Adi Parva - Mahabharata of Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa
"Saunaka said, 'For what reason did that tiger among kings, the royal
[paragraph continues] 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 story.
"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 here?'
"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 unfortunate.'
"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.
"Sauti said, 'That Brahmana of rigid vows then wandered over the earth for a wife but a wife found he not. One day he went into the forest, and recollecting the words of his ancestors, he thrice prayed in a faint voice for a bride. Thereupon Vasuki rose and offered his sister for the Rishi's acceptance. But the Brahmana hesitated to accept her, thinking her not to be of the same name with himself. The high-souled Jaratkaru thought within himself, 'I will take none for wife who is not of the same name with myself.' Then that Rishi of great wisdom and austere penances asked him, saying, 'Tell me truly what is the name of this thy sister, O snake.'
"Vasuki replied, 'O Jaratkaru, this my younger sister is called Jaratkaru. Given away by me, accept this slender-waisted damsel for thy spouse. O best of Brahmanas, for thee I reserved her. Therefore, take her.' Saying this, he offered his beautiful sister to Jaratkaru who then espoused her with ordained rites.'"
So ends the thirteenth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
"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!'
[paragraph continues] 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.
"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.
"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.
"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 them.
"Then, O Brahmana, out of the deep came a tremendous roar like unto the roar of the clouds at the Universal Dissolution. Diverse aquatic animals being crushed by the great mountain gave up the ghost in the salt waters. And many denizens of the lower regions and the world of Varuna were killed. Large trees with birds on the whirling Mandara were torn up by the roots and fell into the water. The mutual friction of those trees also produced fires that blazed up frequently. The mountain thus looked like a mass of dark clouds charged with lightning. O Brahmana, the fire spread, and consumed the lions, elephants and other creatures that were on the mountain. Then Indra extinguished that fire by pouring down heavy showers.
"After the churning, O Brahmana, had gone on for some time, gummy exudations of various trees and herbs vested with the properties of amrita mingled with the waters of the Ocean. And the celestials attained to immortality by drinking of the water mixed with those gums and with the liquid extract of gold. By degrees, the milky water of the agitated deep turned into clarified butter by virtue of those gums and juices. But nectar did not appear even then. The gods came before the boon-granting Brahman seated on his seat and said, 'Sire, we are spent up, we have no strength left to churn further. Nectar hath not yet arisen so that now we have no resource save Narayana.'
"On hearing them, Brahman said to Narayana, 'O Lord, condescend to grant the gods strength to churn the deep afresh.'
"Then Narayana agreeing to grant their various prayers, said, 'Ye wise ones, I grant you sufficient strength. Go, put the mountain in position again and churn the water.'
'Re-established thus in strength, the gods recommenced churning. After a while, the mild Moon of a thousand rays emerged from the Ocean. Thereafter sprung forth Lakshmi dressed in white, then Soma, then the White Steed, and then the celestial gem Kaustubha which graces the breast of Narayana. Then Lakshmi, Soma and the Steed, fleet as the mind, all came before the gods on high. Then arose the divine Dhanwantari himself with the white vessel of nectar in his hand. And seeing him, the Asuras set up a loud cry, saying, 'It be ours.'
"And at length rose the great elephant, Airavata, of huge body and with two pair of white tusks. And him took Indra the wielder of the thunderbolt.
[paragraph continues] 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.
"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 salt-waters.
"And having gained the victory, the gods offered due respect to Mandara and placed him again on his own base. And the nectar-bearing gods made the heavens resound with their shouts, and went to their own abodes. And the gods, on returning to the heavens, rejoiced greatly, and Indra
and the other deities made over to Narayana the vessel of Amrita for careful keeping.'"
And so ends the nineteenth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva
"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.
"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.
"Sauti said, 'The Nagas after consultation arrived at the conclusion that they should do their mother's bidding, for if she failed in obtaining her desire she might withdraw her affection and burn them all. If, on the other hand, she were graciously inclined, she might free them from her curse. They said, 'We will certainly render the horse's tail black.' And it is said that they then went and became hairs in the horse's tail.
"Now the two co-wives had laid the wager. And having laid the wager, O best of Brahmanas, the two sisters Kadru and Vinata, the daughters of Daksha, proceeded in great delight along the sky to see the other side of the Ocean. And on their way they saw the Ocean, that receptacle of waters, incapable of being easily disturbed, mightily agitated all of a sudden by the wind, and roaring tremendously; abounding with fishes capable of swallowing the whale and full of makaras; containing also creatures of diverse forms counted by thousands; frightful from the presence of horrible monsters, inaccessible, deep, and terrible, the mine of all kinds of gems, the home of Varuna (the water-god), the wonderful habitations of the Nagas, the lord of rivers, the abode of the subterranean fire; the residence of the Asuras and of many dreadful creatures; the reservoir of water, not subject to decay, aromatic, and wonderful, the great source of the amrita of the celestials; immeasurable and inconceivable, containing waters that are holy, filled to the brim by many thousands of great rivers, dancing as it were in waves. Such was the Ocean, full of rolling waves, vast as the expanse of the sky, deep, of body lighted with the flames of subterranean fire, and roaring, which the sisters quickly passed over.'"
And so ends the twenty-second section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
"Sauti said, 'Having crossed the Ocean, Kadru of swift speed, accompanied by Vinata, soon alighted near the horse. They then both beheld that foremost of steeds of great speed, with body white as the rays of the moon but having black hairs (in the tail). And observing many black hairs in the tail, Kadru put Vinata, who was deeply dejected, into slavery. And thus Vinata having lost the wager, entered into a state of slavery and became exceedingly sorry.
"In the meantime, when his time came, burst forth from the egg without (the help of his) mother, Garuda of great splendour, enkindling all the points of the universe, that mighty being endued with strength, that bird capable of assuming at will any form, of going at will everywhere, and of calling to his aid at will any measure of energy. Effulgent like a heap of fire, he shone terribly. Of lustre equal to that of the fire at the end of the Yuga, his eyes were bright like the lightning-flash. And soon after birth, that bird grew in size and increasing his body ascended the skies. Fierce and vehemently roaring, he looked as terrible as second Ocean-fire. And all the deities seeing him, sought the protection of Vibhavasu (Agni). And they bowed down to that deity of manifold forms seated on his seat and spake unto him these words, 'O Agni, extend not thy body! Wilt thou consume us? Lo, this huge heap of thy flames is spreading wide!' And Agni replied, 'O, ye persecutors of the Asuras, it is not as ye imagine. This is Garuda of great strength and equal to me in splendour, endued with great energy, and born to promote the joy of Vinata. Even the sight of this heap of effulgence hath caused this delusion in you. He is the mighty son of Kasyapa, the destroyer of the Nagas, engaged in the well-being of the gods, and the foe of the Daityas and the Rakshasas. Be not afraid of it in the least. Come with me and see.' Thus addressed, the gods from a distance.
"The gods said, 'Thou art a Rishi (i.e., one cognisant of all mantras), share of the largest portion in sacrifices, ever resplendent, the controller along with the Rishi wended their way towards Garuda and adored him of birds, the presiding spirit of the animate and the inanimate universe. Thou art the destroyer of all, the creator of all; thou art the very Hiranyagarbha; thou art the progenitor of creation in the form of Daksha and the other Prajapatis; thou art Indra (the king of the gods), thou art Hayagriva the steed necked incarnation of Vishnu; thou art the arrow (Vishnu himself, as he became such in the hands of Mahadeva at the burning of Tripura); thou art the lord of the universe; thou art the mouth of Vishnu; thou art the four-faced Padmaja; thou art the Brahmana (i.e., wise), thou art Agni, Pavana, etc. (i.e., the presiding deity of every object in the universe). Thou art knowledge, thou art the illusion to which we are all subject; thou art the all-pervading spirit; thou art the lord of the gods; thou art the great Truth; thou art fearless; thou art ever unchanged; thou art Brahma without attributes; thou art the energy of the Sun; thou art the intellectual functions; thou art our great protector; thou art the ocean of holiness; thou art purity; thou art bereft of the attributes of darkness; thou art the possessor of the six high attributes; thou art he who cannot be withstood in contest. From thee have emanated all things; thou art of excellent deeds; thou art all that hath not been and all that hath been. Thou art pure knowledge; thou displayest to us, as Surya does by his rays, this animate and inanimate universe; thou darkenest
the splendour of Surya at every moment, and thou art the destroyer of all; thou art all that is perishable and all that is imperishable. O thou resplendent as Agni, thou burnest all even as Surya in his anger burneth all creatures. O terrible one, thou resistest even as the fire that destroys everything at the time of the Universal Dissolution. O mighty Garuda who movest in the skies, we seek thy protection. O lord of birds thy energy is extraordinary, thy splendour is that of fire, thy brightness is like that of the lightning that no darkness can approach. Thou reachest the very clouds, and art both the cause and the effect; the dispenser of boons and invincible in prowess. O Lord, this whole universe is rendered hot by thy splendour, bright as the lustre of heated gold. Protect these high-souled gods, who overcome by thee and terrified withal, are flying along the heavens in different directions on their celestial cars. O thou best of birds, thou Lord of all, thou art the son of the merciful and high-souled Rishi Kasyapa; therefore, be not wroth but have mercy on the universe. Thou art Supreme. O pacify thy anger and preserve us. At thy voice, loud as the roar of the thunder, the ten points, the skies, the heavens, the Earth and our hearts, O bird, thou art continuously shaking. O, diminish this thy body resembling Agni. At the sight of the splendour resembling that of Yama when in wrath, our hearts lose all equanimity and quake. O thou lord of birds, be propitious to us who solicit thy mercy! O illustrious one, bestow on us good fortune and joy.'
And that bird of fair feathers, thus adored by the deities and diverse sections of Rishis, reduced his own energy and splendour.'"
And thus ends the twenty-third section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
"Sauti said, 'Then hearing of and beholding his own body, that bird of beautiful feathers diminished its size.'
"And Garuda said, 'Let no creature be afraid; as ye are in a fright at the sight of my terrible form, I shall diminish my energy.'
