"Yudhishthira said, 'O foremost of monarchs, I wish to know how it was that great and unparalleled misery had to be endured by the illustrious Indra together with his queen.'
"Salya said, 'Listen, O king, to me as I relate this ancient story of the events of former days,--how, O descendant of Bharata, misery befell Indra and his wife. Once Twashtri, the lord of creatures and the foremost of celestials, was engaged in practising rigid austerities. And it is said that from antipathy to Indra he created a son having three heads. And that being of universal form possessed of great lustre hankered after Indra's seat. And possessed of those three awful faces resembling the sun, the moon, and the fire, he read the Vedas with one mouth, drank wine with another, and looked with the third as if he would absorb
all the cardinal points. And given to the practice of austerities, and mild being and self-controlled, he was intent upon a life of religious practices and austerities. And his practice of austerities, O subduer of foes, was rigid and terrible and of an exceedingly severe character. And beholding the austerities, courage, and truthfulness of this one possessed of immeasurable energy, Indra became anxious, fearing lest that being should take his place. And Indra reflected, 'How may he be made to addict himself to sensual enjoyments; how may he be made to cease his practice of such rigid austerities? For were the three-headed being to wax strong, he would absorb the whole universe.' And it was thus that Indra pondered in his mind; and, O best of Bharata's race, endued with intelligence, he ordered the celestial nymphs to tempt the son of Twashtri. And he commanded them, saying, 'Be quick, and go without delay, and so tempt him that the three-headed being may plunge himself into sensual enjoyment to the utmost extent. Furnished with captivating hips, array yourselves in voluptuous attires, and decking yourselves in charming necklaces, do ye display gestures and blandishments of love. Endued with loveliness, do ye tempt him and alleviate my dread. I feel restless in my heart, O lovely damsels. Avert ye, ladies, this awful peril that hangs over me. Good betide you.'
"Then the nymphs said, 'O Indra, O slayer of Vala, we shall so endeavour to allure him that thou wilt have nothing to fear at his hands. That very receptacle of austerities, sitting now as if scorching everything with his eyes, O god, we are going together to tempt. We shall try to bring him under our control, and to put an end to your fears.'
"Salya continued, 'Commanded by Indra, they then went to the three-headed being. And arriving there, those lovely damsels tempted him with various gestures of love, displaying their fine figures. But engaged in the practice of exceedingly severe austerities, although he looked at them, yet he was not influenced by desire. Of subdued senses he was like the ocean, full to the brim, in gravity. And the nymphs after having tried their best, came back to Indra. And they all with joined hands spoke to the lord of the celestials, saying, 'O, that unapproachable being is incapable of being disturbed by us. O highly gifted being, thou mayst do what now may seem proper to thee.' The high-minded Indra honoured the nymphs and then dismissed them reflecting, O Yudhishthira, solely upon other means of destroying his foe. And endued with intelligence, he fixed upon a contrivance for destroying the three-headed being. And he said, 'Let me today hurt my thunderbolt at him. By this means he will speedily be killed. Even a strong person should not overlook a rising foe, contemptible though he may be.' And thus reflecting upon the lessons inculcated in treatises of learning, he was firmly resolved upon slaying that being. Then Indra, enraged, hurled at the three-headed being his thunderbolt which looked like fire and was terrible to behold, and which inspired dread. And forcibly struck by that thunderbolt, he was slain and fell down, as falls
on the earth the loosened summit of a hill. And beholding him slain by the thunderbolt, and lying down huge as a hill, the chief of the celestials found no peace, and felt as if scorched by the effulgent appearance of the dead; for though slain, he had a blazing and effulgent appearance and looked like one alive. And, strange to say, though lifeless, his heads seemed to be alive as they were beheld lying low on the field. And exceedingly afraid of that lustre, Indra remained plunged in thought. And at that time, O great king, bearing an axe on his shoulder, a carpenter came to the forest and approached the spot where lay that being. And Indra, the lord of Sachi, who was afraid, saw the carpenter come there by chance. And the chastiser of Paka said unto him immediately, 'Do this my behest. Quickly cut off this one's heads.' The carpenter thereupon said, 'His shoulders are broad: this axe will not be able to cut them off. Nor shall I be able to do what is condemned by righteous persons.' And Indra said, 'Do not fear, quickly do what I say. At my command thy axe shall equal the thunderbolt.' The carpenter said, 'Whom am I to take thee to be who hast done this frightful deed today? This I wish to learn, tell me the exact truth.' And Indra said, 'O carpenter, I am Indra, the chief of the gods. Let this be known to thee. Do thou act just as I have told thee. Do not hesitate, O carpenter! The carpenter said, 'O Indra, how is it that thou art not ashamed of this thy inhuman act? How it is that thou hast no dread of the sin of slaying a Brahmana, after having slain this son of a saint?' Indra said, 'I shall afterwards perform some religious ceremony of a rigorous kind to purify myself from this taint. This was a powerful enemy of mine whom I have killed with my thunderbolt. Even now I am uneasy, O carpenter; I, indeed, dread him even now. Do thou quickly cut off his heads, I shall bestow my favour upon thee. In sacrifices, men will give thee the head of the sacrificial beast as thy share. This is the favour I confer on thee. Do thou quickly perform what I desire.'
