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Chapter 189

Mahabharata English - ADI PARVA

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then those youthful princes adorned with ear-rings,vying with one another and each regarding himself accomplished in armsand gifted with might, stood up brandishing their weapons. Andintoxicated with pride of beauty, prowess, lineage, knowledge, wealth,and youth, they were like Himalayan elephants in the season of rut withcrowns split from excess of temporal juice.

And beholding each other withjealousy and influenced by the god of desire, they suddenly rose up fromtheir royal seats, exclaiming ‘Krishna shall be mine.’ And the Kshatriyasassembled in that amphitheatre, each desirous of winning the daughter ofDrupada, looked like the celestial (of old) standing round Uma, thedaughter of the King of mountains. Afflicted with the shafts of the godof the flowery bow and with hearts utterly lost in the contemplation ofKrishna, those princes descended into the amphitheatre for winning thePanchala maiden and began to regard even their best friends withjealousy. And there came also the celestials on their cars, with theRudras and the Adityas, the Vasus and the twin Aswins, the Swadhas andall the Marutas, and Kuvera with Yama walking ahead. And there came alsothe Daityas and the Suparnas, the great Nagas and the celestial Rishis,the Guhyakas and the Charanas and Viswavasu and Narada and Parvata, andthe principal Gandharvas with Apsaras. And Halayudha (Valadeva) andJanardana (Krishna) and the chief of the Vrishni, Andhaka, and Yadavatribes who obeyed the leadership of Krishna were also there, viewing thescene. And beholding those elephants in rut–the five(Pandavas)–attracted towards Draupadi like mighty elephants towards alake overgrown with lotuses, or like fire covered with ashes, Krishna theforemost of Yadu heroes began to reflect. And he said unto Rama(Valadeva), ‘That is Yudhishthira; that is Bhima with Jishnu (Arjuna);and those are the twin heroes.’ And Rama surveying them slowly cast aglance of satisfaction at Krishna. Biting their nether lips in wrath, theother heroes there–sons and grandsons of kings–with their eyes andhearts and thoughts set on Krishna, looked with expanded eyes on Draupadialone without noticing the Pandavas. And the sons of Pritha also, ofmighty arms, and the illustrious twin heroes, beholding Draupadi, wereall likewise struck by the shafts of Kama. And crowded with celestialRishis and Gandharvas and Suparnas and Nagas and Asuras and Siddhas, andfilled with celestial perfumes and scattered over with celestial flowers,and resounding with the kettle-drum and the deep hum of infinite voices,and echoing with the softer music of the flute, the Vina, and the tabor,the cars of the celestials could scarcely find a passage through thefirmament. Then those princes–Karna, Duryodhana, Salwa, Salya,Aswatthaman, Kratha, Sunitha, Vakra, the ruler of Kalinga and Banga,Pandya, Paundra, the ruler of Videha, the chief of the Yavanas, and manyother sons and grandsons of kings,–sovereigns of territories with eyeslike lotus-petals,–one after another began to exhibit prowess for(winning) that maiden of unrivalled beauty. Adorned with crowns,garlands, bracelets, and other ornaments, endued with mighty arms,possessed of prowess and vigour and bursting with strength and energy,those princes could not, even in imagination, string that bow ofextraordinary stiffness.

“And (some amongst) those kings in exerting with swelling lips eachaccording to his strength, education, skill, and energy,–to string thatbow, were tossed on the ground and lay perfectly motionless for sometime. Their strength spent and their crowns and garlands loosened fromtheir persons, they began to pant for breath and their ambition ofwinning that fair maiden was cooled. Tossed by that tough bow, and theirgarlands and bracelets and other ornaments disordered, they began toutter exclamations of woe. And that assemblage of monarchs, their hope ofobtaining Krishna gone, looked sad and woeful. And beholding the plightof those monarchs, Karna that foremost of all wielders of the bow went towhere the bow was, and quickly raising it strung it and placed the arrowson the string. And beholding the son of Surya–Karna of the Sutatribe–like unto fire, or Soma, or Surya himself, resolved to shoot themark, those foremost of bowmen–the sons of Pandu–regarded the mark asalready shot and brought down upon the ground. But seeing Karna, Draupadiloudly said, ‘I will not select a Suta for my lord.’ Then Karna, laughingin vexation and casting glance at the Sun, threw aside the bow alreadydrawn to a circle.

Then when all those Kshatriyas gave up the task, the heroic king of theChedis–mighty as Yama (Pluto) himself–the illustrious and determinedSisupala, the son of Damaghosa, in endeavouring to string the bow,himself fell upon his knees on the ground. Then king Jarasandha enduedwith great strength and powers, approaching the bow stood there for somemoment, fixed and motionless like a mountain. Tossed by the bow, he toofell upon his knees on the ground, and rising up, the monarch left theamphitheatre for (returning to) his kingdom. Then the great hero Salya,the king of Madra, endued with great strength, in endeavouring to stringthe bow fell upon his knees on the ground. At last when in thatassemblage consisting of highly respectable people, all the monarchs hadbecome subjects of derisive talk that foremost of heroes–Jishnu, the sonof Kunti–desired to string the bow and placed the arrows on thebow-string.'”

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