On the evening when this intricate matter was being discussed, Vyasa, the great sage with a pure and pristine soul, visited them. Upon his arrival, the Pandavas and their companions bowed at his feet with great reverence.
“Bhima,” Vyasa said, intervening in the discussion. “Your brother is right. We know your strength and Arjuna’s military courage, and we understand that you would want to leave at this very moment to destroy your enemies, but in a situation like this, you should not be impulsive. Do you think you are the only great warrior on planet Earth? Do you think that among your enemies there will be no one who has strength and courage? You are wrong, because on the battlefield you will find soldiers who are practically invincible, in addition to Duryodhana and his brothers, who are evil souls, but unmatched in battle. Have you forgotten that Bhishma, Drona, Bhurisrava and Asvatthama, even if they do not share their course of action, will they find themselves forced to fight on their side? And have you forgotten Karna? And how many more will surely line up against you? Before breaking into Hastinapura as an executioner you must strengthen yourself and obtain new and more powerful weapons. This is the right way to use the years of your exile.”
“But how can we fortify ourselves in the forest,” Bhima retorted, “if we cannot have contact with anyone? This is not a place for military preparation, but for meditation and asceticism.”
“It is not allies that you need,” said Vyasa, “but something else. When Indra fought against Arjuna in Khandava, he was immensely pleased with his valor and noble character; and on that occasion he said that if he succeeded to have the Pashupata weapon from Shiva, he would grant him his own too. The time has come for Arjuna to leave for the north, to go to the Himalayan peaks to worship Mahadeva and to be granted the Pashupata.
“Bhima, Duryodhana is so envious of you that there will certainly be war, but you must prepare to win it. And to do so, you need heavenly weapons.”
Following Vyasa’s visit, the Pandavas returned to Kamyaka, settling on the banks of the Sarasvati River. A few days later they resumed talking about the subject that was most dear to them.
“Arjuna,” said Yudhisthira, “as Vyasa told us, we must prepare for war. So if we are to hope to defeat warriors of the caliber of Bhishma, Drona, Karna and Asvatthama, we must do as he advised us. You must go north to the Himalayas and conquer the weapons of the highest Devas.”
Those words were like music to Arjuna’s ears, who felt like he was freed from a forced lethargy. Happy to return to action and to be able to prepare for war, a few days later he left. It had been six years since their exile began.
This is a section of the book “Maha-bharata, Vol. 1”.
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