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Chapter 192

Mahabharata English - ADI PARVA

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then those bulls among Brahmanas shaking theirdeer-skins and water-pots made of cocoanut-shells exclaimed, ‘Fear not,we will fight the foe!’ Arjuna smilingly addressing those Brahmanasexclaiming thus, said, ‘Stand ye aside as spectators (of the fray) Showering hundreds of arrows furnished with straight points even I shallcheck, like snakes with mantras, all those angry monarchs.’ Having saidthis, the mighty Arjuna taking up the bow he had obtained as doweraccompanied by his brother Bhima stood immovable as a mountain.

Andbeholding those Kshatriyas who were ever furious in battle with Karnaahead, the heroic brothers rushed fearlessly at them like two elephantsrushing against a hostile elephant. Then those monarchs eager for thefight fiercely exclaimed, ‘The slaughter in battle of one desiring tofight is permitted.’ And saying this, the monarchs suddenly rushedagainst the Brahmanas. And Karna endued with great energy rushed againstJishnu for fight. And Salya the mighty king of Madra rushed against Bhimalike an elephant rushing against another for the sake of a she-elephantin heat; while Duryodhana and others engaged with the Brahmanas,skirmished with them lightly and carelessly. Then the illustrious Arjunabeholding Karna, the son of Vikartana (Surya), advancing towards him,drew his tough bow and pieced him with his sharp arrows. And the impetusof those whetted arrows furnished with fierce energy made Radheya (Karna)faint. Recovering consciousness Karna attacked Arjuna with greater carethan before. Then Karna and Arjuna, both foremost of victorious warriors,desirous of vanquishing each other, fought madly on. And such was thelightness of hand they both displayed that (each enveloped by the other’sshower of arrows) they both became invisible (unto the spectators oftheir encounter). ‘Behold the strength of my arms.’–‘Mark, how I havecounteracted that feat,’–those were the words–intelligible to heroesalone–in which they addressed each other. And incensed at finding thestrength and energy of Arjuna’s arms unequalled on the earth, Karna, theson of Surya, fought with greater vigour. And parrying all thoseimpetuous arrows shot at him by Arjuna, Karna sent up a loud shout. Andthis feat of his was applauded by all the warriors. Then addressing hisantagonist, Karna said, ‘O thou foremost of Brahmanas, I am gratified toobserve the energy of thy arms that knoweth no relaxation in battle andthy weapons themselves fit for achieving victory. Art thou the embodimentof the science of weapons, or art thou Rama that best of Brahmanas, orIndra himself, or Indra’s younger brother Vishnu called also Achyuta, whofor disguising himself hath assumed the form of a Brahmana and musteringsuch energy of arms fighteth with me? No other person except the husbandhimself of Sachi or Kiriti, the son of Pandu, is capable of fighting withme when I am angry on the field of battle.’ Then hearing those words ofhis, Phalguna replied, saying, ‘O Karna, I am neither the science of arms(personified), nor Rama endued with superhuman powers. I am only aBrahmana who is the foremost of all warriors and all wielders of weapons.By the grace of my preceptor I have become accomplished in the Brahma andthe Paurandara weapons. I am here to vanquish thee in battle. Therefore,O hero, wait a little.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed (by Arjuna), Karna the adoptedson of Radha desisted from the fight, for that mighty chariot-fighterthought that Brahma energy is ever invincible. Meanwhile on another partof the field, the mighty heroes Salya and Vrikodara, well-skilled inbattle and possessed of great strength and proficiency, challenging eachother, engaged in fight like two elephants in rut. And they struck eachother with their clenched fists and knees. And sometimes pushing eachother forward and sometimes dragging each other near, sometimes throwingeach other down; face downward, and sometimes on the sides, they foughton, striking, each other at times with their clenched fists. Andencountering each other with blows hard as the clash of two masses ofgranite, the lists rang with the sounds of their combat. Fighting witheach other thus for a few seconds, Bhima the foremost of the Kuru heroestaking up Salya on his arms hurled him to a distance. And Bhimasena, thatbull amongst men, surprised all (by the dexterity of his feat) for thoughhe threw Salya on the ground he did it without hurting him much. And whenSalya was thus thrown down and Karna was struck with fear, the othermonarchs were all alarmed. And they hastily surrounded Bhima andexclaimed, ‘Surely these bulls amongst Brahmanas are excellent(warriors)! Ascertain in what race they have been born and where theyabide. Who can encounter Karna, the son of Radha, in fight, except Ramaor Drona, or Kiriti, the son of Pandu? Who also can encounter Duryodhanain battle except Krishna, the son of Devaki, and Kripa, the son ofSaradwan? Who also can overthrow in battle Salya, that first of mightywarriors, except the hero Valadeva or Vrikodara, the son of Pandu, or theheroic Duryodhana? Let us, therefore, desist from this fight with theBrahmanas. Indeed, Brahmanas, however offending, should yet be everprotected. And first let us ascertain who these are; for after we havedone that we may cheerfully fight with them.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘And Krishna, having beheld that feat of Bhima,believed them both to be the son of Kunti. And gently addressing theassembled monarchs, saying, ‘This maiden hath been justly acquired (bythe Brahmana),’ he induced them to abandon the fight. Accomplished inbattle, those monarchs then desisted from the fight. And those best ofmonarchs then returned to their respective kingdoms, wondering much. Andthose who had come there went away saying. ‘The festive scene hathterminated in the victory of the Brahmanas. The princess of Panchala hathbecome the bride of a Brahmana.’ And surrounded by Brahmanas dressed inskins of deer and other wild animals, Bhima and Dhananjaya passed withdifficulty out of the throng. And those heroes among men, mangled by theenemy and followed by Krishna, on coming at last out of that throng,looked like the full moon and the sun emerging from the clouds.

“Meanwhile Kunti seeing that her sons were late in returning from theireleemosynary round, was filled with anxiety. She began to think ofvarious evils having overtaken her sons. At one time she thought that thesons of Dhritarashtra having recognised her sons had slain them. Next shefeared that some cruel and strong Rakshasas endued with powers ofdeception had slain them. And she asked herself, ‘Could the illustriousVyasa himself (who had directed my sons to come to Panchala) have beenguided by perverse intelligence?’ Thus reflected Pritha in consequence ofher affection for her offspring. Then in the stillness of the lateafternoon, Jishnu, accompanied by a body of Brahmanas, entered the abodeof the potter, like the cloud-covered sun appearing on a cloudy day.'”

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