Chapter 43

Mahabharata English - BHISHMA PARVA

Sanjaya said,–“Beholding Dhananjaya then to take up once again (his)arrows and Gandiva, the mighty car-warriors (of the Pandava party)uttered a tremendous shout. And those heroes, viz., the Pandavas and theSomakas, and those who followed them, filled with joy, blew theirsea-born conches. And drums, and Pesis, and Karkachas, and cow-horns werebeaten and blown together, and the uproar made was very loud. And then, Oruler of men, there came the gods, with Gandharvas and the Pitris, andthe hosts of Siddhas and Charanas, from desire of witnessing (the sight).And Rishis highly blessed came there in a body with him (Indra) of ahundred sacrifices at their head, for beholding that great slaughter.Then, O king, beholding the two armies, that looked like two oceans,ready for the encounter and continuously moving, the heroic kingYudhishthira, the Just, putting off his coat of mail and casting asidehis excellent weapon and quickly descending from his car, with joinedhands, proceeded on foot, eyeing the grandsire, with restrained speech,facing the east, towards the direction where the hostile host was(standing).[309] And seeing him proceed (thus), Dhananjaya, the son ofKunti, speedily alighting from his car, followed him, accompanied by his(other) brothers. And the Lord Vasudeva also followed him behind. And theprincipal kings too (of his army), filled with anxiety, followed in thesame path.

“Arjuna said, ‘What is this act of thine, O king, that abandoning thybrothers, thou proceedest on foot, face eastwards, to the hostile host?’

“Bhimasena said, ‘Where wilt thou go, O king of kings, having cast offthy coat of mail and weapons, towards the warriors of the foe cased inmail, and leaving thy brothers, O ruler of earth?’

“Nakula said, ‘Thou art my eldest brother, O Bharata, (beholding) theeproceeding in this way, fear troubleth my bosom. Tell (us), whither wiltthou go?’

“Sahadeva said, ‘When these hostile divisions, terrible and numerous, arehere with whom we are to fight, whither dost thou go, O king, in thedirection of our foes?’

Sanjaya continued, “Though thus addressed by his brothers, O son ofKuru’s race, Yudhishthira of restrained speech said nothing but continuedto proceed. Unto them (then), the high-souled Vasudeva of great wisdomsmilingly said,–His object is known to me. Having paid his respects toall his superiors (such as) Bhishma, Drona, and Kripa, and Salya also, hewill fight the foe. It is heard in histories of olden times that he who,having paid his respects according to the ordinance unto his preceptors,revered in years and his kinsmen, fighteth with those that are hissuperiors, is sure to obtain victory in battle. Even that is myopinion.–When Krishna was saying this, among the ranks ofDhritarashtra’s son, a loud uproar of Alas, and Oh arose, but the other(army) remained perfectly still. Beholding Yudhishthira, the heroicwarriors of Dhritarashtra’s Son conversed with one another saying,–‘Thisone is an infamous wretch of his race. It is plain that this king iscoming in terror towards Bhishma’s side. Yudhishthira, with his brothers,hath become a seeker after (Bhishma’s) shelter. When Dhananjaya, however,is (his) protector, and Pandu’s son Vrikodara, and Nakula, and Sahadevaalso, why doth the (eldest) son of Pandu come (hither) in fear? Thoughcelebrated in the world, this one, however, could never have been born inthe Kshatriya order, since he is weak and his bosom is filled with fear(at the prospect) of battle.’ Then those warriors all praised theKauravas. And all of them, becoming rejoiced, with cheerful hearts wavedtheir garments. And, O monarch, all the warriors there (then) censuredYudhishthira with all his brothers and along with Kesava too. Then theKaurava army, having said Fie to Yudhishthira, soon again, O monarch,became perfectly still,–What will this king say? What will Bhishma sayin reply? What will Bhima boastful of his powers in battle, (say), andwhat Krishna and Arjuna? What, indeed, hath (Yudhishthira) to say?–Greatwas the curiosity then, O king, of both the armies in respect ofYudhishthira. The king (meanwhile), penetrating the hostile arraybristling with arrows and darts, proceeded quickly towards Bhishma,surrounded by his brothers. Seizing his feet with his two hands, theroyal son of Pandu then said unto Santanu’s son Bhishma who was thereready for battle, (these words).

“Yudhishthira said, ‘I salute thee, O invincible one. With thee we willdo battle. Grant (us) thy permission in that matter. Give (us) also (thy)blessing.”

“Bhishma said, ‘If, O lord of the earth, thou hadst not, in this battlecome to me thus, I would have, O great king, cursed thee, O Bharata, forbringing about thy defeat. I am gratified (with thee), O son. Do battle,and obtain victory, O son of Pandu, What else may be desired by thee,obtain thou in battle. Solicit also the boon, O son of Pritha, which thoudesirest to have from us. If it happens so, O great king, then defeatwill not be thine. A man is the slave of wealth, but wealth is no one’sslave. This is very true, O king. I have been bound by the Kauravas with(their) wealth. It is for this, O son of Kuru’s race, that like a eunuchI am uttering these words, viz.,–Bound I am by the Kauravas with wealth.Battle excepted, what dost thou desire?[310]’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘O thou of great wisdom, do thou, desirous of mywelfare, from day to day, consult my interests. Do battle, however forthe sake of the Kauravas. Even this is always my prayer (to thee).’

