CHITRARATHA, THE GANDHARVA SCHOLAR
When the Pandavas and Kunti were preparing to leave Ekacakrapura for Pancala, Vyasa, son of Satyavati, came to meet them. He asked the warriors whether they were adhering to the code (sastra) and the principles of dharma and whether they worshipped the deserving Brahmans. Then Vyasa briefed them on social laws (dharma), and political policy (rajaniti) and narrated to them many new episodes.
Vyasa told the Pandavas about the daughter of a sage who did not get a suitable husband. She worshipped Samkara, who was a benevolent charismatic leader (isvara) of the social periphery. He was pleased with her and told her that five men with leadership traits (purushas) would come to get her. That girl was perplexed and said to Samkara addressing him as deva that she would marry one of them. [Siva has been known also as Samkara, Isvara and Mahadeva.] Samkara told her that as she had requested him five times for a husband, when she appeared in another form (not as the daughter of a sage), it would happen so. That girl (who was brought up as the daughter of a sage) was presented to Drupada as the daughter of a noble (deva).
Vyasa told the Pandavas before taking leave of them and Kunti, that that girl, Krshna, had been nominated to be their wife. He directed them to reside in the capital of Pancala and told them that they would lead a happy life after getting her. On their way to Panchala, the Pandavas met some Brahmans who too were going there to witness the svayamvara of Draupadi. They too told the Pandavas about Drupada and Drona and the birth of Draupadi and her brother, Drshtadyumna, and the prophecy about this youth killing Drona. They expected kings and princes, rich persons who had performed sacrifices, Vedic scholars and tapasvis and generals and trained warriors to reach Pancala to be present for the svayamvara. These Brahmans were going there to receive gifts at the marriage of Draupadi.
They also expected musicians who played sang without instruments (vaitalikas), dancers (nartakas), narrators of chronicles (sutas), announcers of edicts (magadhas) and others too to attend the meet. [During the medieval times, all state events and programmes were given dignity and pageantry by the presence of these groups.] They suggested (without seriousness and without knowing who the youths were) that one of them, especially, Bhima, could win Draupadi, by taking part in wrestling.
Vaishampayana told Janamejaya that with Kunti the Pandavas went northwards from Ekacakrapura to reach the capital of Pancala. By sunset they reached the wharf on the banks of Ganga where the eminent socio-political thinker, Samkara, had his residence. Arjuna carrying a torch went ahead. In a lonely and beautiful place in that river, a gandharva chieftain was sporting with gandharva women. That powerful chieftain suspected that the Pandavas were coming there to share their company and became jealous and angry.
The gandharva chieftain told Arjuna that the period from sunset to midnight was reserved for plutocrats (yakshas), the free intellectuals-cum-warriors (gandharvas) and the guards (rakshas) and that only during the other times of the day commoners (manushyas) could be engaged in their activities. He warned the Pandavas that the gandharvas with the help of the guards (rakshas) would adopt coercive methods to restrain those commoners who moved about impelled by lust.
Chitraratha and the school of Samkara, a Rudra
According to Chitraratha and the school of Samkara, a Rudra stationed in the forests and mountains, to which he belonged, the frontier society headed by the plutocrats (yakshas) like Kubera, had permitted the members of the free intelligentsia-cum-warriors (who were known as punyajana) access to the areas under their jurisdiction (antariksham or akasa, itarajana) and also to the unarmed commonalty (manushyas, jana) of the agro-pastoral plains. The yakshas and their guards also ensured that the three sectors were kept away from coming in conflict with one another. It was basically an agreement between the industrial frontier society and the entrepreneurs like the gandharvas and the allied cadres.
Hence the local people (jana), including kings accompanied by troops, who were aware of the rules of the socio-political constitution (brahma), refused to come near water-spots, he said. The gandharva chieftain who kept his bow ready told the Pandavas to stand at a distance and not to come near him and the gandharva women. He asked why they were not aware of his having come to the waters of Ganga and told them that he was Angaraparna, (fiery leaf) a gandharva, who was entitled to be there. He claimed that he was a respectable person and was jealous of his rights and that Kubera, the Yaksha chief was his friend.
He said that spot was his and was known as Angaraparna grove (vana). It was his pleasure resort on the banks of Ganga. The gandharva chieftain said that rebel militants (rakshasas) and practitioners of witchcraft (abhicara, to be precise, resort to high-handedness), nobles (devas) and commoners (manushyas) would not approach that resort. How they (Pandavas) dared to approach him who was like Kuberas crown, he asked. Arjuna retorted that none had acquired sovereign authority over the seas and the Himalaya and the Ganga during night and day or during dawn and dusk. Any one could visit these at any time. He said that they had full power and had not intruded on the Gandharva at a wrong time. He pointed out to that Gandharva that only powerless men (manushyas) worshipped the gandharvas.
Arjuna told that gandharva that the Ganga which has its origin in the peaks of the Himalayas has seven branches when it reaches the sea and that their waters and those of Ganga, and its tributaries, Yamuna, Sarasvati, Plakshajata, Rathastha, Sarayu, Gomati and Gantaki were said to remove the sins of those who drank them. Arjuna claimed that the gandharva would be wrong to stop them from drinking the water of Ganga. It had passed through the areas of the nobles (devas) as a pure river and was famous as Alakananda. According to Vyasa, Ganga reached the region where the retired elders (pitrs) had their abodes where they spent their last days and that one of its branches was called Vaitarani, which the sinners dare not cross. None could monopolise riparian rights.
