The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, 'The wheel of time revolves with its divisions, viz., with Kalas and Kasthas and Muhurtas and days and fortnights and months and constellations and planets and seasons and years. In consequence of their fractional excesses and the deviations of also of the heavenly bodies, there is an increase of two months in every five years. It seems to me that calculating this wise, there would be an excess of five months and twelve nights in thirteen years. Everything, therefore, that the sons of Pandu had promised, hath been exactly fulfilled by them. Knowing this to be certain, Vibhatsu hath made his appearance. All of them are high-souled and fully conversant with the meanings of the scriptures. How would they deviate from virtue that have Yudhishthira for their guide? The sons of Kunti do not yield to temptation. They have achieved a difficult feat. If they had coveted the possession of their kingdom by unfair means, then those descendants of the Kuru race would have sought to display their prowess at the time of the match at dice. Bound in bonds of virtue, they did not deviate from the duties of the Kshatriya order. He that will regard them to have behaved falsely will surely meet with defeat. The sons of Pritha would prefer death to falsehood. When the time, however, comes, those bulls among men--the Pandava's--endued with energy like that of Sikra, would not give up what is theirs even if it is defended by the wielder himself of the thunderbolt. We shall have to oppose in battle the foremost of all wielders of weapons. Therefore, let such advantageous arrangements as have the sanction of the good and the honest be now made without loss of time so that our possessions may not be appropriated by the foe. O king of kings, O Kaurava, I have never seen a battle in which one of the parties could say,--we are sure to win. When a battle occurs, there must be victory or defeat, prosperity or adversity. Without doubt, a party to a battle must have either of the two. Therefore, O king of kings, whether a battle be now proper or not consistent with virtue or not, make thy arrangements soon, for Dhananjaya is at hand.'
"Duryodhana said, 'I will not, O grandsire, give back the Pandavas their kingdom. Let every preparation, therefore, for battle be made without delay.'
"Bhishma said, 'Listen to what I regard as proper, if it pleases thee. I should always say what is for thy good, O Kaurava. Proceed thou towards the capital, without loss of time, taking with thee a fourth part of the army. And let another fourth march, escorting the kine. With half the troops we will fight the Pandava. Myself and Drona, and Karna and Aswatthaman and Kripa will resolutely withstand Vibhatsu, or the king of the Matsyas, or Indra himself, if he approaches. Indeed, we will withstand any of these like the bank withstanding the surging sea.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'These words spoken by the high-souled
[paragraph continues] Bhishma were acceptable to them, and the king of the Kauravas acted accordingly without delay. And having sent away the king and then the kine, Bhishma began to array the soldiers in order of battle. And addressing the preceptor, he said, 'O preceptor, stand thou in the centre, and let Aswatthaman stand on the left, and let the wise Kripa, son of Saradwata, defend the right wing, and let Karna of the Suta caste, clad in mail, stand in the van. I will stand in the rear of the whole army, protecting it from that point.'"
Next: Section LIII