45. MATSYA DEFENDED
I shall put on armor and go in a chariot and drive away your enemies. Please instruct that your horse keeper Dharmagranthi, your chief cook Valala, and your stable herd Tantripala may also get into chariots and help us. I have heard that they are great fighters. Kindly give orders that the necessary chariots and the weapons may be given to us." Delighted, Virata was only too willing to accept the offer. The chariots were ready. All the Pandavas excepting Arjuna went out with the army of Virata to oppose Susarma and his men. A fierce fight ensued between the armies of Virata and Susarma, with much loss of life on both sides. Susarma attacked Virata and surrounded his chariot, compelling him to get down and fight on foot. Susarma captured Virata and held him captive in his chariot. With the capture of Virata, the army of Matsya lost heart and began to scatter in all directions, when Yudhishthira commanded Bhima to attack Susarma and release Virata and rally the scattered Matsya forces. At these words of Yudhishthira, Bhima was about to uproot a tree, but Yudhishthira stopped him and said: "No such tricks, please, and no battle cry or your identity will be revealed. Fight like anybody else from the chariot with your bows and arrows." Bhima accordingly got into the chariot attacked the enemy, set Virata free and captured Susarma. The dispersed forces of Matsya rallied into new formations charged and defeated the army of Susarma. As soon as the news of Susarma's defeat reached the city, the people were extremely jubilant. They decorated the city and went forth to welcome their victorious king back home. When they were thus making preparations to receive king Virata, the big army of Duryodhana came down on them from the north, and began despoiling the cattle ranches on the outskirts of the city. The Kaurava army marched in force and rounded up the countless cows that were there. The leader of the cowherds ran to the city and said to the prince Uttara: "O prince, the Kauravas are marching on, robbing us of our cows. King Virata has gone south to fight against the Trigarta. We are in consternation as there is no one to protect us.