The Mahabharata Home
"Dhritarashtra said, 'Thus admonished (by his foes), how, indeed, did that scorcher of enemies, my heroic and royal son, who was wrathful by nature, then behave? He had never before listened to admonitions such as these! He had, again, been treated by all with the respect due to a king! He, who had formerly grieved to stand in the shade of an umbrella, thinking he had taken another's shelter, he, who could not endure the very effulgence of the sun in consequence of his sensitive pride, how could he endure these words of his foes? Thou hast, with thy own eyes, O Sanjaya, seen the whole earth, with even her Mlecchas and nomad tribes, depend upon his grace! Rebuked thus at that spot by the sons of Pandu in particular, while lying concealed in such a solitary place after having been deprived of his followers and attendants, alas, what answer did he make unto the Pandavas upon hearing such bitter and repeated taunts from his victorious enemies? Tell me everything, O Sanjaya, about it!'
"Sanjaya continued, 'Thus rebuked, O monarch, by Yudhishthira and his brothers, thy royal son, lying within those waters, O king of kings, heard those bitter words and became very miserable. Breathing hot and long sighs repeatedly, the king waved his arms again and again, and setting his heart on battle, thus answered, from within the waters, the royal son of Pandu.
"'Duryodhana said, "Ye Parthas, all of you are possessed of friends, of cars, and of animals! I, however, am alone, cheerless, without a car, and without an animal! Being alone and destitute of weapons, how can I venture to fight on foot, against numerous foes all well-armed and possessed of cars? Do you, however, O Yudhishthira, fight me one at a time! It is not proper that one should in battle fight many endued with courage, especially when that one is without armour, fatigued, afflicted with calamity, exceedingly mangled in his limbs, and destitute of both animals and troops! I do not entertain the least fear, O monarch, of either thee, or Vrikodara, the son of Pritha, or Phalguna, or Vasudeva, or all the Pancalas, or the twins, or Yuyudhana, or all the other troops thou hast! Standing in battle, alone as I am, I shall resist all of you! The fame, O king, of all righteous men hath righteousness for its basis! I say all this to you, observant of both righteousness and fame! Rising (from this lake), I shall fight all of you in battle! Like the year that gradually meets all the seasons, I shall meet all of you in fight! Wait, ye Pandavas! Like the sun destroying by his energy the light of all stars at dawn, I shall today, though weaponless and carless, destroy all of you possessed of cars and steeds! Today I shall free myself from the debt I owe to the many illustrious Kshatriyas (that have fallen for me), to Bahlika and Drona and Bhishma and the high-souled Karna, to the heroic Jayadratha and Bhagadatta, to Shalya the ruler of the Madras and Bhurishrava, to my sons, O chief of Bharata's race, and Shakuni the son of Subala, to all my friends and well-wishers and kinsmen! Today I shall free myself from that debt by slaying thee with thy brothers!" With these words, the (Kuru) king ceased speaking.
"'Yudhishthira said, "By good luck, O Suyodhana, thou knowest the duties of a Kshatriya! By good luck, O thou of mighty arms, thy heart inclineth to battle! By good luck, thou art a hero, O thou of Kuru's race, and, by good luck, thou art conversant with battle, since, single-handed, thou wishest to meet all of us in battle! Fight any one of us, taking whatever weapon thou likest! All of us will stand as spectators here! I grant thee also, O hero, this (other) wish of thy heart, that if thou slayest any of us, thou shalt then become king! Otherwise, slain by us, go to heaven!"
"'Duryodhana said, "A brave man as thou art, if thou grantest me the option of fighting only one of you, this mace that I hold in my hand is the weapon that I select! Let any one amongst you who thinks that he will be my match come forward and fight with me on foot, armed with mace! Many wonderful single combats have occurred on cars! Let this one great and wonderful combat with the mace happen today! Men (while fighting) desire to change weapons. Let the manner of the fight be changed today, with thy permission! O thou of mighty arms, I shall, with my mace, vanquish thee today with all thy younger brothers, as also all the Pancalas and the Srinjayas and all the other troops thou still hast! I do not cherish the least fear, O Yudhishthira, of even Shakra himself!'
"'Yudhishthira said, "Rise, rise, O son of Gandhari, and fight me, Suyodhana! Alone as thou art, fight us, encountering one at a time, thou of great might, armed with thy mace! Be a man, O son of Gandhari, and fight with good care! Today thou shalt have to lay down thy life even if Indra becomes thy ally!"