"Salya said, 'Hearing this, the carpenter, at the request of the great Indra, immediately severed the heads of the three-headed one with his axe. And when the heads were cut off, out flew therefrom a number of birds, viz., partridges, quails and sparrows. And from the mouth wherewith he used to recite the Vedas and to drink the Soma-juice, came out partridges in quick succession. And, O king, O son of Pandu, from the mouth with which he used to look at the cardinal points as if absorbing them all, a number of quails came forth. And from that mouth of the three-headed being which used to drink wine, out flew a number of sparrows and hawks. And the heads having been cut off Indra was freed from his trepidation, and went to heaven, glad at heart. And the carpenter also went back to his house. And the slayer of Asuras, having killed his foe, considered his object gained. Now when the lord of creatures, Twashtri, heard that his son had been slain by Indra, his eyes became red with ire, and he spoke the following words, 'Since Indra hath killed my son who had committed no offence at all, who was
constantly engaged in the practice of austerities, who was merciful, possessed of self-control, and of subdued passions, therefore, for the destruction of Indra, I will create Vritra. Let the worlds behold what power I possess, and how mighty is the practice of austerities! Let that inhuman, wicked-minded lord of the gods also witness the same!' And saying this, that enraged one, famous for his austerities, washed his mouth with water, made offerings on the fire, created the terrible Vritra, and spoke to him, saying, 'O destined slayer of Indra, grow in might even from the strength of my austere rites.' And that Asura grew in might, towering towards the firmament, and resembling the son of fire. And he asked, 'Risen like the doomsday sun, what am I to do?' 'Kill Indra,' was the reply. And then he departed towards the celestial regions. And next ensued a great fight between Vritra and Indra, both fired with wrath. And there took place a terrible combat, O best of Kuru's race. And the heroic Vritra seized the celestial lord who had performed a hundred sacrifices. And filled with wrath, he whirled Indra and threw him into his mouth. And when Indra was swallowed up by Vritra, the terrified senior gods, possessed of great might, created Jrimbhika to kill Vritra. And as Vritra yawned and his mouth opened the slayer of the Asura, Vala contracted the different parts of his body, and came out from within Vritra's mouth. And thenceforth the yawn attaches itself to the living breath of animated beings in three worlds. And the gods rejoiced at the egress of Indra. And once again commenced the terrible fight between Vritra and Indra, both full of ire. And it was waged for a long while, O best of Bharata's race. And when Vritra, inspired with the mighty spirit of Twashtri and himself endowed with strength, got the upper hand in fight, Indra turned back And on his retreat, the gods became exceedingly distressed. And all of them together with Indra were overpowered by the might of Twashtri. And they all consulted with the saints, O descendant of Bharata. And they deliberated as to what was proper to be done, and were overwhelmed with dread. And seated on the top of the Mandara mountain, and bent on killing Vritra, they only bethought themselves of Vishnu, the indestructible one.'