"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 keeping.'"
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 distance.
"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 joy.'
'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 Parva.
(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 heaven.'
"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 downpour.
"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 purpose.'
"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 fishermen.'"
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 thy strength.'
"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 these words:
"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 permission.'
"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 achieve.'
"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 Garuda.'"
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 thus.
"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.
(Astika Parva continued)
"Sauti continued, 'Garuda then said, 'O Purandara, let there be friendship between thee and me as thou desirest. My strength, know thou, is hard to bear. O thou of a thousand sacrifices, the good never approve of speaking highly of their own strength, nor do they speak of their own merits. But being made a friend, and asked by thee, O friend, I will answer thee, although self-praise without reason is ever improper. I can bear, on a single feather of mine, O Sakra, this Earth, with her mountains and forests and with the waters of the ocean, and with thee also stationed thereon. Know thou, my strength is such that I can bear without fatigue even all the worlds put together, with their mobile and immobile objects.'
"Sauti continued, 'O Saunaka, after Garuda of great courage had thus spoken, Indra the chief of the gods, the wearer of the (celestial) crown, ever bent upon the good of the worlds, replied, saying, 'It is as thou sayest. Everything is possible in thee. Accept now my sincere and hearty friendship. And if thou hast no concern with the Soma, return it to me. Those to whom thou wouldst give it would always oppose us.' Garuda answered, 'There is a certain reason for which the Soma is being carried by me. I shall not give the Soma to any one for drink. But, O thou of a thousand eyes, after I have placed it down, thou, O lord of the heavens, canst then, taking it up, instantly bring it away.' Indra then said, 'O oviparous one, I am highly gratified with these words now spoken by thee. O best of all rangers of the skies; accept from me any boon that thou desirest.'
"Sauti continued, 'Then Garuda, recollecting the sons of Kadru and remembering also the bondage of his mother caused by an act of deception owing to the well-known reason (viz., the curse of Aruna), said, 'Although I have power over all creatures, yet I shall do your bidding. Let, O Sakra, the mighty snakes become my food.' The slayer of the Danavas having said unto him, 'Be it so,' then went to Hari, the god of gods, of great soul, and the lord of Yogins. And the latter sanctioned everything that had been said by Garuda. And the illustrious lord of heaven again said unto Garuda, 'I shall bring away the Soma when thou placest it down.' And having said so, he bade farewell to Garuda. And the bird of fair feathers then went to the presence of his mother with great speed.
"And Garuda in joy then spake unto all the snakes, 'Here have I brought the Amrita. Let me place it on some Kusa grass. O ye snakes, sitting here, drink of it after ye have performed your ablutions and religious rites. As said by you, let my mother become, from this day, free, for I have accomplished your bidding.' The snakes having said unto Garuda, 'Be it so,' then went to perform their ablutions. Meanwhile, Sakra taking up the Amrita, wended back to heaven. The snakes after performing their ablutions, their daily devotions, and other sacred rites, returned in joy, desirous of drinking the Amrita. They saw that the bed of kusa grass whereon the Amrita had been placed was empty, the Amrita itself having been taken away by a counter-act of deception. And they began to lick with their tongues the kusa grass, as the Amrita had been placed thereon. And the tongues of the snakes by that act became divided in twain. And the kusa grass, too, from the contact with Amrita, became sacred thenceforth. Thus did the illustrious Garuda bring Amrita (from the heavens) for the snakes, and thus were the tongues of snakes divided by what Garuda did.
"Then the bird of fair feathers, very much delighted, enjoyed himself in those woods accompanied by his mother. Of grand achievements, and deeply reverenced by all rangers of the skies, he gratified his mother by devouring the snakes.
"That man who would listen to this story, or read it out to an assembly of good Brahmanas, must surely go to heaven, acquiring great merit from the recitation of (the feats of) Garuda.'"
And so ends the thirty-fourth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
(Astika Parva continued)
"Saunaka said, 'O son of Suta, thou hast told us the reason why the snakes were cursed by their mother, and why Vinata also was cursed by her son. Thou hast also told us about the bestowal of boons, by their husband, on Kadru and Vinata. Thou hast likewise told us the names of Vinata's sons. But thou hast not yet recited to us the names of the snakes. We are anxious to hear the names of the principal ones.'
