The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'O grandsire, thou art possessed of great wisdom and thoroughly conversant with every branch of learning. From this very narrative of the slaughter of Vritra the wish has arisen in my mind of asking thee a question. Thou hast said, O ruler of men, that Vritra was (first) stupefied by Fever, and that then, O sinless one, he was slain by Vasava with the thunderbolt. How did this Fever, O thou of great wisdom, arise? O lord, I desire to hear in detail of the origin of Fever.'
"Bhishma said, 'Listen, O king, to the origin, celebrated over all the world, of Fever. I shall speak in detail on this topic, fully explaining how Fever first sprang into existence, O Bharata! In days of yore, O monarch, there was a summit, named Savitri, of the mountains of Meru. Worshipped by all the worlds, it was endued with great splendour and adorned with every kind of jewels and gems. That summit was immeasurable in extent and thither no one could go. 1 On that mountain summit the divine Mahadeva used to sit in splendour as if on a bed-stead adorned with gold. The daughter of the
king of mountains, sitting by his side, shone in brilliance. 1 The high-souled deities, the Vasus of immeasurable energy, the high-souled Aswins, those foremost of physicians, and king Vaisravana waited upon by many a Guhyaka,--that lord of the Yakshas, endued with prosperity and puissance, and having his abode on the summit of Kailasa,--all waited upon the highsouled Mahadeva. And the great sage Usanas, and the foremost of Rishis having Sanatkumara for their first, and the other celestial Rishis headed by Angiras, and the Gandharva Viswavasu, and Narada and Parvata, and the diverse tribes of Apsaras, all came there to wait upon the Master of the universe. A pure and auspicious breeze, bearing diverse kinds of perfumes, blew there. The trees that stood there were adorned with the flowers of every season. A large number of Vidyadharas and Siddhas and ascetics too, O Bharata, repaired thither for waiting upon Mahadeva, the Lord of all creatures. Many ghostly beings, also, of diverse forms and aspects, and many dreadful Rakshasas and mighty Pisachas, of diverse aspects, mad with joy, and armed with diverse kinds of uplifted weapons, forming the train of Mahadeva, were there, every one of whom resembled a blazing fire in energy. The illustrious Nandi stood there at the command of the great god, blazing with his own energy and armed with a lance that resembled a flame of fire. Ganga also, that foremost of all Rivers and born of all sacred waters in the universe, waited there in her embodied form, O son of Kuru's race, upon that illustrious deity. Thus adored by the celestial Rishis and the gods, the illustrious Mahadeva of immeasurable energy dwelt on that summit of Meru.
"After some time had passed away, the Prajapati Daksha 2 commenced to perform a Sacrifice according to the ancient rites (laid down in the Vedas). Unto the Sacrifice of Daksha, all the deities headed by Sakra, assembling together, resolved to repair. It hath been heard by us that the high-souled deities, with the permission o f Mahadeva, mounted their celestial cars resembling the fire or the Sun in splendour, and proceeded to that spot (on the Himavat) whence the Ganges is said to issue. Beholding the deities depart, the excellent daughter of the king of mountains, addressed her divine spouse, viz., the Lord of all creatures, and said, 'O illustrious one, whither are those deities headed by Sakra going? O thou that art conversant with the truth, tell me truly, for a great doubt has filled my mind.'
"Maheswara said, 'O lady that art highly blessed, the excellent Prajapati Daksha is adoring the gods in a Horse-sacrifice. These denizens of heaven are proceeding even thither.'
"Uma said, 'Why, O Mahadeva, dost thou not proceed to that Sacrifice? What objection is there of thy going to that place?'
"Maheswara said, 'O highly blessed lady, the deities in days of yore made
an arrangement in consequence of which no share was assigned to me of offerings in all Sacrifices. Agreeably to the course that was sanctioned in consequence of that arrangement, O thou of the fairest complexion, the deities do not give me, following the old custom, any share of the sacrificial offerings.'
"Uma said, O illustrious one, among all beings thou art the foremost in puissance. In merit, in energy, in fame, and in prosperity, thou yieldest to none, and thou art, indeed, superior to all. In consequence, however, of this disability in respect of a share (in the Sacrificial offerings) I am filled with great grief, O sinless one, and a tremor overtakes me from head to foot.'
