The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'O grandsire, O thou of great wisdom and invincible prowess in battle, I wish to hear in detail of Krishna who is immutable and omnipotent. O bull among men, tell me truly everything about his great energy and the great feats achieved by him in days of old. Why did that puissant one assume the form of an animal, and for achieving what particular act? Tell me all this, O mighty warrior!'
"Bhishma said, 'Formerly, on one occasion, while out ahunting, I arrived at the hermitage of Markandeya. There I beheld diverse classes of ascetics seated by thousands. The Rishis honoured me by the offer of honey and curds. Accepting their worship, I reverentially saluted them in return. The following that I shall recite was narrated there by the great Rishi Kasyapa. Listen with close attention to that excellent and charming account. In former days, the principal Danavas, endued with wrath and cupidity, and mighty Asuras numbering by hundreds and drunk with might, and innumerable other Danavas that were invincible in battle, became exceedingly jealous of the unrivalled prosperity of the gods. Oppressed (at last) by the Danavas, the gods and the celestial Rishis, failing to obtain peace, fled away in all directions. The denizens of heaven saw the earth looking like one sunk in sore distress. Overspread with mighty Danavas of terrible mien, the earth seemed to be oppressed with a heavy weight. Cheerless and griefstricken, she seemed as if going down into the nether depths. The Adityas, struck with fear, repaired to Brahman, and addressing him, said, 'How, O Brahman, shall we continue to bear these oppressions of the Danavas?' The Self-born answered them, saying, 'I have already ordained what is to be done in this matter. Endued with boons, and possessed of might, and swelling with pride, those senseless wretches do not know that Vishnu of invisible form, that God incapable of being vanquished by the very deities all acting together, hath assumed the form of a boar. That Supreme Deity, rushing to the spot whither those wretches among Danavas, of terrible aspect, are dwelling in thousands below the earth, will slay them all.' Hearing these words of the Grandsire, foremost ones among the deities felt great joy. Sometime after, Vishnu those of mighty energy, encased in the form of a Boar, penetrating into the nether regions, rushed against those offspring of Diti. Beholding that extraordinary
creature, all the Daityas, uniting together and stupefied by Time, quickly proceeded against it for exerting their strength, and stood surrounding it. Soon after, they all rushed against that Boar and seized it simultaneously. Filled with rage they endeavoured to drag the animal from every side. Those foremost of Danavas, of huge bodies, possessed of mighty energy, swelling with strength, succeeded not, however, O monarch, in doing anything to that Boar. At this they wondered much and then became filled with fear. Numbering in thousands, they regarded that their last hour had come. Then that Supreme God of all the gods, having yoga for his soul and yoga for his companion, became rapt in yoga, O chief of the Bharatas, and began to utter tremendous roars, agitating those Daityas and Danavas. All the worlds and the ten points of the compass resounded with those roars, which, for this reason, agitated all creatures and filled them with fear. The very gods with Indra at their head became terror-stricken. The whole universe became stilled in consequence of that sound. It was a dreadful time. All mobile and immobile beings became stupefied by that sound. The Danavas, terrified by that sound, began to fall down lifeless, paralysed by the energy of Vishnu. The Boar, with its hoofs, began to pierce those enemies of the gods, those denizens of the nether regions, and tear their flesh, fat, and bones. In consequence of those tremendous roars, Vishnu came to be called by the name of Sanatana. 1 He is also called Padmanabha. He is the foremost of yogins. He is the Preceptor of all creatures, and their supreme Lord. All the tribes of the gods then repaired to the Grandsire. Arrived at the presence, those illustrious ones a dressed the Lord of the universe, saying, 'What sort of a noise is this, O puissant one? We do not understand it. Who is this one, or whose is this sound at which the universe hath been stupefied? With the energy of this sound or of its maker, the gods and the Danavas have all been deprived of their senses.' Meanwhile, O mighty-armed one, Vishnu in his porcine form was in sight of the assembled gods, his praises hymned by the great Rishis.'
"The Grandsire said, 'That is the Supreme God, the Creator of all beings, the soul of all creatures, the foremost of all yogins. Of huge body and great strength, he cometh here, having slain the foremost ones among the Danavas. He is the Lord of all beings, the master of yoga, the great ascetic, the Soul of all living beings. Be still, all of you. He is Krishna, the destroyer of all obstacles and impediments. 2 That Supreme God, of immeasurable splendour, that great refuge of all blessings, having achieved a most difficult feat that is incapable of being accomplished by others, has returned to his own unmixed nature. 3 It is He from whose navel the primeval lotus had sprung. He is the foremost of yogins. Of supreme soul, He is the creator of all beings. There is no need for sorrow or fear or grief, ye foremost of gods! He is the Ordainer. He is the Creating Principle. He is all-destroying Time. It is He who upholds
all the world. The roars that have alarmed you are being uttered by that high-souled one. Of mighty arms, He is the object of the universal worship. Incapable of deterioration, that lotus-eyed one is the origin of all beings and their lord.'"
87:1 This is certainly a very fanciful etymology of the word Sanatana which ordinarily implies eternal.
87:2 Atma Atmanah is explained by Nilakantha as jivasya paramarthikam swarupam.
87:3 Swamatmanam is Pratyathatmyam.
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