The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, 'In this connection is cited the old story that follows. There
was among the Angas a king of great splendour, called Vasuhoma. That king was always engaged in acts of piety, and accompanied by his spouse he always practiced the most rigid penances. He repaired to the spot called Munjaprishtha held in high esteem by the Pitris and the celestial Rishis. There, on that peak of Himavat, near the golden mountains of Merit, (the great Brahmana here) Rama, sitting under the shade of a well-known banian, had tied his matted locks together. 1 From that time, O monarch, the spot, which is a favourite haunt of Rudra, came to be called Munjaprishtha by Rishis of rigid vows. King Vasuhoma, residing in that spot, acquired many pious attributes and, having gained the esteem of the Brahmanas, came to be regarded as a celestial Rishi in holiness. One day, that crusher of foes, that friend of Sakra, viz., king Mandhatri of great soul, came to Vasuhoma on his mountain retreat. Arrived there, Mandhatri, beholding king Vasuhoma of austere penances stood before the latter in an attitude of humility. Vasuhoma offered unto his guest water to wash his feet, and the Arghya consisting of the usual articles, and enquired of him about the well-being or otherwise of his kingdom consisting of seven limbs. After this, Vasuhoma addressed his royal guest who faithfully followed the practices of the righteous men of old, saying, 'What, O king, shall I do for thee?' Thus addressed, O delighter of the Kurus, Mandhatri, that best of kings, highly gratified, answered Vasuhoma of great wisdom seated at his ease, in the following words.'
"Mandhatri said, 'Thou hast, O king, studied all the doctrines of Vrihaspati. O best of men, the doctrines laid down by Usanas also are known to thee. I desire to know what is the origin of Chastisement. What was awake before Chastisement? What also is said to be its end? How came Chastisement to depend upon the Kshatriya? Tell me all this. O thou of great wisdom! I come to thee as a disciple ready to give thee the tutorial fee.' 2
"Vasuhoma said, 'Listen, O king, as to how Chastisement, that upholder of the world, arose. The soul of righteousness, it is eternal, and was created for maintaining the due government of all creatures. It hath been heard by us that once upon a time, the Grandsire of all the worlds, viz., the divine Brahman desiring to perform a sacrifice, failed to find a priest possessed of qualifications like himself. For this reason he conceived in his brain and held the foetus there for many long years. After a thousand years had passed away, the great god sneezed. In that act, the foetus fell from his head. The divine being, O chastiser of foes, that thus took birth from Brahman was called by the name of Kshupa. Possessed of great powers, he became a lord of creatures. That Kshupa became the priest, O king, in the sacrifice of the high-souled Grandsire. Upon the commencement of that sacrifice, of Brahman, O best of kings. Chastisement disappeared in consequence of the visible form that the Grandsire was
then obliged to assume. 1 Chastisement having disappeared, a great confusion set in among all creatures. There was no longer any distinction between what should be done and what should not. All distinction, again, between clean and unclean food ceased. Men ceased to distinguish between what drink was allowable and what drink was otherwise. All creatures began to injure one another. There were no restraints in the matter of the union of the sexes. All idea of property ceased. All creatures began to rob, and snatching meat from one another. The strong began to slay the weak. Nobody cherished the slightest consideration for his neighbour. The Grandsire then, having worshipped the divine and eternal Vishnu, addressed that great boon-giving god, saying, 'It behoveth thee, O Kesava, to show mercy on the present occasion. Let it be so ordained by thee that the confusion that has occurred may disappear.' Thus addressed, that foremost of deities, armed with an enormous Sula, 2 having reflected long, created his ownself into the form of Chastisement. From that form, having Righteousness for its legs, the goddess Saraswati created Danda-niti (Science of Chastisement) which very soon became celebrated over the world. After this the great god armed with the enormous Sula, having again reflected for some time, appointed a few among the gods as the lords or rulers of their respective classes. It was then that he made the divine Indra of a thousand eyes the ruler of the deities. Yama the son of Vivaswat was made the lord of the Pitris. Kuvera was made the lord of treasures and of all the Rakshasas. Meru was made the king of the mountains, and Ocean was made the lord of the rivers. The puissant Varuna was installed into the sovereignty of the waters and the Asuras. Death was made the lord of life and all living things, and Fire was appointed as the lord of all things possessed of energy. The puissant Isana the high-souled and eternal Mahadeva, of three eyes, was made the lord of the Rudras. Vasishtha was made the lord of the Brahmanas, and Jatavedas was made the chief of the Vasus. Surya was made the lord of all luminous bodies, and