"Sauti continued, 'Then that bird capable of going everywhere at will, that ranger of the skies capable of calling to his aid any measure of energy, bearing Aruna on his back, wended from his father's home and arrived at his mother's side on the other shore of the great ocean. And he placed Aruna of great splendour in the eastern regions, just at a time when Surya had resolved to burn the worlds with his fierce rays.'
"Saunaka said, 'When did the revered Surya resolve at the time to burn the worlds? What wrong was done to him by the gods that provoked his ire?'
"Sauti said, 'O sinless one, when Rahu was drinking nectar among the gods at the time of the churning of the ocean he was pointed out to the gods by Surya and Soma, and from that time he conceived an enmity towards those deities. And upon this Rahu sought to devour his afflictor (Surya), became wroth, and thought, 'Oh, this enmity of Rahu towards me hath sprung from my desire of benefiting the gods. And this dire consequence I alone have to sustain. Indeed, at this pass help I obtain not. And before the very eyes of the denizens of heaven I am going to be devoured and they brook it quietly. Therefore, for the destruction of the worlds must I strive.' And with this resolution he went to the mountains of the west.
"And from that place he began to radiate his heat around for the destruction of the world. And then the great Rishis, approaching the gods, spake unto them, 'Lo, in the middle of the night springeth a great heat striking terror into every heart, and destructive of the three worlds.' Then the gods, accompanied by the Rishis, wended to the Grandsire, and said unto him, 'O what is this great heat today that causeth such panic? Surya hath not yet risen, still the destruction (of the world) is obvious. O Lord, what will happen when he doth rise?" The Grandsire replied, 'Indeed, Surya is prepared to rise today for the destruction of the world. As soon as he will appear he will burn everything into a heap of ashes. By me, however, hath the remedy been provided beforehand. The intelligent son of Kasyapa is known to all by the name of Aruna. He is huge of body and of great splendour; he shall stay in front of Surya, doing the duty of his charioteer and taking away all the energy of the former. And this will ensure the welfare of the worlds, of the Rishis, and of the dwellers in heaven.'
"Sauti continued, 'Aruna, at the behest of the Grandsire, did all that he was ordered to do. And Surya rose veiled by Aruna's person. I have told thee now why Surya was in wrath, and how Aruna, the brother of Garuda, was appointed as his charioteer. Hear next of that other question asked by thee a little while ago.'"
And so ends the twenty-fourth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
"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 care.'"
And so ends the twenty-fifth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
"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.
"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 Kadru.
"And the snakes, after arriving at that forest, began to enjoy themselves. And they commanded the lord of birds, viz., Garuda, of great energy, saying,
[paragraph continues] '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.
"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.
"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.
"Sauti said, 'At the very touch by Garuda of great might with his feet, the branch of the tree broke as it was caught by Garuda. Casting his eyes around in wonder he saw Valakhilya Rishis hanging therefrom with heads downwards and engaged in ascetic penances. Reflecting that if that bough fell down, the Rishis would be slain, the mighty one held the elephant and the tortoise still more firmly with his claws. And from fear of slaying the Rishis and desire of saving them, held that bough in his beaks, and rose on his wings. The great Rishis were struck with wonder at the sight of that act of his which was beyond even the power of the gods, and gave that mighty bird a name. And they said, 'As this ranger of the skies rises on its wings bearing a heavy burden, let this foremost of birds having snakes for his food be called Garuda (bearer of heavy weight).'
"And shaking the mountains by his wings, Garuda leisurely coursed through the skies. And as he soared with the elephant and the tortoise (in his claws), he beheld various regions underneath. Desiring as he did to save the Valakhilyas, he saw not a spot whereon to sit. At last he went to that foremost of mountains called Gandhamadana. There he saw his father Kasyapa engaged in ascetic devotions. Kasyapa also saw his son, that ranger of the skies, of divine form, possessed of great splendour, and energy and strength, and endued with the speed of the wind or the mind, huge as a mountain peak, a ready smiter like the curse of a Brahmana, inconceivable, indescribable, frightful to all creatures, possessed of great prowess, terrible, of the splendour of Agni himself, and incapable of being overcome by the deities, Danavas, and invincible Rakshasas, capable of splitting mountain summits and sucking the ocean itself and destroying the three worlds, fierce, and looking like Yama himself. The illustrious Kasyapa, seeing him approach and knowing also his motive, spoke unto him these words:
"Kasyapa said, 'O child, do not commit a rash act, for then thou wouldst have to suffer pain. The Valakhilyas, supporting themselves by drinking the rays of the sun, might, if angry, blast thee.'
"Sauti continued, 'Kasyapa then propitiated, for the sake of his son, the Valakhilyas of exceeding good fortune and whose sins had been destroyed by ascetic penances.' And Kasyapa said, 'Ye whose wealth is asceticism, the essay of Garuda is for the good of all creatures. The task is great that he is striving to accomplish. It behoveth you to accord him your permission.'
"Sauti continued, 'Those ascetics thus addressed by the illustrious Kasyapa, abandoned that bough and went to the sacred mountain of Himavat for purposes of ascetic penances. After those Rishis had gone away, the
son of Vinata, with voice obstructed by the bough in his beaks, asked his father Kasyapa saying, 'O illustrious one, where shall I throw this arm of the tree? O illustrious one, indicate to me some region without human beings.' Then Kasyapa spoke of a mountain without human beings with caves and dales always covered with snow and incapable of approach by ordinary creatures even in thought. And the great bird bearing that branch, that elephant, and that tortoise, proceeded with great speed towards that mountain. The great arm of the tree with which that bird of huge body flew away could not be girt round with a cord made of a hundred (cow) hides. Garuda, the lord of birds, then flew away for hundreds of thousand of yojanas within--the shortest time. And going according to the directions of his father to that mountain almost in a moment, that ranger of the skies let fall the gigantic bough. And it fell with a great noise. And that Prince of mountains shook, struck with the storm raised by Garuda's wings. And the trees thereon dropped showers of flowers. And the peaks decked with gems and gold adorning that great mountain itself, were loosened and tell down on all sides. And the falling bough struck down numerous trees which, with golden flowers amid dark foliage, shone there like clouds charged with lightning. And those trees, bright as gold, falling down upon the ground and, dyed with mountain metals, shone as if they were bathed in the rays of the sun.
"Then that best of birds, Garuda, perching on the summit of that mountain, ate both the elephant and the tortoise, rose on his wings with great speed from the top of the mountain.
"And various omens began to appear among the gods foreboding fear. Indra's favourite thunderbolt blazed up in a fright. Meteors with flames and smoke, loosened from the welkin, shot down during the day. And the weapons of the Vasus, the Rudras, the Adityas, the Sabhyas, the Maruts, and other gods, began to spend their force against one another. Such a thing had never happened even during the war between the gods and the Asuras. And the winds blew accompanied with thunder, and meteors fell by thousands. And the sky, though cloudless, roared tremendously. And even he who was the god of gods shed showers of blood. And the flowery garlands on the necks of the gods faded and their prowess suffered diminution. And terrible masses of clouds dropped thick showers of blood. And the dust raised by the winds darkened the splendour of the very coronets of the gods. And He of a thousand sacrifices (Indra), with the other gods, perplexed with fear at the sight of those dark forebodings spoke unto Vrihaspati thus, 'Why, O worshipful one, have these natural disturbances suddenly arisen? No foe do I behold who would oppress us in war.' Vrihaspati answered, 'O chief of the gods, O thou of a thousand sacrifices, it is from thy fault and carelessness, and owing also to the ascetic penance of the high-souled great Rishis, the Valakhilyas, that the son of Kasyapa and Vinata, a ranger of the skies endued with great strength and possessing
the capacity of assuming at will any form, is approaching to take away the Soma. And that bird, foremost among all endued with great strength, is able to rob you of the Soma. Everything is possible with him; the unachievable he can achieve.'
"Sauti continued, 'Indra, having heard these words, then spoke unto those that guarded the amrita, saying, 'A bird endued with great strength and energy has set his heart on taking away the amrita. I warn you beforehand so that he may not succeed in taking it away by force. Vrihaspati has told me that his strength is immeasurable.' And the gods hearing of it were amazed and took precautions. And they stood surrounding the amrita and Indra also of great prowess, the wielder of the thunder, stood with them. And the gods wore curious breastplates of gold, of great value, and set with gems, and bright leathern armour of great toughness. And the mighty deities wielded various sharp-edged weapons of terrible shapes, countless in number, emitting, even all of them, sparks of fire with smoke. And they were also armed with many a discus and iron mace furnished with spikes, and trident, battle-axe, and various kinds of sharp-pointed missiles and polished swords and maces of terrible form, all befitting their respective bodies. And decked with celestial ornaments and resplendent with those bright arms, the gods waited there, their fears allayed. And the gods, of incomparable strength, energy, and splendour, resolved to protect the amrita. Capable of splitting the towns of the Asuras, all displayed themselves in forms resplendent as the fire. And in consequence of the gods standing there, that (would be) battle-field, owing to hundreds of thousands of maces furnished with iron spikes, shone like another firmament illumined by the rays of the Sun.'"
So ends the thirtieth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
"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.
"Sauti said, 'O foremost of Brahmanas, the gods having prepared for battle in that way, Garuda, the king of birds, soon came upon those wise ones. And the gods beholding him of excessive strength began to quake with fear, and strike one another with all their weapons. And amongst those that guarded the Soma was Brahmana (the celestial architect), of measureless might, effulgent as the electric fire and of great energy. And after a terrific encounter lasting only a moment, managed by the lord of birds with his talons, beak, and wings, he lay as dead on the fields. And the ranger of the skies making the worlds dark with the dust raised by the hurricane of his wings, overwhelmed the celestials with it. And the latter, overwhelmed with that dust, swooned away. And the immortals who guarded the amrita, blinded by that dust, could no longer see Garuda. Even thus did Garuda agitate the region of the heavens. And even thus he mangled the gods with the wounds inflicted by his wings and beak.
