The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, 'Having heard these words of king Janaka, Suka of cleansed soul and settled conclusions began to stay in his Soul by his Soul, having of course seen Self by Self. 1 His object being accomplished, he became happy and tranquil, and without putting further questions to Janaka, he proceeded northwards to the mountains of Himavat with the speed of the wind and like the wind. 2 These mountains abounded with diverse tribes of Apsaras and echoed with many lofty sounds. Teeming with thousands of Kinnaras and Bhringarajas 3 it was adorned, besides, with many Madgus and Khanjaritas and many Jivajivakas of variegated hue. And there were many peacocks also of gorgeous colours, uttering their shrill but melodious cries. Many bevies of swans also, and many flights of gladdened Kokilas too, adorned the place. The prince of birds, viz., Garuda, dwelt on that summit constantly. The four Regents of the world, the deities, and diverse classes of Rishis, used always to come there from the desire of doing good to the world. It was there that the high-souled Vishnu had undergone the severest austerities for the object of obtaining a son. It was there that the celestial generalissimo named Kumara, in his younger days, disregarding the three worlds with all the celestial denizens, threw down his dart, piercing the Earth therewith. Throwing down his dart, Skanda addressing the universe, said,--If there be any person that is superior to me in might, or that holds Brahmanas to be dearer, or that can compare with me in devotion to the Brahmanas and the Vedas, or that is possessed of energy like unto me, let him draw up this dart or at least shake it!--Hearing this challenge, the three worlds become filled with anxiety, and all creatures asked one another, saying,--Who will raise this dart?--Vishnu beheld all the deities and Asuras and Rakshasas to be troubled in their senses and mind. He reflected upon what should be the best to be done under the circumstances. Without being able to bear that challenge in respect of the hurling of the dart, he cast his eyes on Skanda, the son of the Fire-god. The pure-souled Vishnu caught hold of the blazing dart, with his left hand, and began to shake it. When the dart was being thus shaken by Vishnu
possessed of great might, the whole Earth with her mountains, forests, and seas, shook with the dart. Although Vishnu was fully competent to raise the dart, still he contented himself with only shaking it. In this, the puissant lord only kept the honour of Skanda intact. Having shaken it himself, the divine Vishnu, addressing Prahlada, said,--Behold the might of Kumara! None else in the universe can raise this dart! Unable to bear this, Prahlada resolved to raise the dart. He seized it, but was unable to shake it at all, Uttering a loud cry, he fell down on the hill-top in a swoon. Indeed, the son of Hiranya-kasipu fell down on the Earth. Repairing towards the northern side of those grand mountains, Mahadeva, having the bull for his sign, had undergone the austerest penances. The asylum where Mahadeva had undergone those austerities is encompassed on all sides with a blazing fire. Unapproachable by persons of uncleansed souls, that mountain is known by the name of Aditya. There is a fiery girdle all around it, of the width of ten Yojanas, and it is incapable of being approached by Yakshas and Rakshasas and Danavas. The illustrious god of Fire, possessed of mighty energy, dwells there in person employed in removing all impediments from the side of Mahadeva of great wisdom who remained there for a thousand celestial years, all the while standing on one foot. Dwelling on the side of that foremost of mountains, Mahadeva of high vows (by his penances) scorched the deities greatly. 1 At the foot of those mountains, in a retired spot, Parasara's son of great ascetic merit, viz., Vyasa, taught the Vedas unto his disciples. Those disciples were the highly blessed Sumantra, Vaisampayana, Jaimini of great wisdom, and Paila of great ascetic merit. Suka proceeded to that delightful asylum where his sire, the great ascetic Vyasa, was dwelling, surrounded by his disciples. Seated in his asylum, Vyasa beheld his son approach like a blazing fire of scattered flames, or resembling the sun himself in effulgence. As Suka approached, he did not seem to touch the trees or the rocks of the mountain. Completely dissociated from all objects of the senses, engaged in Yoga, the high-souled ascetic came, resembling, in speed, a shaft let from a bow. Born on the fire-sticks, Suka, approaching, his sire, touched his feet. With becoming formalities he then accosted the disciples of his sire. With great cheerfulness he then detailed to his father all the particulars of his conversation with king Janaka. Vyasa the son of Parasara, after the arrival of his puissant son, continued to dwell there on the Himavat engaged in teaching his disciples and his son. One day as he was seated, his disciples, all well-skilled in the Vedas, having their senses under control, and endued with tranquil souls, sat themselves around him. All of them had thoroughly mastered the Vedas with their branches. All of them were observant of penances. With joined hands they addressed their preceptor in the following words.
