The Mahabharata Home
(Sambhava Parva continued)
"Janamejaya said, 'I desire to hear from thee about the birth and life of the high-souled Bharata and of the origin of Sakuntala. And, O holy one, I also desire to hear all about Dushmanta--that lion among men--and how the hero obtained Sakuntala. It behoveth thee, O knower of truth and the first of all intelligent men, to tell me everything.'
"Vaisampayana said, 'Once on a time (king Dushmanta) of mighty arms, accompanied by a large force, went into the forest. And he took with him hundreds of horses and elephants. And the force that accompanied the monarch was of four kinds (foot-soldiers, car-warriors, cavalry, and elephants)--heroes armed with swords and darts and bearing in their hands maces and stout clubs. And surrounded by hundreds of warriors with lances and spears in their hands, the monarch set out on his journey. And with the leonine roars of the warriors and the notes of conchs and sound of drums, with the rattle of the car-wheels and shrieks of huge elephants, all mingling with the neighing of horses and the clash of weapons of the variously armed attendants in diverse dresses, there arose a deafening tumult while the king was on his march. And ladies gifted with great beauty beheld from the terraces of goodly mansions that heroic monarch, the achiever of his own fame. And the ladies saw that he was like unto Sakra, the slayer of his enemies, capable of repulsing the elephants of foes--And they believed that he was the wielder of the thunderbolt himself. And they said, 'This is that tiger among men who in battle is equal unto the Vasus in prowess, and in consequence of the might of whose arms no foes are left.' And saying this, the ladies from affection gratified the monarch by showering flowers on his head. And followed by foremost of Brahmanas uttering blessings all the way, the king in great gladness
of heart went towards the forest, eager for slaying the deer. And many Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, and Sudras, followed the monarch who was like unto the king of the celestials seated on the back of a proud elephant. The citizens and other classes followed the monarch for some distance. And they at last refrained from going farther at the command of the king. And the king, then, ascending his chariot of winged speed, filled the whole earth and even the heavens, with the rattle of his chariot wheels. And, as he went, he saw around him a forest like unto Nandana itself (the celestial garden). And it was full of Vilwa, Arka, Khadira (catechu), Kapittha (wood-apple) and Dhava trees. And he saw that the soil was uneven and scattered over with blocks of stone loosened from the neighbouring cliffs. And he saw that it was without water and without human beings and lay extended for many Yojanas around. And it was full of deer, and lions, and other terrible beasts of prey.
"And king Dushmanta, that tiger among men, assisted by his followers and the warriors in his train, agitated that forest, killing numerous animals. And Dushmanta, piercing them with his arrows, felled numerous tigers that were within shooting range. And the king wounded many that were too distant, and killed many that were too near with his heavy sword. And that foremost of all wielders of darts killed many by hurling his darts at them. And well-conversant with the art of whirling the mace, the king of immeasurable prowess fearlessly wandered over the forest. And the king roamed about, killing the denizens of the wilderness sometimes with his sword and sometimes by fast-descending blows of his mace and heavy club.
"And when the forest was so disturbed by the king possessed of wonderful energy and by the warriors in his train delighting in warlike sports, the lions began to desert it in numbers. And herds of animals deprived of their leaders, from fear and anxiety began to utter loud cries as they fled in all directions. And fatigued with running, they began to fall down on all sides, unable to slake their thirst, having reached river-beds that were perfectly dry. And many so falling were eaten up by the hungry warriors. While others were eaten up after having been duly quartered and roasted in fires lit up by them. And many strong elephants, maddened with the wounds they received and alarmed beyond measure, fled with trunks raised on high. And those wild elephants, betraying the usual symptoms of alarm by urinating and ejecting the contents of their stomachs and vomiting blood in large quantities, trampled, as they ran, many warriors to death. And that forest which had been full of animals, was by the king with his bands of followers and with sharp weapons soon made bereft of lions and tigers and other monarchs of the wilderness.'"
Next: Section LXX