The Mahabharata Home
Sanjaya said, "After that great battle, king Duryodhana, approaching Ganga's son and saluting him with humility, began to narrate to him all that had happened about the victory won by Ghatotkacha and his own defeat. That invincible warrior, O king, sighing repeatedly, said these words unto Bhishma, the grandsire of the Kurus, 'O lord, relying upon thee, as Vasudeva hath been (relied upon) by the foe, a fierce war hath been
commenced by me with the Pandavas. These eleven Akshauhinis of celebrated troops that I have, are, with myself, obedient to thy command, O chastiser of foes. O tiger among the Bharatas, though thus situated, yet have I been defeated into battle by the Pandava warriors headed by Bhimasena relying upon Ghatotkacha. It is this that consumeth my limbs like fire consuming dry tree. O blessed one, O chastiser of foes, I therefore, desire, through thy grace, O grandsire, to slay Ghatotkacha myself, that worst of Rakshasas, relying upon thy invincible self. It behoveth thee to see that wish of mine may be fulfilled.' Hearing these words of the king, that foremost one among the Bharatas, viz., Bhishma, the son of Santanu, said these words unto Duryodhana, 'Listen, O king, to these words of mine that I say unto thee, O thou of Kuru's race, about the way in which thou, O chastiser of foes, shouldst always behave. One's own self, under all circumstances, should be protected in battle, O repressor of foes. Thou shouldst always, O sinless one, battle with king Yudhishthira--the Just, or with Arjuna, or with the twins, or with Bhimasena. Keeping the duty of a king before himself, a king striketh a king. Myself, and Drona, and Kripa, and Drona's son, and Kritavarman of the Satwata race, and Salya, and Somadatta's son, and that mighty car-warrior Vikarna, and thy heroic brothers headed by Dussasana, will all, for thy sake, battle against that mighty Rakshasas. Or if thy grief on account of that fierce prince of the Rakshasas be too great, let this one proceed in battle against that wicked warrior, that is to say, king Bhagadatta who is equal unto Purandara himself in fight'. Having said this much unto the king, the grandsire skilled in speech then addressed Bhagadatta in the presence of the (Kuru) king, saying, 'Proceed quickly, O great monarch, against that invincible warrior, viz., the son of Hidimva. Resist in battle, with care, and in view of all the bowmen, that Rakshasa of cruel deeds, like Indra in days of old resisting Taraka. Thy weapons are celestial. Thy prowess also is great, O chastiser of foes. In days of old many have been the encounters that thou hadst with Asura, O tiger among kings, thou art that Rakshasa's match in great battle. Strongly supported by thy own troops, slay, O king, that bull among Rakshasas'. Hearing these words of Bhishma the generalissimo (of the Kaurava army), Bhagadatta specially set out with a leonine roar facing the ranks of the foe. Beholding him advance towards them like a mass of roaring clouds, many mighty car-warriors of the Pandava army proceeded against him, inflamed with wrath. They were Bhimasena, and Abhimanyu and the Rakshasa Ghatotkacha; and the sons of Draupadi, and Satyadhriti, and Kshatradeva, O sire, and the rulers of the Chedis, and Vasudana, and the king of the Dasarnas. Bhagadatta then, on his elephant named Supratika, rushed against them. Then commenced a fierce and awful battle between the Pandavas and Bhagadatta, that increased the population of Yama's kingdom. Shafts of terrible energy and great impetuosity, shot by car-warriors, fell, O king, on elephants and cars. Huge elephants with rent temples and trained (to the fight) by their guides, approaching fell upon one another fearlessly. Blind (with fury) in consequence
of the temporal juice trickling down their bodies, and excited with rage, attacking one another with their tusks resembling stout bludgeons, they pierced one another with the points of those weapons. 1 Graced with excellent tails, and ridden by warriors armed with lances, steeds, urged by those riders fell fearlessly and with great impetuosity upon one another. And foot-soldiers, attacked by bodies of foot-soldiers with darts and lances, fell down on the earth by hundreds and thousands. And car-warriors upon their cars, slaughtering heroic adversaries in that battle by means of barbed arrows and muskets and shafts, uttered leonine shouts. 