The Mahabharata - First Book
"Vaisampayana said, 'Hear now, as I recite the recorded genealogy, that is sacred and subservient to religion, profit and pleasure, of these royal sages — Daksha, the lord of creation, Manu, the son of Surya, Bharata, Ruru, Puru, and Ajamidha.
I shall also recite to thee, O sinless one, the genealogies of the Yadavas and of the Kurus and of the king of the Bharata line. These genealogies are sacred and their recitation is a great act of propitiation. That recitation conferreth wealth, fame and long life.
And, O sinless one, all these I have named shone in their splendour and were equal unto the great Rishis in energy.
"Prachetas had ten sons who were all devoted to asceticism and possessed of every virtue. They burnt, of old, by the fire emanating from their mouths, several plants of poisonous and innumerable large trees that had covered the Earth and became a source of great discomfort to man. After these ten, was born another named Daksha. It is from Daksha that all creatures have sprung. Therefore is he,
O tiger among men, called the Grandfather. Born of Prachetas the Muni Daksha, uniting himself with Virini, begat a thousand sons of rigid vows, all like himself. And Narada taught these thousand sons of Daksha the excellent philosophy of Sankhya as a means of salvation.
And, O Janamejaya, the lord of creation, Daksha, then, from the desire of making creatures, begat fifty daughters. And he made all of them his appointed daughters (so that their sons might be his sons also for the performance of all religious acts). And he bestowed ten of his daughters on Dharma, and thirteen on Kasyapa. And he gave twenty-seven to Chandra, who are all engaged in indicating time.
And Kasyapa, the son of Marichi, begat on the eldest of his thirteen wives, the Adityas, the celestials endued with great energy and having Indra as their head and also Vivaswat (the Sun).
And of Vivaswat was born the lord Yama. And Martanda (Vivaswat) also begat another son after Yama, gifted with great intelligence and named Manu. And Manu was endued with great wisdom and devoted to virtue. And he became the progenitor of a line.
And in Manu's race have been born all human beings, who have, therefore, been called Manavas. And it is of Manu that all men including Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, and others have been descended, and are, therefore, all called Manavas.
Subsequently, O monarch, the Brahmanas became united with the Kshatriyas. And those sons of Manu that were Brahmanas devoted themselves to the study of the Vedas. And Manu begat ten other children named Vena, Dhrishnu, Narishyan, Nabhaga, Ikshvaku, Karusha, Saryati, the eighth, a daughter named Ila, Prishadhru the ninth, and Nabhagarishta, the tenth. They all betook themselves to the practices of Kshatriyas. Besides these, Manu had fifty other sons on Earth. But we heard that they all perished, quarrelling with one another.
The learned Pururavas was born of Ila. It hath been heard by us that Ila was both his mother and father. And the great Pururavas had sway over thirteen islands of the sea. And, though a human being, he was always surrounded by companions that were superhuman. And Pururavas intoxicated with power quarrelled with the Brahmanas and little caring for their anger robbed them of their wealth. Beholding all this Sanatkumara came from the region of Brahman and gave him good counsel, which was, however, rejected by Pururavas.
Then the wrath of the great Rishis was excited, and the avaricious monarch, who intoxicated with power, had lost his reason, was immediately destroyed by their curse.
"It was Pururavas who first brought from the region of the Gandharvas the three kinds of fire (for sacrificial purpose). And he brought thence, the Apsara Urvasi also. And the son of Ila begat upon Urvasi six sons who were called Ayus, Dhimat, Amavasu and Dhridhayus, and Vanayus, and Satayus. And it is said that Ayus begat four sons named Nahusha, Vriddhasarman, Rajingaya, and Anenas, on the daughter of Swarbhanu.
