The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa
Kisari Mohan Ganguli (Translator)
Part 2 out of 11
to contact with the leavings of a repast. Nor doth she herself appear in
sight of any one who is defiled.'
"Utanka, thus informed, reflected for a while and then said, 'Yes, it must
be so. Having been in a hurry I performed my ablutions (after meal) in a
standing posture.' King Paushya then said, 'Here is a transgression,
purification is not properly effected by one in a standing posture, not by
one while he is going along.' And Utanka having agreed to this, sat down
with his face towards the east, and washed his face, hands, and feet
thoroughly. And he then, without a noise, sipped thrice of water free from
scum and froth, and not warm, and just sufficient to reach his stomach and
wiped his face twice. And he then touched with water the apertures of his
organs (eyes, ears, etc.). And having done all this, he once more entered
the apartments of the women. And this time he saw the Queen. And as the
Queen perceived him, she saluted him respectfully and said, 'Welcome, Sir,
command me what I have to do.' And Utanka said unto her, 'It behoveth thee
to give me those ear-rings of thine. I beg them as a present for my
preceptor.' And the Queen having been highly pleased with Utanka's conduct
and, considering that Utanka as an object of charity could not be passed
over, took off her ear-rings and gave them to him. And she said, 'These
ear-rings are very much sought after by Takshaka, the King of the serpents.
Therefore shouldst thou carry them with the greatest care.'
"And Utanka being told this, said unto the Queen, 'Lady, be under no
apprehension. Takshaka, Chief of the serpents, is not able to overtake me.'
And having said this, and taking leave of the Queen, he went back into
the presence of Paushya, and said, 'Paushya, I am gratified.' Then Paushya
said to Utanka, 'A fit object of charity can only be had at long intervals.
Thou art a qualified guest, therefore do I desire to perform a sraddha.
Tarry thou a little. And Utanka replied, 'Yes, I will tarry, and beg that
the clean provisions that are ready may be soon brought in.' And the king
having signified his assent, entertained Utanka duly. And Utanka seeing
that the food placed before him had hair in it, and also that it was cold,
thought it unclean. And he said unto Paushya, 'Thou givest me food that is
unclean, therefore shalt thou lose thy sight.' And Paushya in answer said,
'And because dost thou impute uncleanliness to food that is clean,
therefore shalt thou be without issue.' And Utanka thereupon rejoined, 'It
behoveth thee not, after having offered me unclean food, to curse me in
return. Satisfy thyself by ocular proof.'
"And Paushya seeing the food alleged to be unclean satisfied himself of
its uncleanliness. And Paushya having ascertained that the food was truly
unclean, being cold and mixed with hair, prepared as it was by a woman
with unbraided hair, began to pacify the Rishi Utanka, saying, 'Sir, the
food placed before thee is cold, and doth contain hair, having been
prepared without sufficient care. Therefore I pray thee pardon me. Let me
not become blind.' And Utanka answered, 'What I say must come to pass.
Having become blind, thou mayst, however, recover the sight before long.
Grant that thy curse also doth not take effect on me.' And Paushya said
unto him, 'I am unable to revoke my curse. For my wrath even now hath not
been appeased. But thou knowest not this. For a Brahmana's heart is soft
as new-churned butter, even though his words bear a sharp-edged razor. It
is otherwise in respect of these with the Kshatriya. His words are soft as
new-churned butter, but his heart is like a sharp-edged tool, such being
the case, I am unable, because of the hardness of my heart, to neutralise
my curse. Then go thou thy own way.' To this Utanka made answer, 'I showed
thee the uncleanliness of the food offered to me, and I was even now
pacified by thee. Besides, saidst thou at first that because I imputed
uncleanliness to food that was clean I should be without issue. But the
food truly unclean, thy curse cannot affect me. Of this I am sure.' And
Utanka having said this departed with the ear-rings.
"On the road Utanka perceived coming towards him a naked idle beggar
sometimes coming in view and sometimes disappearing. And Utanka put the
ear-rings on the ground and went for water. In the meantime the beggar
came quickly to the spot and taking up the ear-rings ran away. And Utanka
having completed his ablutions in water and purified himself and having
also reverently bowed down to the gods and his spiritual masters pursued
the thief with the utmost speed. And having with great difficulty
overtaken him, he seized him by force. But at that instant the person
seized, quitting the form of a beggar and assuming his real form, viz.,
that of Takshaka, speedily entered a large hole open in the ground. And
having got in, Takshaka proceeded to his own abode, the region of the
"Now, Utanka, recollecting the words of the Queen, pursued the Serpent,
and began to dig open the hole with a stick but was unable to make much
progress. And Indra beholding his distress sent his thunder-bolt (Vajra)
to his assistance. Then the thunder-bolt entering that stick enlarged that
hole. And Utanka began to enter the hole after the thunder-bolt. And
having entered it, he beheld the region of the serpents infinite in extent,
filled with hundreds of palaces and elegant mansions with turrets and
domes and gate-ways, abounding with wonderful places for various games and
entertainments. And Utanka then glorified the serpents by the following
'Ye Serpents, subjects of King Airavata, splendid in battle and showering
weapons in the field like lightning-charged clouds driven by the winds!
Handsome and of various forms and decked with many coloured ear-rings, ye
children of Airavata, ye shine like the Sun in the firmament! On the
northern banks of the Ganges are many habitations of serpents. There I
constantly adore the great serpents. Who except Airavata would desire to
move in the burning rays of the Sun? When Dhritarashtra (Airavata's
brother) goes out, twenty-eight thousand and eight serpents follow him as
his attendants. Ye who move near him and ye who stay at a distance from
him, I adore all of you that have Airavata for your elder brother.
'I adore thee also, to obtain the ear-rings, O Takshaka, who formerly
dwelt in Kurukshetra and the forest of Khandava! Takshaka and Aswasena, ye
are constant companions who dwell in Kurukshetra on the banks of the
Ikshumati! I also adore the illustrious Srutasena, the younger brother of
Takshaka, who resided at the holy place called Mahadyumna with a view to
obtaining the chiefship of the serpents.
"The Brahmana Rishi Utanka having saluted the chief serpents in this
manner, obtained not, however, the ear-rings. And he thereupon became very
thoughtful. And when he saw that he obtained not the ear-rings even though
he had adored the serpents, he then looked about him and beheld two women
at a loom weaving a piece of cloth with a fine shuttle; and in the loom
were black and white threads. And he likewise saw a wheel, with twelve
spokes, turned by six boys. And he also saw a man with a handsome horse.
And he began to address them the following mantras:
'This wheel whose circumference is marked by twenty-four divisions
representing as many lunar changes is furnished with three hundred spokes!
It is set in continual motion by six boys (the seasons)! These damsels
representing universal nature are weaving without intermission a cloth
with threads black and white, and thereby ushering into existence the
manifold worlds and the beings that inhabit them! Thou wielder of the
thunder, the protector of the universe, the slayer of Vritra and Namuchi,
thou illustrious one who wearest the black cloth and displayest truth and
untruth in the universe, thou who ownest for thy carrier the horse which
was received from the depths of the ocean, and which is but another form
of Agni (the god of fire), I bow to thee, thou supreme Lord, thou Lord of
the three worlds, O Purandara!'
"Then the man with the horse said unto Utanka, 'I am gratified by this thy
adoration. What good shall I do to thee?' And Utanka replied, 'Even let
the serpents be brought under my control.' Then the man rejoined, 'Blow
into this horse.' And Utanka blew into that horse. And from the horse thus
blown into, there issued, from every aperture of his body, flames of fire
with smoke by which the region of the Nagas was about to be consumed. And
Takshaka, surprised beyond measure and terrified by the heat of the fire,
hastily came out of his abode taking the ear-rings with him, and said unto
Utanka, 'Pray, Sir, take back the ear-rings.' And Utanka took them back.
"But Utanka having recovered his ear-rings thought, 'O, this is that
sacred day of my preceptress. I am at a distance. How can I, therefore,
show my regard for her? And when Utanka was anxious about this, the man
addressed him and said, 'Ride this horse, Utanka, and he will in a moment
carry thee to thy master's abode.' And Utanka having signified his assent,
mounted the horse and presently reached his preceptor's house.
"And his preceptress that morning after having bathed was dressing her
hair sitting, thinking of uttering a curse on Utanka if he should not
return within time. But, in the meantime, Utanka entered his preceptor's
abode and paid his respects to his preceptress and presented her the ear-
rings. 'Utanka', said she, 'thou hast arrived at the proper time at the
proper place. Welcome, my child; thou art innocent and therefore I do not
curse thee! Good fortune is even before thee. Let thy wishes be crowned
"Then Utanka waited on his preceptor. And his preceptor said, 'Thou art
welcome! What hath occasioned thy long absence?' And Utanka replied to his
preceptor, 'Sir, in the execution of this my business obstruction was
offered by Takshaka, the King of serpents. Therefore I had to go to the
region of the Nagas. There I saw two damsels sitting at a loom, weaving a
fabric with black and white threads. Pray, what is that? There likewise I
beheld a wheel with twelve spokes ceaselessly turned by six boys. What too
doth that import? Who is also the man that I saw? And what the horse of
extraordinary size likewise beheld by me? And when I was on the road I
also saw a bull with a man mounted thereon, by whom I was endearingly
accosted thus, 'Utanka, eat of the dung of this bull, which was also eaten
by thy master?' So I ate of the dung of that bull according to his words.
Who also is he? Therefore, enlightened by thee, I desire to hear all about
"And his preceptor thus addressed said unto him, 'The two damsels thou
hast seen are Dhata and Vidhata; the black and white threads denote night
and day; the wheel of twelve spokes turned by the six boys signified the
year comprising six seasons. The man is Parjanya, the deity of rain, and
the horse is Agni, the god of fire. The bull that thou hast seen on the
road is Airavata, the king of elephants; the man mounted thereon is Indra;
and the dung of the bull which was eaten by thee was Amrita. It was
certainly for this (last) that thou hast not met with death in the region
of the Nagas; and Indra who is my friend having been mercifully inclined
showed thee favour. It is for this that thou returnest safe, with the ear-
rings about thee. Then, O thou amiable one, I give thee leave to depart.
Thou shall obtain good fortune.'
"And Utanka, having obtained his master's leave, moved by anger and
resolved to avenge himself on Takshaka, proceeded towards Hastinapura.
That excellent Brahmana soon reached Hastinapura. And Utanka then waited
upon King Janamejaya who had some time before returned victorious from
Takshashila. And Utanka saw the victorious monarch surrounded on all sides
by his ministers. And he pronounced benedictions on him in a proper form.
And Utanka addressed the monarch at the proper moment in speech of correct
accent and melodious sounds, saying, 'O thou the best of monarchs! How is
it that thou spendest thy time like a child when there is another matter
that urgently demandeth thy attention?'"
Sauti said, "The monarch Janamejaya, thus addressed, saluting that
excellent Brahmana replied unto him, 'In cherishing these my subjects I do
discharge the duties of my noble tribe. Say, what is that business to be
done by me and which hath brought thee hither.'
"The foremost of Brahmanas and distinguished beyond all for good deeds,
thus addressed by the excellent monarch of large heart, replied unto him,
'O King! the business is thy own that demandeth thy attention; therefore
do it, please. O thou King of kings! Thy father was deprived of life by
Takshaka; therefore do thou avenge thy father's death on that vile serpent.
The time hath come, I think, for the act of vengeance ordained by the
Fates. Go then avenge the death of thy magnanimous father who, being
bitten without cause by that vile serpent, was reduced to five elements
even like a tree stricken by thunder. The wicked Takshaka, vilest of the
serpent race, intoxicated with power committed an unnecessary act when he
bit the King, that god-like father, the protector of the race of royal
saints. Wicked in his deeds, he even caused Kasyapa (the prince of
physicians) to run back when he was coming for the relief of thy father.
It behoveth thee to burn the wicked wretch in the blazing fire of a snake-
sacrifice. O King! Give instant orders for the sacrifice. It is thus thou
canst avenge the death of thy father. And a very great favour shall have
also been shown to me. For by that malignant wretch, O virtuous Prince, my
business also was, on one occasion, obstructed, while proceeding on
account of my preceptor."
Sauti continued, "The monarch, having heard these words, was enraged with
Takshaka. By the speech of Utanka was inflamed the prince, even as the
sacrificial fire with clarified butter. Moved by grief also, in the
presence of Utanka, the prince asked his ministers the particulars of his
father's journey to the regions of the blessed. And when he heard all
about the circumstances of his father's death from the lips of Utanka, he
was overcome with pain and sorrow.
