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The Mahabharata - First Book

Adi Parva

Section CCXII

'Narada continued,

'As soon as those festivities came to an end, the brothers Sunda and Upasunda, desirous of the Sovereignty of the three worlds, [Page 412] took counsel and commanded their forces to be arranged. Obtaining the assent of their friends and relatives, of the elders of the Daitya race and of their ministers of state, and performing the preliminary rites of departure, they set out in the night when the constellation Magha was in the ascendant. The brothers set out with a large Daitya force clad in mail and armed with maces and axes and lances and clubs.

The Daitya heroes set out on their expedition with joyous hearts, the charanas (bards) chanting auspicious panegyrics indicative of their future triumphs. Furious in war, the Daitya brothers, capable of going everywhere at will, ascended the skies and went to the region of the celestials.

The celestials knowing they were coming and acquainted also with the boons granted unto them by the Supreme Deity left heaven and sought refuge in the region of Brahman. Endued with fierce prowess, the Daitya heroes soon subjugated the region of Indra, and vanquishing the diverse tribes of Yakshas and Rakshasas and every creature ranging the skies, came away.

Those mighty car-warriors next subjugated the Nagas of the nether region, and then the inmates of the ocean and then all the tribes of the Mlechchhas. Desirous next of subjugating the whole earth, those heroes of irresistible sway, summoning their soldiers, issued these cruel commands,

'Brahmanas and royal sages (on earth) with their libations and other food offered at grand sacrifices, increase the energy and strength of the gods, as also their prosperity. Engaged in such acts, they are the enemies of the Asuras. All of us, therefore, mustering together should completely slaughter them off the face of the earth!'

Ordering their soldiers thus on the eastern shore of the great ocean, and entertaining such a cruel resolution, the Asura brothers set out in all directions. And those that were performing sacrifices and the Brahmanas that were assisting at those sacrifices, the mighty brothers instantly slew.

And slaughtering them with violence they departed for some other place. Whilst their soldiers threw into the water the sacrificial fires that were in the asylums of Munis with souls under complete control, the curses uttered by the illustrious Rishis in wrath, rendered abortive by the boons granted (by Brahman), affected not the Asura brothers.

When the Brahmanas saw that their curses produced not the slightest effect like shafts shot at stones they fled in all directions, forsaking their rites and vows. Even those Rishis on earth that were crowned with ascetic success, and had their passions under complete control and were wholly engrossed in meditation of the Deity, from fear of the Asura brothers, fled like snakes at the approach of Vinata's son (Garuda the snake-eater).

The sacred asylums were all trodden down and broken. The sacrificial jars and vessels being broken, their (sacred) contents were scattered over the ground. The whole universe became empty, as if its creatures had all been stricken down during the season of general dissolution.

And, O king, after the Rishis had all disappeared and made themselves invisible both the great Asuras, resolved upon their destruction, began to assume various forms. Assuming the forms of maddened elephants with [Page 413] temples rent from excess of juice, the Asura pair, searching out the Rishis who had sheltered themselves in caves, sent them to the region of Yama.

Sometimes becoming as lions and again as tigers and disappearing the next moment, by these and other methods the cruel couple, seeing the Rishis, slew them instantly. Sacrifice and study ceased, and kings and Brahmanas were exterminated.

The earth became utterly destitute of sacrifices and festivals. And the terrified people uttered cries of Oh and Alas and all buying and selling were stopped. All religious rites ceased, and the earth became destitute of sacred ceremonies and marriages. Agriculture was neglected and cattle were no longer tended. Towns and asylums became desolate. And scattered over with bones and skeletons, the earth assumed a frightful aspect.

All ceremonies in honour of the Pitris were suspended, and the sacred sound of Vashat and the whole circle of auspicious rites ceased. The earth became frightful to behold. The Sun and the Moon, the Planets and Stars, and Constellations, and the other dwellers in the firmament, witnessing these acts of Sunda and Upasunda, grieved deeply. Subjugating all the points of heaven by means of such cruel acts, the Asura brothers took up their abode in Kurukshetra, without a single rival.'"

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