Śrīmad Devi Bhāgavatam | Book 6 Chapter 13



Chapter XIII

On the description of the battle between Ādi and Baka after the discourse on Śunahśepha

1-6. Indra said:

“O Prince! The King Hariśchandra promised before to Varuṇa that he would celebrate for his propitiation the great Nāra Medhā sacrifice when he would offer his own son as a victim to be immolated.

O Prince! You are very intelligent; can’t you grasp this idea that your father has become merciless due to his suffering in this illness and no sooner you go there than he will make you the victim and tie you to the sacrificial post when you will be slaughtered.”

The indomitable Indra thus prohibiting the son, he began to stay there deluded by the Māyā of the great Mahā Māyā.

O King! Thus whenever the prince heard of his father’s severe illness, he wanted to go to his father, Indra repeatedly used to go to him and prevent him from doing so.

On the other hand, the King Hariśchandra became very much afflicted, and, seeing his family Guru all-knowing well-wisher Vaṣiṣṭha close by, asked him:

“O Bhagavān! what am I to do now? I am now very impatient with the agonies of this disease and am very weak; besides I am very much afraid of it. Kindly give me a good advice and save me.”

7-9. Vaṣiṣṭha said:

“O King! There is a good remedy for the cure of your disease. It is stated in the Śāstras that the sons are of thirteen kinds; Aurasa, Kṣattraja, Datrima, Krītrima; etc.

Therefore pay the reasonable price and buy one good Brāhmin boy and perform your sacrifice with that boy.

O King! Thus Varuṇa will be pleased and you will be cured of your disease.”

10-24. Vyāsa said:

O King! Hearing thus the words of Vaṣiṣṭha, the King Hariśchandra addressed to his minister:

“O Minister-in-Chief! You are very sharp and intelligent, therefore you better try your best and seek in my kingdom a Brāhmin boy.

In case a poor Brāhmin be willing, out of his love for money, to give over his son, then give him any amount he wants and bring his son.

O Minister! By all means, bring a Brāhmin boy for this sacrifice; in other words, do not be miserly or act lazily to perform my business.

You should pray to any Brāhmin thus:

Take this money and give your son, who will be sacrificed in a sacrificial ceremony as a victim.”

Thus ordered, the minister sought for a Brāhmin boy in towns after towns, villages after villages, and houses after houses. Till, at last, he came to know that in his kingdom there was a poor distressed Brāhmin named Ajigarta, who had three sons.

Then the minister gave to the Brāhmin that he wanted and purchased his second son named Śunahśepha and brought him before the King. And handed him over to the King, saying that this Brāhmin boy is fit for the sacrificial victim.

The King then gladly brought the best Brāhmins versed in the Vedas for the performance of the sacrifice, and collected all the articles requisite for the purpose.

When the sacrifice was commenced, the great Muni Viśvāmitra, seeing Śunahśepha tied, prohibited the King and said:

“O King! Do not be so bold as to sacrifice this boy; let this boy be free. O long-lived One! I am asking this thing from you today and if you obey it, certainly it will do good to you.

O King! This boy Śunahśepha is crying; his cries are paining my heart and I am feeling pity for him. Hear my word and free this boy out of mercy.

See! The pure-hearted Kṣattriyas, in ancient days, used to sacrifice their own bodies and thus preserve others bodies, so that they might attain the Heavens.

And now you are killing this Brāhmin boy forcibly so that you may preserve your own body; judge how vicious is this your act! Be merciful to this boy.

O King! Everyone likes his own body to the same extent; you are feeling this yourself; therefore if you take my word, then quit this boy.”

25-36. Vyāsa said:

O King! The King Hariśchandra was ailing very much; hence be did not pay any heed to the Muni’s words and did not quit the boy. Thereupon the very fiery spirited Viśvāmitra became very angry with the King.

Then Viśvāmitra, the son of Kuśika, the foremost of the knowers of the Vedas, showed mercy on Śunahśepha and gave him the “Varuṇa Mantram.”

Śunahśepha, very much afraid to lose his life, earnestly repeatedly remembered Varuṇa and uttered that mantram in pluta tone (lengthened or prolonged).

Varuṇa, too, the ocean of mercy, knowing that the Brāhmin boy was praising him with hymns came up to that spot and freed Śunahśepha from his bondage and freed the King also from his disease and went back to his own abode.

Thus the Mahāṛṣi Viśvāmitra became very glad to rescue the Muni’s son from the jaws of death.

The King Hariśchandra did not observe the words of Viśvāmitra; hence the son of Gādhi harboured within his heart anger towards the King.

