Chapter 12

Mahabharata English - ARANYAKA PARVA

Vaisampayana said, ‘Hearing that the Pandavas had been banished, theBhojas, the Vrishnis, and the Andhakas went to those heroes residing inaffliction in the great forest. And the consanguineous relatives ofPanchala, and Dhrishtaketu the king of Chedi, and those celebrated andpowerful brothers–the Kaikeyas, their hearts fired with wrath, went tothe forest to see the sons of Pritha. And reproaching the sons ofDhritarashtra, they said, ‘What should we do?’ And those bulls of theKshatriya race, with Vasudeva at their head, sat themselves down roundYudhishthira the just. And respectfully saluting that foremost of theKurus, Kesava mournfully said, ‘The earth shall drink the blood ofDuryodhana and Karna, of Dussasana and the wicked Sakuni! Slaying thesein battle and defeating their followers along with their royal allies,will we all install Yudhishthira the just on the throne! The wickeddeserve to be slain! Verily, this is eternal morality.’

Vaisampayana continued, ‘And when on account of the wrongs of Pritha’ssons, Janardana had thus got into a passion, and seemed bent uponconsuming all created things, Arjuna exerted himself to pacify him. Andbeholding Kesava angry, Falguna began to recite the feats achieved in hisformer lives by that soul of all things, himself immeasurable, theeternal one, of infinite energy, the lord of Prajapati himself, thesupreme ruler of the worlds, Vishnu of profound wisdom!’

