Mahabharata Adi Parva - Translation by KM Ganguly

Mahabharata Adiparva

Section CXX

(Sambhava Parva continued)

"Vaisampayana said, 'Pandu, possessed of great energy, then devoted himself to asceticism. Within a short time he became the favourite of the whole body of the Siddhas and Charanas residing there. And, O Bharata, devoted to the service of his spiritual masters, free from vanity, with mind under complete control and the passions fully subdued, the prince, becoming competent to enter heaven by his own energy, attained to great (ascetic) prowess. Some of the Rishis would call him brother, some friend, while others cherished him as their son. And, O bull of Bharata's race, having acquired after a long time great ascetic merit coupled with complete singleness, Pandu became even like a Brahmarshi (though he was a Kshatriya by birth).

"On a certain day of the new moon, the great Rishis of rigid vows assembled together, and desirous of beholding Brahman were on the point of starting on their expedition. Seeing them about to start, Pandu asked those ascetics, saying, 'Ye first of eloquent men, where shall we go?' The Rishis answered, 'There will be a great gathering today, in the abode of Brahman, of celestials, Rishis and Pitris. Desirous of beholding the Self-create we shall go there today.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Hearing this, Pandu rose up suddenly, desirous of visiting heaven along with the great Rishis. Accompanied by his two wives, when he was on the point of following the Rishis in the northerly direction from the mountain of hundred peaks, those ascetics addressed him saying, 'In our northward march, while gradually ascending the king of mountains, we have seen on its delightful breast many regions inaccessible to ordinary mortals; retreats also of the gods, and Gandharvas and Apsaras, with palatial mansions by hundreds clustering thick around and resounding with the sweet notes of celestial music, the gardens of Kuvera laid out on even and uneven grounds, banks of mighty rivers, and deep caverns. There are many regions also on those heights that are covered with perpetual snow and are utterly destitute of vegetable and animal existence. In some places the downpour of rain is so heavy that they are perfectly inaccessible and incapable of being utilised for habitation. Not to speak of other animals, even winged creatures cannot cross them. The only thing that can go there is air, and the only beings, Siddhas and great Rishis. How shall these princesses ascend those heights of the king of mountains? Unaccustomed to pain, shall they not droop in affliction? Therefore, come not with us, O bull of Bharata's race!'

"Pandu replied, 'Ye fortunate ones, it is said that for the sonless there is no admittance into heaven. I am sonless! I In affliction I speak' unto you! I am afflicted because I have not been able to discharge the debt I owe to my ancestors. It is certain that with the dissolution of this my body my ancestors perish! Men are born on this earth with four debts, viz. those due unto the (deceased) ancestors, the gods, the Rishis, and other men. In justice these must be discharged. The wise have declared that no regions of bliss exist for them that neglect to pay these debts in due time. The gods are paid (gratified) by sacrifices, the Rishis, by study, meditation, and asceticism, the (deceased) ancestors, by begetting children and offering the funeral cake, and, lastly other men, by leading a humane and inoffensive life. I have justly discharged my obligations to the Rishis, the gods, and other men. But those others than these three are sure to perish with the dissolution of my body! Ye ascetics, I am not yet freed from the debt I owe to my (deceased) ancestors. The best of men are born in this world to beget children for discharging that debt. I would ask you, should children be begotten in my soil (upon my wives) as I myself was begotten in the soil of my father by the eminent Rishi?'

"The Rishis said, 'O king of virtuous soul, there is progeny in store for thee, that is sinless and blest with good fortune and like unto the gods. We behold it all with our prophetic eyes. Therefore, O tiger among men, accomplish by your own acts that which destiny pointeth at. Men of intelligence, acting with deliberation, always obtain good fruits; it behoveth thee, therefore, O king, to exert thyself. The fruits thou wouldst obtain are distinctly visible. Thou wouldst really obtain accomplished and agreeable progeny.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Hearing these words of the ascetics, Pandu, remembering the loss of his procreative powers owing to the curse of the deer, began to reflect deeply. And calling his wedded wife the excellent Kunti, unto him, he told her in private, 'Strive thou to raise offspring at this time of distress. The wise expounders of the eternal religion declare that a son, O Kunti, is the cause of virtuous fame in the three worlds. It is said that sacrifices, charitable gifts, ascetic penances, and vows observed most carefully, do not confer religious merit on a sonless man. O thou of sweet smiles, knowing all this, I am certain that as I am sonless, I shall not obtain regions of true felicity. O timid one, wretch that I was and addicted to cruel deeds, as a consequence of the polluted life I led, my power of procreation hath been destroyed by the curse of the deer. The religious institutes mention six kinds of sons that are heirs and kinsmen, and six other kinds that are not heirs but kinsmen. I shall speak of them presently. O Pritha, listen to me. They are: 1st, the son begotten by one's own self upon his wedded wife; 2nd, the son begotten upon one's wife by an accomplished person from motives of kindness; 3rd, the son begotten upon one's wife by a person for pecuniary consideration; 4th, the son begotten upon the wife after the husband's death; 5th, the maiden-born son; 6th, the son born of an unchaste wife; 7th, the son given; 8th, the son bought for a consideration; 9th, the son self-given; 10th, the son received with a pregnant bride; 11th, the brother's son; and 12th, the son begotten upon a wife of lower caste. On failure of offspring of a prior class, the mother should desire to have offspring of the next class. In times of distress, men solicit offspring from accomplished younger brothers. The self-born Manu hath said that men failing to have legitimate offspring of their own may have offspring begotten upon their wives by others, for sons confer the highest religious merit. Therefore, O Kunti, being destitute myself of the power of procreation, I command thee to raise good offspring through some person who is either equal or superior to me. O Kunti, listen to the history of the daughter of Saradandayana who was appointed by her lord to raise offspring. That warrior-dame, when her monthly season arrived, bathed duly and in the night went out and waited on a spot where four roads met. She did not wait long when a Brahmana crowned with ascetic success came there. The daughter of Saradandayana solicited him for offspring. After pouring libations of clarified butter on the fire (in the performance of the sacrifice known by the name of Punsavana) she brought forth three sons that were mighty car-warriors and of whom Durjaya was the eldest, begotten upon her by that Brahmana. O thou of good fortune, do thou follow that warrior-dame's example at my command, and speedily raise offspring out of the seed of some Brahmana of high ascetic merit.'"