The Mahabharata - First Book
"Vaisampayana said, 'Yayati then, on returning to his capital which was like unto the city of Indra, entered his inner apartments and established there his bride Devayani. And the monarch, directed by Devayani, established Vrishaparvan's daughter Sarmishtha in a mansion especially erected near the artificial woods of Asokas in his gardens.
And the king surrounded Vrishaparvan's daughter Sarmishtha with a thousand maids and honoured her by making every arrangement for her food and garments. But it was with Devayani that the royal son of Nahusha sported like a celestial for many years in joy and bliss.
And when her season came, the fair Devayani conceived. And she brought forth as her first child a fine boy. And when a thousand years had passed away, Vrishaparvan's daughter Sarmishtha having attained to puberty saw that her season had come. She became anxious and said to herself,
'My season hath arrived. But I have not yet chosen a husband.
O, what hath happened, what should I do?
How am I to obtain the fruition of my wishes?
Devayani hath become mother.
My youth is doomed to pass away in vain.
Shall I choose him also for my husband whom Devayani hath chosen?
This is, indeed, my resolve: that monarch should give me a son.
Will not the virtuous one grant me a private interview?'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'While Sarmishtha was thus busy with her thoughts, the king wandering listlessly came to that very wood of Asokas, and beholding Sarmishtha before him, stood there in silence. Then Sarmishtha of sweet smiles seeing the monarch before her with nobody to witness what might pass, approached him and said with joined palms,
'O son of Nahusha, no one can behold the ladies that dwell in the inner apartments of Soma, of Indra, of Vishnu, of Yama, of Varuna, and of thee! Thou knowest, O king, that I am both handsome and well-born. I solicit thee, O king! My season hath arrived. See that it goeth not in vain.'
'Well do I know that honour of birth is thine, born as thou art in the proud race of the Danavas. Thou art also gifted with beauty. I do not, indeed, see even the speck of a fault in thy feature. But Usanas commanded me, while I was united with Devayani, that never should Vrishaparvan's daughter he summoned to my bed.'
[Page 180] "Sarmishtha then said,
'It hath been said, O king, that it is not sinful to lie on the occasion of a joke, in respect of women sought to be enjoyed, on occasions of marriage, in peril of immediate death and of the loss of one's whole fortune. Lying is excusable on these five occasions.
O king, it is not true that he is fallen who speaks not the truth when asked. Both Devayani and myself have been called hither as companions to serve the same purpose. When, therefore, thou hadst said that you wouldst confine thyself to one only amongst as, that was a lie thou hadst spoken.'
'A king should ever be a model in the eyes of his people. That monarch certainly meets with destruction who speaks an untruth. As for myself, I dare not speak an untruth even if the greatest loss threatens me!'
'O monarch, one may look upon her friend's husband as her own. One's friend's marriage is the same as one's own. Thou hast been chosen by my friend as her husband. Thou art as much my husband, therefore.'
Yayati then said,
'It is, indeed my vow always to grant what one asketh. As thou askest me, tell me then what I am to do.'
Sarmishtha then said,
'Absolve me, O king, from sin. Protect my virtue. Becoming a mother by thee, let me practise the highest virtue in this world.
It is said, O king, that a wife, a slave, and a son can never earn wealth for themselves. What they earn always belongeth to him who owneth them. I am, indeed, the slave of Devayani. Thou art Devayani's master and lord.
Thou art, therefore, O king, my master and lord as much as Devayani's! I solicit thee! O, fulfil my wishes!'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Thus addressed by Sarmishtha, the monarch was persuaded into the truth of all she spoke. He therefore, honoured Sarmishtha by protecting her virtue. And they passed some time together. And taking affectionate farewell of each other, they then parted, each returning to whence he or she had come.
"And it came to pass that Sarmishtha of sweet smiles and fair eyebrows conceived in consequence of that connection of hers with that best of monarchs. And, O king, that lotus-eyed lady then in due course of time brought forth a son of the splendour of a celestial child and of eyes like-lotus-petals.'"