The Mahabharata Home
"Sanjaya said, 'The high-souled son of Adhiratha, having listened unconvinced to these words of the ruler of the Madras, addressed Shalya, saying, "That which Vasudeva and Arjuna are is well-known to me. The skill of Saurin in the management of cars, and the might and the high weapons of Arjuna, the son of Pandu are well known to me at this hour. Thou however, O Shalya, hast no ocular proof of those matters. I shall fearlessly fight with the two Krishnas, those two foremost of all wielders of weapons. The curse, however, of Rama that best of regenerate persons, paineth me greatly today. I dwelt, in the disguise of a brahmana, with Rama in former days, desirous of obtaining celestial weapons from him. On that occasion, O Shalya, the chief of the gods, wishing to benefit Phalguna, caused an obstacle, by approaching my thigh and piercing it, having assumed the dire form of a worm. When my preceptor slept, having laid his head thereon, that worm, approaching my thigh, began to pierce it through. In consequence of the piercing of my thigh, a pool of thick blood flowed from my body. For fear of (disturbing the slumber of) my preceptor I did not move my limb. Awaking, the brahmana, however, beheld what had taken place. Witnessing my patience he addressed me, saying, 'Thou art never a brahmana. Tell me truly who thou art.' I then, O Shalya, truly informed him of myself, saying that I was a Suta. Hearing my words, the great ascetic, his heart filled with rage, cursed me, saying, 'In consequence of the deception, O Suta, by which thou hast obtained this weapon, it will never, at the time of need, when the hour of thy death comes, occur to thy memory. Brahma cannot certainly reside in one that is not a brahmana.' I have forgotten that great weapon in this fierce and terrible battle. He amongst the Bharatas, O Shalya, who is accomplished, who is an effectual smiter, who is universal destroyer, and who is exceedingly terrible, (viz., Arjuna),--that mighty crusher,--I think, will burn many foremost of kshatriyas. Know, however, O Shalya, that I will slay in battle that fierce bowman, that foremost of warriors, that hero endued with activity, that terrible person whose energy is unbearable, that warrior whose promises are accomplished, that son of Pandu, viz., Dhananjaya. I have that weapon (at least) under my control today with which I will be able to destroy large numbers of foes. I will slay in battle that scorcher of enemies, that mighty warrior accomplished in weapons, that fierce bowman of immeasurable energy, that cruel and terrible hero, that great resister of enemies, viz., Dhananjaya. The immeasurable Ocean, that lord of all waters, rusheth with fierce impetuosity for overwhelming innumerable creatures. The continent, however, holds and checks him. Today, in this world, I will resist in fight the son of Kunti, that foremost of all drawers of the bow-string, while he will be engaged in ceaselessly shooting his countless shafts equipped with goodly wings, destructive of heroes, capable of penetrating into every limb and none of which becomes futile. Like the continent resisting the Ocean, I will today resist that mightiest of the mighty, that great warrior possessing the highest weapons, that hero like unto the Ocean's self of far-reaching arrows, fierce, and having shafts for his waves, while he will be engaged in overwhelming (hostile) kings. Behold today the fierce battle I fight with him that hath no equal, I think, among men wielding the bow, and that would vanquish the very gods united with the Asuras. Exceedingly proud is that son of Pandu. Desirous of battle he will approach me with his mighty and super-human weapons. Baffling his weapons with my own weapons in battle, I shall today overthrow that Partha with my own excellent shafts. Scorching his foes like the Sun endued with fiery rays, and blazing with flame like that dispeller of the darkness, I shall, like a mass of clouds, completely shroud Dhananjaya today with my shafts. Like the clouds extinguishing a blazing fire of great energy and smoke-mixed flames, that seems ready to consume the whole Earth, I shall, with my showers of arrows, extinguish the son of Kunti in battle. With my broad-headed shafts I shall still the son of Kunti, that terrible snake of virulent poison, that is exceedingly difficult of being captured, that is endued with keen fangs, that is even like a blazing fire that flames up in wrath, and that always consumes his foes. Like Himavat bearing the mighty, all-crushing, fierce and smiting god of wind, I shall, without moving, bear the angry and vindictive Dhananjaya. I shall resist in battle Dhananjaya, that foremost of all wielders of bows in the world, that hero in fight, that warrior who is always in the van and who is competent to meet all foes, that car-warrior who is conversant with all car-tracks. Today I shall fight in battle with that person who hath, I think, no equal among men wielding the bow and who conquered the entire Earth. What other man desirous of saving his life, except myself, will fight with that Savyasaci, who vanquished all creatures including the very gods in the country called