Vaisampayana said,--"thus also Sahadeva, dismissed with affection by king Yudhisthira the just, marched towards the southern direction accompanied by a mighty host. Strong in strength, that mighty prince of the Kuru race, vanquishing completely at the outset the Surasenas, brought the king of Matsya under his sway. And the hero then, defeating Dantavakra, the mighty king of the Adhirajas and making him pay tribute, re-established him on his throne. The prince then brought under his sway Sukumara and then king Sumitra, and he next vanquished the other Matsyas and then the Patacharas. Endued with great intelligence, the Kuru warrior then conquered soon enough the country of the Nishadas and also the high hill called Gosringa, and that lord of earth called Srenimat. And subjugating next the country called Navarashtra, the hero marched against Kuntibhoja, who with great willingness accepted the sway of the conquering hero. And marching thence to the banks of the Charmanwati, the Kuru warrior met the son of king Jamvaka, who had, on account of old hostilities, been defeated before by Vasudeva. O Bharata, the son of Jamvaka gave battle to Sahadeva. And Sahadeva defeating the prince marched towards the south. The mighty warrior then vanquished the Sekas and others, and exacted tributes from them and also various kinds of gems and wealth. Allying himself with the vanquished tribes the prince then marched towards the countries that lay on the banks of the Narmada. And defeating there in battle the two heroic kings of Avanti, called Vinda and Anuvinda, supported by a mighty host, the mighty son of the twin gods exacted much wealth from them. After this the hero marched towards the town of Bhojakata, and there, O king of unfading glory, a fierce encounter took place between him and the king of that city for two whole days. But the son of Madri, vanquishing the invincible Bhismaka, then defeated in battle the king of Kosala and the ruler of the territories lying on the banks of the Venwa, as also the Kantarakas and the kings of the eastern Kosalas. The hero then defeating both the Natakeyas and the Heramvaks in battle, and subjugating the country of Marudha, reduced Munjagrama by sheer strength. And the son of Pandu then vanquished the mighty monarchs of the Nachinas and the Arvukas and the various forest king of that part of the country. Endued with great strength the hero then reduced to subjection king Vatadhipa. And defeating in battle the Pulindas, the hero then marched southward. And the younger brother of Nakula then fought for one whole day with the king of Pandrya. The long-armed hero having vanquished that monarch marched further to the south. And then he beheld the celebrated caves of Kishkindhya and in that region fought for seven days with the monkey-kings Mainda and Dwivida. Those illustrious kings however, without being tired an the encounter, were gratified with Sahadeva. And joyfully addressing the Kuru prince, they said,--'O tiger among the sons of Pandu, go hence, taking with the tribute from us all. Let the mission of the king Yudhishthira the just possessed of great intelligence, be accomplished without hindrance. And taking jewels and gems from them all, the hero marched towards the city of Mahishmati, and there that bull of men did battle with king Nila. The battle that took place between king Nila and the mighty Sahadeva the son of Pandu, that slayer of hostile heroes, was fierce and terrible. And the encounter was an exceedingly bloody one, and the life of the hero himself was exposed to great risk, for the god Agni himself assisted king Nila in that fight. Then the cars, heroes, elephants, and the soldiers in their coats of mail of Sahadeva's army all appeared to be on fire. And beholding this the prince of the Kuru race became exceedingly anxious. And, O Janamejaya, at sight of this the hero could not resolve upon what he should do.
Janamejaya said,--O regenerate one, why was it that the god Agni become hostile in battle unto Sahadeva, who was fighting simply for the accomplishment of a sacrifice (and therefore, for the gratification of Agni himself)?
Vaisampayana said,--'It is said, O Janamejaya, that the god Agni while residing in Mahishmati, earned the reputation of a lover. King Nila had a daughter who was exceedingly beautiful. She used always to stay near the sacred fire of her father, causing it to blaze up with vigour. And it so happened that king Nila's fire, even if fanned, would not blaze up till agitated by the gentle breath of that girl's fair lips. And it was said in King Nila's palace and in the house of all his subjects that the god Agni desired that beautiful girl for his bride. And it so happened that he was accepted by the girl herself. One day the deity assuming the form of a Brahmana, was happily enjoying the society of the fair one, when he was discovered by the king. And the virtuous king thereupon ordered the Brahmana to be punished according to law. At this the illustrious deity flamed up in wrath. And beholding this, the king wondered much and bent his head low on the ground. And after some time the king bowing low bestowed the daughter of his upon the god Agni, disguised as a Brahmana. And the god Vibhabasu (Agni) accepting that fair-browed daughter of king Nila, became gracious unto that monarch. And Agni, the illustrious gratifier of all desires also asked the monarch to beg a boon of him. And the king begged that his troops might never be struck with panic while engaged in battle. And from that time, O king, those monarchs who from ignorance of this, desire to subjugate king Nila's city, are consumed by Hutasana (Agni). And from that time, O perpetuator of the Kuru race, the girls of the city of Mahishmati became rather unacceptable to others (as wives). And Agni by his boon granted them sexual liberty, so that the women of that town always roam about at will, each unbound to a particular husband. And, O bull of the Bharata race, from that time the monarchs (of other countries) forsake this city for fear of Agni. And the virtuous Sahadeva, beholding his troops afflicted with fear and surrounded by flames of fire, himself stood there immovable as a mountain. And purifying himself and touching water, the hero (Sahadeva) then addressed Agni, the god that sanctifieth everything, in these words,--
'I bow unto thee, O thou whose track is always marked with smoke. These my exertions are all for thee. O thou sanctifier of all, thou art the mouth of the gods and thou art Sacrifice personified. Thou art called Pavaka because thou sanctifiest everything, and thou art Havyavahana, because thou carriest the clarified butter that is poured on thee. The Veda have sprung for ministering unto thee, and, therefore, thou art called Jataveda. Chief of the gods as thou art, thou art called Chitrabhanu, Anala, Vibhavasu, Hutasana, Jvalana, Sikhi, Vaiswanara, Pingesa, Plavanga, Bhuritejah. Thou art he from whom Kumara (Kartikeya) had his origin; thou art holy; thou art called Rudragarva and Hiranyakrit. Let thee, O Agni, grant me energy, let Vayu grant me life, let Earth grant me nourishment and strength, and let Water grant me prosperity. O Agni, thou who art the first cause of the waters, thou who art of great purity, thou for ministering unto whom the Vedas have sprung, thou who art the foremost of the deities, thou who art their mouth, O purify me by thy truth. Rishis and Brahmanas, Deities and Asuras pour clarified butter every day, according to the ordinance into thee during sacrifices. Let the rays of truth emanating from thee, while thou exhibitest thyself in those sacrifices, purify me. Smoke-bannered as thou art and possessed of flames, thou great purifier from all sins born of Vayu and ever present as thou art in all creatures, O purify me by the rays of thy truth. Having cleansed myself thus cheerfully, O exalted one, do I pray unto thee. O Agni, grant me now contentment and prosperity, and knowledge and gladness.
