The Mahabharata Home
"Arjuna said, 'How did Agni and Shoma, in days of yore, attain to uniformity in respect of their original nature? This doubt has arisen in my mind. Do thou dispel it, O slayer of Madhu!'
"The highly and holy one said, 'I shall recite to thee, O son of Pandu, an ancient story of incidents originating from my own energy. Do thou listen to it with rapt attention! When four thousand Yugas according to the measure of the celestials elapse, the dissolution of the universe comes. The Manifest disappears into the Unmanifest. All creatures, mobile and immobile, meet with destruction. Light, Earth, Wind, all disappear. Darkness spreads over the universe which becomes one infinite expanse of
water. When that infinite waste of water only exists like Brahma without second, it is neither day nor night. Neither aught nor naught exists; neither manifest nor unmanifest. Then only undifferentiated Brahman existed. When such is the condition of the universe, the foremost of Beings, viz., springs from Tamas, the eternal and immutable Hari that is the combination of the attributes (of omnipotence and the rest), belonging to Narayana, that is indestructible and immortal, that is without senses, that is inconceivable and unborn, that is Truth's self fraught with compassion, that is endued with the form of existence which the rays of the gem called Chintamani have, that causes diverse kinds of inclinations to flow in diverse directions, that is divested of the principles of hostility and deterioration and mortality and decay, that is formless and all-pervading, and that is endued with the principle of universal Creation and of Eternity without beginning, middle, or end. There is authority for this assertion. The Sruti declares,--Day was not. Night was not. Aught was not. Naught was not. In the beginning there was only Tamas 1 in the form of the universe, and she is the night of Narayana of universal form. Even this is the meaning of the word Tamas. From that Purusha (called Hari), thus born of Tamas and having Brahman for his parent, started into existence the Being called Brahman. Brahman, desiring to create creatures, caused Agni and Shoma to spring from his own eyes. Afterwards when creatures came to be created, the created persons came out in their due order as Brahmanas and Kshatriyas. He who started into life as Shoma was none else than Brahma; and they that were born as Brahmanas were all Shoma in reality. He who started into being as Kshatriyas were none else than Agni. The Brahmanas became endued with greater energy than the Kshatras. If you ask the reason why, the answer is that this superiority of the Brahmanas to the Kshatriyas is an attribute that is manifest to the whole world. It occurred as follows. The Brahmanas represent the eldest creation as regards men. None were created before, that was superior to the Brahmanas. He who offers food into the mouth of a Brahmana is regarded as pouring libations into a blazing fire (for gratifying the deities). I say that having ordained things in comprising this way, the creation of creatures was accomplished by Brahma. Having established all created Beings in their respective positions, he upholds the three worlds. There occurs a declaration to the same effect in the Mantras of the Srutis. Thou, O Agni, art the Hotri in sacrifices, and the benefactor of the universe. Thou art the benefactor of the deities, of men, and of all the worlds. There is (other) authority also for this. Thou art, O Agni, the Hotri of the universe and of sacrifices. Thou art the source through which the deities and men do good to the universe. Agni is truly the Hotri and the performer
of sacrifices. Agni is again the Brahma of the sacrifice. No libations can be poured into sacrificial fire without uttering mantras; there can be no penances without a person to perform them; the worship of the deities and men and the Rishis is accomplished by the libations poured with mantras. Hence, O Agni, thou hast been regarded as the Hotri in sacrifices. 1 Thou art, again, all the other mantras that have been declared in respect of the Homa rites of men. For the Brahmanas the duty is ordained of officiating for others in the sacrifices they perform. The two other orders, viz., Kshatras and Vaisyas, that are included within the regenerate or twice-born class, have not the same duty prescribed for them. Hence, Brahmanas are like Agni, who uphold sacrifices. The sacrifices (which the Brahmanas perform) strengthen the deities. Strengthened in this way, the deities fructify the Earth (and thereby support all living creatures). But the result that may be achieved by the foremost of sacrifices may as well be accomplished through the mouth of the Brahmanas. That learned person who offers food into the mouth of a Brahmana is said to pour libations into the sacred fire for gratifying the deities. In this way the Brahmanas have come to be regarded as Agni. They that are possessed of learning adore Agni. Agni, is again, Vishnu. Entering all creatures, he upholds their life-breaths. In this connection there is a verse sung by Sanatkumara. Brahman, in creating the universe, first created the Brahmanas. The Brahmanas become immortal by studying the Vedas, and repair to heaven through the aid of such study. The intelligence, speech, acts and observances, faith, and the penances of the Brahmanas uphold both the Earth and the heaven like slings of strings upholding bovine nectar. 2 There is no duty higher than Truth. There is no superior more worthy of reverence than the mother. There is none more efficient than the Brahmana for conferring felicity both here and hereafter. The inhabitants of those realms where Brahmanas have no certain means of support (from lands or other kinds of property assigned to them) become very miserable. There the oxen do not carry the people or draw the plough, nor do vehicles of any kind bear them. There milk kept in jars is never churned for yielding butter. On the other hand, the residents become divested of prosperity of every kind, and betake themselves to the ways of robbers (instead of being able to enjoy the blessings of peace) 3 In the Vedas, the Puranas, the histories, and other authoritative writings, it is said that Brahmanas, who are the souls of all creatures, who are the
