Donald Alexander Mackenzie.

Indian myth and legend online

. (page 17 of 38)
Online LibraryDonald Alexander MackenzieIndian myth and legend → online text (page 17 of 38)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

drive the rattling chariot, nor could any other prince with-
stand his battle charge or oppose him in single combat.
He was unequalled with javelin or dart, with battleaxe
or mace, and he became the most famous archer of his


day. Strong Bhima learned to wield the club, Nakula
acquired the secret of taming steeds, and Sahadeva became
a mighty swordsman, and acquired great knowledge of

Drona trained the Kauravas with diligence also, as
well as his own son, who was wise and brave; but among
all his pupils he loved Arjuna best, for he was the most
modest and the most perfect, the most fearless, and yet
the most obedient to his preceptor.

Duryodhana of the Kauravas was jealous of all the
Pandavas, and especially of Arjuna.

The fame of Drona as a preceptor was spread far and
wide, and the sons of many rajahs and warriors hastened
to Hastinapur to be instructed by him. All were wel-
comed save one, and he was the son of the rajah of the
robber Bhils. This young man pleaded that he might
be trained as an archer, but without avail. Drona said:
" Are not the Bhils highwaymen and cattle-lifters ? It
would be a sin, indeed, to impart unto one of them great
knowledge in the use of weapons."

When he heard these words, the rajah's son was
stricken with grief, and he turned homeward. But he
resolved to become an accomplished warrior. So he
fashioned a clay image of Drona and worshipped it, and
wielded the bow before it until his fame as an archer was
noised abroad.

One day Drona went forth with the princes to hunt
in the Bhil kingdom. Their dog ran through the woods,
and it beheld the dark son of the rajah of the Bhils and
barked at him. Desiring to display his skill, the young
man shot seven arrows into the do^'s mouth ere it could


be closed, and, moaning and bleeding, the animal returned
thus to the princes.

Wondering greatly, the princes searched for the greatly-


skilled archer, and found him busy with his bow. They
spoke, saying: "Who art thou?' And the Bhil made
answer: "I am a pupil of Drona."

When Drona was brought to the place, the young
man kissed his feet.

Said the wise preceptor: "If thou art my pupil, I
must receive my reward."

The young man made answer: "Command me, and I
will give thee whatsoever thou dost desire."

Said Drona: "I should like to have the thumb of thy
right hand."

The faithful prince of the Bhils did not hesitate to
obey his preceptor ; with a cheerful face he severed his
thumb from his right hand and gave it to Drona.

After his wound had healed, the young man began to
draw his bow with his middle fingers, but found that he
had lost his surpassing skill, whereat Arjuna was made

All the other Bhil warriors who trained in archery
followed the prince's example and drew the bow with
their middle fingers, and this custom prevailed ever
afterwards amongst the tribe.

Now when all the Hastinapur princes had become
expert warriors, Drona addressed the blind king, as he
sat among his counsellors, and said : " O mighty rajah,
thy sons and the sons of thy brother Pandu have now
attained surpassing skill in arms, and they are fit to enter
the battlefield."

Said the king, who was well pleased: "So thy task is
finished, O noble son of Bharadwaja? Let now a place
be made ready, in accordance with thy desire, so that the.
princes may display their martial skill in the presence of
their peers and the common people."

Then Drona, accompanied by Vidura, the king's


brother, made choice of a wide and level plain on which
the Pandavas and Kauravas might perform their mighty

So be it next told of the great tournament on the
and of the coming of illustrious Kama.

The Tournament

A Brilliant Assembly Princes display Feats of Arms Mimic Warfare
Duryodhana and Bhima A Fierce Struggle Arjuna's Wonderful Skill-^
Despondency of Kauravas The Coming of Kama He proves Himself equal
to Arjuna Challenge to Single Combat The Gods intervene Queen
Pritha's Emotion Kama taunted with Low Birth Kauravas make him a
King Joy of his Foster Father Bitter and Angry Rivals.

ON the day of the great tournament, vast multitudes of
people from all parts of the kingdom assembled round
the barriers on the wide plain. A scene of great splendour
was unfolded to their eyes. At dawn many flags and
garlands of flowers had been distributed round the en-
closure ; they adorned the stately royal pavilion, which
was agleam with gold and jewels and hung with trophies
of war ; they fluttered above the side galleries for the
lords and the ladies, and even among the clustering trees.
White tents for the warriors occupied a broad green space.
A great altar had been erected by Drona beside a cool,
transparent stream, on which to offer up sacrifices to the

From early morn the murmurous throng awaited the
coming of king and counsellors, and royal ladies, and
especially the mighty princes who were to display their
feats of arms and engage in mimic warfare. The bright
sun shone in beauty on that festal day.

