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The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa Bk. 3 Pt. 2 by Translated by Kisari Mohan Ganguli

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of his might the asylum of Utanka. And endued with fierce energy,
Dhundhu, the son of Madhu and Kaitabha, lay in his subterranean cave
underneath the sands in the observance of fierce ascetic and severe
austerities with the object of destroying the triple world, and while
the _Asura_ lay breathing near the asylum of Utanka that _Rishi_
possessed of the splendour of fire, king Kualaswa with his troops,
accompanied by the Brahmana Utanka, as also by all his sons set out for
that region, O bull of the Bharata race! And after that grinder of foes,
the royal Kuvalaswa, had set out, accompanied by his twenty-one thousand
sons all of whom were exceedingly powerful, the illustrious Lord Vishnu
filled him with his own energy at the command of Utanka and impelled by
the desire of benefiting the triple world and while that invincible hero
was proceeding on his way a loud voice was heard in the sky repeating
the words, "This fortunate and unslayable one will become the destroyer
of Dhundhu to-day." And the gods began to shower upon him celestial
flowers. And the celestial kettle drums began to sound their music
although none played upon them. And during the march of that wise one,
cool breezes began to blow and the chief of the celestials poured gentle
showers wetting the dust on the roads and, O Yudhishthira, the cars of
the celestials could be seen high over the spot where the mighty _Asura_
Dhundhu was. The gods and _Gandharvas_ and great _Rishis_ urged by
curiosity, came there to behold the encounter between Dhundhu and
Kuvalaswa and, O thou of the Kuru race, filled by Narayana with his own
energy, king Kuvalaswa, aided by his sons, soon surrounded that sea of
sands and the king ordered that wilderness to be excavated and after the
king's sons had excavated that sea of sands for seven days, they could
see the mighty _Asura_ Dhundhu. And, O bull of the Bharata race, the
huge body of that _Asura_ lay within those sands, effulgent in its own
energy like the Sun himself. And Dhundhu, O king, was lying covering the
western region of the desert and surrounded on all sides by the sons of
Kuvalaswa, the _Danava_ was assaulted with sharp-pointed shafts and
maces and heavy and short clubs and axes and clubs, with iron spikes and
darts and bright and keen-edged swords, and thus assaulted, the mighty
_Danava_ rose from his recumbent posture in wrath. And enraged, the
_Asura_ began to swallow those various weapons that were hurled at him
and he vomited from his mouth fiery flames like unto those of the fire
called _Samvarta_ that appeareth at the end of the _Yuga_ and by those
flames of his, the _Asura_ consumed all the sons of the king and, O
tiger among men, like the Lord Kapila of old consuming the sons of king
Sagara, the infuriated _Asura_ overwhelming the triple world with the
flames vomited from his mouth, achieved that wonderful feat in a moment.
And, O thou best of the Bharatas, when all those sons of king Kuvalaswa
were consumed by the fire emitted by the _Asura_ in wrath, the monarch,
possessed as he was of mighty energy, then approached the _Danava_ who,
like unto a second Kumbhakarna of mighty energy, had come to the
encounter after waking from his slumbers. From the body of the king, O
monarch, then began to flow a mighty and copious stream of water and
that stream soon extinguished, O king, the fiery flames emitted by the
_Asura_. And, O great king, the royal Kuvalaswa, filled with _Yoga_
force, having extinguished those flames by the water that issued from
his body, consumed that _Daitya_ of wicked prowess with the celebrated
weapon called _Brahma_ for relieving the triple world of its fears, and
the royal sage Kuvalaswa, having consumed that great _Asura_, that foe
of the celestials and slayer of all enemies, by means of that weapon
became like unto a second chief of the triple world and the high-souled
king Kuvalaswa having slain the _Asura_ Dhundhu, became from that
time known by the name of _Dhundhumara_ and from that time he came to be
regarded as invincible in battle, and the gods and the great _Rishis_
who had come to witness that encounter were so far gratified with him
that they addressed him saying, "Ask thou a boon of us!" And thus
solicited by the gods, the king bowed to them and filled with joy, the
king said unto them, with joined hands these words, "Let me be always
able to give wealth unto superior Brahmanas! Let me be invincible as
regards all foes! Let there be friendship between myself and Vishnu! Let
me have no ill-feeling towards any creature! Let my heart always turn to
virtue! And let me (finally) dwell in heaven for ever!" And the gods and
the _Rishis_ and Utanka, hearing this were exceedingly gratified and all
of them said, "Let it be as thou wishest!" And, O king, having also
blessed him with many other speeches, the gods and the great _Rishis_
then went away to their respective abodes. And, O Yudhishthira, after
the slaughter of all his sons, king Kuvalaswa had still three sons left,
and, O thou of the Bharata race, they were called _Dridaswa_ and
_Kapilaswa_ and _Chandraswa_. It is from them, O king, that the
illustrious line of kings belonging to Ikshvaku's race, all possessed of
immeasurable prowess, hath sprung.

"'It was thus, O best of king, that that great _Daitya_ of the name
Dhundhu, the son of Madhu and Kaitabha was slain by Kuvalaswa and it was
for this also that king came to be called by the name of _Dhundhumara_.
And indeed, the name he assumed was no empty one but was literally true.

"'I have now told thee all that thou hadst asked me, viz., all about
that person in consequence of whose act the story of Dhundhu's death
hath become famous. He that listeneth to this holy history connected
with the glory of Vishnu, becometh virtuous and obtaineth children. By
listening to this story on particular lunations, one becometh blessed
with long life and great good fortune. And freed from every anxiety one
ceaseth to have any fear of diseases.'"


Vaisampayana said, "O thou foremost of the Bharata race, king
Yudhishthira then asked the illustrious Markandeya a difficult question
about morality, saying, 'I desire to hear, O holy one, about the high
and excellent virtue of women. I desire to hear from thee, O Brahmana,
discourse about the subtle truths of morality. O regenerate _Rishi_, O
best of men, the Sun, the Moon, the Wind, the Earth, the Fire, the
father, the mother, the preceptor--these and other objects ordained by
the gods, appear to us as Deities embodied! All these that are reverend
ones are worthy of our best regard. So also is the woman who adoreth one
lord. The worship that chaste wives offer unto their husbands appeareth
to me to be fraught with great difficulty. O adorable one, it behoveth
thee to discourse to us of the high and excellent virtue of chaste
wives--of wives who restraining all their senses and keeping their
hearts under complete control regard their husbands as veritable gods. O
holy and adorable one, all this appears to me to be exceedingly
difficult of accomplishment. O regenerate one, the worship that sons
offer to their mothers and fathers and that wives offer to their
husbands, both seem to me to be highly difficult. I do not behold
anything that is more difficult than the severe virtue of chaste women.
O Brahmana, the duties that women of good behaviour discharge with care
and the conduct that is pursued by good sons towards their fathers and
mothers appear to me to be most difficult of performance. Those women
that are each devoted to but one lord, they that always speak the truth,
they that undergo a period of gestation for full ten months--there is
nothing, O Brahmana, that is more difficult than that is done by these.
O worshipful one, women bring forth their offspring with great hazard to
themselves and great pain and rear their children, O bull among
Brahmanas, with great affection! Those persons also who being always
engaged in acts of cruelty and thereby incurring general hatred, succeed
yet in doing their duties accomplish what, in my opinion, is exceedingly
difficult. O regenerate one, tell me the truths of the duties of the
Kshatriya order. It is difficult, O twice-born one, for those
high-souled ones to acquire virtue who by the duties of their order are
obliged to do what is cruel. O holy one, thou art capable of answering
all questions; I desire to hear thee discourse on all this. O thou
foremost of Bhrigu's race, I desire to listen to all this, waiting
respectfully on thee, O thou of excellent vows!'

"Markandeya said, 'O thou foremost of the Bharata race, I will discourse
to thee on all this truly, however difficult of answer thy question may
be. Listen to me, therefore, as I speak unto thee. Some regard the
mother as superior and some the father. The mother, however, that
bringeth forth and some the father. The mother, however, that bringeth
forth and reareth up offspring what is more difficult. Fathers also, by
ascetic penances, by worship of the gods, by adorations addressed to
them, by bearing cold and heat, by incantations and other means desire
to have children. And having by these painful expedients obtained
children that are so difficult of acquisition, they then, O hero, are
always anxious about the future of their sons and, O Bharata, both the
father and the mother desire to see in their sons fame and achievements
and prosperity and offspring and virtue. That son is virtuous who
realises these hopes of his parents. And, O great king, that son with
whom the father and the mother are gratified, achieveth eternal fame and
eternal virtue both here and thereafter. As regards women again, neither
sacrifice nor _sraddhas_, nor fasts are of any efficacy. By serving
their husbands only they can win heaven. O king, O Yudhishthira,
remembering this alone, listen thou with attention to the duties of
chaste women.'"


"Markandeya said, 'There was, O Bharata, a virtuous ascetic of the name
of Kausika and endued with wealth of asceticism and devoted to the study
of the _Vedas_, he was a very superior Brahmana and that best of
Brahmanas studied all the _Vedas_ with the _Angas_ and the _Upanishadas_
and one day he was reciting the _Vedas_ at the foot of a tree and at
that time there sat on the top of that tree a female crane and that
she-crane happened at that time to befoul the Brahmana's body and
beholding that crane the Brahmana became very angry and thought of doing
her an injury and as the Brahmana cast his angry glances upon the crane
and thought also of doing her an injury, she fell down on the ground and
beholding the crane thus fallen from the tree and insensible in death,
the Brahmana was much moved by pity and the regenerate one began to
lament for the dead crane saying, "Alas, I have done a bad deed, urged
by anger and malice!"

"Markandeya continued, 'Having repeated these words many times, that
learned Brahmana entered a village for procuring alms. And, O bull of
the Bharata race, in course of his eleemosynary round among the houses
of persons of good lineage, the Brahmana entered one such house that he
knew from before. And as he entered the house, he said, "_Give_." And he
was answered by a female with the word, "_Stay_." And while the
housewife was engaged, O king, in cleaning the vessel from which alms
are given, her husband, O thou best of the Bharatas, suddenly entered
the house, very much afflicted with hunger. The chaste housewife beheld
her husband and disregarding the Brahmana, gave her lord water to wash
his feet and face and also a seat and after that the black-eyed lady,
placing before her lord savoury food and drink, humbly stood beside him
desirous of attending to all his wants. And, O Yudhishthira, that
obedient wife used every day to eat the orts of her husband's plate and,
always conducting herself in obedience to the wishes of the lord, that
lady ever regarded her husband, and all her heart's affections inclined
towards her lord. Of various and holy behaviour and skilful in all
domestic duties and attentive to all her relatives, she always did what
was agreeable and beneficial to her husband and she also, with rapt
senses attended to the worship of the gods and the wants of guests and
servants and her mother-in-law and father-in-law.

"'And while the lady of handsome eyes was still engaged in waiting upon
her lord, she beheld that Brahmana waiting for alms and beholding him,
she remembered that she had asked him to wait. And remembering all this,
she felt abashed. And then that chaste woman possessed of great fame,
took something for alms and went out, O thou foremost of the Bharatas,
for giving it unto that Brahmana. And when she came before him, the
Brahmana said, "O best of women, O blessed one, I am surprised at thy
conduct! Having requested me to wait saying, "_Stay_" thou didst not
dismiss me!"'

"Markandeya continued, 'O lord of men, beholding that Brahmana filled
with wrath and blazing with his energy, that chaste woman began to
conciliate him and said, "O learned one, it behoveth thee to forgive me.
My husband is my supreme god. He came hungry and tired and was being
served and waited upon by me." Hearing this, the Brahmana said, "With
thee Brahmanas are not worthy of superior regard. Exaltest thou thy
husband above them? Leading a domestic life, dost thou disregard
Brahmanas? Indra himself boweth down unto them, what shall I say of men
on earth. Proud woman, dost thou not know it, hast thou never heard it,
that the Brahmanas are like fire and may consume the entire earth?" At
these words of that Brahmana the woman answered, "I am no she-crane, O
regenerate _Rishi_! O thou that art endued with the wealth of
asceticism, cast off this anger of thine. Engaged as thou are, what
canst thou do to me with these angry glances of thine? I do not
disregard Brahmanas. Endued with great energy of soul, they are like
unto the gods themselves. But, O sinless one, this fault of mine it
behoveth thee to forgive. I know the energy and high dignity of
Brahmanas that are possessed of wisdom. The waters of the ocean have
been made brackish and undrinkable by the wrath of the Brahmanas. I know
also the energy of _Munis_ of souls under complete control and endued
with blazing ascetic merit. The fire of their wrath to this day hath not
been extinguished in the forest of Dandaka. It was for his having
disregarded the Brahmanas that the great _Asura_--the wicked and
evil-minded Vatapi was digested when he came in contact with Agastya. It
hath been heard by us that the powers and merits of high-souled
Brahmanas are great. But, O Brahmana, as regenerate ones of high souls
are great in wrath, so are they equally great in forgiveness. Therefore,
O sinless one, it behoveth thee to forgive me in the matter of this my
offence. O Brahmana, my heart inclineth to that merit which springeth
from the service of my husband, for I regard my husband as the highest
among all the gods. O best of Brahmanas, I practise that virtue which
consists in serving my husband whom I regard as the highest Deity.
Behold, O regenerate one, the merit that attaches to the service of
one's husband! I know that thou hast burnt a she-crane with thy wrath!
But, O best of regenerate ones, the anger that a person cherishes is the
greatest of foes which that person hath. The gods know him for a
Brahmana who hath cast off anger and passion. The gods know him for a
Brahmana who always speaketh the truth here, who always gratifieth his
preceptor, and who, though injured himself, never returneth the injury.
The gods know him for a Brahmana who hath his senses under control, who
is virtuous and pure and devoted to the study of the Vedas, and who hath
mastery over anger and lust. The gods know him for a Brahmana who,
cognisant of morals and endued with mental energy, is catholic in
religion and looketh upon all equal unto himself. The gods know him for
a Brahmana who studieth himself and teacheth others, who performeth
sacrifices himself and officiateth at the sacrifices of others, and who
giveth away to the best of his means. The gods know that bull among the
regenerate ones for a Brahmana who, endued with liberality of soul,
practiseth the _Brahmacharya_ vow and is devoted to study,--in fact who
is vigilantly devoted to the study of the _Vedas_. Whatever conduceth to
the happiness of the Brahmanas is always recited before these. Ever
taking pleasure in truth, the hearts of such men never find joy in
untruth. O thou best of regenerate ones, it hath been said that the
study of the Vedas, tranquillity of soul, simplicity of behaviour, and
repression of the senses, constitute the eternal duties of the Brahmana.
Those cognisant with virtue and morals have said that truth and honesty
are the highest virtue. Virtue that is eternal is difficult of being
understood. But whatever it is, it is based on _truth_. The ancients
have declared that virtue dependeth on _sruti_. But, O foremost of
regenerate ones, virtue as exposed in _sruti_ appears to be of various
kinds. It is, therefore, too subtle of comprehension. Thou, O holy one,
art cognisant of virtue, pure, and devoted to the study of the _Vedas_.
I think, however, O holy one, that thou dost not know what virtue in
reality is. Repairing to the city of Mithila, enquire thou of a virtuous
fowler there, if indeed, O regenerate one, thou art not really
acquainted with what constitutes the highest virtue. There liveth in
Mithila a fowler who is truthful and devoted to the service of his
parents and who hath senses under complete control. Even he will
discourse to thee on virtue. Blessed be thou, O best of regenerate ones,
if thou likest, repair thither. O faultless one, it behoveth thee to
forgive me, if what I have said be unpalatable, for they that are
desirous of acquiring virtue are incapable of injuring women!"