“Bhishma said, ‘O king, O son of Kuru’s race, what aid can I render theein this? I shall, of course, fight for (thy) foes. Tell me what thou hastto say.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Therefore, O Sire, I ask thee, I bow to thee, Ograndsire, how shall we, in battle, vanquish thee that art invincible?Tell me this that is for my benefit, if indeed, thou seest any good init.”

“Bhishma said, ‘I do not, O son of Kunti, see the person who, even if hewere the chief of the celestials himself, can defeat me in battle when Ifight.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘My salutations to thee, O grandsire. Therefore, do Iask thee (this). Tell us how thy own death may be compassed by foes inbattle.’

“Bhishma said, ‘I do not see the person, O sire, who can vanquish me inbattle. The time also of my death is not yet come to me once again.”

Sanjaya continued,–“Then, O son of Kuru’s race, Yudhishthira, once moresaluting him, accepted Bhishma’s words with a bend of his head. And thatmighty-armed one then proceeded towards the car of the preceptor ( Drona)through the midst of all the soldiers who were eyeing him, accompanied byhis brothers. Then saluting Drona and walking round him, the king spoketo that invincible warrior words that were for his own benefit.[311]

“Yudhishthira said, ‘I ask thee, O invincible one, how I may fightwithout incurring sin, and how, with thy permission, O regenerate one, Imay vanquish all my foes?[312]

“Drona said, ‘If, having resolved to fight, thou hadst not come to me(thus), I would have cursed thee. O king, for thy complete overthrow. Iam, however, gratified, O Yudhishthira, and honoured by thee, O sinlessone. I permit thee, fight and obtain victory. I will also fulfil thywish. Say what thou hast to say. Under these circumstances, battleexcepted, what dost thou wish? A man is the slave of wealth, but wealthis not one’s slave. This is quite true, O king! Bound I have been with(their) wealth by the Kauravas! It is for this that like a eunuch I shallfight for the sake of the Kauravas. It is for this that like a eunuch Iam uttering these words–Battle excepted, what dost thou wish? I shallfight for the sake of the Kauravas, but will pray for thy victory.'[313]

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Pray for my victory, O regenerate one, and counselwhat is for my good. Fight, however, for the Kauravas. This is the boonsolicited by me.’

“Drona said, ‘Victory, O king, is certain for thee that hast Hari for thycounsellor. I (also) grant thee that thou wilt vanquish thy foes inbattle. Thither where righteousness is, thither is Krishna, and thitherwhere Krishna is, thither is victory. Go, fight, O son of Kunti! Ask me,what shall I say unto thee?’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘I ask thee, O foremost of regenerate ones, listen towhat I have to say. How shall we in battle vanquish thee that artinvincible?’

“Drona said, ‘As long as I will fight, so long victory can never bethine. (Therefore) O king, seek with thy brothers, for my speedyslaughter.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Alas, for this, O thou of mighty arms, tell (us) themeans of thy death. O preceptor, prostrating myself I ask thee this. (My)salutations to thee.”

“Drona said, ‘The foe, O sire, I see not who may slay me while standingin battle I am engaged in fight, with wrath excited, and scattering (my)arrowy showers continually. Except when addrest for death O king, havingabandoned my arms and withdrawn (in Yoga meditation) from surroundingsights, none will be able to slay me. This that I tell thee is true. Ialso tell thee truly that I will cast off my arms in battle, having heardsomething very disagreeable from some one of credible speech.–‘”

Sanjaya continued, “Hearing these words, O king, of the wise son ofBharadwaja, and honouring the preceptor, (Yudhishthira then) proceededtowards the son of Saradwat. And saluting Kripa and walking round him, Oking, Yudhishthira, accomplished in speech, said these words unto thatwarrior of great valour.

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Obtaining thy permission, O preceptor, I will fightwithout incurring sin, and permitted by thee, O sinless one, I willvanquish all (my) foes.”

“Kripa said, ‘If having resolved on fight, thou hadst not come to me(thus), I would have cursed thee, O king, for thy complete overthrow. Aman is the slave of wealth, but wealth is no one’s slave. This is verytrue, O king, and bound I have been with wealth by the Kauravas. I must,O king, fight for their sake. This is my opinion. I therefore, speak likea eunuch in asking thee,–Battle excepted, what dost thou desire?’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Alas, I ask thee, therefore., O preceptor, listen tomy words.–Saying this, the king, greatly agitated and deprived of hissense, stood silent.”

