The Mahabharata Home
"Sanjaya said, 'Vrikodara, however, could not brook that slaughter of his army. He struck Valhika with sixty and Karna with ten arrows. Drona then, desirous of slaying Bhima, quickly struck the latter, in his very vitals, many straight and whetted shafts of keen edge. Desirous again of allowing no time, he once more struck him with, six and twenty shafts whose touch resembled that of fire and which were all like snakes of virulent poison. Then Karna pierced him with a dozen shafts, and Aswatthaman with seven, and king Duryodhana also with six. The mighty Bhimasena, in return, pierced them all. He struck Drona with fifty shafts, and Karna with ten. And piercing Duryodhana with a dozen shafts, and Drona with eight, he engaged in that battle uttering a loud shout. In that encounter in which the warriors fought reckless of their lives and in which death was easy of attainment, Ajatasattru despatched many warriors, urging them to rescue Bhima. Those heroes of immeasurable energy, viz., the two son of Madri and Pandu, and others headed by Yuyudhana, quickly proceeded to Bhimasena's side. And those bulls among men, filled with rage and uniting together, advanced to battle, desirous of breaking the army of Drona that was protected by many foremost of bowmen. Indeed, those great car-warriors of mighty energy, viz., Bhima and others, fell furiously upon Drona's host. Drona, however, that foremost of car-warriors, received without any anxiety, all those mighty car-warriors, of great strength,--those heroes accomplished in battle. Disregarding their kingdoms and casting off all fear of death, the warriors of thy army proceeded against the Pandavas. Horsemen encountered horsemen, and car-warriors encountered car-warriors.
[paragraph continues] The battle proceeded, darts against darts, swords against swords, axes against axes. A fierce encounter with swords took place, producing a terrible carnage. And in consequence of the collision of elephants against elephants the battle became furious. Some fell down from the backs of elephants, and some from the backs of steeds, with heads downwards. And others, O sire, fell down from cars, pierced with arrows. In that fierce press, as some one fell down deprived of armour, an elephant might be seen attacking him in the chest and crushing his head. Elsewhere might be seen elephants crushing numbers of men fallen down on the field. And many elephants, piercing the earth with their tusks (as they fell down), were seen to tear therewith large bodies of men. Many elephants, again, with arrows sticking to their trunks, wandered over the field, tearing and crushing men by hundreds. And some elephants were seen pressing down into the earth fallen warriors and steeds and elephants cased in armour of black iron, as if these were only thick reeds. Many kings, graced with modesty, their hour having come, laid themselves down (for the last sleep) on painful beds, overlaid with vultures' feathers. Advancing to battle on his car, sire slew son; and son also, through madness all losing regard, approached-sire in battle. The wheels of cars were broken; banners were torn; umbrellas fell down on the earth. Dragging broken yokes, steeds ran away. Arms with swords in grasp, and heads decked with ear-rings fell down. Cars, dragged by mighty elephants, thrown down on the ground, were reduced to fragments. Steeds with riders fell down, severely wounded by elephants. That fierce battle went on, without anybody showing any regard for any one. 'Oh father!--Oh son!--Where art thou, friend?--Wait!--Where dost thou go!--Strike!--Bring! Slay this one!'--these and diverse other cries, with loud laughs and shouts, and roars were uttered and heard there. The blood of human beings and steeds and elephants, mingled together. The earthy dust disappeared. The hearts of all timid persons became cheerless. Here a hero getting his car-wheel entangled with the car-wheel of another hero, and the distance being too near to admit of the use of other weapons, smashed that other's head by means of his mace. Brave combatants, desirous of safety where there was no safety, dragged one another by the hair, and fought fiercely with fists, and teeth and nails. Here was a hero whose upraised arm with sword in grasp was cut off, There another's arm was lopped off with bow, or arrow or hook in grasp. Here one loudly called upon another. There another turned his back on the field. Here one severed another's head from his trunk, getting him within reach. There another rushed with loud shouts Upon an enemy. Here one was filled with fear at another's roar. There another slew with sharp shafts a friend or a foe. Here an elephant, huge as a hill, slain with a long shaft, fell down en the field and lay like a flat island in a river during the summer season. There an elephant, with sweat trickling down its body, like a mountain with rills flowing adown its breast, steed, having crushed by its tread a car-warrior with his steeds and charioteer on the field. Beholding brave warriors, accomplished in arms and covered