And thus endeth the section called Paushya of the Adi Parva of the blessed
Ugrasrava Sauti, the son of Lomaharshana, versed in the Puranas, while
present in the forest of Naimisha, at the twelve years' sacrifice of
Saunaka, surnamed Kulapati, stood before the Rishis in attendance. Having
studied Puranas with meticulous devotion and thus being thoroughly
acquainted with them, he addressed them with joined hands thus, "I have
graphically described to you the history of Utanka which is one of the
causes of King Janamejaya's Snake-sacrifice. What, revered Sirs, do ye
wish to hear now? What shall I relate to you?" The holy men replied, "O
son of Lomaharshana, we shall ask thee about what we are anxious to hear
and thou wilt recount the tales one by one. Saunaka, our revered master,
is at present attending the apartment of the holy fire. He is acquainted
with those divine stories which relate to the gods and asuras. He
adequately knoweth the histories of men, serpents, and Gandharvas. Further,
O Sauti, in this sacrifice that learned Brahmana is the chief. He is able,
faithful to his vows, wise, a master of the Sastras and the Aranyaka, a
speaker of truth, a lover of peace, a mortifier of the flesh, and an
observer of the penances according to the authoritative decrees. He is
respected by us all. It behoveth us therefore to wait for him. And when he
is seated on his highly respected seat, thou wilt answer what that best of
Dwijas shall ask of thee."
Sauti said, "Be it so. And when the high-souled master hath been seated I
shall narrate, questioned by him, sacred stories on a variety of subjects."
After a while that excellent Brahmana (Saunaka) having duly finished all
his duties, and having propitiated the gods with prayers and the manes
with oblations of water, came back to the place of sacrifice, where with
Sauti seated before was the assembly of saints of rigid vows sitting at
ease. And when Saunaka was seated in the midst of the Ritwiks and Sadhyas,
who were also in their seats, he spake as followeth.
(Pauloma Parva continued)
"Saunaka said, 'Child, thy father formerly read the whole of the Puranas,
O son of Lomaharshana, and the Bharata with Krishna-Dwaipayana. Hast thou
also made them thy study? In those ancient records are chronicled
interesting stories and the history of the first generations of the wise
men, all of which we heard being rehearsed by thy sire. In the first place,
I am desirous of hearing the history of the race of Bhrigu. Recount thou
that history, we shall attentively listen to thee."
"Sauti answered, 'By me hath been acquired all that was formerly studied
by the high-souled Brahmanas including Vaisampayana and repeated by them;
by me hath been acquired all that had been studied by my father. O
descendant of the Bhrigu race, attend then to so much as relateth to the
exalted race of Bhrigu, revered by Indra and all the gods, by the tribes
of Rishis and Maruts (Winds). O great Muni, I shall first properly recount
the story of this family, as told in the Puranas.
"The great and blessed saint Bhrigu, we are informed, was produced by the
self-existing Brahma from the fire at the sacrifice of Varuna. And Bhrigu
had a son, named Chyavana, whom he dearly loved. And to Chyavana was born
a virtuous son called Pramati. And Pramati had a son named Ruru by
Ghritachi (the celestial dancer). And to Ruru also by his wife Pramadvara,
was born a son, whose name was Sunaka. He was, O Saunaka, thy great
ancestor exceedingly virtuous in his ways. He was devoted to asceticism,
of great reputation, proficient in law, and eminent among those having a
knowledge of the Vedas. He was virtuous, truthful, and of well-regulated
"Saunaka said, 'O son of Suta, I ask thee why the illustrious son of
Bhrigu was named Chyavana. Do tell me all.'
"Sauti replied, 'Bhrigu had a wife named Puloma whom he dearly loved. She
became big with child by Bhrigu. And one day while the virtuous continent
Puloma was in that condition, Bhrigu, great among those that are true to
their religion, leaving her at home went out to perform his ablutions. It
was then that the Rakshasa called Puloma came to Bhrigu's abode. And
entering the Rishi's abode, the Rakshasa saw the wife of Bhrigu,
irreproachable in everything. And seeing her he became filled with lust
and lost his senses. The beautiful Puloma entertained the Rakshasa thus
arrived, with roots and fruits of the forest. And the Rakshasa who burnt
with desire upon seeing her, became very much delighted and resolved, O
good sage, to carry her away who was so blameless in every respect.
'My design is accomplished,' said the Rakshasa, and so seizing that
beautiful matron he carried her away. And, indeed, she of agreeable smiles,
had been betrothed by her father himself, to him, although the former
subsequently bestowed her, according to due rites, on Bhrigu. O thou of
the Bhrigu race, this wound rankled deep in the Rakshasa's mind and he
thought the present moment very opportune for carrying the lady away.
"And the Rakshasa saw the apartment in which the sacrificial fire was kept
burning brightly. The Rakshasa then asked the flaming element 'Tell me, O
Agni, whose wife this woman rightfully is. Thou art the mouth of gods;
therefore thou art bound to answer my question. This lady of superior
complexion had been first accepted by me as wife, but her father
subsequently bestowed her on the false Bhrigu. Tell me truly if this fair
one can be regarded as the wife of Bhrigu, for having found her alone, I
have resolved to take her away by force from the hermitage. My heart
burneth with rage when I reflect that Bhrigu hath got possession of this
woman of slender waist, first betrothed to me.'"
"Sauti continued, 'In this manner the Rakshasa asked the flaming god of
fire again and again whether the lady was Bhrigu's wife. And the god was
afraid to return an answer. 'Thou, O god of fire,' said he, 'residest
constantly within every creature, as witness of her or his merits and
demerits. O thou respected one, then answer my question truly. Has not
Bhrigu appropriated her who was chosen by me as my wife? Thou shouldst
declare truly whether, therefore, she is my wife by first choice. After
thy answer as to whether she is the wife of Bhrigu, I will bear her away
from this hermitage even in sight of thee. Therefore answer thou truly.'"
"Sauti continued, 'The Seven flamed god having heard these words of the
Rakshasa became exceedingly distressed, being afraid of telling a
falsehood and equally afraid of Bhrigu's curse. And the god at length made
answer in words that came out slowly. 'This Puloma was, indeed, first
chosen by thee, O Rakshasa, but she was not taken by thee with holy rites
and invocations. But this far-famed lady was bestowed by her father on
Bhrigu as a gift from desire of blessing. She was not bestowed on thee O
Rakshasa, this lady was duly made by the Rishi Bhrigu his wife with Vedic
rites in my presence. This is she--I know her. I dare not speak a
falsehood. O thou best of the Rakshasas, falsehood is never respected in
(Pauloma Parva continued)
"Sauti said, 'O Brahmana, having heard these words from the god of fire,
the Rakshasa assumed the form of a boar, and seizing the lady carried her
away with the speed of the wind--even of thought. Then the child of Bhrigu
lying in her body enraged at such violence, dropped from his mother's womb,
for which he obtained the name of Chyavana. And the Rakshasa perceiving
the infant drop from the mother's womb, shining like the sun, quitted his
grasp of the woman, fell down and was instantly converted into ashes. And
the beautiful Pauloma, distracted with grief, O Brahmana of the Bhrigu
race, took up her offspring Chyavana, the son of Bhrigu and walked away.
And Brahma, the Grandfather of all, himself saw her, the faultless wife of
his son, weeping. And the Grandfather of all comforted her who was
attached to her son. And the drops of tears which rolled down her eyes
formed a great river. And that river began to follow the foot-steps of the
wife of the great ascetic Bhrigu. And the Grandfather of the worlds seeing
that river follow the path of his son's wife gave it a name himself, and
he called it Vadhusara. And it passeth by the hermitage of Chyavana. And
in this manner was born Chyavana of great ascetic power, the son of Bhrigu.
"And Bhrigu saw his child Chyavana and its beautiful mother. And the Rishi
in a rage asked her, 'By whom wast thou made known to that Rakshasa who
resolved to carry thee away? O thou of agreeable smiles, the Rakshasa
could not know thee as my wife. Therefore tell me who it was that told the
Rakshasa so, in order that I may curse him through anger.' And Pauloma
replied, 'O possessor of the six attributes! I was identified to the
Rakshasa by Agni (the god of fire). And he (the Rakshasa) bore me away,
who cried like the Kurari (female osprey). And it was only by the ardent
splendour of this thy son that I was rescued, for the Rakshasa (seeing
this infant) let me go and himself falling to the ground was turned into
"Sauti continued, 'Bhrigu, upon hearing this account from Pauloma, became
exceedingly enraged. And in excess of passion the Rishi cursed Agni,
saying, 'Thou shalt eat of all things.'"
So ends the sixth section called "the curse on Agni" in the Adi Parva.
(Pauloma Parva continued)
"Sauti said, 'the god of fire enraged at the curse of Bhrigu, thus
addressed the Rishi, 'What meaneth this rashness, O Brahmana, that thou
hast displayed towards me? What transgression can be imputed to me who was
labouring to do justice and speak the truth impartially? Being asked I
gave the true answer. A witness who when interrogated about a fact of
which he hath knowledge, representeth otherwise than it is, ruineth his
ancestors and descendants both to the seventh generation. He, too, who,
being fully cognisant of all the particulars of an affair, doth not
disclose what he knoweth, when asked, is undoubtedly stained with guilt. I
can also curse thee, but Brahmanas are held by me in high respect.
Although these are known to thee, O Brahmana, I will yet speak of them, so
please attend! Having, by ascetic power, multiplied myself, I am present
in various forms, in places of the daily homa, at sacrifices extending for
years, in places where holy rites are performed (such as marriage, etc.),
and at other sacrifices. With the butter that is poured upon my flame
according to the injunctions prescribed in the Vedas, the Devas and the
Pitris are appeased. The Devas are the waters; the Pitris are also the
waters. The Devas have with the Pitris an equal right to the sacrifices
called Darshas and Purnamasas. The Devas therefore are the Pitris and the
Pitris, the Devas. They are identical beings, worshipped together and also
separately at the changes of the moon. The Devas and the Pitris eat what
is poured upon me. I am therefore called the mouth of the Devas and the
Pitris. At the new moon the Pitris, and at the full moon the Devas, are
fed through my mouth, eating of the clarified butter that is poured on me.
Being, as I am, their mouth, how am I to be an eater of all things (clean
"Then Agni, after reflecting for a while, withdrew himself from all places;
from places of the daily homa of the Brahmanas, from all long-extending
sacrifices, from places of holy rites, and from other ceremonies. Without
their Oms and Vashats, and deprived of their Swadhas and Swahas
(sacrificial mantras during offerings), the whole body of creatures became
much distressed at the loss of their (sacrificial) fire. The Rishis in
great anxiety went to the gods and addressed them thus, 'Ye immaculate
beings! The three regions of the universe are confounded at the cessation
of their sacrifices and ceremonies in consequence of the loss of fire!
Ordain what is to be done in this matter, so that there may be no loss of
time.' Then the Rishis and the gods went together to the presence of
Brahma. And they represented to him all about the curse on Agni and the
consequent interruption of all ceremonies. And they said, 'O thou greatly
fortunate! Once Agni hath been cursed by Bhrigu for some reason. Indeed,
being the mouth of the gods and also the first who eateth of what is
offered in sacrifices, the eater also of the sacrificial butter, how will
Agni be reduced to the condition of one who eateth of all things
promiscuously?' And the creator of the universe hearing these words of
theirs summoned Agni to his presence. And Brahma addressed Agni, the
creator of all and eternal as himself, in these gentle words, 'Thou art
the creator of the worlds and thou art their destroyer! Thou preserves
the three worlds and thou art the promoter of all sacrifices and
ceremonies! Therefore behave thyself so that ceremonies be not interrupted.
And, O thou eater of the sacrificial butter, why dost thou act so
foolishly, being, as thou art, the Lord of all? Thou alone art always pure
in the universe and thou art its stay! Thou shall not, with all thy body,
be reduced to the state of one who eateth of all things promiscuously. O
thou of flames, the flame that is in thy viler parts shall alone eat of
all things alike. The body of thine which eateth of flesh (being in the
stomach of all carnivorous animals) shall also eat of all things
promiscuously. And as every thing touched by the sun's rays becometh pure,
so shall everything be pure that shall be burnt by thy flames. Thou art, O
fire, the supreme energy born of thy own power. Then, O Lord, by that
power of thine make the Rishi's curse come true. Continue to receive thy
own portion and that of the gods, offered at thy mouth.'
Sauti continued, "Then Agni replied to the Grandfather, 'So be it.' And
he then went away to obey the command of the supreme Lord. The gods and
the Rishis also returned in delight to the place whence they had come. And
the Rishis began to perform as before their ceremonies and sacrifices. And
the gods in heaven and all creatures of the world rejoiced exceedingly.
And Agni too rejoiced in that he was free from the prospect of sin.
"Thus, O possessor of the six attributes, had Agni been cursed in the days
of yore by Bhrigu. And such is the ancient history connected with the
destruction of the Rakshasa, Pauloma and the birth of Chyavana.'"
Thus endeth the seventh section of the Pauloma Parva of the Adi Parva of
the blessed Mahabharata.
(Pauloma Parva continued)
"Sauti said, 'O Brahmana, Chyavana, the son of Bhrigu, begot a son in the
womb of his wife Sukanya. And that son was the illustrious Pramati of
resplendent energy. And Pramati begot in the womb of Ghritachi a son
called Ruru. And Ruru begot on his wife Pramadvara a son called Sunaka.
