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(Arjuna-vanavasa Parva continued)

"Vaisampayana said, 'Varga continued, 'We were then, O foremost one of Bharata's race, deeply distressed at this curse. We sought to propitiate that Brahmana of ascetic wealth that departed not from his vow. Addressing him, we said, 'Inflated with a sense of our beauty and youth, and urged by the god of desire, we have acted very improperly. It behoveth thee, O Brahmana, to pardon us! Truly, O Brahmana, it was death to us that we had at all come hither to tempt thee of rigid vows and ascetic wealth. The virtuous, however, have said that women should never be slain. Therefore grow thou in virtue. It behoveth thee not to slay us so. O thou that art conversant with virtue, it hath been said that a Brahmana is ever the friend of every creature. O thou of great prosperity, let this speech of the wise become true. The eminent always protect those that seek protection at their hands. We seek thy protection. It behoveth thee to grant us pardon.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Thus addressed, that Brahmana of virtuous soul and good deeds and equal in splendour, O hero, unto the sun or the moon, became propitious unto them. And the Brahmana said, 'The words hundred and hundred thousand are all indicative of eternity. The word hundred, however, as employed by me is to be understood as a limited period and not indicative of a period without end. Ye shall, therefore, becoming crocodiles, seize and take away men (for only a hundred years as explained by me). At the end of that period, an exalted individual will drag you all from water to the land. Then ye will resume your real forms. Never have I spoken an untruth even in jest. Therefore, all that I have said must come to pass. And those sacred waters (within which I assign you your places), will, after you will have been delivered by that individual, become known all over the world by the name of Nari-tirthas (or sacred waters connected with the sufferings and the deliverance of females), and all of them shall become sacred and sin cleansing in the eyes of the virtuous and the wise.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Varga then addressing Arjuna, finished her discourse, saying, 'Hearing these words of the Brahmana, we saluted him with reverence and walked round him. Leaving that region we came away with heavy hearts, thinking as we proceeded, 'Where shall we all soon meet with that man who will give us back our own shapes (after our transformation)?' As we were thinking of it, in almost a moment, O Bharata, we beheld even the eminent celestial Rishi Narada. Beholding that Rishi of immeasurable energy, our hearts were filled with joy. Saluting him with reverence, O Partha, we stood before him, with blushing faces. He asked of

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us the cause of our sorrow and we told him all. Hearing what had happened the Rishi said, 'In the low-lands bordering on the southern ocean, there are five regions of sacred water. They are delightful and eminently holy. Go ye thither without delay. That tiger among men, Dhananjaya, the son of Pandu of pure soul, will soon deliver you, without doubt, from this sad plight.' O hero, hearing the Rishi's words, all of us came hither. O sinless one, true it is that I have today been delivered by thee. But those four friends of mine are still within the other waters here. O hero, do a good deed by delivering them also.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Then, O monarch, that foremost of the Pandavas, endued with great prowess, cheerfully delivered all of them from that curse. Rising from the waters they all regained their own forms. Those Apsaras then, O king, all looked as before. Freeing those sacred waters (from the danger for which they had been notorious), and giving the Apsaras leave to go where they chose, Arjuna became desirous of once more beholding Chitrangada. He, therefore, proceeded towards the city of Manipura. Arrived there, he beheld on the throne the son he had begotten upon Chitrangada, and who was called by the name of Vabhruvahana. Seeing Chitrangada once more, Arjuna proceeded, O monarch, towards the spot called Gokarna.'"

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