The Mahabharata Home
"Vaisampayana said, 'When the hour for initiation came, all those great Ritwijas duly initiated the king in view of the horse-sacrifice. Having finished the rites of binding the sacrificial animals, the son of Pandu, viz., king Yudhishthira the just endued with great energy, the initiation being over, shone with
great splendour along with those Ritwijas. The horse that was brought for the horse-sacrifice was let loose, agreeably to the injunctions of the scriptures, that utterer of Brahma, viz., Vyasa himself of immeasurable energy. The king Yudhishthira the just, O monarch, after his initiation, adorned with a garland of gold around his neck, shone in beauty like a blazing fire. Having a black deer skin for his upper garment, bearing a staff in hand, and wearing a cloth of red silk, the son of Dharma, possessed of great splendour, shone like a second Prajapati seated on the sacrificial altar. All his Ritwijas also, O king, were clad in similar robes. Arjuna also shone like a blazing fire. Dhananjaya, unto whose car were yoked white steeds, then duly prepared, O king, to follow that horse of the complexion of a black deer, at the command of Yudhishthira. Repeatedly drawing his bow, named Gandiva, O king, and casing his hand in a fence made of iguana skin, Arjuna, O monarch, prepared to follow that horse, O ruler of men, with a cheerful heart. All Hastinapore, O king, with very children, came out at that spot from desire of beholding Dhananjaya, that foremost of the Kurus on the eve of his journey. So thick was the crowd of spectators that came to behold the horse and the prince who was to follow it, that in consequence of the pressure of bodies, it seemed a fire was created. Loud was the noise that arose from that crowd of men who assembled together for beholding Dhananjaya the son of Kunti, and it seemed to fill all the points of the compass and the entire welkin. And they said,--'There goes the son of Kunti, and there that horse of blazing beauty. Indeed, the mighty-armed hero follows the horse, having armed himself with his excellent bow.'--Even these were the words which Jishnu of noble intelligence heard. The citizens also blessed him, saying,--'Let blessings he thine! Go thou safely and come back, O Bharata.' Others, O chief of men uttered these words--'So great is the press that we do not see Arjuna. His bow, however, is visible to us. Even that is celebrated bow Gandiva of terrible twang. Blessed be thou. Let all dangers fly from thy path. Let fear nowhere inspire thee. When he returns we shall behold him, for it is certain that he will come back.' The high-souled Arjuna repeatedly heard these and similar other sweet words of men and women, O chief of the Bharatas. A disciple of Yajnavalkya, who was well-versed in all sacrificial rites and who was a complete master of the Vedas, proceeded with Partha for performing auspicious rites in favour of the hero. Many Brahmanas also, O king, all well-conversant with the Vedas, and many Kshatriyas too, followed the high-souled hero, at the command, O monarch, of Yudhishthira the just. The horse then roamed, O foremost of men, wherever he liked over the Earth already conquered by Pandavas with the energy of their weapons. In course of the horse's wanderings, O king, many great and wonderful battles were fought between Arjuna and many kings. These I shall describe to thee. The horse, O king, roamed over the whole Earth. Know, O monarch, that from the north it turned towards the East. Grinding the kingdoms of many monarchs that excellent horse wandered. And it was followed slowly by the great car-warrior Arjuna of white steeds. Countless, O monarch, was the fete of Kshatriyas,--of kings in myriads--who fought with Arjuna on that occasion, for having lost their kinsmen on the geld of Kurukshetra. Innumerable
[paragraph continues] Kiratas also, O king, and Yavanas, all excellent bowmen, and diverse tribes of Mlechechas too, who had been discomfited before (by the Pandavas on the field of Kurukshetra), and many Aryan kings, possessed of soldiers and animals endued with great alacrity, and all irresistible in fight encountered the son of Pandu in battle. Thus occurred innumerable battles in diverse countries, O monarch, between Arjuna and the rulers of diverse realms who came to encounter him. I shall, O sinless king, narrate to thee those battles only which raged with great fury and which were the principal ones among all he fought.'"
Next: Section LXXIV