creators of all things, and who are identifiable with all existent objects, sprang from the mouth of Narayana. Indeed, it is said that the Brahmans first came at the time when the great boon-giving god had restrained his speech as a penance and the other orders have originated from the Brahmanas. The Brahmanas are distinguished above the deities and Asuras, since they were created by myself in my indescribable form as Brahma. As I have created the deities and the Asuras and the great Rishis so I have placed the Brahmanas in their respective situations and have to punish them occasionally. In consequence of his licentious assault on Ahalya, Indra was cursed by Gautama, her husband, through which Indra got a green beard on his face. Through that curse of Kausika Indra lost, also, his own testicles, which loss was afterwards (through the kindness of the other deities) made up by the substitution of the testicles of a ram. When in the sacrifice of king Sarjiati, the great Rishi Chyavana became desirous of making the twin Aswins sharers of the sacrificial offerings, Indra objected. Upon Chyavana insisting, Indra sought to hurl his thunderbolt at him. The Rishi paralysed Indra's arms. Incensed at the destruction of his sacrifice by Rudra, Daksha once more set himself to the practice of severe austerities and attaining to high puissance caused something like a third eye to appear on the forehead of Rudra for the destruction of Tripurasura. 1 When Rudra addressed himself for the destruction of the triple city belonging to the Asuras, the preceptor of the Asuras, viz., Usanas, provoked beyond endurance, tore a matted lock from his own head and hurled it at Rudra. From that matted lock of Usanas sprang many serpents. Those serpents began to bite Rudra, at which his throat became blue. During a bygone period, viz., that connected with the Self-born Manu, 2 it is said that Narayana had seized Rudra by the throat and hence did Rudra's throat become blue. On the occasion of churning the Ocean for raising the amrita, Vrihaspati of Angiras race sat on the shores of the Ocean for performing the rite of Puruscharana. When he took up a little water for the purpose of the initial achamana, the water seemed to him to be very muddy. At this Vrihaspati became angry and cursed the Ocean, saying,--Since thou continuest to be so dirty regardless of the fact of my having come to thee for touching thee, since thou hast not become clear and transparent, therefore from this day thou shalt be tainted with fishes and sharks and tortoises and other aquatic animals. From that time, the waters of the ocean have become infested with diverse kinds of sea-animals and monsters. Viswarupa, the son of Tashtri, formerly became the priest of the deities. He was, on his mother's side, related to the Asuras, for his mother was the daughter of an Asura. While publicly offering unto the deities their shares of sacrificial
offerings, he privately offered shares thereof unto the Asuras. The Asuras, with their chief Hiranyakasipu at their head, then repaired to their sister, the mother of Viswarupa, and solicited a boon from her, saying,--The son Viswarupa by Tashtri, otherwise called Trisiras, is now the priest of the deities. While he gives unto the deities their shares of sacrificial offerings publicly, he gives us our shares of the same privately. In consequence of this, the deities are being aggrandised, and we are being weakened. It behoveth thee, therefore, to prevail upon him that he may take up our cause. Thus addressed by them, the mother of Viswarupa repaired to her son who was then staying in the Nandana woods (of Indra) and said unto him,--How is it, O son, that thou art engaged in aggrandising the cause of thy foes and weakening that of thy maternal uncles? It behoveth thee not to act in this way.--Viswarupa, thus solicited by his mother, thought that he should not disobey her words, and as the consequence of that reflection he went over to the side of Hiranyakasipu, after having paid proper respects to his mother. King Hiranyakasipu, upon the arrival of Trisiras, dismissed his old Hotri, viz., Vasishtha, the son of Brahma, and appointed Trisiras to that office. Incensed at this, Vasishtha cursed Hiranyakasipu, saying,--Since thou dismissest me and appointest another person as thy Hotri, this sacrifice of thine shall not be completed, and some Being the like of whom has not existed before will slay thee!--In consequence of this curse, Hiranyakasipu was slain by Vishnu in the form of a man-lion, Viswarupa, having adopted the side of his maternal relations, employed himself in severe austerities for aggrandising them. Impelled by the desire of causing him to swerve from his vows, Indra despatched to him many beautiful Apsaras. Beholding those celestial nymphs of transcendent beauty, the heart of Viswarupa became agitated. Within a very short time he became exceedingly attached to them. Understanding that he had become attached to them, the celestial nymphs said unto him one day,--We shall not tarry here any longer. In fact, we shall return to that place whence we came. Unto them that said so, the son of Tashtri replied,--Where will you go? Stay with me. I shall do you good. Hearing him say so, the Apsaras rejoined,--We are celestial nymphs called Apsaras. We chose in days of old the illustrious and boon-giving Indra of great puissance, Viswarupa then said unto them. This very day I shall so ordain that all the deities with Indra at their head shall cease to be. Saying this, Trisiras began to recite mentally certain sacred Mantras of great efficacy. By virtue of those Mantras he began to increase in energy. With one of his mouths he began to drink all the Soma that Brahmanas engaged in Sacrifices poured on their sacred fires with due rites. With a second mouth he began to eat all food (that was offered in sacrifices). With his third mouth he began to drink up the energy of all the deities with Indra at their head. Beholding him swelling with energy in every part of his body that was strengthened by the Soma he was drinking, all the deities, then, with Indra in their company, proceeded to the Grandsire Brahma. Arrived at his presence, they addressed him and said,--All the Soma that is duly
