SHRIMAD DEVI BHAGAVATAM | BOOK 1 CHAPTER 20
THE FIRST BOOK
On Vyāsa doing his duties
1-8. The Riṣis said: -
“O Sūta! What did Veda Vyāsa do, when the highest Yogi Śūka, Deva-like, acquired all the excellent supernatural powers? Kindly describe all these in detail. ”
Hearing this question, Sūta spoke: -
O Rishis! Vyāsa already had with him many disciples Asita, Devala, Vaiśampāyana, Jaimini, Sumantu and others, all engaged in the study of the Vedas. After their studies were over, they all went out to propagate Dharma on the earth.
Then Vyāsa , seeing that the disciples went to the earth and his son Śūka Deva had got to the next world, became very much distressed with sorrow and wanted to go to some other place.
He then decided to go to his birth place and went to the banks of the Ganges and there remembered his auspicious mother Satyavatī, forsaken by him before, very sorrowful, and the daughter of a fisherman.
He then quitted that heaven-like mountain, the source of all happiness and came to his own birth place. Reaching the island where he was born, he enquired the whereabouts of the beautiful faced, the fisherman's daughter as well the wife of a king.
The fishermen replied that their king had given her in marriage to the king Śantanu. Then the king of fishermen, seeing Vyāsa there, gladly worshipped him and gave him a cordial welcome and spoke with folded palms, thus:
9-16. O Muni! When I have become so fortunate as to see you, rare even to the Devas, then my birth has been sanctified today and you have purified my family. O Brahmin! Kindly say what for have you come?
My wife, son and all my riches and every other thing that I have are at your disposal. Thus hearing the history of his mother Satyavatī, Vyāsa erected an Āśrama on the beautiful banks of the river Saraswati and remained there in tapasyā with an enlightened mind.
Some time elapsed when the highly energetic Śantanu got through his wife Satyavatī two sons.
Vyāsa Deva considered them as his two brothers and became very glad, though he himself used to live in the forest.
The first son of the king Śantanu was Chitrāngada, endowed with all auspicious qualities, exceedingly beautiful, and tormenting his foes; the second son was Vichitra-vīrya; he was endowed with all qualities. The king Śantanu became very happy to get these children.
Śantanu had one son before through his wife Ganga; he was a great hero and very powerful; and the two sons of Satyavatī were equally powerful.
The high souled Śantanu now seeing the three sons, all endowed with all auspicious qualities, began to think that the Devas were incapable to defeat him.
17-34. After some time, the religious Śantanu quitted his worn-out body as a man quits his clothes worn out in due time. After the king Śantanu had ascended the Heavens, the energetic Bhīśma performed duly his funeral obsequies and gave various things in charity to the Brāhmaṇas.
He did not accept the kingdom himself; but placed Chitrāngada on the throne and became known by the name of Devavrata (truthful in vow like the Devas).
The pure souled Chitrāngada, born of Satyavatī became so much powerful by sheer force of his arms, and became so great a hero that the enemies felt endless troubles. Now once on an occasion, the greatly powerful Chitrāngada, surrounded by a great army, went on an hunting excursion to the forest in quest of rurū deer, etc., when the Gandharva Chitrāngada, seeing the king on the way, alighted from his chariot.
O ascetics! A fierce battle then ensued for three years on that sacred and wide expanse Kurukṣettra between the two heroes, both equally powerful.
In the battle, the king Chitrāngada, the son of Śantanu was slain by the Gandharva Chitrāngada and went up to Heavens.
Bhīśma, born of the womb of Ganga, hearing the above news, expressed his sorrows and, being surrounded by the ministers completed all the funeral obsequies and installed Vichitravīrya on the throne.
The beautiful Satyavatī became very much agitated by the death of her son; but when the ministers and the high-souled spiritual teachers consoled her, she became glad when she saw that her youngest son became king.
Vyāsa Deva, too, felt himself glad to hear that his youngest brother had been made king.
After some time when the all auspicious, Satyavatī's son Vichitravīrya attained his youth, Bhīśma began to think of his marriage. At this time the king of Kāśī (Kāśīrāj) called an assembly Svayamvara (where the kings are invited and the bride selects the bridegroom) for the marriage of her three daughters, endowed with all auspicious qualities, at one and the same time.
Thousands and thousands of kings and princes from various countries were invited there in the assembly; and, worshipped duly, they went and decorated the hall.
At that time the highly energetic fiery Bhīśma alone, mounting on his chariot, attacked the infantry and cavalry, and defeated all the kings assembled there, and perforce carried away the three daughters of Kāśīrāj and took them to Hastināpur.
Bhīśma behaved towards those three daughters as if they were mothers, sisters or daughters and informed Satyavatī without any delay of everything that had happened.
35-39. Then he called for the astrologers and Brāhmins, versed in the Vedas and enquired about the auspicious day for their marriage. When the day was fixed and when every preparation was made, the religious Bhīśma wanted Vichitravīrya to marry them.
At this time, the eldest daughter, beautiful-eyed spoke out modestly to the Ganga's son Bhīśma:
“O Ganga's son, the illustrious son of your family and the best of the Kurus! You are the best knower of Dharma; therefore what more shall I say to you. In the Svayamvara assembly I mentally selected Śālva and it struck me that he, too, looked on me with a very loving heart towards me. So, O tormentor of foes! Now do what is fit for that sacred family; O Ganga's son! Not only you are extraordinarily powerful but you are also the foremost of the religious. Śālva mentally wanted to marry me; now do as you like.”
