in the midst of the clouds. Tell me
who thou art, and whose. O thou possessed of celestial splendour,
surely, thy beauty is not human, bereft though thou art of ornaments.
And although thou art helpless, yet thou art unmoved under the outrage
of these men." Hearing these words of the nurse, the daughter of Bhima
said, "Know that I am a female belonging to the human species and
devoted to my husband. I am a serving woman of good lineage. I live
wherever I like, subsisting on fruit and roots, and whom a companion,
and stay where evening overtaketh me. My husband is the owner of
countless virtues and was ever devoted to me. And I also, on my part,
was deeply attached to him, following him like his shadow. It chanced
that once he became desperately engaged at dice. Defeated at dice, he
came alone into the forest. I accompanied my husband into the woods,
comforting the hero clad in a single piece of cloth and maniac-like and
overwhelmed with calamity. Once on a time for some cause, that hero,
afflicted with hunger and thirst and grief, was forced to abandon that
sole piece of covering in the forest. Destitute of garment and
maniac-like and deprived of his senses as he was, I followed him, myself
in a single garment. Following him, I did not sleep for nights together.
Thus passed many days, until at last while I was sleeping, he cut off
half of my cloth, and forsook me who had done him no wrong. I am seeking
my husband but unable to find him who is of hue like the filaments of
the lotus, without being able to cast my eyes on that delight of my
heart, that dear lord who owneth my heart and resembleth the celestials
in mien, day and night do I burn in grief."

"'Unto Bhima's daughter thus lamenting with tearful eyes, and afflicted
and speaking in accents choked in grief, the queen-mother herself said,
"O blessed damsel, do thou stay with me. I am well pleased with thee. O
fair lady, my men shall search for thy husband. Or, perhaps he may come
here of his own accord in course of his wanderings. And, O beautiful
lady, residing here thou wilt regain thy (lost) lord." Hearing these
words of the queen mother, Damayanti replied, "O mother of heroes, I may
stay with thee on certain conditions. I shall not eat the leavings on
any dish, nor shall I wash anybody's feet, nor shall I have to speak
with other men. And if anybody shall seek me (as a wife or mistress) he
should be liable to punishment at thy hands. And, further, should he
solicit me over and over again, that wicked one should be punished with
death. This is the vow I have made. I intend to have an interview with
those Brahmanas that will set out to search for my husband. If thou
canst do all this, I shall certainly live with thee. If it is otherwise,
I cannot find it in my heart to reside with thee." The queen-mother
answered her with a glad heart, saying, "I will do all this. Thou hast
done well in adopting such a vow!"'

"Vrihadaswa continued, 'O king, having spoken so unto the daughter of
Bhima, the queen-mother, O Bharata, said to her daughter named Sunanda,
"O Sunanda, accept this lady like a goddess as thy _Sairindhri_! Let her
be thy companion, as she is of the same age with thee. Do thou, with
heart free from care, always sport with her in joy." And Sunanda
cheerfully accepted Damayanti and led her to her own apartment
accompanied by her associates. And treated with respect, Damayanti was
satisfied, and she continued to reside there without anxiety of any
kind, for all her wishes were duly gratified.'"


"Vrihadaswa said, 'O monarch, having deserted Damayanti, king Nala saw a
mighty conflagration that was raging in that dense forest. And in the
midst of that conflagration, he heard the voice of some creature,
repeatedly crying aloud, "O righteous Nala, come hither." And answering,
"Fear not," he entered into the midst of the fire and beheld a mighty
_Naga_ lying in coils. And the Naga with joined hands, and trembling,
spake unto Nala, saying, "O king, I am a snake, Karkotaka by name. I had
deceived the great Rishi Narada of high ascetic merit, and by him have I
been cursed in wrath, O king of men, even in words such as these: 'Stay
thou here like an immobile thing, until one Nala taketh thee hence. And,
indeed, on the spot to which he will carry thee, there shalt thou be
freed from my curse.' It is for that curse of his that I am unable to
stir one step. I will instruct thee in respect of thy welfare. It
behoveth thee to deliver me. I will be thy friend. There is no snake
equal to me. I will be light in thy hands. Taking me up, do thou
speedily go hence." Having said this, that prince of snakes became as
small as the thumb. And taking him up, Nala went to a spot free from
fire. Having reached an open spot where there was no fire, Nala intended
to drop the serpent, upon which Karkotaka again addressed him, saying,
"O king of the Nishadhas, proceed thou yet, counting a few steps of
thine; meanwhile, O mighty-armed one, I will do thee great good." And as
Nala began to count his steps, the snake bit him at the tenth step. And,
lo! As he was bit, his form speedily underwent a change. And beholding
his change of form, Nala was amazed. And the king saw the snake also
assume his own form. And the snake Karkotaka, comforting Nala, spake
unto him, "I have deprived thee of thy beauty, so that people may not
recognise thee. And, O Nala, he by whom thou hast been deceived and cast
into distress, shall dwell in thee tortured by my venom. And, O monarch,
as long as he doth not leave thee, he will have to dwell in pain in thy
body with thine every limb filled with my venom. And, O ruler of men I
have saved from the hands of him who from anger and hate deceived thee,
perfectly innocent though thou art and undeserving of wrong. And, O
tiger among men, through my grace, thou shalt have (no longer) any fear
from animals with fangs, from enemies, and from Brahmanas also versed in
the Vedas, O king! Nor shalt thou, O monarch, feel pain on account of my
poison. And, O foremost of kings, thou shalt be ever victorious in
battle. This very day, O prince, O lord of Nishadhas, go to the
delightful city of Ayodhya, and present thyself before Rituparna skilled
in gambling, saying, '_I am a charioteer, Vahuka by name_.' And that
king will give thee his skill in dice for thy knowledge of horses.
Sprung from the line of Ikswaku, and possessed of prosperity, he will be
thy friend. When thou wilt be an adept at dice, thou shalt then have
prosperity. Thou wilt also meet with thy wife and thy children, and
regain thy kingdom. I tell thee this truly. Therefore, let not thy mind
be occupied by sorrow. And, O lord of men, when thou shouldst desire to
behold thy proper form, thou shouldst remember me, and wear this
garment. Upon wearing this, thou shalt get back thy own form." And
saying this, that Naga then gave unto Nala two pieces of celestial
cloth. And, O son of the Kuru race, having thus instructed Nala, and
presented him with the attire, the king of snakes, O monarch, made
himself invisible there and then!'"


"Vrihadaswa said, 'After the snake had vanished, Nala, the ruler of the
Nishadhas, proceeded, and on the tenth day entered the city of
Rituparna. And he approached the king, saying, "My name is Vahuka. There
is no one in this world equal to me in managing steeds. My counsel also
should be sought in matters of difficulty and in all affairs of skill. I
also surpass others in the art of cooking. In all those arts that exist
in this world, and also in every thing difficult of accomplishment, I
will strive to attain success, O Rituparna, do thou maintain me." And
Rituparna replied, "O Vahuka, stay with me! May good happen to thee.
Thou wilt even perform all this. I have always particularly desired to
be driven fast. Do thou concert such measures that my steeds may become
fleet. I appoint thee the superintendent of my stables. Thy pay shall be
ten thousand (coins). Both Varshneya and Jivala shall always be under
thy direction. Thou wilt live pleasantly in their company. Therefore, O
Vahuka, stay thou with me."'

"Vrihadaswa continued, 'Thus addressed by the king, Nala began to dwell
in the city of Rituparna, treated with respect and with Varshneya and
Jivala as his companions. And residing there, the king (Nala),
remembering the princess of Vidarbha, recited every evening the
following _sloka_: "_Where lieth that helpless one afflicted with hunger
and thirst and worn with toil, thinking of that wretch? And upon whom
also doth she now wait?_" And once as the king was reciting this in the
night, Jivala asked him saying, "O Vahuka, whom dost thou lament thus
daily? I am curious to hear it. O thou blest with length of days, whose
spouse is she whom thus lamentest?" Thus questioned, king Nala answered
him, saying, "A certain person devoid of sense had a wife well-known to
many. That wretch was false in his promises. For some reason that wicked
person was separated from her. Separated from her, that wretch wandered
about oppressed with woe, and burning with grief he resteth not by day
or night. And at night, remembering her, he singeth this _sloka_. Having
wandered over the entire world, he hath at last found a refuge, and
undeserving of the distress that hath befallen him, passeth his days,
thus remembering his wife. When calamity had overtaken this man, his
wife followed him into the woods. Deserted by that man of little virtue,
her life itself is in danger. Alone, without knowledge of ways, ill able
to bear distress, and fainting with hunger and thirst, the girl can
hardly protect her life. And, O friend, she hath been deserted by that
man of small fortune and having little sense, with the wide and terrible
forest, ever abounding in beasts of prey."

"'Thus remembering Damayanti, the king of the Nishadhas continued to
live unknown in the abode of that monarch!'"


"Vrihadaswa said, 'After Nala, despoiled of his kingdom, had, with his
wife, become a bondsman, Bhima with the desire of seeing Nala sent out
Brahmanas to search for him. And giving them profuse wealth, Bhima
enjoined on them, saying, "Do ye search for Nala, and also for my
daughter Damayanti. He who achieveth this task, _viz_., ascertaining
where the ruler of the Nishadhas is, bringeth him and my daughter
hither, will obtain from me a thousand kine, and fields, and a village
resembling a town. Even if failing to bring Damayanti and Nala here, he
that succeeds learning their whereabouts, will get from me the wealth
represented by a thousand kine." Thus addressed, the Brahmanas
cheerfully went out in all directions seeking Nala and his wife in
cities and provinces. But Nala or his spouse they found not anywhere.
Until at length searching in the beautiful city of the Chedis, a
Brahmana named Sudeva, during the time of the king's prayers, saw the
princess of Vidarbha in the palace of the king, seated with Sunanda. And
her incomparable beauty was slightly perceptible, like the brightness of
a fire enveloped in curls of smoke. And beholding that lady of large
eyes, soiled and emaciated he decided her to be Damayanti, coming to
that conclusion from various reasons. And Sudeva said, "As I saw her
before, this damsel is even so at present. O, I am blest, by casting my
eyes on this fair one, like _Sree_ herself delighting the worlds!
Resembling the full moon, of unchanging youth, of well-rounded breasts,
illumining all sides by her splendour, possessed of large eyes like
beautiful lotuses, like unto Kama's Rati herself the delight of all the
worlds like the rays of the full moon, O, she looketh like a lotus-stalk
transplanted by adverse fortune from the Vidarbha lake and covered with
mire in the process. And oppressed with grief on account of her husband,
and melancholy, she looketh like the night of the full moon when Rahu
hath swallowed that luminary, or like a stream whose current hath dried
up. Her plight is very much like that of a ravaged lake with the leaves
of its lotuses crushed by the trunks of elephants, and with its birds
and fowls affrighted by the invasion. Indeed, this girl, of a delicate
frame and of lovely limbs, and deserving to dwell in a mansion decked
with gems, is (now) like an uprooted lotus-stalk scorched by the sun.
Endued with beauty and generosity of nature, and destitute of ornaments,
though deserving of them, she looketh like the moon 'new bent in heaven'
but covered with black clouds. Destitute of comforts and luxuries,
separated from loved ones and friends, she liveth in distress, supported
by the hope of beholding her lord. Verily, the husband is the best
ornament of a woman, however destitute of ornaments. Without her husband
beside her, this lady, though beautiful, shineth not. It is a hard feat
achieved by Nala in that he liveth without succumbing to grief, though
separated from such a wife. Beholding this damsel possessed of black
hair and of eyes like lotus-leaves, in woe though deserving of bliss,
even my heart is pained. Alas! when shall this girl graced with
auspicious marks and devoted to her husband, crossing this ocean of woe,
regain the company of her lord, like Rohini regaining the Moon's?
Surely, the king of the Nishadhas will experience in regaining her the
delight that a king deprived of his kingdom experienceth in regaining
his kingdom. Equal to her in nature and age and extraction, Nala
deserveth the daughter of Vidarbha, and this damsel of black eyes also
deserveth him. It behoveth me to comfort the queen of that hero of
immeasurable prowess and endued with energy and might, (since) she is so
eager to meet her husband. I will console this afflicted girl of face
like the full moon, and suffering distress that she had never before
endured, and ever meditating on her lord."'

"Vrihadaswa continued, 'Having thus reflected on these various
circumstances and signs, the Brahmana, Sudeva, approached Damayanti, and
addressed her, saying, "O princess of Vidarbha, I am Sudeva, the dear
friend of thy brother. I have come here, seeking thee, at the desire of
king Bhima. Thy father is well, and also thy mother, and thy brothers.
And thy son and daughter, blessed with length of days, are living in
peace. Thy relatives, though alive, are almost dead on thy account, and
hundreds of Brahmanas are ranging the world in search of thee."'

"Vrihadaswa continued, 'O Yudhishthira, Damayanti recognising Sudeva,
asked him respecting all her relatives and kinsmen one after another.
And, O monarch, oppressed with grief, the princess of Vidarbha began to
weep bitterly, at the unexpected sight of Sudeva, that foremost of
Brahmanas and the friend of her brother. And, O Bharata, beholding
Damayanti weeping, and conversing in private with Sudeva, Sunanda was
distressed, and going to her mother informed her, saying, "_Sairindhri_
is weeping bitterly in the presence of a Brahmana. If thou likest,
satisfy thyself." And thereupon the mother of the king of the Chedis,
issuing from the inner apartments of the palace, came to the place where
the girl (Damayanti) was with that Brahmana. Then calling Sudeva, O
king, the queen-mother asked him, "Whose wife is this fair one, and
whose daughter? How hath this lady of beautiful eyes been deprived of
the company of her relatives and of her husband as well? And how also
hast thou come to know this lady fallen into such a plight? I wish to
hear all this in detail from thee. Do truly relate unto me who am asking
thee about this damsel of celestial beauty." Then, O king, thus
addressed by the queen-mother, Sudeva, that best of Brahmanas, sat at
his ease, and began to relate the true history of Damayanti.'"


