(Khandava-daha Parva continued)
"Vaisampayana said, 'Then that Brahmana addressed Arjuna and Vasudeva of the Satwata race, saying, 'Ye who are now staying so near unto Khandava are the two foremost of heroes on earth. I am a voracious Brahmana that always eateth much. O thou of the Vrishni race, and O Partha, I solicit you to gratify me by giving me sufficient food.' Thus addressed by the Brahmana, Krishna and the son of Pandu answered him, saying, 'O, tell us what kind of food will gratify thee so that we may endeavour to give it thee.' The illustrious Brahmana, thus replied to, said unto those heroes who were enquiring after the kind of food he sought, 'I do not desire to eat ordinary food. Know that I am Agni! Give me that food which suiteth me. This forest of Khandava is always protected by Indra. And as it is protected by the illustrious one, I always fail to consume it. In that forest dwelleth, with his followers and family, a Naga, called Takshaka, who is the friend of Indra. It is for him that the wielder of the thunderbolt protecteth this forest. Many other creatures also are thus protected here for the sake of Takshaka. Desiring to consume the forest I succeed not in my attempts in consequence of Indra's prowess. Beholding me blazing forth, he always poureth upon me water from the clouds. Therefore, I succeed not in consuming the forest of Khandava, although I desire very much to do so. I have now come to you—you who are both skilled in weapons! If you help me I will surely consume this forest: for even this is the food that is desired by me! As ye are conversant with excellent weapons, I pray you to prevent those showers from descending and any of the creatures from escaping, when I begin to consume this forest!'
"Janamejaya said, 'Why did the illustrious Agni desire to consume the forest of Khandava that was filled with various living creatures and protected by the chief of the celestials? When Agni consumed in wrath the forest of Khandava, it is evident there was a grave cause. I desire, O Brahmana, to hear all this in detail from thee. Tell me, O sage, how the Khandava forest was consumed in days of yore.'
"Vaisampayana said, 'O chief of men, I will narrate to you the story of the conflagration of Khandava as told by Rishis in the Purana. It hath been heard, O king, in the Purana that there was a celebrated king of the name of Swetaki who was endued with strength and prowess and who was equal unto Indra himself. No one on earth has equalled him in sacrifices, charity, and intelligence. Swetaki performed the five great sacrifices and many others, at all of which the presents unto Brahmanas were large. The heart of that monarch, O king, was always set upon sacrifices, religious rites, and gifts of all kinds. And king Swetaki of great intelligence, assisted by his Ritwiks performed sacrifices for many long years, till those sacrificial priests with eyes afflicted by the continued smoke and becoming very weak, left that monarch, wishing never more to assist at his sacrifices. The king, however, repeatedly asked those Ritwiks to come to him. But they came not to his sacrifice in consequence of the painful state of their eyes. The king, therefore, invited at the command of his own Ritwiks, others like unto them, and completed the sacrifice that he had begun. After some days had elapsed, king Swetaki desired to perform another sacrifice which should extend for a hundred years. But the illustrious monarch obtained not any priest to assist him in it. The celebrated king then, with his friends and relatives, casting off all sloth, repeatedly courted his priests with great persistence, by bowing down unto them, by conciliatory speeches, and by gifts of wealth. All of them, however, refused to accomplish the purpose which that king of immeasurable energy had in view. Then that royal sage, getting angry, addressed those Brahmanas sitting in their asylums, and said, 'If, ye Brahmanas, I were a fallen person, or, if, I were wanting in homage and service to you, I should then deserve to be abandoned without scruple by you and by other Brahmanas at the same time. But as I am neither degraded nor wanting in homage to you, it behoveth you not to obstruct the performance by me of my sacrifice or to abandon me thus, ye foremost of Brahmanas, without adequate reason. I seek, ye Brahmanas, your protection! It behoveth you to be propitious unto me. But, ye foremost of Brahmanas, if you abandon me from enmity alone or any improper motive, I shall go unto other priests for their assistance in this sacrifice of mine, and conciliating them by sweet words and gifts, I shall represent unto them the business I have on hand, so that they may accomplish it.' Having said this, the monarch became silent. And, O chastiser of foes, when those priests well knew that they could not assist at the king's sacrifice, they pretended to be angry, and addressing that best of monarchs said, 'O best of kings, thy sacrifices are incessant! By assisting thee always, we have all been fatigued. And as we have been wearied in consequence of these labours, it behoveth thee to give us leave. O sinless one, from loss of judgment thou canst not wait (but urgest us repeatedly). Go unto Rudra! He will assist at thy sacrifice!' Hearing those words of censure and wrath, king Swetaki became angry. And the monarch wending to the mountains of Kailasa, devoted himself to asceticism there. And, O king, the monarch began to worship Mahadeva, with fixed attention, and by observing the most rigid vows. And foregoing all food at times, he passed a long period. The monarch ate only fruits and roots sometimes at the twelfth and sometimes at the sixteenth hour of the whole day. King Swetaki stood for six months, rapt in attention, with arms upraised and steadfast eyes, like the trunk of a tree or a column rooted to the ground. And, O Bharata, Sankara at last gratified with that tiger among kings, who was undergoing such hard penances, showed himself unto him. And the god spake unto the monarch in a calm and grave voice, saying, 'O tiger among kings, O chastiser of foes, I have been gratified with thee for thy asceticism! Blest be thou! Ask now the boon that thou, O king, desirest.' Hearing these words of Rudra of immeasurable energy, the royal sage bowed unto that deity and replied, saying, 'O illustrious one, O thou that art worshipped by the three worlds, if thou hast been gratified with me, then, O god of gods, assist me thyself, O lord of the celestials, in my sacrifice!' Hearing these words spoken by the monarch, the illustrious god was gratified, and smilingly said, 'We do not ourselves assist at sacrifices: but as thou, O king, hast undergone severe penances, desirous of obtaining a boon, I will, O chastiser of foes, assist at thy sacrifice, upon, O king, this condition.' And Rudra continued, 'If, O king of kings, thou canst, for twelve years, pour without intermission libations of clarified butter into the fire, thyself leading all the while the life of a Brahmacharin with rapt attention, then thou shalt obtain from me what thou askest.' King Swetaki, thus addressed by Rudra, did all that he was directed to do by the wielder of the trident. And after twelve years had elapsed, he again came unto Maheswara. And Sankara, the Creator of the worlds upon seeing Swetaki, that excellent monarch, immediately said, in great gratification, 'I have been gratified by thee, O best of kings, with this thy own act! But, O chastiser of foes, the duty of assisting at sacrifices properly belongeth to Brahmanas. Therefore, O oppressor of foes, I will not myself assist at thy sacrifice today. There is on earth an exalted Brahmana who is even a portion of my own self. He is known by the name of Durvasa. Even that Brahmana endued with great energy will assist you in thy sacrifice. Let, therefore, every preparation be made.' Hearing these words uttered by Rudra, the king, returning to his own capital, began to collect all that was necessary. After everything had been collected, the monarch again presented himself before Rudra and said, 'Every necessary article hath been collected, and all my preparations are complete, through thy grace, O god of gods! Let me, therefore, be installed at the sacrifice tomorrow.' Having heard these words of that illustrious king, Rudra summoned Durvasa before him and said. 'This, O Durvasa, is that best of monarchs called Swetaki. At my command, O best of Brahmanas, assist even this king in his sacrifice.' And the Rishi Durvasa said unto Rudra, 'So be it.' Then the sacrifice for which king Swetaki had made those preparations, took place. And the illustrious monarch's sacrifice was performed according to the ordinance and in proper season. And the gifts, on that occasion, unto the Brahmanas were large. And after that monarch's sacrifice had come to an end, all the other priests who had come to assist at it went away with Durvasa's leave. All other Sadasyas also of immeasurable energy, who had been installed at that sacrifice, then went away. That exalted monarch then entered his own palace, worshipped by exalted Brahmanas conversant with the Vedas, eulogised by chanters of panegyrical hymns and congratulated by the citizens.
