The Mahabharata Home
Dhritarashtra said,--"Beholding our ten and one Akshauhinis arrayed in order of battle, how did Yudhishthira, the son of Pandu, make his counter-array with his forces smaller in number? How did Kunti's son, O Sanjaya, form his counter-array against that Bhishma who was acquainted with all kinds of arrays, viz., human, celestial, Gandharva, and Asura?"
Sanjaya said,--"Seeing the Dhritarashtra divisions arrayed in order of battle, Pandu's son of virtuous soul, king Yudhishthira the just, addressed Dhananjaya, saying,--'Men are informed from the words of that great Rishi Vrihaspati that the few must be made to fight by condensing them, while the many may be extended according to pleasure. In encounters of the few with the many, the array to be formed should be the needle-mouthed one. Our troops compared with the enemy's are few. Keeping in view this precept of the great Rishi, array our troops, O son of Pandu.' Hearing this, that son of Pandu answered king Yudhishthira the just, saying,--That immovable array known by the name of Vajra, which was designed by the wielder of the thunder-bolt,--that invincible array is the one that I will make for thee, O best of kings. He who is like the bursting tempest, he who is incapable of being borne in battle by the foe, that Bhima the foremost of smiters, will fight at our head. That foremost of men, conversant with all the appliances of battle, becoming our leader, will fight
in the van, crushing the energy of the foe. That foremost of smiters, viz., Bhima, beholding whom all the hostile warriors headed by Duryodhana will retreat in panic like smaller animals beholding the lion, all of us, our fears dispelled, will seek his shelter as if he were a wall, like the celestial seeking the shelter of Indra. The man breathes not in the world who would bear to cast his eyes upon that bull among men, Vrikodara of fierce deeds, when he is angry.'--Having said this, Dhananjaya of mighty arms did as he said. And Phalguni, quickly disposing his troops in battle-array, proceeded (against the foe). And the mighty army of the Pandavas beholding the Kuru army move, looked like the full, immovable, and quickly rolling 1 current of Ganga. And Bhimasena, and Dhrishtadyumna endued with great energy, and Nakula, and Sahadeva, and king Dhrishtaketu, became the leaders of that force. And king Virata, surrounded by an Akshawhini of troops and accompanied by his brothers and sons, marched in their rear, protecting them from behind. The two sons of Madri, both endued with great effulgence, became the protectors of Bhima's wheels; while the (five) sons of Draupadi and the son of Subhadra all endued with great activity, protected (Bhima) from behind. And that mighty car-warrior, Dhrishtadyumna, the prince of Panchala, with those bravest of combatants and the foremost of car-warriors, viz., the Prabhadrakas, protected those princes from behind. And behind him was Sikhandin who (in his turn) was protected by Arjuna, and who, O bull of Bharata's race, advanced with concentrated attention for the destruction of Bhishma. Behind Arjuna was Yuyudhana of mighty strength; and the two princes of Panchala, viz., Yudhamanyu and Uttamaujas, became protectors of Arjuna's wheels, along with the Kekaya brothers, and Dhrishtaketu, and Chekitana of great valour--This Bhimasena, wielding his mace made of the hardest metal, and moving (on the field of battle) with fierce speed, can dry up the very ocean. And there also stay, with their counsellors looking on him. O king, the children 2 of Dhritarashtra.--Even this, O monarch, was what Vibhatsu said, pointing out the mighty Bhimasena (to Yudhishthira). 3 And while Partha was saying so, all the troops, O Bharata, worshipped him on the field of battle with gratulatory words. King Yudhishthira, the son of Kunti, took up his position in the centre of his army, surrounded by huge and furious elephants resembling moving hills. The high-souled Yajnasena, the king of the Panchalas, endued with great prowess, stationed himself behind Virata with an Akshauhini of troops for the sake of the Pandavas. And on the cars of those kings, O monarch, were tall standards bearing diverse devices, decked with excellent ornaments of gold, and endued with the effulgence of the Sun and the Moon. Causing
those kings to move and make space for him, that mighty car-warrior Dhrishtadyumna, accompanied by his brothers and sons protected Yudhishthira from behind. Transcending the huge standards on all the cars on thy side and that of the enemy, was the one gigantic ape on Arjuna's car. Foot-soldiers, by many hundreds of thousands, and armed with swords, spears, and scimitars, proceeded ahead for protecting Bhimasena. And ten thousand elephants with (temporal) juice trickling down their cheek and mouth, and resembling (on that account) showering clouds, 1 endued with great courage, blazing with golden armour, huge hills, costly, and emitting the fragrance of lotuses, followed the king behind like moving mountains. 2 And the high-souled and invincible Bhimasena, whirling his fierce mace that resembled a parigha 3 seemed to crush the large army (of thy son). Incapable of being looked at like the Sun himself, and scorching as it were, the hostile army (like fire), none of the combatants could bear to even look at him from any neat point. And this array, fearless and having its face turned towards all sides called Vajra, having bows for its lightning sign, 4 and extremely fierce, was protected by the wielder of Gandiva. Disposing their troops in this counter-array against thy army, the Pandavas waited for battle. And protected by the Pandavas, that array became invincible in the world of men.
"'And as (both) the armies stood at dawn of day waiting for sunrise, a wind began to blow with drops of water (falling), and although there were no clouds, the roll of thunder was heard. And dry winds began to blow all around, bearing a shower of pointed pebbles along the ground. And as thick dust arose, covering the world with darkness. And large meteors began to fall east-wards, O bull of Bharata's race, and striking against the rising Sun, broke in fragments with loud noise. When the troops stood arrayed, O bull of Bharata's race, the Sun rose divested of splendour, and the Earth trembled with a loud sound, and cracked in many places, O chief of the Bharatas, with loud noise. And the roll of thunder, O king, was heard frequently on all sides. So thick was the dust that arose that nothing could be seen. And the tall standards (of the combatants), furnished with strings of bells, decked with golden ornaments, garlands of flowers, and rich drapery, graced with banners and resembling the Sun in splendour, being suddenly shaken by the wind, gave a loud
jingling noise like that of a forest of palmyra trees (when moved by the wind). It was thus that those tigers among men, the sons of Pandu, ever taking delight in battle, stood having disposed their troops in counter-array against the army of thy son, and sucking as it were, the marrow, O bull of Bharata's race, of our warriors, and casting their eyes on Bhimasena stationed at their head, mace in hand."
42:1 The Bengal texts read Syandamana; the Bombay reading is Spandamana. Both imply "moving", only the motion in the latter case is slower, perhaps, than in the former.
42:2 The word used is Dayadas lit., taker of (one's) wealth.
42:3 The Bombay text is here faulty. Darsay swamahavalam is scarcely correct. The Bengal reading is 'Darsayan sumahavalam.'
43:1 Literally, "with rent cheeks and mouth."
43:2 The Bombay reading is certainly faulty here. For Chalanta iva parvatas it reads Jimuta iva varashikas, although it makes the previous line begin Ksharantaiva Jimuta.
43:3 A parigha is a thick club mounted with iron. The comparison is very feeble, for Bhima's mace, in the popular estimation, is much heavier and stouter than any parigha manufactured for human combatants. Prachakarsha is, lit. dragged. I think, however, the root krish must be taken here in the sense of crush.
43:4 The name Vajra implies either a hard needle for boring diamonds and gems, or the thunder-bolt. In this sloka the word Vajra is used as associated with the thunder and therefore, as thunder is accompanied by lightning so the bows of the warriors are the lightning-marks of this particular Vajra.
Next: Section XX