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THE MAHABHARATA ADI PARVA
“Sauti said, ‘Then that bird of great strength and energy and capable of going at will to every place repaired to his mother’s side on the other shore of the great ocean. Thither lived Vinata in affliction, defeated in wager and put into a state of slavery. Once Kadru calling Vinata who had prostrated herself before the former, addressed her these words in the presence of her son, ‘O gentle Vinata, there is in the midst of the ocean, in a remote quarter, a delightful and fair region inhabited by the Nagas.
Bear me thither!’ At this that mother of the bird of fair feathers bore (on her shoulders) the mother of the snakes. And Garuda also, directed by his mother’s words, carried (on his back) the snakes. And that ranger of the skies born of Vinata began to ascend towards the Sun. And thereupon the snakes, scorched by the rays of the Sun, swooned away. And Kadru seeing her sons in that state prayed to Indra, saying, ‘I bow to thee, thou Lord of all the gods! I bow to thee, thou slayer of Vritra! I bow to thee, thou slayer of Namuchi! O thou of a thousand eyes, consort of Sachi! By thy showers, be thou the protector of the snakes scorched by the Sun. O thou best of the deities, thou art our great protector. O Purandara, thou art able to grant rain in torrents. Thou art Vayu (the air), the clouds, fire, and the lightning of the skies. Thou art the propeller of the clouds, and hast been called the great cloud (i.e., that which will darken the universe at the end of Yuga). Thou art the fierce and incomparable thunder, and the roaring clouds. Thou art the Creator of the worlds and their Destroyer. Thou art unconquered. Thou art the light of all creatures, Aditya, Vibhavasu, and the wonderful elements. Thou art the ruler of all the gods. Thou art Vishnu. Thou hast a thousand eyes. Thou art a god, and the final resource. Thou art, O deity, all amrita, and the most adored Soma. Thou art the moment, the lunar day, the bala (minute), thou art the kshana (4 minutes). Thou art the lighted fortnight, and also the dark fortnight.
Thou art kala, thou kashtha, and thou Truti. Thou art the year, the seasons, the months, the nights, and the days. Thou art the fair Earth with her mountains and forests. Thou art also the firmament, resplendent with the Sun. Thou art the great Ocean with heaving billows and abounding with whales, swallowers of whales, and makaras, and various fishes. Thou art of great renown, always adored by the wise and by the great Rishis with minds rapt in contemplation. Thou drinkest, for the good of all creatures, the Soma juice in sacrifices and the clarified butter offered with sacred invocation. Thou art always worshipped at sacrifices by Brahmanas moved by desire of fruit. O thou of incomparable mass of strength, thou art sung in the Vedas and Vedangas. It is for that reason that learned Brahmanas bent upon performing sacrifices, study the Vedas with every care.’”
And so ends the twenty-fifth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
“Sauti said, ‘And then Indra, the king of gods, having the best of horses for his bearer, thus adored by Kadru, covered the entire firmament with masses of blue clouds. And he commanded the clouds, saying, Pour ye, your vivifying and blessed drops!’ And those clouds, luminous with lightning, and incessantly roaring against each other in the welkin, poured abundant water. And the sky, in consequence of those wonderful and terribly-roaring clouds that were incessantly begetting vast quantities of water, looked as if the end of Yuga had come. And in consequence of the myriads of waves caused in the falling torrents, the deep roar of the clouds, the flashes of lightning, the violence of the wind, and the general agitation, the sky looked as if dancing in madness. The sky became overcast, and the rays of the Sun and the Moon totally disappeared in consequence of that incessant downpour.
“And upon Indra’s causing that downpour, the Nagas became exceedingly delighted. And the Earth was filled with water all around. And the cool, clear water reached even the nether regions. And there were countless waves of water all over the Earth. And the snakes with their mother reached (in safety) the island called Ramaniyaka.”
And so ends the twenty-sixth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
“Sauti said, ‘And then the Nagas drenched by that shower, became exceedingly glad. And borne by that bird of fair feathers, they soon arrived at the island. That island had been fixed by the Creator of the Universe as the abode of the makaras. There they saw the terrible Lavana Samudra (ocean of salt). On arriving there with Garuda, they saw there a beautiful forest washed by the waters of the sea and resounding with the music of winged choirs. And there were clusters of trees all around laden with various fruits and flowers. And there were also fair mansions all around; and many tanks full of lotuses. And it was also adorned with many lakes of pure water. And it was refreshed with pure incense-breathing breezes. And it was adorned with many a tree that grew only on the hills of Malaya, and seemed by their tallness to reach the very heavens.