offered in the sacrifices performed everywhere is being drunk by Viswarupa. We no longer obtain our shares. The Asuras are being aggrandised, while we are being weakened. It behoveth thee, therefore, to ordain what is for our good.--After the deities ceased, the Grandsire replied,--The great Rishi Dadhichi of Bhrigu's race is now engaged in performing severe austerities. Go, ye deities, unto him and solicit a boon from him. Do ye so arrange that he may cast off his body. With his bones let a new weapon be created called the Thunderbolt. Thus instructed by the Grandsire, the deities proceeded to that place where the holy Rishi Dadhichi was engaged in his austerities. The deities with Indra at their head addressed the sage, saying,--O holy one, your austerities, we hope, are being well performed and uninterrupted.--Unto them the sage Dadhichi said,--Welcome to all of you. Tell me what I should do for you. I shall certainly do what you will say. They then told him,--It behoveth thee to cast off thy body for benefiting all the worlds. Thus solicited, the sage Dadhichi, who was a great Yogin and who regarded happiness and misery in the same light, without being at all cheerless, concentrated his Soul by his Yoga power and cast off his body. When his Soul left its temporary tenement of clay, Dhatri, taking his bones, created an irresistible weapon called the Thunder-bolt. With the Thunder-bolt thus made with the bones of a Brahmana, which was impenetrable by other weapons and irresistible and pervaded by the energy of Vishnu, Indra struck Viswarupa the son of Tashtri. Having slain the son of Tashtri thus, Indra severed his head from the body. From the lifeless body, however, of Viswarupa, when it was pressed, the energy that was still residing in it gave birth to a mighty Asura of the name of Vritra. Vritra became the foe of Indra, but Indra slew him also with the Thunder-bolt. In consequence of the sin of Brahmanicide, being thus doubled Indra became overcome with a great fear and as the consequence thereof he had to abandon the sovereignty of heaven. He entered a cool lotus stalk that grew in the Manas lake. In consequence of the Yoga attribute of Anima, he became very minute and entered the fibres of that lotus stalk. 1 When the lord of the three worlds, the husband of Sachi, had thus disappeared from sight through fear of the sin of Brahmanicide, the universe became lordless. The attributes of Rajas and Tamas assailed the deities. The Mantras uttered by the great Rishis lost all efficacy. Rakshasas appeared everywhere The Vedas were about to disappear. The inhabitants of all the worlds, being destitute of a king, lost their strength and began to fall an easy prey to Rakshasas and other evil Beings. Then the deities and the Rishis, uniting together, made Nahusha, the son of Ayusha, the king of the three worlds and duly crowned him as such. Nahusha had on his forehead full five-hundred luminaries of blazing effulgence, which had the virtue of despoiling every creature of energy. Thus equipt Nahusha continued to rule heaven. The three worlds were restored to
their normal condition. The inhabitants of the universe once more became happy and cheerful. Nahusha then said,--Everything that Indra used to enjoy is before me. Only, his spouse Sachi is not by. Having said this, Nahusha proceeded to where Sachi was and, addressing her, said,--O blessed lady, I have become the lord of the deities. Do thou accept me. Unto him Sachi replied, saying--Thou art, by nature, wedded to righteousness of behaviour. Thou belongest, again, to the race of Shoma. It behoveth thee not to assail another person's wife.--Nahusha, thus addressed by her, said,--The position of Indra is now being occupied by me. I deserve to enjoy the dominions and all the precious possessions of Indra. In desiring to enjoy thee there can be no sin. Thou wert Indra's and, therefore, should be mine. Sachi then said unto him,--I am observing a vow that has not yet been completed. After performing the final ablutions I shall come to thee within a few days. Extracting this promise from Indra's spouse, Nahusha left her presence. Meanwhile Sachi, afflicted with pain and grief, anxious to find her lord and assailed by her fear of Nahusha proceeded to Vrihaspati (the chief priest of the celestials). At the first sight Vrihaspati understood her to be struck with anxiety. He immediately had recourse to Yoga-meditation and learnt that she was intent upon doing what was necessary for restoring her husband to his true position. Vrihaspati then addressed her, saying,--Equipt with penances and the merit that will be thine in consequence of this vow that thou art observing, do thou invoke the boon-giving goddess Upasruti. Invoked by thee, she will appear and show thee where thy husband is dwelling.--While in the observance of that very austere vow, she invoked with the aid of proper Mantras the boon-giving goddess Upasruti. Invoked by Sachi, the goddess presented herself before her and said,--I am here at thy bidding. Invoked by thee I have come. What cherished wish of thine shall I accomplish? Bowing unto her with a bend of the head, Sachi said,--O blessed lady, it behoveth thee to show me where my husband is. Thou art Truth. Thou art Rita. Thus addressed, the goddess Upasruti took her to the lake Manasa. Arrived there, she pointed out to Sachi her lord Indra residing within the fibres of a lotus stalk. Beholding his spouse pale and emaciated, Indra became exceedingly anxious. And the lord of heaven said unto himself, Alas, great is the sorrow that has overtaken me. I have fallen off from the position that is mine. This my spouse, afflicted with grief on my account, finds out my lost self and comes to me here. Having reflected in this strain, Indra addressed his dear spouse and said,--In what condition art thou now? She answered him,--Nahusha invites me to make me his wife. I have obtained a respite from him, having fixed the time when I am to go to him. Unto her Indra then said, Go and say unto Nahusha that he should come to thee on a vehicle never used before, viz., one unto which some Rishis should be harnessed, and arriving at thine in that state he should wed thee. Indra has many kinds of vehicles that are all beautiful and charming. All these have borne thee. Nahusha, however, should come on such a vehicle that Indra himself had
