Ugrasra Vasu (the sooti) continued to say the story of Maha Bharat to Sounaka and other sages and saints.
Dharmaja and other pandavas along with Droupadi spent some days at the place where Nara and Narayana performed Tapassu.
One day, Dharmaja told to Bheema, Nakula and Sahadeva:
"Arjuna left us about five years back. He acquired innumerable Divine Astras. At any moment, he may return. We have to receive him".
Then they proceeded towards north and reched Mount Malyavanta.
One day, Droupadi and Bheema went out and enjoying the beauty of the mountains around Malyavanta. At that time, a flower with five colours was flying and fell near Droupadi. She was admired. She requested Bheema to fetch such flowers. Bheema went in search of those flowers.
While going in search of flowers, he reached the palace where Kubera was living. It was surrounded and guarded by Yakshas and Raakshasas.
When Bheema tried to gain entrance into the palace, the Yakshas and Rakshasas obstructed him. There was a big fight between Bheemaa and the guards. In that fight, one Manimanta, the Chief of the Army and also a best friend of Kubera died in the hands of Bheemaa. Bheemaa also killed number of Rakhasas and Yakshas. The remaining guards fled away and reported the matter to Kubera.
In the meanwhile, Droupadi informed Dharmaja about Bheema going in search of flowers. Dharmaja along with his brothers and Saint Romasa went in search of Bheema.
They reached the palace of Kubera. In that vicinity, they found the dead bodies of Manimanta and other Yakshas and Rakshas and they also saw Bheema standing there in a fierce mood.
On hearing what had happened, Kubera came down to Dharmaja and received them with due honors.
"Dharmaja! You need not worry about the death of Manimantha, my friend at the hands of Bheemaa. Manimanta died only due to a Saapaa and nothing else. You need not worry. You can stay here for a period of fifteen days. My people will make all arrangements for your comfortable stay. You can stay in the Ashram of Aarshti ShENaashram.
There is a good news for all of you. Arjuna is at present in Indra Loka. I saw Arjuna along with Devendra. He is ready to return back to you." said Kubera.
On hearing this news, Dharmaja was very happy. As per the request of Kubera, Dharmaja along with his brothers and Droupadi stayed there for some time.
One Day Dhoumya explained Dharmaja about Mount Meru and
One day, Arjuna on the chariot driven by Matali, the divine chariot driver, arrived at the place where Dharmaja was staying. Arjuna bowed before ROmasa, Dhoumya, elder brothers Dharmaja and Bheemaa. Following Arjuna, Devendra also arrived there.
"Dharmaja! Here is your affectionate brother, Arjuna. Arjuna is a great man. He acquired many diving astras. He killed the Rakshas, Nivaata and Kavaca and helped Devatas. We cannot forget his help" said Devendra. Then he returned back to Devaloka.
Then Dharmaja curiously asked Arjuna "Arjuna! Devendra told me that You have pleased Lord Siva, Indra, Varuna and Agni and other Devatas and acquired many divine Astras. Why cannot you tell us in detail about it as a feast to our ears".
"My dear brother, as ordered by you, I proceeded towards Himalayas. Devendra appeared before as a brahmin and advised me to do Tapassu about Lord Siva.
I accordingly did Tapassu. Lord Siva, having satisfied with my Tapassu, appeared before as a hunter. He picked up quarrel with me on the pretext of killing a pig. Not knowing about his original form, I fought with Siva.
Siva was pleased with my vigour and valour. He gave me the divine Astra viz., Paasupata Astra. Later, Indra and other Devatas came down to congratulate me and they also gave me several Diving Astras.
Then I went to Devaloka, with this human body, on the invitation of Devendra. Devendra also gave me several Divine Astras. In return, he requested me to fight with two Demons, Nivatha and Kavacha who were constantly causing harm to Devatas. Devendra also gave me Devadatta(a conche) as a gift.
Then I went upon Nivata and Kavas on the chariot driven by Divine Chariot Driver, Matali. The Rakshasas, Nivatha and Kavacha, were living in a palace underneath the sea. I blowed my conche Devadattam.