"'At these words of the chaste woman, the Brahmana replied, saying, "I
am gratified with thee. Blessed be thou; my anger hath subsided, O
beautiful one! The reproofs uttered by thee will be of the highest
advantage to me. Blessed be thou, I shall now go and accomplish what is
so conducive, O handsome one, to my benefit!"

"Markandeya continued, 'Dismissed by her, Kausika, that best of
regenerate ones, left her house, and, reproaching himself, returned to
his own abode.'"


"Markandeya said, 'Continually reflecting upon that wonderful discourse
of the woman, Kausika began to reproach himself and looked very much
like a guilty person and meditating on the subtle ways of morality and
virtue, he said to himself, "I should accept with reverence what the
lady hath said and should, therefore, repair to Mithila. Without doubt
there dwelleth in that city a fowler of soul under complete control and
fully acquainted with the mysteries of virtue and morality. This very
day will I repair unto that one endued with wealth of asceticism for
enquiring of him about virtue." His faith in her was assured by her
knowledge of the death of the she-crane and the excellent words of
virtuous import she had uttered. Kausika thus reflecting with reverence
upon all she had said, set out for Mithila, filled with curiosity. And
he traversed many forests and villages and towns and at last reached
Mithila that was ruled over by Janaka and he beheld the city to be
adorned with the flags of various creeds. And he beheld that beautiful
town to be resounding with the noise of sacrifices and festivities and
furnished with splendid gateways. It abounded with palatial residences
and protected by walls on all sides; it had many splendid buildings to
boast of. And that delightful town was also filled with innumerable
cars. And its streets and roads were many and well-laid and many of them
were lined with shops. And it was full of horses and cars and elephants
and warriors. And the citizens were all in health and joy and they were
always engaged in festivities. And having entered that city, that
Brahmana beheld there many other things. And there the Brahmana enquired
about the virtuous fowler and was answered by some twice-born persons.
And repairing to the place indicated by those regenerate ones, the
Brahmana beheld the fowler seated in a butcher's yard and the ascetic
fowler was then selling venison and buffalo meat and in consequence of
the large concourse of buyers gathered round that fowler, Kausika stood
at a distance. But the fowler, apprehending that the Brahmana had come
to him, suddenly rose from his seat and went to that secluded spot where
the Brahmana was staying and having approached him there, the fowler
said, "I salute thee, O holy one! Welcome art thou, O thou best of
Brahmanas! I am the fowler. Blessed be thou! Command me as to what I may
do for thee. The word that the chaste woman said unto thee, viz.,
_Repair thou to Mithila_, are known to me. I also know for what purpose
thou hast come hither." Hearing these words of the fowler that Brahmana
was filled with surprise. And he began to reflect inwardly, saying,
"This indeed, is the second marvel that I see!" The fowler then said
unto the Brahmana, saying, "Thou art now standing in place that is
scarcely proper for thee, O sinless one. If it pleasest thee, let us go
to my abode, O holy one!"'

"Markandeya continued, '"_So be it_," said the Brahmana unto him,
gladly. And thereupon, the fowler proceeded towards his home with the
Brahmana walking before him. And entering his abode that looked
delightful, the fowler reverenced his guest by offering him a seat. And
he also gave him water to wash his feet and face. And accepting these,
that best of Brahmanas sat at his ease. And he then addressed the
fowler, saying, "It seems to me that this profession doth not befit
thee. O fowler, I deeply regret that thou shouldst follow such a cruel
trade." At these words of the Brahmana the fowler said, "This profession
is that of my family, myself having inherited it from my sires and
grandsires. O regenerate one, grieve not for me owing to my adhering to
the duties that belong to me by birth. Discharging the duties ordained
for me beforehand by the Creator, I carefully serve my superiors and the
old. O thou best of Brahmanas! I always speak the truth, never envy
others; and give to the best of my power. I live upon what remaineth
after serving the gods, guests, and those that depend on me. I never
speak ill of anything, small or great. O thou best of Brahmanas, the
actions of a former life always follow the doer. In this world there are
three principal professions, viz., agriculture, rearing of cattle, and
trade. As regards the other world, the three _Vedas_, knowledge, and the
science of morals are efficacious. Service (of the other three orders)
hath been ordained to be the duty of the Sudra. Agriculture hath been
ordained for the Vaisyas, and fighting for the Kshatriyas, while the
practice of the _Brahmacharya_ vow, asceticism, recitation of _mantras_,
and truthfulness have been ordained for the Brahmanas. Over subjects
adhering to their proper duties, the king should rule virtuously; while
he should set those thereto that have fallen away from the duties of
their order. Kings should ever be feared, because they are the lords of
their subjects. They restrain those subjects of theirs that fall away
from their duties as they restrain the motions of the deer by means of
their shafts. O regenerate _Rishi_, there existeth not in the kingdom of
Janaka a single subject that followeth not the duties of his birth. O
thou best of the Brahmanas, all the four orders here rigidly adhere to
their respective duties. King Janaka punisheth him that is wicked, even
if he be his own son; but never doth he inflict pain on him that is
virtuous. With good and able spies employed under him, he looketh upon
all with impartial eyes. Prosperity, and kingdom, and capacity to
punish, belong, O thou best of Brahmanas, to the Kshatriyas. Kings
desire high prosperity through practice of the duties that belong to
them. The king is the protector of all the four orders. As regards
myself, O Brahmana, I always sell pork and buffalo meat without slaying
those animals myself. I sell meat of animals, O regenerate _Rishi_, that
have been slain by others. I never eat meat myself; never go to my wife
except in her season; I always fast during the day, and eat, O
regenerate one, in the night. Even though the behaviour of his order is
bad, a person may yet be himself of good behaviour. So also a person may
become virtuous, although he may be slayer of animals by profession. It
is in consequence of the sinful acts of kings that virtue decreaseth
greatly, and sin beginneth to prosper. And when all this taketh place
the subjects of the kingdom begin to decay. And it is then, O Brahmana,
that ill-looking monsters, and dwarfs, and hunch-backed and large-headed
wights, and men that are blind or deaf or those that have paralysed eyes
or are destitute of the power of procreation, begin to take their birth.
It is from the sinfulness of kings that their subjects suffer numerous
mischiefs. But this our king Janaka casteth his eyes upon all his
subjects virtuously, and he is always kind unto them who, on their part,
ever adhere to their respective duties. Regarding myself, I always with
good deeds please those that speak well, as also those that speak ill of
me. Those kings that live in the observance of their own proper duties,
who are always engaged in the practice of acts that are good and honest,
who are of souls under complete control and who are endued with
readiness and alacrity, may not depend upon anything else for supporting
their power. Gift of food to the best of one's power, endurance of heat
and cold, firmness in virtue, and a regard and tenderness for all
creatures,--these attributes can never find place in a person, without
an innate desire being present in him of separating himself from the
world. One should avoid falsehood in speech, and should do good without
solicitation. One should never cast off virtue from lust, from wrath, or
from malice. One should never joy immoderately at a good turn or grieve
immoderately at a bad one. One should never feel depressed when
overtaken by poverty, nor when so overtaken abandon the path of virtue.
If at any time one doth what is wrong, he should never do its like
again. One should always urge his soul to the doing of that which he
regardeth as beneficial. One should never return wrong for wrong, but
should act honestly by those that have wronged him. That wretched man
who desireth to do what is sinful, slayeth himself. By doing what is
sinful, one only imitates them that are wicked and sinful. Disbelieving
in virtue they that mock the good and the pure saying, '_There is no
virtue_' undoubtedly meet with destruction. A sinful man swelleth up
like a leather bag puffed up with wind. The thoughts of these wretches
filled with pride and folly are feeble and unprofitable. It is the
heart, the inner soul, that discovereth the fool like the sun that
discovereth forms during the day. The food cannot always shine in the
world by means of self-praise. The learned man, however, even if he be
destitute of beauty, displayeth his lustre by refraining from speaking
ill of others and well of himself. No example, however, can be met with,
in this world, of a person shining brilliantly on account of attributes
to be found in him in their reputed measure. If one repenteth of a wrong
done by him, that repentance washeth off his sin. The resolution of
never doing it again saveth him from future sin, even as, O thou best of
Brahmanas, he may save himself from sin by any of those expiations
obtained in the scriptures. Even this, O regenerate one, is the _sruti_
that may be seen in respect of virtue. He that having before been
virtuous, committeth a sin, or committeth it unknowingly may destroy
that sin. For virtue, O Brahmana, driveth off the sin that men commit
from ignorance. A man, after having committed a sin, should cease to
regard himself any longer as a man. No man can conceal his sins. The
gods behold what one does, also the Being that is within every one. He
that with piety and without detraction hideth the faults of the honest
and the wise like holes in his own attire, surely seeketh his salvation.
If a man seeketh redemption after having committed a sin, without doubt
he is purged of all his sins and looketh pure and resplendent like the
moon emerged from the clouds. A man that seeketh redemption is washed of
all his sins, even as the sun, upon rising, dispelleth all darkness. O
best of Brahmanas, it is temptation that constitutes the basis of sin.
Men that are ignorant commit sin, yielding to temptation alone. Sinful
men generally cover themselves with a virtuous exterior, like wells
whose mouths are covered by long grass. Outwardly they seem to possess
self-control and holiness and indulge in preaching virtuous texts which,
in their mouth are of little meaning. Indeed, everything may be noticed
in them except conduct that is truly virtuous!"'