"Sauti said, O thou whose wealth is asceticism, from fear of being lengthy, I shall not mention the names of all the snakes. But I will recite the names of the chief ones. Listen to me!
"Sesha was born first, and then Vasuki. (Then were born) Airavata, Takshaka, Karkotaka, Dhananjaya, Kalakeya, the serpent Mani, Purana, Pinjaraka, and Elapatra, Vamana, Nila, Anila, Kalmasha, Savala, Aryaka, Ugra, Kalasapotaka, Suramukha, Dadhimukha, Vimalapindaka, Apta, Karotaka, Samkha, Valisikha, Nisthanaka, Hemaguha, Nahusha, Pingala, Vahyakarna, Hastipada, Mudgarapindaka, Kamvala Aswatara, Kaliyaka, Vritta, Samvartaka, Padma, Mahapadma, Sankhamukha, Kushmandaka, Kshemaka, Pindaraka, Karavira, Pushpadanshtraka, Vilwaka, Vilwapandara, Mushikada, Sankhasiras, Purnabhadra, Haridraka, Aparajita, Jyotika, Srivaha, Kauravya, Dhritarashtra, Sankhapinda, Virajas, Suvahu, Salipinda, Prabhakara, Hastipinda, Pitharaka, Sumuksha, Kaunapashana, Kuthara, Kunjara, Kumuda, Kumudaksha, Tittri, Halika, Kardama, Vahumulaka, Karkara, Akarkara, Kundodara, and Mahodara.
"Thus, O best of regenerate ones, have I said the names of the principal serpents. From fear of being tedious I do not give names of the rest. O thou whose wealth is asceticism, the sons of these snakes, with their grandsons, are innumerable. Reflecting upon this, I shall not name them to thee. O best ascetics, in this world the number of snakes baffles calculation, there being many thousands and millions of them."
So ends the thirty-fifth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
(Astika Parva continued)
"Saunaka said, 'O child, thou hast named many of the serpents gifted with great energy and incapable of being easily overcome. What did they do after hearing of that curse?'
"Sauti said, 'The illustrious Sesha amongst them, of great renown, leaving his mother practised hard penances, living upon air and rigidly observing his vows. He practised these ascetic devotions, repairing to Gandhamadana, Vadri, Gokarna, the woods of Pushkara, and the foot of Himavat. And he passed his days in those sacred regions, some of which were sacred for their water and others for their soil in the rigid observance of his vows, with singleness of aim, and his passions under complete control. And the Grandsire of all, Brahma, saw that ascetic with knotted hair, clad in rags, and his flesh, skin, and sinews dried up owing to the hard penances he was practising. And the Grandsire addressing him, that penance-practising one of great fortitude, said, 'What is that thorn doest, O Sesha? Let the welfare of the creatures of the worlds also engage thy thoughts. O sinless one, thou art afflicting all creatures by thy hard penances. O Sesha, tell me the desire implanted in thy breast.'
"And Sesha replied, 'My uterine brothers are all of wicked hearts. I do not desire to live amongst them. Let this be sanctioned by thee. Like enemies they are always jealous of one another. I am, therefore, engaged in ascetic devotions. I will not see them even. They never show any kindness for Vinata and her son. Indeed, Vinata's son capable of ranging through the skies, is another brother of ours. They always envy him. And he, too, is much stronger owing to the bestowal of that boon by our father, the high-souled Kasyapa. For these, I engaged in ascetic penances, and I will cast off this body of mine, so that I may avoid companionship with them, even in another state of life.'
"Unto Sesha who had said so, the Grandsire said, 'O Sesha, I know the behaviour of all thy brothers and their great danger owing to their offence against their mother. But O Snake, a remedy (for this) hath been provided by me even beforehand. It behoveth thee not to grieve for thy brothers. O Sesha, ask of me the boon thou desirest. I have been highly gratified with thee and I will grant thee today a boon. O best of snakes, it is fortunate that thy heart hath been set on virtue. Let thy heart be more and more firmly set on virtue.'
"Then Sesha replied, 'O divine Grandsire, this is the boon desired by me; viz., may my heart always delight in virtue and in blessed ascetic penances, O Lord of all!'
"Brahman said, 'O Sesha, I am exceedingly gratified with this thy self- denial and love of peace. But, at my command, let this act be done by thee for the good of my creatures. Bear thou, O Sesha, properly and well this Earth so unsteady with her mountains and forests, her seas and towns and retreats, so that she may be steady.'
