Chapter 167

Mahabharata English - ARANYAKA PARVA

“Arjuna said, ‘O Bharata, by the grace of that god of gods the SupremeSoul, Tryamvaka, I passed the night at that place. And having passed thenight, when I had finished the morning rituals, I saw that foremost ofthe Brahmanas whom I had seen before. And unto him I told all as it hadhappened, O Bharata, namely, that I had met the divine Mahadeva.Thereupon, O king of kings, well-pleased, he said unto me, ‘Since thouhast beheld the great god, incapable of being beheld by any one else,soon wilt thou mix with Vaivaswata and the other Lokapalas and the lordof the celestials; and Indra too will grant thee weapons.’ O king, havingsaid this unto me and having embraced me again and again, that Bhrahmanaresembling the Sun, went away whither he listed. And, O slayer of foes,it came to pass that on the evening of that day refreshing the wholeworld, there began to blow a pure breeze. And in my vicinity on the baseof the Himalaya mountain fresh, fragrant and fair flowers began to bloom.And on all sides there were heard charming symphony and captivating hymnsrelating to Indra. And before the lord of the celestial hosts of Apsarasand Gandharvas chanted various songs. And ascending celestial cars, thereapproached the Marutas and the followers of Mahendra and the dwellers ofheaven. And afterwards, Marutvan together with Sachi and all thecelestials appeared on the scene in cars yoked with horses elegantlyadorned. And at this very moment, O king, he that goeth about on theshoulders of men manifested himself unto me in excellent grace. And I sawYama seated on the south and Varuna and the lord of the celestials attheir respective regions. And, O foremost of men, O mighty monarch, theyafter having cheered me said, ‘O Savyasachin, behold us–theLokapalas–seated. For the performance of the task of the gods thou hastobtained the sight of Sankara. Do thou now receive weapons from us seatedaround.’ Thereupon, O lord, having bowed down unto those foremost of thecelestials with regard, I duly accepted those mighty weapons. And thenthey recognised me as one of their own. Afterwards the gods repaired tothe quarter from whence they had come. And that lord of the celestials,the divine Maghavan too having ascended his glorious chariot, said, ‘OPhalguna, thou shalt have to repair unto the celestial region. ODhananjaya, even before this thy arrival I knew that thou wouldst comehither. Then I, have O best of the Bharatas, manifested myself unto thee.As formerly thou hadst performed thy ablution in the various tirthas andnow hast performed severe austerities, so thou wilt be able to repairunto the celestial regions, O Pandava. Thou wilt, however, again have topractise extreme penance, for thou shouldst at any rate journey toheaven. And at my command, Matali shall take thee to the celestialregions. Thou hast already been recognised by the celestials and thecelestial sages of high soul.’ Thereupon I said unto Sakra, ‘O divineone, be thou favourable unto me. With the view of learning arms do Ibeseech thee that thou mayst ‘be my preceptor.’ At this Indra said, ‘Ochild, having learnt weapons thou wouldst perform terrible deeds and withthis object thou desirest to obtain the weapons. However, obtain thou thearms, as thou desirest.’ Then I said, ‘O slayer of foes, I never woulddischarge these celestial weapons at mortals except when all my otherarms should have been baffled. Do thou, O lord of the celestials, grantme the celestial weapons (so that) I may hereafter, obtain the regionsattainable by warriors.’ Indra said, ‘O Dhananjaya it is to try thee thatI have said such words unto thee. Having been begotten of me this speechof thine well becometh thee. Do thou, O Bharata, repairing unto my abodelearn all the weapons of Vayu, of Agni, of the Vasus, of Varuna, of theMarutas, of the Siddhas, of Brahma, of the Gandharvas of the Uragas, ofthe Rakshasas, of Vishnu and of the Nairitas; and also all the weaponsthat are with me, O perpetuator of the Kuru race.’ Having said this untome Sakra vanished at the very spot. Then, O king, I saw the wonderful andsacred celestial car yoked with steeds arrive conducted by Matali. Andwhen the Lokapalas went away Matali said unto me. ‘O thou of mightysplendour, the lord of the celestials is desirous of seeing thee. And Omighty-armed one, do thou acquire competence and then perform thy task.Come and behold the regions, attainable by merit and come unto heaveneven in this frame. O Bharata, the thousand-eyed lord of the celestialswisheth to see thee.’ Thus addressed by Matali, I, taking leave of themountain Himalaya and having gone round it ascended that excellent car.And then the exceedingly generous Matali, versed in equine lore, drovethe steeds, gifted with the speed of thought or the wind. And when thechariot began to move that charioteer looking at my face as I was seatedsteadily, wondered and said these words, ‘Today this appeareth unto mestrange and unprecedented that being seated in this celestial car, thouhast not been jerked ever so little. O foremost of Bharata race, I haveever remarked that at the first pull by the steeds even the lord of thecelestials himself getteth jerked. But all the while that the car hadmoved, thou hast been sitting unshaken. This appeareth unto me astranscending even the power of Sakra.’

