by Horace Hayman Wilson | 1840 | 287,946 words | ISBN-10: 8171102127
The English translation of the Vishnu Purana. This is a primary sacred text of the Vaishnava branch of Hinduism. It is one of the eighteen greater Puranas, a branch of sacred Vedic literature which was first committed to writing during the first millennium of the common era. Like most of the other Puranas, this is a complete narrative from the cr...
WHEN the demon in the form of an ass, and all his tribe, had been destroyed, the grove of palms became the favourite resort of the Gopas and their wives, and the sons of Vasudeva, greatly pleased, repaired to the Bhāṇḍīra fig tree. They continued to wander about, shouting and singing, and gathering fruits and flowers from the trees; now driving the cows afar to pasture; now calling them by their names; now carrying the foot-ropes of the kine upon their shoulders; now ornamenting themselves with garlands of forest flowers, they looked like two young bulls when the horns first appear. Attired the one in yellow, and the other in sable garments, they looked like two clouds, one white, and one black, surmounted by the bow of Indra. Sporting mutually with frolics beneficial to the world, they roamed about like two monarchs over all the collected sovereigns of the earth. Assuming human duties, and maintaining the human character, they strayed through the thickets, amusing themselves with sports suited to their mortal species and condition, in swinging on the boughs of trees, or in boxing and wrestling and hurling stones.
Having observed the two lads thus playing about, the Asura Pralamba, seeking to devour them, came amongst the cowherd boys in the shape of one of themselves, and mixed, without being suspected, in their pastimes; for he thought, that, thus disguised, it would not be difficult to find an opportunity to kill, first Kṛṣṇa, and afterwards the son of Rohiṇī. The boys commenced playing at the game of leaping like deer, two and two together. Govinda was matched with Sridāman, and Balarāma with Pralamba: the other boys were coupled with one another, and went leaping away. Govinda beat his companion, and Balarāma his; and the boys who were on Kṛṣṇa's side were also victorious. Carrying one another, they reached the Bhāṇḍīra fig; and from thence those who were victors were conveyed back to the starting-ground by those who were vanquished. It being Pralamba's duty to carry Saṅkarshana, the latter mounted upon his shoulders, like the moon riding above a dark cloud; and the demon ran off with him, but did not stop: finding himself, however, unable to bear the weight of Balarāma, he enlarged his bulk, and looked like a black cloud in the rainy season, Balarāma beholding him like a scorched mountain, his head crowned with a diadem, and his neck hung round with garlands, having eyes as large as cart wheels, a fearful form, and shaking the earth with his tread, called out, as he was carried away, to his brother, “Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa, I am carried off by some demon, disguised as a cowherd, and huge as a mountain! What shall I do? Tell me, Madhusūdana: the villain runs away with speed!” Kṛṣṇa opened his mouth, smiling, for he well knew the might of the son of Rohiṇī, and replied, “Why this subtle pretext of merely mortal nature? thou who art the soul of all the most subtile of subtile things. Remember yourself, the radical cause of the whole world; born before all cause, and all that is alone when the world is destroyed. Dost thou not know that you and I are alike the origin of the world, who have come down to lighten its load? The heavens are thy head; the waters are thy body; earth is thy feet; thy mouth is eternal fire; the moon is thy mind; the wind thy breath; thy arms and hands are the four regions of space. Thou hast, O mighty lord, a thousand heads, a thousand hands and feet and bodies; a thousand Brahmās spring from thee, who art before all, and whom the sages praise in myriads of forms. No one but I knoweth thy divine person. Thy incarnate person is glorified by all the gods. Knowest thou not, that, at the end of all, the universe disappears in thee? that, upheld by thee, this earth sustains living and inanimate things? and that, in the character of uncreated time, with its divisions of ages, developed from an instant, thou devourest the world? As the waters of the sea, when swallowed up by submarine flame, are recovered by the winds, and thrown, in the form of snow, upon the Himācala, where coming into contact with the rays of the sun, they reassume their watery nature; so the world, being devoured by thee at the period of dissolution, becomes of necessity, at the end of every Kalpa, the world again, through thy creative efforts. Thou and I, soul of the universe, are but one and the same cause of the creation of the earth, although, for its protection, we exist in distinct individuals. Calling to memory who thou art, O being of illimitable might, destroy of thyself the demon. Suspending a while your mortal character, do what is right.”
Thus reminded by the magnanimous Kṛṣṇa, the powerful Baladeva laughed, and squeezed Pralamba with his knees, striking him at the same time on the head and face with his fists, so as to beat out both his eyes. The demon, vomiting blood from his mouth, and having his brain forced through the skull, fell upon the ground, and expired. The Gopas, beholding Pralamba slain, were astonished, and rejoiced, and cried out, “Well done,” and praised Balarāma: and thus commended by his playfellows, and accompanied by Kṛṣṇa, Bala, after the death of the daitya Pralamba, returned to Gokula.
Footnotes and references:
Jumping with both feet at once, as deer bound, two boys together: the one that holds out longest, or comes to a given point first, is the victor, and the vanquished p. 519 is then bound to carry him to the goal, if not already attained, and back again to the starting-post, on his shoulders. The Bhāgavata does not specify the game, but mentions that the vanquished carry the victors on their backs.
This passage is read and explained differently in different copies. In some it is, ###. And this is explained, ‘The water of the ocean, devoured by the fire called Vāḍava, becoming condensed, or in the form of dew or snow, is seized by the wind called Kastaka, from which the Vāḍava fire has departed, consisting of a pipe of the solar rays, and being placed in the air, lies or is on the Himācala,’ &c. This is rather an awkward and confused representation of the notion, and the other reading is somewhat preferable: it consists simply in substituting ### for ### that is, according to the commentary, ‘The water devoured by the fire is thrown by the wind Ka, made of a solar ray &c., on the Himācala, where it assumes the form of snow;’ and so on. However disfigured by inaccurate views of some of the instruments in operation, the physiology is in the main very correct, and indicates accurate observation of natural phenomena. The waters of the ocean, converted into vapour by solar heat, are raised by the same influence into the air, and thence borne by the winds to the summits of lofty mountain ranges, where they are arrested by a diminished temperature, descend in the form of snow, and again supply the streams that perpetually restore to the sea the treasures of which it is as perpetually plundered.
According to the Hari Vanśa the gods themselves praised this proof of Rāma's strength (bala), and hence he derived the name of Balarāma.