Chapter 11

Mahabharata English - ARANYAKA PARVA

“Dhritarashtra said, ‘O Kshatta, I am desirous to hear of the destructionof Kirmira! Do thou tell me how the encounter took place between theRakshasa and Bhimasena!’

“Vidura said, ‘Listen to the story of that feat of Bhimasena of superhuman achievements! I have often heard of it in course of my conversationwith the Pandavas (while I was with them)

‘O foremost of kings, defeated at dice the Pandavas departed from henceand travelling for three days and nights they at length reached thosewoods that go by the name of Kamyaka. O king, just after the dreadfulhour of midnight when all nature is asleep, when man-eating Rakshasas ofterrible deeds begin to wander, the ascetics and the cowherds and otherrangers of the forest used to shun the woods of Kamyaka and fly to adistance from fear of cannibals. And, O Bharata, as the Pandavas were atthis hour entering those woods a fearful Rakshasa of flaming eyesappeared before them with a lighted brand, obstructing their path. Andwith outstretched arms and terrible face, he stood obstructing the way onwhich those perpetuators of the Kuru race were proceeding. With eightteeth standing out, with eyes of coppery hue, and with the hair of hishead blazing and standing erect, the fiend looked like a mass of cloudsreflecting the rays of the sun or mingled with lightning flashes andgraced with flocks of cranes underneath on their wings. And utteringfrightful yells and roaring like a mass of clouds charged with rain, thefiend began to spread the illusion proper to his species. Hearing thatterrible roar, birds along with other creatures that live on land or inwater, began to drop down in all directions, uttering cries of fear. Andin consequence of the deer and the leopards and the buffaloes and thebears flying about in all directions, it seemed as if the forest itselfwas in motion. And swayed by the wind raised by the sighs of theRakshasa, creepers growing at a great distance seemed to embrace thetrees with their arms of coppery leaves. And at that moment, a violentwind began to blow, and the sky became darkened with the dust thatcovered it. And as grief is the greatest enemy of the object of the fivesenses, even so appeared before the Pandavas that unknown foe of theirs.And beholding the Pandavas from a distance clad in black deer-skins, theRakshasa obstructed their passage through the forest even like theMainaka mountain. And at the sight of him never seen before thelotus-eyed Krishna, agitated with fear, closed her eyes. And she whosebraids had been dishevelled by the hand of Dussasana, stationed in themidst of the five Pandavas, looked like a stream chafing amid five hills.And seeing her overwhelmed with fear the five Pandavas supported her asthe five senses influenced by desire adhere to the pleasures relating totheir objects. And Dhaumya of great (ascetic) energy, in the presence ofthe sons of Pandu, destroyed the fearful illusion that had been spread bythe Rakshasa, by applying various mantras, calculated to destroy theRakshasa. And beholding his illusion dispelled, the mighty Rakshasa ofcrooked ways, capable of assuming any form at will, expanded his eyes inwrath and seemed like death himself. Then king Yudhishthira, endued withgreat wisdom, addressed him saying, ‘Who art thou, and whose (son)? Tellus what we should do for thee.’ The Rakshasa thus addressed, answeredYudhishthira the just, saying, ‘I am the brother of Vaka, the celebratedKirmira. I live at ease in these deserted woods of Kamyaka, dailyprocuring my food by vanquishing men in fight. Who are ye that have comenear me in the shape of my food? Defeating ye all in fight, I will eat yewith pleasure.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘O Bharata, hearing these words of the wretch,Yudhishthira announced his own name and lineage, saying, ‘I am kingYudhishthira the just, the son of Pandu, of whom thou mayst have heard.Deprived of my kingdom, I have with my brothers Bhimasena and Arjuna andthe others, in course of my wanderings, come into this terrible forestwhich is thy dominion, desirous of passing my period of exile here!’

“Vidura continued, ‘Kirmira said unto Yudhishthira, ‘By good luck it isthat fate hath accomplished today my long-accomplished desire! Withweapons upraised have I been continually ranging the entire earth withthe object of slaying Bhima. But Bhima I had found not. By good luck itis that slayer of my brother, whom I had been seeking so long, hath comebefore me! It was he who in the disguise of a Brahmana slew my dearbrother Vaka in the Vetrakiya forest by virtue of his science. He hathtruly no strength of arms! It is also this one of wicked soul whoformerly slew my dear friend Hidimva, living in this forest and ravishedhis sister! And that fool hath now come into this deep forest of mine,when the night is half spent, even at the time when we wander about!Today I will wreak my long-cherished vengeance upon him, and I will todaygratify (the manes of) Vaka with his blood in plenty! By slaying thisenemy of the Rakshasas, I shall today be freed from the debt I owe to myfriend and my brother, and thereby attain supreme happiness! If Bhimasenawas let free formerly by Vaka, today, I will devour him in thy sight, OYudhishthira! And even as Agastya ate up and digested the mighty Asura(Vatapi) I will eat up and digest this Bhima!’

