The Mahabharata Home
"Indra said, "Dost thou, O Vrihaspati, sleep in peace, and are thy servants agreeable to thee, dost thou seek the welfare of the gods, and do the gods, O Brahmana, protect thee?"
Vrihaspati said, "I do sleep in peace in my bed. O Lord of the gods, and my servants are to my liking and I always seek the welfare of the gods, and they cherish me well."
Indra said, "Whence then is this pain, mental or physical, and why art thou pale and altered in appearance (complexion) at present? Tell me, O Brahmana, who those people are, who have caused thee pain, so that I may kill them all."
Vrihaspati said, "O Indra, I have heard that Marutta will perform a great
sacrifice at which exquisite presents will be given by him (to Brahmanas) and that at his sacrifice Samvarta will act as the officiating priest, and therefore do I desire that he may not officiate as priest at that sacrifice."
Indra said, "Thou, O Brahmana, hast attained all the object of thy desire when thou hast become the excellent priest of the gods, versed in all the sacred hymns, and hast overreached the influence of death and dotage, what can Samvarta do to thee now?"
Vrihaspati said, "Prosperity of a rival is always painful to one's feelings, and for this reason too, thou dost with try attendant gods persecute the Asuras with their with and kin, and kill the most prosperous among them; hence, O Lord of the gods, am I changed in appearance at the thought that my rival is prospering, therefore, O Indra, do thou, by all means, restrain Samvarta and king Marutta."
Indra turning to Agni said, "Do thou, O Jataveda, following my direction, go to king Marutta to present Vrihaspati to him, and say unto him that this Vrihaspati will officiate at his sacrifice and make him immortal."
Agni said, "I shall presently, O adorable one, repair thither as thy messenger, to present Vrihaspati to king Marutta; and to make Indra's words true, and to show respect to Vrihaspati, Agni departed."
Vyasa said, "Then the high-souled fire-god went on his errand, devastating all the forests and trees, like unto the mighty wind, roaring and revolving at random at the end of the winter season."
Marutta said, "Behold! I find the fire-god come in his own embodiment, this day, therefore do thou, O Muni, offer him a seat and water, and a cow, and water for washing the feet."
Agni said, "I accept thy offerings of water, seat, and water for washing the feet, O sinless one, do thou know me as the messenger of Indra, come to thee, in accordance with his directions."
Marutta said, "O Fire-god, is the glorious Lord of the Celestials happy, and is he pleased with us, and are the other gods loyal to him? Do thou enlighten me duly on all these points."
Agni said, "O lord of the earth, Sakra is perfectly happy, he is pleased with thee, and wishes to make thee free from senility, and all the other gods are loyal to him. Do thou, O king, listen to the message of the Lord of the Celestials. And the object for which he has sent me to thee is to present Vrihaspati to Marutta. O prince, let this priest (of the Celestials) perform thy sacrifice, and make thee, who art only a mortal, attain immortality."
Marutta said, "This twice-born Brahmana Samvarta will perform my sacrifice, and I pray to Vrihaspati, that he having acted as priest to Mahendra (Indra), it does not look well for him now to act as priest to mortal men."
Agni said, "If this Vrihaspati officiate as thy priest, then shalt thou by the blessings of Devaraja (Indra) attain the highest region in the celestial mansion and attaining fame shalt thou certainly conquer the heavenly region. And, O lord of men, if Vrihaspati act as thy priest, thou shalt be able to conquer all the regions inhabited by men, and the heavenly regions, and all the highest regions created by Prajapati and even the entire kingdom of the gods."
Samvarta said, "Thou must never come again thus to present Vrihaspati to Marutta: for know, O Pavaka, (Agni) if thou dost, I losing my temper, will burn thee with my fierce evil eyes."
Vyasa said, "Then Agni apprehending destruction by fire, and trembling like the leaves of the Aswattha tree (Ficus religiosa), returned to the gods, and the high-souled Sakra seeing that carrier of oblations (Agni) in the company of Vrihaspati said as follows:
Indra said, "O Jataveda (Agni), didst thou go to present Vrihaspati to Marutta according to my direction? What did that sacrificing king say unto thee and did he accept my message?"
Agni said, "Thy message was not acceptable by Marutta and when urged by me, he clasping the hands of Vrihaspati, repeatedly said, that Samvarta would act as his priest. And he also observed that he did not desire to attain the worldly and the heavenly regions and all the highest regions of Prajapati, and that if he were so minded, he would accept the terms of Indra."
Indra said, "Do thou go back to that king and meeting him, tell him these words of mine, full of significance, and if he obey them not, I shall strike him with my thunderbolt."
Agni said, "Let this king of the Gandharvas repair thither as thy messenger, O Vasava, for, I am afraid to go thither myself. Know, O Sakra, that highly incensed Samvarta, used to ascetic practices, told me these words in a rage. 'I shall burn thee with my fierce evil eyes if thou on any account come again here to present Vrihaspati to king Marutta.'"
Sakra said, "O Jataveda, it is thou who dost burn all other things and there is none else who can reduce thee to ashes. All the world is afraid to come in contact with thee. O carrier of oblations, these words of thine are worthy of no credence."
Agni said, "Thou, O Sakra, hast encompassed the dominion of the heaven and the earth and the firmament by the might of thy own arms, but even thus how could Vritra (of old) wrest from thee the sovereignty of the celestial regions?"
Indra said, "I can reduce my foes to submission and can even reduce the size of a mountain to an atom, if I will it. But, O Vahnni, as I do not accept the libation of Soma if offered by a foe, and as I do not strike the weak with my thunderbolt, Vritra seemed to triumph over me for a time. But who among mortals can live in peace by creating feud with me. I have banished the Kalakeyas to the earth, and removed the Danavas from heaven, and have terminated the existence of Prahlada in heaven. Can there be any man who can live in peace by provoking my enmity?"
Agni said, "Dost thou, O Mahendra, remember that in olden times when the sage Chyavana officiated at the sacrifice of Saryati with the twin gods Aswins and himself appropriated the Soma offering alone, thou wert filled with wrath, and when bent upon preventing Saryati's sacrifice, thou didst violently strike Chyavana with thy thunderbolt? But that Brahmana, O Purandara, giving way to passion, was able by the power of his devotions to seize and hold fast by hand with thy thunder-bolt in it. And in a rage, he
again created a terrible looking enemy of thine, the Asura named Mada assuming all shapes, on beholding whom thou didst shut thine eyes with fear, whose one huge jaw was placed on earth, and the other extended to the celestial regions, and who looked terrible with his thousand sharp teeth extending over a hundred Yojanas, and had four prominent ones thick-set, and shining like a pillar of silver, and extending over two hundred Yojanas. And when grinding his teeth he pursued thee with his terrible and uplifted pike with the object of killing thee. Thou on beholding that terrible monster, presented a (pitiful) spectacle to all the by-standers. Then, O slayer of Danavas, overcome with fear of the monster, with thy hands clasped in supplication, thou didst seek the protection of the great sage. The might of Brahmanas, O Sakra, is greater than that of the Kshatriyas. None are more powerful than Brahmanas and knowing duly, as I do, the power of Brahmanas, I do not, O Sakra, desire to come in conflict with Samvarta."
Next: Section V