Mahabharata VIII


(Viduragamana Parva continued)


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Thus addressed by Duryodhana, Karna said, ‘It doth

not seem to me, O Duryodhana, that thy reasoning is well-founded. O

perpetuator of the Kuru race, no method will succeed against the

Pandavas. O brave prince, thou hast before, by various subtle means,

striven to carry out thy wishes. But ever hast thou failed to slay thy

foes. They were then living near thee, O king! They were then unfledged

and of tender years, but thou couldst not injure them then. They are now

living at a distance, grown up, full-fledged. The sons of Kunti, O thou

of firm resolution, cannot now be injured by any subtle contrivances of

thine. This is my opinion. As they are aided by the very Fates, and as

they are desirous of regaining their ancestral kingdom, we can never

succeed in injuring them by any means in our power. It is impossible to

create disunion amongst them. They can never be disunited who have all

taken to a common wife. Nor can we succeed in estranging Krishna from the

Pandavas by any spies of ours. She chose them as her lords when they were

in adversity. Will she abandon them now that they are in prosperity?

Besides women always like to have many husbands, Krishna hath obtained

her wish. She can never be estranged from the Pandavas. The king of

Panchala is honest and virtuous; he is not avaricious. Even if we offer

him our whole kingdom he will not abandon the Pandavas. Drupada’s son

also possesseth every accomplishment, and is attached to the Pandavas.

Therefore, I do not think that the Pandavas can now be injured by any

subtle means in thy power. But, O bull amongst men, this is what is good

and advisable for us now, viz., to attack and smite them till they are

exterminated. Let this course recommend itself to thee. As long as our

party is strong and that of the king of the Panchalas is weak, so long

strike them without any scruple. O son of Gandhari, as long as their

innumerable vehicles and animals, friends, and friendly tribes are not

mustered together, continue, O king, to exhibit thy prowess. As long as

the king of the Panchalas together with his sons gifted with great

prowess, setteth not his heart upon fighting with us, so long, O king,

exhibit thy prowess. And, O king, exert thy prowess before he of the

Vrishni race (Krishna) cometh with the Yadava host into the city of

Drupada, carrying everything before him, to restore the Pandavas to their

paternal kingdom. Wealth, every article of enjoyment, kingdom, there is

nothing that Krishna may not sacrifice for the sake of the Pandavas. The

illustrious Bharata had acquired the whole earth by his prowess alone.

Indra hath acquired sovereignty of the three worlds by prowess alone. O

king, prowess is always applauded by the Kshatriyas. O bull amongst

Kshatriyas, prowess is the cardinal virtue of the brave. Let us,

therefore, O monarch, with our large army consisting of four kinds of

forces, grind Drupada without loss of time, and bring hither the

Pandavas. Indeed, the Pandavas are incapable of being discomfited by any

policy of conciliation, of gift, of wealth and bribery, or of disunion.

Vanquish them, therefore, by thy prowess. And vanquishing them by thy

prowess, rule thou this wide earth. O monarch, I see not any other means

by which we may accomplish our end.’


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing these words of Radheya, Dhritarashtra,

endued with great strength, applauded him highly. The monarch then

addressed him and said, ‘Thou, O son of a Suta, art gifted with great

wisdom and accomplished in arms. This speech, therefore, favouring the

exhibition of prowess suiteth thee well. But let Bhishma, and Drona, and

Vidura, and you two, take counsel together and adopt that proposal which

may lead to our benefit.’


Vaisampayana continued, “‘Then king Dhritarashtra called unto him, all

those celebrated ministers and took counsel with them.'”






(Viduragamana Parva continued)


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Asked by Dhritarashtra to give his opinion, Bhishma

replied, ‘O Dhritarashtra, a quarrel with the Pandavas is what I can

never approve of. As thou art to me, so was Pandu without doubt. And the

sons of Gandhari are to me, as those of Kunti. I should protect them as

well as I should thy sons, O Dhritarashtra! And, O king, the Pandavas are

as much near to me as they are to prince Duryodhana or to all the other

Kurus. Under these circumstances a quarrel with them is what I never

like. Concluding a treaty with those heroes, let half the land be given

unto them. This is without doubt, the paternal kingdom of those foremost

ones of the Kuru race. And, O Duryodhana, like thee who lookest upon this

kingdom as thy paternal property, the Pandavas also look upon it as their

paternal possession. If the renowned sons of Pandu obtain not the

kingdom, how can it be thine, or that of any other descendant of the

Bharata race? If thou regardest thyself as one that hath lawfully come

into the possession of the kingdom, I think they also may be regarded to

have lawfully come into the possession of this kingdom before thee. Give

them half the kingdom quietly. This, O tiger among men, is beneficial to

all. If thou actest otherwise, evil will befall us all. Thou too shall be

covered with dishonour. O Duryodhana, strive to maintain thy good name. A

good name is, indeed, the source of one’s strength. It hath been said

that one liveth in vain whose reputation hath gone. A man, O Kaurava,

doth not die so long as his fame lasteth. One liveth as long as one’s

fame endureth, and dieth when one’s fame is gone. Follow thou, O son of

Gandhari, the practice that is worthy of the Kuru race. O thou of mighty

arms, imitate thy own ancestors. We are fortunate that the Pandavas have

not perished. We are fortunate that Kunti liveth. We are fortunate that

the wretch Purochana without being able to accomplish his purpose hath

himself perished. From that time when I heard that the sons of

Kuntibhoja’s daughter had been burnt to death, I was, O son of Gandhari,

ill able to meet any living creature. O tiger among men, hearing of the

fate that overtook Kunti, the world doth not regard Purochana so guilty

as it regardeth thee. O king, the escape, therefore, of the sons of Pandu

with life from that conflagration and their re-appearance, do away with

thy evil repute. Know, O thou of Kuru’s race, that as long as those

heroes live, the wielder of the thunder himself cannot deprive them of

their ancestral share in the kingdom. The Pandavas are virtuous and

united. They are being wrongly kept out of their equal share in the

kingdom. If thou shouldst act rightly, if thou shouldst do what is

agreeable to me, if thou shouldst seek the welfare of all, then give half

the kingdom unto them.'”






(Viduragamana Parva continued)


“Vaisampayana said, ‘After Bhishma had concluded, Drona spoke, saying, ‘O

king Dhritarashtra, it hath been heard by us that friends summoned for

consultation should always speak what is right, true, and conductive to

fame. O sire, I am of the same mind in this matter with the illustrious

Bhishma. Let a share of the kingdom be given unto the Pandavas. This is

eternal virtue. Send, O Bharata, unto Drupada without loss of time some

messenger of agreeable speech, carrying with him a large treasure for the

Pandavas. And let the man go unto Drupada carrying costly presents for

both the bridegrooms and the bride, and let him speak unto that monarch

of thy increase of power and dignity arising from this new alliance with

him. And, O monarch, let the man know also that both thyself and

Duryodhana have become exceedingly glad in consequence of what hath

happened. Let him say this repeatedly unto Drupada and Dhrishtadyumna.

And let him speak also about the alliance as having been exceedingly

proper, and agreeable unto thee, and of thyself being worthy of it. And

let the man repeatedly propitiate the sons of Kunti and those of Madri

(in proper words). And at thy command, O king, let plenty of ornaments of

pure gold be given unto Draupadi. And let, O bull of Bharata’s race,

proper presents be given unto all the sons of Drupada. Let the messenger

then propose the return of the Pandavas to Hastinapura. After the heroes

will have been permitted (by Drupada), to come hither, let Duhsasana and

Vikarna go out with a handsome train to receive them. And when they will

have arrived at Hastinapura, let those foremost of men be received with

affection by thee. And let them then be installed on their paternal

throne, agreeably to the wishes of the people of the realm. This, O

monarch of Bharata’s race, is what I think should be thy behaviour

towards the Pandavas who are to thee even as thy own sons.’


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘After Drona had ceased, Karna spake again,

‘Both Bhishma and Drona have been pampered with wealth that is thine and

favours conferred by thee! They are also always regarded by thee as thy

trusted friends! What can therefore be more amusing than that they both

should give thee advice which is not for thy good? How can the wise

approve that advice which is pronounced good by a person speaking with

wicked intent but taking care to conceal the wickedness of his heart?

Indeed, in a season of distress, friends can neither benefit nor injure.

Every one’s happiness or the reverse dependeth on destiny. He that is

wise and he that is foolish, he that is young (in years) and he that is

old, he that hath allies and he that hath none, all become, it is seen

everywhere, happy or unhappy at times. It hath been heard by us that

there was, of old, a king by name Amvuvicha. Having his capital at

Rajagriha, he was the king of all the Magadha chiefs. He never attended

to his affairs. All his exertion consisted in inhaling the air. All his

affairs were in the hands of his minister. And his minister, named

Mahakarni, became the supreme authority in the state. Regarding himself

all powerful, he began to disregard the king. And the wretch himself

appropriated everything belonging unto the king, his queens and treasures

and sovereignty. But the possession of all these, instead of satisfying

his avarice, only served to inflame him the more. Having appropriated

everything belonging to the king, he even coveted the throne. But it hath

been heard by us that with all his best endeavours he succeeded not in

acquiring the kingdom of the monarch, his master, even though the latter

was inattentive to business and content with only breathing the air. What

else can be said, O king, than that monarch’s sovereignty was dependent

on destiny? If, therefore, O king, this kingdom be established in thee by

destiny, it will certainly continue in thee, even if the whole world were

to become thy enemy! If, however, destiny hath ordained otherwise,

howsoever mayest thou strive, it will not last in thee! O learned one,

remembering all this, judge of the honesty or otherwise of thy advisers.

Ascertain also who amongst them are wicked and who have spoken wisely and



“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing these words of Karna, Drona replied,

‘As thou art wicked it is evident thou sayest so in consequence of the

wickedness of thy intent. It is for injuring the Pandavas that thou

findest fault with us. But know, O Karna, what I have said is for the

good of all and the prosperity of the Kuru race. If thou regardest all

this as productive of evil, declare thyself what is for our good. If the

good advice I have given be not followed, I think the Kurus will be

exterminated in no time.'”






(Viduragamana Parva continued)


“Vaisampayana said, ‘After Drona had ceased, Vidura spoke, saying, ‘O

monarch, thy friends without doubt, are saying unto thee what is for thy

good. But as thou art unwilling to listen to what they say, their words

scarcely find a place in thy ears. What that foremost one of Kuru’s race,

viz., Bhishma, the son of Santanu, hath said, is excellent and is for thy

good. But thou dost not listen to it. The preceptor Drona also hath said

much that is for thy good which however Karna, the son of Radha, doth not

regard to be such. But, O king, reflecting hard I do not find any one who

is better a friend to thee than either of these two lions among men

(viz., Bhishma and Drona), or any one who excels either of them in

wisdom. These two, old in years, in wisdom, and in learning, always

regard thee, O king, and the sons of Pandu with equal eyes. Without

doubt, O king of Bharata’s race, they are both, in virtue and

truthfulness, not inferior to Rama, the son of Dasaratha, and Gaya. Never

before did they give thee any evil advice. Thou also, O monarch, hast

never done them any injury. Why should, therefore, these tigers among

men, who are ever truthful, give thee wicked advice, especially when thou

hast never injured them? Endued with wisdom these foremost of men, O

king, will never give thee counsels that are crooked. O scion of Kuru’s

rate, this is my firm conviction that these two, acquainted with all

rules of morality, will never, tempted by wealth, utter anything

betraying a spirit of partisanship. What they have said, O Bharata, I

regard highly beneficial to thee. Without doubt, O monarch, the Pandavas

are thy sons as much as Duryodhana and others are. Those ministers,

therefore, that give thee any counsel fraught with evil unto the

Pandavas, do not really look to thy interests. If there is any partiality

in thy heart, O king, for thy own children, they who by their counsel

seek to bring it out, certainly do thee no good. Therefore, O king, these

illustrious persons endued with great splendour, have not I think, said

anything that leadeth to evil. Thou, however, dost not understand it.

What these bulls among men have said regarding the invincibility of the

Pandavas is perfectly true. Think not otherwise of it, O tiger among men.

Blest be thou! Can the handsome Dhananjaya, the son of Pandu, using the

right and the left hand with equal activity, be vanquished in battle even

by Maghavat himself? Can the great Bhimasena of strong arms possessing

the might of ten thousand elephants, be vanquished in battle by the

immortals themselves? Who also that desireth to live can overcome in

battle the twins (Nagula and Sahadeva) like unto the sons of Yama

himself, and well-skilled in fight? How too can the eldest one of the

Pandavas in whom patience, mercy, forgiveness, truth, and prowess always

live together, be vanquished? They who have Rama (Valadeva) as their

ally, and Janardana (Krishna) as their counsellor, and Satyaki as their

partisan, have already defeated everybody in war. They who have Drupada

for their father-in-law, and Drupada’s sons–the heroic brothers, viz.,

Dhristadyumna and others of Prishata’s race for their brothers-in-law,

are certainly invincible. Remembering this, O monarch, and knowing that

their claim to the kingdom is even prior to thine, behave virtuously

towards them. The stain of calumny is on thee, O monarch, in consequence

of that act of Purochana. Wash thyself of it now, by a kindly behaviour

towards the Pandavas. This kindly behaviour of thine, O monarch, towards

the Pandavas will be an act of great benefit to us, protecting the lives

of us all that belong to Kuru’s race, and leading to the growth of the

whole Kshatriya order! We had formerly warred with king Drupada; if we

can now secure him as an ally, it will strengthen our party. The

Dasarhas, O king, are numerous and strong. Know where Krishna is, all of

them must be, and where Krishna is, there victory also must be! O king,

who, unless cursed by the gods, would seek, to effect that by means of

war which can be effected by conciliation? Hearing that the sons of

Pritha are alive, the citizens and other subjects of the realm have

become exceedingly glad and eager for beholding them. O monarch, act in a

way that is agreeable to them. Duryodhana and Karna and Sakuni, the son

of Suvala, are sinful, foolish and young; listen not to them. Possessed

of every virtue thou art I long ago told thee, O monarch that for

Duryodhana’s fault, the subjects of this kingdom would be exterminated.'”






(Viduragamana Parva continued)


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Hearing these various speeches, Dhritarashtra said,

The learned Bhishma, the son of Santanu, and the illustrious Rishi Drona,

and thyself also (O Vidura), have said the truth and what also is most

beneficial to me. Indeed, as those mighty car-warriors, the heroic sons

of Kunti. are the children of Pandu, so are they, without doubt, my

children according to the ordinance. And as my sons are entitled to this

kingdom, so are the sons of Pandu certainly entitled to it. Therefore,

hasten to bring hither the Pandavas along with their mother, treating

them with affectionate consideration. O thou of Bharata’s race, bring

also Krishna of celestial beauty along with them. From sheer good fortune

the sons of Pritha are alive; and from good fortune alone those mighty

car-warriors have obtained the daughter of Drupada. It is from good

fortune alone that our strength hath increased, and it is from good

fortune alone that Purochana hath perished. O thou of great splendour, it

is from good fortune that my great grief hath been killed!’


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then Vidura, at the command of Dhritarashtra,

repaired, O Bharata, unto Yajnasena and the Pandavas. And he repaired

thither carrying with him numerous jewels and various kinds of wealth for

Draupadi and the Pandavas and Yajnasena also. Arrived at Drupada’s abode,

Vidura conversant with every rule of morality and deep in every science,

properly accosted the monarch and waited upon him. Drupada received

Vidura in proper form and they both enquired after each other’s welfare.

Vidura then saw there the Pandavas and Vasudeva. As soon as he saw them

he embraced them from affection and enquired after their well being. The

Pandavas also along with Vasudeva, in due order, worshipped Vidura of

immeasurable intelligence. But Vidura, O king, in the name of

Dhritarashtra repeatedly enquired with great affection after their

welfare. He then gave, O monarch, unto the Pandavas and Kunti and

Draupadi, and unto Drupada and Drupada’s sons, the gems and various kinds

of wealth that the Kauravas had sent through him. Possessed of

immeasurable intelligence, the modest Vidura then, in the presence of the

Pandavas and Keshava, addressed the well-behaved Drupada thus:


“With thy ministers and sons, O monarch, listen to what I say. King

Dhritarashtra, with ministers, sons, and friends, hath with a joyous

heart, O king, repeatedly enquired after thy welfare. And, O monarch, he

hath been highly pleased with this alliance with thee. So also, O king,

Bhishma of great wisdom, the son of Santanu, with all the Kurus, enquired

after thy welfare in every respect. Drona also of great wisdom the son of

Bharadwaja and thy dear friend, embracing thee mentally, enquired of thy

happiness. And, O king of Panchalas, Dhritarashtra and all the Kurus, in

consequence of this alliance with thee regard themselves supremely blest.

O Yajnasena, the establishment of this alliance with thee hath made them

happier than if they had acquired a new kingdom. Knowing all this, O

monarch, permit the Pandavas to re-visit their ancestral kingdom. The

Kurus are exceedingly eager to behold the sons of Pandu. These bulls

among men have been long absent (from their kingdom). They as well as

Pritha must be very eager to behold their city. And all the Kuru ladies

and the citizens and our subjects are eagerly waiting to behold Krishna

the Panchala Princess. This, therefore, is my opinion, O monarch, that

thou shouldst, without delay, permit the Pandavas to go thither with

their wife. And after the illustrious Pandavas, O king, will have

received thy permission to go thither, I shall send information unto

Dhritarashtra by quick messengers. Then, O king, will the Pandavas set

out with Kunti and Krishna.'”






(Viduragamana Parva continued)


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Hearing these words of Vidura, Drupada said, ‘It is

even so as thou, O Vidura of great wisdom, hast said. Venerable one, I

too have been exceedingly happy in consequence of this alliance. It is

highly proper that these illustrious princes should return to their

ancestral kingdom. But it is not proper for me to say this myself. If the

brave son of Kunti viz., Yudhishthira, if Bhima and Arjuna, if these

bulls among men, viz., the twins, themselves desire to go and if Rama

(Valadeva) and Krishna, both acquainted with every rule of morality, be

of the same mind, then let the Pandavas go thither. For these tigers

among men (Rama and Krishna) are ever engaged in doing what is agreeable

and beneficial to the sons of Pandu.’


“Hearing this, Yudhishthira said, ‘We are now, O monarch, with all our

younger brothers, dependent on thee. We shall cheerfully do what thou art

pleased to command.’