"Then the god of a thousand eyes commanded Vayu (the god of wind), saying, 'Dispel thou this shower of dust soon. O Maruta, this is indeed, thy task. Then the mighty Vayu soon drove away that dust. And when the darkness had disappeared, the celestials attacked Garuda. And as he of
great might was attacked by the gods, he began to roar aloud, like the great cloud that appeareth in the sky at the end of the Yuga, frightening every creature. And that king of birds, of great energy, that slayer of hostile heroes, then rose on his wings. All the wise ones (the celestials) with Indra amongst them armed with double-edged broad swords, iron maces furnished with sharp spikes, pointed lances, maces, bright arrows, and many a discus of the form of the sun, saw him over head. And the king of birds, attacked them on all sides with showers of various weapons and fought exceedingly hard without wavering for a moment. And the son of Vinata, of great prowess blazing in the sky, attacked the gods on all sides with his wings and breast. And blood began to flow copiously from the bodies of the gods mangled by the talons and the beak of Garuda. Overcome by the lord of birds, the Sadhyas with the Gandharvas fled eastwards, the Vasus with the Rudras towards the south, the Adityas towards the west, and the twin Aswins towards the north. Gifted with great energy, they retreated fighting, looking back every moment on their enemy.
"And Garuda had encounters with the Yakshas, Aswakranda of great courage, Rainuka, the bold Krathanaka, Tapana, Uluka, Swasanaka, Nimesha, Praruja, and Pulina. And the son of Vinata mangled them with his wings, talons, and beak, like Siva himself, that chastiser of enemies, and the holder of Pinaka in rage at the end of the Yuga. And those Yakshas of great might and courage, mangled all over by that ranger of the skies, looked like masses of black clouds dropping thick showers of blood.
"And Garuda, depriving them of life, and then went to where the amrita was. And he saw that it was surrounded on all sides by fire. And the terrible flames of that fire covered the entire sky. And moved by violent winds, they seemed bent on burning the Sun himself. The illustrious Garuda then assumed ninety times ninety mouths and quickly drinking the waters of many rivers with those mouths and returning with great speed, that chastiser of enemies, having wings for his vehicle extinguished that fire with that water. And extinguishing that fire, he assumed a very small form, desirous of entering into (the place where the Soma was).'"
So ends the thirty-second section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
"Santi said, 'And that bird, assuming a golden body bright as the rays of the Sun, entered with great force (the region where the Soma was), like a torrent entering the ocean. And he saw, placed near the Soma, a wheel of steel keen-edged, and sharp as the razor, revolving incessantly. And that fierce instrument, of the splendour of the blazing sun and of terrible form, had been devised by the gods for cutting in pieces all robbers
of the Soma. Garuda, seeing a passage through it, stopped there for a moment. Diminishing his body, in an instant he passed through the spokes of that wheel. Within the line of the wheel, he beheld, stationed there for guarding the Soma two great snakes of the effulgence of blazing fire, with tongues bright as the lightning-flash, of great energy, with mouth emitting fire, with blazing eyes, containing poison, very terrible, always in anger, and of great activity. Their eyes were ceaselessly inflamed with rage and were also winkless. He who may be seen by even one of the two would instantly be reduced to ashes. The bird of fair feathers suddenly covered their eyes with dust. And unseen by them he attacked them from all sides. And the son of Vinata, that ranger of the skies, attacking their bodies, mangled them into pieces. He then approached the Soma without loss of time. Then the mighty son of Vinata, taking up the Amrita from the place where it was kept, rose on his wings with great speed, breaking into pieces the machine that had surrounded it. And the bird soon came out, taking the Amrita but without drinking it himself. And he then wended on his way without the least fatigue, darkening the splendour of the Sun.
"And the son of Vinata then met Vishnu on his way along the sky. And Narayana was gratified at that act of self-denial on the part of Garuda. And that deity, knowing no deterioration, said unto the ranger of the skies, 'O, I am inclined to grant thee a boon.' The ranger of the skies thereupon said, 'I shall stay above thee.' And he again spake unto Narayana these words, 'I shall be immortal and free from disease without (drinking) Amrita.' Vishnu said unto the son of Vinata, 'Be it so.' Garuda, receiving those two boons, told Vishnu, 'I also shall grant thee a boon; therefore, let the possessor of the six attributes ask of me.' Vishnu then asked the mighty Garuda to become his carrier. And he made the bird sit on the flagstaff of his car, saying, 'Even thus thou shalt stay above me.' And the ranger of the skies, of great speed, saying unto Narayana, 'Be it so,' swiftly wended on his way, mocking the wind with his fleetness.
"And while that foremost of all rangers of the skies, that first of winged creatures, Garuda, was coursing through the air after wresting the Amrita, Indra hurled at him his thunderbolt. Then Garuda, the lord of birds, struck with thunderbolt, spake laughingly unto Indra engaged in the encounter, in sweet words, saying, 'I shall respect the Rishi (Dadhichi) of whose bone the Vajra hath been made. I shall also respect the Vajra, and thee also of a thousand sacrifices. I cast this feather of mine whose end thou shalt not attain. Struck with thy thunder I have not felt the slightest pain.' And having said this, the king of birds cast a feather of his. And all creatures became exceedingly glad, beholding that excellent feather of Garuda so cast off. And seeing that the feather was very beautiful, they said, 'Let this bird be called Suparna (having fair feathers). And Purandara of a thousand eyes, witnessing this wonderful incident, thought that bird to be some great being and addressed him thus.'
"And Indra said, 'O best of birds, I desire to know the limit of thy great strength. I also desire eternal friendship with thee.'"
So ends the thirty-third section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
'Sauti continued, 'Garuda then said, 'O Purandara, let there be friendship between thee and me as thou desirest. My strength, know thou, is hard to bear. O thou of a thousand sacrifices, the good never approve of speaking highly of their own strength, nor do they speak of their own merits. But being made a friend, and asked by thee, O friend, I will answer thee, although self-praise without reason is ever improper. I can bear, on a single feather of mine, O Sakra, this Earth, with her mountains and forests and with the waters of the ocean, and with thee also stationed thereon. Know thou, my strength is such that I can bear without fatigue even all the worlds put together, with their mobile and immobile objects.'
"Sauti continued, 'O Saunaka, after Garuda of great courage had thus spoken, Indra the chief of the gods, the wearer of the (celestial) crown, ever bent upon the good of the worlds, replied, saying, 'It is as thou sayest. Everything is possible in thee. Accept now my sincere and hearty friendship. And if thou hast no concern with the Soma, return it to me. Those to whom thou wouldst give it would always oppose us.' Garuda answered, 'There is a certain reason for which the Soma is being carried by me. I shall not give the Soma to any one for drink. But, O thou of a thousand eyes, after I have placed it down, thou, O lord of the heavens, canst then, taking it up, instantly bring it away.' Indra then said, 'O oviparous one, I am highly gratified with these words now spoken by thee. O best of all rangers of the skies; accept from me any boon that thou desirest.'
"Sauti continued, 'Then Garuda, recollecting the sons of Kadru and remembering also the bondage of his mother caused by an act of deception owing to the well-known reason (viz., the curse of Aruna), said, 'Although I have power over all creatures, yet I shall do your bidding. Let, O Sakra, the mighty snakes become my food.' The slayer of the Danavas having said unto him, 'Be it so,' then went to Hari, the god of gods, of great soul, and the lord of Yogins. And the latter sanctioned everything that had been said by Garuda. And the illustrious lord of heaven again said unto Garuda, 'I shall bring away the Soma when thou placest it down.' And having said so, he bade farewell to Garuda. And the bird of fair feathers then went to the presence of his mother with great speed.
"And Garuda in joy then spake unto all the snakes, 'Here have I brought the Amrita. Let me place it on some Kusa grass. O ye snakes, sitting here, drink of it after ye have performed your ablutions and religious rites. As
said by you, let my mother become, from this day, free, for I have accomplished your bidding.' The snakes having said unto Garuda, 'Be it so,' then went to perform their ablutions. Meanwhile, Sakra taking up the Amrita, wended back to heaven. The snakes after performing their ablutions, their daily devotions, and other sacred rites, returned in joy, desirous of drinking the Amrita. They saw that the bed of kusa grass whereon the Amrita had been placed was empty, the Amrita itself having been taken away by a counter-act of deception. And they began to lick with their tongues the kusa grass, as the Amrita had been placed thereon. And the tongues of the snakes by that act became divided in twain. And the kusa grass, too, from the contact with Amrita, became sacred thenceforth. Thus did the illustrious Garuda bring Amrita (from the heavens) for the snakes, and thus were the tongues of snakes divided by what Garuda did.
"Then the bird of fair feathers, very much delighted, enjoyed himself in those woods accompanied by his mother. Of grand achievements, and deeply reverenced by all rangers of the skies, he gratified his mother by devouring the snakes.
"That man who would listen to this story, or read it out to an assembly of good Brahmanas, must surely go to heaven, acquiring great merit from the recitation of (the feats of) Garuda.'"
And so ends the thirty-fourth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
"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,
[paragraph continues] 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.
"Saunaka said, 'O child, thou hast named many of the serpents gifted with great energy and incapable of being easily overcome. What did they do after hearing of that curse?'
"Sauti said, 'The illustrious Sesha amongst them, of great renown, leaving his mother practised hard penances, living upon air and rigidly observing his vows. He practised these ascetic devotions, repairing to Gandhamadana, Vadri, Gokarna, the woods of Pushkara, and the foot of Himavat. And he passed his days in those sacred regions, some of which were sacred for their water and others for their soil in the rigid observance of his vows, with singleness of aim, and his passions under complete control. And the Grandsire of all, Brahma, saw that ascetic with knotted hair, clad in rags, and his flesh, skin, and sinews dried up owing to the hard penances he was practising. And the Grandsire addressing him, that penance-practising one of great fortitude, said, 'What is that thorn doest, O Sesha? Let the welfare of the creatures of the worlds also engage thy thoughts. O sinless one, thou art afflicting all creatures by thy hard penances. O Sesha, tell me the desire implanted in thy breast.'