"Markandeya continued, 'At these words, O best of men, of the fowler,
that Brahmana endued with great wisdom, then asked the fowler, saying,
"How shall I know what is virtuous conduct? Blessed be thou, I desire to
hear this, O thou foremost of virtuous men, from thee. Therefore, O thou
of exalted soul, tell me all about it truly." Hearing these words, the
fowler replied, saying, "O best of Brahmanas, Sacrifices, Gift,
Asceticism, the Vedas, and Truth--these five holy things are ever
present in conduct that is called virtuous. Having subjugated lust and
wrath, pride, avarice, and crookedness, they that take pleasure in
virtue because it is virtue, are regarded as really virtuous and worthy
of the approbation of persons that are virtuous. These persons who are
devoted to sacrifices, and study of the Vedas have no independent
behaviour. They follow only the practices of the honest and the good.
This indeed, is the second attribute of the virtuous. Waiting upon
superiors, Truth, Freedom from anger, and Gift, these four, O Brahmana,
are inseparably connected with behaviour that is virtuous. For the
reputation that a person acquires by setting his heart on virtuous
behaviour and adhering to it rigidly is incapable of acquisition except
by practising the four virtues named above. The essence of the _Vedas_
is Truth: the essence of Truth is self-control, and the essence of
self-control is abstention from the pleasures of the world. These all
are to be noticed in behaviour that is virtuous. They that follow those
deluded fools that mock the forms of faith prevailing among men, are
dragged into destruction for walking in such a sinful path. They,
however, that are virtuous and engaged in the observance of vows, who
are devoted to the _srutis_ and the virtue of abstention from the
pleasure of the world, they in fact who tread in virtue's path and
follow the true religion, they that are obedient to the mandates of
their preceptors, and who reflect upon the sense of the scriptures with
patience and carefulness,--is these that are said to be possessed of
behaviour that is virtuous; it is these, O Brahmana, that are said to
properly guide their higher intelligence. Forsaking those that are
atheists, those that transgress virtue's limits, those that are of
wicked souls, those that live in sinfulness, betake thyself to knowledge
reverencing those that are virtuous. Lust and temptation are even like
sharks in the river of life; the waters are the five senses. Do thou
cross over to the other side of this river in the boat of patience and
resignation, avoiding the shoals of corporeal existence (repeated births
in this world). The supreme virtue consisting in the exercise of the
intelligent principle and abstraction, when gradually super-added to
virtuous conduct, becomes beautiful like dye on white fabrics.
Truthfulness and abstention from doing injury to any one, are virtues
highly beneficial to all creatures. Of these, that latter is a cardinal
virtue, and is based on truth. Our mental faculties have their proper
play when their foundation is laid in truth, and in the exercise of
virtue truth is of the highest value. Purity of conduct is the
characteristic of all good men. Those that are distinguished for holy
living are good and virtuous. All creatures follow the principles of
conduct which are innate in their nature. The sinful being who has no
control over self acquires lust, anger and other vices. It is the
immemorial rule that virtuous actions are those that are founded on
justice, and it is also ordained by holy men that all iniquitous conduct
is sin. Those who are not swayed by anger, pride, haughtiness and envy,
and those who are quiet and straight-forward, are men of virtuous
conduct. Those who are diligent in performing the rites enjoined in the
three _Vedas_, who are wise, and of pure and virtuous conduct, who
exercise self-restraint and are full of attention to their superior, are
men of virtuous conduct. The actions and conduct of such men of great
power, are very difficult of attainment. They are sanctified by the
purification of their own actions, and consequently sin in them dies out
of itself. This virtue of good conduct is wonderful, ancient, immutable
and eternal; and wise men observing this virtue with holiness, attain to
heaven. These men who believe in the existence of the Deity, who are
free from false pride, and versed in holy writ, and who respect
regenerate (twice-born) men, go to heaven. Among holy men, virtue is
differentiated in three ways--that great virtue which is inculcated in
the _Vedas_, the other which is inculcated in the _dharmashastras_ (the
minor scriptures), and virtuous conduct. And virtuous conduct is
indicated by acquisition of knowledge, pilgrimage to sacred places,
truthfulness, forbearance, purity and straight-forwardness. Virtuous men
are always kind to all creatures, and well-disposed towards regenerate
men. They abstain from doing injury to any creature, and are never rude
in speech. Those good men who know well the consequences of the fruition
of their good and evil deeds, are commended by virtuous men. Those who
are just and good-natured, and endowed with virtue, who wish well of all
creatures, who are steadfast in the path of virtue, and have conquered
heaven, who are charitable, unselfish and of unblemished character, who
succour the afflicted, and are learned and respected by all, who
practise austerities, and are kind to all creatures, are commended as
such by the virtuous. Those who are charitably disposed attain
prosperity in this world, as also the regions of bliss (hereafter). The
virtuous man when solicited for assistance by good men bestow alms on
them by straining to the utmost, even to the deprivation of the comforts
of his wife and servants. Good men having an eye to their own welfare,
as also virtue and the ways of the world, act in this way and thereby
grow in virtue through endless ages. Good persons possessing the virtues
of truthfulness, abstention from doing injury to any one, rectitude,
abstention from evil towards any one, want of haughtiness, modesty,
resignation, self-restraint, absence of passion, wisdom, patience, and
kindness towards all creatures, and freedom from malice and lust, are
the witnesses of the world. These three are said to constitute the
perfect way of the virtuous, viz., a man must not do wrong to any body,
he must bestow alms, and must always be truthful. Those high-souled good
men of virtuous conduct, and settled convictions, who are kind to all
and are full of compassion, depart with contentment from this world to
the perfect way of virtue. Freedom from malice, forbearance, peace of
mind, contentment, pleasant speech, renunciation of desire and anger,
virtuous conduct and actions regulated according to the ordinances of
holy writ, constitute the perfect way of the virtuous. And those who are
constant in virtue follow these rules of virtuous conduct, and having
reached the pinnacle of knowledge, and discriminating between the
various phases of human conduct, which are either very virtuous or the
reverse, they escape from the great danger. Thus, O great Brahmana,
having introduced the subject of virtuous conduct, have I described to
thee all this, according to my own knowledge and to what I have heard on
the subject."'"


"Markandeya continued, 'The pious fowler, O Yudhishthira, then said to
that Brahmana, "Undoubtedly my deeds are very cruel, but, O Brahmana,
Destiny is all-powerful and it is difficult to evade the consequence of
our past actions. And this is the _karmic evil_ arising out of sin
committed in a former life. But, O Brahmana, I am always assiduous in
eradicating the evil. The Deity takes away life, the executioner acts
only as a secondary agent. And we, O good Brahmana, are only such agents
in regard to our _karma_. Those animals that are slain by me and whose
meat I sell, also acquire _karma_, because (with their meat), gods and
guests and servants are regaled with dainty food and the _manes_ are
propitiated. It is said authoritatively that herbs and vegetables, deer,
birds and wild animals constitute the food of all creatures. And, O
Brahmana, king Sivi, the son of Usinara, of great forbearance attained
to heaven, which is hard to reach, giving away his own flesh. And in
days of yore, O Brahmana, two thousand animals used to be killed every
day in the kitchen of king Rantideva; and in the same manner two
thousand cows were killed every day; and, O best of regenerate beings,
king Rantideva acquired unrivalled reputation by distributing food with
meat every day. For the performance of the fourmonthly rites animals
ought to be sacrificed daily. 'The sacred fire is fond of animal food,'
this saying has come down to us. And at sacrifices animals are
invariably killed by regenerate Brahmanas, and these animals being
purged of sin, by incantation of hymns, go to heaven. If, O Brahmana,
the sacred fire had not been so fond of animal food in ancient times, it
could never have become the food of any one. And in this matter of
animal food, this rule has been laid down by _Munis_:--Whoever partakes
of animal food after having first offered it duly and respectfully to
the gods and the _manes_, is not polluted by the act. And such a man is
not at all considered to have partaken of animal food, even, as a
Brahmacharin having intercoursed with his wife during the menstrual
period, is nevertheless considered to be a good Brahmana. After
consideration of the propriety and impropriety of the matter, this rule
has been laid down. King Saudasa, O Brahmana, when under a curse, often
used to prey upon men; what is thy opinion of this matter? And, O good
Brahmana, knowing this to be the consequence of my own actions, I obtain
my livelihood from this profession. The forsaking of one's own
occupation is considered, O Brahmana, to be a sin, and the act of
sticking to one's own profession is without doubt a meritorious act. The
_Karma_ of a former existence never forsakes any creature. And in
determining the various consequences of one's _Karma_, this rule was not
lost sight of by the Creator. A person having his being under the
influence of evil _Karma_, must always consider how he can atone for his
_Karma_, and extricate himself from an evil doom, and the evil _Karma_
may be expiated in various ways. Accordingly, O good Brahmana, I am
charitable, truthful, assiduous in attending on my superior, full of
respect towards regenerate Brahmanas, devoted to and free from pride and
(idle) excessive talk. Agriculture is considered to be a praiseworthy
occupation, but it is well-known that even there, great harm is done to
animal life; and in the operation of digging the earth with the plough,
numberless creatures lurking in the ground as also various other forms
of animal life are destroyed. Dost thou not think so? O good Brahmana,
_Vrihi_ and other seeds of rice are all living organisms. What is thy
opinion on this matter? Men, O Brahmana, hunt wild animals and kill them
and partake of their meat; they also cut up trees and herbs; but, O
Brahmana, there are numberless living organisms in trees, in fruits, as
also in water; dost thou not think so? This whole creation, O Brahmana,
is full of animal life, sustaining itself with food derived from living
organisms. Dost thou not mark that fish preys upon fish, and that
various species of animals prey upon other species, and there are
species the members of which prey upon each other? Men, O Brahmana,
while walking about hither and thither, kill numberless creatures
lurking in the ground by trampling on them, and even men of wisdom and
enlightenment destroy animal life in various ways, even while sleeping
or reposing themselves. What hast thou to say to this?--The earth and
the air all swarm with living organisms, which are unconsciously
destroyed by men from mere ignorance. Is not this so? The commandment
that people should not do harm to any creature, was ordained of old by
men, who were ignorant of the true facts of the case. For, O Brahmana,
there is not a man on the face of this earth, who is free from the sin
of doing injury to creatures. After full consideration, the conclusion
is irresistible that there is not a single man who is free from the sin
of doing injury to animal life. Even the sage, O good Brahmana, whose
vow is to do harm to no creature, doth inflict injury to animal life.
Only, on account of greater needfulness, the harm is less. Men of noble
birth and great qualities perpetrate wicked acts in defiance of all, of
which they are not at all ashamed. Good men acting in an exemplary way
are not commended by other good men; nor are bad men acting in a
contrary way praised by their wicked compeers; and friends are not
agreeable to friends, albeit endowed with high qualities; and foolish
pedantic men cry down the virtues of their preceptors. This reversal of
the natural order of things, O good Brahmana, is seen everywhere in this
world. What is thy opinion as to the virtuousness or otherwise of this
state of things? There is much that can be said of the goodness or
badness of our actions. But whoever is addicted to his own proper
occupation surely acquires great reputation."'"


"Markandeya continued, 'O Yudhishthira, the virtuous fowler, eminent in
pity, then skilfully addressed himself again to that foremost of
Brahmanas, saying, "It is the dictum of the aged that the ways of
righteousness are subtle, diverse and infinite. When life is at stake
and in the matter of marriage, it is proper to tell an untruth. Untruth
sometimes leads to the triumph of truth, and the latter dwindles into
untruth. Whichever conduces most to the good of all creatures is
considered to be truth. Virtue is thus perverted; mark thou its subtle
ways. O best of virtuous men, man's actions are either good or bad, and
he undoubtedly reaps their fruits. The ignorant man having attained to
an abject state, grossly abuses the gods, not knowing that it is the
consequence of his own evil _karma_. The foolish, the designing and the
fickle, O good Brahmana, always attain the very reverse of happiness or
misery. Neither learning nor good morals, nor personal exertion can save
them. And if the fruits of our exertion were not dependent on anything
else, people would attain the object of their desire, by simply striving
to attain it. It is seen that able, intelligent and diligent persons are
baffled in their efforts, and do not attain the fruits of their actions.
On the other hand, persons who are always active in injuring others and
in practising deception on the world, lead a happy life. There are some
who attain prosperity without any exertion. And there are others, who
with the utmost exertion, are unable to achieve their dues. Miserly
persons with the object of having sons born to them worship the gods,
and practise severe austerities, and those sons having remained in the
womb for ten months at length turn out to be very infamous issue of
their race; and others begotten under the same auspices, decently pass
their lives in luxury with heaps of riches and grain accumulated by
their ancestors. The diseases from which men suffer, are undoubtedly the
result of their own _karma_. They then behave like small deer at the
hands of hunters, and they are racked with mental troubles. And, O
Brahmana, as hunters intercept the flight of their game, the progress of
those diseases is checked by able and skilful physicians with their
collections of drugs. And, the best of the cherishers of religion, thou
hast observed that those who have it in their power to enjoy (the good
things of this earth), are prevented from doing so from the fact of
their suffering from chronic bowel-complaints, and that many others that
are strong and powerful, suffer from misery, and are enabled with great
difficulty to obtain a livelihood; and that every man is thus helpless,
overcome by misery and illusion, and again and again tossed and
overpowered by the powerful current of his own actions (_karma_). If
there were absolute freedom of action, no creature would die, none would
be subject to decay, or await his evil doom, and everybody would attain
the object of his desire. All persons desire to out distance their
neighbours (in the race of life), and they strive to do so to the utmost
of their power; but the result turns out otherwise. Many are the persons
born under the influence of the same star and the same auspices of good
luck; but a great diversity is observable in the maturity of their
actions. No person, O good Brahmana, can be the dispenser of his own
lot. The actions done in a previous existence are seen to fructify in
our present life. It is the immemorial tradition that the soul is
eternal and everlasting, but the corporeal frame of all creatures is
subject to destruction here (below). When therefore life is
extinguished, the body only is destroyed, but the spirit, wedded to its
actions, travels elsewhere."