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then Vasudeva said, ‘I am of opinion that the

Pandavas should go. But we should all abide by the opinion of king

Drupada who is conversant with every rule of morality.’


“Drupada then spoke, ‘I certainly agree with what this foremost of men,

thinketh, having regard to the circumstances. For the illustrious sons of

Pandu now are to me as they are, without doubt, to Vasudeva. Kunti’s son

Yudhishthira himself doth not seek the welfare of the Pandavas so

earnestly as, Kesava, that tiger among men.’


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Commanded by the illustrious Drupada, the

Pandavas, then, O king, and Krishna and Vidura, taking with them Krishna,

the daughter of Drupada, and the renowned Kunti, journeyed towards the

city called after the elephant, stopping at various places along the way

for purposes of pleasure and enjoyment. King Dhritarashtra, hearing that

those heroes had neared the capital sent out the Kauravas to receive

them. They who were thus sent out were, O Bharata, Vikarna of the great

bow, and Chitrasena, and Drona that foremost of warriors, and Kripa of

Gautama’s line. Surrounded by these, those mighty heroes, their splendour

enhanced by that throng slowly entered the city of Hastinapura. The whole

city became radiant, as it were, with the gay throng of sight-seers

animated by curiosity. Those tigers among men gladdened the hearts of all

who beheld them. And the Pandavas, dear unto the hearts of the people,

heard, as they proceeded, various exclamations with the citizens, ever

desirous of obeying the wishes of those princes, loudly uttered. Some

exclaimed, ‘Here returns that tiger among men, conversant with all the

rules of morality and who always protects us as if we were his nearest

relatives.’ And elsewhere they said, ‘It seems that king Pandu–the

beloved of his people–returneth today from the forest, doubtless to do

what is agreeable to us.’ And there were some that said, ‘What good is

not done to us today when the heroic sons of Kunti come back to our town?

If we have ever given away in charity, if we have ever poured libations

of clarified butter on the fire, if we have any ascetic merit, let the

Pandavas, by virtue of all those acts stay in our town for a hundred



“At last the Pandavas, on arriving at the place, worshipped the feet of

Dhritarashtra, as also those of the illustrious Bhishma. They also

worshipped the feet of everybody else that deserved that honour. And they

enquired after the welfare of every citizen (there present). At last, at

the command of Dhritarashtra they entered the chambers that had been

assigned to them.


“After they had rested there for some time, they were summoned (to the

court) by king Dhritarashtra and Bhishma, the son of Santanu. When they

came, king Dhritarashtra addressing Yudhishthira, said, ‘Listen, O son of

Kunti, with thy brothers, to what I say. Repair ye to Khandavaprastha so

that no difference may arise again (between you and your cousins). If you

take up your quarters there no one will be able to do you any injury.

Protected by Partha (Arjuna), like the celestials by the thunderbolt,

reside ye at Khandavaprastha, taking half of the kingdom.’


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Agreeing to what Dhritarashtra said, those

bulls among men worshipping the king set out from Hastinapura. And

content with half the kingdom, they removed to Khandavaprastha, which was

in unreclaimed desert. Then those heroes of unfading splendour, viz., the

Pandavas, with Krishna at their head, arriving there, beautified the

place and made it a second heaven. And those mighty car-warriors,

selecting with Dwaipayana’s assistance a sacred and auspicious region,

performed certain propitiatory ceremonies and measured out a piece of

land for their city. Then surrounded by a trench wide as the sea and by

walls reaching high up to the heavens and white as the fleecy clouds or

the rays of the moon, that foremost of cities looked resplendent like

Bhogavati (the capital of the nether kingdom) decked with the Nagas. And

it stood adorned with palatial mansions and numerous gates, each

furnished with a couple of panels resembling the out-stretched wings of

Garuda. And it was protected with gateways looking like the clouds and

high as the Mandara mountains. And well-furnished with numerous weapons

of attack the missiles of the foes could not make slightest impression on

them. And they were almost covered with darts and other missiles like

double-tongued snakes. The turrets along the walls were filled with armed

men in course of training; and the walls were lined with numerous

warriors along their whole length. And there were thousands of sharp

hooks and Sataghnis (machines slaying a century of warriors) and numerous

other machines on the battlements. There were also large iron wheels

planted on them. And with all these was that foremost of cities adorned.

The streets were all wide and laid out excellently; and there was no fear

in them of accident. And decked with innumerable mansions, the city

became like unto Amaravati and came to be called Indraprastha (like unto

Indra’s city). In a delightful and auspicious part of the city rose the

palace of the Pandavas filled with every kind of wealth and like unto the

mansion of the celestial treasurer (Kuvera) himself. And it looked like a

mass of clouds charged with lightning.


“When the city was built, there came, O king, numerous Brahmanas

well-acquainted with all the Vedas and conversant with every language,

wishing to dwell there. And there came also unto that town numerous

merchants from every direction, in the hope of earning wealth. There also

came numerous persons well-skilled in all the arts, wishing to take up

their abode there. And around the city were laid out many delightful

gardens adorned with numerous trees bearing both fruits and flowers.

There were Amras (mango trees) and Amaratakas, and Kadamvas and Asokas,

and Champakas; and Punnagas and Nagas and Lakuchas and Panasas; and Salas

and Talas (palm trees) and Tamalas and Vakulas, and Ketakas with their

fragrant loads; beautiful and blossoming and grand Amalakas with branches

bent down with the weight of fruits and Lodhras and blossoming Ankolas;

and Jamvus (blackberry trees) and Patalas and Kunjakas and Atimuktas; and

Karaviras and Parijatas and numerous other kinds of trees always adorned

with flowers and fruits and alive with feathery creatures of various

species. And those verdant groves always resounded with the notes of

maddened peacocks and Kokilas (blackbirds). And there were various

pleasure-houses, bright as mirrors, and numerous bowers of creepers, and

charming and artificial hillocks, and many lakes full to the brim of

crystal water, and delightful tanks fragrant with lotuses and lilies and

adorned with swans and ducks and chakravakas (brahminy ducks). And there

were many delicious pools overgrown with fine aquatic plants. And there

were also diverse ponds of great beauty and large dimension. And, O king,

the joy of the Pandavas increased from day to day, in consequence of

their residence in that large kingdom that was peopled with pious men.


“Thus in consequence of the virtuous behaviour of Bhishma and king

Dhritarashtra towards them, the Pandavas took up their abode in

Khandavaprastha. Adorned with those five mighty warriors, each equal unto

Indra himself, that foremost of cities looked like Bhogavati (the capital

of the nether kingdom) adorned with the Nagas. And, O monarch, having

settled the Pandavas there, the heroic Krishna, obtaining their leave,

came back with Rama to Dwaravati.'”






(Rajya-labha Parva)


“Janamejaya said, ‘O thou possessed of ascetic wealth, what did those

high-souled ones, my grandsires, the illustrious Pandavas, do, after

obtaining the kingdom of Indraprastha? How did their wife Draupadi obey

them all? How is it also that no dissensions arose amongst those

illustrious rulers of men, all attached to one wife, viz., Krishna? O

thou of the wealth of asceticism, I wish to hear everything in detail

regarding the behaviour towards one another of those rulers of men after

their union with Krishna.’


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Those scorchers of foes, the Pandavas, having

obtained their kingdom, at the command of Dhritarashtra, passed their

days in joy and happiness at Khandavaprastha with Krishna. And

Yudhishthira. endued with great energy and ever adhering to truth, having

obtained the sovereignty, virtuously ruled the land, assisted by his

brothers. And the sons of Pandu, endued with great wisdom and devoted to

truth and virtue, having vanquished all their foes, continued to live

there in great happiness. And those bulls among men, seated on royal

seats of great value, used to discharge all the duties of government. And

one day, while all those illustrious heroes were so seated, there came

unto them the celestial Rishi Narada, in course of his wanderings.

Beholding the Rishi, Yudhishthira offered him his own handsome seat. And

after the celestial Rishi had been seated, the wise Yudhishthira duly

offered him the Arghya with his own hands. And the king also informed the

Rishi of the state of his kingdom. The Rishi accepting the worship,

became well-pleased, and eulogising him with benedictions, commanded the

king to take his seat. Commanded by the Rishi, the king took his seat.

Then the king sent word unto Krishna (in the inner apartments) of the

arrival of the illustrious one. Hearing of the Rishi’s arrival Draupadi,

purifying herself properly, came with a respectful attitude to where

Narada was with the Pandavas. The virtuous princess of Panchala,

worshipping the celestial Rishi’s feet, stood with joined hands before

him, properly veiled, The illustrious Narada, pronouncing various

benedictions on her, commanded the princess to retire. After Krishna had

retired, the illustrious Rishi, addressing in private all the Pandavas

with Yudhishthira at their head, said, ‘The renowned princess of Panchala

is the wedded wife of you all. Establish a rule amongst yourselves so

that disunion may not arise amongst you. There were, in former days,

celebrated throughout the three worlds, two brothers named Sunda and

Upasunda living together and incapable of being slain by anybody unless

each slew the other. They ruled the same kingdom, lived in the same

house, slept on the same bed, sat on the same seat, and ate from the same

dish. And yet they killed each for the sake of Tilottama. Therefore, O

Yudhishthira, preserve your friendship for one another and do that which

may not produce disunion amongst you.’


“On hearing this, Yudhishthira asked, ‘O great Muni, whose sons were

Asuras called Sunda and Upasunda? Whence arose that dissension amongst

them, and why did they slay each other? Whose daughter also was this

Tilottama for whose love the maddened brothers killed each other? Was she

an Apsara (water nymph) or the daughter of any celestial? O thou whose

wealth is asceticism, we desire, O Brahmana, to hear in detail everything

as it happened. Indeed, our curiosity hath become great.'”






(Rajya-labha Parva continued)


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Hearing these words of Yudhishthira, Narada replied,

‘O son of Pritha, listen with thy brothers to me as I recite this old

story, O Yudhishthira, exactly as everything happened. In olden days, a

mighty Daitya named Nikumbha, endued with great energy and strength was

born in the race of the great Asura, Hiranyakasipu. Unto this Nikumbha,

were born two sons called Sunda and Upasunda. Both of them were mighty

Asuras endued with great energy and terrible prowess. The brothers were

both fierce and possessed of wicked hearts. And those Daityas were both

of the same resolution, and ever engaged in achieving the same tasks and

ends. They were ever sharers with each other in happiness as well as in

woe. Each speaking and doing what was agreeable to the other, the

brothers never were unless they were together, and never went anywhere

unless together. Of exactly the same disposition and habits, they seemed

to be one individual divided into two parts. Endued with great energy and

ever of the same resolution in everything they undertook, the brothers

gradually grew up. Always entertaining the same purpose, desirous of

subjugating the three worlds, the brothers, after due initiation, went to

the mountains of Vindhya. And severe were the ascetic penances they

performed there. Exhausted with hunger and thirst, with matted locks on

their heads and attired in barks of trees, they acquired sufficient

ascetic merit at length. Besmearing themselves with dirt from head to

foot, living upon air alone, standing on their toes, they threw pieces of

the flesh of their bodies into the fire. Their arms upraised, and eye

fixed, long was the period for which they observed their vows. And during

the course of their ascetic penances, a wonderful incident occurred

there. For the mountains of Vindhya, heated for a long course of years by

the power of their ascetic austerities, began to emit vapour from every

part of their bodies. And beholding the severity of their austerities,

the celestials became alarmed. The gods began to cause numerous

obstructions to impede the progress of their asceticism. The celestials

repeatedly tempted the brothers by means of every precious possession and

the most beautiful girls. The brothers broke not their vows. Then the

celestials once more manifested, before the illustrious brothers, their

powers of illusion. For it seemed their sisters, mothers, wives, and

other relatives, with disordered hair and ornaments and robes, were

running towards them in terror, pursued and struck by a Rakshasa with a

lance in hand. And it seemed that the women implored the help of the

brothers crying, ‘O save us!’ But all this went for nothing, for firmly

wedded thereto, the brothers did not still break their vows. And when it

was found that all this produced not the slightest impression on any of

the two, both the women and the Rakshasa vanished from sight. At last the

Grandsire himself, the Supreme Lord ever seeking the welfare of all, came

unto those great Asuras and asked them to solicit the boon they desired.

Then the brothers Sunda and Upasunda, both of great prowess, beholding

the Grandsire, rose from their seats and waited with joined palms. And

the brothers both said unto the God, ‘O Grandsire, if thou hast been

pleased with these our ascetic austerities, and art, O lord, propitious

unto us, then let us have knowledge of all weapons and of all powers of

illusion. Let us be endued with great strength, and let us be able to

assume any form at will. And last of all, let us also be immortal.’

Hearing these words of theirs, Brahman said, ‘Except the immortality you

ask for, you shall be given all that you desire. Solicit you some form of

death by which you may still be equal unto the immortals. And since you

have undergone these severe ascetic austerities from desire of

sovereignty alone I cannot confer on you the boon of immortality. You

have performed your ascetic penances even for the subjugation of the

three worlds. It is for this, O mighty Daityas, that I cannot grant you

what you desire.’


“Narada continued, ‘Hearing these words of Brahman, Sunda and Upasunda

said, ‘O Grandsire, let us have no fear then from any created thing,

mobile or immobile, in the three worlds, except only from each other!’

The Grandsire then said, ‘I grant you what you have asked for, even this

your desire’. And granting them this boon, the Grandsire made them desist

from their asceticism, and returned to his own region. Then the brothers,

those mighty Daityas, having received those several boons became

incapable of being slain by anybody in the universe. They then returned

to their own abode. All their friends and relatives, beholding those

Daityas of great intelligence, crowned with success in the matter of the

boons they had obtained, became exceedingly glad. And Sunda and Upasunda

then cut off their matted locks and wore coronets on their heads. Attired

in costly robes and ornaments, they looked exceedingly handsome. They

caused the moon to rise over their city every night even out of his

season. And friends and relatives gave themselves up to joy and merriment

with happy hearts. Eat, feed, give, make merry, sing, drink–these were

the sounds heard everyday in every house. And here and there arose loud

uproars of hilarity mixed with clappings of hands which filled the whole

city of the Daityas, who being capable of assuming any form at will, were

engaged in every kind of amusement and sport and scarcely noticed the

flight of time, even regarding a whole year as a single day.'”






(Rajya-labha Parva continued)


‘Narada continued, ‘As soon as those festivities came to an end, the

brothers Sunda and Upasunda, desirous of the Sovereignty of the three

worlds, took counsel and commanded their forces to be arranged. Obtaining

the assent of their friends and relatives, of the elders of the Daitya

race and of their ministers of state, and performing the preliminary

rites of departure, they set out in the night when the constellation

Magha was in the ascendant. The brothers set out with a large Daitya

force clad in mail and armed with maces and axes and lances and clubs.

The Daitya heroes set out on their expedition with joyous hearts, the

charanas (bards) chanting auspicious panegyrics indicative of their

future triumphs. Furious in war, the Daitya brothers, capable of going

everywhere at will, ascended the skies and went to the region of the

celestials. The celestials knowing they were coming and acquainted also

with the boons granted unto them by the Supreme Deity left heaven and

sought refuge in the region of Brahman. Endued with fierce prowess, the

Daitya heroes soon subjugated the region of Indra, and vanquishing the

diverse tribes of Yakshas and Rakshasas and every creature ranging the

skies, came away. Those mighty car-warriors next subjugated the Nagas of

the nether region, and then the inmates of the ocean and then all the

tribes of the Mlechchhas. Desirous next of subjugating the whole earth,

those heroes of irresistible sway, summoning their soldiers, issued these

cruel commands, ‘Brahmanas and royal sages (on earth) with their

libations and other food offered at grand sacrifices, increase the energy

and strength of the gods, as also their prosperity. Engaged in such acts,

they are the enemies of the Asuras. All of us, therefore, mustering

together should completely slaughter them off the face of the earth!’

Ordering their soldiers thus on the eastern shore of the great ocean, and

entertaining such a cruel resolution, the Asura brothers set out in all

directions. And those that were performing sacrifices and the Brahmanas

that were assisting at those sacrifices, the mighty brothers instantly

slew. And slaughtering them with violence they departed for some other

place. Whilst their soldiers threw into the water the sacrificial fires

that were in the asylums of Munis with souls under complete control, the

curses uttered by the illustrious Rishis in wrath, rendered abortive by

the boons granted (by Brahman), affected not the Asura brothers. When the

Brahmanas saw that their curses produced not the slightest effect like

shafts shot at stones they fled in all directions, forsaking their rites

and vows. Even those Rishis on earth that were crowned with ascetic

success, and had their passions under complete control and were wholly

engrossed in meditation of the Deity, from fear of the Asura brothers,

fled like snakes at the approach of Vinata’s son (Garuda the

snake-eater). The sacred asylums were all trodden down and broken. The

sacrificial jars and vessels being broken, their (sacred) contents were

scattered over the ground. The whole universe became empty, as if its

creatures had all been stricken down during the season of general

dissolution. And, O king, after the Rishis had all disappeared and made

themselves invisible both the great Asuras, resolved upon their

destruction, began to assume various forms. Assuming the forms of

maddened elephants with temples rent from excess of juice, the Asura

pair, searching out the Rishis who had sheltered themselves in caves,

sent them to the region of Yama. Sometimes becoming as lions and again as

tigers and disappearing the next moment, by these and other methods the

cruel couple, seeing the Rishis, slew them instantly. Sacrifice and study

ceased, and kings and Brahmanas were exterminated. The earth became

utterly destitute of sacrifices and festivals. And the terrified people

uttered cries of Oh and Alas and all buying and selling were stopped. All

religious rites ceased, and the earth became destitute of sacred

ceremonies and marriages. Agriculture was neglected and cattle were no

longer tended. Towns and asylums became desolate. And scattered over with

bones and skeletons, the earth assumed a frightful aspect. All ceremonies

in honour of the Pitris were suspended, and the sacred sound of Vashat

and the whole circle of auspicious rites ceased. The earth became

frightful to behold. The Sun and the Moon, the Planets and Stars, and

Constellations, and the other dwellers in the firmament, witnessing these

acts of Sunda and Upasunda, grieved deeply. Subjugating all the points of

heaven by means of such cruel acts, the Asura brothers took up their

abode in Kurukshetra, without a single rival.'”






