Saturday, November 11, 2017

40. Vasishta's Grandson

In due course Adrisyanti gave birth to a male child who was like his illustrious father Saktri, in all aspects.

Vasishta himself performed the after-birth rituals for the child.  Since Vasishta gave up his intention to kill himself only after he came to know that Adrisyanti was conceived, the child was named Parasara (meaning one who revives the dead)

Parasara grew up, considering Vasishta to be his father. Once, when he addressed Vasishta as father, Adrisyani said with tears in her eyes “He is your grandfather. Don’t address him as father. Your father was devoured by a Rakshasa.”

Hearing this, Parasara became very sad. Soon his sorrow was transformed into anger and he resolved to destroy all the worlds.

Vasishta dissuaded his grandson from pursuing his resolve by narrating him a story.

There was a king by name Kritavarya. He was the disciple of a set of Brahmins called  Bhrigus. The king performed a Soma Yagna ( sacrifice). At the end of the yagna, he gave rich presents to the Brahmins.

After the king’s death, his descendants ascended the throne. Once, these descendants felt the need to increase their wealth.

Knowing that the Bhrigus were rich, the princes went to their place, disguised as beggars. Sensing the plan of the princes, some of the Bhrigus buried their wealth, and some gave away part of their wealth to other Brahmins and to Kshatriyas.

However, the princes found a large treasure hidden in the house of one of the Bhrigus. Enraged by the deceitful behaviour of the Bhrigus, the princes insulted them. The Bhrigus begged for pardon. But the unrelenting princes began to attack the Brahnins using their weapons. 

They slaughtered the Brahmins and intending to exterminate the Bhrigu race, the prince pursued them.  Many of the Brhigus took shelter in the mountains of Himavat.

One of the women was holding her embryo in one of her thighs. Tipped about this by another Brahmin woman, the princes came to the woman intending to destroy the embryo.

When they came near that woman, the child came out of her thigh by tearing it up. It looked at the princes with its dazzling eyes. The princes were instantaneously blinded by the dazzling brilliancce resembling that of the midnight sun.

Distressed at the loss of sight, the princes decided to seek the help of the child’s mother. They sought her pardon for their sinful acts and begged her to advise her son to restore their eyesight.

She told them, “I have not deprived you of your eyesight nor am I angry with you. This child of the Bhrigu race is definitely angry with you for your attempt to destroy the race. 

When you were destroying the embryos of the Bhrigu race, I was holding this child in my thigh for hundred years. The entire Vedas with their branches were bestowed on this child even when he was in my womb with a view to preserve the heritage of the Bhrigu race. You have to pray to this child for getting your eyesight restored.

The princes then appealed to the child and the child pardoned them and restored their eyesight to them.

Since the child came from its mother’s thigh, it was called Aurva (born of the thigh.) The princes went back after getting their sight restored. But Aurva resolved to destroy the entire world.

Aurva engaged himself in very austere penances to propitiate his ancestors and seek their blessings for carrying out his resolve.

His ancestors appeared before him and said “We have witnessed the intensity of your asceticism. Control your anger, We were not destroyed because of our incapacity to defend ourselves. We deliberately hid our wealth because we wanted to provoke the princes. We wanted to go to heaven. So we had no use for wealth.

“ We wanted to leave this world. We found that death was not coming to us. Committing suicide would not take us to the heaven. So, we wanted to be slain. Hence we created this provocation. We do not approve of your resolve to kill the whole world to avenge our deaths. So, drive out from your mind the thought of committing the sin of destroying the world.”

Aurva replied, “The vow I made out of anger cannot go futile. If I do not accomplish my vow, my rage will consume me like fire consuming dry wood. While residing inside my mother’s thigh before I was born, I heard the sorrowful cries of my mother and other women of our race.  

“Only if the crimes are punished, people will be afraid to commit a crime. If a man who has the power to punish a sin fails to do so, he will also be tainted by the sin. I have good reasons to be angry. I am unable to obey your command. The fire of my wrath which is ready to consume the world will consume me instead, if I repress it. I know that you have the good of the world in your minds. Please advise me what course will benefit me and the world.”

The Pitrus replied “Throw the fire that is born of your anger into the waters. Let this fire abide in the great ocean, consuming the waters of the ocean. This will ensure that your words prevail and that the worlds will not be destroyed.”

Accordingly, Aurva cast the fire of his anger into the abode of Varuna. That fire which consumed the waters of the ocean became like the head of a large horse and is known to people conversant with the Vedas as Vadavamukha.  Emitting itself from the mouth in the shape of a horse’s mouth, this fire  consumes the waters of the mighty ocean.

After narrating this story, Vasishta advised Parasara not to harbor the thought of destroying the worlds.

Responding to the counsel of the wise Vasishta, Parasara gave up his resolve to destroy all the worlds. However, he performed a grand Rakshasa sacrifice. Vasishta did not restrain his grandson from this act.

Parasara sat before three blazing fires with himself being like a fourth fire. He illuminated the whole firmament as if he was a second Sun.

Sage Atri along with sages Pulastya, Pulaha and Kratu, came to the venue of the sacrifice with the objective of ending that sacrifice, in which many Rakshasas were already slain.

Atri told Parasara “Don’t take pleasure in killing these Rakshasas, many of whom are innocent and who have nothing to do with your father’s death. A Brahmin has to be devoted to asceticism. How can you engage yourself in this sinful practice? You should not violate the principles of morality followed by your father. You should not extirpate any creature.

“Your father’s death was brought by his own curse. No Rakshasa was capable of devouring your father. Your father was taken away from this world because of his own fault in pronouncing the curse on King Kalmashapada. Viswamitra was only an instrument. 

"Your father and his  younger brothers who were slain by Kalmashapada and Kalmashapada himself have ascended to heaven and have been enjoying great happiness there. You have also been only an instrument in the destruction of these innocent Rakshasas. So, abandon this sacrifice.”

With Vasishta also endorsing the plea of the wise Atri, Parasara abandoned the sacrifice. Sage Atri cast the great fire ignited for the sacrifice into the deep woods on the north of the Himavat.

The Gandharva who narrated this story to Arjuna concluded by saying “That fire has been consuming the Rakshasas, trees and stones till this day.”

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