"Such was the history of that best of monarchs, the royal sage Swetaki, who, when the time came, ascended to heaven, having won great renown on earth, and accompanied by the Ritwiks and the Sadasyas that had helped him in life.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'At that sacrifice of Swetaki, Agni had drunk clarified butter for twelve years. Indeed, clarified butter had been poured into Agni's mouth in a continuous stream for that period. Having drunk so much butter, Agni, satiated, desired not to drink butter again from the hand of anybody else at any other sacrifice. Agni became pale, having lost his colour, and he could not shine as before. He felt a loss of appetite from surfeit, and his energy itself decreased and sickness afflicted him. Then when the drinker of sacrificial libations perceived that his energy was gradually diminishing, he went to the sacred abode of Brahman that is worshipped by all. Approaching the great Deity seated on his seat, Agni said, 'O exalted one, Swetaki hath (by his sacrifice) gratified me to excess. Even now I am suffering from surfeit which I cannot dispel. O Lord of the universe, I am being reduced both in splendour and strength. I desire to regain, through thy grace, my own permanent nature.' Hearing these words from Hutavaha, the illustrious Creator of all things smilingly replied unto him, saying, 'O exalted one, thou hast eaten, for twelve years, a continuous stream of sacrificial butter poured into thy mouth! It is for this that illness hath seized thee. But, O Agni, grieve not for it. Thou shalt soon regain thy own nature. I shall dispel this surfeit of thine and the time for it is even come. The dreadful forest Khandava, that abode of the enemies of the gods, which thou hadst of old once consumed to ashes at the request of the gods, hath now become the home of numerous creatures. When thou will have eaten the fat of those creatures, thou shalt regain thy own nature. Proceed thither in haste to consume that forest with its living population. Thou wilt then be cured of thy malady.' Hearing the words that fell from the lips of the Supreme Deity, Hutasana proceeded with great speed and soon reached the forest of Khandava in great vigour. Arrived there, he suddenly blazed forth in anger, assisted by Vayu. Beholding Khandava on fire the dwellers (in the forest) that were there, made great efforts to extinguish the conflagration. Elephants by hundreds of thousands, speeding in anger, brought water in their trunks and scattered it upon the fire. Thousands of many-hooded snakes, mad with anger, hastily began to scatter upon fire much water from those many hoods of theirs. And so, O bull of Bharata's race, the other creatures dwelling in that forest, by various appliances and efforts, soon extinguished the fire. In this way, Agni blazed forth in Khandava repeatedly, even for seven times. And it was in this way that the blazing fire was extinguished there as often by the denizens of that forest.'"
(Khandava-daha Parva continued)
"Vaisampayana said, 'Then Havyavahana (Agni) in anger and disappointment, with his ailment uncured, went to the Grandsire. And he represented unto Brahman all that had happened: The illustrious deity, reflecting for a moment, said unto him, 'O sinless one, I see a way by which thou mayest consume the forest of Khandava today in the very sight of Indra. Those old deities, Nara and Narayana, have become incarnate in the world of men to accomplish the business of the celestials. They are called on earth Arjuna and Vasudeva. They are even now staying in the forest of Khandava. Solicit them for aiding thee in consuming that forest. Thou shalt then consume the forest even if it be protected by the celestials. They will certainly prevent the population of Khandava from escaping, and thwart Indra also (in aiding any one in the escape). I have no doubt of this!' Hearing these words, Agni came in haste unto Krishna and Partha. O king, I have already told thee what he said, having approached the illustrious pair. O tiger among kings, hearing those words of Agni who was desirous of consuming the forest of Khandava against the will of Indra, Vibhatsu said unto him these words well-suited to the occasion, 'I have numberless excellent celestial weapons with which I can fight even many wielders of the thunderbolt. But, O exalted one, I have no bow suited to the strength of my arms, and capable of bearing the might I may put forth in battle. In consequence of the lightness of my hands also I require arrows that must never be exhausted. My car also is scarcely able to bear the load of arrows that I would desire to keep by me. I desire celestial steeds of pure white, possessing the speed of the wind; and a car possessing the splendour of the sun and the clatter of whose wheels should resemble the roar of the clouds. Then, there is no weapon suited to Krishna's energy and with which Madhava can slay Nagas and Pisachas. O exalted one, it behoveth thee to give us the means by which success may be achieved and by which we may thwart Indra in pouring his showers upon that extensive forest. O Pavaka, we are ready to do all that manliness and prowess can do. But, O exalted one, it behoveth thee to give us the adequate means.'"
