CHAPTER - 7
THE BIRTH OF SAGAR
Sanatkumar says :- "O Narad! Both the queens were passing their time in the hermitage of sage Aurv. When half of the rainy season had passed, the elder queen began to cultivate evil feelings for the younger. She, therefore, made deceitfully the younger queen to consume poison. But the poison could not affect the queen and her unborn baby because of the virtues she had acquired serving the sage Aurv. After three months, the younger queen gave birth to a son. Sage Aurv carried out necessary rituals and consecrations of the child and named him Sagar because he was born with the effect of poison." Sagar began to grow in Aurvís hermitage. The sage had started to train the boy in weaponry. One day, out of curiosity, Sagar asked his mother about his father. His mother related to him all the events that took place with his father king Baahu, her husband. Listening to the fate of his father, Sagar took an oath to destroy all those who had caused misery to his father. Circumambulating his teacher Aurv and taking his motherís permission, Sagar at once set out on his mission. His first halt was at the hermitage of sage Vashishta. Sagar narrated the whole thing to the sage Vashishta. Sage Vashishta presented him with a number of divine weapons and saw him off blessing him with a boon for victory. Armed with many divine weapons and the blessings of his mother and teachers, Sagar defeated even the most powerful enemies of his father in no time and established his rule over the entire earth. The defeated kings took asylum in the hermitage of sage Vashishta who assured them to be fearless. Spies on the other hand informed Sagar about this development. Sagar at once set out to the hermitage of Vashishta with an intention of exterminating those kings but meanwhile, sage Vashishta had got all the kings shaven. So, assuming that his enemies were dead, Sagar mockingly said to sage Vashishta: "O sage! Why are you guarding these characterless creatures? I will not spare their lives." Vashishta says: "O son! You are great. Now listen to me carefully for your benefit. I have already killed your enemies, so you will not gain anything killing them again. O king! This physical body is the root of all the sins. You will not receive popularity killing the physical body. So, give this matter a little thought before killing them." The words of sage Vashishta soothed Sagarís anger. Thereafter, sage Vashishta carried out the coronation of Sagar. The king Sagar had two wives, Keshini and Sumati. They both were the daughters of Vidharbaís king Kashyap. When sage Aurv heard about Sagarís coronation, he visited his palace and returned after preaching him. Some months later, with a desire of having sons, both the queens secretly summoned sage Aurv once again and received the talisman for having sons. Meditating for a while, the sage Aurv said: "O fortunate ones! One of you will receive a son who will continue his progeny in future and the other will have sixty thousand prowessive sons." The sage also advised them to seek the boon of their respective choices. With time, Keshini gave birth to one son Asmanjas who grew in a whimsical person. Sumati gave birth to sixty thousand sons who were very obedient initially but following Asmanjas, they too began to behave whimsically. Asmanjas had one son, Anshuman who was very obedient to his grandfather. Sixty thousand sons of Sagar soon began to torment all the three worlds. Perplexed by their atrocities, Indra appealed to the sage Kapil to get them rid of their woes. With the inspiration of Sage Kapil, Sagar organized an Ashwamedha Yagya. Indra kidnapped the horse of the Yagya and tethered at the hermitage of sage Kapil. When all the sixty thousand princes reached Kapilís hermitage, they began to abuse him seeing the horse there. Infuriated Kapil at once incinerated them with his curse. King Sagar then sent Anshuman in search of his sixty thousand sons and recovered the horse. Sage Kapil assured Anshuman that his grandson Bhagirath would please Ganga to descend and salve his ancestors.