And I shall relate to you in detail, O Brahmana, the entire history of
Ruru of abundant energy. O listen to it then in full!
"Formerly there was a great Rishi called Sthulakesa possessed of ascetic
power and learning and kindly disposed towards all creatures. At that time,
O Brahmana sage, Viswavasu, the King of the Gandharvas, it is said, had
intimacy with Menaka, the celestial dancing-girl. And the Apsara, Menaka,
O thou of the Bhrigu race, when her time was come, brought forth an infant
near the hermitage of Sthulakesa. And dropping the newborn infant on the
banks of the river, O Brahmana, Menaka, the Apsara, being destitute of
pity and shame, went away. And the Rishi, Sthulakesa, of great ascetic
power, discovered the infant lying forsaken in a lonely part of the river-
side. And he perceived that it was a female child, bright as the offspring
of an Immortal and blazing, as it were, with beauty: And the great
Brahmana, Sthulakesa, the first of Munis, seeing that female child, and
filled with compassion, took it up and reared it. And the lovely child
grew up in his holy habitation, the noble-minded and blessed Rishi
Sthulakesa performing in due succession all the ceremonies beginning with
that at birth as ordained by the divine law. And because she surpassed all
of her sex in goodness, beauty, and every quality, the great Rishi called
her by the name of Pramadvara. And the pious Ruru having seen Pramadvara
in the hermitage of Sthulakesa became one whose heart was pierced by the
god of love. And Ruru by means of his companions made his father Pramati,
the son of Bhrigu, acquainted with his passion. And Pramati demanded her
of the far-famed Sthulakesa for his son. And her foster-father betrothed
the virgin Pramadvara to Ruru, fixing the nuptials for the day when the
star Varga-Daivata (Purva-phalguni) would be ascendant.
"Then within a few days of the time fixed for the nuptials, the beautiful
virgin while at play with companions of her own sex, her time having come,
impelled by fate, trod upon a serpent which she did not perceive as it lay
in coil. And the reptile, urged to execute the will of Fate, violently
darted its envenomed fangs into the body of the heedless maiden. And stung
by that serpent, she instantly dropped senseless on the ground, her colour
faded and all the graces of her person went off. And with dishevelled hair
she became a spectacle of woe to her companions and friends. And she who
was so agreeable to behold became on her death what was too painful to
look at. And the girl of slender waist lying on the ground like one asleep--
being overcome with the poison of the snake--once more became more
beautiful than in life. And her foster-father and the other holy ascetics
who were there, all saw her lying motionless upon the ground with the
splendour of a lotus. And then there came many noted Brahmanas filled with
compassion, and they sat around her. And Swastyatreya, Mahajana, Kushika,
Sankhamekhala, Uddalaka, Katha, and Sweta of great renown, Bharadwaja,
Kaunakutsya, Arshtishena, Gautama, Pramati, and Pramati's son Ruru, and
other inhabitants of the forest, came there. And when they saw that maiden
lying dead on the ground overcome with the poison of the reptile that had
bitten her, they all wept filled with compassion. But Ruru, mortified
beyond measure, retired from the scene.'"
So ends the eighth section of the Pauloma Parva of the Adi Parva of the
(Pauloma Parva continued)
"Sauti said, 'While those illustrious Brahmanas were sitting around the
dead body of Pramadvara, Ruru, sorely afflicted, retired into a deep wood
and wept aloud. And overwhelmed with grief he indulged in much piteous
lamentation. And, remembering his beloved Pramadvara, he gave vent to his
sorrow in the following words, 'Alas! The delicate fair one that
increaseth my affliction lieth upon the bare ground. What can be more
deplorable to us, her friends? If I have been charitable, if I have
performed acts of penance, if I have ever revered my superiors, let the
merit of these arts restore to life my beloved one! If from my birth I
have been controlling my passions, adhered to my vows, let the fair
Pramadvara rise from the ground.'
"And while Ruru was indulging in these lamentations for the loss of his
bride, a messenger from heaven came to him in the forest and addressed him
thus, 'The words thou utterest, O Ruru, in thy affliction are certainly
ineffectual. For, O pious man, one belonging to this world whose days have
run out can never come back to life. This poor child of a Gandharva and
Apsara has had her days run out! Therefore, O child, thou shouldst not
consign thy heart to sorrow. The great gods, however, have provided
beforehand a means of her restoration to life. And if thou compliest with
it, thou mayest receive back thy Pramadvara.'
"And Ruru replied, 'O messenger of heaven! What is that which the gods have
ordained. Tell me in full so that (on hearing) I may comply with it. It
behoveth thee to deliver me from grief!' And the celestial messenger said
unto Ruru, 'Resign half of thy own life to thy bride, and then, O Ruru of
the race of Bhrigu, thy Pramadvara shall rise from the ground.' 'O best of
celestial messengers, I most willingly offer a moiety of my own life in
favour of my bride. Then let my beloved one rise up once more in her dress
and lovable form.'
"Sauti said, 'Then the king of Gandharvas (the father of Pramadvara) and
the celestial messenger, both of excellent qualities, went to the god
Dharma (the Judge of the dead) and addressed him, saying, 'If it be thy
will, O Dharmaraja, let the amiable Pramadvara, the betrothed wife of Ruru,
now lying dead, rise up with a moiety of Ruru's life.' And Dharmaraja
answered, 'O messenger of the gods, if it be thy wish, let Pramadvara, the
betrothed wife of Ruru, rise up endued with a moiety of Ruru's life.'
"Sauti continued, 'And when Dharmaraja had said so, that maiden of
superior complexion, Pramadvara, endued with a moiety of Ruru's life, rose
as from her slumber. This bestowal by Ruru of a moiety of his own span of
life to resuscitate his bride afterwards led, as it would be seen, to a
curtailment of Ruru's life.
"And on an auspicious day their fathers gladly married them with due rites.
And the couple passed their days, devoted to each other. And Ruru having
obtained such a wife, as is hard to be found, beautiful and bright as the
filaments of the lotus, made a vow for the destruction of the serpent-race.
And whenever he saw a serpent he became filled with great wrath and always
killed it with a weapon.
"One day, O Brahmana, Ruru entered an extensive forest. And there he saw
an old serpent of the Dundubha species lying stretched on the ground. And
Ruru thereupon lifted up in anger his staff, even like to the staff of
Death, for the purpose of killing it. Then the Dundubha, addressing Ruru,
said, 'I have done thee no harm, O Brahmana! Then wherefore wilt thou slay
me in anger?'"
So ends the ninth section of the Pauloma Parva of the Adi Parva of the
(Pauloma Parva continued)
"Sauti said, 'And Ruru, on hearing those words, replied, 'My wife, dear to
me as life, was bit by a snake; upon which, I took, O snake, a dreadful
vow, viz., that I would kill every snake that I might come across.
Therefore shall I smite thee and thou shalt be deprived of life.'
"And the Dundubha replied, 'O Brahmana, the snakes that bite man are quite
different in type. It behoveth thee not to slay Dundubhas who are serpents
only in name. Subject like other serpents to the same calamities but not
sharing their good fortune, in woe the same but in joy different, the
Dundubhas should not be slain by thee under any misconception.'
"Sauti continued, 'And the Rishi Ruru hearing these words of the serpent,
and seeing that it was bewildered with fear, albeit a snake of the
Dundubha species, killed it not. And Ruru, the possessor of the six
attributes, comforting the snake addressed it, saying, 'Tell me fully, O
snake, who art thou thus metamorphosed?' And the Dundubha replied, 'O
Ruru! I was formerly a Rishi by name Sahasrapat. And it is by the curse of
a Brahmana that I have been transformed into a snake.' And Ruru asked, 'O
thou best of snakes, for what wast thou cursed by a Brahmana in wrath? And
how long also will thy form continue so?'"
And so ends the tenth section of the Pauloma Parva of the Adi Parva.
(Pauloma Parva continued)
"Sauti continued 'The Dundubha then said, 'In former times, I had a friend
Khagama by name. He was impetuous in his speech and possessed of spiritual
power by virtue of his austerities. And one day when he was engaged in the
Agni-hotra (Fire-sacrifice), I made a mock snake of blades of grass, and
in a frolic attempted to frighten him with it. And anon he fell into a
swoon. On recovering his senses, that truth-telling and vow-observing
ascetic, burning with wrath, exclaimed, 'Since thou hast made a powerless
mock snake to frighten me, thou shalt be turned even into a venomless
serpent thyself by my curse.' O ascetic, I well knew the power of his
penances; therefore with an agitated heart, I addressed him thus, bending
low with joined hands, 'Friend, I did this by way of a joke, to excite thy
laughter. It behoveth thee to forgive me and revoke thy curse.' And seeing
me sorely troubled, the ascetic was moved, and he replied, breathing hot
and hard. 'What I have said must come to pass. Listen to what I say and
lay it to thy heart. O pious one! when Ruru the pure son of Pramati, will
appear, thou shall be delivered from the curse the moment thou seest him.
Thou art the very Ruru and the son of Pramati. On regaining my native form,
I will tell thee something for thy good.'
"And that illustrious man and the best of Brahmanas then left his snake-
body, and attained his own form and original brightness. He then addressed
the following words to Ruru of incomparable power, 'O thou first of
created beings, verily the highest virtue of man is sparing the life of
others. Therefore a Brahmana should never take the life of any creature. A
Brahmana should ever be mild. This is the most sacred injunction of the
Vedas. A Brahmana should be versed in the Vedas and Vedangas, and should
inspire all creatures with belief in God. He should be benevolent to all
creatures, truthful, and forgiving, even as it is his paramount duty to
retain the Vedas in his memory. The duties of the Kshatriya are not thine.
To be stern, to wield the sceptre and to rule the subjects properly are
the duties of the Kshatriya. Listen, O Ruru, to the account of the
destruction of snakes at the sacrifice of Janamejaya in days of yore, and
the deliverance of the terrified reptiles by that best of Dwijas, Astika,
profound in Vedic lore and might in spiritual energy.'"
And so ends the eleventh section of the Pauloma Parva of the Adi Parva.
(Pauloma Parva continued)
"Sauti continued, 'Ruru then asked, 'O best of Dwijas, why was king
Janamejaya bent upon destroying the serpents?--And why and how were they
saved by the wise Astika? I am anxious to hear all this in detail.'
"The Rishi replied, 'O Ruru, the important history of Astika you will
learn from the lips of Brahmanas.' Saying this, he vanished.
"Sauti continued, 'Ruru ran about in search of the missing Rishi, and
having failed to find him in all the woods, fell down on the ground,
fatigued. And revolving in his mind the words of the Rishi, he was greatly
confounded and seemed to be deprived of his senses. Regaining
consciousness, he came home and asked his father to relate the history in
question. Thus asked, his father related all about the story.'"
So ends the twelfth section in the Pauloma Parva of the Adi Parva.
"Saunaka said, 'For what reason did that tiger among kings, the royal
Janamejaya, determine to take the lives of the snakes by means of a
sacrifice? O Sauti, tell us in full the true story. Tell us also why
Astika, that best of regenerate ones, that foremost of ascetics, rescued
the snakes from the blazing fire. Whose son was that monarch who
celebrated the snake-sacrifice? And whose son also was that best of
"Sauti said, 'O best of speakers, this story of Astika is long. I will
duly relate it in full, O listen!'
"Saunaka said, 'I am desirous of hearing at length the charming story of
that Rishi, that illustrious Brahmana named Astika.'
"Sauti said, 'This history (first) recited by Krishna-Dwaipayana, is
called a Purana by the Brahmanas. It was formerly narrated by my wise
father, Lomaharshana, the disciple of Vyasa, before the dwellers of the
Naimisha forest, at their request. I was present at the recital, and, O
Saunaka, since thou askest me, I shall narrate the history of Astika
exactly as I heard it. O listen, as I recite in full that sin-destroying
"The father of Astika was powerful like Prajapati. He was a Brahma-charin,
always engaged in austere devotions. He ate sparingly, was a great ascetic,
and had his lust under complete control. And he was known by the name of
Jaratkaru. That foremost one among the Yayavaras, virtuous and of rigid
vows, highly blessed and endued with great ascetic power, once undertook a
journey over the world. He visited diverse places, bathed in diverse
sacred waters, and rested where night overtook him. Endued with great
energy, he practised religious austerities, hard to be practised by men of
unrestrained souls. The sage lived upon air only, and renounced sleep for
ever. Thus going about like a blazing fire, one day he happened to see his
ancestors, hanging heads down in a great hole, their feet pointing upwards.
On seeing them, Jaratkaru addressed them, saying:
'Who are you thus hanging heads down in this hole by a rope of virana
fibres that is again secretly eaten into on all sides by a rat living
"The ancestors said, 'We are Rishis of rigid vows, called Yayavaras. We
are sinking low into the earth for want of offspring. We have a son named
Jaratkaru. Woe to us! That wretch hath entered upon a life of austerities
only! The fool doth not think of raising offspring by marriage! It is for
that reason, viz., the fear of extinction of our race, that we are
suspended in this hole. Possessed of means, we fare like unfortunates that
have none! O excellent one, who art thou that thus sorrowest as a friend
on our account? We desire to learn, O Brahmana, who thou art that standest
by us, and why, O best of men, thou sorrowest for us that are so
"Jaratkaru said, 'Ye are even my sires and grandsires; I am that Jaratkaru!