On hearing the sound of my conche, they came upon me. There was big fight between us. In that fight, Matali fainted and lost consciousness. I myself drove the chariot and continued the fight.
The Rakshasas launched an Astra which caused complete darkness. I could not see anything. I launched the Astra of Light, given by Devendra, which caused Divine Light. Then I fought with the Rakshasas. Most of the Rakshasas died along with Nivata and Kavacha.
With great victory, I returned to Devaloka. On the way, I saw a town called Hiranyapura.
"Arjuna! This is Hiranyapura ruled by two Rakshasas, Pouloma and Kaalakeya. They will not be killed of Devatas. You may try" said the Divine Chariot Driver, Matali.
I proceed towards Hiranyapura. The Rakshasas mistook
me as Devendra. They surrounded me and fought with me. They were doing
a miracle war. They along with their town, Hiranyapura, flew to sky and
were fighting from space. Then I launched Paasupata Astra given by Lord
Siva and killed all the Rakshasas along with Pouloma and Kaalakeya.
"Arjuna! I am very thankful to you for killing the Rakshasas and helped Devatas. Your brothers and wife are eagerly waiting for your arrival and hear your victorious deeds". said Devendra. Then Matali brought me here in the divine chariot" completed Arjuna.
Dharmaja and his brothers were very happy. They praised Arjuna for his vigour and valour.
."Arjuna! Kindly show us all the Astras given by Devatas and also launch them as experiment" asked Dharmaja.
Arjuna was making arrangements to launch the Astras. Having come to know about it, Divine Saint, Narada hurriedly arrived there.
"Arjuna! What are you doig? Stop the launching operations. They are Divine Astras. You should not launch them without fixing the target. Otherwise, they will destroy the entire world" said Narada.
Arjuna immediately stopped all the operations. Dharmaja stayed there for a period of ten months. Then ROmasa, the divine saint, went back to Devaloka.
Dharmaja along with his brothers and other followers returend back to Badarika vana and Subaahu Pura and sent back Ghatotkacha and his followers who were waiting there, to their original place. They spent one year in the vicinity of Himalayan Mountains. One day, Bheema went out for hunting.
"Who are you? How you got this enormous strength even to bind a mighty personality like me in your clutches? Have you got any divine power?" asked Bheemaa.
In reply, that python, in human voice said: "Bheemaa! I was an Emperor. My name was Nahusha. I belong to your dynasty. One great saint gave me Saapaa to become a serpant." Nahusha was repenting for his misdeeds.
In the meanwhile, Dharmaja was worried about Bheemaa. He went into the forest in search of Bheemaa. Dharmaja saw Bheemaa in the clutches of a python.
"Oh what a wonder! A mighty personality like Bheemaa is caught by an inferior serpant and is unable to move. Fate is great" thought Dharmaja.
"Oh Python! Who are you? Are you a Rakshasa or Divine personality? Please tell me. I am the son of King Pandu. My name is Dharmaja. If you caught my brother Bheemaa only for the sake of flesh, I will provide you any amount of flesh as food. Please relieve him" asked Dharmaja.
Python in human voice replied "O Dharmaja! My name was Nahusha. I was born in your Dynasty. I was equal to Indra. With the wealth and power I got, I became pride and arrogant. I insulted Brahmins by making the Brahmins to drive my chariot. For that Agasthya grew angry. He cursed me to become a great and fiercest serpant. In view of that Saapaa, I am lying here. Though I learnt Vedas, though I performed one hundred Asvamedha Yagas, though I was enthroned as Indra, but I lost my discretion, virtues and I became pride, arrogant, and insulted brahmins, as a result, fell down to this stage.
I prayed Saint Agasthya to relieve me of this curse and also to retain my original senses as Nahusha. Agasthya was pleased to bless me and said that whoever will give apt replies to my questions, I will be relieved of this curse due to that great man. I am waiting for that great man. If you are capable of giving replies to my questions, you can do so and get your brother relieved of my clutches." said Nahusha in the form of python.
"O Nahusha! Only Brahmins who are learned can give suitable answers to your questions. Anyhow, I will try to give replies. What are those questions?" asked Dharmaja.
Nahusha, in the form of python, asked the following questions and Dharmaja answered them.
