The Mahabharata Home
Dhritarashtra said, 'When the divisions of both my side and the foe were thus arrayed, who struck first, the Kurus or the Pandavas?'
Sanjaya said, "Hearing those words of his (elder) brother, thy son Dussasana advanced with his troops, with Bhishma at their head, and the Pandavas also advanced with cheerful hearts, desiring battle with Bhishma, having Bhimasena at their head. Then leonine, shouts, and clamorous uproars and the noise of Krakachas, the blare of cow-horns, and the sound of drums and cymbals and tabors, arose in both armies. And the warriors of the foe rushed against us, and we also (rushed) against them with loud shouts. And the uproar (caused by this rush) was deafening. 1 The vast hosts of the Pandavas and the Dhartarashtras, in that awfully murderous encounter shook in consequence of that uproar of conches and cymbals, like forests shaken by the wind. 2 And the din made by those hosts teeming with kings, elephants, and steeds, rushing against one another in that evil hour, was as loud as that of oceans agitated by the tempest. And when that din, loud and causing the hair to stand on end, arose, the mighty-armed Bhimasena began to roar like a bull. And those roars of Bhimasena rose above the clamour of conches and drums, the grunts of elephants, and the leonine shouts of the combatants. Indeed, the shouts of Bhimasena transcended the noise made by the thousands of chargers neighing in (both) the armies. And hearing those shouts of Bhimasena who was roaring like the clouds, shouts that resembled the report of Sakra's thunder, thy warriors were filled with fear. And at those roars of the hero, the steeds and elephants all ejected urine and excreta like other animals at the roar of the lion. And roaring like a deep mass of clouds, and assuming an awful form, that hero frightened thy sons and fell upon them. 3 Thereupon the
brothers, viz., thy sons Duryodhana, and Durmukha and Dussaha, and that mighty car-warrior Dussasana, and Durmarshana, O king, and Vivingsati, and Chitrasena, and the great car-warrior Vikarna and also Purumitra, and Jaya, and Bhoja, and the valorous son of Somadatta, shaking their splendid bows like masses of clouds exhibiting the lightning's flashes, and taking out (of their quivers) long arrows resembling snakes that have just cast off their sloughs, surrounded that mighty bowman rushing (towards them) covering him with flights of arrows like the clouds shrouding the sun. And the (five) sons of Draupadi, and the mighty car-warrior Saubhadra, 1 and Nakula, and Sahadeva, and Dhrishtadyumna of Prishata's race, rushed against (those) Dhartarashtras, tearing them with whetted shafts like summits of mountains with the impetuous bolts of heaven. And in that first encounter characterised by the awful twang of bow-strings and their flapping against the leathern fences (of the warriors) 2 no combatant, either on thy side or that of the foe, turned back. And, O bull of Bharata's race, I beheld the lightness of hand of the disciples of Drona (in particular), who, shooting innumerable arrows, O king, always succeeded in hitting the mark. 3 And the twang of sounding bowstrings ceased not for a moment, and the blazing arrows shot through (the air) like meteors (falling) from the firmament. And all the other kings, O Bharata, stood like (silent) spectators witnessing that interesting and awful encounter of kinsmen. And then those mighty car-warriors, with wrath excited and remembering the injuries sustained at one another's hands, strove in battle, O king, challenging one another. And the two armies of the Kurus and the Pandavas, teeming with elephants, steeds and cars, looked exceedingly beautiful on the field of battle like painted figures on a canvas. And then the (other) kings all took up their bows. And the Sun himself was shrouded by the dust raised by the combatants. And they fell upon one another, at the heads of their (respective) troops, at the command of thy son. And the loud uproar made by the elephants and the chargers of those kings rushing to the combat, mingled with the leonine shouts of the combatants and the din made by the blare of conches and the sounds of drums. And the uproar of that ocean having arrows for its crocodiles, bows for its snakes, swords for its tortoises, and the forward leaps of the warriors for its tempest, resembled the din made by the (actual) ocean when agitated. And kings in thousands, commanded by Yudhishthira, with their (respective) troops fell upon the ranks of thy son. And the encounter between the combatants of the two hosts was fierce in the extreme. And no difference could be perceived between the combatants of our side or that of the foe, while battling, or retreating in broken array or rallying again to the fight. In that terrific
and awful battle, thy father (Bhishma) shone, transcending that countless host.
104:1 For rajan in the Bengal texts, in the first line of the 5th verse, the Bombay text reads hyasan which I adopt.
104:2 Maha samucchrave is explained by Nilakantha as Mahasamprahare.
104:3 Literally, "showing himself in an awful form."
105:1 Subhadra's son Abhimanyu.
105:2 These fences were made of iguana skins and cased the hands of the bowmen up to a few inches of the elbow-joint.
105:3 Nimitta is explained by Nilakantha as the mark of object aimed at. Drona was the preceptor in arms of almost all the Bharata princes.
Next: Section XLV