"The disciples said, We have, through thy grace, been endued with great energy. Our fame also has spread. There is one favour that we humbly solicit thee to grant us. Hearing these words of theirs, the regenerate Rishi answered them, saying, "Ye sons, tell me what that boon is which ye wish I should grant you! Hearing this answer of their preceptor, the disciples became filled with joy. Once more bowing their heads low unto their preceptor and joining their hands, all of them in one voice said, O king, these excellent words: If our preceptor has been pleased with us, then, O best of sages, we are sure to be crowned with success! We all solicit thee, O great Rishi, to grant us a boon. Be thou inclined to be graceful to us. Let no sixth disciple (besides us five) succeed in attaining to fame! We are four. Our preceptor's son forms the fifth. Let the Vedas shine in only as five! Even this is the boon that we solicit;--Hearing these words of his disciples, Vyasa, the son of Parasara, possessed of great intelligence, well-conversant with the meaning of the Vedas, endued with a righteous soul, and always engaged in thinking of objects that confer benefits on a person in the world hereafter, said unto his disciples these righteous words fraught with great benefit: The Vedas should always be given unto him who is a Brahmana, or unto him who is desirous of listening to Vedic instructions, by him who eagerly wishes to attain a residence in the region of Brahman! Do ye multiply, Let the Vedas spread (through your exertions). The Vedas should never be imparted unto one that has not formally become a disciple. Nor should they be given unto one who is not observant of good vows. Nor should they be given for dwelling in one that is of uncleansed soul. These should be known as the proper qualifications of persons that can be accepted as disciples (for the communication of Vedic knowledge). No science should be imparted unto one without a proper examination of one's character, as pure gold is tested by heat, cutting and rubbing, after the same manner disciples should be tested by their birth and accomplishments. Ye should never set your disciples to tasks to which they should not be set, or to tasks that are fraught with danger. One's knowledge is always commensurate with one's understanding and diligence in study. Let all disciples conquer all difficulties, and let all of them meet with auspicious success. Ye are competent to lecture on the scriptures unto persons of all the orders. Only ye should, while lecturing, address a Brahmana, placing him in the van. These are the rules in respect of the study of the Vedas. This again is regarded as a high task. The Vedas were created by the Self-born for the purpose of praising the deities therewith. That man who, through stupefaction of intellect, speaks ill of a Brahmana well-conversant with the Vedas, is certain to meet with humiliation in consequence of such evil-speaking. He who disregarding all righteous rules, solicits knowledge, and he who, disregarding the rules of righteousness, communicates knowledge, either of them falls off and instead of that affection which should prevail between preceptor and disciple, such, questioning and such communication are sure to produce distrust and suspicion.
[paragraph continues] I have now told ye everything about the way in which the Vedas should be studied and taught. Ye should act in this way towards your disciples, bearing these instructions in your minds.'"
91:1 i.e., he turned his soul's gaze on his soul and withdrew himself from every worldly object.
91:2 He no longer walked like ordinary men. Without trailing along the solid support of the Earth, he proceeded through the sky.
91:3 Popularly, Bhimaraja, the Lanius Malabaricus.
92:1 It is believed that a person, by performing austere penances, scorches the three worlds. It is in consequence of this effect of penances that the superior deities were always compelled by the Asuras and Danavas to grant them whatever boons they solicited.
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