"And Sesha replied, 'My uterine brothers are all of wicked hearts. I do not desire to live amongst them. Let this be sanctioned by thee. Like enemies they are always jealous of one another. I am, therefore, engaged in ascetic devotions. I will not see them even. They never show any kindness for Vinata and her son. Indeed, Vinata's son capable of ranging through the skies, is another brother of ours. They always envy him. And he, too, is much stronger owing to the bestowal of that boon by our father, the high-souled Kasyapa. For these, I engaged in ascetic penances, and I will cast off this body of mine, so that I may avoid companionship with them, even in another state of life.'
"Unto Sesha who had said so, the Grandsire said, 'O Sesha, I know the behaviour of all thy brothers and their great danger owing to their offence against their mother. But O Snake, a remedy (for this) hath been provided by me even beforehand. It behoveth thee not to grieve for thy brothers. O Sesha, ask of me the boon thou desirest. I have been highly gratified with thee and I will grant thee today a boon. O best of snakes, it is fortunate that thy heart hath been set on virtue. Let thy heart be more and more firmly set on virtue.'
"Then Sesha replied, 'O divine Grandsire, this is the boon desired by me; viz., may my heart always delight in virtue and in blessed ascetic penances, O Lord of all!'
"Brahman said, 'O Sesha, I am exceedingly gratified with this thy self-denial and love of peace. But, at my command, let this act be done by thee for the good of my creatures. Bear thou, O Sesha, properly and well this Earth so unsteady with her mountains and forests, her seas and towns and retreats, so that she may be steady.'
"Sesha said, 'O divine Lord of all creatures, O bestower of boons, O lord of the Earth, lord of every created thing, lord of the universe, I will, even as thou sayest hold the Earth steady. Therefore, O lord of all creatures, place her on my head.'
"Brahman said, 'O best of snakes, go underneath the Earth. She will herself give thee a crevice to pass through. And, O Sesha, by holding the Earth, thou shalt certainly do what is prized by me very greatly.'
"Sauti continued, 'Then the elder brother of the king of the snakes, entering a hole, passed to the other side of the Earth, and holding her, supported with his head that goddess with her belt of seas passing all round.'
"Brahman said, 'O Sesha, O best of snakes, thou art the god Dharma, because alone, with thy huge body, thou supportest the Earth with everything on her, even as I myself, or Valavit (Indra), can.'
"Sauti continued, 'The snake, Sesha, the lord Ananta, of great prowess, lives underneath the Earth, alone supporting the world at the command of Brahman. And the illustrious Grandsire, the best of the immortals, then gave unto Ananta the bird of fair feathers, viz., the son of Vinata, for Ananta's help.'"
So ends the thirty-sixth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
"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.
"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
[paragraph continues] 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!"
"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.'"
"Saunaka said, 'O son of Suta, I desire to know the reason why the illustrious Rishi whom thou hast named Jaratkaru came to be so called on earth. It behoveth thee to tell us the etymology of the name Jaratkaru.'
"Sauti said, 'Jara is said to mean waste, and Karu implies huge. This Rishi's body had been huge, and he gradually reduced it by severe ascetic penances. For the same reason, O Brahmanas, the sister of Vasuki was called Jaratkaru.'
The virtuous Saunaka, when he heard this, smiled and addressing Ugrasravas said, 'It is even so.'
Saunaka then said, 'I have heard all that thou hast before recited. I desire to know how Astika was born.'
Sauti, on hearing these words, began to relate according to what was written in the Sastras.
"Sauti said, 'Vasuki, desirous of bestowing his sister upon the Rishi Jaratkaru, gave the snakes (necessary) orders. But days went on, yet that wise Muni of rigid vows, deeply engaged in ascetic devotions, did not seek for a wife. That high-souled Rishi, engaged in studies and deeply devoted to asceticism, his vital seed under full control, fearlessly wandered over the whole earth and had no wish for a wife.
"Afterwards, once upon a time, there was a king, O Brahmana, of the name of Parikshit, born in the race of the Kauravas. And, like his great-grandfather Pandu of old, he was of mighty arms, the first of all bearers of bows in battle, and fond of hunting. And the monarch wandered about, hunting deer, and wild boars, and wolves, and buffaloes and various other kinds of wild animals. One day, having pierced a deer with a sharp arrow and slung his bow on his back, he penetrated into the deep forest, searching for the animal here and there, like the illustrious Rudra himself of old pursuing in the heavens, bow in hand, the deer which was Sacrifice, itself turned into that shape, after the piercing. No deer that was pierced by Parikshit had ever escaped in the wood with life. This deer, however wounded as before, fled with speed, as the (proximate) cause of the king's attainment to heaven. And the deer that Parikshit--that king of men--had pierced was lost to his gaze and drew the monarch far away into the forest. And fatigued and thirsty, he came across a Muni, in the forest, seated in a cow-pen and drinking to his fill the froth oozing out of the mouths of
calves sucking the milk of their dams. And approaching him hastily, the monarch, hungry and fatigued, and raising his bow, asked that Muni of rigid vows, saying, 'O Brahmana, I am king Parikshit, the son of Abhimanyu. A deer pierced by me hath been lost. Hast thou seen it?' But that Muni observing then the vow of silence, spoke not unto him a word. And the king in anger thereupon placed upon his shoulder a dead snake, taking it up with the end of his bow. The Muni suffered him to do it without protest. And he spoke not a word, good or bad. And the king seeing him in that state, cast off his anger and became sorry. And he returned to his capital but the Rishi continued in the same state. The forgiving Muni, knowing that the monarch who was a tiger amongst kings was true to the duties of his order, cursed him not, though insulted. That tiger amongst monarchs, that foremost one of Bharata's race, also did not know that the person whom he had so insulted was a virtuous Rishi. It was for this that he had so insulted him.
"That Rishi had a son by name Sringin, of tender years, gifted with great energy, deep in ascetic penances, severe in his vows, very wrathful, and difficult to be appeased. At times, he worshipped with great attention and respect his preceptor seated with ease on his seat and ever engaged in the good of creatures.
"And commanded by his preceptor, he was coming home when, O best of Brahmanas, a companion of his, a Rishi's son named Krisa in a playful mood laughingly spoke unto him. And Sringin, wrathful and like unto poison itself, hearing these words in reference to his father, blazed up in rage.'
"And Krisa said, 'Be not proud, O Sringin, for ascetic as thou art and possessed of energy, thy father bears on his shoulders a dead snake. Henceforth speak not a word to sons of Rishis like ourselves who have knowledge of the truth, are deep in ascetic penances, and have attained success. Where is that manliness of thine, those high words of thine begotten of pride, when thou must have to behold thy father bearing a dead snake? O best of all the Munis, thy father too had done nothing to deserve this treatment, and it is for this that I am particularly sorry as if the punishment were mine.'"
"Sauti said, 'Being thus addressed, and hearing that his sire was bearing a dead snake, the powerful Sringin burned with wrath. And looking at Krisa, and speaking softly, he asked him, 'Pray, why doth my father bear today a dead snake?' And Krisa replied, 'Even as king Parikshit was roving, for purpose of hunting, O dear one, he placed the dead snake on the
shoulder of thy sire.'
"And Sringin asked, 'What wrong was done to that wicked monarch by my father? O Krisa, tell me this, and witness the power of my asceticism.'
"And Krisa answered, 'King Parikshit, the son of Abhimanyu, while hunting, had wounded a fleet stag with an arrow and chased it alone. And the king lost sight of the animal in that extensive wilderness. Seeing then thy sire, he immediately accosted him. Thy sire was then observing the vow of silence. Oppressed by hunger, thirst and labour, the prince again and again asked thy sire sitting motionless, about the missing deer. The sage, being under the vow of silence, returned no reply. The king thereupon placed the snake on thy sire's shoulder with the end of his bow. O Sringin, thy sire engaged in devotion is in the same posture still. And the king also hath gone to his capital which is named after the elephant!'
"Sauti continued, 'Having heard of a dead snake placed upon his (father's) shoulders, the son of the Rishi, his eyes reddened with anger, blazed up with rage. And possessed by anger, the puissant Rishi then cursed the king, touching water and overcome with wrath.'
"And Sringin said, 'That sinful wretch of a monarch who hath placed a dead snake on the shoulders of my lean and old parent, that insulter of Brahmanas and tarnisher of the fame of the Kurus, shall be taken within seven nights hence to the regions of Yama (Death) by the snake Takshaka, the powerful king of serpents, stimulated thereto by the strength of my words!'
"Sauti continued, 'And having thus cursed (the king) from anger, Sringin went to his father, and saw the sage sitting in the cow-pen, bearing the dead snake. And seeing his parent in that plight, he was again inflamed with ire. And he shed tears of grief, and addressed his sire, saying, 'Father, having been informed of this thy disgrace at the hands of that wicked wretch, king Parikshit, I have from anger even cursed him; and that worst of Kurus hath richly deserved my potent curse. Seven days hence, Takshaka, the lord of snakes, shall take the sinful king to the horrible abode of Death.' And the father said to the enraged son, 'Child, I am not pleased with thee. Ascetics should not act thus. We live in the domains of that great king. We are protected by him righteously. In all he does, the reigning king should by the like of us forgiven. If thou destroy Dharma, verily Dharma will destroy thee. If the king do not properly protect us, we fare very ill; we cannot perform our religious rites according to our desire. But protected by righteous sovereigns, we attain immense merit, and they are entitled to a share thereof. Therefore, reigning royalty is by all means to be forgiven. And Parikshit like unto his great-grandsire, protecteth us as a king should protect his subjects. That penance-practising monarch was fatigued and oppressed with hunger. Ignorant of my vow (of silence) he did this. A kingless country always suffereth from evils. The king punisheth offenders, and fear of punishments 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.'"
"Sauti said, 'And Sringin then replied to his father, saying, 'Whether this be an act of rashness, O father, or an improper act that I have done, whether thou likest it or dislikest it, the words spoken by me shall never be in vain. O father, I tell thee (a curse) can never be otherwise. I have never spoken a lie even in jest.'
