In Naimisaaranya, a great saint called Sounaka was performing “satrayaaga”.A story teller called “Ugrasravasu” son of Romaharshana, arrived there.“Ugrasravasu” met the sages and saints assembled there and said:“I am the son of Romaharshana, a student of Vedavyasa. I am an expert in tellling divine and sacred stories.”
Saint Shounaka and other sages and saints assembled there for performing “satra yaga” expressed their desire to hear some divine story. Then “Ugrasravasu” began to tell story “Mahabharata”.
In the ancient past, there was a Brahmarshi called Krishna Dvaipaayana. He was also called as Veda Vyasa. At that time, all the Vedas were combined together. VedaVyasa divided them into four. They are (1)Rigveda; (2) Yajurveda; (3)Sama veda; (4)Adharvana veda.With the permission of Brahma, he wrote 18 Puraanaas, Dharma Sastraas, Itihasas, historical stories of kings, life of Lord Srikrishna, and the stories of Pandavas and Kouravas. That is called Mahabharata. Veda Vyasa completed Mahabharata in three years. Mahabharata contains 18 parvas.
1.Adi parvamu .. 9984 slokas.
2.Sabhaa parvamu .. 4311 slokas.
3.Aranya parvamu .. 13664 slokas.
4.Virata parvamu. .. 3500 slokas.
5.Udyoga parvamu. .. 6998 slokas.
6.Bheeshma parvamu .. 5884 slokas.
7.Drona parvamu. ..10919 slokas.
8.Karna parvamu. ..4900 slokas.
9.Salya parvamu. ..3220 slokas.
10.Souptikaparvamu. ..2870 slokas.
11.Stree parvamu. ..1775 slokas.
12.Saanti parvamu. ..14525 slokas.
13.Anusaasanika parvamu ..12000 slokas.
14.Asvamedhika parvamu ..4420 slokas.
15.Aasramavaasa parvamu. ..1106 slokas.
16.Mousala parvamu. ..300 slokas.
17.Mahaa prastaana parvamu. ..120 slokas.
18.Svargaarohana parvamu. ..200 slokas.
Veda Vyasa deputed Saint Narada to tell Mahabharata in Devaloka, Saint Devala to tell in Pitru lOka, Saint Suka to tell in Gandharva, yaksha, raakshasa lokas, Vaisampaayana to tell in Manushya lOka, to King Janamejaya.
I (Ugrasravasu) heard Mahabharata story while Vaisampaayana was narrating the same to King Janamejaya. Now I am telling the same to all of you assembled here for Satra Yaaga. Then, Saint Shounaka and other saints asked “Ugrasravasu” to tell them about Samantaka Pancaka and also about the great warriors like Bhishma. “Ugrasravasu” continued to say There are four yugaas. They are (1) Kruta yuga; (2)Tretaa yuga; (3)Dvaapara yuga; (4)Kali yuga. At the end of Kruta yuga, there was a great war between Devatas (divine souls) and daanavaas (raakshasaas or demons). At the end of Tretaayuga, there was a battle between Rama and Ravana. At the end of Dvaapara yuga, there was a great war between Paandavas and Kouravas.
During the time between Tretaayuga and Dvaapara yugaa, one Brahmin warrior Parasuraama son of a great saint Jamadagni, waged war against all the Kshatriya community 21 times and killed all the kings. The blood flown out of their bodies formed into five streams. Those five streams of blood are called “Samantaka pancaka”. At that place only, Mahabharata war took place. It is also called Kurukshetra.
Arjuna was one of the five Pandavas. Arjuna’s grandson was King Pareekshit. King Janameja was the son of King Pareekshit. King Janamejaya was performing a Yajna. One day, a small dog called Saarameya, son of a divine dog called Sarama, was playing at the place of Yajna. On seeing this, the brothers of King Janamejaya, grew angry and beat that small dog, Saarameya. Sarameya went to his mother and said that he was beaten by the king. Sarama came to Janamejaya and said: “Oh king Janamejaya, your people beat my son, while he was simply playing at the place of yajna, without any reason, . It is wrong. Wrong doers will suffer the consequences without any cause.” So saying, she went away.