(Khandava-daha Parva continued)
"Vaisampayana, said, 'Thus addressed by Arjuna, the smoke-bannered Hutasana, desirous of an interview with Varuna, recollected that son of Aditi,—that deity protecting one of the points of the heavens and having his home in the water and ruling that element. Varuna, knowing that he was thought of by Pavaka, immediately appeared before that deity. The smoke- bannered celestial welcoming with reverence the ruler of the waters, that fourth of the Lokapalas, said unto that eternal god of gods, 'Give me without loss of time that bow and quiver, and that ape-bannered car also, which were obtained from king Soma. Partha will achieve a great task with Gandiva, and Vasudeva also with the discus! Give both, therefore, unto me today.' Hearing these words, Varuna replied unto Pavaka, saying, 'Well, I am giving them.' He then gave that wonderful jewel of a bow that was endued with great energy. That bow was the enhancer of fame and achievements, and was incapable of being injured by any weapon. It was the chief of all weapons, and the grinder of them all. And it was the smiter of hostile armies and was alone equal to a hundred thousand bows. It was the multiplier of kingdoms, and was variegated with excellent colours. It was well-adorned, and beautiful to behold, and without a mark of weakness or injury anywhere. And it was always worshipped both by the celestials and the Gandharvas. Varuna also gave two inexhaustible quivers, and he also gave a car furnished with celestial weapons and whose banner bore a large ape. Yoked unto that car were steeds white as silver of the fleecy clouds, and born in the region of the Gandharvas, and decked with golden harness, and resembling in fleetness the wind or the mind. And it was equipped with implement of war, and was incapable of being vanquished by the celestials or the Asuras. Its splendour was great and the sounds of its wheels was tremendous. It delighted the heart of every creature that looked at it. It had been made by Viswakarman, the architect of the universe and one of the lords of creation, after severe ascetic meditation. Its splendour, like that of the sun, was so great that no one could gaze at it. It was the very car from which the lord Soma had vanquished the Danavas. Resplendent with beauty, it looked like an evening cloud reflecting the effulgence of the setting sun. It was furnished with an excellent flag-staff of golden colour and great beauty. And there sat upon that flag-staff a celestial ape of form fierce like that of a lion or a tiger. Stationed on high, the ape seemed bent upon burning everything it beheld. And upon the (other) flags were various creatures of large size, whose roars and yells caused the enemy's soldiers to faint. Then Arjuna, accoutred in mail and armed with the sword, and his fingers cased in leathern gloves, walking round that excellent car adorned with numerous flags and bowing unto the gods, ascended it like a virtuous man riding in the celestial car that bears him to heaven. And taking up that celestial and first of bows created by Brahman of old and called Gandiva, Arjuna was filled with joy. And bowing unto Hutasana, Partha endued with great energy, took up the bow and strung it forcibly. Those who heard the noise that was made while the mighty Pandava strung that bow, quaked with fear. And having obtained that car and that bow, and the two inexhaustible quivers, the son of Kunti became glad and thought himself competent to assist at the task. And Pavaka then gave unto Krishna a discus with an iron pole attached to a hole in the centre. And it was a fiery weapon and became his favourite. Having obtained that weapon, Krishna also became equal to the task. Pavaka then, addressing Krishna, said, 'With this, O slayer of Madhu, thou shalt be able without doubt to vanquish in battle even foes that are not human. With this weapon, without doubt, thou shalt be superior in battle to men and gods, and Rakshasas and Pisachas, and Daityas and Nagas. And thou shalt certainly be able with this to smite all. And, O Madhava, hurled by thee in battle at thy foes, this weapon will irresistibly slay the enemy and again come back into thy hands.' And the lord Varuna, after this, gave unto Krishna a mace, of name Kaumodaki, capable of slaying every Daitya and producing, when hurled, a roar like that of the thunder. Then Arjuna and Achyuta, filled with joy said unto Pavaka, 'O exalted one, furnished with weapons and knowing their use, possessed of cars with flags and flagstaffs, we are now able to fight with even all the celestials and the Asuras (together), let alone the wielder of the thunderbolt desirous of fighting for the sake of the Naga (his friend Takshaka).' Arjuna also said, 'O Pavaka, while Hrishikesa, endued with abundant energy, moves on the field of battle with this discus in hand, there is nothing in the three worlds that he will not be able to consume by hurling this weapon. Having obtained the bow Gandiva and this couple of inexhaustible quivers I also am ready to conquer in battle the three worlds. Therefore, O lord, blaze thou forth as thou likest, surrounding this large forest on every side. We are quite able to help thee.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Thus addressed both by Dasarha and Arjuna, the illustrious god then put forth his most energetic form, and prepared to consume the forest. Surrounding it on all sides with his seven flames, he began to consume the forest of Khandava, exhibiting his all-consuming form like that at the end of the Yuga (cycle). And, O bull of Bharata's race, surrounding that forest and catching it from all sides with a roar like that of the clouds, Agni made every creature within it tremble. And, O Bharata, that burning forest then looked resplendent like the king of mountains, Meru, blazing with the rays of the sun fallen thereupon.'"
(Khandava-daha Parva continued)
"Vaisampayana said, 'Then those foremost of car-warriors (Krishna and Arjuna), riding in their cars and placing themselves on opposite sides of that forest, began a great slaughter, on all sides, of the creatures dwelling in Khandava. At whatever point any of the creatures residing in Khandava could be seen attempting to escape, thither rushed those mighty heroes (to prevent its flight). Indeed those two excellent cars seemed to be but one, and the two warriors also therein but one individual. And while the forest was burning, hundreds and thousands of living creatures, uttering frightful yells, began to run about in all directions. Some had particular limbs burnt, some were scorched with excessive heat, and some came out, and some ran about from fear. And some clasping their children and some their parents and brothers, died calmly without, from excess of affection, being able to abandon these that were dear to them. And many there were who biting their nether lips rose upwards and soon fell whirling into the blazing element below. And some were seen to roll on the ground with wings, eyes, and feet scorched and burnt. These creatures were all seen to perish there almost soon enough. The tanks and ponds within that forest, heated by the fire around, began to boil; the fishes and the tortoises in them were all seen to perish. During that great slaughter of living creatures in that forest, the burning bodies of various animals looked as if fire itself had assumed many forms. The birds that took wings to escape from that conflagration were pierced by Arjuna with his shafts, and cut into pieces, they fell down into the burning element below. Pierced all over with Arjuna's shafts, the birds dropped down into the burning forest, uttering loud cries. The denizens of the forest, struck with those shafts, began to roar and yell. The clamour they raised was like unto the frightful uproar heard during the churning of the ocean (in days of yore). The mighty flames of the blazing fire reaching the firmament, caused great anxiety to the celestials themselves. Then all the illustrious dwellers in heaven went in a body unto him of a hundred sacrifices and thousand eyes, viz., their chief, that grinder of Asuras. Approaching Indra, the celestial said, 'Why, O lord of immortals, doth Agni burn these creatures below? Hath the time come for the destruction of the world?'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Hearing these words of the gods, and himself beholding what Agni was doing, the slayer of Vritra set out for the protection of the forest of Khandava. And Vasava, the chief of the celestials soon covering the sky with masses of clouds of every kind began to shower upon the burning forest. Those masses of clouds by hundreds and thousands, commanded by Indra began to pour rain upon Khandava in showers thick as the flag-staffs of battle-cars. But the showers were all dried up in the sky itself by the heat of the fire and could not, therefore, reach the fire at all! Then the slayer of Namuchi, getting angry with Agni, collected huge masses of clouds and caused them to yield a heavy downpour. Then with the flames contending with those heavy showers, and with masses of clouds overhead, that forest, filled with smoke and flashes of lightning, became terrible to behold.'"
