Sauti said, "Janamejaya, the son of Parikshit, was, with his brothers, attending his long sacrifice on the plains of Kurukshetra. His brothers were three, Srutasena, Ugrasena, and Bhimasena. And as they were sitting at the sacrifice, there arrived at the spot an offspring of Sarama (the celestial bitch). And belaboured by the brothers of Janamejaya, he ran away to his mother, crying in pain.
And his mother seeing him crying exceedingly asked him,
'Why criest thou so? Who hath beaten thee? And being thus questioned, he said unto his mother, 'I have been belaboured by the brothers of Janamejaya.'
And his mother replied,
'Thou hast committed some fault for which hast thou been beaten!'
'I have not committed any fault. I have not touched the sacrificial butter with my tongue, nor have I even cast a look upon it.'
His mother Sarama hearing this and much distressed at the affliction of her son went to the place where Janamejaya with his brothers was at his long-extending sacrifice.
And she addressed Janamejaya in anger, saying,
'This my son [Page 33] hath committed no fault: he hath not looked upon your sacrificial butter, nor hath he touched it with his tongue. Wherefore hath he been beaten?'
They said not a word in reply; whereupon she said,
'As ye have beaten my son who hath committed no fault, therefore shall evil come upon ye, when ye least expect it.'
"Janamejaya, thus addressed by the celestial bitch, Sarama, became exceedingly alarmed and dejected. And after the sacrifice was concluded returned to Hastinapura, and began to take great pains in searching for a Purohita who could by procuring absolution for his sin, neutralise the effect of the curse.
"One day Janamejaya, the son of Parikshit, while a-hunting, observed in a particular part of his dominions a hermitage where dwelt a certain Rishi of fame, Srutasrava. He had a son named Somasrava deeply engaged in ascetic devotions.
Being desirous of appointing that son of the Rishi as his Purohita, Janamejaya, the son of Parikshit, saluted the Rishi and addressed him, saying,
'O possessor of the six attributes, let this thy son be my purohita.'
The Rishi thus addressed, answered Janamejaya,
'O Janamejaya, this my son, deep in ascetic devotions, accomplished in the study of the Vedas, and endued with the full force of my asceticism, is born of (the womb of) a she-snake that had drunk my vital fluid. He is able to absolve thee from all offences save those committed against Mahadeva. But he hath one particular habit, viz. he would grant to any Brahmana whatever might be begged of him. If thou canst put up with it, then thou take him.'
Janamejaya thus addressed replied to the Rishi,
'It shall be even so.'
And accepting him for his Purohita, he returned to his capital; and he then addressed his brothers saying,
'This is the person I have chosen for my spiritual master; whatsoever he may say must be complied with by you without examination.'
And his brothers did as they were directed. And giving these directions to his brothers, the king marched towards Takshyashila and brought that country under his authority.
"About this time there was a Rishi, Ayoda-Dhaumya by name. And Ayoda-Dhaumya had three disciples, Upamanyu, Aruni, and Veda. And the Rishi bade one of these disciples, Aruni of Panchala, to go and stop up a breach in the water-course of a certain field. And Aruni of Panchala, thus ordered by his preceptor, repaired to the spot. And having gone there he saw that he could not stop up the breach in the water-course by ordinary means. And he was distressed because he could not do his preceptor's bidding. But at length he saw a way and said, 'Well, I will do it in this way.' He then went down into the breach and lay down himself there. And the water was thus confined.
"And some time after, the preceptor Ayoda-Dhaumya asked his other disciples where Aruni of Panchala was. And they answered,
'Sir, he hath been sent by yourself saying, 'Go, stop up the breach in the water-course [Page 34] of the field,'
Thus reminded, Dhaumya, addressing his pupils, said,
'Then let us all go to the place where he is.'
"And having arrived there, he shouted,
'Ho Aruni of Panchala! Where art thou? Come hither, my child.'
And Aruni hearing the voice of his preceptor speedily came out of the water-course and stood before his preceptor. And addressing the latter, Aruni said,
'Here I am in the breach of the water-course. Not having been able to devise any other means, I entered myself for the purpose of preventing the water running out. It is only upon hearing thy voice that, having left it and allowed the waters to escape, I have stood before thee. I salute thee, Master; tell me what I have to do.'
