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The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa

SECTION XXXVI
“Uttara said, ‘Firm as I am in the use of the bow, I would set out this very day in the track of the kine if only some one skilled in the management of horses becomes my charioteer. I do not, however, know the man who may be my charioteer. Look ye, therefore, without delay, for a charioteer for me that am prepared for starting. My own charioteer was slain in the great battle that was fought from day to day for a whole month or at least for eight and twenty nights. As soon as I get another person conversant with the management of the steeds. I will immediately set out, hoisting high my own standard. Penetrating into the midst of the hostile army abounding with elephants and horses and chariots, I will bring back the kine, having vanquished the Kurus who are feeble in strength and weak in weapons. Like a second wielder of the thunderbolt terrifying the Danavas, I will bring back the kine this very moment, affrighting in battle Duryodhana and Bhishma and Karna and Kripa and Drona with his son, and other mighty bowmen assembled for fight. Finding none (to oppose), the Kurus are taking away the kine.

What can I do when I am not there? The assembled Kurus shall witness my prowess today. And they shall say unto one another, ‘Is it Arjuna himself who is opposing us?’ “Vaisampayana continued, ‘Having heard these words spoken by the prince, Arjuna fully acquainted with the import of everything, after a little while cheerfully spake in private unto his dear wife of faultless beauty, Krishna, the princess of Panchala, Drupada’s daughter of slender make, sprung from the (sacrificial) fire and endued with the virtues of truthfulness and honesty and ever attentive to the good of her husbands. And the hero said, ‘Do thou, O beauteous one, at my request say unto Uttara without delay, ‘This Vrihannala was formerly the accomplished resolute charioteer of Pandu’s son (Arjuna). Tried in many a great battle, even he will be thy charioteer.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing these words uttered by the prince over and over again in the midst of the women, Panchali could not quietly bear those allusions to Vibhatsu. And bashfully stepping out from among the women, the poor princess of Panchala gently spake unto him these words, ‘The handsome youth, looking like a mighty elephant and known by the name of Vrihannala, was formerly the charioteer of Arjuna. A disciple of that illustrious warrior, and inferior to none in use of the bow, he was known to me while I was living with the Pandavas. It was by him that the reins were held of Arjuna’s excellent steeds when Agni consumed the forest of Khandava. It was with him as charioteer that Partha conquered all creatures at Khandava-prastha. In fact, there is no charioteer equal unto him.’

“Uttara said, ‘Thou knowest, O Sairindhri, this youth. Thou knowest, what this one of the neuter sex may or may not be, I cannot, however, O blessed one, myself request Vrihannala to hold the reins of my horses.’


“Draupadi said, ‘Vrihannala, O hero, will without doubt, obey the words of thy younger sister[35]–that damsel of graceful hips. If he consents to be thy charioteer, thou wilt, without doubt, return, having vanquished the Kurus and rescued thy kine.’
“Thus addressed by the Sairindhri, Uttara spake unto his sister, ‘Go thyself, O thou of faultless beauty, and bring Vrihannala hither?’ And despatched by her brother, she hastily repaired to the dancing-hall where that strong-armed son of Pandu was staying in disguise.’”

