Śrīmad Devi Bhāgavatam | Book 7 Chapter 10
THE SEVENTH BOOK
On the story of Satyavrata
1-11. Vyāsa said:
O King! That King Māndhātā, true to his promise, conquered one after another the whole world and became the paramount sovereign of all the other emperors and got the title “Sārvabhauma” (Sovereign of all the earth).
O King! What more to speak of Māndhātā's influence at that time than this that all the robbers, struck with his terror, all fled to the mountain caves. For this reason, Indra gave him the title “Trasadasyu.”
He married Bindumatī, the daughter of Śaśavindu. Her limbs were proportioned and perfect and so she was very beautiful.
Māndhātā had by that wife two sons (1) the famous Purukutstha and (2) Muchukunda.
Purukutstha had his son Anaraṇya; this prince was celebrated by the name of Brihadaśva. He was very religious and deeply devoted to his father.
His son was Haryaśva; he was religious and knew the Highest Reality. His son was Tridhanvā; his son was Aruṇa. Aruṇa's son was Satyavrata; he was very avaricious, lustful, wicked and wilful.
Once on an occasion that vicious prince, overpowered by lust, stole away the wife of one Brāhmin and so created an hindrance in his marriage.
O King! The Brāhmins, united in a body, came to the King Aruṇa, bewailing and lamenting and uttered repeatedly:
Alas! We are ruined!
The King addressed to the grieved subjects, the Brāhmins:
“O Brāhmins! What harm has been done to you by my son.”
Hearing thus the good words of the King, the Dvijas, versed in the Vedas, repeatedly blessed him and said:
O King! You are the foremost of the powerful. So your son is like you. Today he has forcibly stolen away during the marriage ceremony a Brāhmin daughter already given over in marriage.
12-36. Vyāsa said:
O King! The highly religious King hearing the words of the Brāhmins took them to be true and said to his son:
“O One of evil understanding! You have rendered today your name useless by perpetrating this evil act. O Vicious One! Get away from my house! O Sinner! You will never be able to live in my territory!”
Seeing his father angry, Satyavrata repeatedly said:
Father! Where shall I go?
“Live with the Chāṇḍālas. You have stolen a Brāhmin's wife and so has acted like a Chāṇḍāla. Go and live with them happily. O Disgrace to your family! I don't like to get issues through you: you have obliterated this family's name. So, O Sinner! Go wherever you like.”
Hearing the words from his angry father, Satyavrata instantly quitted the house and went to the Chāṇḍālas.
The prince, wearing his coat of armour and holding bows and arrows, began to spend away his time with the Chāṇḍālas; but he could not get out of his breast his feeling of sympathy and mercy.
When he was banished by his liberal minded angry father the Guru Vaṣiṣṭha instigated the King to the above purpose. Satyavrata was therefore angry with Vaṣiṣṭha, inasmuch as he, versed in Dharma Śāstras, did not dissuade the father from banishing his son.
His father, then, owing to some inexplicable cause, left the city and, for the sake of his son, went to the forest to practise austerities.
O King! Owing to that sinful act, Indra did not rain at all in his kingdom for twelve years.
O King! Just then Viśvāmitra, too, keeping his wife and children in that kingdom, began to practise severe austerities on the banks of the river Kauśikī.
The beautiful wife of Kuśika then fell into great trouble how she could maintain the family. All the children, pained with hunger, began to cry, begging for Nibār rice food.
The chaste wife of Kauśika became very much troubled seeing all this. She thought, seeing the children hungry:
“Where am I to go now and from whom to beg, and what to do, inasmuch as the King was not then staying in the Kingdom? The husband is not also near; so who would protect my children? The boys are incessantly crying. Fie therefore to my life!”
She thought also thus:
“My husband left me in this penniless state; we are suffering for want of money. He does not know these, though he is quite able. Except my husband, who else will support my sons? They will all die now of starvation.
