The Mahabharata Home
"Dhritarashtra said, 'Hear, O Sanjaya, the celestial feats of Vasudeva, feats that Govinda achieved and the like of which no other person hath ever been able to achieve. Whilst being brought up, O Sanjaya, in the family of the cowherd (Nanda), that high-souled one, while yet a boy, made the might of his arms known to the three worlds. Even then he slew Hayaraja, living in the woods (on the shores) of the Yamuna, who was equal to (the celestial steed) Uchchaisravas in strength and the wind itself in speed. 1 In childhood, he also slew with his two bare arms, the Danava, in the form of a bull, of terrible deeds, and risen like Death himself unto all the kine. Of eyes like the lotus petals, he also slew the mighty Asuras named Pralamva, and Naraka, and Jambha, and Pitha, as also Mura, that terror of the celestials. And so also Kansa of mighty energy, who was, besides, protected by Jarasandha, was, with all his followers, slain in battle by Krishna aided by his prowess alone. 2 With Valadeva as his second, that slayer of foes, viz., Krishna, consumed in battle, with all his troops, the king of the Surasenas, viz., Sunaman, of great activity and prowess in battle, the lord of a full Akshauhini, and the valiant second brother of Kansa, the king of the Bhojas. The highly wrathful regenerate Rishi (gratified with the adoration) gave him boons. 3 Of eyes like the lotus petals, and endued with great bravery, Krishna, vanquishing all the kings at a self-choice, bore away the daughter of the king of the Gandharas. Those angry kings, as if they were horses by birth, were yoked unto his nuptial car and were lacerated with the whip. The mighty-armed Janardana also caused Jarasandha, the lord of a full Akshauhini of troops, to be slain through the instrumentality of another. 4 The mighty Krishna also slew the valiant king of Chedis, that leader of kings, as if he were some animal, on the occasion of the latter's disputing about the Arghya. Putting forth his prowess, Madhava hurled unto the sea the Daitya city called Saubha, (moving) in the skies, protected by Salwa, and regarded as impregnable. The Angas, the Vangas, the Kalingas, the Magadhas, the Kasis, the Kosalas, the Vatsyas, the Gargyas, the Karushas and the Paundras,--all these he vanquished in battle. The Avantis, the Southerners, the Mountaineers, the Daserakas, the Kasmirakas, the Aurasikas, the Pisachas, the Samudgalas, the Kamvojas, the Vatadhanas, the Cholas, the Pandyas, O Sanjaya, the Trigartas, the Malavas, the Daradas difficult of being vanquished, the Khasas arrived from diverse realms, as also the Sakas, and the Yavanas with followers, were all vanquished by him of eyes like
lotus-petals. In days of old, penetrating into the very sea, he vanquished in battle Varuna himself in those watery depths, surrounded by all kinds of aquatic animals. Slaying in battle (the Danava named) Panchajanya living in the depths of Patala, Hrishikesa obtained the celestial conch called Panchajanya. The mighty Kesava, accompanied by Partha, having gratified Agni at Khandava, obtained his invincible weapon of fire, viz., his discus (called Sudarsana). Riding on Vinata's son and frightening (the denizens of) Amaravati, the heroic Krishna brought from Mahendra himself (the celestial flower called) Parijata. Knowing Krishna's prowess, Sakra quietly bore that act. 1 We have never heard that there is any one among the kings who has not been vanquished by Krishna. That exceedingly wonderful feat also, O Sanjaya, which the lotus-eyed one performed in my court, who else is capable of performing it? And since, humbled by devotion, I was suffered to behold Krishna as the Supreme Lord; everything (about that feat) is well-known to me, myself having witnessed it with my own eyes, O Sanjaya, the end can never be seen of the (infinite) achievements of Hrishikesa. of great energy and great intelligence. Gada, and Samva, and Pradyumna, and Viduratha, and Charudeshna, and Sarana, and Ulmukha, and Nisatha, and the valiant Jhilivabhru, and Prithu, and Viprithu, and Samika, and Arimejaya,--these and other