The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'What did that foremost of ascetics, viz., Jamadagni endued with great energy, do when thus besought by the maker of day?'"
"Bhishma said, 'O descendant of Kuru, despite all the supplications of Surya, the sage Jamadagni, endued with the effulgence of fire, continued to cherish his anger. Then. O king, Surya, in the guise of a Brahmana,
bowed his head unto him and addressed him, with folded hands, in these soft words. 'O regenerate Rishi, the sun is always in motion! How shalt thou pierce the Lord of day who is continually moving forward?'"
"Jamadagni said, With the eye of knowledge I know thee to be both moving and motionless! I shall surely read thee a lesson this day. At midday thou seemest to stay in the heavens for a moment. It is then, O Surya, that I shall pierce thee with my arrows! There is no swerving from this my resolution!'"
"Surya said 'O regenerate Rishi, without doubt, thou knowest me, O best of archers! But, O holy one, though I have offended, behold, I am a suppliant for thy protection!'"
"Bhishma continued, 'At this, the adorable Jamadagni smilingly addressed the maker of day, saying, 'O Surya, when thou hast sought my protection, thou hast nothing to fear! He would transcend the simplicity that exists in Brahmanas, the stability that exists in the Earth, the mildness existing in the Moon, the gravity existing in Varuna, the effulgence existing in Agni, the brightness of Meru, and the heat of the sun, who would slay a suppliant for protection! The man that can slay a suppliant is capable of violating the bed of his preceptor, of slaying a Brahmana, and of drinking alcohol. Do thou, therefore, think of some remedy for this evil, by which people may be relieved when heated by the rays!'"
"Bhishma continued, 'So saying, that excellent descendant of Bhrigu remained silent for a while, and Surya forthwith made over to him an umbrella and a pair of sandals.'"
"Surya said, 'Do thou, O great Rishi, take this umbrella wherewith the head may be protected and my rays warded off. This pair of sandals is made of leather for the protection of the feet. From this day forth the gift of these articles in all religious rites shall be established as an inflexible usage!'"
"Bhishma continued, 'This custom of giving umbrellas and shoes was introduced by Surya! O descendant of Bharata, these gifts are considered meritorious in the three worlds. Do thou, therefore, give away umbrellas and shoes to Brahmanas. I have no doubt that thou shalt then acquire great religious merit by the act. O foremost one of Bharata's race, he who gives away a white umbrella with a hundred ribs to a Brahmana, attains to eternal felicity after death and resides in the region of Indra, respected by Brahmanas, Apsaras, and Devas. O puissant one, he who gives shoes to Snataka Brahmanas as also to Brahmanas practising the rites of religion whose feet have become sore with the heat of the sun, attains to regions coveted by the very deities. Such a man, O Bharata, dwells in happiness in the highest Heaven after his death. O foremost one of Bharata's race, I have thus recited to thee in full, the merits of giving away shoes and umbrellas at religious ceremonies!'"
Next: Section XCVII