The Mahabharata Home
"Vaisampayana said, 'After Kripa had thus been taken away, the invincible Drona of red steeds, taking up his bow to which he had already stringed an arrow, rushed towards Arjuna of white steeds. And beholding at no great distance from him the preceptor advancing on his golden car, Arjuna that foremost of victorious warriors, addressing Uttara, said, 'Blessed be thou, O friend, carry me before that warrior on whose high banner-top is seen a golden altar resembling a long flame of fire and decked with numerous flags placed around, and whose car is drawn by steeds that are red and large, exceedingly handsome and highly-trained, of face pleasant and of quiet mien, and like unto corals in colour and with faces of coppery hue, for that warrior is Drona with whom I desire to fight. Of long arms and endued with mighty energy possessed of strength and beauty of person, celebrated over all the worlds for his prowess, resembling Usanas himself in intelligence and Vrihaspati in knowledge of morality, he is conversant with the four Vedas and devoted to the practice of Brahmacharya virtues. O friend, the use of the celestial
weapons together with the mysteries of their withdrawal and the entire-science of weapons, always reside in him. Forgiveness, self-control, truth, abstention from injury, rectitude of conduct,--these and countless other virtues always dwell in that regenerate one. I desire to fight with that highly-blessed one on the field. Therefore, take me before the preceptor and carry me thither, O Uttara.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Thus addressed by Arjuna, Virata's son urged his steeds decked with gold towards the car of Bharadwaja's son. And Drona also rushed towards the impetuously advancing Partha, the son of Pandu,--that foremost of car-warriors,--like an infuriate elephant rushing towards an infuriate compeer. And the son of Bharadwaja then blew his conch whose blare resembled that of a hundred trumpets. And at that sound the whole army become agitated like the sea in a tempest. And beholding those excellent steeds red in hue mingling in battle with Arjuna's steeds of swan-like whiteness endued with the speed of the mind, all the spectators were filled with wonder. And seeing on the field of battle those car-warriors--the preceptor Drona and his disciple Partha--both endued with prowess, both invincible, both well-trained, both possessed of great energy and great strength, engaged with each other, that mighty host of the Bharatas began to tremble frequently. And that mighty car-warrior Partha, possessed of great prowess and filled with joy upon reaching Drona's car on his own, saluted the preceptor. And that slayer of hostile heroes, the mighty armed son of Kunti, then addressed Drona in an humble and sweet tone, saying, 'Having completed our exile in the woods, we are now desirous of avenging our wrongs. Even invincible in battle, it doth not behove thee to be angry with us. O sinless one, I will not strike thee unless thou strikest me first. Even this is my intention. It behoveth thee to act as thou choosest.' Thus addressed Drona discharged at him more than twenty arrows. But the light-handed Partha cut them off before they could reach him. And at this, the mighty Drona, displaying his lightness of hand in the use of weapons, covered Partha's car with a thousand arrows. And desirous of angering, Partha, that hero of immeasurable soul, then covered his steeds of silvery whiteness with arrows whetted on stone and winged with the feathers of the Kanka bird. And when the battle between Drona and Kiritin thus commenced, both of them discharging in the encounter arrows of blazing splendour, both well-known for their achievements, both equal to the wind itself in speed, both conversant with celestial weapons, and both endued with mighty energy, began shooting clouds of arrows to bewilder the royal Kshatriyas. And all the warriors that were assembled there were filled with wonder at sight of all this. And they all admired Drona who quickly shot clouds of arrows exclaiming,--Well done! Well done! Indeed, who else save Falguna, is worthy of fighting with Drona in battle? Surely the duties of a Kshatriya are stern, for Arjuna fighteth with even his own preceptor!--And it was thus that they who stood on the field of battle said unto one another. And inflamed with
fire, those mighty-armed heroes standing before other, and each incapable of overcoming the other, covered each other with arrowy showers. And Bharadwaja's son, waxing worth, drew his large and unconquerable bow plated on the back with gold, and pierced Falguna with his arrows. And discharging at Arjuna's car innumerable whetted arrows possessed of solar effulgence, he entirely shrouded the light of the sun. And that great car-warrior of mighty arms, violently pierced Pritha's son with keen-edged shafts even as the clouds shower upon a mountain. Then taking up that foremost of bows, the Gandiva, destructive of foes and capable of withstanding the greatest strain, the impetuous son of Pandu cheerfully discharged countless shafts of various kinds adorned with gold, and that powerful warrior also baffled in a moment Drona's arrowy shower by means of those shafts shot from his own bow. And at this the spectators wondered greatly. And the handsome Dhananjaya, the son of Pritha, ranging on his car, displayed his weapons on all sides at the same time. And the entire welkin covered with his arrows, became one wide expanse of shade. And at this Drona become invisible like the sun enveloped in mist. And shrouded by those excellent