Ashwamedhika Parva 1 – Yudhishthira Decides to Conduct the Ashwamedha Yagya
The horse sacrifice
Yudhishthira again requested Krishna to permit him to leave to the forest as he felt guilty about killing Bheeshma and Karna. Vyasa then reminded him it was his dharma to fight. He asked Yudhishthira to atone for his deeds by performing the Ashwamedha sacrifice and giving away wealth as donations.
Yudhishthira told Vyasa that the treasury was empty because of the war, and he did not want to take money from other kings. Vyasa then told him about the sacrifice done by the King Marutta. The King Karandhama of the Ikshvaku clan was well known for his strength and adherence to dharma. His son was Marutta, and his greatness was such that he was called a second Vishnu.
Marutta once wanted to perform a great sacrifice and requested Brihaspathi to officiate. Indra, who did not like Marutta, asked Brihaspathi not to perform the sacrifice. When Brihaspathi refused to perform the sacrifice, Marutta was upset. Narada advised him to get the sacrifice done through Samvarta, the son of the sage Angiras.
Samvarta agreed but was worried that Indra might try to harm the sacrifice. Indra and Brihaspathi did not want Samvarta to conduct the sacrifice, so Indra sent Agni with a message. He offered that Brihaspathi officiate for the sacrifice instead of Samvarta, but Marutta refused, saying he had already given his word to Samvarta. An angry Indra threatened to use his Vajra against King Marutta.
Through his powers, Samvarta performed the sacrifice and brought Indra and the other gods to bless the sacrifice. With the blessings of Indra, the sacrifice was done and a lot of wealth was collected. Vyasa told Yudhishthira that the wealth was still available and should be used to conduct the horse sacrifice.
Krishna met Arjuna before he left for Dwaraka. Arjuna told Krishna that he had lost his intelligence and had forgotten the lessons Krishna had taught him before the war when he had revealed his real form.
Krishna told Arjuna that he was not happy that Arjuna had not remembered the lessons. He told him he could not repeat it again but would relate stories that conveyed the same lessons. He narrated the conversation between Kashyapa and a learned Brahmana.
When a person died, the breath of life leaves the body. The jivatman of the person is in the heart and is enveloped by the deeds committed. A person whose deeds are bad goes to hell, while one who has done good deeds goes to heaven.
When a person is born, the jivatman enters the womb. It brings consciousness, and just as a lamp illuminates everything; the jivatman illuminates the body. The good and bad deeds done in previous lives have an effect on the present life. One who makes donations, practices self-control, shows compassion towards everyone, is upright, worships elders and gods, and does not injure others is protected by dharma.
One who follows the path of dharma is liberated from the cycle of birth and death. A person who restrains the senses can see his own atman. A person who is engaged in Yoga can see the inner atman. The person using Yoga to unite his atman has no death.
Krishna then advised Arjuna that one who focuses on the atman and practices yoga for six months can achieve the final destination.
…. To be continued