"'Sudeva said, "There is a virtuous and illustrious ruler of the
Vidarbhas, Bhima by name. This blessed lady is his daughter, and widely
known by the name of Damayanti. And there is a king ruling the
Nishadhas, named Nala, the son of Virasena. This blessed lady is the
wife of that wise and righteous monarch. Defeated at dice by his
brother, and despoiled of his kingdom, that king, accompanied by
Damayanti, went away without the knowledge of any one. We have been
wandering over the whole earth in search of Damayanti. And that girl is
at last found in the house of thy son. No woman existeth that is her
rival in beauty. Between the eye-brows of this ever-youthful damsel,
there is an excellent mole from birth, resembling a lotus. Noticed by us
(before) it seems to have disappeared, covered, (as her forehead is)
with (a coat of) dust even like the moon hid in clouds. Placed there by
the Creator himself as an indication of prosperity and wealth, that mole
is visible faintly, like the cloud-covered lunar crescent of the first
day of the lighted fortnight. And covered as her body is with dust, her
beauty hath not disappeared. Though careless of her person, it is still
manifest, and shineth like gold. And this girl--goddess-like--capable of
being identified by this form of hers and that mole, hath been
discovered by me as one discovereth a fire that is covered, by its

"'O king, hearing these words of Sudeva, Sunanda washed the dust that
covered the mole between Damayanti's eye-brows. And thereupon it became
visible like the moon in the sky, just emerged from the clouds. And
seeing that mole, O Bharata, Sunanda and the queen-mother began to weep,
and embracing Damayanti stood silent for a while. And the queen-mother,
shedding tears as she spoke, said in gentle accents, "By this thy mole,
I find that thou art the daughter of my sister. O beauteous girl, thy
mother and I are both daughters of the high-souled Sudaman, the ruler of
the Dasarnas. She was bestowed upon king Bhima, and I on Viravahu. I
witnessed thy birth at our father's palace in the country of the
Dasarnas. O beautiful one, my house is to thee even as thy father's. And
this wealth, O Damayanti, is thine as much as mine." At this, O king,
Damayanti bowing down to her mother's sister with a glad heart, spake
unto her these words, "Unrecognised, I have still lived happily with
thee, every want of mine satisfied and myself cared for by thee. And
happy as my stay hath been, it would, without doubt, be happier still.
But, mother, I have long been an exile. It behoveth thee, therefore, to
grant me permission (to depart). My son and daughter, sent to my
father's palace, are living there. Deprived of their father, and of
their mother also, how are they passing their days stricken with sorrow.
If thou wishest to do what is agreeable to me, do thou without loss of
time, order a vehicle, for I wish to go to the Vidarbhas." At this, O
king, the sister to (Damayanti's) mother, with a glad heart, said, "_So
be it._" And the queen-mother with her son's permission, O chief of the
Bharatas, sent Damayanti in handsome litter carried by men, protected by
a large escort and provided with food and drink and garments of the
first quality. And soon enough she reached the country of the Vidarbhas.
And all her relatives, rejoicing (in her arrival) received her with
respect. And seeing her relatives, her children, both her parents, and
all her maids, to be well, the illustrious Damayanti, O king, worshipped
the gods and Brahmanas according to the superior method. And the king
rejoiced at beholding his daughter, and gave unto Sudeva a thousand kine
and much wealth and a village. And, O king, having spent that night at
her father's mansion and recovered from fatigue, Damayanti addressed her
mother, saying, "O mother, if thou wishest me to live, I tell thee
truly, do thou endeavour to bring Nala, that hero among men." Thus
addressed by Damayanti, the venerable queen became filled with sorrow.
And bathed in tears, she was unable to give any answer. And beholding
her in that plight, all the inmates of the inner apartments broke out
into exclamation of "_Oh!_" And "_Alas!_" and began to cry bitterly. And
then the queen addressed the mighty monarch Bhima, saying, "Thy daughter
Damayanti mourneth on account of her husband. Nay, banishing away all
bashfulness, she hath herself, O king, declared her mind to me. Let thy
men strive to find out (Nala) the righteous." Thus informed by her the
king sent the Brahmanas under him in all directions, saying, "Exert ye
to discover Nala." And those Brahmanas, commanded by the ruler of the
Vidarbhas (to seek Nala) appeared before Damayanti and told her of the
journey they were about to undertake. And Bhima's daughter spake unto
them saying, "Do ye cry in every realm and in every assembly, 'O beloved
gambler, where hast thou gone cutting off half of my garment, and
deserting the dear and devoted wife asleep in the forest? And that girl,
as commanded by thee stayeth expecting thee, clad in half a piece of
cloth and burning with grief! O king, O hero, relent towards, and
answer, her who incessantly weepeth for that grief.' This and more ye
will say, so that he may be inclined to pity me. Assisted by the wind,
fire consumeth the forest. (Further, ye will say that) 'the wife is
always to be protected and maintained by the husband. Why then, good as
thou art and acquainted with every duty, hast thou neglected both the
duties? Possessed of fame and wisdom, and lineage, and kindness, why
hast thou be unkind? I fear, this is owing to the loss of my good luck!
Therefore, O tiger among men, have pity on me. O bull among men! I have
heard it from thee that kindness is the highest virtue.' Speaking so, if
anybody answereth you, that person should by all means, be known, and ye
should learn who he is, and where he dwelleth. And ye foremost of
regenerate ones, do ye bring me the words of him who hearing this your
speech will chance to answer. Ye should also act with such care that no
one may know the words ye utter to be at my command, nor that ye will
come back to me. And ye should also learn whether that answers is
wealthy, or poor, or destitute of power, in fact all about him."

"'Thus instructed by Damayanti, O king, the Brahmanas set out in all
directions in search of Nala overtaken with such disaster. And the
Brahmanas, O king, searched for him in cities and kingdoms and villages,
and retreats of ascetics, and places inhabited by cow-herds. And, O
monarch, wherever they went they recited the speeches that Damayanti had
directed them to do.'"


"Vrihadaswa said, 'After a long time had passed away, a Brahmana named
Parnada returned to the city (of the Vidarbhas), and said unto the
daughter of Bhima, "O Damayanti, seeking Nala, the king of Nishaidhas, I
came to the city of Ayodhya, and appeared before the son of Bhangasura.
And, O best of women, I repeated those words of thine in the presence of
the blessed Rituparna. But hearing them neither that ruler of men, nor
his courtiers, answered anything, although I uttered them repeatedly.
Then, after I had been dismissed by the monarch, I was accosted by a
person in the service of Rituparna, named Vahuka. And Vahuka is the
charioteer of that king, of unsightly appearance and possessed of short
arms. And he is skillful in driving with speed, and well acquainted with
the culinary art. And sighing frequently, and weeping again and again,
he inquired about my welfare and afterwards said these words, 'Chaste
women, although fallen into distress, yet protect themselves and thus
certainly secure heaven. Although they may be deserted by their lords,
they do not yet become angry on that account, for women that are chaste
lead their lives, encased in the armour of virtuous behaviour. It
behoveth her not to be angry, since he that deserted her was overwhelmed
with calamity, and deprived of every bliss. A beautious and virtuous
woman should not be angry with one that was deprived by birds of his
garment while striving to procure sustenance and who is being consumed
with grief. Whether treated well or ill, such a wife should never
indulge in ire, beholding her husband in that plight, despoiled of
kingdom and destitute of prosperity, oppressed with hunger and
overwhelmed with calamity.' Hearing these words of his, I have speedily
come here. Thou hast now heard all. Do what thou thinkest proper, and
inform the king of it."

"'O king, having heard these words of Parnada, Damayanti with tearful
eyes came to her mother, and spake unto her in private, "O mother, king
Bhima should not, by any means, be made acquainted with my purpose. In
thy presence will I employ that best of Brahmanas, Sudeva! If thou
desirest my welfare, act in such a way that king Bhima may not know my
purpose. Let Sudeva without delay go hence to the city of Ayodhya, for
the purpose of bringing Nala, O mother, having performed the same
auspicious rites by virtue of which he had speedily brought me into the
midst of friends." With these words, after Parnada had recovered from
fatigue, the princess of Vidarbha worshipped him with profuse wealth and
also said, "When Nala will come here, O Brahmana, I will bestow on thee
wealth in abundance again. Thou hast done me the immense service which
none else, indeed, can do me, for, (owing to that service of thine), O
thou best of the regenerate ones, I shall speedily regain my (lost)
lord." And thus addressed by Damayanti, that high-minded Brahmana
comforted her, uttering benedictory words of auspicious import, and then
went home, regarding his mission to have been successful. And after he
had gone away, Damayanti oppressed with grief and distress, calling
Sudeva, addressed him, O Yudhishthira, in the presence of her mother,
saying, "O Sudeva, go thou to the city of Ayodhya, straight as a bird,
and tell king Rituparna living there, these words: 'Bhima's daughter,
Damayanti will hold another _Swayamvara_. All the kings and princes are
going thither. Calculating the time, I find that the ceremony will take
place tomorrow. O represser of foes, if it is possible for thee, go
thither without delay. Tomorrow, after the sun hath risen, she will
choose a second husband, as she doth not know whether the heroic Nala
liveth or not.'" And addressed by her, O monarch thus, Sudeva set out.
And he said unto Rituparna, all that he had been directed to say.'"


"Vrihadaswa continued, 'Having heard the words of Sudeva king Rituparna,
soothing Vahuka with gentle words, said, "O Vahuka, thou art
well-skilled in training and guiding horses. If it pleases thee, I
intend to go to Damayanti's _Swayamvara_ in course of a single day."
Thus addressed, O son of Kunti, by that king, Nala felt his heart to be
bursting in grief. And the high-souled king seemed to burn in sorrow.
And he thought within himself, "Perhaps Damayanti in doing this is
blinded by sorrow. Or, perhaps, she hath conceived this magnificent
scheme for my sake. Alas, cruel is the deed that the innocent princess
of Vidarbha intends to do, having been deceived by my sinful and low
self of little sense. It is seen in the world that the nature of woman
is inconstant. My offence also hath been great; perhaps she is acting
so, because she hath no longer any love for me owing to my separation
from her. Indeed, that girl of slender waist, afflicted with grief on my
account and with despair, will not certainly do anything of the kind,
when especially, she is the mother of offspring (by me). However whether
this is true or false, I shall ascertain with certitude by going
thither. I will, therefore, accomplish Rituparna's and my own purpose
also." Having resolved thus in his mind, Vahuka, with his heart in
sorrow, spake unto king Rituparna, with joined hands, saying, "O
monarch, I bow to thy behest, and, O tiger among men, I will go to the
city of the Vidarbhas in a single day. O king!" Then, O monarch, at the
command of the royal son of Bhangasura, Vahuka went to the stables and
began to examine the horses. And repeatedly urged by Rituparna to make
haste, Vahuka after much scrutiny and careful deliberation, selected
some steeds that were lean-fleshed, yet strong and capable of a long
journey and endued with energy and strength of high breed and docility,
free from inauspicious marks, with wide nostrils and swelling cheeks,
free from faults as regards the ten hairy curls, born in (the country
of) Sindhu, and fleet as the winds. And seeing those horses, the king
said somewhat angrily, "What is this, that thou wishest to do? Thou
shouldst not jest with us. How can these horses of mine, weak in
strength and breath, carry us? And how shall we be able to go this long
way by help of these?" Vahuka replied, "Each of these horses bears one
curl on his forehead, two on his temples, four on his sides, four on his
chest, and one on his back. Without doubt, these steeds will be able to
go to the country of the Vidarbhas. If, O king, thou thinkest of
choosing others, point them out and I shall yoke them for thee."
Rituparna rejoined, "O Vahuka, thou art versed in the science of horses
and art also skillful (in guiding them). Do thou speedily yoke those
that thou thinkest to be able." Thereupon the skillful Nala yoked upon
the car four excellent steeds of good breed that were, besides, docile
and fleet. And after the steeds had been yoked, the king without loss of
time mounted upon the car, when those best of horses fell down upon the
ground on their knees. Then, O king, that foremost of men, the blessed
king Nala began to soothe horses endued with energy and strength. And
raising them up with the reins and making the charioteer Varshneya sit
on the car, he prepared to set out with great speed. And those best of
steeds, duly urged by Vahuka, rose to the sky, confounding the occupant
of the vehicle. And beholding those steeds gifted with the speed of the
wind thus drawing the car, the blessed king of Ayodhaya was exceedingly
amazed. And noticing the rattle of the car and also the management of
the steeds, Varshneya reflected upon Vahuka's skill in guiding horses.
And he thought, "Is he Matali, the charioteer of the king of the
celestials? I find the same magnificent indications in the heroic
Vahuka. Or, hath Salihotra versed in the science of horses taken this
human shape so beautiful? Or, is it king Nala the reducer of hostile
towns that hath come here? Or, it may be that this Vahuka knoweth the
science that Nala knoweth, for I perceive that the knowledge of Vahuka
is equal to that of Nala. Further, Vahuka and Nala are of the same age.
This one, again, may not be Nala of high prowess, but somebody of equal
knowledge. Illustrious persons, however, walk this earth in disguise in
consequence of misfortune, or agreeably to the ordinance of the
scriptures. That this person is of unsightly appearance need not change
my opinion; for Nala, I think, may even be despoiled of his personal
features. In respect of age this one equals Nala. There is difference,
however, in personal appearance. Vahuka, again is endued with every
accomplishment. I think, therefore, he is Nala." Having thus reasoned
long in his mind, O mighty monarch, Varshneya, the (former) charioteer
of the righteous Nala, became absorbed in thought. And that foremost of
kings Rituparna, also, beholding the skill of Vahuka in equestrian
science experienced great delight, along with his charioteer Varshneya.
And thinking of Vahuka's application and ardour and the manner of his
holding the reins, the king felt exceedingly glad.'"


