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Chapter 18

Mahabharata English - ARANYAKA PARVA

“Vasudeva continued, ‘O king, afflicted with the arrows of Salwa, whenPradyumna became senseless the Vrishnis who had come to the fight wereall disheartened and filled with grief! And the combatants of the Vrishniand Andhaka races burst into exclamations of Oh! and Alas! while greatjoy was felt by the enemy and beholding him thus deprived of sense, histrained charioteer, the son of Daruka, soon carried him off the field bythe help of his steeds. The car had not gone far when that best ofwarriors regained his senses, and taking up his bow addressed hischarioteer, saying, ‘O son of the Suta tribe, what hast thou done? Whydost thou go leaving the field of battle? This is not the custom of theVrishni heroes in battle! O son of a Suta, hast thou been bewildered atthe sight of a Salwa in that fierce encounter? Or hast thou beendisheartened, beholding the fight? O! tell me truly thy mind!’ Thecharioteer answered. ‘O son of Janardana, I have not been confounded, norhath fear taken possession of me. On the other hand, O son of Kesava, thetask, I ween, of vanquishing Salwa is difficult for thee! Therefore, Ohero, I am slowly retiring from the field. This wretch is stronger thanthou art! It behoveth a charioteer to protect the warrior on the car,however, when he is deprived of his senses! O thou gifted with length ofdays, thou shouldst always be protected by me, even as it behoveth theeto protect me! Thinking that the warrior on the car should always beprotected (by his charioteer), I am carrying thee away! Further, O thouof mighty arms, thou art alone, while the Danavas are many. Thinking, Oson of Rukmini, that thou art not equal to them in the encounter, I amgoing away!’

“Vasudeva continued, ‘When the charioteer had spoken thus, he, OKauravya, who hath the makara for his mark replied unto him, saying,’Turn the car! O son of Daruka, never do so again; never, O Suta, turnthou from the fight, while I am alive! He is no son of the Vrishni racewho forsaketh the field or slayeth the foe fallen at his feet and cryingI am thine! or killeth a woman, a boy, or an old man, or a warrior indistress, deprived of his car or with his weapons broken! Thou art bornin the race of charioteers and trained to thy craft! And, O son ofDaruka, thou art acquainted with the customs of the Vrishnis in battle!Versed as thou art with all the customs of the Vrishnis in battle, dothou, O Suta, never again fly from the field as thou hast done! What willthe irrepressible Madhava, the elder brother of Gada, say to me when heheareth that I have left the field of battle in bewilderment or that Ihave been struck on the back–a run-away from the combat! What will theelder brother of Kesava, the mighty-armed Baladeva, clad in blue andinebriate with wine, say, when he returneth? What also, O Suta, will thatlion among men, the grand-son of Sini (Satyaki), that great warrior, sayon hearing that I have forsaken the fight? And, O charioteer, what willthe ever-victorious Shamva, the irrepressible Charudeshna. and Gada, andSarana, and Akrura also of mighty arms, say unto me! What also will thewives of the Vrishni heroes when they meet together, say of me who hadhitherto been considered as brave and well-conducted, respectable andpossessed of manly pride? They will even say This Pradyumna is a cowardwho cometh here, leaving the battle! Fie on him! They will never say,Well done! Ridicule, with exclamation of Fie, is to me or a person likeme O Suta, more than death! Therefore, do thou never again leave thefield of battle! Reposing the charge on me, Hari the slayer of Madhu,hath gone to the sacrifice of the Bharata lion (Yudhishthira)! Therefore,I cannot bear to be quiet now! O Suta, when the brave Kritavarman wassallying out to encounter Salwa, I prevented him, saying I will resistSalwa. Do thou stay! For honouring me the son of Hridika desisted! Havingleft the field of battle, what shall I say unto that mighty warrior whenI meet him? When that irrepressible one of mighty arms–the holder of theconch, the discus, and the mace–returneth, what shall I say unto him ofeyes like lotus leaves? Satyaki, and Valadeva, and others of the Vrishniand Andhaka races always boast of me! What shall I say unto them? O Suta,having left the field of battle and with wounds of arrows on my backwhile being carried away by thee, I shall, by no means, be able to live!Therefore, O son of Daruka, turn that car speedily, and never do so againeven in times of greatest danger! I do not, O Suta, think life worthmuch, having fled from the field like a coward, and my back pierced, withthe arrows (of the enemy)! Hast thou ever seen me. O son of Suta, fly infear from the field of battle like coward? O son of Daruka, it behovedthee not to forsake the battle, while my desire of fight was not yetgratified! Do thou, therefore, go back to the field.'”

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