The Markandeya Purana

by Frederick Eden Pargiter | 1904 | 247,181 words | ISBN-10: 8171102237

This page relates “eulogy of agni and fire” which forms the 99th chapter of the English translation of the Markandeya-purana: an ancient Sanskrit text dealing with Indian history, philosophy and traditions. It consists of 137 parts narrated by sage (rishi) Markandeya: a well-known character in the ancient Puranas. Chapter 99 is included the section known as “conversation between Markandeya and Kraustuki”.

Canto XCIX - Eulogy of Agni and fire

There was formerly a very irascible muni named Bhūti, to whom, everything was subservient—He left his hermitage once and put his disciple Śānti in charge—The sacred fire went out, and Śānti in consternation offered up a long prayer and eulogy to Agni.

Mārkaṇḍeya spoke:

Hear next thereafter about the birth of Bhautya, and about the gods, the ṛṣis, his sons and the kings of the earth in his period.

There was a disciple of Aṅgiras, by name Bhūti, very irascible, a muni who used to invoke bitter curses for a small matter, and who spoke harshly on the occasion of a transgression. At his hermitage Mātariśvan blew not very fiercely, the sun caused no excessive heat, nor Parjanya excessive mud, nor did the moon even when full cause excessive cold with its rays, through fear verily of that irascible and very glorious muni. And the seasons, abandoning their course, produced flowers and fruit at all times on the trees that grew in his hermitage according to his command. And the waters that flowed near his hermitage glided on according to his pleasure, and when taken into his water-pot were frightened at that high-souled muni. He was impatient of excessive trouble and was exceedingly irascible, O brāhman.

And that illustrious muni having no son set his mind on austerities. Desiring a son, restricting his food, exposing himself to cold, wind and fire, he fixed his mind on austerities indeed with the resolve, “I will practice austerities.” The moon did not tend to make him very cold, nor the sun to make him very hot, nor did Mātariśvan blow on him severely, O great muni. And Bhūti, best of munis, being greatly pained by the couples of opposite causes[1] did not obtain that desire and so ceased from bis austerities.

His brother was Suvarcas. Being invited by him to a sacrifice and being desirous of going, Bhūti said to his high-minded disciple named Śānti, who was calm, who had the measure of religious knowledge,[2] who was well-behaved, always zealous in the guru’s business, observant of good customs, noble, an excellent muni.

Bhūti spoke:

I shall go to the sacrifice of my brother Suvarcas, O Śānti, being summoned by him, and do thou listen to what thou must do here. Thou must keep watch over the fire in my hermitage thus and thus diligently, so that the fire may not become extinguished.

Mārkaṇḍeya spoke:

Having given this command and receiving the answer “Tea” from his disciple Śānti, the guru went to that his brother’s sacrifice, being summoned thereto by his younger brother. And while Śānti is fetching fuel, flowers, fruit and other things from the forest for that high-souled gum’s maintenance, and is performing other business, being faithfully obedient to his guru, the fire which was the root of his welfare[3] died out during that interval. Seeing the fire had died out, Śānti, sorely distressed and afraid of Bhūti, fell, though of great intellect, into manifold anxiety, thinking

“What am I to do? or how will the guru’s return be? I must accomplish something now; what, when done, would be a good thing done? If my guru sees this extinguished fire occupying the heai’th, he will assuredly devote me at once because of it to some grievous calamity. If I kindle another fire here in the fire-place, then he who sees everything visibly[4] will of a surety turn me into ashes. As such I am sinful on account of the wrath and curse of that guru. I do not grieve so much for myself as for the sin committed against the guru. The guru on seeing the fire extinguished will certainly curse me, or Agni will be angry. That brahman is truly of such immense power! With what fitness will not he, under whose command the gods live in terror of his majestic power, assail me who have committed sin!”

Mārkaṇḍeya spoke:

After pondering thus in many ways, being always afraid of that guru he, best of intelligent munis, sought refuge with Agni. Controlling his mind then he offered a hymn to the seven fires; and with thoughts intent on them he joined his hands and knelt down on the ground.

Śānti spoke:

Om! Reverence to the high-souled perfecter of all created things, to him who has one, two and five side-altars at the Rājasūya sacrifice, to the six-souled god! Reverence to the very brilliant one, who gives their functions[5] to all the gods, to him who has Śukra’s form! Thou bestowest permanence on all the worlds. Thou art the mouth of all the gods! The oblation that is taken by thee, O adorable one,[6] cheers all the gods! All the gods have their life-breath in thee! The oblation sacrificed in thee turns into a fiery[7] cloud; and afterwards the modification which it undergoes in the form of water, by that comes the growth of all herbs, O wind-charioteered god. Upon all the herbs animals live in happiness. Men perform sacrifices among the herbs also which thou hast created. With sacrifices also gods and Daityas and Rākṣasas like-wise are fattened, O Purifier; those sacrifices have thee for their support, O Fire. Hence thou art the origin of everything; and thou, O Fire, art composed of everything. The gods, Dānavas, Yakṣas, Daityas, Gandharvas and Rākṣasas, men, cattle, trees, deer, birds and reptiles are all fattened and nourished up by thee, O Fire. From thee indeed they take their birth, and in thee likewise they meet their dissolution at the end.

