LIII Yudhishthira said, After the Rishi had disappeared, what did the king do and what also did highly-blessed spouse do? Tell me this, O grandsire' Bhishma said, Having lost sight of the Rishi, the king, overwhelmed with shame, toil-worn and losing his senses, returned to his palace, accompanied by his queen. Entering his mansion in a cheerless mood, he spoke not a word with any one.
He thought only of that conduct of Chyavana. With a despairing heart he then proceeded to his chamber. There he saw the son of Bhrigu stretched as before on his bed. Beholding the Rishi there, they wondered much. Indeed, they began to reflect upon that very strange incident. The sight of the Rishi dispelled their fatigue. Taking their seats once more by his side, they again set themselves to gently press his feet as before. Meanwhile, the great ascetic continued to sleep soundly as before. Only, he now lay on another side. Endued with great energy, he thus passed another period measured by one and twenty day.
Agitated by their fears, the royal couple showed no change in their attitude or sentiment towards the Rishi. Awaking then from his slumber, the ascetic addressed the king and the queen, saying, Do ye rub my body with oil. I wish to have a bath' Famishing and toil-worn though they were they readily assented, and soon approached the Rishi with a costly oil that had been prepared by boiling it a hundred times. While the Rishi was seated at his ease, the king and the queen, restraining speech, continued to rub him. Endued with high ascetic merit the son of Bhrigu did not once utter the word Sufficient' Bhrigu's son, however, saw that the royal couple were totally unmoved. Rising up suddenly, he entered the bathing chamber. The diverse article necessary for a bath and such as were fit for a king's use, were ready there. Without honouring, however, any of those articles by appropriating them to his use, the Rishi once more disappeared there and then by his Yoga-power, in the very sight of king Kusika and his spouse.
This, however, O chief of the Bharatas, failed to disturb the equanimity of the royal couple. The next time the puissant Rishi was seen seated, after a bath on the throne. Indeed, it was from that place that he then showed himself to the king and the queen, O delighter of the Kurus. With a cheerful face, king Kusika, together with his wife, then offered the Rishi cooked food with great reverence. Endued with wisdom, and with heart totally unmoved, Kusika made this offer. Let the food be brought' were the words that were then uttered by the ascetic. Assisted by his spouse, the king soon brought thither the food. There were diverse kinds of meat and different preparations also thereof. There was a great variety of vegetables also and pot-herbs. There were juicy cakes too among those viands, and several agreeable kinds of confectionery, and solid preparations of milk.
Indeed, the viands offered presented different kinds of taste. Among them there was also some food, the produce of the wilderness, such as ascetics liked and took. Diverse agreeable kinds of fruit, fit to be eaten by kings, were also there. There were Vadaras and Ingudas and Kasmaryas and Bhallatakas. Indeed, the food that was offered contained such things as are taken by persons leading a domestic mode of life as also such things as are taken by denizens of the wilderness. Through fear of the Rishi's curse, the king had caused all kinds of food to be collected and dressed for his guest. All this food, brought from the kitchen, was placed before Chyavana. A seat was also placed for him and a bed too was spread. The viands were then caused to be covered with white cloths. Soon, however, Chyavana of Bhrigu's race set fire to all the things and reduced them to ashes.
Possessed of great intelligence, the royal couple showed no wrath at this conduct of the Rishi, who once more, after this made himself invisible before the very eyes of the king and the queen. The Royal sage Kusika thereupon stood there in the same posture for the whole night, with his spouse by his side, and without speaking a word. Endued with great prosperity, he did not give way to wrath. Every day, good and pure food of diverse kinds, excellent beds, abundant articles needed for bath, and cloths of various kinds, were collected and kept in readiness in the palace for the Rishi. Indeed, Chyavana failed to notice any fault in the conduct of the king. Then the regenerate Rishi, addressing king Kusika, said unto him, Do thou with thy spouse, yoke thyself unto a car and bear me on it to whichever place I shall direct' Without the least scruple, the king answered Chyavana endued with wealth of asceticism, saying, So be it' and he further enquired of the Rishi, asking, Which car shall I bring? Shall it be my pleasure-car for making progress of pleasure, or, shall it be my battle-car? Thus addressed by the delighted and contented monarch, the ascetic said unto him, Do thou promptly equip that car of thine with which thou penetratest into hostile cities.
Indeed that battle-car of thine, with every weapon, with its standard and flags, its darts and javelins and golden columns and poles, should be made ready. Its rattle resembles the tinkling of bells. It is adorned with numerous arches made of pure gold. It is always furnished with high and excellent weapons numbering by hundreds' The king said, So be it' and soon caused his great battle-car to be equipped. And he yoked his wife thereto on the left and his own self on the right. And the king placed on the car, among its other equipments, the goad which had three handles and which had a point at once hard as the thunderbolt and sharp as the needle Having placed every requisite upon the car, the king said unto the Rishi, O holy one, whither shall the car proceed? O, let the son of Bhrigu issue his command!