One day while the King Hariśchandra was riding in a forest and there, at midday, on the banks of the river Kauśikī, when he desired to kill a boar, Viśvāmitra in the garb of an old Brāhmin asked from him everything that he had, including his dominion and thus cunningly took away everything from the King.

The Mahāṛṣi Vaṣiṣṭha, seeing his Yajamāna Hariśchandra suffering much, became wounded and felt pain in his mind. One day when he met casually with Viśvāmitra in a forest, he said:

“O wicked Kṣattriya! A disgrace to your family! You have in vain put on the garb of a Brāhmin; your religion is like a crane; you ate full of vanity; you boast for nothing.

The best of kings, Hariśchandra is my client; he is faultless; still, O Fool! Why are you giving him so much trouble.

As you are religious as a crane is religious, so take your birth as a crane.”

Viśvāmitra, thus cursed by Vaṣiṣṭha, cursed Vaṣiṣṭha in return, and said:

“O Vaṣiṣṭha! As long as I will remain a crane, so long you also remain as Śarāli or Ādi bird.”

37-42. Vyāsa said:

O King! The two angry Munis thus cursed each other and the two were born as Crane and Śarāli or Ādi bird.

The crane Viśvāmitra built its nest on the top of a tree on the Mānasarovara lake and began to live there.

Vaṣiṣṭha, too, assumed the form of an Ādi bird, and built his nest on the top of another tree and lived there.

Thus the two Riṣis spent their days in full enmity towards each other.

These two birds used to shriek so terribly loud that they became a nuisance to all; they fought daily with each other. They used to strike each other with beaks and wings and nails and thus they were covered all over their bodies with cuts and wounds and they were smeared with blood. They began to look like Kimśuka trees.

Thus the two Riṣis, in the shape of birds, in their states of bondage, due to each other’s curse, passed many years there.

43. Janamejaya said:

“O Brāhmaṇa! Kindly tell me how Vaṣiṣṭha and Kauśika, the two Riṣis, became free from their curses; I am very curious to hear this.”

44-54. Vyāsa said:

Brahmā, the Grandsire of his subjects, came there with all the Devas, filled with mercy, on seeing those two Riṣis at war against each other.

Brahmā, the Lotus-seated, made them desist from such a fight, consoled them and freed both of them from each other’s curses.

Then the Devas went back to their own abodes and the illustrious lotus-seated Brahmā went to the Satyaloka, seated on his Swan.

Mahāṛṣi Vaṣiṣṭha and Viśvāmitra became then friends and were tied with bonds of affection at the advice of Brahmā; they went back to their own Āśramas.

O King! Now see, that the Mahāṛṣi Vaṣiṣṭha, the son of Mitra-Varuṇa, fought for nothing with Viśvāmitra, so painful to both the parties. Who, then, amongst the human beings, the Dānavas or the Devas can conquer his Ahaṁkāra (egoism) and be always happy?

 Therefore the Chitta-Śuddhi, the purity of the heart (that purity which imparts to man the blessedness of God-vision) is very difficult even for the high-souled persons; with the greatest caution and utmost effort one has to practise for that.

To those persons, that are void of this Chitta Śuddhi, it is all vain to go to places of pilgrimage, to make charities, to practise tapasyā, to be truthful; in fact, anything, which is the means to attain Dharma, becomes useless.

O King! Śraddhā (Faith) is of three kinds: (1) Sāttvic, (2) Rājasika and (3) Tāmasic to all persons in all their religious matters.

The Sāttvic faith is the only one of the three that yields entire results; and it is very rare in this world.

The Rājasic faith, done according to due rules, yields half the results thereof and the Tāmasic faith is fruitless and inglorious; the Tāmasic faith arises with those persons that are overwhelmed with lust, anger, greed, etc.

Therefore, O King! Keep to the company of the good and hear the Śāstras, Vedānta, etc., and free the heart of worldly desires and then concentrate it to the worship of the Devī and live in a sacred place of pilgrimage.

Men afraid and troubled with the defects of the Kāli Yuga, should always take the name of the Devī, sing praises, and meditate on Her lotus feet.

Thus the Jīvas will not have any fear of Kālī and the fallen vicious persons will easily be able to cross this ocean of the world and be free. There is no doubt in this.

Here ends the Thirteenth Chapter of the Sixth Book on the description of the battle between Ādi and Baka after the discourse on Śunahśepha in Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam, the Mahāpurāṇam of 18,000 verses by Mahāṛṣi Veda Vyāsa.