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Chapter 281

Mahabharata English - SANTI PARVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘How great was the love of virtue possessed by Vritraof immeasurable energy, whose knowledge was incomparable and whosedevotion to Vishnu was so great. The status occupied by Vishnu ofimmeasurable energy is exceedingly difficult of apprehension. How, Otiger among kings, could Vritra (who was an Asura) comprehended it (sowell)? Thou hast spoken of Vritra’s acts. I too have listened to thee infull faith. In consequence, however, of my seeing that one point (in thydiscourse) is unintelligible (and that, therefore, it requiresexplanation), my curiosity has been roused for questioning theeagain.[1387] How, indeed, was Vritra, who was virtuous, devoted toVishnu, endued with knowledge of truth derivable from a justcomprehension of the Upanishads and Vedanta, vanquished by Indra, Oforemost of men? O chief of the Bharatas, resolve me this doubt. Indeed,tell me, O tiger among kings, how Vritra was vanquished by Sakra![1388] Ograndsire, O thou of mighty arms, tell me in detail how the battle tookplace (between the chief of the deities and the foremost of Asuras). Mycuriosity to hear it is very great.’

Bhishma said, ‘In days of yore, Indra, accompanied by the celestialforces, proceeded on his car, and beheld the Asura Vritra stationedbefore him like a mountain. He was full five hundred Yojanas in height, Ochastiser of foes, and three hundred Yojanas in circumference. Beholdingthat form of Vritra, which was incapable of being vanquished by the threeworlds united together, the celestial became penetrated with fear andfull of anxiety. Indeed, suddenly seeing that gigantic form of hisantagonist, O king, Indra was struck with palsy in the lower extremities.Then, on the eve of that great battle between the deities and the Asuras,there arose loud shouts from both sides, and drums and other musicalinstruments began to beat and blow. Beholding Sakra stationed before him,O thou of Kuru’s race, Vritra felt neither awe nor fear, nor was hedisposed to muster all his energies for the fight.[1389] Then theencounter commenced, inspiring the three worlds with terror, betweenIndra, the chief of the deities, and Vritra of high soul. The entirewelkin was enveloped by the combats of both sides with swords and axesand lances and darts and spears and heavy clubs and rocks of diversesizes and bows of loud twang and diverse kinds of celestial weapons andfires and burning brands. All the celestials with Grandsire at theirhead, and all the highly-blessed Rishis, came to witness the battle, ontheir foremost of cars; and the Siddhas also, O bull of Bharata’s race,and the Gandharvas, with the Apsaras, on their own beautiful and foremostof cars, came there (for the same purpose). Then Vritra, that foremost ofvirtuous persons, quickly overwhelmed the welkin and the chief of thedeities with a thick shower of rocks. The celestials, at this, filledwith rage, dispelled with their showers of arrows that thick downpour ofrocks showered by Vritra in battle. Then Vritra, O tiger among the Kurus,possessed of mighty strength and endued with large powers of illusion,stupefied the chief of the deities by fighting wholly with the aid of hispowers of illusion. When he of a hundred sacrifices, thus afflicted byVritra. was overcome by stupefaction, the sage Vasishtha restored him tohis senses by uttering Somanas.'[1390]

“Vasishtha said, ‘Thou art the foremost of the gods, O chief of thedeities, O slayer of Daityas and Asuras! The strength of the three worldsis in thee! Why, then, O Sakra, dost thou languish so! There, Brahman,and Vishnu, and Siva, that lord of the universe, the illustrious anddivine Soma, and all the highest Rishis (stand, beholding thee)! Do not,O Sakra, yield to weakness, like an ordinary person! Firmly resolved onbattle, slay thy foes, O chief of the celestials! There, that Master ofall the worlds, viz., the Three-eyed (Siva), the adored of all theworlds, is eyeing thee! Cast off this stupefaction, O chief of thecelestials! There, those regenerate Rishis, headed by Vrihaspati, arepraising thee, for thy victory, in celestial hymns.'[1391]

“Bhishma continued, ‘While Vasava of great energy was thus being restoredto consciousness by the high-souled Vasishtha, his strength becamegreatly enhanced. The illustrious chastiser of Paka then, relying uponhis intelligence, had recourse to high Yoga and with its aid dispelledthese illusions of Vritra. Then Vrihaspati, the son of Angiras, and thoseforemost of Rishis possessed of great prosperity, beholding the prowessof Vritra, repaired to Mahadeva, and impelled by the desire of benefitingthe three worlds, urged him to destroy the great Asura. The energy ofthat illustrious lord of the universe thereupon assumed the character ofa fierce fever and penetrated the body of Vritra the lord ofAsuras.[1392] The illustrious and divine Vishnu, adored of all theworlds, bent upon protecting the universe, entered the thunderbolt ofIndra. Then Vrihaspati of great intelligence and Vasishtha of exceedingenergy, and all the other foremost of Rishis, repairing to Him of ahundred sacrifices, viz., the boon-giving Vasava, the adored of all theworlds, addressed him, saying, ‘Slay Vritra, O puissant one, withoutdelay!’

“Maheswara said, ‘Yonder, O Sakra, stands the great Vritra, accompaniedby a great force. He is the soul of the universe, capable of goingeverywhere, endued with large powers of illusion, and possessed of greatcelebrity. This foremost of Asuras is, therefore, incapable of beingvanquished by even the three worlds united together. Aided by Yoga, dothou slay him, O chief of the deities. Do not disregard him. For fullsixty thousand years, O chief of the celestials, Vritra practised theseverest penances for obtaining strength. Brahman gave him the boons hehad solicited, viz., the greatness that belongs to Yogins, large powersof illusion, excess of might, and superabundant energy. I impart to theemy energy, O Vasava! The Danava has now lost his coolness. Do thou,therefore, slay him now with thy thunderbolt!’

“Sakra said, ‘Before thy eyes, O foremost of gods, I shall, through thygrace, slay with my thunderbolt this invincible son of Diti.’

“Bhishma continued, ‘When the great Asura or Daitya was overtaken by thatfever (born of Mahadeva’s energy), the deities and the Rishis, filledwith joy, uttered loud cheers, At the same time drums, and conchs of loudblare, and kettle drums and tabors began to beat and blow by thousands.Suddenly all the Asuras became afflicted with the loss of memory. In atrice, their powers of illusion also disappeared. The Rishis and thedeities, ascertaining the foe to be thus possessed, uttered the praisesof both Sakra and Isana, and began to urge the former (to make no delayin destroying Vritra). The form that Indra assumed on the eve of theencounter, while seated on his car and while his praises were beinghymned by the Rishis, became such that none could look at it withoutawe.'”[1393]

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