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"Duryodhana said, 'Tell me, O grandsire, how Sikhandin, O Ganga's son, having before been born a daughter, afterwards became a man, O foremost of warriors.'

"Bhishma said, 'O great king, the eldest and beloved queen of king Drupada was, O monarch, childless (at first). During those years, king Drupada, O monarch, paid his adoration to the god Sankara for the sake of offspring, resolving in his mind to compass my destruction and practising the austerest of penances. And he begged Mahadeva, saying, 'Let a son, and not a daughter, be born unto me. I desire, O god, a son for revenging myself upon Bhishma.' Thereupon, that god of gods said unto him, 'Thou shalt have a child who will be a female and male. Desist, O king, it will not be otherwise.' Returning then to his capital, he addressed his wife, saying, 'O great goddess, great hath been the exertion made by me. Undergoing ascetic austerities, I paid my adorations to Siva, and I was told by Sambhu that my child becoming a daughter (first) would subsequently become a male person. And though

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[paragraph continues] I solicited him repeatedly, yet Siva said,--This is Destiny's decree. It will not be otherwise. That which is destined must take place!' Then that lady of great energy, the queen of king Drupada, when her season came, observing all the regulations (about purity), approached Drupada. And in due time the wife of Prishata conceived, agreeably to Destiny's decree, as I was informed, O king, by Narada. And that lady, of eyes like lotus-petals, continued to hold the embryo in her womb. And, O son of Kuru's race, the mighty-armed king Drupada, from paternal affection, attended to every comfort of that dear wife of his. And, O Kaurava, the wife of that lord of earth, the royal Drupada, who was childless, had all her wishes gratified. And in due time, O monarch, that goddess, the queen of Drupada, gave birth to a daughter of great beauty. Thereupon, the strong-minded wife of that king, the childless Drupada, gave out, O monarch, that the child she had brought forth was a son. And then king Drupada, O ruler of men, caused all the rites prescribed for a male child to be performed in respect of that misrepresented daughter, as if she were really a son. And saying that the child was a son, Drupada's queen kept her counsels very carefully. And no other man in the city, save Prishata, knew the sex of that child. Believing these words of that deity of unfading energy, he too concealed the real sex of his child, saying,--She is a son. And, O king, Drupada caused all the rites of infancy, prescribed for a son, to be performed in respect of that child, and he bestowed the name of Sikhandin on her. I alone, through my spies and from Narada's words, knew the truth, informed as I previously was of the words of the god and of the ascetic austerities of Amva!'"

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