(Sambhava Parva continued)
Vaisampayana said, 'After some length of time, O best of monarchs, Devayani of the fairest complexion went into the same woods for purposes of pleasure. And accompanied by Sarmishtha with her thousand maids she reached the same spot and began to wander freely. And waited upon by all those companions she felt supremely happy. And sporting with light hearts, they began drinking the honey in flowers, eating various kinds of fruit and biting some. And just at that time, king Yayati, the son of Nahusha, again came there tired and thirsty, in course of his wanderings, in search of deer. And the king saw Devayani and Sarmishtha, and those other maidens also, all decked with celestial ornaments and full of voluptuous languor in consequence of the flower-honey they drank. And Devayani of sweet smiles, unrivalled for beauty and possessed of the fairest complexion amongst them all, was reclining at her ease. And she was waited upon by Sarmishtha who was gently kneading her feet.
"And Yayati seeing all this, said, 'O amiable ones, I would ask you both your names and parentage. It seems that these two thousand maids wait on you two.' 'Hearing the monarch, Devayani then answered, 'Listen to me, O best of men. Know that I am the daughter of Sukra, the spiritual guide of the Asuras. This my companion is my waiting-maid. She attendeth on me wherever I go. She is Sarmishtha, the daughter of the Asura king Vrishaparvan.'
"Yayati then asked, 'I am curious to know why is this thy companion of fair eye-brows, this maiden of the fairest complexion, the daughter of the Asura chief thy waiting-maid!' Devayani replied, 'O best of king, everything resulteth from Fate. Knowing this also to be the result of Fate, wonder not at it. Thy feature and attire are both like a king's. Thy speech also is fair and correct as that of the Vedas. Tell me thy name, whence thou art and whose son also.'
"The monarch replied, 'During my vow of Brahmacharya, the whole Vedas entered my ears. I am known as Yayati, a king's son and myself a king.' Devayani then enquired, 'O king, what hast thou come here for? Is it to gather lotuses or to angle or to hunt?' Yayati said, 'O amiable one, thirsty from the pursuit of deer, I have come hither in search of water. I am very much fatigued. I await but your commands to leave this spot.'
"Devayani answered, 'With my two thousand damsels and my waiting-maid Sarmishtha, I wait but your commands. Prosperity to thee. Be thou my friend and lord.'
"Yayati, thereupon, replied, 'Beautiful one, I do not deserve thee. Thou art the daughter of Sukra far superior to me. Thy father cannot bestow thee even on a great king.' To this Devayani replied, 'Brahmanas had before
this been united with the Kshatriyas, and Kshatriyas with Brahmanas. Thou art the son of a Rishi and thyself a Rishi. Therefore, O son of Nahusha, marry me.' Yayati, however, replied, 'O thou of the handsomest features, the four orders have, indeed, sprung from one body. But their duties and purity are not the same, the Brahmana being truly superior to all.' Devayani answered, 'This hand of mine hath never been touched before by any man save thee. Therefore, do I accept thee for my lord. How, indeed, shall any other man touch my hand which had before been touched by thyself who art a Rishi? Yayati then said, 'The wise know that a Brahmana is more to be avoided than an angry snake of virulent poison, or a blazing fire of spreading flames.' Devayani then told the monarch, 'O bull amongst men, why dost thou, indeed, say that Brahmana should be more avoided than an angry snake of virulent poison or a blazing fire of spreading flames?' The monarch answered, 'The snake killeth only one. The sharpest weapon slayeth but a single person. The Brahmana, when angry destroyeth whole cities and kingdoms! Therefore, O timid one, do I deem a Brahmana as more to be avoided than either. I cannot hence wed thee, O amiable one, unless thy father bestoweth thee on me. Devayani then said, 'Thou art, indeed, chosen by me. And, O king, it is understood that thou wilt accept me if my father bestoweth me on thee. Thou needst not fear to accept my poor self bestowed on thee. Thou dost not, indeed, ask for me.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'After this, Devayani quickly sent a maidservant to her father. The maid represented to Sukra everything as it had happened. And as soon as he had heard all, Bhargava came and saw Yayati. And beholding Bhargava come, Yayati worshipped and adored that Brahmana, and stood with joined palms in expectation of his commands.'
"And Devayani then said, 'This O father, is the son of Nahusha. He took hold of my hand, when I was in distress. I bow to thee. Bestow me upon him. I shall not wed any other person in the world.' Sukra exclaimed, 'O thou of splendid courage, thou hast, indeed, been accepted as her lord by this my dear daughter. I bestow her on thee. Therefore, O son of Nahusha, accept her as thy wife.'
"Yayati then said, 'I solicit the boon, O Brahmana, that by so doing, the sin of begetting a half-breed might not touch me.' Sukra, however, assured him by saying, 'I shall absolve thee from the sin. Ask thou the boon that thou desirest. Fear not to wed her. I grant thee absolution. Maintain virtuously thy wife--the slender-waisted Devayani. Transports of happiness be thine in her company. This other maiden, Vrishaparvan's daughter, Sarmishtha should ever be regarded by thee. But thou shall not summon her to thy bed.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Thus addressed by Sukra, Yayati then walked round the Brahmana. And the king then went through the auspicious
ceremony of marriage according to the rites of the scriptures. And having received from Sukra this rich treasure of the excellent Devayani with Sarmishtha and those two thousand maidens, and duly honoured also by Sukra himself and the Asuras, the best of monarchs, then, commanded by the high-souled Bhargava, returned to his capital with a joyous heart.'"