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The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa

SECTION XXXIII
“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then, O Bharata, when the world was enveloped in dust and the gloom of night, the warriors of both sides, without breaking the order of battle, desisted for a while.[31] And then, dispelling the darkness the moon arose illumining the night and gladdening the hearts of the Kshatriya warriors. And when everything became visible, the battle once more began. And it raged on so furiously that the combatants could not distinguish one another. And then Trigarta’s lord, Susarman with his younger brother, and accompanied by all his cars, rushed towards the king of Matsya. And descending from their cars, those bulls among Kshatriyas, the (royal) brothers, mace in hand, rushed furiously towards the cars of the foe.

And the hostile hosts fiercely assailed each other with maces and swords and scimitars, battle-axes and bearded darts with keen edges and points of excellent temper. And king Susarman, the lord of the Trigartas having by his energy oppressed and defeated the whole army of the Matsyas, impetuously rushed towards Virata himself endued with great energy. And the two brothers having severally slain Virata’s two steeds and his charioteer, as also those soldiers that protected his rear, took him captive alive, when deprived of his car. Then afflicting him sorely, like a lustful man afflicting a defenceless damsel, Susarman placed Virata on his own car, and speedily rushed out of the field. And when the powerful Virata, deprived of his car, was taken captive, the Matsyas, harrassed solely by the Trigartas, began to flee in fear in all directions.

And beholding them panic-stricken, Kunti’s son, Yudhishthira, addressed that subduer of foes, the mighty-armed Bhima, saying, ‘The king of the Matsyas hath been taken by the Trigartas. Do thou, O mighty-armed one, rescue him, so that he may not fall under the power of the enemy. As we have lived happily in Virata’s city, having every desire of ours gratified, it behoveth thee, O Bhimasena, to discharge that debt (by liberating the king).’ Thereat Bhimasena replied, ‘I will liberate him, O king, at thy command. Mark the feat I achieve (today) in battling with the foe, relying solely on the might of my arms. Do thou, O king, stay aside, along with our brothers and witness my prowess today. Uprooting this mighty tree of huge trunk looking like a mace, I will rout the enemy.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Beholding Bhima casting his eyes on that tree like a mad elephant, the heroic king Yudhishthira the just spake unto his brother, saying, ‘Do not, O Bhima, commit such a rash act. Let the tree stand there. Thou must not achieve such feats in a super-human manner by means of that tree, for if thou dost, the people, O Bharata, will recognise thee and say, This is Bhima. Take thou, therefore, some human weapon such as a bow (and arrows), or a dart, or a sword, or a battle-axe. And taking therefore, O Bhima, some weapon that is human, liberate thou the king without giving anybody the means of knowing thee truly. The twins endued with great strength will defend thy wheels. Fighting together, O child, liberate the king of the Matsyas!’


“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed, the mighty Bhimasena endued with great speed, quickly took up an excellent bow and impetuously shot from it a shower of arrows, thick as the downpour of a rain-charged cloud. And Bhima then rushed furiously towards Susarman of terrible deeds, and assuring Virata with the words–O good king![32] said unto the lord of the Trigartas,–Stay! Stay! Seeing Bhima like unto Yama himself in his rear, saying, Stay! Stay! Do thou witness this mighty feat,–this combat that is at hand!–the bull among warriors, Susarman, seriously considered (the situation), and taking up his bow turned back, along with his brothers. Within the twinkling of an eye, Bhima destroyed those cars that sought to oppose him. And soon again hundreds of thousands of cars and elephants and horses and horsemen and brave and fierce bowmen were overthrown by Bhima in the very sight of Virata.