"Vrihadaswa said, 'Like a bird coursing through the sky, Nala soon
crossed rivers and mountains, and woods and lakes. And while the car was
coursing thus, that conqueror of hostile cities, the royal son of
Bhangasura, saw his upper garment drop down on the ground. And at soon
as his garment had dropped down the high-minded monarch, without loss of
time, told Nala, "I intend to recover it. O thou of profound
intelligence, retain these steeds endued with exceeding swiftness until
Varshneya bringeth back my garment." Thereupon Nala replied unto him,
"The sheet is dropped down far away. We have travelled one _yojana_
thence. Therefore, it is incapable of being recovered." After Nala had
addressed him thus, O king, the royal son of Bhangasura came upon a
_Vibhitaka_ tree with fruits in a forest. And seeing that tree, the king
hastily said to Vahuka, "O charioteer, do thou also behold my high
proficiency in calculation. All men do not know everything. There is no
one that is versed in every science of art. Knowledge in its entirety is
not found in any one person, O Vahuka, the leaves and fruits of this
tree that are lying on the ground respectively exceed those that are on
it by one hundred and one. The two branches of the tree have fifty
millions of leaves, and two thousand and ninety five fruits. Do thou
examine these two branches and all their boughs." Thereupon staying the
car Vahuka addressed the king, saying, "O crusher of foes, thou takest
credit to thyself in a matter which is beyond my perception. But, O
monarch, I will ascertain it by the direct evidence of my senses, by
cutting down the _Vibhitaka_. O king, when I actually count, it will no
longer be matter of speculation. Therefore, in thy presence, O monarch,
I will hew down this _Vibhitaka_. I do not know whether it be not (as
thou hast said). In thy presence, O ruler of men, I will count the
fruits and leaves. Let Varshneya hold the reins of the horses for a
while." Unto the charioteer the king replied, "There is no time to
lose." But Vahuka answered with humility, "Stay thou a short space, or,
if thou art in a hurry, go then, making Varshneya thy charioteer. The
road lies direct and even." And at this, O son of the Kuru race,
soothing Vahuka, Rituparna said, "O Vahuka, thou art the only
charioteer, there is none other in this world. And, O thou versed in
horse lore, it is through thy help that I expect to go to the Vidarbhas.
I place myself in thy hands. It behoveth thee not to cause any obstacle.
And, O Vahuka, whatever thy wish. I will grant it if taking me to the
country of the Vidarbhas to-day, thou makest me see the sun rise." At
this, Vahuka answered him, saying, "After having counted (the leaves and
fruits of the) _Vibhitaka_, I shall proceed to Vidarbha, do thou agree
to my words." Then the king reluctantly told him, "Count. And on
counting the leaves and fruits of a portion of this branch, thou wilt be
satisfied of the truth of my assertion." And thereupon Vahuka speedily
alighted from the car, and felled that tree. And struck with amazement
upon finding the fruits, after calculation, to be what the king had
said, he addressed the king, saying, "O monarch, this thy power is
wonderful. I desire, O prince, to know the art by which thou hast
ascertained all this." And at this the king, intent upon proceeding
speedily, said unto Vahuka, "Know that I am proficient at dice besides
being versed in numbers." And Vahuka said unto him, "Impart unto me this
knowledge and, O bull among men, take from me my knowledge of horses."
And king Rituparna, having regard to the importance of the act that
depended upon Vahuka's good-will, and tempted also by the horse-lore
(that his charioteer possessed), said, "So be it. As solicited by thee,
receive this science of dice from me, and, O Vahuka, let my equine
science remain with thee in trust." And saying this, Rituparna imparted
unto Nala the science (he desired). And Nala upon becoming acquainted
with the science of dice, Kali came out of his body, incessantly
vomiting from his mouth the virulent poison of Karkotaka. And when Kali,
afflicted (by Damayanti's curse) came out (of Nala's body), the fire of
that curse also left Kali. Indeed, long had been the time for which the
king had been afflicted by Kali, as if he were of unregenerate soul. And
Nala the ruler of the Nishadhas, in wrath, was bent upon cursing Kali,
when the latter, frightened, and trembling, said with joined hands,
"Control thy wrath, O king! I will render thee illustrious. Indrasena's
mother had formerly cursed me in anger when she had been deserted by
thee. Ever since that time undergoing sore affliction I resided in thee,
O mighty monarch, O unconquered one, miserably and burning night and
day with the venom of the prince of snakes. I seek thy protection. If
thou dost not curse me who am affrighted and seek thy protection, then
those men that will attentively recite thy history, shall be even free
from fear on my account." And thus addressed by Kali, king Nala
controlled his wrath. And thereupon the frightened Kali speedily entered
into the _Vibhitaka_ tree. And while the Kali was conversing with
Naishadha, he was invisible to others. And delivered from his
afflictions, and having counted the fruits of that tree, the king,
filled with great joy and of high energy, mounted on the car and
proceeded with energy, urging those fleet horses. And from the touch of
Kali the _Vibhitaka_ tree from that hour fell into disrepute. And Nala,
with a glad heart, began to urge those foremost of steeds which sprang
into the air once and again like creatures endued with wings. And the
illustrious monarch drove (the car) in the direction of the Vidarbhas.
And after Nala had gone far away, Kali also returned to his abode. And
abandoned by Kali, O king, that lord of earth, the royal Nala, became
freed from calamity though he did not assume his native form.'"


"Vrinadaswa said, 'After Rituparna of prowess incapable of being baffled
had, in the evening, arrived at the city of the Vidarbhas, the people
brought unto king Bhima the tidings (of his arrival). And at the
invitation of Bhima, the king (of Ayodhya) entered the city of Kundina,
filling with the rattle of his car all the ten points, direct and
transverse, of the horizon. And the steeds of Nala that were in that
city heard that sound, and hearing it they became delighted as they used
to be in the presence of Nala himself. And Damayanti also heard the
sound of that car driven by Nala, like the deep roar of the clouds in
the rainy season. And Bhima and the steeds (of Nala) regarded the
clatter of that car to be like that which they used to hear in days of
yore when king Nala himself urged his own steeds. And the peacocks on
the terraces, and the elephants in the stables, and the horses also, all
heard the rattle of Rituparna's car. And hearing the sound, so like the
roar of the clouds, the elephants and the peacocks, O king, began to
utter their cries, facing that direction, and filled with delight such
as they experience when they hear the actual roar of the clouds. And
Damayanti said, "Because the rattle of his car filling the whole earth,
gladdens my heart, it must be King Nala (that has come). If I do not see
Nala, of face bright as the moon, that hero with countless virtues, I
shall certainly die. If I am not clasped today in that hero's thrilling
embrace, I shall certainly cease to be. If Naishadha with voice deep as
that of the clouds doth not come to me today, I shall enter into a pyre
of golden brilliance. If that foremost of kings, powerful as a lion and
gifted with the strength of an infuriated elephant, doth not present
himself before me, I shall certainly cease to live. I do not remember a
single untruth in him, or a single wrong done by him to others. Never
hath he spoken an untruth even in jest. Oh, my Nala is exalted and
forgiving and heroic and magnificent and superior to all other kings,
and faithful to his marriage vow and like unto a eunuch in respect of
other females. Night and day dwelling upon his perceptions, my heart, in
absence of that dear one, is about to burst in grief."

"'Thus bewailing as if devoid of sense, Damayanti, O Bharata, ascended
the terrace (of her mansion) with the desire of seeing the righteous
Nala. And in the yard of the central mansion she beheld king Rituparna
on the car with Varshneya and Vahuka. And Varshneya and Vahuka,
descending for that excellent vehicle, unyoked the steeds, and kept the
vehicle itself in a proper place. And king Rituparna also, descending
from the car, presented himself before king Bhima possessed of terrible
prowess. And Bhima received him with great respect, for in the absence
of a proper occasion, a great person cannot be had (as a guest). And
honoured by Bhima, king Rituparna looked about him again and again, but
saw no traces of the _Swayamvara_. And the ruler of the Vidarbhas, O
Bharata, approaching Rituparna, said, "Welcome! What is the occasion of
this thy visit?" And king Bhima asked this without knowing that
Rituparna had come to obtain the hand of his daughter. And king
Rituparna, of unbaffled prowess and gifted with intelligence, saw that
there were no other kings or princes. Nor did he hear any talk relating
to the _Swayamvara_, nor saw any concourse of Brahmanas. And at this,
the king of Kosala reflected a while and at length said, "I have come
here to pay my respects to thee." And the king Bhima was struck with
astonishment, and reflected upon the (probable) cause of Rituparna's
coming, having passed over a hundred _yojanas_. And he reflected, "That
passing by other sovereigns, and leaving behind him innumerable
countries, he should come simply to pay his respect to me is scarcely
the reason of his arrival. What he assigneth to be the cause of his
coming appeareth to be a trifle. However, I shall learn the true reason
in the future." And although king Bhima thought so, he did not dismiss
Rituparna summarily, but said unto him again and again, "Rest, thou art
weary." And honoured thus by the pleased Bhima, king Rituparna was
satisfied, and with a delighted heart, he went to his appointed quarters
followed by the servants of the royal household.'

"Vrihadaswa continued, 'And, O king, after Rituparna had gone away with
Varshneya, Vahuka took the car to the stables. And there freeing the
steeds, and tending them according to rule, and soothing them himself,
sat down on a side of the car. Meanwhile, the princess of Vidharva,
Damayanti, afflicted with grief, having beheld the royal son of
Bhangasura, and Varshneya of the _Suta_ race, and also Vahuka in that
guise, asked herself, "Whose is this car-rattle? It was loud as that of
Nala, but I do not see the ruler of the Nishadhas. Certainly, Varshneya
hath learnt the art from Nala, and it is for this the rattle of the car
driven by him hath been even like that of Nala. Or, is Rituparna equally
skilled with Nala so that the rattle of his car seemeth to be like that
of Nala?" And reflecting thus, O monarch, the blessed and beauteous girl
sent a female messenger in search of Nishada.'"


"'Damayanti said, "O Kesini, go thou and learn who that charioteer is
that sitteth by the car, unsightly and possessed of short arms. O
blessed one, O faultless one, approaching him, cautiously and with suit
words, make thou the usual inquiries of courtesy and learn all
particulars truly. Having regard to the feeling of satisfaction my mind
experienceth, and the delight my heart feeleth, I am greatly afraid this
one is king Nala himself. And, O faultless one, having inquired after
his welfare, thou shalt speak unto him the words of Parnada. And, O
beauteous one, understand the reply he may make thereto." Thus
instructed, that female messenger, going cautiously, while the blessed
Damayanti watched from the terrace, addressed Vahuka in these words, "O
foremost of men, thou art welcome. I wish thee happiness. O bull among
men, hear now the words of Damayanti. When did ye all set out, and with
what object have ye come hither. Tell us truly, for the princess of
Vidarbha wisheth to hear it." Thus addressed, Vahuka answered, "the
illustrious king of Kosala had heard from a Brahmana that a second
_Swayamvara_ of Damayanti would take place. And hearing it, he hath come
here, by the help of excellent steeds fleet as the wind and capable of
going a hundred _yojanas_. I am his charioteer." Kesini then asked,
"Whence doth the third among you come, and whose (son) is he? And whose
son art thou, and how hast thou come to do this work?" Thus questioned,
Vahuka replied, "He (of whom thou inquirest) was the charioteer of the
virtuous Nala, and known to all by the name of Varshneya. After Nala
had, O beauteous one, left his kingdom, he came to the son of
Bhangasura. I am skilled in horse-lore, and have, therefore, been
appointed as charioteer. Indeed, king Rituparna hath himself chosen me
as his charioteer and cook." At this Kesini rejoined, "Perhaps Varshneya
knoweth where king Nala hath gone, and O Vahuka, he may also have spoken
to thee (about his master)." Vahuka then said, "Having brought hither
the children of Nala of excellent deeds, Varshneya went away whither he
listed: He doth not know where Naishadha is. Nor, O illustrious one,
doth anybody else know of Nala's whereabouts; for the king (in calamity)
wandereth over the world in disguise and despoiled of (his native)
beauty. Nala's self only knoweth Nala. Nala never discovereth his marks
of identity anywhere." Thus addressed, Kesini returned, "The Brahmana
that had before this gone to Ayodhya, had repeatedly said these words
suitable to female lips, 'O beloved gambler, where hast thou gone
cutting off half my piece of cloth, and deserting me, his dear and
devoted wife asleep in the woods? And she herself, as commanded by him,
waiteth expecting him clad in half a garment and burning day and night
in grief. O king, O hero, do thou relent towards her that weepeth
ceaselessly for that calamity and do thou give her an answer. O
illustrious one, do thou speak the words agreeable to her for the
blameless one panteth to hear them.' Hearing these words of the Brahmana
thou didst formerly give a reply! The princess of Vidarbha again wisheth
to hear the words thou didst then say."'

