Chapter 92

Mahabharata English - ASWAMEDHA PARVA

“Janamejaya said, ‘If, O illustrious one, Heaven is the fruit of wealthacquired by lawful means, do thou discourse to me fully on it. Thou artwell-conversant with the subject and therefore, it behoveth thee toexplain it. O regenerate one, thou hast said unto me what the high fruitwas that accrued unto that Brahmana, who lived according to the Uncchamode, through his gift of powdered barley. Without doubt, all thou hastsaid is true. In what way, however, was the attainment held certain ofthe highest end in all sacrifices? O foremost of regenerate persons, itbehoveth thee to expound this to me in all its details.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘In this connection is cited this old narrative, Ochastiser of foes, of what occurred in former days in the great sacrificeof Agastya. In olden days, O king, Agastya of great energy, devoted tothe good of all creatures, entered into a Diksha extending for twelveyears.[219] In that sacrifice of the high-souled Rishi many Hotris wereengaged that resembled blazing fires in the splendour of their bodies.Among them were men that subsisted upon roots or fruits, or that used twopieces of stone only for husking their corn, or that were supported byonly the rays (of the moon). Among them were also men who never took anyfood unless it was placed before them by others solicitous of feedingthem, and those who never ate anything without having first served thedeities, the Pitris, and guests, and those who never washed the foodwhich they took. There were also Yatis and Bikshus among them, O king.All of them were men who had obtained a sight of the deity ofRighteousness in his embodied form. They had subjugated wrath andacquired a complete mastery over all their senses. Living in theobservance of self-restraint, they were freed from pride and the desireof injuring others. They were always observant of a pure conduct and werenever obstructed (in the prosecution of their purposes) by their senses.Those great Rishis attended that sacrifice and accomplished its variousrites. The illustrious Rishi (Agastya) acquired the food that wascollected in that sacrifice and that came up to the required measure, bylawful means according to the best of his power. Numerous other asceticsat that time performed large sacrifices. As Agastya, however, was engagedin that sacrifice of his, the thousand-eyed Indra, O best of theBharatas, ceased to pour rain (on the Earth). At the intervals, O king,of the sacrificial rites, this talk occurred among those Rishis ofcleansed souls about the high-souled Agastya, viz., ‘This Agastya,engaged in sacrifice, is making gifts of food with heart purged of prideand vanity. The deity of the clouds, however, has ceased to pour rain.How, indeed, will food grow? This sacrifice of the Rishi, ye Brahmanas,is great and extends for twelve years. The deity will not pour rain forthese twelve years. Reflecting on this, it behoveth you to do some favourunto this Rishi of great intelligence, viz., Agastya of severe penances.’When these words were said, Agastya of great prowess, gratifying thoseascetics by bending his head, said, ‘If Vasava does not pour rain forthose twelve years, I shall then perform the mental sacrifice. Even thisis the eternal ordinance. If Vasava does not pour rain for these twelveyears, I shall then perform the Touch-sacrifice. Even this is the eternalsacrifice. If Vasava does not pour rain for these twelve years, I shallthen, putting forth all my exertion, make arrangements for othersacrifices characterised by the observance of the most difficult andsevere vows. This present sacrifice of mine, with seeds, has beenarranged for by me with labour extending for many years.[220] I shall,with seeds, accomplish much good. No impediment will arise. This mysacrifice is incapable of being baffled. It matters little whether thedeity pours rains or no downpours happen. Indeed, if Indra does not, ofhis own will, show any regard for me, I shall, in that case, transformmyself into Indra and keep all creatures alive. Every creature, onwhatever food he has been nourished, will continue to be nourished on itas before. I can even repeatedly create a different order of things. Letgold and whatever else of wealth there is, come to this place today. Letall the wealth that occurs in the three worlds come here today of its ownaccord. Let all the tribes of celestial Apsaras, all the Gandharvas alongwith the Kinnaras, and Viswavasu, and others there are (of that order),approach this sacrifice of mine. Let all the wealth that exists among theNorthern Kurus, come of their own accord to these sacrifices. Let Heaven,and all those who have Heaven for their home, and Dharma himself, comehither.’–After the ascetic had uttered these words, everything happenedas he wished, in consequence of his penances, for Agastya was endued witha mind that resembled a blazing fire and was possessed of extraordinaryenergy. The Rishis who were there beheld the power of penances withrejoicing hearts. Filled with wonder they then said these words of graveimport.’

