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Chapter 100

Mahabharata English - ANUSASANA PARVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘How was Nahusha plunged into distress? How was hehurled down on the earth? How, indeed, was he deprived of the sovereigntyof the gods? It behoveth thee to recite everything to me.’

“Bhishma said, ‘Even thus did those two Rishis, viz., Bhrigu and Agastya,converse with each other. I have already told thee how Nahusha, when hefirst became the chief of the gods, acted in a becoming way. Verily, allacts of human and celestial nature flowed from that high souled royalsage! The offering of light, and all other rites of a similar kind, thedue presentation of Valis, and all rites as are performed on especiallysacred days,–all these were properly observed by the high-souled Nahushawho had become the sovereign of the deities.[446] Pious acts are alwaysobserved by those that are possessed of wisdom, in both the world of menand that of the deities. Verily, O foremost of kings, if such acts areobserved, householders always succeed in acquiring prosperity andadvancement. Even such is the effect of the gift of lamps and of incense,as also of bows and prostrations, to the deities. When food is cooked,the first portion thereof should be offered to a Brahmana. The particularofferings called Vali should also be presented to the household deities.The deities become gratified with such gifts.[447] It is also well-knownthat the measure of gratification which the deities derive from suchofferings is a hundred times as great as that which the householderhimself derives from making them. Persons endued with piety and wisdommake offerings of incense and lights, accompanying them with bows andprostrations. Such acts are always fraught with advancement andprosperity to those that do them. Those rites which the learned gothrough in course of their ablutions, and with the aid of waters,accompanied with bows unto the gods, always contribute to thegratification of the gods. When worshipped with proper rites, the highlyblessed Pitris, Rishis possessed of wealth of asceticism, and thehousehold deities, all become gratified. Filled with such ideas, Nahusha,that great king, when he obtained the sovereignty of the deities,observed all these rites and duties fraught with great glory. Some timeafter the good fortune of Nahusha waned, and as the consequence thereof,he disregarded all these observances and began to act in defiance of allrestraints in the manner I have already adverted to. The chief of thedeities, in consequence of his abstention from observing the ordinancesabout the offers of incense and light, began to decline in energy. Hissacrificial rites and presents were obstructed by Rakshasas. It was atthis time that Nahusha yoked that foremost of Rishis, viz., Agastya, tohis car. Endued with great strength, Nahusha, smiling the while, set thatgreat Rishi quickly to the task, commanding him to bear the vehicle fromthe banks of the Saraswati (to the place he would indicate). At thistime, Bhrigu, endued with great energy, addressed the son of Mitravaruna,saying, ‘Do thou close thy eyes till I enter into the matted locks on thyhead.’ Having said this, Bhrigu of unfading glory and mighty energyentered into the matted locks of Agastya who stood still like a woodenpost for hurling king Nahusha from the throne of Heaven. Soon afterNahusha saw Agastya approach him for bearing his vehicle. Beholding thelord of the deities Agastya addressed him, saying, ‘Do thou yoke me tothy vehicle without delay. To what region shall I bear thee? O lord ofthe deities, I shall bear thee to the spot which thou mayst be pleased todirect.’ Thus addressed by him, Nahusha caused the ascetic to be yoked tohis vehicle. Bhrigu, who was staying within the matted locks of Agastya,became highly pleased at this act of Nahusha. He took care not to casthis eyes upon Nahusha. Fully acquainted with the energy which theillustrious Nahusha had acquired in consequence of the boon which Brahmanhad granted him, Bhrigu conducted himself in this way. Agastya also,though treated by Nahusha in this way, did not give way to wrath. Then, OBharata, king Nahusha urged Agastya on with, his goad. Therighteous-souled Rishi did not still give way to anger. The lord of thedeities, himself giving way to anger, then struck Agastya on the headwith his left foot. When the Rishi was thus struck on the head, Bhrigu,who was staying within Agastya’s matted locks, became incensed and cursedNahusha of sinful soul, saying, ‘Since thou hast struck with thy foot onthe head of this great Rishi, do thou, therefore, fall down on the earth,transformed into a snake, O wretch of wicked understanding!’ Thus cursedby Bhrigu who had not been seen. Nahusha immediately became transformedinto a snake and fell down on the earth, O chief of Bharata’s race! If Omonarch, Nahusha had seen Bhrigu, the latter would not then havesucceeded, by his energy, in hurling the former down on the earth. Inconsequence of the various gifts that Nahusha had made, as also hispenances and religious observances though hurled down on the earth, Oking, he succeeded in retaining his memory. He then began to propitiateBhrigu with a view to the working out of the course. Agastya also, filledwith compassion, joined Nahusha in pacifying Bhrigu for bringing about anend of the course. At last Bhrigu felt compassion for Nahusha andprovided’ for the working out of the course.’

‘Bhrigu said, ‘There will appear a king (on earth) of the name ofYudhishthira, the foremost of his race. He will rescue thee from thiscurse.’ Having said this, the Rishi vanished in the very sight ofNahusha. Agastya also, of mighty energy, having thus accomplished thebusiness of the true Indra, that performer of a hundred sacrifices,returned to his own asylum, worshipped by all members of the regenerateorder. Thou hast, O king, rescued Nahusha from Bhrigu’s curse. Verily,rescued by thee, he ascended to the region of Brahman in thy sight. Asregards Bhrigu, having hurled Nahusha on the earth, he went to the regionof Brahman and informed the Grandsire of it. The Grandsire, having calledIndra back, addressed the deities, saying. ‘Ye deities, through the boonI had granted him, Nahusha had obtained the sovereignty of heaven.Deprived, however, of that sovereignty by the enraged Agastya, he hasbeen hurled on the earth. Ye deities, ye will not succeed in livingwithout a chief. Do ye, therefore, once more install Indra in thesovereignty of Heaven.’ Unto the Grandsire, O son of Pritha, who said sounto them, the deities filled with joy, replied, saying, ‘So be it!’ Thedivine Brahman then, O best of monarchs, installed Indra in thesovereignty of heaven. Made once more the chief’ of the deities, Vasavabegan to shine in beauty and resplendence. Even this is what occurred indays of yore through the transgression of Nahusha. In consequence,however, of the merits he had acquired through acts of the kind I havementioned Nahusha succeeded in once more regaining his lost position.Hence, when evening comes, persons leading the domestic mode of lifeshould give lights. The giver of lights is sure to acquire celestialsight after death. Verily, givers of light become as resplendent as thefull moon. The giver of lights becomes endued with beauty of form andstrength for as many years as correspond with the number of twinkles forwhich the lights given by him burn or blaze.'”[448]

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