Later, Janamejaya intended to perform shanthi ritual, to avert all evils, as spoken by Sarama. To perform the said ritual, the King invited a great saint called Somasravasu, as chief priest. One Udanka was studying in a Gurukula (place where students learn Vedas from Teacher in homely atmosphere). After completing the learning, Gurupatni (wife of his teacher) requested Udanka to bring the ear rings of Rani Poushya Devi, wife of King Poushya. Accordingly, Udanka went to King Poushya and requested him to give the ear rings. King Poushya gladly accepted his request but asked him to collect them from his wife, Poushya Devi. Udanka went to Poushya Devi and requested for the ear rings.
Poushya Devi gave the ear rings to Udanka and also cautioned him “Udanka, Takshaka (serpant) was trying to snatch the earrings. Be careful”.She also requested him to take food in her house. Udanka accepted her request.While he was taking food, one fallen hair was found in the food. Udanka grew angry. For blindly serving food to the guest, Udanka cursed Poushya to become blind. Poushya said “you have cursed me for a small mistake. I also will give “Saapa” to you. You will remain issueless.”
Udanka requested Poushya to take back her Saapaa as he could not bear that Saapaa and remain issueless. Poushya said: “Udankaa, Brahmins are kind in heart but harsh in words. But Kshatriyas are harsh in heart but kind in words. Hence I could not take back my Saapaa. You have to take back your Saapaa.”Udanka agreed for it and said “You will get rid of my Saapaa within a short time”.
So saying, Udanka left that place carrying the ear rings with him. While going to his Ashram, on the way, he stopped near a stream. He placed the earnings at a clean and neat place and went to the stream for bath. At that time, Takshaka came there, took away the ear rings, and fled away to Nagaloka.
On seeing this, Udanka also followed him to Nagaloka. He praised all the Naga kings viz., Ananta, Vaasuki, Takshaka and other serpant kings and requested them to give back the ear rings. In the Naga loka, he also found a divine personality (Indra) riding a horse. Udanka also praised that divine personality. Satisfied with his praises, Indra asked him what he wants. Udanka prayed that the entire serpant community should be under his control.
Indra asked Udanka to blow air in the ear of the horse. When Udanka blew air in the ear of the horse, flames came out of the entire body of the horse and spread all over Nagaloka. On seeing this Takshaka was frightened and returned the ear rings to Udanka. After receiving the ear rings from Takshaka, Udanka returned to his Ashramam and gave the ear rings to Gurupatni.
After taking permission from Guru, Udanka went away. He performed great Tapassu(penance). But he could not forget the harm caused to him by Takshka. He wanted to wreak vengeance.Then Udanka went to King Janamejaya and said: “King JanamE jayaa, Takshaka was a wicked serpant.He caused harm to me. While I was taking the ear rings from Poushya Maha Rani, to give it to my gurupatni, he snatched them away. Besides that, without realising whether it is right or wrong, he carried out the Saapa(curse) of the Saint Srungi and killed your father King Parikshit brutally. He should be taught a lesson. For the misdeeds committed by him, the entire Naga community should suffer. I request you to perform Sarpa yaaga in which all the snakes in the world including Takshaka will fall and die.” Heeding the words of Udanka, Janamejaya intended to perform Sarpayaaga.
Shounaka and other saints hearing the story asked “Ugrasravasu”,“What is the reason for all the poisonous snakes to fall in Sarpayaaga(sacred fire) and die. Please tell us.”Ugrasravasu, the story-teller said “It was due to the Saapa given by Kadruva, the mother of snakes. But Aastika stopped Sarpa yaaga and saved the serpant community. I will tell that story in detail”. The story teller continued to say.Bhruguvu is a great saint. His wife was Puloma. While she was pregnant, one day, Bhruguvu asked his wife Puloma to lit sacred fire for the daily ritual and went to a nearby stream to take bath. Accordingly, she lit the sacred fire(agni) and was attending to other works.
At that time, one raakshasa (demon) called Pulomudu came there. He saw Puloma.He lusted her. He asked the fire (agni deva) who she was. Agnideva was in dilemma. If he tells the truth, the demon will cause harm to Puloma. If he does not tell the truth, he will be a sinner for telling falsehood. Agnideva decided to tell the truth. He said that she was the wife of saint Bhruguvu.