with blood, strike one another, they that were timid and of weak hearts, lost their senses. In fact, all became cheerless. Nothing could any longer be distinguished. Overwhelmed with the dust raised by the troops, the battle became furious. Then the commander of the Pandava forces saying, 'This is the time,' speedily led the Pandavas on those heroes that are always endued with great activity. Obeying his behest, the mighty-armed Pandavas, smiting (the Katirava army) proceeded towards Drona's car like swans towards a lake,--'Seize him,'---'Do not fly away,'--'Do not fear,'--'Cut into pieces,'--these uproarious cries were heard in the vicinity of Drona's car. Then Drona and Kripa, and Karna and Drona's son, and king Jayadratha, and Vinda and Anuvinda of Avanti, and Salya, received those heroes. Those irresistible and invincible warriors, however, viz., the Panchalas and the Pandavas, inspired by noble sentiments, did not, though afflicted with shafts, avoid Drona. Then Drona, excited with great rage, shot hundreds of shafts, and caused a great carnage amongst the Chedis, the Panchalas, and the Pandavas. The twang of his bowstring and the slaps of his palms, were, O sire, heard on all sides. And they resembled the roar of thunder and struck fear into the hearts of all. Meanwhile, Jishnu, having vanquished large number of Samsaptakas, quickly came to that place where Drona was grinding the Pandava troops. Having crossed many large lakes whose waters were constituted by blood, and whose fierce billows and eddies were constituted by shafts, and having slain the Samsaptakas, Phalguni showed himself there. Possessed of great fame and endued as he was with the energy of the Sun himself, Arjuna's emblem, viz., his banner bearing the ape, was beheld by us to blaze with splendour. Having dried up the Samsaptaka ocean by means of weapons that constituted his rays, the son of Pandu then blasted the Kurus also, as if he were the very Sun that arises at the end of the Yuga. Indeed, Arjuna scorched all the Kurus by the heat of his weapons, like the fire 1 that appears at the end of the Yuga, burning down all creatures. Struck by him with thousands of shafts, elephant warriors and horsemen and car-warriors fell down on the earth, with dishevelled hair, and exceedingly afflicted with those arrowy showers, some uttered cries of distress. Others set up loud shouts. And some struck with the shafts of Partha, fell down deprived of life. Recollecting the practices of (good) warriors, Arjuna struck not those combatants among the foe that had fallen down, or those that were retreating, or those that were unwilling to fight. Deprived of their cars and filled with wonder, almost all the Kauravas, turning away from the field, uttered cries of Oh and Alas and called upon Karna (for protection). Hearing that din made by the Kurus, desirous of protection, Adhiratha's son (Karna), loudly assuring the troops with the words 'Do not fear' proceeded to face Arjuna. Then (Karna) that foremost of Bharata car-warriors, that delighter of all the Bharatas, that first
of all persons acquainted with weapons, invoked into existence the Agneya weapon. Dhananjaya, however, baffled by means of his own arrowy downpours the flights of arrows shot by Radha's son, that warrior of the blazing bow, that hero of bright shafts. And similarly, Adhiratha's son also baffled the shafts of Arjuna of supreme energy. Resisting Arjuna's weapons thus by his own, Karna uttered loud shouts and shot many shafts at his antagonist. Then Dhristadyumna and Bhima and the mighty car-warrior Satyaki, all approached Karna, and each of them pierced in with three straight shafts. The son of Radha, however, checking Arjuna's weapons by his own arrowy showers, cut off with three sharp shafts the bows of those three warriors. Their bows cut off, they looked like