"Sesha said, 'O divine Lord of all creatures, O bestower of boons, O lord of the Earth, lord of every created thing, lord of the universe, I will, even as thou sayest hold the Earth steady. Therefore, O lord of all creatures, place her on my head.'
"Brahman said, 'O best of snakes, go underneath the Earth. She will herself give thee a crevice to pass through. And, O Sesha, by holding the Earth, thou shalt certainly do what is prized by me very greatly.'
"Sauti continued, 'Then the elder brother of the king of the snakes, entering a hole, passed to the other side of the Earth, and holding her, supported with his head that goddess with her belt of seas passing all round.'
"Brahman said, 'O Sesha, O best of snakes, thou art the god Dharma, because alone, with thy huge body, thou supportest the Earth with everything on her, even as I myself, or Valavit (Indra), can.'
"Sauti continued, 'The snake, Sesha, the lord Ananta, of great prowess, lives underneath the Earth, alone supporting the world at the command of Brahman. And the illustrious Grandsire, the best of the immortals, then gave unto Ananta the bird of fair feathers, viz., the son of Vinata, for Ananta's help.'"
So ends the thirty-sixth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
(Astika Parva continued)
"Sauti said, 'That best of snakes, viz., Vasuki, hearing the curse of his mother, reflected how to render it abortive. He held a consultation with all his brothers, Airavata and others, intent upon doing what they deemed best for themselves.'
"And Vasuki said, 'O ye sinless ones, the object of this curse is known to you. It behoveth us to strive to neutralise it. Remedies certainly exist for all curses, but no remedy can avail those cursed by their mother. Hearing that this curse hath been uttered in the presence of the Immutable, the Infinite, and the True one, my heart trembleth. Surely, our annihilation hath come. Otherwise why should not the Immutable Lord prevent our mother while uttering the curse? Therefore, let us consult today how we may secure the safety of the snakes. Let us not waste time. All of you are wise and discerning. We will consult together and find out the means of deliverance as (did) the gods of yore to regain lost Agni who had concealed himself within a cave, so that Janamejaya's sacrifice for the destruction of the snakes may not take place, and so that we may not meet with destruction.'
"Sauti continued, 'Thus addressed all the offspring of Kadru assembled together, and, wise in counsels, submitted their opinions to one another. One party of the serpents said, 'We should assume the guise of superior Brahmanas, and beseech Janamejaya, saying, 'This (intended) sacrifice of yours ought not to take place.' Other snakes thinking themselves wise, said, 'We should all become his favourite counsellors. He will then certainly ask for our advice in all projects. And we will then give him such advice that the sacrifice may be obstructed. The king, the foremost of wise men, thinking us of sterling worth will certainly ask us about his sacrifice. We will say, 'It must not be!' And pointing to many serious evils in this and the next worlds, we will take care that the sacrifice may not take place. Or, let one of the snakes, approaching, bite the person who, intending the monarch's good, and well-acquainted with the rites of the snake-sacrifice, may be appointed as the sacrificial priest, so that he will die. The sacrificial priest dying, the sacrifice will not be completed. We will also bite all those who, acquainted with the rites of the snake-sacrifice, may be appointed Ritwiks of the sacrifice, and by that means attain our object.' Other snakes, more virtuous and kind, said, 'O, this counsel of yours is evil. It is not meet to kill Brahmanas. In danger, that remedy is proper, which is blessed on the practices of the righteous. Unrighteousness finally destroyeth the world.' Other serpents said, 'We will extinguish the blazing sacrificial fire by ourselves becoming clouds luminous with lightning and pouring down showers.' Other snakes, the best of their kind, proposed, 'Going, by night, let us steal away the vessel of Soma juice. That will disturb the rite. Or, at that sacrifice, let the snakes, by hundreds and thousands, bite the people, and spread terror around. Or, let the serpents defile the pure food with their food-defiling urine and dung.' Others said, 'Let us become the king's Ritwiks, and obstruct his sacrifice by saying at the outset, 'Give us the sacrificial fee.' He (the king), being placed in our power, will do whatever we like.' Others there said, 'When the king will sport in the waters, we will carry him to our home and bind him, so that that sacrifice will not take place!' Other serpents who deemed themselves wise, said, 'Approaching the king, let us bite him, so that our object will be accomplished. By his death the root of all evil will be torn up. This is the final deliberation of us all, O thou who hearest with thy eyes! Then, do speedily what thou deemest proper.' Having said this, they looked intently at Vasuki, that best of snakes. And Vasuki also, after reflecting, answered saying, 'Ye snakes, this final determination of you doth not seem worthy of adoption. The advice of you all is not to my liking. What shall I say which would be for your good? I think the grace of the illustrious Kasyapa (our father) can alone do us good. Ye snakes, my heart doth not know which of all your suggestions is to be adopted for the welfare of my race as also of me. That must be done by me which would be to your weal. It is this that makes me so anxious, for the credit or the discredit (of the measure) is mine alone.'"
