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THE MAHABHARATA ADI PARVA

“The Gandharva continued, ‘Then the cow of Vasishtha, hearing the word stay, raised her head and neck upward, and became terrible to behold. With eyes red with rage and lowing repeatedly, she then attacked Viswamitra’s troops on all sides. Afflicted with their stripes and running hither and thither with those red eyes of hers, her wrath increased. Blazing with rage, she soon became terrible to behold like unto the sun in his midday glory. And from her tail she began to rain showers of burning coals all around. And some moments after, from her tail she brought forth an army of Palhavas, and from her udders, an army of Dravidas and Sakas; and from her womb, an army of Yavanas, and from her dung, an army of Savaras; and from her urine, an army of Kanchis; and from her sides, an army of Savaras. And from the froth of her mouth came out hosts of Paundras and Kiratas, Yavanas and Sinhalas, and the barbarous tribes of Khasas and Chivukas and Pulindas and Chinas and Hunas with Keralas, and numerous other Mlechchhas. And that vast army of Mlechchhas in various uniforms, and armed with various weapons, as soon as it sprang into life, deploying in the very sight of Viswamitra, attacked that monarch’s soldiers.

And so numerous was that Mlechchha host that each particular soldier of Viswamitra was attacked by a band of six or seven of their enemies. Assailed with a mighty shower of weapons, Viswamitra’s troops broke and fled, panic-stricken, in all directions, before his very eyes. But, O bull in Bharata’s race, the troops of Vasishtha, though excited with wrath, took not the life of any of Viswamitra’s troops. Nandini simply caused the monarch’s army to be routed and driven off. And driven (from the asylum) twenty-seven full miles, panic-stricken, they shrieked aloud and beheld not anyone that could protect them. Viswamitra, beholding this wonderful feat that resulted from Brahmana prowess, became disgusted with Kshatriya prowess and said, ‘O, fie on Kshatriya prowess! Brahmana prowess is true prowess! In judging of strength and weakness, I see that asceticism is true strength.’ Saying this, the monarch, abandoning his large domains and regal splendour and turning his back upon all pleasures, set his mind on asceticism. Crowned with success in asceticism and filling the three worlds with the heat of his ascetic penances, he afflicted all creatures and finally became a Brahmana. The son of Kusika at last drank Soma with Indra himself (in Heaven).'”

SECTION CLXXVIII
(Chaitraratha Parva continued)

“The Gandharva continued, ‘There was, O Partha, a king in this world, named Kalmashapada, who was of the race of Ikshvaku and was unequalled on earth for prowess. One day the king went from his capital into the woods for purposes of hunting, and this grinder of foes pierced (with his arrows) many deer and wild boars. And in those deep woods the king also slew many rhinoceroses. Engaged in sport for some length of time, the monarch became very much fatigued and at last he gave up the chase, desiring to rest awhile.

“The great Viswamitra, endued with energy, had, a little while ago, desired to make that monarch his disciple. As the monarch, afflicted with hunger and thirst, was proceeding through the woods, he came across that best of Rishis, the illustrious son of Vasishtha, coming along the same path. The king ever victorious in battle saw that Muni bearing the name of Saktri, that illustrious propagator of Vasishtha’s race, the eldest of the high-souled Vasishtha’s hundred sons, coming along from opposite direction. The king, beholding him said, ‘Stand out of our way.’ The Rishi, addressing the monarch in a conciliatory manner, said unto him sweetly, ‘O king, this is my way. This is the eternal rule of morality indicated in every treatise on duty and religion, viz., that a king should ever make way for Brahmanas.’ Thus did they address each other respecting their right of way. ‘Stand aside, stand aside’, were the words they said unto each other. The Rishi, who was in the right, did not yield, nor did the king yield to him from pride and anger. That best of monarchs, enraged at the Rishi, refusing to yield him the way, acted like a Rakshasa, striking him with his whip. Thus whipped by the monarch, that best of Rishis, the son of Vasishtha, was deprived of his senses by anger, and speedily cursed that first of monarchs, saying, ‘O worst of kings, since thou persecutest like a Rakshasa an ascetic, thou shalt from this day, became a Rakshasa subsisting on human flesh! Hence, thou worst of kings! thou shalt wander over the earth, affecting human form!’ Thus did the Rishi Sakti, endued with great prowess, speak unto king Kalmashapada.

At this time Viswamitra, between whom and Vasishtha there was a dispute about the discipleship of Kalmashapada, approached the place where that monarch and Vasishtha’s son were. And, O Partha, that Rishi of severe ascetic penances, viz., Viswamitra of great energy, approached the pair (knowing by his spiritual insight that they had been thus quarrelling with each other). After the curse had been pronounced, that best of monarchs knew that Rishi to be Vasishtha’s son and equal unto Vasishtha himself in energy. And, O Bharata, Viswamitra, desirous of benefiting himself, remained on that spot, concealed from the sight of both by making himself invisible. Then that best of monarchs, thus cursed by Saktri, desiring to propitiate the Rishi began to humbly beseech him. And, O chief of the Kurus, Viswamitra, ascertaining the disposition of the king (and fearing that the difference might be made up), ordered a Rakshasa to enter the body of the king. And a Rakshasa of the name of Kinkara then entered the monarch’s body in obedience to Saktri’s curse and Viswamitra’s command. And knowing, O chastiser of foes, that the Rakshasa had possessed himself of the monarch, that best of Rishis, Viswamitra, then left the spot and went away.

“Shortly after, O Partha, the monarch, possessed by the Rakshasa and terribly afflicted by him, lost all his senses. At this time a Brahmana beheld the king in the woods. Afflicted with hunger, that Brahmana begged of the king some food with meat. The royal sage, Kalmashapada, that cherisher of friends, answered the Brahmana, saying, ‘Stay thou here, O Brahmana for a moment. On my return, I will give thee whatever food thou desirest.’ Having said this, the monarch went away, but the Brahmana stayed on there. The high-minded king having roved for some time at pleasure and according to his will, at last entered his inner apartment. Thus waking at midnight and remembering his promise, he summoned his cook and told him of his promise unto the Brahmana staying in the forest. And he commanded him, saying, ‘Hie thee to that forest. A Brahmana waiteth for me in the hope of food. Go and entertain him with food and meat.’


“The Gandharva continued, ‘Thus commanded, the cook went out in search of meat. Distressed at not having found any, he informed the king of his failure. The monarch, however, possessed as he was by the Rakshasa, repeatedly said, without scruple of any kind, ‘Feed him with human flesh.’ The cook, saying, ‘So be it,’ went to the place where the (king’s) executioners were, and thence taking human flesh and washing and cooking it duly and covering it with boiled rice offered it unto that hungry Brahmana devoted to ascetic penances. But that best of Brahmanas, seeing with his spiritual sight that the food was unholy and, therefore, unworthy of being eaten, said these words with eyes red with anger, ‘Because that worst of kings offereth me food that is unholy and unworthy of being taken, therefore that wretch shall have himself a fondness for such food. And becoming fond of human flesh as cursed by Saktri of old, the wretch shall wander over the earth, alarming and otherwise troubling all creatures.’ The curse, therefore, on that king, thus repeated a second time, became very strong, and the king, possessed by a Rakshasa disposition, soon lost all his senses.

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