The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, 'Listen, O king, to me as I tell thee the symptoms that appeared on the body of Vritra when he was overtaken by that fever (born of the energy of Mahadeva). The heroic Asura's mouth began to emit flames of fire. He became exceedingly pale. His body began to tremble all over. His breath became hard and thick. His hairs stood on end. His memory, O Bharata, issued out of his mouth in the form of a fierce, dreadful, and inauspicious jackal. Burning and blazing meteors fell on his right and left. Vultures and kanakas and cranes, gathering together, uttered fierce cries, as they wheeled over Vritra's head. Then, in that encounter, Indra, adored by the gods, and armed with the thunderbolt, looked hard at the Daitya as the latter sat on his car. Possessed by that violent fever, the mighty Asura, O monarch, yawned and uttered inhuman cries. 1 While the Asura was yawning Indra hurled his thunderbolt at him. Endued with exceedingly great energy and resembling the fire that destroys the creation at the end of the Yuga, that thunderbolt overthrew in a trice Vritra of gigantic form. Loud shouts were once more uttered by the gods on all sides when they beheld Vritra slain, O bull of Bharata's race! Having slain Vritra, Maghavat, that foe of the Danavas, possessed of great fame, entered heaven with that thunderbolt pervaded by Vishnu. Just then, O thou of Kuru's race, the sin of Brahmanicide (in her embodied form), fierce and awful and inspiring all the worlds with dread, issued out of the body of the slain Vritra. Of terrible teeth and awful, hideous for ugliness, and dark and tawny, with hair dishevelled, and dreadful eyes, O Bharata, with a garland of skulls round her neck, and looking like an (Atharvan) Incantation (in its embodied form), O bull of Bharata's race, covered all over with blood, and clad in rags and barks of trees, O thou of righteous soul, she came out of Vritra's body. Of such dreadful form and mien, O monarch, she sought the wielder of the thunderbolt (for possessing him). A little while after, O thou of Kuru's race, the slayer of Vritra, on some purpose connected with the good of the three worlds, was proceeding towards heaven. Beholding Indra of great energy thus proceeding on his mission, she seized the chief of the deities and from that moment stuck to him. 2 When the sin of Brahmanicide thus stuck to his person and inspired him with terror, Indra entered the fibres of a lotus-stalk and dwelt there for many long years. But the sin of Brahmanicide pursued him closely. Indeed, O son of Kuru,
seized by her, Indra became deprived of all his energies. He made great efforts for driving her from him, but all those efforts proved abortive. Seized by her, O bull of Bharata's race, the chief of the deities at last presented himself before the Grandsire and worshipped him by bending his head low. Understanding that Sakra was possessed by the sin of Brahmanicide, 1 Brahman began to reflect, O best of the Bharatas, (upon the means of freeing his suppliant). The grandsire at last, O thou of mighty arms, addressed Brahmanicide in a sweet voice as if from the desire of pacifying her, and said, 'O amiable one, let the chief of the celestials, who is a favourite of mine, be freed from thee. Tell me, what I shall do for thee. What wish of thine shall I accomplish?'
"Brahmanicide said, 'When the Creator of the three worlds, when the illustrious god adored by the universe, hath been pleased with me, I regard my wishes as already accomplished. Let my residence be now appointed. Desirous of preserving the worlds, this rule had been made by thee. It was thou, O lord, that didst introduced this important ordinance. 2 As thou hast been gratified with me, O righteous Lord, O puissant Master of all the worlds, I shall certainly leave Sakra! But grant me an abode to dwell in.'
"Bhishma continued, 'The Grandsire replied unto Brahmanicide, saying, 'So be it!' Indeed, the Grandsire discovered means for dispelling Brahmanicide from the person of Indra. The Self-create recollected the high-souled Agni. The latter immediately presented himself to Brahman and said these words, 'O illustrious and divine Lord, O thou that are without any defect, I have appeared before thee. It behoveth thee to say what I shall have to accomplish.'
"Brahman said, 'I shall divide this sin of Brahmanicide into several portions. For freeing Sakra from her, do thou take a fourth portion of that sin.'
"Agni said, 'How shall I be rescued from her, O Brahman? O puissant Lord, do thou appoint the way. I desire to know the means (of my own rescue) in detail, O adored of all the worlds!'
"Brahman said, 'Unto that man who, overwhelmed by the quality of Tamas, will abstain from offering thee as an oblation, when he beholds thee in thy blazing form, seeds, herbs, and juices, that portion of Brahmanicide which thou wilt take upon thyself shall immediately enter, and leaving thee shall dwell in him. O carrier off oblations, let the fever of thy heart be dispelled.'
