The Mahabharata Home
"Dhritarashtra said, Our army is equally possessed of many excellences. It is equally regarded as superior. It is equally arrayed according to the
rules of science, and it is equally numerous, O Sanjaya! 1 It is always well-treated by us, and is always devoted to us. It is vast in numerical strength, and presents a wonderful aspect. Its prowess had before been tested. The soldiers are neither very old nor very young. They are neither lean nor corpulent. Of active habits, of well-developed and strong frames, they are free from disease. They are cased in mail and well-equipped with arms. They are devoted to all kinds of armed exercises. They are adepts in mounting upon and descending from the backs of elephants, in moving forward and stepping back, in smiting effectually, and in marching and retreating. Oftentimes have they been tested in the management of elephants and steeds and cars. Having been examined duly, they have been entertained on pay and not for the sake of lineage, nor from favour, nor from relationship. They are not a rabble come of their own accord, nor have they been admitted into my army without pay. My army consists of well-born and respectable men, who are, again, contented, well-fed, and submissive. They are sufficiently rewarded. They are all famous and endued with great intelligence. They are, again, O son, protected by many of our foremost counsellors and others of righteous deeds, all of whom are best of men, resembling the very Regents of the world. Innumerable rulers of earth, seeking to do what is agreeable to us, and who have of their own well sided with us with their forces and followers, also protect them. Indeed, our army is like the vast ocean filled with the waters of innumerable rivers running from all directions. It abounds in steeds and cars which, though destitute of wings, still resemble the winged tenants of the air. It seems also with elephants adorned whose cheeks flow with juicy secretions. What can it, therefore, be but Destiny that even such an army should be slain? (Ocean-like it is) vast number of combatants constitute its interminable waters, and the steeds and other animals constitute its terrible waves. Innumerable swords and maces and darts and arrows and lances constitute the oars (plied on that ocean). 2 Abounding in standards and ornaments, the pearls and gems (of the warriors) constitute the lotuses that deck it. The rushing steeds and elephants constitute the winds that agitate it into fury. Drona constitutes the fathomless cave of that ocean, Kritavarman its vast vortex. Jalasandha its mighty alligator, and Karna the rise of the moon that makes it swell with energy and pride. When that bull amongst the Pandavas, on his single car, hath speedily gone, piercing through that army of mine vast (though it be) like the ocean, and when Yuyudhana also hath followed him, I do not, O Sanjaya, see the prospect of even a remnant of my troops being left alive by Savyasachin, and that foremost of car-warriors belonging to the Satwata race. Beholding those two exceedingly
active heroes pierce through (the divisions placed in the van), and seeing the ruler of the Sindhus also within reach of the shafts from Gandiva, what, indeed, was the measure adopted by the Kaurava impelled by fate? At that time, when all were fighting intently, what became of them? O sire, I regard the assembled Kurus to be overtaken by Death himself. Indeed, their prowess also in battle is no longer seen to be what it once was. Krishna and the son of Pandu have both entered the (Kuru) host unwounded. There is none in that host, O Sanjaya, capable of resisting them. Many combatants that are great car-warriors were admitted by us after examination. They are all honoured (by us) with pay as each deserves, and others with agreeable speeches. There is none, O son, amongst my troops who is not honoured with good offices (done to him). Each receives his assigned pay and rations according to the character of his services. In my army, O Sanjaya, there is none who is unskilled in battle, none who receives pay less than what he deserves, or none who does not receive any pay. The soldiers are adored by me, according to the best of my powers, with gifts and honours and seats. The same conduct is followed towards them by my sons, my kinsmen, and my friends. Yet on the very approach of Savyasachin, have they been vanquished by him and by the grandson of Sini. What can it be but Destiny? They who are protecting them, all follow the same road, the protected with the protectors! Beholding Arjuna arrived at the front of Jayadratha, what measure was adopted by my foolish son? Beholding Satyaki also entering the host, what step did Duryodhana think suitable to that occasion? Indeed, beholding those two foremost of car-warriors who are beyond the touch of all weapons, enter my host, what resolution was formed by my warriors in battle? I think, beholding Krishna of Dasarha's race and that bull of Sini's race also both engaged for Arjuna's sake my sons are filled with grief. I think, seeing both Satwata and Arjuna pass through my army and the Kurus