Image of Agni, the deity of fire, who has a very prominent place in the RigVeda.

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Previous Post: Astika is Asked to Save the Serpents

Note: In the previous post, we read how Vasuki and his sister reached out to her son, Astika, to stop the snake sacrifice.

In this post, we will find out what Astika does when he reaches the location of the snake sacrifice.

After bringing peace to Vasuki’s heart with his words, Asika hastened to Janamejaya’s snake sacrifice where he saw the excellent compound in which it was being conducted. He also saw the Sadasyas who looked bright like the Sun itself. 

However, when Astika tried to enter the compound, the guards stopped him as commanded by the king. Astika, who was determined to meet the king, gratified the guards and convinced them to allow him to enter the location of the sacrifice.

Once Astika entered the sacrificial compound, he spoke words of adoration to Janamejaya, the Ritwiks, Sadasyas, and the sacrificial fire.

Astika said, “In ancient times, Soma, Varuna, and Prajapati performed sacrifices in Prayaga. But your snake sacrifice, O best king of Bharata’s race, is as good as those ancient sacrifices. O king, let those who are dear to us be blessed.

Indra performed a hundred sacrifices, but this sacrifice of yours, O son of Parikshit, is equal to ten thousand sacrifices of Indra. O king, let those who are dear to us be blessed.

Your sacrifice is like the sacrifices performed by Yama, or Harimedha, or Rantideva. O king, let those who are dear to us be blessed.

When King Yudhishthira, the son of a Deva and also of the Ajamida race, conducted a sacrifice, it became known even in the heavens. Your sacrifice is like King Yudhishthira’s sacrifice. O son of Parikshit, let those who are dear to us be blessed.

Your sacrifice is akin to the sacrifice of Krishna-Dwaipayana (Ved Vyasa of the Mahabharata) where he himself was the chief priest. O son of Parikshit, let those who are dear to us be blessed.

These Ritwiks and Sadasyas who are engaged in this sacrifice are like the slayer of Vritra (Indra). They are as bright as the Sun and all-knowing. Gifts made to them become inexhaustible in merit. Your Ritwika Dwaipayana is unequalled in this world. His disciples too are competent in their duties as Ritwiks And travel throughout the world to perform sacrifices. 

Agni, also known as Vibhavasu and Chitrabhanu accepts the libations of this sacrifice. He has gold as his vital seed, his path is marked by black smoke, and his flames blaze slightly to the right. He takes the libations offered by you and delivers them to the Gods. O king, there is no other monarch on earth comparable to you in the protection of his subjects.

O king, I am very pleased with your abstinence. You are either Varuna, or Yama, the God of justice. You are like Indra, who wields the thunderbolt to protect all creatures. That is no man on earth comparable to you and no king who is your equal in sacrifice. You are like Khatwanga, Nabhanga, and Dilipa. In prowess, you are like Yayati and Mandhatri. You are bright like the Sun. In your vows, you are like Bhishma. You keep your great energy concealed like Valmiki and you have controlled your anger like Vashishtha. You are like Indra in lordship and splendorous like Vishnu. You have deep knowledge of justice like Yama does and you have every virtue like Krishna. The good fortune that belongs to the Vasus has its home in you. You are the refuge of sacrifices. You have the strength of Damvodbhava and you are knowledgeable of the scriptures and weapons like Parshuram. Your energy is as great as Aurva and Trita and your fierce look is akin to Bhagiratha.

Note: In this post, we read how Astika praised and adored King Janamejaya, the Ritwiks, and Sadasyas, and the sacrificial fire (Agni).

In the next post, we will find out how Janamejaya responds to Astika’s words.

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Next Post: Janamejaya Wants to Give Astika a Boon But the Hotri Wants Him to Wait

Balinese wooden statue of Vishnu riding Garuda at the Purna Bhakti Pertiwi Museum

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Previous Post: Garuda’s Splendor

Note: In the previous post, we read how the gods were terrified when Garuda grew in size and brightness after his birth.

In today’s post, we will read about how the gods approached the great bird, with love and praise, to request him to reduce his brightness.

The gods along with Agni Deva went to Garuda and showed their love and praise for the might bird in these words:

“You are the destroyer of all and the creator of all. You are the Hiranyagarbha itself. You thought of creation and brought it forth in the form of Daksha and the other Prajapatis.

You are Indra — the king of God’s. You are Hayagriva, the horse-faced incarnation of Vishnu.

At the burning of Tripura, Vishnu became the arrow that was released by Mahadev for the destruction of the asuric city. You are the Lord of the universe. You are the mouth of Vishnu. You are the four-faced Padmaja. You are like a wise brahmana. You are the elements like Agni and Pavana.