(Khandava-daha Parva continued)
"Vaisampayana said, 'Then Vibhatsu, the son of Pandu, invoking his excellent weapons, prevented that shower of rain by Indra, by means of a shower of his own weapons. And Arjuna of immeasurable soul soon covered the forest of Khandava with innumerable arrows like the moon covering the atmosphere with a thick fog. When the sky above that forest was thus covered with the arrows of Arjuna no living creature could then escape from below. And it so happened that while that forest was burning, Takshaka, the chief of the Nagas, was not there, having gone at that time to the field of Kurukshetra. But Aswasena, the mighty son of Takshaka, was there. He made great efforts to escape from that fire; but confined by Arjuna's shafts he succeeded not in finding a way. It was then that his mother, the daughter of a snake, determined to save him by swallowing him first. His mother first swallowed his head and then was swallowing his tail. And desirous of saving her son, the sea-snake rose (up from the earth) while still employed in swallowing her son's tail. But Arjuna as soon as he beheld her escaping, severed her head from her body by means of a sharp and keen-edged arrow. Indra saw all this, and desiring to save his friend's son, the wielder of the thunderbolt, by raising a violent wind, deprived Arjuna of consciousness. During those few moments, Aswasena succeeded in effecting his escape. Beholding that manifestation of the power of illusion, and deceived by that snake, Arjuna was much enraged. He forthwith cut every animal seeking to escape by the skies, into two, three, or more pieces. And Vibhatsu in anger, and Agni, and Vasudeva also, cursed the snake that had escaped so deceitfully, saying, 'Never shalt thou be famous!' And Jishnu remembering the deception practised upon him, became angry, and covering the firmament with a cloud of arrows, sought to fight with him of a thousand eyes. The chief of the celestials also, seeing Arjuna in anger, sought to fight with him, and hurled his own fierce weapons, covering the wide expanse of the firmament. Then the winds, making a loud roar and agitating all the oceans, brought together masses of clouds in the sky, charged with torrents of rain. Those masses of clouds began to vomit thunder and terrible flashes of lightning charged with the thunderclap. Then Arjuna possessing a knowledge of means, hurled the excellent weapon called Vayavya with proper mantras to dispel those clouds. With that weapon the energy and force of Indra's thunderbolt and of those clouds were destroyed. And the torrents of rain with which those clouds were charged were all dried up, and the lightning that played amongst them was also destroyed. Within a moment the sky was cleared of dust and darkness, and a delicious, cool breeze began to blow and the disc of the sun resumed its normal state. Then the eater of clarified butter (Agni), glad because none could baffle him, assumed various forms, and sprinkled over with the fat exuded by the bodies of creatures, blazed forth with all his flames, filling the universe with his roar. Then numerous birds of the Garuda tribe bearing excellent feathers, beholding that the forest was protected by Krishna and Arjuna, descended filled with pride, from the upper skies, desirous of striking those heroes with their thunderlike wings, beaks and claws. Innumerable Nagas also, with faces emitting fire descending from high, approached Arjuna, vomiting the most virulent poison all the while. Beholding them approach, Arjuna cut them into pieces by means of arrows steeped in the fire of his own wrath. Then those birds and snakes, deprived of life, fell into the burning element below. And there came also, desirous of battle, innumerable Asuras with Gandharvas and Yakshas and Rakshasas and Nagas sending forth terrific yells. Armed with machines vomiting from their throats (mouths) iron balls and bullets, and catapults for propelling huge stones, and rockets, they approached to strike Krishna and Partha, their energy and strength increased by wrath. But though they rained a perfect shower of weapons, Vibhatsu, addressing them reproachfully, struck off their heads with his own sharp arrows. That slayer of foes, Krishna, also, endued with great energy, made a great slaughter of the Daitya and the Danava with his discus. Many Asuras of immeasurable might, pierced with Krishna's arrows and smitten with the force of his discus, became motionless like waifs and strays stranded on the bank by the violence of the waves. Then Sakra the lord of the celestials, riding on his white elephant, rushed at those heroes, and taking up his thunderbolt which could never go in vain, hurled it with great force. And the slayer of Asuras said unto the gods, 'These two are slain.' Beholding the fierce thunderbolt about to be hurled by their chief, the celestials all took up their respective weapons. Yama, O king, took up the death-dealing mace, and Kuvera his spiked club, and Varuna his noose and beautiful missile. And Skanda (Kartikeya) took up his long lance and stood motionless like the mountain of Meru. The Aswins stood there with resplendent plants in their hands. Dhatri stood, bow in hand, and Jaya with a thick club. Tvashtri of great strength took up in wrath, a huge mountain and Surya stood with a bright dart, and Mrityu with a battle-axe. Aryaman stalked about with a terrible bludgeon furnished with sharp spikes, and Mitra stood there with a discus sharp as a razor. And, O monarch, Pusha and Bhaga and Savitri, in wrath, rushed at Krishna and Partha with bows and scimitars in hand. And Rudras and the Vasus, the mighty Maruts and the Viswedevas and the Sadhyas, all resplendent with their own energy,—these and many other celestials, armed with various weapons rushed against those exalted of men, Krishna and Partha, for smiting them down. Then were seen in that great conflict wonderful portents all around robbing every creature of his sense, and resembling those that appeared at the time of the universal dissolution. But Arjuna and Krishna, fearless and invincible in battle, beholding Sakra and the other celestials prepared for fight, calmly waited, bows in hands. Skilled in battle, those heroes in wrath assailed the advancing host of celestials with their own thunderlike arrows. The celestials repeatedly routed by Krishna and Arjuna, at last left the field of battle for fear and sought the protection of Indra. The Munis who were witnessing the battle from the skies, beholding the celestials defeated by Madhava and Arjuna, were filled with wonder. Sakra also repeatedly witnessing their prowess in battle, became exceedingly gratified, and once more rushed to the assault. The chastiser of Paka then caused a heavy shower of stones, desiring to ascertain the prowess of Arjuna who was able to draw the bow even with his left hand. Arjuna, in great wrath, dispelled with his arrows that thick shower. Then he of a hundred sacrifices beholding that shower baffled, once more caused a thicker shower of stones. But the son of the chastiser of Paka (viz., Arjuna) gratified his father by baffling that shower also with his swift arrows. Then Sakra, desirous of smiting down the son of Pandu, tore up with his hands a large peak from Mandara, with tall trees on it, and hurled it against him. But Arjuna divided that mountain-peak into a thousand pieces by his swift-going and fire-mouthed arrows. The fragments of that mountain, in falling through the skies, looked as if the sun and the moon and the planets, displaced from their positions fell down on earth. That huge peak fell down upon that forest and by its fall killed numerous living creatures that dwelt in Khandava.'"
