The Mahabharata Home
"Vasudeva said, 'O thou tiger among men, my great enemy king Salwa, thus encountered by me in battle, again ascended the sky. And O mighty monarch, inspired with the desire of victory, that wicked one hurled at me Sataghnis, and mighty maces, and flaming lances, and stout clubs, and as the weapons came along the sky, I speedily resisted them with my swift arrows, and cut them in two or three pieces before they came at me. And there was a great noise in the welkins. And Salwa covered Daruka, and my steeds, and my car also with hundreds of straight shafts. Then, O hero, Daruka, evidently about to faint, said unto me, 'Afflicted with the shafts of Salwa I stay in the field, because it is my duty to do so. But I am incapable of doing so (any longer). My body hath become weak!' Hearing these piteous words of my charioteer, I looked at him, and found the driver wounded with arrows. Nor was there a spot on his breasts or the crown of his head, or body or his arms which was not, O thou foremost of sons of Pandu, covered with shafts! And blood flowed profusely from his wounds inflicted by arrows, and he looked like unto a mountain of red chalk after a heavy shower. And, O thou of mighty arms, seeing the charioteer with the reins in his hands thus pierced and enfeebled by the shafts of Salwa in the field of battle, I cheered him up!
"'And, O Bharata, about this time, a certain person, having his home in Dwaraka quickly coming to my car, addressed me like a friend, delivering to me, O hero, a message from Ahuka! He seemed to be one of Ahuka's followers. And sadly and in a voice choked in sorrow, know, O Yudhishthira, he said words'--O warrior, Ahuka, the lord of Dwaraka, hath said these words unto thee! O Kesava, hear what thy father's friend sayeth: O son of the Vrishni race, O thou irrepressible one, in thy absence today Salwa, coming to Dwaraka, hath by main force killed Vasudeva! Therefore, no need of battle any more. Cease, O Janardana! Do thou defend Dwaraka! This is thy principal duty!--Hearing these words of his, my heart became heavy, and I could not ascertain what I should
do and what I should not. And, O hero, hearing of that great misfortune, I mentally censured Satyaki, and Baladeva, and also that mighty pradyumna. Having reposed on them the duty of protecting Dwaraka and Vasudeva, I had gone, O son of the Kuru race, to effect the destruction of Salwa's city. And in a sorrowful heart, I asked myself,--Doth that destroyer of foes, the mighty-armed Baladeva, live, and Satyaki, and the son of Rukmini and Charudeshna possessed of prowess, and Shamva and others? For, O thou tiger among men, these living, even the bearer himself of the thunderbolt could by no means destroy Suta's son (Vasudeva)! And thought, I, It is plain that Vasudeva is dead and equally plain that the others with Baladeva at their head have been deprived of life--This was my certain conclusion. And, O mighty king, thinking of the destruction of those all, I was overwhelmed with grief! And it was in this state of mind that I encountered Salwa afresh. And now I saw, O great monarch, Vasudeva himself falling from the car of precious metals! And, O warrior I swooned away, and, O king of men, my sire seemed like unto Yayati after the loss of his merit, falling towards the earth from heaven! And like unto a luminary whose merit hath been lost saw my father falling, his head-gear foul and flowing loosely, and his hair and dress disordered. And then the bow Sharanga dropped from my hand, and, O son of Kunti I swooned away! I sat down on the side of the car. And, O thou descendant of the Bharata race, seeing me deprived of consciousness on the car, and as if dead, my entire host exclaimed Oh! and Alas! And my prone father with out-stretched arms and lower limbs, appeared like a dropping bird. And him thus falling, O thou of mighty arms, O hero, the hostile warriors bearing in their hands lances and axes struck grievously! And (beholding this) my heart trembled! and soon regaining my consciousness, O warrior, I could not see in that mighty contest either the car of costly metals, or the enemy Salwa, or my old father! Then I concluded in my mind that it was certainly illusion. And recovering my senses, I again began to discharge arrows by hundreds."
Next: Section XXII