and mendicants formed a large contingent of the guests. On the appointed day Brahmadeva
struck his axe on the earth to lay the foundation of the vedi. His axe struck against
something hard. He investigated and discovered a strong iron chest in the ground.
Everybody became worried, but all were anxious to see what the chest contained. With the
approval of Vishnu and Shiva, Brahma opened the box and to the amazement of all concerned
there lay in it a young girl. This damsel was extraordinarily beautiful and her charms
were too much even for Brahma himself not to speak of others,
Each king and emperor in the congregation, each god and yaksha, each sage and
mendicant was now an aspirant to the girls hand. Some of them were imprudent enough
to start a wrangle over it then and there, Everybody forgot the original purpose-
Brahmas yajnya for which they had assembled, and busied himself on thinking and
devising ways and means of winning the lady. A majority of them of course relied on the
normal modes of wooing and courting, but others were not so sure of the efficacy of these
means. They thought that force alone would lead them somewhere. Some firebrands drew their
swords and blood- shed became imminent.
By now Brahma- deva had gathered himself. He was afraid
that this unforeseen contest would disrupt his sacrifice and addressed theassembled
guests. He said that the number of those who were aspiring to marry the girl was large and
an all-round blood-bath would lead nobody anywhere. So instead he would suggest a way out.
There would be a competition, free for all, and the winner would get the prize. Whoever
completed a pradakshina of the earth, circumambulated the earth fastest, would be married
to the girl. The condition was stiff, but the prize matched it well and hence everybody
set out to circle the earth on a signal from Brahmadeva.