So ends the thirty-seventh section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
(Astika Parva continued)
"Sauti said, 'Hearing the respective speeches of all the snakes, and hearing also the words of Vasuki, Elapatra began to address them, saying, 'That sacrifice is not one that can be prevented. Nor is king Janamejaya of the Pandava race from whom this fear proceedeth, such that he can be hindered. The person, O king, who is afflicted by fate hath recourse to fate alone; nothing else can be his refuge. Ye best of snakes, this fear of ours hath fate for its root. Fate alone must be our refuge in this. Listen to what I say. When that curse was uttered, ye best of snakes, in fear I lay crouching on the lap of our mother. Ye best of snakes, and O lord (Vasuki) of great splendour, from that place I heard the words the sorrowing gods spake unto the Grandsire. The gods said, 'O Grandsire, thou god of gods who else than the cruel Kadru could thus, after getting such dear children, curse them so, even in thy presence? And, O Grandsire, by thee also hath been spoken, with reference to those words of hers, 'Be it so.' We wish to know the reason why thou didst not prevent her.' Brahman replied, 'The snakes have multiplied. They are cruel, terrible in form and highly poisonous. From desire of the good of my creatures, I did not prevent Kadru then. Those poisonous serpents and others who are sinful, biting others for no faults, shall, indeed, be destroyed, but not they who are harmless and virtuous. And hear also, how, when the hour comes, the snakes may escape this dreadful calamity. There shall be born in the race of the Yayavaras a great Rishi known by the name of Jaratkaru, intelligent, with passions under complete control. That Jaratkaru shall have a son of the name of Astika. He shall put a stop to that sacrifice. And those snakes who shall be virtuous shall escape therefrom.' The gods said, 'O thou truth-knowing one, on whom will Jaratkaru, that foremost Muni, gifted with great energy and asceticism, beget that illustrious son?' Brahma answered, 'Gifted with great energy, that best Brahmana shall beget a son possessed of great energy on a wife of the same name as his. Vasuki, the king of the snakes, hath a sister of the name of Jaratkaru; the son, of whom I speak, shall be born of her, and he shall liberate the snakes.'
"Elapatra continued, 'The gods then said unto the Grandsire, 'Be it so.' And the lord Brahman, having said so unto the gods, went to heaven. O Vasuki, I see before me that sister of thine known by the name of Jaratkaru. For relieving us from fear, give her as alms unto him (i.e., the Rishi), Jaratkaru, of excellent vows, who shall roam abegging for a bride. This means of release hath been heard of by me!'"
(Astika Parva continued)
"Sauti said, 'O best of regenerate ones, hearing these words of Elapatra, all the serpents, in great delight, exclaimed, 'Well said, well said!' And from that time Vasuki set about carefully bringing up that maiden, viz., his sister Jaratkaru. And he took great delight in rearing her.
"And much time did not elapse from this, when the gods and the Asuras, assembling together, churned the abode of Varuna. And Vasuki, the foremost of all gifted with strength, became the churning-cord. And directly the work was over, the king of the snakes presented himself before the Grandsire. And the gods, accompanied by Vasuki, addressed the Grandsire, saying, 'O lord, Vasuki is suffering great affliction from fear of (his mother's curse). It behoveth thee to root out the sorrow, begotten of the curse of his mother, that hath pierced the heart of Vasuki desirous of the weal of his race. The king of the snakes is ever our friend and benefactor. O Lord of the gods, be gracious unto him and assuage his mind's fever.'
