Friday, February 22, 2008

Adi Parva - Astika Parva 18

"Sauti said, 'At the very touch by Garuda of great might with his feet,
the branch of the tree broke as it was caught by Garuda. Casting his eyes
around in wonder he saw Valakhilya Rishis hanging therefrom with heads
downwards and engaged in ascetic penances. Reflecting that if that bough
fell down, the Rishis would be slain, the mighty one held the elephant
and the tortoise still more firmly with his claws. And from fear of
slaying the Rishis and desire of saving them, held that bough in his
beaks, and rose on his wings. The great Rishis were struck with wonder at
the sight of that act of his which was beyond even the power of the gods,
and gave that mighty bird a name. And they said, 'As this ranger of the
skies rises on its wings bearing a heavy burden, let this foremost of
birds having snakes for his food be called Garuda (bearer of heavy

"And shaking the mountains by his wings, Garuda leisurely coursed through
the skies. And as he soared with the elephant and the tortoise (in his
claws), he beheld various regions underneath. Desiring as he did to save
the Valakhilyas, he saw not a spot whereon to sit. At last he went to
that foremost of mountains called Gandhamadana. There he saw his father
Kasyapa engaged in ascetic devotions. Kasyapa also saw his son, that
ranger of the skies, of divine form, possessed of great splendour, and
energy and strength, and endued with the speed of the wind or the mind,
huge as a mountain peak, a ready smiter like the curse of a Brahmana,
inconceivable, indescribable, frightful to all creatures, possessed of
great prowess, terrible, of the splendour of Agni himself, and incapable
of being overcome by the deities, Danavas, and invincible Rakshasas,
capable of splitting mountain summits and sucking the ocean itself and
destroying the three worlds, fierce, and looking like Yama himself. The
illustrious Kasyapa, seeing him approach and knowing also his motive,
spoke unto him these words:

"Kasyapa said, 'O child, do not commit a rash act, for then thou wouldst
have to suffer pain. The Valakhilyas, supporting themselves by drinking
the rays of the sun, might, if angry, blast thee.'

"Sauti continued, 'Kasyapa then propitiated, for the sake of his son, the
Valakhilyas of exceeding good fortune and whose sins had been destroyed
by ascetic penances.' And Kasyapa said, 'Ye whose wealth is asceticism,
the essay of Garuda is for the good of all creatures. The task is great
that he is striving to accomplish. It behoveth you to accord him your

"Sauti continued, 'Those ascetics thus addressed by the illustrious
Kasyapa, abandoned that bough and went to the sacred mountain of Himavat
for purposes of ascetic penances. After those Rishis had gone away, the
son of Vinata, with voice obstructed by the bough in his beaks, asked his
father Kasyapa saying, 'O illustrious one, where shall I throw this arm
of the tree? O illustrious one, indicate to me some region without human
beings.' Then Kasyapa spoke of a mountain without human beings with caves
and dales always covered with snow and incapable of approach by ordinary
creatures even in thought. And the great bird bearing that branch, that
elephant, and that tortoise, proceeded with great speed towards that
mountain. The great arm of the tree with which that bird of huge body
flew away could not be girt round with a cord made of a hundred (cow)
hides. Garuda, the lord of birds, then flew away for hundreds of thousand
of yojanas within--the shortest time. And going according to the
directions of his father to that mountain almost in a moment, that ranger
of the skies let fall the gigantic bough. And it fell with a great noise.
And that Prince of mountains shook, struck with the storm raised by
Garuda's wings. And the trees thereon dropped showers of flowers. And the
peaks decked with gems and gold adorning that great mountain itself, were
loosened and tell down on all sides. And the falling bough struck down
numerous trees which, with golden flowers amid dark foliage, shone there
like clouds charged with lightning. And those trees, bright as gold,
falling down upon the ground and, dyed with mountain metals, shone as if
they were bathed in the rays of the sun.

"Then that best of birds, Garuda, perching on the summit of that
mountain, ate both the elephant and the tortoise, rose on his wings with
great speed from the top of the mountain.

"And various omens began to appear among the gods foreboding fear.
Indra's favourite thunderbolt blazed up in a fright. Meteors with flames
and smoke, loosened from the welkin, shot down during the day. And the
weapons of the Vasus, the Rudras, the Adityas, the Sabhyas, the Maruts,
and other gods, began to spend their force against one another. Such a
thing had never happened even during the war between the gods and the
Asuras. And the winds blew accompanied with thunder, and meteors fell by
thousands. And the sky, though cloudless, roared tremendously. And even
he who was the god of gods shed showers of blood. And the flowery
garlands on the necks of the gods faded and their prowess suffered
diminution. And terrible masses of clouds dropped thick showers of blood.
And the dust raised by the winds darkened the splendour of the very
coronets of the gods. And He of a thousand sacrifices (Indra), with the
other gods, perplexed with fear at the sight of those dark forebodings
spoke unto Vrihaspati thus, 'Why, O worshipful one, have these natural
disturbances suddenly arisen? No foe do I behold who would oppress us in
war.' Vrihaspati answered, 'O chief of the gods, O thou of a thousand
sacrifices, it is from thy fault and carelessness, and owing also to the
ascetic penance of the high-souled great Rishis, the Valakhilyas, that
the son of Kasyapa and Vinata, a ranger of the skies endued with great
strength and possessing the capacity of assuming at will any form, is
approaching to take away the Soma. And that bird, foremost among all
endued with great strength, is able to rob you of the Soma. Everything is
possible with him; the unachievable he can achieve.'

"Sauti continued, 'Indra, having heard these words, then spoke unto those
that guarded the amrita, saying, 'A bird endued with great strength and
energy has set his heart on taking away the amrita. I warn you beforehand
so that he may not succeed in taking it away by force. Vrihaspati has
told me that his strength is immeasurable.' And the gods hearing of it
were amazed and took precautions. And they stood surrounding the amrita
and Indra also of great prowess, the wielder of the thunder, stood with
them. And the gods wore curious breastplates of gold, of great value, and
set with gems, and bright leathern armour of great toughness. And the
mighty deities wielded various sharp-edged weapons of terrible shapes,
countless in number, emitting, even all of them, sparks of fire with
smoke. And they were also armed with many a discus and iron mace
furnished with spikes, and trident, battle-axe, and various kinds of
sharp-pointed missiles and polished swords and maces of terrible form,
all befitting their respective bodies. And decked with celestial
ornaments and resplendent with those bright arms, the gods waited there,
their fears allayed. And the gods, of incomparable strength, energy, and
splendour, resolved to protect the amrita. Capable of splitting the towns
of the Asuras, all displayed themselves in forms resplendent as the fire.
And in consequence of the gods standing there, that (would be)
battle-field, owing to hundreds of thousands of maces furnished with iron
spikes, shone like another firmament illumined by the rays of the Sun.'"

So ends the thirtieth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.

No comments: