Chapter XXII - 79 Home | Index | Previous | Next

"At last, Arjuna let go the unending shower of arrows from his ever-full shoulder-bag. This too had no effect; Arjuna became desperate like a man robbed of all his possessions and deprived of all means of resistance. He stood helpless and filled with rage. He was like a bird with clipped wings, a tiger whose teeth had been pulled out and claws cut, a ship without sails and rudder."

"He made an effort to beat the huntsman with the bow itself; it broke into fragments at the impact. Startled at this, Arjuna decided to use his fists, for they were the only weapons left. Girding up his loins, he fell upon the Bhil, and wrestled furiously, for sheer victory. The huntsman welcomed this new move with a hearty laugh. They struggled to overpower each other with such terrific holds and blows that it appeared as if two mountains were in mortal conflict; the birds of the forest were so frightened at the unusual din that they flew in terror far up into the sky. The animal denizens of the jungle stood and stared, sensing some great calamity that hovered over them. The earth shook, unable to bear the burden of the encounter."

"Despite everything, the Bhil was evincing no trace of exhaustion; he was laughing in absolute unconcern; he was as active as when the fight first began. Arjuna, however, was bathed in perspiration; he was gasping for breath, his fist was jammed and bleeding! The Bhil was unhurt and not in the least affected! Besides, when the Bhil once caught Arjuna in a light hold, Arjuna vomited blood! At this, the Bhil burst into a cruel laugh, and exulted before his consort with a meaning look, 'Did you notice that?'"

"Arjuna reeled and was in great confusion. He lost his moorings. He whispered to himself, 'Krishna! Why have you humiliated me thus? Ah, is this too a scene in your drama? Truly, this Bhil is no ordinary mortal. Perhaps, you yourself have come in this form to trample on my pride. Alas! To be overwhelmed by a forest-dwelling huntsman! No, this is your stratagem, your play. This Bhil is no ordinary fellow. Save me, for, I believe this is you, yourself'."

"When he said this and turned to the couple in front of him, he saw there, not the Bhil and his wife but Siva and His consort, Gowri. They were blessing him with a captivating smile; their hand was raised, with the palm towards him in the Abhaya pose, assuring him that he had no reason to fear."

"Arjuna was overcome with delight. He ran towards them, exclaiming, 'O Sankara! Mother Gowri!' and fell at their feet. He prayed that they should pardon him for his rashness and ignorance. Gowri and Sankara, who are the embodiments of grace, lifted him by the shoulders lovingly and stroked his head affectionately. 'Son,' they said, 'You have attained the fruition of your life; you did your duty as your were bound to do. That is not wrong, at all. Now, take this; here is the sign of Our grace' - and he got from the hand of Siva Himself the divine Pasupatha Asthra."

"O, Maharaja! How can I extol the prowess of your grandfather who combated with Siva, armed with the invincible Trident. The source of that courage and daring lay in the grace that Lord Krishna showered on him. Your grandfathers never thought of even the slightest activity without His specific order. Indeed in the Mahabharatha battle, His grace was bestowed unasked, every moment in ample measure. The depth of love that prompted that grace was known only to them; others cannot gauge it." When Vyasa was remembering this, he shed tears of joy at the good fortune of the Pandava brothers. And not he alone.