Mahabharata III


(Pauloma Parva continued)

“Sauti continued ‘The Dundubha then said, ‘In former times, I had a

friend Khagama by name. He was impetuous in his speech and possessed of

spiritual power by virtue of his austerities. And one day when he was

engaged in the Agni-hotra (Fire-sacrifice), I made a mock snake of blades

of grass, and in a frolic attempted to frighten him with it. And anon he

fell into a swoon. On recovering his senses, that truth-telling and

vow-observing ascetic, burning with wrath, exclaimed, ‘Since thou hast

made a powerless mock snake to frighten me, thou shalt be turned even

into a venomless serpent thyself by my curse.’ O ascetic, I well knew the

power of his penances; therefore with an agitated heart, I addressed him

thus, bending low with joined hands, ‘Friend, I did this by way of a

joke, to excite thy laughter. It behoveth thee to forgive me and revoke

thy curse.’ And seeing me sorely troubled, the ascetic was moved, and he

replied, breathing hot and hard. ‘What I have said must come to pass.

Listen to what I say and lay it to thy heart. O pious one! when Ruru the

pure son of Pramati, will appear, thou shall be delivered from the curse

the moment thou seest him. Thou art the very Ruru and the son of Pramati.

On regaining my native form, I will tell thee something for thy good.

“And that illustrious man and the best of Brahmanas then left his

snake-body, and attained his own form and original brightness. He then

addressed the following words to Ruru of incomparable power, ‘O thou

first of created beings, verily the highest virtue of man is sparing the

life of others. Therefore a Brahmana should never take the life of any

creature. A Brahmana should ever be mild. This is the most sacred

injunction of the Vedas. A Brahmana should be versed in the Vedas and

Vedangas, and should inspire all creatures with belief in God. He should

be benevolent to all creatures, truthful, and forgiving, even as it is

his paramount duty to retain the Vedas in his memory. The duties of the

Kshatriya are not thine. To be stern, to wield the sceptre and to rule

the subjects properly are the duties of the Kshatriya. Listen, O Ruru, to

the account of the destruction of snakes at the sacrifice of Janamejaya

in days of yore, and the deliverance of the terrified reptiles by that

best of Dwijas, Astika, profound in Vedic lore and might in spiritual


And so ends the eleventh section of the Pauloma Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Pauloma Parva continued)

“Sauti continued, ‘Ruru then asked, ‘O best of Dwijas, why was king

Janamejaya bent upon destroying the serpents?–And why and how were they

saved by the wise Astika? I am anxious to hear all this in detail.’

“The Rishi replied, ‘O Ruru, the important history of Astika you will

learn from the lips of Brahmanas.’ Saying this, he vanished.

“Sauti continued, ‘Ruru ran about in search of the missing Rishi, and

having failed to find him in all the woods, fell down on the ground,

fatigued. And revolving in his mind the words of the Rishi, he was

greatly confounded and seemed to be deprived of his senses. Regaining

consciousness, he came home and asked his father to relate the history in

question. Thus asked, his father related all about the story.'”

So ends the twelfth section in the Pauloma Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva)

“Saunaka said, ‘For what reason did that tiger among kings, the royal

Janamejaya, determine to take the lives of the snakes by means of a

sacrifice? O Sauti, tell us in full the true story. Tell us also why

Astika, that best of regenerate ones, that foremost of ascetics, rescued

the snakes from the blazing fire. Whose son was that monarch who

celebrated the snake-sacrifice? And whose son also was that best of

regenerate ones?’

“Sauti said, ‘O best of speakers, this story of Astika is long. I will

duly relate it in full, O listen!’

“Saunaka said, ‘I am desirous of hearing at length the charming story of

that Rishi, that illustrious Brahmana named Astika.’

“Sauti said, ‘This history (first) recited by Krishna-Dwaipayana, is

called a Purana by the Brahmanas. It was formerly narrated by my wise

father, Lomaharshana, the disciple of Vyasa, before the dwellers of the

Naimisha forest, at their request. I was present at the recital, and, O

Saunaka, since thou askest me, I shall narrate the history of Astika

exactly as I heard it. O listen, as I recite in full that sin-destroying


“The father of Astika was powerful like Prajapati. He was a

Brahma-charin, always engaged in austere devotions. He ate sparingly, was

a great ascetic, and had his lust under complete control. And he was

known by the name of Jaratkaru. That foremost one among the Yayavaras,

virtuous and of rigid vows, highly blessed and endued with great ascetic

power, once undertook a journey over the world. He visited diverse

places, bathed in diverse sacred waters, and rested where night overtook

him. Endued with great energy, he practised religious austerities, hard

to be practised by men of unrestrained souls. The sage lived upon air

only, and renounced sleep for ever. Thus going about like a blazing fire,

one day he happened to see his ancestors, hanging heads down in a great

hole, their feet pointing upwards. On seeing them, Jaratkaru addressed

them, saying:

‘Who are you thus hanging heads down in this hole by a rope of virana

fibres that is again secretly eaten into on all sides by a rat living


“The ancestors said, ‘We are Rishis of rigid vows, called Yayavaras. We

are sinking low into the earth for want of offspring. We have a son named

Jaratkaru. Woe to us! That wretch hath entered upon a life of austerities

only! The fool doth not think of raising offspring by marriage! It is for

that reason, viz., the fear of extinction of our race, that we are

suspended in this hole. Possessed of means, we fare like unfortunates

that have none! O excellent one, who art thou that thus sorrowest as a

friend on our account? We desire to learn, O Brahmana, who thou art that

standest by us, and why, O best of men, thou sorrowest for us that are so


“Jaratkaru said, ‘Ye are even my sires and grandsires I am that

Jaratkaru! O, tell me, how I may serve you.’

“The fathers then answered, ‘Try thy best, O child, to beget a son to

extend our line. Thou wilt then, O excellent one, have done a meritorious

art for both thyself and us. Not by the fruits of virtue, not by ascetic

penances well hoarded up, acquireth the merit which one doth by becoming

a father. Therefore, O child, by our command, set thy heart upon marriage

and offspring. Even this is our highest good.’

“Jaratkaru replied, ‘I shall not marry for my sake, nor shall I earn

wealth for enjoyment, but I shall do so for your welfare only. According

to this understanding, I shall, agreeably to the Sastric ordinance, take

a wife for attaining the end. I shall not act otherwise. If a bride may

be had of the same name with me, whose friends would, besides, willingly

give her to me as a gift in charity, I shall wed her duly. But who will

give his daughter to a poor man like me for wife. I shall, however,

accept any daughter given to me as alms. I shall endeavour, ye sires,

even thus to wed a girl! Having given my word, I will not act otherwise.

Upon her I will raise offspring for your redemption, so that, ye fathers,

ye may attain to eternal regions (of bliss) and may rejoice as ye like.'”