And, O monarch, Nahusha, of all the sons of Ayus, being gifted with great intelligence and prowess ruled his extensive kingdom virtuously. And king Nahusha supported evenly the Pitris, the celestials, the Rishis, the Brahmanas, the Gandharvas, the Nagas, the Rakshasas, the Kshatriyas, and the Vaisyas. And he suppressed all robber-gangs with a mighty hand. But he made the Rishis pay tribute and carry him on their backs like bests of burden. And, conquering the very gods by the beauty of his person, his asceticism, prowess, and energy, he ruled as if he were Indra himself.
And Nahusha begat six sons, all of sweet speech, named Yati, Yayati, Sanyati, Ayati, and Dhruva. Yati betaking himself to asceticism became a Muni like unto Brahman himself.
Yayati became a monarch of great prowess and virtue. He ruled the whole Earth, performed numerous sacrifices, worshipped the Pitris with great reverence, and always respected the gods. And he brought the whole world under his sway and was never vanquished by any foe.
And the sons of Yayati were all great bowmen and resplendent with every virtue.
And, O king, they were begotten upon (his two wives) Devayani and Sarmishtha. And of Devayani were born Yadu and Turvasu, and of Sarmishtha were born Drahyu, Anu, and Puru.
And, O king, having virtuously ruled his subjects for a long time, Yayati was attacked with a hideous decrepitude destroying his personal beauty. And attacked by decrepitude, the monarch then spoke, O Bharata, unto his sons Yadu and Puru and Turvasu and Drahyu and Anu these words,
'Ye dear sons, I wish to be a young man and to gratify my appetites in the company of young women. Do you help me therein.'
To him his eldest son born of Devayani then said,
'What needest thou, O king? Dost thou want to have your youth?'
Yayati then told him,
'Accept thou my decrepitude, O son!
With thy youth I would enjoy myself.
During the time of a great sacrifice I have been cursed by the Muni Usanas (Sukra).
O son, I would enjoy myself with your youth.
Take any of you this my decrepitude and with my body rule ye my kingdom.
I would enjoy myself with a renovated body.
Therefore, ye my sons, take ye my decrepitude.'
But none of his sons accepted his decrepitude. Then his youngest son Puru said unto him,
'O king, enjoy thyself thou once again with a renovated body and returned youth!
I shall take thy decrepitude and at thy command rule thy kingdom.'
Thus addressed, the royal sage, by virtue of his ascetic power then transferred his own decrepitude unto that high-souled son of his and with the youth of Puru became a youth; while with the monarch's age Puru ruled his kingdom.
"Then, after a thousand years had passed away, Yayati, that tiger among kings, remained as strong and powerful as a tiger. And he enjoyed for a long time the companionship of his two wives. And in the gardens of Chitraratha (the king of Gandharvas), the king also enjoyed the company of the Apsara Viswachi. But even after all this, the great king found his appetites unsatiated. The king, then recollected the following truths contained in the Puranas, 'Truly, one's appetites are never satiated by enjoyment.
On the other hand, like sacrificial butter poured into the fire, they flame up with indulgence. Even if one enjoyed the whole Earth with its wealth, diamonds and gold, animals and women, one may not yet be satiated. It is only when man doth not commit any sin in respect of any living thing, in thought, deed, or speech, it is then that he attaineth to purity as that of Brahman.
When one feareth nothing, when one is not feared by anything, when one wisheth for nothing, when one injureth nothing, it is then that one attaineth to the purity of Brahman.
The wise monarch seeing this and satisfied that one's appetites are never satiated, set his mind at rest by meditation, and took back from his son his own decrepitude. And giving him back his youth, though his own appetites were unsatiated, and installing him on the throne, he spoke unto Puru thus,
'Thou art my true heir, thou art my true son by whom my race is to be continued.
In the world shall my race be known by thy name.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Then that tiger among kings, having installed his son Puru on the throne, went away to the mount of Bhrigu for devoting himself to asceticism. And, having acquired great ascetic merit, after long years, he succumbed to the inevitable influence of Time. He left his human body by observing the vow of fasting, and ascended to heaven with his wives.'"
Article published on