Sanjaya continued.–“Understanding, however, what he intended to say,Gautama (Kripa) replied to him, saying,–I am incapable of being slain, Oking. Fight, and obtain victory. I am gratified with thy coming. Risingevery day [from bed] I will pray for thy victory, O monarch. I say thisto thee truly.–Hearing, O king, these words of Gautama, and paying himdue honours, the king proceeded thither where the ruler of the Madra was.Saluting Salya and walking round him the king said unto that invinciblewarrior those words that were for his own benefit.

‘Yudhishthira said,–‘Obtaining thy permission, O invincible one, I willfight without incurring sin, and permitted by thee, O king, I willvanquish (my) valourous foes.'[314]–

“Salya said, ‘If, having resolved on fight, thou hadst not come to me(thus), I would have, O king, cursed thee for thy overthrow in battle. Iam gratified (with thee) and honoured (by thee). Let it be as thouwishest. I grant thee permission, fight and obtain victory. Speak, Ohero, for what hast thou any need? What shalt I give thee? Under thesecircumstances, O king, battle excepted, what dost thou desire? A man isthe slave of wealth but wealth is no one’s slave. This is true, O king.Bound I have been with wealth by the Kauravas, O nephew, it is for thisthat I am speaking to thee like a eunuch,–I will accomplish the desirethou mayst cherish. Battle excepted, what dost thou wish.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Think, O king, daily of what is for my great good.Fight, according to thy pleasure, for the sake of the foe. This is theboon that I solicit.’

“Salya said, ‘Under these circumstances, say, O best of kings what aidshall I render thee? I shall, of course, fight for the sake of (thy)enemy, for I have been made one of their party by the Kauravas with theirwealth.[315]

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Even that is my boon, O Salya, which was solicitedby me during the preparations (for the fight). The energy of the Suta’sson (Karna) should be weakened by thee in battle.’

“Salya said, ‘This thy wish, O Yudhishthira, shall be accomplished, O sonof Kunti. Go, fight according to thy pleasure. I shall look after thyvictory.”

‘Sanjaya continued, “Having obtained the permission of his maternaluncle, the ruler of the Madra, the son of Kunti, surrounded by hisbrothers, came out of that vast army. Vasudeva then went to Radha’s sonon the field of battle. And the elder brother of Gada, for the sake ofthe Pandavas, then said to Karna,–It hath been heard by me, O Karna,that from hatred of Bhishma thou wilt not fight. Come to our side, O sonof Radha, and (stay with us) as long as Bhishma is not slain. AfterBhishma is slain, O son of Radha, thou mayst then again engage in battleon Duryodhana’s side, if thou hast no preference for any of theparties.–‘

“Karna said, ‘I will not do anything that is disagreeable toDhritarashtra’s son, O Kesava. Devoted to Duryodhana’s good, know that Ihave cast off my life (for him).–Hearing these words (of Karna), Krishnaceased, O Bharata, and reunited himself with the sons of Pandu headed byYudhishthira. Then amid all the warriors the eldest son of Pandu, loudlyexclaimed,–He who will choose us, him we shall choose for ourally!–Casting his eyes then upon them, Yuyutsu said these words, with acheerful heart, unto Kunti’s son king Yudhishthira the Just,–I willfight under thee in battle, for the sake of you all, with the sons ofDhritarashtra, if, O king, thou wilt accept me, sinless one.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Come, come, all of us will fight with thy foolishbrothers. O Yuyutsu, both Vasudeva and we all say to thee–I accept thee,O thou of mighty arms, fight for my cause. On thee rests, it seems, thethread of Dhritarashtra’s line as also his funeral cake. O prince, O thouof great splendour, accept us that accept thee. The wrathful Duryodhanaof wicked understanding will cease to live.'”

Sanjaya continued, ‘Yuvutsu then, abandoning the Kurus thy sons, wentover to the army of the Pandavas, with beat of drums and cymbals. Thenking Yudhishthira of mighty arms, filled with joy, again put on hisshining coat of mail of golden effulgence. And those bulls among men thenmounted their respective cars. And they counter-arrayed their troops inbattle-array as before. And they caused drums and cymbals in manyhundreds to be sounded. And those bulls among men also set up diverseleonine roars.[316] And beholding those tigers among men, viz., the sonsof Pandu, on their cars, the kings (on their side) with Dhrishtadyumnaand others, once more set up shouts of joy. And beholding the nobility ofthe sons of Pandu who had paid due honour to those that were deserving ofhonour, all the kings there present applauded them highly. And themonarchs, talked with one another about the friendship, the compassion,and the kindness to kinsmen, displayed at the proper season by thosehigh-souled personages. Excellent,–Excellent,–were the delightful wordseverywhere bruited about, coupled with eulogistic hymns about thosefamous men. And in consequence of this the minds and hearts of every onethere were attracted towards them. And the Mlechchhas and the Aryas therewho witnessed or heard of that behaviour of the sons of Pandu, all weptwith choked voices. And those warriors then, endued with great energy,caused large drums and Pushkaras by hundreds upon hundreds to be soundedand also blew their conches all white as the milk of cows.'”

Chapter 44
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