2 And during the progress of the battle making the hair stand on end, that great bowman, viz., Bhagadatta, rushed towards Bhimasena, on his elephant of rent temples and with juice trickling down in seven currents and resembling (on that account) a mountain with (as many) rillets flowing down its breast after a shower. And he came, O sinless one, scattering thousands of arrows from the head of Supratika (whereon he stood) like the illustrious Purandara himself on his Airavata. King Bhagadatta afflicted Bhimasena with that arrowy shower like the clouds afflicting the mountain breast with torrents of rain on the expiry of summer. That mighty bowman Bhimasena, however, excited with rage, slew by his arrowy showers the combatants numbering more than a hundred, that protected the flanks and rear of Bhagadatta. 3 Beholding them slain, the valiant Bhagadatta, filled with rage, urged his prince of elephants towards Bhimasena's car. That elephant, thus urged by him, rushed impetuously like an arrow propelled from the bowstring towards Bhimasena, that chastiser of foes. Beholding that elephant advancing, the mighty car-warriors of the Pandava army, placing Bhimasena at their head, themselves rushed towards it. Those warriors were the (five) Kekaya princes, and Abhimanyu, and the (five) sons of Draupadi and the heroic ruler of the Dasarnas, and Kshatradeva also, O sire, and the ruler of the Chedis, and Chitraketu. And all these mighty warriors came, inflamed with anger, and exhibiting their excellent celestial weapons. And they all surrounded in anger that single elephant (on which their adversary rode). Pierced with many shafts, that huge elephant, covered with gore flowing from his wounds, looked resplendent like a prince of mountain variegated with (liquified) red chalk (after a shower). The ruler of the
[paragraph continues] Dasarnas then, on an elephant that resembled a mountain, rushed towards Bhagadatta's elephant. That prince of elephants, however, viz., Supratika, bore (the rush of) that advancing compeer like the continent bearing (the rush of) the surging sea. Beholding that elephant of the high souled king of the Dasarnas thus resisted, even the Pandava troops, applauding, cried out 'Excellent, excellent!' Then that best of kings, viz., the ruler of the Pragjyotishas, excited with rage, sped four and ten lances at that elephant. These, speedily penetrating through the excellent armour, decked with gold, that covered the animal's body, entered into it, like snakes entering anthills. Deeply pierced and exceedingly pained, that elephant, O chief of the Bharatas, its fury quelled, speedily turned back with great force. And it fled away with great swiftness, uttering frightful shrieks, and crushing the Pandava ranks like the tempest crushing trees with its violence. After that elephant was (thus) vanquished, the mighty car-warriors of the Pandava army, uttering loud leonine shouts, approached for battle. Placing Bhima at their head, they rushed at Bhagadatta scattering diverse kinds of arrows and diverse kinds of weapons. Hearing the fierce shouts, O king, of those advancing warriors swelling with rage and vengeance, that great bowman Bhagadatta, filled with rage and perfectly fearless, urged his own elephant. That prince of elephants then, thus urged with the hook and the toe, soon assumed the form of the (all-destructive) Samvarta fire (that appears at the end of the Yuga). Crushing crowds of cars and (hostile) compeers and steeds with riders, in that battle, it began, O king, to turn hither and thither. Filled with rage it also crushed foot-soldiers by hundreds and thousands. Attacked and agitated by that elephant, that large force of the Pandavas shrank in dimensions, O king, like a piece of leather exposed to the heat of fire. Beholding, then the Pandava array broken by the intelligent Bhagadatta, Ghatotkacha, of fierce mien, O king, with blazing face and eyes red as fire, filled with rage, rushed towards him. Assuming a terrible form and burning with wrath, he took up a bright dart capable of riving the very hills. Endued with great strength, he forcibly hurled that dart that emitted blazing flames from every part desirous of slaying that elephant. Beholding it coursing towards him with great impetuosity, the ruler of the Pragjyotishas sped at it a beautiful but fierce and sharp arrow with a crescent head. Possessed of great energy he cut off that dart with that arrow of his. Thereupon that dart, decked with gold, thus divided in twain, dropped down on the ground, like the bolt