Vaisampayana continued.--'He that will pour clarified butter into Agni reciting these mantras, will ever be blessed with prosperity, and having his soul under complete control will also be cleansed from all his sins.
"Sahadeva, addressing Agni again, said,--'O carrier of the sacrificial libations, it behoveth thee not to obstruct a sacrifice!' Having said this, that tiger among men--the son of Madri--spreading some kusa grass on earth sat down in expectation of the (approaching) fire and in front of those terrified and anxious troops of his. And Agni, too, like the ocean that never transgresseth its continents, did not pass over his head. On the other hand approaching Sahadeva quietly and addressing that prince of the Kuru race, Agni that god of men gave him every assurance and said,--'O thou of the Kuru race, rise up from this posture. O rise up, I was only trying thee. I know all thy purpose, as also those of the son of Dharma (Yudhisthira). But, O best of the Bharata race, as long as there is a descendant of king Nila's line, so long should this town be protected by me. I will, however O son of Pandu, gratify the desires of thy heart. And at these words of Agni, O bull of the Bharata race, the son of Madri rose up with a cheerful heart, and joining his hands and bending his head worshipped that god of fire, sanctifier of all beings. And at last, after Agni had disappeared, king Nila came there, and at the command of that deity, worshipped with due rites Sahadeva, that tiger among men--that master of battle. And Sahadeva accepted that worship and made him pay tribute. And having brought king Nila under his sway thus, the victorious son of Madri then went further towards the south. The long-armed hero then brought the king of Tripura of immeasurable energy under his sway. And next turning his forces against the Paurava kingdom, he vanquished and reduced to subjection the monarch thereof. And the prince, after this, with great efforts brought Akriti, the king of Saurashtra and preceptor of the Kausikas under his sway. The virtuous prince, while staying in the kingdom of Saurashtra sent an ambassador unto king Rukmin of Bhishmaka within the territories of Bhojakata, who, rich in possessions and intelligence, was the friend of Indra himself. And the monarch along with his son, remembering their relationship with Krishna, cheerfully accepted, O king, the sway of the son of Pandu. And the master of battle then, having exacted jewels and wealth from king Rukmin, marched further to the south. And, endued with great energy and great strength, the hero then, reduced to subjection, Surparaka and Talakata, and the Dandakas also. The Kuru warrior then vanquished and brought under his subjection numberless kings of the Mlechchha tribe living on the sea coast, and the Nishadas and the cannibals and even the Karnapravarnas, and those tribes also called the Kalamukhas who were a cross between human beings and Rakshasas, and the whole of the Cole mountains, and also Surabhipatna, and the island called the Copper island, and the mountain called Ramaka. The high-souled warrior, having brought under subjection king Timingila, conquered a wild tribe known by the name of the Kerakas who were men with one leg. The son of Pandu also conquered the town of Sanjayanti and the country of the Pashandas and the Karahatakas by means of his messengers alone, and made all of them pay tributes to him. The hero brought under his subjection and exacted tributes from the Paundrayas and the Dravidas along with the Udrakeralas and the Andhras and the Talavanas, the Kalingas and the Ushtrakarnikas, and also the delightful city of Atavi and that of the Yavanas. And, O king of kings, that slayer of all foes, the virtuous and intelligent son of Madri having arrived at the sea-shore, then despatched with great assurance messengers unto the illustrious Vibhishana, the grandson of Pulastya. And the monarch willingly accepted the sway of the son of Pandu, for that intelligent and exalted king regarded it all as the act of Time. And he sent unto the son of Pandu diverse kinds of jewels and gems, and sandal and also wood, and many celestial ornaments, and much costly apparel, and many valuable pearls. And the intelligent Sahadeva, accepting them all, returned to his own kingdom.
"Thus it was, O king, that slayer of all foes, having vanquished by conciliation and war numerous kings and having also made them pay tribute, came back to his own city. The bull of the Bharata race, having presented the whole of that wealth unto king Yudhisthira the just regarded himself, O Janamejaya, as crowned with success and continued to live happily."