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Chapter 23

Mahabharata English - SABHAKRIYA PARVA

Vaisampayana said,–‘then that foremost of all speakers, Krishna of theYadava race, addressing king Jarasandha who was resolved upon fighting,said,–‘O king, with whom amongst us three dost thou desire to fight? Whoamongst us shall prepare himself for battle (with thee)?’

Thus addressed,the ruler of Magadha, king Jarasandha of great splendour, expressed hisdesire for fighting with Bhima. The priest then, bringing with him theyellow pigment obtained from the cow and garlands of flowers and otherauspicious articles, as also various excellent medicines for restoringlost consciousness and alleviating pain, approached Jarasandha, pantingfor battle. The king Jarasandha, on whose behalf propitiatory ceremonieswith benedictions were performed by a renowned Brahmana, remembering theduty of a Kshatriya dressed himself for battle. Taking off his crown andbinding his hair properly, Jarasandha stood up like an ocean bursting itscontinents. Then the monarch possessed of terrible prowess, addressingBhima. said, ‘I will fight with thee. It is better to be vanquished by asuperior person.’ And saying this, Jarasandha, that represser of all foesendued, rushed with great energy at Bhimasena like the Asura Vala or oldwho rushed at the chief of the celestials. And the mighty Bhimasena, onwhose behalf the gods had been invoked by Krishna, that cousin of his,having consulted with advanced towards Jarasandha, impelled by the desireof fight. Then those tigers among men, those heroes of great prowess,with their bare arms as their only weapons, cheerfully engaged themselvesin the encounter, each desirous of vanquishing the other. And seizingeach other’s arms and twining each other’s legs, (at times) they slappedtheir arm-pits, causing the enclosure to tremble at the sound. Andfrequently seizing each other’s necks with their hands and dragging andpushing it with violence, and each pressing every limb of his bodyagainst every limb of the other, they continued, O exalted one, to slaptheir arm-pits (at time). And sometimes stretching their arms andsometimes drawing them close, and now raising them up and now droppingthem down, they began to seize each other. And striking neck against neckand forehead against forehead, they caused fiery sparks to come out likeflashes of lightning. And grasping each other in various ways by means oftheir arms, and kicking each other with such violence as to affect theinnermost nerves, they struck at each other’s breasts with clenchedfists. With bare arms as their only weapons roaring like clouds theygrasped and struck each other like two mad elephants encountering eachother with their trunks. Incensed at each other’s blow, they fought ondragging and pushing each other and fiercely looking at each other liketwo wrathful lions. And each striking every limb of the other with hisown and using his arms also against the other, and catching hold of eachother’s waist, they hurled each other to a distance. Accomplished inwrestling, the two heroes clasping each other with their arms and eachdragging the other unto himself, began to press each other with greatviolence. The heroes then performed those grandest of all feats inwrestling called Prishtabhanga, which consisted in throwing each otherdown with face towards the earth and maintaining the one knocked down inthat position as long as possible. And employing his arms, each alsoperformed the feats called Sampurna-murchcha and Purna-kumbha. At timesthey twisted each other’s arms and other limbs as if these were vegetablefibres that were to be twisted into chords. And with clenched fists theystruck each other at times, pretending to aim at particular limbs whilethe blows descended upon other parts of the body. It was thus that thoseheroes fought with each other. The citizens consisting of thousands, ofBrahmanas, Kshatriyas and Vaisyas and Sudras, and even women and theaged, O tiger among men, came out and gathered there to behold the fight.And the crowd became so great that it was one solid mass of humanity withno space between body and body. The sound the wrestlers made by theslapping of their arms, the seizing of each other’s necks for bringingeach other down, and the grasping of each other’s legs for dashing eachother to the ground, became so loud that it resembled the roar of thunderor of falling cliffs. Both of them were foremost of mighty men, and bothtook great delight in such encounter. Desirous of vanquishing the other,each was on the alert for taking advantage of the slightest lapse of theother. And, O monarch, the mighty Bhima and Jarasandha fought terribly onin those lists, driving the crowd at times by the motions of their handslike Vritra and Vasava of old. Thus two heroes, dragging each otherforward and pressing each other backward and with sudden jerks throwingeach other face downward and sideways, mangled each other dreadfully. Andat times they struck each other with their knee-joints. And addressingeach other loudly in stinging speeches, they struck each other withclenched fists, the blows descending like a mass of stone upon eachother. With broad shoulders and long arms and both well-skilled inwrestling encounters, they struck each other with those long arms oftheirs that were like maces of iron. That encounter of the heroescommenced on the first (lunar) day of the month of Kartic (October) andthe illustrious heroes fought on without intermission and food, day andnight, till the thirteenth lunar day. It was on the night of thefourteenth of the lunar fortnight that the monarch of Magadha desistedfrom fatigue. And O king, Janardana beholding the monarch tired,addressed Bhima of terrible deeds, and as if to stimulate him said,–‘Oson of Kunti, a foe that is fatigued cannot be pressed for if pressed atsuch a time he may even die. Therefore, O son of Kunti, this king shouldnot be oppressed by thee. On the other hand, O bull of the Bharata race,fight with him With thy arms, putting forth as much strength only as thyantagonist hath now left!’ Then that slayer of hostile heroes, the son ofPandu, thus addressed by Krishna, understood the plight of Jarasandha andforthwith resolved upon taking his life. And that foremost of all menendued with strength, that prince of the Kuru race, desirous ofvanquishing the hitherto unvanquished Jarasandha, mustered all hisstrength and courage.”

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