So ends the thirteenth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘That Brahmana of rigid vows then wandered over the earth

for a wife but a wife found he not. One day he went into the forest, and

recollecting the words of his ancestors, he thrice prayed in a faint

voice for a bride. Thereupon Vasuki rose and offered his sister for the

Rishi’s acceptance. But the Brahmana hesitated to accept her, thinking

her not to be of the same name with himself. The high-souled Jaratkaru

thought within himself, ‘I will take none for wife who is not of the same

name with myself.’ Then that Rishi of great wisdom and austere penances

asked him, saying, ‘Tell me truly what is the name of this thy sister, O


“Vasuki replied, ‘O Jaratkaru, this my younger sister is called

Jaratkaru. Given away by me, accept this slender-waisted damsel for thy

spouse. O best of Brahmanas, for thee I reserved her. Therefore, take

her.’ Saying this, he offered his beautiful sister to Jaratkaru who then

espoused her with ordained rites.'”

So ends the thirteenth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘O foremost of persons acquainted with Brahma, the mother of

the snakes had cursed them of old, saying, ‘He that hath the Wind for his

charioteer (viz., Agni) shall burn you all in Janamejaya’s sacrifice!’ It

was to neutralise that curse that the chief of the snakes married his

sister to that high-souled Rishi of excellent vows. The Rishi wedded her

according to the rites ordained (in the scriptures), and from them was

born a high-souled son called Astika. An illustrious ascetic; versed in

the Vedas and their branches, he regarded all with an even eye, and

removed the fears of both his parents.

“Then, after a long space of time, a king descending from the Pandava

line celebrated a great sacrifice known as the Snake-sacrifice, After

that sacrifice had commenced for the destruction of the snakes, Astika

delivered the Nagas, viz., his brothers and maternal uncles and other

snakes (from a fiery death). And he delivered his fathers also by

begetting offspring. And by his austerities, O Brahmana, and various vows

and study of the Vedas, he freed himself from all his debts. By

sacrifices, at which various kinds of offerings were made, he propitiated

the gods. By practising the Brahmacharya mode of life he conciliated the

Rishis; and by begetting offspring he gratified his ancestors.

“Thus Jaratkaru of rigid vows discharged the heavy debt he owed to his

sires who being thus relieved from bondage ascended to heaven. Thus

having acquired great religious merit, Jaratkaru, after a long course of

years, went to heaven, leaving Astika behind. There is the story of

Astika that I have related duly Now, tell me, O tiger of Bhrigu’s race,

what else I shall narrate.”

So ends the fifteenth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

“Saunaka said, ‘O Sauti, relate once more in detail this history of the

learned and virtuous Astika. Our curiosity for hearing it is great. O

amiable one, thou speakest sweetly, with proper accent and emphasis; and

we are well-pleased with thy speech. Thou speakest even as thy father.

Thy sire was ever ready to please us. Tell us now the story as thy father

had related it.’

“Sauti said, ‘O thou that art blest with longevity, I shall narrate the

history of Astika as I heard it from my father. O Brahmana, in the golden

age, Prajapati had two daughters. O sinless one, the sisters were endowed

with wonderful beauty. Named Kadru and Vinata, they became the wives of

Kasyapa. Kasyapa derived great pleasure from his two wedded wives and

being gratified he, resembling Prajapati himself, offered to give each of

them a boon. Hearing that their lord was willing to confer on them their

choice blessings, those excellent ladies felt transports of joy. Kadru

wished to have for sons a thousand snakes all of equal splendour. And

Vinata wished to bring forth two sons surpassing the thousand offsprings

of Kadru in strength, energy, size of body, and prowess. Unto Kadru her

lord gave that boon about a multitude of offspring. And unto Vinata also,

Kasyapa said, ‘Be it so!’ Then Vinata, having; obtained her prayer,

rejoiced greatly. Obtaining two sons of superior prowess, she regarded

her boon fulfilled. Kadru also obtained her thousand sons of equal

splendour. ‘Bear the embryos carefully,’ said Kasyapa, and then he went

into the forest, leaving his two wives pleased with his blessings.’

“Sauti continued, ‘O best of regenerate ones, after a long time, Kadru

brought forth a thousand eggs, and Vinata two. Their maid-servants

deposited the eggs separately in warm vessels. Five hundred years passed

away, and the thousand eggs produced by Kadru burst and out came the

progeny. But the twins of Vinata did not appear. Vinata was jealous, and

therefore she broke one of the eggs and found in it an embryo with the

upper part developed but the lower one undeveloped. At this, the child in

the egg became angry and cursed his mother, saying. ‘Since thou hast

prematurely broken this egg, thou shall serve as a slave. Shouldst thou

wait five hundred years and not destroy, or render the other egg

half-developed, by breaking it through impatience, then the illustrious

child within it will deliver thee from slavery! And if thou wouldst have

the child strong, thou must take tender care of the egg for all this

time!’ Thus cursing his mother, the child rose to the sky. O Brahmana,

even he is the charioteer of Surya, always seen in the hour of morning!

“Then at the expiration of the five hundred years, bursting open the

other egg, out came Garuda, the serpent-eater. O tiger of Bhrigu’s race,

immediately on seeing the light, that son of Vinata left his mother. And

the lord of birds, feeling hungry, took wing in quest of the food

assigned to him by the Great Ordainer of all.”.

So ends the sixteenth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘O ascetic, about this time the two sisters saw approaching

near, that steed of complacent appearance named Uchchaihsravas who was

worshipped by the gods, that gem of steeds, who arose at the churning of

the Ocean for nectar. Divine, graceful, perpetually young, creation’s

master-piece, and of irresistible vigour, it was blest with every

auspicious mark.’

“Saunaka asked, ‘Why did the gods churn the Ocean for nectar, and under

what circumstances and when as you say, did that best of steeds so

powerful and resplendent spring?’

“Sauti said, ‘There is a mountain named Meru, of blazing appearance, and

looking like a heap of effulgence. The rays of the Sun falling on its

peaks of golden lustre are dispersed by them. Decked with gold and

exceedingly beautiful, that mountain is the haunt of the gods and the

Gandharvas. It is immeasurable and unapproachable by men of manifold

sins. Dreadful beasts of prey wander over its breasts, and it is

illuminated by many divine life-giving herbs. It stands kissing the

heavens by its height and is the first of mountains. Ordinary people

cannot even think of ascending it. It is graced with trees and streams,

and resounds with the charming melody of winged choirs. Once the

celestials sat on its begemmed peak–in conclave. They who had practised

penances and observed excellent vows for amrita now seemed to be eager

seekers alter amrita (celestial ambrosia). Seeing the celestial assembly

in anxious mood Nara-yana said to Brahman, ‘Do thou churn the Ocean with

the gods and the Asuras. By doing so, amrita will be obtained as also all

drugs and gems. O ye gods, chum the Ocean, ye will discover amrita.'”

So ends the seventeenth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘There is a mountain called Mandara adorned with cloud-like

peaks. It is the best of mountains, and is covered all over with

intertwining herbs. There countless birds pour forth their melodies, and

beasts of prey roam about. The gods, the Apsaras and the Kinnaras visit

the place. Upwards it rises eleven thousand yojanas, and descends

downwards as much. The gods wanted to tear it up and use it as a churning

rod but failing to do so same to Vishnu and Brahman who were sitting

together, and said unto them, ‘Devise some efficient scheme, consider, ye

gods, how Mandara may be dislodged for our good.’

“Sauti continued, ‘O son of Bhrigu! Vishnu with Brahman assented to it.

