Thursday, March 31, 2011

Continuation of Note 78

An Episode From the Măhābhārăt,

Book I. Chap. 15.

[follows Note 78 in original text - gdw]

“There is a fair and stately mountain, and its name is Mērŏŏ, a most exalted mass of glory, reflecting the sunny rays from the splendid surface of its gilded horns. It is cloathed in gold, and is the respected haunt of Dēws and Găndhărvs. It is inconceivable, and not to be encompassed by sinful man; and it is guarded by dreadful serpents. Many celestial medicinal plants adorn its sides, and it stands, piercing the heavens with its aspiring summit, a mighty hill inaccessible even by the human mind! It is adorned with trees and pleasant streams, and resoundeth with the delightful songs of various birds.

The Sŏŏrs, and all the glorious hosts of heaven, having ascended to the summit of this lofty mountain, sparkling with precious gems, and for eternal ages raised, were sitting, in solemn synod, meditating the discovery of the Ămrĕĕtă, or water of immortality. The Dēw Nārāyăn being also there, spoke unto Brăhmā, whilst the Sŏŏrs were thus consulting together, and said, “Let the ocean, as a pot of milk, be churned by the united labour of the Sŏŏrs and Ăsŏŏrs; and when the mighty waters have been stirred up, the Ămrĕĕtă shall be found. Let them collect together every medicinal herb, and every precious thing, and let them stir the ocean, and they shall discover the Ămrĕĕtă.”

There is also another mighty mountain whose name is Măndăr, and its rocky summits are like towering clouds. It is cloathed in a net of the entangled tendrils of the twining creeper, and resoundeth with the harmony of various birds. Innumerable savage beasts infest its borders, and it is the respected haunt of Kĕĕnnărs, Dēws, and Ăpsărs. It standeth eleven thousand Yōjăn above the earth, and eleven thousand more below its surface.

As the united bands of Dēws were unable to remove this mountain, they went before Vĕĕshnŏŏ, who was sitting with Brăhmā, and addressed them in these words: “Exert, O masters, your most superior wisdom to remove the mountain Măndăr, and employ your utmost power for our good.”

Vĕĕshnŏŏ and Brăhmā having said, “It shall be according to your wish,” he with the lotus eye directed the King of Serpents to appear; and Anăntă arose, and was instructed in that work by Brăhmā, and commanded by Nārāyăn to perform it. Then Anăntă, by his power, took up that king of mountains, together with all its forests and every inhabitant thereof; and the Sŏŏrs accompanied him into the presence of the Ocean, whom they addressed, saying, “We will stir up thy waters to obtain the Ămrĕĕtă.” And the Lord of the waters replied—“Let me also have a share, seeing I am to bear the violent agitations that will be caused by the whirling of the mountain.” Then the Sŏŏrs and the Ăsŏŏrs spoke unto Kōōrmă-rāj, the King of the Tortoises, upon the strand of the ocean, and said—“My Lord is able to be the supporter of this mountain.” The Tortoise replied, “Be it so:” and it was placed upon his back.

So the mountain being set upon the back of the Tortoise, Eĕndră began to whirl it about as it were a machine. The mountain Măndăr served as a churn, and the serpent Vāsŏŏkĕĕ for the rope; and thus in former days did the Dēws, the Ăsŏŏrs, and the Dānŏŏs, begin to stir up the waters of the ocean for the discovery of the Ămrĕĕtă.

The mighty Ăsŏŏrs were employed on the side of the serpent’s head, whilst all the Sŏŏrs assembled about his tail. Ănăntă, that sovereign Dēw, stood near Nārāyăn.