"'The Brahmana replied, "O best of those versed in the doctrine of
_karma_, and in the delivery of discourses, I long to know accurately
how the soul becomes eternal." The fowler replied, "The spirit dies not,
there being simply a change of tenement. They are mistaken, who
foolishly say that all creatures die. The soul betakes itself to another
frame, and its change of habitation is called its death. In the world of
men, no man reaps the consequences of another man's _karma_. Whatever
one does, he is sure to reap the consequences thereof; for the
consequences of the _karma_ that is once done, can never be obviated.
The virtuous become endowed with great virtues, and sinful men become
the perpetrators of wicked deeds. Men's actions follow them; and
influenced by these, they are born again." The Brahmana enquired, "Why
does the spirit take its birth, and why does its nativity become sinful
or virtuous, and how, O good man, does it come to belong to a sinful or
virtuous race?" The fowler replied, "This mystery seems to belong to the
subject of procreation, but I shall briefly describe to you, O good
Brahmana, how the spirit is born again with its accumulated load of
_karma_, the righteous in a virtuous, and the wicked in a sinful
nativity. By the performance of virtuous actions it attains to the state
of the gods, and by a combination of good and evil, it acquires the
human state; by indulgence in sensuality and similar demoralising
practices it is born in the lower species of animals, and by sinful
acts, it goes to the infernal regions. Afflicted with the miseries of
birth and dotage, man is fated to rot here below from the evil
consequences of his own actions. Passing through thousands of births as
also the infernal regions, our spirits wander about, secured by the
fetters of their own _karma_. Animate beings become miserable in the
next world on account of these actions done by themselves and from the
reaction of those miseries, they assume lower births and then they
accumulate a new series of actions, and they consequently suffer misery
over again, like sickly men partaking of unwholesome food; and although
they are thus afflicted, they consider themselves to be happy and at
ease and consequently their fetters are not loosened and new _karma_
arises; and suffering from diverse miseries they turn about in this
world like a wheel. If casting off their fetters they purify themselves
by their actions and practise austerities and religious meditations,
then, O best of Brahmanas, they attain the Elysian regions by these
numerous acts and by casting off their fetters and by the purification
of _karma_, men attain those blissful regions where misery is unknown to
those who go there. The sinful man who is addicted to vices, never comes
to the end of his course of iniquities. Therefore must we strive to do
what is virtuous and forbear from doing what is unrighteous. Whoever
with a heart full of gratefulness and free from malice strives to do
what is good, attains wealth, virtue, happiness and heaven (hereafter).
Those who are purified of sins, wise, forbearing, constant in
righteousness, and self-restrained enjoy continuous felicity in this as
well as in the next world. Man must follow the standard of virtue of the
good and in his acts imitate the example of the righteous. There are
virtuous men, versed in holy writ and learned in all departments of
knowledge. Man's proper duty consists in following his own proper
avocation, and this being the case these latter do not become confused
and mixed up. The wise man delights in virtue and lives by
righteousness. And, O good Brahmana, such a man with the wealth of
righteousness which he hereby acquires, waters the root of the plant in
which he finds most virtue. The virtuous man acts thus and his mind is
calmed. He is pleased with his friends in this world and he also attains
happiness hereafter. Virtuous people, O good man, acquire dominion over
all and the pleasure of beauty, flavour, sound and touch according to
their desire. These are known to be the rewards of virtue. But the man
of enlightened vision, O great Brahmana, is not satisfied with reaping
the fruits of righteousness. Not content with that, he with the light of
spiritual wisdom that is in him, becomes indifferent to pain and
pleasure and the vice of the world influenceth him not. Of his own free
will he becometh indifferent to worldly pursuits but he forsaketh not
virtue. Observing that everything worldly is evanescent, he trieth to
renounce everything and counting on more chance he deviseth means for
the attainment of salvation. Thus doth he renounce the pursuits of the
world, shunneth the ways of sin, becometh virtuous and at last attaineth
salvation. Spiritual wisdom is the prime requisite of men for salvation,
resignation and forbearance are its roots. By this means he attaineth
all the objects of this desire. But subduing the senses and by means of
truthfulness and forbearance, he attaineth, O good Brahmana, the supreme
asylum of _Brahma_." The Brahmana again enquired, "O thou most eminent
in virtue and constant in the performance of the religious obligations,
you talk of senses; what are they; how may they be subdued; and what is
the good of subduing them; and how doth a creature reap the fruits
thereof? O pious man, I beg to acquaint myself with the truth of this


"Markandeya continued, 'Hear, O king Yudhishthira what the virtuous
fowler, thus interrogated by that Brahmana, said to him in reply. The
fowler said, "Men's minds are at first bent on the acquisition of
knowledge. That acquired, O good Brahmana, they indulge in their
passions and desires, and for that end, they labour and set about tasks
of great magnitude and indulge in much-desired pleasures of beauty,
flavour, &c. Then follows fondness, then envy, then avarice and then
extinction of all spiritual light. And when men are thus influenced by
avarice, and overcome by envy and fondness, their intellect ceases to be
guided by righteousness and they practise the very mockery of virtue.
Practising virtue with hypocrisy, they are content to acquire wealth by
dishonourable means with the wealth thus acquired the intelligent
principle in them becomes enamoured of those evil ways, and they are
filled with a desire to commit sins. And when, O good Brahmana, their
friends and men of wisdom remonstrate with them, they are ready with
specious answers, which are neither sound nor convincing. From their
being addicted to evil ways, they are guilty of a threefold sin. They
commit sin in thought, in word, as also in action. They being addicted
to wicked ways, all their good qualities die out, and these men of
wicked deeds cultivate the friendship of men of similar character, and
consequently they suffer misery in this world as well as in the next.
The sinful man is of this nature, and now hear of the man of virtue. He
discerns these evils by means of his spiritual insight, and is able to
discriminate between happiness and misery, and is full of respectful
attention to men of virtue, and from practising virtues, his mind
becomes inclined to righteousness." The Brahmana replied, "Thou hast
given a true exposition of religion which none else is able to expound.
Thy spiritual power is great, and thou dost appear to me to be like a
great _Rishi_." The fowler replied, "The great Brahmanas are worshipped
with the same honours as our ancestors and they are always propitiated
with offerings of food before others. Wise men in this world do what is
pleasing to them, with all their heart. And I shall, O good Brahmana,
describe to thee what is pleasing to them, after having bowed down to
Brahmanas as a class. Do thou learn from me the Brahmanic philosophy.
This whole universe unconquerable everywhere and abounding in great
elements, is Brahma, and there is nothing higher than this. The earth,
air, water, fire and sky are the great elements. And form, odour, sound,
touch and taste are their characteristic properties. These latter too
have their properties which are also correlated to each other. And of
the three qualities, which are gradually characterised by each, in order
of priority is consciousness which is called the mind. The seventh is
intelligence and after that comes egoism; and then the five senses, then
the soul, then the moral qualities called _sattwa, rajas_ and _tamas_.
These seventeen are said to be the unknown or incomprehensible
qualities. I have described all this to thee, what else dost thou wish
to know?"'"


"Markandeya continued, 'O Bharata, the Brahmana, thus interrogated by
the virtuous fowler, resumed again this discourse so pleasing to the
mind. The Brahmana said, "O best of the cherishers of religion, it is
said that there are five great elements; do thou describe to me in full
the properties of any one of the five." The fowler replied, "The earth,
water, fire, air and sky all have properties interlapping each other. I
shall describe them to thee. The earth, O Brahmana, has five qualities,
water four, fire three and the air and sky together three also. Sound,
touch, form, odour and taste--these five qualities belong to earth, and
sound, touch, form and taste, O austere Brahmana, have been described to
thee as the properties of water, and sound, touch and form are the three
properties of fire and air has two properties sound and touch, and sound
is the property of sky. And, O Brahmana, these fifteen properties
inherent in five elements, exist in all substances of which this
universe is composed. And they are not opposed to one another; they
exist, O Brahmana, in proper combination. When this whole universe is
thrown into a state of confusion, then every corporeal being in the
fulness of time, assumes another _corpus_. It arises and perishes in due
order. And there are present the five elementary substances of which all
the mobile and immobile world is composed. Whatever is perceptible by
the senses, is called _vyakta_ (knowable or comprehensible) and whatever
is beyond the reach of the senses and can only be perceived by guesses,
is known to be _avyakta_ (not _vyakta_). When a person engages in the
discipline of self-examination, after having subdued the senses which
have of their own proper objective play in the external conditions of
sound, form, &c, then he beholds his own spirit pervading the universe,
and the universe reflected in itself. He who is wedded to his previous
_karma_, although skilled in the highest spiritual wisdom, is cognisant
only of his soul's objective existence, but the person whose soul is
never affected by the objective conditions around, is never subject to
ills, owing to its absorption in the elementary spirit of Brahma. When a
person has overcome the domination of illusion, his manly virtues
consisting of the essence of spiritual wisdom, turn to the spiritual
enlightenment which illumines the intelligence of sentient beings. Such
a person is styled by the omnipotent, intelligent Spirit as one who is
without beginning and without end, self-existent, immutable, incorporeal
and incomparable. This, O Brahmana, that thou hast enquired of me is
only the result of self discipline. And this self-discipline can only be
acquired by subduing the senses. It cannot be otherwise, heaven and hell
are both dependent on our senses. When subdued, they lead to heaven;
when indulged in, they lead to perdition. This subjugation of the senses
is the highest means of attaining spiritual light. Our senses are at the
(cause) root of our spiritual advancement as also at the root of our
spiritual degradation. By indulging in them, a person undoubtedly
contracts vices, and by subduing these, he attains salvation. The
self-restrained person who acquires mastery over the six senses inherent
in our nature, is never tainted with sin, and consequently evil has no
power over him. Man's corporeal self has been compared to a chariot, his
soul to a charioteer and his senses to horses. A dexterous man drives
about without confusion, like a quiet charioteer with well-broken
horses. That man is an excellent driver who knows how to patiently wield
the reins of those wild horses,--the six senses inherent in our nature.
When our senses become ungovernable like horses on the high road, we
must patiently rein them in; for with patience, we are sure to get the
better of them. When a man's mind is overpowered by any one of these
senses running wild, he loses his reason, and becomes like a ship tossed
by storms upon the high ocean. Men are deceived by illusion in hoping to
reap the fruits of those six things, whose effects are studied by
persons of spiritual insight, who thereby reap the fruits of their clear


"Markandeya continued, 'O Bharata, the fowler having expounded these
abstruse points, the Brahmana with great attention again enquired of him
about these subtle topics. The Brahmana said, "Do thou truly describe to
me, who now duly ask thee, the respective virtues of the qualities of
_sattwa, rajas_, and _tamas_." The fowler replied, "Very well, I shall
tell thee what thou hast asked. I shall describe separately their
respective virtues, do thou listen. Of them _tamas_ is characterised by
illusion (spiritual), _rajas_ incites (men to action), _sattwa_ is of
great grandeur, and on that account, it is said to be the greatest of
them. He who is greatly under the influence of spiritual ignorance, who
is foolish, senseless and given to dreaming, who is idle, unenergetic
and swayed by anger and haughtiness, is said to be under the influence
of _tamas_. And, O Brahmana _rishi_, that excellent man who is agreeable
in speech, thoughtful, free from envy, industrious in action from an
eager desire to reap its fruits, and of warm temperament, is said to be
under the influence of _rajas_. And he who is resolute, patient, not
subject to anger, free from malice, and is not skilful in action from
want of a selfish desire to reap its fruits, wise and forbearing, is
said to be under the influence of _sattwa_. When a man endowed with the
_sattwa_ quality, is influenced by worldliness, he suffers misery; but
he hates worldliness, when he realises its full significance. And then a
feeling of indifference to worldly affairs begins to influence him. And
then his pride decreases, and uprightness becomes more prominent, and
his conflicting moral sentiments are reconciled. And then self-restraint
in any matter becomes unnecessary. A man, O Brahmana, may be born in the
Sudra caste, but if he is possessed of good qualities, he may attain the
state of _Vaisya_ and similarly that of a _Kshatriya_, and if he is
steadfast in rectitude, he may even become a Brahmana. I have described
to thee these virtues, what else dost thou wish to learn?"'"


"'The Brahmana enquired, "How is it that fire (vital force) in
combination with the earthly element (matter), becomes the corporeal
tenement (of living creatures), and how doth the vital air (the breath
of life) according to the nature of its seat (the muscles and nerves)
excite to action (the corporeal frame)?"' Markandeya said, 'This
question, O Yudhishthira, having been put to the Brahmana by the fowler,
the latter, in reply, said to that high-minded Brahmana. (The fowler
said):--"The vital spirit manifesting itself in the seat of
consciousness, causes the action of the corporeal frame. And the soul
being present in both of them acts (through them). The past, the present
and the future are inseparably associated with the soul. And it is the
highest of a creature's possessions; it is of the essence of the Supreme
Spirit and we adore it. It is the animating principle of all creatures,
and it is the eternal _pumsha_ (spirit). It is great and it is the
intelligence and the _ego_, and it is the subjective seat of the various
properties of elements. Thus while seated here (in a corporeal frame) it
is sustained in all its relations external or internal (to matter or
mind) by the subtle ethereal air called _prana_, and thereafter, each
creature goes its own way by the action of another subtle air called
_Samana_. And this latter transforming itself into _Apana_ air, and
supported by the head of the stomach carries the refuse matter of the
body, urine &c, to the kidneys and intestines. That same air is present
in the three elements of effort, exertion and power, and in that
condition it is called _Udana_ air by persons learned in physical
science, and when manifesting itself by its presence at all the
junctional points of the human system, it is known by the name _Vyana_.
And the internal heat is diffused over all the tissues of our system,
and supported by these kinds of air, it transforms our food and the
tissues and the humours of our system. And by the coalition of _Prana_
and other airs, a reaction (combination) ensues, and the heat generated
thereby is known as the internal heat of the human system which causes
the digestion of our food. The _Prana_ and the _Apana_ air are
interposed within the _Samana_ and the _Udana_ air. And the heat
generated by their coalition causes the growth of the body (consisting
of the seven substances, bones, muscles, &c). And that portion of its
seat extending to as far as the rectum is called _Apana_; and from that
arteries arise in the five airs _Prana_, &c. The _Prana_ air, acted on
by the heat strikes against the extremity of the _Apana_ region and then
recoiling, it reacts on the heat. Above the navel is the region of
undigested food and below it the region of digestion. And the _Prana_
and all other airs of the system are seated in the navel. The arteries
issuing from the heart run upwards and downwards, as also in oblique
directions; they carry the best essence of our food, and are acted upon
by the ten _Prana_ airs. This is the way by which patient _Yogins_ who
have overcome all difficulties, and who view things with an impartial
and equal eye, with their souls seated in the brain, find the Supreme
Spirit, the _Prana_ and the _Apana_ airs are thus present in the body of
all creatures. Know that the spirit is embodied in corporeal disguise,
in the eleven allotropous conditions (of the animal system), and that
though eternal, its normal state is apparently modified by its
accompaniments,--even like the fire purified in its pan,--eternal, yet
with its course altered by its surroundings; and that the divine thing
which is kindred with the body is related to the latter in the same way
as a drop of water to the sleek surface of a lotus-leaf on which it
rolls. Know that _sattwa, rajas_ and _tamas_, are the attributes of all
life and that life is the attribute of spirit, and that the latter again
is an attribute of the Supreme Spirit. Inert, insensible matter is the
seat of the living principle, which is active in itself and induces
activity in others. That thing by which the seven worlds are incited to
action is called the most high by men of high spiritual insight. Thus in
all these elements, the eternal spirit does not show itself, but is
perceived by the learned in spiritual science by reason of their high
and keen perception. A pure-minded person, by purification of his heart,
is able to destroy the good and evil effect of his actions and attains
eternal beatitude by the enlightenment of his inward spirit. That state
of peace and purification of heart is likened to the state of a person
who in a cheerful state of mind sleeps soundly, or the brilliance of a
lamp trimmed by a skillful hand. Such a pure-minded person living on
spare diet perceives the Supreme Spirit reflected in his own, and by
practising concentration of mind in the evening and small hours of the
night, he beholds the Supreme Spirit which has no attributes, in the
light of his heart, shining like a dazzling lamp, and thus he attains
salvation. Avarice and anger must be subdued by all means, for this act
constitutes the most sacred virtue that people can practise and is
considered to be the means by which men can cross over to the other side
of this sea of affliction and trouble. A man must preserve his
righteousness from being overcome by the evil consequences of anger, his
virtues from the effects of pride, his learning from the effects of
vanity, and his own spirit from illusion. Leniency is the best of
virtues, and forbearance is the best of powers, the knowledge of our
spiritual nature is the best of all knowledge, and truthfulness is the
best of all religious obligations. The telling of truth is good, and the
knowledge of truth may also be good, but what conduces to the greatest
good of all creatures, is known as the highest truth. He whose actions
are performed not with the object of securing any reward or blessing,
who has sacrificed all to the requirements of his renunciation, is a
real _Sannyasin_ and is really wise. And as communion with Brahma cannot
be taught to us, even by our spiritual preceptor,--he only giving us a
clue to the mystery--renunciation of the material world is called
_Yoga_. We must not do harm to any creature and must live in terms of
amity with all, and in this our present existence, we must not avenge
ourselves on any creature. Self-abnegation, peace of mind, renunciation
of hope, and equanimity,--these are the ways by which spiritual
enlightenment can always be secured; and the knowledge of self (one's
own spiritual nature) is the best of all knowledge. In this world as
well as hereafter, renouncing all worldly desires and assuming a stoic
indifference, wherein all suffering is at rest, people should fulfil
their religious duties with the aid of their intelligence. The _muni_
who desires to obtain _moksha_ (salvation), which is very difficult to
attain, must be constant in austerities, forbearing, self-restrained,
and must give up that longing fondness which binds him to the things of
this earth. They call these the attributes of the Supreme Spirit. The
_gunas_ (qualities or attributes) that we are conscious of, reduce
themselves to _agunas_ (non-gunas) in Him; He is not bound by anything,
and is perceptible only by the expansion and development of our
spiritual vision; as soon as the illusion of ignorance is dispelled,
this supreme unalloyed beatitude is attained. By foregoing the objects
of both pleasure and pain and by renouncing the feelings which bind him
to the things of this earth, a man may attain Brahma (Supreme Spirit or
salvation). O good Brahmana, I have now briefly explained to thee all
this, as I have heard. What else dost thou wish to know?"'"


"Markandeya said, 'When, O Yudhishthira, all this mystery of salvation
was explained to that Brahmana, he was highly pleased and he said
addressing the fowler, "All this that thou hast explained, is rational,
and it seems to me that there is nothing in connection with the
mysteries of religion which thou dost not know." The fowler replied, "O
good and great Brahmana, thou shalt perceive with thine own eyes, all
the virtue that I lay claim to, and by reason of which I have attained
this blissful state. Rise, worshipful sir, and quickly enter this inner
apartment. O virtuous man, it is proper that thou shouldst see my father
and my mother."' Markandeya continued, 'Thus addressed the Brahmana went
in, and beheld a fine beautiful mansion. It was a magnificent house
divided in four suites of rooms, admired by gods and looking like one of
their palaces; it was also furnished with seats and beds, and redolent
of excellent perfumes. His revered parents clad in white robes, having
finished their meals, were seated at ease. The fowler, beholding them,
prostrated himself before them with his head at their feet. His aged
parents then addressed him thus, "Rise, O man of piety, rise, may
righteousness shield thee; we are much pleased with thee for thy piety;
mayst thou be blessed with a long life, and with knowledge, high
intelligence, and fulfilment of thy desires. Thou art a good and dutiful
son, for, we are constantly and reasonably looked after by thee, and
even amongst the celestials thou hast not another divinity to worship.
By constantly subduing thyself, thou hast become endowed with the
self-restraining power of Brahmanas and all thy grandsires and ancestors
are constantly pleased with thee for thy self-restraining virtues and
for thy piety towards us. In thought, word or deed thy attention to us
never flags, and it seems that at present thou hast no other thought in
thy mind (save as to how to please us). As Rama, the son of Jamadagni,
laboured to please his aged parents, so hast thou, O Son, done to please
us, and even more." Then the fowler introduced the Brahmana to his
parents and they received him with the usual salutation of welcome, and
the Brahmana accepting their welcome, enquired if they, with their
children and servants, were all right at home, and if they were always
enjoying good health at that time (of life). The aged couple replied,
"At home, O Brahmana, we are all right, with all our servants. Hast
thou, adorable sir, reached this place without any difficulty?"'
Markandeya continued, 'The Brahmana replied, "Yes, I have." Then the
fowler addressing himself to the Brahmana said to him, "These my
parents, worshipful sir, are the idols that I worship; whatever is due
to the gods, I do unto them. As the thirty-three gods with Indra at
their head are worshipped by men, so are these aged parents of mine
worshipped by me. As Brahmanas exert themselves for the purpose of
procuring offering for their gods, so do I act with diligence for these
two (idols of mine). These my father and mother, O Brahmana, are my
supreme gods, and I seek to please them always with offering of flowers,
fruits and gems. To me they are like the three sacred fires mentioned by
the learned; and, O Brahmana, they seem to me to be as good as
sacrifices or the four _Vedas_. My five life-giving airs, my wife and
children and friends are all for them (dedicated to their service). And
with my wife and children I always attend on them. O good Brahmana, with
my own hands I assist them in bathing and also wash their feet and give
them food and I say to them only what is agreeable, leaving out what is
unpleasant. I consider it to be my highest duty to do what is agreeable
to them even though it be not strictly justifiable. And, O Brahmana, I
am always diligent in attending on them. The two parents, the sacred
fire, the soul and the spiritual preceptor, these five, O good Brahmana,
are worthy of the highest reverence from a person who seeks prosperity.
By serving them properly, one acquires the merit of perpetually keeping
up the sacred fire. And it is the eternal and invariable duty of all


"Markandeya continued, 'The virtuous fowler, having introduced his
(both) parents to that Brahmana as his highest _gurus_, again spoke to
him as follows, "Mark thou the power of this virtue of mine, by which my
inner spiritual vision is extended. For this, thou wast told by that
self-restrained, truthful lady, devoted to her husband, 'Hie thee to
Mithila; for there lives a fowler who will explain to thee, the
mysteries of religion.'" The Brahmana said, "O pious man, so constant in
fulfilling thy religious obligations, bethinking myself of what that
truthful good-natured lady so true to her husband, hath said, I am
convinced that thou art really endowed with every high quality." The
fowler replied, "I have no doubt, my lord, that what that lady, so
faithful to her husband, said to thee about me, was said with full
knowledge of the facts. I have, O Brahmana, explained to thee all this
as a matter of favour. And now, good sir, listen to me. I shall explain
what is good for thee. O good Brahmana, of irreproachable character,
thou hast wronged thy father and thy mother, for thou hast left home
without their permission, for the purpose of learning the _Vedas_. Thou
hast not acted properly in this matter, for thy ascetic and aged parents
have become entirely blind from grief at thy loss. Do thou return home
to console them. May this virtue never forsake thee. Thou art
high-minded, of ascetic merit, and always devoted to thy religion but
all these have become useless to thee. Do thou without delay return to
console thy parents. Do have some regard for my words and not act
otherwise; I tell thee what is good for thee, O Brahmana _Rishi_. Do
thou return home this very day." The Brahmana replied, "This that thou
hast said, is undoubtedly true; mayst thou, O pious man, attain
prosperity; I am much pleased with thee." The fowler said, "O Brahmana,
as thou practisest with assiduousness those divine, ancient, and eternal
virtues which are so difficult of attainment even by pure-minded
persons, thou appearest (to me) like a divine being. Return to the side
of thy father and mother and be quick and diligent in honouring thy
parents; for, I do not know if there is any virtue higher than this."
The Brahmana replied, "By a piece of singular good luck have I arrived
here, and by a piece of similar good luck have I thus been associated
with thee. It is very difficult to find out, in our midst, a person who
can so well expound the mysteries of religion; there is scarcely one man
among thousands, who is well versed in the science of religion. I am
very glad, O great man, to have secured thy friendship; mayst thou be
prosperous. I was on the point of falling into hell, but was extricated
by thee. It was destined to be so, for thou didst (unexpectedly) come in
my way. And, O great man, as the fallen King Yayati was saved by his
virtuous grandsons (daughter's sons), so have I know been saved by thee.
According to thy advice, I shall honour my father and my mother; for a
man with an impure heart can never expound the mysteries of sin and
righteousness. As it is very difficult for a person born in the Sudra
class to learn the mysteries of the eternal religion, I do not consider
thee to be a Sudra. There must surely be some mystery in connection with
this matter. Thou must have attained the Sudra's estate by reason of the
fruition of thine own past _karma_. O magnanimous man, I long to know
the truth about this matter. Do thou tell it to me with attention and
according to thy own inclination."

"'The fowler replied, "O good Brahmana, Brahmanas are worthy of all
respect from me. Listen, O sinless one, to this story of a previous
existence of mine. O son of an excellent Brahmana, I was formerly a
Brahmana, well-read in the _Vedas_, and an accomplished student of the
_Vedangas_. Through my own fault I have been degraded to my present
state. A certain king, accomplished in the science of _dhanurveda_
(science of archery), was my friend; and from his companionship, O
Brahmana, I, too became skilled in archery; and one day the king, in
company with his ministers and followed by his best warriors, went out
on a hunting expedition. He killed a large number of deer near a
hermitage. I, too, O good Brahmana, discharged a terrible arrow. And a
_rishi_ was wounded by that arrow with its head bent out. He fell down
upon the ground, and screaming loudly said, 'I have harmed no one, what
sinful man has done this?' And, my lord, taking him for a deer, I went
up to him and found that he was pierced through the body by my arrow. On
account of my wicked deed I was sorely grieved (in mind). And then I
said to that _rishi_ of severe ascetic merit, who was loudly crying,
lying upon the ground, 'I have done this unwittingly, O _rishi_.' And
also this I said to the _muni_: 'Do thou think it proper to pardon all
this transgression.' But, O Brahmana, the _rishi_, lashing himself into
a fury, said to me, 'Thou shalt be born as a cruel fowler in the Sudra


"'The fowler continued, "Thus cursed by that _rishi_, I sought to
propitiate him with these words: 'Pardon me, O _muni_, I have done this
wicked deed unwittingly. It behooves thee to pardon all that. Do thou,
worshipful sir, soothe yourself.' The _rishi_ replied, 'The curse that I
have pronounced can never be falsified, this is certain. But from
kindness towards thee, I shall do thee a favour. Though born in the
Sudra class thou shalt remain a pious man and thou shalt undoubtedly
honour thy parents; and by honouring them thou shalt attain great
spiritual perfection; thou shalt also remember the events of thy past
life and shalt go to heaven; and on the expiation of this curse, thou
shalt again become a Brahmana.' O best of men, thus, of old was I cursed
by that _rishi_ of severe power, and thus was he propitiated by me.
Then, O good Brahmana, I extricated the arrow from his body, and took
him into the hermitage, but he was not deprived of his life (recovered).
O good Brahmana, I have thus described to thee what happened to me of
old, and also how I can go to heaven hereafter." The Brahmana said, "O
thou of great intelligence, all men are thus subject to happiness or
misery, thou shouldst not therefore grieve for that. In obedience to the
customs of thy (present) race, thou hast pursued these wicked ways, but
thou art always devoted to virtue and versed in the ways and mysteries
of the world. And, O learned man, these being the duties of thy
profession, the stain of evil _karma_ will not attach to thee. And after
dwelling here for some little time, thou shalt again become a Brahmana;
and even now, I consider thee to be a Brahmana, there is no doubt about
this. For the Brahmana who is vain and haughty, who is addicted to vices
and wedded to evil and degrading practices, is like a Sudra. On the
other hand, I consider a Sudra who is always adorned with these
virtues,--righteousness, self-restraint, and truthfulness,--as a
Brahmana. A man becomes a Brahmana by his character; by his own evil
_karma_ a man attains an evil and terrible doom. O good man. I believe
that sin in thee has now died out. Thou must not grieve for this, for
men, like thee who art so virtuous and learned in the ways and mysteries
of the world, can have no cause for grief."

"'The fowler replied, "The bodily afflictions should be cured with
medicines, and the mental ones with spiritual wisdom. This is the power
of knowledge. Knowing this, the wise should not behave like boys. Men of
low intelligence are overpowered with grief at the occurrence of
something which is not agreeable to them, or non-occurrence of something
which is good or much desired. Indeed, all creatures are subject to this
characteristic (of grief or happiness). It is not merely a single
creature or class that is subject to misery. Cognisant of this evil,
people quickly mend their ways, and if they perceive it at the very
outset they succeed in curing it altogether. Whoever grieves for it,
only makes himself uneasy. Those wise men whose knowledge has made them
happy and contented, and who are indifferent to happiness and misery
alike, are really happy. The wise are always contented and the foolish
always discontented. There is no end to discontentment, and contentment
is the highest happiness. People who have reached the perfect way, do
not grieve, they are always conscious of the final destiny of all
creatures. One must not give way to discontent[17] for it is like a
virulent poison. It kills persons of undeveloped intelligence, just as a
child is killed by an enraged snake. That man has no manliness whose
energies have left him and who is overpowered with perplexity when an
occasion for the exercise of vigour presents itself. Our actions are
surely followed by their consequences. Whoever merely gives himself up
to passive indifference (to worldly affairs) accomplishes no good.
Instead of murmuring one must try to find out the way by which he can
secure exemption from (spiritual) misery; and the means of salvation
found, he must then free himself from sensuality. The man who has
attained a high state of spiritual knowledge is always conscious of the
great deficiency (instability) of all matter. Such a person keeping in
view the final doom (of all), never grieves. I too, O learned man, do
not grieve; I stay here (in this life) biding my time. For this reason,
O best of men, I am not perplexed (with doubts)". The Brahmana said,
"Thou art wise and high in spiritual knowledge and vast is thy
intelligence. Thou who art versed in holy writ, art content with thy
spiritual wisdom. I have no cause to find fault with thee. Adieu, O best
of pious men, mayst thou be prosperous, and may righteousness shield
thee, and mayst thou be assiduous in the practice of virtue."'

