The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, 'Thus addressed, Arjuna remained silent. The god of wind once more addressed him, saying, 'Hear me, O foremost one of the Haihayas, as I narrate to thee the achievement of the high-souled Atri. Once on a time as the gods and Danavas were fighting each other in the dark, Rahu pierced both Surya and Soma with his arrows. The gods, overwhelmed by darkness, began to fall before the mighty Danavas, O foremost of kings! Repeatedly struck by the Asuras, the denizens of heaven began to lose their strength. They then beheld the learned Brahmana Atri, endued with wealth of penances, engaged in the observance of austerities. Addressing that Rishi who had conquered all his senses and in whom wrath had been extinguished, they said 'Behold, O Rishi, these two, viz., Soma and Surya, who have both been pierced by the Asuras with their arrows! In consequence of this, darkness has overtaken us, and we are being struck down by the foe.
[paragraph continues] We do not see the end of our troubles! Do thou, O lord of great puissance, rescue us from this great fear.'
"The Rishi said, 'How, indeed, shall I protect you? They answered, saying, 'Do thou thyself become Chandramas. Do thou also become the sun, and do thou begin to slay these robbers!' Thus solicited by them, Atri assumed the form of the darkness-destroying Soma. Indeed, in consequence of his agreeable disposition, he began to look as handsome and delightful as Soma himself. Beholding that the real Soma and the real Surya had become darkened by the shafts of the foe, Atri, assuming the forms of those luminaries, began to shine forth in splendour over the field of battle, aided by the puissance of his penances. Verily Atri made the universe blaze forth in light, dispelling all its darkness. By putting forth his puissance, he also subjugated the vast multitudes of those enemies of the deities. Beholding those great Asuras burnt by Atri, the gods also, protected by Atri's energy, began to despatch them quickly. Putting forth his prowess and mastering all his energy, it was even in this way that Atri illumined the god of day, rescued the deities, and slew the Asuras! Even this was the feat that regenerate one, aided by his sacred fire,--that silent reciter of Mantras, that one clad in deer-skins,--accomplished! Behold, O royal sage, that act achieved by that Rishi who subsisted upon fruits only! I have thus narrated to thee, in detail, the feat of the high-souled Atri. Shall I go on! Or, will you say anything? Is there a Kshatriya that is superior to this regenerate Rishi?'
"Thus addressed, Arjuna remained silent. The god of wind once more spake unto him, 'Hear, O king, the feat achieved by the high-souled Chyavana (in days of old). Having passed his promise to the twin Aswins, Chyavana addressed the chastiser of Paka, saying, 'Do thou make the Aswins drinkers of Soma with all other deities!'
"Indra said, 'The Aswins have been cast away by us. How then, can they be admitted into the sacrificial circle for drinking Soma with the others? They are not numbered with the deities. Do not, therefore, tell us so! O thou of great vows, we do not wish to drink Soma in the company of the As wins. Whatever other behest thou mayst be pleased to utter, O learned Brahmana, we are ready to accomplish.'
"Chyavana said, 'The twin Aswins shall drink Soma with all of you! Both of them are gods, O chief of the deities, for they are the sons of Surya. Let the gods do what I have said. By acting according to those words, the gods will reap great advantage. By acting otherwise, evil will overtake them.'
"Indra said, 'I shall not, O foremost of regenerate persons, drink Soma with the Aswins! Let others drink with them as they please! As regards myself, I dare not do it.'
"Chyavana said, 'If, O slayer of Vala, thou wilt not obey my
words, thou shalt, this very day, drink Soma with them in sacrifice, compelled by me!
"The god of wind said, 'Then Chyavana, taking the Aswins with him, commenced a great religious rite for their benefit. The gods all became stupefied by Chyavana with his Mantras. Beholding that feat commenced by Chyavana, Indra became incensed with wrath. Taking up a huge mountain he ran against that Rishi. The chief of the deities was also armed with the thunderbolt. Then the illustrious Chyavana, endued with penances, cast an angry glance upon Indra as he advanced. Throwing a little water at him, he paralysed the chief of the deities with his thunderbolt and mountain. As the result of the religious rite he had commenced, he created a terrible Asura hostile to Indra. Made of the libations he had poured on the sacred fire, that Asura was called Mada, of mouth gaping wide. Even such was the Asura that the great ascetic created with the aid of Mantras. There were a thousand teeth in his mouth, extending for a hundred yojanas. Of terrible mien, his fangs were two hundred yojanas in length. One of his cheeks rested on the earth and the other touched the heavens. Indeed, all the gods with Vasava seemed to stand at the root of that great Asura's tongue, even as fishes when they enter into the wide open mouth of a leviathan. While standing within the mouth of Mada, the gods held a quick consultation and then addressing Indra, said, 'Do thou soon bend thy head in reverence unto this regenerate personage! Freed from every scruple, we shall drink Soma with the Aswins in our company! Then Sakra, bowing down his head unto Chyavana, obeyed his behest. Even thus did Chyavana make the Aswins drinkers of Soma with the other gods. Calling back Mada, the Rishi then assigned him the acts he was to do. That Mada was commanded to take up his residence in dice, in hunting, in drinking, and in women. Hence, O king, those men that betake themselves to these, meet with destruction, without doubt. Hence, one should always cast off these faults to a great distance. Thus, O king, I have narrated to thee the feat achieved by Chyavana. Shall I go on? Or, will you say anything in reply? Is there a Kshatriya that is higher than the Brahmana Chyavana?'"
Next: Section CLVII