O, tell me, how I may serve you.'
"The fathers then answered, 'Try thy best, O child, to beget a son to
extend our line. Thou wilt then, O excellent one, have done a meritorious
art for both thyself and us. Not by the fruits of virtue, not by ascetic
penances well hoarded up, acquireth the merit which one doth by becoming a
father. Therefore, O child, by our command, set thy heart upon marriage
and offspring. Even this is our highest good.'
"Jaratkaru replied, 'I shall not marry for my sake, nor shall I earn
wealth for enjoyment, but I shall do so for your welfare only. According
to this understanding, I shall, agreeably to the Sastric ordinance, take a
wife for attaining the end. I shall not act otherwise. If a bride may be
had of the same name with me, whose friends would, besides, willingly give
her to me as a gift in charity, I shall wed her duly. But who will give
his daughter to a poor man like me for wife. I shall, however, accept any
daughter given to me as alms. I shall endeavour, ye sires, even thus to
wed a girl! Having given my word, I will not act otherwise. Upon her I
will raise offspring for your redemption, so that, ye fathers, ye may
attain to eternal regions (of bliss) and may rejoice as ye like.'"
So ends the thirteenth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
(Astika Parva continued)
"Sauti said, 'That Brahmana of rigid vows then wandered over the earth for
a wife but a wife found he not. One day he went into the forest, and
recollecting the words of his ancestors, he thrice prayed in a faint voice
for a bride. Thereupon Vasuki rose and offered his sister for the Rishi's
acceptance. But the Brahmana hesitated to accept her, thinking her not to
be of the same name with himself. The high-souled Jaratkaru thought within
himself, 'I will take none for wife who is not of the same name with
myself.' Then that Rishi of great wisdom and austere penances asked him,
saying, 'Tell me truly what is the name of this thy sister, O snake.'
"Vasuki replied, 'O Jaratkaru, this my younger sister is called Jaratkaru.
Given away by me, accept this slender-waisted damsel for thy spouse. O
best of Brahmanas, for thee I reserved her. Therefore, take her.' Saying
this, he offered his beautiful sister to Jaratkaru who then espoused her
with ordained rites."
So ends the thirteenth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
(Astika Parva continued)
"Sauti said, 'O foremost of persons acquainted with Brahma, the mother of
the snakes had cursed them of old, saying, 'He that hath the Wind for his
charioteer (viz., Agni) shall burn you all in Janamejaya's sacrifice!' It
was to neutralise that curse that the chief of the snakes married his
sister to that high-souled Rishi of excellent vows. The Rishi wedded her
according to the rites ordained (in the scriptures), and from them was
born a high-souled son called Astika. An illustrious ascetic; versed in
the Vedas and their branches, he regarded all with an even eye, and
removed the fears of both his parents.
"Then, after a long space of time, a king descending from the Pandava line
celebrated a great sacrifice known as the Snake-sacrifice, After that
sacrifice had commenced for the destruction of the snakes, Astika
delivered the Nagas, viz., his brothers and maternal uncles and other
snakes (from a fiery death). And he delivered his fathers also by
begetting offspring. And by his austerities, O Brahmana, and various vows
and study of the Vedas, he freed himself from all his debts. By sacrifices,
at which various kinds of offerings were made, he propitiated the gods. By
practising the Brahmacharya mode of life he conciliated the Rishis; and by
begetting offspring he gratified his ancestors.
"Thus Jaratkaru of rigid vows discharged the heavy debt he owed to his
sires who being thus relieved from bondage ascended to heaven. Thus having
acquired great religious merit, Jaratkaru, after a long course of years,
went to heaven, leaving Astika behind. There is the story of Astika that I
have related duly Now, tell me, O tiger of Bhrigu's race, what else I
So ends the fifteenth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
(Astika Parva continued)
"Saunaka said, 'O Sauti, relate once more in detail this history of the
learned and virtuous Astika. Our curiosity for hearing it is great. O
amiable one, thou speakest sweetly, with proper accent and emphasis; and
we are well-pleased with thy speech. Thou speakest even as thy father. Thy
sire was ever ready to please us. Tell us now the story as thy father had
"Sauti said, 'O thou that art blest with longevity, I shall narrate the
history of Astika as I heard it from my father. O Brahmana, in the golden
age, Prajapati had two daughters. O sinless one, the sisters were endowed
with wonderful beauty. Named Kadru and Vinata, they became the wives of
Kasyapa. Kasyapa derived great pleasure from his two wedded wives and
being gratified he, resembling Prajapati himself, offered to give each of
them a boon. Hearing that their lord was willing to confer on them their
choice blessings, those excellent ladies felt transports of joy. Kadru
wished to have for sons a thousand snakes all of equal splendour. And
Vinata wished to bring forth two sons surpassing the thousand offsprings
of Kadru in strength, energy, size of body, and prowess. Unto Kadru her
lord gave that boon about a multitude of offspring. And unto Vinata also,
Kasyapa said, 'Be it so!' Then Vinata, having obtained her prayer,
rejoiced greatly. Obtaining two sons of superior prowess, she regarded her
boon fulfilled. Kadru also obtained her thousand sons of equal splendour.
'Bear the embryos carefully,' said Kasyapa, and then he went into the
forest, leaving his two wives pleased with his blessings.'
"Sauti continued, 'O best of regenerate ones, after a long time, Kadru
brought forth a thousand eggs, and Vinata two. Their maid-servants
deposited the eggs separately in warm vessels. Five hundred years passed
away, and the thousand eggs produced by Kadru burst and out came the
progeny. But the twins of Vinata did not appear. Vinata was jealous, and
therefore she broke one of the eggs and found in it an embryo with the
upper part developed but the lower one undeveloped. At this, the child in
the egg became angry and cursed his mother, saying. 'Since thou hast
prematurely broken this egg, thou shall serve as a slave. Shouldst thou
wait five hundred years and not destroy, or render the other egg half-
developed, by breaking it through impatience, then the illustrious child
within it will deliver thee from slavery! And if thou wouldst have the
child strong, thou must take tender care of the egg for all this time!'
Thus cursing his mother, the child rose to the sky. O Brahmana, even he is
the charioteer of Surya, always seen in the hour of morning!
"Then at the expiration of the five hundred years, bursting open the other
egg, out came Garuda, the serpent-eater. O tiger of Bhrigu's race,
immediately on seeing the light, that son of Vinata left his mother. And
the lord of birds, feeling hungry, took wing in quest of the food assigned
to him by the Great Ordainer of all.".
So ends the sixteenth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
(Astika Parva continued)
"Sauti said, 'O ascetic, about this time the two sisters saw approaching
near, that steed of complacent appearance named Uchchaihsravas who was
worshipped by the gods, that gem of steeds, who arose at the churning of
the Ocean for nectar. Divine, graceful, perpetually young, creation's
master-piece, and of irresistible vigour, it was blest with every
"Saunaka asked, 'Why did the gods churn the Ocean for nectar, and under
what circumstances and when as you say, did that best of steeds so
powerful and resplendent spring?'
"Sauti said, 'There is a mountain named Meru, of blazing appearance, and
looking like a heap of effulgence. The rays of the Sun falling on its
peaks of golden lustre are dispersed by them. Decked with gold and
exceedingly beautiful, that mountain is the haunt of the gods and the
Gandharvas. It is immeasurable and unapproachable by men of manifold sins.
Dreadful beasts of prey wander over its breasts, and it is illuminated by
many divine life-giving herbs. It stands kissing the heavens by its height
and is the first of mountains. Ordinary people cannot even think of
ascending it. It is graced with trees and streams, and resounds with the
charming melody of winged choirs. Once the celestials sat on its begemmed
peak--in conclave. They who had practised penances and observed excellent
vows for amrita now seemed to be eager seekers after amrita (celestial
ambrosia). Seeing the celestial assembly in anxious mood Nara-yana said to
Brahman, 'Do thou churn the Ocean with the gods and the Asuras. By doing
so, amrita will be obtained as also all drugs and gems. O ye gods, churn
the Ocean, ye will discover amrita.'"
So ends the seventeenth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
(Astika Parva continued]
"Sauti said, 'There is a mountain called Mandara adorned with cloud-like
peaks. It is the best of mountains, and is covered all over with
intertwining herbs. There countless birds pour forth their melodies, and
beasts of prey roam about. The gods, the Apsaras and the Kinnaras visit
the place. Upwards it rises eleven thousand yojanas, and descends
downwards as much. The gods wanted to tear it up and use it as a churning
rod but failing to do so came to Vishnu and Brahman who were sitting
together, and said unto them, 'Devise some efficient scheme, consider, ye
gods, how Mandara may be dislodged for our good.'
"Sauti continued, 'O son of Bhrigu! Vishnu with Brahman assented to it.
And the lotus-eyed one (Vishnu) laid the hard task on the mighty Ananta,
the prince of snakes. The powerful Ananta, directed thereto both by
Brahman and Narayana, O Brahmana, tore up the mountain with the woods
thereon and with the denizens of those woods. And the gods came to the
shore of the Ocean with Ananta and addressed the Ocean, saying, 'O Ocean;
we have come to churn thy waters for obtaining nectar.' And the Ocean
replied, 'Be it so, as I shall not go without a share of it. I am able to
bear the prodigious agitation of my waters set up by the mountain.' The
gods then went to the king of tortoises and said to him, 'O Tortoise-king,
thou wilt have to hold the mountain on thy back!' The Tortoise-king agreed,
and Indra contrived to place the mountain on the former's back.
"And the gods and the Asuras made of Mandara a churning staff and Vasuki
the cord, and set about churning the deep for amrita. The Asuras held
Vasuki by the hood and the gods held him by the tail. And Ananta, who was
on the side of the gods, at intervals raised the snake's hood and suddenly
lowered it. And in consequence of the stretch Vasuki received at the hands
of the gods and the Asuras, black vapours with flames issued from his
mouth. These, turned into clouds charged with lightning, poured showers
that refreshed the tired gods. And flowers that also fell on all sides of
the celestials from the trees on the whirling Mandara, refreshed them.
"Then, O Brahmana, out of the deep came a tremendous roar like unto the
roar of the clouds at the Universal Dissolution. Diverse aquatic animals
being crushed by the great mountain gave up the ghost in the salt waters.
And many denizens of the lower regions and the world of Varuna were killed.
Large trees with birds on the whirling Mandara were torn up by the roots
and fell into the water. The mutual friction of those trees also produced
fires that blazed up frequently. The mountain thus looked like a mass of
dark clouds charged with lightning. O Brahmana, the fire spread, and
consumed the lions, elephants and other creatures that were on the
mountain. Then Indra extinguished that fire by pouring down heavy showers.
"After the churning, O Brahmana, had gone on for some time, gummy
exudations of various trees and herbs vested with the properties of amrita
mingled with the waters of the Ocean. And the celestials attained to
immortality by drinking of the water mixed with those gums and with the
liquid extract of gold. By degrees, the milky water of the agitated deep
turned into clarified butter by virtue of those gums and juices. But
nectar did not appear even then. The gods came before the boon-granting
Brahman seated on his seat and said, 'Sire, we are spent up, we have no
strength left to churn further. Nectar hath not yet arisen so that now we
have no resource save Narayana.'
"On hearing them, Brahman said to Narayana, 'O Lord, condescend to grant
the gods strength to churn the deep afresh.'
"Then Narayana agreeing to grant their various prayers, said, 'Ye wise
ones, I grant you sufficient strength. Go, put the mountain in position
again and churn the water.'
"Re-established thus in strength, the gods recommenced churning. After a
while, the mild Moon of a thousand rays emerged from the Ocean. Thereafter
sprung forth Lakshmi dressed in white, then Soma, then the White Steed,
and then the celestial gem Kaustubha which graces the breast of Narayana.
Then Lakshmi, Soma and the Steed, fleet as the mind, all came before the
gods on high. Then arose the divine Dhanwantari himself with the white
vessel of nectar in his hand. And seeing him, the Asuras set up a loud cry,
saying, 'It be ours.'
"And at length rose the great elephant, Airavata, of huge body and with
two pair of white tusks. And him took Indra the wielder of the thunderbolt.
But with the churning still going on, the poison Kalakuta appeared at last.
Engulfing the Earth it suddenly blazed up like a fire attended with fumes.
And by the scent of the fearful Kalakuta, the three worlds were stupefied.
And then Siva, being solicited by Brahman, swallowed that poison for the
safety of the creation. The divine Maheswara held it in his throat, and it
is said that from that time he is called Nilakantha (blue-throated).
