Saturday, September 14, 2013

Mahabharata Ch 21-25, Adi Parva, Astika Parva

[Ch 16,17,18,19,20 « Ch 21,22,23,24,25 » Ch 26,27,28,29,30]
Parva:Adi; Upa-parva:Astika; Chapter:21; Shlokas:17

Garuda arrived and lived with his mother. A few days later, at Kadru's bidding, Vinata took Kadru on her back, while Garuda carried her thousand naga sons on his back to the "lovely abode of the nagas situated in the heart of the ocean." Garuda rose so high that the the snakes became unconscious, "scorched by the rays of the sun." Kadru started to invoke Indra with hymns in his praise, asking that he save her sons with his showers.

Parva:Adi; Upa-parva:Astika; Chapter:22; Shlokas:05

Indra obliged, and covered the entire skies with "layers of blue clouds", reviving the delighted snakes.

Parva:Adi; Upa-parva:Astika; Chapter:23; Shlokas:08

Arriving at that beautiful island, which "echoed with the songs of birds", the nagas enjoyed themselves. However, they then told Garuda to take them to another "beautiful island". An irked Garuda asked his mother, "O mother! Why must I do what the serpents ask me to?" Vinata then told him the story of how she had been deceived by Kadru and her sons. Garuda asked the nagas what he could do to be freed from this state of slavery. The nagas replied that they wanted him to "bring the amrita."
"श्रुत्वा तमब्रुवन्सर्पा आहरामृतमोजसा
ततो दास्याद्विप्रमोक्षो भविता तव खेचर" [1.23.12]
[Depending on how the word "Malay" is translated, "The Malaya mountains are in South India, adjoining Malabar. The Malaya mountains had several sandalwood trees. Thus, an alternative translation is that the island had many sandalwood trees, since malaya also means a sandalwood tree."]

Parva:Adi; Upa-parva:Astika; Chapter:24; Shlokas:14

Garuda decided to go in search of amrita, but asked his mother for something to eat. Vinata asked him to eat the nishadas, who had their home "in a remote part of the ocean", but to never kill a Brahmana. Garuda asked his mother what the signs of a Brahmana were, and then, taking his mother's benedictions, "stretched his wings and flew up into the sky."

Soon enough, Garuda "descended hungrily on the nishadas" and in the confusion, thousands of nishadas "entered the wide open mouth of the giant eater of snakes."

Parva:Adi; Upa-parva:Astika; Chapter:25; Shlokas:33

Among the many nishadas in Garuda's mouth, there was also a Brahmana and his nishada wife, and sure enough, "began to burn the bird's throat like a piece of coal." Garuda asked them to come out of his mouth, "before you are digested by the energy in my stomach." After that Garuda again rose into the skies. He saw his father, sage Kashyapa, and asked him to show him food that he could eat since his hunger had not been satisfied even after eating the nishadas.
Kashyapa then told Garuda the story of two brothers, Vibhavasu (विभावसु) and Supratika (सुप्रतीक), who had a fight between them over dividing their property. Vibhavasu was against dividing the property, but Supratika always spoke of dividing it. An angry Vibhavasu cursed Supratika to become an elephant. Supratika, on his part, cursed Vibhavasu to become a tortoise, and both continued their fight in the lake. Kashyapa advised his son to eat the tortoise - three yojanas in height and ten yojanas in circumference, and elephant - six yojanas in height and double that in length.
Garuda swooped down on the two animals, grasped one in each claw, and flew to find a tree to devour them. The celestial trees at the pilgrimage of Alamba trembled in fright, and Garuda finally came across a giant sandalwood tree that asked him to settle down on its branches to eat the two animals. Garuda acceded and descended on the tree.

These chapter summaries are based on the unabridged translation of the Mahabharata done by Dr Bibek Debroy, and published by Penguin Books India, and which I have been reviewing on my blog. The Sanskrit shlokas are from the electronic text of the Mahabharata - based on John Smith's revision of Prof. Muneo Tokunaga's version of the Mahabharata Critical Edition of the text from and copyright of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute.

© 2013, Abhinav Agarwal (अभिनव अग्रवाल). All rights reserved.