"And Samika said, 'Dear child, I know that thou art of great prowess, and truthful in speech. Thou hast never spoken falsehood before, so that thy curse shall never be falsified. The son, even when he attaineth to age, should yet be always counselled by the father, so that crowned with good qualities he may acquire great renown. A child as thou art, how much more dost thou stand in need of counsel? Thou art ever engaged in ascetic penances. The wrath of even the illustrious ones possessing the six attributes increaseth greatly. O thou foremost of ordinance-observing persons, seeing that thou art my son and a minor too, and beholding also thy rashness, I see that I must counsel thee. Live thou, O son, inclined to peace and eating fruits and roots of the forest. Kill this thy anger and destroy not the fruit of thy ascetic acts in this way. Wrath surely decreaseth the virtue that ascetics acquire with great pains. And then for those deprived of virtue, the blessed state existeth not. Peacefulness ever giveth success to forgiving ascetics. Therefore, becoming forgiving in thy temper and conquering thy passions, shouldst thou always live. By forgiveness shalt thou obtain worlds that are beyond the reach of Brahman himself. Having adopted peacefulness myself, and with a desire also for doing good as much as lies in my power, I must do something; even must I send to that king, telling him, 'O monarch, thou hast been cursed by my son of tender years and undeveloped intellect, in wrath, at seeing thy act of disrespect towards myself.'
"Sauti continued, 'And that great ascetic, observer of vows, moved by kindness, sent with proper instructions a disciple of his to king Parikshit. And he sent his disciple Gaurmukha of good manners and engaged also
in ascetic penances, instructing him to first enquire about the welfare of the king and then to communicate the real message. And that disciple soon approached that monarch, the head of the Kuru race. And he entered the king's palace having first sent notice of his arrival through the servant in attendance at the gate.
"And the twice-born Gaurmukha was duly worshipped by the monarch. And after resting for a while, he detailed fully to the king, in the presence of his ministers, the words of Samika, of cruel import, exactly as he had been instructed.'
"And Gaurmukha said, 'O king of kings, there is a Rishi, Samika, by name, of virtuous soul, his passions under control, peaceful, and given up to hard ascetic devotions, living in thy dominions! By thee, O tiger among men, was placed on the shoulders of that Rishi observing at present the vow of silence, a dead snake, with the end of thy bow! He himself forgave thee that act. But his son could not. And by the latter hast thou today been cursed, O king of kings, without the knowledge of his father, to the effect that within seven nights hence, shall (the snake) Takshaka cause thy death. And Samika repeatedly asked his son to save thee, but there is none to falsify his son's curse. And because he hath been unable to pacify his son possessed by anger, therefore have I been sent to thee, O king, for thy good!'
"And that king of the Kuru race, himself engaged in ascetic practices, having heard these cruel words and recollecting his own sinful act, became exceedingly sorry. And the king, learning that foremost of Rishis in the forest had been observing the vow of silence, was doubly afflicted with sorrow and seeing the kindness of the Rishi Samika, and considering his own sinful act towards him, the king became very repentant. And the king looking like a very god, did not grieve so much for hearing of his death as for having done that act to the Rishi.'
"And then the king sent away Gaurmukha, saying, 'Let the worshipful one (Samika) be gracious to me!' And when Gaurmukha had gone away, the king, in great anxiety, without loss of time, consulted his ministers. And having consulted them, the king, himself wise in counsels, caused a mansion to be erected upon one solitary column. It was well-guarded day and night. And for its protection were placed there physicians and medicines, and Brahmanas skilled in mantras all around. And the monarch, protected on all sides, discharged his kingly duties from that place surrounded by his virtuous ministers. And no one could approach that best of kings there. The air even could not go there, being prevented from entering.
"And when the seventh day had arrived, that best of Brahmanas, the learned Kasyapa was coming (towards the king's residence), desirous of treating the king (after the snake-bite). He had heard all that had taken place, viz., that Takshaka, that first of snakes, would send that best of
monarchs to the presence of Yama (Death). And he thought, I would cure the monarch after he is bit by that first of snakes. By that I may have wealth and may acquire virtue also.' But that prince of snakes, Takshaka, in the form of an old Brahmana, saw Kasyapa approaching on his way, his heart set upon curing the king. And the prince of snakes then spake unto that bull among Munis, Kasyapa, saying, 'Whither dost thou go with such speed? What, besides, is the business upon which thou art intent?'
"And Kasyapa, thus addressed, replied, 'Takshaka, by his poison, will today burn king Parikshit of the Kuru race, that oppressor of all enemies. I go with speed, O amiable one, to cure, without loss of time, the king of immeasurable prowess, the sole representative of the Pandava race, after he is bit by the same Takshaka like to Agni himself in energy.' And Takshaka answered, 'I am that Takshaka, O Brahmana, who shall burn that lord of the earth. Stop, for thou art unable to cure one bit by me.' And Kasyapa rejoined, 'I am sure that, possessed (that I am) of the power of learning, going thither I shall cure that monarch bit by thee.'"
"Sauti said, 'And Takshaka, after this, answered, 'If, indeed, thou art able to cure any creature bitten by me, then, O Kasyapa, revive thou this tree bit by me. O best of Brahmanas, I burn this banian in thy sight. Try thy best and show me that skill in mantras of which thou hast spoken.'
"And Kasyapa said, If thou art so minded, bite thou then, O king of snakes, this tree. O snake, I shall revive it, though bit by thee.
"Sauti continued, 'That king of snakes, thus addressed by the illustrious Kasyapa, bit then that banian tree. And that tree, bit by the illustrious snake, and penetrated by the poison of the serpent, blazed up all around. And having burnt the banian so, the snake then spake again unto Kasyapa, saying, 'O first of Brahmanas, try thy best and revive this lord of the forest.'
"Sauti continued, 'The tree was reduced to ashes by the poison of that king of snakes. But taking up those ashes, Kasyapa spoke these words. 'O king of snakes, behold the power of my knowledge as applied to this lord of the forest! O snake, under thy very nose I shall revive it.' And then that best of Brahmanas, the illustrious and learned Kasyapa, revived, by his vidya, that tree which had been reduced to a heap of ashes. And first he created the sprout, then he furnished it with two leaves, and then he made the stem, and then the branches, and then the full-grown tree with leaves and all. And Takshaka, seeing the tree revived by the illustrious Kasyapa, said unto him, 'It is not wonderful in thee that thou shouldst destroy my poison or that of any one else like myself. O thou whose wealth is asceticism, desirous of what wealth, goest thou thither? The reward thou
hopest to have from that best of monarchs, even I will give thee, however difficult it may be to obtain it. Decked with fame as thou art, thy success may be doubtful on that king affected by a Brahmana's curse and whose span of life itself hath been shortened. In that case, this blazing fame of thine that hath overspread the three worlds will disappear like the Sun when deprived of his splendour (on the occasion of the eclipse).'
"Kasyapa said, 'I go there for wealth, give it unto me, O snake, so that taking thy gold. I may return.' Takshaka replied, 'O best of regenerate ones, even I will give thee more than what thou expectest from that king. Therefore do not go.'
"Sauti continued, 'That best of Brahmanas, Kasyapa, of great prowess and intelligence, hearing those words of Takshaka, sat in yoga meditation over the king. And that foremost of Munis, viz., Kasyapa, of great prowess and gifted with spiritual knowledge, ascertaining that the period of life of that king of the Pandava race had really run out, returned, receiving from Takshaka as much wealth as he desired.
"And upon the illustrious Kasyapa's retracing his steps, Takshaka at the proper time speedily entered the city of Hastinapura. And on his way he heard that the king was living very cautiously, protected by means of poison-neutralising mantras and medicines.'
"Sauti continued, 'The snake thereupon reflected thus, 'The monarch must be deceived by me with power of illusion. But what must be the means?' Then Takshaka sent to the king some snakes in the guise of ascetics taking with them fruits, kusa grass, and water (as presents). And Takshaka, addressing them, said, 'Go ye all to the king, on the pretext of pressing business, without any sign of impatience, as if to make the monarch only accept the fruits and flowers and water (that ye shall carry as presents unto him).'
"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.
[paragraph continues] 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.'"
"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.'"
"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.'"
"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 wife?'
"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.'"
"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
[paragraph continues] 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 her!'
"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.'"
"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.'"
"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 occurred.'
'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.'"
'Sauti continued, 'The ministers said, 'That king of kings then, spent with hunger and exertion, and having placed the snake upon the shoulders of that Muni, came back to his capital. The Muni had a son, born of a cow, of the name of Sringin. He was widely known, possessed of great prowess and energy, and very wrathful. Going (every day) to his
preceptor he was in the habit of worshipping him. Commanded by him, Sringin was returning home, when he heard from a friend of his about the insult of his father by thy parent. And, O tiger among kings, he heard that his father, without having committed any fault, was bearing, motionless like a statue, upon his shoulders a dead snake placed thereon. O king, the Rishi insulted by thy father was severe in ascetic penances, the foremost of Munis, the controller of passions, pure, and ever engaged in wonderful acts. His soul was enlightened with ascetic penances, and his organs and their functions were under complete control. His practices and his speech were both very nice. He was contented and without avarice. He was without meanness of any kind and without envy. He was old and used to observe the vow of silence. And he was the refuge whom all creatures might seek in distress.
"Such was the Rishi insulted by thy father. The son, however, of that Rishi, in wrath, cursed thy father. Though young in years, the powerful one was old in ascetic splendour. Speedily touching water, he spake, burning as it were with spiritual energy and rage, these words in allusion to thy father, 'Behold the power of my asceticism! Directed by my words, the snake Takshaka of powerful energy and virulent poison, shall, within seven nights hence, burn, with his poison the wretch that hath placed the dead snake upon my un-offending father.' And having said this, he went to where his father was. And seeing his father he told him of his curse. The tiger among Rishis thereupon sent to thy father a disciple of his, named Gaurmukha, of amiable manners and possessed of every virtue. And having rested a while (after arrival at court) he told the king everything, saying in the words of his master, 'Thou hast been cursed, O king, by my son. Takshaka shall burn thee with his poison! Therefore, O king, be careful.' O Janamejaya, hearing those terrible words, thy father took every precaution against the powerful snake Takshaka.
