Mahabharata Ch 57-58, Adi Parva, Adi-vamshavatarana Parva

[Ch 54-56 « Ch 57-58  » Ch 59-60]
Parva:Adi; Upa-parva:Adi-vamshavatarana; Chapter:57; Shlokas:106
In this chapter Vaishampayana primarily describes the birth of Satyavati and her son Dvaipayana. He described Uparichara, also known as Vasu, and a descendant of the Puru lineage, who conquered the kingdom of Chedi, and then retired to practice austerities in a hermitage. This caused a fearful Shakra to try and "wean the king away from his austerities." Indra praised Vasu and offered him many things, including a flying chariot that among mortals only he would be able to fly in, and a garland known as "vaijayanti", and also a "staff made of bamboo to protect the good and the peaceful." Thus Uparichara continued to rule Chedi. Uparichara had five sons - Brihadratha as king of Magadha, Pratyagraha, Kushamba, Macchilla, and Yadu

The mountain Kolahola, once maddened by lust for the riger Shuktimati. A kick from Vasu's foot freed the river. Shuktimati gave the twins born from the mountain's embrace to the king - the son he made the "general of his army", while the king made the daughter of the river - Girika - his wife. Vasu was one day called away by his ancestors to kill some deer. While in the forest, Vasu spilled his seed, which he collected in the leaf of a tree, and gave it to a hawk to take to his wife. The hawk was attacked by another hawk, and the seed fell into the Yamuna river, where an apsara named Adrika swallowed it. In the tenth month after that, Adrika was caught by a fisherman, and from the stomach of the fish emerged twins, which they took to the king. Uparichara accepted the son, who later became "the righteous and truthful king named Matsya." The girl stayed with the fishermen, and was named Satyavati. She used to ply a boat on the river.

One day Satyavati was spotted by Parashara who wished to "make love to her." He created a fog, and to further calm Satyavati's concerns, told her that "Even after you do that which pleases me, you will remain a virgin." He also offered her a boon - which Satyavati claimed asking that he body always emit sweet scents, after which she also came to be known as Gandhavati. "Men on earth could smell her fragrance from the distance of one yojana and after that, she was also known as Yojanagandha." On this same day, Satyavati gave birth to a son named Dvaipayana. Since he divided the Vedas, he also was known as Vyasa ("the word vyasa means to distribute or divide"). He taught the Vedas and the fifth Veda Mahabharata to Sumantu, Jaimini, Paila, his own son Shuka and his disciple Vaishampayana.

The story of Vidura's birth is told. Rishi Animandavya was once suspected of being a thief and impaled on a stake. He summoned Dharma (Yama) and told him that his only sin had been as a child when he had "pierced a locust with a blade of grass." For the sin of killing a brahmana, he cursed Dharma to be born in the womb of a Shudra.

Sanjaya, like a sage, and son of Gavalgana, was born as a suta. Similarly, the chapter tells us that Satyaki and Kritavarma were born from Satyaka and Hridika respectively. Maharishi Bharadvaja fathered Drona, while Goutama fathered the twins Kripa and Kripi. Prahlada's disciples were Nagnajit and Subala. Subala's son was named Shakuni. Similarly, Vaishampayana recounts the names of many of the prominent characters in the Mahabharata and their births.

[This is a long and fairly complicated chapter to follow - at least as far as the following all the events go. Note that Shuktimati gave birth to twins. Adrika gave birth to twins. The pace of describing the births of the principal characters in the epic quickens considerably after Satyavati. The last several names are a blur. This is somewhat rectified in the later chapters.]

Parva:Adi; Upa-parva:Adi-vamshavatarana; Chapter:58; Shlokas:51
Janamejaya told Vaishampayana that he wished to hear in detail the "accounts of all the radiant kings." Vaishampayana said that after Jamadagni's son (Parashurama) went to the Mahendra mountain, and the world was "bereft of Kshatriyas", the Kshatriya race was re-originated from Kshatriya women through the ascetic Brahmanas, and the "four castes were again established". In such a world, "there was no decline from the path of dharma." At such a time, "asuras began to take birth in royal dynasties." They began to terrorize the four castes and even the "maharishis in their hermitages." A frightened earth approached Brahma for help. Brahma assured Vasundhara and then commanded the gods, gandharvas, and apsaras to be born on earth. They then went to Vaikuntha, and requested Narayana to incarnate himself. "Hari replied that thus it would be."

[In this chapter, the ideal conduct of the four castes is also described.]

This ends Adi-Vamshavatarana Parva.

These chapter summaries are based on the unabridged translation of the Mahabharata done by Dr Bibek Debroy, and published by Penguin Books India, and which I have been reviewing on my blog. The Sanskrit shlokas are from the electronic text of the Mahabharata - based on John Smith's revision of Prof. Muneo Tokunaga's version of the Mahabharata Critical Edition of the text from and copyright of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute.

© 2013, Abhinav Agarwal (अभिनव अग्रवाल). All rights reserved.