And there were also various other trees whose flowers were scattered all around by the breeze. And that forest was charming and dear to the Gandharvas and always gave them pleasure. And it was full of bees maddened with the honey they sucked. And the sight of all this was exceedingly delightful. And in consequence of many things there, capable of charming everybody, that forest was fair, delightful, and holy. And, echoing with the notes of various birds, it delighted greatly the sons of Kadru.
“And the snakes, after arriving at that forest, began to enjoy themselves. And they commanded the lord of birds, viz., Garuda, of great energy, saying, ‘Convey us to some other fair island with pure water. Thou ranger of the skies, thou must have seen many fair regions while coursing (through the air).’ Garuda, alter reflecting for a few moments, asked his mother Vinata, saying, ‘Why, mother, have I to do the bidding of the snakes?’ Vinata thus questioned by him spake unto that ranger of the skies, her son, invested with every virtue, of great energy, and great strength, as follows: “Vinata said, ‘O thou best of birds, I have become, from misfortune, the slave of my co-wife. The snakes, by an act of deception, caused me to lose my bet and have made me so.’ When his mother had told him the reason, that ranger of the skies, dejected with grief, addressed the snakes, saying, ‘Tell me, ye snakes, by bringing what thing, gaining a knowledge of what thing, or doing what act of prowess, we may be freed from this state of bondage to you.’” Sauti continued, ‘The snakes, hearing him, said, ‘Bring thou amrita by force. Then O bird, shall you be freed from bondage.’”
And so ends the twenty-seventh section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.
“Sauti said, ‘Garuda, thus addressed by the snakes, then said unto his mother, ‘I shall go to bring amrita, I desire to eat something in the way. Direct me to it.’ Vinata replied, ‘In a remote region in the midst of the ocean, the Nishadas have their fair home. Having eaten the thousands of Nishadas that live there, bring thou amrita. But let not thy heart be ever set on taking the life of a Brahmana. Of all creatures a Brahmana must not be slain. He is, indeed, like fire. A Brahmana, when angry, becomes like fire or the Sun, like poison or an edged weapon. A Brahmana, it has been said, is the master of all creatures. For these and other reasons, a Brahmana is the adored of the virtuous. O child, he is never to be slain by thee even in anger. Hostility with Brahmanas, therefore, would not be proper under any circumstances. O sinless one, neither Agni nor Surya truly can consume so much as does a Brahmana of rigid vows, when angry. By these various indications must thou know a good Brahmana. Indeed, a brahmana is the first-born of all creatures, the foremost of the four orders, the father and the master of all.’” Garuda then asked, ‘O mother, of what form is a Brahmana, of what behaviour, and of what prowess? Doth he shine like fire, or is he of tranquil mien? And, O mother, it behoveth thee to tell my inquiring self, those auspicious signs by which I may recognise a Brahmana.’” Vinata replied, saying, ‘O child, him shouldst thou know as the best amongst Brahmanas who having entered thy throat would torture thee as a fish-hook or burn thee as blazing charcoal. A Brahmana must never be slain by thee even in anger.’ And Vinata out of affection for her son, again told him these words, ‘Him shouldst thou know as a good Brahmana who would not be digested in thy stomach.’
Although she knew the incomparable strength of her son, yet she blessed him heartily, for, deceived by the snakes, she was very much afflicted by woe. And she said. ‘Let Marut (the god of the winds) protect thy wings, and Surya and Soma thy vertebral regions; let Agni protect thy head, and the Vasus thy whole body. I also, O child (engaged in beneficial ceremonies), shall sit here for your welfare. Go then, O child, in safety to accomplish thy purpose.’
“Sauti continued, ‘Then Garuda, having heard the words of his mother, stretched his wings and ascended the skies. And endued with great strength, he soon fell upon the Nishadas, hungry and like another Yama. And bent upon slaying the Nishadas, he raised a great quantity of dust that overspread the firmament, and sucking up water from amid the ocean, shook the trees growing on the adjacent mountains. And then that lord of birds obstructed the principal thoroughfares of the town of the Nishadas by his mouth, increasing its orifice at will. And the Nishadas began to fly in great haste in the direction of the open mouth of the great serpent-eater. And as birds in great affliction ascend by thousand into the skies when the trees in a forest are shaken by the winds, so those Nishadas blinded by the dust raised by the storm entered the wide-extending cleft of Garuda’s mouth open to receive them. And then the hungry lord of all rangers of the skies, that oppressor of enemies, endued with great strength, and moving with greatest celerity to achieve his end, closed his mouth, killing innumerable Nishadas following the occupation of fishermen.’”
So ends the twenty-eighth section in the Astika Parva of Adi Parva.