Chapter 156

Mahabharata English - ARANYAKA PARVA

Vaisampayana continued, “Thus dwelling with the Brahmanas in that best ofmountains, in expectation of Arjuna’s return, when the Pandavas had grownconfident and when all those Rakshasas together with Bhima’s son haddeparted, one day while Bhimasena was away, a Rakshasa all of a suddencarried off Yudhishthira the just and the twins and Krishna. ThatRakshasa (in the guise of a Brahmana) had constantly remained in thecompany of the Pandavas, alleging that he was a high-class Brahmana,skilled in counsel, and versed in all the Sastras. His object was topossess himself of the bows, the quivers and the other materialimplements belonging to the Pandavas; and he had been watching for anopportunity of ravishing Draupadi. And that wicked and sinful one wasnamed Jatasura. And, O king of kings, Pandu’s son (Yudhishthira) had beensupporting him, but knew not that wretch like unto a fire covered withashes.

“And once on a day while that represser of foes, Bhimasena, was out ahunting, he (the Rakshasa), seeing Ghatotkacha and his followers scatterin different directions and seeing those vow-observing great rishis, ofascetic wealth, viz.; Lomasa and the rest, away for bathing andcollecting flowers, assumed a different form, gigantic and monstrous andfrightful; and having secured all the arms (of the Pandavas) as alsoDraupadi, that wicked one fled away taking the three Pandavas. Thereuponthat son of Pandu, Sahadeva, extricated himself with exertion, and byforce snatched the sword named Kausika from the grasp of the enemy andbegan to call Bhimasena, taking the direction in which that mighty onehad gone. And on being carried off Yudhishthira the just, addressed him(that Rakshasa), saying, ‘O stupid one, thy merit decreaseth (even bythis act of thine). Dost thou not pay heed unto the established order ofnature? Whether belonging to the human race, or to the lower orders, allpay regard to virtue,–more specially the Rakshasas. In the firstinstance, they knew virtue better than others. Having considered allthese, thou ought to adhere to virtue. O Rakshasa, the gods, the pitris,the Siddhas, the rishis, the Gandharvas, the brutes and even the wormsand ants depend for their lives on men; and thou too liveth through thatagency. If prosperity attendeth the human race, thy race also prospereth;and if calamities befall the former, even the celestials suffer grief.Being gratified by offerings, do the gods thrive. O Rakshasa, we are theguardians, governors and preceptors of kingdoms. If kingdoms becomeunprotected, whence can proceed prosperity and happiness? Unless there beoffence, a Rakshasa should not violate a king. O man-eating one, we havecommitted no wrong, ever so little. Living on vighasa, we serve the godsand others to the best of our power. And we are never intent upon bowingdown to our superiors and Brahmanas. A friend, and one confiding, and hewhose food hath been partaken of, and he that hath afforded shelter,should never be injured. Thou hast lived in our place happily, being dulyhonoured. And, O evil-minded one, having partaken of our food, how canstthou carry us off? And as thy acts are so improper and as thou hast grownin age without deriving any benefit and as thy propensities are evil, sothou deservest to die for nothing, and for nothing wilt thou die to-day.And if thou beest really evil-disposed and devoid of all virtue, do thourender us back our weapons and ravish Draupadi after fight. But ifthrough stupidity thou must do this deed, then in the world thou wiltonly reap demerit and infamy O Rakshasa, by doing violence to this femaleof the human race, thou hast drunk poison, after having shaken thevessel.’ Thereupon, Yudhishthira made himself ponderous to the Rakshasa.And being oppressed with the weight, he could not proceed rapidly asbefore. Then addressing Draupadi, Nakula and Sahadeva, Yudhishthira said,’Do ye not entertain any fear of this wretched Rakshasa, I have checkedhis speed. The mighty-armed son of the Wind-god may not be far away; andon Bhima coming up at the next moment, the Rakshasa will not live.’ Oking, staring at the Rakshasa bereft of sense, Sahadeva addressedYudhishthira, the son of Kunti, saying, ‘What can be more meritorious fora Kshatriya than to fall in fight, or defeat a foe? O repressor of foes,we will fight and either this one will slay us, or we shall slay him, Omighty-armed one. Verily this is the place and time. O king. And, O thouof unfailing prowess, the time hath come for the display of our Kshatriyavirtue. It behoveth us to attain heaven either by gaining victory orbeing slain. If the sun sets to-day, the Rakshasa living yet, O Bharata,I will not any more say that I am a Kshatriya. Ho! Ho! Rakshasa. say! Iam Pandu’s son, Sahadeva. Either, after having killed me, carry off thislady, or being slain, lie senseless here.’