"The preceptor, thus addressed, replied,
'Because in getting up from the ditch thou hast opened the water-course, thenceforth shalt thou be called Uddalaka as a mark of thy preceptor's favour. And because my words have been obeyed by thee, thou shalt obtain good fortune. And all the Vedas shall shine in thee and all the Dharmasastras also.'
And Aruni, thus addressed by his preceptor, went to the country after his heart.
"The name of another of Ayoda-Dhaumya's disciples was Upamanyu. And Dhaumya appointed him saying,
'Go, my child, Upamanyu, look after the kine.'
And according to his preceptor's orders, he went to tend the kine. And having watched them all day, he returned in the evening to his preceptor's house and standing before him he saluted him respectfully. And his preceptor seeing him in good condition of body asked him,
'Upamanyu, my child, upon what dost thou support thyself? Thou art exceedingly plump.'
And he answered,
'Sir, I support myself by begging'.
And his preceptor said,
'What is obtained in alms should not be used by thee without offering it to me.'
And Upamanyu, thus told, went away. And having obtained alms, he offered the same to his preceptor. And his preceptor took from him even the whole. And Upamanyu, thus treated, went to attend the cattle. And having watched them all day, he returned in the evening to his preceptor's abode. And he stood before his preceptor and saluted him with respect. And his preceptor perceiving that he still continued to be of good condition of body said unto him,
'Upamanyu, my child, I take from thee even the whole of what thou obtainest in alms, without leaving anything for thee. How then dost thou, at present, contrive to support thyself?'
And Upamanyu said unto his preceptor,
'Sir, having made over to you all that I obtain in alms, I go a-begging a second time for supporting myself.'
And his preceptor then replied,
'This is not the way in which thou shouldst obey the preceptor. By this thou art diminishing the support of others that live by begging. Truly having supported thyself so, thou hast proved thyself covetous.'
And Upamanyu, having signified his assent to all that his preceptor said, went away to attend the cattle. And having watched them all day, he returned to [Page 35] his preceptor's house. And he stood before his preceptor and saluted him respectfully. And his preceptor observing that he was still fat, said again unto him,
'Upamanyu, my child, I take from thee all thou obtainest in alms and thou dost not go a-begging a second time, and yet art thou in healthy condition. How dost thou support thyself?'
And Upamanyu, thus questioned, answered,
'Sir, I now live upon the milk of these cows.'
And his preceptor thereupon told him,
'It is not lawful for thee to appropriate the milk without having first obtained my consent.'
And Upamanyu having assented to the justice of these observations, went away to tend the kine. And when he returned to his preceptor's abode, he stood before him and saluted him as usual. And his preceptor seeing that he was still fat, said,
'Upamanyu, my child, thou eatest no longer of alms, nor dost thou go a-begging a second time, not even drinkest of the milk; yet art thou fat. By what means dost thou contrive to live now?'
And Upamanyu replied,
'Sir, I now sip the froth that these calves throw out, while sucking their mother's teats.'
And the preceptor said,
'These generous calves, I suppose, out of compassion for thee, throw out large quantities of froth. Wouldst thou stand in the way of their full meals by acting as thou hast done? Know that it is unlawful for thee to drink the froth.'
And Upamanyu, having signified his assent to this, went as before to tend the cows. And restrained by his preceptor, he feedeth not on alms, nor hath he anything else to eat; he drinketh not of the milk, nor tasteth he of the froth!
"And Upamanyu, one day, oppressed by hunger, when in a forest, ate of the leaves of the Arka (Asclepias gigantea). And his eyes being affected by the pungent, acrimonious, crude, and saline properties of the leaves which he had eaten, he became blind. And as he was crawling about, he fell into a pit. And upon his not returning that day when the sun was sinking down behind the summit of the western mountains, the preceptor observed to his disciples that Upamanyu was not yet come. And they told him that he had gone out with the cattle.
"The preceptor then said,
'Upamanyu being restrained by me from the use of everything, is, of course, and therefore, doth not come home until it be late. Let us then go in search of him.'
And having said this, he went with his disciples into the forest and began to shout, saying,
'Ho Upamanyu, where art thou?'
And Upamanyu hearing his preceptor's voice answered in a loud tone,
'Here I am at the bottom of a well.'
And his preceptor asked him how he happened to be there. And Upamanyu replied,
'Having eaten of the leaves of the Arka plant I became blind, and so have I fallen into this well.'
And his preceptor thereupon told him,
'Glorify the twin Aswins, the joint physicians of the gods, and they will restore thee thy sight.'
