The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, 'Then Narada, that holy Rishi, that friend of Narayana, recited the following narrative of the discourse between Sankara and his spouse Uma.'
"Narada said, 'Once on a time the righteous-souled lord of all the deities, viz., Mahadeva with the bull for his device, practised severe penances on the sacred mountains of Himavat that are the resort of Siddhas and Charanas. Those delightful mountains are overgrown with diverse kinds of herbs and adorned with various species of flowers. At that time they were peopled by the different tribes of Apsaras and crowds of ghostly beings. There the great god sat, filled with joy, and surrounded
by hundreds of ghostly beings who presented diverse aspects to the eye of the beholder. Some of them were ugly and awkward, some were of very handsome features, and some presented the most wonderful appearances. Some had faces like the lion's, some like the tiger's and some like the elephant's. In fact, the faces of those ghostly creatures presented every variety of animal faces. Some had faces resembling that of the jackal, some whose faces resembled the pard's; some like the ape's, some like the bull's. Some of them had faces like the owl's; some like the hawk's; some had faces like those of deer of diverse varieties. The great god was also surrounded by Kinnaras and Yakshas and Gandharvas and Rakshasas and diverse other created beings. The retreat to which Mahadeva had betaken himself also abounded with celestial flowers and blazed with celestial rays of light. It was perfumed with celestial sandal, and celestial incense was burnt on every side. And it echoed with the sounds of celestial instruments. Indeed, it resounded with the beat of Mridangas and Panavas, the blare of conchs, and the sound of drums. It teemed with ghostly beings of diverse tribes that danced in joy and with peacocks also that danced with plumes outspread. Forming as it did the resort of the celestial Rishis, the Apsaras danced there in joy. The place was exceedingly agreeable to the sight. It was exceedingly beautiful, resembling Heaven itself. Its entire aspect was wonderful and, indeed, it is indescribable in respect of its beauty and sweetness. Verily, with the penances of that great deity who sleeps on mountain breasts, that prince of mountains shone with great beauty. It resounded with the chant of the Vedas uttered by learned Brahmanas devoted to Vedic recitation. Echoing with the hum of bees, O Madhava, the mountain became incomparable in beauty. The ascetics, beholding the great deity who is endued with a fierce form and who looks like a great festival, became filled, O Janardana, with great joy. All the highly blessed ascetics, the Siddhas who have drawn in their vital seed, the Maruts, the Vasus, the Sadhyas, the Viswedevas, Vasava himself, the Yakshas, the Nagas, the Pisachas, the Regents of the world, the several sacred Fires, the Winds, and all the great creatures dwelt on that mountain with minds concentrated in Yoga. All the Seasons were present there and scattered those regions with all kinds of wonderful flowers. Diverse kinds of blazing herbs illuminated the woods and forests on that mountain. Various species of birds, filled with joy, hopped about and sang merrily on the delightful beast of that mountain. Those birds were exceedingly lovable in consequence of the notes they uttered. The high-souled Mahadeva sat, displayed in beauty, on one of the peaks that was adorned with excellent minerals, as if it served the purposes of a fine bedstead. Round his loins was a tiger-skin, and a lion-skin formed his upper garments. His sacred thread consisted of a snake. His arms were decked with a pair of red Angadas, His beard was green. He had matted locks on his head. Of terrible features, he it is that inspires with fear the hearts of all the enemies of the gods. It is he, again, that assures all
creatures by dispelling their fears. He is adored by his worshippers as the deity having the bovine bull for his device. The great Rishis, beholding Mahadeva, bowed to him by touching the ground with their heads. Endued with forgiving souls, they all became (in consequence of the sight they had obtained of the great deity) freed from every sin and thoroughly cleansed. The retreat of that lord of all creatures with many terrible forms, shone with a peculiar beauty. Abounding with many large snakes, it became unapproachable and unbearable (by ordinary beings). Within the twinkling of the eye. O slayer of Madhu, everything there became exceedingly wonderful. Indeed, the abode of that great deity having the bovine bull for his device began to blaze with a terrible beauty. Unto Mahadeva seated there, came his spouse, the daughter of Himavat, surrounded by the wives of the ghostly beings who are the companions of the great deity. Her attire was like that of her lord and the vows