Pulomudu recognised her. Prior to her marriage, he fell in love with her but could not succeed. Now she is the wife of Bhruguvu. Pulomudu wanted to have her. He became a big pig (varaahamu) and took her on his shoulder and ran away carrying Puloma. She was weeping and trying to escape from his clutches. In that scuffle, as she was in advanced pregnancy, she delivered a male child. His name was Chyavana, a powerful child. The child, Chyavana, looked at that demon with anger. The flames came out of eyes of the child, burnt away that demon, Pulomudu. Then Puloma took the child in her lap and returned to Ashram. After Bhruguvu returned to Ashram, she told him what had happened. Bhruguvu grew angry.
“Who told that demon about your identity?” Bhruvugu asked PulOma.”
“Agnideva revealed myidentity.” Puloma replied.
Agnideva clarified “If I tell falsehood, I will get sin. Hence I told the truth.”
Bhruguvu cursed him and gave saapaa “Hereinafter, you will sarvabhakshaka (an indiscriminate eater).”
Agnideva thought that “if I become indiscriminate eater, how can I carry holy offerings to devataas”. Hence he withdrew his flames. As there was no agni, there was no Homa(sacred fire), no offerings to devataas.
Brahma deva came to agni and told Agni ,
“Oh agni deva, even if you are an indiscriminate eater, according to Bhruguvu Saapa , still you are a sacred fire. Your holiness cannot be taken away by Bhrugu Saapaa. Please resume your flames and carry offerings to Devataas”.
Obeying the words of Brahma, Agni resumed his flames and the daily rituals continued as before. Chyavana, son of Bhruguvu, married a girl Sukanya, daughter of King Sharyathi.Their son was Pramathi. Pramathi married an Apsarasa. Their son was Ruru. Ruru fell in love with Pramadvara, a girl brought up in an ashramam of Saint Sthoolakesa. One day, Pramadvara went to forest. There she was bitten by a snake and died.Ruru came to know about the death of his lover, Pramadvara. He could not control himself. He prayed all the gods and divine souls to give life to his lover and he was ready to give whatever they want.
A “Devata” from heaven spoke— “Oh Ruru, birth and death are quite common to human beings. You cannot avert it. But there is one way. If you can give half of your life to Pramadvara, she will regain consciousness.”On hearing this, Ruru gladly agreed for that and gave half of his life to his lover Pramadvara. She regained consciousness with renewed health and vigour. Ruru married Pramadvara and led a happy married life.
But, Ruru could not forget the harm caused to his lover by a snake. He wanted to take revenge against snakes. He took a big stick and began to search and kill each and every snake found in the forest.
One day, he found one non-poisonous snake called Dumdumbham. Ruru raised his stick to beat and kill it. Dundubham stopped him and asked him why he is killing snakes indiscriminately.Ruru told him what had happened. Immediatey, Dundubham transformed into human form. Ruru asked him why he is lying like a serpant. He replied—-
“My name is Sahasrapada. One day when my friend Khagama was performing Homam, (sacred fire), I, mischievously, put a snake like rope, made up of hay, in his neck. He grew angry. He cursed me to become a non-poisonous snake. I realised my mistake and requested him for “saapa-vimocana”. Khagama blessed Sahasrapada that when he will speak to a saint called Ruru, he will get human body. Accordingly, I regained my human body”.
“You are a brahmin, Brahmins are renowned for their kindness and forbearance, and forgiveness. But why are you killing all the snakes. In the past, one saint Aastika, a student of your father, stopped the Sarpa yaagaa, performed by Janamejaya, while all the snakes were falling and dying in the sacred fire, in view of the Saapa (curse) given by Kadruva, the mother of snakes, to her sons. You also stop killing snakes.”
Then, Shounaka and other sages and saints who were hearing the story asked Ugrasravasu “It is quite strange, how could a mother give Saapaa (curse)to her childrensnakes, to fall in the sacred fire and die. Please tell us the same in detail.
Ugrasravasu continued to tell the story ….
Aadi Parvamu--Pradhamaasvaasam(first chapter)completed