And the lotus-eyed one (Vishnu) laid the hard task on the mighty Ananta,

the prince of snakes. The powerful Ananta, directed thereto both by

Brahman and Narayana, O Brahmana, tore up the mountain with the woods

thereon and with the denizens of those woods. And the gods came to the

shore of the Ocean with Ananta and addressed the Ocean, saying, ‘O Ocean;

we have come to churn thy waters for obtaining nectar.’ And the Ocean

replied, ‘Be it so, as I shall not go without a share of it. I am able to

bear the prodigious agitation of my waters set up by the mountain.’ The

gods then went to the king of tortoises and said to him, ‘O

Tortoise-king, thou wilt have to hold the mountain on thy back!’ The

Tortoise-king agreed, and Indra contrived to place the mountain on the

former’s back.

“And the gods and the Asuras made of Mandara a churning staff and Vasuki

the cord, and set about churning the deep for amrita. The Asuras held

Vasuki by the hood and the gods held him by the tail. And Ananta, who was

on the side of the gods, at intervals raised the snake’s hood and

suddenly lowered it. And in consequence of the stretch Vasuki received at

the hands of the gods and the Asuras, black vapours with flames issued

from his mouth. These, turned into clouds charged with lightning, poured

showers that refreshed the tired gods. And flowers that also fell on all

sides of the celestials from the trees on the whirling Mandara, refreshed


“Then, O Brahmana, out of the deep came a tremendous roar like unto the

roar of the clouds at the Universal Dissolution. Diverse aquatic animals

being crushed by the great mountain gave up the ghost in the salt waters.

And many denizens of the lower regions and the world of Varuna were

killed. Large trees with birds on the whirling Mandara were torn up by

the roots and fell into the water. The mutual friction of those trees

also produced fires that blazed up frequently. The mountain thus looked

like a mass of dark clouds charged with lightning. O Brahmana, the fire

spread, and consumed the lions, elephants and other creatures that were

on the mountain. Then Indra extinguished that fire by pouring down heavy


“After the churning, O Brahmana, had gone on for some time, gummy

exudations of various trees and herbs vested with the properties of

amrita mingled with the waters of the Ocean. And the celestials attained

to immortality by drinking of the water mixed with those gums and with

the liquid extract of gold. By degrees, the milky water of the agitated

deep turned into clarified butter by virtue of those gums and juices. But

nectar did not appear even then. The gods came before the boon-granting

Brahman seated on his seat and said, ‘Sire, we are spent up, we have no

strength left to churn further. Nectar hath not yet arisen so that now we

have no resource save Narayana.’

“On hearing them, Brahman said to Narayana, ‘O Lord, condescend to grant

the gods strength to churn the deep afresh.’

“Then Narayana agreeing to grant their various prayers, said, ‘Ye wise

ones, I grant you sufficient strength. Go, put the mountain in position

again and churn the water.’

‘Re-established thus in strength, the gods recommenced churning. After a

while, the mild Moon of a thousand rays emerged from the Ocean.

Thereafter sprung forth Lakshmi dressed in white, then Soma, then the

White Steed, and then the celestial gem Kaustubha which graces the breast

of Narayana. Then Lakshmi, Soma and the Steed, fleet as the mind, all

came before the gods on high. Then arose the divine Dhanwantari himself

with the white vessel of nectar in his hand. And seeing him, the Asuras

set up a loud cry, saying, ‘It be ours.’

“And at length rose the great elephant, Airavata, of huge body and with

two pair of white tusks. And him took Indra the wielder of the

thunderbolt. But with the churning still going on, the poison Kalakuta

appeared at last. Engulfing the Earth it suddenly blazed up like a fire

attended with fumes. And by the scent of the fearful Kalakuta, the three

worlds were stupefied. And then Siva, being solicited by Brahman,

swallowed that poison for the safety of the creation. The divine

Maheswara held it in his throat, and it is said that from that time he is

called Nilakantha (blue-throated). Seeing all these wondrous things, the

Asuras were filled with despair, and got themselves prepared for entering

into hostilities with the gods for the possession of Lakshmi and Amrita.

Thereupon Narayana called his bewitching Maya (illusive power) to his

aid, and assuming the form of an enticing female, coquetted with the

Danavas. The Danavas and the Daityas charmed with her exquisite beauty

and grace lost their reason and unanimously placed the Amrita in the

hands of that fair damsel.'”

So ends the eighteenth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘Then the Daityas and the Danauas equipped with first-class

armours and various weapons attacked the gods. In the meantime the

valiant Lord Vishnu in the form of an enchantress accompanied by Nara

deceived the mighty Danavas and took away the Amrita from their hands.

“And all the gods at that time of great fright drank the Amrita with

delight, receiving it from Vishnu. And while the gods were partaking of

it, after which they had so much hankered, a Danava named Rahu was also

drinking it among them in the guise of a god. And when the Amrita had

reached Rahu’s throat only, Surya and Soma (recognised him and) intimated

the fact to the gods. And Narayana instantly cut off with his discus the

well-adorned head of the Danava who was drinking the Amrita without

permission. And the huge head of the Danava, cut off by the discus and

resembling a mountain peak, then rose up to the sky and began to utter

dreadful cries. And the Danava’s headless trunk, falling upon the ground

and rolling thereon, made the Earth tremble with her mountains, forests

and islands. And from that time there is a long-standing quarrel between

Rahu’s head and Surya and Soma. And to this day it swalloweth Surya and

Soma (during solar and lunar eclipses).

“Then Narayana quitting his enchanting female form and hurling many

terrible weapons at the Danavas, made them tremble. And thus on the

shores of the salt-water sea, commenced the dreadful battle of the gods

and the Asuras. And sharp-pointed javelins and lances and various weapons

by thousands began to be discharged on all sides. And mangled with the

discus and wounded with swords, darts and maces, the Asuras in large

numbers vomited blood and lay prostrate on the earth. Cut off from the

trunks with sharp double-edged swords, heads adorned with bright gold,

fell continually on the field of battle. Their bodies drenched in gore,

the great Asuras lay dead everywhere. It seemed as if red-dyed mountain

peaks lay scattered all around. And when the Sun rose in his splendour,

thousands of warriors struck one another with weapons. And cries of

distress were heard everywhere. The warriors fighting at a distance from

one another brought one another down by sharp iron missiles, and those

fighting at close quarters slew one another with blows of their fists.

And the air was filled with shrieks of distress. Everywhere were heard

the alarming sounds,–‘cut’, ‘pierce’, ‘at them’, ‘hurl down’, ‘advance’.

‘And when the battle was raging fiercely, Nara and Narayana entered the

field. And Narayana seeing the celestial bow in the hand of Nara, called

to mind his own weapon, the Danava-destroying discus. And lo! the discus,

Sudarsana, destroyer of enemies, like to Agni in effulgence and dreadful

in battle, came from the sky as soon as thought of. And when it came,

Narayana of fierce energy, possessing arms like the trunk of an elephant,

hurled with great force that weapon of extraordinary lustre, effulgent as

blazing fire, dreadful and capable of destroying hostile towns. And that

discus blazing like the fire that consumeth all things at the end of

Yuga, hurled with force from the hands of Narayana, and falling

constantly everywhere, destroyed the Daityas and the Danavas by

thousands. Sometimes it blazed like fire and consumed them all; sometimes

it struck them down as it coursed through the sky; and sometimes, falling

on the earth, it drank their life-blood like a goblin.