The clarion notes of the instruments of war proclaimed
the coming of the king. Then entered the royal pro-



cession, and blind Dhritarashtra was led towards his throne
in the gleaming pavilion. With him came the fair queen
Gandhari, mother of the Kauravas, and stately Pritha,
widow of King Pandu, the mother of the Pandavas.
There followed in their train many high-born dames and
numerous sweet maidens renowned for their beauty.
When all these ladies, attired in many-coloured robes and
glittering with jewels and bright flowers, were mounting
the decorated galleries, they seemed like to goddesses and
heavenly nymphs ascending to the golden summit of the
mountain of Meru. . . . The trumpets were sounding
loud, and the clamour which arose from the surging
multitude of people of every caste and every age and
every tribe was like the voice of heaving ocean in sublime

Next came venerable and white-haired Drona, robed
in white, with white sacrificial cord ; his sandals were
white, and the garlands he wore were white also. His
valiant son, Aswatthama, followed him as the red planet
Mars follows the white moon in cloudless heaven. The
saintly preceptor advanced to the altar where the priestly
choir gathered, and offered up sacrifices to the gods and
chanted holy texts.

Then heralds sounded their trumpets as the youthful
princes entered in bright array, bejewelled and lightly
sirded for exercise, their left arms bound with leather.

O '

They were wearing breastplates; their quivers were slung
from their shoulders, and they carried stately bows and
gleaming swords. The princes filed in according to their
years, and Yudhishthira came first of all. Each saluted
Drona in turn and awaited his commands.

One by one the youthful warriors displayed their skill
at arms, while the vast crowd shouted their plaudits. The
regent Bhishma, sitting on the right side of the throne,


looked down with delight, and Vidura, sitting on the
left side, informed the sightless king of all that took

The princes shot arrows at targets, first on foot and
then mounted on rapid steeds, 1 displaying great skill ;
they also rode on elephants and in chariots, and their
arrows ever flew with unerring aim.

Next they engaged in mimic warfare, charging with
chariots and on elephants : swords clamoured on shields,
ponderous maces were wielded, and falchions shimmered
like to the flashes of lightning. The movements of the
princes, mounted and on foot, were rapid and graceful ;
they were fearless in action and firm-footed, and greatly
skilled in thrust and parry.

But ere long the conflict was waged with more than
mimic fury. Proud Duryodhana and powerful Bhima
had sought one another and were drawn apart from their
peers. They towered on the plain with uplifted maces,
and they seemed like two rival elephants about to fight
for a mate. Then they charged with whirling weapons,
and the combat was terrible to behold.

Vidura pictured the conflict to blind Dhritarashtra,
as did Pritha also to the blindfolded Queen Gandhari.
Round the barriers the multitudes swayed and clamoured,
some favouring Duryodhana and others mighty Bhima.

The princes fought on, and their fury increased until
at length it seemed that one or the other would be slain.
But while yet the issue hung doubtful, Drona, whose
brow was troubled, marked with concern the menacing
crowd, which was suspended with hope and fear, and
seemed like an ocean shaken by fitful gusts of changing
wind. Then he interposed, bidding his son to separate
the angry combatants so that the turmoil might have end.

1 Like the Parthians, the ancient Hindus were expert archers on horseback.


The princes heard and obeyed, and they retired slowly
like ocean billows, tempest-swollen, falling apart.

To allay excitement, trumpet and drum were sounded
aloud. Then white-haired Drona stepped forward, and
in a voice like thunder summoned brave Arjuna to come

First of all the valiant hero performed a sacred rite.
Thereafter he came before the multitude in all his
splendour, clad in golden armour, like to a glorious
evening cloud. Modestly he strode, while trumpets
blared and the drums bellowed, and he seemed a very
god. He was girdled with jewels, and he carried a
mighty bow. As the people applauded and shouted his
praises, Pritha, his mother, looked down, and tears
dropped from her eyes. The blind king spake to
Vidura, saying: "Why are the multitudes shouting now
like to the tumultuous sea?'

