The Mahabharata Home
"Vaisampayana said, 'The (sacrificial) steed, having wandered over the whole Earth bounded by the ocean, then ceased and turned his face towards the city called after the elephant. Following as he did that horse, the diadem-decked Arjuna also turned his face towards the Kuru capital. Wandering at
his will, the steed then came to the city of Rajagriha. Beholding him arrived within his dominion, O monarch, the heroic son of Sahadeva, observant of Kshatriya duties, challenged him to battle. Coming out of his city, Meghasandhi, mounted on his car and equipt with bow and arrows and leathern fence, rushed towards Dhananjaya who was on foot. Possessed of great energy, Meghasandhi approaching Dhananjaya, O king, said these words from a spirit of childishness and without any skill. 'This steed of thine, O Bharata, seems to move about, protected by women only. I shall take away the horse. Do thou strive to free him. Although my sires did not teach thee in battle, I, however, shall do the duties of hospitality to you. Do thou strike me, for I shall strike thee.' Thus addressed, the son of Pandu, smiling the while, answered him, saying, 'To resist him who obstructs me is the vow cast on me by my eldest brother. Without doubt, O king, this is known to thee. Do thou strike me to the best of thy power. I have no anger.' Thus addressed, the ruler of Magadha first struck the son of Pandu, showering his arrows on him like the thousand-eyed Indra showering heavy downpour of rain. Then, O chief of Bharata's race, the heroic wielder of Gandiva, with shafts sped from his excellent bow, baffled all the arrows shot carefully at him by his antagonist. Having thus baffled that cloud of arrows, the ape-bannered hero sped a number of blazing arrows at his foe that resembled snakes with fiery mouths. These arrows he shot at his flag and flag-staff and car and poles and yoke and the horses, sparing the body of his foe and his car-driver. Though Partha who was capable of shooting the bow with the left hand (as well as with the right) spared the body of the prince of Magadha, yet the latter thinking that his body was protected by his own prowess, shot many arrows at Partha. The wielder of Gandiva, deeply struck by the prince of Magadha, shone like a flowering Palasa (Butea frondosa) in the season of spring. Arjuna had no desire of slaying the prince of Magadha. It was for this that, having struck the son of Pandu, he succeeded in remaining before that foremost of heroes. Then Dhananjaya, becoming angry, drew his bow with great force, and slew his antagonist's steeds and then struck off the head of his car-driver. With a razor-headed shaft he then cut off Meghasandhi's large and beautiful bow, and then his leathern fence. Then cutting off his flag and flag-staff, he caused it to fall down. The prince of Magadha, exceedingly afflicted, and deprived of his steeds and bow and driver, took up a mace and rushed with great speed at the son of Kunti. Arjuna then with many shafts of his equipt with vulturine feathers cut off into fragments, that mace of his advancing foe which was adorned with bright gold. Thus cut off into fragments, that mace with its begemmed bonds and knots all severed, fell on the Earth like a she-snake helplessly hurled down by somebody. When his foe became deprived of his car, his bow, and his mace, that foremost of warriors, viz., the intelligent Arjuna, did not wish to strike him. The ape-bannered hero then, comforting his cheerless foe who had been observant of Kshatriya duties, said unto him these words, 'O son, thou hast sufficiently displayed thy adherence to Kshatriya duties. Go now. Great have been the feats, O king, which thou hast accomplished in battle although thou art very young in years. The command I received from Yudhishthira
was that kings who oppose me should not be slain. It is for this thou livest yet, O monarch, although thou hast offended me in battle. Thus addressed, the ruler of Magadha considered himself vanquished and spared. Thinking then that it was his duty to do so, he approached Arjuna and joining his hands in reverence worshipped him. And he said, 'Vanquished have I been by thee. Blessed be thou, I do not venture to continue the battle. Tell me what I am to do now for thee. Regard thy behest as already accomplished. Comforting him again, Arjuna once more said unto him, 'Thou shouldst repair to the Horse-sacrifice of our king which takes place at the coming full moon of Chaitra.' Thus addressed by him, the son of Sahadeva said, 'So be it,'--and then duly worshipped that horse as also Phalguna, that foremost of warriors. The sacrificial horse then, equipt with beautiful manes, proceeded at his will along the sea-coast, repairing to the countries of the Bangas, the Pundras, and the Kosalas. In those realms Dhananjaya, with his bow Gandiva, O king, vanquished innumerable Mlechecha armies one after another.'"
Next: Section LXXXIII