(Rajya-labha Parva continued)


“Narada continued, ‘Then the celestial Rishis, the Siddhas, and the

high-souled Rishis possessing the attributes of tranquillity and

self-restraint, beholding that act of universal slaughter, were afflicted

with great grief. With passions and senses and souls under complete

control, they then went to the abode of the Grandsire, moved by

compassion for the universe. Arrived there, they beheld the Grandsire

seated with gods, Siddhas, and Brahmarshis around him. There were present

that God of gods, viz., Mahadeva, and Agni, accompanied by Vayu, and Soma

and Surya and Sakra, and Rishis devoted to the contemplation of Brahma,

and the Vaikhanasas, the Valakhilyas, the Vanaprasthas, the Marichipas,

the Ajas, the Avimudas, and other ascetics of great energy. All those

Rishis were sitting with the Grandsire, when the celestial and other

Rishis, approaching Brahman with sorrowful hearts, represented unto him

all the acts of Sunda and Upasunda. And they told the Grandsire in detail

everything that the Asura brothers had done, and how they had done it,

and in what order. Then all the celestials and the great Rishis pressed

the matter before the Grandsire. The Grandsire, hearing everything they

said, reflected for a moment and settled in his mind what he should do.

Resolving to compass the destruction of the Asura brothers, he summoned

Viswakarman (the celestial architect). Seeing Viswakarman before him, the

Grandsire possessed of supreme ascetic merit commanded him, saying,

‘Create thou a damsel capable of captivating all hearts.’ Bowing down

unto the Grandsire and receiving his command with reverence, the great

artificer of the universe created a celestial maiden with careful

attention. Viswakrit first collected all handsome features upon the body

of the damsel he created. Indeed, the celestial maiden that he created

was almost a mass of gems. And created with great care by Viswakarman,

the damsel, in beauty, became unrivalled among the women of the three

worlds. There was not even a minute part of her body which by its wealth

of beauty could not attract the gaze of beholders. And like unto the

embodied Sri herself, that damsel of extraordinary beauty captivated the

eyes and hearts of every creature. And because she had been created with

portions of every gem taken in minute measures, the Grandsire bestowed

upon her the name of Tilottama. And as soon as he started it into life,

the damsel bowed to Brahman and with joined palms said, ‘Lord of every

created thing, what task am I to accomplish and what have I been created

for?’ The Grandsire answered, ‘Go, O Tilottama, unto the Asuras, Sunda

and Upasunda. O amiable one, tempt them with thy captivating beauty. And,

O damsel, conduct thyself there in such a way that the Asura brothers

may, in consequence of the wealth of thy beauty, quarrel with each other

as soon as they cast their eyes upon thee.’


“Narada continued, ‘Bowing unto the Grandsire and saying, ‘So be

it,’–the damsel walked round the celestial conclave. The illustrious

Brahman was then sitting with face turned eastwards, and Mahadeva with

face also towards the east, and all the celestials with faces northwards,

and the Rishis with faces towards all directions. While Tilottama walked

round the conclave of the celestials, Indra and the illustrious Sthanu

(Mahadeva) were the only ones that succeeded in preserving their

tranquillity of mind. But exceedingly desirous as Mahadeva was (of

beholding Tilottama) when the damsel (in her progress round the celestial

conclave) was at his side, another face like a full-blown lotus appeared

on the southern side of his body. And when she was behind him, another

face appeared on the west. And when the damsel was on the northern side

of the great god, a fourth face appeared on the northern side of his

body. Mahadeva (who was eager to behold the damsel) came also to have a

thousand eyes, each large and slightly reddish, before, behind and on his

flanks. And it was thus that Sthanu the great god came to have four

faces, and the slayer of Vala, a thousand eyes. And as regards the mass

of the celestials and the Rishis, they turned their faces towards all

directions as Tilottama walked round them. Except the divine Grandsire

himself, the glances of those illustrious personages, even of all of them

fell upon Tilottama’s body. And when Tilottama set out (for the city of

the Asuras) with the wealth of her beauty, all regarded the task as

already accomplished. After Tilottama had gone away, the great god who

was the First Cause of the Universe, dismissed all the celestials and the







(Rajya-labha Parva continued)


“Narada continued, ‘Meanwhile the Asura brothers having subjugated the

earth were without a rival. The fatigue of exertion gone, they, having

brought the three worlds under equal sway, regarded themselves as persons

that had nothing more to do. Having brought all the treasures of the

gods, the Gandharvas, the Yakshas, the Nagas, the Rakshasas, and the

kings of the earth, the brothers began to pass their days in great

happiness. When they saw they had no rivals (in the three worlds), they

gave up all exertion and devoted their time to pleasure and merriment,

like the celestials. They experienced great happiness by giving

themselves up to every kind of enjoyment, such as women, and perfumes and

floral wreaths and viands, and drinks and many other agreeable objects

all in profusion. In houses and woods and gardens, on hills and in

forests, wherever they liked they passed their time in pleasure and

amusement, like the immortals. And it so happened that one day they went

for purposes of pleasure to a tableland of the Vindhya range, perfectly

level and stony, and overgrown with blossoming trees. After every object

of desire, all of the most agreeable kind, had been brought, the brothers

sat on an excellent seat, with happy hearts and accompanied by handsome

women. And those damsels, desirous of pleasing the brothers, commenced a

dance in accompaniment to music, and sweetly chanted many a song in

praise of the mighty pair.’


“Meanwhile Tilottama attired in a single piece of red silk that exposed

all her charms, came along, plucking wild flowers on her way. She

advanced slowly to where those mighty Asuras were. The Asura brothers,

intoxicated with the large portions they had imbibed, were smitten upon

beholding that maiden of transcendent beauty. Leaving their seats they

went quickly to where the damsel was. Both of them being under the

influence of lust, each sought the maiden for himself. And Sunda seized

that maid of fair brows by her right hand. Intoxicated with the boons

they had obtained, with physical might, with the wealth and gems they had

gathered from every quarter, and with the wine they had drunk, maddened

with all these, and influenced by wishful desire, they addressed each

other, each contracting his bow in anger, ‘She is my wife, and therefore

your superior,’ said Sunda. ‘She is my wife, and therefore your

sister-in-law’, replied Upasunda. And they said unto each other, ‘She is

mine not yours.’ And soon they were under the influence of rage. Maddened

by the beauty of the damsel, they soon forgot their love and affection

for each other. Both of them, deprived of reason by passion, then took up

their fierce maces. Each repeating, I was the first, I was the first,’

(in taking her hand) struck the other. And the fierce Asuras, struck by

each other with the mace, fell down upon the ground, their bodies bathed

in blood, like two suns dislodged from the firmament. And beholding this,

the women that had come there, and the other Asuras there present, all

fled away trembling in grief and fear, and took refuge in the nether

regions. The Grandsire himself of pure soul, then came there, accompanied

by the celestials, and the great Rishis. And the illustrious Grandsire

applauded Tilottama and expressed his wish of granting her a boon. The

Supreme Deity, before Tilottama spoke, desirous of granting her a boon,

cheerfully said, ‘O beautiful damsel, thou shalt roam in the region of

the Adityas. Thy splendour shall be so great that nobody will ever be

able to look at thee for any length of time!’ The Grandsire of all

creatures, granting this boon unto her, establishing the three worlds in

Indra as before, returned to his own region.’


“Narada continued, ‘It was thus that Asuras, ever united and inspired by

the same purpose slew each other in wrath for the sake of Tilottama.

Therefore, from affection I tell you, ye foremost ones of Bharata’s line,

that if you desire to do anything agreeable to me, make some such

arrangements that you may not quarrel with one another for the sake of



“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The illustrious Pandavas, thus addressed by the

great Rishi Narada, consulting with one another, established a rule

amongst themselves in the presence of the celestial Rishi himself endued

with immeasurable energy. And the rule they made was that when one of

them would be sitting with Draupadi, any of the other four who would see

that one thus must retire into the forest for twelve years, passing his

days as a Brahmacharin. After the virtuous Pandavas had established that

rule amongst themselves, the great Muni Narada, gratified with them, went

to the place he wished. Thus, O Janamejaya, did the Pandavas urged by

Narada, established a rule amongst themselves in regard to their common

wife. And it was for this, O Bharata, that no dispute ever arose between







(Arjuna-vanavasa Parva)


“Vaisampayana said, ‘The Pandavas, having established such a rule,

continued to reside there. By the prowess of their arms they brought many

kings under their sway. And Krishna became obedient unto all the five

sons of Pritha, those lions among men, of immeasurable energy. Like the

river Saraswati decked with elephants, which again take pleasure in that

stream, Draupadi took great delight in her five heroic husbands and they

too took delight in her. And in consequence of the illustrious Pandavas

being exceedingly virtuous in their practice, the whole race of Kurus,

free from sin, and happy, grew in prosperity.


“After some time, O king, it so happened that certain robbers lifted the

cattle of a Brahmana, and while they were carrying away the booty, the

Brahmana, deprived of his senses by anger, repaired to Khandavaprastha,

and began to reprove the Pandavas in accents of woe. The Brahmana said,

‘Ye Pandavas, from this your dominion, my kine are even now being taken

away by force by despicable and wicked wretches! Pursue ye the thieves.

Alas, the sacrificial butter of a peaceful Brahmana is being taken away

by crows! Alas, the wretched jackal invadeth the empty cave of a lion! A

king that taketh the sixth part of the produce of the land without

protecting the subject, hath been called by the wise to be the most

sinful person in the whole world. The wealth of a Brahmana is being taken

away by robbers! Virtue itself is sustaining a diminution! Take me up by

the hand, ye Pandavas for I am plunged in grief!”


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Dhananjaya, the son of Kunti, heard those

accents of the Brahmana weeping in bitter grief. As soon as he heard

those accents, he loudly assured the Brahmana, saying, ‘No fear!’ But it

so happened that the chamber where the illustrious Pandavas had their

weapons was then occupied by Yudhishthira the just with Krishna. Arjuna,

therefore, was incapable of entering it or, going alone with the

Brahmana, though repeatedly urged (to do either) by the weeping accents

of the Brahmana. Summoned by the Brahmana, Arjuna reflected, with a

sorrowful heart, Alas, this innocent Brahmana’s wealth is being robbed! I

should certainly dry up his tears. He hath come to our gate, and is

weeping even now. If I do not protect him, the king will be touched with

sin in consequence of my indifference; our own irreligiousness will be

cited throughout the kingdom, and we shall incur a great sin. If,

disregarding the king, I enter the chamber, without doubt I shall be

behaving untruthfully towards the monarch without a foe. By entering the

chamber, again, I incur the penalty of an exile in the woods. But I must

overlook everything. I care not if I have to incur sin by disregarding

the king. I care not if I have to go to the woods and die there. Virtue

is superior to the body and lasteth after the body hath perished!’

Dhananjaya, arriving at this resolution, entered the chamber and talked

with Yudhishthira. Coming out with the bow, he cheerfully told the

Brahmana, ‘Proceed, O Brahmana, with haste, so that those wretched

robbers may not go much ahead of us. I shall accompany thee and restore

unto thee thy wealth that hath fallen into the hands of the thieves.’

Then Dhananjaya, capable of using both his arms with equal skill, armed

with the bow and cased in mail and riding in his war-chariot decked with

a standard, pursued the thieves, and piercing them with his arrows,

compelled them to give up the booty. Benefiting the Brahmana thus by

making over to him his kine, and winning great renown, the hero returned

to the capital. Bowing unto all the elders, and congratulated by

everybody, Partha at last approached Yudhishthira, and addressing him,

said, ‘Give me leave, O lord, to observe the vow I took. In beholding

thee sitting with Draupadi, I have violated the rule established by

ourselves. I shall therefore go into the woods, for this is even our

understanding.’ Then Yudhishthira, suddenly hearing those painful words,

became afflicted with grief, and said in an agitated voice, ‘Why!’ A

little while after, king Yudhishthira in grief said unto his brother

Dhananjaya of curly hair who never departed from his vows, these words,

‘O sinless one, if I am an authority worthy of regard, listen to what I

say. O hero, full well do I know the reason why thou hadst entered my

chamber and didst what thou regardest to be an act disagreeable to me.

But there is no displeasure in my mind. The younger brother may, without

fault, enter the chamber where the elder brother sitteth with his wife.

It is only the elder brother that acts against the rules of propriety by

entering the room where the younger brother sitteth with his wife.

Therefore, O thou of mighty arms, desist from thy purpose. Do what I say.

Thy virtue hath sustained no diminution. Thou hast not disregarded me.’


“Arjuna, hearing this, replied, ‘I have heard, even from thee, that

quibbling is not permitted in the discharge of duty. I cannot waver from

truth. Truth is my weapon.’


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Obtaining then the king’s permission, Arjuna

prepared himself for a forest-life; and he went to the forest to live

there for twelve years.'”






(Arjuna-vanavasa Parva continued)


“Vaisampayana said, ‘When that spreader of the renown of Kuru’s race, the

strong-armed Arjuna, set out (for the forest), Brahmanas conversant with

the Vedas walked behind that illustrious hero to a certain distance.

Followed by Brahmanas conversant with the Vedas and their branches and

devoted to the contemplation of the Supreme Spirit, by persons skilled in

music, by ascetics devoted to the Deity, by reciters of Puranas, by

narrators of sacred stories by devotees leading celibate lives, by

Vanaprasthas, by Brahmanas sweetly reciting celestial histories, and by

various other classes of persons of sweet speeches, Arjuna journeyed like

Indra followed by the Maruts. And, O thou of Bharata’s race, that bull

among the Bharatas saw, as he journeyed, many delightful and picturesque

forests, lakes, rivers, seas, provinces, and waters. At length, on

arriving at the source of the Ganges the mighty hero thought of settling



“Listen now, O Janamejaya, to a wonderful feat which that foremost of the

sons of Pandu, of high soul, did, while living there. When that son of

Kunti, O Bharata, and the Brahmanas who had followed him, took up their

residence in that region, the latter performed innumerable Agnihotras

(sacrificial rites by igniting the sacred fire). And, O king, in

consequence of those learned vow-observing, and illustrious Brahmanas,

who never deviated from the right path, daily establishing and igniting

with mantras on the banks of that sacred stream, after the performance of

their ablutions, fires for their sacrifices, and pouring libations of

clarified butter into the same, and worshipping those fires with

offerings of flowers, that region itself where the Ganges entered the

plains became exceedingly beautiful. One day that bull amongst the

Pandavas, while residing in that region in the midst of those Brahmanas,

descended (as usual) into the Ganges to perform his ablutions. After his

ablutions had been over, and after he had offered oblations of water unto

his deceased ancestors, he was about to get up from the stream to perform

his sacrificial rites before the fire, when the mighty-armed hero, O

king, was dragged into the bottom of the water by Ulupi, the daughter of

the king of the Nagas, urged by the god of desire. And it so happened

that the son of Pandu was carried into the beautiful mansion of Kauravya,

the king of the Nagas. Arjuna saw there a sacrificial fire ignited for

himself. Beholding that fire, Dhananjaya, the son of Kunti performed his

sacrificial rites with devotion. And Agni was much gratified with Arjuna

for the fearlessness with which that hero had poured libations into his

manifest form. After he had thus performed his rites before the fire, the

son of Kunti, beholding the daughter of the king of the Nagas, addressed

her smilingly and said, ‘O handsome girl, what an act of rashness hast

thou done. O timid one! Whose is this beautiful region, who art thou and

whose daughter?’


“Hearing these words of Arjuna, Ulupi answered, ‘There is a Naga of the

name of Kauravya, born in the line of Airavata. I am, O prince, the

daughter of that Kauravya, and my name is Ulupi. O tiger among men,

beholding thee descend into the stream to perform thy ablutions, I was

deprived of reason by the god of desire. O sinless one, I am still

unmarried. Afflicted as I am by the god of desire on account of thee, O

thou of Kuru’s race, gratify me today by giving thyself up to me.’


“Arjuna replied, ‘Commanded by king Yudhishthira, O amiable one, I am

undergoing the vow of Brahmacharin for twelve years. I am not free to act

in any way I like. But, O ranger of the waters, I am still willing to do

thy pleasure (if I can). I have never spoken an untruth in my life. Tell

me, therefore, O Naga maid, how I may act so that, while doing thy

pleasure, I may not be guilty of any untruth or breach of duty.’


“Ulupi answered, ‘I know, O son of Pandu, why thou wanderest over the

earth, and why thou hast been commanded to lead the life of a

Brahmacharin by the superior. Even this was the understanding to which

all of you had been pledged, viz., that amongst you all owning Drupada’s

daughter as your common wife, he who would from ignorance enter the room

where one of you would be sitting with her, should lead the life of a

Brahmacharin in the woods for twelve years. The exile of any one amongst

you, therefore, is only for the sake of Draupadi. Thou art but observing

the duty arising from that vow. Thy virtue cannot sustain any diminution

(by acceding to my solicitation). Then again, O thou of large eyes, it is

a duty to relieve the distressed. Thy virtue suffereth no diminution by

relieving me. Oh, if (by this act), O Arjuna, thy virtue doth suffer a

small diminution, thou wilt acquire great merit by saving my life. Know

me for thy worshipper, O Partha! Therefore, yield thyself up to me! Even

this, O lord, is the opinion of the wise (viz., that one should accept a

woman that wooeth). If thou do not act in this way, know that I will

destroy myself. O thou of mighty arms, earn great merit by saving my

life. I seek thy shelter, O best of men! Thou protectest always, O son of

Kunti, the afflicted and the masterless. I seek thy protection, weeping

in sorrow. I woo thee, being filled with desire. Therefore, do what is

agreeable to me. It behoveth thee to gratify my wish by yielding thy self

up to me.’


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Thus addressed by the daughter of the king of the

Nagas, the son of Kunti did everything she desired, making virtue his

motive. The mighty Arjuna, spending the night in the mansion of the Naga

rose with the sun in the morning. Accompanied by Ulupi he came back from

the palace of Kauravya to the region where the Ganges entereth the

plains. The chaste Ulupi, taking her leave there, returned to her own

abode. And, O Bharata, she granted unto Arjuna a boon making him

invincible in water, saying, ‘Every amphibious creature shall, without

doubt, be vanquishable by thee.'”






