expedition. I pierced a deer with an arrow, but
the animal with the shaft sticking to his body ran
with great speed. In chasing it I have, without
a set purpose, arrived at this forest and find myself
in your presence, shorn of splendour, toil-worn, and
with hope disappointed. What can be more pitiable
than this, viz
., that I have arrived at this asylum,
spent with fatigue, shorn of the signs of royalty,
and disappointed of my hopes. I am not at all
sorry, ye ascetics, at my being now shorn of the signs
of royalty or at my being now at a distance from my
capital. I feel, however, a poignant grief in
consequence of my hope having been disappointed.
The prince of mountains, viz
., Himavat, and that
vast receptacle of waters, viz
., the ocean, cannot,
for its vastness, measure the extent of the firmament.
Ye ascetics, similarly, I also cannot discern the
limit of hope. Ye that are endued with wealth
of penances are omniscient. There is nothing
unknown to you. You are also highly blessed.
I therefore, solicit you for resolving my doubt.
Hope as cherished by man, and the wide firmament,
which of these two appears vaster to you? I desire
to hear in detail what is so unconquerable to hope.
If the topic be one upon which it is not improper
for ye to discourse, then tell me all about it without
delay. I do not wish, ye foremost of regenerate
ones, to hear anything from You that may be a mystery
improper to discourse upon. If again the discourse
be injurious to your penances, I would not wish you
to speak. If the question asked by me be a worthy
topic of discourse, I would then wish to hear the cause
in detail. Devoted to penances as ye are, do
ye all instruct me on the subject.’”
“Bhishma said, ’Then that best of Rishis,
viz., the regenerate Rishabha, sitting in the
midst of all those Rishis, smiled a little and said
these words: ’Formerly, O tiger among kings,
while travelling among sacred places, I arrived, O
lord, at the beautiful asylum of Nara and Narayana.
There lies the delightful spot called Vadri, and there
also is that lake in the firmament (whence the sacred
Ganga takes her rise). There the sage Aswasiras,
O king, (always) reads the eternal Vedas. Having
performed my ablutions in that lake and offered with
due rites oblations of water unto the Pitris and the
dogs, I entered the asylum. Within that retreat
the Rishis Nara and Narayana always pass their time
in true pleasure. Not far from that spot I repaired
to another retreat for taking up my abode. While
seated there I beheld a very tall and emaciated Rishi,
clad in rags and skins, approaching towards me.
Possessed of the wealth of penances, he was named
Tanu. Compared, O mighty-armed one, with other
men, his height seemed to be eight times greater.
As regards his leanness, O royal sage, I can say that
I have never beheld its like. His body, O king,