“On the other hand, the Danavas, white as the clouds from which the rain

hath dropped, possessing great strength and bold hearts, ascended the

sky, and by hurling down thousands of mountains, continually harassed the

gods. And those dreadful mountains, like masses of clouds, with their

trees and flat tops, falling from the sky, collided with one another and

produced a tremendous roar. And when thousands of warriors shouted

without intermission in the field of battle and mountains with the woods

thereon began to fall around, the earth with her forests trembled. Then

the divine Nara appeared at the scene of the dreadful conflict between

the Asuras and the Ganas (the followers of Rudra), and reducing to dust

those rocks by means of his gold-headed arrows, he covered the heavens

with dust. Thus discomfited by the gods, and seeing the furious discus

scouring the fields of heaven like a blazing flame, the mighty Danavas

entered the bowels of the earth, while others plunged into the sea of


“And having gained the victory, the gods offered due respect to Mandara

and placed him again on his own base. And the nectar-bearing gods made

the heavens resound with their shouts, and went to their own abodes. And

the gods, on returning to the heavens, rejoiced greatly, and Indra and

the other deities made over to Narayana the vessel of Amrita for careful


And so ends the nineteenth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘Thus have I recited to you the whole story of how Amrita

was churned out of the Ocean, and the occasion on which the horse

Uchchaihsravas of great beauty and incomparable prowess was obtained. It

was this horse about which Kadru asked Vinata, saying, ‘Tell me, amiable

sister, without taking much time, of what colour Uchchaishravas is.’ And

Vinata answered, ‘That prince of steeds is certainly white. What dost

thou think, sister? Say thou what is its colour. Let us lay a wager upon

it.’ Kadru replied, then, ‘O thou of sweet smiles. I think that horse is

black in its tail. Beauteous one, bet with me that she who loseth will

become the other’s slave.’

‘Sauti continued, ‘Thus wagering with each other about menial service as

a slave, the sisters went home, and resolved to satisfy themselves by

examining the horse next day. And Kadru, bent upon practising a

deception, ordered her thousand sons to transform themselves into black

hair and speedily cover the horse’s tail in order that she might not

become a slave. But her sons, the snakes, refusing to do her bidding, she

cursed them, saying, ‘During the snake-sacrifice of the wise king

Janamejaya of the Pandava race, Agni shall consume you all.’ And the

Grandsire (Brahman) himself heard this exceedingly cruel curse pronounced

by Kadru, impelled by the fates. And seeing that the snakes had

multiplied exceedingly, the Grandsire, moved by kind consideration for

his creatures, sanctioned with all the gods this curse of Kadru. Indeed,

as the snakes were of virulent poison, great prowess and excess of

strength, and ever bent on biting other creatures, their mother’s conduct

towards them–those persecutors of all creatures,–was very proper for

the good of all creatures. Fate always inflicts punishment of death on

those who seek the death of other creatures. The gods, having exchanged

such sentiments with one another, supported Kadru’s action (and went

away). And Brahman, calling Kasyapa to him, spake unto him these words,

‘O thou pure one who overcomest all enemies, these snakes begotten by

you, who are of virulent poison and huge bodies, and ever intent on

biting other creatures, have been cursed by their mother. O son, do not

grieve for it in the least. The destruction of the snakes in the

sacrifice hath, indeed, been ordained long ago’ Saying this, the divine

Creator of the Universe comforted Kasyapa and imparted to that

illustrious one the knowledge of neutralising poison.”

And so ends the twentieth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said. ‘Then when the night had passed away and the sun had risen

in the morning, O thou whose wealth is asceticism, the two sisters Kadru

and Vinata, having laid a wager about slavery, went with haste and

impatience to view the steed Uchchaishravas from a near point. On their

way they saw the Ocean, that receptacle of waters, vast and deep, rolling

and tremendously roaring, full of fishes large enough to swallow the

whale, and abounding with huge makaras and creatures of various forms by

thousands, and rendered inaccessible by the presence of other terrible,

monster-shaped, dark, and fierce aquatic animals, abounding with

tortoises and crocodiles, the mine of all kinds of gems, the home of

Varuna (the water-God), the excellent and beautiful residence of the

Nagas, the lord of all rivers, the abode of the subterranean fire, the

friend (or asylum) of the Asuras, the terror of all creatures, the grand

reservoir of water, and ever immutable. It is holy, beneficial to the

gods, and is the great source of nectar; without limits, inconceivable,

sacred, and highly wonderful. It is dark, terrible with the sound of

aquatic creatures, tremendously roaring, and full of deep whirl-pools. It

is an object of terror to all creatures. Moved by the winds blowing from

its shores and heaving high, agitated and disturbed, it seems to dance

everywhere with uplifted hands represented by its surges. Full of

swelling billows caused by the waxing and waning of the moon the parent

of Vasudeva’s great conch called Panchajanya, the great mine of gems, its

waters were formerly disturbed in consequence of the agitation caused

within them by the Lord Govinda of immeasurable prowess when he had

assumed the form of a wild boar for raising the (submerged) Earth. Its

bottom, lower than the nether regions, the vow observing regenerate Rishi

Atri could not fathom after (toiling for) a hundred years. It becomes the

bed of the lotus-naveled Vishnu when at the termination of every Yuga

that deity of immeasurable power enjoys yoga-nidra, the deep sleep under

the spell of spiritual meditation. It is the refuge of Mainaka fearful of

falling thunder, and the retreat of the Asuras overcome in fierce

encounters. It offers water as sacrificial butter to the blazing fire

issuing from the mouth of Varava (the Ocean-mare). It is fathomless and

without limits, vast and immeasurable, and the lord of rivers.

“And they saw that unto it rushed mighty rivers by thousands with proud

gait, like amorous competitors, each eager for meeting it, forestalling

the others. And they saw that it was always full, and always dancing in

its waves. And they saw that it was deep and abounding with fierce whales

and makaras. And it resounded constantly with the terrible sounds of

aquatic creatures. And they saw that it was vast, and wide as the expanse

of space, unfathomable, and limitless, and the grand reservoir of water.'”

And so ends the twenty-first section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘The Nagas after consultation arrived at the conclusion that

they should do their mother’s bidding, for if she failed in obtaining her

desire she might withdraw her affection and burn them all. If, on the

other hand, she were graciously inclined, she might free them from her

curse. They said, ‘We will certainly render the horse’s tail black.’ And

it is said that they then went and became hairs in the horse’s tail.

