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(Sambhava Parva continued)

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Upon the Kuru king and Bhima, the foremost of all endued with strength, having entered the arena, the spectators were divided into two parties in consequence of the partiality swaying their affections. Some cried, 'Behold the heroic king of the Kurus!'--some--'Behold

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[paragraph continues] Bhima!'--And on account of these cries, there was, all on a sudden, a loud uproar. And seeing the place become like a troubled ocean, the intelligent Bharadwaja said unto his dear son, Aswatthaman, 'Restrain both these mighty warriors so proficient in arms. Let not the ire of the assembly be provoked by this combat of Bhima and Duryodhana.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Then the son of the preceptor of the princes restrained those combatants with their maces uplifted and resembling two swollen oceans agitated by the winds that blow at the universal dissolution. And Drona himself entering the yard of the arena commanded the musicians to stop, and with a voice deep as that of the clouds addressed these words, 'Behold ye now that Partha who is dearer to me than my own son, the master of all arms, the son of Indra himself, and like unto the younger brother of Indra, (Vishnu)! And having performed the propitiatory rites, the youthful Phalguna, equipped with the finger protector (gauntlet) and his quiver full of shafts and bow in hand, donning his golden mail, appeared in the lists even like an evening cloud reflecting the rays of the setting sun and illumined by the hues of the rainbow and flashes of lightning.

"On seeing Arjuna, the whole assembly were delighted and conchs began to be blown all around with other musical instruments. And there arose a great uproar in consequence of the spectators' exclaiming,--'This is the graceful son of Kunti!'--'This is the middle (third) Pandava!'--'This is the son of the mighty Indra!'--'This is the protector of the Kurus'--'This is the foremost of those versed in arms!'--'This is the foremost of all cherishers of virtue!'--'This is the foremost of the persons of correct behaviour, the great repository of the knowledge of manners!' At those exclamations, the tears of Kunti, mixing with the milk of her breast, wetted her bosom. And his ears being filled with that uproar, that first of men, Dhritarashtra, asked Vidura in delight, 'O Kshatri, what is this great uproar for, like unto that of the troubled ocean, arising all on a sudden and rending the very heavens?' Vidura replied, 'O mighty monarch, the son of Pandu and Pritha, Phalguna, clad in mail hath entered the lists. And hence this uproar!' Dhritarashtra said, 'O thou of soul so great, by the three fires sprung from Pritha who is even like the sacred fuel, I have, indeed, been blessed, favoured and protected!'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'When the spectators, excited with delight, had somewhat regained their equanimity, Vibhatsu began to display his lightness in the use of weapons. By the Agneya weapon, he created fire, and by the Varuna weapon he created water, by the Vayavya weapon, he created air, and by the Parjanya weapon he created clouds. And by the Bhauma weapon, he created land, and by the Parvatya weapon, he brought mountains into being. By the Antardhana weapon all these were made to disappear. Now the beloved one of his preceptor (Arjuna) appeared tall and now short; now he was seen on the yoke of his car, and now on the car itself; and the next moment he was on the ground. And the hero favoured

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by his practised dexterity, hit with his various butts--some tender, some fine and some of thick composition. And like one shaft, he let fly at a time into the mouth of a moving iron-boar five shafts together from his bow-string. And that hero of mighty energy discharged one and twenty arrows into the hollow of a cow's horn hung up on a rope swaying to and fro. In this manner, O sinless one, Arjuna showed his profound skill in the use of sword, bow, and mace, walking over the lists in circles.

"And, O Bharata, when the exhibition had well-nigh ended, the excitement of the spectators had cooled, and the sounds of instruments had died out there was heard proceeding from the gate, the slapping of arms, betokening might and strength, and even like unto the roar of the thunder. And, O king, as soon as this sound was heard, the assembled multitude instantly thought, 'Are the mountains splitting or is the earth itself rending asunder, or is the welkin resounding with the roar of gathering clouds? And then all the spectators turned their eyes towards the gate. And Drona stood, surrounded by the five brothers, the sons of Pritha, and looked like the moon in conjunction with the five-starred constellation Hasta. And Duryodhana, that slayer of foes, stood up in haste and was surrounded by his century of haughty brothers with Aswatthaman amongst them. And that prince, mace in hand, thus surrounded by his hundred brothers with uplifted weapons appeared like Purandara in days of yore, encircled by the celestial host on the occasion of the battle with the Danavas.'"

Next: Section CXXXVIII