“Bhishma continued, ’1 have now repeated to thee the narrative that was recited by Narada (unto the conclave of Rishis assembled in the abode of Brahman). That narrative has descended from one person to another from very ancient times. I heard it from my sire who formerly repeated it to me.’”
Suta continued, I have now told you all that Vaisampayana recited to Janamejaya. Having listened to Vaisampayana’s narration, king Janamejaya properly discharged all his duties according to the ordinances laid down in the scriptures. Ye have all undergo very severe penances and observed many high and excellent vows. Residing in this sacred forest that is known by the name of Naimisha, ye are foremost of all persons conversant with the Vedas. Ye foremost of regenerate ones, ye all have come to this great sacrifice of Saunaka. Do ye all adore and worship that Eternal and Supreme Lord of the universe in excellent sacrifices, properly pouring libations of clarified butter into the fire with the aid of mantras and dedicating the same unto Narayana. As regards myself, I heard this excellent narrative that has descended from generation to gene-ration, from my sire who recited it to me in former times.
Saunaka said, How is that illustrious god, viz., the puissant Narayana who is fully conversant with the Vedas and their branches, at once the doer and the enjoyer of sacrifices? Endued with forgiveness, he has adopted, again, the religion of Nivritti (abstention). Indeed, it is that holy and puissant one who has himself ordained the duties of Nivritti. Why then has he made many of the deities the takers of shares in sacrifices which, of course, are all due to the disposition of Pravritti? Why has he again created some with a contrary disposition, for they follow the ordinances of the religion of abstention? Do thou O Suta, dispel this doubt, of ours. This doubt seems to be eternal and is connected with a great mystery. Thou hast heard all discourses on Narayana, discourses that are consistent with the (other) scriptures.
Sauti said, O excellent Saunaka, I shall recite to thee what Vaisampayana, the disciple of the intelligent Vyasa, said when questioned on these very topics by king Janamejaya. Having heard the discourse on the glory of Narayana who is the Soul of all embodied creatures, Janamejaya, endued with great intelligence and wisdom, questioned Vaisampayana on these very subjects.
Janamejaya said, “The whole world of Beings, with Brahma, the deities, the Asuras and human beings, are seen to be deeply attached to actions which have been said to be productive of prosperity. Emancipation has, O regenerate one, been said by thee to be the highest felicity and to consist of the cessation of existence. They who, being divested of both merit and demerit, become emancipate, succeed, we hear, in entering the great God of a thousand rays. It