Arjuna claimed that it was against the provisions of sasvata dharma to bar the Ganga, which flowed uninterrupted throughout the year and was honoured as devanadi, the river of the nobles, and was holy. Why should not the waters of the Ganga, which cannot be stopped and which is without bars, be touched as the Pandavas desired? When Angaraparna used sarpa missiles (poisoned arrows) against him, Arjuna warded them off and threatened to use the highly powerful Agni missile against him. He advised the gandharva not to threaten with weapons those who knew how to use missiles.
Arjuna accepted that the gandharvas were superior to commoners, manushyas and hence he would use missiles that were available to only nobles (devas, who were superior to gandharvas). He would not resort to deceit in war. He told the gandharva that he had received the Agni missile from his teacher, Drona. It was first given to Bharadvaja by Brhaspati. To be precise, the official designated as Agni exercised the powers of the civil judge with jurisdiction over the commonalty when Indra-Agni system was in operation. They were assigned to Brhaspati when Indra-Brhaspati system came into vogue (under the agreement known as Indra-samdhi).
Bharadvaja and Brhaspati's political economy
Bharadvaja became eligible to regulate the affairs of prthvi, the commonalty, as he followed the principles of political economy expounded by Brhaspati. Agnivesya who belonged to the bourgeoisie (vis) and was a civil judge (Agni) and headed the council of scholars (samiti) succeeded Bharadvaja (who was the political counsellor of Bharata). In the Kuru state, Drona, a student of Bharadvaja, occupied the chairmanship of the council of scholars and the civil judiciary. Arjuna claimed that Drona had nominated him as his successor to these posts.
Angaraparna, the pretender
He could take action against Angaraparna, a pretender to the post of Agni (Angara). He then brought that gandharva in an unconscious state before Yudhishtira, the Kaurava king. The gandharvas wife pleaded with the Pandava chief to spare her husband. Angaraparna gave up his designation for it would not be respected in the assembly of the people any more. He was no longer Chitraratha, as his chariot (ratha), had been burnt by Arjunas missile.
He offered to Arjuna who had the weapons, that is, the powers of a noble (deva), the art of hallucination (maya, illusion) that the gandharvas knew. Manu (Chakshusha) taught this art, known as chakshushi, toSoma (Chandra). Soma represented the sober intellectuals of the forest and the frontier society (antariksham), even as Agni represented the commonalty (prthvi) and Indra the nobles (devas). Soma taught this art to Visvavasu, a gandharva chieftain who headed the larger independent bourgeoisie. Chitraratha, as Visvavasus successor, was entitled to use that art. If this knowledge reached the commoners (manushyas), it would lose its efficacy, the gandharva feared.
By this art, chakshushi, one would be able to see whatever he wanted to see in the three social worlds (divam, prthvi, antariksham) and in whatever form he wanted to see it. But this required rigorous practice for six months. Chitraratha told Arjuna that this art made the free intellectuals (gandharvas) superior to the commoners (manushyas) and equal to the nobles (devas). He offered the Pandavas each one hundred horses used by the members of the social world (loka) of gandharvas. [These horses (vaji) differed from haya, arvi and asva used respectively by the nobles (devas), feudal lords (asuras) and commoners (manushyas).] These horses of high breed used by the devagandharvas would not unlike the other breeds lose their speed even if they became lean and weak, Chitraratha said.
Two strata of gandharvas
There were two strata among the gandharvas. The higher ones were closer to the nobles (devas) in their orientations and conduct and the lower ones closer to the commoners (manushyas). The latter were known also as free men, naras. Chitraratha explained that whatever was praised in the world was considered to be equal to vajra, the weapon that Indra used to strike down the Vrtra asura.
Devas, asuras, gandharvas and manushyas were the four classes in the core society of the middle and later Vedic period. In the early post-Vedic period, the core society was organised as four classes (varnas), Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Shudras. According to Chitraratha, (to be precise, according to Vaishampayana), Brahmans might use their bare arms for self-defence, Kshatriyas might use chariots to flaunt their status, authority and power, Vaisyas their ability to help others with their wealth and Shudras their ability to provide or withhold their labour. Chitraratha who voiced the views of Samkara, the great political grammarian, did not view the Brahmans and Kshatriyas as socio-economic classes. He also did not view the Vaisyas as a class of employers dictating terms to the Shudras. The Shudras were free labourers while the Vaisyas would play the role that the liberal nobles played during the Vedic times.
The Brahmans were permitted to defend themselves though they were not permitted to use weapons of war. It was status rather than power that distinguished the ruling class of Kshatriyas from others. The issue of the Brahmans being entitled to teach the Vedas and officiate at sacrifices and receive gifts and alms was not raised. The Brahmans and the Kshatriyas had emerged mainly from the ranks of the Gandharvas.
The Chitraratha (Samkara) scheme did not make their members who had opted to become Brahmans depend on armed Kshatriyas for protection of their lives and property. On the contrary it did not vest the authority to use weapons whether in defence or in offence only in the Kshatriyas. The latter were a ruling elite and like the Gandharvas, the nobles (devas) too could join it. It was the duty of the rakshas (later called rakshasas) to protect the weak. The Brahmans were asked not to depend on these rakshas too, who resided not in villages and towns but in the periphery around them. The Vaisyas and the Shudras belonged originally to the undifferentiated commonalty of manushyas (prthvi).
A mare was part of a chariot. Only those who were trained in riding or harnessing and controlling horses were considered to be warriors. The gandharva chieftain claimed that his horses born in the gandharvaloka (that is, the ones bred by the gandharvas) could take on any colour and any speed and they could guess and carry out any task intended by their owners. Arjuna thanked him for his offer but declined to accept gratis the art of seeing without being seen (of chakshushi) and the horses. Then the gandharva said that he should accept that art in return for saving his life.