You are knowledge and you are the illusion that we are all subject to. You are the all-pervading spirit. You are the truth and the god of gods. You are fearless and unchanged. 

You are Brahma without attributes (possibly a reference to the supreme who is without any attributes). 

You are the energy of the Sun. You are the intellect. You are our great protector. 

You are an ocean of holiness. You don’t have any dark attributes. You are purity itself. You have the six high attributes. No one can defeat you in any contest. 

O Garuda of excellent deeds, the whole universe has emanated from you. You are everything that has ever been or not been. 

You are pure knowledge. Just like the Sun, you show us everything in the universe. Your splendour is greater than the Sun.

You are the destroyer of all. You are everything that is perishable and also everything that is imperishable. You are resplendent like Agni and you burn everything just like Surya does in his anger.

O great one, even the fire that destroys everything during the time of pralay, cannot destroy you. 

O mighty Garuda, you who move in the sky, we seek your protection. 

O lord of birds your energy is extraordinary. Your splendour is like that of the fire. Your brightness is like that of lightning and darkness cannot approach you. When you fly, you reach the very clouds. You are the cause and effect of all things. You are invincible and you are the giver of boons. 

O Lord, the entire universe is heating up because of your splendour which resembles heated gold. 

O Garuda, protect these high-souled gods, who in fear of you are flying in different directions in heaven. 

O best of birds, lord of all, you are the son of the merciful and high-souled Rishi Kasyapa. Therefore, do not be angry. Have mercy on the universe. You are supreme. Pacify your anger and save us.

O great bird, the ten points of the universe, the sky, the heavens, the earth, and our hearts tremble when we hear you roar. 

O Garuda, have mercy on us and reduce the heat and brightness of your body.

O illustrious one, grant us good fortune and joy.

When the gods praised Garuda with love, that great bird reduced his energy and brightness for their benefit.

Note: In the next post, we will find out how Garuda’s elder brother, Aruna, became Surya’s charioteer.

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Next Post: Why Surya Deva Wanted to Destroy the World

Uttanka and the celestial horse

Note: In the previous post, we read about how Uttanka pursued Takshaka into Nagalog (the domain of the serpents) and glorified the serpents and Takshaka to obtain the earrings. In this post, we will see how he is able to get the earrings from Takshaka.

Uttanka was hoping that Takshaka would return the earrings after he glorified the serpents and Takshaka. But Takshaka also coveted those earrings a lot. He didn’t respond to Uttanka’s praises. When Uttanka realized that Takshaka wasn’t going to return the earrings, he looked around and thought about an alternate plan to retrieve his earrings.

As he looked around, he noticed two women at a loom weaving a piece of cloth with black and white threads. The warp was of white thread and the weft, which was of black thread, was being woven using a very fine tool.

Near the loom was a wheel with twelve spokes. It was being turned by six boys. He also noticed a man with a healthy and well-groomed horse. Uttanka addressed them with the following mantras.

“This wheel whose circumference is marked by twenty-four divisions representing lunar fortnights is furnished with three hundred spokes! It is kept in continuous motion by six boys representing the six seasons! 

These two women representing universal nature are continuously weaving a cloth of black and white threads, ushering into existence the manifold worlds and the beings that live in those worlds. 

O wielder of the thunder, the protector of the universe, the slayer of Vritra and Namuchi. O illustrious one, wearing the black cloth, you show truth and untruth in the universe. You own the horse which was received from the depths of the ocean. This horse is another form of Agni (the God of fire). I bow to you, O supreme Lord of the three worlds. O Purandara!”

Note: Purandara is another name for Indra.

Hearing these words, the man with the horse said to Uttanka, “I am gratified by your adoration and I want to do something good for you. What can I do?”

Uttanka replied, “Help me bring the serpents under my control.”

“Blow into this horse,” the man said.

Uttanka did as he was told and the moment he blew into the horse, fire and smoke came out from the horse’s ears, nose, and every opening. The fire along with the smoke began to spread over the entire region of the serpents. 

Takshaka was surprised by what was happening. He rushed out of hiding and returned the earrings to Uttanka.

However, when Uttanka took the earrings, he also realized that today was the sacred day when his teacher’s wife wanted to wear the earrings. He had to give them to her immediately, however, he was very far from his teacher’s house. Uttanka was once again in a fix because there was no way he could give these earrings to his teacher’s wife on time.

Note: In the next post, we will find out if Uttanka is able to give the earrings as guru-dakshina to his teacher’s wife on time.

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Previous: Uttanka Pursues the Serpent King Takshaka

Next: Uttanka Gifts the Earrings to his Teacher’s Wife in the Nick of Time