And Upamanyu thus directed by his preceptor began to glorify the twin Aswins, in the following words of the Rig Veda:
'Ye have existed before the creation! Ye first-born beings, ye are displayed [Page 36] in this wondrous universe of five elements! I desire to obtain you by the help of the knowledge derived from hearing, and of meditation, for ye are Infinite! Ye are the course itself of Nature and intelligent Soul that pervades that course! Ye are birds of beauteous feathers perched on the body that is like to a tree! Ye are without the three common attributes of every soul! Ye are incomparable! Ye, through your spirit in every created thing, pervade the Universe!
"Ye are golden Eagles! Ye are the essence into which all things disappear! Ye are free from error and know no deterioration! Ye are of beauteous beaks that would not unjustly strike and are victorious in every encounter! Ye certainly prevail over time! Having created the sun, ye weave the wondrous cloth of the year by means of the white thread of the day and the black thread of the night! And with the cloth so woven, ye have established two courses of action appertaining respectively to the Devas and the Pitris.
The bird of Life seized by Time which represents the strength of the Infinite soul, ye set free for delivering her unto great happiness! They that are in deep ignorance, as long as they are under delusions of their senses, suppose you, who are independent of the attributes of matter, to be gifted with form! Three hundred and sixty cows represented by three hundred and sixty days produce one calf between them which is the year. That calf is the creator and destroyer of all. Seekers of truth following different routes, draw the milk of true knowledge with its help. Ye Aswins, ye are the creators of that calf!
"The year is but the nave of a wheel to which is attached seven hundred and twenty spokes representing as many days and nights. The circumference of this wheel represented by twelve months is without end. This wheel is full of delusions and knows no deterioration. It affects all creatures whether to this or of the other worlds. Ye Aswins, this wheel of time is set in motion by you!
"The wheel of Time as represented by the year has a nave represented by the six seasons. The number of spokes attached to that nave is twelve as represented by the twelve signs of the Zodiac. This wheel of Time manifests the fruits of the acts of all things. The presiding deities of Time abide in that wheel. Subject as I am to its distressful influence, ye Aswins, liberate me from that wheel of Time. Ye Aswins, ye are this universe of five elements! Ye are the objects that are enjoyed in this and in the other world! Make me independent of the five elements! And though ye are the Supreme Brahma, yet ye move over the Earth in forms enjoying the delights that the senses afford.
"In the beginning, ye created the ten points of the universe! Then have ye placed the Sun and the Sky above! The Rishis, according to the course of the same Sun, perform their sacrifices, and the gods and men, according to what hath been appointed for them, perform their sacrifices also enjoying the fruits of those acts!
[Page 37] "Mixing the three colours, ye have produced all the objects of sight! It is from these objects that the Universe hath sprung whereon the gods and men are engaged in their respective occupations, and, indeed, all creatures endued with life!
"Ye Aswins, I adore you! I also adore the Sky which is your handiwork! Ye are the ordainers of the fruits of all acts from which even the gods are not free! Ye are yourselves free from the fruits of your acts!
"Ye are the parents of all! As males and females it is ye that swallow the food which subsequently develops into the life creating fluid and blood! The new-born infant sucks the teat of its mother. Indeed it is ye that take the shape of the infant! Ye Aswins, grant me my sight to protect my life!"
The twin Aswins, thus invoked, appeared and said,
'We are satisfied. Here is a cake for thee. Take and eat it.'
And Upamanyu thus addressed, replied,
'Your words, O Aswins, have never proved untrue. But without first offering this cake to my preceptor I dare not take it.'
And the Aswins thereupon told him,
'Formerly, thy preceptor had invoked us. We thereupon gave him a cake like this; and he took it without offering it to his master. Do thou do that which thy preceptor did.'
Thus addressed, Upamanyu again said unto them,
'O Aswins, I crave your pardon. Without offering it to my preceptor I dare not apply this cake.'
The Aswins then said,
'O, we are pleased with this devotion of thine to thy preceptor. Thy master's teeth are of black iron. Thine shall be of gold. Thou shall be restored to sight and shall have good fortune.'
"Thus spoken to by the Aswins he recovered his sight, and having gone to his preceptor's presence he saluted him and told him all. And his preceptor was well-pleased with him and said unto him,
'Thou shalt obtain prosperity even as the Aswins have said. All the Vedas shall shine in thee and all the Dharma-sastras.'
