Chapter 54

Mahabharata English - SHALYA PARVA

Vaishampayana said, “Having visited Kurukshetra and given away wealththere, he of the Satwata race then proceeded, O Janamejaya, to a largeand exceedingly beautiful hermitage. That hermitage was overgrown withMadhuka and mango trees, and abounded with Plakshas and Nyagrodhas. Andit contained many Vilwas and many excellent jack and Arjuna trees.Beholding that goodly asylum with many marks of sacredness, Baladevaasked the Rishis as to whose it was. Those high-souled ones, O king, saidunto Baladeva, ‘Listen in detail, O Rama, as to whose asylum this was indays of yore! Here the god Vishnu in days of yore performed austerepenances. Here he performed duly all the eternal sacrifices. Here aBrahmani maiden, leading from youth the vow of Brahmacharya, becamecrowned with ascetic success. Ultimately, in the possession of Yogapowers, that lady of ascetic penances proceeded to heaven. Thehigh-souled Sandilya, O king, got a beautiful daughter who was chaste,wedded to severe vows, self-restrained, and observant of Brahmacharya.Having performed the severest of penances such as are incapable of beingperformed by women, the blessed lady at last went to heaven, worshippedby the gods and Brahmanas!’ Having heard these words of the Rishis,Baladeva entered that asylum. Bidding farewell to the Rishis, Baladeva ofunfading glory went through the performance of all the rites andceremonies of the evening twilight on the side of Himavat and then beganhis ascent of the mountain. The mighty Balarama having the device of thepalmyra on his banner had not proceeded far in his ascent when he behelda sacred and goodly tirtha and wondered at the sight. Beholding the gloryof the Sarasvati, as also the tirtha called Plakshaprasravana, Vala nextreached another excellent and foremost of tirthas called Karavapana. Thehero of the plough, of great strength, having made many presents there,bathed in the cool, clear, sacred, and sin-cleansing water (of thattirtha). Passing one night there with the ascetics and the Brahmanas,Rama then proceeded to the sacred asylum of the Mitra-Varunas. FromKaravapana he proceeded to that spot on the Yamuna where in days of yoreIndra and Agni and Aryaman had obtained great happiness. Bathing there,that bull of Yadu’s race, of righteous soul, obtained great happiness.The hero then sat himself down with the Rishis and the Siddhas there forlistening to their excellent talk. There where Rama sat in the midst ofthat conclave, the adorable Rishi Narada came (in course of hiswandering). Covered with matted locks and attired in golden rays, he borein his hands, O king, a staff made of gold and a waterpot made of thesame precious metal. Accomplished in song and dance and adored by godsand Brahmanas, he had with him a beautiful Vina of melodious notes, madeof the tortoise-shell. A provoker of quarrels and ever fond of quarrels,the celestial Rishi came to that spot where the handsome Rama wasresting. Standing up and sufficiently honouring the celestial Rishi ofregulated vows, Rama asked him about all that had happened to the Kurus.Conversant with every duty and usage, Narada then, O king, told himeverything, as it had happened, about the awful extermination of theKurus. The son of Rohini then, in sorrowful words, enquired of the Rishi,saying, ‘What is the state of the field? How are those kings now that hadassembled there? I have heard everything before, O thou that artpossessed of the wealth of penances, but my curiosity is great forhearing it in detail!’

“Narada said, ‘Already Bhishma and Drona and the lord of the Sindhus havefallen! Vikartana’s son Karna also hath fallen, with his sons, thosegreat car-warriors! Bhurishrava too, O son of Rohini, and the valiantchief of the Madras have fallen! Those and many other mighty heroes thathad assembled there, ready to lay down their lives for the victory ofDuryodhana, those kings and princes unreturning from battle, have allfallen! Listen now to me, O Madhava, about those that are yet alive! Inthe army of Dhritarashtra’s son, only three grinders of hosts are yetalive! They are Kripa and Kritavarma and the valiant son of Drona! Thesealso, O Rama, have from fear fled away to the ten points of the compass!After Shalya’s fall and the flight of Kripa and the others, Duryodhana,in great grief, had entered the depths of the Dvaipayana lake. Whilelying stretched for rest at the bottom of the lake after stupefying itswaters, Duryodhana was approached by the Pandavas with Krishna andpierced by them with their cruel words. Pierced with wordy darts, O Rama,from every side, the mighty and heroic Duryodhana hath risen from thelake armed with his heavy mace. He hath come forward for fighting Bhimafor the present. Their terrible encounter, O Rama, will take place today!If thou feelest any curiosity, then hasten, O Madhava, without tarryinghere! Go, if thou wishest, and witness that terrible battle between thytwo disciples!'”

Vaishampayana continued, “Hearing these words of Narada, Rama bade arespectful farewell to those foremost of Brahmanas and dismissed allthose that had accompanied him (in his pilgrimage). Indeed, he orderedhis attendants, saying, ‘Return ye to Dwaraka!’ He then descended fromthat prince of mountains and that fair hermitage calledPlakshaprasravana. Having listened to the discourse of the sages aboutthe great merits of tirthas, Rama of unfading glory sang this verse inthe midst of the Brahmanas, ‘Where else is such happiness as that in aresidence by the Sarasvati? Where also such merits as those in aresidence by the Sarasvati? Men have departed for heaven, havingapproached the Sarasvati! All should ever remember the Sarasvati!Sarasvati is the most sacred of rivers! Sarasvati always bestows thegreatest happiness on men! Men, after approaching the Sarasvati, will nothave to grieve for their sins either here or hereafter!’ Repeatedlycasting his eyes with joy on the Sarasvati, that scorcher of foes thenascended an excellent car unto which were yoked goodly steeds. Journeyingthen on that car of great fleetness, Baladeva, that bull of Yadu’s race,desirous of beholding the approaching encounter of his two disciplesarrived on the field.”

Chapter 53
Chapter 55
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