The Mahabharata

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Offline nusrat-diu

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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #105 on: July 23, 2011, 01:53:29 PM »
86. Karna And Bhima

ARJUNA had left Yudhishthira behind to repel Drona's attacks and had gone to make good his word that before sunset Jayadratha would lie dead on the field of battle.

Jayadratha had been the main cause of Abhimanyu's death. He it was who had effectively prevented the relief of Abhimanyu by the Pandavas, and thereby caused Abhimanyu to be isolated, overpowered and slain.

We have seen how Yudhishthira in his anxiety sent first Satyaki and then Bhima to join Arjuna in his battle against Jayadratha. Bhima reached where Arjuna was engaged and sounded his simhanada (lion-roar). Dharmaputra heard the lion-roar of Bhima and knew that Arjuna was found alive.

It was the fourteenth day and the battle raged fiercely at many points, between Satyaki and Bhurisravas at one place, between Bhima and Karna at another and between Arjuna and Jayadratha at a third.

Drona remained at the main front resisting the attack of the Panchalas and the Pandavas, and leading a counter-offensive against them.

Duryodhana arrived with his forces at the sector where Arjuna attacked Jayadratha, but was soon defeated and turned back. The battle thus raged long and furiously on more than one front. The armies were so deployed that each side was exposed to danger in its rear.

Duryodhana was speaking to Drona:

"Arjuna, Bhima and Satyaki have treated us with contempt and proceeded successfully to Jayadratha's sector and they are pressing hard on the Sindhu king. It is indeed strange that, under your command, our battle array should have been broken and our plans completely foiled. Everyone asks how it is that the great Drona with all his mastery of the science of war has been so badly outmaneuvered. What answer shall I make? I have been betrayed by you."

Duryodhana thus, once again, bitterly reproached Drona, who replied unperturbed:

"Duryodhana, your accusations are as unworthy as they are contrary to truth. There is nothing to be gained by talking about what is past and beyond repair. Think of what is to be done now."

"Sir, it is for you to advise me. Tell me what should be done. Give your best consideration to the difficulties of the situation and decide and let us do it quickly." Puzzled and perplexed, thus did Duryodhana plead.

Drona replied: "My son, the situation is no doubt serious. Three great generals have advanced, outmanoeuvring us. But they have as much reason to be anxious as we, for their rear is now left as open to attack as ours. We are on both sides of them and their position is not therefore safe. Be heartened, go up to Jayadratha again, and do all you can to support him. It is of no avail to dishearten oneself by dwelling on past defeats and difficulties. It is best I stay here and send you reinforcements as and when required. I must keep the Panchalas and Pandava army engaged here. Otherwise, we shall be wholly destroyed."

Accordingly, Duryodhana went with fresh reinforcements again to where Arjuna was directing his attack on Jayadratha.

The narrative of the fourteenth day's fighting at Kurukshetra shows that, even in the Mahabharata times, the modern tactics of turning and enveloping movements was not unknown.

The advantages and risks of such strategy appear to have been fully understood and discussed even in those days. Arjuna's flanking manoeuvres perplexed his enemies greatly. The story of that day's battle between Bhima and Karna reads very much like a chapter from the narrative of a modern war.

Bhima did not desire to fight Karna or remain long engaged with him. He was eager to reach where Arjuna was. But Radheya would, by no means, permit him to do this. He showered his arrows on Bhimasena and stopped him from proceeding.

The contrast between the two warriors was striking. Karna's handsome lotus-like face was radiant with smiles when he attacked Bhima saying: "Do not show your back," "Now, do not flee like a coward," and so on.

Bhima was all anger when taunted in this manner. He was maddened by Karna's smiles. The battle was fierce but Karna did everything with a smiling air of ease whereas Bhima's face glowed with rage and his movements were violent.

Karna would keep at a distance and send his well-aimed shafts but Bhima would disregard the arrows and javelins failing thick upon him and always try to close with Karna.

Radheya did everything he did, calmly and with graceful ease, whereas Bhimasena fumed and fretted with impatience, as he showed his amazing strength of limb.

Bhima was red with bleeding wounds all over and presented the appearance of an Asoka tree in full blossom. But he minded them not, as he attacked Karna cutting bows in twain and smashing his chariot.

When Karna had to run for a fresh chariot, there was no smile on his face. For anger rose in him, like the sea on a full moon day, as he attacked Bhima. Both showed the strength of tigers and the speed of eagles and their anger was now like that of serpents in a fury.

Bhima brought before his mind all the insults and injuries which he and his brothers and Draupadi had suffered, and fought desperately, caring not for life.

The two cars dashed against each other and the milk white horses of Karna's chariot and Bhimasena's black horses jostled in the combat like clouds in a thunderstorm.

Karna's bow was shattered and his charioteer reeled and fell. Karna then hurled a javelin at Bhima. But Bhima parried it and continued pouring his arrows on Karna, who had taken up a fresh bow.

Again and again did Karna lose his chariot. Duryodhana saw Karna's plight and calling his brother Durjaya said: "This wicked Pandava will kill Karna. Go at once and attack Bhima and save Karna's life."

Durjaya went as ordered and attacked Bhima who, in a rage sent seven shafts which sent Durjaya's horses and his charioteer to the abode of Yama and Durjaya himself fell mortally wounded.

Seeing his bleeding body wriggling on the ground like a wounded snake, Karna was overwhelmed with grief and circled round the hero, paying mournful honor to the dead.

Bhima did not stop but continued the fight and greatly harassed Karna. Karna once again had to find a fresh chariot. He sent well aimed shafts and hit Bhima who in a fury hurled his mace at Karna and it crashed on Karna's chariot and killed his charioteer and horses and broke the flagstaff. Karna now stood on the ground with bent bow.

Duryodhana now sent another brother to relieve Karna. Durmukha went accordingly and took Karna on his chariot.

Seeing yet another son of Dhritarashtra come to offer himself up to death, Bhima licked his lips in gusto and sent nine shafts on the newly arrived enemy. And, even as Karna climbed up to take his seat in the chariot, Durmukha's armor was broken and he fell lifeless.

When Karna saw the warrior bathed in blood and lying dead by his side, he was again overwhelmed with grief and stood motionless for a while.

Bhima relentlessly continued his attack on Karna. His sharp arrows pierced Karna's coat of armor and he was in pain.

But he too at once returned the attack and wounded Bhima all over.

Still the Pandava would not stop and attacked Karna furiously. The sight of so many of Duryodhana's brothers dying for his sake one after another was too much for Karna.

This, and the physical pain of his own wounds made him lose courage and he turned away defeated. But, when Bhima stood up on the field of battle red with wounds all over like a flaming fire and emitted a triumphant yell, he could not brook it but returned to the combat.
 

 
 
Nusrat Jahan
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #106 on: July 23, 2011, 01:54:13 PM »
87. Pledge Respected
DHRITARASHTRA, hearing of the slaughter of his sons and the check received by Karna, was desolate. "O Sanjaya, like moths falling in the fire, my sons are being destroyed. The stubborn Duryodhana has led the lads Durmukha and Durjaya, to their doom. Alas, I have lost these boys! The fool said: 'Karna, unrivalled among men for courage and the accomplishment of war, is on our side.  Who then can defeat us? Even the gods cannot win a battle against me when Karna is on my side. What can these Pandavas do to me?' But now he has seen Karna beating a retreat when Bhimasena attacked him. Has he seen wisdom at least now? Alas, Sanjaya, my son has earned the undying hatred of the son of Vayu, Bhima, who has the strength of the god of death! We are indeed ruined!"

Sanjaya replied: "O king, was it not you who brought about this unquenchable hatred, listening to the words of your foolish and stubborn son? To you indeed must be traced this greater disaster. You are now but reaping the fruit of your discarding the advice of Bhishma and the other elders. Blame yourself, king. Do not blame Karna and the brave warriors who have done their best in battle."

After thus admonishing the blind king, Sanjaya proceeded to tell him what happened. Five sons of Dhritarashtra, Durmarsha, Dussaha, Durmata, Durdhara and Jaya, when they saw Karna put to flight by Bhima at once rushed on the latter.

When Karna saw this, he was heartened and turned back to resume his attack. Bhimasena at first ignored the sons of Dhritarashtra and concentrated on Karna.

But they became so violent in their assault that Bhima got incensed and, turning his attentions on them, disposed of all five of them. They lay dead on the field, with their horses and their charioteers.

The young warriors with their bleeding wounds presented the appearance of a forest with trees, uprooted by a strong wind and lying flat on the ground with their beautiful red blossoms.

When Karna saw another batch of princes slaughtered for his sake he fought more grimly than ever before. Bhima too was more violent than before, thinking of all the evil that Karna had wrought against the Pandavas.

He used his bow so as to disarm Karna completely. His horses and charioteer were also laid low. Karna now jumped down from his chariot and hurled his mace at Bhima.

But Bhima warded it off with shafts from his powerful bow and covered Karna with a shower of arrows and forced him to turn back and walk on foot.

Duryodhana, who watched this combat, was greatly grieved and sent seven of his brothers Chitra, Upachitra, Chitraksha, Charuchitra, Sarasana, Chitrayudha and Chitravarman, to relieve Radheya.

They gave battle to Bhima displaying great skill and energy. But fell dead one after another, for Bhima's passion was roused and his attack was irresistible.

When Karna saw so many of the sons of Dhritarashtra sacrificing themselves for him, his face was wet with tears and he mounted a fresh chariot and began to attack Bhima with deadly effect.

The two combatants clashed like clouds in a thunderstorm. Kesava, Satyaki and Arjuna were filled with admiration and joy as they watched Bhima fighting.

Bhurisravas, Kripacharya, Aswatthama, Salya, Jayadratha and many other warriors of the Kaurava army also broke into exclamations, astonished at the way in which Bhima fought.

Duryodhana was stung to the quick and burned with anger. Karna's plight caused him extreme anxiety. He feared Bhima would kill Radheya that day, and sent seven more of his brothers directing them to surround Bhima and attack him simultaneously.

The seven brothers sent by Duryodhana attacked Bhima. But fell one after another, struck down by his arrows. Vikarna, who was killed last, was beloved of all.

When Bhima saw him fall dead after a brave fight, he was deeply moved and exclaimed: "Alas, O Vikarna, you were just and knew what was dharma! You fought in loyal obedience to the call of duty. I had to kill even you. Indeed this battle is a curse upon us wherein men like you and the grandsire Bhishma have had to be slaughtered."

Seeing Duryodhana's brothers, who came to help him, slain one after another in this manner, Karna was overwhelmed by anguish. He leant back on his seat in the chariot and closed his eyes unable to bear the sight.