Arjuna gave him his Agni missile in return for the gandharva horses. He empowered Chitraratha, a gandharva, to function as civil judge and head the council of intellectuals in his capacity as Agni. Offering his hand of friendship, Arjuna asked Chitraratha to tell him what made the commoners (manushyas) fear the gandharvas. Why were they afraid of the movement during the night of the scholars (Brahmans) who knew the Vedas and were pious and of the Kshatriyas who punished the enemies? Why did Chitraratha oppose the Pandavas?
Chitraratha said that the Pandavas had only pretended to be Brahmans and were not recognised jurists (agni) or priests (homa) and were not functioning on behalf of Brahmans. Hence he had opposed them. He told Arjuna that the plutocrats (yakshas), the militant rebels (rakshas), the free intellectuals (gandharvas), the counter-intelligentsia (pisacas), envoys and messengers (birds, suparnas) and technocrats (nagas) did not oppose those who functioned under the guidance of and on behalf of Brahmans (jurists, teachers and priests). They had great regard for the unarmed scholars and counsellors.
He told Arjuna who wielded the Agni missile that though he knew their valour and their (Kshatriya) clan, he interrupted their travel (yatra). Chitraratha told Arjuna that he had heard from Narada, a gandharva and devarshi (a sage recognised by the nobles as eligible to guide them), and also during his wide travel about the exploits of the Pandavas who belonged to the Kuru clan. He also knew Drona whose skill in archery was known in all the three social worlds (lokas) and who was a disciple of Brhaspati (a bhagavan, head of a school of thought). Chitraratha also knew how the Pandavas were born to the nobles (dharma, vayu, indra and asvinidevas) and also to Pandu who was a commoner (manushya), for continuing the Kuru lineage. He knew their valour and their chastity and intellect and pure thoughts and yet he blocked their way to the river.
Chitraratha said that any man insulted in the presence of women would become ferocious, as he did. At night the gandharvas grew in strength, he said. Addressing Arjuna as a descendant of Tapati Chitraratha said that he was defeated because of the celibacy (brahmacarya) that Arjuna practised as part of his duty (dharma). A kshatriya, who was given to lust (kama) would not survive if he went to fight during the nights, he pointed out. But a kshatriya if led by a Brahman counsellor (purohita), would defeat the discrete independent individuals (bhutas) who roamed during the nights, even if he had not restrained his senses, Chitraratha said. (It is unsound to translate the term, bhutas as ghosts.)
The need for a political counselor, purohita
He told the descendant of Tapati that hence whatever benefits the commoners (manushyas) might seek in their social world (loka) they should engage for that purpose the services of a counsellor (purohita) who had restrained his senses. That counsellor (purohita) should be a great intellectual and zealously follow the six branches (anga) of the Veda and be pure and follow the laws based on truth (satya) and be devoted to the principles of social laws (dharma). Vaishampayana who was counselling Janamejaya was a disciple of Vyasa who had compiled the four Vedas. It was a period of transition from the laws based on satya to those based on dharma. It was also the period when the anthologies of Vedic hymns had been finalised and their appendixes, angas, had been composed.
Chitraratha told Arjuna that a king who had for him as counsellor (purohita) one who knew the social laws (dharma) (outlining the rights and duties of the different social classes and sectors and those of the individuals) and who was a good rhetorician and whose conduct was good and who was pure and incorrupt was bound to be victorious. He would also be able to join the aristocracy (svarga). A king should have a purohita with all noble traits (gunas) to be able to gain benefits that are rare to be obtained. He should follow that purohita who was a counsellor in social, political and economic affairs. One who seeks wealth and the earth (bhumi) girt by the seas must stand by the views of that counsellor.
Chitraratha pointed out to Arjuna, a descendant of Tapati, that no king, who did not have a Brahman counsellor, had ever won the earth (bhumi, agrarian plains) only by his valour and by the reputation of his clan (kula). Hence he should realise that only by following the Brahman (counsellor) one could rule his kingdom for a long time. (Ch.186 Adiparva)
Arjuna was curious to know why Chitraratha addressed him as Tapatya (son of Tapati) when the Pandavas were Kaunteyas, sons of Kunti. He wanted to know who Tapati was. Chitraratha, the gandharva, then told that son of Kunti who was famous in all the three social worlds, the story of Tapati. He recognised Partha (son of Prtha or Kunti) as an outstanding intellectual. Arjuna hence could make out the implications of the allegory that he proposed to narrate, Chitraratha implied.
Vivasvan was a member of the Aditya group of nobles (devas). Adityas were generals of the army and were also known as Suryas. The rulers of the eastern Ganga basin claimed to be descendants of Marici, Kashyapa and Vivasvan (Surya, sun) and followed Manu Vaivasvata. The rulers of the western Sindhu basin claimed to be followers of Atri and Soma (Chandra, moon). According to the allegory presented by Chitraratha, Vivasvan had two daughters, Savitri and Tapati. Savitri (Gayatri) refers to the metre used for the Vedic hymn that couches the famous Gayatri mantra, composed by Visvamitra. Visvamitri and Tapati are two west-flowing rivers, the former to the north of Narmada and the latter to its south. The allegory presents Tapati as the beautiful girl who married the ruler, Samvarana.