not possessed. Thus counselled by her lord, Sachi left that spot with a joyous heart. Indra also once more entered the fibres of that lotus-stalk. Beholding the Queen of Indra come back to heaven, Nahusha addressed her saying, The time thou hadst fixed is over. Unto him Sachi said what Indra had directed her to say. Harnessing a number of great Rishis unto the vehicle he rode, Nahusha set out from his place for coming to where Sachi was living. The foremost of Rishis, viz., Agastya, born within a jar, of the vital seed of Maitravaruna, beheld those foremost of Rishis insulted by Nahusha in that way. Him Nahusha struck with his foot. Unto him, Agastya said,--Wretch, as thou hast betaken thyself to a highly improper act, do thou fall down on the Earth. Be transformed into a snake and do thou continue to live in that form as long as the Earth and her hills continue. As soon as these words were uttered by the great Rishi, Nahusha fell down from that vehicle. The three worlds once more became master-less. The deities and the Rishis then united together and proceeded to where Vishnu was and appealed to him for bringing about the restoration of Indra. Approaching him, they said,--O holy one, it behoveth thee to rescue Indra who is overwhelmed by the sin of Brahmanicide. The boon-giving Vishnu replied unto them, saying,--Let Sakra perform a Horse-sacrifice in honour of Vishnu. He will then be restored to his former position. The deities and the Rishis began to search for Indra, but when they could not find him, they went to Sachi and said unto her,--O blessed lady, go unto Indra and bring him here. Requested by them, Sachi once more proceeded to the lake Manasa. Indra, rising from the lake, came to Vrihaspati. The celestial priest Vrihaspati then made arrangements for a great Horse-sacrifice, substituting a black antelope for a good steed every way fit to be offered up in sacrifice. Causing Indra, the lord of the Maruts, to ride upon that very steed (which was saved from slaughter) Vrihaspati led him to his own place. The lord of heaven was then adored with hymns by all the deities and the Rishis. He continued to rule in heaven, cleansed of the sin of Brahmanicide which was divided into four portions and ordained to reside in woman, fire, trees, and kine. It was thus that Indra, strengthened by the energy of a Brahmana, succeeded in slaying his foe (and when, as the result of that act of his, he had been overpowered by sin, it was the energy of another Brahmana that rescued him). It was thus that Indra once more regained his position.
"'In days of yore, while the great Rishi Bharadwaja was saying his prayers by the side of the celestial Ganga, one of the three feet of Vishnu, when he assumed his three-footed form, reached that spot. 1 Beholding that
strange sight, Bharadwaja assailed Vishnu with a handful of water, upon which Vishnu's bosom received a mark (called Sreevatsa) 1. Cursed by that foremost of Rishis, viz., Bhrigu, Agni was obliged to become a devourer of all things. Once on a time, Aditi, the mother of the deities, cooked some food for her sons. She thought that, eating that food and strengthened by it, the deities would succeed in slaying the Asuras. After the food had been cooked. Vudha (the presiding deity of the luminary known by that name), having completed the observance of an austere vow, presented himself before Aditi and said unto her,--Give me alms. Aditi, though thus solicited for food gave him none, thinking that no one should eat of the food she had cooked, before her sons, the deities, had first taken it. Incensed at the conduct of Aditi who thus refused to give him alms, Vudha, who was Brahma's self through the austere vow he had completed, cursed her, saying that as Aditi had refused him alms she would have a pain in her womb when Vivaswat, in his second birth in the womb of Aditi, would be born in the form of an egg. Aditi reminded Vivaswat at that time of the curse of Vudha, and it is for that reason that Vivaswat, the deity who is adorned in Sraddhas, coming out of the womb of Aditi, came to be called by the name of Martanda. The Prajapati Daksha became the father of sixty daughters. Amongst them, three and ten were bestowed by him upon Kasyapa; ten upon Dharma; ten upon Mann; and seven and twenty upon Shoma. Although all the seven and twenty that were called Nakshatras and bestowed upon Shoma were equal in respect of beauty and accomplishments, yet Shoma became more attached to one, viz., Rohini, than the rest. The rest of his spouses, filled with jealousy, leaving him, repaired to their sire and informed him of this conduct of their husband, saying,--O holy one, although all of us are equal in point of beauty, yet our husband Shoma is exclusively attached to our sister Rohini.--Incensed at this representation of his daughters, the celestial Rishi Daksha cursed Shoma, saying, that thenceforth the disease phthisis should assail his son-in-law and dwell in him. Through this curse of Daksha, phthisis assailed the puissant Shoma and entered into his body. Assailed by phthisis in this way, Shoma came to Daksha. The latter addressed him, saying,--I have cursed thee because of thy unequal behaviour towards thy wives. The Rishi then said unto Shoma,--Thou art being reduced by the disease phthisis that has assailed thee. There is a sacred water called Hiranyasarah in the Western ocean. Repairing to that sacred water, do thou bathe there.--Counselled by the Rishi, Shoma proceeded thither. Arrived at Hiranyasarah, Soma bathed in that sacred water. Performing his oblations he 'cleansed himself from his sin. And because that sacred water was illumined (abhasita) by Shoma, therefore was it from that day called by the name of Prabhasa. In consequence, however, of the curse denounced upon him in days of old by Daksha, Shoma, to this day, begins to wane from the night of the full moon till his total disappearance on the night of
the new moon whence he once more begins to wax till the night of full moon. The brightness also of the lunar disc from that time received a stain, for the body of Shoma, since then, has come to present certain dark spots. In fact, the splendid disc of the moon has, from that day, come to exhibit the mark of a hare. Once on a time, a Rishi of the name of Sthulasiras was engaged in practising very severe austerities on the northern breasts of the mountains of Meru. While engaged in those austerities, a pure breeze, charged with all kinds of delicious perfumes, began to blow there and fan his body. Scorched as his body was by the very severe austerities he was undergoing, and living as he did upon air alone to the exclusion of every kind of food, he became highly gratified in consequence of that delicious breeze which blew around him. While he was thus gratified with the delicious breeze that fanned him, the trees around him (moved by jealousy) put forth their flowers for making a display and extorting his praise. Displeased at this conduct of the trees because it was dictated by jealousy, the Rishi cursed them, saying,--Henceforth, ye shall not be able to put forth your flowers at all times.