Thursday, 16 February 2012

Arjuna face to face with kauravas. Mahabharata 97

Arjuna bolsters the confidence of the very scared Uttara by suggesting, 'You can be my charioteer if you do not want to fight'. Also asks Uttara to retrieve the weapons from the tree and reveals that he is, in fact, Arjuna. Uttara is overwhelmed and is too pleased to be Arujna's charioteer! (That was brave considering that Uttara's saarathi died in a recent war!'). Uttara however has a doubt,  'How is it you are an eunuch?' Arjuna explains why and  says it is time now to change back to being himself!

Arjuna then takes off his bangles and ties his hair up in a white cloth and climbs the chariot harnessed with swift horses whose feet would become a blur as they gallop. Arjuna picks up his Gandiva bow, tests it by plucking its string. The twang reverberates as if two mountains had collided and the earth shakes. There is a strong breeze, the trees sway and the birds, disturbed from their perches, take flight. When Drona hears this thunderous sound he guesses that it must be from the bow of Arjuna.

Arjuna changes the flag on the chariot to that of  the pandavas, gets ready for the war and heads towards north and blows on the conch shell once. The sound that emanates from the conch frightens the horses and Uttara is paralysed with fear. Arjuna seeing this and reins in the scared horses and asks Uttara not to worry, 'You surely are familiar with these sounds in a warfare!'  But Uttara says he has never heard so powerful a conch sounded in a war! 

Drona recognises the sounds, 'It must be Arjuna! Our soldiers are already affected by it. They show no entusiasm to fight and there are bad omens all round. The crows are sitting on our flags, we hear the foxes and the horses look tired.'

Duryodhana is upset by this comment. He addresses the elders Bheeshma, Drona and Kripa and asks them 'Why are you sitting perplexed on your chariots.  We have come to fight and fight we will'. He says he does not know who it is out there, 'If indeed it is Arjuna, then the pandavas will go again to the forest for twelve years!'

Then declares, 'Drona is very fond of Arjuna, so he praises him and attempts to scare us! Let us leave him out of this and  decide strategies for a victory!' He is also very sarcastic about the ill omens  noticed and the dire predictions.'We should not listen pandits who are quick in predicting dangers based on ill omens.  Forget them and think of ways to capture the cows and defeat our enemies!'

Karna is also critical of the elders and proclaims, 'Arjuna may be famuous in the three worlds, but I am no less a warrior.' And promises Duryodhana that he alone will defeat Arjuna, , 'Let the others either take care of herding the cattle or just sit and watch me fight!'

Kripa reacts with, 'Karna, I have seen that you always hanker after a war, our shastras say that war should be the lost resort, as it is the most sinful of all actions. A war fought for right causes brings merit but one fought for the wrong reasons do not bring you any benefit. In my opinion we should not fight Arjuna.'  Also cautions Karna, 'Arjuna has fought alone a number of times successfully. Where is it you have fought on your own? It is not wise to fight Arjuna single handedly. Let us fight in a proper formation! This is not the time to show bravery!'

Ashwatthma is not impressed by the boasts of Karna. He chastises him for talking without actually achieving anything. He says 'Karna, we have not captured the cattle yet and you have already begun to boast. The real heroes do not boast, they are quiet like the sun which shines or  like the earth which carries the weight of all beings. Yes, Drona is fond of Arjuna as it is known that a disciple is closest after his own children.' 

 'Indraprastha was won in a game of dice. Why don't you ask uncle Sakuni to fight Arjuna with a set of dies. Only, Arjuna's gandiva does not throw dice, but shoots sharp arrows which can split mountains. I am not ready to fight Arjuna. If Matysa Raja comes here to protect the cattle let us fight him!'

Bheeshma intercedes in time before things go out of hand. He finds merit in all their arguments and advoctes patience to Ashwattama and requests the others to be forgiving of Drona and work together and fight Arjuna.

He then tells Duryodhana that as per his calculations, due to Adhika maasa which comes evey five years, pandavas have spent thirteen years, five months and eighteen days in the forest and have fullfilled their promise. 'Yudhisthira is not the one to claim what is not his, at the same time he will demand his rights at the appropriate time. There is no guarantee of a victory in any war. Please decide quickly and tell  me whether you want war or do is what is right!'

Duryodhana is very clear that he wants to fight, 'Grandfather! I do not want to give them anything. Let there be a war!'. Bheeshma replies, 'Then this is what I think we should do. Let us divide the forces into four groups. Duryodhana, you take one group and return to Hastinapura. One more quarter will take care of the cattle. The rest will fight whether it is Arjuna, the Matsya Raja or Indira or whoever!' And as they start forming the groups, Arjuna appears in front of them.

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