Tapati and Samvarana
The poet says that Tapati was more handsome than any girl among the nobles (devas), feudal lords (asuras), plutocrats (yakshas), militant guards (rakshas), apsarases and gandharvas (free intellectuals). Her father did not think of giving her away in marriage (by kanyadana, as a virgin) until she attained the age of consent (sixteen). It was then that Samvarana (a king in exile) prayed to Vivasvan for assistance. Vivasvan was pleased with that handsome, humble and grateful ruler who knew the social laws (dharma) and wanted to give him his daughter in marriage.
Chitraratha describes that even as the sun in the sky by its rays brightens all things, Samvarana by his brilliance was making everything on the earth (bhumi, commonalty) bright. He gave positive guidance to the people (commoners). The gandharva intellectual adds that even as those devoted to the socio-political constitution (brahma) worship Vivasvan (surya) who belongs to the nobility (daivam), people belonging to classes (varnas) inferior to the Brahmans worshipped Samvarana. He implied that Samvarana was the offspring of a Brahman by a Kshatriya woman and was superior to all other classes (including Kshatriyas) except the Brahmans. Samvarana was charismatic and excelled Soma in gentleness and Surya in harassing the enemies.
The two regions, north and south of Narmada, were under the jurisdiction of Vivasvan who decided to place the latter under Samvarana by offering to him his daughter, the princess of Tapati, in marriage. That king who was wandering in the mountains on foot happened to see that girl and was enchanted by her beauty. Samvarana enquired Tapati who she was as he did not think that she belonged to any one of the cadres, devas, asuras, yakshas, rakshas, nagas, gandharvas and manushyas. But she disappeared without disclosing her identity.
As Samvarana lay on the earth, smitten by love and passion, she reappeared and he surrendered to her. He invited her to union with him under the provisions of gandharva marriage but she declined. She was under the guardianship of her father and could not act as an independent (svatantra) woman. She advised him to ask her father for her hand. She expressed her admiration for him and acknowledged that she too loved him. But he should worship and pray to her father who was an Aditya (general, surya and son of Aditi, and a noble, deva). She told the senior Kshatriya, that she was Tapati, sister of Savitri.
Tapati, daughter of Vivasvan, a noble (deva), and princess of that western province south of Narmada, went away to her enclave of the higher social stratum of nobles, leaving the love-struck Kshatriya ruler in exile yearning for her. His minister who had come with his troops and servants located him and lifted up him from the ground where he lay. Samvarana sent back all of them, except his minister. He stood there on the mountains praying to the sun (Vivasvan). He thought of (sent invitation to) Vasishta, the great sage who had destroyed the enemies, lust, rage, etc. Vasishta who knew the science of the soul (psychology of self, atma jnana) and the social laws (dharma) appeared on the scene after twelve days.
Vasishta understood that Samvarana had lost his heart to Tapati and went to meet Vivasvan. Vivasvan welcomed the sage and assured him that he would give him whatever he sought even if it was rare. Vasishta extolled him (who covered eight miles in one minute) as a senior noble (deva) who was the eye of all the worlds and who was responsible for the creation and dissolution of all the social worlds (loka) and as one who represented all the three Vedas (that contained the socio-cultural history of humanity) (Rg, Yajur and Sama) and whose body was a composite of all the three traits (gunas) (sattva, rajas and tamas).
Vasishta on Savita
Vasishta honoured Savita (Vivasvan) as one who represented the trinity (Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesvara). [This might have been a later interpolation.] Vasishta told him that he had come to ask him for his daughter, Tapati, for Samvarana. He praised Samvarana as a renowned king who knew the sciences of dharma and artha. He opined that Samvarana was a suitable groom for Tapati. Vivasvan (Surya) agreed to the proposal and handed her over to Vasishta for Samvarana. The sage took her to the Kaurava ruler, Samvarana. With the blessings of the nobles (devas) and the free intellectuals (gandharvas), Samvarana married Tapati according to the rites prescribed in the codes (sastra).
The codes recognised him as the ruler of Tapati, a province on the west coast south of Narmada and on the banks of Tapati. Samvarana with the permission of Vasishta stayed in those mountains enjoying his new wedded life while he appointed his minister to govern the city (pura) and the rural areas (desa) and the forests and groves. While Samvarana like a noble of the frontier region (devata) enjoyed with his wife, Tapati, who was the daughter of a noble (deva) there were no rains in his country for twelve years, Chitraratha, the chronicler told Arjuna addressing him as a descendant of Bharata.
Vasishta then arranged for the return to his city of Samvarana with his consort (who was the daughter of Surya, Vivasvan) and this was accompanied by the arrival of rains and restoration of good administration. Kuru, the ancestor of Arjuna (Partha), was the son of Samvarana and Tapati and hence Arjuna was known as Tapateya, Chitraratha explained.
Arjuna was surprised to hear about the influence that Vasishta had gained through his tapas (strenuous exertion to attain certain new knowledge or skill or ability). Arjuna asked the gandharva chronicler how the political guide (purohita) of his ancestor came to be known as Vasishta. He wanted to know more about that sage.
Vasishta, husband of Arundati, was a protg of Brahma, the head of the academy of jurists. [Brahma was then not worshipped as the god of creation.] As he had kept under reins his senses and desires and feelings like lust and rage, he was known as one who had control over his desires (Vasishta). Even as he conquered lust and rage which commoners (manushyas) are unable to conquer, he conquered his enemies also. He conquered all the social worlds (lokas) and the peoples in the different directions, provinces. This great scholar restrained the anger caused by Visvamitras lapse and refrained from destroying the Kusikas. When he was grieving over losing his sons though he could destroy Visvamitra he kept quiet like one powerless.
