Chapter 38

Mahabharata English - VIRATA PARVA

‘Vaisampayana said, ‘Having issued forth from the city, the dauntless sonof Virata addressed his charioteer, saying, ‘Proceed whither the Kurusare. Defeating the assembled Kurus who have come hither from desire ofvictory, and quickly rescuing my kine from them. I will return to thecapital.’ At these words of the prince, the son of Pandu urged thoseexcellent steeds. And endued with the speed of the wind and decked withnecklaces of gold, those steeds, urged by that lion among men, seemed tofly through the air. And they had not proceeded far when those smiters offoes, Dhananjaya and the son of Matsya, sighted the army of the powerfulKurus. And proceeding towards the cemetary, they came upon the Kurus andbeheld their army arrayed in order of battle.[40] And that large army oftheirs looked like the vast sea or a forest of innumerable trees movingthrough the sky. And then was seen, O best among the Kurus, the dustraised by that moving army which reached the sky and obstructed the sightof all creatures. And beholding that mighty host abounding in elephants,horses and chariots, and protected by Karna and Duryodhana and Kripa andSantanu’s son, and that intelligent and great bowman Drona, with his son(Aswatthaman), the son of Virata, agitated with fear and the bristles onhis body standing on their ends, thus spake unto Partha, ‘I dare notfight with the Kurus. See, the bristles on my body have stood on theirends. I am incapable of battling with this countless host of the Kurus,abounding in the heroic warriors, that are extremely fierce and difficultof being vanquished even by the celestials. I do not venture to penetrateinto the army of the Bharatas consisting of terrible bowmen and aboundingin horses and elephants and cars and footsoldiers and banners. My mind istoo much perturbed by the very sight of the foe on the field of battle onwhich stand Drona and Bhishma, and Kripa, and Karna, and Vivingsati, andAswatthaman and Vikarna, and Saumadatti, and Vahlika, and the heroic kingDuryodhana also–that foremost of car-warriors, and many other splendidbowmen, all skilled in battle. My hairs have stood on their ends, and Iam fainting with fear at the very sight of these smiters, the Kurusarrayed in order of battle.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘And the low-minded and foolish Uttara out offolly alone, began to bewail (his fate) in the presence of thehigh-spirited (Arjuna) disguised (as his charioteer) in these words, ‘Myfather hath gone out to meet the Trigartas taking with him his wholearmy, leaving me in the empty city. There are no troops to assist me.Alone and a mere boy who has not undergone much exercise in arms, I amunable to encounter these innumerable warriors and all skilled inweapons. Do thou, therefore, O Vrihannala, cease to advance!’

“Vrihannala said, ‘Why dost thou look so pale through fear and enhancethe joy of thy foes? As yet thou hast done nothing on the field of battlewith the enemy. It was thou that hadst ordered me, saying, Take metowards the Kauravas. I will, therefore, take thee, thither where thoseinnumerable flags are. I will certainly take thee, O mighty-armed one,into the midst of the hostile Kurus, prepared to fight as they are forthe kine like hawks for meat. I would do this, even if I regarded them tohave come hither for battling for a much higher stake such as thesovereignty of the earth. Having, at the time of setting out, talkedbefore both men and women so highly of thy manliness, why wouldst thoudesist from the fight? If thou shouldst return home without recapturingthe kine, brave men and even women, when they meet together, will laughat thee (in derision). As regards myself, I cannot return to the citywithout having rescued the kine, applauded as I have been so highly bythe Sairindhri in respect of my skill in driving cars. It is for thosepraises by the Sairindhri and for those words of thine also (that I havecome). Why should I not, therefore, give battle to the Kurus? (As regardsthyself), be thou still.’

“Uttara said, ‘Let the Kurus rob the Matsyas off all their wealth. Letmen and women, O Vrihannala, laugh at me. Let my kine perish, let thecity be a desert. Let me stand exposed before my father. Still there isno need of battle.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Saying this, that much affrighted prince deckedin ear-ring jumped down from his car, and throwing down his bow andarrows began to flee, sacrificing honour and pride. Vrihannala, however,exclaimed, ‘This is not the practice of the brave, this flight of aKshatriya from the field of battle. Even death in battle is better thanflight from fear.’ Having said this, Dhananjaya, the son of Kunti, comingdown from that excellent car ran after that prince thus running away, hisown long braid and pure red garments fluttering in the air. And somesoldiers, not knowing that it was Arjuna who was thus running with hisbraid fluttering in the air, burst out into laughter at the sight. Andbeholding him thus running, the Kurus began to argue, ‘Who is thisperson, thus disguised like fire concealed in ashes? He is partly a manand partly a woman. Although bearing a neuter form, he yet resemblethArjuna. His are the same head and neck, and his the same arms like unto acouple of maces. And this one’s gait also is like unto his. He can benone else than Dhananjaya. As Indra is among the celestials, soDhananjaya is among men. Who else in this world than Dhananjaya, wouldalone come against us? Virata left a single son of his in the empty city.He hath come out from childishness and not from true heroism. It isUttara who must have come out of the city, having, without doubt, made asa charioteer Arjuna, the son of Pritha, now living in disguise. It seemsthat he is now flying away in panic at sight of our army. And withoutdoubt Dhananjaya runneth after him to bring him back.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Beholding the disguised son of Pandu, theKauravas, O Bharata, began to indulge in these surmises, but they couldnot come to any definite conclusion. Meanwhile, Dhananjaya, hastilypursuing the retreating Uttara, seized him by the hair within a hundredsteps. And seized by Arjuna, the son of Virata began to lament mostwoefully like one in great affliction, and said, ‘Listen, O goodVrihannala, O thou of handsome waist. Turn thou quickly the course of thecar. He that liveth meeteth with prosperity. I will give thee a hundredcoins of pure gold and eight lapis lazuli of great brightness set withgold, and one chariot furnished with a golden flag-staff and drawn byexcellent steeds, and also ten elephants of infuriate prowess. Do thou, OVrihannala, set me free.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed, that tiger among men laughinglydragged Uttara who was almost deprived of his senses and who was utteringthese words of lamentation towards the car. And the son of Pritha thenaddressed the affrighted prince who had nearly lost his senses, saying,’If, O chastiser of foes, thou dost not venture to fight with enemy, comethou and hold the reins of the steeds as I fight with the foe. Protectedby the might of my arms, penetrate thou yon formidable and invinciblearray of cars guarded by heroic and mighty warriors. Fear not, Ochastiser of foes, thou art a Kshatriya and the foremost of royalprincess. Why dost thou, O tiger among men, succumb in the midst of thefoe? I shall surely fight with the Kurus and recover the kine,penetrating into this formidable and inaccessible array of cars. Be thoumy charioteer, O best of men, I will fight with the Kurus.’ Thus speakingunto Uttara, the son of Virata, Vibhatsu, heretofore unconquered inbattle, for a while comforted him. And then the son of Pritha, thatforemost of smiters, raised on the car that fainting and reluctant princestricken with fear!'”

Chapter 39
Chapter 37
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