Chapter XVIII - 64 Home | Index | Previous | Next

"Krishna laughed at his fears; He said, 'If so, we shall help you out. Tell us what we should do and we are ready'. Agni was delighted. He exclaimed, 'I am indeed blessed; I am saved. You can, if you only decide to keep back the rain that Indra showers by covering the forest with a roof of arrows that will allow me to consume the Vana undisturbed'. Krishna assured him that his request would be fulfilled. Your grandfather addressed Agni thus: 'You can burn up the Vana, without hesitation. My arms have enough strength to oppose and overwhelm not one Indra but even ten millions of them. But, I have not got with me the arrows necessary for this operation and the chariot that can carry all that weight. If these are supplied, I shall carry out your task, with the gracious permission of Krishna'."

"Agnideva, the God of fire, was gladdened at this; He granted Arjuna the two boons: An inexhaustible arrow-sheath from which he could draw out a continuous supply of arrows and a chariot with the Maruthi flag. Besides, He created the Aagneyaasthra, the weapon of fire, and placing it in the hands of Krishna, took leave of them both."

"Son, Parikshith! Krishna, you must remember, accepted that weapon only to satisfy the God of fire; He has no need of such weapons. There is no weapon more effective than His will; it can, in the fraction of a second, transform the earth into sky and the sky into the earth. He acts the human role when He moves among people and so, men frame their own guesses without understanding the inner significance of His acts. That is but the consequence of the delusion that veils the vision of man."

"After taking leave of Krishna in this manner, Agnideva started consuming the Khandava forest. Just then, exactly as anticipated, Indra sent His attendants on the mission of saving the forest from destruction. Their efforts failed to rescue it. They returned to their master and reported their discomfiture. So, Indra Himself with His stalwart followers rushed to the scene to save the Khandavavana, and fell upon your grandfather, Arjuna."

"Arjuna received Him with a shower of arrows from his famous Gandiva bow. Indra, too, fought with all his might. Within minutes, the followers of Indra turned back, unable to withstand the rain of arrows which assailed them from all sides. Indra realised that the person who inflicted the defeat was His own son, Arjuna; He was overcome with shame at this. He regretted that He could not defeat his own progeny, and returned sad and chastened."

"Meanwhile, the God of fire consumed the forest merrily and with hearty appetite, swallowing everything with His thousand red tongues and raising a huge conflagration. Only ash was left behind. Seeing this, the birds and beasts of the forest tried in vain to escape from the holocaust, but they could not; they were caught by the flames and roasted alive. Krishna was going round the forest in His chariot to prevent any denizen from running out into the open for safety, especially the animals and the snakes. He discovered the snake Thakshaka, a great friend of Indra, in the act of escaping from the fire. Krishna called Arjuna near Him to point this out to him; that gave Thakshaka the chance to wriggle out and speed towards Kurukshethra."