"Vrihadaswa continued, 'O son of the Kuru race, hearing these words of
Kesini, Nala's heart was pained, and his eyes filled with tears. And
repressing his sorrow, the king who was burning in grief, said again
these words, in accents choked with tears: "Chaste women, though
overtaken by calamity, yet protect themselves, and thereby secure
heaven. Women that are chaste, deserted by their lords, never become
angry, but continue to live, cased in virtue's mail. Deserted by one
fallen into calamity, bereft of sense, and despoiled of bliss, it
behoveth her not to be angry. A virtuous lady should not be angry with
one that was deprived by birds of his garment while striving to procure
sustenance and who is burning in misery. Whether treated well or ill she
would never be angry, seeing her husband in that plight, despoiled of
his kingdom, bereft of prosperity, oppressed with hunger, and
overwhelmed with calamity." And, O Bharata, while speaking thus, Nala
oppressed with grief, could not restrain his tears, but began to weep.
And thereupon Kesini went back to Damayanti, and acquainted her with
everything about that conversation as well as that outburst of grief.'"


"Vrihadaswa said, 'Hearing everything, Damayanti became oppressed with
grief, and suspecting the person to be Nala, said unto Kesini, "O
Kesini, go thou again, and examine Vahuka, and staying in silence at his
side mark thou his conduct. And, O beauteous one, whenever he happens to
do anything skilful, do thou observe well his act while accomplishing
it. And, O Kesini, whenever he may ask water or fire, with the view of
offering him obstruction, thou shalt be in no hurry to give it. And
marking everything about his behaviour, come thou and tell me. And
whatever human or super-human thou seest in Vahuka, together with
anything else, should all be reported unto me." And thus addressed by
Damayanti, Kesini went away, and having marked the conduct of that
person versed in horse-lore, she came back. And she related unto
Damayanti all that had happened, indeed, everything of human and
superhuman that she had witnessed in Vahuka. And Kesini said, "O
Damayanti, a person of such control over the elements I have never
before seen or heard of. Whenever he cometh to low passage, he never
stoopeth down, but seeing him, the passage itself groweth in height so
that he may pass through it easily. And at his approach, impassable
narrow holes open wide. King Bhima had sent various kinds of meat--of
diverse animals, for Rituparna's food. And many vessels had been placed
there for washing the meat. And as he looked upon them, those vessels
became filled (with water). And having washed the meat, as he set
himself to cook, he took up a handful of grass and held it in the sun,
when fire blazed up all on a sudden. Beholding this marvel, I have come
hither amazed. Further, I have witnessed in him another great wonder. O
beauteous one, he touched fire and was not burnt. And at his will, water
falling floweth in a stream. And, I have witnessed another greater
wonder still. He took up some flowers, began to press them slowly with
his hands. And pressed by his hand, the flowers did not lose their
original forms, but, on the contrary, became gayer and more odorous than
before. Having beheld wonderful things I have come hither with speed."'

"Vrihadaswa continued, 'Hearing of these acts of the virtuous Nala, and
discovering him from his behaviour, Damayanti considered him as already
recovered. And from these indications suspecting that Vahuka was her
husband, Damayanti once more weepingly addressed Kesini in soft words,
saying, "O beauteous one, go thou once more, and bring from the kitchen
without Vahuka's knowledge some meat that hath been boiled and dressed
(by him)." Thus commanded, Kesini, ever bent on doing what was agreeable
to Damayanti, went to Vahuka, and taking some hot meat came back without
loss of time. And Kesini gave that meat, O son of the Kuru race, unto
Damayanti. And Damayanti who had formerly often partaken of meat dressed
by Nala, tasted the meat that was brought by her hand-maid. And she
thereupon decided Vahuka to be Nala and wept aloud in grief of heart.
And, O Bharata, overwhelmed with grief, and washing her face, she sent
her two children with Kesini. And Vahuka, who was the king in disguise,
recognising Indrasena with her brother, advanced hastily, and embracing
them, took them up on his lap. And taking up his children like unto the
children of the celestials, he began to weep aloud in sonorous accents,
his heart oppressed with great sorrow. And after having repeatedly
betrayed his agitation, Naishadha suddenly left children, and addressed
Kesini, saying, "O fair damsel, these twins are very like my own
children. Beholding them unexpectedly, I shed tears. If thou comest to
me frequently people may think evil, for we are guests from another
land. Therefore. O blessed one, go at thy ease."'"


"Vrihadaswa said, 'Beholding the agitation of the virtuous and wise
Nala, Kesini returned unto Damayanti and related everything unto her.
And thereupon Damayanti with a sorrowful heart and eager to behold Nala,
again despatched Kesini to her mother, asking her to say on her behalf:
"Suspecting Vahuka to be Nala, I have tried him in various ways. My
doubt now only relates to his appearance. I intend to examine him
myself. O mother, either let him enter the palace, or give me permission
to go to him. And arrange this with the knowledge of my father or
without it." And thus addressed to Damayanti, that lady communicated
unto Bhima the intention of his daughter, and upon learning it the king
gave his consent. And, O bull of the Bharata race, having obtained the
consent both of her father and mother, Damayanti caused Nala to be
brought to her apartments. And as soon as he saw Damayanti unexpectedly,
king Nala was overwhelmed with grief and sorrow, and bathed in tears.
And that best of women, Damayanti, also, upon beholding king Nala in
that condition, was sorely afflicted with grief. And, O monarch, herself
clad in a piece of red cloth, and wearing matted locks, and covered with
dirt and dust, Damayanti then addressed Vahuka, saying, "O Vahuka, hast
thou ever seen any person acquainted with duty, who hath gone away,
deserting his sleeping wife in the forest? Who, except the virtuous
Nala, could go away, deserting in the woods, his dear and unoffending
wife overcome with fatigue? Of what offence was I guilty in the eyes of
that monarch since my early youth that he should go away deserting me in
the woods while asleep overcome with fatigue? Why should he whom I
formerly chose in preference to the gods themselves abandon his
ever-devoted and loving wife who had become the mother also of his
children? Before the fire, and in presence also of the celestials, he
had taken my hand, vowing, '_Verily I will be thine_.' Oh, where was
that vow when he deserted me. O represser of foes." While Damayanti was
saying all this, tears of sorrow began to flow plentifully from her
eyes. And beholding her thus afflicted with grief, Nala also, shedding
tears, black of those of the gazelle with extremities of reddish hue,
said, "O timid one, neither the loss of my kingdom nor my desertion of
thee was my act. Both were due to Kali. And, O foremost of virtuous
women, lamenting for me day and night, and overcome with sorrow, thou
hadst in the woods cursed Kali, and so he began to dwell in my body,
burning in consequence of thy curse. Indeed burning with thy curse, he
lived within me like fire within fire. O blessed girl, that our sorrows
might terminate, that wretch have I overcome by my observances and
austerities. The sinful wretch hath already left me, and it is for this
that I have come hither. My presence here, O fair lady, is for thy sake.
I have no other object. But, O timid one, can any other woman, forsaking
her loving and devoted husband, ever choose a second lord like thee? At
the command of the king, messengers are ranging this entire earth,
saying, '_Bhima's daughter will, of her own accord, choose a second
husband worthy of her_.' Immediately on hearing this, the son of
Bhangasura hath arrived here." Hearing these lamentations of Nala,
Damayanti, frightened and trembling, said with joined hand, "It behoveth
thee not, O blessed one, to suspect any fault in me. O ruler of the
Nishadhas, passing over the celestials themselves, I choose thee as my
lord. It was to bring thee hither that the Brahmanas had gone out in all
directions, even to all the sides of the horizon, singing my words, in
the form of ballads. At last, O king, a learned Brahmana named Parnada
had found thee in Kosala in the palace of Rituparna. When thou hadst
returned a fit answer to those words of his, it was then, O Naishadha,
that I devised this scheme to recover thee. Except thee, O lord of
earth, there is no one in this world, who in one day can clear, O King,
a hundred _yojanas_ with horses. O monarch, touching thy feet I can
swear truly that I have not, even in thought, committed any sin. May the
all-witnessing Air that courseth through this world, take my life, if I
have committed any sin. May the Sun that ever courseth through the sky
take my life, if I have committed any sin. May the Moon, that dwelleth
within every creature as a witness, take my life, if I have committed
any sin. Let the three gods that sustain the triple worlds in their
entirety, declare truly, or let them forsake me today." And thus
addressed by her, the Wind-god said from the sky, "O Nala, I tell thee
truly that she hath done no wrong. O king, Damayanti, well guarding the
honour of thy family, hath enhanced it. Of this we are the witnesses, as
we have been her protectors for these three years. It is for thy sky
that she hath devised this unrivalled scheme, for, except thee, none on
earth is capable of travelling in a single day a hundred _yojanas_. O
monarch, thou hast obtained Bhima's daughter, and she hath also obtained
thee. Thou needst not entertain any suspicion but be united with thy
partner." And after the Wind-god had said this, a floral shower fell
there and the celestial kettle-drum began to play, and auspicious
breezes began to blow. And beholding those wonders, O Bharata, king
Nala, the represser of foes, cast away all his doubts in respect of
Damayanti. And then that lord of earth, remembering the king of
serpents, wore that pure garment and regained his native form. And
beholding her righteous lord in his own form, Bhima's daughter of
faultless limbs embraced him, and began to weep aloud. And king Nala
also embraced Bhima's daughter devoted to him, as before, and also his
children, and experienced great delight. And burying her face in his
bosom, the beauteous Damayanti of large eyes began to sigh heavily,
remembering her griefs. And overwhelmed with sorrow, that tiger among
men stood for some time, clasping the dust-covered Damayanti of sweet
smiles. And, O king, the queen-mother then, with a glad heart, told
Bhima all that had passed between Nala and Damayanti. And the mighty
monarch answered, "Let Nala pass this day in peace, to-morrow I shall
see him after his bath and prayers, with Damayanti by his side." And, O
king, they passed that night pleasantly, in relating to each other the
past incidents of their life in the forest. And with hearts filled with
joy, the princess of Vidarbha and Nala began to pass their days in the
palace of king Bhima, intent upon making each other happy. And it was in
the fourth year (after the loss of his kingdom) that Nala was re-united
with his wife, and all his desires gratified, once more experienced the
highest bliss. And Damayanti rejoiced exceedingly in having recovered
her lord even as fields of tender plants on receiving a shower. And
Bhima's daughter, thus recovering her lord, obtained her wish, and
blazed forth in beauty, her weariness gone, her anxieties dispelled and
herself swelling with joy, ever like a night that is lit by the bright
disc of the moon!'"


"Vrihadaswa said, 'Having passed that night, king Nala decked in
ornaments and with Damayanti by his side, presented himself in due time
before the king. And Nala saluted his father-in-law with becoming
humility and after him the fair Damayanti paid her respects to her
father. And the exalted Bhima, with great joy, received him as a son,
and honouring him duly along with his devoted wife, comforted them in
proper words. And duly accepting the homage rendered unto him, king Nala
offered his father-in-law his services as became him. And seeing Nala
arrived, the citizens were in great joy. And there arose in the city a
loud uproar of delight. And the citizens decorated the city with flags
and standards and garlands of flowers. And the streets were watered and
decked in floral wreaths and other ornaments. And at their gates
citizens piled flowers, and their temples and shrines were all adorned
with flowers. And Rituparna heard that Vahuka had already been united
with Damayanti. And the king was glad to hear of all this. And calling
unto him king Nala, he asked his forgiveness. And the intelligent Nala
also asked Rituparna's forgiveness, showing diverse reasons. And that
foremost of speakers versed in the truth, king Rituparna, after being
thus honoured by Nala, said, with a countenance expressive of wonder,
these words unto the ruler of the Nishadhas. "By good fortune it is that
regaining the company of thy own wife, thou hast obtained happiness. O
Naishadha, while dwelling in disguise at my house, I hope I did not
wrong thee in any way, O lord of the earth! If knowingly I have done
thee any wrong, it behoveth thee to forgive me." Hearing this, Nala
replied, "Thou hast not, O monarch, done me ever so little an injury.
And if thou hast, it hath not awakened my ire, for surely thou shouldst
be forgiven by me. Thou wert formerly my friend, and, O ruler of men,
thou art also related to me. Henceforth I shall find greater delight in
thee. O king, with all my desires gratified, I lived happily in thy
abode, in fact more happily there than in my own house. This thy
horse-lore is in my keeping. If thou wishest, O king, I will make it
over to thee." Saying this, Naishadha gave unto Rituparna that science
and the latter took it with the ordained rites. And, O monarch, the
royal son of Bhangasura, having obtained the mysteries of equestrian
science and having given unto the ruler of the Naishadhas the mysteries
of dice, went to his own city, employing another person for his
charioteer. And, O king, after Rituparna had gone, king Nala did not
stay long in the city of Kundina!'"


