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The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa Translated into English Prose Vana Parva, Part 2 online

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Satyavan liveth."'

"Markandeya continued, 'Thus cheered by those ascetics of truthful
speech, Dyumatsena pondering over those points, attained a little ease.
A little while after, Savitri with her husband Satyavan reached the
hermitage during the night and entered it with a glad heart. The
Brahmanas then said, "Beholding this meeting with thy son, and thy
restoration to eye-sight, we all wish thee well, O lord of earth. Thy
meeting with thy son, the sight of thy daughter-in-law, and thy
restoration to sight - constitute a threefold prosperity which thou hast
gained. What we all have said must come to pass: there can be no doubt
of this. Henceforth thou shalt rapidly grow in prosperity." Then, O
Pritha's son, the twice-born ones lighted a fire and sat themselves down
before king Dyumatsena. And Saivya, and Satyavan, and Savitri who stood
apart, their hearts free from grief, sat down with the permission of
them all. Then, O Partha, seated with the monarch those dwellers of the
woods, actuated by curiosity, asked the king's son, saying, "Why didst
thou not, O illustrious one, come back earlier with thy wife? Why hast
thou come so late in the night? What obstacle prevented thee! We do not
know, O son of a king, why thou hast caused such alarm to us, and to thy
father and mother. It behoveth thee to tell us all about this."
Thereupon, Satyavan said, "With the permission of my father, I went to
the woods with Savitri. There, as I was hewing wood in the forest, I
felt a pain in my head. And in consequence of the pain, I fell into a
deep sleep. - This is all that I remember. I had never slept so long
before I have come so late at night, in order that ye might not grieve
(on my account). There is no other reason for this." Gautama then said,
"Thou knowest not then the cause of thy father's sudden restoration to
sight. It, therefore, behoveth Savitri to relate it. I wish to hear it
(from thee), for surely thou art conversant with the mysteries of good
and evil. And, O Savitri, I know thee to be like the goddess _Savitri_
herself in splendour. Thou must know the cause of this. Therefore, do
thou relate it truly! If it should not be kept a secret, do thou unfold
it unto us!" At these words of Gautama Savitri said, "It is as ye
surmise. Your desire shall surely not be unfulfilled. I have no secret
to keep. Listen to the truth then! The high-souled Narada had predicted
the death of my husband. To-day was the appointed time. I could not,
therefore, bear to be separated from my husband's company. And after he
had fallen asleep, Yama, accompanied by his messengers, presented
himself before him, and tying him, began to take him away towards the
region inhabited by the _Pitris_. Thereupon I began to praise that
august god, with truthful words. And he granted me five boons, of which
do ye hear from me! For my father-in-law I have obtained these two
boons, viz., his restoration to sight as also to his kingdom. My father
also hath obtained a hundred sons. And I myself have obtained a hundred
sons. And my husband Satyavan hath obtained a life of four hundred
years. It was for the sake of my husband's life that I had observed that
vow. Thus have I narrated unto you in detail the cause by which this
mighty misfortune of mine was afterwards turned into happiness." The
_Rishis_ said, "O chaste lady of excellent disposition, observant of
vows and endued with virtue, and sprung from an illustrious line, by
thee hath the race of this foremost of kings, which was overwhelmed with
calamities, and was sinking in an ocean of darkness, been rescued."'

"Markandeya continued, 'Then having applauded and reverenced that best
of women, those _Rishis_ there assembled bade farewell to that foremost
of kings as well as to his son. And having saluted them thus, they
speedily went, in peace with cheerful hearts, to their respective
abodes.'"