CHAPTER - 8
SALVATION OF SAUDAS
Narad says: "O great brother! Why did sage Vashishta curse Saudas and how did he recover from this curse by the virtue of the Ganges waters?" Sanatkumar says: "O Narad! Saudas was a virtuous king. He ruled over his subjects religiously. He was very fond of hunting. So, one day, he went on hunting in the forest. He continued his excursion all day long. Towards evening, he reached at the bank of Godavari and decided to pass the night there. In the next morning also, he began his hunting excursion one again. During the hunting, he spotted a deer and began to chase it. Chasing the deer, he reached the core of the forest. There, the king saw a pair of tigers copulating. Saudas was an expert archer. He trained an arrow and killed the tigress in just one shot. As soon as the tigress died, she assumed the form of an enormous ogress. Death of his partner infuriated the tiger, which was in fact a monster in disguise. He decided to avenge the death of his mate. On the other hand, the whole event frightened the king. He held a hasty parley with his ministers. They unanimously took a decision to give up the hunting forever. Long afterwards, king Saudas organized an Ashwamedha Yagya in the auspices of sage Vashishta. At the completion of Yagya, sage Vashishta went to take a bath before taking his meal. Meanwhile, the monster appeared there in the guise of Vashishta and expressed his desire to eat meat. Then, in the guise of the cook, the monster cooked human flesh and served it in golden bowls. When sage Vashishta arrived, Saudas offered him the dishes made of human flesh. For a while, Vashishta thought in amazement but soon he realized the whole thing. Indignantly, he cursed the king to become a man-eating demon. The king tried to assert his ignorance and said- "You yourself had expressed your desire to eat the meat." With his divine sight, sage Vashishta learnt that the king had been tricked with. By then, the king himself got ready to curse the sage in retaliation. But his prudent wife Madayanti stopped him. Thus, convinced by the queen, the anger of Saudas subsided. But he had taken water in his palm, so the problem arose where to dispose it off for it was sure to burn anything it fell upon. After a little consideration, the king dropped that water right on his feet that burnt immediately. Since then, the king Saudas came to be known as Kalmaashpaad. Sage Vashishta then consoled him.Vashishta says: "O king! Imprudence is the root of all the obstacles and crises. But O king! You have no reason to be sorry. Your miseries will end soon and you will regain your original radiance by the virtue of the Gangesí waters." Saying this, sage Vashishta returned to his hermitage. The whole body of the king had turned black. Since then, he began to roam in the forests like a wild animal. There he ate whatever he found-animals, birds and even human beings. Within six months, he devoured all the animals in one hundred Yojan expanses of the forests. Then he migrated to another area in the forest. One day, in the guise of a monster, Saudas was wandering in a forest on the bank of Narmada. There he spotted a sage couple engaged in carnal conjugation. Saudas at once got hold of the sage and began to devour him. The sageís wife pleaded him to release her husband but Saudas did not pay heed to her pleas and devoured the sage. In anguish and anger, the Brahmini cursed Saudas that he would die if he tried to copulate with a woman and that he would always remain a monster. Infuriated, Saudas cursed her in retaliation: "O evil one! Just one curse was sufficient. Why did you pour down two curses on me? Go and become a devil." The Brahmini at once turned into a devil. Afterwards, both of them began to wander in the forest. One day, they reached to such part of the forest where another monster was living. That monster too had acquired the formidable appearance because of not obeying his teacher. Seeing them, the monster enquired about the reasons of their coming to that forest. They narrated the whole thing to him. Saudas says: "O friend! Who are you? Tell me, what sins did you committed. Do not conceal anything from your friends." The monster says: "Before acquiring this appearance, I was a Brahmin and well versed in all the Vedas. I lived in Magadh. One day, blinded by my knowledge and youth, I insulted my teacher. That is the reason of my acquiring this monsterís appearance. Since then, I have been eating flesh only and I do not know how many Brahmins I have devoured so far. Still, my hunger is insatiated. O fortunate one! Hence I advise each and everyone never to insult their teachers." Saudas says: "What is a teacher? Who was your teacher?" The monster says: O brother! There are many kinds of teachers but I am telling about the most revered ones. All including the teachers of Vedas, preachers of scriptures and mantras, remover of doubts, protectors, wifeís father, elder brother, motherís brother, family priest and own mother and father fall in the category of teachers. I had received preaching about all the religions from sage Gautam while staying on the enchanting banks of the Ganges. Once, when I went to worship Shiva, I did not greet him. Sage Gautam did not mind my behavior but Lord Shiva turned me into a monster out of anger." That sort of pious discussion among the monsters attenuated their sins. In the meantime, a Brahmin, who had hailed from Kalinga (Orrisa), arrived there carrying the holy water of Ganges. The monsters requested the Brahmin to sprinkle some of the waters over them. They also narrated the greatness of Ganges before the Brahmin. Pleased with their willingness, and appraisal of Ganges, the Brahmin sprinkled some Ganges water on them. The monster and the ogress resumed their divine appearance but Saudas remained unchanged. His worries began to mount but the invisible Saraswati consoled and advised him to recite the Lordís name. Saudas then migrated to Varanasi where he continuously recited the Lordís name and took bath in the holy Ganges. Thus, he overcame the curse of Brahmini and returned to his kingdom. There, sage Vashishta once again carried out his coronation. Since then, Saudas ruled his kingdom through religious means and attained the supreme abode of Lord Vishnu.