"Vrihadaswa said, 'O son of Kunti, the ruler of the Nishadhas having
dwelt there for a month, set out from that city with Bhima's permission
and accompanied by only a few (followers) for the country of the
Nishadhas. With a single car white in hue, sixteen elephants, fifty
horses, and six hundred infantry, that illustrious king, causing the
earth itself to tremble, entered (the country of the Nishadhas) without
loss of a moment and swelling with rage. And the mighty son of Virasena,
approaching his brother Pushkara said unto him, "We will play again, for
I have earned vast wealth. Let Damayanti and all else that I have be my
stake, let, O Pushkara, thy kingdom be thy stake. Let the play begin
again. This is my certain determination. Blessed be thou, let us stake
all we have along with our lives. Having won over and acquired another's
wealth or kingdom, it is a high duty, says the ordinance, to stake it
when the owner demands. Or, if thou dost not relish play with dice, let
the play with weapons begin. O king, let me or thyself have peace by a
single combat. That this ancestral kingdom should, under all
circumstances and by any means, be recovered, there is the authority of
sages for holding. And, O Pushkara, choose thou one of these two
things--gambling with dice or bending the bow in battle!" Thus addressed
by Nishadha, Pushkara, sure of his own success, laughingly answered that
monarch, saying, "O Naishadha, it is by good fortune that thou hast
earned wealth again to stake. It is by good fortune also that
Damayanti's ill-luck hath at last come to an end. And O king, it is by
good fortune that thou art still alive with thy wife, O thou of mighty
arms! It is evident that Damayanti, adorned with this wealth of thine
that I will win, will wait upon me like an Apsara in heaven upon Indra.
O Naishadha, I daily recollect thee and am even waiting for thee, since
I derive no pleasure from gambling with those that are not connected
with me by blood. Winning over to-day the beauteous Damayanti of
faultless features, I shall regard myself fortunate, indeed, since she
it is that hath ever dwelt in my heart." Hearing these words of that
incoherent braggart, Nala in anger desired to cut off his head with a
scimitar. With a smile, however, though his eyes were red in anger, king
Nala said, "Let us play. Why do you speak so now? Having vanquished me,
you can say anything you like." Then the play commenced between Pushkara
and Nala. And blessed be Nala who at a single throw won his wealth and
treasures back along with the life of his brother that also had been
staked. And the king, having won, smilingly said unto Pushkara, "This
whole kingdom without a thorn in its side is now undisturbedly mine.
And, O worst of kings, thou canst not now even look at the princess of
Vidarbha. With all thy family, thou art now, O fool, reduced to the
position of her slave. But my former defeat at thy hands was not due to
any act of thine. Thou knowest it not, O fool, that it was Kali who did
it all. I shall not, therefore, impute to thee the faults of others.
Live happily as thou choosest, I grant thee thy life. I also grant thee
thy portion (in the paternal kingdom) along with all necessaries. And, O
hero, without doubt, my affection towards thee is now the same as
before. My fraternal love also for thee will never know any diminution.
O Pushkara, thou art my brother, live thou for a hundred years!"

"'And Nala of unbaffled prowess, having comforted his brother thus gave
him permission to go to his own town, having embraced him repeatedly.
And Pushkara himself, thus comforted by the ruler of the Nishadhas
saluted that righteous king, and addressed him, O monarch, saying these
words with joined hands, "Let thy fame be immortal and live thou happily
for ten thousand years, thou who grantest me, O king, both life and
refuge." And entertained by the king, Pushkara dwelt there for a month
and then went to his own town accompanied by large force and many
obedient servants and his own kindred, his heart filled with joy. And
that bull among men all the while blazed forth in beauty of person like
a second Sun. And the blessed ruler of the Nishadhas, having established
Pushkara and made him wealthy and freed him from troubles, entered his
richly decorated palace. And the ruler of the Nishadhas, having entered
his palace, comforted the citizens. And all the citizens and the
subjects from the country horripilated in joy. And the people headed by
the officers of state said with joined hands, "O king, we are truly glad
to-day throughout the city and the country. We have obtained to-day our
ruler, like the gods their chief of a hundred sacrifice!"'"


"Vrihadaswa said, 'After the festivities had commenced in the city that
was full of joy and without anxiety of any kind, the king with a large
force brought Damayanti (from her father's home). And her father, too,
that slayer of hostile heroes, Bhima of terrible prowess and
immeasurable soul, sent his daughter, having honoured her duly. And upon
the arrival of the princess of Vidarbha accompanied by her son and
daughter, king Nala began to pass his days in joy like the chief of the
celestials in the gardens of Nandana. And the king of undying fame,
having regained his kingdom and becoming illustrious among monarchs of
the island of Jamvu, began once more to rule it. And he duly performed
numerous sacrifices with abundant gifts to Brahmanas. O great king, thou
also wilt with thy kindred and relatives, so blaze forth in effulgence
soon. For, O foremost of men, it was thus that subjugator of hostile
cities, king Nala, had fallen into distress along with his wife, in
consequence, O bull of Bharata race, of dice. And, O lord of the earth,
Nala suffered such dire woe all alone and recovered his prosperity,
whereas thou, O son of Pandu, with heart fixed on virtue, art sporting
in joy in this great forest, accompanied by thy brothers and Krishna.
When thou art also, O monarch, mixing daily with blessed Brahmanas
versed in the Vedas and their branches, thou hast little cause for
sorrow. This history, besides, of the Naga Karkotaka, of Damayanti, of
Nala and of that royal sage Rituparna, is destructive of evil. And, O
thou of unfading glory, this history, destructive of the influence of
Kali, is capable, O king, of comforting persons like thee when they
listen to it. And reflecting upon the uncertainty (of success) of human
exertion, it behoveth thee not to joy or grieve at prosperity or
adversity. Having listened to this history, be comforted, O king, and
yield not to grief. It behoveth thee not, O great king, to pine under
calamity. Indeed, men of self-possession, reflecting upon the caprice of
destiny and the fruitlessness of exertion, never suffer themselves to be
depressed. They that will repeatedly recite this noble history of Nala,
and that will hear it recited, will never be touched by adversity. He
that listeneth to this old and excellent history hath all his purposes
crowned with success and, without doubt, obtaineth fame, besides sons
and grandsons and animals, a high position among men, and health, and
joy. And, O king, the fear also that thou entertainest, _viz_., (_Some
one skilled in dice will summon me_), I will for once dispel. O thou of
invincible prowess, I know the science of dice in its entirety. I am
gratified with thee; take this lore, O son of Kunti, I will tell unto

Vaisampayana continued, "King Yudhishthira then, with a glad heart, said
unto Vrihadaswa, 'O illustrious one, I desire to learn the science of
dice from thee.' The Rishi then gave his dice-lore unto the high-souled
son of Pandu, and having given it unto him, that great ascetic went to
the sacred waters of Hayasirsha for a bath.

"And after Vrihadaswa had gone away, Yudhishthira of firm vows heard
from Brahmanas and ascetics that came to him from various directions and
from places of pilgrimage and mountains and forests that Arjuna of high
intelligence and capable of drawing the bow with his left hand, was
still engaged in the austerest of ascetic penances, living upon air
alone. And he heard that the mighty-armed Partha was engaged in such
fierce asceticism that none else before him had ever been engaged in
such penances. And Dhananjaya, the son of Pritha, engaged in ascetic
austerities with regulated vows and fixed mind and observing the vow of
perfect silence, was, he heard, like the blazing god of justice himself
in his embodied form. And, O king, (Yudhishthira) the son of Pandu
hearing that his dear brother Jaya, the son of Kunti, was engaged in
such asceticism in the great forest, began to grieve for him. And with a
heart burning in grief, the eldest son of Pandu, seeking consolation in
that mighty forest held converse with the Brahmanas possessed of various
knowledge who were living with him there."


(Tirtha-yatra Parva)

Janamejaya said, "O holy one, after my great-grandfather Partha had gone
away from the woods of Kamyaka, what did the sons of Pandu do in the
absence of that hero capable of drawing the bow with his left hand? It
seemeth to me that mighty bowman and vanquisher of armies was their
refuge, as Vishnu of the celestials. How did my heroic grandsires pass
their time in the forest, deprived of the company of that hero, who
resembled Indra himself in prowess and never turned his back in battle?"

Vaisampayana said, "After Arjuna of unbaffled prowess had gone away from
Kamyaka, the sons of Pandu, O son, were filled with sorrow and grief.
And the Pandavas with cheerless hearts very much resembled pearls
unstrung from a wreath, or birds shorn of their wings. And without that
hero of white steeds that forest looked like the _Chaitraratha_ woods
when deprived of the presence of Kuvera. And, O Janamejaya, those tigers
among men--the sons of Pandu--deprived of the company of Arjuna,
continued to live in Kamyaka in perfect cheerlessness. And, O chief of
the Bharata race, those mighty warriors endowed with great prowess slew
with pure arrows various kinds of sacrificial animals for the Brahmanas.
And those tigers among men and repressers of foes, daily slaying those
wild animals and sanctifying them properly, offered them unto the
Brahmanas. And it was thus, O king, that those bulls among men afflicted
with sorrow lived there with cheerless hearts after Dhananjaya's
departure. The princess of Panchala in particular, remembering her third
lord, addressed the anxious Yudhishthira and said, 'That Arjuna who with
two hands rivals the thousand-armed Arjuna (of old), alas, without that
foremost of the sons of Pandu, this forest doth not seem at all
beautiful in my eyes. Without him, whenever I cast my eyes, this earth
seems to be forlorn. Even this forest with its blossoming trees and so
full of wonders, without Arjuna seems not so delightful as before.
Without him who is like a mass of blue clouds (in hue), who hath the
prowess of an infuriated elephant, and whose eyes are like the leaves of
the lotus, this Kamyaka forest doth not seem beautiful to me.
Remembering that hero capable of drawing the bow with his left hand, and
the twang of whose bow sounds like the roar of thunder, I cannot feel
any happiness, O king!' And, O monarch, hearing her lament in this
strain, that slayer of hostile heroes, Bhimasena, addressed Draupadi in
these words, 'O blessed lady of slender waist, the agreeable words thou
utterest delight my heart like the quaffing of nectar. Without him whose
arms are long and symmetrical, and stout and like unto a couple of iron
maces and round and marked by the scars of the bow-strings and graced
with the bow and sword and other weapons and encircled with golden
bracelets and like unto a couple of five-headed snakes, without that
tiger among men the sky itself seemeth to be without the sun. Without
that mighty-armed one relying upon whom the Panchalas and the Kauravas
fear not the sternly-exerting ranks of the celestials themselves,
without that illustrious hero relying upon whose arms we all regard our
foes as already vanquished and the earth itself as already conquered,
without that Phalguna I cannot obtain any peace in the woods of Kamyaka.
The different directions also, wherever I cast my eyes, appear to be

"After Bhima had concluded, Nakula the son of Pandu, with voice choked
with tears, said, 'Without him whose extraordinary deeds on the field of
battle constitute the talk of even the gods, without that foremost of
warriors, what pleasure can we have in the woods? Without him who having
gone towards the north had vanquished mighty Gandharva chiefs by
hundreds, and who having obtained numberless handsome horses of the
Tittiri and Kalmasha species all endowed with the speed of the wind,
presented them from affection unto his brother the king, on the occasion
of the great Rajasuya sacrifice, without that dear and illustrious one,
without that terrible warrior born after Bhima, without that hero equal
unto a god I do not desire to live in the Kamyaka woods any longer.'

"After Nakula's lamentations, Sahadeva said, 'He who having vanquished
mighty warriors in battle won wealth and virgins and brought them unto
the king on the occasion of the great _Rajasuya_ sacrifice, that hero of
immeasurable splendour who having vanquished single-handed the assembled
Yadavas in battle, ravished Subhadra with the consent of Vasudeva, he,
who having invaded the dominion of the illustrious Drupada gave, O
Bharata, unto the preceptor Drona his tuition fee--beholding, O king,
that Jishnu's bed of grass empty in our asylum, my heart refuses
consolation. A migration from this forest is what, O represser of foes,
I would prefer for without that hero this forest cannot be delightful.'"


Vaisampayana said, "Hearing these words of his brothers as also of
Krishna, all of whom were anxious on account of Dhananjaya, king
Yudhishthira, the just, became melancholy. And at that time he saw
(before him) the celestial Rishi Narada blazing with _Brahmi_ beauty and
like unto a fire flaming up in consequence of sacrificial libation. And
beholding him come, king Yudhishthira with his brothers stood up and
duly worshipped the illustrious one. And endued with blazing energy, the
handsome chief of the Kuru race, surrounded by his brothers, shone like
the god of a hundred sacrifices encircled by the celestials. And
Yajnaseni in obedience to the dictates of morality adhered to her lords,
the sons of Pritha, like Savitri to the Vedas or the rays of the Sun to
the peak of Meru. And the illustrious Rishi Narada, accepting that
worship, comforted the son of Dharma in proper terms. And, O sinless
one, addressing the high-souled king Yudhishthira, the just, the Rishi
said, 'Tell me, O foremost of virtuous men, what it is that thou seekest
and what I can do for thee.' At this, the royal son of Dharma bowing
with his brothers unto Narada, who was the revered of the celestials,
told him with joined hands, 'O thou that art highly blessed and
worshipped by all the worlds when thou art gratified with me, I regard
all my wishes in consequence of thy grace, as already fulfilled, O thou
of excellent vows! If, O sinless one, I with my brothers deserve thy
favour, it behoveth thee, O best of Munis, to dispel the doubt that is
in my mind. It behoveth thee to tell me in detail what merit is his that
goeth round the worlds, desirous of beholding the sacred waters and
shrines that are on it.'

