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The Mahabharata - First Book

Adi Parva

Section LXXXVI

[Page 187] "Vaisampayana said, 'King Yayati, the son of Nahusha, having thus installed his dear son on the throne, became exceedingly happy, and entered into the woods to lead the life of a hermit.

And having lived for some time into forest in the company of Brahmanas, observing many rigid vows, eating fruits and roots, patiently bearing privations of all sorts, the monarch at last ascended to heaven. And having ascended to heaven he lived there in bliss. But soon, however, he was hurled down by Indra.

And it hath been heard by me, O king, that, though hurled from heaven, Yayati, without reaching the surface of the Earth, stayed in the firmament. I have heard that some time after he again entered the region of the celestials in company with Vasuman, Ashtaka, Pratarddana, and Sivi.'

"Janamejaya said, 'I desire to hear from thee in detail why Yayati, having first obtained admission into heaven, was hurled therefrom, and why also he gained re-admittance.

Let all this, O Brahmana, be narrated by thee in the presence of these regenerate sages. Yayati, lord of Earth, was, indeed, like the chief of the celestials. The progenitor of the extensive race of the Kurus, he was of the splendour of the Sun.

I desire to hear in full the story of his life both in heaven and on Earth, as he was illustrious, and of world-wide celebrity and of wonderful achievements.'

"Vaisampayana said, 'Indeed, I shall recite to thee the excellent story of Yayati's adventures on Earth and in heaven. That story is sacred and destroyeth the sins of those that hear it.

"King Yayati, the son of Nahusha, having installed his youngest son, Puru, on the throne after casting his sons with Yadu for their eldest amongst the Mlechchhas, entered the forest to lead the life of a hermit. And the king eating fruits and roots lived for some time in the forest.

Having his mind and passions under complete control, the king gratified by sacrifices the Pitris and the gods.

And he poured libations of clarified butter upon the fire according to the rites prescribed for those leading the Vanaprastha mode of life. And the illustrious one entertained guests and strangers with the fruit of the forest and clarified butter, while he himself supported life by gleaning scattered corn seeds.

And the king; led this sort of life for a full thousand years. And observing the vow of silence and with mind under complete control he passed one full year, living upon air alone and without sleep.

And he passed another year practising the severest austerities in the midst of four fires around and the Sun overhead. And, living upon air alone, he stood erect upon one leg for six months. And the king of sacred deeds ascended to heaven, covering heaven as well as the Earth (with the fame of his achievements).'"

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