CHAPTER - 9
KING BALI DEFEATS THE GODS
Narad says: "O brother! Kindly narrate the tale of the Gangesí origin from the feet of lord Vishnu." Sanatkumar says: Long ago, in the beginning of creation, one sage Kashyap had two wives Diti and Aditi. They both were the daughters of Daksha. Aditi was the mother of the gods while Diti had given birth to demons. Thus, the demons and the gods were stepbrothers and fought accordingly for the power and prestige. Demons were elder. Hiranyakashyap, the demon king was the son of Diti. His son Prahlad was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. In the lineage of Prahlad, occurred the great king Bali who was the son of Virochan. Bali had conquered entire earth and was now eyeing the heaven. Bali had two ministers, Kubhand and Koopkarna and an equally prowessive son Baan. With a huge army, Bali launched a massive attack on heaven and soon a fierce battle broke out. The battle lasted for one thousand years. At last, the gods lost the heaven to the demons and began to wander here and there in search of solace. Defeating the gods, the king Bali organized many Ashwamedha Yagyas. Feeling sorry for the plight of her sons, Aditi began a severe penance on the Himalayas.
CHAPTER - 10
ORIGIN OF THE GANGES
Narad says: "O brother! You narrated a wonderful tale. Now, kindly relate to me, how did the Ganges originate?" Sanatkumar says: O Narad! Pleased with the severe penance of Aditi, Lord Vishnu appeared before her and asked her to seek a boon. Feeling elated with exhilaration, Aditi fell flat at the Lordís feet. She intimated the Lord about the plight of her sons and sought that He should help them to regain the heaven without killing the demons for they were also her sons though step. Pleased by her indiscrimination for her stepsons, Lord Vishnu assured Aditi that soon He would arrive as her son and salve the gods from their miseries. Then, the Lord presented Aditi with His garland and disappeared. In due course of time, Aditi gave birth to a son who was holding a conch, a wheel, a mace and a lotus in each of his four hands. The child was named as Vaaman. Even his father, sage Kashyap greeted him with respect. By the time, when the thread ceremony was about to be carried out for Vaaman, king Bali organized a grand Ashwamedha Yagya in the auspices of his teacher Shukracharya. Lord Vishnu Himself had been invoked in the Yagya along with Lakshmi. Taking his parentís permission, Vaaman too arrived at the sight of the Yagya. With their divine sight, all the sages who were present there recognized Lord Vishnu and felt extreme joy and greeted Him with respect. Even Shukracharya understood the motive of Vaamanís coming there. He cautioned Bali in isolation not to grant any demand of Vaaman. He also advised Bali to abide by his dictate or he would have to face severe consequences. But illumined by the destiny, king Bali did not pay heed to Shukracharyaís advice and welcomed Vaaman warmly and asked him to seek anything he wished. Vaaman said: "O king! If you want to give me something, kindly grant me three steps of land so that I may carry out my Yagyas smoothly. King Bali tried to dissuade Vaaman with temptations of heavenly comforts and other luxuries. But Vaaman stayed to his demand that he needed nothing else but three steps of land for carrying out Yagyas. At last Bali agreed to grant his demand. He requested Vaaman to pour some water from the Kamandalu on his palm so that he could take a vow. As the last attempt to prevent Bali from making a vow, Shukracharya assumed a miniature appearance and clogged the snout of the kamandalu. The omniscient Lord pricked the snout with a sharp stem and pricked Shukracharyaís one eye. Thereafter, taking some water on his palm, king Bali proceeded to grant Vaaman three steps of land. As soon as Bali granted the demand, Vaaman assumed a gigantic appearance and measured the entire earth and heaven in his two steps. While Lord Vishnu was measuring the universe, it broke into two pieces with the impact of His toe. With the tearing of the universe, millions of streams sprang out. In the course of their flow, these streams merged into a single mightier stream and, sanctifying Brahma and other deities, fell on the mighty Sumeru Mountain (Himalayas). As there was no other room left for the Lord to put His third step, Bali presented his own head for the purpose. Vaaman put his third step on Baliís head and pressed him down into the hades. Narad says: "O great sage! How did the Lord arrange for Baliís food in the nether world?" Sanatkumar says: "Oblations offered without hymns and alms given to undeserving person constitute the food for Bali. Thus, the Lord snatched the kingdom of heaven from Bali without any bloodshed and returned it to the gods."