Then recovering control over his emotions he hardened his heart and began again his attack on Bhima. Bow after bow was broken up by Bhimasena's shaft, but Karna kept the battle.

Eighteen times he had to take up a fresh bow. Karna had long ago discarded his smile and his face showed savage anger even as Bhima's. They now glared fiercely at each other as they fought.

Yudhishthira now heard Bhima's roar rise above the tumult of battle, and heartened by it, he fought Drona with increased vigor.

In the renewed and fierce battle between Bhima and Karna, Bhima lost his horses and charioteer. Soon his chariot also was smashed to pieces. Then, Bhima hurled his spear at Karna who was in his chariot and as Karna parried it with his shaft, Bhima advanced with sword and shield.

But Karna broke the shield at once with his shafts. Then, Bhima whirled his sword and hurled it, and it cut Karna's bow into two and fell on the ground. But Karna took up yet another bow and assailed Bhima with arrows more fiercely than before.

Bhima, in a fit of uncontrollable rage, sprang upon Karna. Radheya took cover behind his flagstaff and escaped destruction. Thereupon, Bhima jumped out of Karna's car down into the field of battle where, deprived of all arms, he used the elephants lying dead on the ground to protect himself from Karna's arrows and continued the fight.

He picked up anything he could lay hands upon, wheels of broken chariots, the limbs of horses and elephants that were lying about, and hurling them at Karna, kept him engaged without interval. But this could not long continue and Bhima was soon at a great disadvantage. Karna said exultingly:

"Foolish glutton, you do not know the science of war; why do you engage yourself in battle here? Go to the jungle and fill yourself with fruits and roots and grow fat. You are a savage, not fit for kshatriya battle. Get away!" Hurling insulting taunts at him, he made the helpless Bhima burn with rage, but mindful of his word to Kunti, refrained from killing him.

"There, Arjuna! See how poor Bhima is being harassed by Karna," said Krishna. Dhananjaya's eyes burned red with wrath, when he saw the plight of his valiant brother.

He bent his Gandiva bow and discharged his arrows on Karna who then gladly turned his attentions from Bhima to Arjuna. He had pledged his word to Kunti not to kill more than one of the Pandavas and he reserved that option for the great Arjuna.
 
 
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #107 on: July 23, 2011, 01:55:38 PM »
88. Somadatta's End
"THERE comes the valorous Satyaki," said Krishna, the charioteer, to Dhananjaya. "Your disciple and friend is marching up, triumphantly breaking through enemy ranks."

"I do not like it, Madhava," replied Arjuna. "It was not right for him to have left Dharmaputra and come here to join me. Drona is there ever seeking an opportunity to seize Dharmaputra. Satyaki should have stuck to his post there to guard him. Instead, he has come here. Old Bhurisravas has intercepted Satyaki. It was a great mistake for Yudhishthira to have sent Satyaki away here."

There was a family feud between Bhurisravas and Satyaki that made them inveterate foes.

It had come about this way. When Devaki, who was to be the blessed mother of Sri Krishna, was a maiden, many princes competed for her hand and there was a great battle between Somadatta and Sini over it.

Sini won, and on behalf of Vasudeva he placed Devaki in his chariot and took her away. Since that incident there was feud between the two clans, the Sini family and that of Somadatta. Satyaki was Sini's grandson.

Bhurisravas was Somadatta's son. When they found themselves on opposite sides in the Kurukshetra battle, it was natural that, as soon as Bhurisravas saw Satyaki, the old warrior challenged Satyaki to battle.

"Oh Satyaki," cried Bhurisravas, "I know you strut about thinking yourself a man of great prowess. Here now I have you in my power and will presently finish you. Long have I sought for this meeting. Like Indrajit destroyed Dasaratha's son Lakshmana, you will die today and go to the abode of Yama, gladdening the hearts of many a bereaved widow."

Satyaki laughed. "Have done with your vaunting," he interrupted. "Words are not deeds and do not frighten fighting men. Demonstrate your valor in action and do not indulge in dry thunder like autumn clouds."

After this exchange of words, the battle began, and the combat was as between two fierce lions. Their horses were killed, their bows were broken, and both were rendered chariotless.

They were now standing on the ground fighting with swords and shields, till their shields were hacked to bits and their swords broken. Then they were locked in a deadly embrace without weapons.

They rolled together on the ground. They leaped up and they sprang on each other. They fell down again and so the combat went on for a long while.

Partha's mind was at the time concentrated on Jayadratha's movements and he did not watch this combat between Satyaki and the son of Somadatta.

But his charioteer Krishna was deeply concerned about Satyaki's fate. For Krishna knew about their family feud.

"Dhananjaya," said Krishna, "Satyaki is exhausted. Bhurisravas is going to kill him now."

Still Arjuna was following only Jayadratha's movements.

"Satyaki who came after an exhausting battle with the Kaurava forces has been forced to accept Bhurisravas' challenge," said Krishna again. "It is a most unequal battle. Unless we help him, beloved Yuyudhana will be slain."

Even as Krishna was saying this, Bhurisravas lifted Satyaki up and brought him crashing to the ground and all the men around in the Kaurava army exclaimed: "Yuyudhana is dead!"

Again Krishna importuned: "Satyaki is lying almost dead on the field, the best among the Vrishni clan. One who came to help you, is being killed before your eyes. You are looking on, doing nothing."

Bhurisravas caught hold of the prostrate Satyaki and dragged him on the ground as a lion drags its elephant prey.

Arjuna was in a great conflict of mind. "Bhurisravas has not been called to battle by me, nor has he challenged me to fight. How can I send my shaft at Bhurisravas when he is engaged with another? My mind recoils from such an act, although it is true a friend who came to help me is being slaughtered before my eyes."

Just as Arjuna finished saying this to Krishna, the sky was darkened by a cloud of arrows sent by Jayadratha. Arjuna replied with a shower of arrows, but he constantly turned with pain to where Satyaki was in the mortal grip of Bhurisravas.

Krishna again pressed Arjuna to consider Satyaki's condition. "O Partha, Satyaki has lost all his weapons and he is now in Bhurisravas' power, helpless."

When Arjuna turned, he saw Bhurisravas with his foot on the prostrate body of Satyaki and sword upraised to slay him.

Before Bhurisravas could deliver the fatal thrust, Arjuna shot an arrow which went with the speed of lightning and the next moment the uplifted arm fell chopped off to the ground still holding the sword. Bhurisravas, all amazed, turned and saw who had done it.

"Son of Kunti," he exclaimed, "I had not expected this of you! It befits not a warrior to shoot from behind in this manner. I was engaged in combat with someone else and you have attacked me without notice. Indeed, then, no man can resist the evil influence of the company he keeps, as your unchivalrous conduct proves. Dhananjaya, when you go back to your brother Dharmaputra, what account are you going to give him of this valorous deed. Ah! Who taught you this low trick, Arjuna? Did you learn this from your father Indra or from your teachers Drona and Kripa? What code of conduct was it that permitted you to shoot your arrow at a man who was engaged in combat with another and could not so much as turn his eyes on you? You have done the deed of a low-bred fellow and foully besmirched your honor. You must have been instigated into it by the son of Vasudeva. It was not in your own nature to do it. No one with princely blood in his veins would think of such a dastardly deed. I know you have been incited to it by that contemptible Krishna."

Thus did Bhurisravas with his right arm cut off, bitterly denounce Krishna and Arjuna in the Kurukshetra field.

Said Partha: "Bhurisravas, you are old and age seems to have affected your judgment. You accuse Hrishikesa and me without cause. How could I look on doing nothing, when, before my eyes, you were in the act of killing my friend, who came and risked his life in battle on my behalf, one who was like a right hand to me, and whom you were going to stab when he was lying helpless on the ground? I would have deserved to go to hell if I had failed to intervene. You say, I have been ruined by keeping company with Madhava. Who in the wide world would not wish to be so ruined? You have spoken out of confused understanding. Satyaki who was weary and exhausted when he came here and who was inadequately armed, was challenged by you to give battle. You overcame him. Having been defeated, he lay on the ground, powerless. What code of honor enabled you to raise your sword to thrust it into the body of the fallen warrior and slay him? Do I not remember how you cheered the man who killed my boy Abhimanyu when he stood staggering, exhausted and weaponless, his coat of armor torn off?"

Bhurisravas who heard this did not answer but spread his arrows on the ground with his left hand and made a seat for meditation.

The old warrior sat in yoga and the sight deeply moved all the Kaurava soldiers. They cheered Bhurisravas and uttered reproaches against Krishna and Arjuna.

Arjuna spoke: "Brave men, I am sworn to protect every friend within bow-shot of me and I cannot let an enemy kill him. It is my sacred pledge. Why do you blame me? It is not right to hurl reproaches without due thought."

After saying this to the warriors in the field who reproached him, he turned to Bhurisravas and said: "O excellent among brave men, you have protected many who have gone to you for help. You know that what has happened is due to your own error. There is no justice in blaming me. If you like, let us all blame the violence which governs kshatriya life."

Bhurisravas, who heard this, lowered his head in salutation.

Satyaki now recovered consciousness and rose. Carried away by the impetuosity of his passion, he picked up a sword and, advancing to Bhurisravas, sitting in yoga on his seat of arrows, even when all around were shouting in horror and before Krishna and Arjuna, who rushed to the spot, could prevent him, with one swift and powerful cut, he struck off the old warrior's head which rolled down, while the body was still in the posture of meditation.

The gods and the siddhas, who looked on from above the battlefield, uttered blessings on Bhurisravas. Everyone in the field condemned Satyaki's act.

Satyaki maintained he was right, saying: "After I fell down senseless, this enemy of my family placed his foot on my prostrate figure and attempted to kill me. I may slay him in whatever posture he might choose to be." But none approved of his conduct.

The slaying of Bhurisravas is one of the many situations of moral conflict woven into the story of the Mahabharata to demonstrate that, when hatred and anger have been roused, codes of honor and dharma are powerless to control them.
 


 
 
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #108 on: July 23, 2011, 01:56:27 PM »
89. Jayadratha Slain

"THE decisive hour has come, Karna," said Duryodhana, "If before nightfall this day Jayadratha is not slain, Arjuna will be disgraced and he will kill himself, for not having redeemed his oath. With Arjuna's death, the destruction of the Pandavas is certain and this kingdom will be ours in unquestioned and absolute sovereignty. Dhananjaya swore this impossible oath in a moment of thoughtlessness, because the gods had willed it that he should be thus destroyed by his own hand. It seems my stars are now in the ascendant. We should not let this opportunity slip. We must see somehow that his challenge fails. The whole thing depends on you. Your great skill in battle is on trial today. Prove yourself this day. See the sun has sloped down in the west. Within the little time left before nightfall, I do not think it possible for Partha to reach Jayadratha. You, Aswatthama, Salya, Kripa, and I must guard Jayadratha and do all we can to see that he does not fall into Arjuna's hands during the next few hours before sunset."