(Arjuna-vanavasa Parva continued)


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then the son of the wielder of the thunderbolt

narrated everything unto those Brahmanas (residing with him there), set

out for the breast of Himavat. Arriving at the spot called Agastyavata,

he next went to Vasishtha’s peak. Thence the son of Kunti proceeded to

the peak of Bhrigu. Purifying himself with ablutions and other rites

there, that foremost of the Kurus gave away unto Brahmanas many thousands

of cows and many houses. Thence that best of men proceeded to the sacred

asylum called Hiranyavindu. Performing his ablutions there, that foremost

of the sons of Pandu saw many holy regions. Descending from those heights

that chief of men, O Bharata, accompanied by the Brahmanas, journeyed

towards the east, desiring to behold the regions that lay in that

direction. That foremost one of Kuru’s race saw many regions of sacred

waters one after another. And beholding in the forest of Naimisha the

delightful river Utpalini (full of lotuses) and the Nanda and the Apara

Nanda, the far-famed Kausiki, and the mighty rivers Gaya and Ganga, and

all the regions of sacred water, he purified himself, O Bharata, (with

the usual rites), and gave away many cows unto Brahmanas. Whatever

regions of sacred waters and whatever other holy palaces there were in

Vanga and Kalinga, Arjuna visited all of them. Seeing them all and

performing proper ceremonies, he gave away much wealth. Then, O Bharata,

all those Brahmanas following the son of Pandu, bade him farewell at the

gate of the kingdom of Kalinga and desisted from proceeding with him any

further. The brave Dhananjaya, the son of Kunti, obtaining their leave,

went towards the ocean, accompanied by only a few attendants. Crossing

the country of the Kalingas, the mighty one proceeded, seeing on his way

diverse countries and sacred spots and diverse delightful mansions and

houses. Beholding the Mahendra mountain adorned with the ascetics

(residing there), he went to Manipura, proceeding slowly along the

sea-shore. Beholding all the sacred waters and other holy places in that

province, the strong-armed son of Pandu at last went, O king, to the

virtuous Chitravahana, the ruler of Manipura. The king of Manipura had a

daughter of great beauty named Chitrangada. And it so happened that

Arjuna beheld her in her father’s palace roving at pleasure. Beholding

the handsome daughter of Chitravahana, Arjuna desired to possess her.

Going unto the king (her father), he represented unto him what he sought.

He said. ‘Give away unto me thy daughter, O king! I am an illustrious

Kshatriya’s son.’ Hearing this, the king asked him, ‘Whose son art thou?’

Arjuna replied, ‘I am Dhananjaya, the son of Pandu and Kunti.’ The king,

hearing this, spoke unto him these words in sweet accents, ‘There was in

our race a king of the name of Prabhanjana, who was childless. To obtain

a child, he underwent severe ascetic penances. By his severe asceticism,

O Partha, he gratified that god of gods, Mahadeva, the husband of Uma,

that supreme Lord holding (the mighty bow called) Pinaka. The illustrious

Lord granted him the boon that each successive descendant of his race

should have one child only. In consequence of that boon only one child is

born unto every successive descendant of this race. All my ancestors (one

after another) had each a male child. I, however, have only a daughter to

perpetuate my race. But, O bull amongst men, I ever look upon this

daughter of mine as my son. O bull of Bharata’s race, I have duly made

her a Putrika. Therefore, one amongst the sons that may be begotten upon

her by thee, O Bharata, shall be the perpetuator of my race. That son is

the dower for which I may give away my daughter. O son of Pandu, if them

choosest, thou canst take her upon this understanding.’ Hearing these

words of the king, Arjuna accepted them all, saying, ‘So be it.’ Taking

Chitravahana’s daughter (as his wife), the son of Kunti resided in that

city for three years. When Chitrangada at last gave birth to a son,

Arjuna embraced that handsome princess affectionately. And taking leave

of the king (her father), he set out on his wanderings again.'”






(Arjuna-vanavasa Parva continued)


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then that bull of Bharata’s race went to the sacred

waters on the banks of the southern ocean, all adorned with the ascetics

residing there. And there lay scattered five such regions where also

dwelt many ascetics. But those five waters themselves were shunned by all

of them. Those sacred waters were called Agastya, and Saubhadra and

Pauloma of great holiness, and Karandhama of great propitiousness

yielding the fruits of a horse-sacrifice unto those that bathed there,

and Bharadwaja, that great washer of sins. That foremost one among the

Kurus, beholding those five sacred waters, and finding them uninhabited,

and ascertaining also that they were shunned by the virtuous ascetics

dwelling around, asked those pious men with joined hands, saying, ‘Why O

ascetics, are these five sacred waters shunned by utterers of Brahma?’

Hearing him, the ascetics replied, ‘There dwell in these waters five

large crocodiles which take away the ascetics that may happen to bathe in

them. It is for this, O son of Kuru’s race, that these waters are



“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing these words of the ascetics, that

foremost of men endued with mighty arms, though dissuaded by them went to

behold those waters. Arrived at the excellent sacred water called

Saubhadra after a great Rishi, the brave scorcher of all foes suddenly

plunged into it to have a bath. As soon as that tiger among men had

plunged into the water a great crocodile (that was in it) seized him by

the leg. But the strong-armed Dhananjaya the son of Kunti, that foremost

of all men endued with might, seized that struggling ranger of the water

and dragged it forcibly to the shore. But dragged by the renowned Arjuna

to the land, that crocodile became (transformed into) a beautiful damsel

bedecked with ornament. O king, that charming damsel of celestial form

seemed to shine for her beauty and complexion. Dhananjaya, the son of

Kunti, beholding that strange sight, asked that damsel with a pleased

heart, ‘Who art thou, O beautiful one? Why hast thou been a ranger of the

waters? Why also didst thou commit such a dreadful sin?’ The damsel

replied, saying, ‘I am, O mighty-armed one, an Apsara that sported in the

celestial woods. I am, O mighty one, Varga by name, and ever dear unto

the celestial treasurer (Kuvera). I have four other companions, all

handsome and capable of going everywhere at will. Accompanied by them I

was one day going to the abode of Kuvera. On the way we beheld a Brahmana

of rigid vows, and exceedingly handsome, studying the Vedas in solitude.

The whole forest (in which he was sitting) seemed to be covered with his

ascetic splendour. He seemed to have illuminated the whole region like

the Sun himself. Beholding his ascetic devotion of that nature and his

wonderful beauty, we alighted in that region, in order to disturb his

meditations. Myself and Saurabheyi and Samichi and Vudvuda and Lata,

approached that Brahmana, O Bharata, at the same time. We began to sing

and smile and otherwise tempt that Brahmana. But, O hero, that Brahmana

(youth) set not his heart even once upon us. His mind fixed on pure

meditation, that youth of great energy suffered not his heart to waver, O

bull among Kshatriyas, the glance he cast upon us was one of wrath. And

he said, staring at us, ‘Becoming crocodiles, range ye the waters for a

hundred years.'”






(Arjuna-vanavasa Parva continued)


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Varga continued, ‘We were then, O foremost one of

Bharata’s race, deeply distressed at this curse. We sought to propitiate

that Brahmana of ascetic wealth that departed not from his vow.

Addressing him, we said, ‘Inflated with a sense of our beauty and youth,

and urged by the god of desire, we have acted very improperly. It

behoveth thee, O Brahmana, to pardon us! Truly, O Brahmana, it was death

to us that we had at all come hither to tempt thee of rigid vows and

ascetic wealth. The virtuous, however, have said that women should never

be slain. Therefore grow thou in virtue. It behoveth thee not to slay us

so. O thou that art conversant with virtue, it hath been said that a

Brahmana is ever the friend of every creature. O thou of great

prosperity, let this speech of the wise become true. The eminent always

protect those that seek protection at their hands. We seek thy

protection. It behoveth thee to grant us pardon.’


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed, that Brahmana of virtuous soul

and good deeds and equal in splendour, O hero, unto the sun or the moon,

became propitious unto them. And the Brahmana said, ‘The words hundred

and hundred thousand are all indicative of eternity. The word hundred,

however, as employed by me is to be understood as a limited period and

not indicative of a period without end. Ye shall, therefore, becoming

crocodiles, seize and take away men (for only a hundred years as

explained by me). At the end of that period, an exalted individual will

drag you all from water to the land. Then ye will resume your real forms.

Never have I spoken an untruth even in jest. Therefore, all that I have

said must come to pass. And those sacred waters (within which I assign

you your places), will, after you will have been delivered by that

individual, become known all over the world by the name of Nari-tirthas

(or sacred waters connected with the sufferings and the deliverance of

females), and all of them shall become sacred and sin cleansing in the

eyes of the virtuous and the wise.’


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Varga then addressing Arjuna, finished her

discourse, saying, ‘Hearing these words of the Brahmana, we saluted him

with reverence and walked round him. Leaving that region we came away

with heavy hearts, thinking as we proceeded, ‘Where shall we all soon

meet with that man who will give us back our own shapes (after our

transformation)?’ As we were thinking of it, in almost a moment, O

Bharata, we beheld even the eminent celestial Rishi Narada. Beholding

that Rishi of immeasurable energy, our hearts were filled with joy.

Saluting him with reverence, O Partha, we stood before him, with blushing

faces. He asked of us the cause of our sorrow and we told him all.

Hearing what had happened the Rishi said, ‘In the low-lands bordering on

the southern ocean, there are five regions of sacred water. They are

delightful and eminently holy. Go ye thither without delay. That tiger

among men, Dhananjaya, the son of Pandu of pure soul, will soon deliver

you, without doubt, from this sad plight.’ O hero, hearing the Rishi’s

words, all of us came hither. O sinless one, true it is that I have today

been delivered by thee. But those four friends of mine are still within

the other waters here. O hero, do a good deed by delivering them also.’


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then, O monarch, that foremost of the Pandavas,

endued with great prowess, cheerfully delivered all of them from that

curse. Rising from the waters they all regained their own forms. Those

Apsaras then, O king, all looked as before. Freeing those sacred waters

(from the danger for which they had been notorious), and giving the

Apsaras leave to go where they chose, Arjuna became desirous of once more

beholding Chitrangada. He, therefore, proceeded towards the city of

Manipura. Arrived there, he beheld on the throne the son he had begotten

upon Chitrangada, and who was called by the name of Vabhruvahana. Seeing

Chitrangada once more, Arjuna proceeded, O monarch, towards the spot

called Gokarna.'”






(Arjuna-vanavasa Parva continued)


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then Arjuna of immeasurable prowess saw, one after

another, all the sacred waters and other holy places that were on the

shores of the western ocean. Vibhatsu reached the sacred spot called

Prabhasa. When the invisible Arjuna arrived at that sacred and delightful

region, the slayer of Madhu (Krishna) heard of it. Madhava soon went

there to see his friend, the son of Kunti. Krishna and Arjuna met

together and embracing each other enquired after each other’s welfare.

Those dear friends, who were none else than the Rishis Nara and Narayana

of old, sat down. Vasudeva asked Arjuna about his travels, saying, ‘Why,

O Pandava art thou wandering over the earth, beholding all the sacred

waters and other holy places?’ Then Arjuna told him everything that had

happened. Hearing everything, that mighty hero of Vrishni’s race said,

‘This is as it should be.’ And Krishna and Arjuna having sported as they

liked, for some time at Prabhasa, went to the Raivataka mountain to pass

some days there. Before they arrived at Raivataka, that mountain had, at

the command of Krishna been well-adorned by many artificers. Much food

also had, at Krishna’s command, been collected there. Enjoying everything

that had been collected there for him, Arjuna sat with Vasudeva to see

the performances of the actors and the dancers. Then the high-souled

Pandava, dismissing them all with proper respect, laid himself down on a

well-adorned and excellent bed. As the strong-armed one lay on that

excellent bed, he described unto Krishna everything about the sacred

waters, the lakes and the mountains, the rivers and the forests he had

seen. While he was speaking of these, stretched upon that celestial bed,

sleep, O Janamejaya, stole upon him. He rose in the morning, awakened, by

sweet songs and melodious notes of the Vina (guitar) and the panegyrics

and benedictions of the bards. After he had gone through the necessary

acts and ceremonies, he was affectionately accosted by him of the Vrishni

race. Riding upon a golden car, the hero then set out for Dwaraka, the

capital of the Yadavas. And, O Janamejaya, for honouring the son of

Kunti, the city of Dwaraka, was well-adorned, even all the gardens and

houses within it. The citizens of Dwaraka, desirous of beholding the son

of Kunti, began to pour eagerly into the public thoroughfares by hundreds

of thousands. In the public squares and thoroughfares, hundreds and

thousands of women, mixing with the men, swelled the great crowd of the

Bhojas, the Vrishnis, and the Andhakas, that had collected there. Arjuna

was welcomed with respect by all the sons of Bhojas, the Vrishnis, and

the Andhakas. And he, in his turn, worshipped those that deserved his

worship, receiving their blessings. The hero was welcomed with

affectionate reception by all the young men of the Yadava tribe. He

repeatedly embraced all that were equal to him in age. Wending then to

the delightful mansion of Krishna that was filled with gems and every

article of enjoyment, he took up his abode there with Krishna for many







(Subhadra-harana Parva)


“Vaisampayana said, ‘O best of monarchs, within a few days after this,

there commenced on the Raivataka mountain, a grand festival of the

Vrishnis and the Andhakas. At the mountain-festival of the Bhojas, the

Vrishnis and the Andhakas, the heroes of those tribes began to give away

much wealth unto Brahmanas by thousands. The region around that hill, O

king was adorned with many a mansion decked with gems and many an

artificial tree of gaudy hue. The musicians struck up in concert and the

dancers began to dance and the vocalists to sing. And the youth of the

Vrishni race, endued with great energy, adorned with every ornament, and

riding in their gold-decked cars, looked extremely handsome. The

citizens, some on foot and some in excellent cars, with their wives and

followers were there by hundreds and thousands. And there was the lord

Haladhara (Valarama), roving at will, hilarious with drink, accompanied

by (his wife) Revati, and followed by many musicians and vocalists. There

came Ugrasena also, the powerful king of he Vrishni race, accompanied by

his thousand wives and followed by sweet singers. And Raukmineya and

Shamva also, ever furious in battle, roved there, excited with drink and

adorned with floral wreaths of great beauty and with costly attires, and

disported themselves like a pair of celestials. And Akrura and Sarana and

Gada, and Vabhru, and Nisatha, and Charudeshna, and Prithu, Viprithu, and

Satyaka, and Satyaki, and Bhangakara, and Maharava, and Hardikya, and

Uddhava, and many others whose names are not given, accompanied by their

wives that followed by bands of singers, adorned that mountain-festival.

When that delightful festival of immense grandeur commenced, Vasudeva and

Partha went about, together, beholding everything around. While wandering

there, they saw the handsome daughter of Vasudeva, Bhadra by name, decked

with every ornament, in the midst of her maids. As soon as Arjuna beheld

her he was possessed by the god of desire. Then, O Bharata, that tiger

among men, Krishna, observing Partha contemplate her with absorbed

attention, said with a smile, ‘How is this? Can the heart of one that

rangeth the woods be agitated by the god of desire? This is my sister, O

Partha, and the uterine sister of Sarana. Blest be thou, her name is

Bhadra and she is the favourite daughter of my father. Tell me if thy

heart is fixed upon her, for I shall then speak to my father myself.’


“Arjuna answered, ‘She is Vasudeva’s daughter and Vasudeva’s (Krishna)

sister; endued with so much beauty, whom can she not fascinate? If this

thy sister, this maid of the Vrishni race, becometh my wife, truly may I

win prosperity in everything. Tell me, O Janardana, by what means I may

obtain her. To get her I will achieve anything that is achievable by man.’


“Vasudeva answered, ‘O bull amongst men, self-choice hath been ordained

for the marriage of Kshatriyas. But that is doubtful (in its

consequences), O Partha, as we do not know this girl’s temper and

disposition. In the case of Kshatriyas that are brave, a forcible

abduction for purposes of marriage is applauded, as the learned have

said. Therefore O Arjuna, carry away this my beautiful sister by force,

for who knows what she may do at a self-choice.’ Then Krishna and Arjuna,

having thus settled as to what should be done sent some speedy messengers

unto Yudhishthira at Indraprastha, informing him of everything. The

strong-armed Yudhishthira, as soon as he heard it, gave his assent to







(Subhadra-harana Parva continued)


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then Dhananjaya, informed of the assent of

Yudhishthira, and ascertaining, O Janamejaya, that the maiden had gone to

the Raivataka hill, obtained the assent of Vasudeva also, after having

settled in consultation with him all that required to be done. Then that

bull of Bharata’s race, that foremost of men, with Krishna’s assent,

riding in his well-built car of gold equipped with rows of small bells

and with every kind of weapon and the clatter of whose wheels resembled

the roar of the clouds and whose splendour was like unto that of a

blazing fire and which struck terror into the hearts of all foes and unto

which were yoked the steeds Saivya and Sugriva, himself accoutred in mail

and armed with sword and his fingers encased in leathern gloves, set out,

as it were, on a hunting expedition. Meanwhile Subhadra, having paid her

homage unto that prince of hills, Raivataka and having worshipped the

deities and made the Brahmanas utter benedictions upon her, and having

also walked round the hill, was coming towards Dwaravati. The son of

Kunti, afflicted with the shafts of the god of desire, suddenly rushed

towards that Yadava girl of faultless features and forcibly took her into

his car. Having seized that girl of sweet smiles, that tiger among men

proceeded in his car of gold towards his own city (Indraprastha).

Meanwhile, the armed attendants of Subhadra, beholding her thus seized

and taken away, all ran, crying towards the city of Dwaraka. Reaching all

together the Yadava court called by the name of Sudharma, they

represented everything about the prowess of Partha unto the chief officer

of the court. The chief officer of the court, having heard everything

from those messengers, blew his gold-decked trumpet of loud blare,

calling all to arms. Stirred up by that sound, the Bhojas, the Vrishnis,

and the Andhakas began to pour in from all sides. Those that were eating

left their food, and those that were drinking left their drink. Those

tigers among men, those great warriors of the Vrishni and the Andhaka

tribes, took their seats upon their thousand thrones of gold covered with

excellent carpets and variegated with gems and corals and possessed of

the lustre of blazing fire. Indeed they took their seats upon those

thrones, like blazing fires receiving faggots to increase their

splendour. And after they were seated in that court which was like unto a

conclave of the celestials themselves, the chief officer of the court,

assisted by those that stood at his back, spoke of the conduct of Jishnu.

