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Chapter 6

Mahabharata English - SHALYA PARVA

“Sanjaya said, ‘On that table land at the foot of Himavat, thosewarriors, O monarch, delighting at the prospect of battle and assembledtogether, passed the night. Indeed, Shalya and Chitrasena and the mightycar-warrior Shakuni and Ashvatthama and Kripa and Kritavarma of theSatwata race, and Sushena and Arishtasena and Dhritasena of great energyand Jayatsena and all these kings passed the night there. After theheroic Karna had been slain in battle, thy sons, inspired with fright bythe Pandavas desirous of victory, failed to obtain peace anywhere elsethan on the mountains of Himavat. All of them then, O king, who wereresolved on battle, duly worshipped the king and said unto him, in thepresence of Shalya, these words, “It behoveth thee to fight with theenemy, after having made some one the generalissimo of thy army,protected by whom in battle we will vanquish our foes.” Then Duryodhana,without alighting from his car (proceeded towards) that foremost ofcar-warriors, that hero conversant with all the rules of battle(Ashvatthama), who resembled the Destroyer himself in battle. Possessedof beautiful limbs, of head well covered, of a neck adorned with threelines like those in a conch shell, of sweet speech, of eyes resemblingthe petals of a full blown lotus, and of a face like that of the dignityof Meru, resembling the bull of Mahadeva as regards neck, eyes, tread,and voice, endued with arms that were large, massive, and well-joined,having a chest that was broad and well-formed, equal unto Garuda or thewind in speed and might, gifted with a splendour like that of the rays ofthe Sun, rivalling Usanas himself in intelligence and the Moon in beautyand form and charms of face, with a body that seemed to be made of anumber of golden lotuses, with well-made joints, of well-formed thighsand waist and hips, of beautiful fingers, and beautiful nails, he seemedto have been made by the Creator with care after collecting one afteranother all the beautiful and good attributes of creation. Possessed ofevery auspicious mark, and clever in every act, he was an ocean oflearning. Ever vanquishing his foes with great speed, he was incapable ofbeing forcibly vanquished by foes. He knew, in all its details, thescience of weapons consisting of four padas and ten angas. He knew alsothe four Vedas with all their branches, and the Akhyanas as the fifth.Possessed of great ascetic merit, Drona, himself not born of woman,having worshipped the Three-eyed deity with great attention and austerevows, begat him upon a wife not born of woman. Approaching that personageof unrivalled feats, that one who is unrivalled in beauty on Earth, thatone who has mastered all branches of learning, that ocean ofaccomplishments, that faultless Ashvatthama, thy son told him thesewords, “Thou, O preceptor’s son, art today our highest refuge. Tell us,therefore, who is to be the generalissimo of my forces now, placing whomat our head, all of us, united together, may vanquish the Pandavas?”

“‘(Thus addressed), the son of Drona answered, “Let Shalya become theleader of our army. In descent, in prowess, in energy, in fame, in beautyof person, and in every other accomplishment, he is superior. Mindful ofthe services rendered to him, he has taken up our side, having abandonedthe sons of his own sister. Owning a large force of his own, thatmighty-armed one is like a second (Kartikeya, the) celestialgeneralissimo. Making that king the commander of our forces, O best ofmonarchs, we will be able to gain victory, like the gods, after makingthe unvanquished Skanda their commander.” After Drona’s son had saidthese words, all the kings stood, surrounding Shalya, and cried victoryto him. Having made up their minds for battle, they felt great joy. ThenDuryodhana, alighting from his car, joined his hands and addressingShalya, that rival of Drona and Bhishma in battle, who was on his car,said these words, “O thou that art devoted to friends, that time has nowcome for thy friends when intelligent men examine persons in the guise offriends as to whether they are true friends or otherwise. Brave as thouart, be thou our generalissimo at the van of our army. When thou wiltproceed to battle, the Pandavas, with their friends, will becomecheerless, and the Pancalas will be depressed.”

“‘Shalya answered, “I will, O king of the Kurus, accomplish that whichthou askest me to accomplish. Everything I have–my life breath, mykingdom, my wealth–is at thy service.”

“‘Duryodhana said, “I solicit thee with offer of the leadership of myarmy, O maternal uncle. O foremost of warriors, protect us incomparably,even as Skanda protected the gods in battle. O foremost of kings, thyselfcause thy own self to be installed in the command as Pavaka’s sonKartikeya in the command of (the forces of) the celestials. O hero, slayour foes in battle like Indra slaying the Danavas.”‘”

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