1 Vasishta said:—
O intelligent Rama, who shines as the delight of mankind in this world and endeavors to attain your chief good by the accomplishment of your best objects, 2 do not let the example of the demons Dama the snare and Byala the snake apply to your case. Try to extricate yourself from vain sorrowing by the lesson of fortitude as given in the story of Bhima and Bhasa.
3 Rama asked, “What is that parable of the snare and the snake which you say must not apply to my case? Please tell me in order to remove the sorrows of my mind and of all mankind. And what is that example of fortitude by Bhima and Bhasa that I should imitate in order to rid all earthly sorrow? 5 Please tell me and enlighten me with your purifying words, like the roaring of rainy clouds serves to alleviate the summer heat of peacocks.”
6 Vasishta replied:—
Rama, hear me relate both of these stories so that you may derive the benefit of learning from their examples.
7 There lived one Sambara, the chief of demons and a profound sorcerer in an underground cavern filled with enchanting wonders like a sea of gems. 8 He constructed a magic city in the sky with gardens and temples of gods and artificial suns and moons emblazoning its ceiling. 9 It was decorated with rich stones resembling the gems of Sumeru Mountain. The demon’s palace was full with opulence and treasures of every kind.
10 The beauties in his harem vied with the celestial dames in their charming strains. The trees of his pleasure garden were shaded by an awning of bright moonbeams on high. 11 Blue lotuses blooming in his bedroom made the blue eyed maids of his court blush. Swans in the lakes cackled about the beds of golden lotuses in them. 12 The high branches of golden plants bore blossoms of artificial lotuses, and rows of karanga trees dropped down showers of mandara flowers on the ground.
13 His garden-house consisted of both cold and hot baths, and refrigerators and fireplaces for hot and cold seasons. The turku weapons of the demons had baffled the arms of Indra himself. 14 Flower gardens on all sides surpassed the mandara groves of paradise. Demon magic skill had planted rows of sandalwood trees with their encircling snakes all around.
15 The inner compound was strewn over with gold dust and vanquished the glory of heaven. The palace courtyard was covered with heaps of flowers up to the knee. 16 The earthen figure of Shiva that was exposed for show surpassed the image of Hari (Vishnu) holding his discus and the mace. Jewels sparkling like fireflies in the inside apartment resembled the twinkling stars in the arena of heaven. 17 The dark night of the subterranean dwelling was illuminated by a hundred moon-lights like the starry heaven, and he chanted his martial songs before his idol deity. 18 His magical elephant drove away Indra’s Airavata, and his inner apartment contained a hoard of precious treasures from the three worlds.
19 All wealth, prosperity, grandeur and dignity paid their homage to him. The whole host of demons honored him as their commander. 20 The protection of his arms gave shelter to the whole body of demons. He was the receptacle of all sound judgment and the reservoir of every kind of treasure. 21 This destroyer of gods (devas and suras) had a gigantic and terrific appearance. He commanded a large army of demons (asuras) to defeat the deities.
22 Whenever this magician demigod went to sleep or left for somewhere out of his city, the gods sought every opportunity to harass the demonic force. 23 This enraged Sambara to such a degree that he broke trees in his rage and he ordered his generals to protect his legions. 24 The gods, finding their opportunities, killed the demons one by one like hawks pounce and kill feeble and timid sparrows. 25 The king of the demons then appointed other generals over his army, and they were as swift-footed and hoarse sounding as the waves of the sea. 26 When the leader of the demon band pursued his enemies to their station above the heavens, the gods also destroyed them in a short time.
27 The gods fled from their heavenly abode for fear of them, like timid deer flying into the thick thickets at the sight of Shiva’s and Gauri’s bull. 28 The gods were weakened with weeping, and the faces of apsara nymphs were covered in tears. The demon saw the heavenly abode abandoned by the celestials, as if the desolation of the world. 29 He wandered about in his rage, plundering and took away all the valuables of the place. He burnt down the cities of the rulers of heaven, and then returned to his own abode.
30 The enmity between the deities and demons was so intense on both sides that it forced the gods to quit their heavenly abodes and hide in distant parts of the world. 31 But the enraged gods succeeded at last by their perseverance to defeat and slay all the generals and combatants that Sambara set against them.
32 Then the defeated demon gave vent to his fury and began to breathe out living fire from his nostrils like a burning mountain. 33 After much searching in the three worlds, he found the hiding place of the gods, as a wicked man succeeds in his purpose by his best endeavors. 34 Then to protect his army, he produced by his sorcery three very strong and fearful demons with hideous appearances like that of death. 35 These horrible leaders of his army, being produced in his magic, flew upward with their enormous bodies resembling the flying mountains of old. 36 They had the names of Dama the snare, Byala the snake, and Kata the mat given them for their entrapping, enfolding and enwrapping the enemy, according to the demon’s wish.
37 They were beings without previous births and devoid of changing desires. The lack of their prior acts made them move about as freely as spiritual beings in one uniform tenor of their course. 38 These were not born like men from the seeds of their previous acts with solid and substantial bodies. They were mere artificial forces and airy forms, copies of images in the demon Sambara’s mind. 39 Being born in this way, they followed events as they happened like blind sheep. Just like a boy moves his limbs when he is not in sound sleep, these three demon generals performed actions devoid of subtle karmic impressions and self or egoism.
40 They did not know the sudden attack of the enemy on them or their attack on the enemy. 41 They did not know running away from battle. They did not know birth or death, victory or defeat, or war as a matter of fact. 42 But they attacked the enemy in front of them with blows that turn even mountains into dust.
43 Sambara was pleased with them. He was confident that with their help he would defeat the enemy. 44 Sambara was confident that his army, strong and stable under the shades of the shoulders of the three demons, could withstand the onslaught of the gods just as Mount Meru stands firm in spite of the blows of the teeth of the elephants carrying earth from the eight quarters.