The Mahabharata Home
(Jamvu-khanda Nirmana Parva)
OM! HAVING BOWED down to Narayana, and Nara, the most exalted of male beings, and also to the goddess Saraswati, must the word 'Jaya' be uttered.
Janamejaya said,--"How did those heroes, the Kurus, the Pandavas, and the Somakas, and the high-souled kings assembled together from various countries, fight?"
Vaisampayana said,--"Listen thou, O lord of the earth, how those heroes,--the Kurus, the Pandavas, and the Somakas,--fought on the sacred plain of the Kurukshetra. 1 Entering Kurukshetra, the Pandavas endued with great might, along with the Somakas, advanced, desirous of victory, against the Kauravas. Accomplished in the study of the Vedas, all (of them) took great delight in battle. Expectant of success in battle, with their troops (they) faced the fight. Approaching the army of Dhritarashtra's son, those (warriors) invincible in battle 2 stationed themselves with their troops on the western part (of the plain), their faces turned towards the east. Yudhishthira, the son of Kunti, caused tents by thousands to be set up according to rule, beyond the region called Samantapanchaka. The whole earth seemed then to be empty, divested of horses and men, destitute of cars and elephants, and with only the children and the old left (at home). From the whole area of Jamvudwipa over which the sun sheds his rays, 3 was collected that force, O best of kings. Men of all races, 4 assembled together, occupied an area extending for many Yojanas over districts, rivers, hills, and woods. That bull among men, king Yudhishthira, ordered excellent food and other articles of enjoyment for all of them along with their animals. And Yudhishthira fixed diverse watch-words for them; so that one saying this should be known as belonging to the Pandavas. And that descendant of Kuru's race also settled names and badges for all of them for recognition during time of battle.
"Beholding the standard-top of Pritha's son, the high-souled son of
[paragraph continues] Dhritarashtra, with a white umbrella held over his head, in the midst of a thousand elephants, and surrounded by his century of brothers, began with all the kings (on his side) to array his troops against the son of Pandu. Seeing Duryodhana, the Panchalas who took delight in battle, were filled with joy and blew their loud-sounding conches and cymbals of sweet sounds. Beholding those troops so delighted, Pandu's son and Vasudeva of great energy had their hearts filled with joy. And those tigers among men, Vasudeva and Dhananjaya, seated on one car, having felt great joy, both blew their celestial conches. And hearing the blare of Gigantea and the loud blast of Theodotes belonging unto the two, the combatants ejected urine and excreta. As other animals are filled with fear on hearing the voice of the roaring lion, even so became that force upon hearing those blasts. A frightful dust arose and nothing could be seen, for the sun himself, suddenly enveloped by it, seemed to have set. 1 A black cloud poured a shower of flesh and blood over the troops all around. All this seemed extraordinary. A wind rose there, bearing along the earth myriads of stony nodules, and afflicting therewith the combatants by hundreds and thousands. (For all that), O monarch, both armies, filled with joy, stood addrest for battle, on Kurukshetra like two agitated oceans. Indeed, that encounter of the two armies was highly wonderful, like that of two oceans when the end of the Yuga is arrived. The whole earth was empty, having only the children and the old left (at home), in consequence of that large army mustered by the Kauravas. 2 Then the Kurus, the Pandavas, and the Somakas made certain covenants, and settled the rules, O bull of Bharata's race, regarding the different kinds of combat. Persons equally circumstanced must encounter each other, fighting fairly. And if having fought fairly the combatants withdraw (without fear of molestation), even that would be gratifying to us. Those who engaged in contests of words should be fought against with words. Those that left the ranks should never be slain. 3 A car-warrior should have a car-warrior for his antagonist; he on the neck of an elephant should have a similar combatant for his foe; a horse should be met by a horse, and a foot-soldier, O Bharata; should be met by a foot-soldier. Guided by considerations of fitness, willingness, daring and might, one should strike another, giving notice. No one should strike another that is unprepared 4 or panic-struck. One engaged with another, one seeking quarter, one retreating, one whose weapon is rendered unfit, uncased in mail, should never be struck. Car-drivers, animals (yoked to cars or carrying weapons) men
engaged in the transport of weapons, 1 players on drums and blowers of conches should never be struck. Having made these covenants, the Kurus, and the Pandavas, and the Somakas wondered much, gazing at each other. And having stationed (their forces thus), those bulls among men, those high-souled ones, with their troops, became glad at heart, their joy being reflected on their countenances."
1:1 Tapas-kshetra because Kuru, the common ancestor of the rival houses, performed his ascetic austerities there. Since Kuru's time, many ascetics took up their abode there.
1:2 Some texts have Duddharsham for Durddharshas.
1:3 Literally, "gives heat".
1:4 'Varna' is used here in the sense of races and not castes.
2:1 This sloka is variously read. For bhauman in the first line some texts read bhimam which I have adopted. For sahasa in the second line some texts have rajasa, and then aditye (locative) for 'adityas'.
2:2 The Bombay text is evidently faulty here; it repeats the second half of the 7th sloka, making the second half of the 25th the first half of the 24th.
2:3 i.e., stragglers should not be slain.
2:4 Literally, "confiding."
3:1 The Bombay text has Castropanayishu; the Bengal texts have Castropojibishu.
Next: Section II