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(Astika Parva continued)

"Sauti continued, 'A certain Brahmana with his wife had entered the throat of that ranger of the skies. The former began to burn the bird's throat like a piece of flaming charcoal. Him Garuda addressed, saying, 'O best of Brahmanas, come out soon from my mouth which I open for thee. A Brahmana must never be slain by me, although he may be always engaged in sinful practices.' Unto Garuda who had thus addressed him that Brahmana said, 'O, let this woman of the Nishada caste, who is my wife, also come out with me.' And Garuda said, 'Taking the woman also of the Nishada caste with thee, come out soon. Save thyself without delay since thou hast not yet been digested by the heat of my stomach.'

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"Sauti continued, 'And then that Brahmana, accompanied by his wife of the Nishada caste, came out, and praising Garuda wended whatever way he liked. And when that Brahmana had come out with his wife, that lord of birds, fleet as the mind, stretching his wings ascended the skies. He then saw his father, and, hailed by him, Garuda, of incomparable prowess made proper answers. And the great Rishi (Kasyapa) then asked him, 'O child, is it well with thee? Dost thou get sufficient food every day? Is there food in plenty for thee in the world of men?'

"Garuda replied, 'My mother is ever well. And so is my brother, and so am I. But, father, 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 emancipating my mother from her bondage. My mother command me, saying, 'Eat thou the Nishadas.' 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. Thou shouldst indicate some food wherewith I may appease my hunger and thirst.'

"Kasyapa replied, 'This lake thou seest is sacred. It hath been heard, of even in the heavens. There is an elephant, with face downwards, who continually draggeth 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.

"There was of old a great Rishi of the name of Vibhavasu. He was exceedingly wrathful. He had a younger brother of the name of Supritika. The latter was averse to keeping his wealth jointly with his brother's. And Supritika would always speak of partition. After some time his brother Vibhavasu told Supritika, 'It is from great foolishness that persons blinded by love of wealth always desire to make a partition of their patrimony. After effecting a partition they fight with each other, deluded by wealth. Then again, enemies in the guise of friends cause estrangements between ignorant and selfish men alter 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 amongst brothers who, when divided, do not regard the most authoritative Sastras and live always in fear of each other. But as thou, Supritika, without regarding my advice impelled by desire of separation, always wishest to make an arrangement about your property, thou shall become an elephant.' Supritika, thus cursed, then spake unto Vibhavasu, 'Thou also shall become a tortoise moving in the midst of the waters.'

"And thus on account of wealth those two fools, Supritika and Vibhavasu, from each other's curse, have become an elephant and a tortoise respectively. Owing to their wrath, they have both become inferior animals. And they are engaged in hostilities with each other, proud of their excessive

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strength and the weight of their bodies. And in this lake those two beings of huge bodies are engaged in acts according to their former hostility. Look here, one amongst them, the handsome elephant of huge body, is even now approaching. Hearing his roar, the tortoise also of huge body, living within the waters, cometh out, agitating the lake violently. And seeing him the elephant, curling his trunk, rusheth into the water. And 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. And the tortoise also of great strength, with upraised head, cometh forward for an encounter. And the elephant is six yojanas in height and twice that measure in circumference. And the height of the tortoise also is three yojanas and his circumference ten. Eat thou up both of them that are madly engaged in the encounter and bent upon slaying each other, and then accomplish the task that thou desirest. Eating that fierce elephant which looketh like a huge mountain and resembleth a mass of dark clouds, bring thou amrita.'

"Sauti continued, 'Having said so unto Garuda, he (Kasyapa) blessed him, saying, 'Blest be thou when thou art in combat with the gods. Let water pitchers filled to the brim, Brahmanas, kine, and other auspicious objects, bless thee, thou oviparous one. And, O thou of great strength, when thou art engaged with the gods in combat, let the Riks, the Yajus, the Samas, the sacred sacrificial butter, all the mysteries (Upanishads), constitute thy strength.'

"Garuda, thus addressed by his father, wended to the side of that lake. He saw that expanse of clear water with birds of various kinds all around. And remembering the words of his father, that ranger of the skies possessed of great swiftness of motion, seized the elephant and the tortoise, one in each claw. And that bird then soared high into the air. And he came upon a sacred place called Alamva and saw many divine trees. And struck by the wind raised by his wings, those trees began to shake with fear. And those divine trees having golden boughs feared that they would break. And the ranger of the skies seeing that those trees capable of granting every wish were quaking with fear, went to other trees of incomparable appearance. And those gigantic trees were adorned with fruits of gold and silver and branches of precious gems. And they were washed with the water of the sea. And there was a large banian among them, which had grown into gigantic proportions, that spoke unto that lord of bird coursing towards it with the fleetness of the mind, 'Sit thou 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 bough of that banian tree, the resort of thousands of winged creatures-that bough also full of leaves shook and broke down.'"

So ends the twenty-ninth section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.

Next: Section XXX