Souti said, Listen to me all sages present,
This is how Chawan, the son of Bhrigu came.
Promoti was the name of the son born of Chawan.
His son in turn took the name of Ruru.
Promodbora, the exquisite was his wife
Menoka, the Apsara was mother to this beauty.
She died after being bitten by a snake
At the well of sadness her family failed their thirst to slake.
Promoti’s son was overcome with pain
He took himself to the forest to weep on his own
All the gods gathered on hearing his loud cries
They sent messengers to ask and console his misery
The messenger asked, Ruru why do you weep so?
Her life was finished and thus your wife had to go.
There is naught you can do when that is the reason
There is one thing however that you may try
If you give half your life to the deceased
She will return to you by and by
I will give half my years, Ruru made a pledge
Let my wife live, let me see her again.
Hearing this the messenger, Ruru alongside him
Went to the house of Yama, sitting in a viman
The messenger told Yama all that had taken place
Half his life he has yielded, this son of Promoti.
The Dharma king said then, you will have her alive
Go to your own house, go oh Twice-born.
Promodbora gained life by the boon of god
Promoti’s son was then filled with joy
He promised himself in vengeful spite
I will kill every snake I find on sight.
He wandered the world with a stave seeking snakes
He killed them in great numbers, too vast to be counted
One day the sage entered a forest deep and dark
There he saw a terrible snake by the name of Dunduva
As the sage advanced on the snake with his stick,
Dunduva called out aloud,
What have I done to you? What is my fault?
Why do you slaughter the one without blame?
Ruru said, I do not care who is without fault.
I have pledged I will kill snakes upon sight
Dunduva said, I am a snake only in name
Violence against the meek is a matter of great shame
Hearing this Ruru paused to think awhile
Eventually he decided to ask, tell me who you were
The snake answered, I was the son of a Sage of yore
Khagam was a friend of mine in my childhood.
Once I gave him a snake fashioned from palm leaf
Khagam thought it real and suffered grief
In his anger he cursed me terribly
Be a bite-less snake for as long as it takes
Then he felt pained by guilt and said to me
You will be freed soon, listen to me my dear friend
When you meet Ruru, the son of a sage
You are son to Promoti, scion of the clan of Bhrigu
Why do you kill like a Khatriya even though you are a Brahmin?
It is not a Brahmin’s lot to hate other people
See how wretched I am though my fault was slight,
Remember non-violence to be the greatest creed.
Be the savior of those who live in dread.
In the past the King Janmejaya performed a snake ceremony
A Brahmin was the one who saved their lives,
Astik was his name, Jaratkaru his sire.
The story of his birth is strange indeed.
Ruru says, now hear this story of Astik the great
How the line of serpents were saved from certain death.
Why did Janmejaya hold this great snake sacrifice?
Tell us, wise one, quench our thirst
The sage then answered saying, if you wish to learn,
The story is very long I must warn you first.
He then asked the gathered sages for their permission
Grant me the freedom to return to my home.
Saying this he then took his leave from the sages
In a manner unexplained by the rules of men.
Now Ruru felt a pain colour his wonder.
He returned home and asked of his old father,
Promoti said, I know all the stories you speak of
Astik’s story is quite strange, unbelievable to hear.
The tales of the Mahabharat are like ambrosia to the ear
Nothing is as soothing as the words you will hear,
Kashiram Das pays his respects to the venerable of the land
You will surely be blessed if you listen from beginning to end.