The Mahabharata Home
"The guest continued, 'For all that, O Brahmana, I shall endeavour to instruct thee duly. Listen to me as I recite to thee that which I have heard from my preceptor. In that place whence, in course of a former creation, the wheel of righteousness was set in motion, in that forest which is known by the name of Naimisha, and which is situate on the banks of the Gomati, there is a city called after the Nagas. There, in that region, all the deities, being assembled together, had in days of old performed a grand sacrifice. There the foremost of earthly kings, Mandhatri, vanquished Indra, the chief of the celestials. A mighty Naga, of righteous soul, dwells in the city that stands in that region. That great Naga is known by the name of Padmanabha or Padma. Walking in the triple path (of acts, knowledge, and adoration) he gratifies all creatures in thought, word, and deed. Reflecting upon all things with great care, he protects the righteous and chastises the wicked by adopting the quadruple policy of conciliation, provoking dissensions, making gifts or bribes, and using force. Repairing thither, thou shouldst put to him the questions thou wishest. He will show thee truly what the highest religion is. That Naga is always fond of guests. Endued with great intelligence, he is well conversant with the scriptures. He is possessed of all desirable virtues the like of which are not to be noticed in any other person. By disposition he is always observant of those duties which are performed with or in water. 1 He is devoted to the study of the Vedas. He is endued with penances and self-restraint. He has great wealth. He performs sacrifice, makes gifts, abstains from inflicting injury and practises forgiveness. His
conduct in all respects is excellent. Truthful in speech and freed from malice, his behaviour, is good and his senses are under proper control. He eats after feeding all his guests and attendants. He is kind of speech. He has knowledge of what is beneficial and what is simple and right and what is censurable. He takes stock of what he does and what he leaves undone. He never acts with hostility towards any one. He is always engaged in doing what is beneficial to all creatures. He belongs to a family that is as pure and stainless as the water of a lake in the midst of the Ganges.'"
206:1 The commentator explains that nityah-salilah means pure as water. I think this is not the sense of the word here.
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