The proud Vrishni heroes, of eyes red with wine, as soon as they heard of

it, rose up from their seats, unable to brook what Arjuna had done. Some

amongst them said, ‘Yoke our cars’, and some, ‘Bring our weapons’ and

some said, ‘Bring our costly bows and strong coats of mail; and some

loudly called upon their charioteers to harness their cars, and some,

from impatience, themselves yoked their horses decked with gold unto

their cars. And while their cars and armours and standards were being

brought, loud became the uproar of those heroes. Then Valadeva, white and

tall as the peak of Kailasa, decked with garlands of wild flowers and

attired in blue robes, and proud and intoxicated with drink, said these



‘Ye senseless men, what are ye doing, when Janardana sitteth silent?

Without knowing what is in his mind, vainly do we roar in wrath! Let the

high-souled Krishna give out what he proposeth. Accomplish promptly what

he desireth to do.’ Then all of them, hearing those words of Halayudha

that deserved to be accepted, exclaimed, ‘Excellent! Excellent!’ They

then all became silent. Silence having been restored by the words of the

intelligent Valadeva, they took their seats once more in that assembly.

Then Rama, that oppressor of foes, spoke unto Vasudeva, saying, ‘Why, O

Janardana, sittest thou, gazing silently? O Achyuta, it was for thy sake

that the son of Pritha had been welcomed and honoured by us. It seemeth,

however, that that vile wretch deserved not our homage. What man is there

born of a respectable family that would break the plate after having

dined from it! Even if one desireth to make such an alliance, yet

remembering all the services he hath received, who is there, desirous of

happiness, that acts so rashly? That Pandava disregarding us and thee too

hath today outraged Subhadra, desiring (to compass) his own death. He

hath placed his foot on the crown of my head. How shall I, O Govinda,

tamely bear it? Shall I not resent it, even like a snake that is trodden

upon? Alone shall I today make the earth destitute of Kauravas! Never

shall I put up with this transgression by Arjuna.’ Then all the Bhojas,

Vrishnis, and Andhakas, present there, approved of everything that

Valadeva had said, deeply roaring like unto a kettle-drum or the clouds.'”






(Haranaharana Parva)


“Vaisampayana said, ‘When the heroes of the Vrishni race began to speak

repeatedly in this strain, Vasudeva uttered these words pregnant with

deep import and consistent with true morality. Gudakesa (the conqueror of

sleep or he of the curly hair), by what he hath done, hath not insulted

our family. He hath without doubt, rather enhanced our respect. Partha

knoweth that we of the Satwata race are never mercenary. The son of Pandu

also regardeth a self-choice as doubtful in its results. Who also would

approve of accepting a bride in gift as if she were an animal? What man

again is there on earth that would sell his offspring? I think Arjuna,

seeing these faults in all the other methods took the maiden away by

force, according to the ordinance. This alliance is very proper. Subhadra

is a renowned girl. Partha too possesseth renown. Perhaps, thinking of

all this, Arjuna hath taken her away by force. Who is there that would

not desire to have Arjuna for a friend, who is born in the race of

Bharata and the renowned Santanu, and the son also of the daughter of

Kuntibhoja? I do not see, in all the worlds with Indra and the Rudras,

the person that can by force vanquish Partha in battle, except the

three-eyed god Mahadeva. His car is well-known. Yoked thereunto are those

steeds of mine. Partha as a warrior is well-known; and his lightness of

hand is well-known. Who shall be equal to him? Even this is my opinion:

go ye cheerfully after Dhananjaya and by conciliation stop him and bring

him back. If Partha goes to his city after having vanquished us by force,

our fame will be gone. There is no disgrace, however, in conciliation.’

Hearing, O monarch, those words of Vasudeva, they did as he directed.

Stopped by them, Arjuna returned to Dwaraka and was united in marriage

with Subhadra. Worshipped by the sons of Vrishni’s race, Arjuna, sporting

there as he pleased, passed a whole year in Dwaraka. The last year of his

exile the exalted one passed at the sacred region of Pushkara. After the

twelve years were complete he came back to Khandavaprastha. He approached

the king first and then worshipped the Brahmanas with respectful

attention. At last the hero went unto Draupadi. Draupadi, from jealousy,

spoke unto him, saying, ‘Why tarriest thou here, O son of Kunti? Go where

the daughter of the Satwata race is! A second tie always relaxeth the

first one upon a faggot!’ And Krishna lamented much in this strain. But

Dhananjaya pacified her repeatedly and asked for her forgiveness. And

returning soon unto where Subhadra, attired in red silk, was staying,

Arjuna, sent her into the inner apartments dressed not as a queen but in

the simple garb of a cowherd woman. But arrived at the palace, the

renowned Subhadra looked handsomer in that dress. The celebrated Bhadra

of large and slightly red eyes first worshipped Pritha. Kunti from excess

of affection smelt the head of that girl of perfectly faultless features,

and pronounced infinite blessing upon her. Then that girl of face like

the full moon hastily went unto Draupadi and worshipped her, saying, ‘I

am thy maid!’ Krishna rose hastily and embraced the sister of Madhava

from affection, and said, ‘Let thy husband be without a foe!’ Bhadra

then, with a delighted heart, said unto Draupadi, ‘So be it!’ From that

time, O Janamejaya, those great warriors, the Pandavas, began to live

happily, and Kunti also became very happy.’


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘When that scorcher of foes, viz., Kesava of

pure soul and eyes, like lotus-petals, heard that the foremost of the

Pandavas, viz., Arjuna, had reached his own excellent city of

Indraprastha, he came thither accompanied by Rama and the other heroes

and great warriors of the Vrishni and the Andhaka tribes, and by his

brothers and sons and many other brave warriors. And Saurin came

accompanied by a large army that protected him. And there came with

Saurin, that oppressor of foes, viz., the exceedingly liberal Akrura of

great intelligence and renown, the generalissimo of the brave Vrishni

host. And there also came Anadhrishti of great prowess, and Uddhava of

great renown, of great intelligence, of great soul, and a disciple of

Vrihaspati himself. And there also came Satyaka and Salyaka and

Kritavarman and Satwata; and Pradyumna and Samva and Nisatha and Sanku;

and Charudeshna, and Jhilli of great prowess, and Viprithu also and

Sarana of mighty arms and Gada, the foremost of learned men. These and

many other Vrishnis and Bhojas, and Andhakas came to Indraprastha,

bringing with them many nuptial presents. King Yudhishthira, hearing that

Madhava had arrived, sent the twins out to receive him. Received by them,

the Vrishni host of great prosperity entered Khandavaprastha well-adorned

with flags and ensigns. The streets were well-swept and watered and

decked with floral wreaths and bunches. These were, again, sprinkled over

with sandalwood water that was fragrant and cooling. Every part of the

town was filled with the sweet scent of burning aloes. And the city was

full of joyous and healthy people and adorned with merchants and traders.

That best of men, viz., Kesava of mighty arms, accompanied by Rama and

many of the Vrishnis, Andhakas and Bhojas, having entered the town, was

worshipped by the citizens and Brahmanas by thousands. At last Kesava

entered the palace of the king which was like unto the mansion of Indra

himself. Beholding Rama, Yudhishthira received him with due ceremonies.

The king smelt the head of Kesava and embraced him. Govinda, gratified

with the reception, humbly worshipped Yudhishthira. He also paid homage

unto Bhima, that tiger among men. Yudhishthira the son of Kunti then

received the other principal men of the Vrishni and the Andhaka tribes

with due ceremonies. Yudhishthira reverentially worshipped some as his

superiors, and welcomed others as equals. And some he received with

affection and by some he was worshipped with reverence. Then Hrishikesa

of great renown gave unto the party of the bridegroom much wealth. And

unto Subhadra he gave the nuptial presents that had been given to her by

her relatives. Krishna gave unto the Pandavas a thousand cars of gold

furnished with rows of bells, and unto each of which were put four steeds

driven by well-trained charioteers. He also gave unto them ten thousand

cows belonging to the country of Mathura, and yielding much milk and all

of excellent colour. Well-pleased, Janardana also gave them a thousand

mares with gold harnesses and of colour white as the beams of the moon.

He also gave them a thousand mules, all well-trained and possessing the

speed of the wind, of white colour with black manes. And he of eyes like

lotus-petals also gave unto them a thousand damsels well-skilled in

assisting at bathing and at drinking, young in years and virgins all

before their first-season, well-attired and of excellent complexion, each

wearing a hundred pieces of gold around her neck, of skins perfectly

polished, decked with every ornament, and well-skilled in every kind of

personal service. Janardana also gave unto them hundreds of thousands of

draft horses from the country of the Valhikas as Subhadra’s excellent

dower. That foremost one of Dasarha’s race also gave unto Subhadra as her

peculium ten carrier-loads of first class gold possessing the splendour

of fire, some purified and some in a state of ore. And Rama having the

plough for his weapon and always loving bravery gave unto Arjuna, as a

nuptial present, a thousand elephants with secretions flowing in three

streams from the three parts of their bodies (the temple, the ears, and

the anus) each large as a mountain summit, irresistible in battle, decked

with coverlets and bells, well-adorned with other golden ornaments, and

equipped with excellent thrones on their backs. And that large wave of

wealth and gems that the Yadavas presented, together with the cloths and

blankets that represented its foam, and the elephants its alligators and

sharks, and the flags its floating weeds swelling into large proportions,

mingled with the Pandu ocean and filled it to the brim, to the great

sorrow of all foes. Yudhishthira accepted all those presents and

worshipped all those great warriors of the Vrishni and the Andhaka races.

Those illustrious heroes of the Kuru, the Vrishni, and the Andhaka races

passed their days in pleasure and merriment there like virtuous men

(after death) in the celestial regions. The Kurus and the Vrishnis with

joyous hearts amused themselves there, setting up at times loud shouts

mingled with clappings of the hand. Spending many days in sports and

merriment there, and worshipped by the Kurus all the while, the Vrishni

heroes endued with great energy then returned to the city of Dwaravati.

And the great warriors of the Vrishni and the Andhaka races set out with

Rama in the van, carrying with them those gems of the purest rays that

had been given them by those foremost ones of Kuru’s race. And, O

Bharata, the high-souled Vasudeva remained there with Arjuna in the

delightful city of Indraprastha. And the illustrious one wandered over

the banks of the Yamuna in search of deer. And he sported with Arjuna

piercing with his shafts deer and wild boars. Then Subhadra, the

favourite sister of Kesava, gave birth to an illustrious son, like

Puloma’s daughter, (the queen of heaven) bringing forth Jayanta. And the

son that Subhadra brought forth was of long arms, broad chest, and eyes

as large as those of a bull. That hero and oppressor of foes came to be

called Abhimanyu. And the son of Arjuna, that grinder of foes and bull

among men, was called Abhimanyu because he was fearless and wrathful. And

that great warrior was begotten upon the daughter of the Satwata race by

Dhananjaya, like fire produced in a sacrifice from within the sami wood

by the process of rubbing. Upon the birth of this child, Yudhishthira,

the powerful son of Kunti, gave away unto Brahmanas ten thousand cows and

coins of gold. The child from his earliest years became the favourite of

Vasudeva and of his father and uncles, like the moon of all the people of

the world. Upon his birth, Krishna performed the usual rites of infancy.

The child began to grow up like the Moon of the bright fortnight. That

grinder of foes soon became conversant with the Vedas and acquired from

his father the science of weapon both celestial and human, consisting of

four branches and ten divisions.


“Endued with great strength, the child also acquired the knowledge of

counteracting the weapons hurled at him by others, and great lightness of

hand and fleetness of motion forward and backward and transverse and

wheeling. Abhimanyu became like unto his father in knowledge of the

scriptures and rites of religion. And Dhananjaya, beholding his son,

became filled with joy. Like Maghavat beholding Arjuna, the latter beheld

his son Abhimanyu and became exceedingly happy. Abhimanyu possessed the

power of slaying every foe and bore on his person every auspicious mark.

He was invisible in battle and broad-shouldered as the bull. Possessing a

broad face as (the hood of) the snake, he was proud like the lion.

Wielding a large bow, his prowess was like that of an elephant in rut.

Possessed of a face handsome as the full-moon, and of a voice deep as the

sound of the drum or the clouds, he was equal unto Krishna in bravery and

energy, in beauty and in features. The auspicious Panchali also, from her

five husbands, obtained five sons all of whom were heroes of the foremost

rank and immovable in battle like the hills. Prativindhya by

Yudhishthira, Sutasoma by Vrikodara, Srutakarman by Arjuna, Satanika by

Nakula, and Srutasena by Sahadeva,–these were the five heroes and great

warriors that Panchali brought forth, like Aditi bringing forth the

Adityas. And the Brahmanas, from their foreknowledge, said unto

Yudhishthira that as the son of his would be capable of bearing like the

Vindhya mountains the weapons of the foe, he should be called

Prativindhya. And because the child that Draupadi bore to Bhimasena was

born after Bhima had performed a thousand Soma sacrifices, he came to be

called Sutasoma. And because Arjuna’s son was born upon his return from

exile during which he had achieved many celebrated feats, that child came

to be called Srutakarman. While Nakula named his son Satanika after a

royal sage of that name, in the illustrious race of Kuru. Again the son

that Draupadi bore to Sahadeva was born under the constellation called

Vahni-daivata (Krittika), therefore was he called after the generalissimo

of the celestial host, Srutasena (Kartikeya). The sons of Draupadi were

born, each at the interval of one year, and all of them became renowned

and much attached to one another. And, O monarch, all their rites of

infancy and childhood, such as Chudakarana and Upanayana (first shave of

the head and investiture with the sacred threads) were performed by

Dhaumya according to the ordinance. All of them, of excellent behaviour

and vows, after having studied the Vedas, acquired from Arjuna a

knowledge of all the weapons, celestial and human. And, O tiger among

kings, the Pandavas, having obtained sons all of whom were equal unto the

children of the celestials and endued with broad chests, and all of whom

became great warriors, were filled with joy.'”






(Khandava-daha Parva)


“Vaisampayana said, ‘The Pandavas, after they had taken up their abode at

Indraprastha at the command of Dhritarashtra and Bhishma began to bring

other kings under their sway. All the subjects (of the kingdom) lived

most happily depending upon Yudhishthira the just, like a soul living

happily depending upon a body blest with auspicious marks and pious

deeds. And, O bull in Bharata’s race, Yudhishthira paid homage unto

virtue, pleasure, and profit, in judicious proportion, as if each were a

friend dear unto him as his own self. It seemed as if the three

pursuits–virtue, pleasure, and profit–became personified on earth, and

amongst them the king shone as a fourth. The subjects having obtained

Yudhishthira as their king, obtained in their monarch one that was

devoted to the study of the Vedas, one that was performer of the great

sacrifices, and one that was protector of all good people. In consequence

of Yudhishthira’s influence, the good fortune of all the monarchs of the

earth became stationary, and their hearts became devoted to the

meditation of the Supreme Spirit, and virtue itself began to grow every

way all round. And in the midst of and assisted by his four brothers, the

king looked more resplendent (than he would have done if he were alone),

like a great sacrifice depending upon and assisted by the four Vedas.

Many learned Brahmanas with Dhananjaya at their head, each like unto

Vrihaspati, waited upon the monarch, like the celestials waiting upon the

Lord of the creation. From excess of affection, the eyes and hearts of

all the people equally took great delight in Yudhishthira who was even as

the full moon without a stain. The people took delight in him not only

because he was their king but also from sincere affection. The king

always did what was agreeable to them. The sweet-speeched Yudhishthira of

great intelligence never uttered anything that was improper or untrue or

unbearable or disagreeable. The best of monarchs of the Bharata race,

endued with great energy, passed his days happily for the welfare of all

as his own. His brothers also bringing by their energy other kings under

their sway, passed their days in happiness, without a foe to disturb

their peace.


“After a few days, Vibhatsu, addressing Krishna, said, ‘The summer days

have set in, O Krishna! Therefore, let us go to the banks of the Yamuna.

O slayer of Madhu, sporting there in the company of friends, we will, O

Janardana, return in the evening’. Thereupon Vasudeva said, ‘O son of

Kunti, this is also my wish. Let us, O Partha, sport in the waters as we

please, in the company of friends.’


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then, O Bharata, having consulted thus with

each other, Partha and Govinda, with Yudhishthira’s leave, set out,

surrounded by friends. Reaching a fine spot (on the banks of the Yamuna)

suitable for purposes of pleasure, overgrown with numerous tall trees and

covered with several high mansions that made the place look like the

celestial city and within which had been collected for Krishna and Partha

numerous costly and well-flavoured viands and drinks and other articles

of enjoyment and floral wreaths and various perfumes, the party entered

without delay the inner apartments adorned with many precious gems of

pure rays. Entering those apartments, everybody, O Bharata, began to

sport, according to his pleasure. The women of the party, all of full

rotund hips and deep bosoms and handsome eyes, and gait unsteady with

wine began to sport there at the command of Krishna and Partha. Some

amongst the women sported as they liked in the woods, some in the waters,

and some within the mansions, as directed by Partha and Govinda. Draupadi

and Subhadra, exhilarated with wine, began to give away unto the women so

sporting, their costly robes and ornaments. And some amongst those women

began to dance in joy, and some began to sing; and some amongst them

began to laugh and jest, and some to drink excellent wines. Some began to

obstruct one another’s progress and some to fight with one another, and

to discourse with one another in private. Those mansions and the woods,

filled with the charming music of flutes and guitars and kettledrums,

became the scene of Prosperity personified.


“When such was the state of things there, Arjuna and Vasudeva went to a

certain charming spot (in those woods) not far from the place where the

others were. O monarch, the high-souled Krishna, and that subjugators of

hostile cities, viz., Arjuna, going thither, sat down upon two very

costly seats. Vasudeva and Partha amused themselves there with

discoursing upon many past achievements of prowess and other topics. Unto

Vasudeva and Dhananjaya happily sitting there like the Aswins in heaven,

a certain Brahmana came. The Brahmana that came there looked like a tall

Sala tree. His complexion was like unto molten gold; his beard was bright

yellow tinged with green; and the height and the thickness of the body

were in just proportion. Of matted locks and dressed in rags, he

resembled the morning sun in splendour. Of eyes like lotus-petals and of

a tawny hue, he seemed to be blazing with effulgence. Beholding that

foremost of Brahmanas blazing with splendour approach towards them both

Arjuna and Vasudeva, hastily rising from their seats, stood, waiting (for

his commands).'”