“Now the two co-wives had laid the wager. And having laid the wager, O

best of Brahmanas, the two sisters Kadru and Vinata, the daughters of

Daksha, proceeded in great delight along the sky to see the other side of

the Ocean. And on their way they saw the Ocean, that receptacle of

waters, incapable of being easily disturbed, mightily agitated all of a

sudden by the wind, and roaring tremendously; abounding with fishes

capable of swallowing the whale and full of makaras; containing also

creatures of diverse forms counted by thousands; frightful from the

presence of horrible monsters, inaccessible, deep, and terrible, the mine

of all kinds of gems, the home of Varuna (the water-god), the wonderful

habitations of the Nagas, the lord of rivers, the abode of the

subterranean fire; the residence of the Asuras and of many dreadful

creatures; the reservoir of water, not subject to decay, aromatic, and

wonderful, the great source of the amrita of the celestials; immeasurable

and inconceivable, containing waters that are holy, filled to the brim by

many thousands of great rivers, dancing as it were in waves. Such was the

Ocean, full of rolling waves, vast as the expanse of the sky, deep, of

body lighted with the flames of subterranean fire, and roaring, which the

sisters quickly passed over.'”

And so ends the twenty-second section in the Astika Parva of the Adi



(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



(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


“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



(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.[1] 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


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 it 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


“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, alter 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


“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


“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


“And Garuda had encounters with the Yakshas, Aswakranda of great courage,

Rainuka, the bold Krathanaka, Tapana, Uluka, Swasanaka, Nimesha, Praruja,

and Pulina. And the son of Vinata mangled them with his wings, talons,

and beak, like Siva himself, that chastiser of enemies, and the holder of

Pinaka in rage at the end of the Yuga. And those Yakshas of great might

and courage, mangled all over by that ranger of the skies, looked like

masses of black clouds dropping thick showers of blood.

“And Garuda, depriving them of life, and then went to where the amrita

was. And he saw that it was surrounded on all sides by fire. And the

terrible flames of that fire covered the entire sky. And moved by violent

winds, they seemed bent on burning the Sun himself. The illustrious

Garuda then assumed ninety times ninety mouths and quickly drinking the

waters of many rivers with those mouths and returning with great speed,

that chastiser of enemies, having wings for his vehicle extinguished that

fire with that water. And extinguishing that fire, he assumed a very

small form, desirous of entering into (the place where the Soma was).'”

So ends the thirty-second section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(Astika Parva continued)

“Santi said, ‘And that bird, assuming a golden body bright as the rays of

the Sun, entered with great force (the region where the Soma was), like a

torrent entering the ocean. And he saw, placed near the Soma, a wheel of

steel keen-edged, and sharp as the razor, revolving incessantly. And that

fierce instrument, of the splendour of the blazing sun and of terrible

form, had been devised by the gods for cutting in pieces all robbers of

the Soma. Garuda, seeing a passage through it, stopped there for a

moment. Diminishing his body, in an instant he passed through the spokes

of that wheel. Within the line of the wheel, he beheld, stationed there

for guarding the Soma two great snakes of the effulgence of blazing fire,

with tongues bright as the lightning-flash, of great energy, with mouth

emitting fire, with blazing eyes, containing poison, very terrible,

always in anger, and of great activity. Their eyes were ceaselessly

inflamed with rage and were also winkless. He who may be seen by even one

of the two would instantly be reduced to ashes. The bird of fair feathers

suddenly covered their eyes with dust. And unseen by them he attacked

them from all sides. And the son of Vinata, that ranger of the skies,

attacking their bodies, mangled them into pieces. He then approached the

Soma without loss of time. Then the mighty son of Vinata, taking up the

Amrita from the place where it was kept, rose on his wings with great

speed, breaking into pieces the machine that had surrounded it. And the

bird soon came out, taking the Amrita but without drinking it himself.

And he then wended on his way without the least fatigue, darkening the

splendour of the Sun.

“And the son of Vinata then met Vishnu on his way along the sky. And

Narayana was gratified at that act of self-denial on the part of Garuda.

And that deity, knowing no deterioration, said unto the ranger of the

skies, ‘O, I am inclined to grant thee a boon.’ The ranger of the skies

thereupon said, ‘I shall stay above thee.’ And he again spake unto

Narayana these words, ‘I shall be immortal and free from disease without

(drinking) Amrita.’ Vishnu said unto the son of Vinata, ‘Be it so.’

Garuda, receiving those two boons, told Vishnu, ‘I also shall grant thee

a boon; therefore, let the possessor of the six attributes ask of me.’

Vishnu then asked the mighty Garuda to become his carrier. And he made

the bird sit on the flagstaff of his car, saying, ‘Even thus thou shalt

stay above me.’ And the ranger of the skies, of great speed, saying unto

Narayana, ‘Be it so,’ swiftly wended on his way, mocking the wind with

his fleetness.

“And while that foremost of all rangers of the skies, that first of

winged creatures, Garuda, was coursing through the air after wresting the

Amrita, Indra hurled at him his thunderbolt. Then Garuda, the lord of

birds, struck with thunderbolt, spake laughingly unto Indra engaged in

the encounter, in sweet words, saying, ‘I shall respect the Rishi

(Dadhichi) of whose bone the Vajra hath been made. I shall also respect

the Vajra, and thee also of a thousand sacrifices. I cast this feather of

mine whose end thou shalt not attain. Struck with thy thunder I have not

felt the slightest pain.’ And having said this, the king of birds cast a

feather of his. And all creatures became exceedingly glad, beholding that

excellent feather of Garuda so cast off. And seeing that the feather was

very beautiful, they said, ‘Let this bird be called Suparna (having fair

feathers). And Purandara of a thousand eyes, witnessing this wonderful

incident, thought that bird to be some great being and addressed him


“And Indra said, ‘O best of birds, I desire to know the limit of thy

great strength. I also desire eternal friendship with thee.'”

So ends the thirty-third section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.


(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


“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


“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



(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


“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


“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


“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 conducteth 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


“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



(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


“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).’

“Sauti continued, ‘Those snakes, thus commanded by Takshaka, acted

accordingly. And they took to the king, Kusa grass and water, and fruits.

And that foremost of kings, of great prowess, accepted those offerings.

And after their business was finished, he said upto them, ‘Retire.’ Then

after those snakes disguised as ascetics had gone away, the king

addressed his ministers and friends, saying, ‘Eat ye, with me, all these

fruits of excellent taste brought by the ascetics.’ Impelled by Fate and

the words of the Rishi, the king, with his ministers, felt the desire of

eating those fruits. The particular fruit, within which Takshaka had

entered, was taken by the king himself for eating. And when he was eating

it, there appeared, O Saunaka, an ugly insect out of it, of shape

scarcely discernible, of eyes black, and of coppery colour. And that

foremost of kings, taking that insect, addressed his councillors, saying,

‘The sun is setting; today I have no more tear from poison. Therefore,

let this insect become Takshaka and bite me, so that my sinful act may be

expiated and the words of the ascetic rendered true.’ And those

councillors also, impelled by Fate, approved of that speech. And then the

monarch smiled, losing his senses, his hour having come. And he quickly

placed that insect on his neck. And as the king was smiling, Takshaka,

who had (in the form of that insect) come out of the fruit that had been

offered to the king, coiled himself round the neck of the monarch. And

quickly coiling round the king’s neck and uttering a tremendous roar,

Takshaka, that lord of snakes, bit that protector of the earth.'”


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘Then the councillors beholding the king in the coils of

Takshaka, became pale with fear and wept in exceeding grief. And hearing

the roar of Takshaka, the ministers all fled. And as they were flying

away in great grief, they saw Takshaka, the king of snakes, that

wonderful serpent, coursing through the blue sky like a streak of the hue

of the lotus, and looking very much like the vermilion-coloured line on a

woman’s crown dividing the dark masses of her hair in the middle.

