The Mahabharata Home
Dhritarashtra said, "When the generalissimo Sweta, O son, was slain in battle by the enemy, what did those mighty bowmen, the Panchalas with the Pandavas, do? Hearing their commander Sweta slain, what happened between those that strove for his sake and their foes that retreated before them? O Sanjaya, hearing of our victory, (thy) words please my heart? Nor doth my heart feel any shame in remembering our transgression. 1 The old chief of Kuru's race is ever cheerful and devoted (to us). (As regards Duryodhana), having provoked hostilities with that intelligent son of his uncle, he sought at one time the protection of the sons of Pandu in consequence of his anxiety and fear due to Yudhishthira. At that time, abandoning everything he lived in misery. In consequence of the prowess of the sons of Pandu, and everywhere receiving checks--having placed himself amid entanglements--from his enemies Duryodhana had (for some time) recourse to honourable behaviour. Formerly that wicked-minded king had placed himself under their protection. Why, therefore, O Sanjaya, hath Sweta who was devoted to Yudhishthira, been slain. Indeed, this narrow-minded prince, with all his prospects, hath been hurled to the nether regions by a number of wretches. Bhishma liked not the war, nor even did the preceptor. 2 Nor Kripa, nor Gandhari liked it. O Sanjaya, nor do I like it, nor Vasudeva of Vrishni's race, nor that just king the son of Pandu; nor Bhima, nor Arjuna, nor those bulls among men, the twins (liked it.) Always forbidden by me, by Gandhari, by Vidura, by Rama the son of Jamadagni, and by the high-souled Vyasa also, the wicked-minded and sinful Duryodhana, with Dussasana, O Sanjaya, always following the counsels of Karna and Suvala's son, behaved maliciously towards the Pandavas. I
think, O Sanjaya, that he has fallen into great distress. After the slaughter of Sweta and the victory of Bhishma what did Partha, excited with rage, do in battle accompanied by Krishna? Indeed, it is from Arjuna that my fears arise, and those fears, O Sanjaya, cannot be dispelled. He, Dhananjaya. the son of Kunti, is brave and endued with great activity. I think, with his arrows he will cut into fragments the bodies of his enemies. The son of Indra, and in battle equal unto Upendra the younger brother of Indra, a warrior whose wrath and purposes are never futile, alas, beholding him what becomes the state of your minds? Brave, acquainted with Vedas, resembling the fire and the Sun in splendour, and possessing a knowledge of the Aindra weapon, that warrior of immeasurable soul is ever victorious when he falleth upon the foe? His weapons always falling upon the foe with the force of the thunderbolt and his arms wonderfully quick in drawing the bowstring, the son of Kunti is a mighty car-warrior. The formidable son of Drupada also, O Sanjaya, is endued with great wisdom. What, indeed, did Dhristadyumna do when Sweta was slain in battle? I think that in consequence of the wrongs they sustained of old, and of the slaughter of their commander, the hearts of the high-souled Pandavas blazed up. Thinking of their wrath I am never at my ease, by day or by night, on account of Duryodhana. How did the great battle take place? Tell me all about it, O Sanjaya.
Sanjaya said, "Hear, O king, quietly about thy transgressions. It behoveth thee not to impute the fruit to Duryodhana. As is the construction of an embankment when the waters have disappeared, so is thy understanding, or, it is like the digging of a well when house is on fire. 1 When, after the forenoon had passed away, the commander Sweta was, O Bharata, slain by Bhishma in that fierce conflict, Virata's son Sankha, that grinder of hostile ranks ever delighting in battle, beholding Salya stationed with Kritavarman (on his car), suddenly blazed up with wrath, like fire with clarified butter. That mighty warrior, stretching his large bow that resembled the bow of Indra himself, rushed with the desire of slaying the ruler of the Madras in battle, himself supported on all sides by a large division of cars. And Sankha, causing an arrowy downpour rushed towards the car on which Salya was. And beholding him advancing like an infuriate elephant, seven mighty car-warriors of thy side surrounded him--desirous of rescuing the ruler of the Madras already within the jaws of death. Then the mighty-armed Bhishma, roaring like the very clouds, and taking up a bow full six cubits long, rushed towards Sankha in battle. And beholding that mighty car-warrior and great bowman thus rushing, the Pandava host began to tremble like a boat tossed by a violence of the tempest. Then Arjuna, quickly advancing, placed himself in front of Sankha, thinking that Sankha should, then be protected from Bhishma. And then the combat commenced between Bhishma and Arjuna. And loud cries of oh and alas arose among the warriors engaged in battle. And one force seemed to
merge into another force. And thus all were filled with wonder. 1 Then Salya, mace in hand, alighting from his large car, slew, O bull of Bharata's race, the four steeds of Sankha. Jumping down from his car thus deprived of steeds, and taking a sword, Sankha ran towards Vibhatsu's car and (mounting on it) was once more at his ease. And then there fell from Bhishma's car innumerable arrows by which were covered the entire welkin and the earth. And that foremost of smiters, Bhishma, slaughtered with his arrows the Panchala, the Matsya, the Kekaya, and the Prabhadraka host. And soon abandoning in that battle, Pandu's son (Arjuna) capable of drawing the bow with even his left hand, Bhishma rushed towards Drupada, the king of the Panchalas, surrounded by his host. And he soon covered his dear relative with innumerable arrows. Like a forest consumed by fire at the end of winter, the troops of Drupada were seen to be consumed. And Bhishma stood in that battle like a blazing fire without smoke, or like the Sun himself at midday scorching everything around with his heat. The combatants of the Pandavas were not able to even look at Bhishma. And afflicted with fear, the Pandava host cast its eyes around, and not beholding any protector, looked like a herd of kine afflicted by cold. Slaughtered or retreating in despondence being crushed the while, loud cries, O Bharata, of oh and alas arose among the troops of the Pandavas. Then Bhishma the son of Santanu, with bow always drawn to a circle, shot therefrom blazing arrows that resembled virulent poison. And creating continuous lines of arrows in all directions, that hero of rigid vows slew Pandava car-warriors, naming each, O Bharata, beforehand. And then when the troops of the Pandavas were routed and crushed all over the field, the sun set and nothing could be seen. And then beholding Bhishma, O bull of Bharata's race, proudly standing in battle, the Parthas withdrew their forces (for nightly rest)."
122:1 The transgression of which Dhritarashtra alludes is the slaughter by Bhishma from his car, of Sweta who was then a combatant on foot. Or, it may be the very slaughter of Sweta, who was dear to the Pandavas and which act would, the king thought, provoke them more.
122:2 Verses 4 to 7 are exceedingly difficult. I am not sure that I have understood them correctly. They are of the nature of Vyasakutas, i.e., deliberate obscurities for puzzling Ganesa, who acted as the scribe, for enabling Vyasa to gain time for compositions. In verse 4 'Pitus' means uncle's and not father's; so also 'durga decam' in verse 6 means entanglements, like Duryodhana's hostility with the Gandharvas on the occasion of the tale of cattle. In verse 7 of the Bengal reading is Yudhishthiram bhaktya. The Bombay reading which I adopt, is Yudhishthire bhaktas. In 8, the purushadhamas are Sakuni and Karna. &c.
123:1 As both operations are useless, so are these thy regrets.
124:1 The sense is that Arjuna representing one force, and Bhishma another, the two forces seemed to mingle, into one another, like one bolt of heaven against another, as one may say.
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