Jan 102015


(Khandava-daha Parva continued)

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then the inhabitants of the forest of Khandava, the
Danavas and Rakshasas and Nagas and wolves and bears and other wild
animals, and elephants with rent temples, and tigers, and lions with
manes and deer and buffaloes by hundreds, and birds, and various other
creatures, frightened at the falling stones and extremely anxious, began
to fly in all directions. They saw the forest (burning all around) and
Krishna and Arjuna also ready with their weapons. Frightened at the
terrible sounds that were audible there those creatures lost their power
of movement. Beholding the forest burning in innumerable places and
Krishna also ready to smite them down with his weapons, they all set up a
frightful roar. With that terrible clamour as also with the roar of fire,
the whole welkin resounded, as it were, with the voice of portentous
clouds. Kesava of dark hue and mighty arms, in order to compass their
destruction, hurled at them his large and fierce discus resplendent with
its own energy. The forest-dwellers including the Danavas and the
Rakshasas, afflicted by that weapon, were cut in hundreds of pieces and
fell unto the mouth of Agni. Mangled by Krishna’s discus, the Asuras were
besmeared with blood and fat and looked like evening clouds. And, O
Bharata, he of the Vrishni race moved able like death itself, slaying
Pisachas and birds and Nagas and other creatures by thousands. The discus
itself, repeatedly hurled from the hands of Krishna, that slayer of all
foes, came back to his hands after slaughtering numberless creatures. The
face and form of Krishna that soul of every created thing–became fierce
to behold while he was thus employed in the slaughter of the Pisachas,
Nagas and Rakshasas. No one among the celestials, who had mustered there
could vanquish in battle Krishna and Arjuna. When the celestials saw that
they could not protect that forest from the might of Krishna and Arjuna
by extinguishing that conflagration, they retired from the scene. Then, O
monarch, he of a hundred sacrifices (Indra), beholding the immortals
retreat, became filled with joy and applauded Krishna and Arjuna. And
when the celestials gave up the fight, an incorporeal voice, deep and
loud, addressing him of a hundred sacrifices, said, ‘Thy friend Takshaka,
that chief of snakes, hath not been slain! Before the conflagration
commenced in Khandava he had journeyed to Kurukshetra. Know from my
words, O Vasava, that Vasudeva and Arjuna are incapable of being
vanquished in battle by any one! They are Nara and Narayana–those gods
of old heard of in heaven! Thou knowest what their energy is and what
their prowess. Invincible in battle, these best of old Rishis are
unconquerable by any one in all the worlds! They deserve the most
reverential worship of all the celestials and Asuras; of Yakshas and
Rakshasas and Gandharvas, of human beings and Kinnaras and Nagas.
Therefore, O Vasava, it behoveth thee to go hence with all the
celestials. The destruction of Khandava hath been ordained by Fate!’ Then
the chief of the immortals, ascertaining those words to be true abandoned
his wrath and jealousy, and went back to heaven. The dwellers in heaven,
O monarch, beholding the illustrious Indra abandon the fight, followed
him with all their soldiers. Then those heroes, Vasudeva and Arjuna, when
they saw the chief of the celestials retreat accompanied by all the gods,
set up a leonine roar. And, O monarch, Kesava and Arjuna, after Indra had
left the scene, became exceedingly glad. Those heroes then fearlessly
assisted at the conflagration of the forest. Arjuna scattered the
celestials like the wind scattering the clouds, and slew with showers of
his arrows, numberless creatures that dwelt in Khandava. Cut off by
Arjuna’s arrows, no one amongst the innumerable creatures could escape
from the burning forest. Far from fighting with him, none amongst even
the strongest creatures mustered there could look at Arjuna whose weapons
were never futile. Sometimes piercing hundred creatures with one shaft
and sometimes a single creature with hundred shafts, Arjuna moved about
in his car. The creatures themselves, deprived of life, began to fall
into the mouth of Agni (god of fire), struck down as it were by death
itself. On the banks of rivers or on uneven plains or on crematoriums, go
where they did, the creatures (dwelling in Khandava) found no ease, for
wherever they sought shelter there they were afflicted by the heat. And
hosts of creatures roared in pain, and elephants and deer and wolves set
up cries of affliction. At that sound the fishes of the Ganges and the
sea, and the various tribes of Vidyadharas dwelling in that forest all
became frightened. O thou of mighty arms, let alone battling with them,
no one, could even gaze at Arjuna and Janardana of dark hue. Hari slew
with his discus those Rakshasas and Danavas and Nagas that rushed at him
in bands. Of huge bodies, their heads and trunks were cut off by the
swift motion of the discus, and deprived of life they fell down into the
blazing fire. Gratified with large quantities of flesh, blood, and fat,
the flames rose up to a great height without a curling wreath of smoke.
Hutasana (fire-god) with blazing and coppery eyes, and flaming tongue and
large mouth, and the hair on the crown of his head all fiery, drinking,
with the help of Krishna and Arjuna, that nectar-like stream of animal
fat, became filled with joy. Gratified greatly, Agni derived much

“And it so happened that the slayer of Madhu suddenly beheld an Asura of
the name of Maya escaping from the abode of Takshaka. Agni having Vayu
for his car-driver, assuming a body with matted locks on head, and
roaring like the clouds, pursued the Asura, desirous of consuming him.
Beholding the Asura, Vasudeva stood with his weapon upraised, ready to
smite him down, seeing the discus uplifted and Agni pursuing from behind
to burn him, Maya said ‘Run to me, O Arjuna, and protect me!’ Hearing his
affrighted voice Arjuna said, ‘Fear not!’ That voice of Arjuna, O
Bharata, seemed to give Maya his life. As the merciful son of Pritha said
unto Maya that there was nothing to fear, he of the Dasarha race no
longer desired to slay Maya who was the brother of Namuchi, and Agni also
burned him not.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Protected from Indra by Krishna and Partha,
Agni gifted with great intelligence, burned that forest for five and ten
days. And while the forest burned Agni spared only six of its dwellers,
viz., Aswasena, Maya, and four birds called Sarngakas.'”

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