Said Vidura: "The valiant son of Pritha hath come

forth in golden armour, and the people hail him with


The blind monarch said: "I am well pleased. The

sons of Pritha sanctify the kingdom like to sacrificial


Silence fell upon the people, and Drona bade his
favourite pupil to display his skill. Arjuna performed
wonders with magic arms ; he created fire by the Agneya
weapon, water by the Varuna weapon, wind by the
Vayavya weapon, clouds by the Paryanya weapon, land
by the Ehanma weapon, and he caused mountains to
appear by the Parvatya weapon. Then by the Antardhyana
weapon he caused all these to vanish. 1

Arjuna then set up for his target an iron image of

1 This is a notable example of the characteristic exaggerations of late Brahmanical
compilers. Other exaggerations are of milder form.


a great boar, and at one bending of the bow he shot five
arrows into its gaping jaws. Wondrous was his skill.
Next he suspended a cow horn, which swayed constantly
in the wind, and discharged into its hollow with unerring
aim twenty rapid arrows. Heaven and earth resounded
with the plaudits of the people when he leapt into his
chariot and discharged clouds ot arrows as he was driven
speedily round the grounds. Having thus displayed his
accomplishments as an archer, he drew his sword, which
he wielded so rapidly round and about that the people
thought they beheld lightning and heard thunder. Ere
he left the field he cast the noose with exceeding great
skill, capturing horses and cows and scampering deer at
a single throw. Then Drona embraced him, and the
people shouted his praises.

Great was the joy of the Pandavas as they rested
around Drona like to the stars that gather about the
white moon in heaven. The Kauravas were grouped
around Aswatthama as the gods gather beside Indra
when the giant Daityas threaten to assail high heaven.
Duryodhana's heart burned with jealous anger because
of the triumph achieved by Arjuna.

Evening came on, and it seemed that the tournament
was ended ; the crowds began to melt away. Then, of
a sudden, a mighty tumult of plaudits broke forth, and
the loud din of weapons and clank of armour was heard
all over the place. Every eye immediately turned to-
wards the gate, and the warriors and the people beheld
approaching an unknown warrior, who shook his weapons
so that they rattled loudly.

So came mighty Kama, son of Surya, the sun god,
and of Pritha, the mother of the three Pandavas Arjuna,
Bhima, and wise Yudhishthira. He was comely as a
shining god, clad in golden armour, and wearing celestial


ear-rings. In his right hand he carried a great many-
coloured bow; his gleaming falchion was on his thigh.
Tall as a cliff he strode forward ; he was an elephant in
his fury, a lion in his wrath; stately as a palm tree was
that tamer of foemen, so fearless and so proud, so daunt-
less and so self-possessed.

He paused in the centre of the plain and surveyed
the people with pride. Stiffly he paid homage to Drona
and Kripa. Then he, the eldest son of Pritha, spake to
Pritha's youngest son, Arjuna, the brothers being un-
known one to another, and he said : " Whatever feats
thou hast performed this day with vain boast, Arjuna,
these will I accomplish and surpass, if Drona will per-
mit me."

His voice was like to thunder in heaven, and the
multitude of people sprang up and uttered cries of
wonder. Duryodhana and the other sons of Kuru heard
the challenge with glad hearts, but Arjuna remained
silent, while his eyes flashed fire.

Then Drona gave the warrior permission to display
his skill. Kama was well pleased, and he performed
every feat which had given Arjuna fame on that great

Duryodhana proclaimed his joy with beaming coun-
tenance, and he embraced Kama, whom he hailed as
' brother ", saying : " I bid thee welcome, thou mighty
warrior. Thou hast won the honours of the field. De-
mand from me whatsoever thou dost desire in this king-
dom, and it will be given unto thee."

Said Kama : " Thy word is thy bond, O prince. All
1 seek is to combat against Arjuna, whom I have equalled
so far. Fain would I win the victor's renown."

Duryodhana said : " Thou dost ask for a worthy
boon indeed. Be our ally, and let the enemy fear thee."


Arjuna was moved to great wrath, and cried out :
"Uninvited chief! Boasting thus, thou wouldst fain
be regarded as mine equal, but I will so deal with thee
that thou wilt die the death of a braggart who cometh
here an unbidden guest, speaking boastfully ere thou art
spoken to."

Said Kama, answering proudly and calm: "Waste not
words, Arjuna, nor taunt me with coming hither unin-
vited. The field of combat is free to all warriors ; they
enter by their valour, and do not await until thou dost
call them ; they win their places by strength and skill,
and their warrant is the sword. Wrathful speech is the
weapon of a coward. Do not boast of thy pastimes or
be vain of thy bloodless feats. Speak with thine arrows,
O Arjuna, until, in Drona' s presence, mine will cause
all men to wonder, flying towards thee."

Drona was stirred to wrath, and spake to Arjuna, say-
ing : " Canst thou hear him boast in this manner ? I
give thee leave to fight him here and now."