she observed were like those of his. She held a jar on her loins that was filled with the waters of every Tirtha, and was accompanied by the presiding deities (of her own sex) of all the mountain streams. Those auspicious ladies walked in her train. The goddess approached raining flowers on every side and diverse kinds of sweet perfumes. She who loved to reside on the breast of Himavat advanced in this guise towards her great lord. The beautiful Uma, with smiling lips and desirous of playing a jest, covered from behind, with her two beautiful hands, the eyes of Mahadeva. As soon as Mahadeva's eyes were thus covered, all the regions became dark and life seemed to be extinct everywhere in the universe. The Homa rites ceased. The universe became suddenly deprived of the sacred Vashat also. All living creatures became cheerless and filled with fear. Indeed, when the eyes of the lord of all creatures were thus closed, the universe seemed to become sunless. Soon, however, that overspreading darkness disappeared. A mighty and blazing flame of fire emanated from Mahadeva's forehead. A third eye, resembling another sun, appeared (on it). That eye began to blaze forth like the Yuga-fire and began to consume that mountain. The large-eyed daughter of Himavat, beholding what occurred, bowed her head unto Mahadeva endued with that third eye which resembled a blazing fire. She stood there with gaze fixed on her lord. When the mountain forests burned on every side, with their Was and other trees of straight Trunks, and their delightful sandals and diverse excellent medicinal herbs, herds of deer and other animals, filled with fright, came with great speed to the place where Hara sat and sought his protection. With those creatures almost filling it, the retreat of the great deity blazed forth with a kind of peculiar beauty. Meanwhile, that fire, swelling wildly, soared up to the very heavens and endued with the splendour and unsteadiness of lightning and looking like a dozen suns in might and effulgence, covered every side like the all-destroying Yuga-fire. In a moment, the Himavat mountains were consumed, with their minerals and summits and blazing herbs. Beholding Himavat crushed
and consumed, the daughter of that prince of mountains sought the protection of the great deity and stood before him her hands joined in reverence. Then Sarva, seeing Uma overcome by an accession of womanly mildness and finding that she was unwilling to behold her father Himavat reduced to that pitiable plight, cast benignant looks upon the mountain. In a moment the whole of Himavat was restored to his former condition and became as beautiful to look at as ever. Indeed, the mountain put forth a cheerful aspect. All its trees became adorned with flowers. Beholding Himavat to his natural condition, the goddess Uma, divested of every fault, addressed her lord, that master of all creatures, the divine Maheswara, in these words.'
"Uma said, 'O holy one, O lord of all creatures, O deity that art armed with the trident, O thou of high vows, a great doubt has filled my mind. It behoveth thee to resolve that doubt for me. For what reason has this third eye appeared in thy forehead? Why also was the mountain consumed with the woods and all that belonged to it? Why also, O illustrious deity, hast thou restored the mountain to its former condition? Indeed, having burnt it once, why hast thou again caused it to be covered with trees?'
"Maheswara said, 'O goddess without any fault, in consequence of thy having covered my eyes through an act of indiscretion the universe became in a moment devoid of light. When the universe became sunless and, therefore, all became dark, O daughter of the prince of mountains, I created the third eye desirous of protecting all creatures. The high energy of that eye crushed and consumed this 'mountain. For pleasing thee, however, O goddess, I once more made Himavat what he was by repairing the injury.'
"Uma said, 'O holy one, why are those faces of thine which are on the east, the north, and the west, so handsome and so agreeable to look at like the very moon? And why is that face of thine which is on the south so terrible? Why are thy matted locks tawny in hue and so erect? Why is thy throat blue after the manner of the peacock's plumes? Why, O illustrious deity, is the Pinaka always in thy hand? Why art thou always a Brahmacharin with matted locks? O lord, it behoves thee to explain all these to me. I am thy spouse who seeks to follow the same duties with thee. Further, I am thy devoted worshipper, O deity, having the bull for thy mark!'
"Narada continued, 'Thus addressed by the daughter of the prince of mountains, the illustrious wielder of Pinaka, the puissant Mahadeva, became highly gratified with her. The great god then addressed her saying, 'O blessed lady, listen to me as I explain, with the reasons thereof, why my forms are so.'"
Next: Section CXLI