“Arjuna said, ‘In days of old, thou, O Krishna, hadst wandered on theGandhamadana mountains for ten thousand years as a Muni having his homewhere evening fell! Living upon water alone, thou hadst, in days of old,O Krishna, also dwelt for full eleven thousand years by the lake ofPushkara! And, O slayer of Madhu, with arms upraised and standing on oneleg, thou hadst passed a hundred years on the high hills of Vadari,[16]living all the while upon air! And leaving aside thy upper garment, withbody emaciated and looking like a bundle of veins, thou hadst lived onthe banks of the Saraswati, employed in thy sacrifice extending fortwelve years! And, O Krishna of mighty energy, in observance of thy vowthou hadst stood on one leg for the length of a thousand years of thecelestials, on the plains of Prabhasa which it behoveth the virtuous tovisit! Vyasa hath told me that thou art the cause of the creation and itscourse! And, O Kesava, the lord of Kshetra,[17] thou art the mover of allminds, and the beginning and end of all things! All asceticism resteth inthee, and thou too art the embodiment of all sacrifices, and the eternalone! Slaying the Asura Naraka, offspring of the Earth-first begotten,thou hadst obtained his ear-rings, and performed, O Krishna, the firsthorse-sacrifice (offering up that Asura as the sacrificial horse)! And, Obull of all the worlds, having performed that feat, thou hast becomevictorious over all! Thou hadst slain all the Daityas and Danavasmustered in battle, and giving the lord of Sachi (Indra) the sovereigntyof the universe, thou hast, O Kesava of mighty arms, taken thy birthamong men! O slayer of all foes, having floated on the primordial waters,thou subsequently becamest Hari,[18] and Brahma and Surya and Dharma, andDhatri and Yama and Anala and Vasu, and Vaisravana, and Rudra, and Kalaand the firmament the earth, and the ten directions! Thyself increate,thou art the lord of the mobile and the immobile universe, the Creator ofall, O thou foremost of all existences! And, O slayer of Madhu, O thou ofabundant energy, in the forest of Chitraratha thou didst, O Krishna,gratify with thy sacrifice the chief of all the gods, the highest of thehigh! O Janardana, at each sacrifice thou didst offer, according toshares, gold by hundreds and thousands. And, O son of the Yadava race,becoming the son of Aditi, O exalted one of the supreme attributes, thouhast been known as the younger brother of Indra! And, O thou chastiser offoes, even while a child thou didst, O Krishna, in consequence of thyenergy, fill by three steps only the heaven, the firmament, and theearth! And, O thou soul of all covering the heaven and the firmament(while thou wert thus transformed), thou didst dwell in the body of thesun and afflict him with thy own splendour! And, O exalted one, in thyincarnations on those thousand occasions, thou hadst slain, O Krishna,sinful Asuras by hundreds! By destroying the Mauravas and the Pashas, andslaying Nisunda and Naraka. Thou hast again rendered safe the road toPragjyotisha! Thou hast slain Ahvriti at Jaruthi, and Kratha and Sisupalawith his adherents, and Jarasandha and Saivya and Satadhanwan! And on thycar roaring like unto clouds and effulgent like the sun, thou didstobtain for thy queen the daughter of Bhoja, defeating Rukmi in battle!Thou didst in fury slay Indradyumna and the Yavana called Kaseruman! Andslaying Salwa the lord of Saubha, thou didst destroy that city of Saubhaitself! These have all been slain in battle; listen to me as I speak ofothers (also slain by thee)! At Iravati thou hast slain king Bhoja equalunto Karttavirya in battle, and both Gopati and Talaketu also have beenslain by thee! And, O Janardana, thou hast also appropriate unto thyselfthe sacred city of Dwarka, abounding in wealth and agreeable unto theRishi themselves, and thou wilt submerge it at the end within the ocean!O slayer of Madhu, how can crookedness be in thee, devoid as thou art, Othou of the Dasarha race, of anger and envy and untruth and cruelty? Othou who knowest no deterioration, all the Rishis, coming unto theeseated in thy glory on the sacrificial ground, seek protection of thee!And, O slayer of Madhu, thou stayest at the end of the Yuga, contractingall things and withdrawing this universe into thy own self, thourepressor of all foes! O thou of the Vrishni race, at the beginning ofthe Yuga, there sprang from thy lotus-like navel, Brahma himself, andlord of all mobile and immobile things, and whose is this entireuniverse! When the dreadful Danavas Madhu and Kaitava were bent onslaying Brahma, beholding their impious endeavour thou wert angry, andfrom thy forehead, O Hari, sprang Sambhu, the holder of the trident. Thusthese two foremost of the deities have sprung from thy body in order todo thy work! Even Narada it was who hath told me this! O Narayana, thoudidst, in the forest of Chaitraratha, celebrate with plentiful gifts agrand sacrifice consisting of a multitude of rites! O God, O thou of eyeslike lotus leaves, the deeds thou hast performed while still a boy,having recourse to thy might and aided by Baladeva, have never been doneby others, nor are they capable of being achieved by others in thefuture! Thou didst even dwell in Kailasa, accompanied by Brahmanas!’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Having addressed Krishna thus, the illustriousPandava, who was the soul of Krishna, became dumb, when Janardana (inreply addressed that son of Pritha) saying, ‘Thou art mine and I amthine, while all that is mine is thine also! He that hateth thee hatethme as well, and he that followeth thee followeth me! O thou irrepressibleone, thou art Nara and I am Narayana or Hari! We are the Rishis Nara andNarayana born in the world of men for a special purpose. O Partha, thouart from me and I am from thee! O bull of the Bharata race, no one canunderstand the difference that is between us!’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘When the illustrious Kesava had said so in themidst of that assembly of brave kings, all excited with anger, Panchalisurrounded by Dhrishtadyumna and her other heroic brothers, approachedhim of eyes like lotus leaves seated with his cousins, and, desirous ofprotection, addressed in angry accents that refuge of all, saying, ‘Asitaand Devala have said that in the matter of the creation of all things,thou hast been indicated (by the sages) as the only Prajapati and theCreator of all the worlds! And, O irrepressible one, Jamadagnya sayeththat thou art Vishnu, and, O slayer of Madhu, that thou art (embodimentof) Sacrifice, Sacrificer and he for whom the sacrifice is performed!And, O best of male beings, the Rishis indicate thee as Forgiveness andTruth! Kasyapa hath said that thou art Sacrifice sprung from Truth! Oexalted one, Narada calleth thee the god of the Sadhyas, and of theSivas, as alone the Creator and the Lord of all things. And, O tigeramong men, thou repeatedly sportest with the gods including, Brahma andSankara and Sakra even as children sporting with their toys! And, Oexalted one, the firmament is covered by thy head, and the earth by thyfeet; these worlds are as thy womb and thou art the Eternal one! WithRishis sanctified by Vedic lore and asceticism, and whose souls have beenpurified by penance, and who are contented with soul-vision, thou art thebest of all objects! And, O chief of all male beings; thou art the refugeof all royal sages devoted to virtuous acts, never turning their backs onthe field of the battle, and possessed of every accomplishment! Thou artthe Lord of all, thou art Omnipresent, thou art the Soul of all things,and thou art the active power pervading everything! The rulers of theseveral worlds, those worlds themselves, the stellar conjunctions, theten points of the horizon, the firmament, the moon, and the sun, are allestablished