The Mahabharata Home
"Narada continued, 'Here in the very centre of the world of the Nagas is situated the city known by the name of Patalam. Celebrated over all the universe, it is worshipped by the Daityas and the Danavas. Creatures inhabiting the earth, if brought hither by force of the water's current, shriek loudly, afflicted with fear. Here the fire known by the name of the Asura-fire 1 and which is fed by water, continually blazeth forth. Held fast by the flat of the celestials, it moveth not, regarding itself as bound and confined. It was here that' the gods, having first vanquished and slain their foes, quaffed the Amrita and deposited the residue. It is from this place that the waning and waxing of the moon are seen. It is here that son of Aditi, the Horse-headed (Vishnu), on the recurrence of every auspicious occasion, riseth, filling at such times the universe, otherwise called Suvarna, 2 with the sound of Vedic hymns and Mantras. And because all watery forms such as the Moon and others shower their water on the region, therefore hath this excellent region been called Patala. 3 It is from here that the celestial elephant Airavata, for the benefit of the universe, taketh up cool water in order to impart it to the clouds, and it is that water which Indra poureth down as rain. Here dwell diverse kinds of aquatic animals, of various shapes such as the Timi and others, which subsist on the rays of the moon. O charioteer, here are many kinds of creatures that die during the day, being pierced by the rays of the sun, but all of whom revive in the night, the reason being that the moon, rising here every day, laying those deceased creatures with Amrita by means of rays, that constitute his arms, resuscitate them by that touch. Deprived of their prosperity by Vasava, it is here that many sinful Danavas live confined, defeated by him and afflicted by Time. It was here that the Lord of creatures--that great Master of all created things--Mahadeva--had practised the severest of ascetic austerities for the benefit of all creatures. Here dwell many regenerate and great Rishis observant of vows called 'Go' and emaciated with the recitation and study of the Vedas, and who, having suspended the vital air called Prana, have attained to heaven by force of their austerities. A man is said to adopt the vow called Go, when he sleepeth wherever he listeth, and when he subsisteth on anything that others place before him, and is clad with robes that others may supply. Here in the race of the celebrated elephant Supratika were born those best of elephants known by the names of Airavata, Vamana, Kumuda and Anjana, the
first being the king of his tribe. Look, O Matali, if there be any bridegroom here, that is distinguished by the possession of superior merits, for then I will go to him for respectfully soliciting him to accept thy daughter. Behold, here lieth an egg in these waters, blazing with beauty. From the commencement of the creation it is here. It moveth not, nor doth it burst. I have never heard any body speaking of its birth or nature. Nobody knoweth who its father or mother is. It is said, O Matali, that when the end of the world cometh, mighty fire burst forth from within it, and spreading consumeth the three worlds with all their mobile and immobile objects.' Hearing those words of Narada, Matali answered him, saying, 'No one here seems to me to be eligible. Let us go hence, therefore, without delay!'"
205:1 Called also the Badava fire.
205:2 The allusion is to the incarnation of Vishnu as the Horse-necked, Nilakantha explains suvarnakhyam Jagat to be Veda prancha i.e., the whole Vedas with all their contents, According to him, the sense of the passage is that Vishnu in that form swells with his own voice the Vedic notes chanted by the Brahmanas.
205:3 Patauti Jalam sravantiti patalam. Thus Nilakantha.
Next: Section C