(Vaivahika Parva continued)
"Vaisampayana said, 'Vyasa continued, 'In days of yore, the celestials had once commenced a grand sacrifice in the forest of Naimisha. At that sacrifice, O king, Yama, the son of Vivaswat, became the slayer of the devoted animals. Yama, thus employed in that sacrifice, did not (during that period), O king, kill a single human being. Death being suspended in the world, the number of human beings increased very greatly. Then Soma and Sakra and Varuna and Kuvera, the Sadhyas, the Rudras, the Vasus, the twin Aswins,--these and other celestials went unto Prajapati, the Creator of the universe. Struck with fear for the increase of the human population of the world they addressed the Master of creation and said, 'Alarmed, O lord, at the increase of human beings on earth, we come to thee for relief. Indeed, we crave thy protection.' Hearing those words the Grandsire said, 'Ye have little cause to be frightened at this increase of human beings. Ye all are immortal. It behoveth you not to take fright at human beings.' The celestials replied, 'The mortals have all become immortal. There is no distinction now between us and them. Vexed at the disappearance of all distinction, we have come to thee in order that thou mayest distinguish us from them.' The Creator then said, 'The son of Vivaswat is even now engaged in the grand sacrifice. It is for this that men are not dying. But when Yama's work in connection with the sacrifice terminates, men will again begin to die as before. Strengthened by your respective energies, Yama will, when that time comes, sweep away by thousands the inhabitants on earth who will scarcely have then any energy left in them.'
"Vyasa continued, 'Hearing these words of the first-born deity, the celestials returned to the spot where the grand sacrifice was being performed. And the mighty one sitting by the side of the Bhagirathi saw a (golden) lotus being carried along by the current. And beholding that (golden) lotus, they wondered much. And amongst them, that foremost of celestials, viz., Indra, desirous of ascertaining whence it came, proceeded up along the course of the Bhagirathi. And reaching that spot whence the goddess Ganga issues perennially, Indra beheld a woman possessing the splendour of fire. The woman who had come there to take water was washing herself in the stream, weeping all the while. The tear-drops she shed, falling on the stream, were being transformed into golden lotuses. The wielder of the thunderbolt, beholding that wonderful sight, approached the woman and asked her, 'Who art thou, amiable lady? Why dost thou weep? I desire to know the truth. O, tell me everything.'
"Vyasa continued, 'The woman thereupon answered, 'O Sakra, thou mayest know who I am and why, unfortunate that I am, I weep, if only, O chief of the celestials, thou comest with me as I lead the way. Thou shall then see what it is I weep for." Hearing these words of the lady, Indra followed her as she led the way. And soon he saw, not far off from where he was, a handsome youth with a young lady seated on a throne placed on one of the peaks of Himavat and playing at dice. Beholding that youth, the thief of the celestials said, 'Know, intelligent youth, that this universe is under my sway.' Seeing, however, that the person addressed was so engrossed in dice that he took no notice of what he said, Indra was possessed by anger and repeated, 'I am the lord of the universe. The youth who was none else than the god Mahadeva (the god of the gods), seeing Indra filled with wrath, only smiled, having cast a glance at him. At that glance, however, the chief of the celestials was at once paralysed and stood there like a stake. When the game at dice was over, Isana addressing the weeping woman said, 'Bring Sakra hither, for I shall soon so deal with him that pride may not again enter his heart.' As soon as Sakra was touched by that woman, the chief of the celestials with limbs paralysed by that touch, fell down on the earth. The illustrious Isana of fierce energy then said unto him, 'Act not, O Sakra, ever again in this way. Remove this huge stone, for thy strength and energy are immeasurable, and enter the hole (it will disclose) where await some others possessing the splendour of the sun and who are all like unto thee.' Indra, then, on removing that stone, beheld a cave in the breast of that king of mountains, within which were four others resembling himself. Beholding their plight, Sakra became seized with grief and exclaimed, 'Shall I be even like these?' Then the god Girisha, looking full at Indra with expanded eyes, said in anger, 'O thou of a hundred sacrifices, enter this cave without loss of time, for thou hast from folly insulted me.' Thus addressed by the lord Isana, the chief of the celestials, in consequence of that terrible imprecation, was deeply pained, and with limbs weakened by fear trembled like the wind-shaken leaf of a Himalayan fig. And cursed unexpectedly by the god owning a bull for his vehicle, Indra, with joined hands and shaking from head to foot, addressed that fierce god of multi-form manifestations, saving, 'Thou art, O Bhava, the over-looker of the infinite Universe!' Hearing these words the god of fiery energy smiled and said, 'Those that are of disposition like thine never obtain my grace. These others (within the cave) had at one time been like thee. Enter thou this cave, therefore, and lie there for some time. The fate of you all shall certainly be the same. All of you shall have to take your birth in the world of men, where, having achieved many difficult feats and slaying a large number of men, ye shall again by the merits of your respective deeds, regain the valued region of Indra. Ye shall accomplish all I have said and much more besides, of other kinds of work.' Then those Indras, of their shorn glory said, 'We shall go from our celestial regions even unto the region of men where salvation is ordained to be difficult of acquisition. But let the gods Dharma, Vayu, Maghavat, and the twin Aswins beget us upon our would-be mother. Fighting with men by means of both celestial and human weapons, we shall again come back into the region of Indra.'