snakes without poison. Hurling darts at their foe from their respective cars, they uttered loud leonine shouts. Those fierce darts of great splendour and great impetuosity, looking like snakes, hurled from those mighty arms, coursed impetuously towards Karna's car. Cutting each of those darts with three straight arrows and speeding many arrows at the same time at Partha, the mighty Karna uttered a loud shout. Then Arjuna piercing Karna with seven shafts, despatched the latter's younger brother by means of his sharp shafts. Slaying Satrunjaya thus with six arrows, Partha, with a broad-headed shaft, struck off Vipatha's head as the latter stood on his car. In the very sight of the Dhritarashtras, therefore, as also of the Suta's son, the three uterine brothers of the latter were despatched by Arjuna unaided by any one. Then Bhima, jumping down from his own car, like a second Garuda, slew with his excellent sword five and ten combatants amongst those that supported Karna. Mounting once more on his car and taking up another bow, he pierced Karna with ten shafts and his charioteer and steeds with five. Dhrishtadyumna also taking up a sword and a bright shield; despatched Charmavarman and also Vrihatkshatra, the ruler of the Naishadhas. The Panchala prince then, mounting upon his own car and taking up another bow, pierced Karna with three and seventy shafts, and uttered a loud roar. Sini's grandson also, of splendour equal to that of Indra himself, taking up another bow pierced Suta's son with four and sixty shafts and roared like a lion. And cutting off Karna's bow with a couple of well-shot shafts, he once more pierced Karna on the arms and the chest with three arrows. The king Duryodhana, and Drona and Jayadratha, rescued Karna from the Satyaki-ocean, as the former was about to sink into it. And foot-soldiers and steeds and cars and elephants, belonging to thy army and numbering by hundreds, all accomplished in smitting rushed to the spot where Karna was frightening (his assailants). Then Dhrishtadyumna, and Bhima and Subhadra's son, and Arjuna himself, and Nakula, and Sahadeva, began to protect Satyaki in that battle. Even thus went on that fierce battle for the destruction of bowmen belonging to thy army and of the enemy's. All the combatants fought, reckless of their very lives. Infantry and cars and steeds and elephants were engaged with cars and infantry. Car-warriors were engaged with elephants and foot-soldiers and steeds, and cars and foot-soldiers were
engaged with cars and elephants. And steeds were seen engaged with steeds, and elephants with elephants, and foot-soldiers with foot-soldiers. Even thus did that battle, marked by great confusion, take place, enhancing the delight of cannibals and carnivorous creatures, between those high-souled men facing one another fearlessly. Indeed, it largely swelled the population of Yama's kingdom. Large numbers of elephants and cars and foot-soldiers and steeds were destroyed by men, cars, steeds and elephants. And elephants were slain by elephants, and car-warriors with weapons upraised by car-warriors, and steeds by steeds, and large bodies of foot-soldiers. And elephants were slain by cars, and large steeds by large elephants and men by steeds; and steeds by foremost of car-warriors. With tongues lolling out, and teeth and eyes pressed out of their places, with coats of mail and ornaments crushed into dust, the slaughtered creatures fell down on the field. Others, again, of terrible mien were struck and thrown down on the earth by others armed with diverse and excellent weapons and sunk into the earth by the tread of steeds and elephants, and tortured and mangled by heavy cars and car wheels. And during the progress of that fierce carnage so delightful to beasts of prey and carnivorous birds and cannibals, mighty combatants, filled with wrath, and slaughtering one another careered over the field putting forth all their energy. Then when both the hosts were broken and mangled, the warriors bathed in blood, looked at each other. Meanwhile, the Sun went to his chambers in the western hills, and both the armies, O Bharata, slowly retired to their respective tents.
74:1 The word in the original is dhumaketu. Elsewhere I have rendered it comet. It would seem, however, that is wrong. In such passages the word is used in its literal sense, viz., "(an article) having smoke for its mark," hence fire.
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