"Narada said, 'Listen, O king, with attention, to what the intelligent
Bhishma had heard before from Pulastya! Once, O blessed one, that
foremost of virtuous men, Bhishma, while in the observance of the
_Pitrya_ vow, lived, O king, in the company of Munis in a delightful and
sacred region, near the source of the Ganga, that is resorted to by the
celestial Rishis and Gandharvas and the celestials themselves. And while
living there, the resplendent one gratified with his oblations the
_Pitris_, the gods and the Rishis, according to the rites inculcated in
the scriptures. And once on a time while the illustrious one was engaged
in his silent recitations, he beheld Pulastya--that best of Rishis, of
wonderful appearance. And beholding that austere ascetic blazing with
beauty, he was filled with great delight and exceeding wonder. And, O
Bharata, that foremost of virtuous men, Bhishma, then worshipped that
blessed Rishi according to the rites of the ordinance. And purifying
himself and with rapt attention, he approached that best of Brahmarshis,
with the _Arghya_ on his head. And uttering aloud his name, he said, "O
thou of excellent vow, blessed be thou, I am Bhishma, thy slave. At
sight of thee, I am freed from all my sins." And saying this, that
foremost of virtuous men, Bhishma, restraining speeches stood, O
Yudhishthira, in silence and with joined hands. And beholding Bhishma
that foremost of the Kurus, reduced and emaciated by the observance of
vows and the study of the Vedas, the Muni became filled with joy.'"


"'Pulastya said, "O thou of excellent vows, I have been much gratified
with thy humility, thy self-control, and thy truth, thou blessed one
versed in morality! O sinless one, it is for this virtue of thine which
thou hast acquired from regard to thy ancestors, that I have been
gratified with thee and thou hast, O son, obtained a sight of my person.
O Bhishma. my eyes can penetrate into everything. Tell me what I may do
for thee. O sinless one, O thou foremost of the Kuru race, I will grant
thee whatever thou mayst ask me."

"'Bhishma said, "O highly blessed one, when thou who art worshipped by
the three worlds hast been gratified with me and when I have obtained a
sight of thy exalted self, I regard myself as already crowned with
success. But, O thou foremost of virtuous persons, if I have deserved
thy favour, I will tell thee my doubts and it behoveth thee to dispel
them, O holy one, I have some religious doubts in respect of _tirthas_.
Speak of those to me in detail, I desire to hear thee. O thou that
resemblest a celestial himself, what is his merit, O regenerate Rishi,
who goeth round the whole earth (visiting shrines). O tell me this with

"'Pulastya said, "O son, listen with attention. I will tell thee of the
merit which attacheth to _tirthas_ and which constituteth the refuge of
the Rishis. He whose hands and feet and mind and knowledge and
asceticism and acts are under wholesome control, enjoyeth the fruits of
_tirthas_. He who has ceased to accept gifts, he that is contented, he
that is free from pride enjoys the fruits of _tirthas_. He that is
without sin, he that acts without purpose, he that eats light, he that
has his senses under control, he that is free from every sin, enjoys the
fruits of _tirthas_. O king, he that is free from anger, he that
adhereth to truth, he that is firm in vows, he that regardeth all
creatures as his own self, enjoyeth the fruits of _tirthas_. In the
Vedas the Rishis have declared in due order the sacrifices and also
their fruits here and hereafter truly. O lord of earth, those sacrifices
cannot be accomplished by him that is poor, for those sacrifices require
various materials and diverse things in large measures. These, therefore
can be performed by kings or sometimes by other men of prosperity and
wealth. O lord of men, that rite, however, which men without wealth,
without allies, singly, without wife and children, and destitute of
means, are capable of accomplishing and the merit of which is equal unto
the sacred fruits of sacrifices, I will now declare unto thee, thou best
of warriors! O thou best of the Bharata race, sojourns in _tirthas_
which are meritorious and which constitute one of the high mysteries of
the Rishis, are even superior to sacrifices. He is a poor man who having
gone to a _tirtha_ hath not fasted for three nights, who hath not given
away gold, and who hath not distributed kine. Indeed, one acquireth not,
by the performance of the _Agnishtoma_ and other sacrifices
distinguished by large gifts, that merit which one requireth by a
sojourn to a _tirtha_. In the world of men, there is that _tirtha_ of
the God of gods, celebrated over the three worlds by the name of
_Pushkara_. One that sojourneth there becometh equal unto that deity. O
high-souled son of the Kuru race, during the two twilights and mid-day
there is the presence of hundred thousand millions of _tirthas_ in
_Pushkara_. The Adityas, the Vasus, the Rudras, the Sadhyas, the Maruts,
the Gandharvas, and the Apsaras are ever present, O exalted one, in
_Pushkara_. It was there, O king, that the gods, the Daityas and
_Brahmarshis_, having performed ascetic devotions there, obtained great
merit and finally attained to god-hood.

"'"Men of self-control, by even thinking mentally of Pushkara, are
cleansed from their sins, and regarded in heaven. O king, the
illustrious grand-sire having the lotus for his seat, had dwelt with
great pleasure in this _tirtha_. O blessed one, it was in Pushkara that
the gods with the Rishis having acquired of old great merit, finally
obtained the highest success. The person who, devoted to the worship of
the gods and the _Pitris_, batheth in this _tirtha_, obtaineth, it hath
been said by the wise, merit that is equal to ten times that of the
horse-sacrifice. Having gone to the Pushkara woods, he that feedeth even
one Brahmana, becometh happy here and hereafter, O Bhishma, for that
act. He that supporteth himself on vegetables and roots and fruits, may
with pious regard and without disrespect, give even such fare to a
Brahmana. And, O best of kings, the man of wisdom, even by such a gift,
will acquire the merit of a horse-sacrifice. Those illustrious persons
among Brahmanas or Kshatriyas or Vaisyas or Sudras that bathe in
Pushkara are freed from the obligation of rebirth. That man in special
who visits Pushkara on the full moon of the month of _Karttika_,
acquireth ever-lasting regions in the abode of Brahma. He that thinketh
with joined hands morning and evening, of the Pushkara, practically
batheth, O Bharata, in every _tirtha_. Whether a male or a female,
whatever sins one may commit since birth, are all destroyed as soon as
one batheth in Pushkara. As the slayer of Madhu is the foremost of all
the celestials, so is Pushkara, O king, the foremost of all _tirthas_. A
man by residing with purity and regulated vows for twelve years in
Pushkara, acquireth the merit of all the sacrifices, and goeth to the
abode of Brahma. The merit of one who performeth the _Agnihotra_ for
full one hundred years, is equal to that of him who resideth for the
single month of _Karttika_ in Pushkara. There are three white hillocks
and three springs known from the remotest times, we do not know why, by
the name of the Pushkara. It is difficult to go to Pushkara; it is
difficult to undergo ascetic austerities at Pushkara; it is difficult to
give away at Pushkara; and it is difficult to live at Pushkara.

"'"Having dwelt for twelve nights at Pushkara with regulated diet and
vows, and having walked round (the place), one must go to _Jamvu-marga_.
One that goeth to _Jamvu-marga_ which is resorted to by the celestials,
the Rishis, and the _Pitris_, acquireth the merit of the horse-sacrifice
and the fruition of all his wishes. The man that resideth there for five
nights, hath his soul cleansed from all sins. He never sinketh into
hell, but acquireth high success. Leaving Jamvu-marga one must go to
_Tandulikasrama_. He that goeth there never sinketh into hell but
ascendeth to the abode of Brahma. He that goeth to the lake of Agastya
and occupieth himself with the worship of the _Pitris_ and celestials,
fasting for three nights, acquireth, O king, the fruit of the
_Agnishtoma_. Going thither, he that liveth on vegetables or fruits
acquireth the status called _Kaumara_. One should next proceed to the
beautiful asylum of Kanwa, which is worshipped by the whole world. That
sacred wood characterised by holiness, existeth, O bull of the Bharata
race, from very remote times. As soon as one entereth it, he is freed
from all his sins. He who with regulated diet and vows worshippeth the
_Pitris_ and the gods there, obtaineth the fruit of a sacrifice that is
capable of bestowing the fruition of all one's desires. Having walked
round this asylum one must then go to the spot where Yayati fell (from
heaven). He that goeth thither, acquireth the merit of a
horse-sacrifice. One must then go to _Mahakala_ with regulated diet and
senses subdued. And having bathed in the _tirtha_ called _Koti_, one
obtaineth the merit of a horse-sacrifice. A virtuous man should next
proceed to the _tirtha_ of Sthanu, the husband of Uma, known over the
three worlds by the name of _Bhadravata_. That best of men who goeth to
_Bhadravata_, beholdeth Isana and obtaineth the fruit of a gift of a
thousand kine. And through the grace of Mahadeva, he acquireth the
status of _Ganapatya_ blessed with prosperity and peace and high grace.
Having arrived then at the _Narmada_, that river celebrated over the
three worlds, and given oblations of water to the _Pitris_ and the gods,
one acquireth the fruit of the horse-sacrifice. He that goeth into the
Southern ocean, practising the Brahmacharya mode of life, and with
senses subdued, acquireth the fruit of the _Agnishtoma_ sacrifice and
ascendeth to heaven. Having arrived at _Charmanwati_, with regulated
diet and senses subdued, one acquireth, at the command of Ramideva, the
merit of the _Agnishtoma_ sacrifice. One must then go, O virtuous chief
of warriors, to _Arauda_, the son of Himavat, where there was a hole
through the earth in days of yore. There is the asylum of Vasistha,
celebrated over the three worlds. Having resided for one night, one
obtaineth the merit of the gift of a thousand kine. He that, leading a
Brahmacharya mode of life batheth in the _tirtha_ called _Pinga_,
obtaineth, O tiger among kings, the merit of the gift of a hundred
_Kapila_ kine. One must next go, O king, to that excellent _tirtha_
called _Prabhasa_. There Hutasana is always present in his own person.
He, the friend of Pavana, O hero, is the mouth of all the gods. The man
that with subdued and sanctified soul batheth in that _tirtha_,
obtaineth merit greater than that of the _Agnishtoma_ or _Atimtra_
sacrifices. Proceeding next to the spot where the Saraswati mingleth
with the sea, one obtaineth the fruit of the gift of a thousand kine and
heaven also besides, O bull of the Bharata race, blazing forth for all
time like Agni himself. He that with subdued soul batheth in the
_tirtha_ of the king of waters, and giveth oblations of water unto the
_Pitris_ and the gods, living there for three nights, blazeth forth like
the Moon, and obtaineth also the fruit of the horse-sacrifice. One
should next proceed, O best of the Bharata, unto the _tirtha_ known by
the name of _Varadana_, where (the Rishi) Durvasa had given a boon unto
Vishnu. A man by bathing in Varadana obtaineth the fruit of the gift of
a thousand kine. One should next proceed with subdued senses and
regulated diet to _Dwaravati_, where by bathing in _Pindaraka_, one
obtaineth the fruit of the gift of gold in abundance. O blessed one, it
is wonderful to relate that in that _tirtha_, to this day, coins with
the mark of the lotus and lotuses also with the mark of the trident, are
seen, O represser of heroes! And O bull among men, the presence of
Mahadeva is there. Arriving then, O Bharata, at the spot where the
_Sindhu_ mingleth with the sea, one should with subdued soul bathe in
that _tirtha_ of Varuna. And bathing there and giving oblations of water
to the _Pitris_, the Rishis, and the gods one acquireth, O bull of the
Bharata race, the region of Varuna, and blazeth forth in effulgence of
his own. Men of wisdom say that, by worshipping the god known by the
name of _Shankukarneswara_, one acquireth ten times the merit of the
horse-sacrifice. O bull of the Bharata race, having walked round that
_tirtha_, one should, O thou foremost of the Kurus, go to that _tirtha_
celebrated over the three worlds and known by the name of _Drimi_. That
_tirtha_ cleanseth from every sin, and it is there that the gods
including Brahma worship Maheswara. Having bathed there and worshipped
Rudra surrounded by the other gods, one is freed from all sins since
birth. It was there, O best of men, that _Drimi_ was adored by all the
gods. Bathing there, O best of men, one obtaineth the fruit of the
horse-sacrifice. O thou of great intelligence, Vishnu the creator of the
universe, after slaying the Daityas and Danavas, went thither to purify
himself. O virtuous one, one should next proceed to _Vasudhara_ adored
by all. The moment one arrives at that _tirtha_, one acquireth the fruit
of the horse-sacrifice. And, O thou best of the Kurus, by bathing there
with subdued soul and rapt attention, and giving oblations of water unto
the gods and the _Pitris_ one ascendeth unto the region of Vishnu and is
adored there. In that _tirtha_, O bull of the Bharata race, there is a
sacred lake of the Vasus. By bathing there and drinking of its water,
one becometh regarded of the Vasus. There is a celebrated _tirtha_ of
the name of _Sindhuttama_, which destroyeth every sin. O best of men, by
bathing there, one acquireth the fruit of the gift of gold in abundance.
By arriving at _Bhadratunga_ with sanctified soul and purity of conduct,
one acquireth the region of Brahma and a high state of blessedness.
There is then the _tirtha_ of the _Kumarikas_ of Indra, that is much
resorted to by the _Siddhas_. O best of men, by bathing there, one
obtaineth the region of Indra. In _Kumarika_ there is another _tirtha_
called _Renuka_, which is also resorted to by the _Siddkas_. A Brahmana
by bathing there would become as bright as the Moon. Proceeding next to
the tirtha called the _Panchananda_, with subdued sense and regulated
diet, one obtaineth the fruit of the five sacrifices that have been
mentioned one after another in the scriptures. Then, O king, one should
go to the excellent region of Bhima. O best of the Bharatas by bathing
in the _tirtha_ there, that is called _Yoni_, a man (in his next birth)
becometh, O king, the son of a goddess, bearing ear-rings decked with
pearls, and obtaineth also the merit of the gift of a hundred thousand
kine. Proceeding next to _Srikunda_, celebrated over the three worlds
and worshipping the grandsire, one obtaineth the fruit of the gift of a
thousand kine. O virtuous one, one should then go to the excellent
tirtha called _Vimala_, where to this day may be seen fishes of golden
and silver hues. By bathing there, one soon acquireth the region of
Vasava, and his soul being cleansed from every sin, he attaineth to a
high state of blessedness. Proceeding next to _Vitasta_ and giving
oblations of water unto the _Pitris_ and the gods, a man, O Bharata,
obtaineth the fruit of the _Vajapeya_ sacrifice. That sin-destroying
tirtha known by the name of _Vitasta_, is situate in the country of the
_Kasmiras_ and is the abode of the Naga Takshaka. Bathing there, a man
certainly obtaineth the fruit of the _Vajapeya_ sacrifice, and his soul
cleansed from every sin, he attaineth to a high state of blessedness.
One should next proceed to _Vadava_ celebrated over the three worlds.
Bathing there with due rites in the evening, one should offer rice
boiled in butter and milk, according to the best of his might, unto the
deity of seven flames. Men of wisdom say that a gift made here in honour
of the _Pitris_, becometh inexhaustible. The Rishis, the _Pitris_, the
gods, the Gandharvas, several tribes of Apsaras, the Guhyakas, the
Kinnaras, the Yakshas, the _Siddhas_, the Vidhyadharas, the Rakshasas,
Daityas, Rudras, and Brahma himself, O king, having with subdued senses,
accepted a course of austerities for a thousand years in order to move
Vishnu to grace, cooked rice in milk and butter and gratified Kesava
with oblations, each offered with seven Riks. And, O king, the gratified
Kesava thereupon conferred on them the eight-fold attributes called
_Aiswarya_ and other objects that they desired. And having bestowed upon
them these, that god disappeared in their sight like lightning in the
clouds. And it is for this, O Bharata, that that _tirtha_ became known
by the name of _Saptacharu_, and if one offereth _Charu_ there to the
seven flamed deity, he obtaineth merit superior to that of the gift of a
hundred thousand kine, to that of a hundred Rajasuya sacrifices, as also
of a hundred horse-sacrifices. Leaving _Vadava_, O king, one should then
proceed to Raudrapada, and beholding Mahadeva there one obtaineth the
merit of the horse-sacrifice. Proceeding then, with subdued soul and
leading a Brahmacharya mode of life, to _Manirnat_, and residing there
for one night, one acquireth, O king, the merit of the _Agnishtoma_
sacrifice. One should then go, O king, to _Devika_ celebrated over the
whole world. It was there, O bull of Bharata race, that, as heard by us,
the Brahmanas first sprang into existence. There also is the region of
the holder of the trident--a region that is celebrated over the world.
Having bathed in _Devika_ and worshipped Maheswara by offering him, to
the best of one's might, rice boiled in milk and butter, a man
obtaineth, O bull of the Bharata race, the merit of a sacrifice that is
capable of filling every desire. There also is another _tirtha_ of Rudra
called _Kamakhya_, which is much resorted to by the gods. Bathing there,
a man speedily obtaineth success. By touching also the water of
_Yajana_, _Brahmavaluka_, and _Pushpamva_, one becometh free from sorrow
in after life. The learned have said that the sacred _tirtha_ of
_Devika_, the resort of the gods and the Rishis, is five _Yojanas_ in
length and half a _Yojana_ in breadth. One should then, in due order,
proceed, O king, to _Dirghasatra_. There the gods with Brahma at their
head, the _Siddhas_, and the greatest Rishis, with regulated vows and
the recitation and acceptance of the preliminary pledge, perform the
long-extending sacrifice. O king, by going only to _Dirghasatra_, O
represser of foes, one obtaineth merit that is superior, O Bharata, to
that of the Rajasuya or the horse-sacrifice. One should next proceed
with subdued senses and regulated diet to _Vinasana_, where _Saraswati_
disappearing on the breast of Meru, re-appeareth at _Chamasa_,
_Shivodbheda_ and _Nagadbheda_. Bathing in _Chamasadbheda_, one
obtaineth the merit of the _Agnishtoma_ sacrifice. Bathing in
_Shivodbheda_, one acquireth the merit of the gift of a thousand kine.
And bathing in _Nagodbheda_, one obtaineth the region of the Nagas. One
should proceed, next, to the inaccessible _tirtha_ of _Shasayana_, where
the cranes, O Bharata, disappearing in the form of _sasas_, re-appear
every year in the month of _Kavttika_, and bathe, O blessed chief of the
Bharata race, in the Sarasawati. Bathing there, O tiger among men, one
blazeth forth like the Moon, and obtaineth, O bull of the Bharata race,
the merit of the gift of a thousand kine. One should next proceed, O
thou of the Kuru race, to _Kumarakoti_, with subdued senses, and bathing
there, worship the gods and the _Puris_. By doing this, one obtaineth
the merit of the gift of ten thousand kine, and raiseth all his
ancestors to higher regions. One should next, O virtuous one, proceed
with subdued soul to _Rudrakoti_, where in olden days, O king, ten
millions of Munis had assembled. And, O king, filled with great joy at
the prospect of beholding Mahadeva, the Rishis assembled there, each
saying, '_I will first behold the god! I will first behold the god!_'
And, O king, in order to prevent disputes amongst those Rishis of
subdued souls, the Lord of _Yoga_, by the help of his _Yoga_ power,
multiplied himself into ten million forms, and stood before every one of
them. And every one of these Rishis said, '_I have seen him first!_' And
gratified, O king, with the deep devotion of those Munis of subdued
souls, Mahadeva granted them a boon, saying, '_From this day your
righteousness shall grow!_' And, O tiger among men, one that bathes,
with a pure mind, in _Rudrakoti_ obtaineth the merit of the
horse-sacrifice and delivereth his ancestors. One should next proceed, O
king, to that highly sacred and celebrated region where the Saraswati
mingles with the sea. Thither, O king, the gods with Brahma at their
head and Rishis with wealth of asceticism repair for adoring Kesava on
the fourteenth day of the lighted fortnight of the month of Chaitra.
Bathing there, O tiger among men, one obtaineth the merit of giving away
gold in abundance, and his soul being cleansed from every sin, he
ascendeth to the region of Brahma. It is there, O king, that the Rishis
have completed many a sacrifice. By a trip to that spot one obtaineth
the merit of the gifts of a thousand kine."'"


