Mahabharata Shalya Parva - Translation by KM Ganguly

Mahabharata Adiparva


Janamejaya said, "On the eve of the great battle (between the Kurus and the Pandus), the lord Rama, with Keshava's leave, had gone away (from Dwaraka) accompanied by many of the Vrishnis. He had said unto Keshava, 'I will render aid neither unto the son of Dhritarashtra nor unto the sons of Pandu, but will go whithersoever I like!' Having said these words, Rama, that resister of foes, had gone away. It behoveth thee, O Brahmana, to tell me everything about his return! Tell me in detail how Rama came to that spot, how he witnessed the battle. In my opinion thou art well-skilled in narration!"

Vaishampayana said, "After the high-souled Pandavas had taken up their post at Upaplavya, they despatched the slayer of Madhu to Dhritarashtra's presence, for the object of peace, O mighty-armed one, and for the good of all creatures. Having gone to Hastinapura and met Dhritarashtra, Keshava spoke words of true and especially beneficial import. The king, however, as I have told thee before, listened not to those counsels. Unable to obtain peace, the mighty-armed Krishna, that foremost of men, came back, O monarch, to Upaplavya. Dismissed by Dhritarashtra's son, Krishna returned (to the Pandava camp), and upon the failure of his mission, O tiger among kings, said these words unto the Pandavas, 'Urged by Fate, the Kauravas are for disregarding my words! Come, ye sons of Pandu, with me (to the field of battle), setting out under the constellation Pushya!' After this, while the troops (of both sides) were being mustered and arrayed, the high-souled son of Rohini, that foremost of all persons endued with might, addressed his brother Krishna, saying, 'O mighty-armed one, O slayer of Madhu, let us render assistance to the Kurus!' Krishna, however, did not listen to those words of his. With heart filled with rage (at this), that illustrious son of Yadu's race, the wielder of the plough then set out on a pilgrimage to the Sarasvati. Accompanied by all the Yadavas, he set out under the conjunction of the asterism called Maitra. The Bhoja chief (Kritavarma), however, adopted the side of Duryodhana. Accompanied by Yuyudhana, Vasudeva adopted that of the Pandavas. After the heroic son of Rohini had set out under the constellation Pushya, the slayer of Madhu, placing the Pandavas in his van, proceeded against the Kurus. While proceeding, Rama ordered his servants on the way, saying, 'Bring all things that are necessary for a pilgrimage, that is, every article of use! Bring the (sacred) fire that is at Dwaraka, and our priests. Bring gold, silver, kine, robes, steeds, elephants, cars, mules, camels, and other draft cattle! Bring all these necessaries for a trip to the sacred waters, and proceed with great speed towards the Sarasvati! Bring also some priests to be especially employed, and hundreds of foremost of Brahmanas!' Having given these orders to the servants, the mighty Valadeva set out on a pilgrimage at that time of great calamity to the Kurus. Setting out towards the Sarasvati, he visited all the sacred places along her course, accompanied by priests, friends, and many foremost of Brahmanas, as also with cars and elephants and steeds and servants, O bull of Bharata's race, and with many vehicles drawn by kine and mules and camels. Diverse kinds of necessaries of life were given away in large measure and in diverse countries unto the weary and worn, children and the old, in response, O king, to solicitations. Everywhere, O king, Brahmanas were promptly gratified with whatever viands they desired. At the command of Rohini's son, men at different stages of the journey stored food and drink in large quantities. Costly garments and bedsteads and coverlets were given for the gratification of Brahmanas, desirous of ease and comfort. Whatever Brahmana or Kshatriya solicited whatever thing, that O Bharata, it was seen to be ungrudgingly given to him. All who formed the party proceeded with great happiness and lived happily. The people (of Valarama's train) gave away vehicles to persons desirous of making journeys, drinks to them that were thirsty, and savoury viands to them that were hungry, as also robes and ornaments, O bull of Bharata's race, to many! The road, O king, along which the party proceeded, looked resplendent, O hero, and was highly comfortable for all, and resembled heaven itself. There were rejoicings everywhere upon it, and savoury viands were procurable everywhere. There were shops and stalls and diverse objects exposed for sale. The whole way was, besides, crowded with human beings. And it was adorned with various kinds of trees and creatures, and various kinds of gems. The high-souled Valadeva, observant of rigid vows, gave away unto the Brahmanas much wealth and plentiful sacrificial presents, O king, in diverse sacred spots. That chief of Yadu's race also gave away thousands of milch kine covered with excellent cloths and having their horns cased in gold, many steeds belonging to different countries, many vehicles, and many beautiful slaves. Even thus did the high-souled Rama give away wealth in diverse excellent tirthas on the Sarasvati. In course of his wanderings, that hero of unrivalled power and magnanimous conduct at last came to Kurukshetra."