--In days of yore, for doing good to the world, Narayana took birth as the great Rishi Vadavamukha. While engaged in practising severe austerities on the breast of Meru, he summoned the Ocean to his presence. The Ocean, however, disobeyed his summons. Incensed at this, the Rishi, with the heat of his body, caused the waters of the Ocean to become as saltish in taste as the human sweat. The Rishi further said.--Thy waters shall henceforth cease to be drinkable. Only when the Equine-head, roving within thee, will drink thy waters, they will be as sweet as honey. It is for this curse that the waters of the Ocean to this day are saltish to the taste and are drunk by no one else than the Equine-head. 1 The daughter, named Uma, of the Himavat mountains, was desired by Rudra in marriage After Himavat had promised the hand of Uma to Mahadeva, the great Rishi Bhrigu, approaching Himavat, addressed him, saying,--Give this daughter of thine unto me in marriage. Himavat replied unto him, saying,--Rudra is the bridegroom already selected by me for my daughter.--Angry at this reply, Bhrigu said,--Since thou refusest my suit for the hand of thy daughter and insultest me thus, thou shalt no longer abound with jewels and gems. To this day, in consequence of the Rishi's words, the mountains of Himavat have not any jewels and gems. Even such is the glory of the Brahmanas. It is through the favour of the Brahmanas that the Kshatriyas are able to possess the eternal and undeteriorating Earth as their wife and enjoy her. The power of the
[paragraph continues] Brahmanas, again, is made up of Agni and Shoma. The universe is upheld by that power and, therefore, is upheld by Agni and Shoma united together. It is said that Surya and Chandramas are the eyes of Narayana. The rays of Surya constitute my eyes. Each of them, viz., the Sun and the Moon, invigorate and warm the universe respectively. And because of the Sun and the Moon thus warming and invigorating the universe, they have come to be regarded as the Harsha (joy) of the universe. It is in consequence of these acts of Agni and Shoma that uphold the universe that I have come to be called by the name of Hrishikesa, O son of Pandu. Indeed, I am the boon-giving Isana, the Creator of the universe. 1 Through virtue of the Mantras with which libations of clarified butter are poured on the sacred fire, I take and appropriate the (principal) share of the offerings made in sacrifices. My complexion also is of that foremost of gems called Harit. It is for these reasons that I am called by the name of Hari. I am the highest abode of all creatures and am regarded by persons conversant with the scriptures to be identical with Truth or Nectar. I am, for this reason, called by learned Brahmanas by the name of Ritadhama (abode of Truth or Nectar). When in days of yore the Earth became submerged in the waters and lost to the view, I found her out and raised her from the depths of the Ocean. For this reason the deities adore me by the name of Govinda. Sipivishta is another name of mine. The word Sipi indicates a person that has no hair on his body. He who pervades all things in the form of Sipi is known by the name of Sipivishta. The Rishi Yaksha, with tranquil soul, in many a sacrifice invoked me by the name Sipivishta. It is for this reason that I came to bear this secret name. Yaksha of great intelligence, having adored me by the name Sipivishta, succeeded in restoring the Niruktas which had disappeared from the surface of the Earth and sunk into nether regions. I was never born. I never take birth. Nor shall I ever be born. I am the Kshetrajna of all creatures. Hence am I called by the name of Aja (unborn). 2 I have never uttered anything base or anything that is obscene. The divine Saraswati who is Truth's self, who is the daughter of Brahma and is otherwise called by the name of Rita, represents my speech and always dwells in my tongue. The existent and the non-existent have been merged by me in my Soul. The Rishis dwelling in Pushkara, which is regarded as the abode of Brahman, called me by the name of Truth. I have never swerved from the attribute of Sattwa, and know that the attribute of Sattwa has flowed from me. In this birth also of mine, O Dhananjaya, my ancient attribute of Sattwa has not left me, so that in even this life, establishing myself on Sattwa, I set myself to acts without ever wishing for their fruits. Cleansed of all sins as
[paragraph continues] I am through the attribute of Sattwa, which is my nature, I can be beheld by the aid of that knowledge only which arises from adoption of the attribute of Sattwa. I am reckoned also among those that are wedded to that attribute. For these reasons am I known by the name of Sattwata. 1 I till the Earth, assuming the form of a large plough-share of black iron. And because my complexion is black, therefore am I called by the name of Krishna. I have united the Earth with Water, Space with Mind, and Wind with Light. Therefore ant I called Vaikuntha. 2 The cessation of separate conscious existence by identification with Supreme Brahman is the highest attribute or condition for a living agent to attain. And since I have never swerved from that attribute or condition, I am, therefore, called by the name of Achyuta. 3 The Earth and the Firmament are known to extend in all directions. And because I uphold them both, therefore am I called by the name of Adhokshaja. Persons conversant with the Vedas and employed in interpreting the words used in those scriptures adore me in sacrifices by calling upon me by the same name. In days of yore, the great Rishis, while engaged in practising severe austerities, said,--No one else in the universe than the puissant Narayana, is capable of being called by the name of Adhokshaja. Clarified butter which sustains the lives of all creatures in the universe constitutes my effulgence. It is for this reason that Brahmanas conversant with the Vedas and possessed of concentrated souls call me by the name of Ghritarchis. 4 There are three well-known constituent elements of the body. They have their origin in action, and are called Bile, Phlegm, and Wind. The body is called a union of these three. All living creatures are upheld by these three, and when these three become weakened, living creatures also become weakened. It is for this reason that all persons conversant with the scriptures bearing on the science of Life call me by the name of Tridhatu. 5 The holy Dharma is