arrows on all sides, Drona looked like a mountain on fire. And beholding his own car completely enveloped by the arrows of Pritha's son, Drona that ornament of battle, bent his terrible and foremost of bows whose noise was as loud as that of the clouds. And drawing that first of weapons, which was like unto a circle of fire, he discharged a cloud of keen-edged shafts. And then there were heard on the field loud sounds like the splitting of bamboos set on fire. And that warrior of immeasurable soul, shooting from his bow arrows furnished with golden wings, covered all sides, shrouding the very light of the sun. And those arrows with knots well-peeled off, and furnished with golden wings, looked like flocks of birds in the sky. And the arrows discharged by Drona from his bow, touching one another at the wings, appeared like one endless line in the sky. And those heroes, thus discharging their arrows decked with gold, seemed to cover the sky with showers of meteors. And furnished with feathers of the Kanka bird, those arrows looked like rows of cranes ranging in the autumnal sky. And the fierce and terrible encounter that took place between the illustrious Drona and Arjuna resembled that between Virata and Vasava of old. And discharging arrows at each other from bows drawn at their fullest stretch, they resembled two elephants assailing each other with their tusks. And those wrathful warriors--those ornaments of battle--fighting strictly according to established usage, displayed in that conflict various celestial weapons in due order. Then that foremost of victorious men, Arjuna, by means of his keen shafts resisted the whetted arrows shot by that best of preceptors. And displaying before the spectators various weapons, that hero of terrible prowess covered the sky with various kinds of arrows. And beholding that tiger among men, Arjuna, endued with fierce energy and intent upon striking him, that foremost of warriors and best of preceptors (from affection) began to
fight with him playfully by means of smooth and straight arrows. And Bharadwaja's son fought on with Falguna, resisting with his own the celestial weapons shot by the former. And the fight that took place between those enraged lions among men, incapable of bearing each other, was like unto encounter between the gods and the Danavas. And the son of Pandu repeatedly baffled with his own, the Aindra, the Vayavya, and the Agneya weapons that were shot by Drona. And discharging keen shafts, those mighty bowmen, by their arrowy showers completely covered the sky and made a wide expanse of shade. And then the arrows shot by Arjuna, falling on the bodies of hostile warriors, produced the crash of thunderbolt. O king, elephants, cars, and horses, bathed in blood, looked like Kinsuka trees crowned with flowers. And in that encounter between Drona and Arjuna, beholding the field covered with arms decked with bangles, and gorgeously-attired car-warriors, and coats of mail variegated with gold, and with banners lying scattered all about, and with warriors slain by means of Partha's arrows, the Kuru host became panic-stricken. And shaking their bows capable of bearing much strain, those combatants began to shroud and weaken each other with their shafts. And, O bull of the Bharata race, the encounter that took place between Drona and Kunti's son was dreadful in the extreme and resembled that between Vali and Vasava. And staking their very lives, they began to pierce each other straight arrows shot from their fully-stretched bow-strings. And a voice was heard in the sky applauding Drona, and saying, 'Difficult is the feat performed by Drona, inasmuch as he fighteth with Arjuna,--that grinder of foes, that warrior endued with mighty energy, of firm grasp, and invincible in battle,--that conqueror of both celestials and Daityas, that foremost of all car-warriors.' And beholding Partha's infallibility, training, fleetness of hand, and the range also of Arjuna's, arrows, Drona became amazed. And, O bull of the Bharata race, lifting up his excellent bow, the Gandiva the unforbearing Partha drew it now with one hand and now with another shot an arrowy shower. And beholding that shower resembling a flight of locusts, the spectators wondering applauded him exclaiming, 'Excellent'! 'Excellent'! And so ceaselessly did he shoot his arrows that the very air was unable to penetrate the thick array. And the spectators could not perceive any interval between the taking up of the arrows and letting them off. And in that fierce encounter characterised by lightness of hand in the discharge of weapons, Partha began to shoot his arrows more quickly than before. And then all at once hundreds and thousands of straight arrows fell upon Drona's car. And, O bull of the Bharata race, beholding Drona completely covered by the wielder of the Gandiva with his arrows, the Kuru army set up exclamation of 'Oh'! and 'Alas'! And Maghavat, together with those Gandharvas and Apsaras that have come there, applauded the fleetness of Partha's hand. And that mighty car-warrior, the preceptor's son, then resisted the Pandva with a mighty array of cars. And although enraged with Arjuna, yet Aswatthaman
mentally admired that feat of the high-souled son of Pritha. And waxing wroth, he rushed towards Partha, and discharged at him an arrowy shower like a heavy down-pour by the cloud. And turning his steeds towards Drona's son, Partha gave Drona an opportunity to leave the field. And thereupon the latter, wounded in that terrible encounter, and his mail and banner gone sped away by the aid of swift horses.'"
Next: Section LIX