The Mahabharata Home
"Vaisampayana said, 'Marching out of the city, those heroic smiters the Matsyas, arrayed in order of battle, overtook the Trigartas when the sun had passed the meridian. And both excited to fury and both desirous of having the king, the mighty Trigartas and the Matsyas, irrepressible in battle, sent up loud roars. And then the terrible and infuriate elephants ridden over by the skilful combatants of both sides were urged on with spiked clubs and hooks. And the encounter, O king, that took place when the sun was low in the horizon, between the infantry and cavalry and chariots and elephants of both parties, was like unto that of old between the gods and the Asuras, terrible and fierce and sufficient for making one's hair stand on end and calculated to increase the population of Yama's kingdom. And as the combatants rushed against one another, smiting and slashing, thick clouds of dust began to rise, so that nothing could be discovered. And covered with the dust raised by the contending armies, birds began to drop down on the earth. And the sun himself disappeared behind the thick cloud of arrows shot, and the firmament looked bright as if with myriads of the fireflies. And shifting their bows, the staves of which were decked with gold, from one hand to another, those heroes began to strike each other down, discharging their arrows right and left. And cars encountered cars, and foot-soldiers fought with foot-soldiers, and horse-men with horsemen, and elephants with mighty elephants. And they furiously encountered one another with swords and axes, bearded darts and javelins, and iron clubs. And although, O king, those mighty-armed warriors furiously assailed one another in that conflict, yet neither party succeeded in prevailing over the other. And severed heads, some with beautiful noses, some with upper lips deeply gashed, some decked with ear-rings, and some divided with wounds about the well-trimmed hair were seen rolling on the ground covered with dust. And soon the field of battle was overspread with the limbs of Kshatriya warriors, cut off by means of arrows and lying like trunks of Sala trees. And scattered over with heads decked in ear-rings, and sandal-besmeared arms looking like the bodies of snakes, the field of battle became exceedingly beautiful. And as cars encountered cars, and horsemen encountered horsemen, and foot-soldiers fought with
foot-soldiers, and elephants met with elephants, the frightful dust soon became drenched with torrents of blood. And some amongst the combatants began to swoon away, and the warriors began to fight reckless of consideration of humanity, friendship and relationship. And both their course and sight obstructed by the arrowy shower, vultures began to alight on the ground. But although those strong-armed combatants furiously fought with one another, yet the heroes of neither party succeeded in routing their antagonists. And Satanika having slain a full hundred of the enemy and Visalaksha full four hundred, both those mighty warriors penetrated into the heart of the great Trigarta host. And having entered into the thick of the Trigarta host, those famous and mighty heroes began to deprive their antagonists of their senses by causing a closer conflict to set in--a conflict, in which the combatants seized one another by the hair and tore one another with their nails. 1 And eyeing the point where the cars of the Trigartas had been mustered in strong numbers, those heroes at last directed their attack towards it. And that foremost of car-warriors, king Virata also, with Suryadatta in his van and Madiraksha in his rear, having destroyed in that conflict five hundred cars, eight hundred horses, and five warriors on great cars, displayed various skilful manoeuvres on his car on that field of battle. And at last the king came upon the ruler of the Trigartas mounted on a golden chariot. And those high-souled and powerful warriors, desirous of fighting, rushed roaring against each like two bulls in a cow-pen. Then that bull among men, irrepressible in battle, Susarman, the king of the Trigartas, challenged Matsya to a single combat on car. Then those warriors excited to fury rushed against each other on their cars and began to shower their arrows upon each other like clouds pouring torrents of rain. 2 And enraged with each other, those fierce warriors, both skilled in weapons, both wielding swords and darts and maces, then moved about (on the field of battle) assailing each other with whetted arrows. Then king Virata pierced Susarman with ten shafts and each of his four horses also with five shafts. And Susarman also, irresistible in battle and conversant with fatal weapons, pierced king of Matsya with fifty whetted shafts. And then, O mighty monarch, in consequence of the dust on the field of battle, the soldiers of both Susarman and Matsya's king could not distinguish one another.'"
58:1 Some differences of reading are noticeable here, for Yasaswinau some texts read Manaswinau, and for Vahusamravdhau-Vahusanrambhat; and for Nakha-naki--Ratha-rathi.
58:2 Some texts read Ghanabiva for Ghanarva. The latter is unquestionably better in form.
Next: Section XXXIII