BOOK 7: UTTARA KANDA
O Rama, hearing my words pregnant with sound reasoning, that heavenly being, with folded hands, said: "Hear, O Brahman, from what unavoidable cause hath proceeded this happy and again painful incident.
There flourished in the days of yore a highly illustratious and powerful Vidarbha king under the name of Sudeva known over three worlds. He was my father. His two queens gave birth to two sons.
My name is Sweta and the name of my youngest brother was Suratha. After the decease of my sire the subjects installed me on the throne and I govened them piously and carefully for a thousand years. By some reason I was informed of the extent of my life.
And when I perceived that the lease of my life had well nigh expired I entered into the life of Vanaprasta. And having placed my brother Suratha on the throne I entered into a dense forest devoid of men and animals at no distance from this pond to perform devout penances. And I performed austerities for a long time near this pond.
Having performed hard penances in this forest, for three thousand years I at last attained to the region of Brahma. And albeit I had reached the Brahma region I was still being assailed by hunger and thurst. And gradually I grew tired therewith.
Thereupon approaching the patriarch Brahma, the lord of three worlds, I said "O Brahma, here there is no hunger or thirst; still why have I been brought to their control? Of what iniquity of mine is this fruit? O deity, tell me upon what I shall live." Whereto the patriarch replied: "O son of Sudeva, do thou live upon sweet savoured meat everyday O Sweta, thou didst only look to the growth of thy person when thou didst perform rigid penances. O thou of a great mind, nothing grows, when nothing is sown.
Thou didst only perform ascetic penances, but thou didst not make any gift of charity. It is for that reason, O my son, that thou art, even in heaven, being assailed by hunger and thirst. Thereupon do thou now live upon thine own dead body fostered by various food.
By this thou shalt keep up thy being. O Sweta, thou shalt be relieved from this affliction when the irrepressible, great Saint Agastya shall reach that forest. O gentle one, even unto the immortals he can give salvation ;what wonder it is that he shall relieve thee from the miseries of hunger and thirst.
O foremost of twice born ones, from the time of hearing those words of the great Brahma, the god of gods, I have been engaged in this cursed work of feeding upon my own dead body. O Brahman, for many long years I have been living upon this corpse still I have not done with it. O Saint, I, too, derive satisfaction from it; I now understand that thou art the illustrious Agastya born of a Kumbha ;for none else is capable of coming here ;do thou therefore save me from this pain, who am afflicted with great miseries.
O foremost of twice born ones, O gentle one,do thou take this ornament; may good betide thee. Do thou be propitiated with me. O Brahman, I do confer upon thee, gold, riches various clothes, eatables, excellent ornaments and diverse other objects of desire and enjoyment.
O foremost of Munis, do thou with compassion save me." Hearing those words of the heavenly being, exciting pity, I accepted this ornament for saving him. And as soon as I took this ornament that human body of the royal saint disappeared.
And the body being dissolved, the royal saint Sweta, greatly delighted, happily went to the land of immortals. It is for this reason, O Kakutstha, that royal saint, resembling Indra, conferred upon me this wondrous, celestial ornament."