Though he could retrieve his sons (disciples) from Mrtyu (death, in common parlance, a Vedic official) who had jurisdiction over the commonalty of distant lands in the new set-up, he did not encroach on the jurisdiction of that official (daivam). Chitraratha said that the Ikshvakus, the best among the commoners (manushyas) became rulers of the earth only after aligning with that great personage (mahatma) and accepting him as political counsellor, purohita. The scholar and jurist (Brahmarshi) officiated at the sacrifices for those eminent kings (rajasreshtas) even as Brhaspati guided the nobles (devas). The relation between the king and the political counsellor was like that between Indra and Brhaspati who represented the nobility and the commonalty respectively.
Under the Indra-Brhaspati agreement, the nobility that controlled the treasury and was headed by Indra could not act independent of the commonalty guided by Brhaspati who controlled the armoury. The king would not be able to function unless this jurist guided him. Chitraratha advised Arjuna (the Pandavas) to search for a Brahman counsellor (purohita) who was committed to the principles of dharma and who knew Vedas and dharmasastra and was gentle and pious. A kshatriya who seeks to conquer the earth must be born in a good clan. For the development of his kingdom, he should appoint and follow a Brahman counsellor who had conquered himself and knew the truths about dharma, artha and kama.
Vasishta and Visvamitra
Arjuna wanted to know what caused the enmity between Vasishta and Visvamitra who were residing in a noted academic centre (asrama). Chitraratha, the gandharva chieftain and chronicler, narrated to him the biography of Vasishta. (Vaishampayana refused to treat it as but a legend of the past (purana). It was history.) Gadi, son of Kusika, was a famous king (maharaja) of Kanyakubja. His son, Visvamitra, led the troops in his expeditions to destroy the enemies. While chasing a deer in the forest Visvamitra approached the abode of Vasishta who invited him cordially and respectfully. Vasishta had a cow, Kamadhenu, which would give whatever one requested.
It would appear that Vasishta had in his pantry and store all types of foods and drinks and other articles needed by the guests. He could entertain that king and his ministers and troops to their satisfaction. Visvamitra was enchanted by that beautiful cow, Nandini, and requested Vasishta for it. He offered his kingdom in return. Vasishta told him that it was meant for the nobles of the forest (devatas), the guests and the elders (pitrs) who performed sacrifices under his guidance as a counsellor (purohita) and told Visvamitra that it was improper for him to give it even in return for his kingdom. Vasishta guided the feudal lords who had retired and were respected as pitrs. He guided also the plutocrats and other chieftains of the forest who were known as devatas, even as Brhaspati guided the aristocrats.
Nandini was not at the service of kings, Vasishta said. Visvamitra told that head (bhagavan) of the academy that for him that cow was like a jewel and the kings were entitled to take the jewels. Visvamitra was a Kshatriya, while Vasishta was a Brahman who used tapas and study of Vedas as his tools. Brahmans who were peaceful and had restrained their minds lacked valour, he said. He offered ten crores of cows for that cow, Nandini. Visvamitra threatened that if Vasishta still refused to part with it he would without giving up his dharma take it away by force.
Vasishta told him that Visvamitra was a king, had powerful arms and had troops with him and hence could do, as he liked. As Visvamitras men beat it, while trying to drag it away, it surrendered to Vasishta. Vasishta could not help it for he was a patient Brahman. He held that forbearance was the strength of Brahmans while prowess was the strength of Kshatriyas. Nandini alleged that Vasishta, the head of the academy had abandoned her and hence her miserable plight. Vasishta denied that charge and asked the cow to stand up if it could. The angered cow (and its guards) then chased away the troops of Visvamitra.
The war over Nandini
The chronicler holds that numerous tribes in different areas were born of Nandini and that they rose up against Visvamitras troops. He enumerates these warrior-groups as Palgavas, Dravidas, Sakas, Yavanas, Sabaras, Paundras, Kiratas, Simhalas, Barbaras, Khasas, Pulindas, Cibukas, Chinas, Hunas, Keralas and different groups of aliens (mlecchas). It is to be construed that Vasishta included many forest and mountain and frontier groups in the larger class of Kshatriyas when the Kshatriyas ceased to respect the Brahmans. It is likely that some of these groups came in contact with the core society of Aryavarta (Sindhu-Ganga plains) only far later and were treated as having been granted approval by great sages like Vasishta for inclusion in the core society.
These armed clans and tribes who did not belong to the plains overcame the troops of Visvamitra in his presence. But none of the latter was killed by Vasishtas troops. [It was not a war between native warriors of the plains who enjoyed the status of kshatriyas and aliens or tribes of mountains and forests. It was peaceful resistance by the latter to forcible exploitation of their animal resources.] Enraged Visvamitra showered arrows and other missiles including the ardhacandra (crescent) missile on the sage, Vasishta. But the latter warded them off with only a bamboo stick. Visvamitra cast at Vasishta (disciple of Brahma) all types of missiles (powers) used by officials like Agni, Varuna, Indra, Yama and Vayu. Vasishta set the powers of these officials at naught by the powers and influence he had as a senior jurist (brahmatejas).
Visvamitra realised the superiority of brahmatejas over the might of his army but would not acknowledge it openly. However he felt that the might of the kshatriya was to be censured and that the power of brahmatejas was the real might one should aspire for. It required strenuous effort (tapas) at weighing gains and losses that follow an act. He gave up his prosperous state (rajyam) and its wealth (rajyalakshmi) and neglecting all comforts got engaged in tapas. He obtained perfection (siddhi) in his search (tapas) for highly potent knowledge.
