Friday, February 22, 2008

Adi Parva - Astika Parva 16

"Sauti said, 'Garuda, thus addressed by the snakes, then said unto his
mother, 'I shall go to bring amrita, I desire to eat something in the
way. Direct me to it.' Vinata replied, 'In a remote region in the midst
of the ocean, the Nishadas have their fair home. Having eaten the
thousands of Nishadas that live there, bring thou amrita. But let not thy
heart be ever set on taking the life of a Brahmana. Of all creatures a
Brahmana must not be slain. He is, indeed, like fire. A Brahmana, when
angry, becomes like fire or the Sun, like poison or an edged weapon. A
Brahmana, it has been said, is the master of all creatures. For these and
other reasons, a Brahmana is the adored of the virtuous. O child, he is
never to be slain by thee even in anger. Hostility with Brahmanas,
therefore, would not be proper under any circumstances. O sinless one,
neither Agni nor Surya truly can consume so much as does a Brahmana of
rigid vows, when angry. By these various indications must thou know a
good Brahmana. Indeed, a brahmana is the first-born of all creatures, the
foremost of the four orders, the father and the master of all.'" Garuda
then asked, 'O mother, of what form is a Brahmana, of what behaviour, and
of what prowess? Doth he shine like fire, or is he of tranquil mien? And,
O mother, it behoveth thee to tell my inquiring self, those auspicious
signs by which I may recognise a Brahmana.'" Vinata replied, saying, 'O
child, him shouldst thou know as the best amongst Brahmanas who having
entered thy throat would torture thee as a fish-hook or burn thee as
blazing charcoal. A Brahmana must never be slain by thee even in anger.'
And Vinata out of affection for her son, again told him these words, 'Him
shouldst thou know as a good Brahmana who would not be digested in thy
stomach.' Although she knew the incomparable strength of her son, yet she
blessed him heartily, for, deceived by the snakes, she was very much
afflicted by woe. And she said. 'Let Marut (the god of the winds) protect
thy wings, and Surya and Soma thy vertebral regions; let Agni protect thy
head, and the Vasus thy whole body. I also, O child (engaged in
beneficial ceremonies), shall sit here for your welfare. Go then, O
child, in safety to accomplish thy purpose.'

"Sauti continued, 'Then Garuda, having heard the words of his mother,
stretched his wings and ascended the skies. And endued with great
strength, he soon fell upon the Nishadas, hungry and like another Yama.
And bent upon slaying the Nishadas, he raised a great quantity of dust
that overspread the firmament, and sucking up water from amid the ocean,
shook the trees growing on the adjacent mountains. And then that lord of
birds obstructed the principal thoroughfares of the town of the Nishadas
by his mouth, increasing its orifice at will. And the Nishadas began to
fly in great haste in the direction of the open mouth of the great
serpent-eater. And as birds in great affliction ascend by thousand into
the skies when the trees in a forest are shaken by the winds, so those
Nishadas blinded by the dust raised by the storm entered the
wide-extending cleft of Garuda's mouth open to receive them. And then the
hungry lord of all rangers of the skies, that oppressor of enemies,
endued with great strength, and moving with greatest celerity to achieve
his end, closed his mouth, killing innumerable Nishadas following the
occupation of fishermen.'"

So ends the twenty-eighth section in the Astika Parva of Adi Parva.

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