(Rajya-labha Parva continued)
"Narada continued, 'Meanwhile the Asura brothers having subjugated the earth were without a rival. The fatigue of exertion gone, they, having brought the three worlds under equal sway, regarded themselves as persons that had nothing more to do. Having brought all the treasures of the gods, the Gandharvas, the Yakshas, the Nagas, the Rakshasas, and the kings of the earth, the brothers began to pass their days in great happiness. When they saw they had no rivals (in the three worlds), they gave up all exertion and devoted their time to pleasure and merriment, like the celestials. They experienced great happiness by giving themselves up to every kind of enjoyment, such as women, and perfumes and floral wreaths and viands, and drinks and many other agreeable objects all in profusion. In houses and woods and gardens, on hills and in forests, wherever they liked they passed their time in pleasure and amusement, like the immortals. And it so happened that one day they went for purposes of pleasure to a tableland of the Vindhya range, perfectly level and stony, and overgrown with blossoming trees. After every object of desire, all of the most agreeable kind, had been brought, the brothers sat on an excellent seat, with happy hearts and accompanied by handsome women. And those damsels, desirous of pleasing the brothers, commenced a dance in accompaniment to music, and sweetly chanted many a song in praise of the mighty pair.'
"Meanwhile Tilottama attired in a single piece of red silk that exposed all her charms, came along, plucking wild flowers on her way. She advanced slowly to where those mighty Asuras were. The Asura brothers, intoxicated with the large portions they had imbibed, were smitten upon beholding that maiden of transcendent beauty. Leaving their seats they went quickly to where the damsel was. Both of them being under the influence of lust, each sought the maiden for himself. And Sunda seized that maid of fair brows by her right hand. Intoxicated with the boons they had obtained, with physical might, with the wealth and gems they had gathered from every quarter, and with the wine they had drunk, maddened with all these, and influenced by wishful desire, they addressed each other, each contracting his bow in anger, 'She is my wife, and therefore your superior,' said Sunda. 'She is my wife, and therefore your sister-in-law', replied Upasunda. And they said unto each other, 'She is mine not yours.' And soon they were under the influence of rage. Maddened by the beauty of the damsel, they soon forgot their love and affection for each other. Both of them, deprived of reason by passion, then took up their fierce maces. Each repeating, I was the first, I was the first,' (in taking her hand) struck the other. And the fierce Asuras, struck by each other with the mace, fell down upon the ground, their bodies bathed in blood, like two suns dislodged from the firmament.
[paragraph continues] And beholding this, the women that had come there, and the other Asuras there present, all fled away trembling in grief and fear, and took refuge in the nether regions. The Grandsire himself of pure soul, then came there, accompanied by the celestials, and the great Rishis. And the illustrious Grandsire applauded Tilottama and expressed his wish of granting her a boon. The Supreme Deity, before Tilottama spoke, desirous of granting her a boon, cheerfully said, 'O beautiful damsel, thou shalt roam in the region of the Adityas. Thy splendour shall be so great that nobody will ever be able to look at thee for any length of time!' The Grandsire of all creatures, granting this boon unto her, establishing the three worlds in Indra as before, returned to his own region.'
"Narada continued, 'It was thus that Asuras, ever united and inspired by the same purpose slew each other in wrath for the sake of Tilottama. Therefore, from affection I tell you, ye foremost ones of Bharata's line, that if you desire to do anything agreeable to me, make some such arrangements that you may not quarrel with one another for the sake of Draupadi.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'The illustrious Pandavas, thus addressed by the great Rishi Narada, consulting with one another, established a rule amongst themselves in the presence of the celestial Rishi himself endued with immeasurable energy. And the rule they made was that when one of them would be sitting with Draupadi, any of the other four who would see that one thus must retire into the forest for twelve years, passing his days as a Brahmacharin. After the virtuous Pandavas had established that rule amongst themselves, the great Muni Narada, gratified with them, went to the place he wished. Thus, O Janamejaya, did the Pandavas urged by Narada, established a rule amongst themselves in regard to their common wife. And it was for this, O Bharata, that no dispute ever arose between them.'"