Aranya Parva - 4
Arjuna narrated the story of how he obtained celestial weapons. He also told them of how he was asked by Indra to defeat the Nivatakavachas. These demons lived under the sea. A fierce battle took place between Arjuna and the Nivatakavachas. They used various weapons, including illusions, but Arjuna beat them all.
Finally, he used Indra’s Vajra to destroy the Nivatakavachas. Thus, he helped the celestials get back their city the demons had taken over. While returning to Indra’s capital, Amravati, they saw a flying city. The city was Hiranyapura, made of gold and ruled by the descendants of Puloma and Kalaka, who had got the city as a boon from Lord Brahma.
The city could move in the air in any direction and Arjuna chased the city using various weapons to attack the Paulomas and Kalakeyas who lived there. Finally, he used the Raudra weapon to destroy the aerial city of Hiranyapura. When he returned, a pleased Indra gave him a crown (Kirita) thus earning him the name Kiriti.
One day Yudhishthira asked Arjuna to demonstrate the celestial weapons. Arjuna then prepared to discharge the weapon even as the earth shook. The fires stopped burning, and the sun stopped shining. The sage Narada appeared and admonished Arjuna not to use celestial weapons when there was no target.
As they returned toward the Kamyaka forests, they passed through the Yamuna when a mighty python seized Bheema. He used all his strength but could not free himself from the python’s vice-like grip. Yudhishthira who was worried about Bheema’s absence went in search of him. He was shocked to see Bheema caught by the python.
The python revealed it was his ancestor, Nahusha. The Gods asked the son of Ayu to rule Indraloka since Indra had left his kingdom after the war with Vritra to atone his sins. Nahusha had a boon that his gaze would make people submit to his wishes. Using this power, he assumed charge as the ruler of the celestial world.
He became arrogant and misused his power. He demanded that Indra’s wife Shachi marry him. She was upset and consulted the sage Agastya. As per his advice, she demanded that Nahusha visit her in a palanquin drawn by the saptarishis (seven holy sages). Nahusha then ordered the seven sages to take him to Shachi. When Agastya slowed the movement of the palanquin, he pushed him with his leg.
An angry Agastya cursed Nahusha, who fell to earth and lived as a snake for thousands of years. Nahusha told Yudhishthira that only he could help him get redemption for his curse. Nahusha had a discourse with Yudhishthira on Dharma, after which Nahusha was relieved of his curse and went to heaven.
The Pandavas reached Kamyaka and continued to stay there, performing austerities. The sage Markandeya visited them at the same time that Krishna and Satyabhama were there. Markandeya told them many stories, including about Vaivasvata Manu and Matsya. He explained how Matsya helped Manu escape from dissolution and create a new world.
The sage also told them about the yugas and what would happen during Kali Yuga. The sage explained the greatness of Narayana and told how Krishna was the incarnation of Narayana. Markandeya explained the story of how a Brahmana learnt about Dharma from a hunter who taught him the importance of respecting one’s parents.
Meanwhile, Draupadi and Satyabhama had a conversation. Satyabhama wanted to know how Draupadi had won over the five Pandavas. Draupadi explained the duties of a wife. Soon the sage Markandeya, as well as Krishna and Satyabhama, left from the Kamyaka forest. The Pandavas then moved to the Dwaita forests.
… to be continued