The Mahabharata Home
Sanjaya said, "Then thy sire, excited with wrath, began to strike the Parthas and their troops all round, with excellent shafts of great sharpness. And he pierced Bhima with twelve shafts, and Satyaki with nine. And having pierced Nakula with three shafts, he pierced Sahadeva with seven.
[paragraph continues] And he pierced Yudhishthira in the arms and the chest with twelve shafts. And piercing Dhrishtadyumna also, that mighty warrior uttered a loud roar. Him Nakula pierced (in return) with twelve shafts, and Satyaki with three. And Dhrishtadyumna pierced him with seventy shafts, and Bhimasena with seven. And Yudhishthira pierced the grandsire in return with twelve shafts. Drona (on the other hand), having pierced Satyaki, pierced Bhimasena next. And he pierced each of them with five sharp shafts, each of which resembled the rod of Death. Each of those two, however, pierced Drona, that bull among Brahmanas, in return, with three straight shafts. The Sauviras, the Kitavas, the Easterners, the Westerners, the Northerners, the Malavas, the Abhishahas, the Surasenas, the Sivis, and the Vasatis, did not avoid Bhishma in battle although they were incessantly slaughtered by him with sharp shafts. And similarly kings coming from diverse countries and armed with diverse weapons, approached the Pandavas (without seeking to avoid them in battle). And the Pandavas, O king, surrounded the grandsire on all sides. Surrounded on all sides, yet unvanquished by that large body of cars, Bhishma blazed up like a fire in the midst of a forest, and consumed his foes. His car was his fire-chamber; his bow constituted the (flames of that fire); swords, darts, and maces, constituted the fuel; his shafts were the sparks (of that fire); and Bhishma was himself the fire that consumed the foremost of Kshatriyas. Indeed, with shafts furnished with golden wings and vulturine feathers and endued with great energy, with barbed arrows, and nalikas, and long shafts, he covered the hostile host. And he felled elephants and car-warriors also with his sharp shafts. And he made that large body of cars resemble a forest of palmyras shorn of their leafy heads. And that mighty armed warrior, that foremost of all wielders of weapons, O king, deprived cars and elephants and steeds of their riders in that conflict. And hearing the twang of his bow-string and the noise of his palms, loud as the roar of the thunder, all the troops trembled, O Bharata. The shafts of thy sire, O bull of Bharata's race, told on the foe. Indeed, shot from Bhishma's bow they did not strike the coats of mail only (but pierced them through). And we beheld, O king, many cars destitute of their brave riders dragged over the field of battle, O monarch, by the fleet steeds yoked unto them. Fourteen thousand car-warriors, belonging to the Chedis, the Kasis, and the Karushas, of great celebrity and noble parentage, prepared to lay down their lives, unretreating from the field, and owning excellent standards decked with gold, having met with Bhishma in battle who resembled the Destroyer himself with wide-open mouth, all went to the other world along with their cars, steeds, and elephants. And we beheld there, O king, cars by hundreds and thousands, some with their axles and bottoms broken, and some, O Bharata, with broken wheels. And the earth was strewn with cars broken along with their wooden fences, with the prostrate forms of car-warriors, with shafts, with beautiful but broken coats of mail, with axes. O monarch; with maces and short arrows and sharp shafts, with bottoms of cars, with quivers and broken wheels, O sire, with innumerable bows
and scimitars and heads decked with ear-rings; with leathern fences and gloves and overthrown standards, and with bows broken in various parts. And elephants, O king, destitute of riders, and slain horsemen (of the Pandava army), lay dead. The valiant Pandavas notwithstanding all their efforts, could not rally those car-warriors, who, afflicted by the shafts of Bhishma, were flying away from the field. Indeed, O king, that mighty host while being slaughtered by Bhishma endued with energy equal to that of Indra himself, broke so completely that no two persons fled together. With its cars, elephants, and steeds overthrown, and with its standards laid low in profusion, the army of the sons of Pandu, deprived of senses, uttered loud exclamations of woe. And at that time, sire slew son, and son slew sire, and friend smote dear friend, impelled by fate. And many combatants of the Pandavas army, throwing aside their armour, were seen flying in all directions with dishevelled hair. Indeed, the Pandava troops looked like bulls running wild in fear, and no longer restrained by the yoke. Indeed, loud were the exclamations, we heard of woe that they uttered.
