“Yudhishthira said, ‘O grandsire, thou art possessed of great wisdom.Indeed, thou art fully conversant with every branch of learning. In ourgreat race thou art the only individual that swellest with all thesciences. I desire to hear from thee discourses that are interwoven withReligion and Profit, that lead to felicity hereafter, and that arefraught with wonder unto all creatures. The time that has come is fraughtwith great distress. The like of it does not generally come to kinsmenand friends. Indeed, save thee, O foremost of men, we have now none elsethat can take the place of an instructor. If, O sinless one, I with mybrothers deserve the favour, it behoveth thee to answer the question Idesire to ask thee. This one is Narayana who is endued with everyprosperity and is honoured by all the kings. Even he waits upon thee,showing thee every indulgence and honouring thee greatly. It behoveththee to discourse unto me, through affection, for my benefit as also forthat of my brothers, in the presence of Vasudeva himself and of all thesekings.'”
“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing these words of king Yudhishthira,Bhishma, the son of the river called after Bhagiratha, filled with joy inconsequence of his affection for the monarch and his brothers, said whatfollows.'
“Bhishma said, ‘I shall certainly recite to thee discourses that aredelightful, on the subject, O king, of the puissance of this Vishnu asdisplayed in days of yore and as I have heard (from my preceptors).Listen to me also as I describe the puissance of that great god who has abull for his device. Listen to me as I narrate also the doubt that filledthe mind of the spouse of Rudra and that of Rudra himself. Once on a timethe righteous souled Krishna observed a vow extending for ten and twoyears. For beholding him who had gone through the rite of initiation forthe observance of his great vow, there came to that place Narada andParvata, and the Island-born Krishna, and Dhaumya, that foremost ofsilent reciters, and Devala, and Kasyapa, and Hastikasyapa. Other Rishisalso, endued with Diksha and self-restraint, followed by their disciplesand accompanied by many Siddhas and many ascetics of great merit, camethere. The son of Devaki offered them such honours of hospitality as aredeserving of the highest praise and as are offered unto the gods alone.Those great Rishis sat themselves down upon seats some of which weregreen and some endued with the colour of gold and some that were fraughtwith the plumes of the peacock and some that were perfectly new andfresh. Thus seated, they began to converse sweetly with one another onsubjects connected with Religion and duty as also with many royal sagesand deities. At that time the energy, in the form of fire, Narayana,rising from the fuel that consisted of the rigid observance of his vow,issued out of the mouth of Krishna of wonderful feats. That fire began toconsume those mountains with their trees and creepers and little plants,as also with their birds and deer and beasts of prey and reptiles. Soonthe summit of that mountain presented a distressing and pitifulappearance, Inhabited by animals of diverse kinds which began to uttercries of woe and pain, the summit soon became bereft of every livingcreature. That fire of mighty flames, having consumed everything withoutleaving a remnant at last came back to Vishnu and touched his feet like adocile disciple. That crusher of foes, viz., Krishna, beholding thatmountain burnt, cast a benignant look upon it and thereby brought it backto its former condition. That mountain thereupon once more became adornedwith flowering trees and creepers, and once more echoed with the notesand cries of birds and deer and animals of prey and reptiles. Seeing thatwonderful and inconceivable sight, all the ascetics became amazed. Theirhairs stood on end and their vision was blurred with tears. That foremostof speakers, Narayana, beholding those Rishis thus filled with wonder,addressed them in these sweet and refreshing words, ‘Why, indeed, haswonder filled the hearts of this assemblage of Rishis, these asceticsthat are always free from attachment of every kind, that are divested ofthe idea of meum, and that are fully conversant with every sacredscience? It behoveth these Rishis possessed of wealth of penances andfreed from every stain to explain to me truly this doubt that has arisenin my mind.'”