"Sanjaya continued, 'That tiger among men, thy son, could not bear these words of Yudhishthira. He breathed long and heavy sighs from within the water like a mighty snake from within its hole. Struck repeatedly with such wordy goads, he could not endure it at all, like a horse of high breed that cannot endure the whip. Agitating the waters with great force, that valiant warrior rose like a prince of elephants from within the lake, breathing heavily in rage, and armed with his heavy mace that was endued with the strength of adamant and decked with gold. Piercing the solidified waters, thy son rose, shouldering his mace of iron, like the sun himself scorching everything with his rays. Endued with great strength, thy son, possessed of great intelligence, began to handle his heavy mace made of iron and equipped with a sling. Beholding him armed with mace and resembling a crested mountain or the trident-wielding Rudra himself casting angry glances on living creatures, they observed that Bharata chief shedding an effulgence around like the scorching sun himself in the sky. Indeed, all creatures then regarded that mighty-armed chastiser of foes, as he stood shouldering his mace after rising from the waters, looking like the Destroyer himself armed with his bludgeon. Indeed, all the Pancalas then saw thy royal son to look like the thunder-wielding Shakra or the trident-bearing Hara. Seeing him, however, rise from within the waters, all the Pancalas and the Pandavas began to rejoice and seize each other's hands. Thy son Duryodhana regarded that action of the spectators to be an insult directed towards him. Rolling his eyes in wrath, and as if burning the Pandavas with his glances, and contracting his brow into three furrows, and repeatedly biting his nether lip, he addressed the Pandavas with Keshava in their midst, saying, "You Pandavas, you shall have to bear the fruit of these taunts! Slain by me today, you shall, with the Pancalas, have to repair to the abode of Yama!"'
"Sanjaya continued, 'Rising from the water, thy son Duryodhana stood there, armed with mace, and with limbs bathed in blood. Covered with blood and drenched with water, his body then looked like a mountain shedding water from within. As he stood armed with mace, the Pandavas regarded him to be the angry son of Surya himself armed with the bludgeon called Kinkara. With voice deep as that of the clouds or of a bull roaring in joy, Duryodhana then, of great prowess, armed with his mace, summoned the Parthas to battle.'
"'Duryodhana said, "You will have, O Yudhishthira, to encounter me one at a time! It is not proper, that one hero should fight with many at the same time, especially when that single warrior is divested of armour, fatigued with exertion, covered with water, exceedingly mangled in limbs, and without cars, animals and troops! Let the gods in heaven behold me fight single-handed destitute of all equipment and deprived of even armour and weapons! I shall certainly fight all of you! Thou shalt be judge, as thou hast the necessary qualifications, of the propriety and impropriety of everything!"
"'Yudhishthira said, "How is it, O Duryodhana, that thou hadst not this knowledge when many great car-warriors, uniting together, slew Abhimanyu in battle? Kshatriya duties are exceedingly cruel, unmindful of all considerations, and without the least compassion! Otherwise, how could you slay Abhimanyu under those circumstances? All of you were acquainted with righteousness! All of you were heroes! All of you were prepared to lay down your lives in battle! The high end declared for those that fight righteously is the attainment of the regions of Shakra! If this be your duty, that one should never be slain by many, why is it then that Abhimanyu was slain by many, acting in accord with thy counsels? All creatures, when in difficulty forget considerations of virtue. They then view the gates of the other world to be closed. Put on armour, O hero, and bind thy locks! Take everything else, O Bharata, of which thou standest in need! This another wish of thine, O hero, I grant thee in addition, that if thou canst slay him amongst the five Pandavas with whom thou wishest an encounter, thou shalt then be king! Otherwise, slain (by him), thou shalt proceed to heaven! Except thy life, O hero, tell us what boon we may grant thee."
"Sanjaya continued, 'Then thy son, O king, cased his body with armour made of gold, and put on a beautiful head-gear adorned with pure gold. Clad in bright armour of gold, he put on that head-gear. Indeed, O king, thy son then looked resplendent like a golden cliff. Clad in mail, armed with mace, and accoutred with other equipments, thy son Duryodhana then, O king, standing on the field of battle, addressed all the Pandavas, saying, 'Amongst you (five) brothers, let any one fight me, armed with mace! As regards myself, I am willing to fight either Sahadeva, or Bhima, or Nakula, or Phalguna, or thee today, O bull of Bharata's race! Accorded an encounter, I will fight any one amongst you and will certainly gain the victory on the field! Today I will reach the end of these hostilities that is difficult to reach, with the aid, O tiger among men, of my mace wrapped with cloth of gold. I think, there is none to be my match in an encounter with the mace! With my mace I shall slay all of you one after another! Amongst all of you there is no one who is competent to fight fairly with me! It is not proper for me to speak such words of pride with respect to my own self! I shall, however, make these words of mine true in your presence! Within this very hour, these words will become either true or false! Let him amongst you take up the mace that will fight with me!'"
Next: Section 33