"Then that delighter of the Yadavas, beholding the Pandava army breaking, reined the excellent car (that he guided), and addressing Vibhatsu the son of Pritha, said,--That hour is come, O Partha, which thou hadst hoped for. Strike now, O tiger among men, or thou wilt be deprived of thy senses. Formerly, O hero, thou saidst, O Partha, in that conclave of kings in Virata's city, in the presence also of Sanjaya, these words:--'I will slay all the warriors of Dhritarashtra's son, all of them with their followers, including, Bhishma and Drona, that would fight with me in battle--O son of Kunti, O chastiser of foes, make those words of thine true. Remembering the duty of a Kshatriya, fight, without any anxiety.' Thus addressed by Vasudeva, Arjuna hung down his head and looked askance at him. And Vibhatsu replied very unwillingly, saying, 'To acquire sovereignty with hell in the end, having slain those who should not be slain, or the woes of an exile in the woods,--(these are the alternatives). Which of these should I achieve? Urge the steeds, O Hrishikesa, I will do thy bidding. I will overthrow the Kuru grandsire Bhishma, that invincible warrior.'--Thus asked, Madhava urged those steeds of a silvery hue, to the spot where Bhishma, incapable of being looked at like the Sun himself, was staying. Then that large host of Yudhishthira rallied and came again to the fight, beholding the mighty-armed Partha proceeding for an encounter with Bhishma. Then Bhishma that foremost one among the Kurus, repeatedly roared like a lion. And he soon covered Dhananjaya's car with a shower of arrows. Within a trice that car of his with its steeds and charioteer, became entirely invisible in consequence of that thick shower of arrows. Vasudeva, however, without fear, mustering patience, and endued with great activity, urged those steeds mangled with Bhishma's shafts. Then Partha, taking up his celestial bow of twang loud as the roar of the clouds, caused Bhishma's bow to drop from his hands, cutting it (into fragments) by means of his sharp shafts. Then thy sire, the Kuru hero, whose bow had thus been cut off, stringed another large bow within the twinkling of the
eye. Arjuna, however, excited with wrath, cut that bow also of his. The son of Santanu applauded that lightness of hand displayed by Arjuna, saying, 'Well done, Well done, O mighty-armed one. Well done, O son of Kunti.'--Having addressed him thus, Bhishma took up another beautiful bow in that battle, and shot many arrows at Partha's car. And Vasudeva showed great skill in the management of steeds, for, displaying the circling motion he baffled all those arrows (of Bhishma). Mangled with the arrows of Bhishma, those two tigers among men looked beautiful like two angry bulls marked with scratches of horns. Then that slayer of hostile heroes, viz., the mighty-armed Vasudeva of Madhu's race beholding that Partha was fighting mildly and that Bhishma was incessantly scattering his arrowy showers in battle, and that stationed between the two hosts, he latter was scorching everything like the Sun himself, smiting down the foremost of Yudhishthira's combatants, and, in fact, achieving feat on Yudhishthira's army like unto what happeneth at the end of the Yuga, could not any longer bear it. Abandoning then, O sire, Partha's steeds that looked like silver, and filled with wrath, that great lord of Yoga powers jumped down from that great car. Repeatedly roaring like a lion, the mighty Krishna of great energy and immeasurable splendour, the Lord of Universe, with eyes red as copper from rage, and having his bare arms alone for his weapons, rushed towards Bhishma, whip in hand, desirous of slaying him and seeming to split the universe itself with his tread. Beholding Madhava in the vicinity of Bhishma and about to fall upon him in that furious battle, the hearts of all the combatants seemed to be in a stupor. 'Bhishma is slain, Bhishma is slain.'--These loud exclamations were heard there, O king, caused by the fear inspired by Vasudeva. Robed in yellow silk, and himself dark as the lapis lazuli, Janarddana, when he pursued Bhishma, looked beautiful as a mass of clouds charged with lightning. Like a lion towards an elephant, or the leader of a bovine herd upon another of his species, that bull of Madhu's race, with a loud roar, impetuously rushed towards Bhishma. Beholding him of eyes like lotus petals (thus) rushing towards him in that battle, Bhishma began to fearlessly draw his large bow. And with a fearless heart he addressed Govinda, saying, 'Come, come, O thou of eyes like lotus petals. O God of the gods, I bow to thee. O best of the Satwatas, throw me down today in this great battle. O god, slain by thee in battle, O sinless one, great will be the good done to me, O Krishna, in every respect in the world. Amongst all, in the three worlds, great is the honour done to me today in battle, O Govinda. Strike me as thou pleasest, for I am thy slave, O sinless one.' Meanwhile, the mighty-armed Partha. quickly following Kesava behind, seized him by encircling him with his two arms. That best of male beings, viz., Krishna, of eyes like lotus petals, seized by Partha, still proceeded with great speed, bearing the latter away with him. The mighty Partha, that slayer of hostile heroes, however, forcibly catching hold of his legs, stopped Hrishikesa with great difficulty at the tenth step. Then Arjuna his dear friend, filled with sorrow, affectionately addressed Kesava, who was then sighing like a snake and whose eyes were
troubled in wrath, saying, 'O thou of mighty arms, stop, O Kesava, it behoveth thee not to make those words false which thou hadst spoken before, viz., I will not fight. O Madhava, people will say that thou art a liar. All this burden resteth upon me. I will slay the grandsire. I swear, O Kesava, by my weapons, by truth, and my good deeds, that, O slayer of foes, I will do all by which the destruction of my foes may be achieved. Behold this very day that invincible and mighty car-warrior in the act of being thrown down by me, with the greatest ease, like the crescent moon at the end of the Yuga (when the destruction of the universe comes). Madhava, however, hearing these words of the high-souled Phalguni, spoke not a word, but in anger once more mounted upon the car. And then upon those two tigers among men, when stationed on their car, Bhishma the son of Santanu, once more poured his arrowy showers like the clouds pouring rain upon the mountain-breast. Thy sire Devavrata took the lives of the (hostile) warriors like the Sun sucking with his rays the energies of all things during summer. As the Pandavas had been breaking the ranks of the Kurus in battle, so thy sire broke the Pandava ranks in battle. And the routed soldiers, helpless and heartless, slaughtered in hundreds and thousands by Bhishma, were unable to even look at him in that battle,--him who resembled the mid-day Sun blazing in his own splendour. Indeed, the Pandavas afflicted with fear, timidly gazed at Bhishma who was then achieving super-human feats in that battle. And the Pandava troops, thus fleeing away, O Bharata, failed to find a protector, like a herd of kine sunk in a shoal of ants while being trod down by a strong person. Indeed, the Pandavas could not, O Bharata, look at that mighty car-warrior incapable of being shaken, who, furnished with a profusion of shafts, was scorching the kings (in the Pandava army), and who in consequence of those shafts looked like the blazing Sun shedding his fiery rays. And while he was thus grinding the Pandava army, the thousand-rayed maker of day repaired to the setting hills, and the troops, worn with fatigue, set their hearts on withdrawal (from the field)."
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