(Astika Parva continued)
"Sauti said, 'Then Vasuki spake unto the Rishi Jaratkaru these words, 'O best of Brahmanas, this maiden is of the same name with thee. She is my sister and hath ascetic merit. I will maintain thy wife; accept her. O thou of ascetic wealth, I shall protect her with all my ability. And, O foremost of the great Munis, she hath been reared by me for thee.' And the
[paragraph continues] Rishi replied, 'This is agreed between us that I shall not maintain her; and she shall not do aught that I do not like. If she do, I leave her!'
"Sauti continued, 'When the snake had promised, saying, 'I shall maintain my sister,' Jaratkaru then went to the snake's house. Then that first of mantra-knowing Brahmanas, observing rigid vows, that virtuous and veteran ascetic, took her hand presented to him according to shastric rites. And taking his bride with him, adored by the great Rishi, he entered the delightful chamber set apart for him by the king of the snakes. And in that chamber was a bed-stead covered with very valuable coverlets. And Jaratkaru lived there with his wife. And the excellent Rishi made an agreement with his wife, saying, 'Nothing must ever be done or said by thee that is against my liking. And in case of thy doing any such thing, I will leave thee and no longer continue to stay in thy house. Bear in mind these words that have been spoken by me.'
"And then the sister of the king of the snakes in great anxiety and grieving exceedingly, spoke unto him, saying, 'Be it so.' And moved by the desire of doing good to her relatives, that damsel, of unsullied reputation, began to attend upon her lord with the wakefulness of a dog, the timidity of a deer, and knowledge of signs possessed by the crow. And one day, after the menstrual period, the sister of Vasuki, having purified herself by a bath according to custom, approached her lord the great Muni; And thereupon she conceived. And the embryo was like unto a flame of fire, possessed of great energy, and resplendent as fire itself. And it grew like the moon in the bright fortnight.
"And one day, within a short time, Jaratkaru of great fame, placing his head on the lap of his wife, slept, looking like one fatigued. And as he was sleeping, the sun entered his chambers in the Western mountain and was about to set. And, O Brahmana, as the day was fading, she, the excellent sister of Vasuki, became thoughtful, fearing the loss of her husband's virtue. And she thought, 'What should I now do? Shall I wake my husband or not? He is exacting and punctilious in his religious duties. How can I act as not to offend him? The alternatives are his anger and the loss of virtue of a virtuous man. The loss of virtue, I ween, is the greater of the two evils. Again, if I wake him, he will be angry. But if twilight passeth away without his prayers being said, he shall certainly sustain loss of virtue.'
'And having resolved at last, the sweet-speeched Jaratkaru, the sister of Vasuki, spake softly unto that Rishi resplendent with ascetic penances, and lying prostrate like a flame of fire, 'O thou of great good fortune, awake, the sun is setting. O thou of rigid vows, O illustrious one, do your evening prayer after purifying yourself with water and uttering the name of Vishnu. The time for the evening sacrifice hath come. Twilight, O lord, is even now gently covering the western side.'
"The illustrious Jaratkaru of great ascetic merit, thus addressed, spake
unto his wife these words, his upper lip quivering in anger, 'O amiable one of the Naga race, thou hast insulted me. I shall no longer abide with thee, but shall go where I came from. O thou of beautiful thighs, I believe in my heart that the sun hath no power to set in the usual time, if I am asleep. An insulted person should never live where he hath met with the insult, far less should I, a virtuous person, or those that are like me.' Jaratkaru, the sister of Vasuki, thus addressed by her lord, began to quake with terror, and she spake unto him, saying, 'O Brahmana, I have not waked thee from desire of insult; but I have done it so that thy virtue may not sustain any loss.'
"The Rishi Jaratkaru, great in ascetic merit, possessed with anger and desirous of forsaking his spouse, thus addressed, spake unto his wife, saying, O thou fair one, never have I spoken a falsehood. Therefore, go I shall. This was also settled between ourselves. O amiable one, I have passed the time happily with thee. And, O fair one, tell thy brother, when I am gone, that I have left thee. And upon my going away, it behoveth thee not to grieve for me.'
"Thus addressed Jaratkaru, the fair sister of Vasuki, of faultless features, filled with anxiety and sorrow, having mustered sufficient courage and patience, though her heart was still quaking, then spake unto Rishi Jaratkaru. Her words were obstructed with tears and her face was pale with fear. And the palms of her hands were joined together, and her eyes were bathed in tears. And she said, 'It behoveth thee not to leave me without a fault. Thou treadest over the path of virtue. I too have been in the same path, with heart fixed on the good of my relatives. O best of Brahmanas, the object for which I was bestowed on thee hath not been accomplished yet. Unfortunate that I am, what shall Vasuki say unto me? O excellent one, the offspring desired of by my relatives afflicted by a mother's curse, do not yet appear! The welfare of my relatives dependeth on the acquisition of offspring from thee. And in order that my connection with thee may not be fruitless, O illustrious Brahmana, moved by the desire of doing good to my race do I entreat thee. O excellent one, high-souled thou art; so why shall thou leave me who am faultless? This is what is not just clear to me.'
"Thus addressed, the Muni of great ascetic merit spake unto his wife Jaratkaru these words that were proper and suitable to the occasion. And he said, 'O fortunate one, the being thou hast conceived, even like unto Agni himself is a Rishi of soul highly virtuous, and a master of the Vedas and their branches.'
"Having said so, the great Rishi, Jaratkaru of virtuous soul, went away, his heart firmly fixed on practising again the severest penances.'"