(Khandava-daha Parva continued)
"Vaisampayana said, 'Then the inhabitants of the forest of Khandava, the Danavas and Rakshasas and Nagas and wolves and bears and other wild animals, and elephants with rent temples, and tigers, and lions with manes and deer and buffaloes by hundreds, and birds, and various other creatures, frightened at the falling stones and extremely anxious, began to fly in all directions. They saw the forest (burning all around) and Krishna and Arjuna also ready with their weapons. Frightened at the terrible sounds that were audible there those creatures lost their power of movement. Beholding the forest burning in innumerable places and Krishna also ready to smite them down with his weapons, they all set up a frightful roar. With that terrible clamour as also with the roar of fire, the whole welkin resounded, as it were, with the voice of portentous clouds. Kesava of dark hue and mighty arms, in order to compass their destruction, hurled at them his large and fierce discus resplendent with its own energy. The forest- dwellers including the Danavas and the Rakshasas, afflicted by that weapon, were cut in hundreds of pieces and fell unto the mouth of Agni. Mangled by Krishna's discus, the Asuras were besmeared with blood and fat and looked like evening clouds. And, O Bharata, he of the Vrishni race moved able like death itself, slaying Pisachas and birds and Nagas and other creatures by thousands. The discus itself, repeatedly hurled from the hands of Krishna, that slayer of all foes, came back to his hands after slaughtering numberless creatures. The face and form of Krishna that soul of every created thing became fierce to behold while he was thus employed in the slaughter of the Pisachas, Nagas and Rakshasas. No one among the celestials, who had mustered there could vanquish in battle Krishna and Arjuna. When the celestials saw that they could not protect that forest from the might of Krishna and Arjuna by extinguishing that conflagration, they retired from the scene. Then, O monarch, he of a hundred sacrifices (Indra), beholding the immortals retreat, became filled with joy and applauded Krishna and Arjuna. And when the celestials gave up the fight, an incorporeal voice, deep and loud, addressing him of a hundred sacrifices, said, 'Thy friend Takshaka, that chief of snakes, hath not been slain! Before the conflagration commenced in Khandava he had journeyed to Kurukshetra. Know from my words, O Vasava, that Vasudeva and Arjuna are incapable of being vanquished in battle by any one! They are Nara and Narayana—those gods of old heard of in heaven! Thou knowest what their energy is and what their prowess. Invincible in battle, these best of old Rishis are unconquerable by any one in all the worlds! They deserve the most reverential worship of all the celestials and Asuras; of Yakshas and Rakshasas and Gandharvas, of human beings and Kinnaras and Nagas. Therefore, O Vasava, it behoveth thee to go hence with all the celestials. The destruction of Khandava hath been ordained by Fate!' Then the chief of the immortals, ascertaining those words to be true abandoned his wrath and jealousy, and went back to heaven. The dwellers in heaven, O monarch, beholding the illustrious Indra abandon the fight, followed him with all their soldiers. Then those heroes, Vasudeva and Arjuna, when they saw the chief of the celestials retreat accompanied by all the gods, set up a leonine roar. And, O monarch, Kesava and Arjuna, after Indra had left the scene, became exceedingly glad. Those heroes then fearlessly assisted at the conflagration of the forest. Arjuna scattered the celestials like the wind scattering the clouds, and slew with showers of his arrows, numberless creatures that dwelt in Khandava. Cut off by Arjuna's arrows, no one amongst the innumerable creatures could escape from the burning forest. Far from fighting with him, none amongst even the strongest creatures mustered there could look at Arjuna whose weapons were never futile. Sometimes piercing hundred creatures with one shaft and sometimes a single creature with hundred shafts, Arjuna moved about in his car. The creatures themselves, deprived of life, began to fall into the mouth of Agni (god of fire), struck down as it were by death itself. On the banks of rivers or on uneven plains or on crematoriums, go where they did, the creatures (dwelling in Khandava) found no ease, for wherever they sought shelter there they were afflicted by the heat. And hosts of creatures roared in pain, and elephants and deer and wolves set up cries of affliction. At that sound the fishes of the Ganges and the sea, and the various tribes of Vidyadharas dwelling in that forest all became frightened. O thou of mighty arms, let alone battling with them, no one, could even gaze at Arjuna and Janardana of dark hue. Hari slew with his discus those Rakshasas and Danavas and Nagas that rushed at him in bands. Of huge bodies, their heads and trunks were cut off by the swift motion of the discus, and deprived of life they fell down into the blazing fire. Gratified with large quantities of flesh, blood, and fat, the flames rose up to a great height without a curling wreath of smoke. Hutasana (fire- god) with blazing and coppery eyes, and flaming tongue and large mouth, and the hair on the crown of his head all fiery, drinking, with the help of Krishna and Arjuna, that nectar-like stream of animal fat, became filled with joy. Gratified greatly, Agni derived much happiness.
"And it so happened that the slayer of Madhu suddenly beheld an Asura of the name of Maya escaping from the abode of Takshaka. Agni having Vayu for his car-driver, assuming a body with matted locks on head, and roaring like the clouds, pursued the Asura, desirous of consuming him. Beholding the Asura, Vasudeva stood with his weapon upraised, ready to smite him down, seeing the discus uplifted and Agni pursuing from behind to burn him, Maya said 'Run to me, O Arjuna, and protect me!' Hearing his affrighted voice Arjuna said, 'Fear not!' That voice of Arjuna, O Bharata, seemed to give Maya his life. As the merciful son of Pritha said unto Maya that there was nothing to fear, he of the Dasarha race no longer desired to slay Maya who was the brother of Namuchi, and Agni also burned him not.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Protected from Indra by Krishna and Partha, Agni gifted with great intelligence, burned that forest for five and ten days. And while the forest burned Agni spared only six of its dwellers, viz., Aswasena, Maya, and four birds called Sarngakas.'"
(Khandava-daha Parva continued)
"Janamejaya said, 'O Brahmana, tell me why and when that forest burnt in that way, Agni consumed not the birds called Sarngakas? Thou hast, O Brahmana, recited (to us) the cause of Aswasena and the Danava Maya not having been consumed. But thou hast not as yet said what the cause was of the escape of the Sarngakas? The escape of those birds, O Brahmana, appeareth to me to be wonderful. Tell us why they were not destroyed in that dreadful conflagration.'