known among all creatures by the name of Vrisha, O Bharata. Hence it is that I am called the excellent Vrisha in the Vedic lexicon called Nighantuka. The word 'Kapi' signifies the foremost of boars, and Dharma is otherwise known by the name of Vrisha. It is for this reason that that lord of all creatures, viz., Kasyapa, the common sire of the deities and the Asuras, called me by the name Vrishakapi. The deities and the Asuras have never been able to ascertain my beginning, my middle, or my end. It is for this reason that I am sung as Anadi, Amadhya and Ananta. I am the Supreme Lord endued with puissance, and I am the eternal witness of the universe (beholding as I do its successive creations and destructions). I always hear words that are pure and holy, O Dhananjaya, and never hold anything that is sinful. Hence am I called by the name of Suchisravas. Assuming, in days of old, the form of a boar with a single tusk, O enhancer of the joys of others, I raised the submerged Earth from the bottom of the ocean. From this reason am I called by the name of Ekasringa. While I assumed the form of mighty boar for this purpose, I had three humps on my back. Indeed, in consequence of this peculiarity of my form at that time that I have come to be called by the name of Trikakud (three-humped). Those who are conversant with the science propounded by Kapila call the Supreme Soul by the name of Virincha. That Virincha is otherwise called the great Prajapati (or Brahman). Verily I am identical with Him, called Virincha, in consequence of my imparting animation to all living creatures, for I am the Creator of the universe. The preceptors of Sankhya philosophy, possessed of definite conclusions (regarding all topics), call me the eternal Kapila staying in the midst of the solar disc with but Knowledge for my companion. 1 On Earth I am known to be identical with Him who has been sung in the Vedic verses as the effulgent Hiranyagarbha and who is always worshipped by Yogins. I am regarded as the embodied form of the Rich Veda consisting of one and twenty thousand verses. Persons conversant with the Vedas also call me the embodiment of the Samans of a thousand branches. Even thus do learned Brahmans that are my devoted worshippers and that are very rare sing me in the Aranyakas. 2 In the Adhyaryus I am sung as the Yajur-Veda of six and fifty and eight and seven and thirty branches. 3 Learned Brahmans conversant with the Atharvans regard me as identical with the Atharvans
consisting of five Kalpas and all the Krityas. 1 All the sub-divisions that exist of the different Vedas in respect of branches and all the verses that compose those branches, and all the vowels that occur in those verses, and all the rules in respect of pronunciation, know, O Dhananjaya, are my work. O Partha, he that rises (at the beginning of Creation from the Ocean of Milk at the earnest invocation of Brahmana and all the deities) and who gives diverse boons unto the diverse deities, is none else than myself. I am He who is the repository of the science of syllables and pronunciation that is treated of in the supplementary portions of the Vedas. Following the path pointed out by Vamadeva, the high-souled Rishi Panchala, through my grace, obtained from that eternal Being the rules in respect of the division of syllables and words (for reading the Vedas). Indeed, Galava, born in the Vabhravya race, having attained to high ascetic success and obtained a boon from Narayana, compiled the rules in respect of the division of syllables and words (for reading the Vedas). Indeed, Galava, born in the Vabhravya race, having attained to the high ascetic success and obtained a boon from Narayana, compiled the rules in respect of the division of syllables and words, and those about emphasis and accent in utterance, and shone as the first scholar who became conversant with those two subjects. Kundrika and king Brahmadatta of great energy, 2 repeatedly thinking of the sorrow that attends birth and death, attained to that prosperity which is acquired by persons devoted to Yoga, in course of seven births, in consequence of my favour. In days of yore, O Partha, I was, for some reason, born as the son of Dharma, O chief of Kuru's race, and in consequence of such birth of mine I was celebrated under the name of Dharmaja. I took birth in two forms, viz., as Nara and Narayana. Riding on the vehicle that helps towards the performance of scriptural and other duties, I practised, in those two forms, undying austerities on the breast of Gandhamadana 3 At that time the great sacrifice of Daksha took place. Daksha, however, in that sacrifice of his, refused to give a share unto Rudra, O Bharata, of the sacrificial offerings. Urged by the sage Dadhichi, Rudra destroyed that sacrifice. He hurled a dart whose flames blazed up every moment. That dart, having consumed all the preparations of Daksha's sacrifice, came with great force towards us (Nara and Narayana) at the
retreat of Vadari. With great violence that dart then fell upon the chest of Narayana. Assailed by the energy of that dart, the hair on the head of Narayana became green. In fact, in consequence of this change in the hue of my hair I came to be called by the name of Munjakesa. 1 Driven off by an exclamation of Hun which Narayana uttered, the dart, its energy being lost, returned to Sankara's hands. At this, Rudra became highly angry and as the result thereof he rushed towards the Rishis Nara and Narayana, endued with the puissance of severe austerities. Narayana then seized the rushing Rudra with his hand by the throat. Seized by Narayana, the lord of the universe, Rudra's throat changed colour and became dark. From that time Rudra came to be called by the name of Sitikantha. Meanwhile Nara, for the purpose of destroying Rudra, took up a blade of grass, and inspired it with Mantras. The blade of grass, thus inspired, was converted into a mighty battle-axe. Nara suddenly hurled that battle-axe at Rudra but it broke into pieces. In consequence of that weapon thus breaking into pieces, I came to be called by the name of Khandaparasu.' 2
"Arjuna said, 'In that battle capable of bringing about the destruction of the three worlds, who obtained the victory, O Janarddana, do thou tell me this!'"
