The Mahabharata Home
Vaishampayana said, "At the outset, O Janamejaya a fierce wordy encounter took place between the two heroes. With respect to that, king Dhritarashtra, filled with grief, said this, 'Oh, fie on man, who hath such an end! My son, O sinless one, had been the lord of eleven chamus of troops He had all the kings under his command and had enjoyed the sovereignty of the whole earth! Alas, he that had been so, now a warrior proceeding to battle, on foot, shouldering his mace! My poor son, who had before been the protector of the universe, was now himself without protection! Alas, he had, on that occasion, to proceed on foot, shouldering his mace! What can it be but Destiny? Alas, O Sanjaya, great was the grief that was felt by my son now!' Having uttered these words, that ruler of men, afflicted with great woe, became silent.
"Sanjaya said, 'Deep-voiced like a cloud, Duryodhana then roared from joy like a bull. Possessed of great energy, he challenged the son of Pritha to battle. When the high-souled king of the Kurus thus summoned Bhima to the encounter, diverse portents of an awful kind became noticeable. Fierce winds began to blow with loud noises at intervals, and a shower of dust fell. All the points of the compass became enveloped in a thick gloom. Thunderbolts of loud peal fell on all sides, causing a great confusion and making the very hair to stand on end. Hundreds of meteors fell, bursting with a loud noise from the welkin. Rahu swallowed the Sun most untimely, O monarch! The Earth with her forests and trees shook greatly. Hot winds blew, bearing showers of hard pebbles along the ground. The summits of mountains fell down on the earth's surface. Animals of diverse forms were seen to run in all directions. Terrible and fierce jackals, with blazing mouths, howled everywhere. Loud and terrific reports were heard on every side, making the hair stand on end. The four quarters seemed to be ablaze and many were the animals of ill omen that became visible. The water in the wells on every side swelled up of their own accord. Loud sounds came from every side, without, O king, visible creatures to utter them. Beholding these and other portents, Vrikodara said unto his eldest brother, king Yudhishthira the just, "This Suyodhana of wicked soul is not competent to vanquish me in battle! I shall today vomit that wrath which I have been cherishing for a long while in the secret recesses of my heart, upon this ruler of the Kurus like Arjuna throwing fire upon the forest of Khandava! Today, O son of Pandu, I shall extract the dart that lies sticking to thy heart! Slaying with my mace this sinful wretch of Kuru's race, I shall today place around thy neck the garland of Fame! Slaying this wight of sinful deeds with my mace on the field of battle, I shall today, with this very mace of mine, break his body into a hundred fragments! He shall not have again to enter the city called after the elephant. The setting of snakes at us while we were asleep, the giving of poison to us while we ate, the casting of our body into the water at Pramanakoti, the attempt to burn us at the house of lac, the insult offered us at the assembly, the robbing us of all our possessions, the whole year of our living in concealment, our exile into the woods, O sinless one, of all these woes, O best of Bharata's race, I shall today reach the end, O bull of Bharata's line! Slaying this wretch, I shall, in one single day, pay off all the debts I owe him! Today, the period of life of this wicked son of Dhritarashtra, of uncleansed soul, hath reached its close, O chief of the Bharatas! After this day he shall not again look at his father and mother! Today, O monarch, the happiness of this wicked king of the Kurus hath come to an end! After this day, O monarch, he shall not again cast his eyes on female beauty! Today this disgrace of Santanu's line shall sleep on the bare Earth, abandoning his life-breath, his prosperity, and his kingdom! Today king Dhritarashtra also, hearing of the fall of his son, shall recollect all those evil acts that were born of Shakuni's brain!" With these words, O tiger among kings, Vrikodara of great energy, armed with mace, stood for fight, like Shakra challenging the asura Vritra. Beholding Duryodhana also standing with uplifted mace like mount Kailasa graced with its summit, Bhimasena, filled with wrath, once more addressed him, saying, "Recall to thy mind that evil act of thyself and king Dhritarashtra that occurred at Varanavata! Remember Draupadi who was ill-treated, while in her season, in the midst of the assembly! Remember the deprivation of the king through dice by thyself and Subala's son! Remember that great woe suffered by us, in consequence of thee, in the forest, as also in Virata's city as if we had once more entered the womb! I shall avenge myself of them all today! By good luck, O thou of wicked soul, I see thee today! It is for thy sake that that foremost of car-warriors, the son of Ganga, of great prowess, struck down by Yajnasena's son, sleepeth on a bed of arrows! Drona also hath been slain, and Karna, and Shalya of great prowess! Subala's son Shakuni, too, that root of these hostilities, hath been slain! The wretched Pratikamin, who had seized Draupadi's tresses, hath been slain! All thy brave brothers also, who fought with great valour, have been slain! These and many other kings have been slain through thy fault! Thee too I shall slay today with my mace! There is not the slightest doubt in this." While Vrikodara, O monarch, was uttering these words in a loud voice, thy fearless son of true prowess answered him, saying, "What use of such elaborate bragging? Fight me, O Vrikodara! O wretch of thy race, today I shall destroy thy desire of battle! Mean vermin as thou art, know that Duryodhana is not capab le, like an ordinary person, of being terrified by a person like thee! For a long time have I cherished this desire! For a long time hath this wish been in my heart! By good luck the gods have at last brought it about, a mace encounter with thee! What use of long speeches and empty bragging, O wicked-souled one! Accomplish these words of thine in acts. Do not tarry at all!" Hearing these words of his, the Somakas and the other kings that were present there all applauded them highly. Applauded by all, Duryodhana's hair stood erect with joy and he firmly set his heart on battle. The kings present once again cheered thy wrathful son with clapping, like persons exciting an infuriated elephant to an encounter. The high-souled Vrikodara, the son of Pandu, then, uplifting his mace, rushed furiously at thy high-souled son. The elephants present there trumpeted aloud and the steeds neighed repeatedly. The weapons of the Pandavas who longed for victory blazed forth of their own accord.'"
Next: Section 57