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The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa

SECTION XLV

“Uttara said, ‘O hero, mounting on this large car with myself as driver, which division of the (hostile) army wouldst thou penetrate? Commanded by thee, I would drive thee thither?’

“Arjuna said, ‘I am pleased with thee, O tiger among men. Thou hast no cause of fear. I will rout all thy foes in battle, O great warrior, And, O thou of mighty arms, be at thy ease. Accomplishing great and terrible feats in the melee, I will fight with thy foes. Tie quickly all those quivers to my car, and take (from among those) a sword of polished blade and adorned with gold.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Hearing these words of Arjuna, Uttara cast off all inactivity. And he speedily alighted from the tree, bringing with him Arjuna’s weapons. Then Arjuna addressed him, saying, ‘Yes, I will fight with the Kurus and recover thy kine. Protected by me, the top of this car will be to thee as a citadel. The passages and alleys and other divisions of this car will be the streets and edifices of that fortified city. These my arms will be its ramparts and gateways. This treble pole and my quiver will constitute defensive works inaccessible to the foe. This my banner–single and grand–will it not alone be equal unto those of thy city? This my bow-string will constitute the catapults and cannons for vomiting forth missiles on the besiezing ghost. My excited wrath will make that fortress formidable, and the clatter of my car-wheels–will it not resemble the kettle-drums of thy capital? Ridden by myself wielding the Gandiva, this car will be incapable of being vanquished by the hostile host, O son of Virata, let thy fear be dispelled.’

“Uttara said, ‘I am no longer afraid of these. I know thy steadiness in battle, which is even like unto that of Kesava or Indra himself. But reflecting on this, I am continually bewildered. Foolish as I am, I am incapable of arriving at certain conclusion. By what distressful circumstances could a person of such handsome limbs and auspicious signs become deprived of manhood! Indeed, thou seemest to me to be Mahadeva, or Indra, or the chief of the Gandharvas, dwelling in the guise only of one of the third sex.’

“Arjuna said, ‘I tell thee truly that I am only observing this vow for a whole year agreeable to the behest of my elder brother. O thou of mighty arms, I am not truly one of the neuter sex, but I have adopted this vow of eunuchism from subservience to another’s will and from desire of religious merit. O prince, know me now to have completed my vow.’

“Uttara said, ‘Thou hast conferred a great favour on me today, for I now find that my suspicion was not altogether unfounded. Indeed, such a person as thou, O best of men, cannot be of the neuter sex. I have now an ally in battle. I can now fight with the celestials themselves. My fears have been dispelled. What shall I do? Command me now. Trained in driving cars by a learned preceptor I will, O bull among men, hold the reins of thy horses that are capable of breaking the ranks of hostile cars. Know me, O bull among men, to be as competent a charioteer as Daruka of Vasudeva, or Matali of Sakra. The horse that is yoked unto the right-hand pole (of thy car) and whose hoofs as they light on the ground are scarcely visible when running, is like unto Sugriva of Krishna. This other handsome horse, the foremost of his race, that is yoked unto the left pole, is, I regard, equal in speed to Meghapushpa. This (third) beautiful horse, clad in golden mail, yoked unto the rear-pole on the left, is, I regard, Sivya equal in speed to but superior in strength. And this (fourth) horse, yoked to the rear-pole on the right, is regarded as superior to Valahaka in speed and strength. This car is worthy of bearing on the field of battle a bowman like thee, and thou also art worthy of fighting on this car. This is what I think!’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Then Arjuna, endued with great energy, took off the bracelets from his arms and wore on his hands a pair of beautiful gloves embroidered with gold. And he then tied his black and curling locks with a piece of white cloth. And seated on that excellent car with face turned to the east, the mighty-armed hero, purifying his body and concentrating his soul, recalled to his mind all his weapons. And all the weapons came, and addressing the royal son of Partha, said, ‘We are here, O illustrious one.