"'Pulastya said, "One should next proceed, O king, to the adored
Kurukshetra at sight of which all creatures are freed from their sins.
He is freed from all sins who constantly sayeth, '_I will live in
Kurukshetra_.' The very dust of Kurukshetra, conveyed by the wind,
leadeth a sinful man to a blessed course (in after-life). They that
dwell in Kurukshetra which lieth to the south of the Saraswati and the
north of the Drishadwati, are said to dwell in heaven. O hero, one
should reside there, O thou foremost of warriors, for a month. There, O
lord of earth, the gods with Brahma at their head, the Rishis, the
Siddhas, the Charanas, the Gandharvas, the Apsaras, the Yakshas and the
Nagas, often repair, O Bharata, to the highly sacred Brahmakshetra. O
foremost of warriors, the sins of one that desireth to repair to
Kurukshetra even mentally are all destroyed, and he finally goeth into
the region of Brahma. O son of the Kuru race, by repairing to
Kurukshetra in a pious frame of mind, one obtaineth the fruit of the
Rajasuya and horse sacrifices. By saluting next the Yaksha called
Mankanaka, that mighty gate-keeper (of Kuvera), he obtaineth the fruit
of giving away a thousand kine. O virtuous king, one should next repair
to the excellent region of Vishnu, where Hari is always present. Bathing
there and bowing down unto Hari, the Creator of the three worlds, one
obtaineth the fruit of the horse-sacrifice and repaireth to the abode of
Vishnu. One should next repair to Pariplava, that _tirtha_ celebrated
over the three worlds, and (bathing there), O Bharata, one obtaineth
merit that is greater than that of the _Agnishtoma_ and the _Atiratra_
sacrifices. Repairing next to the _tirtha_ called Prithivi, one
obtaineth the fruit of the gift of a thousand kine. The pilgrim should
next, O king, proceed to Shalukini and bathing there in the Dasaswamedha
one obtaineth the merit of ten horse-sacrifices. Proceeding next to
_Sarpadevi_, that excellent _tirtha_ of the Nagas, one obtaineth the
merit of the _Agnishtoma_ sacrifice and attaineth to the region of the
Nagas. O virtuous one, one should next proceed to _Tarantuka_, the
gatekeeper, and residing there for one night one obtaineth the merit of
giving away a thousand kine. Proceeding next with subdued senses and
regulated diet to _Panchananda_ and bathing in the _tirtha_ there,
called _Koti_, one obtaineth the fruit of the horse-sacrifice.
Proceeding then to the _tirtha_ of the twin _Aswins_ one obtaineth
personal beauty. O virtuous one, one should next proceed to the
excellent _tirtha_ called _Varaha_, where Vishnu formerly stood in the
form of a boar. Bathing there one obtaineth, O foremost of men, the
merit of the horse-sacrifice. One should next, O king, repair to the
_tirtha_ called _Sama_ in Jayanti. Bathing there one obtaineth the merit
of Rajasuya sacrifice. By bathing in _Ekahansa_, a man obtaineth the
merit of giving away a thousand kine. O king, a pilgrim repairing to
_Kritasaucha_ obtaineth the lotus-eyed deity (Vishnu) and perfect purity
of soul. One should next proceed to _Munjavata_, that spot sacred to the
illustrious _Sthanu_. Residing there without food for one night, one
obtaineth the status called _Ganapatya_. There, O king, is the
celebrated _tirtha_ called _Yakshini_. O king, repairing to that
_tirtha_ and bathing there, one obtaineth fruition of all his desires. O
bull of the Bharata race, that _tirtha_ is regarded as the gate of
_Kurukshetra_. The pilgrim should with concentrated soul, walk round it.
Equal unto the Pushkaras, it was created by the high-souled Rama, the
son of Jamadagni. Bathing there and worshipping the _Pitris_ and the
gods, one obtaineth, O king, the merit of the horse-sacrifice and
becometh successful in everything. The pilgrim should next repair with
concentrated soul to the _Rama-hrada_. There, O king, the heroic Rama of
resplendent energy, exterminating the Kshatriyas by his might, dug five
lakes and filled them, O tiger among men, with the blood of his victims,
as heard by us. And having filled those lakes with Kshatriya blood, Rama
offered oblations of blood to his sires and grandsires. Gratified (with
the oblations) those Rishis then addressed Rama and said, 'O Rama, O
Rama, O thou of great good fortune, we have been gratified with thee, O
thou of the Bhrigu race, for this thy regard for the Pitris, and thy
prowess, O exalted one! Blessed be thou and ask thou the boon thou
choosest. What is that thou desirest, O thou of great splendour!' Thus
addressed (by them), Rama, that foremost of smiters, said with joined
hands these words unto the _Pitris_, stationed in the firmament, 'If ye
have been gratified with me, if I have deserved your favour, I desire
this favour of the Pitris, _viz_., that I may have pleasure again in
ascetic austerities. Let me also, through your power, be freed from the
sin I have committed by exterminating, from wrath, the Kshatriya race.
Let also my lakes become _tirthas_ celebrated over the world.' The
Pitris, hearing these blessed words of Rama, were highly gratified, and
filled with joy they answered him saying, 'Let thy asceticism increase
in consequence of thy regard for the Pitris. Thou hast exterminated the
Kshatriyas from wrath. Freed art thou already from that sin, for they
have perished as a consequence of their own misdeeds. Without doubt,
these lakes of thine will become _tirthas_. And if one, bathing in these
lakes, offereth oblations of the water thereof to the _Pitris_, the
latter gratified with him will grant him desire, difficult of fulfilment
in the world as also eternal heaven.' O king, having granted him these
boons, the Pitris joyfully saluted Rama of the Bhrigu race and
disappeared there and then. It was thus that the lakes of the
illustrious Rama of the Bhrigu race became sacred. Leading a
Brahmacharya mode of life and observing sacred vows, one should bathe in
the lakes of Rama. Bathing therein and worshipping Rama, one obtaineth,
O king, the merit of gift of gold in abundance. Proceeding next, O son
of the Kuru race, to _Vansamulaka_, a pilgrim by bathing there, raiseth,
O king, his own race. O best of the Bharatas, arriving next at the
_tirtha_ called _Kayasodhana_, and bathing there, one purifieth, without
doubt, his body, and proceeded with purified body to the blessed region
of unrivalled excellence. One should next repair, O virtuous one, to
that _tirtha_, celebrated over the three worlds, called _Lokoddara_,
where formerly Vishnu of great prowess had created the worlds. Arriving
at that _tirtha_ which is adored by the three worlds one earneth, O
king, by bathing there, numerous worlds for himself. Repairing next with
subdued soul to the _tirtha_ called _Sree_, one acquires, by bathing
there and worshipping the Pitris and the gods, high prosperity. Leading
a Brahmacharya mode of life and with concentrated soul, one should
proceed next to the _tirtha_ called _Kapila_. Bathing there and
worshipping one's own Pitris and the gods, a man earneth the fruit of
the gift of a thousand Kapila kine. Repairing next to the _tirtha_
called _Surya_ and bathing there with subdued soul and worshipping the
Pitris and the gods, fasting all the while, one obtaineth the fruit of
the _Agnishtoma_ sacrifice and goeth (finally) to the region of the Sun.
The pilgrim by proceeding next to Gobhavana and bathing there obtaineth
the merit of the gift of a thousand kine. O son of the Kuru race, a
pilgrim by repairing then to the _tirtha_ called _Shankhini_ and bathing
in the _Devi-tirtha_ that is there, obtaineth high prowess. O king, one
should then proceed to the _tirtha_ called _Tarandaka_ situated in the
Saraswati and belonging to the illustrious chief of the Yakshas who is
one of the gate-keepers (of Kuvera). O king, bathing there one obtaineth
the fruit of the _Agnishtoma_ sacrifice. O virtuous king, one should
next repair to the _tirtha_ called _Brahmavarta_. Bathing in
_Brahmavarta_, one ascendeth to the abode of Brahma. O king, one should
then repair to the excellent _tirtha_ called _Sutirtha_. There the
Pitris are ever present along with the gods. One should bathe there and
worship the Pitris and the gods. By so doing, one obtaineth the merit of
the horse-sacrifice and goeth (finally) into the region of the Pitris.
It is for this, O virtuous one, that _Sutirtha_ situate in _Amvumati_ is
regarded as so excellent. And, O thou best of the Bharata race, having
bathed in the _tirtha_ of _Kasiswara_, one becometh freed from all
diseases and is adored in the abode of Brahma. There, in that _tirtha_,
is another called _Matri_. One that bathes in _Matri tirtha_ hath a
large progeny and obtaineth, O king, great prosperity. One should next
proceed with subdued sense and regulated diet to the _tirtha_ called
_Shitavana_. And, O great king, it hath been seen that one merit of that
_tirtha_ which rarely belongs to any other, is that one only going
thither obtaineth holiness. By casting off his hair in that _tirtha_ one
acquireth, O Bharata, great sanctity. There, in that _tirtha_, is
another called _Shwavillomapaha_, where, O tiger among men, and chief of
the Bharata race, learned Brahmanas that go to _tirthas_ obtain great
satisfaction by a dip into its waters. Good Brahmanas, O king, by
casting off their hair in that _tirtha_ acquire holiness by _Pranayama_
and finally attain to a high state. There, O king, _in that tirtha_ is
also another called _Dasaswamedhika_. Bathing there, O tiger among men,
one attains to a high state. One should next proceed, O king, to the
celebrated _tirtha_ called _Manusha_ where, O king, a number of black
antelopes afflicted by the hunter's arrows, plunging into its waters,
were transformed into human beings. Bathing in that _tirtha_, leading a
_Brahmacharya_ mode of life and with concentrated soul, a man becomes
freed from all his sins and is adored in heaven. Distant by a _krosa_, O
king, to the east of _Manusha_ there is a river celebrated by the name
of _Apaga_ that is resorted to by the _Siddhas_. The man that offereth
there the _syamaka_ grain in honour of the gods and the Pitris acquireth
great religious merit. And if one Brahmana is fed there, it becomes
equivalent to feeding ten millions of Brahmanas. Having bathed in that
_tirtha_ and worshipped the gods and the Pitris and resided there for
one night, a man obtaineth the merit of the _Agnishtoma_ sacrifice. One
should then repair, O king, to that excellent region of Brahma which, O
Bharata, is known on earth by the name of _Brahmodumvara_. Bathing in
the tank of the seven Rishis that is there, O bull among men, with pure
mind and subdued soul, as also in the _tirtha_ called _Kedara_ of the
high-souled _Kapila_, and beholding Brahma who is there, one's soul
being purified from all sins, one goeth to the abode of Brahma.
