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Chapter 344

Mahabharata English - SANTI PARVA

Saunaka said, “O Sauti, excellent is this narrative which thou hastrecited. Verily, these ascetics, having heard it have all been filledwith wonder. It is said, O Sauti, that a discourse that has Narayana forits topic, is more fruitful of merit than sojourns unto all the sacredretreats and ablutions performed in all the sacred waters on the Earth.Having listened to this discourse of thine that has Narayana for itstopic, that is sacred and capable of cleansing one of every sin, all ofus have certainly become holy. Adored of all the worlds, that illustriousand foremost of deities is incapable of being beheld by the deities withBrahma numbering among them and all the Rishis. That Narada was able toobtain a sight of the God Narayana, otherwise called Hari, was due, O sonof Suta, to the special grace of that divine and puissant Lord. When,however, the celestial Rishi Narada had succeeded in obtaining a sight ofthe Supreme Lord of the universe, a residing in the form of Aniruddha,why did he again proceed so quickly (to the retreat of Vadari on thebreast of Himavat) for beholding those two foremost of godly of Rishisviz., Nara and Narayana? Do you, O Sauti, tell us the reason of suchconduct on the part of Narada.”

Sauti said, During the continuance of his snake-sacrifice, Janamejaya,the royal son of Parikshit, availing himself of an interval in thesacrificial rites, and when all the learned Brahmanas were resting. OSaunaka, that king of kings, addressed the grandfather of hisgrandfather, viz., the Island-born Krishna, otherwise called Vyasa, thatocean of Vedic lore, that foremost of ascetics endued with puissance, andsaid these words.

Janamejaya said, “After the celestial Rishi Narada had returned fromWhite Island, reflecting, as he came, on the words spoken to him by theholy Narayana, what indeed, did the great ascetic next do? Arrived at theretreat known by the name of Vadari on the breast of the Himvatmountains, and seeing the two Rishis Nara and Narayana who were engagedin severe austerities at that spot, how long did Narada dwell there andwhat were the topics of conversation between him and the two Rishis? Thisdiscourse on Narayana, that is really an ocean of knowledge, has beenraised by thy intelligent self by churning that vast history calledBharata which consists of a hundred thousand verses. As butter is raisedfrom curds, sandal-wood from the mountains of Malaya, the Aranyakas fromthe Vedas, and nectar from all the medicinal herbs, after the samemanner, O ocean of austerities, hath this discourse that is like nectarand that has Narayana for its object, been raised by thee, O Brahmana,from diverse histories and Puranas existing in the world, Narayana is theSupreme Lord. Illustrious and endued with great puissance, He is the soulof all creatures. Indeed, O foremost of regenerate ones, the energy ofNarayana is irresistible. Into Narayana, at the end of the Kalpa, enterall the deities having Brahman for their foremost, all the Rishis withthe Gandharvas, and all things mobile and immobile. I think, therefore,that there is nothing holier on earth or in heaven, and nothing higher,than Narayana. A sojourn unto all the sacred retreats on Earth, andablutions performed in all the sacred waters, are not productive of asmuch merit as a discourse that has Narayana for its topic. Havinglistened from the beginning to this discourse on Hari, the lord of theuniverse, that destroys all sins, we feel that we have been cleansed ofall our sins and sanctified entirely. Nothing wonderful was accomplishedby my ancestor Dhananjaya who was the victor in the great battle onKurukshetra, for it should be remembered that he had Vasudeva for hisally. I think that, person could have nothing unattainable in the threeworlds, who had for his ally Vishnu himself, that great Lord of theuniverse. Exceedingly fortunate and commendable were those ancestors ofmine, since they had Janarddana himself for looking after their temporaland spiritual prosperity. Adored of all the worlds, the holy Narayana iscapable of being beheld with the aid of austerities alone. They, however,succeeded in beholding Narayana, adorned with the beautiful whirl on hischest. More fortunate than my ancestors was the celestial Rishi Narada,the son of Pramesthi. Indeed, I thank that Narada, who transcends alldestruction, was endued with an energy that was not little, for repairingto White-Island he had succeeded in beholding the person of Hari. Indeed,it is evident that the sight he had obtained of the Supreme Lord was dueto only the grace of that Being. Fortunate was Narada inasmuch as he hadsucceeded in beholding Narayana as existing in the form of Aniruddha.Having beheld Narayana in that form, why did Narada hasten once more tothe retreat of Vadari for the purpose of beholding Nara and Narayana?What was the reason, O ascetic, of this step taken by Narada? How longalso did Narada the son of Pramesthi, after his return from White Islandand arrival at Vadari and meeting with the two Rishis Nara and Narayana,live there, and what conversations had he with them? What did those twohigh-souled and foremost of Rishis say unto him? It behoveth thee to sayall this unto me!'”