40-44. When the eldest daughter spoke thus, Bhīśma asked the aged Brāhmaṇas, ministers and his mother:
“What ought to be done now”
and, taking the opinions of all, spoke to that daughter:
“O beautiful one! You can go wherever you like.”
Thus saying, Bhīśma released her. Then the beautiful daughter of Kāśīrāj went to the house of Sālvarāj and expressed to him her heart's desire:
“O great king! Knowing me attached to yourself, Bhīśma has quitted me according to the laws of Dharma; I have therefore come to you now; marry me. O best of the kings! I will be your legal wife, for already I used to think you as my husband and you, too, must have thought me your wife.”
45-47. Śālva replied as follows:
“O beautiful one! When Bhīśma caught hold of your arm before me and took you to his chariot, then I won't marry you. You can say yourself what intelligent man can marry a woman touched by another? Therefore I won't marry you, though Bhīśma has quitted you, in the light of another.”
Hearing these words of Śālva, the daughter of Kāśīrāj wept bitterly; yet Śālva quitted her.
Therefore, finding no other way, she went back to Bhīśma weeping, and said as follows:
48-50. O great warrior! Śālva did not consent to marry me, as you first took me to the chariot and afterwards left me. So, O Mahābhāga! You better look to Dharma and marry me, as you know best what is Dharma. If you do not marry me, I will certainly quit my life.
Hearing her words Bhīśma said:
O beautiful one! How can I accept you, when your mind has become attached towards another. So, O fair one! You better go back soon to your own father with a calm, clear mind.
When Bhīśma said thus, that daughter of Kāśīrāj did not go back, out of sheer shame, to her father's house, but went to a forest and in a greatly solitary place of pilgrimage began to practise asceticism.
51-56. Now the other two daughters of Kāśīrāj, beautiful and all auspicious Ambālikā and Ambikā became the wives of the king Vichitravīrya. Thus the powerful king Vichitravīrya began to enjoy various pleasures in the palace and in the gardens and thus passed his time.
For full nine years the king Vichitravīrya enjoyed the sexual pleasures and became attacked with consumption and fell into the jaws of death. Hearing the death news of her son Vichitravīrya, Satyavatī became very sorry and surrounded by her ministers, performed his funeral obsequies.
Then she spoke privately to Bhīśma with a grievous heart:
“O highly fortunate son! Now you better govern your father's kingdom and see that the family of Yayāti does not become extinct. So better take your brother's wife and try your best to continue your family line.
57-74. Bhīśma then said:
"O Mother! Did you not hear of the promise that I already made before my father? So I cannot ever marry and govern the kingdom. ”
Hearing these words of Bhīśma, Satyavatī became anxious. She began to think as follows:
“How now the continuity of the family be kept! And it is not advisable to remain idle when the kingdom has become kingless; no happiness can be derived in this state.”
Thus thinking, she became exceedingly distressed; then the Ganga's son, Bhīśma spoke to her:
“O respected one! Do not worry your mind with cares; now take steps so as to secure a son from Vichitravīrya's wife. Call some best Brahmin, born of a good family and unite him with Vichitravīrya's wife. There is no fault, as far as I know, in doing thus to keep up the family line. O sweet smiling one! Thus having begotten the grandson, give him this kingdom; I will also obey his commands.”
Hearing these reasonable words of Bhīśma, Satyavatī remembered her own son, the sinless Vyāsa Deva, who was born to her during her virginity. As soon as Vyāsa was remembered, he, the great ascetic and effulgent like the sun, came there and bowed down to his mother.
The highly energetic Vyāsa was then worshipped duly by Bhīśma and welcome by Satyavatī and began to rest there like a smokeless fire. The mother Satyavatī then spoke to the chief Muni:
“O son! Now procreate a beautiful son from your sperm and the ovum of Vichitravīrya's wife.”
Hearing the mother's words, Vyāsa considered them as Veda's injunction and thought they must be obeyed and promised before her that he must obey and fulfil her orders. He remained there, waiting for the menstruation period.
When the due period of menstruation arrived, Ambikā bathed and had a sexual intercourse with Vyāsa and begot a very powerful son, but a blind one (since she closed her eyes at the sight of Vyāsa during her intercourse).
Seeing the son born blind Satyavatī became exceedingly sorry; she, then, asked her other son's wife:
“Go soon and get a son born of you in the aforesaid manner.”
When the menstruation period arrived, Ambālikā during the night time went to Vyāsa and mixed and became pregnant. In due time a son was born; that child became of a very pale colour; so Satyavatī thought the new child, too, unfit for the kingdom; therefore at the end of the year again asked her son's wife Ambālikā to go to Vyāsa .
She asked Vyāsa also for the same purpose and sent Ambālikā to his bed room. But Ambālikā became afraid, and could not go herself but sent her maid servant for the purpose.
Thus from the womb of the maid servant the high souled Vidura was born, having Dharmas parts and the most auspicious towards all.
Thus Vyāsa begot three very powerful sons Dhritarāṣṭra, Panḍu and Vidura for the continuity of the family line.
O sinless Mahāṛṣis! Thus I have described to you how my Guru Vyāsa Deva, who knows well all the Dharmas, kept up the continuity of his family and how he begot sons in the womb of his brother Vichitravīrya's wives, according to the laws of Dharma, to keep up a family.
Thus ends the twentieth chapter of the 1st Skandha as well as the first Skandha on Vyāsa doing his duties in the Mahāpurāṇam Śrī Devī Bhāgavatam of 18,000 verses by Mahāṛṣi Veda Vyāsa.