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Chapter 9

Mahabharata English - ASWAMEDHA PARVA

“Indra said, “Dost thou, O Vrihaspati, sleep in peace, and are thyservants agreeable to thee, dost thou seek the welfare of the gods, anddo the gods, O Brahmana, protect thee?”

Vrihaspati said, “I do sleep in peace in my bed. O Lord of the gods, andmy servants are to my liking and I always seek the welfare of the gods,and they cherish me well.”

Indra said, “Whence then is this pain, mental or physical, and why artthou pale and altered in appearance (complexion) at present? Tell me, OBrahmana, who those people are, who have caused thee pain, so that I maykill them all.”

Vrihaspati said, “O Indra, I have heard that Marutta will perform a greatsacrifice at which exquisite presents will be given by him (to Brahmanas)and that at his sacrifice Samvarta will act as the officiating priest,and therefore do I desire that he may not officiate as priest at thatsacrifice.”

Indra said, “Thou, O Brahmana, hast attained all the object of thy desirewhen thou hast become the excellent priest of the gods, versed in all thesacred hymns, and hast overreached the influence of death and dotage,what can Samvarta do to thee now?”

Vrihaspati said, “Prosperity of a rival is always painful to one’sfeelings, and for this reason too, thou dost with try attendant godspersecute the Asuras with their with and kin, and kill the mostprosperous among them; hence, O Lord of the gods, am I changed inappearance at the thought that my rival is prospering, therefore, OIndra, do thou, by all means, restrain Samvarta and king Marutta.”

Indra turning to Agni said, “Do thou, O Jataveda, following my direction,go to king Marutta to present Vrihaspati to him, and say unto him thatthis Vrihaspati will officiate at his sacrifice and make him immortal.”

Agni said, “I shall presently, O adorable one, repair thither as thymessenger, to present Vrihaspati to king Marutta; and to make Indra’swords true, and to show respect to Vrihaspati, Agni departed.”

Vyasa said, “Then the high-souled fire-god went on his errand,devastating all the forests and trees, like unto the mighty wind, roaringand revolving at random at the end of the winter season.”

Marutta said, “Behold! I find the fire-god come in his own embodiment,this day, therefore do thou, O Muni, offer him a seat and water, and acow, and water for washing the feet.”

Agni said, “I accept thy offerings of water, seat, and water for washingthe feet, O sinless one, do thou know me as the messenger of Indra, cometo thee, in accordance with his directions.”

Marutta said, “O Fire-god, is the glorious Lord of the Celestials happy,and is he pleased with us, and are the other gods loyal to him? Do thouenlighten me duly on all these points.”

Agni said, “O lord of the earth, Sakra is perfectly happy, he is pleasedwith thee, and wishes to make thee free from senility, and all the othergods are loyal to him. Do thou, O king, listen to the message of the Lordof the Celestials. And the object for which he has sent me to thee is topresent Vrihaspati to Marutta. O prince, let this priest (of theCelestials) perform thy sacrifice, and make thee, who art only a mortal,attain immortality.”

Marutta said, “This twice-born Brahmana Samvarta will perform mysacrifice, and I pray to Vrihaspati, that he having acted as priest toMahendra (Indra), it does not look well for him now to act as priest tomortal men.”

Agni said, “If this Vrihaspati officiate as thy priest, then shalt thouby the blessings of Devaraja (Indra) attain the highest region in thecelestial mansion and attaining fame shalt thou certainly conquer theheavenly region. And, O lord of men, if Vrihaspati act as thy priest,thou shalt be able to conquer all the regions inhabited by men, and theheavenly regions, and all the highest regions created by Prajapati andeven the entire kingdom of the gods.”

Samvarta said, “Thou must never come again thus to present Vrihaspati toMarutta: for know, O Pavaka, (Agni) if thou dost, I losing my temper,will burn thee with my fierce evil eyes.”

Vyasa said, “Then Agni apprehending destruction by fire, and tremblinglike the leaves of the Aswattha tree (Ficus religiosa), returned to thegods, and the high-souled Sakra seeing that carrier of oblations (Agni)in the company of Vrihaspati said as follows:

Indra said, “O Jataveda (Agni), didst thou go to present Vrihaspati toMarutta according to my direction? What did that sacrificing king sayunto thee and did he accept my message?”

Agni said, “Thy message was not acceptable by Marutta and when urged byme, he clasping the hands of Vrihaspati, repeatedly said, that Samvartawould act as his priest. And he also observed that he did not desire toattain the worldly and the heavenly regions and all the highest regionsof Prajapati, and that if he were so minded, he would accept the terms ofIndra.”

Indra said, “Do thou go back to that king and meeting him, tell him thesewords of mine, full of significance, and if he obey them not, I shallstrike him with my thunderbolt.”

Agni said, “Let this king of the Gandharvas repair thither as thymessenger, O Vasava, for, I am afraid to go thither myself. Know, OSakra, that highly incensed Samvarta, used to ascetic practices, told methese words in a rage. ‘I shall burn thee with my fierce evil eyes ifthou on any account come again here to present Vrihaspati to kingMarutta.'”

Sakra said, “O Jataveda, it is thou who dost burn all other things andthere is none else who can reduce thee to ashes. All the world is afraidto come in contact with thee. O carrier of oblations, these words ofthine are worthy of no credence.”

Agni said, “Thou, O Sakra, hast encompassed the dominion of the heavenand the earth and the firmament by the might of thy own arms, but eventhus how could Vritra (of old) wrest from thee the sovereignty of thecelestial regions?”

Indra said, “I can reduce my foes to submission and can even reduce thesize of a mountain to an atom, if I will it. But, O Vahnni, as I do notaccept the libation of Soma if offered by a foe, and as I do not strikethe weak with my thunderbolt, Vritra seemed to triumph over me for atime. But who among mortals can live in peace by creating feud with me. Ihave banished the Kalakeyas to the earth, and removed the Danavas fromheaven, and have terminated the existence of Prahlada in heaven. Canthere be any man who can live in peace by provoking my enmity?”

Agni said, “Dost thou, O Mahendra, remember that in olden times when thesage Chyavana officiated at the sacrifice of Saryati with the twin godsAswins and himself appropriated the Soma offering alone, thou wert filledwith wrath, and when bent upon preventing Saryati’s sacrifice, thou didstviolently strike Chyavana with thy thunderbolt? But that Brahmana, OPurandara, giving way to passion, was able by the power of his devotionsto seize and hold fast by hand with thy thunder-bolt in it. And in arage, he again created a terrible looking enemy of thine, the Asura namedMada assuming all shapes, on beholding whom thou didst shut thine eyeswith fear, whose one huge jaw was placed on earth, and the other extendedto the celestial regions, and who looked terrible with his thousand sharpteeth extending over a hundred Yojanas, and had four prominent onesthick-set, and shining like a pillar of silver, and extending over twohundred Yojanas. And when grinding his teeth he pursued thee with histerrible and uplifted pike with the object of killing thee. Thou onbeholding that terrible monster, presented a (pitiful) spectacle to allthe by-standers. Then, O slayer of Danavas, overcome with fear of themonster, with thy hands clasped in supplication, thou didst seek theprotection of the great sage. The might of Brahmanas, O Sakra, is greaterthan that of the Kshatriyas. None are more powerful than Brahmanas andknowing duly, as I do, the power of Brahmanas, I do not, O Sakra, desireto come in conflict with Samvarta.”

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