[17] _Vishada_ is the original. It means discontent, but here it
means more a mixture of discontent, perplexity and confusion
than mere discontent.

"Markandeya continued, 'The fowler said to him, "Be it so." And the good
Brahmana walked round him[18] and then departed. And the Brahmana
returning home was duly assiduous in his attention to his old parents. I
have thus, O pious Yudhishthira, narrated in detail to thee this history
full of moral instruction, which thou, my good son, didst ask me to
recite,--the virtue of women's devotion to their husbands and that of
filial piety.' Yudhishthira replied, 'O most pious Brahmana and best of
_munis_, thou hast related to me this good and wonderful moral story;
and listening to thee, O learned man, my time has glided away like a
moment; but, O adorable sir, I am not as yet satiated with hearing this
moral[19] discourse.'"

[18] A form of Hindu etiquette at parting.

[19] It is so very difficult to translate the word
_Karma_,--religion and morals were invariably associated with
each other in ancient Hindu mind.


Vaisampayana continued, "The virtuous king Yudhishthira, having listened
to this excellent religious discourse, again addressed himself to the
_rishi_ Markandeya saying, 'Why did the fire-god hide himself in water
in olden times, and why is it that Angiras of great splendour
officiating as fire-god, used to convey[20] oblations during his
dissolution. There is but one fire, but according to the nature of its
action, it is seen to divide itself into many. O worshipful sir, I long
to be enlightened on all these points,--How the Kumara[21] was born, how
he came to be known as the son of Agni (the fire-god) and how he was
begotten by Rudra or Ganga and Krittika. O noble scion of Bhrigu's race,
I desire to learn all this accurately as it happened. O great _muni_, I
am thrilled with great curiosity.' Markandeya replied, 'In this
connection this old story is cited by the learned, as to how the carrier
of oblations (the fire-god) in a fit of rage, sought the waters of the
sea in order to perform a penance, and how the adorable Angiras
transforming himself into the fire-god,[22] destroyed darkness and
distressed the world with his scorching rays. In olden times, O
long-armed hero, the great Angiras performed a wonderful penance in his
hermitage; he even excelled the fire-god, the carrier of oblations, in
splendour and in that state he illumined the whole universe. At that
time the fire-god was also performing a penance and was greatly
distressed by his (Angirasa's) effulgence. He was greatly depressed, but
did not know what to do. Then that adorable god thought within himself,
"Brahma has created another fire-god for this universe. As I have been
practising austerities, my services as the presiding deity of fire have
been dispensed with;" and then he considered how he could re-establish
himself as the _god_ of fire. He beheld the great _muni_ giving heat to
the whole universe like fire, and approached him slowly with fear. But
Angiras said to him, "Do thou quickly re-establish yourself as the fire
animating the universe, thou art well-known in the three stable worlds
and thou wast first created by Brahma to dispel darkness. Do thou, O
destroyer of darkness, quickly occupy thine own proper place." Agni
replied, "My reputation has been injured now in this world. And thou art
become the fire-god, and people will know thee, and not me, as fire. I
have relinquished my god-hood of fire, do thou become the primeval fire
and I shall officiate as the second or Prajapatyaka fire." Angiras
replied, "Do thou become the fire-god and the destroyer of darkness and
do thou attend to thy sacred duty of clearing people's way to heaven,
and do thou, O lord, make me speedily thy first child."' Markandeya
continued, 'Hearing these words of Angiras, the fire-god did as desired,
and, O king, Angiras had a son named Vrihaspati. Knowing him to be the
first son of Angiras by Agni, the gods, O Bharata, came and enquired
about the mystery. And thus asked by the gods he then enlightened them,
and the gods then accepted the explanation of Angiras. In this
connection, I shall describe to thee religious sorts of fire of great
effulgence which are here variously known in the Brahmanas[23] by their
respective uses.'"

[20] Agni or fire was supposed to convey the oblations offered
by men to the gods.

[21] _Kumara_ means a boy, hence a prince. Here Kartika the
war-god is meant.

[22] By carrying their oblations to the gods.

[23] Portions of the Vedas.


"Markandeya continued, 'O ornament of Kuru's race, he (Angiras) who was
the third son of Brahma had a wife of the name of Subha. Do thou hear of
the children he had by her. His son Vrihaspati, O king, was very famous,
large-hearted and of great bodily vigour. His genius and learning were
profound, and he had a great reputation as a counsellor. Bhanumati was
his first-born daughter. She was the most beautiful of all his children.
Angiras's second daughter was called Raga.[24] She was so named because
she was the object of all creature's love. Siniwali was the third
daughter of Angiras. Her body was of such slender make that she was
visible at one time and invisible at another; and for this reason she
was likened to _Rudra's_ daughter. Archismati was his fourth daughter,
she was so named from her great refulgence. And his fifth daughter was
called _Havishmati_, so named from her accepting _havis_ or oblations.
The sixth daughter of Angiras was called Mahismati the pious. O
keen-witted being, the seventh daughter of Angiras is known by the name
of Mahamati, who is always present at sacrifices of great splendour, and
that worshipful daughter of Angiras, whom they call unrivalled and
without portion, and about whom people utter the words _kuhu kuhu_
(wonder), is known by the name of Kuhu.'"

[24] _Raga_ means love.


"Markandeya continued, 'Vrihaspati had a wife (called Tara) belonging to
the lunar world. By her, he had six sons partaking of the energy of
fire, and one daughter. The fire in whose honour oblations of clarified
butter are offered at the Paurnamasya and other sacrifices, was a son of
Vrihaspati called Sanju; he was of great ascetic merit. At the
_Chaturmasya_ (four-monthly) and _Aswamedha_ (horse) sacrifices, animals
are offered first in his honour, and this powerful fire is indicated by
numerous flames. Sanju's wife was called Satya, she was of matchless
beauty and she sprang from Dharma (righteousness) for the sake of truth.
The blazing fire was his son, and he had three daughters of great
religious merit. The fire which is honoured with the first oblations at
sacrifices is his first son called Bharadwaja. The second son of Sanju
is called Bharata in whose honour oblations of clarified butter are
offered with the sacrificial ladle (called Sruk) at all the full moon
(_Paurnamasaya_) sacrifices. Beside these, three sons of whom Bharata is
the senior, he had a son named Bharata and a daughter called Bharati.
The Bharata fire is the son of _Prajapati_ Bharata _Agni_ (fire). And, O
ornament of Bharata's race, because he is greatly honoured, he is also
called the great. Vira is Bharadwaja's wife; she gave birth to Vira. It
is said by the Brahmanas that he is worshipped like _Soma_ (with the
same hymns) with offerings of clarified butter. He is joined with Soma
in the secondary oblation of clarified butter and is also called
Rathaprabhu, Rathadhwana and Kumbhareta. He begot a son named Siddhi by
his wife Sarayu, and enveloped the sun with his splendour and from being
the presiding genius of the fire sacrifice he is ever mentioned in the
hymns in praise of fire. And the fire _Nischyavana_ praises the earth
only; he never suffers in reputation, splendour and prosperity. The
sinless fire Satya blazing with pure flame is his son. He is free from
all taint and is not defiled by sin, and is the regulator of time. That
fire has another name Nishkriti, because he accomplished the _Nishkriti_
(relief) of all blatant creatures here. When properly worshipped he
vouchsafes good fortune. His son is called Swana, who is the generator
of all diseases; he inflicts severe sufferings on people for which they
cry aloud, and moves in the intelligence of the whole universe. And the
other fire (Vrihaspati's third son) is called Viswajit by men of
spiritual wisdom. The fire, which is known as the internal heat by which
the food of all creatures is digested, is the fourth son of Vrihaspati
known through all the worlds, O Bharata, by the name of Viswabhuk. He is
self-restrained, of great religious merit, and is a _Brahmacharin_ and
he is worshipped by Brahmanas at the Paka-sacrifices. The sacred river
Gomati was his wife and by her all religious-minded men perform their
rites. And that terrible water-drinking sea fire called Vadava is the
fifth son of Vrihaspati. This Brahmic fire has a tendency to move
upwards and hence it is called _Urdhvabhag_, and is seated in the vital
air called _Prana_. The sixth son is called the great Swishtakrit; for
by him oblations became _swishta_ (_su_, excellently, and _ishta_,
offered) and the _udagdhara_ oblation is always made in his honour. And
when all creatures are claimed, the fire called Manyauti becomes filled
with fury. This inexorably terrible and highly irascible fire is the
daughter of Vrihaspati, and is known as _Swaha_ and is present in all
matter. (By the respective influence of the three qualities of _sattwa,
rajas_ and _tamas_, Swaha had three sons). By reason of the first she
had a son who was equaled by none in heaven in personal beauty, and
from this fact he was surnamed by the gods as the _Kama_-fire.[25] (By
reason of the second) she had a son called the _Amogha_ or invincible
fire, the destroyer of his enemies in battle. Assured of success he
curbs his anger and is armed with a bow and seated on a chariot and
adorned with wreaths of flowers. (From the action of the third quality)
she had a son, the great _Uktha_ (the means of salvation) praised by
(akin to) three Ukthas.[26] He is the originator of the great word[27]
and is therefore known as the Samaswasa or the means of rest

[25] Kama is the name of the god of love, Indian Cupid.

[26] The body, the exciting Cause of our actions is an _uktha_,
the soul of the vivifier of the body is the second _uktha_, and
the Supreme Spirit, the inciter of the soul is the third.

[27] The word of God.


"Markandeya continued, 'He (_Uktha_) performed a severe penance lasting
for many years, with the view of having a pious son equal unto _Brahma_
in reputation. And when the invocation was made with the _vyahriti_
hymns and with the aid of the five sacred fires, _Kasyapa, Vasistha,
Prana_, the son of _Prana, Chyavana_, the son of _Angiras_, and
_Suvarchaka_--there arose a very bright energy (force) full of the
animating (creative) principle, and of five different colours. Its head
was of the colour of the blazing fire, its arms were bright like the sun
and its skin and eyes were golden-coloured and its feet, O Bharata, were
black. Its five colours were given to it by those five men by reason of
their great penance. This celestial being is therefore described as
appertaining to five men, and he is the progenitor of five tribes. After
having performed a penance for ten thousand years, that being of great
ascetic merit produced the terrible fire appertaining to the _Pitris_
(manes) in order to begin the work of creation, and from his head and
mouth respectively he created Vrihat and Rathantara (day and night) who
quickly steal away (life, &c.). He also created Siva from his navel,
Indra from his might and wind and fire from his soul, and from his two
arms sprang the hymns _Udatta_ and _Anudatta_. He also produced the
mind, and the five senses, and other creatures. Having created these, he
produced the five sons of the _Pitris_. Of these _Pranidhi_ was the son
of _Vrihadratha_. Vrihadratha was the son of Kasyapa. Bhanu was the
godson of Chyavana, Saurabha, the son of Suvarchaka, and Anudatta, the
son of Prana. These twenty-five beings are reputed (to have been created
by him). Tapa also created fifteen other gods who obstruct
sacrifices[28]. They are Subhima, Bhima, Atibhima, Bhimavala, Avala,
Sumitra, Mitravana, Mitasina, Mitravardhana and Mitradharaman,[29] and
Surapravira, Vira, Suveka, Suravarchas and Surahantri. These gods are
divided into three classes of five each. Located here in this world,
they destroy the sacrifices of the gods in heaven; they frustrate their
objects and spoil their oblations of clarified butter. They do this only
to spite the sacred fires carrying oblations to the gods. If the
officiating priests are careful, they place the oblations in their
honour outside of the sacrificial altar. To that particular place where
the sacred fire may be placed, they cannot go. They carry the oblation
of their votaries by means of wings. When appeased by hymns, they do not
frustrate the sacrificial rites. Vrihaduktha, another son of Tapa,
belongs to the Earth. He is worshipped here in this world by pious men
performing _Agnihotra_ sacrifices. Of the son of Tapa who is known as
Rathantara, it is said by officiating priests that the sacrificial
oblation offered in his honour is offered to Mitravinda. The celebrated
Tapa was thus very happy with his sons.'"

[28] In Hindu Mythology there are no gods who destroy
sacrifices. It is only the Asuras who do so. The Burdwan
translator renders this passage,--"fifteen other gods belonging
to western nations or _Asuras_." It is noticeable that the
beings that were denounced as _Asuras_ by the Hindus were
worshipped as Gods (_Asuras_) by the followers of Zarathustra.

[29] In connection with the names of these Mitra-gods, it is to
be remembered that Mitra was the name of the principal god of
the ancient Persians.


