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Page:Mahabharata - the epic of ancient India.djvu/31

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17
THE BRIDE'S CHOICE


Stainless and intent on sastra, fair in speech and pure in heart,
Travelling slow they reached Panchala, saw its spacious town and mart,

Saw the fort, bazaar and city, saw the spire and shining dome,
In a potter's distant cottage made their humble unknown home,

And disguised as pious Brahmans sons of Pandu begged their food,
People knew not Kuru's princes in that dwelling poor and rude.

II

The Wedding Assembly

To the helm├ęd son of Pandu, Arjun pride of Kuru's race,
Drupad longed to give his daughter peerless in her maiden grace,

And of massive wood unbending, Drupad made a stubborn bow,
Saving Arjun prince or chieftain might not bend the weapon low,

And he made a whirling discus, hung it 'neath the open sky,
And beyond the whirling discus placed a target far and high,

"Whoso strings this bow," said Drupad, "hits the target in his pride,
Through the high and circling discus, he shall win Panchala's bride!"

And they spake the monarch's mandate in the kingdoms near and far,
And from every town and country princes came and chiefs of war,

Came the pure and saintly rishis for to bless the holy rite,
Came the Kurus with brave Karna in their pride and matchless might,

Brahmans came from distant regions with their sacred learning blest,
Drupad with a royal welcome greeted every honoured guest.

Now the festal day approacheth! Gathering men with ocean's voice,
Filled the wide and circling stages to behold the maiden's choice,