This thy car shall proceed to the place which thou mayst be pleased to indicate' Thus addressed the holy man replied unto the king, saying, Let the car go hence, dragged slowly, step by step. Obedient to my will, do ye two proceed in such a way that I may not feel any fatigue, I should be borne away pleasantly, and let all thy people see this progress that I make through their midst. Let no person that comes to me, as I proceed along the road, be driven away. I shall make gifts of wealth unto all. Unto them amongst the Brahmanas that may approach me on the way, I shall grant their wishes and bestow upon all of them gems and wealth without stint. Let all this be accomplished, O king, and do not entertain any scruples' Hearing these words of the Rishi, the king summoned his servants and said, Ye should, without any fear, give away whatever the ascetic will order' Then jewels and gems in abundance, and beautiful women, and pairs of sheep, and coined and uncoined gold, and huge elephants resembling hills or mountain summits, and all the ministers of the king, began to follow the Rishi as he was borne away on that car. Cries of Oh' and Alas' arose from every part of the city which was plunged in grief at that extraordinary sight.
And the king and the queen were suddenly struck by the Rishi with that goad equipped with sharp point. Though thus struck on the back and the cheeks, the royal couple still showed no sign of agitation. On the other hand, they continued to bear the Rishi on as before. Trembling from head to foot, for no food had passed their lips for fifty nights, and exceedingly weak, the heroic couple somehow succeeded in dragging that excellent car. Repeatedly and deeply cut by the goad, the royal couple became covered with blood. Indeed, O monarch, they then looked like a couple of Kinsuka trees in the flowering season. The citizens, beholding the plight to which their king and queen had been reduced, became afflicted with great grief. Filled with fear at the prospect of the curse of the Rishi, they kept silent under their misery. Gathering in knots they said unto each other, Behold the might of penances! Although all of us are angry, we are still unable to look at the Rishi!
Great is the energy of the holy Rishi of cleaned soul! Behold also the endurance of the king and his royal spouse! Though worn out with toil and hunger, they are still bearing the car! The son of Bhrigu notwithstanding the misery he caused to Kusika and his queen, failed to mark any sign of dissatisfaction or agitation in them' Bhishma continued, The perpetuator of Bhrigu's race beholding the king and the queen totally unmoved, began to give away very largely wealth obtained from the king's treasury as if he were a second Lord of Treasures. At this act also, king Kusika Showed no mark of dissatisfaction. He did as the Rishi commanded in the matter of those gifts. Seeing all this, that illustrious and best of ascetics became delighted. Coming down from that excellent car, he unharnessed the royal couple. Having freed them, he addressed them duly.
Indeed, the son of Bhrigu, in a soft, deep, and delighted voice, said, I am ready to give an excellent boon unto you both' Delicate as they were, their bodies had been pierced with the goad. That best of ascetics, moved by affection, softly touched them with his hands whose healing virtues resembled those of nectar itself, O chief of the Bharatas. Then the king answered, My wife and I have felt no toil' Indeed, all their fatigue had been dispelled by the puissance of the Rishi, and hence it was that the king could say so unto the Rishi. Delighted with their conduct, the illustrious Chyavana said unto them, I have never before spoken an untruth. It must, therefore, be as I have said. This spot on the banks of the Ganga is very delightful and auspicious. I shall, observant of a vow, dwell for a little while here, O king! Do thou return to thy city.
Thou are fatigued! Thou shalt come again. Tomorrow, O king, thou shalt, returning with thy spouse, behold me even here. Thou shouldst not give way to wrath or grief. The time is come when thou shalt reap a great reward! That which is coveted by thee and which is in thy heart shall verily be accomplished' Thus addressed by the Rishi, king Kusika, with a delighted heart, replied unto the Rishi in these words of grave import, I have cherished no wrath or grief, O highly-blessed one! We have been cleansed and sanctified by thee, O holy one! We have once more become endued with youth. Behold our bodies have become exceedingly beautiful and possessed of great strength.
I do not any longer see those wounds and cicatrices that were caused by thee on our persons with thy goad. Verily, with my spouse, I am in good health. I see my goddess become as beautiful in body as an Apsara. Verily, she is endued with as much comeliness and splendour as she had ever been before. All this, O great ascetic, is due to thy grace. Verily, there is nothing astonishing in all this, O holy Rishi of puissance ever unbaffled' Thus addressed by the king, Chyavana said unto him, Thou shalt, with thy spouse, return hither tomorrow, O monarch' With these words, the royal sage Kusika was dismissed. Saluting the Rishi, the monarch, endued with a handsome body, returned to his capital like unto a second chief of the celestials. The counsellors then, with the priest, came out to receive him.
His troops and the dancing women and all his subjects, also did the same. Surrounded by them all, king Kusika, blazing with beauty and splendour, entered his city, with a delighted heart, and his praises were hymned by bards and encomiasts. Having entered his city and performed all his morning rites, he ate with his wife. Endued with great splendour, the monarch then passed the night happily. Each beheld the other to be possessed anew of youth. All their afflictions and pains having ceased, they beheld each other to resemble a celestial. Endued with the spendour they had obtained as a boon from that foremost of Brahmanas, and possessed as they were of forms that were exceedingly comely and beautiful, both of them passed a happy night in their bed. Meanwhile, the spreader of the feats of Bhrigu's race, viz, the Rishi possessed of the wealth of penances, converted, by his Yoga-power, that delightful wood on the bank of the Ganga into a retreat full of wealth of every kind and adorned with every variety of jewels and gems in consequence of which it surpassed in beauty and splendour the very abode of the chief of the celestials