Seeing all these wondrous things, the Asuras were filled with despair, and
got themselves prepared for entering into hostilities with the gods for
the possession of Lakshmi and Amrita. Thereupon Narayana called his
bewitching Maya (illusive power) to his aid, and assuming the form of an
enticing female, coquetted with the Danavas. The Danavas and the Daityas
charmed with her exquisite beauty and grace lost their reason and
unanimously placed the Amrita in the hands of that fair damsel.'"
So ends the eighteenth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
(Astika Parva continued)
"Sauti said, 'Then the Daityas and the Danavas equipped with first-class
armours and various weapons attacked the gods. In the meantime the valiant
Lord Vishnu in the form of an enchantress accompanied by Nara deceived the
mighty Danavas and took away the Amrita from their hands.
"And all the gods at that time of great fright drank the Amrita with
delight, receiving it from Vishnu. And while the gods were partaking of it,
after which they had so much hankered, a Danava named Rahu was also
drinking it among them in the guise of a god. And when the Amrita had
reached Rahu's throat only, Surya and Soma (recognised him and) intimated
the fact to the gods. And Narayana instantly cut off with his discus the
well-adorned head of the Danava who was drinking the Amrita without
permission. And the huge head of the Danava, cut off by the discus and
resembling a mountain peak, then rose up to the sky and began to utter
dreadful cries. And the Danava's headless trunk, falling upon the ground
and rolling thereon, made the Earth tremble with her mountains, forests
and islands. And from that time there is a long-standing quarrel between
Rahu's head and Surya and Soma. And to this day it swalloweth Surya and
Soma (during solar and lunar eclipses).
"Then Narayana quitting his enchanting female form and hurling many
terrible weapons at the Danavas, made them tremble. And thus on the shores
of the salt-water sea, commenced the dreadful battle of the gods and the
Asuras. And sharp-pointed javelins and lances and various weapons by
thousands began to be discharged on all sides. And mangled with the discus
and wounded with swords, darts and maces, the Asuras in large numbers
vomited blood and lay prostrate on the earth. Cut off from the trunks with
sharp double-edged swords, heads adorned with bright gold, fell
continually on the field of battle. Their bodies drenched in gore, the
great Asuras lay dead everywhere. It seemed as if red-dyed mountain peaks
lay scattered all around. And when the Sun rose in his splendour,
thousands of warriors struck one another with weapons. And cries of
distress were heard everywhere. The warriors fighting at a distance from
one another brought one another down by sharp iron missiles, and those
fighting at close quarters slew one another with blows of their fists. And
the air was filled with shrieks of distress. Everywhere were heard the
alarming sounds,--'cut', 'pierce', 'at them', 'hurl down', 'advance'.
"And when the battle was raging fiercely, Nara and Narayana entered the
field. And Narayana seeing the celestial bow in the hand of Nara, called
to mind his own weapon, the Danava-destroying discus. And lo! the discus,
Sudarsana, destroyer of enemies, like to Agni in effulgence and dreadful
in battle, came from the sky as soon as thought of. And when it came,
Narayana of fierce energy, possessing arms like the trunk of an elephant,
hurled with great force that weapon of extraordinary lustre, effulgent as
blazing fire, dreadful and capable of destroying hostile towns. And that
discus blazing like the fire that consumeth all things at the end of Yuga,
hurled with force from the hands of Narayana, and falling constantly
everywhere, destroyed the Daityas and the Danavas by thousands. Sometimes
it blazed like fire and consumed them all; sometimes it struck them down
as it coursed through the sky; and sometimes, falling on the earth, it
drank their life-blood like a goblin.
"On the other hand, the Danavas, white as the clouds from which the rain
hath dropped, possessing great strength and bold hearts, ascended the sky,
and by hurling down thousands of mountains, continually harassed the gods.
And those dreadful mountains, like masses of clouds, with their trees and
flat tops, falling from the sky, collided with one another and produced a
tremendous roar. And when thousands of warriors shouted without
intermission in the field of battle and mountains with the woods thereon
began to fall around, the earth with her forests trembled. Then the divine
Nara appeared at the scene of the dreadful conflict between the Asuras and
the Ganas (the followers of Rudra), and reducing to dust those rocks by
means of his gold-headed arrows, he covered the heavens with dust. Thus
discomfited by the gods, and seeing the furious discus scouring the fields
of heaven like a blazing flame, the mighty Danavas entered the bowels of
the earth, while others plunged into the sea of salt-waters.
"And having gained the victory, the gods offered due respect to Mandara
and placed him again on his own base. And the nectar-bearing gods made the
heavens resound with their shouts, and went to their own abodes. And the
gods, on returning to the heavens, rejoiced greatly, and Indra and the
other deities made over to Narayana the vessel of Amrita for careful
And so ends the nineteenth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
(Astika Parva continued)
"Sauti said, 'Thus have I recited to you the whole story of how Amrita was
churned out of the Ocean, and the occasion on which the horse
Uchchaihsravas of great beauty and incomparable prowess was obtained. It
was this horse about which Kadru asked Vinata, saying, 'Tell me, amiable
sister, without taking much time, of what colour Uchchaishravas is.' And
Vinata answered, 'That prince of steeds is certainly white. What dost thou
think, sister? Say thou what is its colour. Let us lay a wager upon it.'
Kadru replied, then, 'O thou of sweet smiles. I think that horse is black
in its tail. Beauteous one, bet with me that she who loseth will become
the other's slave.'
'Sauti continued, 'Thus wagering with each other about menial service as a
slave, the sisters went home, and resolved to satisfy themselves by
examining the horse next day. And Kadru, bent upon practising a deception,
ordered her thousand sons to transform themselves into black hair and
speedily cover the horse's tail in order that she might not become a slave.
But her sons, the snakes, refusing to do her bidding, she cursed them,
saying, 'During the snake-sacrifice of the wise king Janamejaya of the
Pandava race, Agni shall consume you all.' And the Grandsire (Brahman)
himself heard this exceedingly cruel curse pronounced by Kadru, impelled
by the fates. And seeing that the snakes had multiplied exceedingly, the
Grandsire, moved by kind consideration for his creatures, sanctioned with
all the gods this curse of Kadru. Indeed, as the snakes were of virulent
poison, great prowess and excess of strength, and ever bent on biting
other creatures, their mother's conduct towards them--those persecutors of
all creatures,--was very proper for the good of all creatures. Fate always
inflicts punishment of death on those who seek the death of other
creatures. The gods, having exchanged such sentiments with one another,
supported Kadru's action (and went away). And Brahman, calling Kasyapa to
him, spake unto him these words, 'O thou pure one who overcomest all
enemies, these snakes begotten by you, who are of virulent poison and huge
bodies, and ever intent on biting other creatures, have been cursed by
their mother. O son, do not grieve for it in the least. The destruction of
the snakes in the sacrifice hath, indeed, been ordained long ago.' Saying
this, the divine Creator of the Universe comforted Kasyapa and imparted to
that illustrious one the knowledge of neutralising poison."
And so ends the twentieth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
(Astika Parva continued)
"Sauti said, 'Then when the night had passed away and the sun had risen in
the morning, O thou whose wealth is asceticism, the two sisters Kadru and
Vinata, having laid a wager about slavery, went with haste and impatience
to view the steed Uchchaishravas from a near point. On their way they saw
the Ocean, that receptacle of waters, vast and deep, rolling and
tremendously roaring, full of fishes large enough to swallow the whale,
and abounding with huge makaras and creatures of various forms by
thousands, and rendered inaccessible by the presence of other terrible,
monster-shaped, dark, and fierce aquatic animals, abounding with tortoises
and crocodiles, the mine of all kinds of gems, the home of Varuna (the
water-God), the excellent and beautiful residence of the Nagas, the lord
of all rivers, the abode of the subterranean fire, the friend (or asylum)
of the Asuras, the terror of all creatures, the grand reservoir of water,
and ever immutable. It is holy, beneficial to the gods, and is the great
source of nectar; without limits, inconceivable, sacred, and highly
wonderful. It is dark, terrible with the sound of aquatic creatures,
tremendously roaring, and full of deep whirl-pools. It is an object of
terror to all creatures. Moved by the winds blowing from its shores and
heaving high, agitated and disturbed, it seems to dance everywhere with
uplifted hands represented by its surges. Full of swelling billows caused
by the waxing and waning of the moon the parent of Vasudeva's great conch
called Panchajanya, the great mine of gems, its waters were formerly
disturbed in consequence of the agitation caused within them by the Lord
Govinda of immeasurable prowess when he had assumed the form of a wild
boar for raising the (submerged) Earth. Its bottom, lower than the nether
regions, the vow observing regenerate Rishi Atri could not fathom after
(toiling for) a hundred years. It becomes the bed of the lotus-naveled
Vishnu when at the termination of every Yuga that deity of immeasurable
power enjoys yoga-nidra, the deep sleep under the spell of spiritual
meditation. It is the refuge of Mainaka fearful of falling thunder, and
the retreat of the Asuras overcome in fierce encounters. It offers water
as sacrificial butter to the blazing fire issuing from the mouth of Varava
(the Ocean-mare). It is fathomless and without limits, vast and
immeasurable, and the lord of rivers.
"And they saw that unto it rushed mighty rivers by thousands with proud
gait, like amorous competitors, each eager for meeting it, forestalling
the others. And they saw that it was always full, and always dancing in
its waves. And they saw that it was deep and abounding with fierce whales
and makaras. And it resounded constantly with the terrible sounds of
aquatic creatures. And they saw that it was vast, and wide as the expanse
of space, unfathomable, and limitless, and the grand reservoir of water.'"
And so ends the twenty-first section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
(Astika Parva continued)
"Sauti said, 'The Nagas after consultation arrived at the conclusion that
they should do their mother's bidding, for if she failed in obtaining her
desire she might withdraw her affection and burn them all. If, on the
other hand, she were graciously inclined, she might free them from her
curse. They said, 'We will certainly render the horse's tail black.' And
it is said that they then went and became hairs in the horse's tail.
"Now the two co-wives had laid the wager. And having laid the wager, O
best of Brahmanas, the two sisters Kadru and Vinata, the daughters of
Daksha, proceeded in great delight along the sky to see the other side of
the Ocean. And on their way they saw the Ocean, that receptacle of waters,
incapable of being easily disturbed, mightily agitated all of a sudden by
the wind, and roaring tremendously; abounding with fishes capable of
swallowing the whale and full of makaras; containing also creatures of
diverse forms counted by thousands; frightful from the presence of
horrible monsters, inaccessible, deep, and terrible, the mine of all kinds
of gems, the home of Varuna (the water-god), the wonderful habitations of
the Nagas, the lord of rivers, the abode of the subterranean fire; the
residence of the Asuras and of many dreadful creatures; the reservoir of
water, not subject to decay, aromatic, and wonderful, the great source of
the amrita of the celestials; immeasurable and inconceivable, containing
waters that are holy, filled to the brim by many thousands of great rivers,
dancing as it were in waves. Such was the Ocean, full of rolling waves,
vast as the expanse of the sky, deep, of body lighted with the flames of
subterranean fire, and roaring, which the sisters quickly passed over.'"
And so ends the twenty-second section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
(Astika Parva continued)
"Sauti said, 'Having crossed the Ocean, Kadru of swift speed, accompanied
by Vinata, soon alighted near the horse. They then both beheld that
foremost of steeds of great speed, with body white as the rays of the moon
but having black hairs (in the tail). And observing many black hairs in
the tail, Kadru put Vinata, who was deeply dejected, into slavery. And
thus Vinata having lost the wager, entered into a state of slavery and
became exceedingly sorry.
"In the meantime, when his time came, burst forth from the egg without
(the help of his) mother, Garuda of great splendour, enkindling all the
points of the universe, that mighty being endued with strength, that bird
capable of assuming at will any form, of going at will everywhere, and of
calling to his aid at will any measure of energy. Effulgent like a heap of
fire, he shone terribly. Of lustre equal to that of the fire at the end of
the Yuga, his eyes were bright like the lightning-flash. And soon after
birth, that bird grew in size and increasing his body ascended the skies.
Fierce and vehemently roaring, he looked as terrible as second Ocean-fire.
And all the deities seeing him, sought the protection of Vibhavasu (Agni).