"Vaisampayana said, 'O slayer of all foes, I shall tell thee all as to why Agni did not burn up those birds during the conflagration. There was, O king, a great Rishi known by the name of Mandapala, conversant with all the shastras, of rigid vows, devoted to asceticism, and the foremost of all virtuous persons. Following in the wake of Rishis that had drawn up their virile fluid, that ascetic, O monarch, with every sense under complete control, devoted himself to study and virtue. Having reached the opposite shores of asceticism, O Bharata, he left his human form and went to the region of the Pitris. But going thither he failed to obtain the (expected) fruit of his acts. He asked the celestials that sat around the king of the dead as to the cause of his treatment, saying, 'Why have these regions become unattainable by me,—regions that I had thought had been acquired by me by my ascetic devotions? Have I not performed those acts whose fruits are these regions? Ye inhabitants of heaven, tell me why these regions are shut against me! I will do that which will give me the fruit of my ascetic penances.'
"The celestials answered, 'Hear, O Brahmana, of those acts and things on account of which men are born debtors. Without doubt, it is for religious rites, studies according to the ordinance, and progeny, that men are born debtors. These debts are all discharged by sacrifices, asceticism, and offspring. Thou art an ascetic and hast also performed sacrifices; but thou hast no offspring. These regions are shut against thee only for want of children. Beget children, therefore! Thou shalt then enjoy multifarious regions of felicity. The Vedas declared that the son rescueth the father from a hell called Put. Then, O best of Brahmanas, strive to beget offspring.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Mandapala, having heard these words of the dwellers in heaven, reflected how best he could obtain the largest number of offspring within the shortest period of time. The Rishi, after reflection, understood that of all creatures birds alone were blest with fecundity. Assuming the form of a Sarngaka the Rishi had connection with a female bird of the same species called by the name of Jarita. And he begat upon her four sons who were all reciters of the Vedas. Leaving all those sons of his with their mother in that forest, while they were still within eggs, the ascetic went to (another wife called by the name of) Lapita. And, O Bharata, when the exalted sage went away for the company of Lapita, moved by affection for her offspring, Jarita became very thoughtful. Though forsaken by their father in the forest of Khandava, Jarita, anxious in her affection for them, could not forsake her offspring, those infant Rishis encased in eggs. Moved by parental affection, she brought up these children born of her, herself following the pursuits proper to her own species. Some time after, the Rishi, in wandering over that forest in the company of Lapita, saw Agni coming towards Khandava to burn it down. Then the Brahmana Mandapala, knowing the intention of Agni and remembering also that his children were all young moved by fear, gratified the god, of the burning element, that regent of the universe, endued with great energy. And he did this, desiring to put in a word for his unfledged offspring. Addressing Agni, the Rishi said, 'Thou art, O Agni, the mouth of all the worlds! Thou art the carrier of the sacrificial butter! O purifier (of all sins), thou movest invisible with the frame of every creature! The learned have spoken of thee as an One, and again as possessed of triple nature. The wise perform their sacrifices before thee, taking thee as consisting of eight (mouths). The great Rishis declare that this universe hath been created by thee. O thou that feedest on sacrificial butter, without thee this whole universe would be destroyed in a single day. Bowing to thee, the Brahmanas, accompanied by their wives and children, go to eternal regions won by them by help of their own deeds. O Agni, the learned represent thee as the clouds in the heavens charged with lightning. O Agni, the flames put forth by thee consume every creature. O thou of great splendour, this universe hath been created by thee. The Vedas are thy word. All creatures, mobile and immobile, depend upon thee. Water primarily dependeth on thee, so also the whole of this universe. All offerings of clarified butter and oblations of food to the pitris have been established in thee. O god, thou art the consumer, and thou art the creator and thou art Vrihaspati himself (in intelligence). Thou art the twin Aswins; thou art Surya; thou art Soma; thou art Vayu.
"Vaisampayana continued, 'O monarch, thus praised by Mandapala, Agni was gratified with that Rishi of immeasurable energy; and the god, well- pleased, replied, 'What good can I do to thee?' Then Mandapala with joined palms said unto the carrier of clarified butter, 'While thou burnest the forest of Khandava, spare my children.' The illustrious bearer of clarified butter replied, 'So be it.' It was, therefore, O monarch, that he blazed not forth, while consuming the forest of Khandava, for the destruction of Mandapala's children.'"
(Khandava-daha Parva continued)
"Vaisampayana said, 'When the fire blazed forth in the forest of Khandava, the infant birds became very much distressed and afflicted. Filled with anxiety, they saw not any means of escape. Their mother, the helpless Jarita, knowing that they were too young to escape, was filled with sorrow and wept aloud. And she said, 'Oh, the terrible, illuminating the whole universe and burning the forest down, approacheth towards us, increasing my woe. These infants with immature understanding, without feathers and feet, and the sole refuge of our deceased ancestors, afflict me. Oh, this fire approacheth, spreading fear all around, and licking with its tongue the tallest trees. But my unfledged children are incapable of effecting their escape. I myself am not capable of escaping, taking all these with me. Nor am I capable of abandoning them, for my heart is distressed on their account. Whom amongst my sons, shall I leave behind, and whom shall I carry with me? What (act) should I do now that is consistent with duty? What also do you, my infant sons, think? I do not, even by reflection, see any way of escape for you. I shall even cover you with my wings and die with you. Your cruel father left me some time before, saying, 'Upon this Jaritari, because he is the eldest of my sons, will my race depend. My second Sarisrikka will beget progeny for the expansion of my ancestors' race. My third, Stamvamitra, will be devoted to asceticism, and my youngest, Drona, will become the foremost of those acquainted with the Vedas.' But how hath this terrible calamity overtaken us! Whom shall I take with me? As I am deprived of judgment what should I do that is consistent with duty? I do not see, by the exercise of my own judgment, the escape of my children from the fire!'
"Vaisampayana said, 'Unto their mother indulging in these lamentations, the infant ones said. 'O mother, relinquishing thy affection for us, go thou to a place where there is no fire. If we are killed here, thou mayest have other children born to thee. If thou, O mother be killed, we can have no more children in our race. Reflecting upon both these calamities, the time hath come for thee, O mother, to do that which is beneficial to our race. Do not be influenced by affection for thy offspring, which promises to destroy both us and thee. If thou savest thyself, our father, who is even desirous of winning regions of felicity, may have his wishes gratified.'
"Hearing what the infants said. Jarita replied, 'There is a hole here in the ground near to this tree, belonging to a mouse. Enter this hole without loss of time. You shall have then no fear of fire. After ye have entered it, I shall, ye children, cover its mouth with dust. This is the only means of escape that I see from the blazing fire. Then when the fire will be put out, I shall return hither to remove the dust. Follow my advice if you are to escape from the conflagration.'
"The infant birds replied, 'Without feathers we are but so many balls of flesh. If we enter the hole, certain it is that the carnivorous mouse will destroy us all. Beholding this danger before us, we cannot enter this hole. Alas, we do not see any means by which we may escape from the fire or from the mouse. We do not see how our father's act of procreation may be prevented from becoming futile, and how also our mother may be saved. If we enter the hole, the mouse will destroy us; we remain where we are and the sky-ranging fire will destroy us. Reflecting upon both the calamities, a death by fire is preferable to a death by being eaten up. If we are devoured by the mouse within the hole, that death is certainly ignoble, whereas the destruction of the body in fire is approved by the wise.'"
