Chapter 181

Mahabharata English - UDYOGA PARAVA

“Bhishma said, ‘After he had quartered there, on third day, O king,Jamadagni’s son of high vows, sent a message to me, saying, ‘I have comehere, do what is agreeable to me.’ Hearing that Rama, of great might, hadcome to the confines of our kingdom, I speedily went with a joyous heartto that master who was an ocean of energy. And I went to him, O king,with a cow placed in the van of my train, and accompanied by manyBrahmanas, and (ordinary) priests (of our family), and by others,resembling the very gods in splendour, employed by us on specialoccasions. And beholding me arrived at his presence, Jamadagni’s son, ofgreat prowess, accepted the worship I offered unto him and said thesewords unto me.’

“Rama said, ‘Thyself, divested of desire, with what mood of mind, O’Bhishma, didst thou abduct, on the occasion of her self-choice, hisdaughter of the king of Kasi and again dismiss her subsequently? By theehath this famous lady been dissociated from virtue! Contaminated by thetouch of thy hands before, who can marry her now? Rejected she hath beenby Salwa, because thou, O Bharata, hadst abducted her. Take hertherefore, to thyself, O Bharata, at my command. Let this daughter of aking, O tiger among men, be charged with the duties of her sex! O king, Osinless one, it is not proper that this humiliation should be hers!

‘Seeing him plunged into sorrow (on account of the maiden) I said untohim,–O Brahmana, I cannot, by any means, bestow this girl on my brother.O thou of Bhrigu’s race, it was to myself that she said, I am Salwa’s!And it was by me that she was permitted to go to Salwa’s city. As regardsmyself, even this is my firm vow that I cannot abandon Kshatriyapractices from fear or pity, or avarice of wealth, or lust!–Hearingthese words of mine, Rama addressed me, with eyes rolling in anger,saying, ‘If, O bull among, men, thou dost not act according to my words,I will slay thee this very day along with all thy counsellors!’ Indeed,with eyes rolling in anger, Rama in great wrath told me these wordsrepeatedly. I, however, O chastiser of foes, then beseeched him in sweetwords. But though beseeched by me, he did not cool down. Bowing down withmy head unto that best of Brahmanas I then enquired of him the reason forwhich he sought battle with me. I also said,–O thou of mighty arms,while I was a child it was thou who instructed me in the four kinds ofarms.[18] I am, therefore, O thou of Bhrigu’s race, thy disciple! ThenRama answered me with eyes red in anger, ‘Thou knowest me, O Bhishma, tobe thy preceptor, and yet, O Kauravya, thou acceptest not, for pleasingme, this daughter of the ruler of Kasi! O delighter of the Kurus, Icannot be gratified unless thou actest in this way! O mighty-armed one,take this maiden and preserve thy race! Having been abducted by thee, sheobtaineth not a husband. Unto Rama that subjugator of hostile cities, Ireplied, saying.–This cannot be, O regenerate Rishi! All thy labour isvain, O son of Jamadagni, remembering thy old preceptorship, I amstriving, O holy one, to gratify thee! As regards this maiden, she hathbeen refused by me before knowing what the faults, productive of greatevils, of the female sex are, who is there that would admit into hisabode a woman whose heart is another’s and who (on that account) is evenlike a snake of virulent poison? O thou of high vows, I would not, evenfrom fear of Vasava, forsake duty! Be gracious unto me, or do me withoutdelay that which thou hast thought proper. This sloka also, O thou ofpure soul, is heard in the Puranas, O lord, sung by the high-souledMarutta, O thou of great intelligence! The renunciation is sanctioned bythe ordinance of a preceptor who is filled with vanity, who is destituteof the knowledge of right and wrong, and who is treading in a deviouspath.–Thou art my preceptor and it is for this that I have from lovereverenced thee greatly. Thou, however, knowest not the duty of apreceptor, and it is for this that I will fight with thee. I would notslay any preceptor in battle, especially again a Brahmana, and morespecially one endued with ascetic merit. It was for this that I forgivethee. It is well-known truth, gatherable from the scriptures, that he isnot guilty of slaying a Brahmana who killeth in battle a person of thatorder that taketh up weapons like Kshatriya and fighteth wrathfullywithout seeking to fly. I am a Kshatriya stationed in the practice ofKshatriya duties. One doth not incur sin, nor doth one incur any harm bybehaving towards a person exactly as that person deserveth. When a personacquainted with the proprieties of time and place and well-versed inmatters affecting both profit and virtue, feels doubtful, as regardsanything, he should without scruples of any kind, devote himself to theacquisition of virtue which would confer the highest benefit on him. Andsince thou, O Rama, in a matter connected with profit of doubtfulpropriety, actest unrighteously, I would certainly fight with thee in agreat battle. Behold the strength of my arms and my prowess that issuperhuman! In view of such circumstances, I shall certainly do, O son ofBhrigu, what I can. I shall fight with thee, O regenerate one, on thefield of Kurukshetra! O Rama of great effulgence, equip thyself as thoulistest for single combat! Come and station thyself on the field ofKurukshetra where, afflicted with my shafts in great battle, andsanctified by my weapons, thou mayest obtain those regions that have beenwon by thee (thought for thy austerities). O thou of mighty arms andwealth of asceticism, there I will approach thee for battle,–thee thatart so fond of battle! There, O Rama, where in days of yore thou hadstpropitiated thy (deceased) fathers (with oblations of Kshatriya blood),slaying thee there, O son of Bhrigu, I will propitiate the Kshatriyaslain by thee! Come there, O Rama, without delay! There, O thou that artdifficult of being vanquished, I will curb thy old pride about which theBrahmanas speak! For many long years, O Rama, thou hast boasted,saying,–I have, single-handed, vanquished all the Kshatriyas of theEarth!–Listen now to what enabled thee to indulge in that boast! Inthose days no Bhishma was born, or no Kshatriyas like unto Bhishma!Kshatriyas really endued with valour have taken their births later on! Asregards thyself, thou hast consumed only heaps of straw! The person thatwould easily quell thy pride of battle hath since been born! He, Omighty-armed one, is no other than myself, even Bhishma, that subjugatorof hostile cities! Without doubt, O Rama, I shall just quell thy pride ofbattle!’

