The Mahabharata Home
"Lomasa said, 'The Kalakeyas then having recourse to that receptacle of waters, which is the abode of Varuna, began their operations for the
destruction of the universe. And during the darkness of the night those angry Daityas began to devour the Munis they found in woody retreats and sacred spots. And those wicked wretches devoured in the asylum of Vasishtha, Brahmanas to the number of a hundred and eighty, besides nine other ascetics. And, proceeding to the asylum of Chyavana that was inhabited by many Brahmacharis, they devoured a century of Brahmanas that lived upon fruit and roots alone. And they began to do all this during the darkness of the night, while they entered the depths of the sea by day. And they slew a full score of Brahmanas of subdued souls and leading a Brahmacharya mode of life and living upon air and water alone, in the retreat of Bharadwaja. And it was thus that those Danavas the Kalakeyas, intoxicated with prowess of arms and their lives nearly run out, gradually invaded all the asylums of the Rishis during the darkness of the night, slaughtering numerous Brahmanas. And, O best of men, although the Danavas behaved in this way towards the ascetics in woody retreats, yet men failed to discover anything of them. And every morning people saw the dead bodies of Munis emaciated with frugal diet, lying on the ground. And many of those bodies were without flesh and without blood, without marrow, without entrails, and with limbs separated from one another. And here and there lay on the ground heaps of bones like masses of conch shells. And the earth was scattered over with the (sacrificial) contents of broken jars and shattered ladles for pouring libations of clarified butter and with the sacred fires kept with care by the ascetics. And the universe afflicted with the terror of the Kalakeyas, being destitute of Vedic studies and vashats and sacrificial festivals and religious rites, became entirely cheerless. And, O king, when men began to perish in this way, the survivors, afflicted with fear, fled for their lives in all directions. And some fled to caverns and some behind mountain-streams and springs and some through fear of death, died without much ado. And some who were brave and mighty bowmen cheerfully went out and took great trouble in tracking the Danavas. Unable, however, to find them out, for the Asuras had sought refuge in the depths of the sea, these brave men came back to their homes gratified with the search. And, O lord of men, when the universe was being thus destroyed, and when sacrificial festivals and religious rites had been suspended, the gods became deeply afflicted. And gathering together with Indra in their midst they began, from fear, to take counsel of one another. And repairing unto the exalted and uncreate Narayana--that unvanquished god of Vaikuntha--the celestials sought his protection. And bowing unto the slayer of Madhu, the gods addressed him, saying, 'O lord, thou art the creator, the protector, and the slayer of ourselves as well as of the universe. It is thou who has created this universe with its mobile and immobile creatures. O thou of eyes like lotus leaves, it was thou who in days of yore hadst for the benefit of all creatures raised from the sea the sunken earth, assuming also the
form of a boar. And, O best of male beings, assuming also the form of half-man and half-lion, thou hadst slain in days of yore that ancient Daitya of mighty prowess known by the name of Hiranyakasipu. And that other great Asura also, Vali by name, was incapable of being slain by any one. Assuming the form of a dwarf, thou exiledest him from the three worlds. O lord, it was by thee that that wicked Asura, Jambha by name, who was a mighty bowman and who always obstructed sacrifices, was slain. Achievements like these, which cannot be counted, are thine. O slayer of Madhu, we who have been afflicted with fear, have thee for our refuge. It is for this, O god of gods, that we inform thee of our present troubles. Protect the worlds, the gods, and Sakra also, from a terrible fear.'"
Next: Section CIII