"Bhishma said, 'Hearing, O bull of Bharata's race, those words of Sikhandini, afflicted by destiny, that Yaksha, said after reflecting in his mind, these words, 'Indeed, it was ordained to be so, and, O Kaurava, it was ordained for my grief!' The Yaksha said, 'O Blessed lady, I will certainly do what thou wishest! Listen, however, to the condition I make. For a certain period I will give thee my manhood. Thou must, however, come back to me in due time. Pledge thyself to do so! Possessed of immense power, I am a ranger of the skies, wandering at my pleasure, and capable of accomplishing whatever I intend. Through my grace, save the city and thy kinsmen wholly! I will bear thy womanhood, O princess! Pledge thy truth to me, I will do what is agreeable to thee!' Thus addressed, Sikhandini said unto him, 'O holy one of excellent vows, I will give thee back thy manhood! O wanderer of the night, bear thou my womanhood for a short time! After the ruler of the Dasarnakas who is cased in a golden mail will have departed (from my city) I will once more become a maiden and thou wilt become a man!'
"Bhishma continued, 'Having said this (unto each other), they both. O king, made a covenant, and imparted unto each other's body their sexes. And the Yaksha Sthuna, O Bharata, became a female, while Sikhandini obtained the blazing form of the Yaksha. Then, O king, Sikhandini of Panchala's race, having obtained manhood, entered his city in great joy and approached his father. And he represented unto Drupada everything that had happened. And Drupada, bearing it all became highly glad. And along with his wife the king recollected the words of Maheswara. And he forthwith sent, O king, messenger unto the ruler of the Dasarnakas, saying, 'This my child is a male. Let it be believed by thee!' The king of the Dasarnakas meanwhile, filled with sorrow and grief, suddenly approached Drupada, the ruler of the Panchalas. And arrived at Kampilya, the Dasarnaka king despatched, after paying him proper honours, an envoy who was one of the foremost of those conversant with the Vedas. And he addressed the envoy, saying, 'Instructed by me, O messenger, say unto that worst of kings the ruler of the Panchalas, these words,--viz., O thou of wicked understanding, having selected my daughter as a wife for one who is thy daughter, thou shalt today, without doubt, behold the fruit of that act of deception.' Thus addressed and despatched by him, O best of kings, the Brahmana set out for Drupada's city as Dasarnaka's envoy. And having arrived at the city, the priest went unto Drupada's presence. The king of the Panchalas then, with Sikhandin, offered the envoy, O king, a cow and honey. The Brahmana, however, without accepting that worship, said unto him these words that had been communicated through him by the brave ruler of the Dasarnakas who was cased in a golden mail. And he said, 'O thou of vile behaviours, I have been deceived by thee through thy daughter (as the means)! I will exterminate thee with thy counsellors and sons and kinsmen!' Having, in the midst of his counsellors, been made by that priest to hear those words fraught with censure and uttered by the ruler of the Dasarnakas, king Drupada then, O chief of Bharata's race, assuming a mild behaviour from motives of friendship, 'said, The reply to these words of my brother that thou hast said unto me, O Brahmana, will be carried to that monarch by my envoy!' And king Drupada then, sent unto the high-souled Hiranyavarman a Brahmana learned in the Vedas as his envoy. And that envoy, going unto king Hiranyavarman, the ruler of the Dasarnakas, said unto him, 'O monarch, the word that Drupada had entrusted him with.' And he said, 'This my child is really a male. Let it be made clear by means of witness! Somebody has spoken falsely to thee. That should not be believed!' Then the king of the Dasarnakas, having heard the words of Drupada, was filled with sorrow and despatched a number of young ladies of great beauty for ascertaining whether Sikhandin was a male or female. Despatched by him, those ladies, having ascertained (the truth) joyfully told the king of the Dasarnakas everything, viz., that Sikhandin, O chief of the Kurus, was a powerful person of the masculine sex. Hearing that testimony, the ruler
of the Dasarnakas was filled with great joy, and wending then unto his brother Drupada, passed a few days with him in joy. And the king, rejoiced as he was, gave unto Sikhandin much wealth, many elephants and steeds and kine. And worshipped by Drupada (as long as he stayed), the Dasarnaka king then departed, having rebuked his daughter. And after king Hiranyavarman, the ruler of the Dasarnakas had departed in joy and with his anger quelled, Sikhandin began to rejoice exceedingly. Meanwhile, sometime after (the exchange of sexes had taken place) Kuvera, who was always borne on the shoulders of human beings, in course of a journey (through the earth), came to the abode of Sthuna. Staying (in the welkin) above that mansion, the protector of all the treasures saw that the excellent abode of the Yaksha Sthuna was well-adorned with beautiful garland of flowers, and perfumed with fragrant roots of grass and many sweet scents. And it was decked with canopies, and scented incense. And it was also beautiful with standards and banners. And it was filled