(Khandava-daha Parva continued)
"Vaisampayana said, 'Hearing those words of her sons Jarita continued, 'The little mouse that had come out of this hole was seized by a hawk with his claws and carried away hence. Therefore, ye may fearlessly enter this hole now.' The young ones replied, 'We are not by any means certain of that mouse having been taken away by the hawk. There may be other mice living here. From them we have every fear. Whereas it is doubtful whether fire will at all approach us here. Already we see an adverse wind blowing the flames away. If we enter the hole, death is certain at the hands of the dwellers in the hole. But if we remain where we are, death is uncertain. O mother, a position in which death is uncertain is better than that in which it is certain. It is thy duty, therefore, to escape thyself, for, if thou livest thou mayest obtain other children as good.'
"Their mother then said, 'Ye children, I myself saw the mighty hawk, that best of birds, swoop down and fly away with the mouse from the hole. And while he was flying away swiftly, I followed him behind and pronounced blessing on him for his having taken away the mouse from the hole. I said unto him. 'O king of hawks, because thou art flying away with our enemy, the mouse, in thy claws, mayest thou, without a foe, live in heaven with a golden body.' Afterwards when that hawk devoured the mouse, I came away, obtaining his leave. Therefore, ye children, enter this hole trustfully. Ye have nothing to fear. The mouse that was its inmate was seized and taken away by the hawk in my sight.' The young ones again said, 'O mother, we do not by any means know that the mouse hath been carried away by the hawk. We cannot enter this hole in the ground without being certain of the fact.' Their mother said, 'I know to a certainty that the mouse hath been carried away by the hawk. Therefore, ye children, ye have nothing to fear; do what I say.' The young ones again said, 'We do not, O mother, say that thou art dispelling our fears with a false story. For whatever is done by a person when his reason hath been disturbed can scarcely be said to be that person's deliberate act. Thou hast not been benefited by us, nor dost thou know who we are. Why dost thou, therefore, strive to protect us at so much cost to thyself? Who are we to thee? Thou art young and handsome, and capable of seeking out thy husband. Go unto thy husband. Thou shalt obtain good children again. Let us by entering the fire attain to regions of felicity. If, however, the fire consume us not, thou mayest come back and obtain us again.'
"Vaisampayana said, 'The parent bird then, thus addressed by her sons, left them in Khandava and hastily went to the spot where there was no fire and there was safety. Then Agni in haste and with fierce flames approached the spot where the sons of Mandapala were. The young birds saw the blazing fire come towards them. Then Jaritari, the eldest of the four, in the hearing of Agni, began to speak.'"
(Khandava-daha Parva continued)
"Jaritari said, 'The person that is wise remaineth wakeful in view of death. Accordingly, when the hour of death approacheth, he feeleth no pangs. But the person of perplexed soul, who remaineth not awake, when the hour of death comes, feeleth the pangs of death and never attaineth salvation.'
"The second brother Sarisrikka, said, 'Thou art patient and intelligent. The time is come when our lives are threatened. Without doubt, one only amongst many becometh wise and brave.'
"The third brother, Stamvamitra, said, 'The eldest brother is called the protector. It is the eldest brother that rescueth (the younger ones) from danger. If the eldest himself faileth to rescue them, what can the younger ones do?'
"The fourth and the youngest brother, Drona said, 'The cruel god of fire, with seven tongues and seven mouths quickly cometh towards our habitation, blazing forth in splendour and licking up everything in his path.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Having addressed one another thus, the sons of Mandapala then each devotedly addressed an eulogistic hymn to Agni. Listen now, O monarch, to those hymns as I recite them.'
"Jaritari said, 'Thou art, O fire, the soul of air! Thou art the body of the Earth's vegetation! O Sukra, water is thy parent as thou art the parent of water! O thou of great energy, thy flames, like the rays of the sun, extend themselves above, below, behind, and on each side.'
"Sarisrikka said, 'O smoke-bannered god, our mother is not to be seen, and we know not our father! Our feathers have not grown as yet. We have none to protect us save thee. Therefore, O Agni, infants that we are protect us! O Agni, as we are distressed, protect us with that auspicious form thou hast and with those seven flames of thine! We seek protection at thy hands. Thou alone, O Agni, art the giver of heat (in the universe). O lord, there is none else (save thee) that giveth heat to the rays of the sun. O, protect us who are young and who are Rishis. O Havyavaha (carrier of sacrificial butter), be pleased to go hence by some other route.'
"Stamvamitra said, 'Thou alone, O Agni, art everything! This whole universe is established in thee! Thou sustainest every creature, and thou supportest the universe! Thou art the carrier of the sacrificial butter, and thou art the excellent sacrificial butter itself! The wise know thee to be one (as cause) and many (as effects)! Having created the three worlds, thou, O Havyavaha, again destroyest them when the time cometh, swelling thyself forth! Thou art the productive cause of the whole universe, and thou also art the essence in which the universe dissolveth itself!'
"Drona said, 'O lord of the universe, growing in strength and remaining within their bodies, thou causest the food that living creatures eat to be digested. Everything therefore, is established in thee. O Sukra, O thou from whose mouth the Vedas have sprung, it is thou who assumests the form of the sun, and sucking up the waters of the earth and every liquid juice that the earth yields, givest them back in time in the form of rain and causest everything to grow! From thee, O Sukra, are these plants and creepers with green foliage! From thee have sprung these tanks and pools, and the great ocean also that is ever blessed! O thou of fierce rays, this our (human) body dependeth on Varuna (the water-god)! We are unable to bear thy heat. Be thou, therefore, our auspicious protector! O, destroy us not! O thou of copper-hued eyes, O thou of red neck, O thou whose path is marked by a black colour, save us by going along any remote route, as indeed, the ocean saveth the house on its banks!'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Thus addressed by Drona—that utterer of Brahma— Agni, well-pleased at what he heard, and remembering also the promise he had made to Mandapala, replied unto him, saying, 'Thou art a Rishi, O Drona! For what thou hast said is Brahma (Vedic truth). I shall do your pleasure. Fear not! Indeed, Mandapala had spoken to me of you to the effect that I should spare his sons, while consuming the forest. The words he spoke and thy speech also are entitled to great weight to me. Say what I am to do. O best of Brahmanas, I have been greatly pleased with thy hymn. Blest be thou, O Brahmana!'
