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The Mahabharata - First Book

Adi Parva

Section LXXVIII

"Vaisampayana said, 'The dwellers in heaven became exceedingly glad in welcoming Kacha who had mastered the wonderful science. And, O bull of Bharata's race, the celestials then learnt that science from Kacha and considered their object already achieved. And assembling together, they spoke unto him of a hundred sacrifices, saying,

'The time hath come for showing prowess. Slay thy foes, O Purandara!'

And thus addressed, Maghavat, then accompanied by the celestials, set out, saying, 'So be it.' But on his way he saw a number of damsels. These maidens were sporting in a lake in the gardens of the Gandharva Chitraratha. Changing himself into wind, he soon mixed up the garments of those maidens which they had laid on the bank.

A little while after, the maidens, getting up from the water, approached their garments that had, indeed, got mixed up with one another. And it so happened that from the intermingled heap, the garments of Devayani were appropriated by Sarmishtha, the daughter of Vrishaparvan, from ignorance that it was not hers. And, O king, thereupon, between them, Devayani and Sarmishtha, then ensued a dispute. And Devayani said,

'O daughter of the Asura (chief), why dost thou take my attire, being, as thou art, my disciple? As thou art destitute of good behaviour, nothing good can happen to thee!'

Sarmishtha, however, quickly replied,

'Thy father occupying a lower seat, always adoreth with downcast looks, like a hired chanter of praises, my father, whether he sitteth at his ease or reclineth at full length!

Thou art the daughter of one that chanteth the praises of others, of one that accepteth alms.

I am the daughter of one who is adored, of one who bestoweth alms instead of ever accepting them!

Beggar-woman as thou art, thou art free to strike thy breast, to use ill words, to vow enmity to me, to give way to thy wrath. Acceptress of alms, thou weepest tears of anger in vain!

If so minded, I can harm thee, but thou canst not. Thou desirest to quarrel. But know thou that I do not reckon thee as my equal!'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Hearing these words, Devayani became exceedingly angry and began to pull at her clothes. Sarmishtha thereupon threw her into a well and went home. Indeed, the wicked Sarmishtha believing that Devayani was dead, bent her steps home-wards in a wrathful mood.

"After Sarmishtha had left, Yayati the son of Nahusha soon came to that [Page 173] spot. The king had been out a-hunting. The couple of horses harnessed to his car and the other single horse with him were all fatigued. And the king himself was thirsty. And the son of Nahusha saw a well that was by. And he saw that it was dry. But in looking down into it, he saw a maiden who in splendour was like a blazing fire. And beholding her within it, the blessed king addressed that girl of the complexion of the celestials, soothing her with sweet words.

And he said,

'Who art thou, O fair one, of nails bright as burnished copper, and with ear-rings decked with celestial gems?
Thou seemest to be greatly perturbed.
Why dost thou weep in affliction?
How, indeed, hast thou fallen into this well covered with creepers and long grass?
And, O slender-waisted girl, answer me truly whose daughter thou art.'

"Devayani then replied,

'I am the daughter of Sukra who brings back into life the Asuras slain by the gods. He doth not know what hath befallen me. This is my right hand, O king, with nails bright as burnished copper.

Thou art well-born; I ask thee, to take and raise me up! I know thou art of good behaviour, of great prowess, and of wide fame! It behoveth thee, therefore, to raise me from this well.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'King Yayati, learning that she was a Brahmana's daughter, raised her from that well by catching hold of her right hand. And the monarch promptly raising her from the pit and squinting to her tapering thighs, sweetly and courteously returned to his capital.

"When the son of Nahusha had gone away, Devayani of faultless features, afflicted with grief, then spoke unto her maid, Ghurnika by name, who met her then. And she said,

'O Ghurnika, go thou quickly and speak to my father without loss of time of everything as it hath happened. I shall not now enter the city of Vrishaparvan.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Ghurnika, thus commanded, repaired quickly to the mansion, of the Asura chief, where she saw Kavya and spoke unto him with her perception dimmed by anger. And she said,

'I tell thee, O great Brahmana, that Devayani hath been ill-used, O fortunate one, in the forest by Sarmishtha, the daughter of Vrishaparvan.'

And Kavya, hearing that his daughter had been ill-used by Sarmishtha speedily went out with a heavy heart, seeking her in the woods. And when he found her in the woods, he clasped her with affection and spoke unto her with voice choked with grief,

'O daughter, the weal or woe that befalleth people is always due to their own faults. Thou hast therefore some fault, I ween, which hath been expiated thus.'

Hearing this Devayani replied,

'Be it a penalty or not, listen to me with attention.

O, hear that all Sarmishtha, the daughter of Vrishaparvan, hath said unto me. Really hath she said that thou art only the hired chanter of the praises of the Asura king! Even thus hath she — that Sarmishtha, Vrishaparvan's daughter, — spoken to me, with reddened eyes, these piercing and cruel words,

'Thou art the daughter of one that ever chanteth for hire the praises of others, of one that asketh [Page 174] for charities, of one that accepteth alms; whereas I am the daughter of one that receiveth adorations, of one that giveth, of one that never accepteth anything as gift!'

These have been the words repeatedly spoken unto me by the proud Sarmishtha, the daughter of Vrishaparvan, with eyes red with anger.

If, O father, I am really the daughter of a hired chanter of praises, of one that accepteth gifts, I must offer my adorations in the hope of obtaining her grace! Oh, of this I have already told her!'

"Sukra replied,

'Thou art, O Devayani, no daughter of a hired adorer, of one that asketh for alms and accepteth gifts.
Thou art the daughter of one that adores none, but of one that is adored by all!
Vrishaparvan himself knoweth it, and Indra, and king Yayati too.
That inconceivable Brahma, that unopposable Godhead, is my strength!

The self-create, himself, gratified by me, hath said that I am for aye the lord of that which is in all things on Earth or in Heaven!

I tell thee truly that it is I who pour rain for the good of creatures and who nourish the annual plants that sustain all living things!'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'It was by such sweet words of excellent import that the father endeavoured to pacify his daughter afflicted with woe and oppressed by anger.'"

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