Śrīmad Devi Bhāgavatam | Book 6 Chapter 14
THE SIXTH BOOK
On the birth of Vaṣiṣṭha from Mitrā Varuṇa
1-2. Janamejaya said:
“O Bhagavān! Mahāṛṣi Vaṣiṣṭha was the mind-born son of Brahmā; how is it then that you have named him as Maitrā-Vāruṇī. Is it that he got this name by some action or by some Guṇas? Kindly tell me the origin of this name, O Best of speakers!”
3-4. Vyāsa said:
O King! It is quite true that the illustrious Vaṣiṣṭha was the noble son of Brahmā but he had to quit that body due to the curse of the King Nimi and he had to take a second body from Mitrā Varuṇa; hence he is named in this world as Maitrā-Vāruṇī.
5-6. The King said:
“O Bhagavān! How was it that the religious Vaṣiṣṭha, the best of the Munis, the son of Brahmā was cursed by the King? Oh! The Munis have to suffer the dreadful curse of Kṣattriya kings! This seems very wonderful to me.
O Knower of Dharma! Why did that king curse the innocent Muni? I am very curious to hear the cause of this; kindly tell me the cause of the curse.”
7-30. Vyāsa said:
O King! I told you already in particular all the causes of these.
This Samsara is pervaded by the three Guṇas of Māyā, Sattva, Rāja and Tamas.
Whether the kings practise their Dharma or the ascetics practise their tapas, all their actions are interpenetrated with these Guṇas; therefore they cannot shine so brightly.
The Kings, Munis performed very severe penances and austerities under the influence of lust, anger, greed and Ahaṁkāra.
O King! All, whether they be the Kṣattriyas or the Brāhmaṇas, who perform their sacrifices overpowered with this Rajo Guṇa, really, none of them performs these actions guided by Sattva Guṇa.
The King Nimi was cursed by the Ṛiṣi and the Ṛiṣi was cursed again by the King Nimi; thus they met with greater calamities and painful sufferings, the fruits from the hands of the powerful Fate.
O King! In this world of the three Guṇas, it is very difficult for the beings to get the Dravya Śuddhi, Kriya Śuddhi, and the pure effulgent Chitta Śuddhi, O King!
Know this as the influence wielded by the Highest Śaktī, the Mother of this Universe.
Nobody is able to overstep it; but he, whom She favours, can cross in a moment this world, bounded by the three Guṇas.
What more can be said than the fact that Hari, Hara, and Brahmā and the other Gods cannot free themselves without Her grace.
Moreover, the sinners like Satyavrata and others become free when Her Grace comes upon them. Nobody in these three worlds can know what reigns in Her mind; again, this is also a certain fact that She gets Herself bound by Her own will to Her devotees.
Therefore it is extremely desirable that one should have recourse to Sāttvic devotion for the complete removal of faults and sins. And as the devotion with attachment and vanity is always injurious to men, therefore it is highly beneficial to quit it; there is no doubt in this.
O King! There was a king named Nimi, born of the family of Ikṣāku. He was beautiful, well qualified, virtuous, truthful, charitable, endearing to his people, a sacrificer, of pure conduct and manners, ready to govern his subjects, intelligent and endowed with knowledge.
For the benefit of the Brāhmaṇas, that high-souled king established a city named Jayantupur in close vicinity to the hermitage of Gautama. Thus some time passed when this Rājasic idea arose in his mind that:
“I will perform a sacrifice extending for a good many years when I will give exorbitant Dakṣiṇās (remunerations to the priests and Brahmins).”
Getting permission from his own father Ikṣāku, he began to collect all the ingredients necessary for the sacrifice, as advised by the high-souled persons.
He invited the all-knowing Munis and ascetics, versed in the Vedas and in conducting sacrifices, e.g., Bhrigu, Angira, Vāmadēva, Gautama, Vaṣiṣṭha, Pulastya, Richika, Pulaha, Kratu and others, all well-versed in the Vedas.
Then that religious King Nimi, collecting all the materials necessary for sacrifice worshipped his own Guru Vaṣiṣṭha and then spoke to him (the Guru) with great humility:
O Best of Munis! I will perform a sacrifice; kindly perform this my sacrificial act; you are my Guru and therefore you know everything; so do this sacrifice for me. All the articles for this purpose are brought and cleansed.
O Guru! Know that for five thousand years I mean to be engaged in this sacrifice, this is my Sankalpa (will). I will worship the Goddess Ambikā in this sacrifice and for Her satisfaction I am arranging for it according to the prescribed rules.
Hearing the King Nimi’s words, Vaṣiṣṭha said:
“O best of Kings! Indra, the King of the Devas, has already selected me for his sacrificial ceremony. Now Indra is ready to do the sacrifice for the propitiation of the Highest Śaktī and I have initiated him for five hundred years. Therefore, O King! You will have to wait till I complete the Indra’s Yajña. After fully completing all his works, I will come here. Therefore, O King! Wait till then. ”
31-42. The King said:
“O Best of Munis! I have already invited other Munis for this sacrifice and have collected all the materials; how, then, can I wait for you?
O Brāhmaṇa! You are the foremost of those versed in the Vedas and you are the family Guru of the noble Ikṣāku. How is it, then, avoiding my work you are ready to go elsewhere?
