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The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa by Kisari Mohan Ganguli (Translator)

Part 11 out of 11

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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 shunned.'

"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, 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 days.'"


(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 the 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 it.'"


(Subhadra-harana Parva continued)

"'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 words:

'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!' 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

"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

"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 subjugator 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 forest!'

"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


(Khandava-daha Parva continued)

"Vaisampayana said, 'Then Havyavahana (Agni) in anger and disappointment,
with his ailment uncured, went 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 the 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 happiness.

"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

"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, 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

"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 wise.'"


(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 path.'

"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

"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 return.'

"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 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.'"


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