The Mahabharata Home
Vaishampayana said: "While the Vrishnis and the Andhakas were thus endeavouring (to avoid the impending calamity), the embodied form of Time (death) every day wandered about their houses. He looked like a man of terrible and fierce aspect. Of bald head, he was black and of tawny complexion. Sometimes he was seen by the Vrishnis as he peered into their houses. The mighty bowmen among the Vrishnis shot hundreds and thousands of shafts at him, but none of these succeeded in piercing him, for he was none else than the Destroyer of all creatures. Day by day strong winds blew, and many were the evil omens that arose, awful and foreboding the destruction of the Vrishnis and the Andhakas. The streets swarmed with rats and mice. Earthen pots showed cracks or broke from no apparent cause. At night, the rats and mice ate away the hair and nails of slumbering men. Sarikas chirped, sitting within the houses of the Vrishnis. The noise made by those birds ceased not for even a short while by day or by night. The Sarashas were heard to imitate the hooting of the owl, and goats imitated the cries, O Bharata, of jackals. Many birds appeared, impelled by Death, that were pale of complexion but that had legs red of hue. Pigeons were seen to always disport in the houses of the Vrishnis. Asses were born of kine, and elephants of mules. Cats were born of bitches, and mouse of the mongoose. The Vrishnis, committing sinful acts, were not seen to feel any shame. They showed disregard for Brahmanas and the Pitris and the deities, They insulted and humiliated their preceptors and seniors. Only Rama and Janardana acted differently. Wives deceived their husbands, and husbands deceived their wives. Fires, when ignited, cast their flames towards the left. Sometimes they threw out flames whose splendour was blue and red. The Sun, whether when rising or setting over the city, seemed to be surrounded by headless trunks of human form. In cook rooms, upon food that was clean and well-boiled, were seen, when it was served out for eating, innumerable worms of diverse kinds. When Brahmanas, receiving gifts, blessed the day or the hour (fixed for this or that undertaking) or when high-souled men were engaged in silent recitations, the heavy tread was heard of innumerable men running about, but no one could be seen to whom the sound of such tread could be ascribed. The constellations were repeatedly seen to be struck by the planets. None amongst the Yadavas could, however, obtain a sight of the constellation of his birth. When the Panchajanya was blown in their houses, asses of dissonant and awful voice brayed aloud from every direction. "Beholding these signs that indicated the perverse course of Time, and seeing that the day of the new moon coincided with the thirteenth (and the fourteenth) lunation, Hrishikesa, summoning the Yadavas, said unto them these words: The fourteenth lunation has been made the fifteenth by Rahu once more. Such a day had happened at the time of the great battle of the Bharatas. It has once more appeared, it seems, for our destruction. "The slayer of Keshi, Janardana, thinking upon the omens that Time showed, understood that the thirty-sixth year had come, and that what Gandhari, burning with grief on account of the death of her sons, and deprived of all her kinsmen, had said was about to transpire. The present is exactly similar to that time when Yudhishthira noted at such awful omens when the two armies had been arrayed in order of battle. Vasudeva, having said so, endeavoured to bring about those occurrences which would make Gandharis words true. That chastiser of foes commanded the Vrishnis to make a pilgrimage to some sacred water. The messengers forthwith proclaimed at the command of Keshava that the Vrishnis should make a journey to the sea-coast for bathing in the sacred waters of the ocean."
Next: Section 3