Visvamitra, the Rajarshi became a Brahmarshi
Thus he attained the traits of a (true) Brahman (jurist), Chitraratha said. Then the nobles (devas) headed by Indra accepted him and he drank soma with them to mark his admission to the cadre of intellectual aristocracy. Soma was the head of the intellectuals of the forests and also of their population. Visvamitra, the powerful Rajarshi thus became a great jurist (Brahmarshi), Chitraratha told Arjuna.
Arjuna wanted to know all the details about the causes of the enmity between the two sages. He was not satisfied with the report about Vasishtas great influence as a jurist (brahmatejas) and about how the great Kshatriya, Visvamitra, became a Brahman. Chitraratha told him that the history of Vasishta was connected with the earlier times. He was not their contemporary.
Kalmashapada was a ruler belonging to the Ikshvakus. He was a ferocious hunter. Visvamitra wanted to sanctify his reign by officiating at his sacrifices. That ruler while going along a narrow footpath came across Sakti, one of the many disciples of Vasishta. He ordered Sakti to make way for him. Sakti claimed it to be his regular path and that the permanent social code (sasvata dharma) had mentioned the order of precedence and protocol. [Like many other accounts this account too does not tally with the one given in the Bhagavatam.]
The aged, the timid, the king, the Brahman graduate (snataka), women, the diseased, the bridegroom and the driver of a cart were to be given way. Among these the king had to give way to some and some had to give way to the king. The king had to give way to the Brahman, according to all social codes (dharma), Sakti said. He refused to yield way to the king. The enraged king hit Sakti like a militant (rakshasa) with his whip and Sakti pronounced that the king would be wandering like a cannibal. Visvamitra who passed by witnessed the quarrel between the two agreed to provide asylum to that king who had become nervous when he learnt that Sakti was a son of Vasishta. Visvamitra transformed the king into a fiery militant (rakshasa) and messenger (kinkara) of death. Chitraratha did not accept the view that Kalmashapada was a born cannibal or became one.
Kalmashapada had before leaving for the forest to hunt asked a Brahman guest to wait till he returned. On his return he found that the Brahman had not yet been fed and ordered that he be fed meat. But when he was told that there was no meat in anger he said that the guest be fed human flesh. The Brahman recognised that he had been served human flesh cursed the king and pronounced that the latter would wander over all the earth as a cannibal. Kalmashapada told Sakti that he would commence his new career as a cannibal with eating his body. Vasishta who learnt that Kalmashapada had eaten Sakti was grief-stricken and tried several times to commit suicide but did not die. But he never thought of destroying Visvamitra, according to Vaishampayana.
Vasishta who was despondent as there were no disciples (sons) with him in his abode went away from it. Though he tried many times to drown himself in a river he was saved. While wandering, he heard Saktis widow reciting the Vedas and their branches (siksha, vyakarana, chanda, nirukta, jyotisha and kalpa). She was carrying Saktis child. To be precise, her child by Sakti was twelve years old then. Citraratha told Arjuna that Vasishta was happy that he had a descendant and gave up the thought of committing suicide.
While he was returning to his abode with Saktis widow, in the uninhabited forest, Vasishta saw Kalmashapada approaching them with a stick (danda). The militant looked like the Vedic official, Yama, armed with a rod, signifying his power to impose the prohibitory orders and ensure the observance of the social laws, dharma. She told Vasishta that he alone in the world would be able to restrain that lawless militant. Vasishta asked her not to fear and told her that that militant was a powerful king of the plains and was then wandering in the forest areas as an exile.
The sage by his command and yoga powers and formulae (mantra) of purification restored that king to his earlier position. Kalmashapada recalled his past and realised that his saviour was Vasishta. He identified himself as Saudasa, son of Sudasa and said that Vasishta had sanctified his regime by officiating at his yajnas (sacrifices). Vasishta asked him to return to rule his kingdom and advised him not to disrespect a Brahman. Then Saudasa told the sage that he wanted to obtain from him the powers that would make him free from his debts to the Ikshvakus.
Saudasa was impotent. He needed a son to continue his lineage and requested the sage to procreate for him a son by his wife. This practice of niyoga for a specific purpose was in vogue then and was not looked askance at. Vasishta agreed to his request. The chronicler defends this obnoxious practice by claiming that eminent sages like Vasishta had not only permitted it but also resorted to it to help their proteges. Unless the king had a son his regime would not be held to be legitimate. [Unless one had a son who would fulfil his liabilities to his father and ancestors and discharge them from their debts, he could not be the head of his household and would not be able to transact any affair on its behalf or control its property.]
Saudasa was an autonomous administrator in Ayodhya, the city from where the Ikshvakus ruled. He was the son of a Sudasa, a freed serf. Sudasa was the son of a Divodasa, a loyal servant (dasa) of a noble (deva). The people of Ayodhya welcomed Saudasa who arrived with his counsellor (purohita), Vasishta. Saudasa was occupying the position of Indra, the officer in charge of the treasury, in one of the provinces under the Ikshvakus. This gave him the status of a devata next only to the nobles (devas).
When Vasishta copulated with Saudasas wife to procreate a son for him, he was following the practice in vogue among the new aristocrats most of whom had belonged to sectors of population other than the organised core society which was eager to maintain its traditions. This was not a practice among the traditional aristocrats who had risen on merit from the upper stratum of the commonalty of the core society. The immunities and privileges that devas had, were permanent ones. The chronicler implies that Vasishta had not treated it as valid for the commonalty. After Saudasas wife became pregnant, Vasishta took leave of her and the king and returned to his abode. Asmaka who founded the city, Paudanya, was the son of Saudasa born thus.
