saw Agni coming towards Khandava to burn it down.
Then the Brahmana Mandapala, knowing the intention
of Agni and remembering also that his children were
all young moved by fear, gratified the god, of the
burning element, that regent of the universe, endued
with great energy. And he did this, desiring
to put in a word for his unfledged offspring.
Addressing Agni, the Rishi said, ’Thou art,
O Agni, the mouth of all the worlds! Thou art
the carrier of the sacrificial butter! O purifier
(of all sins), thou movest invisible with the frame
of every creature! The learned have spoken of
thee as an One, and again as possessed of triple nature.
The wise perform their sacrifices before thee, taking
thee as consisting of eight (mouths). The great
Rishis declare that this universe hath been created
by thee. O thou that feedest on sacrificial butter,
without thee this whole universe would be destroyed
in a single day. Bowing to thee, the Brahmanas,
accompanied by their wives and children, go to eternal
regions won by them by help of their own deeds.
O Agni, the learned represent thee as the clouds in
the heavens charged with lightning. O Agni, the
flames put forth by thee consume every creature.
O thou of great splendour, this universe hath been
created by thee. The Vedas are thy word.
All creatures, mobile and immobile, depend upon thee.
Water primarily dependeth on thee, so also the whole
of this universe. All offerings of clarified
butter and oblations of food to the pitris have been
established in thee. O god, thou art the consumer,
and thou art the creator and thou art Vrihaspati himself
(in intelligence). Thou art the twin Aswins;
thou art Surya; thou art Soma; thou art Vayu.
“Vaisampayana continued, ’O monarch, thus
praised by Mandapala, Agni was gratified with that
Rishi of immeasurable energy; and the god, well-pleased,
replied, ‘What good can I do to thee?’
Then Mandapala with joined palms said unto the carrier
of clarified butter, ’While thou burnest the
forest of Khandava, spare my children.’
The illustrious bearer of clarified butter replied,
‘So be it.’ It was, therefore, O
monarch, that he blazed not forth, while consuming
the forest of Khandava, for the destruction of Mandapala’s
(Khandava-daha Parva continued)
“Vaisampayana said, ’When the fire blazed
forth in the forest of Khandava, the infant birds
became very much distressed and afflicted. Filled
with anxiety, they saw not any means of escape.
Their mother, the helpless Jarita, knowing that they
were too young to escape, was filled with sorrow and
wept aloud. And she said, ’Oh, the terrible
conflagration, illuminating the whole universe and
burning the forest down, approacheth towards us, increasing
my woe. These infants with immature understanding,
without feathers and feet, and the sole refuge of
our deceased ancestors, afflict me. Oh, this fire