Those impure disguises which Indra had donned for the purposes of stealing the horse represent sin. This is stated in the Shastras. Those who do not have the ability to walk on the path of knowledge (jnana yoga) accept these sinful disguises. In order to disrupt Prithu’s Yagnas, Indra donned many disguises. Those who accepted these sinful disguises are Pākhanḍas.
Carried away by their disguises, people consider them to be ascetics who are bound by dharma. Although externally the actions of these Pākhanḍa’s appear righteous, their path is unrighteous.Some Pākhanḍās are naked. Some wear red clothing. Some others hold skulls, bones, and have long matted hair. All these people have great expertise in attracting people towards them. They have great debating skills. Influenced by their arguments, people get easily fooled.
The venerable Emperor Prithu came to know of Indra’s repeated attempts in stealing his sacrificial horse. In fury he took up his bow and readied the arrow intending to kill Indra. The glow on his angry face created extreme fear in every heart. Enemies of Prithu did not have the capacity to handle his dexterity and speed.
The priests who saw him aiming his arrow at Indra intervened and said, “O King, you are supremely wise. In this sacrificial hall, no animal apart from the sacrificial horse should be killed. Indra is trying to disrupt your Yagna and thus is your enemy. Due to your righteous deeds, his popularity has already diminished. Using powerful Vedic hymns we shall call him here and then shall forcibly throw him into the sacrificial homa fire”. They thus pacified Prithu.
Holding the sacrificial ladle in their hands, the angry priests were about to begin chanting of the appropriate Vedic hymns, when Lord Brahma arrived there. He stopped them and then said,
“Just because Indra is causing impediments in your Yagna, you plan to perform another Yagna and destroy him. Killing Indra is not a justifiable act, is it? Indra’s another name is Yagna. He is none other than an incarnation of the Supreme Lord. All Devatas who are invoked in the Yagna are his different manifestations. Therefore, it is incorrect to harm Indra.
O Vedic scholars, by attempting to disrupt Prithu’s Yagna, Indra has undoubtedly committed serious mistakes in aspect of the dharma prescribed by our Mahatmas. Through his various disguises he has created a new path of imposters (pākhanḍa). Understand this clearly. If you do not understand Indra’s intention, Prithu will end up performing only 99 Ashwamedha Yāgas”.
Lord Brahma then said to Prithu, “O King, you have successfully completed many good deeds. Moreover, you know the path of liberation (moksha dharma). Is it right for you to seek completion of the 100th Ashwamedha Yāga with fruitive intentions? Why do you seek the result of completing 100 Yāgas?
Therefore, stop with this 99th Yagna. Indra is also another of your forms. Both of you are incarnations of that Supreme Lord. Hence please maintain friendly relation with him. Enmity between you is not acceptable. May you be blessed with auspiciousness!
O king, do not get agitated in this matter. Please adhere to my words with respect. When destiny creates impediments, one should not get agitated. It means, one should not ponder about those tasks in which impediments are being faced due to destiny. By thinking about it the mind will be filled with extreme anger. This extreme anger will push the person into darkest areas of spiritual ignorance (ajnana).
Due to these pākhanḍa activities created by Indra, many deviations have arisen in dharmic path. Hence please stop this Yagna that has become a cause of irritation to the Devatas. By stealing the horse Indra has cheated you. The pākhanḍas whom he has created are already attracting the people towards their unrighteous path. See how people are following them.
O son of Vena! At the time when righteousness had declined among people due to Vena’s evil deeds, seizing a right opportunity you incarnated from Vena’s body to set right the situation. O king, you are an incarnation of Srihari. Please ponder about the origin of this creation. Please fulfill the desire of the Prajāpatis. You are supremely efficient. Please put an end to this pākhanḍa path that has become immensely popular due to Indra’s actions”.
Prithu abided by the orders of Lord Brahma. He maintained friendly relations with Indra. He took the avabruta snana, the obligatory bath taken at the time of conclusion of the Yagna, and concluded his Yagna. All the Devatas showered Prithu, who had performed many Yagnas, with plentiful boons. They blessed him profusely.
After this Prithu gave plentiful dakshinas to the priests who had conducted the Yagna. The priests who were pleased showered many blessings upon him. They said, “O king, you are supremely powerful. All the Devatas, fore-fathers, Maharishis and humans accepted your worship. Duly honoured by you they are very satisfied”.
With this the nineteenth chapter of the fourth canto comes to an end.
Fourth Canto Chapter Twenty
Maitreya Maharishi said, “At the time when the priests were extolling Prithu, the Supreme Lord who is the embodiment of all Yagnas and who resides in Vaikunṭha, appeared there along with Indra. He said,
“O King, for your 100th Ashwamedha Yāga, Indra created impediments. He now begs pardon. Please forgive him. In this world, wise, noble persons do not get angry with other living beings”.