THE FIRST BOOK
On Vyâsa doing his duties
1-8. The Risis said :-- O Sûta! What did Veda Vyâsa do, when the highest Yogi Sûka, Deva-like, acquired all the excellent supernatural powers? Kindly describe all these in detail.
Hearing this question, Sûta spoke :-- O Rishis! Vyâsa already had with him many disciples Asita, Devala, Vais'ampâyana, Jaimini, Sumantu and others, all engaged in the study of the Vedas. After their studies were over, they all went out to propagate Dharma on the earth. Then Vyâsa , seeing that the disciples went to the earth and his son Sûka Deva had got to the next world, became very much distressed with sorrow and wanted to go to some other place. He then decided to go to his birth place and went to the banks of the Ganges and there remembered his auspicious mother Satyavatî, forsaken by him before, very sorrowful, and the daughter of a fisherman. He then quitted that heaven-like mountain, the source of all happiness and came to his own birth place. Reaching the island where he was born, he enquired the whereabouts of the beautiful faced, the fisherman's daughter as well the wife of a king. The fishermen replied that their king had given her in marriage to the king S'antanu. Then the king of fishermen, seeing Vyâsa there, gladly worshipped him and gave him a cordial welcome and spoke with folded palms, thus :--
9-16. O Muni! When I have become so fortunate as to see you, rare even to the Devas, then my birth has been sanctified today and you have purified my family. O Brâhmin! Kindly say what for have you come?
My wife, son and all my riches and every other thing that I have are at your disposal. Thus hearing the history of his mother Satyavatî, Vyâsa erected an Âsrama on the beautiful banks of the river Sarasvatî and remained there in tapasyâ with an enlightened mind.
Some time elapsed when the highly energetic Santanu got through his wife Satyavatî two sons. Vyâsa Deva considered them as his two brothers and became very glad, though he himself used to live in the forest. The first son of the king Santanu was Chitrângada, endowed with all auspicious qualities, exceedingly beautiful, and tormenting his foes; the second son was Vichitra-vîrya; he was endowed with all qualities. The king Santanu became very happy to get these children. Santanu had one son before through his wife Gangâ; he was a great hero and very powerful; and the two sons of Satyavatî were equally powerful. The high souled Santanu now seeing the three sons, all endowed with all auspicious qualities, began to think that the Devas were incapable to defeat him.
17-34. After some time, the religious Santanu quitted his worn-out body as a man quits his clothes worn out in due time. After the king Santanu had ascended the Heavens, the energetic Bhîs'ma performed duly his funeral obsequies and gave various things in charity to the Brâhmanas. He did not accept the kingdom himself; but placed Chitrângada on the throne and became known by the name of Devavrata (truthful in vow like the Devas). The pure souled Chitrângada, born of Satyavatî became so much powerful by sheer force of his arms, and became so great a hero that the enemies felt endless troubles. Now once on an occasion, the greatly powerful Chitrângada, surrounded by a great army, went on an hunting excursion to the forest in quest of rurû deer, etc., when the Gandarbha Chitrângada, seeing the king on the way, alighted from his chariot.
O ascetics! A fierce battle then ensued for three years on that sacred and wide expanse Kuruksettra between the two heroes, both equally powerful. In the battle, the king Chitrângada, the son of Santanu was slain by the Gandarbha Chitrângada and went up to Heavens. Bhîsma, born of the womb of Gangâ, hearing the above news, expressed his sorrows and, being surrounded by the ministers completed all the funeral obsequies and installed Vichitravîrya on the throne. The beautiful Satyavatî became very much agitated by the death of her son; but when the ministers and the highsouled spiritual teachers consoled her, she became glad when she saw that her youngest son became king. Vyâsa Deva, too, felt himself glad to hear that his youngest brother had been made king. After some time when the all auspicious, Satyavatî's son Vichîtravîrya attained his youth,
Bhîsma began to think of his marriage. At this time the king of Kâsî (Kâs'îrâj) called an assembly Svayamvara (where the kings are invited and the bride selects the bridegroom) for the marriage of her three daughters, endowed with all auspicious qualities, at one and the same time. Thousands and thousands of kings and princes from various countries were invited there in the assembly; and, worshipped duly, they went and decorated the hall. At that time the highly energetic fiery Bhîsma alone, mounting on his chariot, attacked the infantry and cavalry, and defeated all the kings assembled there, and perforce carried away the three daughters of Kâs'îrâj and took them to Hastinâpur. Bhîsma behaved towards those three daughters as if they were mothers, sisters or daughters and informed Satyavatî without any delay of everything that had happened.
35-39. Then he called for the astrologers and Brâhmins, versed in the Vedas and enquired about the auspicious day for their marriage. When the day was fixed and when every preparation was made, the religious Bhîsma wanted Vichitravîrya to marry them. At this time, the eldest daughter, beautiful-eyed spoke out modestly to the Gangâ's son Bhîsma :-- O Gangâ's son, the illustrious son of your family and the best of the Kurus! You are the best knower of Dharma; therefore what more shall I say to you. In the Svayamvara assembly I mentally selected S'âlva and it struck me that he, too, looked on me with a very loving heart towards me. So, O tormentor of foes! Now do what is fit for that sacred family; O Gangâ's son! Not only you are extraordinarily powerful but you are also the foremost of the religious. Sâlva mentally wanted to marry me; now do as you like.