Chitraratha was acquainting Arjuna with the knowledge how niyoga was practised in certain strata of the larger society and what its purpose was. He said that the famous sage, Parasara, was the posthumous son of Sakti, protg of Vasishta. Vasishta brought up Parasara. When Parasara learnt from his mother how his father had died, he thought of destroying all the social worlds (lokas). Vasishta restrained him from doing so.
Vasishta was known as Maitra-Varuni to indicate that he had inherited the powers of the two Vedic officials, Mitra and Varuna, who functioned in concert. The two officials ensured that every individual and every functionary of the social polity discharged his duties and liabilities according to rules. They could punish the guilty. [The interpretation that Vasishta was born to Mitra and Varuna and that both of them were his fathers is untenable. It is not sound to presume that he was the product of a homosexual alliance.] Vasishta while exercising his powers as Varuna, an ombudsman in the Vedic polity who validated acts in public interest or took into custody the guilty, was gentle like Mitra, the friend.
Vasishta and Parasara
Chitraratha, the gandharva chronicler, then acquainted Arjuna (to be precise, Vaishampayana, chronicler and disciple of Krshna Dvaipayana acquainted Janamejaya) with Vasishtas counsel to his disciple, Parasara, on the relations between Brahmans and Kshatriyas. The famous king, Krtavirya, had performed sacrifices (yajnas) under the guidance of Bhrgus who were scholars in Vedas. He served food and drinks to them first and gave them wealth and grains. After that king had died, his successors were under constraint to draw on that wealth and asked the Bhrgus for it. Some Bhargavas hid their wealth under the ground. Some others fearing the Kshatriyas gave their wealth away to other Brahmans. Some did part with their wealth to the Kshatriyas, as their need was genuine.
When a Kshatriya dug the ground in the house of a Bhargava and showed the hidden wealth to the Kshatriya administrators (rajans), the latter got angry and pierced with their arrows the Bhrgus who had surrendered. The enraged Kshatriyas killed even the children in the wombs of their mothers. A frightened mother even delivered her child. (The child came out of her thighs, urva). When the Kshatriyas tried to kill that child its brightness blinded them, according to Vasishta and they surrendered to that Brahman woman and pleaded to her for pardon and to restore them their sight.
That Brahman woman told them that it was her natural son (aurva) who had blinded them with his brilliance and that only he could restore it. They should hence pray to him, she told the Kshatriyas and as they prayed to him Aurva restored them their sight, Vasishta told Parasara. But that angry sage, Aurva, thought of destroying all the social worlds (lokas), those of the nobles (devas), the feudal lords (asuras) and the commoners (manushyas). He held all of them responsible for the campaigns against his clan of Bhrgus. Then the elders of his clan (pitrs) told him to show mercy and to control his anger.
The elders (pitrs) told Aurva that they had refrained from stopping the massacre of the chaste Bhargavas by the Kshatriyas not because they were powerless but because they wanted an end to their long life, which caused them pain by its mere prolonging. They had hidden the wealth only to incite the Kshatriyas against them. They knew that wealth was of no use to Brahmans. (It was a method found out by the Brahmans to get killed!) They had not attempted suicide, which they found, was wrong. The elders among the Bhrgus asked Aurva to control his anger and not to destroy the Kshatriyas and the seven worlds and social cadres. [Bhu, bhuva, sva, maha, jana, tapa and satya, commonalty, frontier society, aristocracy, legislators, peoples representatives, researchers and jurists were the seven cadres, lokas.]
Aurva told the elders that the pledge he had taken to destroy all the social worlds (lokas) could not go in vain. He did not want to live as an angry man who took vain vows in haste. Only one who tried to restrain his just anger would be able to guard properly the three values of life, dharma, artha and kama, socio-cultural, economic and rmotional, he knew. The kings who desired to be conquerors and were required to punish the evil-minded and protect the disciplined could use anger at the appropriate occasions. But when he heard that Bhrgu mothers cried as the Kshatriyas indulged in massacre of the Brahmans and the nobles and others of the world kept quiet, Aurva became violently angry.
The mothers and fathers of the Bhrgu children did not get asylum in any social world. It was when the Bhargava wives were unprotected Aurva was born. When the person who is required to stop the sinner does not intervene, many will continue to commit sins, Aurva told them. The person who knows and is capable of stopping that sin by his prowess but does not do so will become a sinner, he said. The kings and the nobles (devas) who desired to live in the world (of commoners) failed to commence performing their duty to protect his elders, the Bhrgus. Hence Aurva was angry against all the social worlds. He said that he was capable of acting by himself in punishing them for their inaction but he did not want to go against their words.
If he ignored his duty to punish the guilty when he was capable of punishing them, the social worlds would once again be threatened by sin. His anger meant to burn the guilty social worlds if unused would burn him. Hence he requested the nobles (devas) to suggest what was good for all the social worlds (lokas) and for him. The elders advised Aurva to leave that fire (anger) in the waters of the sea. He did so and it merged in the fire at the bottom of the sea (vatava agni), according to the Vedic sages. Vasishta advised Parasara to realise the importance of the organised social worlds (lokas) and refrain from destroying them. Parasara, son of Sakti, had the qualifications and influence (tejas) necessary to interpret and implement the provisions of the socio-political constitution (brahma) and knew the teachings of the Vedas. He agreed to spare the different social worlds but embarked on a programme (sattra) to eliminate the rebel militants (rakshasas). Vasishta did not stop it.
