Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Mahabharata (book 1.C part 1)


The noise was deafening and shook the palace. It started suddenly and gave everyone a jolt. Santanu was examining the kingdom’s increase in goods production with his ministers when the thunderous assault on their ears began.

One servant asked timidly, "Shall I go investigate, my liege?" obviously not wanting to.

Santanu picked up his bow and said, "I’ll go." But as soon as he got outside he almost dropped it, for he immediately saw the top half of an enormous water monster rising from the river Ganges. It must have been close to a hundred feet tall. He rushed down to the river bank, while the others all hid back in the palace, praying for their lives.

At the river bank, he saw the battle that was raging. In the middle of the river, some two hundred feet from the bank, stood a handsome youth on a large rock jutting from the water. He was firing arrows in rapid succession upon the monster from an automatically replenishing quiver on his back.

Some of his arrows would hit and vaporize a part of the creature into steam, and others would explode, sending water spraying everywhere. The creature though continued to rebuild itself from the water of the river. It summoned giant waves of water to crash down on the youth, which he destroyed with his arrows, but the creature also had hundreds of water tentacle arms that lashed the youth, which he could do little against.

Santanu found the youth oddly familiar It can’t be! It had been almost two decades since Ganga had left with his son, and Santanu suddenly felt it was him!

The boy decided to try a different tactic. He drew an arrow and pointed it at the creature’s head, then closed his eyes in concentration. Giant waves from either side sped towards him amidst the constant lashing of the tentacles that were taking their toll. He let his arrow fly just as the waves came crashing down on him, flattening him to the stone.

The arrow missed, flying well over the creature’s head. The boy clung to the rock, barely conscious and able to hold on as another onslaught of waves headed in his direction. Santanu was in a panic I’ve got to do something! but he knew his ordinary arrows were useless against such a beast. Suddenly, activity in the sky caught Santanu’s attention.

The arrow that had missed, multiplied itself into millions upon millions of arrows that filled the sky. As they began their descent, they converged on each other in an interlocking manner to create a massive dam-like structure spanning the entire width of the river. It came crashing down in a thunderous splash that stopped the flow of the river completely.

Surprisingly, the water monster seemed pleased as it soon found itself washed down the river. The youth shakily got to his feet and surveyed the river bottom that now surrounded him. The roar of the water monster was heard again from the opposite side of the dam. It raised itself up to be seen, and bowed to the youth in defeat.

The youth took one more arrow and fired upon the dam, blowing apart the center section. The water rushed through and shortly broke up and washed away the rest of the dam. The water monster rapidly approached the youth again but with an expression of glee if such is possible. As it neared it began to shrink and transform. . . into Ganga!

She stepped onto the rock and gave the youth a hug, "I'm so proud of you. You've now even bested me in battle, and are most certainly the greatest warrior to ever walk the face of the earth. You are the best son a mother could ever wish for and I will miss you dearly as our time together is now almost over."

Santanu could see that they were speaking but couldn't hear what they said.

Ganga continued, "See the man standing on the bank? He is your father. It is now time for you to fulfill your role as his son and prince to the kingdom of Hastinapura."

A fountain of water appeared before the rock where they were standing, and then together they stepped out onto it and it brought them to where Santanu was standing.

Ganga now spoke to Santanu, "May I introduce Devavrata, your son."

The boy bent down to touch his father’s feet, but Santanu grabbed his shoulders and pulled him up into a tight hug. Ganga continued, "My involvement in your lives is now complete." She cupped the side of Santanu’s face with her palm and said, "You’ve done well."

"Can’t you stay and make this a happy family?", pleaded Santanu.

"I’m sorry, but my destiny lies elsewhere." She then turned to her son and hugged him again saying, "Now remember what I’ve taught you."

"I will mother, but I’ll miss you."

"Your father is now here to take my place. Love him as you’ve loved me, and you’ll do fine." She gave them both a smile, as she dematerialized from their view.

Temporarily putting Ganga out of his mind, Santanu turned to his son with a smile, "A huge celebration is in order to welcome you back and inaugurate you as heir to the throne of Hastinapura!"

Santanu threw his arm around his son's shoulders as they walked back to the palace and said, "I have so much I want to ask you that I hardly know where to begin. Perhaps you can explain how you are able to imbue your arrows with such incredible power?"

Devavrata thought for a moment before answering, "During my time in the astral realms I was initiated in the use of numerous mantras that give me that ability," then sensing his father's next question continued, "but I would be unable to effect the necessary energy transference to initiate anyone else in their use."

Santanu smiled, "That is fine, I'm just so happy to have you back." and hugged his son again.

A week later a huge celebration was held in the capital as the entire kingdom turned out to welcome back their crown prince.


1. Derived from: Adi Parva, Section C, p. 214-215.

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