(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.