(Khandava-daha Parva continued)


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then that Brahmana addressed Arjuna and Vasudeva of

the Satwata race, saying, ‘Ye who are now staying so near unto Khandava

are the two foremost of heroes on earth. I am a voracious Brahmana that

always eateth much. O thou of the Vrishni race, and O Partha, I solicit

you to gratify me by giving me sufficient food.’ Thus addressed by the

Brahmana, Krishna and the son of Pandu answered him, saying, ‘O, tell us

what kind of food will gratify thee so that we may endeavour to give it

thee.’ The illustrious Brahmana, thus replied to, said unto those heroes

who were enquiring after the kind of food he sought, ‘I do not desire to

eat ordinary food. Know that I am Agni! Give me that food which suiteth

me. This forest of Khandava is always protected by Indra. And as it is

protected by the illustrious one, I always fail to consume it. In that

forest dwelleth, with his followers and family, a Naga, called Takshaka,

who is the friend of Indra. It is for him that the wielder of the

thunderbolt protecteth this forest. Many other creatures also are thus

protected here for the sake of Takshaka. Desiring to consume the forest I

succeed not in my attempts in consequence of Indra’s prowess. Beholding

me blazing forth, he always poureth upon me water from the clouds.

Therefore, I succeed not in consuming the forest of Khandava, although I

desire very much to do so. I have now come to you–you who are both

skilled in weapons! If you help me I will surely consume this forest: for

even this is the food that is desired by me! As ye are conversant with

excellent weapons, I pray you to prevent those showers from descending

and any of the creatures from escaping, when I begin to consume this



“Janamejaya said, ‘Why did the illustrious Agni desire to consume the

forest of Khandava that was filled with various living creatures and

protected by the chief of the celestials? When Agni consumed in wrath the

forest of Khandava, it is evident there was a grave cause. I desire, O

Brahmana, to hear all this in detail from thee. Tell me, O sage, how the

Khandava forest was consumed in days of yore.’


“Vaisampayana said, ‘O chief of men, I will narrate to you the story of

the conflagration of Khandava as told by Rishis in the Purana. It hath

been heard, O king, in the Purana that there was a celebrated king of the

name of Swetaki who was endued with strength and prowess and who was

equal unto Indra himself. No one on earth has equalled him in sacrifices,

charity, and intelligence. Swetaki performed the five great sacrifices

and many others, at all of which the presents unto Brahmanas were large.

The heart of that monarch, O king, was always set upon sacrifices,

religious rites, and gifts of all kinds. And king Swetaki of great

intelligence, assisted by his Ritwiks performed sacrifices for many long

years, till those sacrificial priests with eyes afflicted by the

continued smoke and becoming very weak, left that monarch, wishing never

more to assist at his sacrifices. The king, however, repeatedly asked

those Ritwiks to come to him. But they came not to his sacrifice in

consequence of the painful state of their eyes. The king, therefore,

invited at the command of his own Ritwiks, others like unto them, and

completed the sacrifice that he had begun. After some days had elapsed,

king Swetaki desired to perform another sacrifice which should extend for

a hundred years. But the illustrious monarch obtained not any priest to

assist him in it. The celebrated king then, with his friends and

relatives, casting off all sloth, repeatedly courted his priests with

great persistence, by bowing down unto them, by conciliatory speeches,

and by gifts of wealth. All of them, however, refused to accomplish the

purpose which that king of immeasurable energy had in view. Then that

royal sage, getting angry, addressed those Brahmanas sitting in their

asylums, and said, ‘If, ye Brahmanas, I were a fallen person, or, if, I

were wanting in homage and service to you, I should then deserve to be

abandoned without scruple by you and by other Brahmanas at the same time.

But as I am neither degraded nor wanting in homage to you, it behoveth

you not to obstruct the performance by me of my sacrifice or to abandon

me thus, ye foremost of Brahmanas, without adequate reason. I seek, ye

Brahmanas, your protection! It behoveth you to be propitious unto me.

But, ye foremost of Brahmanas, if you abandon me from enmity alone or any

improper motive, I shall go unto other priests for their assistance in

this sacrifice of mine, and conciliating them by sweet words and gifts, I

shall represent unto them the business I have on hand, so that they may

accomplish it.’ Having said this, the monarch became silent. And, O

chastiser of foes, when those priests well knew that they could not

assist at the king’s sacrifice, they pretended to be angry, and

addressing that best of monarchs said, ‘O best of kings, thy sacrifices

are incessant! By assisting thee always, we have all been fatigued. And

as we have been wearied in consequence of these labours, it behoveth thee

to give us leave. O sinless one, from loss of judgment thou canst not

wait (but urgest us repeatedly). Go unto Rudra! He will assist at thy

sacrifice!’ Hearing those words of censure and wrath, king Swetaki became

angry. And the monarch wending to the mountains of Kailasa, devoted

himself to asceticism there. And, O king, the monarch began to worship

Mahadeva, with fixed attention, and by observing the most rigid vows. And

foregoing all food at times, he passed a long period. The monarch ate

only fruits and roots sometimes at the twelfth and sometimes at the

sixteenth hour of the whole day. King Swetaki stood for six months, rapt

in attention, with arms upraised and steadfast eyes, like the trunk of a

tree or a column rooted to the ground. And, O Bharata, Sankara at last

gratified with that tiger among kings, who was undergoing such hard

penances, showed himself unto him. And the god spake unto the monarch in

a calm and grave voice, saying, ‘O tiger among kings, O chastiser of

foes, I have been gratified with thee for thy asceticism! Blest be thou!

Ask now the boon that thou, O king, desirest.’ Hearing these words of

Rudra of immeasurable energy, the royal sage bowed unto that deity and

replied, saying, ‘O illustrious one, O thou that art worshipped by the

three worlds, if thou hast been gratified with me, then, O god of gods,

assist me thyself, O lord of the celestials, in my sacrifice!’ Hearing

these words spoken by the monarch, the illustrious god was gratified, and

smilingly said, ‘We do not ourselves assist at sacrifices: but as thou, O

king, hast undergone severe penances, desirous of obtaining a boon, I

will, O chastiser of foes, assist at thy sacrifice, upon, O king, this

condition.’ And Rudra continued, ‘If, O king of kings, thou canst, for

twelve years, pour without intermission libations of clarified butter

into the fire, thyself leading all the while the life of a Brahmacharin

with rapt attention, then thou shalt obtain from me what thou askest.’

King Swetaki, thus addressed by Rudra, did all that he was directed to do

by the wielder of the trident. And after twelve years had elapsed, he

again came unto Maheswara. And Sankara, the Creator of the worlds upon

seeing Swetaki, that excellent monarch, immediately said, in great

gratification, ‘I have been gratified by thee, O best of kings, with this

thy own act! But, O chastiser of foes, the duty of assisting at

sacrifices properly belongeth to Brahmanas. Therefore, O oppressor of

foes, I will not myself assist at thy sacrifice today. There is on earth

an exalted Brahmana who is even a portion of my own self. He is known by

the name of Durvasa. Even that Brahmana endued with great energy will

assist you in thy sacrifice. Let, therefore, every preparation be made.’

Hearing these words uttered by Rudra, the king, returning to his own

capital, began to collect all that was necessary. After everything had

been collected, the monarch again presented himself before Rudra and

said, ‘Every necessary article hath been collected, and all my

preparations are complete, through thy grace, O god of gods! Let me,

therefore, be installed at the sacrifice tomorrow.’ Having heard these

words of that illustrious king, Rudra summoned Durvasa before him and

said. ‘This, O Durvasa, is that best of monarchs called Swetaki. At my

command, O best of Brahmanas, assist even this king in his sacrifice.’

And the Rishi Durvasa said unto Rudra, ‘So be it.’ Then the sacrifice for

which king Swetaki had made those preparations, took place. And the

illustrious monarch’s sacrifice was performed according to the ordinance

and in proper season. And the gifts, on that occasion, unto the Brahmanas

were large. And after that monarch’s sacrifice had come to an end, all

the other priests who had come to assist at it went away with Durvasa’s

leave. All other Sadasyas also of immeasurable energy, who had been

installed at that sacrifice, then went away. That exalted monarch then

entered his own palace, worshipped by exalted Brahmanas conversant with

the Vedas, eulogised by chanters of panegyrical hymns and congratulated

by the citizens.


“Such was the history of that best of monarchs, the royal sage Swetaki,

who, when the time came, ascended to heaven, having won great renown on

earth, and accompanied by the Ritwiks and the Sadasyas that had helped

him in life.’


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘At that sacrifice of Swetaki, Agni had drunk

clarified butter for twelve years. Indeed, clarified butter had been

poured into Agni’s mouth in a continuous stream for that period. Having

drunk so much butter, Agni, satiated, desired not to drink butter again

from the hand of anybody else at any other sacrifice. Agni became pale,

having lost his colour, and he could not shine as before. He felt a loss

of appetite from surfeit, and his energy itself decreased and sickness

afflicted him. Then when the drinker of sacrificial libations perceived

that his energy was gradually diminishing, he went to the sacred abode of

Brahman that is worshipped by all. Approaching the great Deity seated on

his seat, Agni said, ‘O exalted one, Swetaki hath (by his sacrifice)

gratified me to excess. Even now I am suffering from surfeit which I

cannot dispel. O Lord of the universe, I am being reduced both in

splendour and strength. I desire to regain, through thy grace, my own

permanent nature.’ Hearing these words from Hutavaha, the illustrious

Creator of all things smilingly replied unto him, saying, ‘O exalted one,

thou hast eaten, for twelve years, a continuous stream of sacrificial

butter poured into thy mouth! It is for this that illness hath seized

thee. But, O Agni, grieve not for it. Thou shalt soon regain thy own

nature. I shall dispel this surfeit of thine and the time for it is even

come. The dreadful forest Khandava, that abode of the enemies of the

gods, which thou hadst of old once consumed to ashes at the request of

the gods, hath now become the home of numerous creatures. When thou will

have eaten the fat of those creatures, thou shalt regain thy own nature.

Proceed thither in haste to consume that forest with its living

population. Thou wilt then be cured of thy malady.’ Hearing the words

that fell from the lips of the Supreme Deity, Hutasana proceeded with

great speed and soon reached the forest of Khandava in great vigour.

Arrived there, he suddenly blazed forth in anger, assisted by Vayu.

Beholding Khandava on fire the dwellers (in the forest) that were there,

made great efforts to extinguish the conflagration. Elephants by hundreds

of thousands, speeding in anger, brought water in their trunks and

scattered it upon the fire. Thousands of many-hooded snakes, mad with

anger, hastily began to scatter upon fire much water from those many

hoods of theirs. And so, O bull of Bharata’s race, the other creatures

dwelling in that forest, by various appliances and efforts, soon

extinguished the fire. In this way, Agni blazed forth in Khandava

repeatedly, even for seven times. And it was in this way that the blazing

fire was extinguished there as often by the denizens of that forest.'”






(Khandava-daha Parva continued)


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then Havyavahana (Agni) in anger and disappointment,

with his ailment uncured, went back to the Grandsire. And he represented

unto Brahman all that had happened: The illustrious deity, reflecting for

a moment, said unto him, ‘O sinless one. I see a way by which thou mayest

consume the forest of Khandava today in the very sight of Indra. Those

old deities, Nara and Narayana, have become incarnate in the world of men

to accomplish the business of the celestials. They are called on earth

Arjuna and Vasudeva. They are even now staying in the forest of Khandava.

Solicit them for aiding thee in consuming that forest. Thou shalt then

consume the forest even if it be protected by the celestials. They will

certainly prevent the population of Khandava from escaping, and thwart

Indra also (in aiding any one in the escape). I have no doubt of this!’

Hearing these words, Agni came in haste unto Krishna and Partha. O king,

I have already told thee what he said, having approached the illustrious

pair. O tiger among kings, hearing those words of Agni who was desirous

of consuming the forest of Khandava against the will of Indra, Vibhatsu

said unto him these words well-suited to the occasion, I have numberless

excellent celestial weapons with which I can fight even many wielders of

the thunderbolt. But, O exalted one, I have no bow suited to the strength

of my arms, and capable of bearing the might I may put forth in battle.

In consequence of the lightness of my hands also I require arrows that

must never be exhausted. My car also is scarcely able to bear load of

arrows that I would desire to keep by me. I desire celestial steeds of

pure white, possessing the speed of the wind; and a car possessing the

splendour of the sun and the clatter of whose wheels should resemble the

roar of the clouds. Then, there is no weapon suited to Krishna’s energy

and with which Madhava can slay Nagas and Pisachas. O exalted one, it

behoveth thee to give us the means by which success may be achieved and

by which we may thwart Indra in pouring his showers upon that extensive

forest. O Pavaka, we are ready to do all that manliness and prowess can

do. But, O exalted one, it behoveth thee to give us the adequate means.'”






(Khandava-daha Parva continued)


“Vaisampayana, said, ‘Thus addressed by Arjuna, the smoke-bannered

Hutasana, desirous of an interview with Varuna, recollected that son of

Aditi,–that deity protecting one of the points of the heavens and having

his home in the water and ruling that element. Varuna, knowing that he

was thought of by Pavaka, immediately appeared before that deity. The

smoke-bannered celestial welcoming with reverence the ruler of the

waters, that fourth of the Lokapalas, said unto that eternal god of gods,

‘Give me without loss of time that bow and quiver, and that ape-bannered

car also, which were obtained from king Soma. Partha will achieve a great

task with Gandiva, and Vasudeva also with the discus! Give both,

therefore, unto me today.’ Hearing these words, Varuna replied unto

Pavaka, saying, ‘Well, I am giving them.’ He then gave that wonderful

jewel of a bow that was endued with great energy. That bow was the

enhancer of fame and achievements, and was incapable of being injured by

any weapon. It was the chief of all weapons, and the grinder of them all.

And it was the smiter of hostile armies and was alone equal to a hundred

thousand bows. It was the multiplier of kingdoms, and was variegated with

excellent colours. It was well-adorned, and beautiful to behold, and

without a mark of weakness or injury anywhere. And it was always

worshipped both by the celestials and the Gandharvas. Varuna also gave

two inexhaustible quivers, and he also gave a car furnished with

celestial weapons and whose banner bore a large ape. Yoked unto that car

were steeds white as silver of the fleecy clouds, and born in the region

of the Gandharvas, and decked with golden harness, and resembling in

fleetness the wind or the mind. And it was equipped with implement of

war, and was incapable of being vanquished by the celestials or the

Asuras. Its splendour was great and the sounds of its wheels was

tremendous. It delighted the heart of every creature that looked at it.

It had been made by Viswakarman, the architect of the universe and one of

the lords of creation, after severe ascetic meditation. Its splendour,

like that of the sun, was so great that no one could gaze at it. It was

the very car from which the lord Soma had vanquished the Danavas.

Resplendent with beauty, it looked like an evening cloud reflecting the

effulgence of the setting sun. It was furnished with an excellent

flag-staff of golden colour and great beauty. And there sat upon that

flag-staff a celestial ape of form fierce like that of a lion or a tiger.

Stationed on high, the ape seemed bent upon burning everything it beheld.

And upon the (other) flags were various creatures of large size, whose

roars and yells caused the enemy’s soldiers to faint. Then Arjuna,

accoutred in mail and armed with the sword, and his fingers cased in

leathern gloves, walking round that excellent car adorned with numerous

flags and bowing unto the gods, ascended it like a virtuous man riding in

the celestial car that bears him to heaven. And taking up that celestial

and first of bows created by Brahman of old and called Gandiva, Arjuna

was filled with joy. And bowing unto Hutasana, Partha endued with great

energy, took up the bow and strung it forcibly. Those who heard the noise

that was made while the mighty Pandava strung that bow, quaked with fear.

And having obtained that car and that bow, and the two inexhaustible

quivers, the son of Kunti became glad and thought himself competent to

assist at the task. And Pavaka then gave unto Krishna a discus with an

iron pole attached to a hole in the centre. And it was a fiery weapon and

became his favourite. Having obtained that weapon, Krishna also became

equal to the task. Pavaka then, addressing Krishna, said, ‘With this, O

slayer of Madhu, thou shalt be able without doubt to vanquish in battle

even foes that are not human. With this weapon, without doubt, thou shalt

be superior in battle to men and gods, and Rakshasas and Pisachas, and

Daityas and Nagas. And thou shalt certainly be able with this to smite

all. And, O Madhava, hurled by thee in battle at thy foes, this weapon

will irresistibly slay the enemy and again come back into thy hands.’ And

the lord Varuna, after this, gave unto Krishna a mace, of name Kaumodaki,

capable of slaying every Daitya and producing, when hurled, a roar like

that of the thunder. Then Arjuna and Achyuta, filled with joy said unto

Pavaka, ‘O exalted one, furnished with weapons and knowing their use,

possessed of cars with flags and flagstaffs, we are now able to fight

with even all the celestials and the Asuras (together), let alone the

wielder of the thunderbolt desirous of fighting for the sake of the Naga

(his friend Takshaka).’ Arjuna also said, ‘O Pavaka, while Hrishikesa,

endued with abundant energy, moves on the field of battle with this

discus in hand, there is nothing in the three worlds that he will not be

able to consume by hurling this weapon. Having obtained the bow Gandiva

and this couple of inexhaustible quivers I also am ready to conquer in

battle the three worlds. Therefore, O lord, blaze thou forth as thou

likest, surrounding this large forest on every side. We are quite able to

help thee.’


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed both by Dasarha and Arjuna, the

illustrious god then put forth his most energetic form, and prepared to

consume the forest. Surrounding it on all sides with his seven flames, he

began to consume the forest of Khandava, exhibiting his all-consuming

form like that at the end of the Yuga (cycle). And, O bull of Bharata’s

race, surrounding that forest and catching it from all sides with a roar

like that of the clouds, Agni made every creature within it tremble. And,

O Bharata, that burning forest then looked resplendent like the king of

mountains, Meru, blazing with the rays of the sun fallen thereupon.'”






