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Chapter XII

On the birth of Astika

1-4. Suta said :– Hearing these words of the king, Vyasa Deva, the son Satyavati addressed to him before the assembly, thus :– “O king ! I am now reciting to you a Bhagavata Purana, holy, wonderful, filled with many anecdotes, and leading to auspicious results; listen. Before I made my son Suka study this Purana; O king ! I will now recite before you that highestPurana, with all the secrets contained therein. I have extracted this from all the Agamas; it brings in Dharma (religion), Artha (wealth), Kama (fructification of desires) and Moksa (liberation); hearing this gives always happiness and good results.

5-6. At this Janamejaya said :– “O Lord ! Whose son is this Muni Astika? Why did he come as an obstacle in my Sarpa Yajna (sacrifice of snakes)? And what object had he in preserving the snakes? O highly fortunate one ! Kindly describe all this in detail; after this recite the Purana, also, in detail to me.”

7-18. Vyasa Deva said :– “O king ! In former days there lived a Muni named Jaratkaru. He always remained in the path of peace; and did not marry. Once he saw, in a cave in a forest, his fathers and forefathers pendant. They spoke to Jaratkaru thus :– “O son ! Marry; we will thereby be greatly pleased; if there be a son of good character born to you, we all will be freed from all troubles and we would then able to go to Heavens.” Hearing this Jaratkaru said :– “O Forefathers ! If I get a girl of my name, without begging and asking and if she be entirely obedient to me, I will marry and lead a householder’s life; thus I have spoken truly to you.” Thus saying to his forefathers, Jaratkaru went on tour to the holy places. Now it happened so, that at that very time Kadru, the mother of snakes cursed her sons, saying “May you be burnt by fire.” The matters of this incident run as follows :– “At that moment Kadru and Vinata, the two co-wives of KaSyapa saw the horses yoked in the chariot of the sun and thus argued with each other :– Kadru, seeing the sun’s horse, first asked Vinata “O good one ! Tell me soon, what is the colour of this horse?” Vinata said :– “O auspicious one ! What do you think?” I said, the colour of the horse is white; you also better say before hand what is its colour? We will then lay a wager (and challenge). Kadru said :– “O Smiling one ! I think the the horse is black. Now come; let us challenge; whoever will be defeated will become the slave of the other.” Thus saying, Kadru told her sons that were obedient :–“Cover by your bodies all the pores of the body of the horse of the chariot of the Sun, so it may look black; go and do it.” At this some snakes replied “That cannot be.” Kadru then cursed them saying :– “Let you fall on the sacrificial fire of Janamejaya.” Then the other snakes tried to please their mother and coiled round the back of that horse so that the horse began to look black. Kadru and Vinata, the two co-wives went together and saw the horse. Vinata saw it black and became very sorry.

19-21. Now, Garuda, Vinata’s son, very powerful and devourer of snakes was passing that way and seeing his mother very distressed asked her :– “O Mother ! Why do you look so very sorry? It seems as if you are weeping. Aruna, the charioteer of the Sun and I myself are your two sons living. Fie to us that, while we are living, you will have to suffer pains. O beautiful one ! If mother suffers while the son is living, then what use is there in having such a son? So, O Mother, give out the cause of your grief and I will remove it at once.”

22-31. Hearing this Vinata said :– “O son ! What shall I say to you of my misery; I am now become the slave of my rival wife. By some pretext she defeated me and is now telling me to carry her on my back. O son ! For this reason I am sorry.” Hearing these words of the mother, Garuda said :– “Very well I will carry her on my shoulders wherever she wishes to go. O auspicious one ! You need not be sorry; I will remove all your cares.” Vyasa Deva said :–Thus spoken to by Garuda, Vinata went to Kadru. At that time the highly powerful Garuda went there also to free his mother of her slavery and carried Kadru with all her sons on his back to the other side of the ocean. When Garuda went across the ocean, Garuda spoke to Kadru :– “O mother ! I bow down to thee; kindly say how my mother can be freed of your slavery. Hearing this Kadru said :– “O son ! If you can bring to-day by your sheer force nectar from the Deva loka and give it to my sons then you will be able to free your helpless mother. When Kadru said so, the highly powerful Vinata’s son, Garuda immediately went to the abode of Indra and, fighting hard, stole away the jar of nectar and brought and gave it to Kadru and freed his mother Vinata from the slavery of Kadru. In the meantime, the snakes went for their bath, after which they would drink the nectar. Indra stole away that jar which contained nectar. O king ! Thus, by the sheer strength of arms of Garuda Vinata was freed of her slavery. On the other hand, when the snakes returned from their bath and found that there was no jar of nectar, they began to lick the Kusa grass over which the jar of nectar was kept, thinking that they would thereby get some drops of nectar which might have trickled

over; and the result was that by the sharp edges of kusa grasses, the tongues of all the snakes were cut asunder into two; hence the snakes are called Dvijihva.