40-44. When the eldest daughter spoke thus, Bhîsma asked the aged Brâhmanas, ministers and his mother What ought to be done now and, taking the opinions of all, spoke to that daughter :-- O beautiful one! You can go wherever you like. Thus saying, Bhîsma released her. Then the beautiful daughter of Kâsîrâj went to the house of Sâlvarâj and expressed to him her heart's desire :-- O great king! Knowing me attached to yourself, Bhîsma has quitted me according to the laws of Dharma; I have therefore come to you now; marry me. O best of the kings! I will be your legal wife, for already I used to think you as my husband and you, too, must have thought me your wife.
45-47. S'âlva replied as follows :-- O beautiful one! When Bhîsma caught hold of your arm before me and took you to his chariot, then I won't marry you. You can say yourself what intelligent man can marry a woman touched by another? Therefore I won't marry you, though
Bhîsma has quitted you, in the light of another. Hearing these words of Sâlva, the daughter of Kâsîrâj wept bitterly; yet Sâlva quitted her. Therefore, finding no other way, she went back to Bhîsma weeping, and said as follows :--
48-50. O great warrior! Sâlva did not consent to marry me, as you first took me to the chariot and afterwards left me. So, O Mahâbhâga! You better look to Dharma and marry me, as you know best what is Dharma. If you do not marry me, I will certainly quit my life. Hearing her words Bhîsma said :-- O beautiful one! How can I accept you, when your mind has become attached towards another. So, O fair one! You better go back soon to your own father with a calm, clear mind. When Bhîsma said thus, that daughter of Kâsîrâj did not go back, out of sheer shame, to her father's house, but went to a forest and in a greatly solitary place of pilgrimage began to practise asceticism.
51-56. Now the other two daughters of Kâsîrâj, beautiful and all auspicious Ambâlikâ and Ambikâ became the wives of the king Vichîtravîrya. Thus the powerful king Vichîtravîrya began to enjoy various pleasures in the palace and in the gardens and thus passed his time. For full nine years the king Vichîtravîrya enjoyed the sexual pleasures and became attacked with consumption and fell into the jaws of death. Hearing the death news of her son Vichîtravîrya, Satyavatî became very sorry and surrounded by her ministers, performed his funeral obsequies. Then she spoke privately to Bhîsma with a grievous heart :-- O highly fortunately son! now you better govern your father's kingdom and see that the family of Yayâti does not become extinct. So better take your brother's wife and try your best to continue your family line.
57-74. Bhîsma then said :-- "O Mother! Did you not hear of the promise that I already made before my father? So I cannot ever marry and govern the kingdom. Hearing these words of Bhîsma, Satyavatî became anxious. She began to think as follows :-- How now the continuity of the family be kept! And it is not advisable to remain idle when the kingdom has become kingless; no happiness can be derived in this state. Thus thinking, she became exceedingly distressed; then the Gangâ's son, Bhîsma spoke to her :-- O respected one! Do not worry your mind with cares; now take steps so as to secure a son from Vichîtravîrya's wife. Call some best Brâhmin, born of a good family and unite him with Vichîtravîrya's wife. There is no fault, as far as I know, in doing thus to keep up the family line. O sweet smiling one! Thus having begotten the grandson, give him this kingdom; I will also obey his commands. Hearing these reasonable words of Bhîsma, Satyavatî remem
bered her own son, the sinless Vyâsa Deva, who was born to her during her virginity. As soon as Vyâsa was remembered, he, the great ascetic and effulgent like the sun, came there and bowed down to his mother. The highly energetic Vyâsa was then worshipped duly by Bhîsma and welcome by Satyavatî and began to rest there like a smokeless fire. The mother Satyavatî then spoke to the chief Muni :-- O son! Now procreate a beautiful son from your sperm and the ovum of Vichîtravîrya's wife. Hearing the mother's words, Vyâsa considered them as Veda's injunction and thought they must be obeyed and promised before her that he must obey and and fulfil her orders. He remained there, waiting for the menstruation period. When the due period of menstruation arrived, Ambikâ bathed and had a sexual intercourse with Vyâsa and begot a very powerful son, but a blind one (since she closed her eyes at the sight of Vyâsa during her intercourse). Seeing the son born blind Satyavatî became exceedingly sorry; she, then, asked her other son's wife :-- Go soon and get a son born of you in the aforesaid manner. When the menstruation period arrived, Ambâlikâ during the night time went to Vyâsa and mixed and became pregnant. In due time a son was born; that child became of a very pale colour; so Satyavatî thought the new child, too, unfit for the kingdom; therefore at the end of the year again asked her son's wife Ambâlikâ to go to Vyâsa . She asked Vyâsa also for the same purpose and sent Ambâlikâ to his bed room. But Ambâlikâ became afraid, and could not go herself but sent her maid servant for the purpose. Thus from the womb of the maid servant the high souled Vidura was born, having Dharma's parts and the most auspicious towards all. Thus Vyâsa begot three very powerful sons Dhritarâstra, Pandu and Vidura for the continuity of the family line. O sinless Maharsis! Thus I have described to you how my Guru Vyâsa Deva, who knows well all the Dharmas, kept up the continuity of his family and how he begot sons in the womb of his brother Vichîtravîrya's wives, according to the laws of Dharma, to keep up a family.
Thus ends the twentieth chapter of the 1st Skandha as well as the first Skandha on Vyâsa doing his duties in the Mahâpurânam S'rî Devî Bhâgavatam of 18,000 verses by Maharsi Veda Vyâsa .