(Khandava-daha Parva continued)


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then those foremost of car-warriors (Krishna and

Arjuna), riding in their cars and placing themselves on opposite sides of

that forest, began a great slaughter, on all sides, of the creatures

dwelling in Khandava. At whatever point any of the creatures residing in

Khandava could be seen attempting to escape, thither rushed those mighty

heroes (to prevent its flight). Indeed those two excellent cars seemed to

be but one, and the two warriors also therein but one individual. And

while the forest was burning, hundreds and thousands of living creatures,

uttering frightful yells, began to run about in all directions. Some had

particular limbs burnt, some were scorched with excessive heat, and some

came out, and some ran about from fear. And some clasping their children

and some their parents and brothers, died calmly without, from excess of

affection, being able to abandon these that were dear to them. And many

there were who biting their nether lips rose upwards and soon fell

whirling into the blazing element below. And some were seen to roll on

the ground with wings, eyes, and feet scorched and burnt. These creatures

were all seen to perish there almost soon enough. The tanks and ponds

within that forest, heated by the fire around, began to boil; the fishes

and the tortoises in them were all seen to perish. During that great

slaughter of living creatures in that forest, the burning bodies of

various animals looked as if fire itself had assumed many forms. The

birds that took wings to escape from that conflagration were pierced by

Arjuna with his shafts, and cut into pieces, they fell down into the

burning element below. Pierced all over with Arjuna’s shafts, the birds

dropped down into the burning forest, uttering loud cries. The denizens

of the forest, struck with those shafts, began to roar and yell. The

clamour they raised was like unto the frightful uproar heard during the

churning of the ocean (in days of yore). The mighty flames of the blazing

fire reaching the firmament, caused great anxiety to the celestials

themselves. Then all the illustrious dwellers in heaven went in a body

unto him of a hundred sacrifices and thousand eyes, viz., their chief,

that grinder of Asuras. Approaching Indra, the celestial said, ‘Why, O

lord of immortals, doth Agni burn these creatures below? Hath the time

come for the destruction of the world?’


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing these words of the gods, and himself

beholding what Agni was doing, the slayer of Vritra set out for the

protection of the forest of Khandava. And Vasava, the chief of the

celestials soon covering the sky with masses of clouds of every kind

began to shower upon the burning forest. Those masses of clouds by

hundreds and thousands, commanded by Indra began to pour rain upon

Khandava in showers thick as the flag-staffs of battle-cars. But the

showers were all dried up in the sky itself by the heat of the fire and

could not, therefore, reach the fire at all! Then the slayer of Namuchi,

getting angry with Agni, collected huge masses of clouds and caused them

to yield a heavy downpour. Then with the flames contending with those

heavy showers, and with masses of clouds overhead, that forest, filled

with smoke and flashes of lightning, became terrible to behold.'”






(Khandava-daha Parva continued)


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then Vibhatsu, the son of Pandu, invoking his

excellent weapons, prevented that shower of rain by Indra, by means of a

shower of his own weapons. And Arjuna of immeasurable soul soon covered

the forest of Khandava with innumerable arrows like the moon covering the

atmosphere with a thick fog. When the sky above that forest was thus

covered with the arrows of Arjuna no living creature could then escape

from below. And it so happened that while that forest was burning,

Takshaka, the chief of the Nagas, was not there, having gone at that time

to the field of Kurukshetra. But Aswasena, the mighty son of Takshaka,

was there. He made great efforts to escape from that fire; but confined

by Arjuna’s shafts he succeeded not in finding a way. It was then that

his mother, the daughter of a snake, determined to save him by swallowing

him first. His mother first swallowed his head and then was swallowing

his tail. And desirous of saving her son, the sea-snake rose (up from the

earth) while still employed in swallowing her son’s tail. But Arjuna as

soon as he beheld her escaping, severed her head from her body by means

of a sharp and keen-edged arrow. Indra saw all this, and desiring to save

his friend’s son, the wielder of the thunderbolt, by raising a violent

wind, deprived Arjuna of consciousness. During those few moments,

Aswasena succeeded in effecting his escape. Beholding that manifestation

of the power of illusion, and deceived by that snake, Arjuna was much

enraged. He forthwith cut every animal seeking to escape by the skies,

into two, three, or more pieces. And Vibhatsu in anger, and Agni, and

Vasudeva also, cursed the snake that had escaped so deceitfully, saying,

‘Never shalt thou be famous!’ And Jishnu remembering the deception

practised upon him, became angry, and covering the firmament with a cloud

of arrows, sought to fight with him of a thousand eyes. The chief of the

celestials also, seeing Arjuna in anger, sought to fight with him, and

hurled his own fierce weapons, covering the wide expanse of the

firmament. Then the winds, making a loud roar and agitating all the

oceans, brought together masses of clouds in the sky, charged with

torrents of rain. Those masses of clouds began to vomit thunder and

terrible flashes of lightning charged with the thunderclap. Then Arjuna

possessing a knowledge of means, hurled the excellent weapon called

Vayavya with proper mantras to dispel those clouds. With that weapon the

energy and force of Indra’s thunderbolt and of those clouds were

destroyed. And the torrents of rain with which those clouds were charged

were all dried up, and the lightning that played amongst them was also

destroyed. Within a moment the sky was cleared of dust and darkness, and

a delicious, cool breeze began to blow and the disc of the sun resumed

its normal state. Then the eater of clarified butter (Agni), glad because

none could baffle him, assumed various forms, and sprinkled over with the

fat exuded by the bodies of creatures, blazed forth with all his flames,

filling the universe with his roar. Then numerous birds of the Garuda

tribe bearing excellent feathers, beholding that the forest was protected

by Krishna and Arjuna, descended filled with pride, from the upper skies,

desirous of striking those heroes with their thunderlike wings, beaks and

claws. Innumerable Nagas also, with faces emitting fire descending from

high, approached Arjuna, vomiting the most virulent poison all the while.

Beholding them approach, Arjuna cut them into pieces by means of arrows

steeped in the fire of his own wrath. Then those birds and snakes,

deprived of life, fell into the burning element below. And there came

also, desirous of battle, innumerable Asuras with Gandharvas and Yakshas

and Rakshasas and Nagas sending forth terrific yells. Armed with machines

vomiting from their throats (mouths?) iron balls and bullets, and

catapults for propelling huge stones, and rockets, they approached to

strike Krishna and Partha, their energy and strength increased by wrath.

But though they rained a perfect shower of weapons, Vibhatsu, addressing

them reproachfully, struck off their heads with his own sharp arrows.

That slayer of foes, Krishna, also, endued with great energy, made a

great slaughter of the Daitya and the Danava with his discus. Many Asuras

of immeasurable might, pierced with Krishna’s arrows and smitten with the

force of his discus, became motionless like waifs and strays stranded on

the bank by the violence of the waves. Then Sakra the lord of the

celestials, riding on his white elephant, rushed at those heroes, and

taking up his thunderbolt which could never go in vain, hurled it with

great force. And the slayer of Asuras said unto the gods, ‘These two are

slain.’ Beholding the fierce thunderbolt about to be hurled by their

chief, the celestials all took up their respective weapons. Yama, O king,

took up the death-dealing mace, and Kuvera his spiked club, and Varuna

his noose and beautiful missile. And Skanda (Kartikeya) took up his long

lance and stood motionless like the mountain of Meru. The Aswins stood

there with resplendent plants in their hands. Dhatri stood, bow in hand,

and Jaya with a thick club. Tvashtri of great strength took up in wrath,

a huge mountain and Surya stood with a bright dart, and Mrityu with a

battle-axe. Aryaman stalked about with a terrible bludgeon furnished with

sharp spikes, and Mitra stood there with a discus sharp as a razor. And,

O monarch, Pusha and Bhaga and Savitri, in wrath, rushed at Krishna and

Partha with bows and scimitars in hand. And Rudras and the Vasus, the

mighty Maruts and the Viswedevas and the Sadhyas, all resplendent with

their own energy,–these and many other celestials, armed with various

weapons rushed against those exalted of men, Krishna and Partha, for

smiting them down. Then were seen in that great conflict wonderful

portents all around robbing every creature of his sense, and resembling

those that appeared at the time of the universal dissolution. But Arjuna

and Krishna, fearless and invincible in battle, beholding Sakra and the

other celestials prepared for fight, calmly waited, bows in hands.

Skilled in battle, those heroes in wrath assailed the advancing host of

celestials with their own thunderlike arrows. The celestials repeatedly

routed by Krishna and Arjuna, at last left the field of battle for fear

and sought the protection of Indra. The Munis who were witnessing the

battle from the skies, beholding the celestials defeated by Madhava and

Arjuna, were filled with wonder. Sakra also repeatedly witnessing their

prowess in battle, became exceedingly gratified, and once more rushed to

the assault. The chastiser of Paka then caused a heavy shower of stones,

desiring to ascertain the prowess of Arjuna who was able to draw the bow

even with his left hand. Arjuna, in great wrath, dispelled with his

arrows that thick shower. Then he of a hundred sacrifices beholding that

shower baffled, once more caused a thicker shower of stones. But the son

of the chastiser of Paka (viz., Arjuna) gratified his father by baffling

that shower also with his swift arrows. Then Sakra, desirous of smiting

down the son of Pandu, tore up with his hands a large peak from Mandara,

with tall trees on it, and hurled it against him. But Arjuna divided that

mountain-peak into a thousand pieces by his swift-going and fire-mouthed

arrows. The fragments of that mountain, in falling through the skies,

looked as if the sun and the moon and the planets, displaced from their

positions fell down on earth. That huge peak fell down upon that forest

and by its fall killed numerous living creatures that dwelt in Khandava.'”






(Khandava-daha Parva continued)


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then the inhabitants of the forest of Khandava, the

Danavas and Rakshasas and Nagas and wolves and bears and other wild

animals, and elephants with rent temples, and tigers, and lions with

manes and deer and buffaloes by hundreds, and birds, and various other

creatures, frightened at the falling stones and extremely anxious, began

to fly in all directions. They saw the forest (burning all around) and

Krishna and Arjuna also ready with their weapons. Frightened at the

terrible sounds that were audible there those creatures lost their power

of movement. Beholding the forest burning in innumerable places and

Krishna also ready to smite them down with his weapons, they all set up a

frightful roar. With that terrible clamour as also with the roar of fire,

the whole welkin resounded, as it were, with the voice of portentous

clouds. Kesava of dark hue and mighty arms, in order to compass their

destruction, hurled at them his large and fierce discus resplendent with

its own energy. The forest-dwellers including the Danavas and the

Rakshasas, afflicted by that weapon, were cut in hundreds of pieces and

fell unto the mouth of Agni. Mangled by Krishna’s discus, the Asuras were

besmeared with blood and fat and looked like evening clouds. And, O

Bharata, he of the Vrishni race moved able like death itself, slaying

Pisachas and birds and Nagas and other creatures by thousands. The discus

itself, repeatedly hurled from the hands of Krishna, that slayer of all

foes, came back to his hands after slaughtering numberless creatures. The

face and form of Krishna that soul of every created thing–became fierce

to behold while he was thus employed in the slaughter of the Pisachas,

Nagas and Rakshasas. No one among the celestials, who had mustered there

could vanquish in battle Krishna and Arjuna. When the celestials saw that

they could not protect that forest from the might of Krishna and Arjuna

by extinguishing that conflagration, they retired from the scene. Then, O

monarch, he of a hundred sacrifices (Indra), beholding the immortals

retreat, became filled with joy and applauded Krishna and Arjuna. And

when the celestials gave up the fight, an incorporeal voice, deep and

loud, addressing him of a hundred sacrifices, said, ‘Thy friend Takshaka,

that chief of snakes, hath not been slain! Before the conflagration

commenced in Khandava he had journeyed to Kurukshetra. Know from my

words, O Vasava, that Vasudeva and Arjuna are incapable of being

vanquished in battle by any one! They are Nara and Narayana–those gods

of old heard of in heaven! Thou knowest what their energy is and what

their prowess. Invincible in battle, these best of old Rishis are

unconquerable by any one in all the worlds! They deserve the most

reverential worship of all the celestials and Asuras; of Yakshas and

Rakshasas and Gandharvas, of human beings and Kinnaras and Nagas.

Therefore, O Vasava, it behoveth thee to go hence with all the

celestials. The destruction of Khandava hath been ordained by Fate!’ Then

the chief of the immortals, ascertaining those words to be true abandoned

his wrath and jealousy, and went back to heaven. The dwellers in heaven,

O monarch, beholding the illustrious Indra abandon the fight, followed

him with all their soldiers. Then those heroes, Vasudeva and Arjuna, when

they saw the chief of the celestials retreat accompanied by all the gods,

set up a leonine roar. And, O monarch, Kesava and Arjuna, after Indra had

left the scene, became exceedingly glad. Those heroes then fearlessly

assisted at the conflagration of the forest. Arjuna scattered the

celestials like the wind scattering the clouds, and slew with showers of

his arrows, numberless creatures that dwelt in Khandava. Cut off by

Arjuna’s arrows, no one amongst the innumerable creatures could escape

from the burning forest. Far from fighting with him, none amongst even

the strongest creatures mustered there could look at Arjuna whose weapons

were never futile. Sometimes piercing hundred creatures with one shaft

and sometimes a single creature with hundred shafts, Arjuna moved about

in his car. The creatures themselves, deprived of life, began to fall

into the mouth of Agni (god of fire), struck down as it were by death

itself. On the banks of rivers or on uneven plains or on crematoriums, go

where they did, the creatures (dwelling in Khandava) found no ease, for

wherever they sought shelter there they were afflicted by the heat. And

hosts of creatures roared in pain, and elephants and deer and wolves set

up cries of affliction. At that sound the fishes of the Ganges and the

sea, and the various tribes of Vidyadharas dwelling in that forest all

became frightened. O thou of mighty arms, let alone battling with them,

no one, could even gaze at Arjuna and Janardana of dark hue. Hari slew

with his discus those Rakshasas and Danavas and Nagas that rushed at him

in bands. Of huge bodies, their heads and trunks were cut off by the

swift motion of the discus, and deprived of life they fell down into the

blazing fire. Gratified with large quantities of flesh, blood, and fat,

the flames rose up to a great height without a curling wreath of smoke.

Hutasana (fire-god) with blazing and coppery eyes, and flaming tongue and

large mouth, and the hair on the crown of his head all fiery, drinking,

with the help of Krishna and Arjuna, that nectar-like stream of animal

fat, became filled with joy. Gratified greatly, Agni derived much



“And it so happened that the slayer of Madhu suddenly beheld an Asura of

the name of Maya escaping from the abode of Takshaka. Agni having Vayu

for his car-driver, assuming a body with matted locks on head, and

roaring like the clouds, pursued the Asura, desirous of consuming him.

Beholding the Asura, Vasudeva stood with his weapon upraised, ready to

smite him down, seeing the discus uplifted and Agni pursuing from behind

to burn him, Maya said ‘Run to me, O Arjuna, and protect me!’ Hearing his

affrighted voice Arjuna said, ‘Fear not!’ That voice of Arjuna, O

Bharata, seemed to give Maya his life. As the merciful son of Pritha said

unto Maya that there was nothing to fear, he of the Dasarha race no

longer desired to slay Maya who was the brother of Namuchi, and Agni also

burned him not.’


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Protected from Indra by Krishna and Partha,

Agni gifted with great intelligence, burned that forest for five and ten

days. And while the forest burned Agni spared only six of its dwellers,

viz., Aswasena, Maya, and four birds called Sarngakas.'”






(Khandava-daha Parva continued)


“Janamejaya said, ‘O Brahmana, tell me why and when that forest burnt in

that way, Agni consumed not the birds called Sarngakas? Thou hast, O

Brahmana, recited (to us) the cause of Aswasena and the Danava Maya not

having been consumed. But thou hast not as yet said what the cause was of

the escape of the Sarngakas? The escape of those birds, O Brahmana,

appeareth to me to be wonderful. Tell us why they were not destroyed in

that dreadful conflagration.’


“Vaisampayana said, ‘O slayer of all foes, I shall tell thee all as to

why Agni did not burn up those birds during the conflagration. There was,

O king, a great Rishi known by the name of Mandapala, conversant with all

the shastras, of rigid vows, devoted to asceticism, and the foremost of

all virtuous persons. Following in the wake of Rishis that had drawn up

their virile fluid, that ascetic, O monarch, with every sense under

complete control, devoted himself to study and virtue. Having reached the

opposite shores of asceticism, O Bharata, he left his human form and went

to the region of the Pitris. But going thither he failed to obtain the

(expected) fruit of his acts. He asked the celestials that sat around the

king of the dead as to the cause of his treatment, saying, ‘Why have

these regions become unattainable by me,–regions that I had thought had

been acquired by me by my ascetic devotions? Have I not performed those

acts whose fruits are these regions? Ye inhabitants of heaven, tell me

why these regions are shut against me! I will do that which will give me

the fruit of my ascetic penances.’


“The celestials answered, ‘Hear, O Brahmana, of those acts and things on

account of which men are born debtors. Without doubt, it is for religious

rites, studies according to the ordinance, and progeny, that men are born

debtors. These debts are all discharged by sacrifices, asceticism, and

offspring. Thou art an ascetic and hast also performed sacrifices; but

thou hast no offspring. These regions are shut against thee only for want

of children. Beget children, therefore! Thou shalt then enjoy

multifarious regions of felicity. The Vedas declared that the son

rescueth the father from a hell called Put. Then, O best of Brahmanas,

strive to beget offspring.’


