“Thus have I, O king, recited the history of the descendants of Puru and of the Pandavas. This excellent, virtue-increasing, and sacred history should ever be listened to by vow-observing Brahmanas, by Kshatriyas devoted to the practices of their order and ready to protect their subjects; by Vaisyas with attention, and by Sudras with reverence, whose chief occupation is to wait upon the three other orders. Brahmanas conversant in the Vedas and other persons, who with attention and reverence recite this sacred history or listen to it when recited, conquer the heavens and attain to the abode of the blessed. They are also always respected and adored by the gods, Brahamanas, and other men. This holy history of Bharata hath been composed by the sacred and illustrious Vyasa. Veda-knowing Brahmanas and other persons who with reverence and without malice hear it recited, earn great religious merits and conquer the heavens. Though sinning, they are not disregarded by any one. Here occurs a sloka, ’This (Bharata) is equal unto the Vedas: it is holy and excellent. It bestoweth wealth, fame, and life. Therefore, it should be listened to by men with rapt attention.’”
(Sambhava Parva continued)
“Vaisampayana said, ’There was a king known by the name of Mahabhisha born in the race of Ikshvaku. He was the lord of all the earth, and was truthful (in speech) and of true prowess. By a thousand horse-sacrifices and a hundred Rajasuyas he had gratified the chief of the celestials and ultimately attained to heaven.
“One day the celestials had assembled together and were worshipping Brahman. Many royal sages and king Mahabhisha also were present on the spot. And Ganga, the queen of rivers, also came there to pay her adorations to the Grandsire. And her garments white as the beams of the moon was displaced by the action of the wind. And as her person became exposed, the celestials bent down their heads. But the royal sage Mahabhisha rudely stared at the queen of rivers. And Mahabhisha was for this cursed by Brahman, who said, ’Wretch, as thou hast forgotten thyself at the sight of Ganga, thou shalt be re-born on earth. But thou shall again and again attain to these regions. And she, too, shall be born in the world of men and shall do thee injuries. But when thy wrath shall be provoked, thou shalt then be freed from my curse.’
“Vaisampayana continued, ’King Mahabhisha then recollecting all the monarchs and ascetics on earth, wished to be born as son to Pratipa of great prowess. And the queen of rivers, too, seeing king Mahabhisha lose his firmness, went away, thinking of him wishfully. And on her way, she saw those dwellers in heaven, the Vasus, also pursuing the same path. And the queen of rivers beholding them in the predicament, asked them, ’Why look ye so dejected? Ye dwellers in heaven, is everything right with you?’ Those celestials, the Vasus,