Vaisampayana said,[1883] “Salutations unto the holy Vyasa of immeasurableenergy. Through his grace I shall recite this narrative having Narayanafor its topic. Arrived at White Island, Narada beheld the immutable Hari.Leaving that spot he quickly proceeded, O king, to the mountains of Meru,bearing in his mind those weighty words that Paramatma (the Supreme Lord)had said unto him. Arrived at Meru he became filled with wonder at thethought, O king, of what he had achieved. And he said unto himself, ‘Howwonderful is it! The journey I have performed is a long one. Havingproceeded to such a distance, I have come back safe and sound. From themountains of Meru he then proceeded towards Gandhamadana. Traversingthrough the skies he quickly alighted upon that extensive retreat knownby the name of Vadari. There he beheld those ancient deities, viz., thosetwo foremost of Rishis, (called Nara and Narayana), engaged in thepractice of penances, observing high vows, and devoted to the worship oftheir own selves. Both of those adorable persons bore on their chests thebeautiful whirls called Sreevatsa, and both had matted locks on theirheads. And in consequence of the effulgence with which they illumined theworld they seemed to transcend the very Sun in energy. The palms of eachbore the mark called the swan’s foot. The soles of their feet bore themark of the discus. Their chests were very broad; their arms reached downto their knees. Each of them had four ‘Mushkas’.[1884] Each of them hadsixty teeth and four arms.[1885] The voice of each was as deep as theroar of the clouds. Their faces were exceedingly handsome, theirforeheads broad, their brows fair, their cheeks well-formed, and theirnoses aquiline. The heads of those two deities were large and round,resembling open umbrellas. Possessed of these marks, they were certainlyvery superior persons in appearance. Beholding them, Narada became filledwith joy. He saluted them with reverence and was saluted by them inreturn. They received the celestial Rishi, saying ‘Welcome’, and made theordinary enquiries. Beholding those two foremost of Beings, Narada beganto reflect within himself,–‘These two foremost of Rishis seem to be verylike, in appearance, unto those Rishis respected by all, whom I have seenin White-island. Thinking in this way, he circumambulated them both andthen sat down on the excellent seat made of Kusa grass that had beenoffered unto him. After this, those two Rishis that were the abode ofpenances, of famous achievements, and of energy,–and were endued withtranquillity of heart and self-restraint, went through their morningrites. They then, with controlled hearts, worshipped Narada with water towash his feet and the usual ingredients of the Arghya. Having finishedtheir morning rites and the observances necessary for receiving theirguest, they sat down on two seats made of wooden planks.[1886] When thosetwo Rishis took their seats, that place began to shine with peculiarbeauty even as the sacrificial altar shines with beauty in consequence ofthe sacred fires when libations of clarified butter are poured upon them.Then Narayana, seeing Narada refreshed from fatigue and seated at hisease and well-pleased with the rites of hospitality he had received,addressed him, saying these words.

“Nara and Narayana said, ‘Hast thou seen in white Island the Paramatma(Supreme Soul), who is eternal and divine, and who is the high sourcewhence we have sprung?’

“Narada said, ‘I have seen that beautiful Being who is immutable and whohas the universe for his form. In Him dwell all the worlds, and all thedeities with the Rishis. Even now I behold that immutable Being, inbeholding you two. Those marks and indications that characterise Harihimself of undisplayed form, characterise you two that are endued withforms displayed before the senses.[1887] Verily, I behold both of you bythe side of that great God. Dismissed by the Supreme Soul, I have todaycome hither. In energy and fame and beauty, who else in the three worldscan equal Him than you two that have been born in the race of Dharma? Hehas told me the entire course of duties having reference to Kshetrajna.He has also told me of all those incarnations which he will, in thefuture, have in this world. The inhabitants of White Island, whom I haveseen, are all divested of the five senses that are owned by ordinarypersons. All of them are of awakened souls, endued as they are with trueknowledge. They are, again, entirely devoted to the foremost of Beings,viz., the Supreme Lord of the universe. They are always engaged inworshipping that great Deity, and the latter always sports with them. Theholy and Supreme Soul is always fond of those that are devoted to him. Heis fond also of the regenerate ones. Always fond of those that aredevoted to Him, He sports with those worshippers of His. Enjoyer of theuniverse, pervading everything, the illustrious Madhava is everaffectionate towards his worshippers. He is the Actor; He is the Cause;and He is the effect. He is endued with omnipotence and immeasurablesplendour. He is the Cause whence all things spring. He is the embodimentof all the scriptural ordinances. He is the embodiment of all the topics.He is possessed of great fame. Uniting Himself with penances, He hasillumined Himself with a splendour that is said to represent an energythat is higher than (what occurs in) White Island. Of soul cleansed bypenances, He has ordained Peace and Tranquillity in the three worlds.With such an auspicious understanding, he is engaged in the observance ofa very superior vow which is the embodiment of holiness. That realm wherehe resides, engaged in tie austerest penances, the Sun does not warm andthe Moon does not shine. There the wind does not blow. Having constructedan altar measuring eight fingers’ breadth, the illustrious Creator of theuniverse is practising penances there, standing on one foot, with armsupraised, and with face directed towards the East, reciting the Vedaswith their branches, he is engaged in practising the severestausterities. Whatever libations of clarified butter or meat are poured onthe sacrificial fire according to the ordinances of Brahma, by theRishis, by Pasupati himself, by the rest of the principal deities, by theDaityas, the Danavas, and the Rakshasas, all reach the feet of that greatdivinity. Whatever rites and religious acts are performed by personswhose souls are entirely devoted to him, are all received by that greatDeity on his head. No one is dearer to him in the three worlds than thosepersons that are awakened and possessed of high souls. Dearer even thanthose persons is one that is entirely devoted to him. Dismissed by himwho is the Supreme Soul, I am coming here. This is what the illustriousand holy Hari has himself said unto me. I shall henceforth reside withyou two, devoted to Narayana in the form of Aniruddha.'”

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