"The blessed and holy one said, 'When Rudra and Narayana became thus engaged in battle, all the universe became suddenly filled with anxiety. The deity of fire ceased to accept libations of even the purest clarified butter duly poured in sacrifices with the aid of Vedic Mantras. The Vedas no longer shone by inward light in the minds of the Rishis of cleansed souls. The attributes of Rajas and Tamas possessed the deities. The Earth trembled. The vault of the firmament seemed to divide in twain. All the luminaries became deprived of their splendour. The Creator, Brahman, himself fell from his seat. The Ocean itself became dry. The mountains of Himavat became riven. When such dire omens appeared everywhere, O son of Pandu, Brahma surrounded by all the deities and the high-souled Rishis, soon arrived at that spot where the battle was raging. The four-faced Brahma, capable of being understood with the aid of only the Niruktas, joined his hands and addressing Rudra, said,--Let good happen to the three worlds. Throw down thy weapons, O lord of the universe, from desire of benefiting the universe. That which is unmanifest, indestructible, immutable, supreme, the origin of the universe, uniform, and the supreme actor, that which transcends all pairs of opposites, and is inactive, has, choosing to be manifested, been pleased to assume this one blessed form, (for though double, the two but represent the same form). This Nara and Narayana (the displayed forms of Supreme Brahman) have taken birth in the race of Dharma. The foremost of all deities,
these two are observers of the highest vows and endued with the severest penances. Through some reason best known to Him, I myself have sprung from the attribute of His Grace. Eternal as thou art, for thou hast ever existed since all the past creations, thou too hast sprung from His Wrath. With myself then, these deities, and all the great Rishis, do thou adore this displayed form of Brahma, and let peace be unto all the worlds without any delay.--Thus addressed by Brahma, Rudra forthwith cast off the fire of his wrath, and set himself to gratify the illustrious and puissant God Narayana. 1 Indeed, he soon placed himself at the disposal of the adorable boon-giving and puissant God Narayana. That boon-giving God Narayana, who hath his wrath and the senses under control, soon became gratified and reconciled with Rudra. Well-adored by the Rishis, by Brahma, and by all the deities, that great God, the Lord of the universe, otherwise called by the name of Hari, then addressed the illustrious Isana and said these words:--He that knows thee, knows me. He that follows thee, follows me. There is no difference between thee and me. Do thou never think otherwise. The mark made by thy lance on my chest will from this day assume the form of a beautiful whirl, and the mark of my hand on thy throat will also assume a beautiful shape in consequence of which thou shalt, from this day, be called by the name of Sreekantha.'"
"The blessed and holy one 2 continued. 'Having mutually caused such marks on each other's person, the two Rishis Nara and Narayana thus made friends with Rudra. and dismissing the deities, once more set themselves to the practice of penances with a tranquil soul. I have thus told thee, O son of Pritha, how in that battle which took place in days of yore between Rudra and Narayana, the latter got the victory. I have also told thee the many secret names by which Narayana is called and what the significations are, O Bharata, of one of those names, which, as I have told thee, the Rishis, have bestowed upon the great God. In this way, O son of Kunti, assuming diverse forms do I rove at will through the Earth, the region of Brahma himself, and that other high and eternal region of felicity called Goloka. Protected by me in the great battle, thou hast won a great victory. That Being whom, at the time of all thy battles, thou beheldest stalking in thy van, know, O son of Kunti, is no other than Rudra, that god of gods, otherwise called by the name of Kaparddin. He is otherwise known by the name of Kala, 3 and should be known as one that has sprung from my wrath. Those foes whom thou hast slain were all, in the first instance, slain by him. 4 Do thou bend thy head unto that god of gods, that lord of Uma, endued with immeasurable puissance
[paragraph continues] With concentrated soul, do thou bend thy head unto that illustrious Lord of the universe, that indestructible deity, otherwise called by the name of Hari. He is none else than that deity who, as I have repeatedly told thee, has sprung from my wrath. Thou hast, before this, heard, O Dhananjaya, of the puissance and energy that reside in him!'"
155:1 Sat is existent or aught. Asat is naught or non-existent. Very generally, these two words are used to imply Effects and Causes, the former being gross or manifest, and the latter, subtile or unmanifest. Tamas here does not mean one of the three primal attributes but primeval darkness. Compare Manu, asitidam tamobhutam etc.
156:1 I do not know whether I have understood correctly the last part of this sentence. I think what is stated is that by honouring Hari and Mantra, one honours the deities and men and the Rishis. By men, I think, dead men or the Pitris are referred to.
156:2 The reading vagamritam is an error. The correct reading is gavamritam.
156:3 In former times kings and chiefs always used to assign rent-free lands to learned Brahmanas for their support. Those countries where Brahmanas had not such lands assigned to them, were, as it were, under a ban. What is said in this verse is that in such countries the blessings of peace are wanting. The inhabitants are borne on vehicles drawn by oxen on steeds.
