So ends the sixth section called “the curse on Agni” in the Adi Parva.
(Pauloma Parva continued)
“Sauti said, ’the god of fire enraged at the curse of Bhrigu, thus addressed 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 them, 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, etc.), 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 Purnamasas. 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 poured on me. Being, as I am, their mouth, how am I to be an eater of all things (clean and unclean)?
“Then Agni, alter reflecting for a while, withdrew himself from all places; from places of the daily homa of the Brahmanas, from all long-extending sacrifices, from places of holy rites, and from other ceremonies. Without their Oms and Vashats, and deprived of their Swadhas and Swahas (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 tins matter, so that there may be no loss of time.’ Then the Rishis and the gods went together to 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