SECTION CCLXLVII

"Markandeya continued, 'When the night had passed away, and the solar
orb had risen, those ascetics, having performed their morning rites,
assembled together. And although those mighty sages again and again
spake unto Dyumatsena of the high fortune of Savitri, yet they were
never satisfied. And it so happened, O king, that there came to that
hermitage a large body of people from Salwa. And they brought tidings of
the enemy of Dyumatsena having been slain by his own minister. And they
related unto him all that had happened, viz., how having heard that the
usurper had been slain with all his friends and allies by his minister,
his troops had all fled, and how all the subjects had become unanimous
(on behalf of their legitimate king), saying, "Whether possessed of
sight or not, even he shall be our king!" And they said, "We have been
sent to thee in consequence of that resolve. This car of thine, and this
army also consisting of four kinds of forces, have arrived for thee!
Good betide thee, O King! Do thou come! Thou hast been proclaimed in the
city. Do thou for ever occupy the station belonging to thy father and
grand-father!" And beholding the king possessed of sight and
able-bodied, they bowed down their heads, their eyes expanded with
wonder. Then having worshipped those old and Brahmanas dwelling in the
hermitage and honoured by them in return, the king set out for his city.
And surrounded by the soldiers, Saivya also accompanied by Savitri, went
in a vehicle furnished with shining sheets and borne on the shoulders of
men. Then the priests with joyful hearts installed Dyumatsena on the
throne with his high-souled son as prince-regent. And after the lapse of
a long time, Savitri gave birth to a century of sons, all warlike and
unretreating from battle, and enhancing the fame of Salwa's race. And
she also had a century of highly powerful uterine brothers born unto
Aswapati, the lord of the Madras, by Malavi. Thus, O son of Pritha, did
Savitri raise from pitiable plight to high fortune, herself, and her
father and mother, her father-in-law and mother-in-law, as also the race
of her husband. And like that gentle lady Savitri, the auspicious
daughter of Drupada, endued with excellent character, will rescue you
all.'"

Vaisampayana said, "Thus exhorted by that high-souled sage, the son of
Pandu, O king, with his mind free from anxiety, continued to live in the
forest of Kamyaka. The man that listeneth with reverence to the
excellent story of Savitri, attaineth to happiness, and success in
everything, and never meeteth with misery!"


SECTION CCLXLVIII

Janamejaya said, - "What, O Brahmana, was that great fear entertained by
Yudhishthira in respect of Karna, for which Lomasa had conveyed to the
son of Pandu a message of deep import from Indra in these words, _That
intense fear of thine which thou dost never express to any one, I will
remove after Dhananjaya goeth from hence?_ And, O best of ascetics, why
was it that the virtuous Yudhishthira never expressed it to any one?"

Vaisampayana said, "As thou askest me, O tiger among kings, I will
relate that history unto thee! Do thou listen to my words, O best of the
Bharatas! After twelve years (of their exile) had passed away and the
thirteenth year had set in, Sakra, ever friendly to the sons of Pandu,
resolved to beg of Karna (his ear-rings). And, O mighty monarch,
ascertaining this intention of the great chief of the celestials about
(Karna's) ear-rings, Surya, having effulgence for his wealth, went unto
Karna. And, O foremost of kings, while that hero devoted to the
Brahmanas and truthful in speech was lying down at night at his ease on
a rich bed overlaid with a costly sheet, the effulgent deity, filled
with kindness and affection for his son, showed himself, O Bharata, unto
him in his dreams. And assuming from ascetic power the form of a
handsome Brahmana versed in the _Vedas_, Surya sweetly said unto Karna
these words for his benefit, 'O son, do thou O Karna, listen to these
words of mine, O thou foremost of truthful persons! O mighty-armed one,
I tell thee to-day from affection, what is for thy great good! With the
object, O Karna, of obtaining thy ear-rings, Sakra, moved by the desire
of benefiting the sons of Pandu, will come unto thee, disguised as a
Brahmana! He, as well as all the world, knoweth thy character, viz.,
that when solicited by pious people, thou givest away but never takest
in gift! Thou, O son, givest unto Brahmanas wealth or any other thing
that is asked of thee and never refusest anything to anybody. Knowing
thee to be such, the subduer himself of Paka will come to beg of thee
thy ear-rings and coat of mail. When he beggeth the ear-rings of thee,
it behoveth thee not to give them away, but to gratify him with sweet
speeches to the best of thy power. Even this, is for thy supreme good!
While asking thee for the ear-rings, thou shalt, with various reasons,
repeatedly refuse Purandara who is desirous of obtaining them, offering
him, instead, various other kinds of wealth, such as gems and women and
kine, and citing various precedents. If thou, O Karna, givest away thy
beautiful ear-rings born with thee, thy life being shortened, thou wilt
meet with death! Arrayed in thy mail and ear-rings, thou wilt, O
bestower of honours, be incapable of being slain by foes in battle! Do
thou lay to heart these words of mine! Both these jewelled ornaments
have sprung from _Amrita_. Therefore, they should be preserved by thee,
if thy life is at all dear to thee.'

