Friday, February 22, 2008

Adi Parva - Astika Parva 37

"Saunaka said, 'Tell me again, in detail,--all that king Janamejaya had
asked his ministers about his father's ascension to heaven.'

'Sauti said, 'O Brahmana, hear all that the king asked his ministers, and
all that they said about the death of Parikshit.'

"Janamejaya asked, 'Know ye all that befell my father. How did that
famous king, in time, meet with his death? Hearing from you the incidents
of my father's life in detail, I shall ordain something, if it be for the
benefit of the world. Otherwise, I shall do nothing.'

'The minister replied, 'Hear, O monarch, what thou hast asked, viz., an
account of thy illustrious father's life, and how also that king of kings
left this world. Thy father was virtuous and high-souled, and always
protected his people. O, hear, how that high-souled one conducted himself
on earth. Like unto an impersonation of virtue and justice, the monarch,
cognisant of virtue, virtuously protected the four orders, each engaged
in the discharge of their specified duties. Of incomparable prowess, and
blessed with fortune, he protected the goddess Earth. There was none who
hated him and he himself hated none. Like unto Prajapati (Brahma) he was
equally disposed towards all creatures. O monarch, Brahmanas and
Kshatriyas and Vaisyas and Sudras, all engaged contentedly in the
practice of their respective duties, were impartially protected by that
king. Widows and orphans, the maimed and the poor, he maintained. Of
handsome features, he was unto all creatures like a second Soma.
Cherishing his subjects and keeping them contented, blessed with good
fortune, truth-telling, of immense prowess, he was the disciple of
Saradwat in the science of arms. And, O Janamejaya, thy father was dear
unto Govinda. Of great fame, he was loved by all men. And he was born in
the womb of Uttara when the Kuru race was almost extinct. And, therefore,
the mighty son of Abhimanyu came to be called Parikshit (born in an
extinct line). Well-versed in the interpretation of treatises on the
duties of kings, he was gifted with every virtue. With passions under
complete control, intelligent, possessing a retentive memory, the
practiser of all virtues, the conqueror of his six passions of powerful
mind, surpassing all, and fully acquainted with the science of morality
and political science, the father had ruled over these subjects for sixty
years. And he then died, mourned by all his subjects. And, after him, O
first of men, thou hast acquired this hereditary kingdom of the Kurus for
the last thousand years. Thou wast installed while a child, and art thus
protecting every creature.'

"Janamejaya said, 'There hath not been born in our race a king who hath
not sought the good of his subjects or been loved by them. Behold
especially the conduct of my grandsires ever engaged in great
achievements. How did my father, blessed with many virtues, meet with his
death? Describe everything to me as it happened. I am desirous of hearing
it from you!'

"Sauti continued, 'Thus directed by the monarch, those councillors, ever
solicitous of the good of the king, told him everything exactly as it had

'And the councillors said, 'O king, that father of thine, that protector
of the whole earth, that foremost of all persons obedient to the
scriptures, became addicted to the sports of the field, even as Pandu of
mighty arms, that foremost of all bearers of the bow in battle. He made
over to us all the affairs of state from the most trivial to the most
important. One day, going into the forest, he pierced a deer with an
arrow. And having pierced it he followed it quickly on foot into the deep
woods, armed with sword and quiver. He could not, however, come upon the
lost deer. Sixty years of age and decrepit, he was soon fatigued and
became hungry. He then saw in the deep woods a high-souled Rishi. The
Rishi was then observing the vow of silence. The king asked him about the
deer, but, though asked, he made no reply. At last the king, already
tired with exertion and hunger, suddenly became angry with that Rishi
sitting motionless like a piece of wood in observance of his vow of
silence. Indeed, the king knew not that he was a Muni observing the vow
of silence. Swayed by anger, thy father insulted him. O excellent one of
the Bharata race, the king, thy father taking up from the ground with the
end of his bow a dead snake placed it on the shoulders of that Muni of
pure soul. But the Muni spake not a word good or bad and was without
anger. He continued in the same posture, bearing the dead snake.'"

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