Chapter 282

“Bhishma said, ‘Listen, O king, to me as I tell thee the symptoms thatappeared on the body of Vritra when he was overtaken by that fever (bornof the energy of Mahadeva). The heroic Asura’s mouth began to emit flamesof fire. He became exceedingly pale. His body began to tremble all over.His breath became hard and thick. His hairs stood on end. His memory, OBharata, issued out of his mouth in the form of a fierce, dreadful, andinauspicious jackal. Burning and blazing meteors fell on his right andleft. Vultures and kanakas and cranes, gathering together, uttered fiercecries, as they wheeled over Vritra’s head. Then, in that encounter,Indra, adored by the gods, and armed with the thunderbolt, looked hard atthe Daitya as the latter sat on his car. Possessed by that violent fever,the mighty Asura, O monarch, yawned and uttered inhuman cries.[1394]While the Asura was yawning Indra hurled his thunderbolt at him. Enduedwith exceedingly great energy and resembling the fire that destroys thecreation at the end of the Yuga, that thunderbolt overthrew in a triceVritra of gigantic form. Loud shouts were once more uttered by the godson all sides when they beheld Vritra slain, O bull of Bharata’s race!Having slain Vritra, Maghavat, that foe of the Danavas, possessed ofgreat fame, entered heaven with that thunderbolt pervaded by Vishnu. Justthen, O thou of Kuru’s race, the sin of Brahmanicide (in her embodiedform), fierce and awful and inspiring all the worlds with dread, issuedout of the body of the slain Vritra. Of terrible teeth and awful, hideousfor ugliness, and dark and tawny, with hair dishevelled, and dreadfuleyes, O Bharata, with a garland of skulls round her neck, and lookinglike an (Atharvan) Incantation (in its embodied form), O bull ofBharata’s race, covered all over with blood, and clad in rags and barksof trees, O thou of righteous soul, she came out of Vritra’s body. Ofsuch dreadful form and mien, O monarch, she sought the wielder of thethunderbolt (for possessing him). A little while after, O thou of Kuru’srace, the slayer of Vritra, on some purpose connected with the good ofthe three worlds, was proceeding towards heaven. Beholding Indra of greatenergy thus proceeding on his mission, she seized the chief of thedeities and from that moment stuck to him.[1395] When the sin ofBrahmanicide thus stuck to his person and inspired him with terror, Indraentered the fibres of a lotus-stalk and dwelt there for many long years.But the sin of Brahmanicide pursued him closely. Indeed, O son of Kuru,seized by her, Indra became deprived of all his energies. He made greatefforts for driving her from him, but all those efforts proved abortive.Seized by her, O bull of Bharata’s race, the chief of the deities at lastpresented himself before the Grandsire and worshipped him by bending hishead low. Understanding that Sakra was possessed by the sin ofBrahmanicide,[1396] Brahman began to reflect, O best of the Bharatas,(upon the means of freeing his suppliant). The grandsire at last, O thouof mighty arms, addressed Brahmanicide in a sweet voice as if from thedesire of pacifying her, and said, ‘O amiable one, let the chief of thecelestials, who is a favourite of mine, be freed from thee. Tell me, whatI shall do for thee. What wish of thine shall I accomplish?’

“Brahmanicide said, ‘When the Creator of the three worlds, when theillustrious god adored by the universe, hath been pleased with me, Iregard my wishes as already accomplished. Let my residence be nowappointed. Desirous of preserving the worlds, this rule had been made bythee. It was thou, O lord, that didst introduced this importantordinance.[1397] As thou hast been gratified with me, O righteous Lord, Opuissant Master of all the worlds, I shall certainly leave Sakra! Butgrant me an abode to dwell in.’

“Bhishma continued, ‘The Grandsire replied unto Brahmanicide, saying, ‘Sobe it!’ Indeed, the Grandsire discovered means for dispellingBrahmanicide from the person of Indra. The Self-create recollected thehigh-souled Agni. The latter immediately presented himself to Brahman andsaid these words, ‘O illustrious and divine Lord, O thou that are withoutany defect, I have appeared before thee. It behoveth thee to say what Ishall have to accomplish.’

“Brahman said, ‘I shall divide this sin of Brahmanicide into severalportions. For freeing Sakra from her, do thou take a fourth portion ofthat sin.’

“Agni said, ‘How shall I be rescued from her, O Brahman? O puissant Lord,do thou appoint the way. I desire to know the means (of my own rescue) indetail, O adored of all the worlds!’

“Brahman said, ‘Unto that man who, overwhelmed by the quality of Tamas,will abstain from offering thee as an oblation, when he beholds thee inthy blazing form, seeds, herbs, and juices, that portion of Brahmanicidewhich thou wilt take upon thyself shall immediately enter, and leavingthee shall dwell in him. O carrier off oblations, let the fever of thyheart be dispelled.’