“Having said this, O Bharata, Matali soared in the sky and showed me theabodes of the celestials and their palaces. Then the chariot yoked withsteeds coursed upwards. And the celestials and the sages began to worship(that car), O prime of men. And I saw the regions, moving anywhere atwill, and the splendour also of the highly energetic Gandharvas, Apsaras,and the celestial sages. And Sakra’s charioteer, Matali, at once showedme Nandana and other gardens and groves belonging to the celestials. NextI beheld Indra’s abode, Amaravati, adorned with jewels and trees yieldingany sort of fruit that is desired. There the Sun doth not shed heat; nordoth heat or cold or fatigue there affect (one), O king. And, O greatmonarch, the celestials feel neither sorrow nor poverty of spirit, norweakness, nor lassitude, O grinder of foes. And, O ruler of men, thecelestials and the others have neither anger nor covetousness. And, Oking, in the abodes of the celestials, the beings are ever contented. Andthere the trees ever bear verdant foliage, and fruits, and flowers; andthe various lakes are embalmed with the fragrance of lotuses. And therethe breeze is cool, and delicious, and fragrant, and pure, and inspiring.And the ground is variegated with all kinds of gems, and adorned withblossoms. And there were seen innumerable beautiful beasts and in the airinnumerable rangers of the sky. Then I saw the Vasus, and the Rudras, andthe Sadhyas with the Marutas, and the Adityas, and the two Aswins andworshipped them. And they conferred their benison on me, granting mestrength and prowess, and energy, and celebrity, and (skill in) arms, andvictory in battle. Then, entering that romantic city adored by theGandharvas and the celestials, with joined hands, I stood before thethousand-eyed lord of the celestials. Thereupon, that best of bestowersgladly offered unto me half of his seat; and Vasava also with regardtouched my person. And, O Bharata, with the view of acquiring arms andlearning weapons, I began to dwell in heaven, together with the gods andthe Gandharvas of generous souls. And Viswavana’s son, Chitrasena becamemy friend. And he, O king, imparted unto me the entire Gandharva(science). And, O monarch, I happily lived in Sakra’s abode, well caredfor having all my desires gratified, learning weapons, listening to thenotes of songs, and the clear sounds of musical instruments, andbeholding the foremost of Apsaras dance. And without neglecting to studythe arts, which I learnt properly, my attention was specially fixed onthe acquisition of arms. And that lord of a thousand eyes was pleasedwith that purpose of mine. Living thus in heaven, O king, I passed thisperiod.

“And when I had acquired proficiency in weapons, and gained hisconfidence that one having for his vehicle the horse (Uchchaisrava),(Indra), patting me on the head with his hand, said these words, ‘Noweven the celestials themselves cannot conquer thee,–what shall I say ofimperfect mortals residing on earth? Thou hast become invulnerable instrength, irrepressible, and incomparable in fight.’ Then with the hairof his body standing on end, he again accosted me saying, ‘O hero, infighting with weapons none is equal unto thee. And, O perpetuator of theKuru race, thou art even watchful, and dexterous, and truthful, and ofsubdued senses, and the protector of the Brahmanas and adept in weapons,and warlike. And, O Partha, together with (a knowledge of) the fivemodes, using (them), thou hast obtained five and ten weapons and,therefore, there existeth none, who is thy peer. And thou hast perfectlylearnt the discharge (of those weapons) and (their) withdrawal, and(their) re-discharge and re-withdrawal, and the Prayaschitta connected(with them), and also their revival, in case of their being baffled. Now,O represser of foes, the time hath arrived for thy paying the preceptor’sfee. Do thou promise to pay the fee; then I shall unfold unto thee whatthou wilt have to perform.’ Thereat, O king, I said unto the ruler of thecelestials, ‘If it be in my power to do the work, do thou consider it asalready accomplished by me.’ O king, when I had said these words, Indrawith a smile said unto me ‘Nothing is there in the three worlds that isnot in thy power (to achieve) My enemies, those Danavas, named,Nivata-Kavachas dwell in the womb of the ocean. And they number thirtymillion and are notorious, and all of equal forms and strength andsplendour. Do thou slay them there, O Kunti’s son; and that will be thypreceptor’s fee.’

“Saying this he gave unto me the highly resplendent celestial car,conducted by Matali, furnished with hair resembling the down of peacocks.And on my head he set this excellent diadem. And he gave me ornaments formy body, like unto his own. And he granted unto me the impenetrablemail–the best of its kind, and easy to the touch; and fastened unto theGandiva this durable string. Then I set out, ascending that splendidchariot riding on which in days of yore, the lord of the celestials andvanquished Vali–that son of Virochana. And, O ruler of men, startled bythe rattling of the car, all the celestials, approached (there), takingme to be the king of the celestials. And seeing me, they asked, ‘OPhalguna, what art thou going to do?’ And I told them as it had fallenout,–and said, ‘I shall even do this in battle. Ye that are highlyfortunate, know that I have set out desirous of slaying theNivata-Kavachas. O sinless ones, do ye bless me.’ Thereupon, they beganto eulogise me even as they (eulogise) the god, Purandara. And they said,’Riding on this car, Maghavan conquered in battle Samvara, and Namuchi,and Vala, and Vritra, and Prahrada, and Naraka. And mounted on this caralso Maghavan, had conquered in battle many thousands and millions andhundreds of millions of Daityas. And, O Kaunteya, thou also, riding onthis car, by thy prowess shalt conquer the Nivatha-Kavachas in conflict,even as did the self-possessed Maghavan in days of yore. And here is thebest of shells; by this also thou shalt defeat the Danavas And by this itis that the high souled Sakra conquered the words.’ Saying this, the godsoffered (unto me) this shell, Devadatta, sprung in the deep; and Iaccepted it for the sake of victory. And at this moment, the gods fellextolling me. And in order to be engaged in action, I proceeded to thedreadful abode of the Danavas, furnished with the shell, the mail, andarrows, and taking my bow.”

Chapter 166
Chapter 168
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