CLXXVIII Bhishma said, Those virtuous ascetics then set themselves about their usual avocations, thinking all the while as to what they should do for that maiden. And some amongst them said, Let her be taken to her father's abode' And some amongst them set their hearts upon reproaching ourselves.
And some thought that repairing to the ruler of the Salwas, he should be solicited to accept the maiden. And some said, No, that should not be done, for she hath been rejected by him' And after some time had passed thus, those ascetics of rigid vows once more said unto her, What, O blessed lady, can ascetics with senses under control do? Do not devote thyself to a life in the woods, renouncing the world! O blessed lady, listen to these words that are beneficial to thee! Depart hence, blessed be thou, to thy father's mansion! The king, thy father, will do what should next be done. O auspicious one, surrounded by every comfort, thou mayest live there in happiness. Thou art a woman! At present, therefore, O blessed one, thou hast no other protector save thy father.
O thou of the fairest complexion, as regards a woman, she hath her father for her protector or her husband. Her husband is her protector when she is in comfortable circumstances, but when plunged in misery, she hath her father for her protector. A life in the woods is exceedingly painful, especially to one that is delicate. Thou art a princess by birth; over this, thou art, again, very delicate, O beautiful dame! O blessed lady, there are numerous discomforts and difficulties attaching to a life in a woody retreat, none of which, O thou of the fairest complexion, shalt thou have to bear in thy father's abode' Other ascetics, beholding that helpless girl said to her, Seeing thee alone in deep and solitary woods, kings may court thee! Therefore, set not thy heart upon such a course' Hearing these words, Amva said, I am incapable of going back to my father's abode in the city of Kasi, for without doubt I shalt then be disregarded by all my relatives. Ye ascetics, I lived there, in my father's abode, during my childhood. I cannot, however, now go to thither where my father is.
Protected by the ascetics, I desire to practise ascetic austerities, so that in even future life of mine such sore afflictions may not be mine! Ye best of ascetics, I desire, therefore, to practise ascetic austerities' Bhishma continued, When those Brahmanas were thinking thus about her, there came into that forest that best of ascetics, the royal sage Hotravahana. Then those ascetics reverenced the king with worship, enquiries of welcome and courtesy, a seat, and water. And after he was seated and had rested for a while, those denizens of the forest once more began to address that maiden in the hearing of that royal sage. Hearing the story of Amva and the king of Kasi, that royal sage of great energy became very anxious at heart. Hearing her speak in that strain, and beholding her distressed, that royal sage of rigid austerities, viz, the high-souled Hotravahana, was filled with pity. Then, O lord, that maternal grandsire of her rose up with trembling frame and causing that maiden to sit on his lap, began to comfort her. He then acquired of her in details about that distress of hers from its beginning. And she, thereupon, represented to him minutely all that had happened.
Hearing all she said, the royal sage was filled with pity and grief. And that great sage settled in mind what she would do. Trembling from agitation he addressed the afflicted maiden sunk in woe, saying, Do not go back to thy father's abode, O blessed lady! I am the father of thy mother. I will dispel thy grief. Rely on me, O daughter! Great, indeed, must thy affliction he when thou art so emaciated! At my advice, go unto the ascetic Rama, the son of Jamadagni. Rama will dispel this great affliction and grief of thine. He will slay Bhishma in battle if the latter obeyeth not his behest.
Go, therefore, unto that foremost one of Bhrigu's race who resembleth the Yuga-fire itself in energy! That great ascetic will place thee once more on the right track' Hearing this, that maiden, shedding tears all the while, saluted her maternal grandsire, Hotravahana, with a bend of her head and addressed him, saying, Go I will at thy command! But shall I succeed in obtaining a sight of that reverend sire celebrated over the world? How will he dispel this poignant grief of mine? And how shall I go to that descendant of Bhrigu? I desire to know all this' Hotravahana said, O blessed maiden, thou wilt behold Jamadagni's son, Rama, who is devoted to truth and endued with great might and engaged in austere penances in the great forest. Rama always dwelleth in that foremost of the mountains called Mahendra. Many Rishis, learned in the Vedas, and many Gandharvas and Apsaras also dwell there.