O Best of Brāhmins! Under the uncontrollable greed of wealth you have lost all senses and you are ready to go away without doing my work. This does not behove you. O King!
Though thus tempted by the King Nimi, the Ṛiṣi Vaṣiṣṭha went to the Indra’s sacrifice. The King, too, became absent-minded and selected for the sacrifice the Ṛiṣi Gautama. He then commenced his sacrificial ceremony close to the ocean by the side of the Himalayan range and gave profusely the Dakṣiṇās.
The King Nimi was engaged in this sacrificial act for five thousand years. In this the Rittviks (priests) were worshipped with sufficient wealth and cows; they were extremely glad.
Then, when the five hundred years extending sacrifice of Indra was completed, the Ṛiṣi Vaṣiṣṭha came to see the King Nimi’s sacrifice and waited there to see the King.
The king was then asleep; so the servants did not awake him from his sleep; and the King did not come to the Ṛiṣi.
Feeling insult at this, the Mahāṛṣi Vaṣiṣṭha became infuriated with rage. Not seeing the King, he became very angry; and, subject to this, he cursed the King:
When I am your lifelong Guru, especially when I prohibited you and you have forsaken me and selected another Guru and by your sheer force you are initiated, then be devoid of your body. Let your body fall off today.
43-50. Vyāsa said:
The King’s attendants, hearing thus the curse given by Vaṣiṣṭha to the King, instantly awoke him from his sleep and informed him that the Ṛiṣi Vaṣiṣṭha not seeing you, became very angry.
The King Nimi, quite sinless, went then to the angry Vaṣiṣṭha and humbly spoke to him the following reasonable words, pregnant with meaning:
O Knower of Dharma! I am your Yajamāna; though I repeatedly requested you to perform my sacrifice, yet you quitted me out of the covetousness and went somewhere else. I cannot be charged with any fault. You are the foremost of Brāhmins; and knowing that contentment is the substance of your Dharma, you did not feel ashamed to do this blameable act. You are the son of Brahmā; and, being versed in the Vedas and Vedāngas, you are yet unaware of the subtle and very difficult nature of the Brāhmanic religion.
Now you want to cast your own fault on my shoulders and you are trying in vain to curse me. Anger is more to be blamed than Chāṇḍāla! The wise men should overcome it by all means. When you, infuriated with rage, have been able to curse me for nothing, then I now curse you: “Let your this body, inflamed with anger, drop off.” O King!
Thus the King cursed the Muni and the Muni cursed the King; and both of them were, therefore, very sorry.
51-52. Vaṣiṣṭha then became troubled with cares and took shelter with Brahmā and informing him about the great curse given by the King Nimi said:
Father! The King has cursed me saying, “Let your body fall off today.” Now the great trouble due to the falling off of the body has arisen. What am I to do now?
53-69. O Father! Kindly tell me from whom shall I take my birth and take such means as I can get a body like what I have now.
Also by Your unbounded power, do so that I can retain the knowledge in that body as I have at present; You are fully competent to do this.”
O King! Hearing thus the words of Vaṣiṣṭha, Brahmā spoke thus to his dear son:
Go and enter into the Tejas (essence) of Mitrā Varuṇa and remain contented; then you will get, in due time, a body not born of any womb and you will be again religious, truthful, knower of the Vedas, all-knowing and worshipped by all; there is no doubt in this.
When Brahmā said this, the Mahāṛṣi Vaṣiṣṭha bowed down to the Grand Sire, and circumambulating him, went to the abode of Varuṇa.
Then he quitted his excellent body; and, with his subtle body, the part of his Jīva, entered into the body of Mitrā Varuṇa.
Then once on a time Urvaśī, exquisitely beautiful and lovely, surrounded by her comrades, went wilfully into the abode of Varuṇa. Mitrā-Varuṇa, the two Devas became very passionate to see that Apsarā (the celestial nymph) endowed with youth and beauty and being enchanted with the arrows of cupid, and, being senseless, addressed to the Deva Kanyā Urvaśī, beautiful in all her parts, thus:
“O Lovely One! Seeing you, we are very much troubled with the arrows of cupid;
O Beautiful One! Select us and remain and enjoy here at your pleasure.”
When they said thus, Urvaśī became attached to them; and, under their control, began to stay in the house of Mitrā Varuṇa. When Urvaśī began to remain there, strongly attached to them, the semen of Mitrā Varuṇa dropped in an uncovered jar.
And the two beautiful sons of the Riṣis were born out of that; Agasti was the first child and Vaṣiṣṭha the second. Thus, out of the semen of Mitra Varuna, the two ascetics were born.
The first Agasti turned out a great ascetic in his childhood and resorted to forest;
Ikṣāku the best of Kings, selected Vaṣiṣṭha as his family priest.
O King! Ikṣāku, the best of Kings, nursed him for the welfare of his own line; the more so, because to know that he was the Muni Vaṣiṣṭha; and thus he was very pleased with him.
Janamejaya! Thus I have described to you about the getting of another body by Vaṣiṣṭha, due to the curse of Nimi, and have also described his re-birth in Mitrā-Varuṇa’s family.
Here ends the Fourteenth Chapter of the Sixth Book on the birth of Vaṣiṣṭha from Mitra Varuna in Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam, the Mahā Purāṇam of 18,000 verses by Mahāṛṣi Veda Vyāsa.