It was the eighteenth and also the last day of the battle of Kurukshetra in the epic story of the Mahabharata.
Shalya, the king of Madra and also a great warrior, who had joined the Kaurava army before the war began, was asked to lead the Kaurava army by the Kuru king Duryodhana to fight against the Pandava army.
Kaurava army had already suffered huge losses during the last seventeen days of the war. On the tenth day of the war, Vishma, the greatest commander-in-chief of the Kaurava army was incapacitated by Arjuna, the greatest Pandava warrior.
On the fifteenth day, Drona, the second commander-in-chief was killed by Dhristhtadyumna, another famous warrior of the Pandava army.
On the seventeenth day the third commander-in-chief of the Kaurava army named Karna, a great warrior but with weak moral and low character was killed by Arjuna.
On the eighteenth day, when the battle resumed, Vasudeva, the mentor of the Pandava army asked Yudhishthira, the eldest among the five Pandava brothers to lead the battle against Shalya. Arjuna was surprised by Vasudeva’s decision to engage Yudhishthira in the battle. First of all Shalya was a great warrior and Yudhishthira was no match for him. Second, Shalya was the maternal uncle of the Pandavas and he wanted to join the Pandavas to fight against the Kauravas but he was tricked by Duryodhana and was brought under the Kaurava fold. And Arjuna knew that Yudhishthira would not kill his uncle even he could get an opportunity by accident.
But Vasudeva knew something about Shalya which nobody knew. Locked within Shalya was a demon whose strength doubled when confronted with force of aggression; stronger was the aggression, stronger was the demon.
Before the battle started Yudhishthira approached Shalya and touched his feet with reverence. Yudhishthira, being the kind of pious person he was, it was not unexpected.
“Uncle Shalya I have no other choice but to fight but I promise I will let you know in advance before throwing any weapon at you”, Yudhishthira said with his genuine smile.
Because there was not the slightest aggression in Yudhishthira, the demon within Shalya remained dormant.
“Nephew, do not worry about me, I know how to take care of myself. I really feel sorry that I am going to be engaged in a battle against the person whose victory I always longed for”, Shalya replied.
Soon they took their respective positions.
“Uncle I am going to shoot an arrow at you, please use your shield to protect yourself” Yudhishthira cautioned Shalya before shooting the first arrow. But it was far off the target. Shalya was unable to control his laugh.
“Uncle, please take care of this one” and Yudhishthira shot the second arrow. Again it was far off the target.
When there was not a single arrow left in the quiver Yudhishthira picked up a spear. “Uncle please cover yourself to protect from the spear which I am going to hurl at you”, Yudhishthira cautioned his uncle.
“Be my guest, nephew. I do not need a shield to protect myself. I can protect myself while keeping my eyes closed”, Shalya said while laughing.
Yudhishthira picked up his spear and without a shred of anger or hatred in his heart hurled it and it hit Shalya’s chest and he fell on the ground.
Yudhishthira ran to him and asked why he did not use the shield in spite of his warning.
“Every single arrow you shot at me was far off the target, how suddenly the spear you threw, hit its target so accurately”, Shalya asked while struggling for breath.
“When I realized that you were not ready to use a shield to protect from my spear, I threw the spear so that it could not touch any part of your body” Yudhishthira replied.
Death of Shalya marked the victory of the Pandava army.
The above story was narrated to me by mother.
Many years later when I told this story to one of my friends he told me another story which I found very interesting too.
Once upon a time there lived a man who was very jealous of his rich neighbor’s good fortune. He used to blame God every day for his neighbor’s good fortune and his poverty. One day God appeared before him and said, “What do you want?”
“I want you to grant me whatever I will ask for”, the man replied without wasting any time.
“From now on whatever you will ask you will get but on one condition, your neighbor will receive just double of what you would ask for. So be careful when you ask me for something” and God disappeared immediately after saying those words.
He asked God for wealth but the moment he saw his neighbor became richer he felt worse.
He asked God for a beautiful wife but when he saw his neighbor also got a wife who was far more beautiful than his wife, his wife no longer looked pretty to him.
“I have to defeat him”, he thought. He asked God to dig a canal in front of his house. He was happy to find that there was a wider canal in front of his neighbor’s house. “Now my neighbor is going to fall in this canal” he thought. But the happiness did not last long. The narrow canal in front of his house turned into a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other insects whereas his neighbor constructed a nice walking bridge on the broader canal in front of his house and in the broad canal he started farming lobsters and fishes.
The jealous man started thinking again and then he prayed to God, “Make me blind of one eye.”