Mahabharata (English)

by Kisari Mohan Ganguli | 2,566,952 words | ISBN-10: 8121505933

The English translation of the Mahabharata is a large text describing ancient India. It is authored by Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa and contains the records of ancient humans. Also, it documents the fate of the Kauravas and the Pandavas family. Another part of the large contents, deal with many philosophical dialogues such as the goals of life. Book...

Section CCXXXI

"Janamejaya said, 'O Brahmana, tell me why and when that forest burnt in that way, Agni consumed not the birds called Sarngakas? You have, O Brahmana, recited (to us) the cause of Asvasena and the Danava Maya not having been consumed. But you have not as yet said what the cause was of the escape of the Sarngakas? The escape of those birds, O Brahmana, appears to me to be wonderful. Tell us why they were not destroyed in that dreadful conflagration.'

"Vaisampayana said, 'O slayer of all foes, I shall tell you all as to why Agni did not burn up those birds during the conflagration. There was, O king, a great Rishi known by the name of Mandapala, conversant with all the shastras, of rigid vows, devoted to asceticism, and the foremost of all virtuous persons.

Following in the wake of Rishis that had drawn up their virile fluid, that ascetic, O monarch, with every sense under complete control, devoted himself to study and virtue. Having reached the opposite shores of asceticism, O Bharata, he left his human form and went to the region of the Pitris. But going thither he failed to obtain the (expected) fruit of his acts. He asked the celestials that sat around the king of the dead as to the cause of his treatment, saying,

'Why have these regions become unattainable by me,—regions that I had thought had been acquired by me by my ascetic devotions?

Have I not performed those acts whose fruits are these regions? You inhabitants of heaven, tell me why these regions are shut against me!

I will do that which will give me the fruit of my ascetic penances.'

"The celestials answered,

'Hear, O Brahmana, of those acts and things on account of which men are born debtors. Without doubt, it is for religious rites, studies according to the ordinance, and progeny, that men are born debtors. These debts are all discharged by sacrifices, asceticism, and offspring.

You are an ascetic and hast also performed sacrifices; but you have no offspring. These regions are shut against you only for want of children. Beget children, therefore!

You shalt then enjoy multifarious regions of felicity. The Vedas declared that the son rescues the father from a hell called Put. Then, O best of Brahmanas, strive to beget offspring.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Mandapala, having heard these words of the dwellers in heaven, reflected how best he could obtain the largest number of offspring within the shortest period of time. The Rishi, after reflection, understood that of all creatures birds alone were blest with fecundity.

Assuming the form of a Sarngaka the Rishi had connection with a female bird of the same species called by the name of Jarita. And he begat upon her four sons who were all reciters of the Vedas. Leaving all those sons of his with their mother in that forest, while they were still within eggs, the ascetic went to (another wife called by the name of) Lapita.

And, O Bharata, when the exalted sage went away for the company of Lapita, moved by affection for her offspring, Jarita became very thoughtful. Though forsaken by their father in the forest of Khandava, Jarita, anxious in her affection for them, could not forsake her offspring, those infant Rishis encased in eggs. Moved by parental affection, she brought up these children born of her, herself following the pursuits proper to her own species.

Some time after, the Rishi, in wandering over that forest in the company of Lapita, saw Agni coming towards Khandava to burn it down. Then the Brahmana Mandapala, knowing the intention of Agni and remembering also that his children were all young moved by fear, gratified the god, of the burning element, that regent of the universe, endued with great energy. And he did this, desiring to put in a word for his unfledged offspring. Addressing Agni, the Rishi said,

'You are, O Agni, the mouth of all the worlds! You are the carrier of the sacrificial butter!

O purifier (of all sins), you movest invisible with the frame of every creature! The learned have spoken of you as an One, and again as possessed of triple nature. The wise perform their sacrifices before you, taking you as consisting of eight (mouths). The great Rishis declare that this universe has been created by you.

O you that feedest on sacrificial butter, without you this whole universe would be destroyed in a single day. Bowing to you, the Brahmanas, accompanied by their wives and children, go to eternal regions won by them by help of their own deeds.

O Agni, the learned represent you as the clouds in the heavens charged with lightning.

O Agni, the flames put forth by you consume every creature.

O you of great splendour, this universe has been created by you. The Vedas are your word. All creatures, mobile and immobile, depend upon you. Water primarily depends on you, so also the whole of this universe. All offerings of clarified butter and oblations of food to the pitris have been established in you.

O god, you are the consumer, and you are the creator and you are Vrihaspati himself (in intelligence). You are the twin Asvins; you are Surya; you are Soma; you are Vayu.

"Vaisampayana continued, 'O monarch, thus praised by Mandapala, Agni was gratified with that Rishi of immeasurable energy; and the god, well-pleased, replied,

'What good can I do to you?'

Then Mandapala with joined palms said unto the carrier of clarified butter,

'While you burnest the forest of Khandava, spare my children.'

The illustrious bearer of clarified butter replied,

’so be it.'

It was, therefore, O monarch, that he blazed not forth, while consuming the forest of Khandava, for the destruction of Mandapala’s children.'"


This concludes Section CCXXXI of Book 1 (Adi Parva) of the Mahabharata, of which an English translation is presented on this page. This book is famous as one of the Itihasa, similair in content to the eighteen Puranas. Book 1 is one of the eighteen books comprising roughly 100,000 Sanskrit metrical verses.

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