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Chapter 182

Mahabharata English - UDYOGA PARAVA

“Bhishma said, ‘I then smilingly addressed Rama stationed for battle,saying,–Myself on my car, I do not wish to fight with thee that art onthe earth! Mount on a car, O hero, and case thy body in mail, Omighty-armed one, if indeed, O Rama, thou wishest to fight me inbattle!–Then Rama smilingly replied unto me on that field of battle,saying, ‘The Earth, O Bhishma, is my car, and Vedas, like good steeds,are the animals that carry me! The wind is my car-driver, and my coat ofmail is constituted by those mothers in the Vedas (viz., Gayatri, Savitriand Saraswati). Well-covered by these in battle, O son of Kuru’s race, Iwill fight!’ Having said this, O Gandhari’s son. Rama of prowessincapable of being baffled, covered me on all sides with a thick showerof arrows. I then beheld Jamadagni’s son stationed on a car equipped withevery kind of excellent weapons! And the car he rode was exceedinglyhandsome and was of wonderful appearance. And it had been created by afiat of his will, and it was beautiful like a town. And celestial steedswere yoked unto it, and it was well-protected by the necessary defences.And it was decked all over with ornaments of gold. And it waswell-covered with tough skins all around, and bore the device of the sunand the moon. Rama was armed with bow and equipped with a quiver, andwith fingers cased in leathern fences! Akritavrana, the dear friend ofBhargava, well-versed in the Vedas, did the duties of a car-driver forthat warrior. And he, of Bhrigu’s race, repeatedly summoning me tobattle, saying,–Come, come,–gladden my heart. And I then, myself,singly obtained for my adversary that invincible and mighty exterminatorof the Kshatriya race, viz., Rama risen like the sun himself insplendour, desirous (on his part) of fighting singly! And after he hadpoured three showers of arrows on me curbing my steeds, I came down frommy car and placing my bow aside I proceeded on foot to that best ofRishis. And arriving before him, I worshipped the best of Brahmanas withreverence. And having saluted him duly, I told him these excellentwords,–O Rama, whether thou art equal or superior to me, I will fightwith thee, my virtuous preceptor, in battle! O lord, bless me, wishing mevictory!’

“Rama, thus addressed, said, ‘O foremost one of Kuru’s race, he thatdesires prosperity should act even thus! O thou of mighty arms, they thatfight with warriors more eminent than themselves, have this duty toperform. O king, I would have cursed thee if thou hadst not approached methus! Go, fight carefully and summoning all thy patience, O thou ofKuru’s race! I cannot, however, wish thee victory, for I myself standhere to vanquish thee! Go, fight fairly! I am pleased with thybehaviour!–Bowing unto him, I then speedily came back, and mounting onmy car, I once more blew my conch decked with gold, And then, O Bharata,the combat commenced between him and me. And it lasted for many days.each of us, O king, having been desirous of vanquishing the other. And inthat battle, it was Rama who struck me first with nine hundred and sixtystraight arrows furnished with vulturine wings. And with that arrowyshower, O king, my four steeds and charioteer were completely covered!Notwithstanding all this, however, I remained quiet in that encounter,accoutred in my coat of mail! Bowing unto the gods, and especially untothe Brahmanas, I then smilingly addressed Rama stationed for battle,saying,–Although thou hast shown little regard for me, yet I have fullyhonoured thy preceptorship! Listen again, O Brahmana, to some otherauspicious duty that should be discharged if virtue is to be earned! TheVedas that are in thy body, and the high status of Brahmana that is alsoin thee, and the ascetic merit thou hast earned by the severest ofausterities, I do not strike at these! I strike, however, at thatKshatriyahood which thou, O Rama, hast adopted! When a Brahmana taketh upweapons, he becometh a Kshatriya. Behold now the power of my bow and theenergy of my arms! Speedily shall I cut off that bow of thine with asharp shaft!–Saying this I shot at him, O bull of Bharata’s race, asharp broad-headed arrow, And cutting off one of the horns of his bowwith it. I caused it to drop on the ground. I then shot at Jamadagni’scar a hundred straight arrows winged with vulturine feathers. Piercingthrough Rama’s body and borne along by the wind, those arrows coursingthrough space seemed to vomit blood (from their mouths) and resembledveritable snakes. Covered all over with blood and with blood issuing outof his body. Rama, O king, shone in battle, like the Sumeru mountain withstreams of liquid metal rolling down its breast, or like the Asoka treeat the advent of spring, when covered with red bunches of flowers, or, Oking, like the Kinsuka tree when clad in its flowery attire! Taking upthen another bow, Rama, filled with wrath, showered upon me numerousarrows of excessive sharpness, furnished with golden wings. And thosefierce arrows of tremendous impetus, resembling snakes, or fire, orpoison, coming at me from all sides, pierced my very vitals and caused meto tremble. Summoning all my coolness then addressed myself for theencounter, and filled with rage I pierced Rama with a hundred arrows. Andafflicted with those hundred blazing shafts resembling either fire, orthe sun or looking like snakes of virulent poison, Rama seemed to losehis senses! Filled, O Bharata, with pity (at the sight), I stopped of myown accord and said,–Oh, fie on battle! Fie on Kshatriya practices! Andoverwhelmed, O king, with grief, I repeatedly said,–Alas, great is thesin committed by me through observance of Kshatriya practices, since Ihave afflicted with arrows my preceptor who is a Brahmana endued with avirtuous soul!–After that, O Bharata, I ceased striking Jamadagni’s sonany more. At this time, the thousand-rayed luminary, having heated theearth with his rays, proceeded at the close of day to his chambers in thewest and the battle also between us ceased.'”

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