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THE MAHABHARATA ADI PARVA
Then Vasishtha and the other Rishis regarded that Muni blazing with his own energy as if he were the second Sun.
Then the great Rishi Atri of liberal soul desirous of ending that sacrifice, an achievement highly difficult for others,–came to that place. And there also came, O thou slayer of all foes, Pulastya and Pulaha, and Kratu the performer of many great sacrifices, all influenced by the desire of saving the Rakshasas. And, O thou bull of the Bharata race, Pulastya then, seeing that many Rakshasas had already been slain, told these words unto Parasara that oppressor of all enemies:
‘There is no obstruction, I hope, to this sacrifice of thine, O child! Takest thou any pleasure, O child, in this slaughter of even all those innocent Rakshasas that know nothing of thy father’s death. It behoveth thee not to destroy any creatures thus. This, O child, is not the occupation of a Brahmana devoted to asceticism. Peace is the highest virtue. Therefore, O Parasara, establish thou peace. How hast thou, O Parasara, being so superior, engaged thyself in such a sinful practice? It behoveth not thee to transgress against Saktri himself who was well-acquainted with all rules of morality. It behoveth not thee to extirpate any creatures. O descendant of Vasishtha’s race, that which befell thy father was brought about by his own curse. It was for his own fault that Saktri was taken hence unto heaven. O Muni, no Rakshasa was capable of devouring Saktri; he himself provided for his own death. And, O Parasara, Viswamitra was only a blind instrument in that matter. Both Saktri and Kalmashapada, having ascended to heaven are enjoying great happiness. And, the other sons also of the great Rishi Vasishtha who were younger than Saktri, are even now enjoying themselves with the celestials. And, O child, O offspring of Vasishtha’s son, thou hast also been, in this sacrifice, only an instrument in the destruction of these innocent Rakshasas.
O, blest be thou! Abandon this sacrifice of thine. Let it come to an end.’
The monarch, however, without listening to her cries cruelly devoured her husband like a tiger devouring its desirable prey. Possessed with wrath at this sight, the tears that that woman shed blazed up like fire and consumed everything in that place. Afflicted with grief at the calamity that overtook her lord, the Brahmani in anger cursed the royal sage Kalmashapada, ‘Vile wretch, since thou hast today cruelly devoured under my very nose my illustrious husband dear unto me, even before my desires have been gratified, therefore shall thou, O wicked one afflicted by my curse, meet with instant death when thou goest in for thy wife in season. And thy wife, O wretch, shall bring forth a son uniting herself with that Rishi Vasishtha whose children have been devoured by thee. And that child, O worst of kings, shall be the perpetuator of thy race.’ And cursing the monarch thus, that lady of Angira’s house bearing every auspicious mark, entered the blazing fire in the very sight of the monarch. And, O thou oppressor of all foes, the illustrious and exalted Vasishtha by his ascetic power and spiritual insight immediately knew all. And long after this, when the king became freed from his curse, he approached his wife Madayanati when her season came. But Madayanati softly sent him away. Under the influence of passion the monarch had no recollection of that curse. Hearing, however, the words of his wife, the best of kings became terribly alarmed. And recollecting the curse he repented bitterly of what he had done. It was for this reason, O thou best of men, that the monarch infected with the Brahmani’s curse, appointed Vasishtha to beget a son upon his queen.’”