And this was the trial of Upamanyu.
"Then Veda the other disciple of Ayoda-Dhaumya was called. His preceptor once addressed him, saying,
'Veda, my child, tarry some time in my house and serve thy preceptor. It shall be to thy profit.'
And Veda having signified his assent tarried long in the family of his preceptor mindful of serving him. Like an ox under the burthens of his master, he bore heat and cold, hunger and thirst, at all times without a murmur. And it was not long before his preceptor was satisfied. And as a consequence of that satisfaction, Veda obtained good fortune and universal knowledge. And this was the trial of Veda.
"And Veda, having received permission from his preceptor, and leaving the latter's residence after the completion of his studies, entered the domestic mode of life. And while living in his own house, he got three pupils. And he never told them to perform any work or to obey implicitly his own behests; for having himself experienced much woe while abiding in the family of his preceptor, he liked not to treat them with severity.
"After a certain time, Janamejaya and Paushya, both of the order of [Page 38] Kshatriyas, arriving at his residence appointed the Brahman. Veda, as their spiritual guide (Upadhyaya). And one day while about to depart upon some business related to a sacrifice, he employed one of his disciples, Utanka, to take charge of his household.
'whatsoever should have to be done in my house, let it be done by thee without neglect.'
And having given these orders to Utanka, he went on his journey.
"So Utanka always mindful of the injunction of his preceptor took up his abode in the latter's house. And while Utanka was residing there, the females of his preceptor's house having assembled addressed him and said,
'O Utanka, thy mistress is in that season when connubial connection might be fruitful. The preceptor is absent; then stand thou in his place and do the needful.'
And Utanka, thus addressed, said unto those women,
'It is not proper for me to do this at the bidding of women. I have not been enjoined by my preceptor to do aught that is improper.'
"After a while, his preceptor returned from his journey. And his preceptor having learnt all that had happened, became well-pleased and, addressing Utanka, said,
'Utanka, my child, what favour shall I bestow on thee? I have been served by thee duly; therefore hath our friendship for each other increased. I therefore grant thee leave to depart. Go thou, and let thy wishes be accomplished!'
"Utanka, thus addressed, replied, saying, "Let me do something that you wish, for it hath been said, 'He who bestoweth instruction contrary to usage and he who receiveth it contrary to usage, one of the two dieth, and enmity springeth up between the two.--I, therefore, who have received thy leave to depart, am desirous of bringing thee some honorarium due to a preceptor. His master, upon hearing this, replied,
'Utanka, my child, wait a while.'
Sometime after, Utanka again addressed his preceptor, saying,
'Command me to bring that for honorarium, which you desire.'
And his preceptor then said,
'My dear Utanka, thou hast often told me of your desire to bring something by way of acknowledgment for the instruction thou hast received. Go then in and ask thy mistress what thou art to bring. And bring thou that which she directs.'
And thus directed by his preceptor Utanka addressed his preceptress, saying,
'Madam, I have obtained my master's leave to go home, and I am desirous of bringing something agreeable to thee as honorarium for the instruction I have received, in order that I may not depart as his debtor. Therefore, please command me what I am to bring.'
Thus addressed, his preceptress replied,
'Go unto King Paushya and beg of him the pair of ear-rings worn by his Queen, and bring them hither. The fourth day hence is a sacred day when I wish to appear before the Brahmanas (who may dine at my house) decked with these ear-rings. Then accomplish this, O Utanka! If thou shouldst succeed, good fortune shall attend thee; if not, what good canst thou expect?'
"Utanka thus commanded, took his departure. And as he was passing along the road he saw a bull of extraordinary size and a man of uncommon [Page 39] stature mounted thereon. And that man addressed Utanka and said,
'Eat thou of the dung of this bull.'
Utanka, however, was unwilling to comply. The man said again,
'O Utanka, eat of it without scrutiny. Thy master ate of it before.'
And Utanka signified his assent and ate of the dung and drank of the urine of that bull, and rose respectfully, and washing his hands and mouth went to where King Paushya was.
'On arriving at the palace, Utanka saw Paushya seated (on his throne). And approaching him Utanka saluted the monarch by pronouncing blessings and said,
'I am come as a petitioner to thee.'
And King Paushya, having returned Utanka's salutations, said,
'Sir, what shall I do for thee?'
And Utanka said,
'I came to beg of thee a pair of ear-rings as a present to my preceptor. It behoveth thee to give me the ear-rings worn by the Queen.'
