Three enigmatic vedic tales

The yaj~na went away from the devas in the form of viShNu, and entered the earth. The devas searched him by digging with their hands. indra passed over him. viShNu asked: “who has passed over me?” [indra]: “I am he who smashes forts; who are you?”. [viShNu]: “I am the one who captures what is in a fort”. viShNu said: “You are the one who breaks forts. There is this boar, the stealer of beautiful things, that keeps the wealth of the asuras, which is to be won, beyond the seven hills. Hammer him, if you are the one who demolishes forts”. indra plucked out a bunch of darbha grass, shattered the seven hills, and killed the boar. He then said to [viShNu who was hiding under the ground]: “You are called he who captures what is within forts” so bring the wealth/boar. So viShNu in the form of the yaj~na brought the yaj~na for them; in that they won the wealth of the asuras which was to be won.

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The asuras indeed at first owned the earth, the gods had so much as one seated on the ground can see. The gods asked the asuras: “May we also have a share in the earth?” [The demons said]: “How much shall we give you?” [The devas said]: “Give us as much as this hyaena can three times run round.” The demons agreed. indra taking the form of a hyaena thrice ran round on all sides the earth. So the devas won the earth.

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The deva-s were defeated by the asuras. The asuras thought : “this world definitely belongs to us alone assuredly” They said: “Well then, let us divide this world between us; and having divided it, let us live on it”. They accordingly started dividing it with ox-hides from west to east. The devas then heard of this, and said: “The asuras are actually dividing this earth. Come, let us go to where the asuras are dividing it. For what would become of us, if we were to get no share in it?” Placing Vishnu, this very yaj~na, at their head, they went to the asuras. The devas asked: “Let us have share of this earth along with yourselves. Let a part of it be ours” The asuras replied grudgingly: “We will give you only as much as this viShNu lies upon, and no more” Now viShNu was a dwarf. The gods, however, were not put off by this, but said:” Indeed they have given us much, who gave us what is equal in size to the yaj~na”. Having then laid viShNu down eastwards, they enclosed him on the sides with the Chandas, saying on the south side: “With the gAyatrI metre I enclose you”; on the west side: ‘With the triShTubh metre I enclose you”; on the north side: “With the jagati I enclose you”.

Having thus enclosed him on all directions, and having placed agni on the east side, they went on sacrificing and performing rites with it. By this [yaj~na] they obtained this entire earth; and because they obtained by it this entire (earth). Thereupon viShNu became tired; but being enclosed on all sides by the Chandas, with agni on the east, there was no escape route. He then hid underground among the roots of plants. The devas wondered: “What has become of viShNu? What has become of the yaj~na?” They said: “On all sides he is enclosed by the Chandas, with agni to the east, there is no escaping: search for him in this very place.” By digging shallow they accordingly searched for him. They discovered him at a depth ofthree thumb-lengths below [the ground].

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