"Markandeya continued, 'The fire called Bharata was bound by severe
rules of asceticism. Pushtimati is another name of his fire; for when he
is satisfied he vouchsafes _pushti_ (development) to all creatures, and
for this reason he is called _Bharata_ (or the Cherisher). And that
other fire, by name Siva, is devoted to the worship of Sakti (the forces
of the presiding deity of the forces of Nature), and because he always
relieves the sufferings of all creatures afflicted with misery, he is
called Siva (the giver of good). And on the acquisition of great ascetic
wealth by _Tapa_, an intelligent son named Puranda was born to inherit
the same. Another son named Ushma was also born. This fire is observed
in the vapour of all matter. A third son Manu was born. He officiated as
Prajapati. The Brahmanas who are learned in the Vedas, then speak of the
exploits of the fire Sambhu. And after that the bright Avasathya fire of
great refulgence is spoken of by the Brahmanas. Tapa thus created the
five Urjaskara fires, all bright as gold. These all share the _Soma_
drink in sacrifices. The great sun-god when fatigued (after his day's
labours) is known as the Prasanta fire. He created the terrible _Asuras_
and various other creatures of the earth. Angiras, too created the
_Prajapati_ Bhanu, the son of Tapa. He is also called Vrihadbhanu (the
great Bhanu) by Brahmanas learned in the _Vedas_. Bhanu married Supraja,
and Brihadbhanu the daughter of Surya (the sun-god). They gave birth to
six sons; do thou hear of their progeny. The fire who gives strength to
the weak is called Valada (or the giver of strength). He is the first
son of Bhanu, and that other fire who looks terrible when all the
elements are in a tranquil state is called the Manjuman fire; he is the
second son of Bhanu. And the fire in whose honour oblations of clarified
butter are enjoined to be made here at the _Darsa_ and _Paurnamasya_
sacrifices and who is known as Vishnu in this world, is (the third son
of Bhanu) called Angiras, or Dhritiman. And the fire to whom with Indra,
the _Agrayana_ oblation is enjoined to be made is called the Agrayana
fire. He is the (fourth) son of Bhanu. The fifth son of Bhanu is Agraha
who is the source of the oblations which are daily made for the
performance of the _Chaturmasya_ (four-monthly) rites. And Stuva is the
sixth son of Bhanu. Nisa was the name of another wife of that Manu who
is known by the name of Bhanu. She gave birth to one daughter, the two
Agnishtomas, and also five other fire-gods. The resplendent fire-god who
is honoured with the first oblations in company with the presiding deity
of the clouds is called Vaiswanara. And that other fire who is called
the lord of all the worlds is Viswapati, the second son of Manu. And the
daughter of Manu is called Swistakrit, because by oblations unto her one
acquires great merit. Though she was the daughter of Hiranyakasipu, she
yet became his wife for her evil deeds. She is, however, one of the
Prajapatis. And that other fire which has its seats in the vital airs of
all creatures and animates their bodies, is called Sannihita. It is the
cause of our perceptions of sound and form. That divine spirit whose
course is marked with black and white stains, who is the supporter of
fire, and who, though free from sin, is the accomplisher of desired
_karma_, whom the wise regard as a great _Rishi_, is the fire Kapila,
the propounder of the _Yoga_ system called Sankhya. The fire through
whom the elementary spirits always receive the offerings called _Agra_
made by other creatures at the performance of all the peculiar rites in
this world is called Agrani. And these other bright fires famous in the
world, were created for the rectification of the _Agnihotra_ rites when
marred by any defects. If the fires interlap each other by the action of
the wind, then the rectification must be made with the _Ashtakapala_
rites in honour of the fire Suchi. And if the southern fire comes in
contact with the two other fires, then rectification must be made by the
performance of the _Ashtakapala_ rites in honour of the fire Viti. If
the fires in their place called Nivesa come in contact with the fire
called Devagni, then the _Ashtakapala_ rites must be performed in honour
of the fire Suchi for rectification. And if the perpetual fire is
touched by a woman in her monthly course, then for rectification the
_Ashtakapala_ rites must be performed in honour of the fire called
Dasyuman. If at the time of the performance of this _Agnihotra_ rites
the death of any creature is spoken of, or if animals die, then
rectification must be made with the performance of the _Ashtakapala_
rites in honour of the Suraman fire. The Brahmana, who while suffering
from a disease is unable to offer oblations to the sacred fire for three
nights, must make amends for the same by performing the _Ashtakapala_
rites in honour of the northern fire. He who has performed the _Darsa_
and the _Paurnamasya_ rites must make the rectification with the
performance of the _Ashtakapala_ rites in honour of the Patikrit fire.
If the fire of a lying-in room comes in contact with the perpetual
sacred fire, then rectification must be made with the performance of
_Ashtakapala_ rites in honour of the Agniman fire.'"


"Markandeya continued, 'Mudita, the favourite wife of the fire Swaha,
used to live in water. And Swaha who was the regent of the earth and sky
begot in that wife of his a highly sacred fire called Advanta. There is
a tradition amongst learned Brahmanas that this fire is the ruler and
inner soul of all creatures. He is worshipful, resplendent and the lord
of all the great _Bhutas_ here. And that fire, under the name of
Grihapati, is ever worshipped at all sacrifices and conveys all the
oblations that are made in this world. That great son of Swaha--the
great Adbhuta fire is the soul of the waters and the prince and regent
of the sky and the lord of everything great. His (son), the Bharata
fire, consumes the dead bodies of all creatures. His first Kratu is
known as Niyata at the performance of the _Agnishtoma_ sacrifice. That
powerful prime fire (_Swaha_) is always missed by the gods, because when
he sees Niyata approaching him he hides himself in the sea from fear of
contamination. Searching for him in every direction, the gods could not
(once) find him out and on beholding Atharvan the fire said to him, "O
valiant being, do thou carry the oblations for the gods! I am disabled
from want of strength. Attaining the state of the red-eyed fire, do thou
condescend to do me this favour!" Having thus advised Atharvan, the fire
went away to some other place. But his place of concealment was divulged
by the finny tribe. Upon them the fire pronounced this curse in anger,
"You shall be the food of all creatures in various ways." And then that
carrier of oblations spoke unto _Atharvan_ (as before). Though entreated
by the gods, he did not agree to continue carrying their oblations. He
then became insensible and instantly gave up the ghost. And leaving his
material body, he entered into the bowels of the earth. Coming into
contact with the earth, he created the different metals. Force and scent
arose from his pus; the _Deodar_ pine from his bones; glass from his
phlegm; the _Marakata_ jewel from his bile; and the black iron from his
liver. And all the world has been embellished with these three
substances (wood, stone and iron). The clouds were made from his nails,
and corals from his veins. And, O king, various other metals were
produced from his body. Thus leaving his material body, he remained
absorbed in (spiritual) meditation. He was roused by the penance of
Bhrigu and Angiras. The powerful fire thus gratified with penance,
blazed forth intensely. But on beholding the _Rishi_ (Atharvan), he
again sought his watery refuge. At this extinction of the fire, the
whole world was frightened, and sought the protection of Atharvan, and
the gods and others began to worship him. Atharvan rummaged the whole
sea in the presence of all those beings eager with expectation, and
finding out the fire, himself began the work of creation. Thus in olden
times the fire was destroyed and called back to life by the adorable
Atharvan. But now he invariably carries the oblations of all creatures.
Living in the sea and travelling about various countries, he produced
the various fires mentioned in the _Vedas_.

"'The river Indus, the five rivers (of the Punjab), the Sone, the
Devika, the Saraswati, the Ganga, the Satakumbha, the Sarayu, the
Gandaki, the Charmanwati, the Mahi, the Medha, the Medhatithi, the three
rivers Tamravati, the Vetravati, and the Kausiki; the Tamasa, the
Narmada, the Godavari, the Vena, the Upavena, the Bhima, the Vadawa, the
Bharati, the Suprayoga, the Kaveri, the Murmura, the Tungavenna, the
Krishnavenna and the Kapila, these rivers, O Bharata, are said to be the
mothers of the fires! The fire called Adbhuta had a wife of the name
of Priya, and Vibhu was the eldest of his sons by her. There are as many
different kinds of _Soma sacrifices_ as the number of fires mentioned
before. All this race of fires, first-born of the spirit of Brahma,
sprang also from the race of Atri. Atri in his own mind conceived these
sons, desirous of extending the creation. By this act, the fires came
out of his own Brahmic frame. I have thus narrated to thee the history
of the origin of these fires. They are great, resplendent, and
unrivalled in power, and they are the destroyers of darkness. Know that
the powers of those fires are the same as those of the Adbhuta fire as
related in the Vedas. For all these fires are one and same. This
adorable being, the first born fire, must be considered as one. For like
the _Jyotishtoma_ sacrifice he came out of Angiras body in various
forms. I have thus described to thee the history of the great race of
Agni (fires) who when duly worshipped with the various hymns, carry the
oblations of all creatures to the gods.'"


"Markandeya continued, 'O sinless scion of Kuru's race, I have described
to thee the various branches of the race of Agni. Listen now to the
story of the birth of the intelligent Kartikeya. I shall tell thee of
that wonderful and famous and highly energetic son of the Adbhuta fire
begotten of the wives of the _Brahmarshis_. In ancient times the _gods_
and _Asuras_ were very active in destroying one another. And the
terrible _Asuras_ always succeeded in defeating the gods. And Purandara
(Indra) beholding the great slaughter of his armies by them and anxious
to find out a leader for the celestial host, thought within himself, "I
must find out a mighty person who observing the ranks of the celestial
army shattered by the _Danavas_ will be able to reorganize it with
vigour." He then repaired to the Manasa mountains and was there deeply
absorbed in thought of nature, when he heard the heart-rending cries of
a woman to the effect, "May some one come quick and rescue me, and
either indicate a husband for me, or be my husband himself." Purandara
said to her, "Do not be afraid, lady!" And having said these words, he
saw Kesin (an _Asura_) adorned with a crown and mace in hand standing
even like a hill of metals at a distance and holding that lady by the
hand. Vasava addressed then that _Asura_ saying, "Why art thou bent on
behaving insolently to this lady? Know that I am the god who wields the
thunderbolt. Refrain thou from doing any violence to this lady." To him
Kesin replied, "Do thou, O Sakra, leave her alone. I desire to possess
her. Thinkest thou, O slayer of Paka, that thou shalt be able to return
home with thy life?" With these words Kesin hurled his mace for slaying
Indra. Vasava cut it up in its course with his thunderbolt. Then Kesin,
furious with rage, hurled a huge mass of rock at him. Beholding that, he
of a hundred sacrifices rent it asunder with his thunderbolt, and it
fell down upon the ground. And Kesin himself was wounded by that falling
mass of rock. Thus sorely afflicted, he fled leaving the lady behind.
And when the _Asura_ was gone, Indra said to that lady, "Who and whose
wife art thou, O lady with a beautiful face, and what has brought thee


"'The lady replied, "I am a daughter of Prajapati (the lord of all
creatures, Brahma) and my name is Devasena. My sister Daityasena has ere
this been ravished by Kesin. We two sisters with our maids habitually
used to come to these Manasa mountains for pleasures with the permission
of Prajapati. And the great _Asura_ Kesin used daily to pay his court to
us. Daityasena, O conqueror of Paka, listened to him, but I did not.
Daityasena was, therefore, taken away by him, but, O illustrious one,
thou hast rescued me with thy might. And now, O lord of the celestials,
I desire that thou shouldst select an invincible husband for me." To
this Indra replied, "Thou art a cousin of mine, thy mother being a
sister of my mother Dakshayani, and now I desire to hear thee relate
thine own prowess." The lady replied, "O hero with long arms, I am
_Avala_[30] (weak) but my husband must be powerful. And by the potency
of my father's boon, he will be respected by _gods_ and _Asuras_ alike."
Indra said, "O blameless creature, I wish to hear from thee, what sort
of power thou wishest thy husband to possess." The lady replied, "That
manly and famous and powerful being devoted to Brahma, who is able to
conquer all the celestials, _Asuras, Yakshas, Kinnaras, Uragas,
Rakshasas_, and the evil-minded _Daityas_ and to subdue all the worlds
with thee, shall be my husband."'

[30] _Avala_ is a common name of women. It means one who has no
vala or strength or power. The word is also used as an

"Markandeya continued, 'On hearing her speech, Indra was grieved and
deeply thought within himself, "There is no husband for this lady,
answering to her own description." And that god adorned with sun-like
effulgence, then perceived the Sun rising on the Udaya hill,[31] and the
great Soma (Moon) gliding into the Sun. It being the time of the new
Moon, he of a hundred sacrifices, at the _Raudra_[32] moment, observed
the gods and _Asuras_ fighting on the Sunrise hill. And he saw that the
morning twilight was tinged with red clouds. And he also saw that the
abode of Varuna had become blood-red. And he also observed Agni
conveying oblations offered with various hymns by Bhrigu, Angiras, and
others and entering the disc of the Sun. And he further saw the twenty
four _Parvas_ adorning the Sun, and the terrible Soma also present in
the Sun under such surroundings. And observing this union of the Sun and
the Moon and that fearful conjunction of theirs, Sakra thought within
himself, "This terrific conjunction of the Sun and the Moon forebodeth a
fearful battle on the morrow. And the river Sindhu (Indus) too is
flowing with a current of fresh blood and the jackals with fiery laces
are crying to the Sun. This great conjunction is fearful and full of
energy. This union of the Moon (Soma) with the Sun and Agni is very
wonderful. And if Soma giveth birth to a son now, that son may become
the husband of this lady. And Agni also hath similar surroundings now,
and he too is a god. If the two begetteth a son, that son may become the
husband of this lady." With these thoughts that illustrious celestial
repaired to the regions of Brahma, taking Devasena[33] with him. And
saluting the Grandsire he said unto him, "Do thou fix a renowned warrior
as husband of this lady." Brahma replied, "O slayer of _Asuras_, it
shall be as thou hast intended. The issue of that union will be mighty
and powerful accordingly. That powerful being will be the husband of
this lady and the joint leader of thy forces with thee." Thus addressed,
the lord of the celestials and the lady bowed unto him and then repaired
to the place where those great Brahmanas, the powerful celestial
_Rishis_, Vasistha and others, lived. And with Indra at their head, the
other gods also, desirous of drinking the Soma beverage, repaired to the
sacrifices of those _Rishis_ to receive their respective shares of the
offerings. Having duly performed the ceremonies with the bright blazing
fire, those great-minded persons offered oblations to the celestials.
And the _Adbhuta_ fire, that carrier of oblations, was invited with
_mantras_. And coming out of the solar disc, that lordly fire duly
repaired thither, restraining speech. And, O chief of Bharata's race,
that fire entering the sacrificial fire that had been ignited and into
which various offerings were made by the _Rishis_ with recitations of
hymns, took them with him and made them over to the dwellers of heaven.
And while returning from that place, he observed the wives of those
high-souled _Rishis_ sleeping at their ease on their beds. And those
ladies had a complexion beautiful like that of an altar of gold,
spotless like moon-beams, resembling fiery flames and looking like
blazing stars. And seeing those wives of the illustrious Brahmanas with
eager eyes, his mind became agitated and he was smitten with their
charms. Restraining his heart he considered it improper for him to be
thus agitated. And he said unto himself, "The wives of these great
Brahmanas are chaste and faithful and beyond the reach of other people's
desires. I am filled with desire to possess them. I cannot lawfully cast
my eyes upon them, nor ever touch them when they are not filled with
desire. I shall, therefore, gratify myself daily with only looking at
them by becoming their _Garhapatya_ (house-hold) fire."'

