Mahabharat Section-5

Saunaka said, “Child, thy father formerly read the whole of the
Puranas, O son of Lomaharsana, and the Bharata with Krishna-Dwaipayana. Hast thou also made them thy study ? In those ancient records are chronicled interesting stories and the history of the first generations
of the wise men, all of which we heard being rehearsed by thy sire. In the first place, I am desirous of hearing the history of the race of Bhrigu.
Recount thou that history ; we shall attentively listen to thee.” Sauti answered : “By me hath been acquired all that was formerly
studied by the high-souled Brahmanas including Vaisampayana and
repeated by them ; by me hath been acquired all that had been studied
by my father- O descendant of the Bhrigu race, attend then to so much
as relateth to the exalted race of Bhrigu, revered by Indra and all the
gods, by the tribes of Rishis and Marutas (Winds). O great Muni, I shall first properly recount the story of this family, as told in the
Puranas.
“The great and blessed saint Bhrigu, we are informed, was produced
by the self-existing Brahma from the fire at sacrifice of Varuna. And
Bhrigu had a son, named Chyavana, whom he dearly loved. And to Chyavana was born a virtuous son called Pramati. And Pramati had
a son named Ruru by Ghritachi (the celestial danceuse). And to Ruru
also by his wife Pramadvara, was born a son, whose name was Sunaka.
He was, O Saunaka, thy great ancestor exceedingly virtuous in his ways.
He was devoted to asceticism, of great reputation, proficient in law,
and eminent among those having a knowledge of the Vedas. He was
virtuous, truthful, and of well-regulated fare.” Saunaka said, *O son of Suta, I ask thee why the illustrious son of Bhrigu was named Chyavana. Do tell me all.” Sauti replied : “Bhrigu had a wife named Puloma whom he dearly
loved. She became big with child by Bhrigu. And one day while the
virtuous continent Puloma was in that condition, Bhrigu, great among
those that are true to their religion, leaving her at home went out to perform his ablutions. It was then that the Rakshasa called Puloma came to Bhrigu’s abode. And entering the Rishi’s abode, the Rakshasa saw the wife of Bhrigu, irreproachable in everything. And seeing her he
became filled with lust and lost his senses. The beautiful Puloma entertained the Rakshasa thus arrived, with roots and fruits of the forest. And ehe Rakshasa who burnt with desire upon seeing her, became very
ADI PABVA 61
much delighted and resolved, O good sage, to bear her away who was
so blameless in every respect.
“My design is accomplished,” said the Rakshasa, and so seizing that
beautiful matron he carried her away. And, indeed, she of agreeable
smiles had been betrothed by her father himself, to him, although the
former subsequently bestowed her, according to due rites, on Bhrigu.
O thou of the Bhrigu race, this wound rankled deep in the Rakshasa’s
mind and he thought the present moment a very good opportunity for carrying the lady away.
“And the Rakshasa saw in the apartment in which the sacrificial fire was kept burning brightly. The Rakshasa then asked the flaming
element. “Tell me, O Agni, whose wife this woman rightfully is. Thou
art the mouth of gods, therefore thou art bound to answer my question.
This lady of superior complexion had been first accepted by me as wife,
but her father subsequently bestowed her on the false Bhrigu. Tell me
truly if this fair one can be regarded as the wife of Bhrigu, for having
found her alone, I have resolved to bear away by force from the
hermitage. My heart burneth with rage when I reflect that Bhrigu hath
got possession of this woman of slender waist, first betrothed to myself.”
Sauti continued : “In this manner the Rakshasa asked the flaming
god of fire again and again whether the lady was Bhrigu’s wife. And
the god was afraid to return an answer, ‘Thou, O god of fire,’ said he,
residest continually within every creature, as witness of their merits
and demerits. O thou respected one, then answer my question truly.
Has not Bhrigu appropriated her who was chosen by me as my wife ? Thou shouldst declare truly whether, therefore she is my wife by first choice. After thy answer as to whether she is the wife of Bhrigu, I will bear her away from this hermitage even in sight of thee. Therefore
answer thou truly.’
‘ Sauti continued : “The Seven-flamed god having heard these words
of the Rakshasa became exceedingly distressed, being afraid of telling a falsehood and equally afraid of Bhrigu’s curse. And the god at length
made answer in words that came out slowly. ‘This Puloma was, indeed,
first chosen by thee, O Rakshasa, but she was not taken by thee with
holy rites and invocations. But this far-famed lady was bestowed by her
father on Bhrigu as a gift from desire of blessing. She was not bestowed
on thee I O Rakshasa, this lady was duly made by the Rishi Bhrigu his wife with Vedic rites in my presence. This is she I know her. I dare
not speak a falsehood. O thou best of the Rakshasas, falsehood is never
respected in this world.’