"King Paushya replied,
'Go, Utanka, into the female apartments where the Queen is and demand them of her.'
And Utanka went into the women's apartments. But as he could not discover the Queen, he again addressed the king, saying,
'It is not proper that I should be treated by thee with deceit. Thy Queen is not in the private apartments, for I could not find her.'
The king thus addressed, considered for a while and replied,
'Recollect, Sir, with attention whether thou art not in a state of defilement in consequence of contact with the impurities of a repast. My Queen is a chaste wife and cannot be seen by any one who is impure owing to contact with the leavings of a repast. Nor doth she herself appear in sight of any one who is defiled.'
"Utanka, thus informed, reflected for a while and then said,
'Yes, it must be so. Having been in a hurry I performed my ablutions (after meal) in a standing posture.'
King Paushya then said,
'Here is a transgression, purification is not properly effected by one in a standing posture, not by one while he is going along.'
And Utanka having agreed to this, sat down with his face towards the east, and washed his face, hands, and feet thoroughly. And he then, without a noise, sipped thrice of water free from scum and froth, and not warm, and just sufficient to reach his stomach and wiped his face twice. And he then touched with water the apertures of his organs (eyes, ears, etc.). And having done all this, he once more entered the apartments of the women. And this time he saw the Queen. And as the Queen perceived him, she saluted him respectfully and said,
'Welcome, Sir, command me what I have to do.'
And Utanka said unto her,
'It behoveth thee to give me those ear-rings of thine. I beg them as a present for my preceptor.'
And the Queen having been highly pleased with Utanka's conduct and, considering that Utanka as an object of charity could not be passed over, took off her ear-rings and gave them to him. And she said,
'These ear-rings are very much sought after by Takshaka, the King of the serpents. Therefore shouldst thou carry them with the greatest care.'
"And Utanka being told this, said unto the Queen,
'Lady, be under no [Page 40] apprehension. Takshaka, Chief of the serpents, is not able to overtake me.'
And having said this, and taking leave of the Queen, he went back into the presence of Paushya, and said,
'Paushya, I am gratified.'
Then Paushya said to Utanka,
'A fit object of charity can only be had at long intervals. Thou art a qualified guest, therefore do I desire to perform a sraddha. Tarry thou a little.'
And Utanka replied,
'Yes, I will tarry, and beg that the clean provisions that are ready may be soon brought in.'
And the king having signified his assent, entertained Utanka duly. And Utanka seeing that the food placed before him had hair in it, and also that it was cold, thought it unclean. And he said unto Paushya,
'Thou givest me food that is unclean, therefore shalt thou lose thy sight.'
And Paushya in answer said,
'And because dost thou impute uncleanliness to food that is clean, therefore shalt thou be without issue.'
And Utanka thereupon rejoined,
'It behoveth thee not, after having offered me unclean food, to curse me in return. Satisfy thyself by ocular proof.'
"And Paushya seeing the food alleged to be unclean satisfied himself of its uncleanliness. And Paushya having ascertained that the food was truly unclean, being cold and mixed with hair, prepared as it was by a woman with unbraided hair, began to pacify the Rishi Utanka, saying,
'Sir, the food placed before thee is cold, and doth contain hair, having been prepared without sufficient care. Therefore I pray thee pardon me. Let me not become blind.'
And Utanka answered,
'What I say must come to pass. Having become blind, thou mayst, however, recover the sight before long. Grant that thy curse also doth not take effect on me.'
And Paushya said unto him,
'I am unable to revoke my curse. For my wrath even now hath not been appeased. But thou knowest not this. For a Brahmana's heart is soft as new-churned butter, even though his words bear a sharp-edged razor. It is otherwise in respect of these with the Kshatriya. His words are soft as new-churned butter, but his heart is like a sharp-edged tool, such being the case, I am unable, because of the hardness of my heart, to neutralise my curse. Then go thou thy own way.'
To this Utanka made answer,
'I showed thee the uncleanliness of the food offered to me, and I was even now pacified by thee. Besides, saidst thou at first that because I imputed uncleanliness to food that was clean I should be without issue. But the food truly unclean, thy curse cannot affect me. Of this I am sure.'
And Utanka having said this departed with the ear-rings.
