The Mahabharata Home
"Indra said, This whole indestructible universe, O gods, hath been pervaded by Vritra. There is nothing that can be equal to the task of opposing him. I was capable of yore, but now I am incapable. What good betide you, can I do? I believe him to be unapproachable. Powerful and magnanimous, possessing immeasurable strength in fight, he
would be able to swallow up all the three worlds with the gods, the Asuras, and the men. Therefore, hear ye dwellers of heaven, this is my resolution. Proceeding to the abode of Vishnu, in company with that high-souled Being must we consult, and ascertain the means of slaying this ruthless wretch.'
"Salya continued, 'Indra having thus spoken, the gods with that host of Rishis repaired to the mighty god Vishnu to place themselves under the-protection of that protector of all. And afflicted with the dread of Vritra, they said unto the Supreme Lord of the deities. Thou hadst in former times covered the three worlds with three steps. Thou hadst procured the ambrosial food, O Vishnu, and destroyed the Asuras in battle. Thou didst bind the great Asura Vali and hadst raised Indra to the throne of heaven. Thou art the lord of the gods, and this entire universe is pervaded by thee. Thou art the God, the mighty Deity, saluted by all persons. Be thou the refuge of all the celestials together with Indra, O best of gods. The whole universe, O slayer of Asuras, hath been pervaded by Vritra. And Vishnu said, 'I am no doubt bound to do what is for your good. I shall, therefore, tell you of a contrivance whereby he may be annihilated. Do ye with the Rishis and the Gandharvas repair to the place where Vritra that bearer of a universal form is and adopt towards him a conciliatory policy. You will thus succeed in overthrowing him. By virtue of my power, victory, ye gods, will be won by Indra, for, remaining invisible, I shall enter into his thunderbolt, that best of weapons. O foremost of gods, depart ye with the Rishis and the Gandharvas. Let there be no delay in effecting a peace between Indra and Vritra.'
"Salya continued, 'When he had thus spoken, the Rishis and the celestials placed Indra at their head, and uniting together, went away. Approaching Indra they behold Vritra glowing and resplendent as if scorching the ten points, and swallowing all the three worlds, and resembling the sun or the moon. And then the Rishis, came up to Vritra and spoke to him in conciliatory terms, saying, 'O thou unconquerable being, the whole of this universe hath been pervaded by thy energy. Thou art not able however to overpower Indra, O best of mighty beings. A long period hath now elapsed since you began to fight. All beings, with the gods and the Asuras and men, are suffering from the effects of the fight. Let there be eternal friendship between thee and Indra. Thou shalt be happy and shall dwell eternally in Indra's regions.' And the mighty Vritra having heard the words of the saints, bowed his head unto them. And the Asura (thus) spoke, 'What you, O highly-gifted beings, and also all these Gandharvas are saying, I have heard. Ye stainless beings, hear also what I have got to say. How can there be peace between us two, Indra and myself? How can there be friendship, ye gods, between two hostile powers?' The Rishis said, 'Friendship among righteous persons happens at a single meeting. It is a desirable object. Thereafter will happen what is fated to be. The opportunity of forming
friendship with a righteous person should not be sacrificed. Therefore, the friendship of the righteous should be sought. The friendship of the righteous is (like) excellent wealth, for he that is wise would give advice when it is needed. The friendship of a good person is of great use; therefore, a wise person should not desire to kill a righteous one. Indra is honoured by the righteous, and is the refuge of magnanimous persons, being veracious and unblamable, and knows what virtue is, and is possessed of a refined judgment. Let there be eternal friendship between thee and Indra, as described above. In this way, have faith (in him); let not thy heart be differently inclined.'
"Salya said, 'Hearing these words of the great Rishis, the illustrious Asura spoke to them, 'No doubt, the Rishis, endued with supernatural powers, are to be respected by me. Let what I am going to say, ye gods, be performed in its entirety; then I shall do everything that (these) best of Brahmanas have said to me. Ye lords of the Brahmana race, ordain so that Indra himself or the gods do not kill me by what is dry, or wet; by stone, or by wood; by a weapon fit for close fight, or by a missile; in the day time, or at night. On those terms eternal peace with Indra would be acceptable to me,--Very good! was what the Rishis told him, O best of Bharata race.' Thus peace having been concluded, Vritra was very much pleased. And Indra also became pleased though constantly occupied with the thought of killing Vritra. And the chief of the deities passed his time in search of a loophole, uneasy (in mind). And on a certain day when it was evening and the hour awful, Indra caught sight of the mighty Asura on the coast of the sea. And he bethought himself of the boon that was granted to the illustrious Asura, saying, 'This is the awful evening time; it is neither day, nor night; and this Vritra, my enemy, who hath stripped me of my all, must undoubtedly be killed by me. It I do not kill Vritra, this great and mighty Asura of gigantic frame, even by deceit, it will not go well with me.' And as Indra thought of all this, bearing Vishnu in mind he beheld at that instant in the sea a mass of froth as large as a hill. And he said, 'This is neither dry, nor wet, nor is it a weapon; let me hurl it at Vritra. Without doubt, he will die immediately.' And he threw at Vritra that mass of froth blended with the thunderbolt. And Vishnu, having entered within that froth, put an end to the life of Vritra. And when Vritra was killed, the cardinal points were free from gloom; and there also blew a pleasant breeze; and all beings were much pleased. And the deities with the Gandharvas and Yakshas and Rakshasas, with the great snakes and saints, glorified the mighty Indra with various laudatory hymns. And saluted by all beings, Indra spoke words of encouragement to all. And his heart was glad as also that of everyone of the gods for having killed the foe. And knowing the nature of virtue, he worshipped Vishnu, the most praiseworthy of all objects in the world. Now when the mighty Vritra, terrible to the gods, was killed, Indra became overpowered by falsehood, and he became exceedingly sad; and he was also overpowered by the sin of Brahmanicide
on account of having killed the three-headed son of Twashtri. And he betook himself to the confines of the worlds, and became bereft of his senses and consciousness. And overpowered by his own sins, he could not be recognised. And he lay concealed in water, just like a writhing snake. And when the lord of celestials, oppressed with the dread of Brahmanicide, had vanished from sight, the earth looked as if a havoc had passed over it. And it became treeless, and its woods withered; and the course of rivers was interrupted; and the reservoirs lost all their water; and there was distress among animals on account of cessation of rains. And the deities and all the great Rishis were in exceeding fear; and the world had no king, and was overtaken by disasters. Then the deities and the divine saints in heaven, separated from the chief of the gods, became terrified, and wondered who was to be their king. And nobody had any inclination to act as the king of the gods.'
Next: Section XI