“The Rishis said, ‘It is thou that createst all the worlds, and it isthou that destroyest them again. It is thou that art Winter, it is thouthat art Summer, and it is thou that art the season of rains. Of all thecreatures, mobile and immobile, that are found on the earth, thou art thefather, thou art the mother, thou art the master, and thou art theorigin! Even this, O slayer of Madhu, is a matter of wonder and doubtwith us. O source of all auspiciousness, it behoveth Thee to resolve tous that doubt, viz., the issue of fire from Thy mouth. Our fears beingdispelled we shall then, O Hari, recite to thee what we have heard andseen.'”
“Vasudeva said, ‘The fire that issued from my mouth and that resemblesthe all-consuming Yuga-fire in splendour, and by which this mountain hasbeen crushed and scorched, is nothing else than the energy of Vishnu. YeRishis, ye are persons that have subjugated wrath, that have brought yoursenses under complete control, that are endued with wealth of penances,and that are very gods in puissance. Yet ye have suffered yourselves tobe agitated and distressed! I am now engaged wholly with the observancesrelating to rigid vow. Verily, in consequence of my observing the vows ofan ascetic, a fire issued from my mouth. It behoves you not to sufferyourselves to be agitated. It is for observing a rigid vow that I came tothis delightful and auspicious mountain. The object that has brought mehere is to acquire by the aid of penances a son that would be my equal inenergy. In consequence of my penances, the Soul existing in my bodybecame transformed into fire and issued out of my mouth. That fire hadrepaired to behold the boon-giving Grandsire of all the universe. TheGrandsire, ye foremost of ascetics, told my soul that half the energy ofthe great god having the bull for his device would take birth as my son.That fire returning from its mission, has come back to me and approachedmy feet like a disciple desirous of serving me dutifully. Indeed, castingoff its fury it has come back to me to its own proper nature. I have thustold you, in brief, a mystery appertaining to Him who has the lotus forhis origin and who is endued with great intelligence. Ye Rishis possessedof wealth of penances, ye should not give way to fear! Ye are endued withfar-reaching vision. Ye can proceed to every place without anyimpediment. Blazing with vows observed by ascetics, ye are adorned withknowledge and science. I now ask you to tell me something that is highlywonderful which you have heard of or seen on earth or in heaven. I feelan eager desire to taste the honey of that speech which will drop fromyour lips, the honey that will, I am sure, be as sweet as a jet of nectaritself. If I behold anything on earth or in heaven, which is highlydelightful and of wonderful aspect but which is unknown to all of you, yeRishis that look like so many gods, I say that that is in consequence ofmy own Supreme Nature which is incapable of being obstructed by anything.Anything wonderful whose knowledge dwelleth in me or is acquired by myown inspiration ceases to appear wonderful to me. Anything, however, thatis recited by pious persons and that is heard from those that are good,deserves to be accepted with respect and faith. Such discourses exist onearth for a long time and are as durable as characters engraved on rocks.I desire, therefore, to hear, at this meeting something dropping from thelips of persons that are good and that cannot fail to be productive ofgood to men.’ Hearing these words of Krishna all those ascetics becamefilled with surprise. They began to gaze at Janardana with those eyes oftheirs that were as beautiful and large as the petals of the lotus. Someof them began to glorify him and some began to worship him withreverence. Indeed, all of them then hymned the praises of the slayer ofMadhu with words whose meanings were adorned with the eternal Riks. Allthose ascetics then appointed Narada, that foremost of all personsconversant with speech, to gratify the request of Vasudeva.’
“The ascetics said, ‘It behoveth thee, O Narada, to describe, in full,from the beginning, unto Hrishikesa, that wonderful and inconceivableincident which occurred, O puissant one, on the mountains of Himavat andwhich, O ascetic, was witnessed by those of us that had proceeded thitherin course of our pilgrimage to the sacred waters. Verily, for the benefitof all the Rishis here assembled, it behoveth thee to recite thatincident.’ Thus addressed by those ascetics, the celestial Rishi, viz.,the divine Narada, then recited the following story whose incidents hadoccurred some time before.'”