29. Supratheeka and Vibhaavasu

“Soota continued, ‘A certain Brahmana with his wife had entered the throat of that traveller of the skies (Garuda). The former (Brahmana) began to burn the bird’s (Garuda’s) throat like a piece of flaming charcoal. Him Garuda addressed, saying, ‘O best of Dwija, come out soon from my mouth which I open for you. A Brahmana must never be slain by me, although he may be always engaged in sinful practices.’

“To Garuda who had thus addressed him that Brahmana said, ‘O, let this woman of Nishaadaa, who is my wife, also come out with me.’

“Garuda said, ‘Taking the woman also of Nishaadaa with you, come out soon. Save yourself without delay since you have not yet been digested by the heat of my stomach.’

“Soota continued, ‘Then that Brahmana, accompanied by his wife of the Nishaadaa, came out, and praising Garuda went whatever way he liked. When that Brahmana had come out with his wife, that lord of birds (Garuda), moving at the speed of mind, stretching his wings ascended the skies. He then saw his father (Maharishi Kashyapa), and, hailed by him, Garuda, of incomparable skills made proper answers.

“(Maharishi) Kashyapa then asked him, ‘O child, is it well with you? Do you get sufficient food every day? Is there food in plenty for you in the world of men?’

“Garuda replied, ‘My mother is ever well. So is my (elder) brother (Arunaa), and so am I. But, father (Maharishi Kashyapa), I do not always obtain plenty of food, for which my peace is incomplete. I am sent by the snakes to fetch the excellent Amrita. Indeed, I shall fetch it today for relieving my mother from her bondage. My mother command me, saying, ‘You eat the Nishaadaas.’ I have eaten them by thousands, but my hunger is not appeased. Therefore, O worshipful one, point out to me some other food, by eating which, O master, I may be strong enough to bring away Amrita by force. You should indicate some food with which I may satisfy my hunger and thirst.’

“Kashyapa replied, ‘This lake you see is sacred. It has been heard, of even in the heavens. There is an elephant, with face downwards, who continually drags a tortoise, his elder brother. I shall speak to you in detail of their hostility in former life. Just listen as I tell you why they are here.

“Long ago, there was a Maharishi of the name of Vibhaavasu. He was exceedingly short tempered. He had a younger brother of the name of Supratheeka. The latter (Supratheeka) was against to keeping his wealth jointly with his brother’s. Supratheeka would always speak of partition. After some time, his brother Vibhaavasu told Supratheeka, ‘It is from great foolishness that persons blinded by love of wealth always desire to make a partition of their father’s property heritage. After effecting a partition, they fight with each other, fooled by wealth. Then again, enemies in the guise of friends cause disaffection between ignorant and selfish men after they become separated in wealth, and pointing out faults confirm their quarrels, so that the latter soon fall one by one. Absolute ruin very soon overtakes the separated. For these reasons the wise never speak approvingly of partition among brothers who, when divided, do not regard the most authoritative Shaastraas and live always in fear of each other. But as you, Supratheeka, without regarding my advice impelled by desire of separation, always wish to make an arrangement about your property, you shall become an elephant.’ Supratheeka, thus cursed, then spoke to Vibhaavasu, ‘You also shall become a tortoise moving in the middle of the waters.’

“Thus on account of wealth those two fools, Supratheeka and Vibhaavasu, from each other’s curse, have become an elephant and a tortoise respectively. Owing to their anger, they have both become inferior animals. They are engaged in hostilities with each other, proud of their excessive strength and the weight of their bodies. In this lake, those two beings of huge bodies are engaged in acts according to their former hostility. Look here, one among them, the handsome elephant of huge body, is now approaching. Hearing his roar, the tortoise also of huge body, living within the waters, comes out, agitating the lake violently. Seeing him the elephant, curling his trunk, rushes into the water. Endued with great energy, with motion of his tusks and fore-part of his trunk and tail and feet, he agitates the water of the lake abounding with fishes. The tortoise also of great strength, with upraised head, comes forward for an encounter. The elephant is six yojanas (somewhere between 64.8 km to 79.2 km) in height and twice (12 yojanas) that measure in circumference. The height of the tortoise also is three yojanas and his circumference ten (yojanas). You eat up both of them that are madly engaged in the encounter and bent upon slaying each other, and then accomplish the task that you desire. Eating that fierce elephant which looks like a huge mountain and resembles a mass of dark clouds, you bring Amrita.’

“Soota continued, ‘Having said so to Garuda, he (Maharishi Kashyapa) blessed him, saying, ‘Blessed be you when you are in combat with Devas. Let water pitchers filled to the brim, Brahmanas, cows, and other auspicious objects, bless you, O oviparous one (oviparous means born from egg). O you of great strength, when you are engaged with Devas in combat, let the Rig (Veda), the Yajus (Veda), the Samas (Veda), the sacred yagna butter, all the mysteries (Upanishads), constitute your strength.’

“Garuda, thus addressed by his father, went to the side of that lake. He saw that expanse of clear water with birds of various kinds all around. Remembering the words of his father, that traveller of the skies possessed of great swiftness of motion, seized the elephant and the tortoise, one in each claw. That bird then soared high into the air. He came upon a sacred place called Aalamba and saw many divine trees. Struck by the wind raised by his wings, those trees began to shake with fear. Those divine trees having golden branches feared that they would break. The traveller of the skies (Garuda) seeing that those trees capable of granting every wish were quaking with fear, went to other trees of incomparable appearance. Those gigantic trees were adorned with fruits of gold and silver and branches of precious gems. They were washed with the water of the sea. There was a large banyan (tree) among them, which had grown into gigantic proportions, that spoke to that lord of bird coursing towards it with the fleetness of the mind, ‘You sit on this large branch of mine extending a hundred yojanas and eat the elephant and the tortoise.’

“When that best of birds, of great swiftness and of body resembling a mountain, quickly alighted upon a branch of that banyan tree, the resort of thousands of winged creatures-that branch also full of leaves shook and broke down.’”

SRIMAD MAHABHARATA – AADI PARVA – AASTIKA (UPA) PARVA – PART 29 – SUPRATHEEKA AND VIBHAAVASU

Author: Prasanna TG on

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