Arjuna at once strode forward, fully armed, and he
was supported by Drona and Bhishma. Duryodhana
and his band stood by Kama. Then the two warriors
prepared for single combat, but not in mimic warfare.

Thick clouds gathered in the sky ; lightning flashed
and thunder pealed ; the mighty Indra guarded his son
Arjuna, who stood in shadow. Surya, the sun god, cast
a shaft of light athwart the darkening plain, and Kama's
golden armour gleamed bright and fair.

The noble dames looked on, and some praised Arjuna
and others praised Kama. Pritha, the mother of both
heroes, was alone divided in her love. She knew
her firstborn by his voice and noble bearing and by his
armour, and her heart was torn with grief to behold the
two brothers ready to slay each other, A cloud blinded


her eyes, and, uttering a low cry, she swooned where
she sat. Vidura sprinkled water on her face, and she
was revived. Then she wept bitterly because that she
could not reveal the secret of Kama's birth.

Kripa, 1 the foster-brother of Bhishma, performed the
duties of herald, and as Arjuna strode forth to combat
he proclaimed: "Behold! this is mighty Arjuna, of
Bharata's great line, son of Pandu and of Pritha, a prince
of valour and worth who will not shrink from battle.
Unknown and long-armed chief," he said unto Kama,
" declare now thy name and lineage, the royal house
thou dost adorn, and the names of thy sire and thy
mother. Know thou that by the rules of single combat
the sons of kings cannot contend against low-born or
nameless rivals."

Kama heard, but was silent. He hung his head like
the dew-laden lotus bloom; he could claim nor lineage or

* o

high rank, as he believed, for he regarded the charioteer
of Anga as his sire.

Duryodhana, perceiving his discomfiture, cried out to
Kripa, saying : " Valour is not reckoned by birth but by
deeds. Kama hath already shown himself to be the peer
of princes. I now proclaim him the Rajah of Anga."

Having spoken thus, the elder of the Kauravas led
Kama by the hand and placed him upon a throne, and the
red umbrella was held above his head. Brahmans chanted
the texts for the ceremony and anointed Kama as a king.
Then the fan was waved and the royal umbrella raised on
high, while the Kauravas shouted : "The rajah is crowned;
blessings on the rajah ; honour to the valorous warrior!'

Robed in royal attire, Kama then spake to Duryodhana
and said: "With generous heart thou hast conferred upon

1 Kripa, like Drona, was of miraculous birth. He and his sister were found in a
forest, and were adopted by King Shantanu.


me a kingdom. O prince, speak and say what service
thou wouldst have me to render unto thee."

Said Duryodhana : " But one boon do I ask of thee,
O king. Be my comrade and, O valiant warrior, be my
helper also."

Kama said : " As thou desirest, so be it."

Then Duryodhana and Kama embraced one another
to confirm their loyal friendship.

Lo ! now a charioteer drew nigh ; he was a scantily-
clad and wearied old man, and he stooped, leaning heavily
upon his staff. He was the aged sire of Kama, and re-
joiced in his heart to see his son so highly honoured
among princes. Kama cast aside his weapons, knelt
down, and kissed the old man's feet. The happy sire
embraced the crowned head of the warrior and wept
tears of love.

The Pandava brothers gazed upon father and son,
amused and scornful. . . . Bhima spake to Kama, say-
ing : " So thou, with such a sire, hast presumed to seek
combat with a Pandava ! . . . Son of a charioteer, what
hast thou to do with weapons of war ? Better were it
that thou shouldst find thee a goad and drive a bullock-
cart behind thy sire."

Kama grew pale with wrath; his lips quivered, but
he answered not a word. He heaved a deep sigh and
looked towards the sun.

Then Duryodhana arose like a proud elephant and
spake to Bhima, saying : " Seek not with insults to give
sorrow unto a mighty hero. Taunts come ill from thee,
thou tiger-like chief. The proudest warrior may contend
against the most humble : a hero is known by his deeds.
Of Kama's birth we care naught. Hath Drona other
than humble lineage ? 'Tis said, too, that thou and thy
brethren are not sons of Pandu, but of certain amorous

(C569) 16


deities. . . . Look upon Kama, adorned with jewels and
in golden armour ! Do hinds bring forth tigers r . . .
Kama was born to be a king ; he hath come to rule by
reason of his valour and his worth. If any prince or
warrior among you will deny my words, hear and know,
now, that I will meet him in deadly combat."

The assembled multitude heard these mighty words
with joy and shouted loud applause.