Proceeding next to the inaccessible _tirtha_ called _Kedara of Kapila_,
and burning one's sins there by ascetic penances, one acquireth the
power of disappearance at will. One should next proceed, O king, to the
celebrated _tirtha_ called _Saraka_, and beholding Mahadeva there on the
fourteenth day of the dark fortnight, one obtaineth all his wishes and
goeth also into heaven. O son of the Kuru race, in _Saraka_ and
_Rudrakoti_ as also in the well and the lakes that are there, thirty
millions of _tirthas_ are present. There in that _tirtha_, O chief of
the Bharatas, is another called _Ilaspada_. Bathing there and
worshipping the gods and the Pitris, one never sinketh into hell but
obtaineth the fruit of the _Vajapeya_ sacrifice. Repairing next to
_Kindana_ and _Kinjapya_, one acquireth, O Bharata, the merit of giving
away in measureless abundance and the infinite recitation of prayers.
Repairing next to the _tirtha_ called _Kalasi_ and bathing there
devoutly and with the senses under control, a man obtaineth the fruit of
the _Agnishtoma_ sacrifice. To the east of _Saraka_, O chief of the
Kurus, there is an auspicious _tirtha_ known by the name of _Anajanma_,
of the high-souled Narada. He that bathes there, O Bharata, obtaineth,
after death, at the command of Narada various unrivalled regions. One
should next proceed, on the tenth day of the lighted fortnight, to the
_tirtha_ called _Pundarika_. Bathing there, O king, one obtaineth the
merit of the _Pundarika_ sacrifice. One should next proceed to the
_tirtha_ called _Tripishtapa_ that is known over the three worlds. There
in that _tirtha_ is the sacred and sin-destroying river called
_Vaitarani_. Bathing there and adoring the god known by the mark of the
bull and holding the trident in his hand, one's soul being purified from
every sin one attaineth to the highest state. One should next proceed, O
king, to the excellent _tirtha_ called _Phalakivana_. There in that
_tirtha_ the gods, O monarch, having been present, performed their
ascetic austerities extending for many thousand years. One should then
proceed to the _Dhrishadwati_. Bathing there and worshipping the gods,
one obtaineth, O Bharata, merit that is superior to that of both the
_Agnishtoma_ and the _Atiratra_ sacrifices. O chief of the Bharatas,
bathing in that _tirtha_ called _Sarvadeva_, a man obtaineth, O king,
the merit of giving away a thousand kine. Bathing next in the _tirtha_
called _Panikhata_ and worshipping all the gods, a man obtaineth merit
that is superior to that of both the _Agnishtoma_ and the _Atiratra_
sacrifices, besides acquiring that of the _Rajasuya_ sacrifice and
finally going into the region of the Rishis. One should next proceed, O
virtuous one, to that excellent _tirtha_ called _Misraka_. There, O
tiger among kings, it hath been heard by us that the high-souled Vyasa,
for the sake of the Brahmanas, hath mixed all the _tirthas_. He,
therefore, that bathes in _Misraka_ really bathes in all the _tirtha_.
One should next proceed with subdued senses and regulated diet, to the
_tirtha_ called _Vyasavana_. Bathing in the _tirtha_ called _Manojava_
that is there, one obtaineth the merit of the gift of a thousand kine.
Proceeding next to the _Devi tirtha_ that is in _Madhuvati_, one that
bathes there and worships the gods and the Pitris obtains at the command
of the Goddess the merit of the gift of a thousand kine. Proceeding with
regulated diet, he that bathes in the confluence of the _Kausiki_ and
the _Drishadwati_, becometh free from all his sins. One should next
proceed to _Vyasasthali_ where Vyasa of great intelligence, burning with
grief for his son had resolved to cast off his body but was cheered
again by the gods. Proceeding to that spot of Vyasa, one obtaineth the
merit of a thousand kine. O son of the Kuru race, proceeding next to the
well called _Kindatta_, he that throweth into it a measure of sesame, is
freed from all his debts and obtaineth his success. Bathing in the
_tirtha_ called _Vedi_, one obtaineth the merit of the gift of a
thousand kine. There are two other celebrated tirthas called _Ahas_ and
_Sudina_. Bathing there, O tiger among men, one goeth to the region of
the Sun. One should next proceed to the _tirtha_ called _Mrigadhuma_
that is celebrated throughout the three worlds. One should bathe there,
O king, in Ganga. Bathing there and worshipping Mahadeva, one obtaineth
the merit of the horse-sacrifice. Bathing next in the _Devi tirtha_ one
obtaineth the merit of the gift of a thousand kine. One should then
proceed to _Vamanaka_ celebrated over the three worlds. Bathing there in
_Vishnupada_ and worshipping Vamana one's soul being purified from every
sin, one goeth to the abode of Vishnu. Bathing next in Kulampuna, one
sanctifieth his own race. Proceeding then to the _Pavana-hrada_, that
excellent _tirtha_ of the _Marutas_, and bathing there, O king and tiger
among men, one becometh adored in the region of the Wind-god. Bathing in
the _Amara-hrada_ and worshipping with devotion the chief of the
celestials, one becometh adored in heaven and courseth, seated on an
excellent car, in the company of the immortals. O best of great men,
bathing next with due rites in the _tirtha_ called _Salisurya_, of
_Salihotra_, one obtaineth the merit of the gift of a thousand kine. O
best of the Bharatas, there is a tirtha called _Sreekunja_ in the
Saraswati. Bathing there, O best of men, one obtaineth the merit of the
_Agnishtoma_ sacrifice. O son of the Kuru race, one should next repair
to _Naimishakunja_. O king, the Rishis engaged in ascetic austerities in
the woods of _Naimisha_ had, in days of old, taking the vow of
pilgrimage, gone to Kurukshetra. There, on the banks of the Saraswati, O
chief of the Bharatas, a grove was made, which might serve for a resting
spot for themselves, and which was highly gratifying to them. Bathing in
the _Saraswati_ there, one obtaineth the merit of the _Agnishtoma_
sacrifice. One should next proceed, O virtuous one, to the excellent
_tirtha_ called _Kanya_. Bathing there one obtaineth the merit of the
gift of a thousand kine. One should next proceed to the excellent
_tirtha_ of _Brahma_. Bathing there, a person, of the (three) inferior
orders, obtaineth the status of a Brahmana, and if one be a Brahmana,
his soul being purified from every sin, he attaineth to the highest
state. One should then, O best of men, proceed to the excellent _tirtha_
called _Soma_. Bathing there, O king, one obtaineth the region of
_Soma_. One should next proceed, O king, to the _tirtha_ called
_Saptasaraswata_, where the celebrated Rishi, Mankanaka, had obtained
ascetic success. O king, it hath been heard by us that in days of old
Mankanaka having cut his hand with the pointed blade of the Kusa grass,
there flowed from his wound vegetable juice (instead of blood). And
beholding vegetable juice flow from his wound, the Rishi began to dance
with wonder-expanded eyes. And as the Rishi danced, all the mobile and
immobile creatures also, overwhelmed with his prowess, began to dance
with him. Then, O king, the gods with Brahma at their head and Rishis
endued with the wealth of asceticism moved by the act of Mankanaka,
represented the matter to Mahadeva, saying, 'It behoveth thee, O god, to
act in such a way that this Rishi may not dance.' Thus addressed,
Mahadeva, with heart filled with joy, approached the dancing Rishi, and
moved by the desire of doing good to the gods, said, 'O great Rishi, O
virtuous one, why dost thou dance? O bull among Munis, what can be the
reason of this thy present joy?' The Rishi answered, 'O best of
Brahmanas, I am an ascetic that tread the path of virtue. Dost thou not
behold, O Brahmana, that vegetable juice floweth from the wound in my
hand? Filled with great joy at sight of this, I am dancing.' Addressing
the Rishi blinded by emotion, the god laughingly said, 'O Brahmana, I do
not wonder at this. Behold me.' Having said this, O best of men,
Mahadeva, O sinless king, pressed his thumb by the tip of his own
finger. And, lo, from the wound thus inflicted, there came out ashes
white as snow. And beholding this, O king, that Muni became ashamed and
fell at the feet of the god. And believing that there was nothing better
and greater than the god Rudra, he began to adore him in these words: 'O
holder of the trident, thou art the refuge of the celestials and the
Asuras, of, indeed, the universe. By thee have been created the three
worlds with their mobile and immobile beings. It is thou again that
swallowest everything at the end of the Yuga. Thou art incapable of
being known by the gods themselves, far less by me. O sinless one, the
gods with Brahma at their head are all displayed in thee. Thou art all,
the Creator himself and the Ordainer of the worlds. It is by thy grace
that all the gods sport without anxiety or fear.' And adoring Mahadeva
thus the Rishi also said, 'O god of gods, grant me thy grace, so that my
asceticism may not diminish.' Then that god of cheerful soul answered
the regenerate Rishi,--saying, 'Let thy asceticism, O Brahmana, increase
a thousandfold through my grace. And, O great Muni, I shall dwell with
thee in this thy asylum. Bathing in _Saptasaraswata_, they that will
worship me, shall be able to attain everything here and hereafter. And,
without doubt, they shall all attain to the _Saraswata_ region in the
end.' Having said this, Mahadeva disappeared then and there. After
visiting _Saraswata_, one should proceed to _Ausanasa_ celebrated over
the three worlds. There, O Bharata, the gods with Brahma at their head,
and Rishis endued with wealth of asceticism, and the illustrious
Kartikeya, were ever present during two twilights and the mid-day,
impelled by the desire of doing good to Bhargava. There in that _tirtha_
is another called _Kapalamochana_, which cleanseth from every sin. O
tiger among men, bathing there one is cleansed from every sin. One
should then proceed to the _tirtha_ called _Agni_. Bathing there, O bull
among men, one obtaineth the regions of _agni_ and raiseth his own race
(from lower regions). There in that _tirtha_ is another, O chief of the
Bharatas, that belongeth to Viswamitra. Bathing there, O best of men,
one obtaineth the status of a Brahmana. Proceeding next to Brahmayoni in
purity of body and with subdued soul, one obtaineth, O tiger among men,
by bathing there, the abode of Brahma, and sanctifieth, without doubt,
his own race to the seventh generation up and down. One should next
proceed, O king, to the _tirtha_ celebrated over the three worlds, which
is called _Prithudaka_, belonging to Kartikeya. One should bathe there
and occupy oneself in the worship of the Pitris and the gods. Whatever

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