[31] According to the Hindus, the sun rises from and sets behind
two hills respectively. He rises from the _Udaya_ or Sun-rise
hill and sets behind the _Asta_ or sun-set hill.

[32] _Raudra_--belonging to Rudra, the god of fury, violence,
war, &c.

[33] _Devasena_ literally means the celestial army. This fable
seems to be an allegorical representation of the attempts made
by Indra to procure a leader for the celestial host.

"Markandeya continued, 'The _Adbhuta_ fire, thus transforming himself
into a house-hold one, was highly gratified with seeing those
gold-complexioned ladies and touching them with his flames. And
influenced by their charms he dwelt there for a long time, giving them
his heart and filled with an intense love for them. And baffled in all
his efforts to win the hearts of those Brahmana ladies, and his own
heart tortured by love, he repaired to a forest with the certain object
of destroying himself. A little while before, Swaha, the daughter of
Daksha, had bestowed her love on him. The excellent lady had been
endeavouring for a long time to detect his weak moments; but that
blameless lady did not succeed in finding out any weakness in the calm
and collected fire-god. But now that the god had betaken himself to a
forest, actually tortured by the pangs of love, she thought, "As I too
am distressed with love, I shall assume the guise of the wives of the
seven _Rishis_, and in that disguise I shall seek the fire-god so
smitten with their charms. This done, he will be gratified and my desire
too will be satisfied."'"


"Markandeya continued, 'O lord of men, the beautiful Siva endowed with
great virtues and an unspotted character was the wife of Angiras (one of
the seven _Rishis_). That excellent lady (Swaha) at first assuming the
disguise of Siva, sought the presence of Agni unto whom she said, "O
Agni, I am tortured with love for thee. Do thou think it fit to woo me.
And if thou dost not accede to my request, know that I shall commit
self-destruction. I am Siva the wife of Angiras. I have come here
according to the advice of the wives of the other _Rishis_, who have
sent me here after due deliberation."

"'Agni replied, "How didst thou know that I was tortured with love and
how could the others, the beloved wives of the seven _Rishis_, of whom
thou hast spoken, know this?"

"'Swaha replied, "Thou art always a favourite with us, but we are afraid
of thee. Now having read thy mind by well-known signs, they have sent to
thy presence. I have come here to gratify my desire. Be thou quick, O
Agni, to encompass the object of thy desire, my sisters-in-law are
awaiting me. I must return soon."

"Markandeya continued, 'Then Agni, filled with great joy and delight,
married Swaha in the guise of Siva, and that lady joyfully cohabiting
with him, held the _semen virile_ in her hands. And then she thought
within herself that those who would observe her in that disguise in the
forest, would cast an unmerited slur upon the conduct of those Brahmana
ladies in connection with Agni. Therefore, to prevent this, she should
assume the disguise of a bird, and in that state she should more easily
get out of the forest.'

"Markandeya continued, 'Then assuming the disguise of a winged creature,
she went out of the forest and reached the White Mountain begirt with
clumps of heath and other plants and trees, and guarded by strange
seven-headed serpents with poison in their very looks, and abounding
with _Rakshasas_, male and female _Pisachas_, terrible spirits, and
various kinds of birds and animals. That excellent lady quickly
ascending a peak of those mountains, threw that _semen_ into a golden
lake. And then assuming successively the forms of the wives of the
high-souled seven _Rishis_, she continued to dally with Agni. But on
account of the great ascetic merit of Arundhati and her devotion to her
husband (Vasishtha), she was unable to assume her form. And, O chief of
Kuru's race, the lady Swaha on the first lunar day threw six times into
that lake the _semen_ of Agni. And thrown there, it produced a male
child endowed with great power. And from the fact of its being regarded
by the _Rishis_ as _cast off_, the child born therefrom came to be
called by the name of _Skanda_. And the child had six faces, twelve
ears, as many eyes, hands, and feet, one neck, and one stomach. And it
first assumed a form on the second lunar day, and it grew to the size of
a little child on the third. And the limbs of Guha were developed on the
fourth day. And being surrounded by masses of red clouds flashing forth
lightning, it shone like the Sun rising in the midst of a mass of red
clouds. And seizing the terrific and immense bow which was used by the
destroyer of the _Asura_ Tripura for the destruction of the enemies of
the gods, that mighty being uttered such a terrible roar that the three
worlds with their mobile and immobile divisions became struck with awe.
And hearing that sound which seemed like the rumbling of a mass of big
clouds, the great _Nagas, Chitra_ and _Airavata_, were shaken with fear.
And seeing them unsteady that lad shining with sun-like refulgence held
them with both his hands. And with a dart in (another) hand, and with a
stout, red-crested, big cock fast secured in another, that long-armed
son of Agni began to sport about making a terrible noise. And holding an
excellent conch-shell with two of his hands, that mighty being began to
blow it to the great terror of even the most powerful creatures. And
striking the air with two of his hands, and playing about on the
hill-top, the mighty Mahasena of unrivalled prowess, looked as if he
were on the point of devouring the three worlds, and shone like the
bright Sun-god at the moment of his ascension in the heavens. And that
being of wonderful prowess and matchless strength, seated on the top of
that hill, looked on with his numerous faces directed towards the
different cardinal points, and observing various things, he repeated his
loud roars. And on hearing those roars various creatures were prostrate
with fear. And frightened and troubled in mind they sought protection.
And all those persons of various orders who then sought the protection
of that god are known as his powerful Brahmana followers. And rising
from his seat, that mighty god allayed the fears of all those people,
and then drawing his bow, he discharged his arrows in the direction of
the White Mountain. And with those arrows the hill Krauncha, the son of
Himavat, was rent asunder. And that is the reason why swans and vultures
now migrate to the Sumeru mountains. The Krauncha hill, sorely wounded,
fell down uttering fearful groans. And seeing him fallen, the other
hills too began to scream. And that mighty being of unrivalled prowess,
hearing the groans of the afflicted, was not at all moved, but himself
uplifting his mace, yelled forth his war-whoop. And that high-souled
being then hurled his mace of great lustre and quickly rent in twain one
of the peaks of the White Mountain. And the White Mountain being thus
pierced by him was greatly afraid of him and dissociating himself from
the earth fled with the other mountains. And the earth was greatly
afflicted and bereft of her ornaments on all sides. And in this
distress, she went over to _Skanda_ and once more shone with all her
might. And the mountains too bowed down to _Skanda_ and came back and
stuck into the earth. And all creatures then celebrated the worship of
_Skanda_ on the fifth day of the lunar month.'"


"Markandeya continued, 'When that powerful, high-souled, and mighty
being was born, various kinds of fearful phenomena occurred. And the
nature of males and females, of heat and cold, and of such other pairs
of contraries, was reversed. And the planets, the cardinal points and
the firmaments became radiant with light and the earth began to rumble
very much. And the _Rishis_ even, seeking the welfare of the world,
while they observed all these terrific prodigies on all sides, began
with anxious hearts to restore tranquillity in the universe. And those
who used to live in that Chitraratha forest said, "This very miserable
condition of ours hath been brought about by Agni cohabiting with the
six wives of the seven _Rishis_." Others again who had seen the goddess
assume the disguise of a bird said, "This evil hath been brought about
by a bird." No one ever imagined that Swaha was the authoress of that
mischief. But having heard that the (new born) male child was hers, she
went to Skanda and gradually revealed to him the fact that she was his
mother. And those seven _Rishis_, when they heard that a son of great
power had been born (to them), divorced their six wives with the
exception of the adorable Arundhati, because all the dwellers of that
forest protested that those six persons had been instrumental in
bringing forth the child. Swaha too, O king, said again and again to the
seven _Rishis_, saying, "Ye ascetics, this child is mine, your wives are
not his mother."

"'The great _Muni_ Viswamitra had, after the conclusion of the
sacrifices of the seven _Rishis_, followed unseen the god of fire, while
the latter was tortured with lust. He, therefore, knew everything as it
happened and he was the first to seek the protection of Mahasena. And he
offered divine prayers to Mahasena and all the thirteen auspicious rites
appertaining to childhood, such as the natal and other ceremonies, were
all performed by the great _Muni_ in respect of that child. And for the
good of the world he promulgated the virtues of the six-faced Skanda,
and performed ceremonies in honour of the cock, the goddess _Sakti_, and
the first followers of Skanda. And for this reason he became a great
favourite of the celestial youth. That great _Muni_ then informed the
seven _Rishis_ of the transformations of Swaha and told them that their
wives were perfectly innocent. But though thus informed the seven
_Rishis_ abandoned their spouses unconditionally.'"

"Markandeya continued, 'The celestials having heard of the prowess of
Skanda, all said to Vasava, "O Sakra, do thou kill Skanda without delay
for his prowess is unbearable. And if thou dost not exterminate him, he
will conquer the three worlds with ourselves, and overpowering thee,
will himself become the mighty lord of the celestials." Perplexed in
mind, Sakra replied unto them, "This child is endowed with great
prowess. He can himself destroy the Creator of the Universe, in battle
putting forth his might. I venture not, therefore, to do away with him."
To this the gods replied, "Thou hast no manliness in thee, in that thou
talkest in this manner. Let the great Mothers of the Universe repair
to-day to Skanda. They can master at will any degree of energy. Let them
kill this child." "It shall be so."--the mothers replied. And then they
went away. But on beholding that he was possessed of great might, they
became dispirited, and considering that he was invincible, they sought
his protection and said unto him, "Do thou, O mighty being, become our
(adopted) son. We are full of affection for thee and desirous of giving
thee suck. Lo, the milk oozes from our breasts!" On hearing these words,
the mighty Mahasena became desirous of sucking their breasts and he
received them with due respect and acceded to their request. And that
mightiest of mighty creatures then beheld his father Agni come towards
him. And that god, who is the doer of all that is good, was duly
honoured by his son, and in company with the Mothers, he stayed there by
the side of Mahasena to tend him. And that lady amongst the Mothers who
was born of Anger[34] with a spike in hand kept watch over Skanda even
like a mother guarding her own offspring, and that irascible
red-coloured daughter of the Sea, who lived herself on blood, hugged
Mahasena in her breast and nursed him like a mother. And Agni
transforming himself into a trader with a goat's mouth and followed by
numerous children began to gratify that child of his with toys in that
mountain abode of his.'"

[34] Anger personified is a deity.


"Markandeya continued, 'The planets with their satellites, the _Rishis_
and the Mothers, Agni and numerous other blazing courtiers and many
other dwellers of heaven of terrible mien, waited on Mahasena along with
the Mothers. And the illustrious sovereign of the gods, desirous of
victory but believing success to be doubtful mounted his elephant
Airavata and attended by the other gods advanced towards Skanda. That
mighty being followed by all the celestials was armed with his
thunderbolt. And with the object of slaying Mahasena, he marched with
terrible celestial army of great splendour, sounding their shrill
war-cry and furnished with various sorts of standards, with warriors
encased in various armour and armed with numerous bows and riding on
various animals. When Mahasena beheld the gloriously decked Sakra,
attired in his best clothes, advancing with the determination of slaying
him, he (too on his part) advanced to meet that chief of the celestials.
O Partha, the mighty Vasava, the lord of the celestials, then uttered a
loud shout, to encourage his warriors and marching rapidly with the view
of killing Agni's son and praised by Tridasas[35] and great _Rishis_, he
at length reached the abode of Kartikeya. And then he shouted out with
other gods; and Guha too in response to this, uttered a fearful war-cry
resembling the roaring of the sea. On hearing that noise, the celestial
army behaved like an agitated sea, and was stunned and fixed to the
spot. And that son of _Pavaka_ (the Fire-god) beholding the gods come
near to him with the object of killing him, was filled with wrath, and
gave out rising flame of fire from within his mouth. And these flames
destroyed the celestial forces struggling on the ground. Their heads,
their bodies, their arms and riding animals were all burnt in that
conflagration and they appeared all on a sudden like stars displaced
from their proper spheres. Thus afflicted, the god renounced all
allegiance to the thunder-bolt, and sought the protection of Pavaka's
son; and thus peace was again secured. When he was thus forsaken by the
gods, Sakra hurled his thunder-bolt at Skanda. It pierced him on the
right side; and, O great king, it passed through the body of that
high-souled being. And from being struck with the thunder-bolt, there
arose from Skanda's body another being--a youth with a club in hand, and
adorned with a celestial amulet. And because he was born on account of

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