Chandramas was made the king of Stars and constellations. Ansumat was made the lord of all herbs, and the puissant and foremost of deities, viz., Kumara or Skanda, of twelve arms, was made the chief of all the spirits and ghostly beings (that wait upon Mahadeva). Time, possessing the seeds of both destruction and growth, was made the sovereign of all creatures as also of the four portions of Death (viz., weapons, diseases, Yama, and acts) and lastly of grief and joy. The Srutis declare that the supreme god Mahadeva, that lord of lords, O king, armed with Sula, is the chief of the Rudras. The rod of chastisement was given to Brahmana's son of subsequent birth, viz., Kshupa, that lord of all creatures and the foremost one of all virtuous persons. Upon the completion of that sacrifice according to due rites, Mahadeva, after doing proper reverence made over
[paragraph continues] Chastisement, that protector of Righteousness, unto Vishnu. 1 Vishnu gave it to Angiras; and Angiras, that foremost of ascetics, made it over to Indra and Marichi. Marichi gave it to Bhrigu. Bhrigu gave that rod intended for the protection of righteousness, unto all the Rishis. The Rishis gave it unto the Regents of the world, and the Regents made it over again to Kshupa. Kshupa then made it over to Manu the son of Surya. The deity of Sraddhas (viz., Manu), gave it unto his sons for the sake of true righteousness and wealth. Chastisement should be inflicted with discrimination, guided by righteousness and not by caprice. It is intended for restraining the wicked. Fines and forfeitures are intended for striking alarm, and not for filling the king's treasury. The maiming of one's body or the infliction of death should not proceed from trivial causes. The infliction of physical pain by diverse means, hurling from tops of mountains, and banishment also, should not proceed from similar causes. Surya's son Manu gave the rod of chastisement (to his sons) for the protection of the world. Chastisement, in the hands of successive holders, remains awake, protecting all creatures. At the top of the scale, the divine Indra is awake (with the rod of chastisement); after him, Agni of blazing flames; after him, Varuna; after Varuna, Prajapati; after Prajapati, Righteousness whose essence consists of restraint, 2 after Righteousness the son of Brahman, viz., the eternal Law; after Law, Energy is awake, employed in the act of protection; after Energy, the herbs (offered in sacrifices for supporting the gods and used as food and medicines); after the herbs, the mountains; after the mountains, all kinds of juices and their attributes; after these, the goddess Niriti; after Niriti, the planets and the luminous bodies in heaven; after these, the Vedas; after the Vedas, the puissant form of Vishnu with equine head; after him, the almighty and eternal Grandsire, viz., Brahman; after the Grandsire, the divine and blessed Mahadeva; after Mahadeva, the Viswedevas; after them, the great Rishis; after the Rishis the divine Soma; after Soma, the deities who are all eternal; after the deities, know that the Brahmanas are awake. After the Brahmanas, the Kshatriyas are righteously protecting all creatures. The eternal universe, consisting of mobile and immobile creatures, is kept awake by the Kshatriyas. Creatures are kept awake in this world, and Chastisement is awake among them. Possessed of splendour resembling that of the Grandsire himself, Chastisement keeps together and upholds everything. 3 Time, O Bharata, is always awake, in the beginning, the middle, and the end. The master of all the worlds, the lord of all creatures, the puissant and blessed Mahadeva, the god of gods, is always awake. He is called by these names also, viz., Kapardin, Sankara, Rudra, Bhava, Sthanu and the lord of Uma. Thus Chastisement also keeps awake in the beginning, the middle, and the end. A virtuous king should rule properly, guided by Chastisement.'
"Bhishma continued, 'That person who listens to this teaching of Vasuhoma, and having listened to it conducts himself according to its tenure, is sure to obtain the fruition of all his wishes. I have now, O bull among men, told thee everything as to who Chastisement is, that restrainer of the universe which is governed by righteousness.'"
265:1 Jataharamadisat may also mean 'ordered the removal of his matted locks'--in other words, 'had a shame.'
265:2 i.e., to acknowledge thee as a tutor.
266:1 The sense is that inasmuch as the Grandsire, who was the governor of the universe, assumed the mild and peaceful aspect of a sacrificer, Chastisement which had dwelt in his furious form could no longer exist.
266:2 Though Sula is mentioned, yet it is Vishnu and not Mahadeva, that is implied. Generally the word means any weapon.
267:1 The whole account contains more than one inconsistency. The commentator is silent. I think the inconsistencies are incapable of being explained. It is very probable that there have been interpolations in the passage. Verse 34 is probably an interpolation, as also verse 36.
267:2 i.e., Self-denial or discipline.
267:3 I have not the faintest idea of what is intended by these verses, viz., 43 and 51. Nilakantha is silent. It is very doubtful if they have really any meaning.
Next: Section CXXIII