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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,319 pages of information about The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa, Volume 4.
Thy eyes are of the hue of the pomegranate or the Asoka flower.  Do not fear.  I bid thee, be comforted.  When thou hast sought refuge with me, know that no one will have the courage to even think of seizing thee,—­thee that hast such a protector to take care of thy person.  I shall for thy sake, give up today the very kingdom of the Kasi and, if need be, my lice too.  Be comforted, therefore, and let no fear be thine, O pigeon.’

“The hawk said, ’This bird has been ordained to be my food.  It behoves thee not, O king, to protect him from me.  I have outcoursed this bird and have got him.  Verily, with great effort have I got at him at last.  His flesh and blood and marrow and fat will be of great good to me.  This bird will be the means of gratifying me greatly.  Do not, O king, place thyself between him and me in this way.  Fierce is the thirst that is afflicting me, and hunger is gnawing my bowels.  Release the bird and cast him off.  I am unable to bear the pains of hunger any longer.  I pursued him as my prey.  Behold, his body is bruised and torn by me with my wings and talons.  Look, his breath has become very weak.  It behoves thee not, O king, to protect him from me.  In the exercise of that power which properly belongs to thee, thou art, indeed competent to interfere in protecting human beings when they are sought to be destroyed by human beings.  Thou canst not, however, be admitted to have any power over a sky-ranging bird afflicted with thirst.  Thy power may extend over thy enemies, thy servants, thy relatives, the disputes that take place between thy subjects.  Indeed, it may extend over every part of thy dominions and over also thy own senses.  Thy power, however, does not extend over the welkin.  Displaying thy prowess over such foes as act against thy wishes, thou mayst establish thy rule over them.  Thy rule, however, does not extend over the birds that range the sky.  Indeed, if thou hast been desirous of earning merit (by protecting this pigeon), it is thy duty to look at me also (and do what is proper for enabling me to appease my hunger and save my life)!

“Bhishma continued, ’Hearing these words of the hawk, the royal sage became filled with wonder.  Without disregarding these words of his, the king, desirous of attending to his comforts, replied unto him saying the following words.’

“The king said, ’Let a bovine bull or boar or deer or buffalo be dressed today for thy sake.  Do thou appease thy hunger on such food today.  Never to desert one that has sought my protection in my firm vow.  Behold, O bird, this bird does not leave my lap!’

“The hawk said, ’I do not, O monarch, eat the flesh of the boar or the ox or of any of the diverse kinds of fowl.  What need have I of food of this or that kind?  My concern is with that food which has been eternally ordained for beings of my order?  Hawks feed on pigeons,—­this is the eternal ordinance.  O sinless, Usinara, if thou feelest such affection for this pigeon, do thou then give me flesh from thy own body, of weight equal to that of this pigeon.’

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