"Bhishma said, 'After he had quartered there, on third day, O king, Jamadagni's son of high vows, sent a message to me, saying, 'I have come here, do what is agreeable to me.' Hearing that Rama, of great might, had come to the confines of our kingdom, I speedily went with a joyous heart to that master who was an ocean of energy. And I went to him, O king, with a cow placed in the van of my train, and accompanied by many Brahmanas, and (ordinary) priests (of our family), and by others, resembling the very gods in splendour, employed by us on special occasions. And beholding me arrived at his presence, Jamadagni's son, of great prowess, accepted the worship I offered unto him and said these words unto me.'
"Rama said, 'Thyself, divested of desire, with what mood of mind, O 'Bhishma, didst thou abduct, on the occasion of her self-choice, his daughter of the king of Kasi and again dismiss her subsequently? By thee hath this famous lady been dissociated from virtue! Contaminated by the touch of thy hands before, who can marry her now? Rejected she hath been by Salwa, because thou, O Bharata, hadst abducted her. Take her therefore, to thyself, O Bharata, at my command. Let this daughter of a king, O tiger among men, be charged with the duties of her sex! O king, O sinless one, it is not proper that this humiliation should be hers!
'Seeing him plunged into sorrow (on account of the maiden) I said unto him,--O Brahmana, I cannot, by any means, bestow this girl on my brother. O thou of Bhrigu's race, it was to myself that she said, I am Salwa's! And it was by me that she was permitted to go to Salwa's city. As regards myself, even this is my firm vow that I cannot abandon
[paragraph continues] Kshatriya practices from fear or pity, or avarice of wealth, or lust!--Hearing these words of mine, Rama addressed me, with eyes rolling in anger, saying, 'If, O bull among, men, thou dost not act according to my words, I will slay thee this very day along with all thy counsellors!' Indeed, with eyes rolling in anger, Rama in great wrath told me these words repeatedly. I, however, O chastiser of foes, then beseeched him in sweet words. But though beseeched by me, he did not cool down. Bowing down with my head unto that best of Brahmanas I then enquired of him the reason for which he sought battle with me. I also said,--O thou of mighty arms, while I was a child it was thou who instructed me in the four kinds of arms. 1 I am, therefore, O thou of Bhrigu's race, thy disciple! Then Rama answered me with eyes red in anger, 'Thou knowest me, O Bhishma, to be thy preceptor, and yet, O Kauravya, thou acceptest not, for pleasing me, this daughter of the ruler of Kasi! O delighter of the Kurus, I cannot be gratified unless thou actest in this way! O mighty-armed one, take this maiden and preserve thy race! Having been abducted by thee, she obtaineth not a husband. Unto Rama that subjugator of hostile cities, I replied, saying.--This cannot be, O regenerate Rishi! All thy labour is vain, O son of Jamadagni, remembering thy old preceptorship, I am striving, O holy one, to gratify thee! As regards this maiden, she hath been refused by me before knowing what the faults, productive of great evils, of the female sex are, who is there that would admit into his abode a woman whose heart is another's and who (on that account) is even like a snake of virulent poison? O thou of high vows, I would not, even from fear of Vasava, forsake duty! Be gracious unto me, or do me without delay that which thou hast thought proper. This sloka also, O thou of pure soul, is heard in the Puranas, O lord, sung by the high-souled Marutta, O thou of great intelligence! The renunciation is sanctioned by the ordinance of a preceptor who is filled with vanity, who is destitute of the knowledge of right and wrong, and who is treading in a devious path.--Thou art my preceptor and it is for this that I have from love reverenced thee greatly. Thou, however, knowest not the duty of a preceptor, and it is for this that I will fight with thee. I would not slay any preceptor in battle, especially again a Brahmana, and more specially one endued with ascetic merit. It was for this that I forgive thee. It is well-known truth, gatherable from the scriptures, that he is not guilty of slaying a Brahmana who killeth in battle a person of that order that taketh up weapons like Kshatriya and fighteth wrathfully without seeking to fly. I am a Kshatriya stationed in the practice of Kshatriya duties. One doth not
incur sin, nor doth one incur any harm by behaving towards a person exactly as that person deserveth. When a person acquainted with the proprieties of time and place and well-versed in matters affecting both profit and virtue, feels doubtful, as regards anything, he should without scruples of any kind, devote himself to the acquisition of virtue which would confer the highest benefit on him. And since thou, O Rama, in a matter connected with profit of doubtful propriety, actest unrighteously, I would certainly fight with thee in a great battle. Behold the strength of my arms and my prowess that is superhuman! In view of such circumstances, I shall certainly do, O son of Bhrigu, what I can. I shall fight with thee, O regenerate one, on the field of Kurukshetra! O Rama of great effulgence, equip thyself as thou listest for single combat! Come and station thyself on the field of Kurukshetra where, afflicted with my shafts in great battle, and sanctified by my weapons, thou mayest obtain those regions that have been won by thee (thought for thy austerities). O thou of mighty arms and wealth of asceticism, there I will approach thee for battle,--thee that art so fond of battle! There, O Rama, where in days of yore thou hadst propitiated thy (deceased) fathers (with oblations of Kshatriya blood), slaying thee there, O son of Bhrigu, I will propitiate the Kshatriya slain by thee! Come there, O Rama, without delay! There, O thou that art difficult of being vanquished, I will curb thy old pride about which the Brahmanas speak! For many long years, O Rama, thou hast boasted, saying,--I have, single-handed, vanquished all the Kshatriyas of the Earth!--Listen now to what enabled thee to indulge in that boast! In those days no Bhishma was born, or no Kshatriyas like unto Bhishma! Kshatriyas really endued with valour have taken their births later on! As regards thyself, thou hast consumed only heaps of straw! The person that would easily quell thy pride of battle hath since been born! He, O mighty-armed one, is no other than myself, even Bhishma, that subjugator of hostile cities! Without doubt, O Rama, I shall just quell thy pride of battle!'
