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The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa

SECTION XLIII
“Vrihannala said, ‘That about which thou hath first enquired is Arjuna’s bow, of world-wide fame, called Gandiva, capable of devastating hostile hosts. Embellished with gold, this Gandiva, the highest and largest of all weapons belonged to Arjuna. Alone equal unto a hundred thousand weapons, and always capable of extending the confines of kingdoms, it is with this that Partha vanquisheth in battle both men and celestials. Worshipped ever by the gods, the Danavas and the Gandharvas and variegated with excellent colours, this large and smooth bow is without a knot or stain anywhere. Shiva held it first for a thousand years.

Afterwards Prajapati held it for five hundred and three years. After that Sakra, for five and eighty years. And then Soma held it for five hundred years. And after that Varuna held it for a hundred years. And finally Partha, surnamed Swetavahana,[48] hath held it for five and sixty years.[49] Endued with great energy and of high celestial origin, this is the best of all bows. Adored among gods and men, it hath a handsome form. Partha obtained this beautiful bow from Varuna. This other bow of handsome sides and golden handle is Bhima’s with which that son of Pritha, that chastiser of foes, had conquered the whole of the eastern regions. This other excellent bow of beautiful shape, adorned with images of Indragopakas, belongeth, O Virata’s son, to king Yudhishthira.

This other weapon with golden suns of blazing splendour shedding a dazzling effulgence around, belongeth to Nakula. And this bow adorned with golden images of insects and set also with gems and stones, belongeth to that son of Madri who is called Sahadeva. These winged arrows, thousand in number, sharp as razors and destructive as the poison of snakes, belong, O Virata’s son, to Arjuna. When shooting them in battle against foes, these swift arrows blaze forth more brilliantly and become inexhaustible. And these long and thick shafts resembling the lunar crescent in shape, keen-edged and capable of thinning the enemy’s ranks, belong to Bhima. And this quiver bearing five images of tigers, full of yellowish shafts whetted on stone and furnished with golden wings belong to Nakula.

This is the quiver of the intelligent son of Madri, with which he had conquered in battle the whole of the western regions. And these arrows, all effulgent as, the sun, painted all over with various colours, and capable of destroying enemies by thousands are those of Sahadeva. And these short and well-tempered and thick shafts, furnished with long feathers and golden heads, and consisting of three knots, belong to king Yudhishthira. And this sword with blade long and carved with the image of a toad and head shaped as a toad’s mouth, strong and irresistible belongeth to Arjuna. Cased in a sheath of tiger-skin, of long blade, handsome and irresistible, and terrible to adversaries, this sword belongeth to Bhimasena.

Of excellent blade and cased in a well-painted sheath, and furnished with a golden hilt, this handsome sword belongeth to the wise Kaurava–Yudhishthira the just. And this sword of strong blade, irresistible and intended for various excellent modes of fight and cased in a sheath of goat-skin, belongeth to Nakula. And this huge scimitar, cased in a sheath of cow-skin, strong and irresistible belongeth to Sahadeva.’”

SECTION XLIV
“Uttara said, ‘Indeed, these weapons adorned with gold, belonging to the light-handed and high-souled Partha, look exceedingly beautiful. But where are that Arjuna, the son of Pritha, and Yudhishthira of the Kuru race, and Nakula, and Sahadeva, and Bhimasena, the sons of Pandu? Having lost their kingdom at dice, the high-souled Pandavas, capable of destroying all foes, are no longer heard of. Where also is Draupadi, the princess of Panchala, famed as the gem among women, who followed the sons of Pandu after their defeat at dice to the forest?’

“Arjuna said, ‘I am Arjuna, called also Partha. Thy father’s courtier is Yudhishthira and thy father’s cook Vallava is Bhimasena, the groom of horses is Nakula, and Sahadeva is in the cow-pen. And know thou that the Sairindhri is Draupadi, for whose sake the Kichakas have been slain.’

“Uttara said, ‘I would believe all this if thou canst enumerate the ten names of Partha, previously heard by me!’


“Arjuna said, ‘I will, O son of Virata, tell thee my ten names. Listen thou and compare them with what thou hadst heard before. Listen to them with close attention and concentrated mind. They are Arjuna, Falguna, Jishnu, Kiritin, Swetavahana, Vibhatsu, Vijaya, Krishna, Savyasachin and Dhananjaya.”

“Uttara said, ‘Tell me truly why art thou called Vijaya, and why Swetavahana. Why art thou named Krishna and why Arjuna and Falguna and Jishnu and Kiritin and Vibhatsu, and for what art thou Dhananjaya and Savyasachin? I have heard before about the origin of the several names of that hero, and can put faith in thy words if thou canst tell me all about them.’

“Arjuna said, ‘They called me Dhananjaya because I lived in the midst of wealth, having subjugated all the countries and taking away their treasures. They called me Vijaya because when I go out to battle with invincible kings, I never return (from the field) without vanquishing them. I am called Swetavahana because when battling with the foe, white horses decked in golden armour are always yoked unto my car. They call me Falguna because I was born on the breast of the Himavat on a day when the constellation Uttara Falguna was on the ascendent. I am named Kiritin from a diadem, resplendent like the sun, having been placed of old on my head by Indra during my encounter with the powerful Danavas. I am known as Vibhatsu among gods and men, for my never having committed a detestable deed on the battle-field. And since both of my hands are capable of drawing the Gandiva, I am known as Savyasachin among gods and men. They call me Arjuna because my complexion is very rare within the four boundaries of the earth and because also my acts are always stainless. I am known among human beings and celestials by the name of Jishnu, because I am unapproachable and incapable of being kept down, and a tamer of adversaries and son of the slayer of Paka. And Krishna, my tenth appellation, was given to me by my father out of affection towards his black-skinned boy of great purity.’

“Vaisampayana continued, “The son of Virata then, approaching nearer saluted Partha and said, ‘My name is Bhuminjaya, and I am also called Uttara. It is by good luck, O Partha, that I behold thee. Thou art welcome, O Dhananjaya. O thou with red eyes, and arms that are mighty and each like unto the trunk of an elephant, it behoveth thee to pardon what I said unto thee from ignorance. And as wonderful and difficult have been the feats achieved by thee before, my fears have been dispelled, and indeed the love I bear to thee is great.’”

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