Khandava? Arjuna is proud; his weapons strike deep; he is endued with great lightness of hands; he is conversant with steeds; he agitates vast hosts; he is regarded an Atiratha. Though such, I shall yet, with my sharp shafts, strike his head from off his trunk today. O Shalya, ever keeping Death or victory in battle before me, I shall today fight with Dhananjaya. There is none else save myself that would on a single car fight with that Pandava who resembles the destroyer himself. I myself will gladly speak of the prowess of Phalguna in the midst of an assembly of kshatriyas. Why however, dost thou, a fool as thou art and of foolish understanding, speak to me of Phalguna's prowess? Thou art a doer of disagreeable deeds. Thou art cruel and mean and being thyself unforgiving, thou art a detractor of one that is forgiving. I can slay a hundred persons like thee, but I forgive thee in consequence of my forgiving disposition, owing to the exigency of the times. Thou art of sinful deeds. Like a fool thou hast, for the sake of Pandu's son, rebuked me and told me many disagreeable things. Crooked-hearted as thou art, thou hast said all these words unto me, that am of a sincere heart. Cursed art thou for thou art an injurer of friends,--of friends, because friendship is seven-paced. Terrible is the hour that is now passing. Duryodhana hath himself come to battle. I am solicitous of seeing his purposes achieved. Thou, however, art acting in such a way that it shows thee to have no friendship (for the Kuru king)! He is a friend who shows affection for another, who gladdens another, who makes himself agreeable to another, who protects another, who honours another, and who rejoices in the joys of another. I tell thee that I have all those attributes, and the king himself knows all this. He, on the other hand, that destroys, chastises, sharpens his weapons, injures, causes us to sigh, makes us cheerless, and wrongs us in diverse ways, is a foe. All these attributes are to be found in thee and thou discoverest all of them in me. For the sake of Duryodhana, for the sake of doing what is agreeable to thee, for the sake of victory, for the sake of myself, and for the sake of God himself, I will with vigorous exertion, fight with Partha and Vasudeva. Witness today my feats. Behold today my excellent weapons, my brahmastra and other celestial weapons, as also those that are human. I will today slay that hero of fierce prowess, like an exceedingly infuriate elephant slaying an infuriate compeer. I shall, by my mind alone, hurl today at Partha, for my victory, that weapon of immeasurable energy, called the brahmastra. Arjuna will never be able to escape that weapon, if only the wheels of my car do not sink into the Earth in battle today. Know this, O Shalya, that I would not take fright at Yama himself armed with his rod, or Varuna himself armed with his noose, or Kuvera himself armed with his mace, or Vasava himself armed with the thunderbolt, or at any other foe whatever that may approach for slaying me. Therefore, I have no fear from Partha, nor from Janardana. On the other hand, I shall encounter them both in today's destructive battle. Once on a time, while wandering for the sake of practising weapons on my bow called Vijaya, O king, I had, by shooting many fierce shafts of terrible forms, heedlessly struck the calf of a (brahmana's) homa cow with one of those shafts, and unwillingly killed it white it was wandering in a solitary forest. The brahmana then addressed me, saying, 'Since, becoming insensate, thou hast slain the offspring of my homa cow, the wheel (of thy car) will sink into the Earth while at the time of battle fear will enter thy heart.' From these words of the brahmana I am experiencing great fear. These kings of the Lunar race that are lords of (other people's) weal and woe, offered to give that brahmana a 1,000 kine and 600 bovine bulls. With even such a gift, O Shalya, the brahmana would not be gratified, O ruler of the Madras. I was then for giving him seven hundred elephants of large tusks and many hundred of slaves male and female. That foremost of brahmana would not still be gratified. Collecting next full 14,000 kine, each black in hue and having a white calf I was still unable to obtain the grace of that best of brahmana. A wealthy mansion full of every object of desire, in fact, whatever wealth I had, I wished to give him with due worship, but he refused to accept the gift. Unto me then that had offended and that had begged so importunately for his pardon, the brahmana said, 'That which, O Suta, hath been uttered by me is sure to happen. It cannot be otherwise. A false speech would destroy creatures, and sin also would be mine. Therefore, for the preservation of virtue I do not venture to speak what is false. Do not, again, destroy the means of a brahmana's support. There is none in the world that would be able to falsify my speech. Accept those words. It will be thy atonement (for the sin of having slain a calf).' Though rebuked by thee, still for friendship's sake, I have disclosed to thee all this. I know thee that art rebuking me thus. Be silent now, and hear what I will presently say.'"
Next: Section 43