"And when the seventh day had arrived, a Brahmana Rishi, named Kasyapa, desired to come to the monarch. But the snake Takshaka saw Kasyapa. And the prince of snakes spake unto Kasyapa without loss of time, saying, 'Where dost thou go so quickly, and what is the business on which thou goest?' Kasyapa replied, saying, 'O Brahmana, I am going whither king Parikshit, that best of the Kurus, is. He shall today be burnt by the poison of the snake Takshaka. I go there quickly in order to cure him, in fact, in order that, protected by me, the snake may not bite him to death.' Takshaka answered, saying, 'Why dost thou seek to revive the king to be bitten by me? I am that Takshaka. O Brahmana, behold the wonderful power of my poison. Thou art incapable of reviving that monarch when bit by me.' So saying, Takshaka, then and there, bit a lord of the forest (a banian tree). And the banian, as soon as it was bit by the snake, was converted into ashes. But Kasyapa, O king, revived it. Takshaka thereupon tempted him, saying, 'Tell me thy desire.' And Kasyapa, too, thus
addressed, spake again unto Takshaka, saying, 'I go there from desire of wealth.' And Takshaka, thus addressed, then spake unto the high-souled Kasyapa in these soft words, 'O sinless one, take from me more wealth than what thou expectest from that monarch, and go back!' And Kasyapa, that foremost of men, thus addressed by the snake, and receiving from him as much wealth as he desired, wended his way back.
"And Kasyapa going back, Takshaka, approaching in disguise, blasted, with the fire of his poison, thy virtuous father, the first of kings, then staying in his mansion with all precautions. And after that, thou wast, O tiger among men, been installed (on the throne). And, O best of monarchs, we have thus told thee all that we have seen and heard, cruel though the account is. And hearing all about the discomfiture of thy royal father, and of the insult to the Rishi Utanka, decide thou that which should follow!
'Sauti continued, 'King Janamejaya, that chastiser of enemies, then spake upto all his ministers. And he said, 'When did ye learn all that happened upon that, banian reduced to ashes by Takshaka, and which, wonderful as it is, was afterwards revived by Kasyapa? Assuredly, my father could not have died, for the poison could have been neutralised by Kasyapa with his mantras. That worst of snakes, of sinful soul, thought within his mind that if Kasyapa resuscitated the king bit by him, he, Takshaka, would be an object of ridicule in the world owing to the neutralisation of his poison. Assuredly, having thought so, he pacified the Brahmana. I have devised a way, however, of inflicting punishment upon him. I like to know, however, what ye saw or heard, what happened in the deep solitude of the forest,--viz., the words of Takshaka and the speeches of Kasyapa. Having known it, I shall devise the means of exterminating the snake race.'
"The ministers said, 'Hear, O monarch of him who told us before of the meeting between that foremost Brahmana and that prince of snakes in the woods. A certain person, O monarch, had climbed up that tree containing some dry branches with the object of breaking them for sacrificial fuel. He was not perceived either by the snake or by the Brahmana. And, O king, that man was reduced to ashes along with the tree itself. And, O king of kings, he was revived with the tree by the power of the Brahmana. That man, a Brahmana's menial, having come to us, represented fully everything as it happened between Takshaka and the Brahmana. Thus have we told thee, O king, all that we have seen and heard. And having heard it, O tiger among kings, ordain that which should follow.'
"Sauti continued, 'King Janamejaya, having listened to the words of his ministers, was sorely afflicted with grief, and began to weep. And the monarch began to squeeze his hands. And the lotus-eyed king began to breathe a long and hot breath, shed tears, and shrieked aloud. And possessed with grief and sorrow, and shedding copious tears, and touching water according to the form, the monarch spake. And reflecting for a moment, as if settling something in his mind, the angry monarch, addressing all
ministers, said these words.
'I have heard your account of my father's ascension to heaven. Know ye now what my fixed resolve is. I think no time must be lost in avenging this injury upon the wretch Takshaka that killed my father. He burnt my father making Sringin only a secondary cause. From malignity alone he made Kasyapa return. If that Brahmana had arrived, my father assuredly would have lived. What would he have lost if the king had revived by the grace of Kasyapa and the precautionary measures of his ministers? From ignorance of the effects of my wrath, he prevented Kasyapa--that excellent of Brahmanas--whom he could not defeat, from coming to my father with the desire of reviving him. The act of aggression is great on the part of the wretch Takshaka who gave wealth unto that Brahmana in order that he might not revive the king. I must now avenge myself on my father's enemy to please myself, the Rishi Utanka and you all.'"
'Sauti said, 'King Janamejaya having said so, his ministers expressed their approbation. And the monarch then expressed his determination to perform a snake-sacrifice. And that lord of the Earth--that tiger of the Bharata race--the son of Parikshit, then called his priest and Ritwiks. And accomplished in speech, he spake unto them these words relating to the accomplishment of his great task. 'I must avenge myself on the wretch Takshaka who killed my father. Tell me what I must do. Do you know any act by which I may cast into the blazing fire the snake Takshaka with his relatives? I desire to burn that wretch even as he burnt, of yore, by the fire of his poison, my father.'
'The chief priest answered, 'There is, O king, a great sacrifice for thee devised by the gods themselves. It is known as the snake-sacrifice, and is read of in the Puranas. O king, thou alone canst accomplish it, and no one else. Men versed in the Puranas have told us, there is such a sacrifice.'
"Sauti continued, 'Thus addressed, the king, O excellent one, thought Takshaka to be already burnt and thrown into the blazing mouth of Agni, the eater of the sacrificial butter. The king then said unto those Brahmanas versed in mantras, 'I shall make preparations for that sacrifice. Tell me the things that are necessary.' And the king's Ritwiks, O excellent Brahmana, versed in the Vedas and acquainted with the rites of that sacrifice measured, according to the scriptures, the land for the sacrificial platform. And the platform was decked with valuable articles and with Brahmanas. And it was full of precious things and paddy. And the Ritwika sat upon it at ease. And after the sacrificial platform had been thus constructed according to rule and as desired, they installed the king at the
snake-sacrifice for the attainment of its object. And before the commencement of the snake-Sacrifice that was to come, there occurred this very important incident foreboding obstruction to the sacrifice. For when the sacrificial platform was being constructed, a professional builder of great intelligence and well-versed in the knowledge of laying foundations, a Suta by caste, well-acquainted with the Puranas, said, 'The soil upon which and the time at which the measurement for the sacrificial platform has been made, indicate that this sacrifice will not be completed, a Brahmana becoming the reason thereof.' Hearing this, the king, before his installation, gave orders to his gate-keepers not to admit anybody without his knowledge."
"Sauti said, 'The snake-sacrifice then commenced according to due form. And the sacrificial priests, competent in their respective duties according to the ordinance, clad in black garments and their eyes red from contact with smoke, poured clarified butter into the blazing fire, uttering the appropriate mantras. And causing the hearts of all the snakes to tremble with fear, they poured clarified butter into the mouth of Agni uttering the names of the snakes. And the snakes thereupon began to fall into the blazing fire, benumbed and piteously calling upon one another. And swollen and breathing hard, and twining each other with their heads and tails, they came in large numbers and fell into the fire. The white, the black, the blue, the old and the young--all fell alike into the fire, uttering various cries. Those measuring a krosa, and those measuring a yojana, and those of the measure of a gokarna, fell continuously with great violence into that first of all fires. And hundreds and thousands and tens of thousands of snakes, deprived of all control over their limbs, perished on that occasion. And amongst those that perished, there were some that were like horses, other like trunks of elephants, and others of huge bodies and strength like maddened elephants Of various colours and virulent poison, terrible and looking like maces furnished with iron-spikes, of great strength, ever inclined to bite, the snakes, afflicted with their mother's curse, fell into the fire.'"
"Saunaka asked, 'What great Rishis became the Ritwiks at the snake-sacrifice of the wise king Janamejaya of the Pandava line? Who also became
the Sadasyas in that terrible snake-sacrifice, so frightful to the snakes, and begetting such sorrow in them? It behoveth thee to describe all these in detail, so that, O son of Suta, we may know who were acquainted with the rituals of the snake-sacrifice.'
"Sauti replied, 'I will recite the names of those wise ones who became the monarch's Ritwiks and Sadasyas. The Brahmana Chandabhargava became the Hotri in that sacrifice. He was of great reputation, and was born in the race of Chyavana and was the foremost of those acquainted with the Vedas. The learned old Brahmana, Kautsa, became the Udgatri, the chanter of the Vedic hymns. Jaimini became the Brahmana, and Sarngarva and Pingala the Adhvaryus, Vyasa with his son and disciples, and Uddalaka, Pramataka, Swetaketu, Pingala, Asita, Devala, Narada, Parvata, Atreya, Kundajathara, the Brahmana Kalaghata, Vatsya, old Srutasravas ever engaged in japa and the study of the Vedas. Kohala Devasarman, Maudgalya, Samasaurava, and many other Brahmanas who had got through the Vedas became the Sadasyas at that sacrifice of the son of Parikshit.
"When the Ritwiks in that snake-sacrifice began to pour clarified butter into the fire, terrible snakes, striking fear into every creature, began to fall into it. And the fat and the marrow of the snakes thus falling into the fire began to flow in rivers. And the atmosphere was filled with an insufferable stench owing to the incessant burning of the snakes. And incessant also were the cries of the snakes fallen into the fire and those in the air about to fall into it.
'Meanwhile, Takshaka, that prince of snakes, as soon as he heard that king Janamejaya was engaged in the sacrifice, went to the palace of Purandara (Indra). And that best of snakes, having represented all that had taken place, sought in terror the protection of Indra after having acknowledged his fault. And Indra, gratified, told him, 'O prince of snakes, O Takshaka, here thou hast no fear from that snake-sacrifice. The Grandsire was pacified by me for thy sake. Therefore, thou hast no fear. Let this fear of thy heart be allayed.'
