(Swayamvara Parva continued)
"Vaisampayana said, 'Then those bulls among Brahmanas shaking their deer-skins and water-pots made of cocoanut-shells exclaimed, 'Fear not, we will fight the foe!' Arjuna smilingly addressing those Brahmanas exclaiming thus, said, 'Stand ye aside as spectators (of the fray) Showering hundreds of arrows furnished with straight points even I shall check, like snakes with mantras, all those angry monarchs.' Having said this, the mighty Arjuna taking up the bow he had obtained as dower accompanied by his brother Bhima stood immovable as a mountain. And beholding those Kshatriyas who were ever furious in battle with Karna ahead, the heroic brothers rushed fearlessly at them like two elephants rushing against a hostile elephant. Then those monarchs eager for the fight fiercely exclaimed, 'The slaughter in battle of one desiring to fight is permitted.' And saying this, the monarchs suddenly rushed against the Brahmanas. And Karna endued with great energy rushed against Jishnu for fight. And Salya the mighty king of Madra rushed against Bhima like an elephant rushing against another for the sake of a she-elephant in heat; while Duryodhana and others engaged with the Brahmanas, skirmished with them lightly and carelessly. Then the illustrious Arjuna beholding Karna, the son of Vikartana (Surya), advancing towards him, drew his tough bow and pieced him with his sharp arrows. And the impetus of those whetted arrows furnished with fierce energy made Radheya (Karna) faint. Recovering consciousness Karna attacked Arjuna with greater care than before. Then Karna and Arjuna, both foremost of victorious warriors, desirous of vanquishing each other, fought madly on. And such was the lightness of hand they both displayed that (each enveloped by the other's shower of arrows) they both became invisible (unto the spectators of their encounter). 'Behold the strength of my arms.'--'Mark, how I have counteracted that feat,'--those were the words--intelligible to
heroes alone--in which they addressed each other. And incensed at finding the strength and energy of Arjuna's arms unequalled on the earth, Karna, the son of Surya, fought with greater vigour. And parrying all those impetuous arrows shot at him by Arjuna, Karna sent up a loud shout. And this feat of his was applauded by all the warriors. Then addressing his antagonist, Karna said, 'O thou foremost of Brahmanas, I am gratified to observe the energy of thy arms that knoweth no relaxation in battle and thy weapons themselves fit for achieving victory. Art thou the embodiment of the science of weapons, or art thou Rama that best of Brahmanas, or Indra himself, or Indra's younger brother Vishnu called also Achyuta, who for disguising himself hath assumed the form of a Brahmana and mustering such energy of arms fighteth with me? No other person except the husband himself of Sachi or Kiriti, the son of Pandu, is capable of fighting with me when I am angry on the field of battle.' Then hearing those words of his, Phalguna replied, saying, 'O Karna, I am neither the science of arms (personified), nor Rama endued with superhuman powers. I am only a Brahmana who is the foremost of all warriors and all wielders of weapons. By the grace of my preceptor I have become accomplished in the Brahma and the Paurandara weapons. I am here to vanquish thee in battle. Therefore, O hero, wait a little.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Thus addressed (by Arjuna), Karna the adopted son of Radha desisted from the fight, for that mighty chariot-fighter thought that Brahma energy is ever invincible. Meanwhile on another part of the field, the mighty heroes Salya and Vrikodara, well-skilled in battle and possessed of great strength and proficiency, challenging each other, engaged in fight like two elephants in rut. And they struck each other with their clenched fists and knees. And sometimes pushing each other forward and sometimes dragging each other near, sometimes throwing each other down; face downward, and sometimes on the sides, they fought on, striking, each other at times with their clenched fists. And encountering each other with blows hard as the clash of two masses of granite, the lists rang with the sounds of their combat. Fighting with each other thus for a few seconds, Bhima the foremost of the Kuru heroes taking up Salya on his arms hurled him to a distance. And Bhimasena, that bull amongst men, surprised all (by the dexterity of his feat) for though he threw Salya on the ground he did it without hurting him much. And when Salya was thus thrown down and Karna was struck with fear, the other monarchs were all alarmed. And they hastily surrounded Bhima and exclaimed, 'Surely these bulls amongst Brahmanas are excellent (warriors)! Ascertain in what race they have been born and where they abide. Who can encounter Karna, the son of Radha, in fight, except Rama or Drona, or Kiriti, the son of Pandu? Who also can encounter Duryodhana in battle except Krishna, the son of Devaki, and Kripa, the son of Saradwan? Who also can overthrow in battle Salya, that first of mighty warriors, except the hero Valadeva or Vrikodara, the
son of Pandu, or the heroic Duryodhana? Let us, therefore, desist from this fight with the Brahmanas. Indeed, Brahmanas, however offending, should yet be ever protected. And first let us ascertain who these are; for after we have done that we may cheerfully fight with them.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'And Krishna, having beheld that feat of Bhima, believed them both to be the son of Kunti. And gently addressing the assembled monarchs, saying, 'This maiden hath been justly acquired (by the Brahmana),' he induced them to abandon the fight. Accomplished in battle, those monarchs then desisted from the fight. And those best of monarchs then returned to their respective kingdoms, wondering much. And those who had come there went away saying. 'The festive scene hath terminated in the victory of the Brahmanas. The princess of Panchala hath become the bride of a Brahmana.' And surrounded by Brahmanas dressed in skins of deer and other wild animals, Bhima and Dhananjaya passed with difficulty out of the throng. And those heroes among men, mangled by the enemy and followed by Krishna, on coming at last out of that throng, looked like the full moon and the sun emerging from the clouds.
"Meanwhile Kunti seeing that her sons were late in returning from their eleemosynary round, was filled with anxiety. She began to think of various evils having overtaken her sons. At one time she thought that the sons of Dhritarashtra having recognised her sons had slain them. Next she feared that some cruel and strong Rakshasas endued with powers of deception had slain them. And she asked herself, 'Could the illustrious Vyasa himself (who had directed my sons to come to Panchala) have been guided by perverse intelligence?' Thus reflected Pritha in consequence of her affection for her offspring. Then in the stillness of the late afternoon, Jishnu, accompanied by a body of Brahmanas, entered the abode of the potter, like the cloud-covered sun appearing on a cloudy day.'"