The Mahabharata Home
"Vrihaspati said, 'Thou art the mouth, O Agni, of all the gods. Thou art the carrier of sacred offerings. Thou, like a witness, hast access to the inner souls of all creatures. The poets call thee single, and again three-fold. O eater of burnt offerings, abandoned by thee the Universe would forthwith cease to be. The Brahmanas by bowing to thee, win with their wives and sons an eternal region, the reward of their own meritorious deeds. O Agni, it is thou who art the bearer of sacred offerings. Thou, O Agni, art thyself the best offering. In a sacrificial ceremony of the supreme order, it is thee that they worship with incessant gifts and offerings. O bearer of offerings, having created the three worlds, thou when the hour cometh, consumeth them in thy unkindled form. Thou art the mother of the whole Universe; and thou again, O Agni, art its termination. The wise call thee identical with the clouds and with the lightning; flames issuing from thee, support all creatures. All the waters are deposited in thee; so is this entire world. To thee, O purifier, nothing is unknown in the three worlds. Every body taketh kindly to his progenitor; do thou enter the waters without fear. I shall
render thee strong with the eternal hymns of the Veda. Thus glorified, the bearer of burnt offerings, that best of poets, well-pleased, spoke laudable words to Vrihaspati. And he said, 'I shall show Indra to thee. This I tell thee for truth.'
"Salya continued, 'Then Agni entered the waters including seas and tiny ponds, and came to that reservoir, where, O best of Bharata's race, while searching the lotus flowers, he saw the king of the gods lying within the fibres of a lotus-stalk. And soon coming back, he informed Vrihaspati how Indra had taken refuge in the fibres of a lotus-stalk, assuming a minute form. Then Vrihaspati, accompanied by the gods, the saints and the Gandharvas, went and glorified the slayer of Vala by referring to his former deeds. And he said, 'O Indra, the great Asura Namuchi was killed by thee; and those two Asuras also of terrible strength, viz., Samvara and Vala. Wax strong, O performer of a hundred sacrifices, and slay all thy foes. Rise, O Indra! Behold, here are assembled the gods and the saints. O Indra, O great lord, by slaying Asuras, thou hast delivered the worlds. Having got the froth of waters, strengthened with Vishnu's energy, thou formerly slew Vritra. Thou art the refuge of all creatures and art adorable. There is no being equal to thee. All the creatures, O Indra, are supported by thee, Thou didst build the greatness of the gods. Deliver all, together with the worlds by assuming thy strength, O great Indra.' And thus glorified, Indra increased little by little; and having assumed his own form, he waxed strong and spoke to the preceptor Vrihaspati standing before. And he said, 'What business of yours yet remaineth; the great Asuras, son of Twashtri, hath been killed; and Vritra also, whose form was exceedingly big and who destroyed the worlds.'
"Vrihaspati said, 'The human Nahusha, a king, having, obtained the throne of heaven by virtue of the power of the divine saints, is giving us exceeding trouble.'
"Indra said, 'How hath Nahusha obtained the throne of heaven, difficult to get? What austerities did he practise? How great is his power, O Vrihaspati!'
"Vrihaspati said, 'The gods having been frightened, wished for a king of heaven, for thou hadst given up the high dignity of heaven's ruler. Then the gods, the Pitris of the universe, the saints, and the principal Gandharvas, all met together, O Indra, and went to Nahusha and said, 'Be thou our king, and the defender of the Universe!' To them said Nahusha, 'I am not able; fill me with your power and with the virtue of your austerities!' So told, the deities strengthened him, O king of the gods! And thereupon Nahusha became a person of terrible strength, and becoming thus the ruler of the three worlds, he hath put the great saints in harness, and the wretch is thus journeying from world to world. Mayst thou never see Nahusha who is terrible. He emitteth poison from his eyes, and absorbeth the energy of all. All the gods
are exceedingly frightened; they go about concealed and do not cast a glance at him!'
"Salya continued, While that best of Angira's race was thus speaking, there came that guardian of the world, Kuvera, and also Yama the son of Surya, and the old god Soma, and Varuna. And arrived there they said to the great Indra, 'How lucky that the son of Twashtri hath been killed, and Vritra also! How lucky, O Indra, that we are beholding thee safe and sound, while all thy enemies have been killed!' Indra received all those guardians of the worlds, and with a glad heart greeted them in proper form with a view to requesting them in connection with Nahusha. And he said, 'Nahusha of terrible mien is the king of the gods; therein lend me your assistance.' They replied, 'Nahusha is of awful mien; his sight is poison; we are afraid of him, O God. If thou overthrowest Nahusha, then we shall be entitled to our shares of sacrificial offerings, O Indra.' Indra said, 'Let it be so. You and the ruler of the waters, and Yama, and Kuvera shall this day be crowned along with me. Aided by all the gods, let us overthrow the foe Nahusha of terrible gaze.' Then Agni also said to Indra, 'Give me a share in sacrificial offerings. I also shall lend you my assistance.' Indra said to him, 'O Agni, thou also shalt get a share in great sacrifices,--there will be a single share (in such) for both Indra and Agni.'
"Salya continued, 'Thus did the illustrious lord Indra, the chastiser of Paka, the giver of boons, bestow, after deliberation upon Kuvera the sovereignty over the Yakshas, and all the wealth of the world; upon Yama, the sovereignty over the Pitris; and upon Varuna, that over the waters.'
Next: Section XVII