mighty Vrishni heroes, accomplished in smiting, will, standing on the field of battle, take up their position in the Pandava host, when summoned by that Vrishni hero, viz., the high-souled Kesava. Everything (on my side) will then be in great danger. Even this is what I think. And there where Janardana is, there will be the heroic Rama, equal in strength to ten thousand elephants, resembling the Kailasa peak, decked with garlands of wild flowers, and armed with the plough. That Vasudeva, O Sanjaya, whom all the regenerate ones describe as the Father of all, will that Vasudeva fight for the sake of the Pandavas? O son, O Sanjaya, if he puts on his armour for the sake of the Pandavas, there is none amongst us who can be his antagonist. If the Kauravas happen to vanquish the Pandavas, he, of the Vrishni race, will then, for the sake of the latter, take up his mighty weapon. And that tiger among men, that mighty-armed one, slaying then all the kings in battle as also the Kauravas, will give away the whole earth to Kunti's son. What car will advance in battle against that car which has Hrishikesa for its driver and Dhananjaya for its warrior? The Kurus cannot, by any means, gain victory. Tell me, then everything about how the battle took place. Arjuna is Kesava's life and Krishna is always victory; in Krishna is always fame. In all the worlds, Vibhatsu is invincible. In Kesava are infinite merits in excess. The foolish Duryodhana, who doth not know Krishna or Kesava, seems, through Destiny, to have Death's noose before him. Alas, Duryodhana knows not Krishna of Dasarha's race and Arjuna the son of Pandu. These high-souled ones are ancient gods. They are even Nara and Narayana. On earth they
are seen by men as; two separate forms, though in reality they are both possessed but by one soul. With the mind alone, that invincible pair, of world-wide fame, can, if only they wish it, destroy this host. Only, in consequence of their humanity they do not wish it. 1 Like a change of the Yuga, the death of Bhishma, O child, and the slaughter of the high-souled Drona, overturn the senses. Indeed, neither by Brahmacharya, nor by the study of the Vedas, nor by (religious) rites, nor by weapons, can any one prevent death. Hearing of the slaughter of Bhishma and Drona, those heroes accomplished in weapons, respected by all the worlds, and invincible in battle, why O Sanjaya, do I yet live? In consequence of the death of Bhishma and Drona, O Sanjaya, we will henceforth have to live as dependants on that prosperity beholding which in Yudhishthira we had before been so jealous. Indeed, this destruction of the Kurus hath come in consequence only of my acts. O Suta, in killing these that are ripe for destruction, the very straw becomes thunderbolt. That prosperity is without end in this; world which Yudhishthira is about to obtain--Yudhishthira through whose wrath both Bhishma and Drona have fallen. In consequence of his very disposition, hath Righteousness gone over to the side of Yudhishthira, while it is hostile to my son. Alas, time, so cruel, that hath now come for the destruction of all, cannot be overcome. Things calculated in one way, O son, even by men of intelligence, become otherwise through Destiny. This is what I think. Therefore, tell me everything that has taken place during the progress of this unavoidable and dreadful calamity productive of the most sorrowful reflection incapable of being crossed over (by us).'"
23:1 Hayaraja, lit., the prince of steeds. He was an Asura, otherwise called Kesi, in the form of a steed.
23:2 i.e., without weapons of any kind.
23:3 Kaliprasanna Singha, in his Bengali translation, makes a mess of this Sloka.
23:4 Jarasandha, the powerful king of the Magadhas, and the sworn foe of Krishna, was slain by Bhima through Krishna's instigation.
24:1 viz., the transplantation of the Parijata from Amaravati to the earth.
25:1 Though gods, they have taken their births as men, and, they must achieve their objects by human means. It is for this that they do not, by a fiat only of their will, destroy this host.
Next: Section XII