The Mahabharata Home
"Dhritarashtra said, 'How did the Pandavas and the Srinjayas slay Drona in battle,--Drona. who was so accomplished in weapons amongst all wielders of arms? Did his car break (in course of the fight)? Did his bow break while he was striking (the foe)? Or, was Drona careless at the time when he met with his death-blow? How, indeed, O child, could Prishata's son, (viz., Dhrishtadyumna) the prince of the Panchalas, slay that hero incapable of being humiliated by enemies, who scattered thick showers of shafts furnished with wings of gold, and who was endued with great lightness of hand, that foremost of Brahmanas, who was accomplished in everything, acquainted with all modes of warfare, capable of shooting his shafts to a great distance, and self-restrained, who was possessed of great skill in the use of weapons and armed with celestial weapons, that mighty warrior, of unfading glory, who was always careful, and who achieved the fiercest feats in battle? It is plain, it seems to me, that destiny is superior to exertion, since even brave Drona hath been slain by the high-souled son of Prishata, that hero in whom were the four kinds of weapons, alas, thou sayest that that Drona, that preceptor in bowmanship, is slain. Hearing of the slaughter of that hero who used to ride his bright car covered with tiger skins and adorned with pure gold. I cannot drive away my grief. Without doubt, O Sanjaya, no one dies of grief caused by another's calamity, since, wretch that I am, I am yet alive although I have heard of Drona's death. Destiny I regard to be all powerful, exertion is fruitless. Surely, my heart, hard as it is, is made of adamant, since it breaketh not into a hundred pieces, although I have heard of Drona's death. He who was waited up-on by Brahmanas and princes desirous of instruction in the Vedas and divination and bowmanship, alas, how could he be taken away by Death? I cannot brook the overthrow of Drona which is even like the drying up of the ocean, or the removal of Meru from its site, or the fall of the Run from the
firmament. He was a restrainer of the wicked and a protector of the righteous. That scorcher of foes who hath given up his life for the wretched Duryodhana, upon whose prowess rested that hope of victory which my wicked sons entertained, who was equal to Vrihaspati or Usanas himself in intelligence, alas, how was he slain? His large steeds of red hue, covered with net of gold, fleet as the wind and incapable of being struck with any weapon in battle, endued with great strength, neighing cheerfully, well-trained and of the Sindhu breed, yoked unto his car and drawing the vehicle excellently, always preserving in the midst of battle, did they become weak and faint? Coolly bearing in battle the roar of elephants, while those huge creatures trumpeted at the blare of conchs and the beat of drums, unmoved by the twang of bows and showers of arrows and other weapons, foreboding the defeat of foes by their very appearance, never drawing long breaths (in consequence of toil), above all fatigue and pain, how were those fleet steeds that drew the car of Bharadwaja's son soon over-powered? Even such were the steeds yoked unto his golden car. Even such were the steeds yoked thereto by that foremost of human heroes. Mounted on his own excellent car decked with pure gold, why, O son, could he not cross the sea of the Pandava army? What feat were achieved in battle by Bharadwaja's son, that warrior who always drew tears from other heroes, and upon whose knowledge (of weapons) all the bowmen of the world rely? Firmly adhering to truth, and endued with great might, what, indeed, did Drona do in battle? Who were those car-warriors that encountered that achiever of fierce deeds, that foremost of all wielders of the bow, that first of heroes, who resembled Sakra himself in heaven? Did the Pandava fly away beholding him of the golden car and of mighty strength who invoked into existence celestial weapons? Or, did king Yudhishthira the just, with his younger brothers, and having the prince of Panchala (Dhrishtadyumna) for his binding chord, 1 attack Drona, surrounding him with his troops on all sides? Verily, Partha must have, with his straight shafts, checked all the other car-warriors, and then Prishata's son of sinful deeds must have surrounded Drona. I do not see any other warrior, save the fierce Dhrishtadyumna protected by Arjuna, who could have compassed the death of that mighty hero? It seems that when those heroes, viz., the Kekayas, the Chedis, the Karushas, the Matsyas, and the other kings, surrounding the preceptor, pressed him exceedingly like ants pressing upon a snake, while he was engaged in some difficult feat, the wretched Dhrishtadyumna must have slain him then. This is what, I think. He who, having studied the four Vedas with their branches and the histories forming the fifth (Veda), became the refuge of the Brahmanas, as the ocean is of rivers, that scorcher of foes, who lived both as a Brahmana and as a Kshatriya, alas, how could that Brahmana, reverend in years, meet with his end at the edge of a
weapon? Of a proud spirit, he was yet often humiliated and had to suffer, pain on my account. However undeserving of it, he yet attained at the hands of Kunti's son, the fruit of his own conduct. 1 He, upon whose feats depend all wielders of bows in the world, alas, how could that hero, firmly adhering to truth and possessed of great skill, be slain by persons desirous of affluence? Foremost in the world like Sakra himself in heaven, of great might and great energy, alas, how could he be slain by the Parthas, like the whale by the smaller fish? He, from whose presence no warrior desirous of victory could ever escape with life, he whom, while alive, these two sounds never left, viz., the sound of the Vedas by those desirous of Vedic lore, and the twang of bows caused by those desirous of skill in bowmanship, he who was never cheerless, alas, that tiger among men, that hero endued with prosperity and never vanquished in battle, that warrior of prowess equal to that of the lion or the elephant, hath been slain. Verily, I cannot bear the idea of his death. How could Prishata's son, in the sight of the foremost of men, slay in battle that invincible warrior whose might was never humiliated and whose fame was never tarnished? Who were they that fought in Drona's van, protecting him, standing by his side? Who proceeded in his rear and obtained that end which is so difficult of attainment? Who were those high-souled warriors that protected the right and the left wheels of Drona? Who were in the van of that hero while he struggled in battle? Who were they that, reckless of their lives on that occasion, met with death which stood face to face with them? Who were those heroes that went in the last journey in Drona's battle? Did any of those Kshatriyas that were assigned for Drona's protection, proving false, abandon that hero in battle? Was he slain by the foe after such desertion and while alone? Drona would never, from fear, show his back in battle, however great the danger. How then was he slain by the foe? Even in great distress, O Sanjaya, an illustrious person should do this, viz., put forth his prowess according to the measure of his might. All this was in Drona; O child, I am losing my senses. Let this discourse be suspended for a while. After regaining my senses I will once more ask thee, O Sanjaya!'"
17:1 Probably, a ready instrument.
18:1 The sense seems to be that having carefully attained Arjuna in arms he has got the fruit of his care and labour in the form of defeat and death at the hands of, or, at least, through, his own pupil.
Next: Section X