(Swayamvara Parva continued)
"Vaisampayana continued, 'When all the monarchs had desisted from stringing that bow, the high-souled Jishnu arose from among the crowd of Brahmanas seated in that assembly. And beholding Partha possessing the complexion of Indra's banner, advancing towards the bow, the principal Brahmanas shaking their deer-skins raised a loud clamour. And while some were displeased, there were others that were well-pleased. And some there were, possessed of intelligence and foresight, who addressing one another said, 'Ye Brahmanas, how can a Brahmana stripling unpractised in arms and weak in strength, string that bow which such celebrated Kshatriyas as Salya and others endued with might and accomplished in the science and practice of arms could not? If he doth not achieve success in this untried task which he hath undertaken from a spirit of boyish unsteadiness, the entire body of Brahmanas here will be rendered ridiculous in the eyes of the assembled monarchs. Therefore, forbid this Brahmana that he may not go to string the bow which he is even now desirous of doing from vanity, childish daring, or mere unsteadiness.' Others replied, 'We shall not be made ridiculous, nor shall we incur the disrespect of anybody or the displeasure of the sovereigns. Some remarked, 'This handsome youth is even like the trunk of a mighty elephant, whose shoulders and arms and thighs are so well-built, who in patience looks like the Himavat, whose gait is even like that of the lion, and whose prowess seems to be like that of an elephant in rut, and who is so resolute, that it is probable that he will accomplish this feat. He has strength and resolution. If he had none, he would never go of his own accord. Besides, there is nothing in the three worlds that Brahmanas of all mortal men cannot accomplish. Abstaining from all food or living upon air or eating of fruits, persevering in their vows, and emaciated and weak, Brahmanas are ever strong in their own energy. One should never disregard a
[paragraph continues] Brahmana whether his acts be right or wrong, by supposing him incapable of achieving any task that is great or little, or that is fraught with bliss or woe. Rama the son of Jamadagni defeated in battle, all the Kshatriyas. Agastya by his Brahma energy drank off the fathomless ocean. Therefore, say ye, 'Let this youth bend the bow and string it with ease' (and many said), 'So be it.' And the Brahmanas continued speaking unto one another these and other words. Then Arjuna approached the bow and stood there like a mountain. And walking round that bow, and bending his head unto that giver of boons--the lord Isana--and remembering Krishna also, he took it up. And that bow which Rukma, Sunitha, Vakra, Radha's son, Duryodhana, Salya, and many other kings accomplished in the science and practice of arms, could not even with great exertion, string, Arjuna, the son of Indra, that foremost of all persons endued with energy and like unto the younger brother of Indra (Vishnu) in might, strung in the twinkling of an eye. And taking up the five arrows he shot the mark and caused it to fall down on the ground through the hole in the machine above which it had been placed. Then there arose a loud uproar in the firmament, and the amphitheatre also resounded with a loud clamour. And the gods showered celestial flowers on the head of Partha the slayer of foes. And thousands of Brahmanas began to wave their upper garments in joy. And all around, the monarchs who had been unsuccessful, uttered exclamations of grief and despair. And flowers were rained from the skies all over the amphitheatre. And the musicians struck up in concert. Bards and heralds began to chant in sweet tones the praises (of the hero who accomplished the feat). And beholding Arjuna, Drupada--that slayer of foes,--was filled with joy. And the monarch desired to assist with his forces the hero if the occasion arose. And when the uproar was at its height, Yudhishthira, the foremost of all virtuous men, accompanied by those first of men the twins, hastily left the amphitheatre for returning to his temporary home. And Krishna beholding the mark shot and beholding Partha also like unto Indra himself, who had shot the mark, was filled with joy, and approached the son of Kunti with a white robe and a garland of flowers. And Arjuna the accomplisher of inconceivable feats, having won Draupadi by his success in the amphitheatre, was saluted with reverence by all the Brahmanas. And he soon after left the lists followed close by her who thus became his wife.'"