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 CCXC

"Yudhishthira said, 'This curiosity, O sire, is always dwelling in my mind. O grandsire of the Kurus, I desire to hear everything about it from you. Why was the celestial Rishi, the high-souled Usanas, called also Kavi engaged in doing what was agreeable to the Asuras and disagreeable to the deities? Why was he engaged in diminishing the energy of the deities? Why were the Danavas always engaged in hostilities with the foremost of the deities? Possessed of the splendour of an immortal, for what reason did Usanas obtain the name of Sukra? How also did he acquire such superior excellence? Tell me all about these things. Though possessed of great energy, why does he not succeed in travelling to the centre of the firmament? I desire, O grandsire, to learn everything about all these matters.'[1]

"Bhishma said, 'Listen, O king, with attention to all this as it occurred actually. O sinless one, I shall narrate these matters to you as I have heard and understood them. Of firm vows and honoured by all, Usanas, that descendant of Bhrigu’s race, became engaged in doing what was disagreeable to the deities for an adequate cause.[2] The royal Kuvera, the chief of the Yakshas and the Rakshasas, is the lord of the treasury of Indra, that master of the universe.[3] The great ascetic Usanas, crowned with Yoga-success, entered the person of Kuvera, and depriving the lord of treasures of his liberty by means of Yoga, robbed him of all his wealth.[4] Seeing his wealth taken away from him, the lord of treasures became highly displeased. Filled with anxiety, and his wrath also being excited, he went to that foremost of gods, viz., Mahadeva. Kuvera, represented the matter unto Siva of immeasurable energy, that first of gods, fierce and amiable, and possessed of various forms. And he said, 'Usanas, having spiritualised himself by Yoga entered my form and depriving myself of liberty, has taken away all my wealth. Having by Yoga entered my body he has again left it.' Hearing these words, Mahesvara of supreme Yoga-powers became filled with rage. His eyes, O king, became blood-red, and taking up his lance he waited (ready to strike down Usanas). Indeed, having taken up that foremost of weapons, the great god began to say, 'Where is he? Where is he?' Meanwhile, Usanas, having ascertained the purpose of Mahadeva (through Yoga-power) from a distance, waited in silence. Indeed, having ascertained the fact of the wrath of the high-souled Mahesvara of superior Yoga-power, the puissant Usanas began to reflect as to whether he should go to Mahesvara or fly away or remain where he was. Thinking, with the aid of his severe penances, of the high-souled Mahadeva, Usanas of soul crowned with Yoga-success, placed himself on the point of Mahadeva’s lance. The bow-armed Rudra, understanding that Usanas, whose penances had become successful and who had converted himself into the form of pure Knowledge, was staying at the point of his lance (and finding that he was unable to hurl the lance at one who was upon it), bent that weapon with hand. When the fierce-armed and puissant Mahadeva of immeasurable energy had thus bent his lance (into the form of a bow), that weapon came to be called from that time by the name of Pinaka.[5] The lord of Uma, beholding Bhargava thus brought upon the palm of his hand, opened his mouth. The chief of the gods then threw Bhargava into his mouth and swallowed him at once. The puissant and high-souled Usanas of Bhrigu’s race, entering the stomach of Mahesvara, began to wander there.'

"Yudhishthira said, 'How, O king, could Usanas succeed in wandering within the stomach of that foremost of superior intelligence? What also did that illustrious god do while the Brahmana was within his stomach?'[6]

"Bhishma said, 'In days of yore (having swallowed up Usanas), Mahadeva of severe vows entered the waters and remained there like an immovable stake of wood, O king, for millions of years (engaged in Yoga-meditation). His Yoga penances of the austerest type having been over, he rose from the mighty lake. Then that primeval god of the gods, viz., the eternal Brahman, approached him, and enquired after the progress of his penances and after his welfare. The deity having the bull for his emblem answered, saying, 'My penances have been well-practised.' Of inconceivable soul, possessed of great intelligence, and ever devoted to the religion of truth, Sankara saw that Usanas within his stomach had become greater in consequence of those penances of his.[7] That foremost of Yogins (viz., Usanas), rich with that wealth of penances and the wealth (he had appropriated from Kuvera), shone brightly in the three worlds, endued with great energy.[8] After this, Mahadeva armed with Pinaka, that soul of Yoga, once more betook himself to Yoga-meditation. Usanas, however, filled with anxiety, began to wander within the stomach of the great god. The great ascetic began to hymn the praises of the god from where he was, desirous of finding an outlet for escape. Rudra, however, having stopped all his outlets, prevented him from coming out. The great ascetic Usanas, however, O chastiser of foes, from within Mahadeva’s stomach, repeatedly addressed the god, saying, ’show me your kindness!' Unto him Mahadeva said, 'Go out through my urethra.' He had stopped up all other outlets of his body. Confined on every side and unable to find out the outlet indicated, the ascetic began to wander hither and thither, burning all the while with Mahadeva’s energy. At last he found the outlet and issued through it. In consequence of this fact he came to be called by the name of Sukra, and it is in consequence of that fact he also became unable to attain (in course of his wandering) the central point of the firmament. Beholding him come out of his stomach and shining brightly with energy, Bhava, filled with anger, stood with lance uplifted in his hand. The goddess Uma then interposed and forbade the angry lord of all creatures, viz., her spouse, to slay the Brahmana. And in consequence of Uma’s having thus prevented her lord from accomplishing his purpose the ascetic Usanas (from the day) became the son of the goddess.'

"The goddess said, 'This Brahmana no longer deserves to be slain by you. He has become my son. O god, one who comes out of your stomach does not deserve slaughter at your hands.'

"Bhishma continued, 'Pacified by these words of his spouse, Bhava smiled and said repeatedly these words, O king, 'Let this one go whithersoever he likes.' Bowing unto the boon-giving Mahadeva and to also his spouse the goddess Uma, the great ascetic Usanas, endued with superior intelligence, proceeded to the place he chose. I have thus narrated to you, O chief of the Bharatas, the story of the high-souled Bhargava about which you didst ask me.'"

Footnotes and references:


The planet Venus is supposed to be the sage Usanas or Sukra.


The commentator explains the allusion by saying that formerly Vishnu, induced by the deities, used his discus for striking off the head of Usanas' mother. Hence the wrath of Usanas against the deities and his desire to succour their foes, the Danavas.


The construction of this verse is very difficult. The order of the words, is—Indrotha jagatah prabhuh. Dhanada, etc., tasya kosasaya prabhavishnuh.


Persons crowned with Yoga-success are competent to enter the bodies of others and deprive the latter of the power of will. Indeed, the belief is that the latter then become mere automata incapable of acting in any other way except as directed by the enlivening possessor.


The etymology of Pinaka is panina anamayat. The initial and final letter of pani (pi) and the middle letter of anamayat (na), with the suffix ka make Pinaka.


The last half of the last line may be taken as applying to Usanas.


The vriddhim that Mahadeva saw could not be his own, for the greatest cannot be greater. The commentator, therefore, is right in holding that vriddhim refers to the greatness of Usanas within Mahadeva’s stomach.


The sa refers to Usanas and not to Mahadeva, as the commentator rightly points out.


This concludes Section CCXC of Book 12 (Shanti 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 12 is one of the eighteen books comprising roughly 100,000 Sanskrit metrical verses.

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