Janamejaya said, "Tell me, O foremost of men, the features, the origin, and the merits of the several tirthas on the Sarasvati and the ordinances to be observed while sojourning there! Tell me these, in their order, O illustrious one! My curiosity is irrepressible, O foremost of all persons acquainted with Brahma!"

Vaishampayana said, "The subject of the features and origin of all these tirthas, O king, is very large. I shall, however, describe them to thee. Listen to that sacred account in its entirety, O king! Accompanied by his priests and friends, Valadeva first proceeded to the tirtha called Prabhasa. There, the Lord of the constellations (Soma), who had been affected with phthisis, became freed from his curse. Regaining energy there, O king, he now illuminates the universe. And because that foremost of tirthas on earth had formerly contributed to invest Soma with splendour (after he had lost it), it is, therefore, called Prabhasa."

Janamejaya said, "For what reason was the adorable Soma afflicted with phthisis? How also did he bathe in that tirtha? How did he, having bathed in that sacred water, regain his energy? Tell me all this in detail, O great Muni!"

Vaishampayana said, "Daksha had seven and twenty daughters, O king! These he bestowed (in marriage) upon Soma. Connected with the several constellations, those wives, O king, of Soma of auspicious deeds, served to help men in calculating time. Possessed of large eyes, all of them were unrivalled in beauty in the world. In wealth of beauty, however, Rohini was the foremost of them all. The adorable Soma took great delight in her. She became very agreeable to him, and therefore, he enjoyed the pleasures of her company (exclusively). In those days of yore, O monarch, Soma lived long with Rohini (exclusively). For this, those other wives of his, they that were called the constellations, became displeased with that high-souled one. Repairing speedily to their sire (Daksha), that Lord of creation, they said unto him, 'Soma doth not live with us! He always payeth court to Rohini only! All of us, therefore, O Lord of creatures, shall dwell by thy side, on regulated diet and observant of austere penances!' Hearing these words of theirs, Daksha (saw Soma and) said unto him, 'Behave equally towards all thy wives! Let not a great sin stain thee!' And Daksha then said unto those daughters of his, 'Go, all of you, to the presence of Sasin. At my command, he, (otherwise called) Candramas, will behave equally towards all of you!' Dismissed by him, they then proceeded to the abode of him having cool rays. Still the adorable Soma, O lord of earth, continued to act as before, for pleased with Rohini alone, he continued to live with her exclusively. His other wives then once more came together to their sire and said unto him, 'Employed in serving thee, we will dwell in thy asylum! Soma does not live with us and is unmindful of thy commands!' Hearing these words of theirs, Daksha once more said unto Soma, 'Behave equally towards all thy wives! Let me not, O Virochana, curse thee!' Disregarding, however, these words of Daksha, the adorable Soma continued to live with Rohini alone. At this, his other wives became once more angry. Repairing to their sire, they bowed unto him by lowering their heads, and said, 'Soma doth not live with us! Give us thy protection! The adorable Candramas always lives with Rohini exclusively! He sets no importance to thy words, and does not wish to show us any affection! Therefore, save us so that Soma may accept us all!' Hearing these words, the adorable Daksha, O king, became angry and in consequence thereof hurled the curse of phthisis upon Soma. Thus did that disease overtake the Lord of the stars. Afflicted with phthisis, Sasin began to waste away day by day. He made many endeavours for freeing himself from that disease by performing diverse sacrifices, O monarch! The maker of night, however, could not free himself from that curse. On the other hand, he continued to endure waste and emaciation. In consequence, however, of