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THE MAHABHARATA ADI PARVA
“And the monarch of pure descent, beholding the beautiful maiden, was pierced with Kama’s (Cupid’s) shafts and lost his peace of mind. Burnt with the strong flame of desire the king asked that charming maiden, still innocent, though in her full youth, saying, ‘Who art thou and whose? Why also dost thou stay here? O thou of sweet smiles, why dost thou wander alone in these solitary woods? Of every feature perfectly faultless, and decked with every ornament, thou seemest to be the coveted ornament of these ornaments themselves! Thou seemest not to be of celestial or Asura or Yaksha or Rakshasa or Naga or Gandharva or human origin. O excellent lady, the best of women that I have ever seen or heard of would not compare with thee in beauty! O thou of handsome face, at sight of thee lovelier than the moon and graced with eyes like lotus-petals, the god of desire is grinding me.’
“King Samvarana thus addressed that damsel in the forest, who however, spoke not a word unto the monarch burning with desire. Instead, like lightning in the clouds, that large-eyed maiden quickly disappeared in the very sight of the monarch. The king then wandered through the whole forest, like one out of his senses, in search of that girl of eyes like lotus-petals. Failing to find her, that best of monarchs indulged in copious lamentations and for a time stood motionless with grief.’”
“The Gandharva continued, ‘When that maiden disappeared, that feller of hostile ranks deprived of his senses by Kama (concupiscence) himself fell down on the earth. And as the monarch fell down, that maiden of sweet smiles and prominent and round hips appeared again before him, and smiling sweetly, said unto that perpetuator of Kuru’s race these honeyed words, ‘Rise, rise, O chastiser of foes! Blest be thou; it behoveth thee not, O tiger among kings, to lose thy reason, a celebrated man as thou art in the world.’ Addressed in these honeyed words, the king opened his eyes and saw before him that selfsame girl of swelling hips. The monarch who was burning with the flame of desire then addressed that black-eyed damsel in accents, weak with emotion, and said, ‘Blest be thou O excellent woman of black eyes! As I am burning with desire and paying thee court, O, accept me! My life is ebbing away. O thou of large eyes, for thy sake it is, O thou of the splendour of the filaments of the lotus, that Kama is incessantly piercing me with his keen shafts without stopping for a moment! O amiable and cheerful girl, I have been bitten by Kama who is even like a venomous viper. O thou of swelling and large hips, have mercy on me! O thou of handsome and faultless features, O thou of face like unto the lotus-petal or the moon, O thou of voice sweet as that of singing Kinnaras, my life now depends on thee! Without thee, O timid one, I am unable to live! O thou of eyes like lotus-petals, Kama is piercing me incessantly! O large-eyed girl, be merciful unto me! It becometh thee not, O black-eyed maid, to cast me off; O handsome girl, it behoveth thee to relieve me from such affliction by giving me thy love!
“The Gandharva continued, ‘Hearing those words of the monarch, Tapati made answer, ‘O king, I am not the mistress of my own self! Be it known that I am a maiden under the control of my father. If thou really entertainest an affection for me, demand me of my father. Thou sayest, O king, that thy heart hath been robbed by me. But thou also hast, at first sight, robbed me of my heart; I am not the mistress of my body, and therefore, O best of kings, I do not approach thee; women are never independent. What girl is there in the three worlds that would not desire thee for her husband, as thou art kind unto all thy dependents and as thou art born in a pure race? Therefore, when the opportunity comes, ask my father Aditya for my hand with worship, ascetic penances, and vows. If my father bestoweth me upon thee, then, O king, I shall ever be thy obedient wife. My name is Tapati and I am the younger sister of Savitri, and the daughter, O bull amongst Kshatriyas of Savitri, of (Sun) the illuminator of the universe.’”