“The Rishis said, ‘We have been highly gratified with the words thou hastuttered. We do not, however, wish that thy penances should suffer anydiminution. Those sacrifices are approved by us which are performed bylawful means. Indeed, we desire duly those sacrifices which rest onlawful means.[221] Earning our food by lawful means and observant of ourrespective duties, we shall seek to go through sacrificial initiationsand the pouring of libations on the sacred fire and the other religiousrites. We should adore the deities, practising Brahmacharyya by lawfulmeans. Completing the period of Brahmacharyya we have come out of ourabode, observing lawful methods. That understanding, which is freed fromthe desire of inflicting any kind of injury on others, is approved by us.Thou shouldst always, O puissant one, command such abstention from injuryin all sacrifices. We shall then be highly gratified, O foremast ofregenerate ones. After the completion of thy sacrifice, when dismissed bythee, we shall then, leaving this place, go away.’ As they were sayingthese words, Purandara, the chief of the deities, endued with greatenergy, beholding the power of Agastya’s penances, poured rain. Indeed, OJanamejaya, till the completion of the sacrifice of that Rishi ofimmeasurable prowess, the deity of rain poured rain that met the wishesof men in respect of both quantity and time. Placing Vrihaspati beforehim, the chief of the deities came there, O royal sage, and gratified theRishi Agastya. On the completion of that sacrifice, Agastya, filled withjoy, worshipped those great Rishis duly and then dismissed them all.’

“Janamejaya said, ‘Who was that mongoose with a golden head, that saidall those words in a human voice? Asked by me, do thou tell me this.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Thou didst not ask me before and, therefore, I didnot tell thee. Hear as I tell thee who that mongoose was and why he couldassume a human voice. In former times, the Rishi Jamadagni proposed toperform a Sraddha. His Homa cow came to him and the Rishi milked herhimself. He then placed the milk in a vessel that was new, durable andpure. The deity Dharma, assuming the form of Anger, entered that vesselof milk. Indeed, Dharma was desirous of ascertaining what that foremostof Rishis would do when seeing some injury done to him. Having reflectedthus, Dharma spoiled that milk. Knowing that the spoiler of his milk wasAnger, the ascetic was not at all enraged with him. Anger, then, assumingthe form of a Brahmana lady, showed himself to the Rishi. Indeed, Anger,finding that he had been conquered by that foremost one of Bhrigu’s race,addressed him, saying, ‘O chief of Bhrigu’s race, I have been conqueredby thee. There is a saying among men that the Bhrigus are very wrathful.I now find that that saying is false, since I have been subdued by thee.Thou art possessed of a mighty soul. Thou art endued with forgiveness. Istand here today, owning thy sway. I fear thy penances, O righteous one.Do thou, O puissant Rishi, show me favour.’

“Jamadagni said, ‘I have seen thee, O Anger, in thy embodied form. Gothou whithersoever thou likest, without any anxiety. Thou hast not doneme any injury today. I have no grudge against thee. Those for whom I hadkept this milk are the highly blessed Pitris. Present thyself before themand ascertain their intentions.’ Thus addressed, penetrated with fear,Anger vanished from the sight of the Rishi. Through the curse of thePitris he became a mongoose. He then began to gratify the Pitris in orderto bring about an end of his curse. By them he was told these words, ‘Byspeaking disrespectfully of Dharma thou shalt attain to the end of thycurse.’ Thus addressed by them he wandered over places where sacrificeswere performed and over other sacred places, employed in censuring greatsacrifices. It was he that came to the great sacrifice of kingYudhishthira. Dispraising the son of Dharma by a reference to the prasthaof powdered barley, Anger became freed from his curse, for Yudhishthira(as Dharma’s son) was Dharma’s self. Even this is what occurred in thesacrifice of that high-souled king. Mongoose disappeared there in ourvery sight.'”[222]

Chapter 91
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