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XXII. Arjuna's Fight with Gods

Vyasa continued: "O 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 arouse; 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 needs 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, O 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 would 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 would then range themselves on the side of the Kaurava hordes. He apprehended that the Pandavas might 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 rigours 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.'"