in thee! And, O mighty-armed one, the morality of (earthly)creatures, the immortality of the universe, are established in thee! Thouart the Supreme lord of all creatures, celestial or human! Therefore itis, O slayer of Madhu, that impelled by the affection thou bearest methat I will relate to thee my griefs! O Krishna, how could one like me,the wife of Pritha’s sons, the sister of Dhrishtadyumna, and the friendof thee, be dragged to the assembly! Alas, during my season, stained withblood, with but a single cloth on, trembling all over, and weeping, I wasdragged to the court of the Kurus! Beholding me, stained with blood inthe presence of those kings in the assembly, the wicked sons ofDhritarashtra laughed at me! O slayer of Madhu, while the sons of Panduand the Panchalas and the Vrishnis lived, they dared express the desireof using me as their slave! O Krishna, I am according to the ordinance,the daughter in-law of both Dhritarashtra and Bhishma! Yet, O slayer ofMadhu, they wished to make of me a slave by force! I blame the Pandavaswho are mighty and foremost in battle, for they saw (without stirring)their own wedded wife known over all the world, treated with suchcruelty! Oh, fie on the might of Bhimasena, fie on the Gandiva of Arjuna,for they, O Janardana, both suffered me to be thus disgraced by littlemen! This eternal course of morality is ever followed by thevirtuous–viz., that the husband, however weak, protecteth his weddedwife! By protecting the wife one protecteth his offspring and byprotecting the offspring one protecteth his own self! One’s own self isbegotten on one’s wife, and therefore it is that the wife is called Jaya.A wife also should protect her lord, remembering that he is to take hisbirth in her womb! The Pandavas never forsake the person that soliciteththeir protection, and yet they abandoned me who solicited it! By my fivehusbands five sons of exceeding energy have been born of me: Prativindhyaby Yudhishthira, Sutasoma by Vrikodara, Srutakirti by Arjuna, Satanika byNakula and Srutakarman by the youngest, all of them of energy that cannotbe baffled. For their sake, O Janardana, it was necessary to protect me!Even as (thy son) Pradyumna, they are, O Krishna, mighty warriors all!They are foremost of bowmen, and invincible in battle by any foe! Why dothey bear the wrongs inflicted (on me) by the sons of Dhritarashtra ofsuch contemptible strength? Deprived of their kingdom by deception, thePandavas were made bondsmen and I myself was dragged to the assemblywhile in my season, and having only a single cloth on! Fie on thatGandiva which none else can string save Arjuna and Bhima and thyself, Oslayer of Madhu! Fie on the strength of Bhima, and fie on the prowess ofArjuna, since, O Krishna, Duryodhana (after what he had done) hath drawnbreath even for a moment! He it is, O slayer of Madhu, who formerly drovethe guileless Pandavas with their mother from the kingdom, while theywere children still engaged in study and the observance of their vows. Itis that sinful wretch, who, horrible to relate, mixed in Bhima’s foodfresh and virulent poison in full dose. But, O Janardana, Bhima digestedthat poison with the food, without sustaining any injury, for, O best ofmen and mighty-armed one, Bhima’s days had not been ended! O Krishna, itis Duryodhana who at the house standing by the banyan called Pramanabound Bhima sleeping unsuspectingly, and casting him into the Gangesreturned to the city. But the powerful Bhimasena the son of Kunti,possessed of mighty arms, on waking from sleep, tore his bonds and rosefrom the water. It is Duryodhana, who caused venomous black-cobras tobite all over the body of Bhimasena, but that slayer of foes died not.Awaking, the son of Kunti smashed all the serpents and with his left handkilled (the agent, viz.) the favourite charioteer of Duryodhana. Again,while the children were asleep at Varanavata with their mother, it is hewho set fire to the house intending to burn them to death. Who is therecapable of doing such an act? It was then that the illustrious Kunti,overtaken by this calamity, and surrounded by the flames, began to cryout in terror, speaking to the children, ‘Alas, I am undone! How shall weescape from this fire today! Alas, I shall meet with destruction with mylittle children!’ Then Bhima, possessed of mighty arms, and prowess likeunto the force of the wind, comforted his illustrious mother as also hisbrothers, saying, ‘Like that king of birds, Garuda, the son of Vinata, Iwill spring up into the air. We have no fear from this fire’. And thentaking his mother on his left flank, and the king in his right, and thetwins on each shoulder, and Vivatsu on his back, the mighty Vrikodara,thus taking all of them, at one leap cleared the fire and delivered hismother and brother from the conflagration. Setting out that night withtheir renowned mother, they came near the forest of Hidimva. And whilefatigued and distressed, they were sleeping fast with her, a Rakshasawoman called Hidimva approached them. Beholding the Pandavas with theirmother asleep on the ground, influenced by desire she sought to haveBhimasena for her lord. The weak one then took up Bhima’s feet on her lapto press them with her soft hands. The mighty Bhima of immeasurableenergy, of prowess that could not be baffled, then woke from sleep, andasked her, saying, ‘O thou of faultless features, what dost thou wishhere?’ Thus asked by him, the Rakshasa lady of faultless features,capable, besides, of assuming any form at will, replied unto thehigh-souled Bhima, saying, ‘Do ye speedily fly from this place! Mybrother gifted with strength will come to slay ye! Therefore speed andtarry not!’ But Bhima haughtily said, ‘I do not fear him! If he comethhere, I will slay him!’ Hearing their converse, that vilest of cannibalscame to the spot. Of frightful form and dreadful to behold, uttering loudcries as he came, the Rakshasa said, ‘O Hidimva, with whom dost thouconverse? Bring him unto me, I will eat him up. It behoveth thee to tarrynot.’ But moved by compassion, the Rakshasa lady of faultless featuresand pure heart said nothing out of pity. Then the man-eating monster,uttering dreadful cries, rushed at Bhima with great force. Andapproaching him furiously, the mighty cannibal, possessed with rage,caught hold of Bhima’s hand with his own and clenching fast his otherhand and making it hard as the thunder-bolt of Indra, suddenly struckBhima a blow that descended with the force of lightning. His hand havingbeen seized by the Rakshasa, Vrikodara, without being able to brook it,flew into a rage. Then a dreadful combat took place between Bhimasena andHidimva, both skilled in all weapons and which was like unto theencounter of Vasava with Vritra. And, O sinless one, after sporting withthe Rakshasa for a long while the powerful Bhima of mighty energy slewthe cannibal when the latter had become weak with exertion. Then havingslain Hidimva, and taking (his sister) Hidimva at their head, of whom was(subsequently) born Ghatotkacha, Bhima and his brothers went away. Thenall those repressors of their foes, accompanied by their mother andsurrounded by many Brahmanas proceeded towards Ekachakra. In the matterof this their journey, Vyasa ever engaged in their welfare had becometheir counsellor. Then arriving at Ekachakra, the Pandavas of rigid vowsthere also slew a mighty cannibal, Vaka by name, terrible as Hidimvahimself. And having slain that fierce cannibal, Bhima that foremost ofsmiters, went with all his brothers to the capital of Drupada. And, OKrishna, as thou hadst acquired Rukmini, the daughter of Bhishmaka, evenso Savyasachin, while residing there, obtained me! O slayer of Madhu,Arjuna won me in the Swayamvara, having performed a feat difficult ofachievement by others and having fought also with the assembled kings!

