The Mahabharata Home
"Sanjaya said, 'Having thus slain one of their foremost warriors, and having been afflicted with their arrows, we came back to our encampment in the evening, covered with blood. Steadfastly gazed at by the enemy, we slowly left, O monarch, the field of battle, having sustained a severe loss and nearly deprived of our senses. Then came that wonderful hour intervening between day and night. Inauspicious howls of jackals were heard. The sun, with the pale-red hue of the filaments of the lotus,--sank low in the horizon, having approached the western hills. And he took away with him the splendour of our swords and darts, rapiers and car-fences, and shields and ornaments. Causing the firmament and the earth to assume the same hue, the sun assumed his favourite form of fire. The field of battle was strewn with the motionless bodies of innumerable elephants deprived of life, Looking like crests of cloud-capped hills riven by the thunder, and lying about with their standards and hooks and riders fallen from their backs. The earth looked beautiful with large cars crushed to pieces, and
with their warriors and charioteers and ornaments and steeds and standards and banners crushed, broken and torn. Those huge cars, O king, looked like living creatures deprived of their lives by the foe with his shafts. The field of battle assumed a fierce and awful aspect in consequence of large number of steeds and riders all lying dead, with costly trappings and blankets of diverse kinds scattered about, and tongues and teeth and entrails and eyes of those creatures bulging out of their places. Men decked with costly coats of mail and ornaments and robes and weapons, deprived of life, lay with slain steeds and elephants and broken cars, on the bare ground, perfectly helpless, although deserving of costly beds and blankets. Dogs and jackals, and crown and cranes and other carnivorous birds, and wolves and hyenas, and ravens and other food-drinking creatures, all diverse tribes of Rakshasas, and large number of Pisachas, on the field of battle, tearing the skins of the corpse and drinking their fat, blood and marrow, began to eat their flesh. And they began to suck also the secretions of rotten corpses, while the Rakshasas laughed horribly and sang aloud, dragging dead bodies numbering thousands. An awful river, difficult to cross, like the Vaitarani itself, was caused there by foremost of warriors. Its waters were constituted by the blood (of fallen creatures). Cars constituted the rafts (or, which to cross it), elephants formed its rocks, and the heads of human beings, its smaller stones. And it was miry with the flesh (of slain steeds and elephants and men). And diverse kinds of costly weapons constituted the garlands (floating on it or lying on its banks). And that terrible river flowed fiercely through the middle of the field of battle, wafting living creatures to the regions of the dead. And large numbers of Pisachas, of horrible and repulsive forms, rejoiced, drinking and eating in that stream. And dogs and jackals and carnivorous birds, all eating of the same food, and inspiring living creatures with terror, held their high carnival there. And the warriors, gazing on that field of battle which, enhancing the population of Yama's domain, presented such an awful sight, and where human corpses rising up, began to dance, slowly left it as they beheld the mighty car-warrior Abhimanyu who resembled Sakra himself, lying on the field, his costly ornaments displaced and fallen off, and looking like a sacrificial fire on the altar no longer drenched with clarified butter.'"
Next: Section XLIX