“Vidura continued, ‘Thus addressed by the Rakshasa, the virtuousYudhishthira, steadfast in his pledges, said, ‘It can never be so,–andin anger rebuked the Rakshasa.’ The mighty-armed Bhima then tore up inhaste a tree of the length of ten Vyasas and stripped it of its leaves.And in the space of a moment the ever-victorious Arjuna stringed his bowGandiva possessing the force of the thunderbolt. And, O Bharata, makingJishnu desist, Bhima approached that Rakshasa still roaring like theclouds and said unto him, ‘Stay! Stay!’ And thus addressing the cannibal,and tightening the cloth around his waist, and rubbing his palms, andbiting his nether lip with his teeth, and armed with the tree, thepowerful Bhima rushed towards the foe. And like unto Maghavat hurling histhunderbolt, Bhima made that tree, resembling the mace of Yama himselfdescend with force on the head of the cannibal. The Rakshasa, however,was seen to remain unmoved at that blow, and wavered not in the conflict.On the other hand, he hurled his lighted brand, flaming like lightning,at Bhima. But that foremost of warriors turned it off with his left footin such a way that it went back towards the Rakshasa. Then the fierceKirmira on his part, all on a sudden uprooting a tree darted to theencounter like unto the mace bearing Yama himself. And that fight, sodestructive of the trees, looked like the encounter in days of yorebetween the brothers Vali and Sugriva for the possession of the samewoman. And the trees struck at the heads of the combatants, were brokeninto shivers, like lotus-stalks thrown on the temples of infuriateelephants. And in that great forest, innumerable trees, crushed like untoreeds, lay scattered as rags. That encounter with trees between thatforemost of Rakshasas and that best of men, O thou bull of the Bharatarace, lasted but for a moment. Then taking up a crag, the angry Rakshasahurled it at Bhima standing before him, but the latter wavered not. Thenlike unto Rahu going to devour the sun dispersing his rays with extendedarms, the Rakshasa with out-stretched arms darted towards Bhima, who hadremained firm under the blow inflicted with the crag. And tugging at andgrappling with each other in diverse ways they appeared like twoinfuriate bulls struggling with each other. Or like unto two mightytigers armed with teeth and claws, the encounter between them waxedfierce and hard. And remembering their (late) disgrace at the hands ofDuryodhana, and proud of the strength of his arms, and conscious also ofKrishna looking at him, Vrikodara began to swell in vigour. And friedwith anger, Bhima seized the Rakshasa with his arms, as one elephant inrut seizeth another. And the powerful Rakshasa also in his turn seizedhis adversary, but Bhimasena that foremost of all men endued withstrength, threw the cannibal down with violence. The sounds that inconsequence of those mighty combatants pressing each other’s hands, werefrightful and resembled the sounds of splintering bamboos. And hurlingthe Rakshasa down, seized him by the waist, and began to whirl him about,even as fierce hurricane shaketh a tree. And thus seized by the mightyBhima, the fatigued Rakshasa, became faint, and trembling all over, hestill pressed the (Pandava) with all his strength. And finding himfatigued, Vrikodara, twined his own arms round the foe, even as onebindeth a beast with cord. And the monster thereupon began to roarfrightfully, as a trumpet out of order. And the mighty Vrikodara for along while whirled the Rakshasa till the latter appeared to beinsensible, and began to move convulsively. And finding the Rakshasaexhausted, the son of Pandu without loss of time took him up in his arms,and slew him like a beast. And placing his knee on the waist of thatwretch of Rakshasa, Vrikodara began to press the neck of the foe with hishands. Then Bhima, dragging along the earth the bruised body of theRakshasa with the eye-lids about to close, said, ‘O sinful wretch, thouwilt no more have to wipe away the tears of Hidimva or Vaka, for thou tooart about to go to the mansions of Yama!’ And saying this, that foremostof men, his heart filled with wrath, beholding the Rakshasa destitute ofclothing and ornaments, and insensible, and undergoing convulsions, lethim dead. And after that Rakshasa of hue like the clouds had been slain,the son of that best of kings (Pandu) praised Bhima for his manyqualities, and placing Krishna in their front, set out for the Dwaitawoods.”

Vidura said, ‘It was thus, O lord of men, that Kirmira was slain incombat by Bhima, in obedience, O Kaurava, to the commands of Yudhishthirathe just! And having rid the forest of its pest, the victoriousYudhishthira the just, began to live in that dwelling of theirs, withDraupadi. And those bulls of the Bharata race comforting Draupadi beganto cheerfully extol Bhima with glad hearts. And after the Rakshasa hadbeen slain, borne down by the might of Bhima’s arms, those heroes enteredinto the peaceful forest freed from its annoyance. Passing through thegreat forest I saw lying the body of the wicked and fearless Rakshasaslain by Bhima’s might. And, O Bharata, there I heard of this achievementof Bhima from those Brahmanas who have assembled round the Pandavas.’

Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing the account of the slaughter in combatof Kirmira, that foremost of Rakshasas, the king sighed in sorrow andbecame absorbed in thought.'”

Chapter 10
Chapter 12
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