CLXXXIX Rama said, O damsel, in the very sight of all these persons, I have fought according to the best of my power and displayed my prowess! By using even the very best of weapons I have not been able to obtain any advantage over Bhishma, that foremost of all wielders of weapons! I have exerted now to the best of my power and might. O beautiful lady, go withersoever thou wishest! What other business of thine can I accomplish?
Seek the protection of Bhishma himself! Thou hast no other refuge now! Shooting mighty weapons Bhishma hath vanquished me' Having said this, the high-souled Rama sighed and remained silent. That maiden then addressed him, saying, O holy one, it is even so as thy holy self hath said! This Bhishma of great intelligence is incapable of being vanquished in battle by even the gods! Thou hast done my business to the best of thy exertion and power. Thou hast displayed in this battle energy incapable of being baffled and weapons also of diverse kinds. Thou hast yet been unable to obtain any advantage over Bhishma in combat. As regards myself, I will not go a second time to Bhishma.
I will, however, O perpetuator of Bhrigu's race, go thither, O thou endued with wealth of asceticism, where I may obtain the means to myself slay Bhishma in battle' Having said the words, that maiden went away, with eyes agitated with wrath, and thinking to compass my death, she firmly resolved to devote herself to asceticism. Then that foremost one of Bhrigu's race, accompanied by those ascetics, bidding me farewell, departed, O Bharata, for the mountains whence he had come. I also, ascending my car, and praised by the Brahmanas, entered our city and represented, everything unto my mother Satyavati, everything that had transpired, and she, O great king, uttered benedictions on me. I then appointed persons endued with intelligence to ascertain the doings of that maiden. Devoted to the good of myself, their well-wisher, those spies of mine, with great application brought to me accounts of her course of action, her words and actions, from day to day. When that maiden went to the woods, resolved on ascetic austerities, even then I became melancholy, and afflicted with pain, I lost my heart's tenor. Except one acquainted with Brahma and observant of vows, that are praiseworthy owing to the austerities they involve, no Kshatriya hath ever by his prowess, vanquished me in battle! I then, O king, humbly represented to Narada as also to Vyasa all that the maiden did. They both told me, O Bhishma, do not give way to sorrow on account of the daughter of Kasi.
Who is there that would venture to baffle destiny by individual exertion' Meanwhile, O great king, that maiden, entering a cluster of retreats practised austerities, that were beyond human powers of endurance. Without food, emaciated, dry, with matted-locks and begrimed with filth, for six months she lived on air only, and stood unmoved like a street-post. And that lady, possessed of wealth of asceticism, foregoing all food in consequence of the fast she kept, passed a whole year after this, standing in the waters of the Yamuna. Endued with great wrath, she passed the next whole year standing on her front toes and having eaten only one fallen leaf of a tree. And thus for twelve years, she made the heavens hot by her austerities. And though dissuaded by her relatives, she could not by any means be weaned off from that course of action. She then went unto Vatsabhumi resorted to by the Siddhas and Charanas, and which was the retreat of high-souled ascetics of pious deeds. Bathing frequently in the sacred waters of that retreat, the princess of Kasi roamed about according to her will. Proceeding next one after another to the asylum, O king, of Narada, and to the auspicious asylum of Uluka and to that of Chyavana, and to the spot sacred to Brahmana, and to Prayaga the sacrificial platform of the gods, and to that forest sacred to the gods, and to Bhogawati, and, O monarch, to the asylum of Kusika's son Viswamitra, and to the asylum of Mandavya, and also to the asylum of Dwilipa, and to Ramhrada, and, O Kaurava, to the asylum of Garga, the princess of Kasi, O king, performed ablutions in the sacred waters of all these, observing all the while the most difficult of vows.
One day, my mother from the waters asked her, O Kauravya, saying, O blessed lady, for what dost thou afflict thyself so? Tell me the truth' Thus asked, O monarch, that faultless damsel answered her with joined hands, saying, O thou of handsome eyes, Rama hath been vanquished in battle by Bhishma. What other Kshatriya king then would venture to defeat the latter when ready with his weapons? As regards myself, I am practising the severest penances for the destruction of Bhishma. I wander over the earth, O goddess, so that I may slay that king! In every thing I do, O goddess, even this is the great end of my vows' Hearing these words of hers, the Ocean-going river Ganga replied unto her, saying, O lady, thou art acting crookedly! O weak girl, this wish of thine thou shalt not be able to achieve, O faultless one? if, O princess of Kasi, thou observest these vows for destruction of Bhishma, and if thou takest leave of thy body while observing them, thou shalt in thy next birth become a river, crooked in her course and of water only during the rains!
All the bathing places along thy course will be difficult of approach, and filled only during the rains, thou shalt be dry for eight months during the year! Full of terrible alligators, and creatures of frightful mien thou shalt inspire fear in all creatures! Addressing her thus, O king, my mother, that highly-blessed lady, in seeming smiles, dismissed the princess of Kasi. That highly fair damsel then once more began to practise vows, foregoing all food, aye, even water, sometimes for eight months and sometimes for ten months! And the daughter of the king of Kasi, wandering hither and thither for her passionate desire of tirthas, once more came back, O Kauravya, to Vatsabhumi. And it is there, O Bharata, that she is known to have become a river, filled only during the rainy seasons, abounding with crocodiles, crooked in her course, and destitute of easy access to her water. And, O king, in consequence of her ascetic merit only half her body became such a river in Vatsabhumi, while with the other half, she remained a maiden as before'