"Drona said, 'O Sukra, these cats trouble us every day. O Hutasana; consume them with their friends and relatives.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Then Agni did what the Sarngakas asked him to do, telling them of his intentions. And, O Janamejaya, growing in strength, he began then to consume the forest of Khandava.'"
(Khandava-daha Parva continued)
"Vaisampayana said, 'O thou of Kuru's race, the Rishi Mandapala became very anxious about his children, although he had spoken of them to the god of fierce rays. Indeed, his mind was not in peace. Distressed on account of his sons, he addressed Lapita (his second wife with whom he then was), saying, 'O Lapita, as my children are incapable of the power of moving, how are they? When the fire will grow in strength and the wind begin to blow violently, my children will scarcely be able to save themselves. How will their mother be able to rescue them? That innocent woman will be afflicted with great sorrow when she will find herself unable to save her offspring. Oh, how will she compose herself, uttering various lamentations on account of my children who are all incapable of taking wing or rising up into the air. Oh, how is Jaritari, my son, and how is Sarisrikka, and how is Stamvamitra, and how is Drona, and how also is their helpless mother?'
"Unto the Rishi Mandapala thus weeping in the forest, Lapita, O Bharata, thus replied, under the influence of jealousy, 'Thou need not worry for thy children who, as thou hast assured me, are all Rishis endued with energy and prowess! They can have no fear from fire. Didst thou not speak to Agni in my presence, in their behalf? Has not the illustrious deity promised to save them? One of the regents of the universe as Agni is, he will never falsify his speech. Thou hast no anxiety, nor is thy heart inclined towards benefiting friends. It is only by thinking of her—my rival (Jarita) that thou art so distracted! Certain it is that the love thou bearest to me is not equal to what thou hadst for her at first. He that hath two parties dividing his attention, can easily behold one of those suffer all sorts of pangs; but he should not disregard the party that is next to his heart. Then go thou to Jarita, for whom thy heart is sorrowing! As for myself, I shall henceforth wander alone, as a fit reward for my having attached myself to a wicked person.'
"Hearing these words, Mandapala replied, 'I do not wander over the earth with such intentions as thou conceivest. It is only for the sake of progeny that I am here. And even those that I have are in danger. He who casteth off what he hath for the sake of what he may acquire, is a wicked person. The world disregardeth and insulteth him. (Therefore, go I must). As for thyself thou art free to do what thou choosest. This blazing fire that licketh up the trees causeth sorrow in my anxious heart and raiseth therein evil presentiments.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Meanwhile, after the fire had left the spot where the Sarngakas dwelt, Jarita, much attached to her children, hastily came thither to see how they were. She found that all of them had escaped from the fire and were perfectly well. Beholding their mother, they began to weep, though safe and sound. She too shed tears upon beholding them alive. And she embraced, one by one, all her weeping children. Just at that time, O Bharata, the Rishi Mandapala arrived there. But none of his sons expressed joy, upon beholding him. The Rishi, however, began to speak to them one after another and unto Jarita also, repeatedly. But neither his sons nor Jarita spoke anything well or ill unto him in return.'
"Mandapala then said, 'Who amongst these is thy first born, and who the next after him? And who is the third, and who the youngest? I am speaking unto thee woefully; why dost thou not reply to me? I left thee, it is true, but I was not happy where I was.'
"Jarita then said, 'What hast thou to do with the eldest of these, and what with him that is next? And what with the third and what with the youngest? Go now unto that Lapita of sweet smiles and endued with youth, unto whom thou didst go of old, beholding me deficient in everything!' Mandapala replied, 'As regards females, there is nothing so destructive of their happiness whether in this or the other world as a co-wife and a clandestine lover. There is nothing like these two that inflames the fire of hostility and causes such anxiety. Even the auspicious and well-behaved Arundhati, celebrated amongst all creatures, had been jealous of the illustrious Vasishtha of great purity of mind and always devoted to the good of his wife. Arundhati insulted even the wise Muni amongst the (celestial) seven. In consequence of such insulting thoughts of hers, she has become a little star, like fire mixed with smoke, sometimes visible and sometimes invisible, like an omen portending no good (amongst a constellation of seven bright stars representing the seven Rishis). I look to thee for the sake of children. I never wronged thee, like Vasishtha who never wronged his wife. Thou hast, therefore, by thy jealousy behaved towards me like Arundhati of old towards Vasishtha. Men should never trust women even if they be wives. Women, when they have become mothers, do not much mind serving their husbands.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'After this, all his children came forward to worship him. And he also began to speak kindly towards them all, giving them every assurance.'"
(Khandava-daha Parva continued)
"Vaisampayana said, 'Mandapala then addressed his children, saying, 'I had spoken unto Agni for the safety of you all. The illustrious deity had assured me that he would grant my wish. At those words of Agni, and knowing the virtuous disposition of your mother, as also the great energy that is in yourselves, I came not here earlier. Therefore, ye sons, do not harbour in your hearts any resentment towards me. Ye are all Rishis acquainted with the Vedas. Even Agni knoweth you well.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Having given such assurances unto his sons, the Brahmana Mandapala took with him his wife and sons, and leaving that region, went away to some other country.
"It thus that the illustrious god of fierce rays, having grown in strength consumed the forest of Khandava with the help of Krishna and Arjuna, for the good of the world. And Agni having drunk several rivers of fat and marrow, became highly gratified, and showed himself to Arjuna. Then Purandara, surrounded by the Maruts, descended from the firmament and addressing Partha and Kesava said, 'Ye have achieved a feat that a celestial even could not. Ask ye each a boon that is not obtainable by any man. I have been gratified with you.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Then Partha asked from Indra all his weapons. At this Sakra of great splendour, having fixed the time for giving them, said, 'When the illustrious Madhava becomes pleased with thee, then, O son of Pandu, I will give thee all my weapons! O prince of Kuru's race, I shall know when the time cometh. Even for thy austere asceticism I will give thee all my weapons of fire and all my Vayavya weapons, and thou also wilt accept them all of me.' Then Vasudeva asked that his friendship with Arjuna might be eternal. The chief of the celestials granted unto the intelligent Krishna the boon he desired. And having granted these boons unto Krishna and Arjuna, the lord of the Maruts, accompanied by the celestials, ascended to heaven, having also spoken to Hutasana (one whose food is sacrificial butter). Agni also, having burnt that forest with its animals and birds for five and ten days, became gratified and ceased to burn. Having eaten flesh in abundance and drunk fat and blood, he became highly gratified, and addressing Achyuta and Arjuna said, 'I have been gratified by you two tigers among men. At my command, ye heroes, ye shall be competent to go wheresoever ye choose!' Thus addressed by the illustrious Agni, Arjuna and Vasudeva and the Danava Maya also—these three,—having wandered a little at last sat themselves down on the delightful banks of a river.'"
END OF ADI PARVA