And they bowed down to that deity of manifold forms seated on his seat and
spake unto him these words, 'O Agni, extend not thy body! Wilt thou
consume us? Lo, this huge heap of thy flames is spreading wide!' And Agni
replied, 'O, ye persecutors of the Asuras, it is not as ye imagine. This
is Garuda of great strength and equal to me in splendour, endued with
great energy, and born to promote the joy of Vinata. Even the sight of
this heap of effulgence hath caused this delusion in you. He is the mighty
son of Kasyapa, the destroyer of the Nagas, engaged in the well-being of
the gods, and the foe of the Daityas and the Rakshasas. Be not afraid of
it in the least. Come with me and see.' Thus addressed, the gods from a
"The gods said, 'Thou art a Rishi (i.e., one cognisant of all mantras),
share of the largest portion in sacrifices, ever resplendent, the
controller along with the Rishi wended their way towards Garuda and adored
him of birds, the presiding spirit of the animate and the inanimate
universe. Thou art the destroyer of all, the creator of all; thou art the
very Hiranyagarbha; thou art the progenitor of creation in the form of
Daksha and the other Prajapatis; thou art Indra (the king of the gods),
thou art Hayagriva the steed necked incarnation of Vishnu; thou art the
arrow (Vishnu himself, as he became such in the hands of Mahadeva at the
burning of Tripura); thou art the lord of the universe; thou art the mouth
of Vishnu; thou art the four-faced Padmaja; thou art the Brahmana (i.e.,
wise), thou art Agni, Pavana, etc. (i.e., the presiding deity of every
object in the universe). Thou art knowledge, thou art the illusion to
which we are all subject; thou art the all-pervading spirit; thou art the
lord of the gods; thou art the great Truth; thou art fearless; thou art
ever unchanged; thou art Brahma without attributes; thou art the energy of
the Sun; thou art the intellectual functions; thou art our great protector;
thou art the ocean of holiness; thou art purity; thou art bereft of the
attributes of darkness; thou art the possessor of the six high attributes;
thou art he who cannot be withstood in contest. From thee have emanated
all things; thou art of excellent deeds; thou art all that hath not been
and all that hath been. Thou art pure knowledge; thou displayest to us, as
Surya does by his rays, this animate and inanimate universe; thou
darkenest the splendour of Surya at every moment, and thou art the
destroyer of all; thou art all that is perishable and all that is
imperishable. O thou resplendent as Agni, thou burnest all even as Surya
in his anger burneth all creatures. O terrible one, thou resistest even as
the fire that destroys everything at the time of the Universal Dissolution.
O mighty Garuda who movest in the skies, we seek thy protection. O lord of
birds thy energy is extraordinary, thy splendour is that of fire, thy
brightness is like that of the lightning that no darkness can approach.
Thou reachest the very clouds, and art both the cause and the effect; the
dispenser of boons and invincible in prowess. O Lord, this whole universe
is rendered hot by thy splendour, bright as the lustre of heated gold.
Protect these high-souled gods, who overcome by thee and terrified withal,
are flying along the heavens in different directions on their celestial
cars. O thou best of birds, thou Lord of all, thou art the son of the
merciful and high-souled Rishi Kasyapa; therefore, be not wroth but have
mercy on the universe. Thou art Supreme. O pacify thy anger and preserve
us. At thy voice, loud as the roar of the thunder, the ten points, the
skies, the heavens, the Earth and our hearts, O bird, thou art
continuously shaking. O, diminish this thy body resembling Agni. At the
sight of the splendour resembling that of Yama when in wrath, our hearts
lose all equanimity and quake. O thou lord of birds, be propitious to us
who solicit thy mercy! O illustrious one, bestow on us good fortune and
'And that bird of fair feathers, thus adored by the deities and diverse
sections of Rishis, reduced his own energy and splendour.'"
And thus ends the twenty-third section in the Astika Parva of the Adi
(Astika Parva continued)
"Sauti said, 'Then hearing of and beholding his own body, that bird of
beautiful feathers diminished its size.'
"And Garuda said, 'Let no creature be afraid; as ye are in a fright at the
sight of my terrible form, I shall diminish my energy.'
"Sauti continued, 'Then that bird capable of going everywhere at will,
that ranger of the skies capable of calling to his aid any measure of
energy, bearing Aruna on his back, wended from his father's home and
arrived at his mother's side on the other shore of the great ocean. And he
placed Aruna of great splendour in the eastern regions, just at a time
when Surya had resolved to burn the worlds with his fierce rays.'
"Saunaka said, 'When did the revered Surya resolve at the time to burn the
worlds? What wrong was done to him by the gods that provoked his ire?'
"Sauti said, 'O sinless one, when Rahu was drinking nectar among the gods
at the time of the churning of the ocean he was pointed out to the gods by
Surya and Soma, and from that time he conceived an enmity towards those
deities. And upon this Rahu sought to devour his afflictor (Surya), became
wroth, and thought, 'Oh, this enmity of Rahu towards me hath sprung from
my desire of benefiting the gods. And this dire consequence I alone have
to sustain. Indeed, at this pass help I obtain not. And before the very
eyes of the denizens of heaven I am going to be devoured and they brook it
quietly. Therefore, for the destruction of the worlds must I strive.' And
with this resolution he went to the mountains of the west.
"And from that place he began to radiate his heat around for the
destruction of the world. And then the great Rishis, approaching the gods,
spake unto them, 'Lo, in the middle of the night springeth a great heat
striking terror into every heart, and destructive of the three worlds.'
Then the gods, accompanied by the Rishis, wended to the Grandsire, and
said unto him, 'O what is this great heat today that causeth such panic?
Surya hath not yet risen, still the destruction (of the world) is obvious.
O Lord, what will happen when he doth rise?' The Grandsire replied,
'Indeed, Surya is prepared to rise today for the destruction of the world.
As soon as he will appear he will burn everything into a heap of ashes. By
me, however, hath the remedy been provided beforehand. The intelligent son
of Kasyapa is known to all by the name of Aruna. He is huge of body and of
great splendour; he shall stay in front of Surya, doing the duty of his
charioteer and taking away all the energy of the former. And this will
ensure the welfare of the worlds, of the Rishis, and of the dwellers in
"Sauti continued, 'Aruna, at the behest of the Grandsire, did all that he
was ordered to do. And Surya rose veiled by Aruna's person. I have told
thee now why Surya was in wrath, and how Aruna, the brother of Garuda, was
appointed as his charioteer. Hear next of that other question asked by
thee a little while ago.'"
And so ends the twenty-fourth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
(Astika Parva continued)
"Sauti said, 'Then that bird of great strength and energy and capable of
going at will to every place repaired to his mother's side on the other
shore of the great ocean. Thither lived Vinata in affliction, defeated in
wager and put into a state of slavery. Once Kadru calling Vinata who had
prostrated herself before the former, addressed her these words in the
presence of her son, 'O gentle Vinata, there is in the midst of the ocean,
in a remote quarter, a delightful and fair region inhabited by the Nagas.
Bear me thither!' At this that mother of the bird of fair feathers bore
(on her shoulders) the mother of the snakes. And Garuda also, directed by
his mother's words, carried (on his back) the snakes. And that ranger of
the skies born of Vinata began to ascend towards the Sun. And thereupon
the snakes, scorched by the rays of the Sun, swooned away. And Kadru
seeing her sons in that state prayed to Indra, saying, 'I bow to thee,
thou Lord of all the gods! I bow to thee, thou slayer of Vritra! I bow to
thee, thou slayer of Namuchi! O thou of a thousand eyes, consort of Sachi!
By thy showers, be thou the protector of the snakes scorched by the Sun. O
thou best of the deities, thou art our great protector. O Purandara, thou
art able to grant rain in torrents. Thou art Vayu (the air), the clouds,
fire, and the lightning of the skies. Thou art the propeller of the clouds,
and hast been called the great cloud (i.e., that which will darken the
universe at the end of Yuga). Thou art the fierce and incomparable thunder,
and the roaring clouds. Thou art the Creator of the worlds and their
Destroyer. Thou art unconquered. Thou art the light of all creatures,
Aditya, Vibhavasu, and the wonderful elements. Thou art the ruler of all
the gods. Thou art Vishnu. Thou hast a thousand eyes. Thou art a god, and
the final resource. Thou art, O deity, all amrita, and the most adored
Soma. Thou art the moment, the lunar day, the bala (minute), thou art the
kshana (4 minutes). Thou art the lighted fortnight, and also the dark
fortnight. Thou art kala, thou kashtha, and thou Truti. Thou art the year,
the seasons, the months, the nights, and the days. Thou art the fair Earth
with her mountains and forests. Thou art also the firmament, resplendent
with the Sun. Thou art the great Ocean with heaving billows and abounding
with whales, swallowers of whales, and makaras, and various fishes. Thou
art of great renown, always adored by the wise and by the great Rishis
with minds rapt in contemplation. Thou drinkest, for the good of all
creatures, the Soma juice in sacrifices and the clarified butter offered
with sacred invocation. Thou art always worshipped at sacrifices by
Brahmanas moved by desire of fruit. O thou of incomparable mass of
strength, thou art sung in the Vedas and Vedangas. It is for that reason
that learned Brahmanas bent upon performing sacrifices, study the Vedas
with every care.'"
And so ends the twenty-fifth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
(Astika Parva continued)
"Sauti said, 'And then Indra, the king of gods, having the best of horses
for his bearer, thus adored by Kadru, covered the entire firmament with
masses of blue clouds. And he commanded the clouds, saying, Pour ye, your
vivifying and blessed drops!' And those clouds, luminous with lightning,
and incessantly roaring against each other in the welkin, poured abundant
water. And the sky, in consequence of those wonderful and terribly-roaring
clouds that were incessantly begetting vast quantities of water, looked as
if the end of Yuga had come. And in consequence of the myriads of waves
caused in the falling torrents, the deep roar of the clouds, the flashes
of lightning, the violence of the wind, and the general agitation, the sky
looked as if dancing in madness. The sky became overcast, and the rays of
the Sun and the Moon totally disappeared in consequence of that incessant
"And upon Indra's causing that downpour, the Nagas became exceedingly
delighted. And the Earth was filled with water all around. And the cool,
clear water reached even the nether regions. And there were countless
waves of water all over the Earth. And the snakes with their mother
reached (in safety) the island called Ramaniyaka."
And so ends the twenty-sixth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
(Astika Parva continued)
"Sauti said, 'And then the Nagas drenched by that shower, became
exceedingly glad. And borne by that bird of fair feathers, they soon
arrived at the island. That island had been fixed by the Creator of the
Universe as the abode of the makaras. There they saw the terrible Lavana
Samudra (ocean of salt). On arriving there with Garuda, they saw there a
beautiful forest washed by the waters of the sea and resounding with the
music of winged choirs. And there were clusters of trees all around laden
with various fruits and flowers. And there were also fair mansions all
around; and many tanks full of lotuses. And it was also adorned with many
lakes of pure water. And if was refreshed with pure incense-breathing
breezes. And it was adorned with many a tree that grew only on the hills
of Malaya, and seemed by their tallness to reach the very heavens. And
there were also various other trees whose flowers were scattered all
around by the breeze. And that forest was charming and dear to the
Gandharvas and always gave them pleasure. And it was full of bees maddened
with the honey they sucked. And the sight of all this was exceedingly
delightful. And in consequence of many things there, capable of charming
everybody, that forest was fair, delightful, and holy. And, echoing with
the notes of various birds, it delighted greatly the sons of Kadru.
"And the snakes, after arriving at that forest, began to enjoy themselves.
And they commanded the lord of birds, viz., Garuda, of great energy,
saying, 'Convey us to some other fair island with pure water. Thou ranger
of the skies, thou must have seen many fair regions while coursing
(through the air).' Garuda, after reflecting for a few moments, asked his
mother Vinata, saying, 'Why, mother, have I to do the bidding of the
snakes?' Vinata thus questioned by him spake unto that ranger of the skies,
her son, invested with every virtue, of great energy, and great strength,
as follows: "Vinata said, 'O thou best of birds, I have become, from
misfortune, the slave of my co-wife. The snakes, by an act of deception,
caused me to lose my bet and have made me so.' When his mother had told
him the reason, that ranger of the skies, dejected with grief, addressed
the snakes, saying, 'Tell me, ye snakes, by bringing what thing, gaining a
knowledge of what thing, or doing what act of prowess, we may be freed
from this state of bondage to you.'" Sauti continued, 'The snakes, hearing
him, said, 'Bring thou amrita by force. Then O bird, shall you be freed
from bondage.'" And so ends the twenty-seventh section in the Astika Parva
of the Adi Parva.
(Astika Parva continued)
"Sauti said, 'Garuda, thus addressed by the snakes, then said unto his
mother, 'I shall go to bring amrita, I desire to eat something in the way.
