The Mahabharata Home
"Narada said, 'This foremost of cities that thou beholdest and which resembles the Amaravati of the chief of the celestials himself, is known by the name of Bhogavati. It is ruled over by Vasuki, the king of the Nagas. That Shesha dwelleth here, who, in consequence of his ascetic austerities of the foremost order, is able to support this earth with all her vastness. His body is like that of a white mountain. He is decked in celestial ornaments. He hath a thousand heads. His tongues are blazing like flames of fire, and he is endued with great strength. There dwell in happiness innumerable Nagas--sons of Surasa--possessed of diverse forms, and decked on ornaments of diverse kinds, bearing the signs of gems, Swastika, circles and drinking vessels. All of them endued with great strength are by nature fierce. Some have a thousand heads, some five hundred, and some three. And some have two heads, and some five, and some have seven faces. And all of them are possessed of huge bodies that resemble the mountains stretching over the earth. Millions and tens of millions are they, in fact, uncountable, even as regards those of' them that belong to a single race. Listen, however, to me as I name a few of the more famous ones amongst them. They are Vasuki, Takshaka, Karkotaka, Dhanjaya, Kaliya, Nahusha, Aswatara, Vakyakunda, Mani, Apurana, Khaga, Vamana, Elapatra, Kukura, Kukuna, Aryaka, Nandaka, Kalasa, Potaka, Kalilasaka, Pinjaraka, Airavata, Sumanmukha, Dadhimukha, Sankha, Nanda, Upanandaka, Apta, Kotaraka, Sikhi, Nishthuraka, Tittiri, Hastibhadra, Kumuda, Maylapindaka, the two Padmas, Pundarika, Pushpa, Mudgaraparnaka, Karavira, Pitharaka, Samvritta, Vritta, Pindara, Vilwapatra, Mushikada, Sirishaka, Dilipa, Sankha-sirsha, Jyotishka, Aparajita, Kauravya, Dhritarashtra, Kuhara, Krisaka, Virajas, Dharana, Savahu, Mukhara, Jaya, Vidhira, Andha, Visundi, Virasa, and Sarasa. These and many others there are amongst the sons of Kasyapa. See O Matali, if there is anybody here whom thou canst elect.'
"Kanwa continued, 'Matali, meanwhile, had been looking attentively at a person that stood by. And after Narada had ceased speaking, the celestial charioteer with gratified mind asked the Rishi, saying, 'Of what
race is he the delighter--that comely youth of great radiance--who standeth before Aryaka of Kauravya's line? Who is his father, and who is his mother? Of what Naga's race is he? Indeed, of what line doth he stand as a high flag-staff? In consequence of his intelligence, his patience, his beauty, and his youth, my heart, O celestial Rishi, hath been attracted towards him. That youth will make the best of husbands for my Gunakesi.'
"Kanwa continued, 'Beholding Matali's gratification at seeing the Naga called Sumukha, Narada informed him of the nobility of his parentage and of his feats. And he said, 'Born in the race of Airavata this prince of Nagas is named Sumukha. He is the favourite grandson of Aryaka, and the daughter's son of Vamana. The father of this youth was, O Matali, the Naga called Chikura. Not long before was he slain by Vinata's Son.' Hearing this Matali became highly pleased, and addressing Narada, the charioteer said, 'This best of Nagas is, O sire, very acceptable to me for a son-in-law. Make an endeavour to secure him, for I am highly pleased at the thought of bestowing on this Naga, O Muni, my dear daughter.'"
Next: Section CIV