"On the road Utanka perceived coming towards him a naked idle beggar sometimes coming in view and sometimes disappearing. And Utanka put the ear-rings on the ground and went for water. In the meantime the beggar came quickly to the spot and taking up the ear-rings ran away. And Utanka having completed his ablutions in water and purified himself and having also reverently bowed down to the gods and his spiritual masters pursued the thief with the utmost speed. And having with great difficulty overtaken him, he seized him by force. But at that instant the person [Page 41] seized, quitting the form of a beggar and assuming his real form, viz., that of Takshaka, speedily entered a large hole open in the ground. And having got in, Takshaka proceeded to his own abode, the region of the serpents.
"Now, Utanka, recollecting the words of the Queen, pursued the Serpent, and began to dig open the hole with a stick but was unable to make much progress. And Indra beholding his distress sent his thunder-bolt (Vajra) to his assistance. Then the thunder-bolt entering that stick enlarged that hole. And Utanka began to enter the hole after the thunder-bolt. And having entered it, he beheld the region of the serpents infinite in extent, filled with hundreds of palaces and elegant mansions with turrets and domes and gate-ways, abounding with wonderful places for various games and entertainments.
And Utanka then glorified the serpents by the following slokas:
"Ye Serpents, subjects of King Airavata, splendid in battle and showering weapons in the field like lightning-charged clouds driven by the winds! Handsome and of various forms and decked with many coloured ear-rings, ye children of Airavata, ye shine like the Sun in the firmament! On the northern banks of the Ganges are many habitations of serpents. There I constantly adore the great serpents. Who except Airavata would desire to move in the burning rays of the Sun? When Dhritarashtra (Airavata's brother) goes out, twenty-eight thousand and eight serpents follow him as his attendants. Ye who move near him and ye who stay at a distance from him, I adore all of you that have Airavata for your elder brother.
I adore thee also, to obtain the ear-rings, O Takshaka, who formerly dwelt in Kurukshetra and the forest of Khandava! Takshaka and Aswasena, ye are constant companions who dwell in Kurukshetra on the banks of the Ikshumati! I also adore the illustrious Srutasena, the younger brother of Takshaka, who resided at the holy place called Mahadyumna with a view to obtaining the chiefship of the serpents."
"The Brahmana Rishi Utanka having saluted the chief serpents in this manner, obtained not, however, the ear-rings. And he thereupon became very thoughtful. And when he saw that he obtained not the ear-rings even though he had adored the serpents, he then looked about him and beheld two women at a loom weaving a piece of cloth with a fine shuttle; and in the loom were black and white threads. And he likewise saw a wheel, with twelve spokes, turned by six boys. And he also saw a man with a handsome horse.
And he began to address them the following mantras:
"This wheel whose circumference is marked by twenty-four divisions representing as many lunar changes is furnished with three hundred spokes! It is set in continual motion by six boys (the seasons)! These damsels representing universal nature are weaving without intermission a cloth with threads black and white, and thereby ushering into existence the manifold worlds and the beings that inhabit them! Thou wielder of the [Page 42] thunder, the protector of the universe, the slayer of Vritra and Namuchi, thou illustrious one who wearest the black cloth and displayest truth and untruth in the universe, thou who ownest for thy carrier the horse which was received from the depths of the ocean, and which is but another form of Agni (the god of fire), I bow to thee, thou supreme Lord, thou Lord of the three worlds, O Purandara!"
"Then the man with the horse said unto Utanka, 'I am gratified by this thy adoration. What good shall I do to thee?' And Utanka replied, 'Even let the serpents be brought under my control.' Then the man rejoined, 'Blow into this horse.' And Utanka blew into that horse. And from the horse thus blown into, there issued, from every aperture of his body, flames of fire with smoke by which the region of the Nagas was about to be consumed. And Takshaka, surprised beyond measure and terrified by the heat of the fire, hastily came out of his abode taking the ear-rings with him, and said unto Utanka, 'Pray, Sir, take back the ear-rings.'
And Utanka took them back.
"But Utanka having recovered his ear-rings thought,
'O, this is that sacred day of my preceptress. I am at a distance. How can I, therefore, show my regard for her?'
And when Utanka was anxious about this, the man addressed him and said,
'Ride this horse, Utanka, and he will in a moment carry thee to thy master's abode.'
And Utanka having signified his assent, mounted the horse and presently reached his preceptor's house.