"Hearing these words, Karna said, 'Who art thou that tellest me so,
showing me such kindness? If it pleaseth thee, tell me, O illustrious
one, who thou art in the guise of a Brahmana!' - The Brahmana thereupon
said, 'O son, I am he of a thousand rays! Out of affection, I point out
to thee the path! Act thou according to my words, as it is for thy great
good to do so!' Karna replied, 'Surely, this itself is highly fortunate
for me that the god himself of splendour addresses me today, seeking my
welfare. Listen, however, to these words of mine! May it please thee, O
bestower of boons, it is only from affection that I tell thee this! If I
am dear to thee, I should not be dissuaded from the observance of my
vow! O thou that are possessed of the wealth of effulgence, the whole
world knoweth this to be my vow that, of a verity, I am prepared to give
away life itself unto superior Brahmanas! If, O best of all rangers of
the sky, Sakra cometh to me, disguised as a Brahmana, to beg for the
benefit of the sons of Pandu, I will, O chief of the celestials, give
him the ear-rings and the excellent mail, so that my fame which hath
spread over the three worlds may not suffer any diminution! For persons
like us, it is not fit to save life by a blame-worthy act. On the
contrary, it is even proper for us to meet death with the approbation of
the world and under circumstances bringing fame. Therefore, will I
bestow upon Indra the ear-rings with my coat of mail! If the slayer
himself of Vala and Vritra cometh to ask for the ear-rings for the
benefit of the sons of Pandu, that will conduce to my fame, leading at
the same time to _his_ infamy! O thou possessed of splendour, I wish for
fame in this world, even if it is to be purchased with life itself, for
they that have fame enjoy the celestial regions, while they that are
destitute of it are lost. Fame keepeth people alive in this world even
like a mother, while infamy killeth men even though they may move about
with bodies undestroyed. O lord of the worlds, O thou possessed of the
wealth of effulgence, that fame is the life of men is evidenced by an
ancient _sloka_ sung by the Creator himself, - _In the next world it is
fame that is the chief support of a person, while in this world pure
fame lengthens life_. Therefore, by giving away my ear-rings and mail
with both of which I was born I will win eternal fame! And by duly
giving away the same to Brahmanas according to the ordinance, by
offering up my body (as a gift to the gods) in the sacrifice of war, by
achieving feats difficult of performance, and by conquering my foes in
fight, I will acquire nothing but renown. And by dispelling on the field
of battle the fears of the affrighted that may beg for their lives, and
relieving old men and boys and Brahmanas from terror and anxiety, I will
win excellent fame and the highest heaven. My fame is to be protected
with the sacrifice of even my life. Even this, know thou, is my vow! By
giving away such a valuable gift to Maghavan disguised as a Brahmana, I
will, O god, acquire in this world the most exalted state.'"


SECTION CCLXLIX

"Surya said, 'Never do, O Karna, anything that is harmful to thy self
and thy friends; thy sons, thy wives, thy father, and thy mother; O thou
best of those that bear life, people desire renown (in this world) and
lasting fame in heaven, without wishing to sacrifice their bodies. But
as thou desirest undying fame at the expense of thy life, she will,
without doubt, snatch away thy life! O bull among men, in this world,
the father, the mother, the son, and other relatives are of use only to
him that is alive. O tiger among men, as regard kings, it is only when
they are alive that prowess can be of any use to them. Do thou
understand this? O thou of exceeding splendour, fame is for the good of
these only that are alive! Of what use is fame to the dead whose bodies
have been reduced to ashes? One that is dead cannot enjoy renown. It is
only when one is alive that one can enjoy it. The fame of one that is
dead is like a garland of flowers around the neck of a corpse. As thou
reverest me, I tell thee this for thy benefit, because thou art a
worshipper of mine! They that worship me are always protected by me.
That also is another reason for my addressing thee thus! Thinking again,
O mighty-armed one, that _this one revereth me with great reverence_, I
have been inspired with love for thee! Do thou, therefore, act according
to my words! There is, besides some profound mystery in all this,
ordained by fate. It is for this, that I tell thee so. Do thou act
without mistrust of any kind! O bull among men, it is not fit for thee
to know this which is a secret to the very gods. Therefore, I do not
reveal that secret unto thee. Thou wilt, however, understand it in time.
I repeat what I have already said. Do thou, O Radha's son, lay my words
to heart! When the wielder of the thunder-bolt asketh thee for them, do
thou never give him thy ear-rings! O thou of exceeding splendour, with
thy handsome ear-rings, thou lookest beautiful, even like the Moon
himself in the clear firmament, between the _Visakha_ constellation!
Dost thou know that fame availeth only the person that is living.
Therefore, when the lord of the celestials will ask the ear-rings, thou
shouldst, O son, refuse him! Repeating again and again answers fraught
with various reasons, thou wilt, O sinless one, be able to remove the
eagerness of the lord of the celestial for the possession of the
ear-rings. Do thou, O Karna, alter Purandara's purpose by urging answers
fraught with reason and grave import and adorned with sweetness and
suavity. Thou dost always, O tiger among men, challenge him that can
draw the bow with his left hand, and heroic Arjuna also will surely
encounter thee in fight. But when furnished with thy ear-rings, Arjuna
will never be able to vanquish thee in fight even if Indra himself comes
to his assistance. Therefore, O Karna, if thou wishest to vanquish
Arjuna in battle, these handsome ear-rings of thine should never be
parted with to Sakra.'"