32-36. The snake Vasuki and others, whom Kadru, the mother of snakes, cursed, went to Brahma and took his refuge and informed all of the cause of their terror, the curse from their mother; when Brahma spoke to them :– “Go and give the sister of Vasuki, named Jaratkaru, in marriage to the great Muni Jarat Karu, (both of the same name). In her womb, a sonnamed Astika will be born; and he will certainly deliver you from your difficulties. Hearing those beneficial words of Brahma, Vasuki went to the forest and requested humbly the great Muni Jarat Karu to accept in marriage her own sister when the Muni, knowing the girl to be of his name, spoke out thus :– “But when your sister will act against my wishes, I will forsake her at once.”

37-46. Under these conditions, the Muni married her. And Vasuki, after giving her sister in marriage according to her own wishes to the Muni, returned to her own abode. O Tormentor of foes ! Then the Muni Jaratkaru built a white hut of leaves in that great forest and began to pass his days happily in enjoyment with his wife. Once, on an occasion, after he had taken his dinner he slept and told his wife not to awaken him under any circumstances and fell fast asleep. The beautiful sister of Vasuki sat by his side. When the evening time came and the sun began to set, the Vasuki’s sister Jaratkaru became afraid at the thought that the evening Sandhya might not be performed by the Muni and thought thus :– “What am I to do now? My heart finds not rest if I do not awaken him; and if I awaken him, he will forsake me at once. Now if I do not awaken him, the evening will pass away to no purpose. Whatever it be, if he quits me or if my death ensues, that is better than the non-observance of Dharma; for when Dharma is destroyed, hell ensues.

Thus thinking, the girl awakened him saying :– “O One of good vows ! It is evening time; so get up; etc.” The Muni got up in great anger and addressed his wife :– “When you have disturbed my sleep, I now go away from you; you also better go to your brother’s house.” When the Muni said so, Vasuki’s sister spoke out, trembling :– “O One of indomitable lustre ! How will the object be served for which my brother has given me in marriage with you.”

47-50. The Muni then spoke firmly to his wife Jaratkaru :– “That is within your womb.” Jaratkaru then, forsaken by the Muni, went to the abode of Vasuki. When her brother Vasuki asked her about her son, she said :– “The Muni has forsaken me, saying that the son is within your womb.” At this Vasuki trusted; and said :– “The Muni won’t ever tell lies” and gave shelter to his sister. O Kurusattama ! After some time, a famous boy named the MuniAstika was born.

51-56. O king ! That Muni boy, the knower of truth, had desisted you from your sacrifice of snakes for the preservation of his mother’s family. It is well and good, befitting you, that yourespected the words of the Muni Astika, born of Yayavara family and the cousin of Vasuki. O Mighty-armed ! Let all auspiciousness come to you; you have heard the whole Mahabharata and gave away lots of things in charities. You have worshipped innumerable Munis. But, O king ! Though you have done so many good things, yet your father has not attained heaven and you have not been able to sanctify your family. So, O king Janamejaya ! Now install a capacious temple of the Devi with the highest devotion; then all your desires will be fulfilled. The all auspicious Devi, the Giver of all desires, makes the kingdoms more stable and increases the family, if She be always worshipped with the highest devotion.

57-64. O king ! You better perform duly the Devimakha Yajna Yotistoma and others, pleasing

to the Devi, and hear the great Purana Srimad Devi Bhagavatam, filled with accounts of the glorious deeds of the Devi. I will make you hear now that Divine Purana, filled with various sentiments, highly sanctifying and capable to carry one across this ocean of world. O king ! There is no other subject in this world worthy to be heard than the above Purana and there is no other thing to be worshipped then the lotus feet of the Devi. O king ! Those are certainly fortunate, those are intelligent and blessed, in whose hearts of love and devotion reign always the Devi Bhagavati. O illustrious scion of Bharata’s family ! Know them to the always afflicted with troubles who do not worship in this world the great Mother Mahamaya. O king ! Who is there that will not worship Her when Brahma and all the Devas are always engaged in Her devotional service. O king ! He who hears always this Purana gets all his desires fulfilled; in former days Bhagavati Herself spoke this excellent Purana to Visnu. O king ! Your heart will be appeased and become peaceful when you hear this; and, as a result of your hearing this Puranam, all your ancestors will attain endless Heavenly life.

Thus ends the Twelfth Chapter of the Second Skandha on the birth of Astika in the Mahapuranam Srimad Devi Bhagavatam of 18,000 verses by Maharsi Veda Vyasa. Here ends as well the Second Book.