"My king," Karna replied "I have been wounded all over by Bhimasena, and am so weary that my limbs have no power in them. Still, I shall put forth all the strength that is in me. I only live to serve you."

When Karna and Duryodhana were thus planning, Arjuna was engaged in a great attack on the Kaurava army and putting forth all his strength, so that before sunset he could break through to Jayadratha.

Krishna put his Panchajanya in his mouth and blew a loud note in the rishabha swara, which was the signal for his own charioteer Daruka to arrive at once with his chariot.

When it came, Satyaki took his place in it, and attacked Karna vigorously and skilfully, keeping him fully engaged. Daruka's mastery of driving and Satyaki's archery were such as brought down the gods to witness the combat.

Karna's four chariot horses were disabled and the charioteer was unseated. Then the flagstaff was cut asunder and the chariot was smashed. The great Karna stood chariotless and the event produced a great flutter in the Kaurava army.

Karna had to run and climb up into Duryodhana's chariot. Sanjaya here tells Dhritarashtra to whom he was relating the incident: "The greatest adepts in archery are Krishna, Partha and Satyaki. There is not a fourth to match them!"

Arjuna broke through the Kaurava opposition and reached Jayadratha. Inflamed by the thought of the slaughter of Abhimanyu, and all the great wrongs inflicted by the Kauravas, Arjuna fought with fury.

Savyasachin as he was, he discharged shafts from the Gandiva bow, now using one hand and now the other. He struck terror and confusion among his enemies, who felt as if Death had come to the battlefield with wide-open jaws.

It is only the poet of the Mahabharata that can describe the combat that raged between Arjuna and Aswatthama and the other great warriors that protected the king of Sindhu. They fought fiercely but were all defeated and could not prevent Arjuna from reaching Jayadratha. The attack on Jayadratha began and the battle raged long. Both sides were constantly looking westwards, for the day was nearing its end. The Saindhava was no mean foe, and taxed to the full, Arjuna's strength and skill were hard put to it.

The sun sank towards the horizon and reddened, but the battle did not cease. "There is but a very little time left. It seems Jayadratha has been saved and Arjuna's challenge has failed. The vow is unfulfilled and Arjuna is going to be disgraced," said Duryodhana to himself in great glee.

Then, there was darkness and the cry went round in both armies: "It is sunset and Jayadratha has not been killed. Arjuna has lost." The Pandavas were depressed and there were shouts of joy in the Kaurava army.

Jayadratha turned to the western horizon and thought within himself, "I am saved!" for he did not see the sun then and thought the time-limit of danger from Arjuna was over.

At that moment, however, Krishna said to Arjuna: "Dhananjaya, the Sindhu raja is looking at the horizon. I have caused this darkness. The sun is still up and has not set. Do your work. This is the moment for it, for Jayadratha is off his guard."

A shaft flew from the Gandiva bow, and, like a vulture swooping down on a chicken, carried away Jayadratha's head. "Listen, Arjuna," cried Krishna, "send your shafts in swift relays, so that the head may be supported from falling to the earth and borne into Vriddhakshatra's lap."

And Arjuna sent his wonderful arrows that carried away the head in the air. It was a strange sight. Vriddhakshatra was in his ashrama sitting in the open absorbed in his evening meditation with eyes closed, when his son's head with beautiful black hair and golden earrings gently dropped into his lap.

The old king finished his meditation and got up, when the head rolled down and fell on the ground. And, as ordained, Vriddhakshatra's head burst into a hundred fragments. Jayadratha and his father together reached the abode of the brave.

Kesava, Dhananjaya, Bhima, Satyaki, Yudhamanyu and Uttamaujas blew their conchs and Dharmaraja who heard the triumphant noise knew that it meant that Arjuna had redeemed his oath and that the Saindhava had been slain.

Then, Yudhishthira led his army fiercely against Drona. It was nightfall, but on the fourteenth day of the battle the rule of cease-fire at sunset was not observed. As the passions rose from day to day, one by one the rules and restraints broke down.
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #109 on: July 23, 2011, 01:57:20 PM »
90. Drona Passes Away
ALL those who have heard the story of the Mahabharata know about Ghatotkacha, Bhimasena's famous son by his asura wife. There are two young men among the Mahabharata figures who embody all the qualities of heroism, fortitude, strength, courage, and amiability. They are Arjuna's son, Abhimanyu, and Bhima's son, Ghatotkacha. Both of them gave up their lives on the Kurukshetra battlefield.

Towards the latter part of the Mahabharata fight, the hatred roused on both sides did not find satisfaction in battle conducted during the daytime and close at nightfall. On the fourteenth day, when the sunset, they did not cease fighting but went on with it in torchlight.

The Kurukshetra field presented a strange sight, the like of which had not been seen before in Bharatadesa. The generals and soldiers on both sides were engaged in battle, with thousands of torches burning and using signals specially devised for nighttime.

Ghatotkacha and his troops of asuras who are strongest at night, found darkness an additional advantage and violently attacked Duryodhana's army. Duryodhana's heart sank within him when he saw thousands of his men destroyed by Ghatotkacha and his demon army moving in the air and attacking in weird and unexpected ways.

"Kill this fellow at once, Karna, for otherwise, soon our whole army will cease to be. Finish him without further delay." Thus begged all the perplexed Kauravas of Karna.

Karna was himself angry and bewildered, having just been wounded by one of the asura's arrows. He had with him no doubt the spear of unerring effect which Indra had given to him. But it could be used only once, and he had carefully husbanded it for exclusive use on Arjuna with whom a decisive encounter he knew was inevitable.

But in the confusion and wrath of that eerie midnight melee, Karna, impelled by a sudden urge, hurled the missile at the young giant. Thus was Arjuna saved, but at great cost. Bhima's beloved son, Ghatotkacha, who from mid-air was showering his deadly arrows on the Kaurava army, dropped dead, plunging the Pandavas in grief.

The battle did not stop. Drona spread fear and destruction in the Pandava army by his relentless attacks. "O Arjuna," said Krishna, "there is none that can defeat this Drona, fighting according to the strict rules of war. We cannot cope with him unless dharma is discarded. We have no other way open. There is but one thing that will make him desist from fighting. If he hears that Aswatthama is dead, Drona will lose all interest in life and throw down his weapons. Someone must therefore tell Drona that Aswatthama has been slain."

Arjuna shrank in horror at the proposal, as he could not bring himself to tell a lie. Those who were nearby with him also rejected the idea, for no one was minded to be a party to deceit.

Yudhishthira stood for a while reflecting deeply. "I shall bear the burden of this sin," he said and resolved the deadlock!

It was strange. But when the ocean was churned at the beginning of the world and the dread poison rose threatening to consume the gods, did not Rudra come forward to swallow it and save them? To save the friend who had wholly depended on him, Rama was driven to bear the sin of killing Vali, in disregard of the rules of fairplay. So also, now did Yudhishthira decide to bear the shame of it, for there was no other way.

Bhima lifted his iron mace and brought it down on the head of a huge elephant called Aswatthama and it fell dead. After killing the elephant Aswatthama, Bhimasena went near the division commanded by Drona and roared so that all might hear.

"I have killed Aswatthama!" Bhimasena who, until then, had never done or even contemplated an ignoble act, was, as he uttered these words, greatly ashamed.

They knocked against his very heart, but could they be true? Drona heard these words as he was in the act of discharging a Brahmastra. "Yudhishthira, is it true my son has been slain?" Dronacharya asked addressing Dharmaputra.

The acharya thought that Yudhishthira would not utter an untruth, even for the kingship of the three worlds.

When Drona asked thus, Krishna was terribly perturbed. "If Yudhishthira fails us now and shrinks from uttering an untruth, we are lost. Drona's Brahmastra is of unquenchable potency and the Pandavas will be destroyed," he said.

And Yudhishthira himself stood trembling in horror of what he was about to do, but within him also was the desire to win. "Let it be my sin," he said to himself and hardened his heart, and said aloud: "Yes, it is true that Aswatthama has been killed."

But, as he was saying it, he felt again the disgrace of it and added in a low and tremulous voice, "Aswatthama, the elephant" words which were however drowned in the din and were not heard by Drona.

"O king, thus was a great sin committed," said Sanjaya to the blind Dhritarashtra, while relating the events of the battle to him.

When the words of untruth came out of Yudhishthira's mouth, the wheels of his chariot, which until then always stood and moved four inches above the ground and never touched it at once came down and touched the earth.

Yudhishthira, who till then had stood apart from the world so full of untruth, suddenly became of the earth, earthy. He too desired victory and slipped into the way of untruth and so his chariot came down to the common road of mankind.

When Drona heard that his beloved son had been slain, all his attachment to life snapped. And desire vanished as if it had never been there. When the veteran was in that mood, Bhimasena loudly spoke indicting him in harsh words:

"You brahmanas, abandoning the legitimate functions of your varna and taking to the Kshatriya profession of arms, have brought ruin to princes. If you brahmanas had not gone astray from the duties belonging to you by birth, the princes would not have been led to this destruction. You teach that non-killing is the highest dharma and that the brahmana is the supporter and nourisher of that dharma. Yet, you have rejected that wisdom which is yours by birth, and shamelessly undertaken the profession of killing. It was our misfortune that you descended to this sinful life."

These taunts of Bhimasena caused excruciating pain to Drona who had already lost the will to live. He threw his weapons away and sat down in yoga on the floor of his chariot and was soon in a trance.

At this moment Dhrishtadyumna with drawn sword, came and climbed in to the chariot and heedless of cries of horror and deprecation from all around he fulfilled his destiny as the slayer of Drona by sweeping off the old warrior's head. And the soul of the son of Bharadwaja issued out in a visible blaze of fight and mounted heavenwards.