SECTION CCC

"Karna said, 'As thou, O lord of splendour, knowest me for thy
worshipper, so also thou knowest that there is nothing which I cannot
give away in charity, O thou of fiery rays! Neither my wives, nor my
sons, nor my own self, nor my friends, are so dear to me as thou, on
account of the veneration I feel for thee, O lord of splendour! Thou
knowest, O maker of light, that high-souled persons bear a loving regard
for their dear worshippers. _Karna revereth me and is dear to me. He
knoweth no other deity in heaven_, - thinking this thou hast, O lord,
said unto me what is for my benefit. Yet, O thou of bright rays, again
do I beseech thee with bended head, again do I place myself in thy
hands. I will repeat the answer I have already given. It behoveth thee
to forgive me! Death itself is not fraught with such terrors for me as
untruth! As regards especially the Brahmanas, again, I do not hesitate
to yield up my life even for them! And, O divine one, respecting what
thou hast said unto me of Phalguna, the son of Pandu, let thy grief born
of thy anxiety of heart, O lord of splendour, be dispelled touching him
and myself; for I shall surely conquer Arjuna in battle! Thou knowest, O
deity, that I have great strength of weapons obtained from Jamadagnya
and the high-souled Drona. Permit me now, O foremost of celestials, to
observe my vow, so that unto him of the thunderbolt coming to beg of me,
I may give away even my life!'

"Surya said, 'If O son, thou givest away thy ear-rings to the wielder of
the thunder-bolt, O thou of mighty strength, thou shouldst also, for the
purpose of securing victory, speak unto him, saying, - _O thou of a
hundred sacrifices, I shall give thee ear-rings under a
condition_. - Furnished with the ear-rings, thou art certainly incapable
of being slain by any being. Therefore, it is, O son, that desirous of
beholding thee slain in battle by Arjuna, the destroyer of the Danavas
desireth to deprive thee of thy ear-rings. Repeatedly adoring with
truthful words that lord of the celestials, viz., Purandara armed with
weapons incapable of being frustrated, do thou also beseech him, saying,
"Give me an infallible dart capable of slaying all foes, and I will, O
thousand-eyed deity, give the ear-rings with the excellent coat of
mail!" On this condition shouldst thou give the ear-rings unto Sakra.
With that dart, O Karna, thou wilt slay foes in battle: for, O
mighty-armed one, that dart of the chief of the celestials doth not
return to the hand that hurleth it, without slaying enemies by hundreds
and by thousands!'"

Vaisampayana continued, "Having said this, the thousand-rayed deity
suddenly vanished away. The next day, after having told his prayers,
Karna related his dream unto the Sun. And Vrisha related unto him the
vision he had seen, and all that had passed between them in the night.
Thereupon, having heard everything, that enemy of Swarbhanu, that lord,
the resplendent and divine Surya, said unto him with a smile, 'It is
even so!' Then Radha's son, that slayer of hostile heroes, knowing all
about the matter, and desirous of obtaining the dart, remained in
expectation of Vasava."


SECTION CCCI

Janamejaya said, "What was that secret which was not revealed to Karna
by the deity of warm rays? Of what kind also were those ear-rings and of
what sort was that coat of mail? Whence, too, was that mail and those
ear-rings? All this, O best of men. I wish to hear! O thou possessed of
the wealth of asceticism, do tell me all this!"