"Bhishma said, 'Thus addressed by the Grandsire the eater of oblations and sacrificial offerings accepted his command. A fourth of that sin then entered his person, O king! The Grandsire then summoned the trees, the herbs, and all kinds of grass to him, and solicited them to take upon themselves a fourth of that sin. Addressed by him, the trees and herbs and grasses became
as much agitated as Agni had been at the request, and they replied unto Grandsire, saying, 'How shall we, O Grandsire of all the worlds, be ourselves rescued from this sin? It behoveth thee not to afflict us that have already been afflicted by the fates. O god, we have always to endure heat and cold and the showers (of the clouds) driven by the winds, in addition to the cutting and the tearing (that we have to suffer at the hands of men). We are willing, O Lord of the three worlds, to take at thy command (a portion of) this sin of Brahmanicide. Let the means, however, of our rescue be pointed out to us.'
"Brahman said, 'This sin that you shall take shall possess the man who through stupefaction of judgment will cut or tear any of you when Parva days come.'
"Bhishma said, 'Thus addressed by the high-souled Brahman, the trees and herbs and grasses adored the Creator and then went away without tarrying there. The Grandsire of all the worlds then summoned the Apsaras and gratifying them with sweet words, O Bharata, said, 'This foremost of ladies, viz., Brahmanicide, has come out of Indra's person. Solicited by me, do you take a fourth portion of her into your own persons (for saving the Chief of the deities).'
"The Apsaras said, 'O Lord of all the gods, at thy command we are fully willing to take a portion of this sin. But, O Grandsire, do thou think of the means by which we ourselves may be freed from (the effects of) this understanding (that we make with thee).'
"Brahman said, 'Let the fever of your hearts be dispelled. The portion of this sin that you will take upon yourselves shall leave you for instantly possessing that man who will seek congress with women in their menstrual season!'
"Bhishma continued, 'Thus addressed by the Grandsire, O bull of Bharata's race, the diverse tribes of the Apsaras, with cheerful souls, repaired to their respective places and began to sport in delight. The illustrious Creator of the three worlds, endued with great ascetic merit, then recollected the Waters which immediately came to him. Arrived at the presence of Brahman of immeasurable energy, the Waters bowed unto him and said these words, 'We have come before thee, O chastiser of foes, at thy command. O puissant Master of all the worlds, tell us what we are to accomplish.'
"Brahman said, 'This dreadful sin hath taken possession of Indra, in consequence of his having slain Vritra. Take ye a fourth part of Brahmanicide.'
"The Waters said, 'Let it be as thou commandest, O master of all the worlds. It behoveth thee, however, O puissant Lord of ours, to think of the means by which we may (in our turn) be rescued from (the consequence of) this understanding. Though art the Lord of all the deities, and the supreme refuge of the universe. Who else is there to whom we may pay our adorations so that he may relieve us from distress.'
"Brahman said, 'Unto that man who stupefied by his understanding and regarding you lightly will cast into you phlegm and urine and excreta, this one shall immediately go and thenceforth reside in him. It is in this way,
verily I say unto ye, that your rescue shall be accomplished.'
"Bhishma continued, 'Then the sin of Brahmanicide, O Yudhishthira, leaving the chief of the deities, proceeded to the abodes that were ordained for her at the Grandsire's command. It was thus, O ruler of men, that Indra had become afflicted by that dreadful sin (and it was thus that he got rid of her). With the Grandsire's permission Indra then resolved to perform a Horse-sacrifice. It is heard, O monarch, that Indra having been thus possessed by the sin of Brahmanicide afterwards became cleansed of her through that Sacrifice. Regaining his prosperity and slaying thousands of foes, great was the joy that Vasava obtained, O lord of Earth! From the blood of Vritra, O son of Pritha, were born high-crested cocks. For this reason, those fowls are unclean (as food) for the regenerate classes, and those ascetics that have undergone the rite of initiation. Under all circumstances, O king, do thou accomplish what is agreeable to the twice-born, for these, O monarch, are known as gods on earth. It was in this way, O thou of Kurds race, that the mighty Asura Vritra was slain by Sakra of immeasurable energy by the aid of subtle intelligence and through the application of means. Thou also, O son of Kunti, unvanquished on earth, wilt become another Indra and the slayer of all thy foes. Those men who, on every Parva day, will recite this sacred narrative of Vritra in the midst of Brahmanas shall never be stained by any sin. I have now recited to thee one of the greatest and most wonderful feats of Indra connected with Vritra. What else dost thou wish to hear?'"
307:1 Amanusham is literally inhuman. The use of such words are due to temporary forgetfulness in such connections. Like Homer, Vyasa also nods.
307:2 Vadhya is the slaughter in her embodied form.
308:1 Dwijapravarvadhya means the slaughter of a superior person of the regenerate order. Indeed, Vritra was a lineal descendant of the great sage Kasyapa, the common progenitor of the Devas and Asuras. Then, again, Vritra was certainly a very superior person.
308:2 The rules or ordinance referred to it is about the killer of a Brahmana being liable to be overtaken by the sin of Brahmanicide.
Next: Section CCLXXXIII