Srimad Bhagvata Mahapurana Book 9 Chapter 21:1-14

Book 9: Chapter 21

Srimad Bhagvata Mahapurana: Book 9: Chapter 21: Verses 1-14
The posterity of Bharata and the story of Rantideva

Sri Suka resumed : The son of Vitatha (Bharadwaja) was Manyu, of whom were born Brhatksatra, Jaya, Mahavirya, Nara and Garga; and Nara's son was Sankrti. Sankrti's sons were Guru and Rantideva, O delight of Pandu ! The glory of Rantideva is, as a matter of fact, sung both in this world and the world beyond. In the case of Rantideva, who subsisted on whatever was obtained without any effort and who, though feeling hungry (himself), gave away all that was got, and was thus rendered (utterly) destitute (having no provision even for the evening much less for the next day), and therefore suffering terrible hardship, alongwith his family-who were reduced to (great) straits-(nay), trembling due to (excessive) hunger and thirst, yet calm, passed (not less than) forty-eight days-so the tradition goes-without his taking (even) water. In the morning (of the forty-ninth day) there came to him (by chance) ghee, rice cooked in milk with sugar, Samyava* (a kind of porridge made of wheat flour with ghee and) milk, as well as water. And when he was intending to partake of it, there arrived, at that (very) time, a newcomer in the person of a Brahmana. Viewing Sri Hari everywhere and (therefore) full of reverence, Rantideva welcomed him and gave to him a proportionate share (of those dishes). (And) the Brahmana went away after taking that food. In the meantime, 0 ruler of the earth, while he was going to eat, having divided the remaining fare among themselves, yet another stranger came. Remembering Sri Hari, he gave away to the newcomer, who was a Sudra, a share of the food (already) divided (among themselves). When the Sudra had left, there came to him another stranger surrounded (followed) by dogs. He said, "O king, let food be given to me, seized (as I am) with hunger alongwith my followers (the dogs)." Receiving the newcomer kindly, the king gave away with great reverence whatever was left to the dogs as well as to their master and bowed to them (as so many manifestatations of the Lord). There was but some water left, which was barely sufficient to slake the thirst of (only) one individual. When he was about to drink it, there unexpectedly came a Candala (one belonging to the lowest rank in Hindu society) saying, "(Kindly) give the water to me, an unlucky fellow." Hearing that pitiful request, uttered with great effort (due to exhaustion), the king, who was sore stricken with pity, spoke the following nectar-like words:- "I do not seek from the Lord the highest position attended with the eightfold Yogic power (Anima and so on) or even final beatitude (cessation of rebirth). Dwelling in their heart (as the sufferer) I would (rather) undergo the suffering of all embodied souls, so that (through such vicarious suffering of mine) they may be relieved of misery. My exhaustion due to hunger and thirst, the weariness of my limbs, low spirits, langour, grief, despondency and infatuation have all disappeared on account of my giving away the water, which meant life to this miserable fellow, anxious to survive." Having expressed such noble sentiments, the king, who was full of fortitude and merciful by nature, gave the water to the Candala, though himself dying of thirst.



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