The Mahabharata - First Book
'Then the celestial Rishis, the Siddhas, and the high-souled Rishis possessing the attributes of tranquillity and self-restraint, beholding that act of universal slaughter, were afflicted with great grief. With passions and senses and souls under complete control, they then went to the abode of the Grandsire, moved by compassion for the universe. Arrived there, they beheld the Grandsire seated with gods, Siddhas, and Brahmarshis around him.
There were present that God of gods, viz., Mahadeva, and Agni, accompanied by Vayu, and Soma and Surya and Sakra, and Rishis devoted to the contemplation of Brahma, and the Vaikhanasas, the Valakhilyas, the Vanaprasthas, the Marichipas, the Ajas, the Avimudas, and other ascetics of great energy.
All those Rishis were sitting with the Grandsire, when the celestial and other Rishis, approaching Brahman with sorrowful hearts, represented unto him all the acts of Sunda and Upasunda. And they told the Grandsire in detail everything that the Asura brothers had done, and how they had done it, and in what order. Then all the celestials and the great Rishis pressed the matter before the Grandsire.
The Grandsire, hearing everything they said, reflected for a moment and settled in his mind what he should do. Resolving to compass the destruction of the Asura brothers, he summoned Viswakarman (the celestial architect). Seeing Viswakarman before him, the Grandsire possessed of supreme ascetic merit commanded him, saying,
'Create thou a damsel capable of captivating all hearts.'
Bowing down unto the Grandsire and receiving his command with reverence, the great artificer of the universe created a celestial maiden with careful attention. Viswakrit first collected all handsome features upon the body of the damsel he created. Indeed, the celestial maiden that he created was almost a mass of gems. And created with great care by Viswakarman, the damsel, in beauty, became unrivalled among the women of the three worlds.
There was not even a minute part of her body which by its wealth of beauty could not attract the gaze of beholders. And like unto the embodied Sri herself, that damsel of extraordinary beauty captivated the eyes and hearts of every creature. And because she had been created with portions of every gem taken in minute measures, the Grandsire bestowed upon her the name of Tilottama. And as soon as he started it into life, the damsel bowed to Brahman and with joined palms said,
'Lord of every created thing, what task am I to accomplish and what have I been created for?' T
he Grandsire answered,
'Go, O Tilottama, unto the Asuras, Sunda and Upasunda. O amiable one, tempt them with thy captivating beauty. And, O damsel, conduct thyself there in such a way that the Asura brothers may, in consequence of the wealth of thy beauty, quarrel with each other as soon as they cast their eyes upon thee.'
'Bowing unto the Grandsire and saying, 'So be it,' — the damsel walked round the celestial conclave. The illustrious Brahman was then sitting with face turned eastwards, and Mahadeva with face also towards the east, and all the celestials with faces northwards, and the Rishis with faces towards all directions. While Tilottama walked round the conclave of the celestials, Indra and the illustrious Sthanu (Mahadeva) were the only ones that succeeded in preserving their tranquillity of mind.
But exceedingly desirous as Mahadeva was (of beholding Tilottama) when the damsel (in her progress round the celestial conclave) was at his side, another face like a full-blown lotus appeared on the southern side of his body. And when she was behind him, another face appeared on the west.
And when the damsel was on the northern side of the great god, a fourth face appeared on the northern side of his body. Mahadeva (who was eager to behold the damsel) came also to have a thousand eyes, each large and slightly reddish, before, behind and on his flanks. And it was thus that Sthanu the great god came to have four faces, and the slayer of Vala, a thousand eyes. And as regards the mass of the celestials and the Rishis, they turned their faces towards all directions as Tilottama walked round them.
Except the divine Grandsire himself, the glances of those illustrious personages, even of all of them fell upon Tilottama's body. And when Tilottama set out (for the city of the Asuras) with the wealth of her beauty, all regarded the task as already accomplished. After Tilottama had gone away, the great god who was the First Cause of the Universe, dismissed all the celestials and the Rishis.'"
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