The Mahabharata Home
Dhritarashtra said, "How did Sikhandin the prince of the Panchalas, excited with wrath, rushed in battle against the grandsire, viz., Ganga's son of righteous soul and regulated vows. What mighty car-warriors of
the Pandavas army, upraised weapons, desirous of victory, and exerting themselves with activity, protected Sikhandin on that occasion which required great activity? How also did Bhishma the son of Santanu, endued with great energy, fight on that tenth day of battle with the Pandavas and the Srinjayas? I cannot brook the idea of Sikhandin encountering Bhishma in battle. (Indeed, when Sikhandin attacked Bhishma), was Bhishma's car or his bow broken?"
Sanjaya said, "While fighting in that battle, O bull of Bharata's race, neither the bow nor the car of Bhishma had suffered any injury. He was then slaying the foe with straight shafts. Many thousands of mighty car-warriors belonging to thy army, as also elephants, O king, and steeds well harnessed, proceeded for battle, with the grandsire in the van. Agreeably to his vow, O thou of Kuru's race, the ever-victorious Bhishma was incessantly engaged in slaughtering the troops of the Parthas. The Panchalas and the Pandavas were unable to bear that great bowman battling (with them) and slaying his foes with his shafts. When the tenth day came, the hostile army was torn into pieces by Bhishma with his shafts by hundreds and thousands. O elder brother of Pandu, the sons of Pandu were incapable of defeating in battle the great bowman Bhishma who resembled the Destroyer himself armed with the lance.
"Then, O king, the unvanquished Vibhatsu or Dhananjaya, who was capable of drawing the bow with even the left hand, came to that spot, frightening all the car-warriors. Roaring loudly like a lion, and repeatedly drawing the bow-string, and scattering showers of arrows, Partha careered on the field of battle like Death himself. Frightened at those roars of his, thy warriors, O bull of Bharata's race, fled away in terror, like smaller animals, O king, at the sound of the lion. Beholding the son of Pandu crowned with victory and thus afflicting that host, Duryodhana, himself under the influence of terror addressed Bhishma and said, 'You son of Pandu, O sire, with white steeds (yoked unto his car), and having Krishna for his charioteer, consumeth all my troops like a conflagration consuming a forest. Behold, O son of Ganga, all troops, slaughtered by Pandu's son in battle, are, O foremost of warriors, fleeing away. Indeed, as the herdsman belaboureth his cattle in the forest, even so, O scorcher of foes is my army being belaboured. Broken and driven away on all sides by Dhananjaya with his shafts, the invincible Bhima is also routing that (already broken) host of mine. And Satyaki, and Chekitana, and the twin sons of Madri, and the valiant Abhimanyu,--these also are routing my troops. The brave Dhrishtadyumna, and the Rakshasa Ghatotkacha also, are vigorously breaking and driving away my army in this fierce conflict. Of these troops that are being slaughtered by all those mighty car-warriors, I do not see any other refuge in the matter of their staying and fighting on the field, O Bharata, save thee, O tiger among men, that art possessed of prowess equal to that of the celestials, Therefore, receive thou those great car-warriors without delay, and be thou the refuge of these afflicted troops. Thus addressed by him, O king, thy sire Devavrata, the
son of Santanu, reflecting for a moment and settling what he should do, said these words unto thy son, comforting him (therewith), 'O Duryodhana, listen calmly to what I say, O king, O thou of great might, formerly I vowed before thee that slaying every day ten thousand high-souled Kshatriyas, I would come back from the battle. I have fulfilled that vow, O bull of Bharata's race! O thou of great might, today I will achieve even a great feat. Today I will either sleep myself being slain, or, I will slay the Pandavas. O tiger among men, I will today free myself from the debt I owe thee,--the debt, O king, arising out of the food, thou gavest me,--by casting away my life at the head of thy army.' Having said these words, O chief of the Bharatas, that invincible warrior, scattering his shafts among the Kshatriyas, attacked the Pandava host. And the Pandavas then, O bull of Bharata's race, began to resist the son of Ganga staying in the midst of his forces and excited with wrath like a snake of virulent poison. Indeed, O king, on that tenth day of the battle, Bhishma, displaying his might, slew, O son of Kuru's race, hundreds of thousands. And he drained the energies of those royal and mighty car-warriors that were the foremost among the Panchalas, like the Sun sucking up the moisture (of the earth) with his rays. Having slain ten thousand elephants of great activity and ten thousand steeds also, O king, along with their riders, and full two hundred thousands of foot-soldiers, that best of men, viz., Bhishma, shone resplendent in battle like a fire without a curl of smoke. And no one amongst the Pandavas was capable of even looking at him who then resembled the burning Sun staying in the northern solstice. The Pandavas, however, though afflicted in battle by that great bowman, still rushed, accompanied by the mighty car-warriors of the Srinjayas, for slaughtering him. Battling with myriads upon myriads around him, Santanu's son Bhishma then looked like the cliff of Meru covered on all sides with masses of clouds. Thy sons, however, stood, surrounding Bhishma on all sides with a large force (for protecting him). Then commenced a fierce battle (between the Kurus and the Pandavas)."
Next: Section CXI