They now pull forth the serpent’s head repeatedly, and as often let it go; whilst there issued from his mouth, thus violently drawing to and fro by the Sŏŏrs and Ăsŏŏrs, a continual stream of fire, and smoke, and wind; which ascending in thick clouds replete with lightning, it began to rain down upon the heavenly bands, who were already fatigued with their labour; whilst a shower of flowers was shaken from the top of the mountain, covering the heads of all, both Sŏŏrs and Ăsŏŏrs. In the mean time the roaring of the ocean, whilst violently agitated with the whirling of the mountain Măndăr by the Sŏŏrs and Ăsŏŏrs, was like the bellowing of a mighty cloud.—Thousands of the various productions of the waters were torn to pieces by the mountain, and confounded with the briny flood; and every specific being of the deep, and all the inhabitants of the great abyss which is below the earth, were annihilated; whilst, from the violent agitation of the mountain, the forest trees were dashed against each other, and precipitated from its utmost height, with all the birds thereon; from whose violent confrication a raging fire was produced, involving the whole mountain with smoke and flame, as with a dark blue cloud, and the lightning’s vivid flash. The lion and the retreating elephant are overtaken by the devouring flames, and every vital being, and every specific thing, are consumed in the general conflagration.

The raging flames, thus spreading destruction on all sides, were at length quenched by a shower of cloud-borne water poured down by the immortal Ĕĕndră. And now a heterogeneous stream of the concocted juices of various trees and plants ran down into the briny flood.

It was from this milk-like stream of juices produced from those trees and plants, and a mixture of melted gold, that the Sŏŏrs obtained their immortality.

The waters of the ocean now being assimilated with those juices, were converted into milk, and from that milk a kind of butter was presently produced; when the heavenly bands went again into the presence of Brăhmā, the granter of boons, and addressed him, saying—“Except Nārāyăn, every other Sŏŏr and Ăsŏŏr is fatigued with his labour, and still the Ămrĕĕtă doth not appear; wherefore the churning of the ocean is at a stand.” Then Brăhmā said unto Nārāyăn—“Endue them with recruited strength, for thou art their support.” And Nārāyăn answered and said—“I will give fresh vigour to such as co-operate in the work. Let Măndăr be whirled about, and the bed of the ocean be kept steady.”

When they heard the words of Nārāyăn, they all returned again to the work, and began to stir about with great force that butter of the ocean; when there presently arose from out the troubled deep—first the moon, with a pleasing countenance, shining with ten thousand beams of gentle light; next followed Srēē, the Goddess of fortune, whose seat is the white lily of the waters; then Sŏŏrā-Dēvēē, the Goddess of wine, and the white horse called Oochīsrăvă. And after these there was produced, from the unctuous mass, the jewel Kowstŏŏbh, that glorious sparkling gem worn by Nārāyăn on his breast; so Pārĕĕjāt, the tree of plenty, and Sŏŏrăbhĕĕ, the cow that granted every heart’s desire.

The moon, Sŏŏrā-Dēvēē, the Goddess Srēē, and the horse as swift as thought, instantly marched away towards the Dēws, keeping in the path of the sun.

Then the Dēw Dhănwăntărĕĕ, in human shape, came forth, holding in his hand a white vessel filled with the immortal juice Ămrĕĕtă. When the Ăsŏŏrs beheld these wondrous things appear, they raised their tumultuous voices for the Ămrĕĕtă, and each of them clamorously exclaimed—“This of right is mine!”

In the mean time Īrāvăt, a mighty elephant, arose, now kept by the God of thunder; and as they continued to churn the ocean more than enough, that deadly poison issued from its bed, burning like a raging fire, whose dreadful fumes in a moment spread throughout the world, confounding the three regions of the universe with its mortal stench; until Seev, at the word of Brăhmā, swallowed the fatal drug to save mankind; which remaining in the throat of that sovereign Dēw of magic form, from that time he hath been called Nĕĕl-Kănt, because his throat was stained blue.

When the Ăsŏŏrs beheld this miraculous deed, they became desperate, and the Ămrĕĕtă and the Goddess Srēē became the source of endless hatred.

Then Nārāyăn assumed the character and person of Mōhĕĕnēē Māyā, the power of inchantment, in a female form of wonderful beauty, and stood before the Ăsŏŏrs; whose minds being fascinated by her presence, and deprived of reason, they seized the Ămrĕĕtă, and gave it unto her.

The Ăsŏŏrs now cloath themselves in costly armour, and, seizing their various weapons, rush on together to attack the Sŏŏrs. In the mean time Nārāyăn, in the female form, having obtained the Ămrĕĕtă from the hands of their leader, the hosts of Sŏŏrs, during the tumult and confusion of the Ăsŏŏrs, drank of the living water.