“And the mansion in which the king was living blazed up with Takshaka’s

poison. And the king’s councillors, on beholding it, fled away in all

directions. And the king himself fell down, as if struck by lightning.

“And when the king was laid low by Takshaka’s poison, his councillors

with the royal priest–a holy Brahmana–performed all his last rites. All

the citizens, assembling together, made the minor son of the deceased

monarch their king. And the people called their new king, that slayer of

all enemies, that hero of the Kuru race, by the name of Janamejaya. And

that best of monarchs, Janamejaya, though a child, was wise in mind. And

with his councillors and priest, the eldest son Parikshita, that bull

amongst the Kurus, ruled the kingdom like his heroic great-grand-father

(Yudhishthira). And the ministers of the youthful monarch, beholding that

he could now keep his enemies in check, went to Suvarnavarman, the king

of Kasi, and asked him his daughter Vapushtama for a bride. And the king

of Kasi, after due inquiries, bestowed with ordained rites, his daughter

Vapushtama on that mighty hero of Kuru race. And the latter, receiving

his bride, became exceedingly glad. And he gave not his heart at any time

to any other woman. And gifted with great energy, he wandered in pursuit

of pleasure, with a cheerful heart, on expanses of water and amid woods

and flowery fields. And that first of monarchs passed his time in

pleasure as Pururavas of old did, on receiving the celestial damsel

Urvasi. Herself fairest of the fair, the damsel Vapushtama too, devoted

to her lord and celebrated for her beauty having gained a desirable

husband, pleased him by the excess of her affection during the period he

spent in the pursuit of pleasure.'”


(Astika Parva continued)

“Meanwhile the great ascetic Jaratkaru wandered over the whole earth

making the place where evening fell his home for the night. And gifted

with ascetic power, he roamed, practising various vows difficult to be

practised by the immature, and bathing also in various sacred waters. And

the Muni had air alone for his food and was free from desire of worldly

enjoyment. And he became daily emaciated and grew lean-fleshed. And one

day he saw the spirits of his ancestors, heads down, in a hole, by a cord

of virana roots having only one thread entire. And that even single

thread was being gradually eaten away by a large rat dwelling in that

hole. And the Pitris in that hole were without food, emaciated, pitiable,

and eagerly desirous of salvation. And Jaratkaru, approaching the

pitiable one, himself in humble guise, asked them, ‘Who are ye hanging by

this cord of virana roots? The single weak root that is still left in

this cord of virana roots already eaten away by the rat, dwelling in this

hole, is itself being gradually eaten away by the same rat with his sharp

teeth. The little that remains of that single thread will soon be cut

away. It is clear ye shall then have to fall down into this pit with

faces downwards. Seeing you with faces downwards, and overtaken by this

great calamity, my pity hath been excited. What good can I do to you.

Tell me quickly whether this calamity can be averted by a fourth, a

third, or even by the sacrifice of a half of this my asceticism, O,

relieve yourselves even with the whole of my asceticism. I consent to all

this. Do ye as ye please.’

“The Pitris said, ‘Venerable Brahmacharin, thou desirest to relieve us.

But, O foremost of Brahmanas, thou canst not dispel our affliction by thy

asceticism. O child, O first of speakers, we too have the fruits of our

asceticism. But, O Brahmana, it is for the loss of children that we are

falling down into this unholy hell. The grandsire himself hath said that

a son is a great merit. As we are about to be cast in this hole, our

ideas are no longer clear. Therefore, O child, we know thee not, although

thy manhood is well-known on earth. Venerable thou art and of good

fortune, thou who thus from kindness grievest for us worthy of pity and

greatly afflicted. O Brahmana, listen, who we are. We are Rishis of the

Yayavara sect, of rigid vows. And, O Muni, from loss of children, we have

fallen down from a sacred region. Our severe penances have not been

destroyed; we have a thread yet. But we have only one thread now. It

matters little, however, whether he is or is not. Unfortunate as we are,

we have a thread in one, known as Jaratkaru. The unfortunate one has gone

through the Vedas and their branches and is practising asceticism alone.

He being one with soul under complete control, desires set high,

observant of vows, deeply engaged in ascetic penances, and free from

greed for the merits or asceticism, we have been reduced to this

deplorable state. He hath no wife, no son, no relatives. Therefore, do we

hang in this hole, our consciousness lost, like men having none to take

care of them. If thou meetest him, O, tell him, from thy kindness to

ourselves, Thy Pitris, in sorrow, are hanging with faces downwards in a

hole. Holy one, take a wife and beget children. O thou of ascetic wealth,

thou art, O amiable one, the only thread that remaineth in the line of

thy ancestors. O Brahmana, the cord of virana roots that thou seest we

are hanging by, is the cord representing our multiplied race. And, O

Brahmana, these threads of the cord of virana roots that thou seest as

eaten away, are ourselves who have been eaten up by Time. This root thou

seest hath been half-eaten and by which we are hanging in this hole is he

that hath adopted asceticism alone. The rat that thou beholdest is Time

of infinite strength. And he (Time) is gradually weakening the wretch

Jaratkaru engaged in ascetic penances tempted by the merits thereof, but

wanting in prudence and heart. O excellent one, his asceticism cannot

save us. Behold, our roots being torn, cast down from higher regions,

deprived of consciousness by Time, we are going downwards like sinful

wretches. And upon our going down into this hole with all our relatives,

eaten up by Time, even he shall sink with us into hell. O child, whether

it is asceticism, or sacrifice, or whatever else there be of very holy

acts, everything is inferior. These cannot count with a son. O child,

having seen all, speak unto that Jaratkaru of ascetic wealth. Thou

shouldst tell him in detail everything that thou hast beheld. And, O

Brahmana, from thy kindness towards us, thou shouldst tell him all that

would induce him to take a wife and beget children. Amongst his friends,

or of our own race, who art thou, O excellent one, that thus grievest for

us all like a friend? We wish to hear who thou art that stayest here.'”


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said. ‘Jaratkaru, hearing all this, became excessively dejected.

And from sorrow he spoke unto those Pitris in words obstructed by tears.’

And Jaratkaru said, ‘Ye are even my fathers and grand-fathers gone

before. Therefore, tell me what I must do for your welfare. I am that

sinful son of yours, Jaratkaru! Punish me for my sinful deeds, a wretch

that I am.’

“The Pitris replied, saying, ‘O son, by good luck hast thou arrived at

this spot in course of thy rambles. O Brahmana, why hast thou not taken a


“Jaratkaru said. ‘Ye Pitris, this desire hath always existed in my heart

that I would, with vital seed drawn up, carry this body to the other

world. My mind hath been possessed with the idea that I would not take a

wife. But ye grandsires, having seen you hanging like birds, I have

diverted my mind from the Brahmacharya mode of life. I will truly do what

you like. I will certainly marry, if ever I meet with a maiden of my own

name. I shall accept her who, bestowing herself of her own accord, will

be as aims unto me, and whom I shall not have to maintain. I shall marry

if I get such a one; otherwise, I shall not. This is the truth, ye

grandsires! And the offspring that will be begot upon her shall be your

salvation. And ye Pitris of mine, ye shall live for ever in blessedness

and without fear.’

‘Sauti continued, ‘The Muni, having said so unto the Pitris, wandered

over the earth again. And, O Saunaka, being old, he obtained no wife. And

he grieved much that he was not successful. But directed (as before) by

his ancestors, he continued the search. And going into the forest, he

wept loudly in great grief. And having gone into the forest, the wise

one, moved by the desire of doing good to his ancestors, said, ‘I will

ask for a bride,’ distinctly repeating these words thrice. And he said,

‘Whatever creatures are here, mobile and immobile, so whoever there be

that are invisible, O, hear my words! My ancestors, afflicted with grief,

have directed me that am engaged in the most severe penances, saying,

‘Marry thou for (the acquisition of) a son.’ ‘O ye, being directed by my

ancestors, I am roaming in poverty and sorrow, over the wide world for

wedding a maiden that I may obtain as alms. Let that creature, amongst

those I have addressed, who hath a daughter, bestow on me that am roaming

far and near. Such a bride as is of same name with me, to be bestowed on

me as alms, and whom, besides, I shall not maintain, O bestow on me!’

Then those snakes that had been set upon Jaratkaru track, ascertaining

his inclination, gave information to Vasuki. And the king of the snakes,

hearing their words, took with him that maiden decked with ornaments, and

went into the forest unto that Rishi. And, O Brahmana, Vasuki, the king

of the snakes, having gone there, offered that maiden as alms unto that

high-souled Rishi. But the Rishi did not at once accept her. And the

Rishi, thinking her not to be of the same name with himself, and seeing

that the question of her maintenance also was unsettled, reflected for a

few moments, hesitating to accept her. And then, O son of Bhrigu, he

asked Vasuki the maiden’s name, and also said unto him, ‘I shall not

maintain her.'”


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘Then Vasuki spake unto the Rishi Jaratkaru these words, ‘O

best of Brahmanas, this maiden is of the same name with thee. She is my

sister and hath ascetic merit. I will maintain thy wife; accept her. O

thou of ascetic wealth, I shall protect her with all my ability. And, O

foremost of the great Munis, she hath been reared by me for thee.’ And

the Rishi replied, ‘This is agreed between us that I shall not maintain

her; and she shall not do aught that I do not like. If she do, I leave


“Sauti continued, ‘When the snake had promised, saying, ‘I shall maintain

my sister,’ Jaratkaru then went to the snake’s house. Then that first of

mantra-knowing Brahmanas, observing rigid vows, that virtuous and veteran

ascetic, took her hand presented to him according to shastric rites. And

taking his bride with him, adored by the great Rishi, he entered the

delightful chamber set apart for him by the king of the snakes. And in

that chamber was a bed-stead covered with very valuable coverlets. And

Jaratkaru lived there with his wife. And the excellent Rishi made an

agreement with his wife, saying, ‘Nothing must ever be done or said by

thee that is against my liking. And in case of thy doing any such thing,

I will leave thee and no longer continue to stay in thy house. Bear in

mind these words that have been spoken by me.’

“And then the sister of the king of the snakes in great anxiety and

grieving exceedingly, spoke unto him, saying, ‘Be it so.’ And moved by

the desire of doing good to her relatives, that damsel, of unsullied

reputation, began to attend upon her lord with the wakefulness of a dog,

the timidity of a deer, and knowledge of signs possessed by the crow. And

one day, after the menstrual period, the sister of Vasuki, having

purified herself by a bath according to custom, approached her lord the

great Muni; And thereupon she conceived. And the embryo was like unto a

flame of fire, possessed of great energy, and resplendent as fire itself.

And it grew like the moon in the bright fortnight.

“And one day, within a short time, Jaratkaru of great fame, placing his

head on the lap of his wife, slept, looking like one fatigued. And as he

was sleeping, the sun entered his chambers in the Western mountain and

was about to set. And, O Brahmana, as the day was fading, she, the

excellent sister of Vasuki, became thoughtful, fearing the loss of her

husband’s virtue. And she thought, ‘What should I now do? Shall I wake my

husband or not? He is exacting and punctilious in his religious duties.

How can I act as not to offend him? The alternatives are his anger and

the loss of virtue of a virtuous man. The loss of virtue, I ween, is the

greater of the two evils. Again, if I wake him, he will be angry. But if

twilight passeth away without his prayers being said, he shall certainly

sustain loss of virtue.’

‘And having resolved at last, the sweet-speeched Jaratkaru, the sister of

Vasuki, spake softly unto that Rishi resplendent with ascetic penances,

and lying prostrate like a flame of fire, ‘O thou of great good fortune,

awake, the sun is setting. O thou of rigid vows, O illustrious one, do

your evening prayer after purifying yourself with water and uttering the

name of Vishnu. The time for the evening sacrifice hath come. Twilight, O

lord, is even now gently covering the western side.’

“The illustrious Jaratkaru of great ascetic merit, thus addressed, spake

unto his wife these words, his upper lip quivering in anger, ‘O amiable

one of the Naga race, thou hast insulted me. I shall no longer abide with

thee, but shall go where I came from. O thou of beautiful thighs, I

believe in my heart that the sun hath no power to set in the usual time,

if I am asleep. An insulted person should never live where he hath met

with the insult, far less should I, a virtuous person, or those that are

like me.’ Jaratkaru, the sister of Vasuki, thus addressed by her lord,

began to quake with terror, and she spake unto him, saying, ‘O Brahmana,

I have not waked thee from desire of insult; but I have done it so that

thy virtue may not sustain any loss.’

“The Rishi Jaratkaru, great in ascetic merit, possessed with anger and

desirous of forsaking his spouse, thus addressed, spake unto his wife,

saying, O thou fair one, never have I spoken a falsehood. Therefore, go I

shall. This was also settled between ourselves. O amiable one, I have

passed the time happily with thee. And, O fair one, tell thy brother,

when I am gone, that I have left thee. And upon my going away, it

behoveth thee not to grieve for me.’

“Thus addressed Jaratkaru, the fair sister of Vasuki, of faultless

features, filled with anxiety and sorrow, having mustered sufficient

courage and patience, though her heart was still quaking, then spake unto

Rishi Jaratkaru. Her words were obstructed with tears and her face was

pale with fear. And the palms of her hands were joined together, and her

eyes were bathed in tears. And she said, ‘It behoveth thee not to leave

me without a fault. Thou treadest over the path of virtue. I too have

been in the same path, with heart fixed on the good of my relatives. O

best of Brahmanas, the object for which I was bestowed on thee hath not

been accomplished yet. Unfortunate that I am, what shall Vasuki say unto

me? O excellent one, the offspring desired of by my relatives afflicted

by a mother’s curse, do not yet appear! The welfare of my relatives

dependeth on the acquisition of offspring from thee. And in order that my

connection with thee may not be fruitless, O illustrious Brahmana, moved

by the desire of doing good to my race do I entreat thee. O excellent

one, high-souled thou art; so why shall thou leave me who am faultless?

This is what is not just clear to me.’

