20.THE SLAYING OF JARASANDHA
BRIHADRATHA, the commander of three regiments, reigned in the kingdom of Magadha and attained celebrity as a great hero. He married the twin daughters of the raja of Kasi and vowed to them that he would not show any partiality to either. Brihadratha was not blessed with a child for a long time. When he became old, he handed over his kingdom to his ministers, went to the forest with his two wives and engaged himself in austerities. He went to Sage Kausika of the Gautama family, with a sorrowful longing for children in his heart. And when the sage was moved with pity and asked him what he wanted, he answered: "I am childless and have come to the forest giving up my kingdom. Give me children." The sage was filled with compassion and, even as he was thinking how to help the king, a mango fruit fell into his lap. He took it and gave it to the king with this blessing: "Take it. Your wish will be fulfilled." The king cut the fruit into two halves and gave one to each wife. He did so to keep his vow not to show partiality to either. Some time after they had partaken of the fruit, the wives became pregnant. The delivery took place in due course. But instead of bringing the expected joy, it plunged them into greater grief than before. For they each gave birth to but a half of a child. Each half was a monstrous birth which seemed a revolting lump. They were indeed two equal and complementary portions of one baby, consisting of one eye, one leg, half a face, one ear and so on. Seized with grief, they commanded their attendants to tie the gruesome pieces in a cloth and cast them away. The attendants did as they were instructed and threw the cloth bundle on a heap of refuse in the street. A cannibal Rakshasi chanced upon that place. She was elated at seeing the two pieces of flesh and, as she gathered them up both at once, accidently the halves came together the right way. And they at once adhered together and changed into a whole living child, perfect in every detail. The surprised Rakshasi did not wish to kill the child. She took on the guise of a beautiful woman and, going to the king, presented the child to him saying: "This is your child.