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

Mahabharata, Book Vi - The Disguised Charioteer

Arjun, guised as Brihannala, heard the boast Uttara made,
And to try his skill and valour thus to fair Draupadi prayed:

'Say to him that Brihannala will his battle-chariot lead,
That as Arjun's chariot-driver he hath learned to urge the steed,

Say that faithful Brihannala many a dubious war hath seen,
And will win his father's cattle in this contest fierce and keen.'

Fair Draupadi, guised as menial, Arjun's secret best obeyed,
Humbly stepped before Uttara and in gentle accents prayed:

'Hear me, prince, yon Brihannala will thy battle-chariot lead,
He was Arjun's chariot-driver, skilled to urge the flying steed,

Trained in war by mighty Arjun, trained to drive the battle-car,
He hath followed helméd Arjun in the glorious field of war,

And when Arjun conquered Khandav, this, Uttara, I have seen,
Brihannala drove his chariot, for I served Yudhishthir's queen.'

Heard Uttara hesitating, spake his faint and timid mind,
'I would trust thee, beauteous maiden, lotus-bosomed, ever kind,

But a poor and sexless creature, can he rein the warlike steed,
Can I ask him, worse than woman, in the battle's ranks to lead?

'Need is none,' Draupadi answered, 'Brihannala's grace to ask,
He is eager like the war-horse for this great and warlike task,

And he waits upon thy sister, she will bid the minion speed,
And he wins thy father's cattle, and the victor's glorious meed!'

Matsya's princess spake to Arjun, Arjun led the battle-car,
Led the doubting prince Uttara to the dread and dubious war.

[MAHABHARATA: CONDENSED INTO ENGLISH VERSE
By Romesh C. Dutt (1899)
THE EPIC OF THE BHARATAS
BOOK VI: GO-HARANA]

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