Thou, O god, createst the waters, thou again indeed consumest them, and by thee they are rendered wholesome to be the source of nourishment for breathing beings. Thou abidest among the gods under the form of glowing light[8] among the Siddhas with loveliness, among Nāgas under the form of poison, among birds under the form of wind: Among mankind thou art anger; among birds, deer and other animals thou art silliness;[9] thou art stability among trees; thou art hardness with reference to the earth; thou art fluidity in water, O adorable god; and thou hast the form of swiftness in the wind; thou moreover, O Fire, with thy faculty of permeation abidest as soul in the sky,[10] Thou, O Fire, who art the end of all created beings, movest about safe-guarding them. Wise men style thee one; again they style thee three-fold.[11] Having fashioned thee in eight ways, they fashioned the original sacrifice[12]. Supreme ṛṣis say this universe was created by thee. Without thee verily the whole world would perish at once, O Fire. A twice-born man proceeds on the course which is ordained by his own actions, when he has paid worship to thee with oblations to the gods, oblations to deceased ancestors and other offerings after uttering the words svadhā and svāhā. Living beings have in truth the innate power of modification,[13] O thou who art honoured by the Immortals. Flames issuing from thee, moreover,[14] burn up all created things. O most brilliant Jāta-vedas,[15] thine verily is this creation of the universe! Thine are the Vedic ceremonial and the world which consists of all created things. Reverence to thee, O yellow-eyed Fire! Reverence be to thee, O consumer of oblations! O Purifier, reverence be to thee now; reverence to thee, O bearer of oblations to the gods.[16] Thou verily art the maturer of the universe by reason of thy maturing[17] things that are eaten and drunk. Thou art the maturer of the crops; and thou art the nourisher of the world. Thou verily art cloud, thou art wind, thou art seed that produces the crops. Thou indeed hast been, and shalt be, and art for the nourishing of all created things. Thou art light among all created things; thou art the illuminating Sun. Thou art day, thou also art night; and thou art both the twilights. Thou hast golden semen, O Fire; thou art the cause of the production of gold; and thou hast gold within thy bosom;[18] thou hast lustre like unto gold! Thou art a muhūrtta, and thou a kṣaṇa; thou art a truṭi and thou a lava;[19] thou existest in the form of kalās, kāṣṭhās, nimeṣas and other periods of time, O lord of the world. Thou art all this universe, Thou art Destiny, which consists in continuous change.

Thy tongue which is called Kālī brings about the conclusion at the fated time, O lord; by it[20] preserve us from fear, from sins and from the great terror of this world! Thy tongue, which is named Karālī[21] is the cause of the great dissolution of the world; by it preserve us from sins and from the great terror of this world! And thy tongue which is called Manojavā[22] is characterized by the quality of lightness; by it preserve us from sins and from the great terror of this world! Tby tongue which is called Sulohita[23] accomplishes their desire for created beings, by it preserve us from sins and from the great terror of this world! Thy tongue which is called Sadhūmra-varṇā[24] causes sickness among breathing beings, by it preserve us from sins and from the great terror of this world! And thy tongue which is called Sphuliṅ-ginī,[25] because it is altogether shapely, by it preserve us from sins and from the great terror of this world! And thy tongue which is called Viśvāsa-dā[26] bestows blessings on breathing beings; by it preserve us from sins and from the great terror of this world! O yellow-eyed, red-necked, blackpathed[27] consumer of oblations, save me from all faults; deliver me here from worldly existence! Be gracious, O seven-flamed Fire, O Kṛśānu, O bearer of the oblations to the gods! Thou art proclaimed by the eight names of Agni, Pāvaka, Śukra and the rest. O Agni, O thou who didst spring up before all created beings, O Vibhāvasu, he gracious, O thou who art called the Carrier of the oblations to the gods, O changeless one whom I extol!

