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Chapter 155

Mahabharata English - ANUSASANA PARVA

“Bhishma said, “Thus addressed, king Arjuna remained silent. The god ofwind once more spoke to him, ‘Listen now, O king, to the story of thegreatness of the Brahmana Agastya. Once on a time, the gods weresubjugated by the Asuras upon which they became very cheerless. Thesacrifices of the deities were all seized, and the Swadha of the Pitriswas also misappropriated. Indeed, O Chief of the Haihayas, all thereligious acts and observances of human beings also were suspended by theDanavas. Divested of their prosperity, the deities wandered over theearth as we have heard. One day, in course of their wandering they metAgastya of high vows, that Brahmana, O king, who was endued with greatenergy and splendour which was as blazing as that of the sun. Salutinghim duly, the deities made the usual enquiries of politeness. They then,O King, said these words unto that high-souled one, ‘We have beendefeated by the Danavas in battle and have, therefore, fallen off fromaffluence and prosperity. Do thou, therefore, O foremost of ascetics,rescue us from this situation of great fear.’ Thus informed of the plightto which the deities had been reduced, Agastya became highly incensed(with the Danavas). Possessed of great energy, he at once blazed forthlike the all-consuming fire at the time of the universal dissolution.With the blazing rays that then emanated from the Rishi, the Danavasbegan to be burnt. Indeed, O king, thousands of them began to drop downfrom the sky. Burning with the energy of Agastya, the Danavas, abandoningboth heaven and earth, fled towards the southern direction. At that timethe Danava king Vali was performing a Horse-sacrifice in the netherregions. Those great Asuras who were with him in those regions or whowere dwelling in the bowels of the earth, were not burnt. The deities,upon the destruction of their foes, then regained their own regions,their fears entirely dispelled. Encouraged by what he accomplished forthem, they then solicited the Rishi to destroy those Asuras who had takenrefuge within the bowels of the earth or in the nether regions. Thussolicited by the gods, Agastya replied unto them, saying, ‘Yes, I amfully competent to consume those Asuras that are dwelling underneath theearth; but if I achieve such a feat, my penances will suffer adiminution. Hence, I shall not exert my power.’ Even thus, O king, werethe Danavas consumed by the illustrious Rishi with his own energy. Eventhus did Agastya of cleansed soul, O monarch, accomplish that feat withthe aid of his penances. O sinless one, even so was Agastya as describedby me! Shall I continue? Or, will you say anything in reply? Is there anyKshatriya who is greater than Agastya?’

“Bhishma continued, ‘Thus addressed, king Arjuna remained silent. The godof wind once more said, ‘Hear, O king, one of the great feats of theillustrious Vasishtha. Once on a time the deities were engaged inperforming a sacrifice on the shores of the lake Vaikhanasa. Knowing ofhis puissance, the sacrificing gods thought of Vasishtha and made himtheir priest in imagination. Meanwhile, seeing the gods reduced andemaciated in consequence of the Diksha they were undergoing, a race ofDanavas, of the name of Khalins, of statures as gigantic as mountains,desired to slay them. Those amongst the Danavas that were either disabledor slain in the fight were plunged into the waters of the Manasa lake andin consequence of the boon of the Grandsire they instantly came back tovigour and life. Taking up huge and terrible mountain summits and macesand trees, they agitated the waters of the lake, causing them to swell upto the height of a hundred yojanas. They then ran against the deitiesnumbering ten thousand. Afflicted by the Danavas, the gods then soughtthe protection of their chief, Vasava-Sakra, however, was soon afflictedby them. In his distress he sought the protection of Vasishtha. At this,the holy Rishi Vasishtha assured the deities, dispelling their fears.Understanding that the gods had become exceedingly cheerless, the asceticdid this through compassion. He put forth his energy and burnt, withoutany exertion, those Danavas called Khalins. Possessed of wealth ofpenances, the Rishi brought the River Ganga, who had gone to Kailasa, tothat spot. Indeed, Ganga appeared, piercing through the waters of thelake. The lake was penetrated by that river. And as that celestialstream, piercing through the waters of the lake, appeared, it flowed on,under the name of Sarayu. The place whereon those Danavas fell came to becalled after them. Even thus were the denizens of Heaven, with Indra attheir head, rescued from great distress by Vasishtha, It was thus thatthose Danavas, who had received boons from Brahman, were slain by thathigh-souled Rishi. O sinless one, I have narrated to thee the feat whichVasishtha accomplished. Shall I go on? Or, will you say anything! Wasthere a Kshatriya who could be said to surpass the Brahmana Vasishtha?’

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