Parasara as Agni
Parasara was functioning as the civil judge (Agni) of the areas not covered by the three social worlds (commonalty, frontier society and nobility bhu, bhuva and sva) and as head of the administration (Aditya) of those areas. Aditya was head of the army and administration of the core society. Parasara created an additional post of Aditya whose occupant would have coercive power over the Rakshasas (guards) of the social periphery and forests. [In the nation-state formed by the great Prajapati Mahadeva, Aditya was in charge of its Kshatriya army but did not have jurisdiction over the periphery or the forests held by the Rakshasas]
Chitraratha told Arjuna that the great sages Atri, Pulastya, Pulaha and Kratu approached Parasara to get his programme stopped. These four sages along with Marici, Angiras and Pracetas were members of the first council of seven sages convened by the first Manu, Svayambhuva. These seven sages and Bhrgu, Vasishta and Narada were members of the board of editors who drafted the Manava Dharmasastra. Chitraratha told Arjuna (Partha, Bharata) that Pulastya told Parasara that it was not proper to kill those rakshasas who were innocent and not guilty of any crime. By killing all rakshasas, he would be destroying Pulastyas descendants (protgs).
Such destruction did not accord with the dharma of Brahmans who were to be sober and pacific tapasvis. He said that Sakti met with death because he had in anger cursed Kalmashapada to become a cannibal. Sakti invited his own death but the other disciples of Vasishta did not do so. Pulastya asserted that Sakti could not have been eaten by any rakshasa (guard). The sage said that Visvamitra was deceitful in that episode. He had deputed a rakshasa (in the guise of Kalmashapada) to kill and eat Sakti. [This might have been a later interpolation.]
Kalmashapada who was a king was aware of the limits of his power and yielded way to the sage, Sakti, though he was not happy with the attitude adopted by the latter. The forest guards (rakshas) were his employees but some of them acted on their own violating all rules. The latter were known as rakshasas. Visvamitra who was vexed with Vasishta whose disciple Sakti was, engaged such a militant (rakshasa) to kill Sakti and destroy all evidences of his death. That guard appeared in the guise of the king and struck down that disciple of Vasishta.
Pulastya exonerated Kalmashapada who had risen to svargaloka (the commune of the pure nobles). The junior disciples of Vasishta too had risen to that stratum of nobles (devas), he pointed out to Parasara. The sage said that Vasishta knew all these incidents. Ignorant and innocent rakshas were facing the threat of extermination, Pulastya noted. He appealed to Parasara, grandson of Vasishta, to abandon his programme. Vasishta too endorsed this appeal and Parasara found it prudent to end it.
Vaishampayana was narrating this chronicle to Janamejaya who had been restrained from resorting to such radical steps to eliminate the dangerous elements among the forest workers, sarpas, without caring for the lives of the innocent among those workers.
Arjuna wanted Chitraratha to explain why the king, Kalmashapada, directed his wife to go to his teacher, Vasishta who was the best among those who knew the provisions of the constitution (brahma). Why did that maharshi (legislator), Vasishta who was a great personage (mahatma) and who knew the socio-cultural laws (dharma) have union with a woman who was not to be united with? Dharmasastra in framing of which Vasishta had a hand had banned niyoga. Why did Vasishta commit a major offence (sin)?
Chitraratha then told him about Kalmashapada who was a raja, an administrator-king, and was also known as Mitrasaha, a homosexual. The chronicler had told Arjuna how Sakti, disciple of Vasishta, had cursed that king to wander as a despicable cannibal. That king left his capital and was wandering with his wife in an uninhabited forest when one day he saw a Brahman and his wife engaged in sexual union. They were disturbed and fled aborting their union. As Kalmashapada caught hold of that Brahman, his spouse appealed to him to let her husband free.
That Brahman woman had recognised that he was a famous king born in the Surya (solar) lineage and as one who never deviated from the social laws, dharma, and as one then under a curse. She advised him not to commit a sin and told him that she was not able to get her desire for a son fulfilled because of his action. But Kalmashapada without heeding her began to eat that Brahman, Chitraratha told Arjuna. According to the legend, the Brahman lady cursed that Rajarshi that he would die when he would try union with his wife.
As the king pleaded for pardon, she said that his wife would deliver a son for him by Vasishta whose disciples that king had destroyed. Only that son would continue his lineage, that lady who belonged to the school of Angirasa (a socio-political ideologue, Brahmavadi, and an author of Atharvaveda, Brahma, that described the socio-political constitution of the Vedic times) said. Vasishta by his knowledge of yoga had personally observed this event. The King approached him to procreate a son for him on his wife lest he should die while engaged in sexual activity. Niyoga, procreating a son on ones wife by an appointed person was not rare and it was permitted as a law of exigency, apaddharma.
Doumya recommended as purohita
Arjuna wanted Chitraratha to recommend for the Pandavas a fit political counsellor (purohita) who knew the Vedas. [Dharmasastras had not yet been finalised then.] The gandharva recommended to Arjuna the appointment of Dhoumya who was assisting Devala, a famous sage as their political counsellor, purohita, and told Arjuna where he could meet Dhoumya. Arjuna handed over his Agni missile (signifying his powers as civil judge) to Chitraratha with proper rites and the latter taught him the science of chakshushi (spying) in exchange. Arjuna asked him to keep the horses with him saying that he would take possession of them when needed. Dhoumya consented to be their political counsellor (purohita). They were happy that they had secured a protector and felt as though they had won Draupadi of Pancala and their own kingdom. Then along with Dhoumya they went to attend the svayamvara of Pancali.
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