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THE MAHABHARATA ADI PARVA
“Janamejaya said, ‘O thou of the wealth of asceticism, tell me how our ancestor Yayati, who is the tenth from Prajapati, obtained for a wife the unobtainable daughter of Sukra. I desire to hear of it in detail. Tell me also, one after another, of those monarchs separately who were the founders of dynasties.’
“Vaisampayana said, ‘The monarch Yayati was in splendour like unto Indra himself. I will tell thee, in reply to thy question, O Janamejaya, how both Sukra and Vrishaparvan bestowed upon him, with due rites, their daughters, and how his union took place with Devayani in special.
“Between the celestials and the Asuras, there happened, of yore, frequent encounters for the sovereignty of the three worlds with everything in them. The gods, then, from desire of victory, installed the son of Angiras (Vrihaspati) as their priest to conduct their sacrifices; while their opponents installed the learned Usanas as their priest for the same purpose. And between those two Brahmanas there are always much boastful rivalry. Those Danavas assembled for encounter that were slain by the gods were all revived by the seer Sukra by the power of his knowledge. And then starting again, into life,–these fought with the gods. The Asuras also slew on the field of battle many of the celestials. But the open-minded Vrihaspati could not revive them, because he knew not the science called Sanjivani (re-vivification) which Kavya endued with great energy knew so well. And the gods were, therefore, in great sorrow. And the gods, in great anxiety of heart and entertaining a fear of the learned Usanas, then went to Kacha, the eldest son of Vrihaspati, and spoke unto him, saying, ‘We pay court to thee, be kind to us and do us a service that we regard as very great. That knowledge which resides in Sukra, that Brahmana of immeasurable prowess, make thy own as soon as thou canst. Thou shalt find the Brahmana in the court of Vrishaparvan.
He always protects the Danavas but never us, their opponents. Thou art his junior in age, and, therefore, capable of adoring him with reverence. Thou canst also adore Devayani, the favourite daughter of that high-souled Brahmana. Indeed, thou alone art capable of propitiating them both by worship. There is none else that can do so. By gratifying Devayani with thy conduct, liberality, sweetness, and general behaviour, thou canst certainly obtain that knowledge.’ The son of Vrihaspati, thus solicited by the gods, said ‘So be it, and went to where Vrishaparvan was. Kacha, thus sent by the gods, soon went to the capital of the chief of the Asuras, and beheld Sukra there. And beholding him, he thus spoke unto him, ‘Accept me as thy disciple. I am the grandson of the Rishi Angiras and son of Vrihaspati. By name I am known as Kacha. Thyself becoming my preceptor, I shall practise the Brahmacharya mode of life for a thousand years. Command me, then, O Brahmana!’
“Sukra (hearing this) said, ‘Welcome art thou, O Kacha! I accept thy speech. I will treat thee with regard; for by so doing, it is Vrihaspati who will be regarded.’
“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Kacha commanded by Kavya or Usanas himself, called also Sukra, then said, ‘So be it,’ and took the vow he had spoken of. And, O Bharata, accepting the vow of which he had spoken, at the proper time, Kacha began to conciliate regardfully both his preceptor and (his daughter) Devayani. Indeed, he began to conciliate both. And as he was young, by singing and dancing and playing on different kinds of instruments, he soon gratified Devayani who was herself in her youth. And, O Bharata, with his whole heart set upon it, he soon gratified the maiden Devayani who was then a young lady, by presents of flowers and fruits and services rendered with alacrity. And Devayani also with her songs and sweetness of manners used, while they were alone, to attend upon that youth carrying out his vow.
And when five hundred years had thus passed of Kacha’s vow, the Danavas came to learn his intention. And having no compunctions about slaying a Brahmana, they became very angry with him. And one day they saw Kacha in a solitary part of the woods engaged in tending (his preceptor’s) kine. They then slew Kacha from their hatred of Vrihaspati and also from their desire of protecting the knowledge of reviving the dead from being conveyed by him. And having slain him, they hacked his body into pieces and gave them to be devoured by jackals and wolves. And (when twilight came) the kine returned to the fold without him who tended them. And Devayani, seeing the kine returned from the woods without Kacha, spoke, O Bharata, unto her father thus:
“Sukra hearing this said, I will revive him by saying, ‘Let this one come.’ Then having recourse to the science of reviving the dead, Sukra summoned Kacha. And summoned by his preceptor, Kacha appeared before him in the gladness of heart tearing by virtue of his preceptor’s science the bodies of the wolves (that had devoured him). And asked about the cause of his delay, he thus spoke unto Bhargava’s daughter. Indeed, asked by that Brahman’s daughter, he told her, ‘I was dead. O thou of pure manners, burdened with sacrificial fuel, Kusa grass, and logs of wood, I was coming towards our abode. I sat under a banian tree. The kine also, having been brought together, were staying under the shade of that same banian tree. The Asuras, beholding me, asked ‘Who art thou?’ They heard me answer, ‘I am the son of Vrihaspati.’ As soon as I said this, the Danavas slew me, and hacking my body into pieces gave my remains to jackals and wolves. And they then went home in the gladness of heart. O amiable one, summoned by the high-souled Bhargava, I after all come before thee fully revived.’
“On another occasion, asked by Devayani, the Brahmana Kacha went into the woods. And as he was roving about for gathering flowers, the Danavas beheld him. They again slew him, and pounding him into a paste they mixed it with the water of the ocean. Finding him long still (in coming), the maiden again represented the matter unto her father. And summoned again by the Brahmana with the aid of his science, Kacha appearing before his preceptor and his daughter told everything as it had happened. Then slaying him for the third time and burning him and reducing him to ashes, the Asuras gave those ashes to the preceptor himself, mixing them with his wine. And Devayani again spoke unto her father, saying, ‘O father, Kacha was sent to gather flowers. But he is not to be seen. It is plain he hath been lost, or has died. I tell thee truly, I would not live without him.’
