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THE MAHABHARATA ADI PARVA
“On hearing these words of the Gandharva, Arjuna said, ‘O Gandharva, if from satisfaction for having obtained thy life at my hands in a situation of danger, thou givest me thy science, and these horses, I would not accept thy gift.’ The Gandharva replied, saying, ‘A meeting with an illustrious person is ever a source of gratification; besides thou hast given me my life. Gratified with thee, I will give thee my science. That the obligation, however, may not all be on one side, I will take from thee, O Vibhatsu, O bull in Bharata’s race, thy excellent and eternal weapon of fire!’
“Arjuna said, ‘I would accept thy horses in exchange for my weapon. Let our friendship last for ever. O friend, tell us for what we human beings have to stand in fear of the Gandharvas. Chastisers of foes that we are and virtuous and conversant with the Vedas, tell us, O Gandharva, why in travelling in the night-time we have been censured by thee.’
“The Gandharva said, ‘Ye are without wives (though ye have completed the period of study). Ye are without a particular Asrama (mode of life). Lastly, ye are out without a Brahmana walking before, therefore, ye sons of Pandu, ye have been censured by me. The Yakshas, Rakshasas, Gandharvas, Pisachas, Uragas and Danavas, are possessed of wisdom and intelligence, and acquainted with the history of the Kuru race. O hero, I have heard too from Narada and other celestial Rishis about the good deeds of your wise ancestors. I myself, too, while roaming over the whole earth bounded by her belt of seas, have witnessed the prowess of thy great race. O Arjuna, I have personal knowledge of thy preceptor, the illustrious son of Bharadwaja, celebrated throughout the three worlds for his knowledge of the Vedas and the science of arms. O tiger in Kuru’s race, O son of Pritha, I also know Dharma, Vayu, Sakra, the twin Aswins, and Pandu,–these six perpetuators of Kuru race,–these excellent celestials and human progenitors of you all.
I also know that you five brothers are learned and high-souled, that ye are foremost of all wielders of weapons, that ye are brave and virtuous and observant of vows. Knowing that your understanding and hearts are excellent and your behaviour faultless, I have yet censured you. For, O thou of Kuru’s race, it behoveth no man endued with might of arms to bear with patience any ill usage in the sight of his wife. Especially as, O son of Kunti, our might increaseth during the hours of darkness, accompanied by my wife I was filled with wrath. O best of vow-observing men, I have, however, been vanquished by thee in battle. Listen to me as I tell thee the reasons that have led to my discomfiture. The Brahmacharya is a very superior mode of life, and as thou art in that mode now, it is for this, O Partha, that I have been defeated by thee in battle. O chastiser of foes, if any married Kshatriya fight with us at night, he can never escape, with life. But, O Partha, a married Kshatriya, who is sanctified with Brahma, and who hath assigned the cares of his State to a priest, might vanquish! all wanderers in the night.
“Arjuna said, ‘Thou hast addressed me (more than once) as Tapatya. I therefore wish to know what the precise significance of this word is, O virtuous Gandharva, being sons of Kunti, we are, indeed, Kaunteyas. But who is Tapati that we should be called Tapatyas?’
“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed, the Gandharva related to Dhananjaya, the son of Kunti, the (following) story well-known in the three worlds.’
“The Gandharva said, ‘O son of Pritha, O foremost of all intelligent men, I will duly recite to you in full this charming narrative. O, listen with attention to what I say in explanation of why I have addressed thee as Tapatya. That one in heaven who pervadeth by his light the whole firmament had a daughter named Tapati equal unto himself. Tapati, the daughter of the god Vivaswat, was the younger sister of Savitri, and she was celebrated throughout the three worlds and devoted to ascetic penances. There was no woman amongst the celestials, the Asuras, the Yakshas, the Rakshasas, the Apsaras, and the Gandharvas, who was equal to her in beauty. Of perfect, symmetrical and faultless features, of black and large eyes, and in beautiful attire, the girl was chaste and of perfect conduct. And, O Bharata, seeing her Savitri (the sun) thought that there was none in the three worlds who, for his beauty, accomplishments, behaviour, and learning, deserved to be her husband. Beholding her attain the age of puberty and, therefore, worthy of being bestowed on a husband, her father knew no peace of mind, always thinking of the person he should select.
At that time, O son of Kunti, Riksha’s son, that bull amongst the Kurus, the mighty king Samvarana, was duly worshipping Surya with offerings of Arghya and flower-garlands and scents, and with vows and fasts and ascetic penances of various kinds. Indeed, Samvarana was worshipping Surya constantly in all his glory, with devotion and humility and piety. And beholding Samvarana conversant with all rules of virtue and unequalled on earth for beauty, Surya regarded him as the fit husband for his daughter, Tapati. And, O thou of Kuru’s race, Vivaswat then resolved to bestow his daughter on that best of kings, viz., Samvarana, the scion of a race of world-wide fame. As Surya himself in the heavens filleth the firmament with his splendour, so did king Samvarana on earth fill every region with the splendour of his good achievements. And all men, O Partha, except Brahmanas, worshipped Samvarana. Blest with good luck, king Samvarana excelled Soma in soothing the hearts of friends and Surya in scorching the hearts of foes. And, O Kaurava, Tapana (Surya) himself was resolved upon bestowing his daughter Tapati upon king Samvarana, who was possessed of such virtues and accomplishments.
“Once on a time, O Partha, king Samvarana, endued with beauty (of person) and immeasurable prowess, went on a hunting expedition to the under-woods on the mountain-breast. While wandering in quest of deer, the excellent steed the king rode, overcome, O Partha, with hunger, thirst and fatigue, died on the mountains. Abandoning the steed, the king, O Arjuna, began to wander about upon the mountain-breast on foot and in course of his wandering the monarch saw a maiden of large eyes and unrivalled beauty, That grinder of hostile host–that tiger among kings–himself without a companion, beholding there that maiden without a companion, stood motionless gazing at her steadfastly. For her beauty, the monarch for some moment believed her to be (the goddess) Sri herself. Next he regarded her to be the embodiment of the rays emanating from Surya. In splendour of her person she resembled a flame of fire, though in benignity and loveliness she resembled a spotless digit of the moon. And standing on the mountain-breast, the black-eyed maiden appeared like a bright statue of gold.
The mountain itself with its creepers and plants, because of the beauty and attire of that damsel, seemed to be converted into gold. The sight of that maiden inspired the monarch with a contempt for all women that he had seen before. By beholding her, the king regarded his eye-sight truly blessed. Nothing the king had seen from the day of his birth could equal, he thought, the beauty of that girl. The king’s heart and eyes were captivated by that damsel, as if they were bound with a cord and he remained rooted to that spot, deprived of his senses. The monarch thought that the artificer of so much beauty had created it only after churning the whole world of gods Asuras and human beings. Entertaining these various thoughts, king Samvarana regarded that maiden as unrivalled in the three worlds for wealth of beauty.