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(Astika Parva continued)

"Sauti said, 'The snake-sacrifice then commenced according to due form. And the sacrificial priests, competent in their respective duties according to the ordinance, clad in black garments and their eyes red from contact with smoke, poured clarified butter into the blazing fire, uttering the appropriate mantras. And causing the hearts of all the snakes to tremble with fear, they poured clarified butter into the mouth of Agni uttering the names of the snakes. And the snakes thereupon began to fall into the blazing fire, benumbed and piteously calling upon one another. And swollen and breathing hard, and twining each other with their heads and tails, they came in large numbers and fell into the fire. The white, the black, the blue, the old and the young--all fell alike into the fire, uttering various cries. Those measuring a krosa, and those measuring a yojana, and those of the measure of a gokarna, fell continuously with great violence into that first of all fires. And hundreds and thousands and tens of thousands of snakes, deprived of all control over their limbs, perished on that occasion. And amongst those that perished, there were some that were like horses, other like trunks of elephants, and others of huge bodies and strength like maddened elephants Of various colours and virulent poison, terrible and looking like maces furnished with iron-spikes, of great strength, ever inclined to bite, the snakes, afflicted with their mother's curse, fell into the fire.'"

Next: Section LIII