"Yudhishthira said, 'Tell me, O grandsire, the indications of future greatness and future fall in respect of a person.'
"Bhishma said, 'The mind itself, blessed be thou, indicates the premonitory symptoms of one's future prosperity and future fall. In this connection is cited the old story of the discourse between Sree and Sakra. Listen to it, O Yudhishthira! The great ascetic Narada, of energy whose effulgence is as immeasurable as Brahma itself, with sins all destroyed, capable of beholding through the prosperity of his penances both this and the other world at once, and the equal of the celestial Rishis in the region of the Creator, roved according to his pleasure through the triple world. One day, rising up at dawn, he wished to perform his ablutions, and for that purpose went to the river Ganga as she issued out of the pass known by the name of Dhruva and plunged into the stream. At that time the thousand-eyed Indra also, the wielder of the thunderbolt, and the slayer of Samvara and Paka, came to the very bank where Narada was. The Rishi and the deity, both of souls under perfect command, finished their ablutions, and having completed their silent recitations, sat together. They employed the hour in reciting and listening to the excellent narratives told by the great celestial Rishis descriptive of many good and high deeds. Indeed, with concentrated attention the two were engaged in such pleasant discourse on ancient history. While sitting there they beheld the rising Sun casting his thousand rays right before him. Seeing the full orb, both of them stood up and hymned his praises. Just at that time they beheld in the sky, in a direction opposite to that of the rising star of day, some luminous object, resplendent as blazing fire and that seemed to be a second star of day. And they saw, O Bharata, that that luminous object was gradually approaching towards them both. Riding upon Vishnu's vehicle adorned with Garuda and Surya himself, that object blazed forth with unrivalled splendour, and seemed to illumine the three worlds. The object they saw was none other than Sree herself, attended by many Apsaras endued with splendid beauty. Indeed, she looked like a large solar disc herself, possessed of effulgence resembling that of fire. Adorned with ornaments that looked like veritable stars, she wore a wreath that resembled a garland of pearls. Indra saw that goddess called Padma having her habitation in the midst of lotuses. Descending from her foremost of cars, that unrivalled lady began to approach
towards the lord of the three worlds and the celestial Rishi Narada. Followed by Narada, Maghavat also proceeded towards that lady. With joined hands, he offered himself up to her, and versed as he was with all things, he worshipped her with reverence and sincerity never surpassed. The adorations over, the lord of celestials, O king, addressed Sree in the following words.'
"Sakra said, 'O thou of sweet smiles, who, indeed, art thou and for what business hast thou come here? O thou of fair brows, whence dost thou come and whither wilt thou proceed, O auspicious lady?'
"Sree said, 'In the three worlds full of the seeds of auspiciousness, all creatures, mobile and immobile, strive with their whole hearts to win an association with me. I am that Padma, that Sree decked with lotuses, who sprang from the lotus that blooms at the touch of the rays of Surya, for the prosperity of all creatures. I am called Lakshmi, Bhuti, and Sree, O slayer of Vala! I am Faith, I am Intelligence, I am Affluence, I am Victory, and I am Immutability. I am Patience, I am Success, I am Prosperity. I am Swaha, I am Swadha, I am Reverence, I am Fate, and I am Memory. I dwell at the van and on the standards of victorious and virtuous sovereigns, as also in their homes and cities and dominions. I always reside, O slayer of Vala, with those foremost of men, viz., heroes panting after victory and unretreating from battle. I also reside for ever with persons that are firmly attached to virtue, that are endued with great intelligence, that are devoted to Brahma, that are truthful in speech, that are possessed of humility, and that are liberal. Formerly, I dwelt with the Asuras in consequence of my disposition of being bound by truth and merit Seeing, however, that the Asuras have assumed adverse natures, I have left then and wish to reside in thee.'
"Sakra said, 'O thou of fair face, in consequence of what behaviour of the Asuras didst thou dwell with them? What didst thou see there for which thou hast come hither, having deserted the Daityas and the Danavas?'
