(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.'”
“Vaisampayana said, ‘O best of monarchs, within a few days after this, there commenced on the Raivataka mountain, a grand festival of the Vrishnis and the Andhakas. At the mountain-festival of the Bhojas, the Vrishnis and the Andhakas, the heroes of those tribes began to give away much wealth unto Brahmanas by thousands.
The region around that hill, O king was adorned with many a mansion decked with gems and many an artificial tree of gaudy hue. The musicians struck up in concert and the dancers began to dance and the vocalists to sing. And the youth of the Vrishni race, endued with great energy, adorned with every ornament, and riding in their gold-decked cars, looked extremely handsome. The citizens, some on foot and some in excellent cars, with their wives and followers were there by hundreds and thousands. And there was the lord Haladhara (Valarama), roving at will, hilarious with drink, accompanied by (his wife) Revati, and followed by many musicians and vocalists.
There came Ugrasena also, the powerful king of he Vrishni race, accompanied by his thousand wives and followed by sweet singers. And Raukmineya and Shamva also, ever furious in battle, roved there, excited with drink and adorned with floral wreaths of great beauty and with costly attires, and disported themselves like a pair of celestials. And Akrura and Sarana and Gada, and Vabhru, and Nisatha, and Charudeshna, and Prithu, Viprithu, and Satyaka, and Satyaki, and Bhangakara, and Maharava, and Hardikya, and Uddhava, and many others whose names are not given, accompanied by their wives that followed by bands of singers, adorned that mountain-festival. When that delightful festival of immense grandeur commenced, Vasudeva and Partha went about, together, beholding everything around. While wandering there, they saw the handsome daughter of Vasudeva, Bhadra by name, decked with every ornament, in the midst of her maids.
As soon as Arjuna beheld her he was possessed by the god of desire. Then, O Bharata, that tiger among men, Krishna, observing Partha contemplate her with absorbed attention, said with a smile, ‘How is this? Can the heart of one that rangeth the woods be agitated by the god of desire? This is my sister, O Partha, and the uterine sister of Sarana.Blest be thou, her name is Bhadra and she is the favourite daughter of my father. Tell me if thy heart is fixed upon her, for I shall then speak to my father myself.’
“Arjuna answered, ‘She is Vasudeva’s daughter and Vasudeva’s (Krishna) sister; endued with so much beauty, whom can she not fascinate? If this thy sister, this maid of the Vrishni race, becometh my wife, truly may I win prosperity in everything. Tell me, O Janardana, by what means I may obtain her.
To get her I will achieve anything that is achievable by man.’
“Vasudeva answered, ‘O bull amongst men, self-choice hath been ordained for the marriage of Kshatriyas. But that is doubtful (in its consequences), O Partha, as we do not know this girl’s temper and disposition. In the case of Kshatriyas that are brave, a forcible abduction for purposes of marriage is applauded, as the learned have said. Therefore O Arjuna, carry away this my beautiful sister by force, for who knows what she may do at a self-choice.’ Then Krishna and Arjuna, having thus settled as to what should be done sent some speedy messengers unto Yudhishthira at Indraprastha, informing him of everything. The strong-armed Yudhishthira, as soon as he heard it, gave his assent to it.'”