Sauti continued, 'Thus encouraged by him, that best of snakes began to dwell in Indra's abode in joy and happiness. But Vasuki, seeing that the snakes were incessantly falling into the fire and that his family was reduced to only a few, became exceedingly sorry. And the king of the snakes was afflicted with great grief, and his heart was about to break. And summoning his sister, he spake unto her, saying, 'O amiable one, my limbs are burning and I no longer see the points of the heavens. I am about to fall down from loss of consciousness. My mind is turning, my sight is falling and my heart is breaking. Benumbed, I may fall today into that blazing fire! This sacrifice of the son of Parikshit is for the extermination of our race. It is evident I also shall have to go to the abode of the king of the dead. The time is come, O my sister, on account of which thou wert bestowed by me on Jaratkaru to protect us with our relatives. O best of
the women of the snake race, Astika will put an end to the sacrifice that is going on. The Grandsire told me this of old. Therefore, O child, solicit thy dear son who is fully conversant with the Vedas and regarded even by the old, for the protection of myself and also of those dependent on me."'
"Sauti said, 'Then the snake-dame Jaratkaru, calling her own son, told him the following words according to the directions of Vasuki, the king of the snakes. 'O son, the time is come for the accomplishment of that object for which I was bestowed on thy father by my brother. Therefore, do thou that which should be done.'
"Astika asked, 'Why wert thou, O mother, bestowed on my father by my uncle? Tell me all truly so that on hearing it, I may do what is proper.'
"Then Jaratkaru, the sister of the king of the snakes, herself unmoved by the general distress, and even desirous of the welfare of her relatives, said unto him, 'O son, it is said that the mother of all the snakes is Kadru. Know thou why she cursed in anger her sons.' Addressing the snakes she said, 'As ye have refused to falsely represent Uchchaihsravas, the prince of horses, for bringing about Vinata's bondage according to the wager, therefore, shall he whose charioteer is Vayu burn you all in Janamejaya's sacrifice. And perishing in that sacrifice, ye shall go to the region of the unredeemed spirits.' The Grandsire of all the worlds spake unto her while uttering this curse, 'Be it so,' and thus approved of her speech. Vasuki, having heard that curse and then the words of the Grandsire, sought the protection of the gods, O child, on the occasion when the amrita was being churned for. And the gods, their object fulfilled, for they had obtained the excellent amrita, with Vasuki ahead, approached the Grandsire. And all the gods, with king Vasuki, sought to incline Him who was born of the lotus to be propitious, so that the curse might be made abortive.'
"And the gods said, 'O Lord, Vasuki, the king of the snakes, is sorry on account of his relatives. How may his mother's curse prove abortive?'
"Brahman thereupon replied, saying, 'Jaratkaru will take unto himself a wife of the name of Jaratkaru; the Brahmana born of her will relieve the snakes.'
"Vasuki, the best of snakes, hearing those words, bestowed me, O thou of godlike looks, on thy high-souled father some time before the commencement of the sacrifice. And from that marriage thou art born of me. That time has come. It behoveth thee to protect us from this danger. It behoveth thee to protect my brother and myself from the fire, so that the object, viz., our relief, for which I was bestowed on thy wise father, may not be unfulfilled. What dost thou think, O son?'
"Sauti continued, 'Thus addressed, Astika said unto his mother, 'Yes, I will.' And he then addressed the afflicted Vasuki, and as if infusing life into him, said, 'O Vasuki, thou best of snakes, thou great being, truly do I say, I shall relieve thee from that curse. Be easy, O snake! There is no fear any longer. I shall strive earnestly so that good may come! Nobody hath ever said that my speech, even in jest, hath proved false. Hence on serious occasions like this, I need not say anything more, O uncle, going thither today I shall gratify, with words mixed with blessings, the monarch Janamejaya installed at the sacrifice, so that, O excellent one, the sacrifice may stop. O highminded one, O king of the snakes, believe all that I say. Believe me, my resolve can never be unfulfilled.'
"And Vasuki then said, 'O Astika, my head swims and my heart breaks. I cannot discern the points of the earth, as I am afflicted with a mother's curse.'
"And Astika said, 'Thou best of snakes, it behoveth thee not to grieve any longer. I shall dispel this fear of thine from the blazing fire. This terrible punishment, capable of burning like the fire at the end of the Yuga, I shall extinguish. Nurse not thy fear any longer.'
"Sauti continued, 'Then that best of Brahmanas, Astika, quelling the terrible fear of the Vasuki's heart, and taking it, as it were, on himself, wended, for the relief of the king of the snakes, with speed to Janamejaya's sacrifice blessed with every merit. And Astika having gone thither, beheld the excellent sacrificial compound with numerous Sadasyas on it whose splendour was like unto that of the Sun or Agni. But that best of Brahmanas was refused admittance by the door-keepers. And the mighty ascetic gratified them, being desirous of entering the sacrificial compound. And that best of Brahmanas, that foremost of all virtuous men, having entered the excellent sacrificial compound, began to adore the king of infinite achievements, Ritwiks, the Sadasyas, and also the sacred fire.'"
"Astika said, 'Soma and Varuna and Prajapati performed sacrifices of old in Prayaga. But thy sacrifice, O foremost one of Bharata's race, O son of Parikshit, is not inferior to any of those. Let those dear unto us be blessed! Sakra performed a hundred sacrifices. But this sacrifice of thine, O foremost one of Bharata's race, O son of Parikshit, is fully equal to ten thousand sacrifices of Sakra. Let those dear unto us be blessed! Like the sacrifice of Yama, of Harimedha, or of king Rantideva, is the sacrifice of thine, O foremost one of Bharata's race, O son of Parikshit. Let those dear unto us be blessed! Like the sacrifice of Maya, of king Sasavindu, or of king Vaisravana, is this sacrifice of thine, O foremost one of Bharata's race, O
son of Satyavati, in which he himself was the chief priest, is this sacrifice of Nriga, of Ajamida, of the son of Dasaratha, is this sacrifice of thine, O foremost one of Bharata's race, O son of Parikshit. Let those dear unto us be blessed! Like the sacrifice of king Yudhishthira, the son of a god and belonging to Ajamida race, heard of (even) in the heavens, is this sacrifice of thine. O foremost one of Bharata's race, O son of Parikshit, let those dear unto us be blessed! Like the sacrifice of Krishna (Dwaipayana), the son of Satyavati, in which he himself was the chief priest, is this sacrifice of thine, O foremost one of Bharata's race, O son of Parikshit Let those dear unto us be blessed! These (Ritwiks and Sadasyas) that are here engaged in making thy sacrifice, like unto that of the slayer of Vritra, are of splendour equal to that of the sun. There now remains nothing for them to know, and gifts made to them become inexhaustible (in merit). It is my conviction that there is no Ritwik in all the worlds who is equal to thy Ritwik, Dwaipayana. His disciples, becoming Ritwiks, competent for their duties, travel over the earth. The high-souled bearer of libation (viz., Agni), called also Vibhavasu and Chitrabhanu, having gold for his vital seed and having his path, marked by black smoke, blazing up with flames inclined to the right, beareth these thy libations of clarified butter to the gods. In this world of men there is no other monarch equal to thee in the protection of subjects. I am ever well-pleased with thy abstinence. Indeed, thou art either Varuna, or Yama, the god of Justice. Like Sakra himself, thunderbolt in hand, thou art, in this world, the protector of all creatures. In this earth there is no man so great as thou and no monarch who is thy equal in sacrifice. Thou art like Khatwanga, Nabhaga, and Dilipa. In prowess thou art like Yayati and Mandhatri. In splendour equal to the sun, and of excellent vows, thou art O monarch, like Bhishma! Like Valmiki thou art of energy concealed. Like Vasishtha thou hast controlled thy wrath. Like Indra is thy lordship. Thy splendour also shines like that of Narayana. Like Yama art thou conversant with the dispensation of justice. Thou art like Krishna adorned with every virtue. Thou art the home of the good fortune that belongs to the Vasus. Thou art also the refuge of the sacrifices. In strength thou art equal to Damvodbhava. Like Rama (the son of Jamadagni) thou art conversant with the scriptures and arms. In energy thou art equal to Aurva and Trita. Thou inspirest terror by thy looks like Bhagiratha.'
"Sauti said, 'Astika, having thus adored them, gratified them all, viz., the king, the Sadasyas, the Ritwiks and the sacrificial fire. And king Janamejaya beholding the signs and indications manifested all around, addressed them as follows.'"
Janamejaya said, 'Though this one is but a boy, he speaks yet like a wise old man. He is not a boy but one wise and old. I think, I desire to bestow on him a boon. Therefore, ye Brahmanas, give me the necessary permission.'
"The Sadasyas said, 'A Brahmana, though a boy, deserves the respect of kings. The learned ones do more so. This boy deserves every desire of his being fulfilled by thee, but not before Takshaka comes with speed.'
"Sauti continued, 'The king, being inclined to grant the Brahmana a boon, said 'Ask thou a boon.' The Hotri, however, being rather displeased, said, 'Takshaka hath not come as yet into this sacrifice.'
"Janamejaya replied, 'Exert ye to the best of your might, so that this sacrifice of mine may attain completion, and Takshaka also may soon come here. He is my enemy.'
"The Ritwiks replied, 'As the scriptures declare unto us, and as the fire also saith, O monarch, (it seems that) Takshaka is now staying in the abode of Indra, afflicted with fear.'
"Sauti continued, 'The illustrious Suta named Lohitaksha also, conversant with the Puranas, had said so before.
"Asked by the king on the present occasion he again told the monarch, 'Sire, it is even so as the Brahmanas have said--Knowing the Puranas, I say, O monarch, that Indra hath granted him this boon, saying, 'Dwell with me in concealment, and Agni shall not burn thee.'