But darkness came on, and lamps were lit upon the
plain. . . . Drona and the sons of Pandu made offerings
at the altar, and the king and his counsellors, the noble
dames and the high-born maids, departed in silence to their
homes. . . . Then all the people deserted the barriers,
some shouting, "Arjuna hath triumphed;' others,
"Kama is victor;" and som.e also, " Duryodhana hath

Pritha had rejoiced in her heart to behold her noble
son crowned king. . . .

Duryodhana walked by Kama's side and took him
away to his own palace, glad of heart, for he no longer
feared Arjuna's valour and skill at arms.

Even Yudhishthira doubted Arjuna's worth; he feared
that Kama was the greatest hero in the world of men.

First Exile of the Pandavas

Princes' First Campaign Kauravas driven back Pandavas achieve
Victory Drupada humbled by Drona Panchala Kingdom divided Pandava
Prince made "Little Rajah" Duryodhana's Plot Pandavas' First Exile
Their New Home Escape in the Night Wanderings in the Jungle Bhirna
slays a Rakshasa The Demon Bride Sojourn in Ekachakra Story of the
Brahman Family Bhima overcomes the Asura King Miraculous Birth of
Drupada's Children Swayamvara proclaimed Pandavas depart to Panchala.

THE Pandavas and Kauravas had now become accom-
plished warriors, and Drona, their preceptor, claimed his
reward. So he spoke unto his pupils and said : " Go
forth against Drupada, Rajah of Panchala ; smite him in
battle and bring him to me."

The cousins could not agree to wage war together by
reason of their jealousies. So the Kauravas, led by Du-
ryodhana, were first to attack Drupada ; they rode in
their chariots and invaded the hostile capital, and slaked
their thirst for battle. The warriors of Panchala arose
to fight ; their shouting was like the roaring of lions, and
their arrows were showered as thickly as rain dropping
from the clouds. The Kauravas were defeated, and they
retired in disorder, uttering cries of despair.

The Pandavas then rushed against the enemies of
Drona. Arjuna swept forward in his chariot like to the
fire which consumeth all things at the end of time, and
he destroyed horses and cars and warriors. The battle-
roar of Bhima was like to the roar of ocean stricken



by a tempest ; wielding his mace, he struck down
elephants big as mountains, and many horses and
charioteers also, and he covered the ground with rivers
of blood ; as a herdsman driveth his cattle before him,
so did Bhima drive before him with his mace the terror-
stricken hosts of Panchala.

Drupada endeavoured to turn the tide of battle; sur-
rounded by his mightiest men, he opposed Arjuna. Then
a great uproar arose among the Panchala forces, for as
the lion leaps upon the leader of a herd of elephants, so
did Arjuna rush against Drupada. A boastful warrior
intervened, but the strong Pandava overcame him, and
at length, after fierce fighting, Arjuna seized Drupada as
Garuda, king of birds, 1 seizeth a mighty snake after dis-
turbing the waters of the ocean.

The remnant of the Panchala host then broke and
fled, and the Pandavas began to lay waste the capital.
Arjuna, however, cried unto Bhima: "Remember that
Drupada is the kinsman of the Kauravas; therefore cease
slaying his warriors."

Drupada was led before Drona, who, remembering
the proud words of the fallen rajah, spoke and said: "At
last I have conquered thy kingdom, and thy life is in
my hands. Is it thy desire now to revive our friend-
ship ?'

Drona smiled a little and continued thus: " Brahmans
are full of forgiveness; therefore have no fear for thy life,
O king. I have not forgotten that we were children
together. So once again 1 ask for thy friendship, and I
grant thee, unasked, the half of the kingdom; the other
half will be mine, and if it pleaseth thee we will be

1 Half man and half eagle, and enemy of the serpent race.
a The Kurus and Panchalas were allies.


Said Drupada : " Thou art indeed noble and great.
I thank thee, and desire to be thy friend."

So Drona took possession of half of the kingdom.
Drupada, who sorrowed greatly, went to rule the southern
Panchalas ; he was convinced that he could not defeat
Drona by Kshatriya power alone, which is inferior to
Brahman power, and he resolved to discover means
whereby he might obtain a son who could overcome his
Brahman enemy.

Thereafterwards the Pandavas waged war against
neighbouring kings, and they extended the territory over
which the blind maharajah held sway.

The Kauravas were rendered more jealous than ever
by the successes achieved by the Pandavas, and also
because the people favoured them. Now Duryodhana
desired to become heir to the throne, but the elder prince
of the conquering Pandavas could not be set aside. In
the end Yudhishthira was chosen, although unwillingly,
by the blind king, and he became Yuva-rajah, "Little

Online LibraryDonald Alexander MackenzieIndian myth and legend → online text (page 17 of 38)