"And his preceptress that morning after having bathed was dressing her hair sitting, thinking of uttering a curse on Utanka if he should not return within time. But, in the meantime, Utanka entered his preceptor's abode and paid his respects to his preceptress and presented her the ear-rings.
'thou hast arrived at the proper time at the proper place. Welcome, my child; thou art innocent and therefore I do not curse thee! Good fortune is even before thee. Let thy wishes be crowned with success!'
"Then Utanka waited on his preceptor. And his preceptor said,
'Thou art welcome! What hath occasioned thy long absence?'
And Utanka replied to his preceptor,
'Sir, in the execution of this my business obstruction was offered by Takshaka, the King of serpents. Therefore I had to go to the region of the Nagas. There I saw two damsels sitting at a loom, weaving a fabric with black and white threads. Pray, what is that? There likewise I beheld a wheel with twelve spokes ceaselessly turned by six boys. What too doth that import? Who is also the man that I saw? And what the horse of extraordinary size likewise beheld by me? And when I was on the road I also saw a bull with a man mounted thereon, by whom I was endearingly accosted thus, 'Utanka, eat of the dung of this bull, which was also eaten by thy master?' So I ate of the dung of that bull according to his words. Who also is he? Therefore, enlightened by thee, I desire to hear all about them.'
[Page 43] "And his preceptor thus addressed said unto him,
'The two damsels thou hast seen are Dhata and Vidhata; the black and white threads denote night and day; the wheel of twelve spokes turned by the six boys signified the year comprising six seasons. The man is Parjanya, the deity of rain, and the horse is Agni, the god of fire. The bull that thou hast seen on the road is Airavata, the king of elephants; the man mounted thereon is Indra; and the dung of the bull which was eaten by thee was Amrita. It was certainly for this (last) that thou hast not met with death in the region of the Nagas; and Indra who is my friend having been mercifully inclined showed thee favour. It is for this that thou returnest safe, with the ear-rings about thee. Then, O thou amiable one, I give thee leave to depart. Thou shall obtain good fortune.'
"And Utanka, having obtained his master's leave, moved by anger and resolved to avenge himself on Takshaka, proceeded towards Hastinapura. That excellent Brahmana soon reached Hastinapura. And Utanka then waited upon King Janamejaya who had some time before returned victorious from Takshashila. And Utanka saw the victorious monarch surrounded on all sides by his ministers. And he pronounced benedictions on him in a proper form. And Utanka addressed the monarch at the proper moment in speech of correct accent and melodious sounds, saying,
'O thou the best of monarchs! How is it that thou spendest thy time like a child when there is another matter that urgently demandeth thy attention?'"
Sauti said, 'The monarch Janamejaya, thus addressed, saluting that excellent Brahmana replied unto him,
'In cherishing these my subjects I do discharge the duties of my noble tribe. Say, what is that business to be done by me and which hath brought thee hither.'
The foremost of Brahmanas and distinguished beyond all for good deeds, thus addressed by the excellent monarch of large heart, replied unto him,
'O King! the business is thy own that demandeth thy attention; therefore do it, please.
O thou King of kings! Thy father was deprived of life by Takshaka; therefore do thou avenge thy father's death on that vile serpent. The time hath come, I think, for the act of vengeance ordained by the Fates. Go then avenge the death of thy magnanimous father who, being bitten without cause by that vile serpent, was reduced to five elements even like a tree stricken by thunder. The wicked Takshaka, vilest of the serpent race, intoxicated with power committed an unnecessary act when he bit the King, that god-like father, the protector of the race of royal saints. Wicked in his deeds, he even caused Kasyapa (the prince of physicians) to run back when he was coming for the relief of thy father. It behoveth thee to burn the wicked wretch in the blazing fire of a snake-sacrifice.
O King! Give instant orders for the sacrifice. It is thus thou canst avenge the death of thy father. And a very great favour shall have also been shown to me. For by that malignant wretch, O virtuous Prince, my business also was, on one occasion, obstructed, while proceeding on [Page 44] account of my preceptor.'
Sauti continued, The monarch, having heard these words, was enraged with Takshaka. By the speech of Utanka was inflamed the prince, even as the sacrificial fire with clarified butter. Moved by grief also, in the presence of Utanka, the prince asked his ministers the particulars of his father's journey to the regions of the blessed. And when he heard all about the circumstances of his father's death from the lips of Utanka, he was overcome with pain and sorrow.
And thus endeth the section called Paushya of the Adi Parva of the blessed Mahabharata.