flying away, my sons are filled with grief. I think, seeing their car-warriors retreat in despair of subjugating the foe and set their hearts upon flying away from the field, my sons are filled with grief. Their steeds and elephants and cars and heroic combatants by thousands flying away from the field in anxiety, my sons are filled with grief I think, seeing many huge elephants fly away, afflicted with the shafts of Arjuna, and others fallen and falling, my sons are filled with grief. I think, seeing steeds deprived of riders and warriors deprived of cars by Satyaki and Partha, my sons are filled with grief. I think, large bodies of steeds slain or routed by Madhava and Partha, my sons are filled with grief. I think, seeing large bodies of foot-soldiers flying away in all directions, my sons, despairing of success, are filled with grief. I think, seeing those two heroes pass through Drona's division unvanquished within a moment, my sons are filled with grief. Stupefied am I, O son, upon hearing that Krishna and Dhananjaya, those two heroes of unfading glory, have both, with Satwata, penetrated into my host. After that foremost of car-warriors among the Sinis, had entered my host, and after he had passed through
the division of the Bhojas, what did the Kauravas do? Tell me also, O Sanjaya, how did the battle take place there where Drona afflicted the Pandavas on the field. Drona is endued with great might, is the foremost of all persons, is accomplished in weapons, and is incapable of being defeated in battle. How could the Panchalas pierce that great bowman in the fight? Desirous of Dhananjaya's victory, the Panchalas are inveterate foes of Drona. The mighty car-warrior Drona also is an inveterate foe of theirs. Thou art skilled in a narration, O Sanjaya! Tell me, therefore, everything about what Arjuna did for compassing the slaughter of the ruler of the Sindhus.'
"Sanjaya said, 'O bull of Bharata's race, overtaken by a calamity that is the direct result of thy own fault, thou shouldst not, O hero, indulge in such lamentations like an ordinary person. Formerly, many of thy wise well-wishers, numbering Vidura amongst them, had told thee, 'Do not, O king, abandon the sons of Pandu.' Thou didst not then heed those words. The man that heedeth not the counsels of well-wishing friends, weepeth, falling into great distress, like thyself. He of Dasarha's race, O king, had formerly begged thee for peace. For all that, Krishna of world-wide fame, obtained not his prayer. Ascertaining thy worthlessness, and thy jealousy towards the Pandavas, and understanding also thy crooked intentions towards the sons of Pandu, and hearing thy delirious lamentations, O best of kings, that puissant Lord of all the worlds, that Being, acquainted with the truth of everything in all the worlds, viz., Vasudeva, then caused the flame of war to blaze forth among the Kurus. This great and wholesale destruction hath come upon thee, brought about by thy own fault. O giver of honours, it behoveth thee not to impute the fault to Duryodhana. In the development of these incidents no merit of thine is to be seen in the beginning, in the middle, or at the end. This defeat is entirely owing to thee. Therefore, knowing as thou dost the truth about this world, be quiet and hear how this fierce battle, resembling that between the gods and the Asuras, took place. After the grandson of Sini, that warrior of prowess incapable of being baffled, had entered into thy host, the Parthas headed by Bhimasena also rushed against thy troops. The mighty car-warrior Kritavarman, however, alone, resisted, in that battle the Pandavas thus rushing in fury and wrath with their followers against thy host. As the continent resists the surgings, even so did the son of Hridika resist the troops of the Pandavas in that battle. The prowess that we then beheld of the son of Hridika was wonderful, inasmuch as the united Parthas succeeded not in transgressing his single self. Then the mighty-armed Bhima, piercing Kritavarman with three shafts, blew his conch, gladdening all the Pandavas. Then Sahadeva pierced the son of Hridika with twenty shafts, and Yudhishthira the just pierced him with five and Nakula pierced him with a hundred. And the sons of Draupadi pierced him with three and seventy shafts, Ghatotkacha pierced him with seven. And Virata and Drupada and Drupada's son (Dhrishtadyumna) each Pierced him with five shafts, and Sikhandin, having once pierced him with