“Sukra hearing this said, ‘O daughter, the son of Vrihaspati hath gone to the region of the dead. Though revived by my science, he is thus slain frequently. What, indeed, am I to do? O Devayani, do not grieve, do not cry. One like thee should not grieve for one that is mortal. Thou art indeed, O daughter, in consequence of my prowess, worshipped thrice a day during the ordained hours of prayer, by Brahmanas, the gods with Indra, the Vasus, the Aswins, the Asuras, in fact, by the whole universe. It is impossible to keep him alive, for revived by me he is often killed.’ To all this Devayani replied, ‘Why shall I, O father, not grieve for him whose grandfather is old Angiras himself, whose father is Vrihaspati who is an ocean of ascetic merit, who is the grandson of a Rishi and the son also of a Rishi? He himself too was a Brahmacharin and an ascetic; always wakeful and skilled in everything. I will starve and follow the way Kacha has gone. The handsome Kacha is, O father, dear unto me.’
“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The great Rishi Kavya, then, afflicted by what Devayani said, cried in anger, ‘Certainly, the Asuras seek to injure me, for they slay my disciple that stayeth with me. These followers of Rudra desire to divest me of my character as a Brahmana by making me participate in their crime. Truly, this crime hath a terrible end. The crime of slaying a Brahmana would even burn Indra himself.’ Having said this, the Brahmana Sukra, urged by Devayani, began to summon Kacha who had entered the jaws of Death. But Kacha, summoned with the aid of science, and afraid of the consequence to his preceptor, feebly replied from within the stomach of his preceptor, saying, ‘Be graceful unto me, O lord! I am Kacha that worshippeth thee. Behave unto me as to thy own dearly-loved son.’
“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Sukra then said, ‘By what path, O Brahmana, hast thou entered my stomach, where thou stayest now? Leaving the Asuras this very moment, I shall go over to the gods.” Kacha replied, ‘By thy grace, memory hath not failed me. Indeed, I do recollect everything as it hath happened. My ascetic virtues have not been destroyed. It is, therefore, that I am able to bear this almost insufferable pain. O Kavya, slain by the Asuras and burnt and reduced to powder, I have been given to thee with thy wine. When thou art present, O Brahmana, the art of the Asuras will never be able to vanquish, the science of the Brahmana.’
“Hearing this, Sukra said, ‘O daughter, what good can I do to thee? It is with my death that Kacha can get his life back. O Devayani, Kacha is even within me. There is no other way of his coming out except by ripping open my stomach.’ Devayani replied, ‘Both evils shall, like fire, burn me! The death of Kacha and thy own death are to me the same! The death of Kacha would deprive me of life. If thou also diest, I shall not be able to bear my life.’ Then Sukra said, ‘O son of Vrihaspati, thou art, indeed, one already crowned with success, because Devayani regards thee so well. Accept the science that I will today impart to thee, if, indeed, thou be not Indra in the form of Kacha. None can come out of my stomach with life. A Brahmana, however, must not be slain, therefore, accept thou the science I impart to thee. Start thou into life as my son. And possessed of the knowledge received from me, and revived by me, take care that, on coming out of my body, thou dost act gracefully.’
“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Receiving the science imparted to him by his preceptor the handsome Kacha, ripped open his stomach, came out like the moon at evening on the fifteenth day of the bright fort-night. And beholding the remains of his preceptor lying like a heap of penances, Kacha revived him, aided by the science he had learned. Worshipping him with regard, Kacha said unto his preceptor, ‘Him who poureth the nectar of knowledge into one’s ears, even as thou hast done into those of myself who was void of knowledge, him do I regard both as my father and mother. And remembering the immense service done by him, who is there so ungrateful as to injure him? They that, having acquired knowledge, injure their preceptor who is always an object of worship, who is the giver of knowledge, who is the most precious of all precious objects on Earth, come to be hated on Earth and finally go to the regions of the sinful.’
“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The learned Sukra, having been deceived while under the influence of wine, and remembering the total loss of consciousness that is one of the terrible consequences of drink, and beholding too before him the handsome Kacha whom he had, in a state of unconsciousness, drunk with his wine, then thought of effecting a reform in the manners of Brahmanas. The high-souled Usanas rising up from the ground in anger, then spoke as follows: “The wretched Brahmana who from this day, unable to resist the temptation, will drink wine shall be regarded as having lost his virtue, shall be reckoned to have committed the sin of slaying a Brahmana, shall be hated both in this and the other worlds. I set this limit to the conduct and dignity of Brahmanas everywhere. Let the honest, let Brahmanas, let those with regard for their superiors, let the gods, let the three worlds, listen!’ Having said these words that high-souled one, that ascetic of ascetics, then summoning the Danavas who had been deprived by fate of the good sense, told them these words, Ye foolish Danavas, know ye that Kacha hath obtained his wishes. He will henceforth dwell with me. Having obtained the valuable knowledge of reviving the dead, that Brahmana hath, indeed, become in prowess even as Brahman himself!’
“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Bhargava having said so much cut short his speech. The Danavas were surprised and went away to their homes. Kacha, too, having stayed with his preceptor for a full thousand years, then prepared to return to the abode of the celestials, after having obtained his preceptor’s permission.’”