Mahabharata Vana Parva - Translation by KM Ganguly

Mahabharata Adiparva

Section CXVIII

Vaisampayana said, "The magnanimous monarch pursued his journey, and at different spots on the shore of the sea visited the various bathing places, all sacred and pleasant and frequented by men of the sacerdotal caste. And O son of Parikshit! He in proper form took his bath in them together with his younger brothers and then went to an excellent river, the holiest of all. There also the magnanimous king, took his plunge, and offered libations to his forefathers and the gods, and distributed riches to the leaders of the twice-born class. Then he went to the Godavari, a river that falls directly into the sea. There he was freed from his sins. And he reached the sea in the Dravida land, and visited the holy spot passing under Agastya's name, which was exceedingly sacred and exceptionally pure. And the valiant king visited the feminine sacred spots. Here he listened to the story of that well-known feat which was achieved by Arjuna, chief of all wielders of the bow, and which was beyond the power of human beings to perform. And here he was praised by the highest members of the saintly class, and the son of Pandu experienced the greatest delight. And, O protector of the earth! the ruler of the world, accompanied by Krishnâ bathed in those holy spots, and speaking of Arjuna's valour in laudatory terms delightfully spent his time in the place. Then he gave away thousands of cows at those holy spots on the coast of the sea; and with his brothers narrated well pleased how Arjuna had made a gift of kine. And he, O king! visited one by one those holy places on the coast of the sea and many other sacred spots, and thus fulfilled his heart's desire, till he came to the holiest of all known by the name of Suparaka. Then having crossed a certain tract on the coast of the sea, he reached a forest celebrated on earth. There the deities had practised asceticism in former days, and likewise virtuous rulers of men had performed sacrificial rites. There he, possessed of long and lusty arms, beheld the celebrated altar of Richika's son, who was the foremost of all wielders of the bow. And the altar was girt round by hosts of ascetics, and was fit to be worshipped by persons of a virtuous life. Then the king beheld the holy and delightful shrines of all the gods and of the Vasus, and of the hosts of wind and of the two celestial physicians and of Yama, son of the sun and of the lord of riches, and of Indra, and of Vishnu, and of the lord Creator and of Siva, and of the moon, and of the author of day, and of the lord of waters, and of the host of Sadhyas, and of Brahma, and of the forefathers, and of Rudra together with all his followers, and of the goddess of learning, and of the host of Siddhas, and of many immortal holy gods besides. And in those shrines the king observed various fasts, and gave away large quantities of gems. He plunged his body in all the holy spots, and then came again to Surparaka. And he by the same landing-place of the sea again proceeded with his uterine brothers and came over to the holy spot Prabhasa, whereof fame hath been spread by mighty Brahmanas throughout the world. There he, possessed of a pair of large red eyes, washed himself with all his younger brothers, and offered libations to the forefathers and the celestial hosts; and so did Krishna and all those Brahmanas together with Lomasa. For twelve days he subsisted upon air and water. And he performed ablutions for days and nights and surrounded himself with fires kindled on all sides. Thus that greatest of all virtuous men engaged himself in asceticism. While he was acting thus, information reached both Valarama and Krishna that the king was practising penances of a most austere form and these two leaders of the entire Vrishni tribe accompanied with troops came to Yudhishthira of Ajamidha's race. And when the Vrishnis beheld that the sons of Pandu lay down on the ground, their bodies besmeared all over with dirt and when they beheld the daughter of Drupada in a sad state, their grief was great and they could not refrain from breaking out in loud lamentations. Then the king, whose courage was such that misfortune never could cast him down, cordially met Rama and Krishna and Samva, Krishna's son, and the grand-son of Sini and other Vrishnis, and paid honour to them in a suitable form. And they also in return paid honour to all the sons of Pritha, and were similarly honoured by Pandu's sons. And they seated themselves round about Yudhishthira, as round Indra, O king! are seated the celestial hosts. And highly pleased, he recounted to them all the machinations of his adversaries, and how also he had resided in the forest, and how Arjuna had gone to Indra's abode in order to learn the science of arms--all this he related with a gladdened heart. And they were happy to learn all this news from him; but when they saw the Pandavas so exceedingly lean, the majestic and magnanimous Vrishnis could not forbear shedding tears, which spontaneously gushed from their eyes on account of the agony they felt."