Vaisampayana said, "I will, O monarch, tell thee that secret which was
not revealed by the deity possessed of the wealth of effulgence. I will
also describe unto thee those ear-rings and that coat of mail. Once on a
time, O king, there appeared before Kuntibhoja a Brahmana of fierce
energy and tall stature, bearing a beard and matted locks, and carrying
a staff in his hand. And, he was agreeable to the eye and of faultless
limbs, and seemed to blaze forth in splendour. And he was possessed of a
yellow-blue complexion like that of honey. And his speech was
mellifluous, and he was adorned with ascetic merit and a knowledge of
the _Vedas_. And that person of great ascetic merit, addressing king
Kuntibhoja, said, 'O thou that are free from pride, I wish to live as a
guest in thy house feeding on the food obtained as alms from thee!
Neither thy followers, nor thou thyself, shall ever act in such a way as
to produce my displeasure! If, O sinless one, it liketh thee, I would
then live in thy house thus! I shall leave thy abode when I wish, and
come back when I please. And, O king, no one shall offend me in respect
of my food or bed.' - Then Kuntibhoja spake unto him these words
cheerfully, 'Be it so, and more.' And he again said unto him, 'O thou of
great wisdom, I have an illustrious daughter named Pritha. And she
beareth an excellent character, is observant of vow, chaste, and of
subdued senses. And she shall attend on thee and minister unto thee with
reverence. And thou wilt be pleased with her disposition!' And having
said this to that Brahmana and duly paid him homage, the king went to
his daughter Pritha of large eyes, and spake thus unto her, 'O child,
this eminently pious Brahmana is desirous of dwelling in my house! I
have accepted his proposal, saying, - _So be it_, relying, O child, on
thy aptitude and skill in ministering unto Brahmanas. It, therefore,
behoveth thee to act in such a manner that my words may not be untrue.
Do thou give him with alacrity whatever this reverend Brahmana possessed
of ascetic merit and engaged in the study of the Vedas, may want. Let
everything that this Brahmana asketh for be given to him cheerfully. A
Brahmana is the embodiment of pre-eminent energy: he is also the
embodiment of the highest ascetic merit. It is in consequence of the
virtuous practices of Brahmanas that the sun shineth in the heavens. It
was for their disregard of Brahmanas that were deserving of honour that
the mighty _Asura_ Vatapi, as also Talajangha, was destroyed by the
curse of the Brahmanas. For the present, O child, it is a highly
virtuous one of that order that is entrusted to thy keep. Thou shouldst
always tend this Brahmana with concentrated mind. O daughter, I know
that, from childhood upwards, thou hast ever been attentive to
Brahmanas, and superiors, and relatives, and servants, and friends, to
thy mothers and myself. I know thou bearest thyself well, bestowing
proper regard upon everyone. And, O thou of faultless limbs, in the city
of the interior of my palace, on account of thy gentle behaviour, there
is not one, even among the servants, that is dissatisfied with thee. I
have, therefore, thought thee fit to wait upon all Brahmanas of wrathful
temper. Thou art, O Pritha, a girl and has been adopted as my daughter.
Thou art born in the race of the Vrishnis, and art the favourite
daughter of Sura. Thou wert, O girl, given to me gladly by thy father
himself. The sister of Vasudeva by birth, thou art (by adoption) the
foremost of my children. Having promised me in these words, - _I will
give my first born_, - thy father gladly gave thee to me while thou wert
yet in thy infancy. It is for this reason that thou art my daughter.
Born in such a race and reared in such a race, thou hast come from one
happy state to another like a lotus transferred from one lake to
another. O auspicious girl, women, specially they that are of mean
extraction, although they may with difficulty be kept under restraint,
become in consequence of their unripe age, generally deformed in
character. But thou, O Pritha, art born in a royal race, and thy beauty
also is extraordinary. And then, O girl, thou art endued with every
accomplishment. Do thou, therefore, O damsel, renouncing pride and
haughtiness and a sense of self-importance, wait upon and worship the
boon-giving Brahmana, and thereby attain, O Pritha, to an auspicious
state! By acting thus, O auspicious and sinless girl, thou wilt surely
attain to auspiciousness! But if on the contrary, thou stirrest up the
anger of this best of the twice-born ones, my entire race will be
consumed by him!'"


SECTION CCCII

"Kunti said, 'According to thy promise, I will, O king, with
concentrated mind, serve that Brahmana. O foremost of kings, I do not
say this falsely. It is my nature to worship Brahmanas. And, as in the
present case, my doing so would be agreeable to thee, even this would be
highly conducive to my welfare. Whether that worshipful one cometh in
the evening, or in morning, or at night or even at midnight, he will
have no reason to be angry with me! O foremost of kings, to do good by
serving the twice-born ones, observing all thy commands, is what I
consider to be highly profitable to me, O best of men! Do thou,
therefore, O foremost of monarchs rely on me! That best of Brahmanas,
while residing in thy house, shall never have cause for dissatisfaction,
I tell thee truly. I shall, O king, be always attentive to that which is
agreeable to this Brahmana, and what is fraught also with good to thee.
O sinless one! I know full well that Brahmanas that are eminently
virtuous, when propitiated bestow salvation, and when displeased, are



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