We are thy servants, O son of Indra.’ And bowing unto them, Partha received them unto his hands and replied unto them, saying, ‘Dwell ye all in my memory.’ And obtaining all his weapons, the hero looked cheerful. And quickly stringing his bow, the Gandiva, he twanged it. And the twang of that bow was as loud as the collision of two mighty bulls. And dreadful was the sound that filled the earth, and violent was the wind that blew on all sides. And thick was the shower of fallen meteors [50] and all sides were enveloped in gloom. And the birds began to totter in the skies and large trees began to shake. [51] And loud as the burst of the thunder, the Kurus knew from that sound that it was Arjuna that drew with his hands the string of his best of bows from his car. And Uttara said, ‘Thou, O best of Pandavas, art alone.

These mighty car-warriors are many. How wilt thou vanquish in battle all these that are skilled in every kind of weapon? Thou, O son of Kunti, art without a follower, while the Kauravas have many. It is for this, O thou of mighty arms, that I stay beside thee, stricken with fear.’ Bursting out into loud laughter, Partha said unto him, ‘Be not afraid, O hero, what friendly follower had I while fighting with the mighty Gandharvas on the occasion of the Ghoshayatra? Who was my ally while engaged in the terrific conflict at Khandava against so many celestials and Danavas? Who was my ally when I fought, on behalf of the lord of the celestials against the mighty Nivatakavachas and the Paulomas! And who was my ally, O child, while I encountered in battle innumerable kings at the Swayamvara to the princess of Panchala? Trained in arms by the preceptor Drona, by Sakra, and Vaisravana, and Yama, and Varuna, and Agni, and Kripa, and Krishna of Madhu’s race, and by the wielder of the Pinaka (Siva), why shall I not fight with these? Drive thou my car speedily, and let thy heart’s fever be dispelled.’”

SECTION XLVI

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Making Uttara his charioteer, and circumambulating the Sami tree, the son of Pandu set out taking all his weapons with him. And that mighty car-warrior set out with Uttara as the driver of his car, having taken down that banner with the lion’s figure and deposited it at the foot of the Sami tree. And he hoisted on that car his own golden banner bearing the figure of an ape with a lion’s tail, which was a celestial illusion contrived by Viswakarman himself. For, as soon, indeed, as he had thought of that gift of Agni, than the latter, knowing his wish, ordered those superhuman creatures (that usually sat there) to take their place in that banner. And furnished with a beautiful flag of handsome make, with quivers attached to it, and adored with gold, that excellent flag-staff of celestial beauty than quickly fell from the firmament on his car. [52] And beholding that banner arrived on his car, the hero circumambulated it (respectively). And then the ape-bannered Vibhatsu, the son of Kunti, called also Swetavahana, with fingers cased in leathern fences of the Iguana skin, and taking up his bow and arrows set out in a northernly direction.

And that grinder of foes, possessed of great strength, then forcibly blew his large conch-shell, of thundering sound, capable of making the bristles of foes to stand on their ends. And at the sound of that conch, those steeds endued with swiftness dropped down on the ground on their knees. And Uttara also, greatly affrighted, sat down on the car. And thereupon the son of Kunti took the reins himself and raising the steeds, placed them in their proper positions. And embracing Uttara, he encouraged him also, saying, ‘Fear not, O foremost of princes, thou art, O chastiser of foes, a Kshatriya by birth. Why, O tiger among men, dost thou become so dispirited in the midst of foes? Thou must have heard before the blare of many conchs and the note of many trumpets, and the roar also of many elephants in the midst of ranks arrayed for battled. Why art thou, therefore, so dispirited and agitated and terrified by the blare of this conch, as if thou wert an ordinary person?’

“Uttara said, ‘Heard have I the blare of many a conch and many a trumpet and the roar of many an elephant stationed in the battle-array, but never have I heard before the blare of such conch. Nor have I ever seen a banner like this. Never before have I heard also the twang of a bow such as this. Truly, sir, with the blare of this conch, the twang of this bow, the superhuman cries of the creatures stationed on this banner, and the battle of this car, my mind is greatly bewildered. My perception of the directions also is confused, and my heart is painfully afflicted. The whole firmament seemeth to me to have been covered by this banner, and everything seemeth to be hidden from my view! My ears also have been deafened by the twang of the Gandiva![53]

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