The Mahabharata Home
"Vaisampayana said, 'Hearing these words of Janardana, king Yudhishthira the Just, of virtuous soul, addressed his brothers in the presence of Kesava and said, 'Ye have heard all that had happened in the court of the assembled Kurus. Ye have also understood the words uttered by Kesava. Ye, best of men, draw up, therefore, my troops now in battle-array in which they are to fight. Here are seven Akshauhinis of troops assembled for our victory. Hear the names of those seven celebrated warriors that would lead those seven Akshauhinis. They are Drupada, and Virata, and Dhristadyumna, and Sikhandin, and Satyaki, Chekitana, and Bhimasena of great energy. Those heroes will be the leaders of my troops. All of them are conversant with the Vedas. Endued with great bravery, all of them have practised excellent vows. Possessed of modesty, all of them are conversant with policy, and accomplished in war. Well-skilled in arrows and weapons, all of them are competent in the use of every kind of weapon. Tell us now, O Sahadeva, O son of Kuru's race, who that warrior, is conversant with all kinds of battle-array, that may become the leader of these seven and may also withstand in battle Bhishma who is like unto a fire having arrows for its flames. Give us thy own opinion, O tiger among men, as who is fit to be our generalissimo.'
"Sahadeva said, 'Closely related to us, sympathising with us in our distress, endued with great might, conversant with every virtue, skilled in weapons, and irresistible in battle, the mighty king of the Matsyas, Virata, relying upon whom we hope to recover our share of the kingdom, will be able to bear in battle both Bhishma and all those mighty car-warriors.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'After Sahadeva had said this, eloquent Nakula then said these words, 'He that in years, in knowledge of scriptures, in perseverance, in family and birth, is respectable; he that is endued with modesty, strength, and prosperity; he that is well-versed in all branches of learning; he that studied the science of weapons (with the sage Bharadwaja); he, who is irresistible and firmly devoted to truth; he that always challenges Drona and mighty Bhishma; he that belongs to one of the foremost of royal houses; he that is a famous leader of hosts; he that resembles a tree of hundred branches in consequence of sons and grandsons that surround him; that king, who, with his wife, performed, moved by wrath, the austerest of penances for the destruction of Drona; that hero, who is an ornament of assemblies; that bull among monarchs who always cherishes us like a father; that father-in-law of ours, Drupada, should be our generalissimo. It is my opinion that he will be able to withstand both Drona and Bhishma rushing to battle, for that king is the friend of Angira's descendant Drona and is conversant with celestial weapons.'
'After the two sons of Madri had thus expressed their individual opinions, Vasava's son, Savyasachin, who was equal to Vasava himself, said these words, 'This celestial person of the hue of fire and endued with mighty arms, who sprang into life through the power of ascetic penances and the gratification of sages; who issued from the sacrificial fire-hole armed with bow and sword, accoutred in armour of steel, mounted on a car unto which were yoked excellent steeds of the best breed, and the clatter of whose car-wheels was as deep as the roar of mighty masses of clouds; this hero endued with that energy and strength and resembling the very lion in his frame of body and prowess, and possessed of leonine shoulders, arms, chest, and voice like the lion's roar; this hero of great effulgence; this warrior of handsome brows, fine teeth, round cheeks, long arms, of stout make, excellent thighs, large expansive eyes, excellent legs, and strong frame; this prince who is incapable of being penetrated by weapons of any kind, and who looks like an elephant with rent temples; this Dhrishtadyumna, truthful in speech, and with passions under control, was born for the destruction of Drona. It is this Dhrishtadyumna, I think, that will be able to bear Bhishma's arrows which strike with the vehemence of the thunderbolt and look like snakes with blazing mouths, which resemble the messengers of Yama in speed, and fall like flames of fire (consuming everything they touch), and which were borne before by Rama alone in battle. I do not, O king, see the man except Dhrishtadyumna, who is able to withstand Bhishma of great vows. This is just what I think. Endued with great lightness of hand and conversant with all the modes of warfare, accoutred in coat of mail that is incapable of being penetrated by weapons, this handsome hero, resembling the leader of a herd of elephants, is according to my opinion, fit to be our generalissimo.'
"Bhima then said, 'That son of Drupada, Sikhandin, who is born for the destruction of Bhishma, as is said, 'O king, by the sages and Siddhas assembled together, whose form on the field of battle, while displaying celestial weapons, will be seen by men to resemble that of the illustrious Rama himself, I see not, O king, the person who is able to pierce with weapons that Sikhandin, when he is stationed for battle on his car, accoutred in mail. Except the heroic Sikhandin, there is no other warrior who is able to slay Bhishma in single combat. It is for this, O king, that I think Sikhandin is fit to be our generalissimo.'
"Yudhishthira said, 'O sire, the strength and weakness, might and feebleness, of everything in the universe, and the intentions of every person here, are well-known to virtuous Kesava. Skilled or unskilled in weapons, old or young, let him be the leader of my forces, who may be indicated by Krishna of Dasarha's race. Even he is the root of our success or defeat. In him are our lives, our kingdom, our prosperity and adversity, our happiness and misery. Even he is the Ordainer and Creator. In him is established the fruition of our desires. Let him, therefore, be the leader of our host, who may be named by Krishna. Let
that foremost of speakers say, for the night approacheth. Having selected our leader, worshipped our weapons with offerings of flowers and perfumes, we will, at day-break, under Krishna's orders march to the field of battle!'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Hearing these words of the intelligent king, Yudhishthira the Just, the lotus-eyed Krishna said, eyeing Dhananjaya, the white, O king, I fully approve of all those powerful warriors whom ye have named for becoming the leaders of thy troops. All of them are competent to withstand thy foes. Indeed, they can frighten Indra himself in great battle, let alone the covetous and wicked-minded sons of Dhritarashtra. O thou of mighty arms, for thy good I made great efforts to prevent the battle by bringing about peace. By that we have been freed from the debt we owed to virtue. Fault-finding persons will not be able to reproach us for anything. Foolish Duryodhana, destitute of understanding, regardeth himself as skilled in weapons, and though really weak thinketh himself to be possessed of strength. Array thy troops soon, for slaughter is the only means by which they can be made to yield to our demands. Indeed, the sons of Dhritarashtra will never be able to keep their ground when they will behold Dhananjaya with Yuyudhana as his second, and Abhimanyu, and the five sons of Draupadi, and Virata, and Drupada, and the other kings of fierce prowess,--all lords of Akshauhinis. Our army is possessed of great strength, and is invincible and incapable of being withstood. Without doubt, it will slay the Dhartarashtra host. As regards our leader, I would name that chastiser of foes, Dhrishtadyumna.'"
Next: Section CLII