"Brahman replied, 'O ye immortals, I have thought, in my mind, of what ye have said. Let the king of the snakes do that which hath been communicated to him before by Elapatra. The time hath arrived. Those only shall be destroyed that are wicked, not those that are virtuous. Jaratkaru hath been born, and that Brahmana is engaged in hard ascetic penances. Let Vasuki, at the proper time, bestow on him his sister. Ye gods, what hath been spoken by the snake Elapatra for the weal of the snakes is true and not otherwise.'
"Sauti continued, 'Then the king of the snakes, Vasuki, afflicted with the curse of his mother, hearing these words of the Grandsire, and intending to bestow his sister of the Rishi Jaratkaru, commanded all the serpents, a large numbers of whom were ever attentive to their duties, to watch the Rishi Jaratkaru, saying, 'When the lord Jaratkaru will ask for a wife, come immediately and inform me of it. The weal of our race depends upon it.'"
(Astika Parva continued)
"Saunaka said, 'O son of Suta, I desire to know the reason why the illustrious Rishi whom thou hast named Jaratkaru came to be so called on earth. It behoveth thee to tell us the etymology of the name Jaratkaru.'
"Sauti said, 'Jara is said to mean waste, and Karu implies huge. This Rishi's body had been huge, and he gradually reduced it by severe ascetic penances. For the same reason, O Brahmanas, the sister of Vasuki was called Jaratkaru.'
The virtuous Saunaka, when he heard this, smiled and addressing Ugrasravas said, 'It is even so.'
Saunaka then said, 'I have heard all that thou hast before recited. I desire to know how Astika was born.'
Sauti, on hearing these words, began to relate according to what was written in the Sastras.
"Sauti said, 'Vasuki, desirous of bestowing his sister upon the Rishi Jaratkaru, gave the snakes (necessary) orders. But days went on, yet that wise Muni of rigid vows, deeply engaged in ascetic devotions, did not seek for a wife. That high-souled Rishi, engaged in studies and deeply devoted to asceticism, his vital seed under full control, fearlessly wandered over the whole earth and had no wish for a wife.
"Afterwards, once upon a time, there was a king, O Brahmana, of the name of Parikshit, born in the race of the Kauravas. And, like his great- grandfather Pandu of old, he was of mighty arms, the first of all bearers of bows in battle, and fond of hunting. And the monarch wandered about, hunting deer, and wild boars, and wolves, and buffaloes and various other kinds of wild animals. One day, having pierced a deer with a sharp arrow and slung his bow on his back, he penetrated into the deep forest, searching for the animal here and there, like the illustrious Rudra himself of old pursuing in the heavens, bow in hand, the deer which was Sacrifice, itself turned into that shape, after the piercing. No deer that was pierced by Parikshit had ever escaped in the wood with life. This deer, however wounded as before, fled with speed, as the (proximate) cause of the king's attainment to heaven. And the deer that Parikshit—that king of men—had pierced was lost to his gaze and drew the monarch far away into the forest. And fatigued and thirsty, he came across a Muni, in the forest, seated in a cow-pen and drinking to his fill the froth oozing out of the mouths of calves sucking the milk of their dams. And approaching him hastily, the monarch, hungry and fatigued, and raising his bow, asked that Muni of rigid vows, saying, 'O Brahmana, I am king Parikshit, the son of Abhimanyu. A deer pierced by me hath been lost. Hast thou seen it?' But that Muni observing then the vow of silence, spoke not unto him a word. And the king in anger thereupon placed upon his shoulder a dead snake, taking it up with the end of his bow. The Muni suffered him to do it without protest. And he spoke not a word, good or bad. And the king seeing him in that state, cast off his anger and became sorry. And he returned to his capital but the Rishi continued in the same state. The forgiving Muni, knowing that the monarch who was a tiger amongst kings was true to the duties of his order, cursed him not, though insulted. That tiger amongst monarchs, that foremost one of Bharata's race, also did not know that the person whom he had so insulted was a virtuous Rishi. It was for this that he had so insulted him.
"That Rishi had a son by name Sringin, of tender years, gifted with great energy, deep in ascetic penances, severe in his vows, very wrathful, and difficult to be appeased. At times, he worshipped with great attention and respect his preceptor seated with ease on his seat and ever engaged in the good of creatures.
