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(Sambhava Parva continued)

"Vaisampayana said, 'After the expiry of the period of his vow, Kacha, having obtained his preceptor's leave, was about to return to the abode of the celestials, when Devayani, addressing him, said, 'O grandson of the Rishi Angiras, in conduct and birth, in learning, asceticism and humility, thou shinest most brightly. As the celebrated Rishi Angiras is honoured and regarded by my father, so is thy father regarded and worshipped by

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me. O thou of ascetic wealth, knowing this, listen to what I say. Recollect my conduct towards thee during the period of thy vow (Brahmacharya). Thy vow hath now been over. It behoveth thee to fix thy affections on me. O accept my hand duly with ordained mantras.'

"Kacha replied, 'Thou art to me an object of regard and worship even as thy father! O thou of faultless features, thou art, indeed, even an object of greater reverence! Thou art dearer than life to the high-souled Bhargava, O amiable one! As the daughter of my preceptor, thou art ever worthy of my worship! As my preceptor Sukra, thy father, is ever deserving of my regards, so art thou, O Devayani! Therefore, it behoveth thee not to say so.' Hearing this, Devayani replied, 'Thou, too, art the son of my father's preceptor's son. Therefore, O best of Brahmanas, thou art deserving of my regards and worship. O Kacha, when thou wert slain so many times by the Asuras, recollect today the affection I showed for thee. Remembering my friendship and affection for thee, and, indeed, my devoted regard also, O virtuous one, it behoveth thee not to abandon me without any fault. I am truly devoted to thee.'

"Hearing all this, Kacha said, 'O thou of virtuous vows, do not urge me into such a sinful course. O thou of fair eye-brows, be gracious unto me. Beautiful one, thou art to me an object of greater regard than my preceptor. Full of virtuous resolves, O large-eyed one, of face as handsome, as moon, the place where thou hadst resided, viz., the body of Kavya, hath also been my abode. Thou art truly my sister. Amiable one, happily have we passed the days that we have been together. There is perfect good understanding between us. I ask thy leave to return to my abode. Therefore, bless me so that my journey may be safe. I must be remembered by thee, when thou recallest me in connection with topics of conversation, as one that hath not transgressed virtue. Always attend upon my preceptor with readiness and singleness of heart.' To all this, Devaniya answered, 'Solicited, by me, if, indeed, thou truly refusest to make me thy wife, then, O Kacha, this thy knowledge shall not bear fruit.'

"Hearing this, Kacha said, 'I have refused thy request only because thou art the daughter of my preceptor, and not because thou hast any fault. Nor hath my preceptor in this respect issued any command. Curse me if it please thee. I have told thee what the behaviour should be of a Rishi. I do not deserve thy curse, O Devayani. But yet thou hast cursed me! Thou hast acted under the influence of passion and not from a sense of duty. Therefore, thy desire will not be fulfilled. No Rishi's son shall ever accept thy hand in marriage. Thou hast said that my knowledge shall not bear fruit. Let it be so. But in respect of him it shall bear fruit to whom I may impart it.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'That first of Brahmanas, Kacha, having said so unto Devayani speedily wended his way unto the abode of the chief of the celestials. Beholding him arrived, the celestials with Indra ahead,

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having first worshipped him, spoke unto him as follows, 'Thou hast indeed, performed an act of great benefit for us. Wonderful hath been thy achievement! Thy fame shall never die! Thou shall be a sharer with us in sacrificial offerings.'"

Next: Section LXXVIII