Go, blessed be thou, and tell him these words of mine, having saluted with thy bent head that sage of rigid vows and great ascetic merit. Tell him also, O blessed girl, all that thou seekest. If thou namest me, Rama will do everything for thee, for Rama, the heroic son of Jamadagni, that foremost of all bearers of arms, is a friend of mine highly pleased with me, and always wisheth me well' And while king Hotravahana, was saying all this unto that maiden, thither appeared Akritavrana, a dear companion of Rama. And on his advent those Munis by hundreds, and the Srinjaya king Hotravahana, old in years, all stood up. And those denizens of the forest, uniting with one another, did him all the rites of hospitality. And they all took their seats surrounding him. And filled, O monarch, with gratification and joy, they then started various delightful, laudable, and charming subjects of discourse. And after their discourse was over, that royal sage, the high-souled Hotravahana enquired of Akritavrana about Rama that foremost of great sages, saying, O thou of mighty arms, where, O Akritavrana, may that foremost of persons acquainted with the Vedas, viz, Jamadagni's son of great prowess be seen' Akritavrana answered him saying, O lord, Rama always speaketh of thee, O king, saying, That royal sage of the Srinjayas is my dear friend, I believe, Rama will be here tomorrow morning.
Thou wilt see him even here when he cometh to behold thee. As regards this maiden, for what, O royal sage, hath she come to the wood? Whose is she, and what is she to thee? I desire to know all this' Hotravahana. said, The favourite daughter of the ruler of Kasi, she is, O lord, my daughter's child! The eldest daughter of the king of Kasi, she is known by the name of Amva. Along with her two younger sisters, O sinless one, she was in the midst of her Swayamvara ceremonies. The names of her two younger sisters are Amvika and Amvalika, O thou endued with wealth of asceticism! All the Kshatriya kings of the earth were assembled together at the city of Kasi.
And, O regenerate Rishi, great festivities were going on there on account of the self-choice of these maidens. In the midst of these, Santanu's son, Bhishma, of mighty valour, disregarding all the kings, abducted the girls. Vanquishing all the monarchs, the pure-souled prince Bhishma of Bharata's race then reached Hastinapura, and representing everything unto Satyavati, ordered his brother Vichitravirya's marriage to take place with the girls he had brought. Beholding the arrangements for those nuptials complete, this maiden, O bull among Brahmanas, then addressed Ganga's son in the presence of his ministers and said, I have, O hero, within my heart chosen the lord of the Salwas to be my husband. Conversant as thou art with morality, it behoveth thee not to bestow me on thy brother, whose heart is given away to another, Hearing these words of hers, Bhishma took counsel with his ministers. Deliberating on the matter, he, at last, with Satyavati's consent, dismissed this maiden, Permitted thus by Bhishma, this girl gladly repaired to Salwa, the lord of Saubha, and approaching him said, Dismissed I have been by Bhishma. See that I do not fall off from righteousness! In my heart, I have chosen thee for my lord, O bull among kings. Salwa, however, rejected her, suspecting the purity of her conduct.
Even she hath come to these woods, sacred for asceticism, being ardently inclined to devote herself to ascetic penances! She was recognised by me from the account that she gave of her parentage. As regards her sorrow, Bhishma is considered by her to be its root' After Hotravahana had ceased, Amva herself said, O holy one, it is even so as this lord of earth, this author of my mother's body, Hotravahana of the Srinjaya race hath said. I cannot venture to go back to my own city, O thou that art endued with wealth of asceticism, for shame and fear of disgrace, O great Muni! At present, O holy one, even this is what hath been my determination, viz, that that would be my highest duty which the holy Rama, O best of Brahmanas, might point out to me