The Mahabharata is a great and wonderful story. The sorrows of human life are painted with sublime beauty and rolled out in a grand panorama. Behind the story of errors and sorrows the poet enables us to have a vision of the Transcendent Reality. Thus it is that the Mahabharata, though a story, has come to be a book of dharma. This book, in style and substance, is altogether different from tales and romances. In modern novels, dramas and pictures, exciting scenes are enacted, the hero passes through dangers and difficulties and finally marries a woman whom he loves. Or else everything seems to go on happily but suddenly things go wrong and terrible misfortune happens and the curtain drops. This is the art scheme of ordinary sensational stories. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are quite a different kind of artistic creation. When we read them, our inner being is seized and cleansed, so to say, by being passed alternately through joys and sorrows, and we are finally lifted above both and taken to the Transcendent and Real.
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #110 on: July 23, 2011, 01:58:19 PM »
91. The Death Of Karna

WHEN Drona died, the princes of the Kaurava army installed Karna as Generalissimo. Karna stood up in his gorgeous war chariot driven by Salya. The dauntless confidence of his bearing and his great renown as a warrior heartened the Kauravas. The battle again began. Readers of the stars were consulted and the Pandavas chose the propitious hour for grim battle. Arjuna led the attack on Karna, supported by Bhimasena immediately behind his chariot.

Duhsasana made a concentrated attack on Bhima and sent a shower of arrows at him. Bhima chuckled and said to himself. "I have this wretch now safe in my hands. I shall today redeem my promise to Draupadi. Too long has my oath waited for performance."

As Bhima thus bethought himself of what Duhsasana had done to Draupadi, the anger within him blazed up uncontrollably and throwing down all his weapons, he jumped from his chariot and leapt upon Duhsasana like a tiger on its prey, hurled him down and broke his limbs.

"Wicked beast, is this the wretched hand that held Draupadi by the hair? Here, I tear out the root from your body. If there be any here wishing to help you, let him come forward and try!"

Glaring hatefully at Duryodhana as he roared this challenge, Bhimasena tore Duhsasana's arm out and threw the bleeding limb on the battlefield.

And then he fulfilled the terrible oath he had taken thirteen years before. He sucked and drank the blood from his enemy's body like a beast of prey and danced on the bloody field, mad with passion. "I have done it!" he roared. "The oath I swore against this great sinner has been redeemed. It only remains to redeem my oath as regards Duryodhana. The sacrificial fire is ready. Let that victim also prepare."

The scene made everyone shudder. Even great Karna was shaken as he saw Bhima in this ecstasy of wrath. "Do not flinch," said Salya to Karna. "It does not befit you to show any sign that may be mistaken for fear. When Duryodhana stands quivering in despair; it is not right that you also should lose heart. After the great Duhsasana's death, the army's hope rests solely on you. You must now bear the full burden. Like the gallant warrior you are, seek single combat with Arjuna, and win eternal glory on earth or the soldier's heaven!" At these words, Karna recovered his courageous spirit. With eyes red with wrath and unshed tears, he bade Salya drive the chariot towards Arjuna.

"Enough of fighting," said Aswatthama addressing Duryodhana earnestly. "Let us terminate this disastrous enmity. Beloved friend, make peace with the Pandavas. Stop the battle."

"What? Did you not hear the words that the stubborn Bhima uttered when like a ravening beast, he drank human blood and danced over my brother's mangled body? What talk can there be now of peace? Why do you speak vain words!" said Duryodhana. Saying thus, he ordered a fresh disposition of the forces, and gave the command for attack.

Then followed a great battle. The son of Surya sent a dazzling arrow, which spat fire and made for Arjuna, like a serpent with its flaming double-tongue out. Then Krishna, Arjuna's charioteer, at the nick of time, pressed the vehicle down five fingers deep in the mud, so that the serpent shaft just missed Partha's head but struck off his helmet! Arjuna was red with shame and anger and he fixed a dart on his bow to make an end of Karna.

And Karna's fated hour was come, and as had been foretold, the left wheel of his chariot suddenly sank in the bloody mire. He jumped down on the ground to lift the wheel up from the mud.

"Wait a minute!" he cried. "My chariot has sunk in the ground. Great warrior as you are, and knowing dharma as you do, you would certainly not take unfair advantage of this accident. I shall presently set my car right and give you all the battle you want."

Arjuna hesitated. Karna was now somewhat perturbed on account of the mishap. He remembered the curse that had been pronounced on him, and again appealed to Arjuna's sense of honor.

Krishna intervened. "Ha, Karna!" be exclaimed, "it is well that you too remember that there are things like fairplay and chivalry! Now that you are in difficulty, you remember them indeed. But when you and Duryodhana and Duhsasana and Sakuni dragged Draupadi to the Hall of Assembly and insulted her, how was it you forgot them utterly? You helped to inveigle Dharmaputra, who was fond of play but was unskilled at it, to gamble, and you cheated him. Where had your fairplay hidden itself then? Was it fairplay to refuse to give to Yudhishthira his kingdom when according to the pledge the twelve years of forest life and the thirteenth year incognito were duly completed? What had happened to the dharma you appeal for now? You conspired with the wicked men who sought to poison and kill Bhima. You acquiesced in the plot to burn the Pandavas alive when sleeping in the palace of wax into which they had been lured. What had happened to dharma all that time? What did dharma tell you when violent hands were laid on Draupadi and you were looking on enjoying the sight? Did you not then mock at her saying: 'Your husbands have left you unprotected, go and marry another husband'? The tongue that was not ashamed to utter those words now talks of chivalry. Chivalry indeed! When a mob of you surrounded the young Abhimanyu and shamelessly slew him, was that chivalry? Wicked man, do not talk now of chivalry and fairplay, for you have never honored them!"

When Krishna was denouncing him in this manner in order to urge Arjuna to prompt action, Karna bent his head in shame and uttered not a word. Karna silently ascended the chariot leaving the wheel still stuck in the mud and took his bow and sent an arrow at Arjuna with unerring aim and such power that it stunned him for a moment.

Karna utilised the respite won, to jump down again and hurriedly tried to lift the chariot wheel up. But the curse was too strong for him and fortune had deserted the great warrior.

The wheel would not budge, though he strove with all his great strength. Then he tried to recall the mantras of mighty astras he had learnt from Parasurama, but his memory failed in the hour of his need, even as Parasurama had foretold.

"Waste no more time, Arjuna," cried Madhava. "Send your shaft and slay your wicked enemy."

Arjuna's mind was wavering. His hand hesitated to do what was not chivalrous. But when Krishna said this, the poet says: "Arjuna accepted this command of the Lord and sent an arrow which cut and severed the head of the Radheya."

The poet had not the heart to impute this act to Arjuna who was the embodiment of nobility. It was the Lord Krishna that incited Arjuna to kill Karna when he was vainly trying to raise his chariot out of the mud in which it had stuck. According to the code of honor and laws of war prevailing then, it was wholly wrong. Who could bear the responsibility for breaches of dharma except the Lord Himself?  The lesson is that it is vanity to hope, through physical violence and war, to put down wrong. The battle for right, conducted through physical force leads to numerous wrongs and, in the net result, adharma increases.
 
 
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #111 on: July 23, 2011, 01:59:09 PM »
92. Duryodhana

WHEN Duryodhana beheld Karna's death, his grief knew no bounds. Kripacharya was deeply moved by Duryodhana's anguish of heart and said: "Moved by ambition and greed we placed too great a burden on friends. They have uncomplainingly borne it and laid down their lives on the battlefield and attained the happy regions above. There is but one course left to you to make peace with the Pandavas. Do not, O King, any longer continue this ruinous fight."

Even at that moment of deep despair, Duryodhana did not relish this counsel. "Perhaps, there was a time for that, but it is long past. What talk can there be of peace between the Pandavas and us with all this inexpiable blood between us, the blood of our dearest and theirs? If I surrender in order to escape death, how can I escape the contempt of the world? What happiness can I hope to have in a life so ignobly saved? And what joy can I hope to find in sovereignty, secured by a peace after my brothers and relatives have all been slain?"

These words of Duryodhana were lustily cheered by the others. They supported his stand and they chose Salya and gave him the supreme command from then on. Salya was mighty of limb and as brave as any of the warriors who had been killed. The army was arrayed under his leadership and the battle raged fiercely. On the side of the Pandavas, Yudhishthira now led the attack personally against Salya. It astonished everyone to see how the man, who was till then the very incarnation of gentle ness, fought so furiously.

The battle was equal for a long while, when Yudhishthira hurled at Salya, his spear that went straight and struck him. Like the great flagstaff at the end of a festive function, Salya's body lay lifeless on the field, crimson with blood.

When Salya, the last of the great generals, fell dead, the Kaurava army lost all hope. The surviving sons of Dhritarashtra, however, joined together and attacked Bhima from all sides. He slew them all. The son of Vayu had nourished his burning anger for thirteen years from the time Draupadi was insulted in the Hall of Assembly. He said to himself now: "I have not lived in vain, but Duryodhana still lives," and smiled grimly.

Sakuni led the attack on Sahadeva's division. After a while, Sahadeva discharged a sharp-edged sword-arrow saying: "Fool, here is the reward for your great sin." It went straight and cut through Sakuni's neck like a sword. And the head, which was at the root of all the wicked deeds of the Kauravas, rolled on the ground.

Left leaderless, the wreck of the broken army scattered and fled in all directions, pursued and slaughtered to a man by the exulting victors.

"'Thus utterly was destroyed thine army of eleven Akshauhinis, O! Bharata, out of the thousands of kings, who espoused thy cause in their pride and might, only Duryodhana could be seen on that battlefield, fainting and sore wounded," said Sanjaya, describing the debacle to the blind king.

After doing, in vain, all he could to rally his defeated army, Duryodhana, left almost alone, took up his mace and walked towards a pool of water. His whole frame was burning like fire, and water attracted him. "The wise Vidura knew what would happen and he told us," he said to himself, as he entered the water.

Of what avail is wisdom that comes too late? What has been done must produce its result that has to be suffered. That is the law. Yudhishthira and his brothers arrived there in relentless, pursuit of their great enemy.

"Duryodhana!" exclaimed Yudhishthira, "after destroying family and tribe, would you yourself escape death by concealing yourself in this pond? Where is your pride now? Have you no shame? Come up and fight. A kshatriya by birth, do you shrink battle and death?"

Stung to the quick by these words, Duryodhana replied with dignity: "I have not come here, Dharmaputra, a fugitive for my life. It was not fear that brought me here. I stepped into the water to cool the fire that is raging within me. I neither fear death nor wish to live, but why should I fight? The earth has now nothing left that I came to fight for! All those who stood by me have been slain. My desire for kingdom is gone. I leave the world to you without a rival. Enjoy it in undisputed sovereignty."

Yudhishthira replied: "Now, that is really generous, especially after you said you would not allow us even a needle-point of land. When we begged for peace and entreated you to give us a portion, you spurned our proposal. Now, you say we may take it all. It is not for kingdom or land that we fight. Must I recount all your sins? The wrongs you did us, and the outrage you perpetrated on Draupadi, cannot be expiated except with your life."