CHAPTER - 11
DEFINITION OF DHARMA
Narad says:"O great sage! I have just heard the tale of sacred Ganges. Now kindly describe about the people who deserve to take donations." Sanatkumar says: O Narad! Brahmin is considered as the excellent among all the four castes. Hence, to make the donation fruitful, one should donate to the Brahmins only. A Brahmin can accept donation candidly but not a Vaishya or a Kshatriya. Even among Brahmins, there are many categories who do not deserve to accept donation. These are- Brahmins who practice astrology, act against the religion, who are greedy, who sell scriptures and other religious materials, who have relations with other women than their wives, who are envious, ungrateful, singer, who have characterless wife, who are soldiers, priests, harbinger, cook, poet, doctor, who eat meat and cereals given by a Shudra, who carry out cremation and the Brahmins who consume the food given by prostitutes. Donation given to all these types of Brahmins go futile. Besides these, Brahmins who habitually enjoy sensual pleasures during siesta, who dine during the dusk, who have been boycotted by their brothers and society, who have taken birth illegitimately or after the death of their real father because of dubious relations of their mother, whose younger brother have married earlier and those who are always controlled by lusty women, who act as pimps or remain indulged in mean activities also do not deserve donation. Donation, spending to meet necessities and wasting in useless activities are the three fates of wealth. A donation made selflessly to a deserving person on a request is excellent among all kinds of donations. A donation made with some desire is mediocre while donation given as sacrifice is of the lowest category. Sanatkumar then narrated the tale of Bhagirath and Dharmaraaj. Once, Dharmaraaj visited the kingdom of king Sagar. Dharmaraaj praised Sagar overtly. With folded hands, king Sagar requested Dharmaraaj to preach him about religion and non-religion and tell him something about divine worlds and hell. Dharmaraaj says:"O king! Providing a Brahmin family or a Vedapathi Brahmin with a means of sustenance is the most virtuous donation. Inspiring others to make donation to such a Brahmin is also equally fruitful. Apart from these, digging out reservoirs and maintaining them and inspiring others to do the same thing also bears unending fruits." To corroborate his point, Dharmaraaj narrated the tale of king Veerbhadrak and his minister Buddhiraaj.
CHAPTER - 12
DESCRIPTION OF RELIGIOUS ACTION
Dharmaraaj says: "O king! Those who build temples with earth stay in the abode of Vishnu for three kalpas. Then they attain Brahmaloka. One receives double virtues if he builds a temple with wood. Building a temple with bricks and stones gives four-fold virtue while with the precious stones one gets ten-fold virtues. Building of temple with copper and gold gives hundred fold and crore fold virtues. Those who preserve temples and reservoirs receive hundred times more virtues than the builders do. Virtues of a rich man donating whole estate and a poor person donating a yard of land are equal." "O virtuous one! Those who develop gardens and parks also receive same virtues. Those who preserve them receive more virtues than the developers. One who plants a basil sapling salves his crores of ancestors. Similarly, those who bathe the Lordís idol with milk on Dwadashi and Poornamaasi salve millions of their ancestors. Those who bathe Lordís idol with Panchamrit on Ekadashi receive everlasting joy and salvation. Similarly, those who bathe Lordís idol with coconut milk, sugarcane juice, and water containing flowers or filtered water get free from all their sins. Similarly, those who bathe Lord Vishnuís idol during eclipses or on auspicious dates and conjugations receive the virtue of all the Yagyas. Those who bathe Lord Vishnuís and Shivaís idols with coconut milk, ghee, honey and sesame oil on auspicious dates assume respective appearances of these gods." "Those who worship Lord Vishnu and Shiva offering them flowers of lotus, Pandanus, and particularly offer Dhatura to Lord Shiva attain their respective abodes. Similarly, donation of Guggul (scented raisin), lamp, water and cereal bears inexhaustible fruits. Virtues of donating land and milch cow to a Brahmin cannot be described in words. It is the case with the donation of knowledge, Shaligram, Shivalinga, horse, buffalo, elephant or any other vehicle. Those who arrange for the cremation of an orphaned Brahmin receive virtues equal to thousands of Ashwamedha Yagyas. Those who serve the Brahmin deities or cow, those who play instruments, bell, and blow conch or clap in the temple enjoy intimacy with divine beauties in the heaven for five Kalpas. Blowing of conch helps one attain the abode of Vishnu. Even the remembrance of Lord Vishnuís name does away with the imminent crises."