And it so fell out, that whilst the Sŏŏrs were quenching their thirst for immortality, Rāhŏŏ, an Ăsŏŏr, assumed the form of a Sŏŏr, and began to drink also. And the water had but reached his throat, when the sun and moon, in friendship to the Sŏŏrs, discovered the deceit; and instantly Nārāyăn cut off his head, as he was drinking, with his splendid weapon Chăkră. And the gigantic head of the Ăsŏŏr, emblem of a mountain’s summit, being thus separated from his body by the Chăkră’s edge, bounded into the heavens with a dreadful cry, whilst his ponderous trunk fell cleaving the ground asunder, and shaking the whole earth unto its foundation, with all its islands, rocks, and forests. And from that time the head of Rāhŏŏ resolved an eternal enmity, and continueth, even unto this day, at times to seize upon the sun and moon.

Now Nārāyăn, having quitted the female figure he had assumed, began to disturb the Ăsŏŏrs with sundry celestial weapons; and from that instant a dreadful battle was commenced, on the ocean’s briny strand, between the Ăsŏŏrs and the Sŏŏrs. Innumerable sharp and missile weapons were hurled, and thousands of piercing darts and battle-axes fell on all sides. The Ăsŏŏrs vomit blood from the wounds of the Chăkră, and fall upon the ground pierced by the sword, the spear, and spiked club.—Heads, glittering with polished gold, divided by the Păttĕĕs’ blade, drop incessantly; and mangled bodies, wallowing in their gore, lay like fragments of mighty rocks sparkling with gems and precious ores. Millions of sighs and groans arise on every side; and the sun is overcast with blood, as they clash their arms, and wound each other with their dreadful instruments of destruction.

Now the battle’s fought with the iron-spiked club, and, as they close, with clenched fist; and the din of war ascendeth to the heavens! They cry—“Pursue! strike! fell to the ground!” so that a horrid and tumultuous noise is heard on all sides.

In the midst of this dreadful hurry and confusion of the fight, Năr and Nārāyăn entered the field together. Nārāyăn beholding a celestial bow in the hand of Năr, it reminded him of his Chăkră, the destroyer of the Ăsŏŏrs. The faithful weapon, by name Sŏŏdărsăn, ready at the mind’s call, flew down from heaven with direct and refulgent speed, beautiful, yet terrible to behold. And being arrived, glowing like the sacrificial flame, and spreading terror around, Nārāyăn, with his right arm formed like the elephantine trunk, hurled forth the ponderous orb, the speedy messenger, and glorious ruin of hostile towns; who, raging like the final all-destroying fire, shot bounding with desolating force, killing thousands of the Ăsŏŏrs in his rapid flight, burning and involving, like the lambent flame, and cutting down all that would oppose him. Anon he climbeth the heavens, and now again darteth into the field like a Pĕĕsāch to feast in blood.

Now the dauntless Ăsŏŏrs strive, with repeated strength, to crush the Sŏŏrs with rocks and mountains, which, hurled in vast numbers into the heavens, appeared like scattered clouds, and fell, with all the trees thereon, in millions of fear-exciting torrents, striking violently against each other with a mighty noise; and in their fall the earth, with all its fields and forests, is driven from its foundation: they thunder furiously at each other as they roll along the field, and spend their strength in mutual conflict.

Now Năr, seeing the Sŏŏrs overwhelmed with fear, filled up the path to heaven with showers of golden-headed arrows, and split the mountain summits with his unerring shafts; and the Ăsŏŏrs, finding themselves again sore pressed by the Sŏŏrs, precipitately flee: some rush headlong into the briny waters of the ocean, and others hide themselves within the bowels of the earth.

The rage of the glorious Chăkră, Sŏŏdărsăn, which for a while burnt like the oil-fed fire, now grew cool, and he retired into the heavens from whence he came. And the Sŏŏrs having obtained the victory, the mountain Măndăr was carried back to its former station with great respect; whilst the waters also retired, filling the firmament and the heavens with their dreadful roarings.

The Sŏŏrs guarded the Ămrĕĕtă with great care, and rejoiced exceedingly because of their success; and Ĕĕndră, with all his immortal bands, gave the water of life unto Nārāyăn, to keep it for their use.”

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