The Mahabharata Home
"Vaisampayana said, 'O mighty king, entering into king Virata's service, and dwelling in disguise in his excellent city, the high-souled Pandavas of immeasurable prowess, completed the promised period of non-discovery. And after Kichaka had been slain, that slayer of hostile heroes, the mighty king Virata began to rest his hopes on the sons of Kunti. And it was on the expiry of the thirteenth year of their exile, O Bharata, that Susarman seized Virata's cattle by thousands. And when the cattle had been seized, the herdsman of Virata came with great speed to the city, and saw his sovereign, the king of Matsyas, seated on the throne in the midst of wise councillors, and those bulls among men, the sons of Pandu, and surrounded by brave warriors decked with ear-rings and bracelets. And appearing before that enhancer of his dominion--King Virata seated in court--the herdsman bowed down unto him, and addressed him, saying, 'O foremost of kings, defeating and humiliating us in battle along with our friends the Trigartas are seizing thy cattle by hundreds and by thousands. Do thou, therefore, speedily rescue them. Oh, see that they are not lost to thee.' Hearing these words, the king arrayed for battle the Matsya force abounding in cars and elephants and horses and infantry and standards. And kings and princes speedily put on, each in its proper place, 1 their shining and beautiful armour worthy of being worn by heroes. And Virata's beloved brother, Satanika, put
on a coat of mail made of adamantine steel, adorned with burnished gold. And Madirakshya, next in birth to Satanika, put on a strong coat of mail plated with gold 1 and capable of resisting every weapon. And the coat of mail that the king himself of the Matsyas put on was invulnerable and decked with a hundred suns, a hundred circles, a hundred spots, and a hundred eyes. And the coat of mail that Suryadatta 2 put on was bright as the sun, plated with gold, and broad as a hundred lotuses of the fragrant (Kahlara) species. And the coat of mail that Virata's eldest son, the heroic Sanksha, put on was impenetrable and made of burnished steel, and decked with a hundred eyes of gold. And it was thus that those god-like and mighty warriors by hundreds, furnished with weapons, and eager for battle, each donned his corselet. And then they yoked unto their excellent cars of white-hue steeds equipped in mail. And then was hoisted--Matsya's glorious standard on his excellent car decked with gold and resembling the sun or the moon in its effulgence. And other Kshatriya warriors also raised on their respective cars gold-decked standards of various shapes and devices. And king Matsya then addressed his brother Satanika born immediately after him, saying, 'Kanka and Vallava and Tantripala and Damagranthi of great energy will, as it appears to me fight, without doubt. Give thou unto them cars furnished with banners and let them case their persons in beautiful coats of mail that should be both invulnerable and easy to wear. And let them also have weapons. Bearing such martial forms and possessed of arms resembling the trunk of mighty elephants, I can never persuade myself that they cannot fight.' Hearing these words of the king, Satanika, O monarch, immediately ordered cars for those sons of Pritha, viz., the royal Yudhishthira, and Bhima, and Nakula, and Sahadeva, and commanded by the king, the charioteers, with cheerful hearts and keeping loyalty in view, very soon got cars ready (for the Pandavas). And those repressers of foes then donned those beautiful coats of mail, invulnerable and easy to wear, that Virata had ordered for those heroes of spotless fame. And mounted on cars yoked with good steeds, those smiters of hostile ranks, those foremost of men, the sons of Pritha, set out with cheerful hearts. Indeed, those mighty warriors skilled in fight, those bulls of the Kuru race and sons of Pandu, those four heroic brothers possessed of prowess incapable of being baffled, mounting on cars decked with gold, together set out, following Virata's wake. And infuriate elephants of terrible mien, full sixty years of age, with shapely tusks and rent temples and juice trickling down and looking (on that account) like cloud pouring rain and mounted by trained warriors skilled in fight, followed the king like unto moving hills. And the principal warriors of Matsya who cheerfully followed the king had eight thousand cars, a thousand elephants and
sixty thousand horses. And, O bull among the Bharatas, that force of Virata, O king, as it marched forth marking the footprints of the cattle looked exceedingly beautiful. And on its march that foremost of armies owned by Virata, crowded with soldiers armed with strong weapons, and abounding in elephants, horses and cars, looked really splendid.'"
55:1 Bhagasas lit., each in its proper place. It may also mean, 'according to their respective division.'
56:1 Kalyana-patalam is explained by Nilakantha to mean suvarna pattachchaditam.
56:2 One of the generals of Virata.
Next: Section XXXII