"Vyasa continued, 'Hearing these words of the former Indras, the wielder of the thunderbolt once more addressed that foremost of gods, saying, 'Instead of going myself, I shall, with a portion of my energy, create from myself a person for the accomplishment of the task (thou assignest) to form the fifth among these!' Vishwabhuk, Bhutadhaman, Sivi of great energy, Santi the fourth, and Tejaswin, these it is said were the five Indras of old. And the illustrious god of the formidable bow, from his kindness, granted unto the five Indras the desire they cherished. And he also appointed that woman of extraordinary beauty, who was none else than celestial Sri (goddess of grace) herself, to be their common wife in the world of men. Accompanied by all those Indras, the god Isana then went unto Narayana of immeasurable energy, the Infinite, the Immaterial, the Uncreate, the Old, the Eternal, and the Spirit of these universes without limits. Narayana approved of everything. Those Indras then were born in the world of men. And Hari (Narayana) took up two hairs from his body, one of which hairs was black and the other white. And those two hairs entered the wombs of two of the Yadu race, by name Devaki and Rohini. And one of these hairs viz., that which was white, became Valadeva. And the hair that was black was born as Kesava's self, Krishna. And those Indras of old who had been confined in the cave on the Himavat are none else than the sons of Pandu, endued with great energy. And Arjuna amongst the Pandavas, called also Savyasachin (using both hands with equal dexterity) is a portion of Sakra.'
"Vyasa continued, 'Thus, O king, they who have been born as the Pandavas are none else than those Indras of old. And the celestial Sri herself who had been appointed as their wife is this Draupadi of extraordinary beauty. How could she whose effulgence is like that of the sun or the moon, whose fragrance spreads for two miles around, take her birth in any other than an extraordinary way, viz., from within the earth, by virtue of the sacrificial rites? Unto thee, O king, I cheerfully grant this other boon in the form of spiritual sight. Behold now the sons of Kunti endued with their sacred and celestial bodies of old!'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Saying this, that sacred Brahmana Vyasa of generous deeds, by means of his ascetic power, granted celestial sight unto the king. Thereupon the king beheld all the Pandavas endued with their former bodies. And the king saw them possessed of celestial bodies, with golden crowns and celestial garlands, and each resembling Indra himself, with complexions radiant as fire or the sun, and decked with every ornament, and handsome, and youthful, with broad chests and statures measuring about five cubits. Endued with every accomplishment, and decked with celestial robes of great beauty and fragrant garlands of excellent making the king beheld them as so many three-eyed gods (Mahadeva), or Vasus, or Rudras, or Adityas themselves. And observing the Pandavas in the forms of those Indras of old, and Arjuna also in the form of Indra sprung from Sakra himself, king Drupada was highly pleased. And the monarch wondered much on beholding that manifestation of celestial power under deep disguise. The king looking at his daughter, that foremost of women endued with great beauty, like unto a celestial damsel and possessed of the splendour of fire or the moon, regarded her as the worthy wife of those celestial beings, for her beauty, splendour and fame. And beholding that wonderful sight, the monarch touched the feet of Satyavati's son, exclaiming, 'O great Rishi, nothing is miraculous in thee!' The Rishi then cheerfully continued, 'In a certain hermitage there was an illustrious Rishi's daughter, who, though handsome and chaste, obtained not a husband. The maiden gratified, by severe ascetic penances, the god Sankara (Mahadeva). The lord Sankara, gratified at her penances, told her himself. 'Ask thou the boon thou desirest' Thus addressed, the maiden repeatedly said unto the boon-giving Supreme Lord, 'I desire to obtain a husband possessed of every accomplishment. Sankara, the chief of the gods, gratified with her, gave her the boon she asked, saying, 'Thou shall have, amiable maiden, five husbands.' The maiden, who had succeeded in gratifying the god, said again, 'O Sankara, I desire to have from thee only one husband possessed of every virtue?' The god of gods, well-pleased with her, spake again, saying, 'Thou hast, O maiden, addressed me five full times, repeating, 'Give me a husband.' Therefore, O amiable one, it shall even be as thou hast asked. Blessed be thou. All this, however, will happen in a future life of thine!'
"Vyasa continued, 'O Drupada, this thy daughter of celestial beauty is that maiden. Indeed, the faultless Krishna sprung from Prishata's race hath been pre-ordained to become the common wife of five husbands. The celestial Sri, having undergone severe ascetic penances, hath, for the sake of the Pandavas, had her birth as thy daughter, in the course of thy grand sacrifice. That handsome goddess, waited upon by all the celestials, as a consequence of her own acts becomes the (common) wife of five husbands. It is for this that the self-create had created her. Having listened to all this, O king Drupada, do what thou desirest.'"