"And commanded by his preceptor, he was coming home when, O best of Brahmanas, a companion of his, a Rishi's son named Krisa in a playful mood laughingly spoke unto him. And Sringin, wrathful and like unto poison itself, hearing these words in reference to his father, blazed up in rage.
"And Krisa said, 'Be not proud, O Sringin, for ascetic as thou art and possessed of energy, thy father bears on his shoulders a dead snake. Henceforth speak not a word to sons of Rishis like ourselves who have knowledge of the truth, are deep in ascetic penances, and have attained success. Where is that manliness of thine, those high words of thine begotten of pride, when thou must have to behold thy father bearing a dead snake? O best of all the Munis, thy father too had done nothing to deserve this treatment, and it is for this that I am particularly sorry as if the punishment were mine.'"
(Astika Parva continued)
"Sauti said, 'Being thus addressed, and hearing that his sire was bearing a dead snake, the powerful Sringin burned with wrath. And looking at Krisa, and speaking softly, he asked him, 'Pray, why doth my father bear today a dead snake?' And Krisa replied, 'Even as king Parikshit was roving, for purpose of hunting, O dear one, he placed the dead snake on the shoulder of thy sire.'
"And Sringin asked, 'What wrong was done to that wicked monarch by my father? O Krisa, tell me this, and witness the power of my asceticism.'
"And Krisa answered, 'King Parikshit, the son of Abhimanyu, while hunting, had wounded a fleet stag with an arrow and chased it alone. And the king lost sight of the animal in that extensive wilderness. Seeing then thy sire, he immediately accosted him. Thy sire was then observing the vow of silence. Oppressed by hunger, thirst and labour, the prince again and again asked thy sire sitting motionless, about the missing deer. The sage, being under the vow of silence, returned no reply. The king thereupon placed the snake on thy sire's shoulder with the end of his bow. O Sringin, thy sire engaged in devotion is in the same posture still. And the king also hath gone to his capital which is named after the elephant!'
"Sauti continued, 'Having heard of a dead snake placed upon his (father's) shoulders, the son of the Rishi, his eyes reddened with anger, blazed up with rage. And possessed by anger, the puissant Rishi then cursed the king, touching water and overcome with wrath.'
"And Sringin said, 'That sinful wretch of a monarch who hath placed a dead snake on the shoulders of my lean and old parent, that insulter of Brahmanas and tarnisher of the fame of the Kurus, shall be taken within seven nights hence to the regions of Yama (Death) by the snake Takshaka, the powerful king of serpents, stimulated thereto by the strength of my words!'
"Sauti continued, 'And having thus cursed (the king) from anger, Sringin went to his father, and saw the sage sitting in the cow-pen, bearing the dead snake. And seeing his parent in that plight, he was again inflamed with ire. And he shed tears of grief, and addressed his sire, saying, 'Father, having been informed of this thy disgrace at the hands of that wicked wretch, king Parikshit, I have from anger even cursed him; and that worst of Kurus hath richly deserved my potent curse. Seven days hence, Takshaka, the lord of snakes, shall take the sinful king to the horrible abode of Death.' And the father said to the enraged son, 'Child, I am not pleased with thee. Ascetics should not act thus. We live in the domains of that great king. We are protected by him righteously. In all he does, the reigning king should by the like of us forgiven. If thou destroy Dharma, verily Dharma will destroy thee. If the king do not properly protect us, we fare very ill; we cannot perform our religious rites according to our desire. But protected by righteous sovereigns, we attain immense merit, and they are entitled to a share thereof. Therefore, reigning royalty is by all means to be forgiven. And Parikshit like unto his great-grandsire, protecteth us as a king should protect his subjects. That penance- practising monarch was fatigued and oppressed with hunger. Ignorant of my vow (of silence) he did this. A kingless country always suffereth from evils. The king punisheth offenders, and fear of punishments to peace; and people do their duties and perform their rites undisturbed. The king establisheth religion—establisheth the kingdom of heaven. The king protecteth sacrifices from disturbance, and sacrifices to please the gods. The gods cause rain, and rain produceth grains and herbs, which are always useful to man. Manu sayeth, a ruler of the destinies of men is equal (in dignity) to ten Veda-studying priests. Fatigued and oppressed with hunger, that penance-practising prince hath done this through ignorance of my vow. Why then hast thou rashly done this unrighteous action through childishness? O son, in no way doth the king deserve a curse from us.'"