“Madri’s son, Sahadeva, was speaking thus, when Bhimasena made hisappearance, with a mace in his hand, like unto Vasava himself wieldingthe thunder-bolt. And here he saw his two brothers and the noble-mindedDraupadi (on the shoulders of the demon), and Sahadeva on the groundrebuking the Rakshasa and also that stupid Rakshasa himself deprived ofsense by Fate, going round in different directions through bewildermentcaused by Destiny. And finding his brothers and Draupadi being carriedoff, Bhima of mighty strength was fired with wrath, and addressed theRakshasa, saying, ‘I had ere this found thee out for a wicked wight fromthy scrutiny of our weapons; but as I had no apprehension of thee, so Ihad not slain thee at that time. Thou wert in the disguise of aBrahmana–nor didst thou say anything harsh unto us. And thou didst takedelight in pleasing us. And thou also didst not do us wrong. And,furthermore, thou wert our guest. How could I, therefore, slay thee, whowert thus innocent of offence, and who wert in the disguise of aBrahmana? He that knowing such a one to be even a Rakshasa, slayeth him,goes to hell. Further, thou canst not be killed before the time cometh.Surely to-day thou hast reached the fullness of thy time in as much asthy mind hath been thus turned by the wonder-performing Fate towardscarrying off Krishna. By committing thyself to this deed, thou hastswallowed up the hook fastened to the line of Fate. So like unto a fishin water, whose mouth hath been hooked, how canst thou live to-day? Thoushall not have to go whither thou intendest to, or whither thou hadstalready gone mentally; but thou shall go whither have repaired Vaka andHidimva.’

“Thus addressed by Bhima, the Rakshasa in alarm put them down; and beingforced by Fate, approached for fight. And with his lips trembling inanger he spake unto Bhima, saying, ‘Wretch! I have not been bewildered; Ihad been delaying for thee. To day will I offer oblations of thy blood tothose Rakshasas who, I had heard, have been slain by thee in fight’ Thusaddressed, Bhima, as if bursting with wrath, like unto Yama himself atthe time of the universal dissolution, rushed towards the Rakshasa,licking the corners of his mouth and staring at him as he struck his ownarms with the hands. And seeing Bhima waiting in expectation of fight,the Rakshasa also darted towards him in anger, like unto Vali towards thewielder of the thunderbolt, repeatedly gaping and licking the corners ofhis mouth. And when a dreadful wrestling ensued between those two, boththe sons of Madri, waxing exceeding wroth rushed forward; but Kunti’sson, Vrikodara, forbade them with a smile and said, ‘Witness ye! I ammore than a match for this Rakshasa. By my own self and by my brothers,and by my merit, and by my good deeds, and by my sacrifices, do I swearthat I shall slay this Rakshasa.’ And after this was said, those twoheroes, the Rakshasa and Vrikodara challenging each other, caught eachother by the arms. And they not forgiving each other, then there ensued aconflict between the infuriated Bhima and the Rakshasa, like unto thatbetween a god and a demon. And repeatedly uprooting trees, those two ofmighty strength struck each other, shouting and roaring like two massesof clouds. And those foremost of athletes, each wishing to kill theother, and rushing at the other with vehemence, broke down many agigantic tree by their thighs. Thus that encounter with trees,destructive of plants, went on like unto that between the two brothersVali and Sugriva–desirous of the possession of a single woman.Brandishing trees for a moment, they struck each other with them,shouting incessantly. And when all the trees of the spot had been pulleddown and crushed into fibres by them endeavouring to kill each other,then, O Bharata, those two of mighty strength, taking up rocks, began tofight for a while, like unto a mountain and a mighty mass of clouds. Andnot suffering each other, they fell to striking each other with hard andlarge crags, resembling vehement thunder-bolts. Then from strengthdefying each other, they again darted at each other, and grasping eachother by their arms, began to wrestle like unto two elephants. And nextthey dealt each other fierce blows. And then those two mighty ones beganto make chattering sounds by gnashing their teeth. And at length, havingclenched his fist like a five-headed snake, Bhima with force dealt a blowon the neck of the Rakshasa. And when struck by that fist of Bhima, theRakshasa became faint, Bhimasena stood, catching hold of that exhaustedone. And then the god-like mighty-armed Bhima lifted him with his twoarms, and dashing him with force on the ground, the son of Pandu smashedall his limbs. And striking him with his elbow, he severed from his bodythe head with bitten lips and rolling eyes, like unto a fruit from itsstem. And Jatasura’s head being severed by Bhimasena’s might, he fellbesmeared with gore, and having bitten lips. Having slain Jatasura, Bhimapresented himself before Yudhishthira, and the foremost Brahmanas beganto eulogise him (Bhima) even as the Marutas (eulogise) Vasava.”

Chapter 124
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