Introduction: This is the third of a new series compiling and retelling stories from the Puranas, simply and without distortion or substantive embellishment. This episode comes from the beginning of the Markandeya Purana. The quotes cited are from Bibek Debroy’s excellent translation of the Markandeya Purana.
Last time, we learned about Jaimini Rishi’s four questions about the Mahabharata. Today, his dialogue with the birds begins.
Jaimini Rishi journeys to the Vindhya Mountains to meet the birds at Markandeya Rishi’s suggestion. To enhance our understanding of the Puranas, we should delve deeply into each detail, including the significance of the Vindhya Mountains.
Agastya Muni & The Vindhya Mountains
Stories of Agastya Muni are peppered throughout the Vedas, the Puranas, and the Itihaasa. This particular incident is narrated in both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. In the Mahabharata, Lomasha Rishi tells Yudhishthira about various accounts from Agastya Muni’s life when they are visiting the tirtha where Agastya Muni had once slain Vatapi.
The sun used to circumambulate Mount Meru. Once, Vindhya, a rival mountain, complained to Suryadeva, ‘O Bhaskara! You always go around Meru. Circumambulate me in the same way.’
Suryadeva replied to Vindhya, the king of the mountains, ‘O mountain! I do not do so out of my own desires. He who created the universe has assigned this path for me.’
Vindhya was furious and began to suddenly grow taller. He wanted to stop the sun, moon, and stars from circling Meru. Vindhya kept growing and growing. The devas panicked. Assembled together with Indra, all the devas tried to convince Vindhya to stop growing but he refused.
Finally, the devas visited Agastya Muni in his hermitage and explained their predicament to him. They pleaded with him to intervene, saying he was the only one who could restrain Vindhya.
Agastya Muni and his wife, Lopamudra, set off to visit Vindhya. The rishi addressed the great mountain:
‘O supreme among mountains! I wish that you should create a path for me. I have to go in a southern direction for some work. O Indra among mountains! Restrain…