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Mandapala, having heard these words of the

dwellers in heaven, reflected how best he could obtain the largest number

of offspring within the shortest period of time. The Rishi, after

reflection, understood that of all creatures birds alone were blest with

fecundity. Assuming the form of a Sarngaka the Rishi had connection with

a female bird of the same species called by the name of Jarita. And he

begat upon her four sons who were all reciters of the Vedas. Leaving all

those sons of his with their mother in that forest, while they were still

within eggs, the ascetic went to (another wife called by the name of)

Lapita. And, O Bharata, when the exalted sage went away for the company

of Lapita, moved by affection for her offspring, Jarita became very

thoughtful. Though forsaken by their father in the forest of Khandava,

Jarita, anxious in her affection for them, could not forsake her

offspring, those infant Rishis encased in eggs. Moved by parental

affection, she brought up these children born of her, herself following

the pursuits proper to her own species. Some time after, the Rishi, in

wandering over that forest in the company of Lapita, saw Agni coming

towards Khandava to burn it down. Then the Brahmana Mandapala, knowing

the intention of Agni and remembering also that his children were all

young moved by fear, gratified the god, of the burning element, that

regent of the universe, endued with great energy. And he did this,

desiring to put in a word for his unfledged offspring. Addressing Agni,

the Rishi said, ‘Thou art, O Agni, the mouth of all the worlds! Thou art

the carrier of the sacrificial butter! O purifier (of all sins), thou

movest invisible with the frame of every creature! The learned have

spoken of thee as an One, and again as possessed of triple nature. The

wise perform their sacrifices before thee, taking thee as consisting of

eight (mouths). The great Rishis declare that this universe hath been

created by thee. O thou that feedest on sacrificial butter, without thee

this whole universe would be destroyed in a single day. Bowing to thee,

the Brahmanas, accompanied by their wives and children, go to eternal

regions won by them by help of their own deeds. O Agni, the learned

represent thee as the clouds in the heavens charged with lightning. O

Agni, the flames put forth by thee consume every creature. O thou of

great splendour, this universe hath been created by thee. The Vedas are

thy word. All creatures, mobile and immobile, depend upon thee. Water

primarily dependeth on thee, so also the whole of this universe. All

offerings of clarified butter and oblations of food to the pitris have

been established in thee. O god, thou art the consumer, and thou art the

creator and thou art Vrihaspati himself (in intelligence). Thou art the

twin Aswins; thou art Surya; thou art Soma; thou art Vayu.


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘O monarch, thus praised by Mandapala, Agni was

gratified with that Rishi of immeasurable energy; and the god,

well-pleased, replied, ‘What good can I do to thee?’ Then Mandapala with

joined palms said unto the carrier of clarified butter, ‘While thou

burnest the forest of Khandava, spare my children.’ The illustrious

bearer of clarified butter replied, ‘So be it.’ It was, therefore, O

monarch, that he blazed not forth, while consuming the forest of

Khandava, for the destruction of Mandapala’s children.'”






(Khandava-daha Parva continued)


“Vaisampayana said, ‘When the fire blazed forth in the forest of

Khandava, the infant birds became very much distressed and afflicted.

Filled with anxiety, they saw not any means of escape. Their mother, the

helpless Jarita, knowing that they were too young to escape, was filled

with sorrow and wept aloud. And she said, ‘Oh, the terrible

conflagration, illuminating the whole universe and burning the forest

down, approacheth towards us, increasing my woe. These infants with

immature understanding, without feathers and feet, and the sole refuge of

our deceased ancestors, afflict me. Oh, this fire approacheth, spreading

fear all around, and licking with its tongue the tallest trees. But my

unfledged children are incapable of effecting their escape. I myself am

not capable of escaping, taking all these with me. Nor am I capable of

abandoning them, for my heart is distressed on their account. Whom

amongst my sons, shall I leave behind, and whom shall I carry with me?

What (act) should I do now that is consistent with duty? What also do

you, my infant sons, think? I do not, even by reflection, see any way of

escape for you. I shall even cover you with my wings and die with you.

Your cruel father left me some time before, saying, ‘Upon this Jaritari,

because he is the eldest of my sons, will my race depend. My second

Sarisrikka will beget progeny for the expansion of my ancestors’ race. My

third, Stamvamitra, will be devoted to asceticism, and my youngest,

Drona, will become the foremost of those acquainted with the Vedas.’ But

how hath this terrible calamity overtaken us! Whom shall I take with me?

As I am deprived of judgment what should I do that is consistent with

duty? I do not see, by the exercise of my own judgment, the escape of my

children from the fire!’


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Unto their mother indulging in these lamentations,

the infant ones said. ‘O mother, relinquishing thy affection for us, go

thou to a place where there is no fire. If we are killed here, thou

mayest have other children born to thee. If thou, O mother be killed, we

can have no more children in our race. Reflecting upon both these

calamities, the time hath come for thee, O mother, to do that which is

beneficial to our race. Do not be influenced by affection for thy

offspring, which promises to destroy both us and thee. If thou savest

thyself, our father, who is even desirous of winning regions of felicity,

may have his wishes gratified.’


“Hearing what the infants said. Jarita replied, ‘There is a hole here in

the ground near to this tree, belonging to a mouse. Enter this hole

without loss of time. You shall have then no fear of fire. After ye have

entered it, I shall, ye children, cover its mouth with dust. This is the

only means of escape that I see from the blazing fire. Then when the fire

will be put out, I shall return hither to remove the dust. Follow my

advice if you are to escape from the conflagration.’


“The infant birds replied, ‘Without feathers we are but so many balls of

flesh. If we enter the hole, certain it is that the carnivorous mouse

will destroy us all. Beholding this danger before us, we cannot enter

this hole. Alas, we do not see any means by which we may escape from the

fire or from the mouse. We do not see how our father’s act of procreation

may be prevented from becoming futile, and how also our mother may be

saved. If we enter the hole, the mouse will destroy us; we remain where

we are and the sky-ranging fire will destroy us. Reflecting upon both the

calamities, a death by fire is preferable to a death by being eaten up.

If we are devoured by the mouse within the hole, that death is certainly

ignoble, whereas the destruction of the body in fire is approved by the







(Khandava-daha Parva continued)


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Hearing those words of her sons Jarita continued,

‘The little mouse that had come out of this hole was seized by a hawk

with his claws and carried away hence. Therefore, ye may fearlessly enter

this hole now.’ The young ones replied, ‘We are not by any means certain

of that mouse having been taken away by the hawk. There may be other mice

living here. From them we have every fear. Whereas it is doubtful whether

fire will at all approach us here. Already we see an adverse wind blowing

the flames away. If we enter the hole, death is certain at the hands of

the dwellers in the hole. But if we remain where we are, death is

uncertain. O mother, a position in which death is uncertain is better

than that in which it is certain. It is thy duty, therefore, to escape

thyself, for, if thou livest thou mayest obtain other children as good.’


“Their mother then said, ‘Ye children, I myself saw the mighty hawk, that

best of birds, swoop down and fly away with the mouse from the hole. And

while he was flying away swiftly, I followed him behind and pronounced

blessing on him for his having taken away the mouse from the hole. I said

unto him. ‘O king of hawks, because thou art flying away with our enemy,

the mouse, in thy claws, mayest thou, without a foe, live in heaven with

a golden body.’ Afterwards when that hawk devoured the mouse, I came

away, obtaining his leave. Therefore, ye children, enter this hole

trustfully. Ye have nothing to fear. The mouse that was its inmate was

seized and taken away by the hawk in my sight.’ The young ones again

said, ‘O mother, we do not by any means know that the mouse hath been

carried away by the hawk. We cannot enter this hole in the ground without

being certain of the fact.’ Their mother said, ‘I know to a certainty

that the mouse hath been carried away by the hawk. Therefore, ye

children, ye have nothing to fear; do what I say.’ The young ones again

said, ‘We do not, O mother, say that thou art dispelling our fears with a

false story. For whatever is done by a person when his reason hath been

disturbed can scarcely be said to be that person’s deliberate act. Thou

hast not been benefited by us, nor dost thou know who we are. Why dost

thou, therefore, strive to protect us at so much cost to thyself? Who are

we to thee? Thou art young and handsome, and capable of seeking out thy

husband. Go unto thy husband. Thou shalt obtain good children again. Let

us by entering the fire attain to regions of felicity. If, however, the

fire consume us not, thou mayest come back and obtain us again.’


“Vaisampayana said, ‘The parent bird then, thus addressed by her sons,

left them in Khandava and hastily went to the spot where there was no

fire and there was safety. Then Agni in haste and with fierce flames

approached the spot where the sons of Mandapala were. The young birds saw

the blazing fire come towards them. Then Jaritari, the eldest of the

four, in the hearing of Agni, began to speak.'”






(Khandava-daha Parva continued)


“Jaritari said, ‘The person that is wise remaineth wakeful in view of

death. Accordingly, when the hour of death approacheth, he feeleth no

pangs. But the person of perplexed soul, who remaineth not awake, when

the hour of death comes, feeleth the pangs of death and never attaineth



“The second brother Sarisrikka, said, ‘Thou art patient and intelligent.

The time is come when our lives are threatened. Without doubt, one only

amongst many becometh wise and brave.’


“The third brother, Stamvamitra, said, ‘The eldest brother is called the

protector. It is the eldest brother that rescueth (the younger ones) from

danger. If the eldest himself faileth to rescue them, what can the

younger ones do?’


“The fourth and the youngest brother, Drona said, ‘The cruel god of fire,

with seven tongues and seven mouths quickly cometh towards our

habitation, blazing forth in splendour and licking up everything in his



“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Having addressed one another thus, the sons of

Mandapala then each devotedly addressed an eulogistic hymn to Agni.

Listen now, O monarch, to those hymns as I recite them.’


“Jaritari said, ‘Thou art, O fire, the soul of air! Thou art the body of

the Earth’s vegetation! O Sukra, water is thy parent as thou art the

parent of water! O thou of great energy, thy flames, like the rays of the

sun, extend themselves above, below, behind, and on each side.’


“Sarisrikka said, ‘O smoke-bannered god, our mother is not to be seen,

and we know not our father! Our feathers have not grown as yet. We have

none to protect us save thee. Therefore, O Agni, infants that we are

protect us! O Agni, as we are distressed, protect us with that auspicious

form thou hast and with those seven flames of thine! We seek protection

at thy hands. Thou alone, O Agni, art the giver of heat (in the

universe). O lord, there is none else (save thee) that giveth heat to the

rays of the sun. O, protect us who are young and who are Rishis. O

Havyavaha (carrier of sacrificial butter), be pleased to go hence by some

other route.’


“Stamvamitra said, ‘Thou alone, O Agni, art everything! This whole

universe is established in thee! Thou sustainest every creature, and thou

supportest the universe! Thou art the carrier of the sacrificial butter,

and thou art the excellent sacrificial butter itself! The wise know thee

to be one (as cause) and many (as effects)! Having created the three

worlds, thou, O Havyavaha, again destroyest them when the time cometh,

swelling thyself forth! Thou art the productive cause of the whole

universe, and thou also art the essence in which the universe dissolveth



“Drona said, ‘O lord of the universe, growing in strength and remaining

within their bodies, thou causest the food that living creatures eat to

be digested. Everything therefore, is established in thee. O Sukra, O

thou from whose mouth the Vedas have sprung, it is thou who assumests the

form of the sun, and sucking up the waters of the earth and every liquid

juice that the earth yields, givest them back in time in the form of rain

and causest everything to grow! From thee, O Sukra, are these plants and

creepers with green foliage! From thee have sprung these tanks and pools,

and the great ocean also that is ever blessed! O thou of fierce rays,

this our (human) body dependeth on Varuna (the water-god)! We are unable

to bear thy heat. Be thou, therefore, our auspicious protector! O,

destroy us not! O thou of copper-hued eyes, O thou of red neck, O thou

whose path is marked by a black colour, save us by going along any remote

route, as indeed, the ocean saveth the house on its banks!’


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed by Drona–that utterer of

Brahma–Agni, well-pleased at what he heard, and remembering also the

promise he had made to Mandapala, replied unto him, saying, ‘Thou art a

Rishi, O Drona! For what thou hast said is Brahma (Vedic truth). I shall

do your pleasure. Fear not! Indeed, Mandapala had spoken to me of you to

the effect that I should spare his sons, while consuming the forest. The

words he spoke and thy speech also are entitled to great weight to me.

Say what I am to do. O best of Brahmanas, I have been greatly pleased

with thy hymn. Blest be thou, O Brahmana!’


“Drona said, ‘O Sukra, these cats trouble us every day. O Hutasana;

consume them with their friends and relatives.’


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then Agni did what the Sarngakas; asked him to

do, telling them of his intentions. And, O Janamejaya, growing in

strength, he began then to consume the forest of Khandava.'”






(Khandava-daha Parva continued)


“Vaisampayana said, ‘O thou of Kuru’s race, the Rishi Mandapala became

very anxious about his children, although he had spoken of them to the

god of fierce rays. Indeed, his mind was not in peace. Distressed on

account of his sons, he addressed Lapita (his second wife with whom he

then was), saying, ‘O Lapita, as my children are incapable of the power

of moving, how are they? When the fire will grow in strength and the wind

begin to blow violently, my children will scarcely be able to save

themselves. How will their mother be able to rescue them? That innocent

woman will be afflicted with great sorrow when she will find herself

unable to save her offspring. Oh, how will she compose herself, uttering

various lamentations on account of my children who are all incapable of

taking wing or rising up into the air. Oh, how is Jaritari, my son, and

how is Sarisrikka, and how is Stamvamitra, and how is Drona, and how also

is their helpless mother?’


“Unto the Rishi Mandapala thus weeping in the forest, Lapita, O Bharata,

thus replied, under the influence of jealousy, ‘Thou need not worry for

thy children who, as thou hast assured me, are all Rishis endued with

energy and prowess! They can have no fear from fire. Didst thou not speak

to Agni in my presence, in their behalf? Has not the illustrious deity

promised to save them? One of the regents of the universe as Agni is, he

will never falsify his speech. Thou hast no anxiety, nor is thy heart

inclined towards benefiting friends. It is only by thinking of her–my

rival (Jarita) that thou art so distracted! Certain it is that the love

thou bearest to me is not equal to what thou hadst for her at first. He

that hath two parties dividing his attention, can easily behold one of

those suffer all sorts of pangs; but he should not disregard the party

that is next to his heart. Then go thou to Jarita, for whom thy heart is

sorrowing! As for myself, I shall henceforth wander alone, as a fit

reward for my having attached myself to a wicked person.’


“Hearing these words, Mandapala replied, ‘I do not wander over the earth

with such intentions as thou conceivest. It is only for the sake of

progeny that I am here. And even those that I have are in danger. He who

casteth off what he hath for the sake of what he may acquire, is a wicked

person. The world disregardeth and insulteth him. (Therefore, go I must).

As for thyself thou art free to do what thou choosest. This blazing fire

that licketh up the trees causeth sorrow in my anxious heart and raiseth

therein evil presentiments.’


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Meanwhile, after the fire had left the spot

where the Sarngakas dwelt, Jarita, much attached to her children, hastily

came thither to see how they were. She found that all of them had escaped

from the fire and were perfectly well. Beholding their mother, they began

to weep, though safe and sound. She too shed tears upon beholding them

alive. And she embraced, one by one, all her weeping children. Just at

that time, O Bharata, the Rishi Mandapala arrived there. But none of his

sons expressed joy, upon beholding him. The Rishi, however, began to

speak to them one after another and unto Jarita also, repeatedly. But

neither his sons nor Jarita spoke anything well or ill unto him in



“Mandapala then said, ‘Who amongst these is thy first born, and who the

next after him? And who is the third, and who the youngest? I am speaking

unto thee woefully; why dost thou not reply to me? I left thee, it is

true, but I was not happy where I was.’


“Jarita then said, ‘What hast thou to do with the eldest of these, and

what with him that is next? And what with the third and what with the

youngest? Go now unto that Lapita of sweet smiles and endued with youth,

unto whom thou didst go of old, beholding me deficient in everything!’

Mandapala replied, ‘As regards females, there is nothing so destructive

of their happiness whether in this or the other world as a co-wife and a

clandestine lover. There is nothing like these two that, inflames the

fire of hostility and causes such anxiety. Even the auspicious and

well-behaved Arundhati, celebrated amongst all creatures, had been

jealous of the illustrious Vasishtha of great purity of mind and always

devoted to the good of his wife. Arundhati insulted even the wise Muni

amongst the (celestial) seven. In consequence of such insulting thoughts

of hers, she has become a little star, like fire mixed with smoke,

sometimes visible and sometimes invisible, like an omen portending no

good (amongst a constellation of seven bright stars representing the

seven Rishis). I look to thee for the sake of children. I never wronged

thee, like Vasishtha who never wronged his wife. Thou hast, therefore, by

thy jealousy behaved towards me like Arundhati of old towards Vasishtha.

Men should never trust women even if they be wives. Women, when they have

become mothers, do not much mind serving their husbands.’


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘After this, all his children came forward to

worship him. And he also began to speak kindly towards them all, giving

them every assurance.'”






(Khandava-daha Parva continued)


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Mandapala then addressed his children, saying, ‘I

had spoken unto Agni for the safety of you all. The illustrious deity had

assured me that he would grant my wish. At those words of Agni, and

knowing the virtuous disposition of your mother, as also the great energy

that is in yourselves, I came not here earlier. Therefore, ye sons, do

not harbour in your hearts any resentment towards me. Ye are all Rishis

acquainted with the Vedas. Even Agni knoweth you well.’


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Having given such assurances unto his sons, the

Brahmana Mandapala took with him his wife and sons, and leaving that

region, went away to some other country.


“It was thus that the illustrious god of fierce rays, having grown in

strength consumed the forest of Khandava with the help of Krishna and

Arjuna, for the good of the world. And Agni having drunk several rivers

of fat and marrow, became highly gratified, and showed himself to Arjuna.

Then Purandara, surrounded by the Maruts, descended from the firmament

and addressing Partha and Kesava said, ‘Ye have achieved a feat that a

celestial even could not. Ask ye each a boon that is not obtainable by

any man. I have been gratified with you.’


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then Partha asked from Indra all his weapons.

At this Sakra of great splendour, having fixed the time for giving them,

said, ‘When the illustrious Madhava becomes pleased with thee, then, O

son of Pandu, I will give thee all my weapons! O prince of Kuru’s race, I

shall know when the time cometh. Even for thy austere asceticism I will

give thee all my weapons of fire and all my Vayavya weapons, and thou

also wilt accept them all of me.’ Then Vasudeva asked that his friendship

with Arjuna might be eternal. The chief of the celestials granted unto

the intelligent Krishna the boon he desired. And having granted these

boons unto Krishna and Arjuna, the lord of the Maruts, accompanied by the

celestials, ascended to heaven, having also spoken to Hutasana (one whose

food is sacrificial butter). Agni also, having burnt that forest with its

animals and birds for five and ten days, became gratified and ceased to

burn. Having eaten flesh in abundance and drunk fat and blood, he became

highly gratified, and addressing Achyuta and Arjuna said, ‘I have been

gratified by you two tigers among men. At my command, ye heroes, ye shall

be competent to go wheresoever ye choose!’ Thus addressed by the

illustrious Agni, Arjuna and Vasudeva and the Danava Maya also–these

three,–having wandered a little at last sat themselves down on the

delightful banks of a river.'”






1. These are divisions of time

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