(Sambhava Parva continued)
"Vaisampayana said, 'O thou of Bharata's race, beholding the sons of Dhritarashtra and Pandu accomplished in arms, Drona, O monarch, addressed king Dhritarashtra, in the presence of Kripa, Somadatta, Valhika, the wise son of Ganga (Bhishma), Vyasa, and Vidura, and said, 'O best of Kuru kings, thy children have completed their education. With thy permission, O king, let them now show their proficiency.' Hearing him, the king said with a gladdened heart, 'O best of Brahmanas, thou hast, indeed, accomplished a great deed. Command me thyself as to the place and the time where and when and the manner also in which the trial may be held. Grief arising from my own blindness maketh me envy those who, blessed with sight, will behold my children's prowess in arm. O Kshatri (Vidura), do all that Drona sayeth. O thou devoted to virtue, I think there is nothing that can be more agreeable to me.' Then Vidura, giving the necessary assurance to the king, went out to do what he was bid. And Drona endued with great wisdom, then measured out a piece of land that was void of trees and thickets and furnished with wells and springs. And upon the spot of land so measured out, Drona, that first of eloquent men, selecting a lunar day when the star ascendant was auspicious, offered up sacrifice unto the gods in the presence of the citizens assembled by proclamation to witness the same. And then, O bull among men, the artificers of the king built thereon a large and elegant stage according to the rules laid down in the scriptures, and it was furnished with all kinds of weapons. They also built another elegant hall for the lady-spectators. And the citizens constructed many platforms while the wealthier of them pitched many spacious and high tents all around.
"When the day fixed for the Tournament came, the king accompanied by his ministers, with Bhishma and Kripa, the foremost of preceptors, walking ahead, came unto that theatre of almost celestial beauty constructed of pure gold, and decked with strings of pearls and stones of lapis lazuli. And, O first of victorious men, Gandhari blessed with great good fortune and Kunti, and the other ladies of the royal house-hold, in gorgeous attire and accompanied by their waiting women, joyfully ascended the platforms, like celestial ladies ascending the Sumeru mountain. And the four orders including the Brahmanas and Kshatriyas, desirous of beholding the princes' skill in arms, left the city and came running to the spot. And so impatient was every one to behold the spectacle, that the vast crowd assembled there in almost an instant. And with the sounds of trumpets and drums and the
noise of many voices, that vast concourse appeared like an agitated ocean.
"At last, Drona accompanied by his son, dressed in white (attire), with a white sacred thread, white locks, white beard, white garlands, and white sandal-paste rubbed over his body, entered the lists. It seemed as if the Moon himself accompanied by the planet Mars appeared in an unclouded sky. On entering Bharadwaja performed timely worship and caused Brahmanas versed in mantras to celebrate the auspicious rites. And after auspicious and sweet-sounding musical instruments had been struck up as a propitiatory ceremony, some persons entered, equipped with various arms. And then having girded up their loins, those mighty warriors, those foremost ones of Bharata's race (the princes) entered, furnished with finger-protectors (gauntlet), and bows, and quivers. And with Yudhishthira at their head, the valiant princes entered in order of age and began to show wonderful skill with their weapons. Some of the spectators lowered their heads, apprehending fall of arrows while others fearlessly gazed on with wonder. And riding swiftly on horses and managing them 'dexterously' the princes began to hit marks with shafts engraved with their respective names. And seeing the prowess of the princes armed with bows and arrows, the spectators thought that they were beholding the city of the Gandharvas, became filled with amazement. And, O Bharata, all on a sudden, some hundreds and thousands, with eyes wide open in wonder, exclaimed, 'Well done! Well done!' And having repeatedly displayed their skill and dexterity in the use of bows and arrows and in the management of cars, the mighty warriors took up their swords and bucklers, and began to range the lists, playing their weapons. The spectators saw (with wonder) their agility, the symmetry of their bodies, their grace, their calmness, the firmness of their grasp and their deftness in the use of sword and buckler. Then Vrikodara and Suyodhana, internally delighted (at the prospect of fight), entered the arena, mace in hand, like two single-peaked mountains. And those mighty-armed warriors braced their loins, and summoning all their energy, roared like two infuriate elephants contending for a cow-elephant; and like two infuriated elephants those mighty heroes faultlessly (in consonance with the dictates of the science of arm) careered right and left, circling the lists. And Vidura described to Dhritarashtra and the mother of the Pandavas (Kunti) and Gandhari, all the feats of the princes.'"