(Sambhava Parva continued)
"Janamejaya said, 'O utterer of Brahma, thou hast recited (everything about) the extraordinary birth among men, of the sons of Dhritarashtra in consequence of the Rishi's grace. Thou hast also said what their names are, according to the order of their birth. O Brahmana, I have heard all these from thee. But tell me now all about the Pandavas. While reciting the incarnations on earth of the celestial, the Asuras, and the beings of other classes, thou saidst that the Pandavas were all illustrious and endued with the prowess of gods, and that they were incarnate portion of the celestials themselves. I desire, therefore, to hear all about those beings of extraordinary achievements beginning from the moment of their birth. O Vaisampayana, recite thou their achievements.'
"Vaisampayana said, 'O king, one day Pandu, while roaming about in the woods (on the southern slopes of the Himavat) that teemed with deer and wild animals of fierce disposition, saw a large deer, that seemed to be the leader of a herd, serving his mate. Beholding the animals, the monarch pierced them both with five of his sharp and swift arrows winged with golden feathers. O monarch, that was no deer that Pandu struck at, but a Rishi's son of great ascetic merit who was enjoying his mate in the form of a deer. Pierced by Pandu, while engaged in the act of intercourse, he fell down to the ground, uttering cries that were of a man and began to weep bitterly.
"The deer then addressed Pandu and said, 'O king, even men that are slaves to lust and wrath, and void of reason, and ever sinful, never commit such a cruel act as this. Individual judgment prevaileth not against the ordinance, the ordinance prevaileth against individual judgment. The wise never sanction anything discountenanced by the ordinance. Thou art born, O Bharata, in a race that hath ever been virtuous. How is it, therefore, that even thou, suffering thyself to be overpowered by passion and wrath losest thy reason?' Hearing this, Pandu replied, 'O deer, kings behave in the matter of slaying animals of thy species exactly as they do in the matter of slaying foes. It behoveth thee not, therefore, to reprove me thus from ignorance. Animals of thy species are slain by open or covert means. This, indeed, is the practice of kings. Then why dost thou reprove me? Formerly, the Rishi Agastya, while engaged in the performance of a grand sacrifice, chased the deer, and devoted every deer in the forest unto the gods in general. Thou hast been slain, pursuant to the usage sanctioned by such precedent. Wherefore reprovest us then? For his especial sacrifices Agastya performed the homa with fat of the deer.'
"The deer then said, 'O king, men do not let fly their arrows at their enemies when the latter are unprepared. But there is a time for doing it (viz., after declaration of hostilities). Slaughter at such a time is not censurable.'
"Pandu replied, 'It is well-known that men slay deer by various effective means without regarding whether the animals are careful or careless. Therefore, O deer, why dost thou reprove me?'
"The deer then said, 'O, king, I did not blame thee for thy having killed a deer, or for the injury thou hast done to me. But, instead of acting so cruelly, thou shouldst have waited till the completion of my act of intercourse. What man of wisdom and virtue is there that can kill a deer while engaged in such an act? The time of sexual intercourse is agreeable to every creature and productive of good to all. O king, with this my mate I was engaged in the gratification of my sexual desire. But that effort of mine hath been rendered futile by thee. O king of the Kurus, as thou art born in the race of the Pauravas ever noted for white (virtuous) deeds, such an act hath scarcely been worthy of thee. O Bharata, this act must be regarded as extremely cruel, deserving of universal execration, infamous, and sinful, and certainly leading to hell. Thou art acquainted with the pleasures of sexual intercourse. Thou art acquainted also with the teaching of morality and dictates of duty. Like unto a celestial as thou art, it behoveth thee not to do such an act as leadeth to hell. O best of kings, thy duty is to chastise all who act cruelly, who are engaged in sinful practices and who have thrown to the winds religion, profit, and pleasure as explained in the scriptures. What hast thou done, O best of men, in killing me who have given thee no offence? I am, O king, a Muni who liveth on fruits and roots, though disguised as a deer. I was living in the woods in peace with all. Yet thou hast killed me, O king, for which I will curse thee certainly. As thou hast been cruel unto a couple of opposite sexes, death shall certainly overtake thee as soon as thou feelest the influence of sexual desire. I am a Muni of the name of Kindama, possessed of ascetic merit. I was engaged in sexual intercourse with this deer, because my feelings of modesty did not permit me to indulge in such an act in human society. In the form of a deer I rove in the deep woods in the company of other deer. Thou hast slain me without knowing that I am a Brahmana, the sin of having slain a Brahmana shall not, therefore, be thine. But senseless man, as you have killed me, disguised as a deer, at such a time, thy fate shall certainly be even like mine. When, approaching thy wife lustfully, thou wilt unite with her even as I had done with mine, in that very state shalt thou have to go to the world of the spirits. And that wife of thine with whom thou mayst be united in intercourse at the time of thy death shall also follow thee with affection and reverence to the domains of the king of the dead. Thou hast brought me grief when I was happy. So shall grief come to thee when thou art in happiness.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Saying this, that deer, afflicted with grief gave up the ghost; and Pandu also was plunged in woe at the sight.'"