"Sree said, I attach myself steadfastly to those that are devoted to the duties of their own order, to those that never fall away from patience, to those that take a pleasure in walking along the path which leads to heaven. I always reside with those that are distinguished for liberality, for study of the scriptures, for sacrifices, for other scriptural rites, and for worship of Pitris, deities, preceptors, seniors, and guests. Formerly, the Danavas used to keep their abodes clean, to keep their women under control, to pour libations on the sacrificial fire, to wait dutifully on their preceptors, to restrain their passions, to be obedient to the Brahmanas, and to be truthful in speech. They were full of faith; they kept their wrath under control; they practised the virtue of charity; they never envied others; they used to maintain their friends and advisers, and their spouses; they were never jealous. Formerly, they never assailed one another, filled with wrath. They were all contented and never felt pain at the sight of other people's affluence and prosperity. They were all charitable and economical; of respectable conduct, and endued with compassion. They were excessively inclined to grace, possessed of simplicity of conduct, steadfast in faith, and had their passions under complete control. They used to keep their servants and counsellors contented, and were grateful and endued with sweet speech. They used to serve every one as each deserved in consequence of his position and honour. They were endued with shame. They were of rigid vows. They used to perform their ablutions on every sacred day. They used to smear themselves properly with perfumes and suspicious unguents. They were also to adorn their persons duly. They were observant of fasts and penances, were trustful, and utterers of Vedic hymns. The Sun never rose upon them while they lay asleep. They never outslept the moon. They always abstained from curds and pounded barley. They used every morning to look at clarified butter and other auspicious articles, and with senses withdrawn they used to recite the Vedas and worship Brahmanas with gifts. Their discourse was always virtuous, and they never accepted gifts. They always went to sleep at midnight and never slept during the day. They always used to take pleasure in showing compassion for the distressed, the helpless, the aged, the weak, the sick, and women, and enjoyed all their possessions by sharing these with them. They always used to assume and comfort the agitated, the cheerless, the anxious, the terrified, the diseased, the weak and emaciated, the robbed, and the afflicted. They followed the dictates of virtue and never injured one another. They were ready and well-disposed for action of every kind (that deserved to be accomplished). They used to serve and wait with reverence upon seniors and aged individuals. They duly worshipped Pitris, deities, and guests, and ate every day what was left after gratifying these. They were firmly devoted to truth and penances. None amongst them ate singly any food that was good, and none had congress with other people's wives. As regards compassion, they behaved towards all creatures as towards their own selves. They never allowed the emission of the vital seed into empty space, into inferior animals, into forbidden wombs, or on sacred days. They were always distinguished for gifts, for cleverness, for simplicity, for hopeful exertion, for humility, for friendliness, and for forgiveness. And, O puissant one, truth, charity, penance, purity, compassion, soft speeches and absence of animosity towards friends,--all these were always in them. Slumber, procrastination, fretfulness, envy, and want of foresight, discontent, melancholy, cupidity never assailed them. In consequence of the Danavas having been distinguished for these good qualities, I dwelt with them from the beginning of the creation for many yugas together. Times were altered, and that alteration brought about an alteration in the character of the Danavas. I saw that virtue and morality deserted them and they began to own the sway of lust and wrath. Persons, though themselves inferior in attainments, began to cherish animosities towards seniors in age possessed of superior qualifications, and while the latter, possessed of virtue and merit, used to speak upon proper topics in the midst of assemblies, the former began to ridicule or laugh at them. When reverend seniors in age came, the younger individuals, seated at their ease, refused to adore the former by rising up and saluting them with respect. In the presence of sires, sons began to exercise power (in matters that concerned sires alone). They that were not in receipt of wages accepted service and shamelessly proclaimed the fact, Those amongst them that succeeded in amassing great wealth by doing unrighteous and censurable deeds came to be held in esteem. During the night they began to indulge in loud screams and shrieks. Their homa fires ceased to send bright and upward flames. Sons began to lord it over sires, and wives dominated over husbands. Mothers, fathers, aged seniors, preceptors, guests, and guides ceased to command respect for their superior status. People ceased to bring up with affection their own offspring but began to desert them. Without giving away the defined portion in alms and reserving the fixed portion for offering it unto the gods, every one ate what he had. Indeed, without offering their goods to the deities in sacrifices and without sharing them with the Pitris, the gods, guests, and reverend seniors, they appropriated them to their own use shamelessly. Their cooks no longer professed any consideration for purity of mind, deed, and word. They ate what had been left uncovered. Their corn lay scattered in yards, exposed to devastation by crows and rats. Their milk remained exposed, and they began to touch clarified butter with hands unwashed after eating. Their spades, domestic knives, baskets, and dishes and cups of white brass, and other utensils began to lie scattered in their houses. Their housewives abstained from looking after these. They no longer attained to the repairs of their houses and walls. Tethering their animals they abstained from giving them food and drink. Disregarding children that only looked on, and without having fed their dependants, the Danavas ate what they had. They began to prepare payasa and krisara and dishes of meat and cakes and sashkuli (not for gods and guests) but for their own slaves, and commenced to eat the flesh of animals not killed in sacrifices. They used to sleep even after the sun had risen. They made night of their morns. Day and night disputes and quarrels waxed in every house of theirs. They that were not respectable amongst them no longer showed any respect for those that deserve respect while the latter were seated in any place. Fallen off from their defined duties, they ceased to reverence those that had betaken themselves to the woods for leading a life of peace and divine contemplation. Intermixture of castes freely commenced among them. They ceased to attend to purity of person or mind. Brahmanas learned in the Vedas ceased to command respect among them. Those again that were ignorant of Richs were not condemned or punished. Both were treated on a footing of equality, those, that is, that deserved respect and those that deserved no respect. Their servant girls became wicked in behaviour, and began to wear necklaces of
