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The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa

SECTION XXXIX

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Beholding that bull among men seated on the car in the habit of a person of the third sex, driving toward the Sami tree, having taken (the flying) Uttara up, all the great car-warriors of the Kurus with Bhishma and Drona at their head, became affrighted at heart, suspecting the comer to be Dhananjaya. And seeing them so dispirited and marking also the many wonderful portents, that foremost of all wielders of arms, the preceptor Drona, son of Bharadwaja, said, ‘Violent and hot are the winds that below, showering gravels in profusion. The sky also is overcast with a gloom of ashy hue. The clouds present the strange sight of being dry and waterless. Our weapons also of various kinds are coming out of their cases.

The jackals are yelling hideously affrighted at the conflagrations on all sides.[41] The horses too are shedding tears, and our banners are trembling though moved by none. Such being the inauspicious indications seen, a great danger is at hand. Stay ye with vigilance, Protect ye your own selves and array the troops in order of battle. Stand ye, expecting a terrible slaughter, and guard ye well the kine. This mighty bowman, this foremost of all wielders of weapons, this hero that hath come in the habit of a person of the third sex, is the son of Pritha.


There is no doubt of this.’ Then addressing Bhishma, the preceptor continued, ‘O offspring of the Ganges, apparelled as a woman, this is Kiriti called after a tree, the son of the enemy of the mountains, and having on his banner the sign of devastator of the gardens of Lanka’s lord. Vanquishing us he will surely take away the kine today! [42] This chastiser of foes is the valiant son of Pritha surnamed Savyasachin. He doth not desist from conflict even with the gods and demons combined. Put to great hardship in the forest he cometh in wrath. Taught by even Indra himself, he is like unto Indra in battle.

Therefore, ye Kauravas, I do not see any hero who can withstand him. It is said that the lord Mahadeva himself, disguised in the attire of a hunter, was gratified by this son of Pritha in battle on the mountains of Himavat.’ Hearing these words, Karna said, ‘You always censure us by speaking on the virtues of Falguna, Arjuna, however, is not equal to even a full sixteenth part of myself or Duryodhana!’ And Duryodhana said, ‘If this be Partha, O Radheya, then my purpose hath already been fulfilled, for then, O king, if traced out, the Pandavas shall have to wander for twelve years again. Or, if this one be any other person in a eunuch’s garb, I will soon prostrate him on the earth with keen-edged arrows.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘The son of Dhritarashtra, O chastiser of foes, having said this, Bhishma and Drona and Kripa and Drona’s son all applauded his manliness!’”

SECTION XL
“Vaisampayana said, ‘Having reached that Sami tree, and having ascertained Virata’s son to be exceedingly delicate and inexperienced in battle, Partha addressed him, saying, ‘Enjoined by me, O Uttara, quickly take down (from this tree) some bows that are there. For these bows of thine are unable to bear my strength, my heavy weight when I shall grind down horses and elephants, and the stretch of my arms when I seek to vanquish the foe. Therefore, O Bhuminjaya, climb thou up this tree of thick foliage, for in this tree are tied the bows and arrows and banners and excellent coats of mail of the heroic sons of Pandu, viz., Yudhishthira and Bhima and Vibhatsu and the twins.

There also is that bow of great energy, the Gandiva of Arjuna, which singly is equal to many thousands of other bows and which is capable of extending the limits of a kingdom. Large like a palmyra tree, able to bear the greatest stress, the largest of all weapons, capable of obstructing the foe, handsome, and smooth, and broad, without a knot, and adorned with gold, it is stiff and beautiful in make and beareth the heaviest weight. And the other bows also that are there, of Yudhishthira and Bhima and Vibhatsu and the twins, are equally mighty and tough.’”

SECTION XLI
“Uttara said, ‘It hath been heard by us that a corpse is tied in this tree. How can I, therefore, being a prince by birth, touch it with my hands? Born in the Kshatriya order, and the son of a great king, and always observant of mantras and vows, it is not becoming of me to touch it. Why shouldst thou, O Vrihannala, make me a polluted and unclean bearer of corpses, by compelling me to come in contact with a corpse?’

“Vrihannala said, ‘Thou shalt, O king of kings, remain clean and unpolluted. Do not fear, there are only bows in this tree and not corpses. Heir to the king of the Matsyas, and born in a noble family, why should I, O prince, make thee do such a reproachable deed?’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Thus addressed by Partha, Virata’s son, decked in ear-rings, alighted from the car, and climbed up that Sami tree reluctantly. And staying on the car, Dhananjaya, that slayer of enemies, said, unto him, ‘Speedily bring thou down those bows from the top of the tree. And cutting off their wrappings first and then the ropes with which they were tied, the prince beheld the Gandiva there along with four other bows. And as they were united, the splendour of those bows radiant as the sun, began to shine with great effulgence like unto that of the planets about the time of their rising.

And beholding the forms of those bows, so like unto sighing snakes, he become afflicted with fear and in a moment the bristles of his body stood on their ends. And touching those large bows of great splendour, Virata’s son, O king, thus spake unto Arjuna!’”

SECTION XLII
“Uttara said, ‘To what warrior of fame doth this excellent bow belong, on which are a hundred golden bosses and which hath such radiant ends? Whose is this excellent bow of good sides and easy hold, on the staff of which shine golden elephants of such brightness? Whose is this excellent bow, adorned with three scores of Indragoapkas [43] of pure gold, placed on the back of the staff at proper intervals? Whose is this excellent bow, furnished with three golden suns of great effulgence, blazing forth with such brilliancy? Whose is this beautiful bow which is variegated with gold and gems, and on which are golden insects set with beautiful stones? Whose are these arrows furnished with wing around, numbering a thousand, having golden heads, and cased in golden quivers?

Who owneth these large shafts, so thick, furnished with vulturine wings whetted on stone, yellowish in hue, sharp-pointed, well-tempered, and entirely made of iron? Whose is this sable quiver, [44] bearing five images of tigers, which holdeth shafts intermixed with boar-eared arrows altogether numbering ten? Whose are these seven hundred arrows, long and thick, capable of drinking (the enemy’s) blood, and looking like the crescent-shaped moon? [45] Whose are these gold-crested arrows whetted on stones, the lower halves of which are well-furnished with wings of the hue of parrots’ feather and the upper halves, of well-tempered steels? [46] Whose is this excellent sword irresistible, and terrible to adversaries, with the mark of a toad on it, and pointed like a toad’s head? [47] Cased in variegated sheath of tiger-skin, whose is this large sword of excellent blade and variegated with gold and furnished with tinkling bells? Whose is this handsome scimitar of polished blade and golden hilt? Manufactured in the country of the Nishadas, irresistible, incapable of being broken, whose is this sword of polished blade in a scabbard of cow-skin? Whose is this beautiful and long sword, sable in hue as the sky, mounted with gold, well-tempered, and cased in a sheath of goat-skin? Who owneth this heavy, well-tempered, and broad sword, just longer than the breadth of thirty fingers, polished by constant clash with other’s weapons and kept in a case of gold, bright as fire? Whose is this beautiful scimitar of sable blade covered with golden bosses, capable of cutting through the bodies of adversaries, whose touch is as fatal as that of a venomous snake which is irresistible and exciteth the terror of foes? Asked by me, O Vrihannala, do thou answer me truly. Great is my wonder at the sight of all these excellent objects.’”

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