sarvagreen.gif (806 bytes)



Chapter 23
Arjuna's fight with Gods


Droupadi was surprised that Krishna was able to discover a fractional leaf in the vessel she had scrubbed clean. "This must be your miracle; whatever work I do, I do efficiently. I could not have scrubbed it so shabbily", she laughed. When she approached Krishna to see the leaf Krishna showed it to her, saying. "Look! I got this from your vessel. This thing is enough to appease, not only My hunger, but the hunger of all beings in the Universe." Then He put it on His tongue with the end of His finger and swallowing, exclaimed, "Ah! How nice! My hunger is gone!" [See also S'rîmad Bhâgavatam, C1:15-11]

At that very moment, Durvasa on the river bank and his ten thousand disciples felt their stomachs over-full with food. Their hunger too was gone; they experienced supreme happiness, free from the pangs of hunger they suffered a minute previously. They communicated their wonder to each other in gestures and then, in words. "Our stomachs are too full already, there is no space in them for even an additional grain of rice! Dharmaraja will be waiting for us there with a heavy banquet of extra-delicious dishes and he will insist on our doing full justice to his hospitality. But, where have we the space for the feast he has prepared? We are indeed in a terrible fix!", they said. Someone then remembered the incident when their master, Durvasa cursed Ambarisha and suffered discomfiture at the hands of the very victim of his curse, through the intercession of Krishna.

They reported their condition and their surmise to Durvasa. The sage who became aware of the Grace that was won by Dharmaraja blessed him profusely; he left the place, with his disciples, by another route avoiding the residence of the Pandava brothers.

But, Krishna had commissioned Bhima to proceed to the river and bring the sage and his retinue quickly for lunch. When Bhima saw them getting away through another route, he walked quicker and the disciples, afraid of his intentions, ran into the jungle to save themselves! Bhima confronted Durvasa and told him, "Master! My elder brother ordered me to meet you and bring you, for, lunch is ready for all of you." Durvasa pleaded inability. "Bhima! We can not eat even the fraction of a mouthful. We are full to the bursting point. We are not displeased at all with you. I bless you, that you may attain every happiness. I shall come to you when you are ruling the world as undisputed sovereigns and I shall then receive your hospitality. Those who sent me to you with sinful motives, they will meet with total destruction." Wishing them the best of luck, Durvasa left, with all his followers.

Did you notice, Parikshith, the devotion and sense of surrender of your grandfathers had nothing to equal them; so, too, the Grace that Krishna showered upon them was unexcelled. When Vyasa was revealing these incidents to show Parikshith the speedy faith of the Pandavas and the Grace of Krishna, Parikshith listened intently, with awe and reverence, wonder and anxiety, alternatingly affecting his mind. When the dilemma of the Pandavas was described, Parikshith was agitated; when some impending calamity was described, he shed tears of sympathy, when success was described, he shed tears of joy.

They fought with Gods

Vyasa continued: "0 King, your grandfathers were ready to renounce everything to God, if the need arose; they were prepared also to fight with God, if the need arose, for they were only observing Kshatriya Dharma when they fought so. You must have heard the story of your grandfather fighting against Siva and winning from Him the Divine weapon of Pasupatha-asthra." At this, the King suddenly raised his head and asked, "Master! What did you say? Did my grandfather wage battle against Siva? I have not heard about it so far. Tell me all about it; Satisfy my thirst to know about it". Parikshith fell at Vyasa's Feet; importuning him to narrate the story.

Vyasa cleared his throat. "Son! How many stories have I to narrate to you? The relationship between the Pandavas and the Gods need for its full elaboration not hours, not even months, but, years! Still, since you implore I shall tell as many as possible, within the time available. "Listen, 0 King! The Pandavas were living in the forest. One day, Dharmaraja was overcome with anxiety. He felt that the wicked cousins, the Kauravas, may not allow him to rest in peace even after the period of exile is over. It was very doubtful if they will give them their share of the empire. Dharmaraja was afraid that war was inevitable and that the great bowmen of the age, Bhishma, Drona, Karna and Aswathama will then range themselves on the side of the Kaurava hordes. He apprehended that the Pandavas may not be able to overcome such a galaxy of strength. He feared that the war might end in defeat and that the Pandavas might have to spend their years in the jungle itself. Seeing him in the depth of woe, Arjuna approached him and craved for his blessings and permission to go forth and win, by asceticism, weapons from the Gods to defeat the foe. Dharmaraja directed him to proceed, and please the Gods, and win through their Grace, weapons to win the war.