“Thus addressed, the Muni of great ascetic merit spake unto his wife

Jaratkaru these words that were proper and suitable to the occasion. And

he said, ‘O fortunate one, the being thou hast conceived, even like unto

Agni himself is a Rishi of soul highly virtuous, and a master of the

Vedas and their branches.’

“Having said so, the great Rishi, Jaratkaru of virtuous soul, went away,

his heart firmly fixed on practising again the severest penances.'”


(Astika Parva continued)

“Sauti said, ‘O thou of ascetic wealth, soon after her lord had left her,

Jaratkaru went to her brother. And she told him everything that had

happened. And the prince of snakes, hearing the calamitous news, spake

unto his miserable sister, himself more miserable still.’

“And he said, ‘Thou knowest, ‘O amiable one, the purpose of thy bestowal,

the reason thereof. If, from that union, for the welfare of the snakes, a

son be born, then he, possessed of energy, will save us all from the

snake-sacrifice. The Grandsire had said so, of old, in the midst of the

gods. O fortunate one, hast thou conceived from thy union with that best

of Rishis? My heart’s desire is that my bestowal of thee on that wise one

may not be fruitless. Truly, it is not proper for me to ask thee about

this. But from the gravity of the interests I ask thee this. Knowing also

the obstinacy of thy lord, ever engaged in severe penances, I shall not

follow him, for he may curse me. Tell me in detail all that thy lord, O

amiable one, hath done, and extract that terribly afflicting dart that

lies implanted for a long time past in my heart.’

“Jaratkaru, thus addressed, consoling Vasuki, the king of the snakes, at

length replied, saying, ‘Asked by me about offspring, the high-souled and

mighty ascetic said, ‘There is,’–and then he went away. I do not

remember him to have ever before speak even in jest aught that is false.

Why should he, O king, speak a falsehood on such a serious occasion? He

said, ‘Thou shouldst not grieve, O daughter of the snake race, about the

intended result of our union. A son shall be born to thee, resplendent as

the blazing sun.’ O brother, having said this to me, my husband of

ascetic wealth went away–Therefore, let the deep sorrow cherished in thy

heart disappear.’

“Sauti continued, ‘Thus addressed, Vasuki, the king of the snakes,

accepted those words of his sister, and in great joy said, ‘Be it so!’

And the chief of the snakes then adored his sister with his best regards,

gift of wealth, and fitting eulogies. Then, O best of Brahmanas, the

embryo endued with great splendour, began to develop, like the moon in

the heavens in the bright fortnight.

And in due time, the sister of the snakes, O Brahmana, gave birth to a

son of the splendour of a celestial child, who became the reliever of the

fears of his ancestors and maternal relatives. The child grew up there in

the house of the king of the snakes. He studied the Vedas and their

branches with the ascetic Chyavana, the son of Bhrigu. And though but a

boy, his vows were rigid. And he was gifted with great intelligence, and

with the several attributes of virtue, knowledge, freedom from the

world’s indulgences, and saintliness. And the name by which he was known

to the world was Astika. And he was known by the name of Astika (whoever

is) because his father had gone to the woods, saying. ‘There is’, when he

was in the womb. Though but a boy, he had great gravity and intelligence.

And he was reared with great care in the palace of the snakes. And he was

like the illustrious lord of the celestials, Mahadeva of the golden form,

the wielder of the trident. And he grew up day by day, the delight of all

the snakes.'”


(Astika Parva continued)

“Saunaka said, ‘Tell me again, in detail,–all that king Janamejaya had

asked his ministers about his father’s ascension to heaven.’

‘Sauti said, ‘O Brahmana, hear all that the king asked his ministers, and

all that they said about the death of Parikshit.’

“Janamejaya asked, ‘Know ye all that befell my father. How did that

famous king, in time, meet with his death? Hearing from you the incidents

of my father’s life in detail, I shall ordain something, if it be for the

benefit of the world. Otherwise, I shall do nothing.’

‘The minister replied, ‘Hear, O monarch, what thou hast asked, viz., an

account of thy illustrious father’s life, and how also that king of kings

left this world. Thy father was virtuous and high-souled, and always

protected his people. O, hear, how that high-souled one conducted himself

on earth. Like unto an impersonation of virtue and justice, the monarch,

cognisant of virtue, virtuously protected the four orders, each engaged

in the discharge of their specified duties. Of incomparable prowess, and

blessed with fortune, he protected the goddess Earth. There was none who

hated him and he himself hated none. Like unto Prajapati (Brahma) he was

equally disposed towards all creatures. O monarch, Brahmanas and

Kshatriyas and Vaisyas and Sudras, all engaged contentedly in the

practice of their respective duties, were impartially protected by that

king. Widows and orphans, the maimed and the poor, he maintained. Of

handsome features, he was unto all creatures like a second Soma.

Cherishing his subjects and keeping them contented, blessed with good

fortune, truth-telling, of immense prowess, he was the disciple of

Saradwat in the science of arms. And, O Janamejaya, thy father was dear

unto Govinda. Of great fame, he was loved by all men. And he was born in

the womb of Uttara when the Kuru race was almost extinct. And, therefore,

the mighty son of Abhimanyu came to be called Parikshit (born in an

extinct line). Well-versed in the interpretation of treatises on the

duties of kings, he was gifted with every virtue. With passions under

complete control, intelligent, possessing a retentive memory, the

practiser of all virtues, the conqueror of his six passions of powerful

mind, surpassing all, and fully acquainted with the science of morality

and political science, the father had ruled over these subjects for sixty

years. And he then died, mourned by all his subjects. And, after him, O

first of men, thou hast acquired this hereditary kingdom of the Kurus for

the last thousand years. Thou wast installed while a child, and art thus

protecting every creature.’

“Janamejaya said, ‘There hath not been born in our race a king who hath

not sought the good of his subjects or been loved by them. Behold

especially the conduct of my grandsires ever engaged in great

achievements. How did my father, blessed with many virtues, meet with his

death? Describe everything to me as it happened. I am desirous of hearing

it from you!’

“Sauti continued, ‘Thus directed by the monarch, those councillors, ever

solicitous of the good of the king, told him everything exactly as it had


‘And the councillors said, ‘O king, that father of thine, that protector

of the whole earth, that foremost of all persons obedient to the

scriptures, became addicted to the sports of the field, even as Pandu of

mighty arms, that foremost of all bearers of the bow in battle. He made

over to us all the affairs of state from the most trivial to the most

important. One day, going into the forest, he pierced a deer with an

arrow. And having pierced it he followed it quickly on foot into the deep

woods, armed with sword and quiver. He could not, however, come upon the

lost deer. Sixty years of age and decrepit, he was soon fatigued and

became hungry. He then saw in the deep woods a high-souled Rishi. The

Rishi was then observing the vow of silence. The king asked him about the

deer, but, though asked, he made no reply. At last the king, already

tired with exertion and hunger, suddenly became angry with that Rishi

sitting motionless like a piece of wood in observance of his vow of

silence. Indeed, the king knew not that he was a Muni observing the vow

of silence. Swayed by anger, thy father insulted him. O excellent one of

the Bharata race, the king, thy father taking up from the ground with the

end of his bow a dead snake placed it on the shoulders of that Muni of

pure soul. But the Muni spake not a word good or bad and was without

anger. He continued in the same posture, bearing the dead snake.'”


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