Friday, February 22, 2008

Adi Parva - Sambhava Parva 17

Vaisampayana said, 'After some length of time, O best of monarchs,
Devayani of the fairest complexion went into the same woods for purposes
of pleasure. And accompanied by Sarmishtha with her thousand maids she
reached the same spot and began to wander freely. And waited upon by all
those companions she felt supremely happy. And sporting with light
hearts, they began drinking the honey in flowers, eating various kinds of
fruit and biting some. And just at that time, king Yayati, the son of
Nahusha, again came there tired and thirsty, in course of his wanderings,
in search of deer. And the king saw Devayani and Sarmishtha, and those
other maidens also, all decked with celestial ornaments and full of
voluptuous languor in consequence of the flower-honey they drank. And
Devayani of sweet smiles, unrivalled for beauty and possessed of the
fairest complexion amongst them all, was reclining at her ease. And she
was waited upon by Sarmishtha who was gently kneading her feet.

"And Yayati seeing all this, said, 'O amiable ones, I would ask you both
your names and parentage. It seems that these two thousand maids wait on
you two.' 'Hearing the monarch, Devayani then answered, 'Listen to me, O
best of men. Know that I am the daughter of Sukra, the spiritual guide of
the Asuras. This my companion is my waiting-maid. She attendeth on me
wherever I go. She is Sarmishtha, the daughter of the Asura king

"Yayati then asked, 'I am curious to know why is this thy companion of
fair eye-brows, this maiden of the fairest complexion, the daughter of
the Asura chief thy waiting-maid!' Devayani replied, 'O best of king,
everything resulteth from Fate. Knowing this also to be the result of
Fate, wonder not at it. Thy feature and attire are both like a king's.
Thy speech also is fair and correct as that of the Vedas. Tell me thy
name, whence thou art and whose son also.'

"The monarch replied, 'During my vow of Brahmacharya, the whole Vedas
entered my ears. I am known as Yayati, a king's son and myself a king.'
Devayani then enquired, 'O king, what hast thou come here for? Is it to
gather lotuses or to angle or to hunt?' Yayati said, 'O amiable one,
thirsty from the pursuit of deer, I have come hither in search of water.
I am very much fatigued. I await but your commands to leave this spot.'

"Devayani answered, 'With my two thousand damsels and my waiting-maid
Sarmishtha, I wait but your commands. Prosperity to thee. Be thou my
friend and lord.'

"Yayati, thereupon, replied, 'Beautiful one, I do not deserve thee. Thou
art the daughter of Sukra far superior to me. Thy father cannot bestow
thee even on a great king.' To this Devayani replied, 'Brahmanas had
before this been united with the Kshatriyas, and Kshatriyas with
Brahmanas. Thou art the son of a Rishi and thyself a Rishi. Therefore, O
son of Nahusha, marry me.' Yayati, however, replied, 'O thou of the
handsomest features, the four orders have, indeed, sprung from one body.
But their duties and purity are not the same, the Brahmana being truly
superior to all.' Devayani answered, 'This hand of mine hath never been
touched before by any man save thee. Therefore, do I accept thee for my
lord. How, indeed, shall any other man touch my hand which had before
been touched by thyself who art a Rishi? Yayati then said, 'The wise know
that a Brahmana is more to be avoided than an angry snake of virulent
poison, or a blazing fire of spreading flames.' Devayani then told the
monarch, 'O bull amongst men, why dost thou, indeed, say that Brahmana
should be more avoided than an angry snake of virulent poison or a
blazing fire of spreading flames?' The monarch answered, 'The snake
killeth only one. The sharpest weapon slayeth but a single person. The
Brahmana, when angry destroyeth whole cities and kingdoms! Therefore, O
timid one, do I deem a Brahmana as more to be avoided than either. I
cannot hence wed thee, O amiable one, unless thy father bestoweth thee on
me. Devayani then said, 'Thou art, indeed, chosen by me. And, O king, it
is understood that thou wilt accept me if my father bestoweth me on thee.
Thou needst not fear to accept my poor self bestowed on thee. Thou dost
not, indeed, ask for me.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'After this, Devayani quickly sent a maidservant
to her father. The maid represented to Sukra everything as it had
happened. And as soon as he had heard all, Bhargava came and saw Yayati.
And beholding Bhargava come, Yayati worshipped and adored that Brahmana,
and stood with joined palms in expectation of his commands.'

"And Devayani then said, 'This O father, is the son of Nahusha. He took
hold of my hand, when I was in distress. I bow to thee. Bestow me upon
him. I shall not wed any other person in the world.' Sukra exclaimed, 'O
thou of splendid courage, thou hast, indeed, been accepted as her lord by
this my dear daughter. I bestow her on thee. Therefore, O son of Nahusha,
accept her as thy wife.'

"Yayati then said, 'I solicit the boon, O Brahmana, that by so doing, the
sin of begetting a half-breed might not touch me.' Sukra, however,
assured him by saying, 'I shall absolve thee from the sin. Ask thou the
boon that thou desirest. Fear not to wed her. I grant thee absolution.
Maintain virtuously thy wife--the slender-waisted Devayani. Transports of
happiness be thine in her company. This other maiden, Vrishaparvan's
daughter, Sarmishtha should ever be regarded by thee. But thou shall not
summon her to thy bed.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Thus addressed by Sukra, Yayati then walked
round the Brahmana. And the king then went through the auspicious
ceremony of marriage according to the rites of the scriptures. And having
received from Sukra this rich treasure of the excellent Devayani with
Sarmishtha and those two thousand maidens, and duly honoured also by
Sukra himself and the Asuras, the best of monarchs, then, commanded by
the high-souled Bhargava, returned to his capital with a joyous heart.'"

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