(Astika Parva continued)
"Sauti said, 'And Sringin then replied to his father, saying, 'Whether this be an act of rashness, O father, or an improper act that I have done, whether thou likest it or dislikest it, the words spoken by me shall never be in vain. O father, I tell thee (a curse) can never be otherwise. I have never spoken a lie even in jest.'
"And Samika said, 'Dear child, I know that thou art of great prowess, and truthful in speech. Thou hast never spoken falsehood before, so that thy curse shall never be falsified. The son, even when he attaineth to age, should yet be always counselled by the father, so that crowned with good qualities he may acquire great renown. A child as thou art, how much more dost thou stand in need of counsel? Thou art ever engaged in ascetic penances. The wrath of even the illustrious ones possessing the six attributes increaseth greatly. O thou foremost of ordinance-observing persons, seeing that thou art my son and a minor too, and beholding also thy rashness, I see that I must counsel thee. Live thou, O son, inclined to peace and eating fruits and roots of the forest. Kill this thy anger and destroy not the fruit of thy ascetic acts in this way. Wrath surely decreaseth the virtue that ascetics acquire with great pains. And then for those deprived of virtue, the blessed state existeth not. Peacefulness ever giveth success to forgiving ascetics. Therefore, becoming forgiving in thy temper and conquering thy passions, shouldst thou always live. By forgiveness shalt thou obtain worlds that are beyond the reach of Brahman himself. Having adopted peacefulness myself, and with a desire also for doing good as much as lies in my power, I must do something; even must I send to that king, telling him, 'O monarch, thou hast been cursed by my son of tender years and undeveloped intellect, in wrath, at seeing thy act of disrespect towards myself.'
"Sauti continued, 'And that great ascetic, observer of vows, moved by kindness, sent with proper instructions a disciple of his to king Parikshit. And he sent his disciple Gaurmukha of good manners and engaged also in ascetic penances, instructing him to first enquire about the welfare of the king and then to communicate the real message. And that disciple soon approached that monarch, the head of the Kuru race. And he entered the king's palace having first sent notice of his arrival through the servant in attendance at the gate.
"And the twice-born Gaurmukha was duly worshipped by the monarch. And after resting for a while, he detailed fully to the king, in the presence of his ministers, the words of Samika, of cruel import, exactly as he had been instructed.'
"And Gaurmukha said, 'O king of kings, there is a Rishi, Samika, by name, of virtuous soul, his passions under control, peaceful, and given up to hard ascetic devotions, living in thy dominions! By thee, O tiger among men, was placed on the shoulders of that Rishi observing at present the vow of silence, a dead snake, with the end of thy bow! He himself forgave thee that act. But his son could not. And by the latter hast thou today been cursed, O king of kings, without the knowledge of his father, to the effect that within seven nights hence, shall (the snake) Takshaka cause thy death. And Samika repeatedly asked his son to save thee, but there is none to falsify his son's curse. And because he hath been unable to pacify his son possessed by anger, therefore have I been sent to thee, O king, for thy good!'
"And that king of the Kuru race, himself engaged in ascetic practices, having heard these cruel words and recollecting his own sinful act, became exceedingly sorry. And the king, learning that foremost of Rishis in the forest had been observing the vow of silence, was doubly afflicted with sorrow and seeing the kindness of the Rishi Samika, and considering his own sinful act towards him, the king became very repentant. And the king looking like a very god, did not grieve so much for hearing of his death as for having done that act to the Rishi.'
"And then the king sent away Gaurmukha, saying, 'Let the worshipful one (Samika) be gracious to me!' And when Gaurmukha had gone away, the king, in great anxiety, without loss of time, consulted his ministers. And having consulted them, the king, himself wise in counsels, caused a mansion to be erected upon one solitary column. It was well-guarded day and night. And for its protection were placed there physicians and medicines, and Brahmanas skilled in mantras all around. And the monarch, protected on all sides, discharged his kingly duties from that place surrounded by his virtuous ministers. And no one could approach that best of kings there. The air even could not go there, being prevented from entering.
