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Chapter 21

Mahabharata English - SABHAKRIYA PARVA

“Vasudeva said,–‘behold, O Partha, the great capital of Magadha,standing in all its beauty.

Filled with flocks and herds and its stock ofwater never exhausted, and adorned also with fine mansions standing inexcellent array, it is free from every kind of calamity. The five largehills of Vaihara, Varaha, Vrishava, Rishigiri, and the delightfulChaitya, all of high peaks and overgrown with tall trees of cool shadeand connected with one another, seem to be jointly protecting the city ofGirivraja. The breasts of the hills are concealed by forests ofdelightful and fragrant Lodhras having the ends of their branches coveredwith flowers. It was here that the illustrious Gautama of rigid vowsbegat on the Sudra woman Ausinari (the daughter of Usinara) Kakshivat andother celebrated sons. That the race sprung from Gautama doth yet liveunder the sway of an ordinary human race (of monarchs) is only evidenceof Gautama’s kindness to kings. And, O Arjuna, it was here that in oldentimes the mighty monarchs of Anga, and Vanga and other countries, came tothe abode of Gautama, and passed their days in joy and happiness. Behold,O Partha, those forests of delightful Pippalas and beautiful Lodhrasstanding near the side of Gautama’s abode. There dwelt in old days thoseNagas, Arvuda and Sakravapin, those persecutors of all enemies, as alsothe Naga Swastika and that other excellent Naga called Manu. Manu himselfhad ordered the country of the Magadhas to be never afflicted withdrought, and Kaushika and Manimat also have favoured the country. Owningsuch a delightful and impregnable city, Jarasandha is ever bent onseeking the fruition of his purposes unlike other monarchs. We shall,however, by slaying him to-day humble his pride.”

Vaisampayana said,–Thus saying those brothers of abundant energy, viz.,he of the Vrishni race and the two Pandavas entered the city of Magadha.They then approached towards the impregnable city of Girivraja that wasfull of cheerful and well-fed inhabitants belonging to all the fourorders, and where festivities were perennial. On arriving then at thegate of the city, the brothers (instead of passing through it) began topierce (with their shafts) the heart of the high Chaityaka peak that wasworshipped by the race of Vrihadratha, as also by the citizens and whichdelighted the hearts of all the Magadhas. There Vrihadratha had slain acannibal called Rishava and having slain the monster made of his hidethree drums which he placed in his own city. And those drums were suchthat once beaten their sound lasted one full month. And the brothersbroke down the Chaityaka peak that was delightful to all the Magadhas, atthat point where those drums covered with celestial flowers used to yieldtheir continuous sound. And desirous of slaying Jarasandha they seemed bythat act of theirs to place their feet upon the head of their foe. Andattacking with their mighty arms that immovable and huge and high and oldand celebrated peak always worshipped with perfumes and floral wreaths,those heroes broke it down. And with joyful hearts they then entered thecity. And it so happened that the learned Brahmanas residing within thecity saw many evil omens which they reported to Jarasandha. And thepriest making the king mount an elephant whirled lighted brands abouthim. And king Jarasandha also, possessed of great prowess, with a view towarding of those evils, entered upon the celebration of a sacrifice, withproper vows and fasts. Meanwhile, O Bharata, the brothers unarmed, orrather with their bare arms as their only weapons, desirous of fightingwith Jarasandha, entered the capital in the guise of Brahmanas. Theybeheld the extraordinary beauty of the shops full of various edibles andfloral wreaths, and supplied with articles of every variety of variousqualities that man can desire. Those best of men, Krishna, Bhima, andDhananjaya, beholding in those shops their affluence, passed along thepublic road. And endued with great strength they snatched forcibly fromthe flower-vendors the garlands they had exposed for sale. And attired inrobes of various colours and decked in garlands and ear-rings the heroesentered the abode of Jarasandha possessed of great intelligence, likeHimalayan lions eyeing cattle-folds. And the arms of those warriors, Oking, besmeared with sandal paste, looked like the trunks of sala trees.The people of Magadha, beholding those heroes looking like elephants,with necks broad like those of trees and wide chests, began to wondermuch. Those bull among men, passing through three gates that were crowdedwith men, proudly and cheerfully approached the king. And Jarasandharising up in haste received them with water to wash their feet with, andhoney and the other ingredients of the Arghya–with gifts of kine, andwith other forms of respect. The great king addressing them said,–‘Yeare welcome’! And, O Janamejaya, both Partha and Bhima remained silent atthis. And addressing the monarch Krishna said,–‘O king of kings thesetwo are now in the observance of a vow. Therefore they will not speak.Silent they will remain till midnight After that hour they will speakwith thee!’ The king then quartering his guests in the sacrificialapartments retired into his private chambers. And when midnight arrived,the monarch arrived at the place where his guests attired as Brahmanaswere. For, O King, that ever victorious monarch observed this vow whichwas known throughout the Worlds that as soon as he should hear of thearrival of Snataka Brahmanas at his place, should it be even at midnight,he would immediately, O Bharata, come out and grant them an audience.Beholding the strange attire of his guests that best of kings wonderedmuch. For all that, however, he waited on them respectfully. Those bullsamong men, those slayers of all foes, on the other hand, O thou best ofthe Bharata race, beholding king Jarasandha, said,–‘Let salvation beattained by thee, O king, without difficulty.’ And, O tiger among kings,having said this unto the monarch, they stood looking at each other. And,O king of kings, Jarasandha then said unto those sons of Pandu and him ofthe Yadu race, all disguised as Brahmanas–‘Take your seats.’ And thosebulls among men sat themselves down, and like the three priests of agreat sacrifice blazed forth in their beauty. And king Jarasandha, O thouof the Kuru race, firmly devoted to truth, censuring the disguisedguests, said unto them,–‘It is well known to me that in the whole worldBrahmanas in the observance of Snataka vow never deck their persons withgarlands and fragrant paste unseasonably. Who are ye, therefore, thusdecked with flowers, and with hands bearing the marks of the bow-string?Attired in coloured robes and decked unseasonably with flowers and paste,ye give me to understand that ye are Brahmanas, although ye bearKshatriya energy. Tell me truly who ye are. Truth decks even kings.Breaking down the peak of the Chaityaka hill, why have ye, in disguise,entered (the city) by an improper gate without fear of the royal wrath?The energy of a Brahmana dwelleth in his speech, (not in act). This yourfeat is not suited to the order to which ye profess to belong. Tell ustherefore, the end ye have in view. Arrived here by such an improper way,why accept ye not the worship I offer? What is your motive for coming tome? Thus addressed by the king, the high-souled Krishna, well-skilled inspeech, thus replied unto the monarch in a calm and grave voice.

“Krishna said,–‘O king, know us for Snataka Brahmanas. Brahmanas andKshatriyas and Vaishyas are all, O monarch, competent to observe the vowof Snataka. This vow, besides, hath (many) especial and general rules. AKshatriya observing this vow with especial rules always achieveprosperity. Therefore, have we decked ourselves with flowers. Kshatriyasagain, O king, exhibit their energy by their arms and not in speech. Itis, therefore, O son of Vrihadratha, that the speeches uttered by aKshatriya are never audacious. O monarch, the creator hath planted hisown energy in the aim of the Kshatriya. If thou wishest to behold it,thou shalt certainly behold it today. These are the rules of theordinance, viz., that an enemy’s abode should be entered through a wronggate and a friend’s abode through the right one. And know, O monarch,that this also is our eternal vow that having entered the foe’s abode forthe accomplishment of our purpose, we accept not the worship offered tous!”

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