Sanjaya, who related the events to the blind old king, here said: "When your son Duryodhana heard these harsh and cruel words spoken by Dharmaputra, he at once rose from the water, mace in hand."

Stepping out of the pool, the unfortunate Duryodhana said: "Come, one by one, all of you, for I am single. You five will surely not join together and attack me who am alone and without armor, weary and wounded all over."

Yudhishthira replied sharply: "If indeed it be wrong for many to join together and attack a single person, pray tell us how Abhimanyu was attacked and killed? Did you not consent to many combining and attacking that boy, standing all alone amidst your crowd? Yes, when men face misfortune, they see and preach dharma and chivalry to others. Wear your coat of armor. Choose any of us you like and fight. Die and go to swarga or win and be king."

Accordingly, the combat began between Bhima and Duryodhana. Sparks of fire flew when their maces clashed. Duryodhana and Bhima were equal in strength and skill, and the battle raged long, and the issue hung doubtful. Those, who stood watching, were debating as to whom would win. Krishna said to Arjuna that Bhima would redeem the oath he swore in the Hall of Assembly and smash Duryodhana's thighs. Bhima heard this and, at that moment, the memory of the great outrage came vividly to his mind.

He leaped like a lion and came down with his mace on Duryodhana's thighs and broke them and Duryodhana fell heavily on the ground, wounded to death.

Bhima jumped on the prostrate body of his enemy, stamped on his head with his heavy foot and danced a terrible dance.

"Cease, Bhima," cried Dharmaraja. "You have paid off the debt. Duryodhana is a prince and a cousin. It is not right to put your foot on his head."

Said Krishna:"Soon the wicked man's soul will depart from the body. Sons of Pandu, Duryodhana and his friends have been slain. Why linger here? On to your chariots."

When Krishna said this, the face of the fallen Duryodhana glowed like a blazing fire with anger and hatred. Turning his eyes towards Krishna be said:

"By base tricks you contrived the death of warriors, who fought bravely according to the laws of war. You could not have dreamt of victory in a fair fight with Karna or Bhishma or Drona. Have you not a spark of shame left?"

Even dying, Duryodhana felt no regret for all that he had done.

"Duryodhana," said Krishna, "vainly do you accuse others. Greed and pride of power led you to unnumbered wicked deeds and you are reaping as you sowed."

"Wretch!" replied Duryodhana. "Living, I was a great prince, generous friend, and a terrible foe. All human joys, such joys as kings wish for in vain, and even Gods do not despise, have been mine, in their fullness. A warrior's death is the fitting crown of such a life. Dying, I go triumphantly to swarga to join my friends and my brothers who have gone there already and are waiting to welcome me. You remain here below, your objects defeated and yourselves the object of contempt of all kshatriyas. I do not mind Bhima putting his foot on my head as I lie helpless on the ground with legs broken. What care I? In a few minutes more will not the feet of crows and vultures settle on my head?"

When Duryodhana said this, flowers were showered down from the heavens by the gods. Inordinate desire took Duryodhana into the wrong path, whence ensued anger and numerous breaches of dharma. But no one could question the unconquerable spirit of Dhritarashtra's son.
 

 
 
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #112 on: July 23, 2011, 01:59:52 PM »
93. The Pandavas Reproached

WHEN the war was nearing its end, Balarama arrived at Kurukshetra after completing his tour of holy places. He came just when Bhima and Duryodhana were engaged in their last mortal combat. He saw Bhima aiming the deadly blow which broke Duryodhana's thighs, and his anger flamed up at this great breach of the rules of single combat.

"Fie upon you all! Would any kshatriya hit below the navel? This Bhima has offended the law most disgracefully," he exclaimed and impatiently going up to his brother Krishna, shouted:

"You can look on and tolerate all this. But I cannot bear to see such unclean fighting!" Saying this he advanced towards the offending Bhima with upraised plough. The plough was Balarama's weapon on supreme occasions, as the discus was Krishna's. Krishna was alarmed when he saw his elder brother advancing in a passion towards Bhima.

He rushed forward and, intercepting him, said: "The Pandavas are our friends and closest relations. They have been the victims of insufferable wrongs at the hands of Duryodhana. When Draupadi was insulted in the Assembly Hall, Bhima vowed: 'I will one day in battle break the two thighs of Duryodhana with this mace and kill him.' He proclaimed this solemn oath at that time and everyone has known it. It is the duty of a kshatriya to fulfil the vow he has solemnly taken. Do not let your anger mislead you and do not be unjust to the innocent Pandavas. You should, before condemning Bhima, take into account all the wrongs that the Kauravas have done to the Pandavas. Nothing but error can result if one proceeds to judge conduct without taking into account the chain of events leading up to it. You cannot snatch a particular act out of its context and proceed to give judgment on it alone without gross injustice. The era of Kali has arrived, when the laws of a previous age cannot apply. It was not wrong for Bhima to strike below the navel an enemy who had wickedly contrived against his life on many occasions. It was because of Duryodhana's foul instigation that Karna sent a shaft from behind and broke Abhimanyu's bowstring when he was defending himself against heavy odds. Arjuna's young son was attacked by numerous warriors who surrounded him, when he stood all by himself in the field, deprived of bow and chariot, and in a most cowardly manner, killed him. Duryodhana thought evil and practised deception from the time of his birth and has brought about the destruction of his people. There is no sin in Bhima killing this man. Bhima bore the wrongs done and kept his wrath within himself for thirteen long years. Duryodhana knew well that Bhima had sworn to break his thighs and kill him. When he challenged the aggrieved Pandavas to battle, he knew very well that he invited Bhima to make good his oath. How can you think that it was wrong for Bhima to do this?"

Krishna's words did not change Balarama's opinion, but his anger subsided. "Duryodhana will attain the happy regions reserved for the brave. Bhima's fame has been tarnished for all time. It will be said among men that the son of Pandu broke the laws of war in attacking Duryodhana. It will remain forever a great blot on his good name. I hate to stay here any longer." So saying the indignant Balarama immediately left for Dwaraka.

"Yudhishthira, why this strange silence?" asked Krishna.

"O Madhava, it hurts me to see Bhima leap on cousin Duryodhana's mortally wounded body and trample on his head. I see the end of the glory of our race. We were wronged by the Kauravas. I know the full measure of grief and anger in Vrikodara's heart, and don't wish to blame him beyond reason. We have killed Duryodhana, who was afflicted by uncontained greed and poverty of understanding. What serves it now to debate the ethics of it or nicely to weigh the propriety of a much wronged man's revenges?"

Yudhishthira was greatly oppressed in mind. When men transgress the law, extenuations and excuses are of no avail in giving mental satisfaction.

Arjuna, of penetrating intellect, was silent. He did not show approval of Bhima's act. Nor did he say anything by way of detraction. The rest of the people, who were there, were however loud in condemnation of Duryodhana and were reminding one another of all his misdeeds and errors. Krishna turned towards them and said:

"Warriors, it is not proper that we go on speaking against an enemy who has been defeated and is lying mortally wounded. We should not speak ill of a dying man. He was stupid and brought about his own end. He fell into the company of bad men and was ruined. Let us go."

Duryodhana, who was stretched on the ground in intense, agony, when he heard Krishna say this, went into a paroxysm of rage. He half raised himself on his arms in spite of the excruciating pain, and exclaimed:

"Wretch! Son of a slave! Was not your father Vasudeva Kamsa's slave? You have no business to sit or move with princes. You speak like a shameless wretch. I saw you instigate Bhima to aim his blow at my thigh! Do you think I did not see you, making as though casually talking to Arjuna, pointing to your thigh, but really indicating to Bhima that he should strike me on the thighs, disregarding the laws of single combat? Till then it had been equal battle. You have neither pity nor shame. Did you not contrive the death of the grandsire Bhishma through stratagem? You advised Sikhandin to be placed in front when attacking Bhishma, knowing that the grandsire would scorn to fight a woman, and would let himself be mortally wounded without resistance. You brought about the end of Dronacharya through making Dharmaputra utter a falsehood. You were the father of that deadly lie that issued from Yudhishthira's mouth, and made Dronacharya throw his bow away. Did you not look on without protest, and rejoice, when that, wretch Dhrishtadyumna attacked and killed the acharya who had stopped fighting, throwing away his weapons, and settled down in yoga posture for meditation on the Supreme? Was it not you who wickedly contrived to make Karna hurl the fatal spear at Ghatotkacha instead of reserving it for Arjuna as he had all along resolved to do? O great sinner, surely it was you who instigated Satyaki to butcher Bhurisravas when his right arm had been foully cut off and he stopped fighting and spread his arrows for a seat for holy meditation. It was you who brought about the death of Karna by inducing Arjuna to attack him in a cowardly manner when he was engaged in lifting his chariot wheel which had sunk and stuck in the mud in the field of battle. Oh worthless man, sole cause of our destruction, the whole world has condemned your act when by sorcery you made it appear as if the sun had set. You made Jayadratha, the Sindhu king, believe that the day was over and he was past danger, and thus he was slain when he was off his guard."

Thus did Duryodhana pour his denunciation against Krishna and then, exhausted by the pain of his wounds and the violence of his rage, he fell prostrate again.

"Son of Gandhari," said Krishna, "why do you let your anger add to the pain of your last moments? It is your own misdeeds that have brought about your end. Do not attribute it to me. Bhishma and Drona had to die on account of your sins. So also were you the cause of the death of Karna and others. Need I recount all the wrongs that you were guilty of against the sons of Pandu? What punishment can be too severe for the great outrage, which you inflicted on Draupadi? The animosities and passions that resulted from your misdeeds cannot be made ground for condemning others. All the deceptions and lapses you charge us with were forced on us by reason of your wicked conduct. You have paid off on the battlefield the debt incurred by your greed. But you are dying the death of a brave man. You will go to the happy regions reserved for kshatriyas who lay down their lives on the field of battle."

"Krishna, I go to swarga with my friends and relatives. But you and your friends will live on earth to suffer," said the stubborn Duryodhana. "I studied the Vedas. I have given gifts ordained by law and I have reigned supreme over all the sea-girt earth. While I lived, I stood upon the humbled heads of foes. All human joys, such joys as even the Gods cannot despise and kings sigh for in vain, the very pinnacle of power, were mine. Dying now, such death as warriors deem the crown of kshatriya life, I go to meet in heaven my friends and brothers gone before, eager to welcome me. Who is more blest, I, or you who, doomed to linger here, mourning for slaughtered friends in desolate homes, find the long sought triumph but ashes in your mouth?" said Duryodhana. And the gods showered flowers down on the dying warrior and the gandharvas played music and the sky was illuminated. Vasudeva and the Pandavas felt small.

