(1500 BC? / Kalpi, Jalaun, Uttar Pradesh / India)

Mahabharata, Book Ii - The Tumult

Spake the suitors, anger-shaken, like a forest tempest-torn,
As Panchala's courteous monarch came to greet a Brahman-born:

'Shall he like the grass of jungle trample us in haughty pride,
To a prating priest and Brahman wed the proud and peerless bride?

To our hopes like nourished saplings shall he now the fruit deny,
Monarch proud who insults monarchs sure a traitor's death shall die,

Honour for his rank we know not, have no mercy for his age,
Perish foe of crownéd monarchs, victim to our righteous rage!

Hath he asked us to his palace, favoured us with royal grace,
Feasted us with princely bounty, but to compass our disgrace,

In this concourse of great monarchs, glorious like a heavenly band,
Doth he find no likely suitor for his beauteous daughter's hand?

And this rite of swayamtvra, so our sacred laws ordain,
Is for warlike Kshatras only, priests that custom shall not stain,

If this maiden on a Brahman casts her eye, devoid of shame,
Let her expiate her folly in a pyre of blazing flame!

Leave the priestling in his folly sinning through a Brahman's greed,
For we wage no war with Brahmans and forgive a foolish deed,

Much we owe to holy Brahmans for our realm and wealth and life,
Blood of priest or wise preceptor shall not stain our noble strife,

In the blood of sinful Drupad we the righteous laws maintain,
Such disgrace in future ages monarchs shall not meet again!'

Spake the suitors, tiger-hearted, iron-handed, bold and strong'
Fiereely bent on blood and vengeance blindly rose the maddened throng,

On they came, the angry monarchs, armed for cruel vengeful strife,
Drupad midst the holy Brahmans trembling fled for fear of life,

Like wild elephants of jungle rushed the kings upon their foes,
Calm and stately, stalwart Bhima and the gallant Arjun rose!

With a wilder rage the monarchs viewed these brothers cross their path,
Rushed upon the daring warriors for to slay them in their wrath,

Weaponless was noble Bhima, but in strength like lightning's brand,
Tore a tree with peerless prowess, shook it as a mighty wand!

And the foe-compelling warrior held that mace of living wood,
Strong as death with deadly weapon, facing all his foes he stood,

Arjun too with godlike valour stood unmoved, his bow in hand,
Side by side the dauntless brothers faced the fierce and fiery band!

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