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Chapter 9

Mahabharata English - UDYOGA PARAVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘O foremost of monarchs, I wish to know how it wasthat great and unparalleled misery had to be endured by the illustriousIndra together with his queen.’

“Salya said, ‘Listen, O king, to me as I relate this ancient story of theevents of former days,–how, O descendant of Bharata, misery befell Indraand his wife. Once Twashtri, the lord of creatures and the foremost ofcelestials, was engaged in practising rigid austerities. And it is saidthat from antipathy to Indra he created a son having three heads. Andthat being of universal form possessed of great lustre hankered afterIndra’s seat. And possessed of those three awful faces resembling thesun, the moon, and the fire, he read the Vedas with one mouth, drank winewith another, and looked with the third as if he would absorb all thecardinal points. And given to the practice of austerities, and mild beingand self-controlled, he was intent upon a life of religious practices andausterities. And his practice of austerities, O subduer of foes, wasrigid and terrible and of an exceedingly severe character. And beholdingthe austerities, courage, and truthfulness of this one possessed ofimmeasurable energy, Indra became anxious, fearing lest that being shouldtake his place. And Indra reflected, ‘How may he be made to addicthimself to sensual enjoyments; how may he be made to cease his practiceof such rigid austerities? For were the three-headed being to wax strong,he would absorb the whole universe.’ And it was thus that Indra ponderedin his mind; and, O best of Bharata’s race, endued with intelligence, heordered the celestial nymphs to tempt the son of Twashtri. And hecommanded them, saying, ‘Be quick, and go without delay, and so tempt himthat the three-headed being may plunge himself into sensual enjoyment tothe utmost extent. Furnished with captivating hips, array yourselves involuptuous attires, and decking yourselves in charming necklaces, do yedisplay gestures and blandishments of love. Endued with loveliness, do yetempt him and alleviate my dread. I feel restless in my heart, O lovelydamsels. Avert ye, ladies, this awful peril that hangs over me. Goodbetide you.’

“Then the nymphs said, ‘O Indra, O slayer of Vala, we shall so endeavourto allure him that thou wilt have nothing to fear at his hands. That veryreceptacle of austerities, sitting now as if scorching everything withhis eyes, O god, we are going together to tempt. We shall try to bringhim under our control, and to put an end to your fears.’

“Salya continued, ‘Commanded by Indra, they then went to the three-headedbeing. And arriving there, those lovely damsels tempted him with variousgestures of love, displaying their fine figures. But engaged in thepractice of exceedingly severe austerities, although he looked at them,yet he was not influenced by desire. Of subdued senses he was like theocean, full to the brim, in gravity. And the nymphs after having triedtheir best, came back to Indra. And they all with joined hands spoke tothe lord of the celestials, saying, ‘O, that unapproachable being isincapable of being disturbed by us. O highly gifted being, thou mayst dowhat now may seem proper to thee.’ The high-minded Indra honoured thenymphs and then dismissed them reflecting, O Yudhishthira, solely uponother means of destroying his foe. And endued with intelligence, he fixedupon a contrivance for destroying the three-headed being. And he said,’Let me today hurt my thunderbolt at him. By this means he will speedilybe killed. Even a strong person should not overlook a rising foe,contemptible though he may be.’ And thus reflecting upon the lessonsinculcated in treatises of learning, he was firmly resolved upon slayingthat being. Then Indra, enraged, hurled at the three-headed being histhunderbolt which looked like fire and was terrible to behold, and whichinspired dread. And forcibly struck by that thunderbolt, he was slain andfell down, as falls on the earth the loosened summit of a hill. Andbeholding him slain by the thunderbolt, and lying down huge as a hill,the chief of the celestials found no peace, and felt as if scorched bythe effulgent appearance of the dead; for though slain, he had a blazingand effulgent appearance and looked like one alive. And, strange to say,though lifeless, his heads seemed to be alive as they were beheld lyinglow on the field. And exceedingly afraid of that lustre, Indra remainedplunged in thought. And at that time, O great king, bearing an axe on hisshoulder, a carpenter came to the forest and approached the spot wherelay that being. And Indra, the lord of Sachi, who was afraid, saw thecarpenter come there by chance. And the chastiser of Paka said unto himimmediately, ‘Do this my behest. Quickly cut off this one’s heads.’ Thecarpenter thereupon said, ‘His shoulders are broad: this axe will not beable to cut them off. Nor shall I be able to do what is condemned byrighteous persons.’ And Indra said, ‘Do not fear, quickly do what I say.At my command thy axe shall equal the thunderbolt.’ The carpenter said,’Whom am I to take thee to be who hast done this frightful deed today?This I wish to learn, tell me the exact truth.’ And Indra said, ‘Ocarpenter, I am Indra, the chief of the gods. Let this be known to thee.Do thou act just as I have told thee. Do not hesitate, O carpenter! Thecarpenter said, ‘O Indra, how is it that thou art not ashamed of this thyinhuman act? How it is that thou hast no dread of the sin of slaying aBrahmana, after having slain this son of a saint?’ Indra said, ‘I shallafterwards perform some religious ceremony of a rigorous kind to purifymyself from this taint. This was a powerful enemy of mine whom I havekilled with my thunderbolt. Even now I am uneasy, O carpenter; I, indeed,dread him even now. Do thou quickly cut off his heads, I shall bestow myfavour upon thee. In sacrifices, men will give thee the head of thesacrificial beast as thy share. This is the favour I confer on thee. Dothou quickly perform what I desire.’