Arjuna went into the Gandhamadana area, which was inaccessible even to the most enterprising ascetic and did Thapas (ascetic practices), to propitiate Indra, the Sovereign of the Gods. Heaven was amazed at the rigors of that Thapas and his steady persistence. So, Indra appeared before him, saying, "Son! I am pleased by your Thapas. But, if your desire is to be fulfilled, first win the Grace of Siva; thereafter I shall take you to heaven and arm you with all weapons heaven can confer."

In accordance with Indra's advice, Arjuna sat meditating on Siva in order to win His Grace. Meanwhile, Siva resolved upon a drama of his own. I shall tell you what it was: "A huge wild boar, ferociously enraged, ran across the place where Arjuna was observing penace; he saw it, and, though during the penance one had to desist from injuring any living being, he hastily took up his bow and arrows, when the boar was about to fall upon him. Just at this moment, a Bhil [Hindi: Bh”l, hill people of west central India having a bow-and-arrow culture; a member of the Bhil people] of the forest, also armed with bow and arrows appeared before Arjuna with his wife! Arjuna was amazed that a woman was accompanying the Bhil in that thick forest where no person could safely move about. But, when he observed more closely, he found a huge retinue behind the Bhil, consisting of men and women of fierce appearance yelling and shouting in strange ways. Arjuna was perplexed and astonished."

The person who first appeared, the huntsman with the fierce face and the red glowing eyes, spoke to Arjuna: "You, there! Who are you? Why have you come to this place? You shall not live, if you shoot an arrow against that boar, even by mistake, be warned. I have pursued it and made it run thither; what right have you to take up your bow and arrow against it?" These words that he spoke entered Arjuna's heart like a sheaf [bundle] of arrows. He felt terribly hurt; for, a common huntsman had insulted him.

"The fellow does not know my name or fame; or else he would not have challenged me" he said to himself; he raised his bow and shot an arrow at the boar; that very moment, the Bhil too shot an arrow at it.

It rolled on the ground, dead. The huntsman was in the throes af anger; he showered abuses on Arjuna; "You, there. You do not know the rules of hunting. When I have set my eyes on it, pursued it and selected it as the prey for my arrows, how dare you aim your arrow at it? You are a greedy barbarian." His eyes were casting sparks, so uncontrollable was his rage. Arjuna too was enraged. He shouted back, "Shut up, you scoundrel. Or else, I will despatch you to the Domain of Death. Save yourself by stopping your wagging tongue. Get back the way you came."

The Bhil stood up to that threat; he did not quail. "Whoever you are, I am not afraid; you may have three hundred and thirty crores of gods on your side, but, I shall not yield. Take care; you are an interloper. Who gave you permission ta enter here? Who are you to order me out? This forest is ours; you are a thief who has sneaked in; and you have the audacity to ask us to get away!", he replied.

At this, Arjuna guessed that he was no ordinary huntsman. He spoke in a calmer tone. "The forest is the property of all; you have come to hunt; I have come to do penance to please Siva. I shot that boar, only to save myself from its rage." The huntsman, however, was not softened. "I don't care whom you adore, whom you desire to please. Accept the wrong that you have done. Why did you shoot the animal I was stalking? Accept and apologise, make amends", he insisted. Arjuna lost all patience. This fellow's life, too, is to end like that of the boar, he told himself. He is not to be cured by soft words, he felt.

So, he selected a sharp arrow and placing it on the bow, shot it at him. It hit him; but, like a thorn on rock, it fell on the ground, bent by the impact! So, the astonished Arjuna had to shoot a crescent-headed arrow, which will sever his head. But, this was brushed aside by the huntsman, with his left hand like a blade of grass.


lotusknop.gif (1520 bytes)

contents of this Vahini | previous page | next page