Aranya Parva – Chapter 9 – Vyāsa Maharshi narrates the episode of Surabhi and Indra

Dhrutharashtra uvācha, “Bhagawan! Even I do not approve of this game of dice. O Rishi! I think that the Supreme Being has forcibly dragged me into this matter.


Bheeshma, Drona and Vidura also did not approve of this game of dice. Even Gandhari did not wish that it was played; but I pushed everyone to it out of fatherly affection.


Bhagawan! O Venerable One! I know that Duryodhana lacks discrimination, but I cannot renounce him out of affection?”


Vyāsa uvācha, “O king! Son of Vichitraveerya! You are saying it correctly, I know very well that the son is the most desirable object. There is nothing greater than a son in the universe.


Surabhi shed tears for her son while explaining this to Indra, who then became endowed with desirable items but yet did not accept that anything can be greater than a son.


O king! I will narrate to you an excellent ancient story on this matter; which is in the form of a conversation between Surabhi and Indra.


Hey king! A long time ago, Divine Mother Surabhi went to the heavenly worlds and cried uncontrollably. At that time, Indra expressed his sympathies.”


Indra uvācha, “O Fortunate One! Why are you crying like this? Are the residents of the heavenly worlds in good health? Are humans and cows and others also doing well? Your tears here will not be without a worthy reason.”


Surabhi uvācha, “O Lord of the Heavenly Worlds! The deterioration of your people cannot be seen. Indra! I am feeling anguish over my son hence, I am crying.


See that lowly farmer repeatedly beating my frail son with a whip/stick and my son who is yoked to the plough is extremely distressed.


O Lord! My poor son was eager for a rest and sat down and that farmer began hitting him with a stick. O Lord of the Heavens! On seeing this, I became overcome with pity for my child and my mind became perturbed. Out of the two oxen, one is very strong and can pull the weight effortlessly; but the other one is very weak and appears to be without any energy. He has become so frail that all the veins in his body are seen. He is able to pull that plough only with utmost difficulty. O Supreme One! I am grieving for him only. Indra! See for yourself, how he is hitting him with the whip and hurting him repeatedly and yet he is unable to take the weight of the plough.


I am anxious and crying on seeing this and have become very sad and tears are rolling down on seeing this pitiable event.”


Indra uvācha, “O Fortunate One! Your thousand sons must also be equally distressed like this, then why are you expressing grief over one son getting hit repeatedly?”


Surabhi uvācha, “O Lord of the Devas! I look upon my thousand sons equally; but pity overwhelms me when I see a weak and unhappy son.”


Vyāsa uvācha, “O king of the Kurus! On hearing this from Surabhi, Indra became astonished. From that time onwards, he accepted that a son is more precious than life.


At that time, Indra created a heavy storm to hinder the work of the cruel farmer.


What Surabhi has said in that context, is right and therefore, both the Kauravas and Pandavas are your sons. But king! those sons who are destitute or fallen into despair and in a pathetic state should be pitied more.


Child! Similar to how Pandu is my son, you are also mine, the wise Vidura is also mine. I have said all this to you out of affection.


Bharata! For a long time now, you have 101 sons but Pandu has only five. They are also innocent bereft of deceit and malice and undergoing extreme grief.


How will they survive and how will they attain a high state? Thinking of Kunti’s sons in this manner, my mind is deeply troubled.


O King! If you wish that all the Kauravas remain alive, then let your son Duryodhana reconcile with the Pandavas and become calm.”


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