"Bhishma continued, 'The goddess (Parvati), having said these words unto her divine spouse, the Lord of all creatures, O monarch, remained silent, her heart burning the while in grief. Then Mahadeva, understanding what was in her heart and what her thoughts were (for wiping off that disgrace), addressed Nandi, saying, 'Wait here (by the goddess). Summoning all his Yoga force, that Lord of all lords of Yoga, that god of gods, that wielder of Pinaka, possessed of mighty energy, quickly proceeded to the place (where Daksha was sacrificing) accompanied by all his terrible followers and destroyed that Sacrifice. Amongst these followers of his, some uttered loud cries, and some laughed terribly, and some, O king, extinguished the (Sacrificial) fires with blood; and some, possessed of awful faces, pulling up the sacrificial stakes, began to whirl them. Others began to devour those that were ministering to the Sacrifice. Then that sacrifice, thus afflicted on every side, assumed the form of a deer and sought to fly away through the skies. Ascertaining that the Sacrifice was running away in that form, the puissant Mahadeva began to pursue him with bow and arrow. In consequence of the wrath that then filled the heart of that foremost of all gods, possessed of immeasurable energy, a dreadful drop of sweat appeared on his forehead. When that drop of sweat fell down on the earth, there forthwith appeared a blazing fire resembling the (all-destructive) conflagration that appears at the end of a Yuga. From that fire issued a dreadful being, O monarch, of very short stature, possessed of blood-red eyes and a green beard. His body was covered entirely with hair like a hawk's or an owl's and his hair stood erect. Of dreadful aspect, his complexion was dark and his attire blood-red. Like a fire burning a heap of dry grass or straw, that Being of great energy quickly consumed the embodied form of Sacrifice. Having accomplished that feat, he then rushed towards the deities and the Rishis that had assembled there. The deities, filled with fear, fled in all directions. In consequence of that Being's tread, the earth, O monarch began to tremble. 1 Exclamations of Oh and Alas arose throughout the universe. Marking this, the puissant Grandsire, showing himself unto Mahadeva, addressed him in the following words.'
"Brahman said, 'O puissant one, the deities will henceforth yield thee a share of the sacrificial offerings! O Lord of all the deities, let this wrath of thine
be withdrawn by thee! O scorcher of foes, there, those gods, and the Rishis, in consequence of thy wrath, O Mahadeva, have become exceedingly agitated. This Being also, that hath sprung from thy sweat, O foremost of gods, shall wander among creatures, O righteous-souled one, under the name of Fever. O puissant one, if the energy of this Being remains all collected together, then the entire earth herself will not be able to bear him. Let him, therefore, be distributed into many parts.' When Brahman had said these words, and when his proper share was appointed of the sacrificial offerings, Mahadeva replied unto the Grandsire of great energy, saying, 'So be id' Indeed, the wielder of Pinaka, viz., Bhava, smiled a little and became filled with joy. And he accepted the share that the Grandsire appointed of the offerings in sacrifices. Conversant with the properties of everything, Mahadeva then distributed Fever into many portions, for the peace of all creatures. Listen, O son, as to how he did this. The heat that is perceptible in the heads of elephants, the bitumen of mountains, 1 the moss that floats on water, the slough of snakes, the sores that appear in the hoofs of bulls, the sterile tracts of earth that are full of saline matter, the dullness of vision of all animals, the diseases that appear in the throats of horses, the crests appearing on the heads of peacocks, the eye-disease of the koel, 2 each of these was named Fever by the high-souled Mahadeva. This is what has been heard by us. The liver-disease also of sheep, and the hiccup of parrots are also each known as forms of Fever. To this must be added the toil that tigers undergo, for that also, O, righteous king, is known as a from of Fever. Besides these, O Bharata, amongst men, Fever enters all bodies at the time of birth, of death, and on other occasions. This then that is called Fever is known to be the dreadful energy of Maheswara. He is endued with authority over all creatures and should, therefore, be held in respect and worshipped by all. It was by him that Vritra, that foremost of virtuous persons, was overtaken when he yawned. It was then that Sakra hurled his thunderbolt at him. Thunderbolt, penetrating the body of Vritra, O Bharata, divided him in twain. Divided in twain by the thunderbolt, the mighty Asura possessed of great Yoga powers, proceeded to the region of Vishnu of immeasurable energy. It was in consequence of his devotion to Vishnu that he had succeeded in overwhelming the whole universe. And it was in consequence of his devotion to Vishnu that he ascended, when slain, to the region of Vishnu. Thus, O son, adverting: to the story of Vritra have I recited to thee the narrative in detail of Fever. Upon what else shall I speak to thee? That man who will read this account of the origin of Fever with close attention and cheerful heart shall become free from disease and shall always have happiness for his share. Filled with gladness, he shall have all the wishes accomplished upon which he may set his heart.'"
310:1 Anadhrishyam is, literally, unvanquishable.
311:1 Uma or Parvati, the daughter of Himavat, the spouse of Siva.
311:2 The self-created Brahman at first created, by flats of his holy will, certain beings who were charged to procreate for filling the universe with living creatures. These are the Prajapatis or lords of all creatures. Amongst them was Daksha. Other accounts represent Daksha as the grandson of Brahman.
312:1 There are three vocatives in this verse, expressive, of course, of great surprise. I omit them in the translation.
313:1 A kind of substance like lac that oozes out of the stones of certain mountains during the hot months. It is also called Silajit, is taken internally by many men in the belief that it increases digestion and strength.
313:2 The Indian cuckoo, noted for his clear musical kuhus. This is the favourite bird of Indian poets.
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