Friday, February 22, 2008

Adi Parva - Astika Parva 28

"Saunaka said, 'O son of Suta, I desire to know the reason why the
illustrious Rishi whom thou hast named Jaratkaru came to be so called on
earth. It behoveth thee to tell us the etymology of the name Jaratkaru.'

"Sauti said, 'Jara is said to mean waste, and Karu implies huge. This
Rishi's body had been huge, and he gradually reduced it by severe ascetic
penances. For the same reason, O Brahmanas, the sister of Vasuki was
called Jaratkaru.'

The virtuous Saunaka, when he heard this, smiled and addressing
Ugrasravas said, 'It is even so.'

Saunaka then said, 'I have heard all that thou hast before recited. I
desire to know how Astika was born.'

Sauti, on hearing these words, began to relate according to what was
written in the Sastras.

"Sauti said, 'Vasuki, desirous of bestowing his sister upon the Rishi
Jaratkaru, gave the snakes (necessary) orders. But days went on, yet that
wise Muni of rigid vows, deeply engaged in ascetic devotions, did not
seek for a wife. That high-souled Rishi, engaged in studies and deeply
devoted to asceticism, his vital seed under full control, fearlessly
wandered over the whole earth and had no wish for a wife.

"Afterwards, once upon a time, there was a king, O Brahmana, of the name
of Parikshit, born in the race of the Kauravas. And, like his
great-grandfather Pandu of old, he was of mighty arms, the first of all
bearers of bows in battle, and fond of hunting. And the monarch wandered
about, hunting deer, and wild boars, and wolves, and buffaloes and
various other kinds of wild animals. One day, having pierced a deer with
a sharp arrow and slung his bow on his back, he penetrated into the deep
forest, searching for the animal here and there, like the illustrious
Rudra himself of old pursuing in the heavens, bow in hand, the deer which
was Sacrifice, itself turned into that shape, after the piercing. No deer
that was pierced by Parikshit had ever escaped in the wood with life.
This deer, however wounded as before, fled with speed, as the (proximate)
cause of the king's attainment to heaven. And the deer that
Parikshit--that king of men--had pierced was lost to his gaze and drew
the monarch far away into the forest. And fatigued and thirsty, he came
across a Muni, in the forest, seated in a cow-pen and drinking to his
fill the froth oozing out of the mouths of calves sucking the milk of
their dams. And approaching him hastily, the monarch, hungry and
fatigued, and raising his bow, asked that Muni of rigid vows, saying, 'O
Brahmana, I am king Parikshit, the son of Abhimanyu. A deer pierced by me
hath been lost. Hast thou seen it?' But that Muni observing then the vow
of silence, spoke not unto him a word. And the king in anger thereupon
placed upon his shoulder a dead snake, taking it up with the end of his
bow. The Muni suffered him to do it without protest. And he spoke not a
word, good or bad. And the king seeing him in that state, cast off his
anger and became sorry. And he returned to his capital but the Rishi
continued in the same state. The forgiving Muni, knowing that the monarch
who was a tiger amongst kings was true to the duties of his order, cursed
him not, though insulted. That tiger amongst monarchs, that foremost one
of Bharata's race, also did not know that the person whom he had so
insulted was a virtuous Rishi. It was for this that he had so insulted

"That Rishi had a son by name Sringin, of tender years, gifted with great
energy, deep in ascetic penances, severe in his vows, very wrathful, and
difficult to be appeased. At times, he worshiped with great attention
and respect his preceptor seated with ease on his seat and ever engaged
in the good of creatures.

"And commanded by his preceptor, he was coming home when, O best of
Brahmanas, a companion of his, a Rishi's son named Krisa in a playful
mood laughingly spoke unto him. And Sringin, wrathful and like unto
poison itself, hearing these words in reference to his father, blazed up
in rage.'

"And Krisa said, 'Be not proud, O Sringin, for ascetic as thou art and
possessed of energy, thy father bears on his shoulders a dead snake.
Henceforth speak not a word to sons of Rishis like ourselves who have
knowledge of the truth, are deep in ascetic penances, and have attained
success. Where is that manliness of thine, those high words of thine
begotten of pride, when thou must have to behold thy father bearing a
dead snake? O best of all the Munis, thy father too had done nothing to
deserve this treatment, and it is for this that I am particularly sorry
as if the punishment were mine.'"

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