five, again pierced him smilingly with five and twenty shafts. Then Kritavarman, O king, pierced every one of those great car-warriors with five shafts, and Bhima again with seven. And the son of Hridika felled both the bow and the standard of Bhima from the latter's car. Then that mighty car-warrior, with great speed, wrathfully struck Bhima, whose bow had been cut off with seventy keen shafts in the chest. Then mighty Bhima, deeply pierced with those excellent shafts of Hridika's son, trembled on his car like a mountain during an earthquake. Beholding Bhimasena in that condition, the Parthas headed by king Yudhishthira the just afflicted Kritavarman, O king, shooting at him many shafts. Encompassing that warrior there with throngs of cars, O sire, they cheerfully began to pierce him with their shafts, desiring to protect the Wind-god's son in that battle. Then mighty Bhimasena recovering consciousness, took up in that battle a dart made of steel and equipped with a golden staff, and hurled it with great speed from his own car at the car of Kritavarman. That dart resembling a snake freed from its slough, hurled from Bhima's hands, fierce-looking, blazed forth as it proceeded towards Kritavarman. Beholding that dart endued with the splendour of the Yuga-fire coursing towards him, the son of Hridika cut it in twain with two shafts. Thereupon, that dart decked with gold, thus cut off, fell down on the earth, illumining the ten points of the compass, O king, like a large meteor falling from the firmament. Seeing his dart baffled, Bhima blazed forth in wrath. Then taking tip another bow which was tougher and whose twang was louder, Bhimasena, filled with wrath, attacked the son of Hridika in that battle. Then O king, Bhima, of terrible might, struck Kritavarman, in the centre of the chest with five shafts, in consequence of thy evil policy, O monarch! The ruler of the Bhoja then, mangled in every limb, O sire, by Bhimasena, shone resplendent in the field like a red Asoka covered with flowers. Then that mighty bowman, viz., Kritavarman, filled with rage, smilingly struck Bhimasena with three shafts, and having struck him forcibly, pierced in return every one of those great car-warriors struggling vigorously in battle, with three shafts. Each of the latter then pierced him in return with seven shafts. Then that mighty car-warrior of the Satwata race, filled with rage, cut off, smiling in that battle, with a razor-faced shaft the bow of Sikhandin. Sikhandin then, seeing his bow cut off, quickly took up a sword and a bright shield decked with a hundred moons. Whirling his large shield, decked with gold, Sikhandin sent that sword towards the car of Kritavarman. That large sword, cutting off, O king, Kritavarman's bow with arrow fixed thereon, fell down on the earth, like. O monarch, a bright luminary loosened from the firmament. Meanwhile, those mighty car-warriors quickly and deeply pierced Kritavarman with their shafts in that battle. Then that slayer of hostile heroes, viz., the son of Hridika, casting off, that broken bow, and taking up another, pierced each of the Pandavas with three straight shafts. And he pierced Sikhandin at first with three, and then with five shafts. Then the illustrious Sikhandin, taking up another bow, checked the son of Hridika with many swift-flying shafts,
furnished with heads like tortoise nails. Then, O king, the son of Hridika, inflamed with rage in that battle, rushed impetuously at that mighty car-warrior, viz., the son of Yajnasena, that warrior, O monarch, who was the cause of the illustrious Bhishma's fall in battle. Indeed, the heroic Kritavarman rushed at Sikhandin, displaying his might, like a tiger at an elephant. Then those two chastisers of foes, who resembled a couple of huge elephants or two blazing fires, encountered each other with clouds of shafts. And they took their best of bows and aimed their arrows, and shot them in hundreds like a couple of suns shedding their rays. And those two mighty car-warriors scorched each other with their keen shafts, and shone resplendent like two Suns appearing at the end of the Yuga. And Kritavarman in that battle pierced that mighty car-warrior viz., Yajnasena's son, with three and seventy shafts and once more with seven. Deeply pierced therewith, Sikhandin sat down in pain on the terrace of his car, throwing aside his bow and arrows, and was overtaken by a swoon. Beholding that hero in a swoon, thy troops, O bull among men, worshipped the son of Hridika, and waved their garments in the air. Seeing Sikhandin thus afflicted with the shafts of Hridika's son his charioteer quickly bore that mighty car-warrior away from the battle. The Parthas, beholding Sikhandin lying senseless on the terrace of his car, soon encompassed Kritavarman in that battle with crowds of cars. The mighty car-warrior, Kritavarman, then achieved a most wonderful feat there, inasmuch as, alone, he held in check all the Parthas with their followers. Having thus vanquished the Parthas, that mighty car-warrior then vanquished the Chedis, the Panchalas, the Srinjayas, and the Kekayas, all of whom are endued with great prowess. The forces of the Pandavas then, thus slaughtered by the son of Hridika began to run in all directions, unable to stay coolly in battle. Having vanquished the sons of Pandu headed by Bhimasena himself, the son of Hridika stayed in battle like a blazing fire. Those mighty car-warriors, afflicted with torrents of shafts and routed by Hridika's son in battle, ventured not to face him.'"
235:1 Many of the opening slokas of this section are nearly the same as those of section 76 of Bhishma Parva, vide ante. In a few instances I have adopted the readings of the Bombay edition.
235:2 I prefer the reading Samakulam to Jhashakulam.
Next: Section CXIV