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The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa

“Arjuna said, ‘Firmly stand thou on the car, pressing thy feet on it, and tightly catch hold of the bridles, for I will blow the conch again.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Arjuna then blew his conch again, that conch which filled foes with grief and enhanced the joy of friends. And the sound was so loud that it seemed to split hills and mountains, and pierce mountain-caves and the cardinal points. And Uttara once again sat down on the car, clinging to it in fear. And with the blare of the conch and the rattle of the car-wheels, and the twang of the Gandiva, the earth itself seemed to tremble. And beholding Uttara’s fight, Dhananjaya began to comfort him again.’

“Meanwhile, Drona said, ‘From the rattle of the car, and from the manner in which the clouds have enveloped the sky and the earth itself trembles, this warrior can be none else than Savyasachin. Our weapons do not shine, our steeds are dispirited, and our fires, though fed with fuel, do not blare up. All this is ominous. All our animals are setting up a frightful howl, gazing towards the sun. The crows are perching on our banners. All this is ominous. Yon vultures and kites on our right portend a great danger. That jackal also, running through our ranks, waileth dismally. Lo, it hath escaped unstruck.

All this portends a heavy calamity. The bristles also of ye all are on their ends. Surely, this forebodes a great destruction of Kshatriyas in battle. Things endued with light are all pale; beasts and birds look fierce; and there are to be witnessed many terrific portents indicative of the destruction of Kshatriyas. And these omens forebode great havoc among ourselves. O king, thy ranks seem to be confounded by these blazing meteors, and thy animals look dispirited and seem to be weeping. Vultures and kites are wheeling all around thy troops. Thou shalt have to repent upon beholding thy army afflicted by Partha’s arrows. Indeed, our ranks seem to have been already vanquished, for none is eager to go to fight. All our warriors are of pale face, and almost deprived of their senses. Sending the kine ahead we should stand here, ready to strike, with all our warriors arrayed in order of battle.”

“Vaisampayana said, ‘King Duryodhana then, on the field of battle said unto Bhishma, and unto Drona–that tiger among warriors, and unto Kripa–that mighty car-warrior, these words, ‘Both myself and Kama had said this unto the preceptors[54] I refer to the subject again, for I am not satisfied with having said it once. Even this was the pledge of the sons of Pandu that if defeated (at dice) they would reside to our knowledge in countries and woods for twelve years, and one more year unknown to us.

That thirteenth year, instead of being over, is yet running. Vibhatsu, therefore, who is still to live undiscovered hath appeared before us. And if Vibhatsu hath come before the term of exile is at end, the Pandavas shall have to pass another twelve years in the woods. Whether it is due to forgetfulness (on their part) induced by desire of dominion, or whether it is a mistake of ours, it behoveth Bhishma to calculate the shortness or excess (of the promised period). When an object of desire may or may not be attained, a doubt necessarily attaches to one of the alternatives, and what is decided in one way often ends differently. [55]

Even moralists are puzzled in judging of their own acts. [56] As regards ourselves, we have come hither to fight with the Matsyas and to seize their kine stationed towards the north. If, meanwhile, it is Arjuna that hath come, what fault can attach to us? We have come hither to fight against the Matsyas on behalf of the Trigartas; and as numerous were the acts represented unto us of the oppressions committed by the Matsyas. it was for this that we promised aid to the Trigartas who were overcome with fear. And it was agreed between us that they should first seize, on the afternoon of the seventh lunar day, the enormous wealth of kine that the Matsyas have, and that we should, at sunrise of the eighteen day of the moon, seize these kine when the king of the Matsyas would be pursuing those first seized. It may be that the Trigartas are now bringing a way the kine, or being defeated, are coming towards us for negotiating with the king of the Matsyas. Or, it may be, that having driven the Trigartas off, the king of the Matsyas, at the head of this people and his whole army of fierce warriors, appeareth on the scene and advanceth to make night-attacks upon us.

It may be that some one leader among them, endued with mighty energy, is advancing for vanquishing us, or, it may be that the king himself of the Matsyas is come. But be it the king of the Matsyas or Vibhatsu, we must all fight him. Even this hath been our pledge. Why are all these of foremost car-warriors,–Bhishma and Drona and Kripa and Vikarna and Drona’s son,–now sitting on their cars, panic-stricken? At present there is nothing better than fighting. Therefore, make up your minds. If, for the cattle we have seized, an encounter takes place with the divine wielder himself of the thunderbolt or even with Yama, who is there that will be liable to reach Hastinapura? Pierced by the shafts (of the foe), how will the foot-soldiers, in flying through the deep forest with their backs on the field, escape with life, when escape for the cavalry is doubtful? Hearing these words of Duryodhana, Karna said, ‘Disregarding the preceptor, make all arrangements. He knoweth well the intentions of the Pandavas and striketh terror in our hearts. I see that his affection for Arjuna is very great. Seeing him only coming, he chanteth his praises. Make ye such arrangements that our troops may not break. Everything is in confusion for Drona’s having only heard the neigh of (Arjuna’s) steeds.

Make ye such arrangements that these troops, come to a distant land in this hot season and in the midst of this mighty forest, may not fall into confusion and be subjugated by the foe. The Pandavas are always the special favourites of the preceptor. The selfish Pandavas have stationed Drona amongst us. Indeed, he betrayeth himself by his speech. Who would ever extol a person upon hearing the neigh only of his steeds? Horses always neigh, whether walking or standing, the winds blow at all times; and Indra also always showereth rain. The roar of the clouds may frequently be heard. What hath Partha to do with these, and why is he to be praised for these? All this (on Drona’s part), therefore, is due only to either the desire of doing good to Arjuna or to his wrath and hatred towards us. Preceptors are wise, and sinless, and very kind to all creatures. They, however, should never be consulted at times of peril. It is in luxurious palaces, and assemblies and pleasure-gardens, that learned men, capable of making speeches, seem to be in their place. Performing many wonderful things, in the assembly, it is there that learned men find their place, or even there where sacrificial utensils and their proper placing and washing are needed.

In a knowledge of the lapses of others, in studying the characters of men, in the science of horses and elephants and cars, in treating the diseases of asses and camels and goats and sheeps and kine, in planning buildings and gateways, and in pointing out the defects of food and drink, the learned are truly in their own sphere. Disregarding learned men that extol the heroism of the foe, make ye such arrangements that the foe may be destroyed. Placing the kine securely, array the troops in order of battle. Place guards in proper places so that we may fight the foe.'”

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