the wasting of Soma, the deciduous herbs failed to grow. Their juices dried up and they became tasteless, and all of them became deprived of their virtues. And, in consequence of this decadence of the deciduous herbs, living creatures also began to decay. Indeed, owing to the wasting of Soma, all creatures began to be emaciated. Then all the celestials, coming to Soma, O king, asked him, saying, 'Why is it that thy form is not so beautiful and resplendent (as before)? Tell us the reason whence hath proceeded this great calamity! Hearing thy answer, we shall do what is needed for dispelling thy fear!' Thus addressed, the god having the hare for his mark, replied unto them and informed them of the cause of the curse and the phthisis with which he was afflicted. The gods then, having heard those words, repaired to Daksha and said, 'Be gratified, O adorable one, with Soma! Let this curse of thine be withdrawn! Candramas is very emaciated! Only a small portion of him may be seen! In consequence of his wasting, O Lord of the celestials, all creatures also are wasting! Creepers and herbs of diverse kinds are also wasting! In their waste we ourselves also are suffering emaciation! Without us, what will this universe be? Knowing this, O master of the universe, it behoveth thee to be gratified (with Soma)!' Thus addressed (Daksha), that Lord of creatures, said these words unto the celestials, 'It is impossible to make my words become otherwise! By some contrivance, however, ye blessed ones, my words may be withdrawn! Let Sasin always behave equally towards all his wives! Having bathed also in that foremost of tirthas on the Sarasvati, the god having the hare for his mark shall, ye gods, grow once more! These words of mine are true! For half the month Soma shall wane every day, and for half the month (following) he will wax every day! These words of mine are true! Proceeding to the western Ocean at the spot where the Sarasvati mingles with the Ocean, that vast receptacle of waters, let him adore that God of gods (Mahadeva) there! He will then regain his form and beauty!' At this command of the (celestial) Rishi (Daksha), Soma then proceeded to the Sarasvati. He arrived at that foremost of tirthas called Prabhasa belonging to the Sarasvati. Bathing there on the day of the new moon, that god of great energy and great effulgence got back his cool rays and continued once more to illumine the worlds. All the creatures also, O monarch, having repaired to Prabhasa, returned with Soma amongst them to the place where Daksha was. (Receiving them duly) that Lord of creatures then dismissed them. Pleased with Soma, the adorable Daksha once more addressed him, saying, 'Do not, O son, disregard women, and never disregard Brahmanas! Go and attentively obey my commands!' Dismissed by him, Soma came back to his own abode. All creatures, filled with joy, continued to live as before. I have thus told thee everything about how the maker of the night had been cursed, and, how also Prabhasa became the foremost of all tirthas. On every recurring day of the new moon, O monarch, the god having the hare for his mark bathes in the excellent tirtha of Prabhasa and regains his form and beauty. It is for this reason, O lord of earth, that that tirtha is known by the name of Prabhasa, since bathing there, Candramas regained his great (Prabha) effulgence. After this, the mighty Baladeva of undecaying glory proceeded to Chamasodbheda, that is, to that tirtha which is called by that name. Giving away many costly gifts at that place, the hero having the plough for his weapon passed one night there and performed his ablutions duly. The elder brother of Keshava then proceeded quickly to Udapana. Although the Sarasvati seems to be lost there, yet persons crowned with ascetic success, in consequence of their obtaining great merits and great blessedness at that spot, and owing also to the coolness of the herbs and of the land there, know that the river has an invisible current, O monarch, through the bowels of the earth there."