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(Astika Parva continued)

"Sauti said, 'O foremost of Brahmanas, the gods having prepared for battle in that way, Garuda, the king of birds, soon came upon those wise ones. And the gods beholding him of excessive strength began to quake with fear, and strike one another with all their weapons. And amongst those that guarded the Soma was Brahmana (the celestial architect), of measureless might, effulgent as the electric fire and of great energy. And after a terrific encounter lasting only a moment, managed by the lord of birds with his talons, beak, and wings, he lay as dead on the fields. And the ranger of the skies making the worlds dark with the dust raised by the hurricane of his wings, overwhelmed the celestials with it. And the latter, overwhelmed with that dust, swooned away. And the immortals who guarded the amrita, blinded by that dust, could no longer see Garuda. Even thus did Garuda agitate the region of the heavens. And even thus he mangled the gods with the wounds inflicted by his wings and beak.

"Then the god of a thousand eyes commanded Vayu (the god of wind), saying, 'Dispel thou this shower of dust soon. O Maruta, this is indeed, thy task. Then the mighty Vayu soon drove away that dust. And when the darkness had disappeared, the celestials attacked Garuda. And as he of

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great might was attacked by the gods, he began to roar aloud, like the great cloud that appeareth in the sky at the end of the Yuga, frightening every creature. And that king of birds, of great energy, that slayer of hostile heroes, then rose on his wings. All the wise ones (the celestials) with Indra amongst them armed with double-edged broad swords, iron maces furnished with sharp spikes, pointed lances, maces, bright arrows, and many a discus of the form of the sun, saw him over head. And the king of birds, attacked them on all sides with showers of various weapons and fought exceedingly hard without wavering for a moment. And the son of Vinata, of great prowess blazing in the sky, attacked the gods on all sides with his wings and breast. And blood began to flow copiously from the bodies of the gods mangled by the talons and the beak of Garuda. Overcome by the lord of birds, the Sadhyas with the Gandharvas fled eastwards, the Vasus with the Rudras towards the south, the Adityas towards the west, and the twin Aswins towards the north. Gifted with great energy, they retreated fighting, looking back every moment on their enemy.

"And Garuda had encounters with the Yakshas, Aswakranda of great courage, Rainuka, the bold Krathanaka, Tapana, Uluka, Swasanaka, Nimesha, Praruja, and Pulina. And the son of Vinata mangled them with his wings, talons, and beak, like Siva himself, that chastiser of enemies, and the holder of Pinaka in rage at the end of the Yuga. And those Yakshas of great might and courage, mangled all over by that ranger of the skies, looked like masses of black clouds dropping thick showers of blood.

"And Garuda, depriving them of life, and then went to where the amrita was. And he saw that it was surrounded on all sides by fire. And the terrible flames of that fire covered the entire sky. And moved by violent winds, they seemed bent on burning the Sun himself. The illustrious Garuda then assumed ninety times ninety mouths and quickly drinking the waters of many rivers with those mouths and returning with great speed, that chastiser of enemies, having wings for his vehicle extinguished that fire with that water. And extinguishing that fire, he assumed a very small form, desirous of entering into (the place where the Soma was).'"

So ends the thirty-second section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.

Next: Section XXXIII