“Bhishma said, ‘Thus addressed by the Grandsire the eater of oblationsand sacrificial offerings accepted his command. A fourth of that sin thenentered his person, O king! The Grandsire then summoned the trees, theherbs, and all kinds of grass to him, and solicited them to take uponthemselves a fourth of that sin. Addressed by him, the trees and herbsand grasses became as much agitated as Agni had been at the request, andthey replied unto Grandsire, saying, ‘How shall we, O Grandsire of allthe worlds, be ourselves rescued from this sin? It behoveth thee not toafflict us that have already been afflicted by the fates. O god, we havealways to endure heat and cold and the showers (of the clouds) driven bythe winds, in addition to the cutting and the tearing (that we have tosuffer at the hands of men). We are willing, O Lord of the three worlds,to take at thy command (a portion of) this sin of Brahmanicide. Let themeans, however, of our rescue be pointed out to us.’

“Brahman said, ‘This sin that you shall take shall possess the man whothrough stupefaction of judgment will cut or tear any of you when Parvadays come.’

“Bhishma said, ‘Thus addressed by the high-souled Brahman, the trees andherbs and grasses adored the Creator and then went away without tarryingthere. The Grandsire of all the worlds then summoned the Apsaras andgratifying them with sweet words, O Bharata, said, ‘This foremost ofladies, viz., Brahmanicide, has come out of Indra’s person. Solicited byme, do you take a fourth portion of her into your own persons (for savingthe Chief of the deities).’

“The Apsaras said, ‘O Lord of all the gods, at thy command we are fullywilling to take a portion of this sin. But, O Grandsire, do thou think ofthe means by which we ourselves may be freed from (the effects of) thisunderstanding (that we make with thee).’

“Brahman said, ‘Let the fever of your hearts be dispelled. The portion ofthis sin that you will take upon yourselves shall leave you for instantlypossessing that man who will seek congress with women in their menstrualseason!’

“Bhishma continued, ‘Thus addressed by the Grandsire, O bull of Bharata’srace, the diverse tribes of the Apsaras, with cheerful souls, repaired totheir respective places and began to sport in delight. The illustriousCreator of the three worlds, endued with great ascetic merit, thenrecollected the Waters which immediately came to him. Arrived at thepresence of Brahman of immeasurable energy, the Waters bowed unto him andsaid these words, ‘We have come before thee, O chastiser of foes, at thycommand. O puissant Master of all the worlds, tell us what we are toaccomplish.’

“Brahman said, ‘This dreadful sin hath taken possession of Indra, inconsequence of his having slain Vritra. Take ye a fourth part ofBrahmanicide.’

“The Waters said, ‘Let it be as thou commandest, O master of all theworlds. It behoveth thee, however, O puissant Lord of ours, to think ofthe means by which we may (in our turn) be rescued from (the consequenceof) this understanding. Though art the Lord of all the deities, and thesupreme refuge of the universe. Who else is there to whom we may pay ouradorations so that he may relieve us from distress.’

“Brahman said, ‘Unto that man who stupefied by his understanding andregarding you lightly will cast into you phlegm and urine and excreta,this one shall immediately go and thenceforth reside in him. It is inthis way, verily I say unto ye, that your rescue shall be accomplished.’

“Bhishma continued, ‘Then the sin of Brahmanicide, O Yudhishthira,leaving the chief of the deities, proceeded to the abodes that wereordained for her at the Grandsire’s command. It was thus, O ruler of men,that Indra had become afflicted by that dreadful sin (and it was thusthat he got rid of her). With the Grandsire’s permission Indra thenresolved to perform a Horse-sacrifice. It is heard, O monarch, that Indrahaving been thus possessed by the sin of Brahmanicide afterwards becamecleansed of her through that Sacrifice. Regaining his prosperity andslaying thousands of foes, great was the joy that Vasava obtained, O lordof Earth! From the blood of Vritra, O son of Pritha, were bornhigh-crested cocks. For this reason, those fowls are unclean (as food)for the regenerate classes, and those ascetics that have undergone therite of initiation. Under all circumstances, O king, do thou accomplishwhat is agreeable to the twice-born, for these, O monarch, are known asgods on earth. It was in this way, O thou of Kurds race, that the mightyAsura Vritra was slain by Sakra of immeasurable energy by the aid ofsubtle intelligence and through the application of means. Thou also, Oson of Kunti, unvanquished on earth, wilt become another Indra and theslayer of all thy foes. Those men who, on every Parva day, will recitethis sacred narrative of Vritra in the midst of Brahmanas shall never bestained by any sin. I have now recited to thee one of the greatest andmost wonderful feats of Indra connected with Vritra. What else dost thouwish to hear?'”

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Chapter 283
Chapter 281
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