“Salya said, ‘Hearing this, the carpenter, at the request of the greatIndra, immediately severed the heads of the three-headed one with hisaxe. And when the heads were cut off, out flew therefrom a number ofbirds, viz., partridges, quails and sparrows. And from the mouthwherewith he used to recite the Vedas and to drink the Soma-juice, cameout partridges in quick succession. And, O king, O son of Pandu, from themouth with which he used to look at the cardinal points as if absorbingthem all, a number of quails came forth. And from that mouth of thethree-headed being which used to drink wine, out flew a number ofsparrows and hawks. And the heads having been cut off Indra was freedfrom his trepidation, and went to heaven, glad at heart. And thecarpenter also went back to his house. And the slayer of Asuras, havingkilled his foe, considered his object gained. Now when the lord ofcreatures, Twashtri, heard that his son had been slain by Indra, his eyesbecame red with ire, and he spoke the following words, ‘Since Indra hathkilled my son who had committed no offence at all, who was constantlyengaged in the practice of austerities, who was merciful, possessed ofself-control, and of subdued passions, therefore, for the destruction ofIndra, I will create Vritra. Let the worlds behold what power I possess,and how mighty is the practice of austerities! Let that inhuman,wicked-minded lord of the gods also witness the same!’ And saying this,that enraged one, famous for his austerities, washed his mouth withwater, made offerings on the fire, created the terrible Vritra, and spoketo him, saying, ‘O destined slayer of Indra, grow in might even from thestrength of my austere rites.’ And that Asura grew in might, toweringtowards the firmament, and resembling the son of fire. And he asked,’Risen like the doomsday sun, what am I to do?’ ‘Kill Indra,’ was thereply. And then he departed towards the celestial regions. And nextensued a great fight between Vritra and Indra, both fired with wrath. Andthere took place a terrible combat, O best of Kuru’s race. And the heroicVritra seized the celestial lord who had performed a hundred sacrifices.And filled with wrath, he whirled Indra and threw him into his mouth. Andwhen Indra was swallowed up by Vritra, the terrified senior gods,possessed of great might, created Jrimbhika to kill Vritra. And as Vritrayawned and his mouth opened the slayer of the Asura, Vala contracted thedifferent parts of his body, and came out from within Vritra’s mouth. Andthenceforth the yawn attaches itself to the living breath of animatedbeings in three worlds. And the gods rejoiced at the egress of Indra. Andonce again commenced the terrible fight between Vritra and Indra, bothfull of ire. And it was waged for a long while, O best of Bharata’s race.And when Vritra, inspired with the mighty spirit of Twashtri and himselfendowed with strength, got the upper hand in fight, Indra turned back Andon his retreat, the gods became exceedingly distressed. And all of themtogether with Indra were overpowered by the might of Twashtri. And theyall consulted with the saints, O descendant of Bharata. And theydeliberated as to what was proper to be done, and were overwhelmed withdread. And seated on the top of the Mandara mountain, and bent on killingVritra, they only bethought themselves of Vishnu, the indestructible one.’

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