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Chapter 283

Mahabharata English - SANTI PARVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘O grandsire, thou art possessed of great wisdom andthoroughly conversant with every branch of learning. From this verynarrative of the slaughter of Vritra the wish has arisen in my mind ofasking thee a question. Thou hast said, O ruler of men, that Vritra was(first) stupefied by Fever, and that then, O sinless one, he was slain byVasava with the thunderbolt. How did this Fever, O thou of great wisdom,arise? O lord, I desire to hear in detail of the origin of Fever.’

“Bhishma said, ‘Listen, O king, to the origin, celebrated over all theworld, of Fever. I shall speak in detail on this topic, fully explaininghow Fever first sprang into existence, O Bharata! In days of yore, Omonarch, there was a summit, named Savitri, of the mountains of Meru.Worshipped by all the worlds, it was endued with great splendour andadorned with every kind of jewels and gems. That summit was immeasurablein extent and thither no one could go.[1398] On that mountain summit thedivine Mahadeva used to sit in splendour as if on a bed-stead adornedwith gold. The daughter of the king of mountains, sitting by his side,shone in brilliance.[1399] The high-souled deities, the Vasus ofimmeasurable energy, the high-souled Aswins, those foremost ofphysicians, and king Vaisravana waited upon by many a Guhyaka,–that lordof the Yakshas, endued with prosperity and puissance, and having hisabode on the summit of Kailasa,–all waited upon the highsouled Mahadeva.And the great sage Usanas, and the foremost of Rishis having Sanatkumarafor their first, and the other celestial Rishis headed by Angiras, andthe Gandharva Viswavasu, and Narada and Parvata, and the diverse tribesof Apsaras, all came there to wait upon the Master of the universe. Apure and auspicious breeze, bearing diverse kinds of perfumes, blewthere. The trees that stood there were adorned with the flowers of everyseason. A large number of Vidyadharas and Siddhas and ascetics too, OBharata, repaired thither for waiting upon Mahadeva, the Lord of allcreatures. Many ghostly beings, also, of diverse forms and aspects, andmany dreadful Rakshasas and mighty Pisachas, of diverse aspects, mad withjoy, and armed with diverse kinds of uplifted weapons, forming the trainof Mahadeva, were there, every one of whom resembled a blazing fire inenergy. The illustrious Nandi stood there at the command of the greatgod, blazing with his own energy and armed with a lance that resembled aflame of fire. Ganga also, that foremost of all Rivers and born of allsacred waters in the universe, waited there in her embodied form, O sonof Kuru’s race, upon that illustrious deity. Thus adored by the celestialRishis and the gods, the illustrious Mahadeva of immeasurable energydwelt on that summit of Meru.

“After some time had passed away, the Prajapati Daksha[1400] commenced toperform a Sacrifice according to the ancient rites (laid down in theVedas). Unto the Sacrifice of Daksha, all the deities headed by Sakra,assembling together, resolved to repair. It hath been heard by us thatthe high-souled deities, with the permission o f Mahadeva, mounted theircelestial cars resembling the fire or the Sun in splendour, and proceededto that spot (on the Himavat) whence the Ganges is said to issue.Beholding the deities depart, the excellent daughter of the king ofmountains, addressed her divine spouse, viz., the Lord of all creatures,and said, ‘O illustrious one, whither are those deities headed by Sakragoing? O thou that art conversant with the truth, tell me truly, for agreat doubt has filled my mind.’

“Maheswara said, ‘O lady that art highly blessed, the excellent PrajapatiDaksha is adoring the gods in a Horse-sacrifice. These denizens of heavenare proceeding even thither.’

“Uma said, ‘Why, O Mahadeva, dost thou not proceed to that Sacrifice?What objection is there of thy going to that place?’

“Maheswara said, ‘O highly blessed lady, the deities in days of yore madean arrangement in consequence of which no share was assigned to me ofofferings in all Sacrifices. Agreeably to the course that was sanctionedin consequence of that arrangement, O thou of the fairest complexion, thedeities do not give me, following the old custom, any share of thesacrificial offerings.’

“Uma said, O illustrious one, among all beings thou art the foremost inpuissance. In merit, in energy, in fame, and in prosperity, thou yieldestto none, and thou art, indeed, superior to all. In consequence, however,of this disability in respect of a share (in the Sacrificial offerings) Iam filled with great grief, O sinless one, and a tremor overtakes me fromhead to foot.’