Thou art Fire imperishable, thou hast inconceivable beauty, thou prosperest greatly, thou art hard to be endured,[28] exceedingly ardent: or thy surpassing valour, which is changeless and terrible, vanquishes him who injures all the worlds.[29] Thou art the sublime principle of being,[30] that dwells in the lotus-heart of every being,[31] unending, worthy of praise. By thee was stretched out this universe which comprises what is moveable and immoveable. O consumer of oblations, thou art one in many forms here! Thou are undecaying; thou art the earth with its mountains and forests; thou art the sky that holds the moon and the sun; thou art everything that exists daily;[32] and thou art the submarine fire that is held within the bosom of the great ocean; thou standest with superhuman power in thy hand.[33] Thou art always, worshipped as the ‘Consumer of oblationś at the great sacrifice by great ṛṣis who are devoted to self-restraint; and when extolled thou drinkest the soma at the sacrifice, and eatest the oblations also, that are offered in fire with the exclamation vaṣaṭ, for thy well-being. Thou art longed for[34] continually by brahmans here for the sake of recompense; and thou art sung of in all the Vedāṅgas. For thy sake brāhmans, who are zealously devoted to sacrificing, study the Vedāṅgas at all times. Thou art Brahmā who is devoted to sacrificing, and also Viṣṇu, goblin-ruling Siva, Indra lord of the gods, Aryaman, and water-dwelling Vanma. Both the sun and moon and all the gods and Asuras gratifying thee with oblations obtain from thee much-prized rewards. Everything, though corrupted with grave malady to the utmost degree, becomes pure when touched by thy flames. Of ablutions the most excellent by far is that which is performed with ashes; therefore munis wait upon thee pre-eminently at evening.[35] Be gracions, O Fire, who art named the Pure! Be gracious, O Air, who art unsullied and exceedingly brilliant! Be gracious unto me now, O purifying Fire who comest from lightning![36] Be gracious, O Consumer of oblations! Protect thou me! With the auspicious form that is thine, O Fire, and with the seven flames that are thine—when praised by us protect us therewith, O god, even as a father protects the son whom he has begotten!

Footnotes and references:

1.

Heat and cold; and so on.

2.

Bhūti-parigrahaḥ; a pun on the words.

3.

Akṣa-pratima; a difficult word.

4.

Agni.

5.

Or “means of subsistence.”

6.

Instead of tvayāttum bhagavān haviḥ, the Bombay edition reads tvayāttam bhagavan haviḥ, which I have adopted.

7.

Anala-megha in the Bombay edition is preferable to amala-megha “a pare cloud.”

8.

Tejo-rāpeṇa.

9.

Mohaḥ.

10.

The Bombay edition reads nabhasi tvaṃ vyavasthitaḥ instead, “thou abidest in the sky,” omitting “as soul.”

11.

The three kinds of sacrificial fire, gārhapatya, āhavanīya and dakṣiṇa.

12.

The Bombay edition reads instead yajña-vāham akalpayan, “having fashioned thee in eight ways they fashioned (or esteemed) thee to be him who conveys the sacrifice to the gods.”

13.

Pariṇāmātma-vīryā. The Bombay edition reads -vīryāṇi, a plural neater instead of a singular feminine noun; but it means the same. If pariṇāma, “alteration,” “modification,” means “adaptation,” this passage is a remarkable anticipation of modern scientific generalization.

14.

Tvatto, “from thee,” would seem preferable to tato, “moreover.”

15.

A name of Agni.

16.

The Bombay edition inserts a line here—“Thou indeed art the purifier of the universe because of thy purification of all existing things.”

17.

Pācaika and pācana; the metaphor is from “cooking” with fire.

18.

Hiraṇya-garbhas.

19.

Various measures of time.

20.

Instead of bhayāt, “from fear,” the Bombay edition reads tayā, “by it.”

21.

“Formidable.”

22.

“Swift as thought.”

23.

“Very red.”

24.

“Smoky-coloured.”

25.

“Having sparks of fire.”

26.

For viśvā sadā read viśvāsa-dā; “bestowing confidence”; the Bombay edition reads viśva-sṛjā, “creating the universe.”

27.

Kṛṣṇa-vartman “black-pathed” of the Bombay edition is better than kṛṣṇa-varṇa “black-hued” of the Calcutta edition.

28.

For duṣ-prahaso read duṣ-prasaho as in the Bombay edition.

29.

This passage appears to be corrupt. It runs thus in the Calcutta edition;—

Tvam a-vyayam bhīmam a-śeṣa-lokaṃ
Samūrtako hanty athavāti-vīryam.

which seems unintelligible. The Bombay edition reads;—

Tavā-vyayam bhīmam a-śeṣa-loka-
Savardhakaṃ hanty athavāti-vīryam.

and I have followed it except as regards the word sa-vardhakam which seems incorrect. By comparing the two versions it may be conjectured that the proper reading should be sam-mardakam, or sam-indhakam or some such word, and I have ventured to translate it by the general phrase, “who injures.”

30.

Or “goodness,” sattva. The Bombay edition reads tattva, “essential truth.”

31.

For -puṇḍarīkas tvam the Bombay edition reads -puṇḍarīka-stham, which seems preferable.

32.

Ahar-divākhilam.

33.

Or, “in thy ray of light,” kare. The Bombay edition has a wholly different reading here;—

Bhavān vibhuḥ pivati payāṃsi pāvaka.

“Thou as lord drinkest the waters, O Fire!”

34.

Īhyase; bnt the reading in the Bombay edition ijyase, “thou art sacrificed unto,” is better.

35.

The Bombay edition inserts a short verse here:—“After doing that, people, who have easy self-control, by means of real faith gain heaven which is sung of by multitudes.”

36.

For vaidyutādya the Bombay edition reads vaidyutābha, “who hast a lightning-like splendour.”