157:1 In consequence of this third eye on Rudra's forehead, he came to be called by the name of Virupaksha or the ugly or fierce-eyed.
157:2 A Manwantarah consists of about 72 Chaturyugas, i.e., 288 yugas according to the measurement of the celestials. The present yuga is called the Vaivaswat Manwantarah, i.e., the period connected with Manu the son of Vivaswat. At each Manwantorah a new Manu appears. The self-born Manu was a different person.
159:1 By practising Yoga one acquires certain superhuman powers. These are called Yogaiswaryya. They include Anima, by which one can become very minute; Laghima, by which one can become very gross, etc.
161:1 The river Ganga has three currents. One flows through heaven: one is visible on the Earth, and a third flows through the nether regions. Persons of the regenerate classes, when saying their morning, midday, or evening prayers, have to touch water often. What is meant, therefore, by 'Bharadwaja touching the water' is that Bharadwaja was saying his prayers. Vishnu assumed his three-footed form for beguiling Vali of the sovereignty of the universe. With one foot he covered the Earth, with another he covered the firmament. There was no space left for placing his third foot upon.
162:1 The Sreevatsa is a beautiful whirl on Vishnu's bosom.
163:1 The Hindu scriptures mention that there is an Equine-head of vast proportions which roves through the seas. Blazing fires constantly issue from its mouth and these drink up the sea-water. It always makes a roaring noise. It is called Vadava-mukha. The fire issuing from it is called Vadavanala. The waters of the Ocean are like clarified butter. The Equine-head drinks them up as the sacrificial fire drinks the libations of clarified butter poured upon it. The origin of the Vadava fire is sometimes ascribed to the wrath of Urva, a Rishi of the race of Jamadagni. Hence it is sometimes called Aurvya-fire.
164:1 The etymology of the word Hrishikesa is thus explained. Agni and Shoma are called by the name of 'Hrishi' in the dual number. He is called Hrishikesa who has those two for his kesa or hair. Elsewhere, the word is explained as the Isa or lord of Hrishika.
164:2 I am the Soul of all creatures, and, therefore, unborn, the Soul being Eternal, Unbeginning and Unending. Hence am I called the Unborn.
165:1 The race in which Krishna took birth was known by the name of Sattwata. All these etymologies are, of course, exceedingly fanciful. Not that the etymologies do not correspond with the rules of Sanskrit Grammar, but that they are not accepted by lexicographers. The fact is that each root in Sanskrit has a variety of meanings.
165:2 This verse refers to Panchikarana. The fact is, Earth, Water, Light, Wind and Space are the five primal elements. Each of these is divided into five portions and the portions so arrived at are then united or mingled together forming the different substances of the universe, the proportions in which they are mingled being unequal.
165:3 Achyuta has been variously rendered into English. Its true sense is here explained. Unswerving is the meaning. He who never swerves (from his highest nature or Brahma) is Achyuta. Hence, ordinarily, immutable or undeteriorating is the rendering that I have adopted.
165:4 Clarified butter is the great sustainer of the universe, for the libations poured on the sacrificial fire uphold the deities, and the deities, thus upheld, pour rain which causes crops and other food to grow, upon which, of course, the universe of living creatures live.
165:5 The constituent elements, called Dhatu, of the body, are, of course Bile, Phlegm and Wind. They are due to actions because birth itself is due to actions. There can be no birth without a body, and no body without these three. Hence, these three have their origin in previous actions un-exhausted by enjoyment or endurance.
166:1 Narayana is said to always dwell in the midst of Savitri-mandala. The solar disc represents eternal effulgence, or Milton's 'flaming amount' at which even the highest angels cannot gaze.
166:2 Durlabha may also mean not easily attainable: i.e., they that are my devoted worshippers are as unattainable as I myself. People cannot readily obtain their grace as they cannot mine.
166:3 The Yajur-Veda consists, according to this calculation, of one hundred and one branches.
167:1 The Krityas are acts of incantation, performed with the aid of Atharvan Mantras. They are of great efficacy. Brahmanas conversant with the Atharvans are competent, with the aid of Krityas to alter the laws of Nature and confound the very universe.
167:2 The path pointed out by Varna is the path of Dhyana or contemplation. Vama is Mahadeva or Rudra. Panchala is Galava of the Vabhravya race. The Burdwan translator makes a mess of these verses. He represents Galava as belonging to the Kundarika race. The fact is, as the Commentator explains, that Kundarika is a name derived from that of the Gotra or race to which the person belonged, Panchala is the same person as Galava of the Vabhravya race.
167:3 Elsewhere it is said that Narayana took birth in Dharma's house in four forms named Nara, Narayana, Krishna, and Hari. Dharmayanam samarudau means riding on the Dharma-car, i.e., endued with bodies with which to perform all the scriptural duties.
168:1 Munja literally means green, or a grass of particular kind.
168:2 Nara and Narayana were the same person. Hence, Nara's weapon having been broken into pieces, Narayana came to be called by this name. Elsewhere it is explained that Mahadeva is called Khandaparasu in consequence of his having parted with his parasu (battle-axe) unto Rama of Bhrigu's race.
169:1 He has been pleased to assume the forms of Rishis Nara and Narayana.
169:2 i.e., he that was speaking to Arjuna.
169:3 Kala is literally Time or Eternity. It frequently means, however, death or destruction, or he that brings about death or destruction.
169:4 The sense is that Arjuna was only the ostensible instrument.
Next: Section CCCXLIV