I might sell one of my sons, whatever I get out of that, I can support the others; this is now my highest duty. I ought not to do otherwise and kill all my children; so I will now sell one of my sons to support the others.”
Thus hardening her mind, she went out, tying the child by a rope round his neck. The Muni's wife, for the sake of the other children, fastened the middle son by a cord and got out of her house.
The prince Satyavrata saw her distressed with pain and sorrow and asked:
“O Beautiful One! What are you now going to do? Who are you? This boy is crying; Why have you tied him by a rope round his neck? O Fair One! Speak out truly to me the cause of all this.”
37-38. The wife said:
“O Prince! I am the wife of Viśvāmitra. These are my sons. I am now going, for want of food, to sell one of these out of my own accord.
O King! My husband has gone away to practise tapasyā; I do not know where he has gone. There is no food in the house; so I will sell one to support the other sons.”
39-56. Satyavrata said:
“O Chaste One! Save your children. I will bring to you your articles of food from the forest till your husband does not come here. Daily I will fasten some food on a tree close by your Āśrama. This I speak truly.”
The wife of Viśvāmitra, hearing these words of the prince, freed the child of the fastening and took him to her Āśrama. The child was named afterwards as Gālaba, due to his being fastened by the neck. He became a great Ṛiṣi afterwards.
The Viśvāmitra's wife then felt great pleasure in her home, surrounded by her children.
Filled with regard, and mercy, Satyavrata duly performed his task and provided daily the family of Viśvāmitra with their food.
He used to hunt wild boars, deer, buffaloes, etc., and used to take their flesh to the place where used to dwell the wife of Viśvāmitra and the children and tie that up to an adjoining tree.
The Riṣi’s wife used to give those to her children. Thus getting excellent food, she felt very happy.
Now when the King Aruṇa went for tapasyā to the forest, the Muni Vaṣiṣṭha carefully guarded the Ayodhyā city, and the palace and the household.
Satyavrata, too, used to sustain his livelihood daily by hunting, according to his father's order; and abiding by Dharma, lived in the forest outside the city.
Satyavrata cherished always in his heart, for some cause, a feeling of anger towards Vaṣiṣṭha. When his father banished his religious son, Vaṣiṣṭha did not prevent his father. This is the cause of Satyavrata's anger.
Marriage does not become valid until seven footsteps are trodden (a ceremony); so the stealing away of a girl within that period is not equivalent to stealing away a Brāhmin's wife. The virtuous Vaṣiṣṭha knew that; yet he did not prevent the King.
One day the prince did not find anything for hunting; he saw in the forest the cow of Vaṣiṣṭha giving milk. Very much distressed by hunger, the King killed the cow like a dacoit, partly out of anger and partly out of delusion. He fastened part of the flesh to that tree for the wife of Viśvāmitra and the remainder he ate himself.
O One of good vows! The Viśvāmitra's wife did not know that to be beef and thought it to be deer's and so fed her sons with that.
Now when Vaṣiṣṭha came to know that his cow had been killed, he was inflamed with anger and spoke to Satyavrata:
“O Vicious One! What a heinous crime have you committed, like a Piśācha, by killing the cow? For the killing of the cow, the stealing of a Brāhmin's wife and the fiery anger of your father, for these three crimes, let there come out on your head three Śankus or three marks of leprosy as the signs for your crimes.
From this day you will be widely known by the name of Triśanku and you will show your Piśācha form to all the beings.”
57. Vyāsa said: —
O King! The prince Satyavrata thus cursed by Vaṣiṣṭha remained in that retreat and practised severe tapasyā.
58. But he got from a Muni's son the excellent Mantram of the Highest auspicious Devī Bhagavatī and became merged in the contemplation of that.
Here ends the Tenth Chapter of the Seventh Book on the story of Satyavrata in the Mahāpurāṇam Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam of 18,000 verses, by Mahāṛṣi Veda Vyāsa.