(Chaitraratha Parva continued)
"Arjuna said, 'Thou hast addressed me (more than once) as Tapatya. I therefore wish to know what the precise significance of this word is, O virtuous Gandharva, being sons of Kunti, we are, indeed, Kaunteyas. But who is Tapati that we should be called Tapatyas?'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Thus addressed, the Gandharva related to Dhananjaya, the son of Kunti, the (following) story well-known in the three worlds.'
"The Gandharva said, 'O son of Pritha, O foremost of all intelligent men, I will duly recite to you in full this charming narrative. O, listen with attention to what I say in explanation of why I have addressed thee as Tapatya. That one in heaven who pervadeth by his light the whole firmament had a daughter named Tapati equal unto himself. Tapati, the daughter of the god Vivaswat, was the younger sister of Savitri, and she was celebrated throughout the three worlds and devoted to ascetic penances. There was no woman amongst the celestials, the Asuras, the Yakshas, the Rakshasas, the Apsaras, and the Gandharvas, who was equal to her in beauty. Of perfect, symmetrical and faultless features, of black and large eyes, and in beautiful attire, the girl was chaste and of perfect conduct. And, O Bharata, seeing her Savitri (the sun) thought that there was none in the three worlds who, for his beauty, accomplishments, behaviour, and learning, deserved to be her husband. Beholding her attain the age of puberty and, therefore, worthy of being bestowed on a husband, her father knew no peace of mind, always thinking of the person he should select. At that time, O son of Kunti, Riksha's son, that bull amongst the Kurus, the mighty king Samvarana, was duly worshipping Surya with offerings of Arghya and flower-garlands and
scents, and with vows and fasts and ascetic penances of various kinds. Indeed, Samvarana was worshipping Surya constantly in all his glory, with devotion and humility and piety. And beholding Samvarana conversant with all rules of virtue and unequalled on earth for beauty, Surya regarded him as the fit husband for his daughter, Tapati. And, O thou of Kuru's race, Vivaswat then resolved to bestow his daughter on that best of kings, viz., Samvarana, the scion of a race of world-wide fame. As Surya himself in the heavens filleth the firmament with his splendour, so did king Samvarana on earth fill every region with the splendour of his good achievements. And all men, O Partha, except Brahmanas, worshipped Samvarana. Blest with good luck, king Samvarana excelled Soma in soothing the hearts of friends and Surya in scorching the hearts of foes. And, O Kaurava, Tapana (Surya) himself was resolved upon bestowing his daughter Tapati upon king Samvarana, who was possessed of such virtues and accomplishments.
"Once on a time, O Partha, king Samvarana, endued with beauty (of person) and immeasurable prowess, went on a hunting expedition to the under-woods on the mountain-breast. While wandering in quest of deer, the excellent steed the king rode, overcome, O Partha, with hunger, thirst and fatigue, died on the mountains. Abandoning the steed, the king, O Arjuna, began to wander about upon the mountain-breast on foot and in course of his wandering the monarch saw a maiden of large eyes and unrivalled beauty, That grinder of hostile host--that tiger among kings--himself without a companion, beholding there that maiden without a companion, stood motionless gazing at her steadfastly. For her beauty, the monarch for some moment believed her to be (the goddess) Sri herself. Next he regarded her to be the embodiment of the rays emanating from Surya. In splendour of her person she resembled a flame of fire, though in benignity and loveliness she resembled a spotless digit of the moon. And standing on the mountain-breast, the black-eyed maiden appeared like a bright statue of gold. The mountain itself with its creepers and plants, because of the beauty and attire of that damsel, seemed to be converted into gold. The sight of that maiden inspired the monarch with a contempt for all women that he had seen before. By beholding her, the king regarded his eye-sight truly blessed. Nothing the king had seen from the day of his birth could equal, he thought, the beauty of that girl. The king's heart and eyes were captivated by that damsel, as if they were bound with a cord and he remained rooted to that spot, deprived of his senses. The monarch thought that the artificer of so much beauty had created it only after churning the whole world of gods Asuras and human beings. Entertaining these various thoughts, king Samvarana regarded that maiden as unrivalled in the three worlds for wealth of beauty.
"And the monarch of pure descent, beholding the beautiful maiden, was pierced with Kama's (Cupid's) shafts and lost his peace of mind. Burnt with the strong flame of desire the king asked that charming maiden, still
innocent, though in her full youth, saying, 'Who art thou and whose? Why also dost thou stay here? O thou of sweet smiles, why dost thou wander alone in these solitary woods? Of every feature perfectly faultless, and decked with every ornament, thou seemest to be the coveted ornament of these ornaments themselves! Thou seemest not to be of celestial or Asura or Yaksha or Rakshasa or Naga or Gandharva or human origin. O excellent lady, the best of women that I have ever seen or heard of would not compare with thee in beauty! O thou of handsome face, at sight of thee lovelier than the moon and graced with eyes like lotus-petals, the god of desire is grinding me.'
"King Samvarana thus addressed that damsel in the forest, who however, spoke not a word unto the monarch burning with desire. Instead, like lightning in the clouds, that large-eyed maiden quickly disappeared in the very sight of the monarch. The king then wandered through the whole forest, like one out of his senses, in search of that girl of eyes like lotus-petals. Failing to find her, that best of monarchs indulged in copious lamentations and for a time stood motionless with grief.'"