of heaven, hurled by Indra, flashing through the welkin. Beholding that dart (of his adversary), O king, divided in twain and fallen on the ground, Bhagadatta took up a large javelin furnished with a golden staff and resembling a flame of fire in effulgence, and hurled it at the Rakshasa, saying, 'Wait, Wait'. Seeing it coursing towards him like the bolt of heaven through the welkin, the Rakshasa jumped up and speedily seizing it uttered a loud shout. And quickly placing it against his knee, O Bharata, he broke it in the very sight of all the kings. All this seemed exceedingly wonderful. Beholding that feat achieved by the mighty Rakshasa, the celestials in the firmament, with the Gandharvas
and the Munis, were filled with wonder. And the Pandava warriors also, headed by Bhimasena, filled the earth with cries of 'Excellent, Excellent'. Hearing, however, those loud shouts of the rejoicing Pandavas, that great bowman, viz., the valiant Bhagadatta, could not bear it (coolly). Drawing his large bow whose effulgence resembled that of Indra's bolt, he roared with great energy at the mighty car-warriors of the Pandava army, shooting at the same time many bright arrows of great sharpness and possessed of the effulgence of fire. And he pierced Bhima with one arrow, and the Rakshasa with nine. And he pierced Abhimanyu with three, and the Kekaya brothers with five. And with another straight arrow shot from his bow drawn to its fullest stretch, he pierced, in that battle, the right arm of Kshatradeva. Thereupon the latter's bow with arrow fixed on the bowstring dropped down from his hand. And he struck the five sons of Draupadi with five arrows. And from wrath, he slew the steeds of Bhimasena. And with three shafts winged with feathers, he cut down Bhimasena's standard bearing the device of a lion. And with three other shafts he pierced Bhima's charioteer. Deeply pierced by Bhagadatta in that battle, and exceedingly pained, Visoka thereupon, O chief of the Bharatas, sat down on the terrace of the car. Then, O king, that foremost of car-warriors, viz., Bhima, thus deprived of his car, quickly jumped down from his large vehicle taking up his mace. Beholding him with mace upraised and looking like a crested hill, all thy troops, O Bharata, became filled with great fear. Just at this time that son of Pandu who had Krishna for his charioteer, O king, slaughtering the foe on all sides as he came, appeared at that spot where those tigers among men, those mighty car-warriors, viz., Bhimasena and Ghatotkacha, sire and son, were engaged with the ruler of the Pragjyotishas. Beholding his brothers, those mighty car-warriors, engaged in battle, that son of Pandu quickly commenced to fight, profusely scattering his shafts, O chief of the Bharatas. Then that mighty car-warrior, viz., king Duryodhana, speedily urged on a division of his troops abounding with cars and elephants. Towards that mighty division of the Kauravas thus advancing with impetuosity, Arjuna of white steeds rushed with great impetuosity. Bhagadatta also, upon that elephant of his, O Bharata, crushing the Pandava ranks, rushed towards Yudhishthira. Then commenced a fierce battle between Bhagadatta, O sire, and the Panchalas, the Srinjayas, and the Kekayas, with upraised weapons. Then Bhimasena, in that battle told both Kesava and Arjuna in detail about the slaughter of Iravat as it had occurred."
238:1 The first line is evidently pleonastic. Sanskrit, however, being very copious, repetitions can scarcely be marked at the first glance. Literally rendered, the original is--"Juice-blind and excited with rage." 'Juice-blind,' I have explained elsewhere.
238:2 The word I render "muskets" is nalika sometime ago the Bharata (a Bengali periodical of Calcutta edited by Babu Dwijendra Nath Tagore) in a paper on Hindu weapons of warfare from certain quotations from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, argued that the nalika must have been some kind of musket vomiting bullets of iron in consequence of some kind of explosive force. The Rishis discouraged use of nalika, declaring them to be barbarous and fit only for kings that would come in the Kali age.
238:3 Padarakshan lit., those that protected the feet (for any warrior of note). These always stood at the flanks and rear of the warrior they protected. In the case of car-warriors' these were called chakra-rakshas (protectors of the wheels). So we have Parshni-rakshas and Prishata-rakshas', &c.
Next: Section XCVII