The Mahabharata Home
"Vaisampayana said, 'Hearing these words uttered by the high-souled Kesava, all the persons who sat in that assembly remained silent, their hair standing on their ends. And all the kings thought within themselves that there was no man who could dare reply to that speech. And seeing that all the kings sat silent, Jamadagni's son (addressing Duryodhana) then said these words in that assembly of Kurus, 'Listen confidingly to my words illustrated by an example, and seek thy own good if my speech recommends itself to thee. There was a king of yore named Dambhodbhava, who was the Head of the earth. It hath been heard by us that his sovereignty extended over the whole world. And that mighty car-warrior, rising every morning after the night had passed away, called the Brahmanas and the Kshatriyas unto himself and asked them, saying, 'Be he a Sudra, a Vaisya, a Kshatriya, or a Brahmana, is there any one who is superior or even equal to me in battle?' And uttering these words that king wandered over the earth, intoxicated with pride and thinking of nothing else. And it so happened that certain Brahmanas endued with high souls, conversant with the Vedas, and fearing nothing on earth, counselled the monarch, repeatedly boasting of his prowess, to curb his pride. But though forbidden by those Brahmanas to boast in that way, the king continued to ask the Brahmanas as before the same question day after day. And some high-souled Brahmanas then, endued with ascetic merit and acquainted with the proofs furnished by the Vedas, were inflamed with anger, and addressing that proud and
boastful king intoxicated with prosperity, told him, 'There are two persons who are foremost of all men and who are always victorious in battle. Thou, O king, wilt by no means be equal to them if thou seekest an encounter with any one of them.' And thus addressed by them, the king asked those Brahmanas, saying, 'Where may those two heroes be found? In what race are they born? What feats have they achieved? And who are they? And the Brahmanas answered him, saying, It had been heard by us that those two persons are ascetics called Nara and Narayana. They have both taken their births in the race of man. Go and fight with them, O king. It is that illustrious pair, Nara and Narayana, who are now practising the severest of penances in some hidden region of the mountains of Gandhamadana.' Hearing those words of the Brahmanas, that king speedily mustered his large army consisting of six kinds of forces, 1 and unable to bear their reputation, marched to the spot where those unvanquished ascetics were, and arrived at the rugged and frightful mountains of Gandhamadana. He began to search after those Rishis, and at last, came upon them concealed within the woods. And beholding those two best of persons emaciated with hunger and thirst, their veins swollen and visible, and themselves much afflicted with cold winds, and the hot rays of the sun, he approached them, and touching their feet, enquired after their welfare. And the two Rishis received the king hospitably, with fruits and roots, and a seat and water. And they then enquired after the king's business, saying, 'Let it be done.' And thus addressed by them, the king said unto them the same words that he was in the habit of saying unto all. And he said, 'The whole earth has been conquered by the might of my arms. All my foes have been slain. Desiring a battle with you both I have come to this mountain. Offer me this hospitality. I have been cherishing this wish from a long time.' Thus addressed, Nara and Narayana said, 'O best of kings, wrath and covetousness have no place in this retreat. How can a battle, therefore, be possible here? There are no weapons here, and nothing of unrighteousness and malice. Seek battle elsewhere. There are many Kshatriyas on earth.'
"Rama continued, 'Although thus addressed, the king still pressed them for giving him battle. The Rishis, however, continually soothed him and overlooked his importunity. King Dambhodbhava, still desirous of battle, repeatedly summoned those Rishis to fight. Nara, then, O Bharata, taking up a handful of grass-blades, said, 'Desirous of battle as thou art, come, O Kshatriya, and fight! Take up all thy arms, and array thy troops. I will curb thy eagerness for battle hereafter!' Dambhodbhava then said, If, O ascetic, thou thinkest this weapon of thine fit to be used against us, I shall fight with thee though thou mayest use that weapon, for I have come hither desirous of fighting.' Saying this,
[paragraph continues] Dambhodbhava with all his troops, desirous of slaying that ascetic, covered all sides with a shower of arrows. That ascetic, however, by means of those blades of grass, baffled all those terrible shafts of the king that were capable of mangling the bodies of hostile warriors. The invincible Rishi then let off towards the king his own terrible weapon made of grass-blades and which was incapable of being counteracted. And highly wonderful was that which happened, for that ascetic, incapable of missing his aim, pierced and cut off, by those grass-blades alone, the eyes and ears and noses of the hostile warriors, aided also by his power of illusion. And beholding the entire welkin whitened by those grass-blades, the king fell at the feet of the Rishi and said, 'Let me be blessed! Ever inclined to grant protection unto those that sought it, Nara then, O king, said unto that monarch, 'Be obedient to the Brahmanas and be virtuous. Never do so again. O king, O tiger among monarchs, a conqueror of hostile towns, a Kshatriya mindful of the duties of his own or, should never, within even his heart, be as thou art. Filled with pride, never insult anybody on any occasion, be inferior or superior to thee. Even such conduct would befit thee. Acquiring wisdom, abandoning covetousness and pride, controlling thy soul, restraining thy passions, practising forgiveness and humility, and becoming amiable, O king, go, and cherish thy subjects. Without ascertaining the strength and weakness of men, never insult any one under any circumstances. Blessed be thou, and with our leave, go hence, and never again behave in this way. At our command, enquire thou always of the Brahmanas as to what is for thy good! The king then, worshipping the feet of those two illustrious Rishis, returned to his city, and from that time began to practise righteousness. Great indeed, was that feat achieved of old by Nara. Narayana, again, became superior to Nara in consequence of many more qualities. Therefore, O king, besides such weapons as Kakudika, Suka, Naka, Akshisantarjana, Santana, Nartana, Ghora, and Asyamodaka, are placed on the string of that best of bows called Gandiva, go thou unto Dhananjaya, laying aside thy pride Struck with these weapons, men always yield up their lives. Indeed, these weapons have other means corresponding with the eight passions, such as lust, wrath, covetousness, vanity, insolence, pride, malice, and selfishness. Struck with them, men are confounded, and move about frantically deprived of their senses. Under their influence, persons always sleep heavily, cut capers, vomit, pass urine and excreta, weep, and laugh incessantly. Indeed, that Arjuna is irresistible in fight, who hath for his friend Narayana--the Creator and Lord of all the worlds--fully acquainted with the course of everything. Who is there in the three worlds, O Bharata, who would venture to vanquish that hero--the Ape-bannered Jishnu--who hath no equal in battle? Countless are the virtues that reside in Partha. Janardana again, is superior to him. Thou art thyself well-acquainted with Dhananjaya, the son of Kunti. They that were Nara and Narayana in days of yore are now Arjuna and Kesava. Know
then, O great king, who those brave and foremost of persons are. If thou believest in this and dost not mistrust me adopt thou a virtuous resolution and make peace with the sons of Pandu. If thou regardest this as thy good, viz., that there should be no disunion in thy family, then make peace, O foremost of Bharata's race, and do not set thy heart upon battle. O thou, that are foremost of Kuru's line, the race to which thou belongest is highly regarded on earth. Let that regard continue to be paid to it. Blessed be thou, think of what conduces to thy own welfare.'"
200:1 Cars, elephants, horses, infantry, vehicles other than cars, and warriors fighting from the backs of camels.
Next: Section XCVII