And the hostile infantry also began to be slaughtered by the illustrious Bhima, mace in hand. And beholding that terrible onslaught, Susarman, irrepressible in fight, thought within himself, ‘My brother seems to have already succumbed in the midst of his mighty host. Is my army going to be annihilated?’ And drawing his bow-string to his ear Susarman then turned back and began to shoot keen-edged shafts incessantly. And seeing the Pandavas return to the charge on their car, the Matsya warriors of mighty host, urging on their steeds, shot excellent weapons for grinding the Trigarta soldiers. And Virata’s son also, exceedingly exasperated began to perform prodigious fears of valour. And Kunti’s son Yudhishthira slew a thousand (of the foe), and Bhima showed the abode of Yama unto seven thousand. And Nakula sent seven hundred (to their last account) by means of his shafts. And powerful Sahadeva also, commanded by Yudhishthira, slew three hundred brave warriors.

And having slain such numbers, that fierce and mighty warrior, Yudhishthira, with weapons upraised, rushed against Susarman. And rushing impetuously at Susarman, that foremost of car-warriors, king Yudhishthira, assailed him with vollies of shafts. And Susarman also, in great rage, quickly pierced Yudhishthira with nine arrows, and each of his four steeds with four arrows. Then, O king, Kunti’s son Bhima of quick movements, approaching Susarman crushed his steeds. And having slain also those soldiers that protected his rear, he dragged from the car his antagonist’s charioteer to the ground. And seeing the king of Trigarta’s car without a driver, the defender of his car-wheels, the famous and brave Madiraksha speedily came to his aid. And thereat, leaping down from Susarman’s car, and securing the latter’s mace the powerful Virata ran in pursuit of him. And though old, he moved on the field, mace in hand, even like a lusty youth. And beholding Susarman flee Bhima addressed him, saying, ‘Desist, O Prince! This flight of thine is not proper! With this prowess of thine, how couldst thou wish to carry off the cattle by force? How also, forsaking thy follower, dost thou droop so amidst foes? Thus addressed by Pritha’s son, the mighty Susarman, that lord of countless cars saying unto Bhima, Stay! Stay!–suddenly turned round and rushed at him. Then Bhima, the son of Pandu, leaping down from his car, as he alone could do,[33] rushed forward with great coolness, desirous of taking Susarman’s life. And desirous of seizing Trigarta’s king advancing towards him, the mighty Bhimasena rushed impetuously towards him, even like a lion rushing at a small deer.

And advancing impetuously, the mighty-armed Bhima seized Susarman by the hair, and lifting him up in wrath, dashed him down on the ground. And as he lay crying in agony, the mighty-armed Bhima kicked him at the head, and placing his knee on his breast dealt him severe blows. And sorely afflicted with that kicking, the king of Trigartas became senseless. And when the king of the Trigartas deprived of his car, had been seized thus, the whole Trigarta army stricken with panic, broke and fled in all directions, and the mighty sons of Pandu, endued with modesty and observant of vows and relying on the might of their own arms, after having vanquished Susarman, and rescued the kine as well as other kinds of wealth and having thus dispelled Virata’s anxiety, stood together before that monarch. And Bhimasena then said, ‘This wretch given to wicked deeds doth not deserve to escape me with life. But what can I do? The king is so lenient!’ And then taking Susarman by the neck as he was lying on the ground insensible and covered with dust, and binding him fast, Pritha’s son Vrikodara placed him on his car, and went to where Yudhishthira was staying in the midst of the field. And Bhima then showed Susarman unto the monarch. And beholding Susarman in that plight, that tiger among men king Yudhishthira smilingly addressed Bhima–that ornament of battle,–saying, ‘Let this worst of men be set free.’ Thus addressed, Bhima spoke unto the mighty Susarman, saying, ‘If, O wretch, thou wishest to live, listen to those words of mine.

Thou must say in every court and assembly of men,–I am a slave. On this condition only I will grant thee thy life. Verily, this is the law about the vanquished.’ Thereupon his elder brother affectionately addressed Bhima, saying, ‘If thou regardest us as an authority, liberate this wicked wight. He hath already become king Virata’s slave. And turning then to Susarman, he said, ‘Thou art freed. Go thou a free man, and never act again in this way.’”

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