The Mahabharata Home
"Janamejaya said, 'When Yudhishthira heard that Bhishma, the high-souled son of Ganga, the foremost of all wielders of weapons, the grandsire of the Bharatas, the head of all the kings, the rival of Vrihaspati in intellect, resembling the ocean in gravity, the mountains of Himavat in calmness, the Creator himself in nobleness, and the sun in energy, and capable of slaying hostile hosts like great Indra himself by showering his arrows, was installed, till his removal by death, in the command of the Kuru army on the eve of the great sacrifice of battle, terrific in its mien and capable of making one's hairs stand on their ends, what did that mighty-armed son of Pandu, that foremost of wielders of weapons, say? What also did Bhima and Arjuna say? And what too did Krishna say?'
"Vaisampayana said, 'When news was received of this, Yudhishthira endued with great intelligence and well-acquainted with what should be done in view of dangers and calamities summoned all his brothers and also the eternal Vasudeva (to his presence). And that foremost of speakers then said in a mild voice, 'Make your rounds among the soldiers, and remain carefully, casing yourselves in mail. Our first encounter will be with our grandsire. Look ye for (seven) leaders for the seven Akshauhinis of my troops.'
"Krishna said, 'Those words of grave import, which, O bull of the Bharata race, it behoveth thee to utter on an occasion like this, have, indeed, been uttered by thee. Even this, O mighty armed one, is what I also like. Let therefore, that be done which should be done next. Let, indeed, seven leaders be selected for thy army.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Summoning then those warriors eager for battle, viz., Drupada and Virata, and that bull of Sini's race, and Dhrishtadyumna the prince of Panchala, and king Dhrishtaketu, and prince Shikhandi of Panchala, and Sahadeva, the ruler of the Magadhas, Yudhishthira duly appointed them in the command of his seven divisions. And above them all was placed in command of all the troops that Dhrishtadyumna who had sprung from the blazing (sacrificial) fire for the destruction of Drona. And Dhananjaya, of curly hair, was made the leader of all those high-souled leaders. And handsome Janardana endued with great intelligence, he who was the younger brother of Sankarshana, was chosen as the guide of Arjuna and the driver of his steeds.'
"And beholding that a very destructive battle was about to take place, there came, O king, into the Pandava encampment, Halayudha, accompanied by Akrura, and Gada and Samva, and Uddhava, and Rukmini's son (Pradyumna), and Ahuka's sons, and Charudeshna, and others. And surrounded and guarded by those foremost warriors of the Vrishni race, resembling a herd of mighty tigers, like Vasava in the midst of the Maruts, the mighty-armed and handsome Rama, attired in garments of blue silk and resembling the peak of the Kailasa mountain, and endued with the sportive gait of the lion and possessed of eyes having their ends reddened with drink, came there (at such a time). And beholding him, king Yudhishthira the Just, and Kesava of great effulgence, and Pritha's son Vrikodara of terrible deeds, and (Arjuna) the wielder of Gandiva, and all the other kings that were, rose from their seats. And they all offered worship unto Halayudha as he came to that place. And the Pandava king touched Rama's hands with his own. And that chastiser of foes, Halayudha, in return, accosting them all with Vasudeva at their head, and saluting (respectfully) both Virata and Drupada who were senior in years, sat down on the same seat with Yudhishthira. And after all the kings had taken their seats, Rohini's son, casting his eyes on Vasudeva, began to speak. And he said, 'This fierce and terrible slaughter is inevitable. It is, without doubt, a decree
of fate, and I think that it cannot be averted. Let me hope, however, to behold all of you, with your friends, come safely out of this strife, with sound bodies and perfectly hale. Without doubt, all the Kshatriyas of the world that are assembled together have their hour come. A fierce melee covering with a mire of flesh and blood is sure to take place. I said unto Vasudeva repeatedly in private, 'O slayer of Madhu, unto those that bear equal relationship to us, observe thou an equal behaviour. As are the Pandavas to us, even so is king Duryodhana. Therefore, give him also the same aid. Indeed, he repeatedly soliciteth it. For thy sake, however, the slayer of Madhu regarded not my words. Looking at Dhananjaya, he hath with his whole heart, been devoted to your cause. Even this is what I certainly think, viz., that the victory of the Pandavas is sure, for Vasudeva's wish, O Bharata, is even so. As regards myself, I dare not cast my eyes on the world without Krishna (on my side). It is for this that I follow whatever Krishna seeketh to achieve. Both of these heroes, well-skilled in encounter with the mace, are my disciples. My affection, therefore, for Bhima is equal to that for king Duryodhana. For these reasons, I shall now repair to the tirtha of the Saraswati for ablutions, for I shall not be able to behold with indifference the destruction of the Kauravas.
"Having said this, the mighty-armed Rama, obtaining the leave of the Pandavas, and making the slayer of Madhu desist (from following him farther), set out on his journey for the sacred waters.'"
Next: Section CLIX