‘Thus, O Krishna, afflicted with numerous griefs, and in great distress,am I living, with Dhaumya at our head, but deprived of the company of theadorable Kunti! Why do these that are gifted with strength and possessedof the prowess of the lion, sit indifferently, beholding me thusafflicted by enemies so despicable? Suffering such wrongs at the hands ofwicked and evil-doing foes of small strength, am I to burn in grief solong? Born I was in a great race, coming into the world in anextraordinary way! I am also the beloved wife of the Pandavas, and thedaughter-in-law of the illustrious Pandu! The foremost of women anddevoted to my husbands, even I, O Krishna, was seized by hair, O slayerof Madhu, in the sight of the Pandavas, each of whom is like an Indrahimself!

‘Saying this the mild-speeched Krishna hid her face with her soft handslike the buds of lotus, and began to weep. And the tears of Panchalibegot of grief washed her deep, plump and graceful breasts crowned withauspicious marks. And wiping her eyes and sighing frequently she saidthese words angrily and in a choked voice, ‘Husbands, or sons, orfriends, or brothers, or father, have I none! Nor have I thee, O thouslayer of Madhu, for ye all, beholding me treated so cruelly by inferiorfoes, sit still unmoved! My grief at Karna’s ridicule is incapable ofbeing assuaged! On these grounds I deserve to be ever protected by thee,O Kesava, viz., our relationship, thy respect (for me), our friendship,and thy lordship (over me)

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘In that assembly of heroes Vasudeva then spakeunto the weeping Draupadi as follows, ‘O fair lady, the wives of thosewith whom thou art angry, shall weep even like thee, beholding theirhusbands dead on the ground, weltering in blood and their bodies coveredwith the arrows of Vivatsu! Weep not, lady, for I will exert to theutmost of my powers for the sons of Pandu! I promise thou shalt (oncemore) be the queen of kings! The heavens might fall, or the Himavat mightsplit, the earth might be rent, or the waters of the ocean might dry up,but my words shall never be futile!’ Hearing those words of Achyuta inreply, Draupadi looked obliquely at her third husband (Arjuna). And, Omighty king, Arjuna said unto Draupadi, ‘O thou of beautiful copperyeyes, grieve not! O illustrious one, it shall be even as the slayer ofMadhu hath said! It can never be otherwise, O beautiful one!’

“Dhrishtadyumna said, ‘I will slay Drona, Sikhandin will slay thegrandfather. And Bhimasena will slay Duryodhana, and Dhananjaya will slayKarna. And, O sister, assisted by Rama and Krishna, we are invincible inbattle by even the slayer himself of Vritra–what are the sons ofDhritarashtra?’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘After these words had been spoken, all theheroes there turned their faces towards Vasudeva, who then in their midstbegan to speak as follows.'”

Chapter 11
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