gold and other ornaments and fine robes, and used to remain in their houses or go away before their very eyes. They began to derive great pleasure from sports and diversions in which their women were dressed as men and their men as women. Those amongst their ancestors that were affluent had made gifts of wealth unto deserving persons. The descendants of the donors, even when in prosperous conditions, began to resume, for their unbelief, those gifts. When difficulties threatened the accomplishment of any purpose and friend sought the counsel of friend, that purpose was frustrated by the latter even if he had any interest of the slightest value to subserve by frustrating it. Amongst even their better classes have appeared traders and dealers in goods, intent upon taking the wealth of others. The Sudras amongst them have taken to the practice of penances. Some amongst them have begun to study, without making any rules for regulating their hours and food. Others have begun to study, making rules that are useless. Disciples have abstained from rendering obedience and service to preceptors. Preceptors again have come to treat disciples as friendly companions. Fathers and mothers are worn out with work, and have abstained from indulging in festivities. Parents in old age, divested of power over sons, have been forced to beg their food of the latter. Amongst them, even persons of wisdom, conversant with the Vedas, and resembling the ocean itself in gravity of deportment, have begun to betake themselves to agriculture and such other pursuits. Persons who are illiterate and ignorant have begun to be fed at Sraddhas. Every morning, disciples, instead of approaching preceptors for making dutiful enquiries for ascertaining what acts awaited accomplishment and for seeking commissions which they are to discharge, are themselves waited upon by preceptors who discharge those functions. Daughters-in-law, in the presence of their husbands' mothers and fathers, rebuke and chastise servants and maids, and summoning their husband's lecture and rebuke them. Sires, with great care, seek to keep sons in good humour, or dividing through fear their wealth among children, live in woe and affliction. Even persons enjoying the friendship of the victims, beholding the latter deprived of wealth in conflagrations or by robbers or by the king, have begun to indulge in laughter from feelings of mockery. They have become ungrateful and unbelieving and sinful and addicted to adulterous congress with even the spouses of their preceptors. They have betaken themselves to eating forbidden food. They have transgressed all bounds and restraints. They have become divested of that splendour which had distinguished them before. In consequence of these and other indications of wicked conduct and the reversal of their former nature, I shall not, O chief of the gods, dwell among them any longer. I have, therefore, come to thee of my own accord. Receive me with respect, O lord of Sachi! Honoured by thee, O chief of the celestials, I shall receive honour from all other deities. There, where
I reside, the seven other goddesses with Jaya for their eighth, who love me, who are inseparably associated with me, and who depend upon me, desire to live. They are Hope, Faith, Intelligence, Contentment, Victory, Advancement, and Forgiveness. She who forms the eighth, viz., Jaya, occupies the foremost place amongst them, O chastiser of Paka. All of them and myself, having deserted the Asuras, have come to thy domains. We shall henceforth reside among the deities who are devoted to righteousness and faith.
"After the goddess had said so, the celestial Rishi Narada, and Vasava, the slayer of Vritra, for gladdening her, offered her a joyful welcome. The god of wind,--that friend of Agni, then began to blow gently through heaven, bearing delicious odours, refreshing all creatures with whom he came into contact, and contributing to the felicity of every one of the senses. All the deities (hearing the news) assembled together in a pure and desirable spot and waited there in expectation of beholding Maghavat seated with Lakshmi beside him. Then the thousand-eyed chief of the gods, accompanied by Sree and his friend the great Rishi, and riding upon a splendid car drawn by green horses, came into that assembly of the celestials, receiving honour from all. Then the great Rishi Narada, whose prowess was known to all the celestials, observing a sign that the wielder of the thunderbolt made and which Sree herself approved of, welcomed the advent of the goddess there and proclaimed it as exceedingly auspicious. Heaven's firmament became clear and bright and began to shower nectar upon the region of the self-born Grandsire. The celestial kettle-drums, though struck by none, began to beat, and all the points of the horizon, becoming clear, seemed ablaze with splendour. Indra began to pour rain upon crops that commenced to appear each at its proper season. No one then deviated from the path of righteousness. The earth became adorned with many mines filled with jewels and gems, and the chant of Vedic recitations and other melodious sounds swelled up on the occasion of that triumph of the celestials. Human beings, endued with firm minds, and all adhering to the auspicious path that is trod by the righteous, began to take pleasure in Vedic and other religious rites and acts. Men and gods and Kinnaras and Yakshas and Rakshasas all became endued with prosperity and cheerfulness. Not a flower,--what need then be said of fruits,--dropped untimely from a tree even if the god of wind shook it with force. All the kine began to yield sweet milk whenever milked by men, and cruel and harsh words ceased to be uttered by any one. They who, from desire of advancement, approach before assemblies of Brahmanas, and read this narrative of the glorification of Sree by all the deities with Indra at their head, deities that are competent to grant every wish,--succeed in winning great prosperity. These then O chief of the Kurus, are the foremost indications of prosperity and adversity. Urged on by thee, I have told thee all. It behoves thee to bear thyself according to the instructions conveyed herein, understanding them after careful reflection!'