'Sauti continued, 'Hearing this, the king installed in the sacrifice became very sorry and urged the Hotri to do his duty. And as the Hotri, with mantras, began to pour clarified butter into the fire Indra himself appeared on the scene. And the illustrious one came in his car, adorned by all the gods standing around, followed by masses of clouds, celestial singers, and the several bevies of celestial dancing girls. And Takshaka anxious with fear, hid himself in the upper garment of Indra and was not visible. Then the king in his anger again said unto his mantra-knowing Brahmanas these words, bent upon the destruction of Takshaka, 'If the snake Takshaka be in the abode of Indra, cast him into the fire with Indra himself.'
'Sauti continued, 'Urged thus by the king Janamejaya about Takshaka, the Hotri poured libations, naming that snake then staying there. And even as the libations were poured, Takshaka, with Purandara himself, anxious and afflicted, became visible in a moment in the skies. Then Purandara, seeing that sacrifice, became much alarmed, and quickly casting Takshaka off, went back to his own abode. After Indra had gone away, Takshaka, the prince of snakes, insensible with fear, was by virtue of the mantras, brought near enough the flames of the sacrificial fire.'
"The Ritwiks then said, 'O king of kings, the sacrifice of thine is being
performed duly. It behoveth thee, O Lord, to grant a boon now to this first of Brahmanas.'
"Janamejaya then said, 'Thou immeasurable one of such handsome and child-like features, I desire to grant thee a worthy boon. Therefore, ask thou that which thou desirest in thy heart. I promise thee, that I will grant it even if it be ungrantable.'
'The Ritwiks said, 'O monarch, behold, Takshaka is soon coming under thy control! His terrible cries, and loud roar is being heard. Assuredly, the snake hath been forsaken by the wielder of thunder. His body being disabled by your mantras, he is falling from heaven. Even now, rolling in the skies, and deprived of consciousness, the prince of snakes cometh, breathing loudly.'
'Sauti continued, 'While Takshaka, the prince of snakes was about to fall into the sacrificial fire, during those few moments Astika spoke as follows, 'O Janamejaya, if thou wouldst grant me a boon, let this sacrifice of thine come to an end and let no more snakes fall into the fire.'
'O Brahmana, the son of Parikshit, being thus addressed by Astika, became exceedingly sorry and replied unto Astika thus, 'O illustrious one, gold, silver, kine, whatever other possessions thou desirest I shall give unto thee. But let not my sacrifice come to an end.'
"Astika thereupon replied, 'Gold, silver or kine, I do not ask of thee, O monarch! But let thy sacrifice be ended so that my maternal relations be relieved.'
"Sauti continued, 'The son of Parikshit, being thus addressed by Astika, repeatedly said this unto that foremost of speakers, 'Best of the Brahmanas, ask some other boon. O, blessed be thou!' But, O thou of Bhrigu's race, he did not beg any other boon. Then all the Sadasyas conversant with the Vedas told the king in one voice, 'Let the Brahmana receive his boon!'"
"Saunaka said, 'O son of a Suta, I desire to hear the names of all those snakes that fell into the fire of this snake-sacrifice!'
"Sauti replied, 'Many thousands and tens of thousands and billions of snakes fell into the fire. O most excellent Brahmana, so great is the number that I am unable to count them all. So far, however, as I remember, hear the names I mention of the principal snakes cast into the fire. Hear first the names of the principal ones of Vasuki's race alone, of colour blue, red and white of terrible form and huge body and deadly poison. Helpless and miserable and afflicted with their mother's curse, they fell into the sacrificial fire like libations of butter.
"Kotisa, Manasa, Purna, Cala, Pala Halmaka, Pichchala, Kaunapa, Cakra,
[paragraph continues] Kalavega, Prakalana, Hiranyavahu, Carana, Kakshaka, Kaladantaka--these snakes born of Vasuki, fell into the fire. And, O Brahmana, numerous other snakes well-born, and of terrible form and great strength, were burnt in the blazing fire. I shall now mention those born in the race of Takshaka. Hear thou their names. Puchchandaka, Mandalaka, Pindasektri, Ravenaka; Uchochikha, Carava, Bhangas, Vilwatejas, Virohana; Sili, Salakara, Muka, Sukumara, Pravepana, Mudgara and Sisuroman, Suroman and Mahahanu. These snakes born of Takshaka fell into the fire. And Paravata, Parijata, Pandara, Harina, Krisa, Vihanga, Sarabha, Meda, Pramoda, Sauhatapana--these born in the race of Airavata fell into the fire. Now hear, O best of Brahmanas, the names of the snakes I mention born in the race of Kauravya: Eraka, Kundala Veni, Veniskandha, Kumaraka, Vahuka, Sringavera, Dhurtaka, Pratara and Astaka. There born in the race of Kauravya fell into the fire. Now hear the names I mention, in order, of those snakes endued with the speed of the wind and with virulent poison, born in the race of Dhritarashtra: Sankukarna, Pitharaka, Kuthara, Sukhana, and Shechaka; Purnangada, Purnamukha, Prahasa, Sakuni, Dari, Amahatha, Kumathaka, Sushena, Vyaya, Bhairava, Mundavedanga, Pisanga, Udraparaka, Rishabha, Vegavat, Pindaraka; Raktanga, Sarvasaranga, Samriddha, Patha and Vasaka; Varahaka, Viranaka, Suchitra, Chitravegika, Parasara, Tarunaka, Maniskandha and Aruni.
"O Brahmana, thus I have recited the names of the principal snakes known widely for their achievements--I have not been able to name all, the number being countless. The sons of these snakes, the sons of those sons, that were burnt having fallen into the fire, I am unable to mention. They are so many! Some of three heads, some of seven, others of ten, of poison like unto the fire at the end of the yuga and terrible in form,--they were burnt by thousands!
"Many others, of huge bodies, of great speed, tall as mountain summits, of the length of a yama, of a yojana, and of two yojanas, capable of assuming at will any form and of mastering at will any degree of strength, of poison like unto blazing fire, afflicted by the curse of a mother, were burnt in that great 'sacrifice.'"
"Sauti said, 'Listen now to another very wonderful incident in connection with Astika. When king Janamejaya was about to gratify Astika by granting the boon, the snake (Takshaka), thrown off Indra's hands, remained in mid air without actually falling. King Janamejaya thereupon became curious, for Takshaka, afflicted with fear, did not at once fall into the fire although libations were poured in proper form into the blazing
sacrificial Agni in his name.'
"Saunaka said, 'Was it, O Suta, that the mantras of those wise Brahmanas were not potent; since Takshaka did not fall into the fire?'
"Sauti replied, 'Unto the unconscious Takshaka, that best of snakes, after he had been cast off Indra's hands, Astika had thrice said, 'Stay,' 'Stay,' 'Stay.' And he succeeded in staying in the skies, with afflicted heart, like a person somehow staying between the welkin and the earth.
"The king then, on being repeatedly urged by his Sadasyas, said, 'Let it be done as Astika hath said. Let the sacrifice be ended, let the snakes be safe, let this Astika also be gratified, O Suta, thy words also be true.' When the boon was granted to Astika, plaudits expressive of joy rang through the air. Thus the sacrifice of the son of Parikshit--that king of the Pandava race--came to an end. The king Janamejaya of the Bharata race was himself pleased, and on the Ritwiks with the Sadasyas, and on all who had come there, the king, bestowed money by hundreds and thousands. And unto Suta Lohitaksha--conversant with the rules of building and foundations--who had at the commencement said that a Brahmana would be the cause of the interruption of the snake-sacrifice, the king gave much wealth. The king, of uncommon kindness, also gave him various things, with food and wearing apparel, according to his desire, and became very much pleased. Then he concluded his sacrifice according to the prescribed rites, and after treating him with every respect, the king in joy sent home the wise Astika exceedingly gratified, for he had attained his object. And the king said unto him, 'Thou must come again to become a Sadasya in my great Horse-sacrifice.' And Astika said, 'yes' and then returned home in great joy, having achieved his great end after gratifying the monarch. And returning in joy to his uncle and mother and touching their feet, he recounted to them everything as it had happened.'
"Sauti continued, 'Hearing all he had said, the snakes that had come thither became very much delighted, and their fears were allayed. They were much pleased with Astika and asked him to solicit a boon, saying, 'O learned one, what good shall we do unto thee? We have been very much gratified, having been all saved by thee. What shall we accomplish for thee, O child!'
"Astika said, 'Let those Brahmanas, and other men, who shall, in the morning or in the evening, cheerfully and with attention, read the sacred account of this my act, have no fear from any of you.' And the snakes in joy thereupon said, 'O nephew, in the nature of thy boon, let it be exactly as thou sayest. That which thou askest we all shall cheerfully do, O nephew! And those also that call to mind Astika, Artiman and Sunitha, in the day or in the night, shall have no fear of snakes. He again shall have no fear of snakes who will say, 'I call to mind the famous Astika born of Jaratkaru, that Astika who saved the snakes from the snake-sacrifice. Therefore, ye snakes of great good fortune, it behoveth you not to bite me.
[paragraph continues] But go ye away, blessed be ye, or go away thou snake of virulent poison, and remember the words of Astika after the snake sacrifice of Janamejaya. That snake who does not cease from biting after hearing such mention of Astika, shall have his hood divided a hundredfold like the fruit of Sinsa tree.'
"Sauti continued, 'That first of Brahmanas, thus addressed by the foremost of the chief snakes assembled together, was very much gratified. And the high-souled one then set his heart upon going away.
"And that best of Brahmanas, having saved the snakes from the snake-sacrifice, ascended to heaven when his time came, leaving sons and grandsons behind him.
'Thus have I recited to thee this history of Astika exactly as it happened. Indeed, the recitation of this history dispelleth all fear of snakes'
'Sauti continued, 'O Brahmanas, O foremost one of Bhrigu's race, as thy ancestor Pramati had cheerfully narrated unto his inquiring son Ruru, and as I had heard it, thus have I recited this blessed history, from the beginning, of the learned Astika. And, O Brahmana, O oppressor of all enemies, having heard this holy history of Astika that increaseth virtue, and which thou hadst asked me about after hearing the story of the Dundubha, let thy ardent curiosity be satisfied.'"