"Bhishma continued, 'Hearing these words of mine. Rama addressed me, laughingly saying, 'By good luck it is, O Bhishma, that thou desirest to fight with me in battle! O thou of Kuru's race, even now I go with thee to Kurukshetra! I will do what thou hast said! Come thither, O chastiser of foes! Let thy mother, Jahnavi, O Bhishma, behold thee dead on that plain, pierced with my shafts, and become the food of vultures, crows, and other carnivorous birds! Let that goddess worshipped by Siddhas and Charanas, that blessed daughter of Bhagiratha, in the form of a river, who begat thy wicked self, weep today, O king, beholding thee slain by me and lying miserable on that plain, however undeserving she may be of seeing such a sight! Come, O Bhishma, and follow me, O proud wight, always longing for battle! O thou of Kuru's race, take with thee, O bull of Bharatas' line, thy cars and all other equipments of battle!' Hearing these words of Rama that subjugator of hostile
towns, I worshipped him with a bend of my head and answered him, saying,--So be it! Having said all this, Rama then went to Kurukshetra from desire of combat, and I also, entering our city, represented everything unto Satyavati. Then causing propitiatory ceremonies to be performed (for my victory), and being blessed also by my mother, and making the Brahmanas utter benedictions on me, I mounted on a handsome car made of silver and unto which, O thou of great glory, were yoked steeds white in hue. And every part of that car was well-built, and it was exceedingly commodious and covered on all sides with tiger-skin. And it was equipped with many great weapons and furnished with all necessaries. And it was ridden by charioteer who was well-born and brave, who was versed in horse-lore, careful in battle, and well-trained in his art, and who had seen many encounters. And I was accoutred in a coat of mail, white in hue, and had my bow in hand. And the bow I took was also white in hue. And thus equipped, I set out, O best of Bharata's race! And an umbrella, white in hue, was held over my head. And, O king, I was fanned with fans that also were white in colour. And clad in white, with also a white head-gear, all my adornments were white. And eulogised (with laudatory hymns) by Brahmanas wishing me victory. I issued out of the city named after the elephant, and proceeded to Kurukshetra, which, O bull of Bharata's race, was to be the field of battle! And those steeds, fleet as the mind or the wind, urged by my charioteer, soon bore me, O king, to that great encounter. And arrived in the field of Kurukshetra, both myself and Rama, eager for battle, became desirous of showing each other our prowess. And arrived within view of the great ascetic Rama, I took up my excellent conch and blew a loud blast. And many Brahmanas, O king, and many ascetics having their abodes in the forest, as also the gods with Indra at their head, were stationed there for beholding the great encounter. And many celestial garlands and diverse kinds of celestial music and many cloudy canopies could be noticed there. And all those ascetics who had come with Rama, desiring to become spectators of the fight, stood all around the field. Just at this juncture, O king, my divine mother devoted to the good of all creatures, appeared before me in her own form and said, 'What is this that thou seekest to do? Repairing to Jamadagni's son, O son of Kuru's race, I will repeatedly solicit him saying,--Do not fight Bhishma who is thy disciple!--O son, being a Kshatriya do not obstinately set thy heart on an encounter in battle with Jamadagni's son who is a Brahmana!' Indeed, it was thus that she reproved me. And she also said, 'O son, Rama, equal in prowess unto Mahadeva himself, is the exterminator of the Kshatriya order! It is not known to thee, that thou desirest an encounter with him.' Thus addressed by her, I saluted the goddess reverentially and replied unto her with joined hands, giving her, O chief of the Bharatas, an account of all that had transpired in that self-choice (of the daughter of Kasi). I also told her every thing, O king of kings, about how I had urged
[paragraph continues] Rama (to desist from the combat). I also gave her a history of all the past acts of the (eldest) daughter of Kasi. My mother then, the great River, wending to Rama, began, for my sake, to beseech the Rishi of Bhrigu's race. And she said unto him these words, viz.,--Do not fight Bhishma who is thy disciple!--Rama, however, said unto her while she was beseeching him thus, 'Go and make Bhishma desist! He doth not execute out my wish! It is for this that I have challenged him!'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Thus addressed by Rama, Ganga, from affection for her son, came back to Bhishma. But Bhishma, with eyes rolling in anger, refused to do her bidding. Just at this time, the mighty ascetic Rama, that foremost one of Bhrigu's race, appeared in Bhishma's sight. An then that best of the twice-born ones challenged him to the encounter.'"