"And when the seventh day had arrived, that best of Brahmanas, the learned Kasyapa was coming (towards the king's residence), desirous of treating the king (after the snake-bite). He had heard all that had taken place, viz., that Takshaka, that first of snakes, would send that best of monarchs to the presence of Yama (Death). And he thought, I would cure the monarch after he is bit by that first of snakes. By that I may have wealth and may acquire virtue also.' But that prince of snakes, Takshaka, in the form of an old Brahmana, saw Kasyapa approaching on his way, his heart set upon curing the king. And the prince of snakes then spake unto that bull among Munis, Kasyapa, saying, 'Whither dost thou go with such speed? What, besides, is the business upon which thou art intent?'
"And Kasyapa, thus addressed, replied, 'Takshaka, by his poison, will today burn king Parikshit of the Kuru race, that oppressor of all enemies. I go with speed, O amiable one, to cure, without loss of time, the king of immeasurable prowess, the sole representative of the Pandava race, after he is bit by the same Takshaka like to Agni himself in energy.' And Takshaka answered, 'I am that Takshaka, O Brahmana, who shall burn that lord of the earth. Stop, for thou art unable to cure one bit by me.' And Kasyapa rejoined, 'I am sure that, possessed (that I am) of the power of learning, going thither I shall cure that monarch bit by thee.'"
(Astika Parva continued)
"Sauti said, 'And Takshaka, after this, answered, 'If, indeed, thou art able to cure any creature bitten by me, then, O Kasyapa, revive thou this tree bit by me. O best of Brahmanas, I burn this banian in thy sight. Try thy best and show me that skill in mantras of which thou hast spoken.'
"And Kasyapa said, If thou art so minded, bite thou then, O king of snakes, this tree. O snake, I shall revive it, though bit by thee.
"Sauti continued, 'That king of snakes, thus addressed by the illustrious Kasyapa, bit then that banian tree. And that tree, bit by the illustrious snake, and penetrated by the poison of the serpent, blazed up all around. And having burnt the banian so, the snake then spake again unto Kasyapa, saying, 'O first of Brahmanas, try thy best and revive this lord of the forest.'
"Sauti continued, 'The tree was reduced to ashes by the poison of that king of snakes. But taking up those ashes, Kasyapa spoke these words. 'O king of snakes, behold the power of my knowledge as applied to this lord of the forest! O snake, under thy very nose I shall revive it.' And then that best of Brahmanas, the illustrious and learned Kasyapa, revived, by his vidya, that tree which had been reduced to a heap of ashes. And first he created the sprout, then he furnished it with two leaves, and then he made the stem, and then the branches, and then the full-grown tree with leaves and all. And Takshaka, seeing the tree revived by the illustrious Kasyapa, said unto him, 'It is not wonderful in thee that thou shouldst destroy my poison or that of any one else like myself. O thou whose wealth is asceticism, desirous of what wealth, goest thou thither? The reward thou hopest to have from that best of monarchs, even I will give thee, however difficult it may be to obtain it. Decked with fame as thou art, thy success may be doubtful on that king affected by a Brahmana's curse and whose span of life itself hath been shortened. In that case, this blazing fame of thine that hath overspread the three worlds will disappear like the Sun when deprived of his splendour (on the occasion of the eclipse).'
"Kasyapa said, 'I go there for wealth, give it unto me, O snake, so that taking thy gold. I may return.' Takshaka replied, 'O best of regenerate ones, even I will give thee more than what thou expectest from that king. Therefore do not go.'
"Sauti continued, 'That best of Brahmanas, Kasyapa, of great prowess and intelligence, hearing those words of Takshaka, sat in yoga meditation over the king. And that foremost of Munis, viz., Kasyapa, of great prowess and gifted with spiritual knowledge, ascertaining that the period of life of that king of the Pandava race had really run out, returned, receiving from Takshaka as much wealth as he desired.
"And upon the illustrious Kasyapa's retracing his steps, Takshaka at the proper time speedily entered the city of Hastinapura. And on his way he heard that the king was living very cautiously, protected by means of poison-neutralising mantras and medicines.'
"Sauti continued, 'The snake thereupon reflected thus, 'The monarch must be deceived by me with power of illusion. But what must be the means?' Then Takshaka sent to the king some snakes in the guise of ascetics taking with them fruits, kusa grass, and water (as presents). And Takshaka, addressing them, said, 'Go ye all to the king, on the pretext of pressing business, without any sign of impatience, as if to make the monarch only accept the fruits and flowers and water (that ye shall carry as presents unto him).'