“Bhishma continued, ‘The goddess (Parvati), having said these words untoher divine spouse, the Lord of all creatures, O monarch, remained silent,her heart burning the while in grief. Then Mahadeva, understanding whatwas in her heart and what her thoughts were (for wiping off thatdisgrace), addressed Nandi, saying, ‘Wait here (by the goddess).Summoning all his Yoga force, that Lord of all lords of Yoga, that god ofgods, that wielder of Pinaka, possessed of mighty energy, quicklyproceeded to the place (where Daksha was sacrificing) accompanied by allhis terrible followers and destroyed that Sacrifice. Amongst thesefollowers of his, some uttered loud cries, and some laughed terribly, andsome, O king, extinguished the (Sacrificial) fires with blood; and some,possessed of awful faces, pulling up the sacrificial stakes, began towhirl them. Others began to devour those that were ministering to theSacrifice. Then that sacrifice, thus afflicted on every side, assumed theform of a deer and sought to fly away through the skies. Ascertainingthat the Sacrifice was running away in that form, the puissant Mahadevabegan to pursue him with bow and arrow. In consequence of the wrath thatthen filled the heart of that foremost of all gods, possessed ofimmeasurable energy, a dreadful drop of sweat appeared on his forehead.When that drop of sweat fell down on the earth, there forthwith appeareda blazing fire resembling the (all-destructive) conflagration thatappears at the end of a Yuga. From that fire issued a dreadful being, Omonarch, of very short stature, possessed of blood-red eyes and a greenbeard. His body was covered entirely with hair like a hawk’s or an owl’sand his hair stood erect. Of dreadful aspect, his complexion was dark andhis attire blood-red. Like a fire burning a heap of dry grass or straw,that Being of great energy quickly consumed the embodied form ofSacrifice. Having accomplished that feat, he then rushed towards thedeities and the Rishis that had assembled there. The deities, filled withfear, fled in all directions. In consequence of that Being’s tread, theearth, O monarch began to tremble.[1401] Exclamations of Oh and Alasarose throughout the universe. Marking this, the puissant Grandsire,showing himself unto Mahadeva, addressed him in the following words.’

“Brahman said, ‘O puissant one, the deities will henceforth yield thee ashare of the sacrificial offerings! O Lord of all the deities, let thiswrath of thine be withdrawn by thee! O scorcher of foes, there, thosegods, and the Rishis, in consequence of thy wrath, O Mahadeva, havebecome exceedingly agitated. This Being also, that hath sprung from thysweat, O foremost of gods, shall wander among creatures, Orighteous-souled one, under the name of Fever. O puissant one, if theenergy of this Being remains all collected together, then the entireearth herself will not be able to bear him. Let him, therefore, bedistributed into many parts.’ When Brahman had said these words, and whenhis proper share was appointed of the sacrificial offerings, Mahadevareplied unto the Grandsire of great energy, saying, ‘So be id’ Indeed,the wielder of Pinaka, viz., Bhava, smiled a little and became filledwith joy. And he accepted the share that the Grandsire appointed of theofferings in sacrifices. Conversant with the properties of everything,Mahadeva then distributed Fever into many portions, for the peace of allcreatures. Listen, O son, as to how he did this. The heat that isperceptible in the heads of elephants, the bitumen of mountains,[1402]the moss that floats on water, the slough of snakes, the sores thatappear in the hoofs of bulls, the sterile tracts of earth that are fullof saline matter, the dullness of vision of all animals, the diseasesthat appear in the throats of horses, the crests appearing on the headsof peacocks, the eye-disease of the koel,[1403] each of these was namedFever by the high-souled Mahadeva. This is what has been heard by us. Theliver-disease also of sheep, and the hiccup of parrots are also eachknown as forms of Fever. To this must be added the toil that tigersundergo, for that also, O, righteous king, is known as a from of Fever.Besides these, O Bharata, amongst men, Fever enters all bodies at thetime of birth, of death, and on other occasions. This then that is calledFever is known to be the dreadful energy of Maheswara. He is endued withauthority over all creatures and should, therefore, be held in respectand worshipped by all. It was by him that Vritra, that foremost ofvirtuous persons, was overtaken when he yawned. It was then that Sakrahurled his thunderbolt at him. Thunderbolt, penetrating the body ofVritra, O Bharata, divided him in twain. Divided in twain by thethunderbolt, the mighty Asura possessed of great Yoga powers, proceededto the region of Vishnu of immeasurable energy. It was in consequence ofhis devotion to Vishnu that he had succeeded in overwhelming the wholeuniverse. And it was in consequence of his devotion to Vishnu that heascended, when slain, to the region of Vishnu. Thus, O son, adverting: tothe story of Vritra have I recited to thee the narrative in detail ofFever. Upon what else shall I speak to thee? That man who will read thisaccount of the origin of Fever with close attention and cheerful heartshall become free from disease and shall always have happiness for hisshare. Filled with gladness, he shall have all the wishes accomplishedupon which he may set his heart.'”

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