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Chapter 73

Mahabharata English - ASWAMEDHA PARVA

“Vaisampayana said, ‘When the hour for initiation came, all those greatRitwijas duly initiated the king in view of the horse-sacrifice. Havingfinished the rites of binding the sacrificial animals, the son of Pandu,viz., king Yudhishthira the just endued with great energy, the initiationbeing over, shone with great splendour along with those Ritwijas. Thehorse that was brought for the horse-sacrifice was let loose, agreeablyto the injunctions of the scriptures, that utterer of Brahma, viz., Vyasahimself of immeasurable energy. The king Yudhishthira the just, Omonarch, after his initiation, adorned with a garland of gold around hisneck, shone in beauty like a blazing fire. Having a black deer skin forhis upper garment, bearing a staff in hand, and wearing a cloth of redsilk, the son of Dharma, possessed of great splendour, shone like asecond Prajapati seated on the sacrificial altar. All his Ritwijas also,O king, were clad in similar robes. Arjuna also shone like a blazingfire. Dhananjaya, unto whose car were yoked white steeds, then dulyprepared, O king, to follow that horse of the complexion of a black deer,at the command of Yudhishthira. Repeatedly drawing his bow, namedGandiva, O king, and casing his hand in a fence made of iguana skin,Arjuna, O monarch, prepared to follow that horse, O ruler of men, with acheerful heart. All Hastinapore, O king, with very children, came out atthat spot from desire of beholding Dhananjaya, that foremost of the Kuruson the eve of his journey. So thick was the crowd of spectators that cameto behold the horse and the prince who was to follow it, that inconsequence of the pressure of bodies, it seemed a fire was created. Loudwas the noise that arose from that crowd of men who assembled togetherfor beholding Dhananjaya the son of Kunti, and it seemed to fill all thepoints of the compass and the entire welkin. And they said,–‘There goesthe son of Kunti, and there that horse of blazing beauty. Indeed, themighty-armed hero follows the horse, having armed himself with hisexcellent bow.’–Even these were the words which Jishnu of nobleintelligence heard. The citizens also blessed him, saying,–‘Letblessings he thine! Go thou safely and come back, O Bharata.’ Others, Ochief of men uttered these words–‘So great is the press that we do notsee Arjuna. His bow, however, is visible to us. Even that is celebratedbow Gandiva of terrible twang. Blessed be thou. Let all dangers fly fromthy path. Let fear nowhere inspire thee. When he returns we shall beholdhim, for it is certain that he will come back.’ The high-souled Arjunarepeatedly heard these and similar other sweet words of men and women, Ochief of the Bharatas. A disciple of Yajnavalkya, who was well-versed inall sacrificial rites and who was a complete master of the Vedas,proceeded with Partha for performing auspicious rites in favour of thehero. Many Brahmanas also, O king, all well-conversant with the Vedas,and many Kshatriyas too, followed the high-souled hero, at the command, Omonarch, of Yudhishthira the just. The horse then roamed, O foremost ofmen, wherever he liked over the Earth already conquered by Pandavas withthe energy of their weapons. In course of the horse’s wanderings, O king,many great and wonderful battles were fought between Arjuna and manykings. These I shall describe to thee. The horse, O king, roamed over thewhole Earth. Know, O monarch, that from the north it turned towards theEast. Grinding the kingdoms of many monarchs that excellent horsewandered. And it was followed slowly by the great car-warrior Arjuna ofwhite steeds. Countless, O monarch, was the fete of Kshatriyas,–of kingsin myriads–who fought with Arjuna on that occasion, for having losttheir kinsmen on the geld of Kurukshetra. Innumerable Kiratas also, Oking, and Yavanas, all excellent bowmen, and diverse tribes of Mlechechastoo, who had been discomfited before (by the Pandavas on the field ofKurukshetra), and many Aryan kings, possessed of soldiers and animalsendued with great alacrity, and all irresistible in fight encountered theson of Pandu in battle. Thus occurred innumerable battles in diversecountries, O monarch, between Arjuna and the rulers of diverse realms whocame to encounter him. I shall, O sinless king, narrate to thee thosebattles only which raged with great fury and which were the principalones among all he fought.'”

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