Direct me to it.' Vinata replied, 'In a remote region in the midst of the
ocean, the Nishadas have their fair home. Having eaten the thousands of
Nishadas that live there, bring thou amrita. But let not thy heart be ever
set on taking the life of a Brahmana. Of all creatures a Brahmana must not
be slain. He is, indeed, like fire. A Brahmana, when angry, becomes like
fire or the Sun, like poison or an edged weapon. A Brahmana, it has been
said, is the master of all creatures. For these and other reasons, a
Brahmana is the adored of the virtuous. O child, he is never to be slain
by thee even in anger. Hostility with Brahmanas, therefore, would not be
proper under any circumstances. O sinless one, neither Agni nor Surya
truly can consume so much as does a Brahmana of rigid vows, when angry. By
these various indications must thou know a good Brahmana. Indeed, a
brahmana is the first-born of all creatures, the foremost of the four
orders, the father and the master of all.' Garuda then asked, 'O mother,
of what form is a Brahmana, of what behaviour, and of what prowess? Doth
he shine like fire, or is he of tranquil mien? And, O mother, it behoveth
thee to tell my inquiring self, those auspicious signs by which I may
recognise a Brahmana.' Vinata replied, saying, 'O child, him shouldst
thou know as the best amongst Brahmanas who having entered thy throat
would torture thee as a fish-hook or burn thee as blazing charcoal. A
Brahmana must never be slain by thee even in anger.' And Vinata out of
affection for her son, again told him these words, 'Him shouldst thou know
as a good Brahmana who would not be digested in thy stomach.' Although she
knew the incomparable strength of her son, yet she blessed him heartily,
for, deceived by the snakes, she was very much afflicted by woe. And she
said. 'Let Marut (the god of the winds) protect thy wings, and Surya and
Soma thy vertebral regions; let Agni protect thy head, and the Vasus thy
whole body. I also, O child (engaged in beneficial ceremonies), shall sit
here for your welfare. Go then, O child, in safety to accomplish thy
"Sauti continued, 'Then Garuda, having heard the words of his mother,
stretched his wings and ascended the skies. And endued with great strength,
he soon fell upon the Nishadas, hungry and like another Yama. And bent
upon slaying the Nishadas, he raised a great quantity of dust that
overspread the firmament, and sucking up water from amid the ocean, shook
the trees growing on the adjacent mountains. And then that lord of birds
obstructed the principal thoroughfares of the town of the Nishadas by his
mouth, increasing its orifice at will. And the Nishadas began to fly in
great haste in the direction of the open mouth of the great serpent-eater.
And as birds in great affliction ascend by thousand into the skies when
the trees in a forest are shaken by the winds, so those Nishadas blinded
by the dust raised by the storm entered the wide-extending cleft of
Garuda's mouth open to receive them. And then the hungry lord of all
rangers of the skies, that oppressor of enemies, endued with great
strength, and moving with greatest celerity to achieve his end, closed his
mouth, killing innumerable Nishadas following the occupation of
So ends the twenty-eighth section in the Astika Parva of Adi Parva.
(Astika Parva continued)
"Sauti continued, 'A certain Brahmana with his wife had entered the throat
of that ranger of the skies. The former began to burn the bird's throat
like a piece of flaming charcoal. Him Garuda addressed, saying, 'O best of
Brahmanas, come out soon from my mouth which I open for thee. A Brahmana
must never be slain by me, although he may be always engaged in sinful
practices.' Unto Garuda who had thus addressed him that Brahmana said, 'O,
let this woman of the Nishada caste, who is my wife, also come out with
me.' And Garuda said, 'Taking the woman also of the Nishada caste with
thee, come out soon. Save thyself without delay since thou hast not yet
been digested by the heat of my stomach.'
"Sauti continued, 'And then that Brahmana, accompanied by his wife of the
Nishada caste, came out, and praising Garuda wended whatever way he liked.
And when that Brahmana had come out with his wife, that lord of birds,
fleet as the mind, stretching his wings ascended the skies. He then saw
his father, and, hailed by him, Garuda, of incomparable prowess made
proper answers. And the great Rishi (Kasyapa) then asked him, 'O child, is
it well with thee? Dost thou get sufficient food every day? Is there food
in plenty for thee in the world of men?'
"Garuda replied, 'My mother is ever well. And so is my brother, and so am
I. But, father, I do not always obtain plenty of food, for which my peace
is incomplete. I am sent by the snakes to fetch the excellent amrita.
Indeed, I shall fetch it today for emancipating my mother from her bondage.
My mother command me, saying, 'Eat thou the Nishadas.' I have eaten them
by thousands, but my hunger is not appeased. Therefore, O worshipful one,
point out to me some other food, by eating which, O master, I may be
strong enough to bring away amrita by force. Thou shouldst indicate some
food wherewith I may appease my hunger and thirst.'
"Kasyapa replied, 'This lake thou seest is sacred. It hath been heard, of
even in the heavens. There is an elephant, with face downwards, who
continually draggeth a tortoise, his elder brother. I shall speak to you
in detail of their hostility in former life. Just listen as I tell you why
they are here.
"There was of old a great Rishi of the name of Vibhavasu. He was
exceedingly wrathful. He had a younger brother of the name of Supritika.
The latter was averse to keeping his wealth jointly with his brother's.
And Supritika would always speak of partition. After some time his brother
Vibhavasu told Supritika, 'It is from great foolishness that persons
blinded by love of wealth always desire to make a partition of their
patrimony. After effecting a partition they fight with each other, deluded
by wealth. Then again, enemies in the guise of friends cause estrangements
between ignorant and selfish men alter they become separated in wealth,
and pointing out faults confirm their quarrels, so that the latter soon
fall one by one. Absolute ruin very soon overtakes the separated. For
these reasons the wise never speak approvingly of partition amongst
brothers who, when divided, do not regard the most authoritative Sastras
and live always in fear of each other. But as thou, Supritika, without
regarding my advice impelled by desire of separation, always wishest to
make an arrangement about your property, thou shall become an elephant.'
Supritika, thus cursed, then spake unto Vibhavasu, 'Thou also shall become
a tortoise moving in the midst of the waters.'
"And thus on account of wealth those two fools, Supritika and Vibhavasu,
from each other's curse, have become an elephant and a tortoise
respectively. Owing to their wrath, they have both become inferior animals.
And they are engaged in hostilities with each other, proud of their
excessive strength and the weight of their bodies. And in this lake those
two beings of huge bodies are engaged in acts according to their former
hostility. Look here, one amongst them, the handsome elephant of huge body,
is even now approaching. Hearing his roar, the tortoise also of huge body,
living within the waters, cometh out, agitating the lake violently. And
seeing him the elephant, curling his trunk, rusheth into the water. And
endued with great energy, with motion of his tusks and fore-part of his
trunk and tail and feet, he agitates the water of the lake abounding with
fishes. And the tortoise also of great strength, with upraised head,
cometh forward for an encounter. And the elephant is six yojanas in height
and twice that measure in circumference. And the height of the tortoise
also is three yojanas and his circumference ten. Eat thou up both of them
that are madly engaged in the encounter and bent upon slaying each other,
and then accomplish the task that thou desirest. Eating that fierce
elephant which looketh like a huge mountain and resembleth a mass of dark
clouds, bring thou amrita.'
"Sauti continued, 'Having said so unto Garuda, he (Kasyapa) blessed him,
saying, 'Blest be thou when thou art in combat with the gods. Let water
pitchers filled to the brim, Brahmanas, kine, and other auspicious objects,
bless thee, thou oviparous one. And, O thou of great strength, when thou
art engaged with the gods in combat, let the Riks, the Yajus, the Samas,
the sacred sacrificial butter, all the mysteries (Upanishads), constitute
"Garuda, thus addressed by his father, wended to the side of that lake. He
saw that expanse of clear water with birds of various kinds all around.
And remembering the words of his father, that ranger of the skies
possessed of great swiftness of motion, seized the elephant and the
tortoise, one in each claw. And that bird then soared high into the air.
And he came upon a sacred place called Alamva and saw many divine trees.
And struck by the wind raised by his wings, those trees began to shake
with fear. And those divine trees having golden boughs feared that they
would break. And the ranger of the skies seeing that those trees capable
of granting every wish were quaking with fear, went to other trees of
incomparable appearance. And those gigantic trees were adorned with fruits
of gold and silver and branches of precious gems. And they were washed
with the water of the sea. And there was a large banian among them, which
had grown into gigantic proportions, that spoke unto that lord of bird
coursing towards it with the fleetness of the mind, 'Sit thou on this
large branch of mine extending a hundred yojanas and eat the elephant and
the tortoise.' When that best of birds, of great swiftness and of body
resembling a mountain, quickly alighted upon a bough of that banian tree,
the resort of thousands of winged creatures--that bough also full of
leaves shook and broke down.'"
So ends the twenty-ninth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
(Astika Parva continued)
"Sauti said, 'At the very touch by Garuda of great might with his feet,
the branch of the tree broke as it was caught by Garuda. Casting his eyes
around in wonder he saw Valakhilya Rishis hanging therefrom with heads
downwards and engaged in ascetic penances. Reflecting that if that bough
fell down, the Rishis would be slain, the mighty one held the elephant and
the tortoise still more firmly with his claws. And from fear of slaying
the Rishis and desire of saving them, held that bough in his beaks, and
rose on his wings. The great Rishis were struck with wonder at the sight
of that act of his which was beyond even the power of the gods, and gave
that mighty bird a name. And they said, 'As this ranger of the skies rises
on its wings bearing a heavy burden, let this foremost of birds having
snakes for his food be called Garuda (bearer of heavy weight).'
"And shaking the mountains by his wings, Garuda leisurely coursed through
the skies. And as he soared with the elephant and the tortoise (in his
claws), he beheld various regions underneath. Desiring as he did to save
the Valakhilyas, he saw not a spot whereon to sit. At last he went to that
foremost of mountains called Gandhamadana. There he saw his father Kasyapa
engaged in ascetic devotions. Kasyapa also saw his son, that ranger of the
skies, of divine form, possessed of great splendour, and energy and
strength, and endued with the speed of the wind or the mind, huge as a
mountain peak, a ready smiter like the curse of a Brahmana, inconceivable,
indescribable, frightful to all creatures, possessed of great prowess,
terrible, of the splendour of Agni himself, and incapable of being
overcome by the deities, Danavas, and invincible Rakshasas, capable of
splitting mountain summits and sucking the ocean itself and destroying the
three worlds, fierce, and looking like Yama himself. The illustrious
Kasyapa, seeing him approach and knowing also his motive, spoke unto him
"Kasyapa said, 'O child, do not commit a rash act, for then thou wouldst
have to suffer pain. The Valakhilyas, supporting themselves by drinking
the rays of the sun, might, if angry, blast thee.'
"Sauti continued, 'Kasyapa then propitiated, for the sake of his son, the
Valakhilyas of exceeding good fortune and whose sins had been destroyed by
ascetic penances.' And Kasyapa said, 'Ye whose wealth is asceticism, the
essay of Garuda is for the good of all creatures. The task is great that
he is striving to accomplish. It behoveth you to accord him your
"Sauti continued, 'Those ascetics thus addressed by the illustrious
Kasyapa, abandoned that bough and went to the sacred mountain of Himavat
for purposes of ascetic penances. After those Rishis had gone away, the
son of Vinata, with voice obstructed by the bough in his beaks, asked his
father Kasyapa saying, 'O illustrious one, where shall I throw this arm of
the tree? O illustrious one, indicate to me some region without human
beings.' Then Kasyapa spoke of a mountain without human beings with caves
and dales always covered with snow and incapable of approach by ordinary
creatures even in thought. And the great bird bearing that branch, that
elephant, and that tortoise, proceeded with great speed towards that
mountain. The great arm of the tree with which that bird of huge body flew
away could not be girt round with a cord made of a hundred (cow) hides.
Garuda, the lord of birds, then flew away for hundreds of thousand of
yojanas within--the shortest time. And going according to the directions
of his father to that mountain almost in a moment, that ranger of the
skies let fall the gigantic bough. And it fell with a great noise. And
that Prince of mountains shook, struck with the storm raised by Garuda's
wings. And the trees thereon dropped showers of flowers. And the peaks
decked with gems and gold adorning that great mountain itself, were
loosened and tell down on all sides. And the falling bough struck down
numerous trees which, with golden flowers amid dark foliage, shone there
like clouds charged with lightning. And those trees, bright as gold,
falling down upon the ground and, dyed with mountain metals, shone as if
they were bathed in the rays of the sun.
"Then that best of birds, Garuda, perching on the summit of that mountain,
ate both the elephant and the tortoise, rose on his wings with great speed
from the top of the mountain.
"And various omens began to appear among the gods foreboding fear. Indra's
favourite thunderbolt blazed up in a fright. Meteors with flames and smoke,
loosened from the welkin, shot down during the day. And the weapons of the
Vasus, the Rudras, the Adityas, the Sabhyas, the Maruts, and other gods,
began to spend their force against one another. Such a thing had never
happened even during the war between the gods and the Asuras. And the
winds blew accompanied with thunder, and meteors fell by thousands. And
the sky, though cloudless, roared tremendously. And even he who was the
god of gods shed showers of blood. And the flowery garlands on the necks
of the gods faded and their prowess suffered diminution. And terrible
masses of clouds dropped thick showers of blood. And the dust raised by
the winds darkened the splendour of the very coronets of the gods. And He
of a thousand sacrifices (Indra), with the other gods, perplexed with fear
at the sight of those dark forebodings spoke unto Vrihaspati thus, 'Why, O
worshipful one, have these natural disturbances suddenly arisen? No foe do
I behold who would oppress us in war.' Vrihaspati answered, 'O chief of
the gods, O thou of a thousand sacrifices, it is from thy fault and
carelessness, and owing also to the ascetic penance of the high-souled
great Rishis, the Valakhilyas, that the son of Kasyapa and Vinata, a
ranger of the skies endued with great strength and possessing the capacity
of assuming at will any form, is approaching to take away the Soma. And
that bird, foremost among all endued with great strength, is able to rob
you of the Soma. Everything is possible with him; the unachievable he can
"Sauti continued, 'Indra, having heard these words, then spoke unto those
that guarded the amrita, saying, 'A bird endued with great strength and
energy has set his heart on taking away the amrita. I warn you beforehand
so that he may not succeed in taking it away by force. Vrihaspati has told
me that his strength is immeasurable.' And the gods hearing of it were
amazed and took precautions. And they stood surrounding the amrita and
Indra also of great prowess, the wielder of the thunder, stood with them.