“Bhishma continued, ‘Hearing these words of mine. Rama addressed me,laughingly saying, ‘By good luck it is, O Bhishma, that thou desirest tofight with me in battle! O thou of Kuru’s race, even now I go with theeto Kurukshetra! I will do what thou hast said! Come thither, O chastiserof foes! Let thy mother, Jahnavi, O Bhishma, behold thee dead on thatplain, pierced with my shafts, and become the food of vultures, crows,and other carnivorous birds! Let that goddess worshipped by Siddhas andCharanas, that blessed daughter of Bhagiratha, in the form of a river,who begat thy wicked self, weep today, O king, beholding thee slain by meand lying miserable on that plain, however undeserving she may be ofseeing such a sight! Come, O Bhishma, and follow me, O proud wight,always longing for battle! O thou of Kuru’s race, take with thee, O bullof Bharatas’ line, thy cars and all other equipments of battle!’ Hearingthese words of Rama that subjugator of hostile towns, I worshipped himwith a bend of my head and answered him, saying,–So be it! Having saidall this, Rama then went to Kurukshetra from desire of combat, and Ialso, entering our city, represented everything unto Satyavati. Thencausing propitiatory ceremonies to be performed (for my victory), andbeing blessed also by my mother, and making the Brahmanas utterbenedictions on me, I mounted on a handsome car made of silver and untowhich, O thou of great glory, were yoked steeds white in hue. And everypart of that car was well-built, and it was exceedingly commodious andcovered on all sides with tiger-skin. And it was equipped with many greatweapons and furnished with all necessaries. And it was ridden bycharioteer who was well-born and brave, who was versed in horse-lore,careful in battle, and well-trained in his art, and who had seen manyencounters. And I was accoutred in a coat of mail, white in hue, and hadmy bow in hand. And the bow I took was also white in hue. And thusequipped, I set out, O best of Bharata’s race! And an umbrella, white inhue, was held over my head. And, O king, I was fanned with fans that alsowere white in colour. And clad in white, with also a white head-gear, allmy adornments were white. And eulogised (with laudatory hymns) byBrahmanas wishing me victory. I issued out of the city named after theelephant, and proceeded to Kurukshetra, which, O bull of Bharata’s race,was to be the field of battle! And those steeds, fleet as the mind or thewind, urged by my charioteer, soon bore me, O king, to that greatencounter. And arrived in the field of Kurukshetra, both myself and Rama,eager for battle, became desirous of showing each other our prowess. Andarrived within view of the great ascetic Rama, I took up my excellentconch and blew a loud blast. And many Brahmanas, O king, and manyascetics having their abodes in the forest, as also the gods with Indraat their head, were stationed there for beholding the great encounter.And many celestial garlands and diverse kinds of celestial music and manycloudy canopies could be noticed there. And all those ascetics who hadcome with Rama, desiring to become spectators of the fight, stood allaround the field. Just at this juncture, O king, my divine mother devotedto the good of all creatures, appeared before me in her own form andsaid, ‘What is this that thou seekest to do? Repairing to Jamadagni’sson, O son of Kuru’s race, I will repeatedly solicit him saying,–Do notfight Bhishma who is thy disciple!–O son, being a Kshatriya do notobstinately set thy heart on an encounter in battle with Jamadagni’s sonwho is a Brahmana!’ Indeed, it was thus that she reproved me. And shealso said, ‘O son, Rama, equal in prowess unto Mahadeva himself, is theexterminator of the Kshatriya order! It is not known to thee, that thoudesirest an encounter with him.’ Thus addressed by her, I saluted thegoddess reverentially and replied unto her with joined hands, giving her,O chief of the Bharatas, an account of all that had transpired in thatself-choice (of the daughter of Kasi). I also told her every thing, Oking of kings, about how I had urged Rama (to desist from the combat). Ialso gave her a history of all the past acts of the (eldest) daughter ofKasi. My mother then, the great River, wending to Rama, began, for mysake, to beseech the Rishi of Bhrigu’s race. And she said unto him thesewords, viz.,–Do not fight Bhishma who is thy disciple!–Rama, however,said unto her while she was beseeching him thus, ‘Go and make Bhishmadesist! He doth not execute out my wish! It is for this that I havechallenged him!’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed by Rama, Ganga, from affectionfor her son, came back to Bhishma. But Bhishma, with eyes rolling inanger, refused to do her bidding. Just at this time, the mighty asceticRama, that foremost one of Bhrigu’s race, appeared in Bhishma’s sight. Anthen that best of the twice-born ones challenged him to the encounter.'”

Chapter 182
Chapter 180