(Sambhava Parva continued)
"Vaisampayana said, 'After the death of that deer, king Pandu with his wives was deeply afflicted and wept bitterly. And he exclaimed, 'The wicked, even if born in virtuous families, deluded by their own passions, become overwhelmed with misery as the fruit of their own deeds. I have heard that my father, though begotten by Santanu of virtuous soul, was cut off while still a youth, only because he had become a slave to his lust. In the soil of that lustful king, the illustrious Rishi Krishna-Dwaipayana himself, of truthful speech, begot me. A son though I am of such a being, with my wicked heart wedded to vice, I am yet leading a wandering life in the woods in the chase of the deer. Oh, the very gods have forsaken me! I shall seek salvation now. The great impediments to salvation are the desire to beget children, and other concerns of the world. I shall now adopt the Brahmacharya mode of life and follow in the imperishable wake of my father. I shall certainly bring my passions under complete control by severe ascetic penances. Forsaking my wives and other relatives and shaving my head, alone shall I wander over the earth, begging for my subsistence from each of these trees standing here. Forsaking every object of affection and aversion, and covering my body with dust, I shall make the shelter of trees or deserted houses my home. I shall never yield to influence of sorrow or joy, and I shall regard slander and eulogy in the same light. I shall not seek benedictions or bows. I shall be at peace with all, and shall not accept gifts. I shall not mock anybody, nor shall I knit my brows at any one, but shall be ever cheerful and devoted to the good of all creatures. I shall not harm any of the four orders of life gifted with power of locomotion or otherwise, viz., oviparous and viviparous creatures and worms and vegetables. But on the contrary, preserve an equality of behaviour towards all, as if they were, my own children. Once a day shall I beg of five or ten families at the most, and if I do not succeed in obtaining alms, I shall then go without food. I shall rather stint myself than beg more than once of the same person. If I do not obtain anything after completing my round of seven or ten houses, moved by covetousness, I shall not enlarge my round. Whether I obtain or fail to obtain alms. I shall be equally unmoved like a great ascetic. One lopping off an arm of mine with a hatchet, and one smearing another arm with sandal-paste, shall be regarded by me equally. I shall not wish prosperity to the one or misery to the other. I shall not be pleased with life or displeased with death. I shall neither desire to live nor to die. Washing my heart of all sins, I shall certainly transcend those sacred rites productive of happiness, that men perform in auspicious moments, days, and periods. I shall also abstain from all acts of religion and profit and also those that lead to the gratification of the senses. Freed from all sins and snares of the world, I shall be like the wind subject to none. Following the path of fearlessness and bearing myself in this way I shall at last lay down my life. Destitute of the power of begetting children, firmly adhering to the line of duty I shall not certainly deviate therefrom in order to tread in the vile path of the world that is so full of misery. Whether respected or disrespected in the world that man who from covetousness casteth on others a begging look, certainly behaveth like a dog. (Destitute as I am of the power of procreation, I should not certainly, from desire of offspring, solicit others to give me children).'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'The king, having thus wept in sorrow, with a sigh looked at his two wives Kunti and Madri, and addressing them said, 'Let the princess of Kosala (my mother), Vidura, the king with our friends, the venerable Satyavati, Bhishma, the priests of our family, illustrious Soma-drinking Brahmanas of rigid vows and all elderly citizens depending on us be informed, after being prepared for it, that Pandu hath retired into the woods to lead a life of asceticism.' Hearing these words of their lord who had set his heart on a life of asceticism in the woods, both Kunti and Madri addressed him in these proper words, 'O bull of Bharata's race, there are many other modes of life which thou canst adopt and in which thou canst undergo the severest penances along with us, thy wedded wives–in which for the salvation of thy body (freedom from re-birth), thou mayest obtain heaven. We also, in the company of our lord, and for his benefit, controlling our passions and bidding adieu to all luxuries, shall subject ourselves to the severest austerities. O king, O thou of great wisdom, if thou abandonest us, we shall then this very day truly depart from this world.'
Pandu replied, 'If, indeed, this your resolve springeth from virtue, then with you both I shall follow the imperishable path of my fathers. Abandoning the luxuries of cities and towns, clad in barks of trees, and living on fruits and roots, I shall wander in deep woods, practising the severest penances. Bathing morning and evening, I shall perform the homa. I shall reduce my body by eating very sparingly and shall wear rags and skins and knotted locks on my head. Exposing myself to heat and cold and disregarding hunger and thirst, I shall reduce my body by severe ascetic penances, I shall live in solitude and I shall give myself up to contemplation; I shall eat fruit, ripe or green, that I may find. I shall offer oblations to the Pitris (manes) and the gods with speech, water and the fruits of the wilderness. I shall not see, far less harm, any of the denizens of the woods, or any of my relatives, or any of the residents of cities and towns. Until I lay down this body, I shall thus practise the severe ordinances of the Vanaprastha scriptures, always searching for severer ones that they may contain.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'The Kuru king, having said this unto his wives, gave away to Brahmanas the big jewel in his diadem, his necklace of precious gold, his bracelets, his large ear-rings, his valuable robes and all the ornaments of his wives. Then summoning his attendants, he commended them, saying, 'Return ye to Hastinapura and proclaim unto all that Pandu with his wives hath gone into the woods, foregoing wealth, desire, happiness, and even sexual appetite.' Then those followers and attendants, hearing these and other soft words of the king, set up a loud wail, uttering, 'Oh, we are undone!' Then with hot tears trickling down their cheeks they left the monarch and returned to Hastinapura with speed carrying that wealth with them (that was to be distributed in charity). Then Dhritarashtra, that first of men, hearing from them everything that had happened in the woods, wept for his brother. He brooded over his affliction continually, little relishing the comfort of beds and seats and dishes.
"Meanwhile, the Kuru prince Pandu (after sending away his attendants) accompanied by his two wives and eating fruits and roots went to the mountains of Nagasata. He next went to Chaitraratha, and then crossed the Kalakuta, and finally, crossing the Himavat, he arrived at Gandhamadana. Protected by Mahabhutas, Siddhas, and great Rishis, Pandu lived, O king, sometimes on level ground and sometimes on mountain slopes. He then journeyed on to the lake of Indradyumna, whence crossing the mountains of Hansakuta, he went to the mountain of hundred peaks (Sata-sringa) and there continued to practise ascetic austerities.'"