"There is truth," said Krishna, "in what Duryodhana said. You could not have defeated him by fair means. This wicked man was invincible in battle."
 
 
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #113 on: July 23, 2011, 02:01:50 PM »
94. Aswatthama

WHEN Aswatthama heard how Duryodhana lay mortally injured, and learnt the details of the combat, his righteous anger swelled like the sea. The deception, practised by the Pandavas in order to bring about his father's end, had been rankling in his mind.

Now, when he learnt how Duryodhana had been stricken down mortally against all rules of chivalry, he went to the spot where Duryodhana was lying and there took an oath that he would that night send the Pandavas to the abode of Yama.

Duryodhana, who was in the last physical agony of departing life, was transported with joy when he heard Aswatthama take this oath. He immediately ordered those who stood nearby to install Aswatthama as Supreme Commander of the Army with due ceremony and, when that was over, said to Him: "All my hopes are in you."

It was sunset and the forest was in utter darkness when under a big banian tree Kripacharya, Kritavarma and Aswatthama halted for rest. They were so greatly fatigued that Kripacharya and Kritavarma fell fast asleep as soon as they lay down.

But Aswatthama did not get sleep, for sorrow, indignation and hatred burnt within him. He was listening to the noises that the nocturnal birds and prowling beasts began to make as the night advanced. He was turning over in his mind how to execute his promise to Duryodhana.

On the branches of the banian tree, under which the three warriors were resting, hundreds of crows roosted. They were all quiet and asleep until a big owl came and began to attack the birds one after another and kill them. When Aswatthama saw the nocturnal bird of prey tear the helpless crows, he got an idea. The crows that could not see at night flew round and round helplessly and fell victims to the owl that attacked them violently.

"These wicked Pandavas and the Panchala that killed my father and all their supporters can easily be killed by us, if we surprise them when they are sleeping in their tents at night even as this owl is attacking these blind crows. Thus can I avenge the deeds of foul play they have practised on us. I am deeply indebted to this bird of prey from whom I have received the teaching. There is no offence in adopting plans to suit one's altered circumstances. If we can lawfully attack an enemy, when his army is tired or when his forces are scattered, why then should not we, who have lost our armies, attack our enemies when they are asleep? There can be nothing wrong in it. Indeed it is only thus that we can punish and defeat these Pandavas who have achieved successes through foul play.  We have no other course open."

Aswatthama made up his mind and he immediately woke up Kripacharya and informed him of his plan. Kripacharya, who heard it, was astonished.

"This can never be," said he. "It is wholly wrong. To attack men who have retired to sleep, has never been done before. It would be an unprecedented crime against the laws of kshatriya conduct. Aswatthama, for whom are we fighting? The man for whose sake we joined in this war has been fatally wounded and his end has arrived. We have discharged our obligations most loyally. We fought our best for the greedy and wrongheaded Duryodhana but we failed irretrievably. There is no purpose now in our continuing the fight and it is folly to do so. Let us go to Dhritarashtra and the faultless Gandhari, and place ourselves at their disposal. Let us take counsel of wise Vidura also. They will tell us what lies before us to do."

When Kripacharya spoke thus, Aswatthama's grief and indignation increased and he spoke bitterly:

"Everyone feels sure that what he thinks is the only right and proper thing to do. One's understanding naturally limits one's vision. These Pandavas have been guilty of the foulest conduct. They killed my noble and trustful father through a lie. They have killed Duryodhana against the laws of chivalry. I have no doubt in my mind that what I propose to do is quite proper vengeance for all these foul deeds. It is only if I carry out this plan that I can possibly repay my debt to my king and to my father. I have decided on it and I do not propose to alter my plan. I am going tonight to the tents where they are sleeping having cast off their armor and there I will kill the Pandavas and Dhrishtadyumna while they are asleep."

Kripacharya was deeply grieved to hear Aswatthama speak thus: "You have attained a great name among men," he pleaded, "Your spotless character will by this be blemished, even like a milk-white cloth bespattered with blood. Never could it be right to kill sleeping men. Desist from this."

"Sir, what are you talking? These Pandavas butchered my father when he had thrown away all his weapons and had sat down in prayer. These men have breached the embankment of dharma and released the flood, and not a, drop of dharma is now left! Karna, who was on the ground putting right the wheel of his chariot, was murdered by these lawless rascals. Bhima has killed Duryodhana with a blow below the navel. What dharma has been left for us to follow? The Pandavas have, once for all, destroyed the wall of dharma. Why should we make research into law and chivalry when dealing with these ruffians who have attained successes by destroying both? If by killing the sleeping Panchalas, who butchered my great father, I may be doomed to rebirth in the body of a foul bird or of a wriggling worm, I do not care. I seek such a birth!"

Saying this and, without waiting for an answer, Aswatthama proceeded to harness his horses and get his chariot ready to start. When he was about to leave Kripacharya and Kritavarma cried: "Stop. What are you resolved upon doing, Aswatthama? We cannot approve of it, but neither can we desert you in your desperate enterprise. The path you are bent on treading, we shall also follow. The sin you are resolved upon, let us share also." So, they went along with him. Thus does evil grow! One transgression begets the next and thus evil grows from evil submerging righteousness. Evil flourishes on retaliation.

They reached the Pandava camp. Dhrishtadyumna had doffed his armor and was plunged in deep slumber in his tent. Aswatthama leapt on the sleeping warrior and, before he could put himself into a posture of defence, cruelly kicked him to death.

The same process was relentlessly repeated until all the Panchalas and all the sons of Draupadi were killed one by one when they were plunged in sleep in their tents.

After having done this deed, the like of which had never before been considered possible among kshatriyas, Kripacharya, Kritavarma and Aswatthama came out of the tents and set fire to the camp. When the fire spread, the sleeping soldiers were awakened and fled hither and thither in confusion, even like the crows on the banian tree under which they had rested in the forest, and they were mercilessly slaughtered by Aswatthama.

"We have done our duty," said Dronacharya's son. "Let us go and give the glad news to Duryodhana, if we can reach him, before he expires. Let him die pleased."

The three of them accordingly hurried to Duryodhana.
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #114 on: July 23, 2011, 02:02:58 PM »
95. Avenged

"O, DURYODHANA, you are yet alive, hear the news and rejoice! All the Panchalas have been slaughtered. The sons of the Pandavas have also been all done to death. The entire army of theirs has been destroyed. We made a night attack on them when they were asleep. There are only seven survivors now on the Pandava side. On our side, Kripacharya, Kritavarma and I remain."

Thus said Aswatthama to the dying Duryodhana who, on hearing this, slowly opened his eyes and, with struggling breath, gasped out these words:

"Aswatthama, you have indeed done for me what neither the great Bhishma nor the valiant Karna could achieve! You have gladdened my heart and I die happy." Saying this, Duryodhana expired.

When he saw the unexpected destruction of his army as a result of the attack during sleep, Yudhishthira gave way to grief and broke down:

"At the very moment of victory, we have been totally defeated. The vanquished have indeed triumphed. Draupadi's children, who survived the onslaught of the formidable Karna, have, by our unwariness, been crushed and destroyed like vermin. We have allowed ourselves to be destroyed like a merchant ship which, having successfully crossed the big seas, returns home but capsizes in a ditch and is lost."

Draupadi was overwhelmed by inconsolable grief. She came to Dharmaputra's side and wept. "Is there no one to avenge my children's slaughter, by destroying this great sinner Aswatthama?" she cried.

When she said this, the Pandavas immediately went out in search of the murderer. They looked for him in all sorts of places and found him, at last, on the bank of the Ganga, hiding himself behind Vyasa.

When he saw the Pandavas and Janardana approaching, Aswatthama quietly took up a blade of grass and charged it with the mantra of destruction and sent it forward saying: "May this destroy the race of the Pandavas." And it went straight to the womb of Uttara who bore in her the son of Abhimanyu.

The race of the Pandavas would have been destroyed thereby but for the intervention of Sri Krishna who saved the child in the mother's womb. This child was Parikshit who was later crowned by Yudhishthira when the Pandavas retired to the forest.

Aswatthama pried out the shining jewel that was part of his head and gave it to Bhima, acknowledging his defeat, and went away to the forest. Bhima took the great jewel and, going to Draupadi said: "Angel of spotless purity, this is for you. The man, who killed your beloved sons, has been vanquished. Duryodhana has been destroyed. I have drunk the blood of Duhsasana. I have avenged the great outrage and discharged my debts."

Draupadi took the jewel and, going up to Yudhishthira bowed and said: "Faultless king, it befits you to wear this in your crown."
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #115 on: July 23, 2011, 02:03:37 PM »
96. Who Can Give Solace?
WHEN the battle was over, Hastinapura was a city of mourning. All the women and children were weeping and lamenting their slain, nearest and dearest. With many thousands of bereaved women accompanying, Dhritarashtra went to the field of battle. At Kurukshetra, the scene of terrible destruction, the blind king thought of all that had passed, and wept aloud. But, of what avail was weeping?

"O king, words of consolation addressed to a bereaved person do not remove his grief. Thousands of rulers have given up their lives in battle for your sons. It is now time that you should arrange for proper funeral ceremonies for the dead," said Sanjaya to Dhritarashtra.

"It is not right to grieve for those who die in battle. When souls have left their bodies, there is nothing like relationship, nothing like brother or son or relative. Your sons have really no connection with you. Relationship ends with death, being only a bodily connection and a mere minor incident in the soul's eternal life. From the nowhere do lives come, and, with death, they again disappear into nowhere. Why should we weep for them? Those who die in battle after a heroic fight go as guests to receive Indra's hospitality. Grieving for what is past, you cannot gain anything in the nature of dharma, pleasure or wealth." Thus, and in many more ways, did the wise and good Vidura try to assuage the king's grief.

Vyasa also approached Dhritarashtra tenderly and said: "Dear son, there is nothing that you do not know and which you have to learn from me. You know very well that all living beings must die. This great battle came to reduce earth's burden as I have heard from Lord Vishnu Himself. That is why this calamity could not be prevented. Henceforth, Yudhishthira is your son. You should try to love him and in that way bear the burden of life, giving up grief."

Making his way, through the crowd of weeping women Yudhishthira approached Dhritarashtra and bowed before him. Dhritarashtra embraced Yudhishthira, but there was no love in that embrace.

Then Bhimasena was announced to the blind king. "Come," said Dhritarashtra.

But Vasudeva was wise. He gently pushed Bhima aside and placed an iron figure before the blind Dhritarashtra, knowing the old king's exceeding anger. Dhritarashtra hugged the metal statue to his bosom in a firm embrace and then the thought came to him of how this man had killed everyone of his sons. And his wrath increased to such a pitch that the image was crushed to pieces in his embrace.