1, What are the qualities of a Brahmin? What he should learn from elders?
Ans: Truth, forbearance, kindness, clenliness, penance, charity, virtues are the prime qualities of a Brahmin. He should first learn how to behave equally both in happiness and sorrow.
2. If the above qualities appear in a Sudra, can he be called as Brahmin? If it is so, why there should be division of people by caste? Are we misunderstanding people by dividing them as upper caste and lower caste?
Ans: If for any reason, there occurs intermixture of castes, to identify who belongs to which caste, Svaayambhuva Manuvu laid down a test to be followed in future. Even if a Sudra attains the virtues like Truthfulness etc., he can utmost become a best Sudra but how can he become a brahmin? Likewise, if a Brahmin lost his virtues viz., Truthfulness etc., he cannot be called as a Brahmin. Therefore, to determine the caste of a person, his virtues and character are most important and play a dominant role. If one person attains good character and virtues, he can become more virtuous person. If a person has no virtues or goodcharacter, he will never become a virtuous person. Therefore, it is the prime duty of a human being to preserve his virtues and good character than to preserve his moneys and wealth.
3. If a person is a dangerous and harmful character and even if he is a liar, but if he practises non-violance strictly, he will attain Punya Lokas. How non-violance was placed at such an highest pedestal than all virtues?
Ans:Charity, helping others, always telling truth, practising non-violance are the four good qualities. Amongst them, non-violance attained more importance. After death, a human being will attain his next birth as divine body, or human body or animal body. If a human being is a charitable person and also follows non-violant path, he will take his next birth as divine body. If one ignores non-violance and always indulge in violant activities, will born as an animal. Therefore, non-violance was considered to be a most adaptable Dharma.
On hearing these answers, Nahusha was very much satisfied and left Bheemaa. He was also relieved of his serpant form and got a divine form. Dharmaja along with Bheemaa returned to his place of stay.
As all of you know pretty well, originally Mahabharat was written in Sanskrit by Veda Vyaasa. It was translated into Telugu by Nannaya Bhattaraka in verse form. The above is the last verse written by Nannaya.
King Raja Raja Narendra was ruling the Andhra Area during 1022 A.D. from Rajahmundry as his capital. Nannaya Bhattaraka was a minister in the name of "Kula Brahmana". Nannayya belongs to Aapasthambha Sootra and relates to Moudgala Muni Gotra.
At the request of King Raja Raja Narendra, Nannayya translated Sanskrit Maha Bharat into Telugu during 1054-61 AD. The writing went on for four years. Nannaya wrote Aranya Parve upto the above verse. Then he died.
Upto two hundred, nodbody touched Maha Bharat. During 13th century, Tikkana Somayaji who was living in Nellore started the work of translation of Sanskrit Maha Bharat into Telugu. But he did not complete Aranya Parva. He commenced from Fourth Chapter(Viraata Parva) and completed the remaining 15 chapters.
For 200 more years, Aranya Parva remained incomplete. In the earlier part of 14th Century, Yerra Praggada who was residing at Gudlur completed Aranya Parva. Therefore, it is evident that the translation of entire Mahabharat went on for about 300 years.
Yerra Praggada lived during 1280-1364 A.D. He also wrote Ramayan, Nrusimha Purana, Hari Vamsa besides the remaining portion in Aranya Parva. He belongs to Aapastambha Sotra, Sreevatsa Gotra and he was the son of Potamaamba and Sooranna.
Even though, Yerra Praggadda completed the remaining portion of Aranya Parva, he did it in the name of Nannaya Bhattu but not in his name. This shows his respect and devotion towards earlier poets like Nannayya. Yerra Praggada was such a humble man.
(The above particulars are taken from the preface written to the mighty publication of Sreemadaandhra Mahaa Bhaaratam by Tirumala Tirupati Devastaanams. My heartful thanks to Tirumala Tirupati Devastaanams).
Now let us read the first verse written by Yerra Praggada.
(Now Let us continue to read the remaining portion of Mahabharat –Aranya Parva written by Yerra PraggaDa)
MAHA BHARAT – ARANYA PARVA – FOURTH CHAPTER