And the gods wore curious breastplates of gold, of great value, and set
with gems, and bright leathern armour of great toughness. And the mighty
deities wielded various sharp-edged weapons of terrible shapes, countless
in number, emitting, even all of them, sparks of fire with smoke. And they
were also armed with many a discus and iron mace furnished with spikes,
and trident, battle-axe, and various kinds of sharp-pointed missiles and
polished swords and maces of terrible form, all befitting their respective
bodies. And decked with celestial ornaments and resplendent with those
bright arms, the gods waited there, their fears allayed. And the gods, of
incomparable strength, energy, and splendour, resolved to protect the
amrita. Capable of splitting the towns of the Asuras, all displayed
themselves in forms resplendent as the fire. And in consequence of the
gods standing there, that (would be) battle-field, owing to hundreds of
thousands of maces furnished with iron spikes, shone like another
firmament illumined by the rays of the Sun.'"
So ends the thirtieth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
(Astika Parva continued)
"Saunaka said, 'O son of Suta, what was Indra's fault, what his act of
carelessness? How was Garuda born in consequence of the ascetic penances
of the Valakhilyas? Why also Kasyapa--a Brahman--had the king of birds for
a son? Why, too, was he invincible of all creatures and unslayable of all?
Why also was that ranger of the skies capable of going into every place at
will and of mustering at will any measure of energy? If these are
described in the Purana, I should like to hear them.'
"Sauti said, 'What thou askest me is, indeed, the subject of the Purana. O
twice-born one, listen as I briefly recite it all.
"Once upon a time, when the lord of creation, Kasyapa, was engaged in a
sacrifice from desire of offspring, the Rishis, the gods, and the
Gandharvas, all gave him help. And Indra was appointed by Kasyapa to bring
the sacrificial fuel; and with him those ascetics the Valakhilyas, and all
the other deities. And the lord Indra, taking up according to his own
strength, a weight that was mountain-like, brought it without any fatigue.
And he saw on the way some Rishis, of bodies of the measure of the thumb,
all together carrying one single stalk of a Palasa (Butea frondosa) leaf.
And those Rishis were, from want of food, very lean and almost merged in
their own bodies. And they were so weak that they were much afflicted when
sunk in the water that collected in an indentation on the road produced by
the hoof of a cow. And Purandara, proud of his strength, beheld them with
surprise, and laughing at them in derision soon left them behind insulting
them, besides, by passing over their heads. And those Rishis being thus
insulted were filled with rage and sorrow. And they made preparations for
a great sacrifice at which Indra was terrified. Hear, O Saunaka, of the
wish for accomplishment of which those vow-observing wise, and excellent
ascetics poured clarified butter of the sacrificial fire with loudly
uttered mantras, 'There shall be another Indra of all gods, capable of
going everywhere at will, and of mustering at will any measure of energy,
and striking tear into the (present) king of the gods. By the fruit of our
ascetic penance, let one arise, fleet as the mind, and fierce withal.' And
the lord of the celestials of a hundred sacrifices, having come to know of
this, became very much alarmed and sought the protection of the vow-
observing Kasyapa. And the Prajapati Kasyapa, hearing everything from
Indra, went to the Valakhilyas and asked them if their sacrifice had been
successful. And those truth-speaking Rishis replied to him, saying, 'Let
it be as thou sayest!' And the Prajapati Kasyapa pacifying them, spake
unto them as follows, 'By the word of Brahman, this one (Indra) hath been
made the Lord of the three worlds. Ye ascetics, ye also are striving to
create another Indra! Ye excellent ones, it behoveth you not to falsify
the word of Brahman. Let not also this purpose, for (accomplishing) which
ye are striving, be rendered futile. Let there spring an Indra (Lord) of
winged creatures, endued with excess of strength! Be gracious unto Indra
who is a suppliant before you.' And the Valakhilyas, thus addressed by
Kasyapa, after offering reverence to that first of the Munis, viz., the
Prajapati Kasyapa, spake unto him:
"The Valakhilyas said, 'O Prajapati, this sacrifice of us all is for an
Indra! Indeed this hath also been meant for a son being born unto thee!
Let this task be now left to thee. And in this matter do whatsoever thou
seest to be good and proper.'
"Sauti continued, 'Meanwhile, moved by the desire of offspring, the good
daughter of Daksha, the vow-observing, amiable, and fortunate Vinata, her
ascetic penances over, having purified herself with a bath in that season
when connubial companionship might prove fruitful, approached her lord.
And Kasyapa spake unto her, 'Respected one, the sacrifice commenced by me
hath borne fruit. What hath been desired by thee shall come to pass. Two
heroic sons, shall be born unto thee, who shall be the lords of the three
worlds. By the penances of the Valakhilyas and by virtue of the desire
with which I commenced my sacrifice, those sons shall be of exceedingly
good fortune and worshipped in the three worlds!' And the illustrious
Kasyapa spake unto her again, 'Bear thou these auspicious seeds with great
care. These two will be the lords of all winged creatures. These heroic
rangers of the skies will be respected in all the worlds, and capable of
assuming any form at will.'
"And the Prajapati, gratified with all that took place, then addressed
Indra of a hundred sacrifices, saying, 'Thou shalt have two brothers of
great energy and prowess, who shall be to thee even as the helpmates. From
them no injury shall result unto thee. Let thy sorrow cease; thou shalt
continue as the lord of all. Let not, however, the utterers of the name of
Brahma be ever again slighted by thee. Nor let the very wrathful ones,
whose words are even the thunderbolt, be ever again insulted by thee.'
Indra, thus addressed, went to heaven, his fears dispelled. And Vinata
also, her purpose fulfilled, was exceedingly glad. And she gave birth to
two sons, Aruna and Garuda. And Aruna, of undeveloped body, became the
fore-runner of the Sun. And Garuda was vested with the lordship over the
birds. O thou of Bhrigu's race, hearken now to the mighty achievement of
So ends the thirty-first section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
(Astika Parva continued)
"Sauti said, 'O foremost of Brahmanas, the gods having prepared for battle
in that way, Garuda, the king of birds, soon came upon those wise ones.
And the gods beholding him of excessive strength began to quake with fear,
and strike one another with all their weapons. And amongst those that
guarded the Soma was Brahmana (the celestial architect), of measureless
might, effulgent as the electric fire and of great energy. And after a
terrific encounter lasting only a moment, managed by the lord of birds
with his talons, beak, and wings, he lay as dead on the fields. And the
ranger of the skies making the worlds dark with the dust raised by the
hurricane of his wings, overwhelmed the celestials with it. And the latter,
overwhelmed with that dust, swooned away. And the immortals who guarded
the amrita, blinded by that dust, could no longer see Garuda. Even thus
did Garuda agitate the region of the heavens. And even thus he mangled the
gods with the wounds inflicted by his wings and beak.
"Then the god of a thousand eyes commanded Vayu (the god of wind), saying,
'Dispel thou this shower of dust soon. O Maruta, this is indeed, thy task.
Then the mighty Vayu soon drove away that dust. And when the darkness had
disappeared, the celestials attacked Garuda. And as he of great might was
attacked by the gods, he began to roar aloud, like the great cloud that
appeareth in the sky at the end of the Yuga, frightening every creature.
And that king of birds, of great energy, that slayer of hostile heroes,
then rose on his wings. All the wise ones (the celestials) with Indra
amongst them armed with double-edged broad swords, iron maces furnished
with sharp spikes, pointed lances, maces, bright arrows, and many a discus
of the form of the sun, saw him over head. And the king of birds, attacked
them on all sides with showers of various weapons and fought exceedingly
hard without wavering for a moment. And the son of Vinata, of great
prowess blazing in the sky, attacked the gods on all sides with his wings
and breast. And blood began to flow copiously from the bodies of the gods
mangled by the talons and the beak of Garuda. Overcome by the lord of
birds, the Sadhyas with the Gandharvas fled eastwards, the Vasus with the
Rudras towards the south, the Adityas towards the west, and the twin
Aswins towards the north. Gifted with great energy, they retreated
fighting, looking back every moment on their enemy.
"And Garuda had encounters with the Yakshas, Aswakranda of great courage,
Rainuka, the bold Krathanaka, Tapana, Uluka, Swasanaka, Nimesha, Praruja,
and Pulina. And the son of Vinata mangled them with his wings, talons, and
beak, like Siva himself, that chastiser of enemies, and the holder of
Pinaka in rage at the end of the Yuga. And those Yakshas of great might
and courage, mangled all over by that ranger of the skies, looked like
masses of black clouds dropping thick showers of blood.
"And Garuda, depriving them of life, and then went to where the amrita was.
And he saw that it was surrounded on all sides by fire. And the terrible
flames of that fire covered the entire sky. And moved by violent winds,
they seemed bent on burning the Sun himself. The illustrious Garuda then
assumed ninety times ninety mouths and quickly drinking the waters of many
rivers with those mouths and returning with great speed, that chastiser of
enemies, having wings for his vehicle extinguished that fire with that
water. And extinguishing that fire, he assumed a very small form, desirous
of entering into (the place where the Soma was)."
So ends the thirty-second section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
(Astika Parva continued)
"Santi said, 'And that bird, assuming a golden body bright as the rays of
the Sun, entered with great force (the region where the Soma was), like a
torrent entering the ocean. And he saw, placed near the Soma, a wheel of
steel keen-edged, and sharp as the razor, revolving incessantly. And that
fierce instrument, of the splendour of the blazing sun and of terrible
form, had been devised by the gods for cutting in pieces all robbers of
the Soma. Garuda, seeing a passage through it, stopped there for a moment.
Diminishing his body, in an instant he passed through the spokes of that
wheel. Within the line of the wheel, he beheld, stationed there for
guarding the Soma two great snakes of the effulgence of blazing fire, with
tongues bright as the lightning-flash, of great energy, with mouth
emitting fire, with blazing eyes, containing poison, very terrible, always
in anger, and of great activity. Their eyes were ceaselessly inflamed with
rage and were also winkless. He who may be seen by even one of the two
would instantly be reduced to ashes. The bird of fair feathers suddenly
covered their eyes with dust. And unseen by them he attacked them from all
sides. And the son of Vinata, that ranger of the skies, attacking their
bodies, mangled them into pieces. He then approached the Soma without loss
of time. Then the mighty son of Vinata, taking up the Amrita from the
place where it was kept, rose on his wings with great speed, breaking into
pieces the machine that had surrounded it. And the bird soon came out,
taking the Amrita but without drinking it himself. And he then wended on
his way without the least fatigue, darkening the splendour of the Sun.
"And the son of Vinata then met Vishnu on his way along the sky. And
Narayana was gratified at that act of self-denial on the part of Garuda.
And that deity, knowing no deterioration, said unto the ranger of the
skies, 'O, I am inclined to grant thee a boon.' The ranger of the skies
thereupon said, 'I shall stay above thee.' And he again spake unto
Narayana these words, 'I shall be immortal and free from disease without
(drinking) Amrita.' Vishnu said unto the son of Vinata, 'Be it so.' Garuda,
receiving those two boons, told Vishnu, 'I also shall grant thee a boon;
therefore, let the possessor of the six attributes ask of me.' Vishnu then
asked the mighty Garuda to become his carrier. And he made the bird sit on
the flagstaff of his car, saying, 'Even thus thou shalt stay above me.'
And the ranger of the skies, of great speed, saying unto Narayana, 'Be it
so,' swiftly wended on his way, mocking the wind with his fleetness.
"And while that foremost of all rangers of the skies, that first of winged
creatures, Garuda, was coursing through the air after wresting the Amrita,
Indra hurled at him his thunderbolt. Then Garuda, the lord of birds,
struck with thunderbolt, spake laughingly unto Indra engaged in the
encounter, in sweet words, saying, 'I shall respect the Rishi (Dadhichi)
of whose bone the Vajra hath been made. I shall also respect the Vajra,
and thee also of a thousand sacrifices. I cast this feather of mine whose
end thou shalt not attain. Struck with thy thunder I have not felt the
slightest pain.' And having said this, the king of birds cast a feather of
his. And all creatures became exceedingly glad, beholding that excellent
feather of Garuda so cast off. And seeing that the feather was very
beautiful, they said, 'Let this bird be called Suparna (having fair
feathers).' And Purandara of a thousand eyes, witnessing this wonderful
incident, thought that bird to be some great being and addressed him
"And Indra said, 'O best of birds, I desire to know the limit of thy great
strength. I also desire eternal friendship with thee.'"
So ends the thirty-third section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
Back to Full Books