SECTION XXXVII
“Vaisampayana said, ‘Thus despatched by her elder brother, the far-famed daughter of king Matsya, adorned with a golden necklace, ever obedient to her brother and possessed of a waist slender as that of the wasp,[36] endued with the splendour of Lakshmi herself,[37] decked with the plumes of the peacock of slender make and graceful limbs, her hips encircled by a zone of pearls, her eye-lashes slightly curved, and her form endued with every grace, hastily repaired to the dancing-hall like a flash of lightning rushing towards a mass of dark clouds.[38] And the faultless and auspicious daughter of Virata, of fine teeth and slender-waist, of thighs close unto each other and each like the trunk of an elephant, her person embellished with an excellent garland, sought the son of Pritha like a she-elephant seeking her mate. And like unto a precious gem or the very embodiment of prosperity of Indra, of exceeding beauty and large eyes, that charming and adored and celebrated damsel saluted Arjuna. And saluted by her, Partha asked that maiden of close thighs and golden complexion, saying ‘What brings thee hither, a damsel decked in a necklace of gold? Why art thou in such a hurry, O gazelle-eyed maiden? Why is thy face, O beauteous lady, so cheerless? Tell me all this without delay!’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Beholding, O king, his friend, the princess of large-eyes (in that plight), her friend (Arjuna) cheerfully enquired of her (in these words) the cause of her arrival there and then. And having approached that bull among men, the princess, standing in the midst of her female attendants, the displaying proper modesty[39], addressed him, saying, ‘The kine of this realm, O Vrihannala, are being driven away by the Kurus, and it is to conquer them that my brother will set out bow in hand. Not long ago his own charioteer was slain in battle, and there is none equal unto the one slain that can act as my brother’s charioteer. And unto him striving to obtain a charioteer, Sairindhri,

O Vrihannala, hath spoken about thy skill in the management of steeds. Thou wert formerly the favourite charioteer of Arjuna, and it was with thee that that bull among the sons of Pandu had alone subjugated the whole earth. Do thou, therefore, O Vrihannala, act as the charioteer of my brother. (By this time) our kine have surely been driven away by the Kurus to a great distance. Requested by me if thou dost not act up to my words, I who am asking this service of thee out of affection, will give up my life!’ Thus addressed by this friend of graceful hips, that oppressor of foes, endued with immeasurable prowess, went into the prince’s presence. And like unto a she-elephant running after her young one, the princess possessed of large eyes followed that hero advancing with hasty steps like unto an elephant with rent temples.

And beholding him from a distance, the prince himself said, ‘With thee as his charioteer, Dhananjaya the son of Kunti had gratified Agni at the Khandava forest and subjugated the whole world! The Sairindhri hath spoken of thee to me. She knoweth the Pandavas. Do thou, therefore, O Vrihannala, hold, as thou didst, the reins of my steeds, desirous as I am of righting with the Kurus and rescuing my bovine wealth. Thou wert formerly the beloved charioteer of Arjuna and it was with thee that that bull among the sons of Pandu had alone subjugated the whole earth!’ Thus addressed, Vrihannala replied unto the prince, saying, ‘What ability have I to act as a charioteer in the field of battle? If it is song or dance of musical instruments or such other things, I can entertain thee therewith, but where is my skill for becoming a charioteer?’

“Uttara said, ‘O Vrihannala, be thou a singer or a dancer, hold thou (for the present), without loss of time, the reins of my excellent steeds, mounting upon my car!’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Although that oppressor of foes, the son of Pandu, was acquainted with everything, yet in the presence of Uttara, he began to make many mistakes for the sake of fun. And when he sought to put the coat of mail on his body by raising it upwards, the large-eyed maidens, beholding it, burst out into a loud laughter. And seeing him quite ignorant of putting on armour, Uttara himself equipped Vrihannala with a costly coat of mail. And casing his own person in an excellent armour of solar effulgence, and hoisting his standard bearing the figure of a lion, the prince caused Vrihannala to become his charioteer. And with Vrihannala to hold his reins, the hero set out, taking with him many costly bows and a large number of beautiful arrows. And his friend, Uttara and her maidens then said unto Vrihannala, ‘Do thou, O Vrihannala, bring for our dolls (when thou comest back) various kinds of good and fine cloths after vanquishing the Kurus assembled for battle of whom Bhishma and Drona are foremost!’ Thus addressed, Partha the son of Pandu, in a voice deep as the roar of the clouds, smilingly said unto that bevy of fair maidens. If, thus ‘Uttara can vanquish those mighty warriors in battle, I will certainly bring excellent and beautiful cloths.’

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