Mahabharat Section-7

dressed the Rishi : ‘What meaneth this rashness, O Brahmana, that
thou hast displayed towards me ? What transgression can be imputed
to me who was labouring to do justice and speak the truth impartially ? Being asked I gave the true answer- A witness who when interrogated
about a fact of which he hath knowledge, representeth otherwise than it
is, ruineth his ancestors and descendants both to the seventh generation.
He, too, who, being fully cognisant of all the particulars of an affair,
doth not disclose what he knoweth, when asked, is undoubtedly stained
with guilt. I can also curse thee, but Brahmanas are held by me in high
respect. Although these are known to thee, O Brahmana, I will yet
speak of themi so please attend ! Having, by ascetic power, multiplied
myself, I am present in various forms, in places of the daily homa, at
sacrifices extending for years, in places where holy rites are performed
(such as marriage, &c.), and at other sacrifices. With the butter that
is poured upon my flame according to the injunctions prescribed in the
Vedas, the Devas and the Pitris are appeased. The Devas are the
waters ; the Pitris are also the waters. The Devas have with the Pitris an equal right to the sacrifices called Darshas and Purnamashas. The
Devas therefore are the Pitris and the Pitris, the Devas. They are
identical beings, worshipped together and also separately at the changes
of the moon. The Devas and the Pitris eat what is poured upon me. I am therefore called the mouth of the Devas and the Pitris. At the new
moon the Pitris, and at the full moon the Devas, are fed through my
mouth, eating of the clarified butter that is pured on me. Being, as I am, their mouth, how am I to be an eater of all things (clean and unclean) ?’ “Then Agni, after reflecting for a while, withdrew himself from all places ; from places of the daily homa of the Brahmanas, from all longextending sacrifices, from placas of holy rites, and from other ceremonies. Without their Oms and Vashats, and deprived of their Swadhas
and Swakas (sacrificial mantras during offerings), the whole body of
creatures became much distressed at the loss of their (sacrificial) fire. The Rishis in great anxiety went to the gods and addressed them thus:
‘Ye immaculate beings ! the three regions of the universe are confounded at the cessation of their sacrifices and ceremonies in consequence of the loss of fire ! Ordain what is to be done in this matter, so that there
64 MAHABHARATA
may be no loss of time.’ Then the Rishis and the gods went together
into the presence of Brahma. And they represented to him all about
the curse on Agni and the consequent interruption of all ceremonies.
And they said, ‘O thou greatly fortunate ! Once Agni hath been cursed
by Bhrigu for some reason. Indeed, being the mouth of the gods and
also the first who eateth of what is offered in sacrifices, the eater also of the sacrificial butter, how will Agni be reduced to the condition of one who eateth of all things promiscuously ?’ And the creator of the
universe hearing these words of theirs summoned Agni to his presence.
And Brahma addressed Agni, the creator of all and eternal as himseFf,
in these gentle words : Thou art the creator of the worlds and thou
art their destroyer ! Thou preservest the three worlds and thou art the
promter of all sacrifices and ceremonies ! Therefore behave thyself so that ceremonies be not interrupted. And O thou eater of the sacrificial butter, why dost thou act so foolishly, being as thou art the Lord of all ? Thou alone art always pure in the universe and thou art its stay ! Thou
shalt not with all thy body, be reduced to the state of one who eateth
of all things promiscuously. O thou of flames, the flame that is in thy
viler parts shall alone eat of all things alike. That body of thine which
eateth of flesh (being in the stomach of all carnivorous animals) shall also eat of all things promiscuously. And as every thing touched by the
sun’s rays becometh pure, so shall everything be pure that shall be
burnt by thy flames. Thou art, O fire, the supreme energy born of thy
own power. Then, O Lord, by that power of thine make the Rishi’s curse come true. Continue to receive thy own portion and that of the
gods, offered at thy mouth.”
Sauti continued : Then Agni replied to the Grand-father. ‘So be
it.’ And he then went away to obey the command of the supreme Lord.
The gods and the Rishis also returned in delight to the place whence
they came. And the Risliis began to perform as before their ceremonies
and sacrifices. And the gods in heaven and all creatures of the world
rejoiced exceedingly. And Agni too rejoiced in that he was free from
the prospect of sin. “Thus, O possessor of the six attribues, had Agni been cursed in the
days of yore by Bhrigu. And such is the ancient history connected with
the destruction of the Rakshasa Pauloma, and the birth of Chyavana.”
Thus endeth the seventh section of the Pauloma Parva of the Adi
Parva of the blessed Mahabharata.