“The Gandharva continued, ‘Saying this, Tapati of faultless features, ascended the skies. The monarch thereupon again fell down on the earth. His ministers and followers searching for him throughout the forest at length came upon him lying on that solitary spot, and beholding that excellent king, that mighty bowman, thus lying forsaken on the ground like a rainbow dropped from the firmament, his minister-in-chief became like one burnt by a flame of fire. Advancing hastily with affection and respect, the minister raised that best of monarchs lying prostrate on the ground and deprived of his senses by desire. Old in wisdom as in age, old in achievements as in policy, the minister, after having raised the prostrate monarch, became easy (in mind). Addressing the king in sweet words that were also for his good, he said, ‘Blest be thou, O sinless one! Fear not, O tiger among kings!’ The minister thought that the monarch, that great feller of hostile ranks in battle, had been lying on the ground overcome with hunger, thirst, and fatigue.
The old man then sprinkled over the crownless head of the monarch water that was cold and rendered fragrant with lotus-petals. Slowly regaining his consciousness, the mighty monarch sent away all his attendants with the exception of his minister only. After those attendants had retired at his command, the king sat upon the mountain-breast. Having purified himself duly, the king sat upon that chief of mountains, and began, with joined palms and upturned face, to worship Surya. King Samvarana, that smiter of all foes, thought also of his chief priest Vasishtha, that best of Rishis. The king continued to sit there day and night without intermission. The Brahmana sage Vasishtha came there on the twelfth day: that great Rishi of soul under perfect command knew at once by his ascetic power that the monarch had lost his senses in consequence of Tapati. And that virtuous and best of Munis, as soon as he knew this, desirous of benefiting the monarch who was ever observant of vows, addressed him and gave him every assurance. The illustrious Rishi, in the very sight of that monarch, ascended upward to interview Surya, himself possessed of the splendour of that luminary. The Brahmana then approached with joined hands the god of a thousand rays and introduced himself cheerfully unto him, saying, ‘I am Vasishtha.’ Then Vivaswat of great energy said unto that best of Rishis, ‘Welcome art thou, O great Rishi! Tell me what is in thy mind.
It was thus that king Samvarana obtained a wife after having worshipped with like the full moon. And that mighty bowman, that foremost one in Kuru’s race having his curiosity greatly excited by what he heard of Vasishtha’s ascetic power, asked the Gandharva, saying, ‘I desire to hear of the Rishi whom thou hast mentioned as Vasishtha. O, tell me in full about him! O chief of the Gandharvas, tell me who this illustrious Rishi was that was the priest of our forefathers.’ The Gandharva replied, ‘Vasishtha is Brahma’s spiritual (lit, mind-born) son and Arundhati’s husband. Ever difficult of being conquered by the very immortals, Desire and Wrath, conquered by Vasishtha’s ascetic penances, used to shampoo his feet. Though his wrath was excited by Viswamitra’s offence, that high-souled Rishi did not yet exterminate Kusikas (the tribe whose king Viswamitra was). Afflicted at the loss of his sons, he did not, as though powerless, though really otherwise, do any dreadful act destructive of Viswamitra, Like the ocean transgressing not its continents, Vasishtha transgressed not (the laws of) Yama by bringing back his children from the domains of the king of the dead.
It was by obtaining that illustrious one who had conquered his own self that Ikshvaku and other great monarchs acquired the whole earth. And, O prince of Kuru’s race, it was by obtaining Vasishtha, that best of Rishis as their priest, that those monarchs performed many grand sacrifices. And, O best of the Pandavas, that regenerate Rishi assisted these monarchs in the performance of their sacrifices like Vrihaspati assisting the immortals. Therefore, look ye for some accomplished and desirable Brahmana conversant with the Vedas and in whose heart virtue prevails, to appoint as your priest. A Kshatriya of good lineage, desirous of extending his dominions by conquering the earth, should, O Partha, first appoint a priest. He who is desirous of conquering the earth should have a Brahmana before him. Therefore, O Arjuna, let some accomplished and learned Brahmana, who has his senses under complete control and who is conversant with religion, profit and pleasure, be your priest.’”