"Ha! My anger has deceived me," cried Dhritarashtra. "I have killed dear Bhima."

Then Krishna said to the blind king:

"Lord, I knew that it would be thus and I prevented the disaster. You have not killed Bhimasena. You have crushed only an iron image that I placed instead before you. May your anger be appeased with what you have done to this image. Bhima is still alive."

The king was composed somewhat and he blessed Bhima and the other Pandavas who then took leave of him and went to Gandhari.

Vyasa was with Gandhari. "Oh queen,"said the rishi, "be not angry with the Pandavas. Did you not tell them even when the battle began: 'Where there is dharma, there surely will be victory'? And so it has happened. It is not right to let the mind dwell on what is past and nurse one's anger. You must now call to aid your great fortitude."

Gandhari said: "Bhagavan, I do not envy the victory of the Pandavas. It is true that grief for the death of my sons has robbed me of my understanding. These Pandavas also are my sons. I know that Duhsasana and Sakuni brought about this destruction of our people. Arjuna and Bhima are blameless. Pride brought this battle about and my sons deserve the fate they have met. I do not complain about it. But then, in Vasudeva's presence, Bhima called Duryodhana to battle and they fought. And, knowing that Duryodhana was stronger and could not be defeated in single combat, Bhima struck him below the navel and killed him. Vasudeva was looking on. This was wrong and it is this that I find it impossible to forgive."

Bhima, who heard this, came near and said: "Mother, I did this to save myself in battle. Whether it was right or wrong, you should bear with me. Your son was invincible in combat and so I did in self-protection what was undoubtedly wrong. He called Yudhishthira to play and deceived him. We had been wronged by your son in so many ways. He would not give back the kingdom, of which be took unlawful possession. And you know what your son did to blameless Draupadi. If we had killed your son on the spot, when he misbehaved in the Hall of Assembly, surely you would not have blamed us. Bound by Dharmaraja's vow, we restrained ourselves with difficulty then. We have since discharged honor's debt and found satisfaction in battle. Mother, you should forgive me."

"Dear son, if you had left but one out of my hundred sons and killed all the rest and satisfied your anger, I and my old husband would have found solace in that surviving son for the rest of our lives. Where is Dharmaputra? Call him." She said.

Hearing this, Yudhishthira trembled as he, with clasped hands, approached Gandhari, whose eyes were bound in a cloth in loyal lifelong penance for her husband's blindness. He bowed low before her and said softly:

"Queen, the cruel Yudhishthira, who killed your sons, stands before you fit to be cursed. Do curse me who have committed great sin. I care not for life or for kingdom." Saying this, he fell on the ground and touched her feet.

Gandhari heaved a deep sigh and stood mute. She turned her head aside knowing that if, through the cloth with which her eyes were bound, her vision fell on the prostrate Yudhishthira he would be reduced to ashes on the spot. But through a little space in the cloth, even as she turned her face away, her eyes fell on the toe of the prostrate Yudhishthira. At once, says the poet, the toe was charred black.

Arjuna knew the power of bereaved Gandhari's wrath, and hid himself behind Vasudeva. The wise and good Gandhari suppressed all her anger and blessed the Pandavas and sent them to Kunti.

Gandhari turned to Draupadi, who was in lamentation, having lost all her sons. "Dear girl," said Gandhari. "Do not grieve. Who can give solace to you and me? It is through my fault that this great tribe has been destroyed altogether."
 

 
 
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #116 on: July 23, 2011, 02:04:12 PM »
97. Yudhishthira's Anguish

THE Pandavas performed the til and water ceremonies for the peace of the souls of the dead warriors and camped on the bank of the Ganga for a month.

One day, Narada appeared before Yudhishthira. "Son, through Krishna's grace, the valor of Arjuna and the power of your dharma, you were victorious and you are the sovereign lord of the land. Are you happy?" he asked.

Yudhishthira replied: "Bhagavan, it is true the kingdom has come into my possession. But my kinsmen are all gone. We have lost sons that were dear. This victory appears to me but a great defeat. O Narada, we took our own brother for an enemy and killed him, even Karna who stood rooted like a rock in his honor and at whose valor the world wondered. This terrible act of slaying our own brothers was the result of our sinful attachment to our possessions. Karna, on the other hand, kept the promise he gave to our mother and abstained from killing us. Oh! I am a sinner, a low fellow who murdered his own brother. My mind is troubled greatly at this thought. Karna's feet were so much like our mother's feet. In the large hall, when that great outrage was committed and my anger rose, when I looked at his feet, which were so much like Kunti's feet, my wrath subsided. I remember that now and my grief increases."

So saying, Yudhishthira heaved a deep sigh. Narada told him all about Karna and the curses that had been pronounced on him on various occasions.

Once, when Karna saw that Arjuna was superior to him in archery, he approached Drona and entreated him to teach him how to wield the Brahmastra. Drona declined saying it was not open to him to instruct any but a brahmana of faultless conduct or a kshatriya who had purified himself by much penance. Thereupon, Karna went to the Mahendra hills and deceived Parasurama by saying that he was a brahmana and became his disciple. From him he obtained instruction in archery and the use of many astras.

One day, when Karna was practising with his bow in the forest near Parasurama's asrama, a brahmana's cow was accidentally hit and killed. The brahmana was angry and uttered a curse on Karna: "In battle, your chariot wheels will stick in the mud and you will be done to death, even like this innocent cow which you have killed."

Parasurama was exceedingly fond of Karna and taught him all the archery he knew and instructed him fully in the use and the withdrawing of the Brahmastra.

One day, however, he discovered that the disciple was not a brahmana. It happened tha an an insect bit a hole into Karna's thigh when one afternoon the teacher had fallen asleep on Karna's lap. Karna bore the acute pain quietly and did not stir, lest the master should wake up. The warm blood trickling from the wound woke up Parasurama. When he saw what had happened, he was angry.

"You are a kshatriya; otherwise you could not have borne this physical pain without stirring. Tell me the truth. You are not a brahmana. You have deceived your teacher. Fool! When your hour comes, your knowledge of astras will fail you and what you have learnt from me through deception will not avail you."

Parasurama's wrath against kshatriyas is well known and, when he discovered that Karna was a kshatriya, he cursed him thus in his anger.

Karna was free in making gifts. One day, Indra, who was Arjuna's father, came in the garb of a brahmana and begged of Karna for a gift of the divine earrings and armor with which he had been born. Karna took them out and gave them away accordingly. From that time, Karna's strength was reduced.

"Karna's pledge to his mother Kunti that he would not kill more than one of the five of you, Parasurarna's curse, the anger of the brahmana whose cow was killed by Karna, the way in which his charioteer Salya depressed him by underrating his valor and Vasudeva's stratagems, these combined to bring about Karna's end. Do not grieve believing that you alone caused his death." Thus said Narada, but Yudhishthira was not consoled by these words.

"Do not blame yourself, son, for Karna's, death," said Kunti. "His father, the sun lord himself, pleaded with him. He begged of him to give up the wicked-hearted Duryodhana and join you. I too tried hard. But he would not listen to us. He brought his end on himself."

"You deceived us, mother" said Yudhishthira, "by hiding the secret of his birth from us. You became thus the cause of this great sin. May women never be able to keep a secret henceforth."

This is the poet's story of how Yudhishthira cursed all women in his anguish over having killed his own elder brother. It is a common notion that women cannot keep secrets. And this story is a beautiful conception illustrating that popular belief.

It may be that in worldly affairs, it is an advantage to be able to keep secrets. But it is not great virtue from the point of view of moral character, and women need not grieve over an incapacity of this kind, if indeed Kunti's legacy still persists.

The affectionate temperament natural to women may perhaps incline them to openness. But some women do keep secrets very well indeed, and not a man possess this ability either. It is a fallacy to attribute the differences that arise out of training and occupation on nature itself and imagine some qualities as peculiar to a sex.
 
 
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #117 on: July 23, 2011, 02:05:16 PM »
98. Yudhishthira Comforted
YUDHISHTHIRA'S pain of mind increased everyday as he thought of all the kinsmen that had been killed. He was stricken with intense remorse and decided he must give up the world go to the forest and do penance to expiate his sin.

"I see no joy or good," he said to his brothers, in taking up the office of king or in worldly enjoyment. Do rule the land yourselves leaving me free to go to the forest."

Arjuna talked of the nobility of family life and the entire good one may do without taking sanyasa. Bhimasena also spoke and harshly.

"You talk, alas"' he said, "like a dull-witted person who has committed to memory the texts of the sastras without understanding their sense. Sanyasa is not the dharma of kshatriyas. The duty of a kshatriya, is to live an active life and perform his proper task, not to go to the forest renouncing activity."

Nakula also contested the propriety of Dharmaputra's proposal and insisted that the path of work was the right one to follow and the way of sanyasa was beset with difficulties.

Sahadeva also argued likewise and entreated: "You are my father, my mother, my teacher, as well as brother. Do not leave us, bear with us."

Draupadi also spoke. "It was right we killed Duryodhana and his men. Why should we regret it? Among the duties of a king is included the inflicting of just punishment. It cannot be avoided and is an essential part of the ruler's duty. You have meted just punishment too evildoers. There is no cause whatsoever for contrition. It is now your sacred duty to take up the burden of governing the land according to dharma. Cease grieving."

Then Vyasa spoke to Yudhishthira at length and explained where his duty lay, pointing out precedents, and persuaded him to go to the city and take up the burden of ruling the land.

Yudhishthira was duly crowned at Hastinapura. Before taking up the duties of the State, Yudhishthira went to where Bhishma lay on his bed of arrows awaiting his death, and took his blessing and instruction in dharma. This instruction of Bhishmacharya to king Yudhishthira is the famous Santiparva of the Mahabharata. After the discourse was over, Bhishma's soul passed out. The king went to the Ganga and offered libations, in accordance with ancient custom, for the peace of the departed soul.

After the ceremony was over, Yudhishthira went up the bank. There, as he stood for a while, all the tragic events came back to his mind, and overcome by intense grief, he fell senseless on the ground, like an elephant struck down by the hunter.

Bhima went up to his big brother and caressed him tenderly and spoke to him soothing words. Dhritarashtra also came up and said to Yudhishthira:

"You should not grieve like this. Arise and, assisted by your brothers and friends, reign over the kingdom that awaits your rule. Your duty now is to do what appertains to the office of king. Leave grief to Gandhari and me. You achieved victory in battle in accordance with the dharma of warriors. The duties appertaining to that victory await your attention now. Fool that I was, I did not pay heed to the words of Vidura and committed a great error. I listened to the ignorant words of Duryodhana and deceived myself. Like gold seen in a dream the glory has vanished. My hundred sons have disappeared into the world of nowhere. But I have you as my son now. Do not grieve."
 