with edibles and drink of every kind. And beholding that beautiful abode of the Yaksha decked all over, and filled also with garlands of jewels and gems and perfumed with the fragrance of diverse kinds of flowers, and well-watered, and well-swept, the lord of the Yakshas addressed the Yakshas that followed him, saying, 'Ye that are endued with immeasurable prowess, this mansion of Sthuna is well-adorned! Why, however, doth not that wight of wicked understanding come to me? And since that wicked-souled one, knowing I am here, approacheth me not, therefore, some severe punishment should be inflicted on him! Even this is my intention!' Hearing these words of his, the Yakshas said, 'O king, the royal Drupada had a daughter born unto him, of the name of Sikhandini! Unto her, for some reason, Sthuna had given his own manhood, and having taken her womanhood upon him, he stayeth within his abode having become a woman! Bearing as he doth a feminine form, he doth not, therefore, approach thee in shame! It is for this reason, O king, that Sthuna cometh not to thee! Hearing all this, do what may be proper!' Let the car be stopped here! Let Sthuna be brought to me,--were the words that the lord of the Yakshas uttered, and repeatedly said,--I will punish him!--Summoned then by the Lord of Yakshas, Sthuna bearing a feminine form came thither, O king, and stood before him in shame. Then, O thou of Kuru's race, the giver of wealth cursed him in anger, saying, 'Ye Guhyakas, let the femininity of the wretch remain as it is!' And the high-souled lord of the Yakshas also said, 'Since humiliating all the Yakshas, thou hast, O thou of sinful deeds, given away thy own sex to Sikhandini and taken from her, O thou of wicked understanding, her femininity,--since, O wicked wretch, thou hast done what hath never been done by anybody,--therefore from this day, thou shalt remain a woman and she shall remain a man!' At these words of his, all the Yakshas began to soften Vaisravana for the sake of Sthunakarna repeatedly saying, 'Set a limit to thy curse!' The high-souled lord of the Yakshas then said unto all these Yakshas that followed him,
from desire of setting a limit to his curse, these words, viz.,--After Sikhandin's death, ye Yakshas, this one will regain his own form! Therefore, let this high-souled Yaksha Sthuna be freed from his anxiety! Having said this, the illustrious and divine king of the Yakshas, receiving due worship, departed with all his followers who were capable of traversing a great distance within the shortest space of time. And Sthuna, with that curse pronounced on him, continued to live there. And when the time came, Sikhandin without losing a moment came unto that wanderer of the night. And approaching his presence he said, It have come to thee, O holy one!' Sthuna then repeatedly said unto him, 'I am pleased with thee!' Indeed, beholding that prince return to him without guile, Sthuna told Sikhandin everything that had happened. Indeed, the Yaksha said, 'O son of a king, for thee I have been cursed by Vaisravana. Go now, and live happily amongst men as thou choosest. Thy coming here and the arrival of Pulastya's son were, I think, both ordained from beforehand. All this was incapable of being prevented!'
"Bhishma continued, 'Thus addressed by the Kaksha, Sthuna, Sikhandin, O Bharata, came to his city, filled with great joy. And he worshipped with diverse scents and garlands of flower and costly presents persons of the regenerate class, deities, big trees and crossways. And Drupada, the ruler of the Panchalas, along with his son Sikhandin whose wishes had been crowned with success, and with also his kinsmen, became exceedingly glad. And the king then, O bull of Kuru's race, gave his son, Sikhandin, who had been a woman, as a pupil, O monarch, to Drona. An prince Sikhandin obtained, along with yourselves, the whole science of arms with its four divisions. And (his brother) Dhrishtadyumna of Prishata's race also obtained the same. Indeed, all this way represented unto me, O sire, by the spies, disguised as idiots and as persons without the senses of vision, and hearing whom I had set upon Drupada. It is thus, O king, that that best of Rathas. Sikhandin, the son of Drupada, having first been born a female, subsequently became a person of the other sex. And it was the eldest daughter of the ruler of Kasi, celebrated by the name of Amva, who was, O bull of Bharata's race, born in Drupada's line as Sikhandin. If he approacheth me bow in hand and desirous of fight, I will not look at him even for a moment nor smite him, O thou of unfading glory! Even--this is my vow, known over all the world, viz., that I will not, O son of Kuru's race, shoot weapons upon a woman, or one that was a woman before or one bearing a feminine name, or one whose form resembleth a woman's. I will not, for this reason, slay Sikhandin. Even this, O sire, is the story that I have ascertained of Sikhandin's birth. I will not, therefore, slay him in battle even if he approacheth me weapon in hand. If Bhishma slayeth a woman the righteous will all speak ill of him. I will not, therefore, slay him even if I behold him waiting for battle!'
"Sanjaya continued, 'Hearing these words of Bhishma, king Duryodhana of Kuru's race, reflecting for a moment, thought even that behaviour was proper for Bhishma.'"