Once Jaimini, a disciple of sage Veda Vyasa expressed his curiosity before Markandeya- ‘O Lord! In the great epic Mahabharata, which was created by Veda Vyasa, description of Dharma, Arth, Kama and Moksha appears to be intertwined at times and at other times, it appears to be separate from one another. Veda Vyasa had described the norms, the stages and the means to perform the duties in all the four stages. This epic contains cryptic knowledge of Vedas. Hence O great sage! I have approached you in order to grasp the full knowledge contained in Mahabharata with your help. Why did Lord take human incarnation even though He is the cause of the origin, perpetuation and destruction of the universe? How did Draupadi become the wife of five Pandavas? How did Balarama expiate for the sin of killing a Brahmin? How did Draupadi’s sons give up their lives? Kindly narrate all these things in detail. ‘
Markandeya says- ‘O Muni! Presently I am engaged in evening worship. Hence I do not have time to narrate these things in detail. But I am telling you about the birds which will narrate you the entire content of Mahabharata. Those birds will also remove all your doubts. Sons of the great bird Drona- Pingaksha, Vibodha, Suputra, Sumuk etc. stay in the caves among the hills of Vindhyachal. They are proficient in Vedas. Go and ask them, they will remove all your doubts.’
Markandeya’s words surprised Jaimini. To confirm, he asked again- ‘It is surprising that the birds could narrate the content of Mahabharata just like human beings. It is even more surprising that they are proficient in Vedas knowledge, which is even rare to find among humans. Kindly tell me how did they come to acquire such profound knowledge despite having being born in the form of birds. Why do you call them as the sons of Drona?’
Markandeya says- ‘Long ago, a strange event took place in Nandanvan involving Indra, Devrishi Narada and some of the apsaras. One day, Indra was enjoying his time in the Nandanvan forest along with his apsaras. At the same time Narada also arrived there. Indra welcomed and offered him a seat. The apsaras also greeted Narada. Indra then said- ‘Munivar! Tell me what you desire now? If you desire to listen to a song, should I order the Gandharvas or if you wish to watch the dance, should I order one of my apsaras, Menka, Rambha, Mishrakeshi or Urvashi? Any of these four can perform a seducing dance before you.’
Narada expressed his desire to watch the dance of an apsara, who was superior in beauty to the other apsaras. This led to a row among the apsaras. Each one of them was proud of her beauty and talent. Narada then advised them to test their beauty by breaking sage Durvasa’s penance who was at that time staying on a hilltop. All the apsaras expressed their inability to perform this task successfully. Only an apsara named Vapu, driven by her haughtiness accepted to break the penance of sage Durvasa.
Accordingly she reached the hill where Durvasa was staying and began to sing an infatuating song in her sweet voice. Very soon, the song began to show its effect on Durvasa. Attracted by the sweet voice, Durvasa went in search of the origin of the voice and found Vapu singing at a distance. Durvasa understood that the apsara had come to break his penance. Angrily, he cursed the apsara that she would take birth in the lineage of the birds for sixteen years, she would not bear a child and ultimately would be killed by a weapon to regain her heavenly abode. After saying this, sage Durvasa migrated to Akashganga.
VARIOUS CREATIONS AND FAMOUS MYTHOLOGICAL CHARACTERS
BIRTH OF FOUR BIRDS
Markandeya says – ‘In the lineage of the avian King Garuda, there were two brothers- Kank and Kandhar. One day, Kank visited Kailash Parbat where a demon Vidrayudrup, who was a slave of Kubera, was enjoying privacy with his wife and drinking wine. Seeing Kank, the demon showed his displeasure at his arrival at an improper time. But Kank boldly asserted his right on the mountain as according to him, it belonged to all. The infuriated demon decapitated Kank with his sword.
Hearing the news of his brother’s killing, Kandhar resolved to kill the demon. After performing the last rites of his brother, he also arrived on the mountain where the demon Vidrayudrup was
still drinking wine with his wife. The demon lost his temper again. Kandhar then challenged the demon to have a fight with him. A fierce battle ensued between them. Ultimately, Kandhar killed the demon. The demon’s wife Madanika finding herself in a helpless situation accepted Kandhar as her husband. Thus, Kandhar returned to his palace with a newly found wife. Madanika was in fact the daughter of Menka, the apsara and could change her guise at will. After marrying Kandhar, she took the guise of the bird. The bird Madanika was born as apsara Vapu in her next birth due to the curse of sage Durvasa. Kandhar named her Tarkshi.
A Brahmin named Mandapal had four sons. Drona was the youngest among them and proficient in scriptures, Vedas etc. Kandhar married his daughter, Tarkshi to Drona. After their marriage, Drona and Tarkshi were spending their time happily. Tarkshi conceived during the same time when the battle of Mahabharata was going on. As destiny would have it, Tarkshi flew over the battlefield where she saw Arjuna and Bhagdatt, the king of Pragjyotishpur, fighting valiantly against each other. Accidentally an arrow aimed at Bhagdatt went in the direction of Tarkshi and struck her in the abdomen and tore it apart. As a result of this, four eggs fell on the ground. At the same time, a huge bell fell from Supratik’s neck, the elephant of Bhagdatt, and covered the eggs safely.
After the battle of Mahabharata was over, a sage Shami visited the battlefield. There he happened to spot the bell and heard faint chirping coming from underneath the bell. The sage removed the bell and discovered four wingless chicks beneath it. Surprisingly he said to his disciples- ‘Look! Falling of these eggs and getting safely covered by the bell simultaneously shows that these chicks are no ordinary birds.’ Then he instructed his disciples to carry the eggs to the hermitage and keep it securely at a place safe from predators. The disciples did as told.