 
 
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #118 on: July 23, 2011, 02:06:06 PM »
99. ENVY

AFTER the libation ceremony for Bhishma was over, Vyasa narrated to grief-stricken Yudhishthira an episode in Brihaspati's life. The wisest of men are sometimes affected by envy and suffer thereby. Brihaspati, teacher to the gods themselves, was master of all knowledge. He was learned in all the Vedas and all the sciences, yet he was once the victim of this debasing emotion and suffered disgrace.

Brihaspati had a younger brother, Samvarta, who was also a person of great learning and a very good man. Brihaspati was, for this reason, stricken with envy of his brother.

In this world men become envious of others, just because the others are good, while they themselves are not so good, and they cannot bear this. It is strange indeed that men should not suffer even virtue in others.

Brihaspati harassed Samvarta in many ways. When he could not stand it any more, poor Samvarta put on the appearance of an eccentric and wandered from place to place, and spent his days in that way to escape from his brother's persecution.

King Marutta of the Ikshwaku dynasty made great penance and obtained from the Lord of Kailasa a great goldmine in the Himalayas and, with his resources thus augmented, he decided to perform a great Yajna.

Marutta requested Brihaspati to conduct the yajna for him. But Brihaspati feared that Marutta would, as a result of the yajna, overshadow the gods who were his charge.

He refused to comply with the king's invitation, despite his pressing entreaties. Thereupon, king Marutta, who had come to know about Samvarta found his whereabouts and approached him with the invitation to conduct his yajna.

He at first refused and tried to avoid the honor, but finally yielded. This further increased Brihaspati's envy of his unfortunate brother.

"Here is this enemy of mine, Samvarta, going to conduct king Marutta's great yajna. What shall I do now?" Thus did Brihaspati brood over it until his envy affected his health. His health declined rapidly and he became thin and pale. His condition grew worse everyday, until it attracted the attention of Indra himself.

Indra, chief of the gods, approached the divine preceptor and saluting him asked: "Lord, why are you ill? What has caused this languishing? Do you sleep well? Do the attendants serve you properly? Do they anticipate your wishes and not wait to be told? Do the gods behave courteously towards you or has there been any lapse in this respect?"

To Indra's anxious inquiry, Brihaspati replied: "Deva raja, I sleep on a good bed and in right time. The attendants serve me with all devotion. There is nothing wanting in the respect and courtesies shown by the gods." Then his voice failed and he could not proceed. So great was his prostration of spirit.

"Why are you grieved?" asked Indra affectionately. "Why have you grown thin and bloodless? Tell me what troubles your mind."

Brihaspati then told Indra about it all. "Samvarta is going to conduct a great yajna. It is this that has made me wan and thin. I cannot help it," said he. Indra was surprised.

"Learned brahmana, there is no object of desire that is not already yours. You are wise and learned, and the gods themselves have accepted you as their priest and wise counselor. What harm can Samvarta do to you? There is nothing you can lose on account of him. Why do you needlessly take upon yourself this suffering by mere envy?"

It was amusing that Indra should so far and so humanly forget his own history as to give counsel of good conduct. But Brihaspati refreshed his memory on the point and asked: "Would you yourself delightedly watch your enemy's power growing? Judge me by how you would have felt had you been in my position. I beg of you to save me against this Samvarta. You must find a way to put this man down."

Indra sent for Agni and said to him: "Go and stop the yajna of Marutta somehow."

The god of fire agreed and went on this mission. The trees and the creepers along his path caught fire and the earth trembled as he marched roaring.

He presented himself before the king in his divine form.

The king was mightily pleased to see Agni stand before him. He ordered the attendants to do all the usual honors of hospitality. "Let him be duly seated. Have his feet laved and bring the gifts proper to his greatness," said the king, and this was done.

Agni then explained why he had come. "Do give up this Samvarta. If you require a priest, I shall bring Brihaspati himself to help you."

Samvarta, who heard this, was indignant. The wrath of one who led the strict life of a brahmacharin was exceedingly potent.

"Stop this chatter!" he said to Agni. "Do not let my anger burn you up."

Fire reduces things to ashes, but brahmacharya can burn up fire itself!

At Samvarta's anger Agni, trembling like an aspen leaf, retired quickly. He returned to Indra and told him what had happened.

The king of the gods could not believe the story. "Agni, you burn up other things in the world. How can anything burn you? What is this story of Samvarta’s angry eyes reducing you to ashes?"'

"Not so, king of the gods," said Agni. "Brahmic power and the potency born of brahmacharya are not unknown to you." Agni thus reminded Indra of what the latter had suffered; incurring the wrath of those whom had attained Brahmic power.

Indra did not wrangle but called a Gandharva had said: "Now, Agni has failed. I want you to go as my messenger and ask Marutta to give up Samvarta. Tell him that if he does not, he will incur my wrath and be destroyed."

The Gandharva went accordingly to king Marutta and faithfully conveyed Indra's message and warning.

The king would not listen. "I cannot be guilty of the deadly sin of deserting a trusting friend," said the king: "I cannot give up Samvarta."

The Gandharva said: "O king, how can you survive, when Indra hurls his bolt at you?"

Even as he said this, the clouds above thundered and everyone knew that the god of the thunderbolt was coming, and trembled in fear.

The king was in great fear and entreated Samvarta to save him.

"Fear not," said Samvarta to the king, and he proceeded to put the power of his penance into action.

Indra, who had come to do battle, was compelled to change over to benevolent peace and to take part in the yajna as the radiant god of sacrifices. He received the burnt offering in proper form and retired. Brihaspati's plan of envy failed miserably. Brahmacharya triumphed. Envy is a deadly sin. It is a universal disease. If Brihaspati who could defeat the goddess of knowledge herself in learning became a victim to envy, what is there to say about ordinary mortals?
Nusrat Jahan
Assistant Professor
Department of English
Daffodil International University

Offline nusrat-diu

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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #119 on: July 23, 2011, 02:06:47 PM »
100. UTANGA

WHEN the battle was over, Krishna bade farewell to the Pandavas and went to Dwaraka. While on his way, he met his old brahmana friend Utanga. Krishna stopped and descending from his chariot saluted the brahmana.

Utanga returned the greeting and proceeded to make the usual inquiries about the health and welfare of relatives. "Madhava, do your cousins the Pandavas and the Kauravas love one another as brothers should? Are they well and flourishing?" he asked.

The innocent recluse had not heard about the great battle that had been fought. Krishna was astounded at the question of his brahmana friend. For a while, he stood silent not knowing what to say in reply. Then he softly disclosed what had happened.

"Sir, a terrible battle had been fought by the Pandavas and the Kauravas, I tried hard and applied every means to prevent the fight and make peace between them. But they would not listen. Almost all of them have perished on the field of battle. Who can stop the hand of fate?" Then he related all that had happened.

When Utanga heard the narrative, he was exceedingly wroth. With eyes red with indignation he spoke to Madhava: "Vasudeva, were you there standing by and did you let all this happen? You have indeed failed in your duty. You have surely practised deceit and led them to destruction. Prepare now to receive my curse!" Vasudeva smiled and said: "Peace, peace! Calm yourself. Do not use up the fruit of your great penances in this anger. Listen to what I say and then, if you like, you may pronounce your curse."

Krishna pacified the indignant brahmana and appeared to him in his all-embracing form, the Viswarupa.

"I am born in various bodies from time to time to save the world and establish the good. In whatever body I am born, I must act in conformity with the nature of that body. When I am born as a Deva, I act as a Deva does. If I appear as a Yaksha or as a Rakshasa, I do everything like a Yaksha or a Rakshasa. If I am born as a human being, or as a beast, I do what is natural to that birth and complete my task. I begged very hard of the ignorant Kauravas. They were arrogant and intoxicated by power and paid no heed to my advice. I tried to intimidate them. Therein also I failed. I was in wrath and showed them even my Viswarupa. Even that failed to have an effect. They persisted in wrongdoing. They waged war and perished. O best among brahmanas, you have no reason to be angry with me."

After this explanation of Krishna, Utanga recovered his calm. Krishna was, delighted.

"I wish to give a boon to you. What would you like?" said Krishna.

"Achchyuta," said Utanga, "is it not enough I have seen Thee and Thy Form Universal? I do not desire any further boon."

But Krishna insisted and the desert wandering simple brahmana said: "Well, my Lord, if you must give me some boon, let me find water to drink whenever I might feel thirsty. Give me this boon."

Krishna smiled. "Is this all? Have it then," he said, and proceeded on his journey.

One day Utanga was very thirsty and, unable to find water anywhere in the desert, he bethought himself of the boon he had received.

As soon as be did this, a Nishada appeared before him, clothed in filthy rags. He had five hunting hounds in leash and a water-skin strapped to his shoulder.

The Nishada grinned at Utanga and saying, "You seem to be thirsty. Here is water for you," offered the bamboo spout of his water-skin to the brahmana to drink from.

Utanga, looking at the man and his dogs and his water skin, said in disgust: "Friend, I do not need it, thank you." Saying this, he thought of Krishna and reproached him in his mind: "Indeed, was this all the boon you gave me?"

The outcaste Nishada pressed Utanga over and over again to quench his thirst, but it only made Utanga more and more angry and he refused to drink. The hunter and his dogs disappeared.

Seeing the strange disappearance of the Nishada, Utanga reflected: "Who was this? He could not have been a real Nishada. It was certainly a test and I have blundered miserably. My philosophy deserted me. I rejected the water offered by the Nishada and proved myself to be an arrogant fool."

Utanga was in great anguish. A moment later Madhava himself appeared with conch and discus. "O Purushottama!" exclaimed Utanga; "you put me to a difficult trial. Was it right of you to try me thus? Make an untouchable offer unclean water to me, a brahmana, to drink. Was this kind?" asked Utanga. Utanga spoke in bitter tones.

Janardana smiled. "O Utanga, for your sake, when you put my boon into action, I asked Indra to take amrita to you and give it to you as water. He said he could not give to a mortal what would give him immortality, while he was willing to do anything else. But I prevailed upon him and he agreed to take amrita and give it to you as water, provided I let him do it as a Chandala and tested your understanding and found you willing to take water from a Chandala. I accepted the challenge believing you had attained jnana and transcended externals. But you have done this and made me suffer defeat at Indra's hands." Utanga saw his mistake and was ashamed.
 
 
Nusrat Jahan
Assistant Professor
Department of English
Daffodil International University