The Mahabharata (English)

by Kisari Mohan Ganguli | 1,309,022 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...

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[1] 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[2] 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 filled 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,[3] 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 you quickly re-establish yourself as the fire animating the universe, you are well-known in the three stable worlds and you wast first created by Brahma to dispel darkness. Do you, O destroyer of darkness, quickly occupy thine own proper place.'

Agni replied,

'My reputation has been injured now in this world. And you are become the fire-god, and people will know you, and not me, as fire. I have relinquished my god-hood of fire, do you become the primeval fire and I shall officiate as the second or Prajapatyaka fire.'

Angiras replied,

'Do you become the fire-god and the destroyer of darkness and do you attend to your sacred duty of clearing people’s way to heaven, and do you, O lord, make me speedily your 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 you religious sorts of fire of great effulgence which are here variously known in the Brahmanas[4] by their respective uses."

Footnotes and references:


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


Kumara means a boy, hence a prince. Here Kartika the war-god is meant.


By carrying their oblations to the gods.


Portions of the Vedas.


This concludes Section CCXVI of Book 3 (Vana 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 3 is one of the eighteen books comprising roughly 100,000 Sanskrit metrical verses.

FAQ (frequently asked questions):

Which keywords occur in Section CCXVI of Book 3 of the Mahabharata?

The most relevant definitions are: fire-god, Angiras, Markandeya, Agni, Brahma, muni; since these occur the most in Book 3, Section CCXVI. There are a total of 17 unique keywords found in this section mentioned 41 times.

What is the name of the Parva containing Section CCXVI of Book 3?

Section CCXVI is part of the Markandeya-Samasya Parva which itself is a sub-section of Book 3 (Vana Parva). The Markandeya-Samasya Parva contains a total of 50 sections while Book 3 contains a total of 13 such Parvas.

Can I buy a print edition of Section CCXVI as contained in Book 3?

Yes! The print edition of the Mahabharata contains the English translation of Section CCXVI of Book 3 and can be bought on the main page. The author is Kisari Mohan Ganguli and the latest edition (including Section CCXVI) is from 2012.

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