The Mahabharata Home
"Sanjaya said, 'Hearing the twang, resembling the loud call of Death himself or the frightful peal of Indra's thunder, of Dhananjaya's bow, while he stretched it, that host of thine, O king, anxious with fear and exceedingly agitated, became like the waters of the sea with fishes and makaras within them, ruffled into mountain-like waves and lashed into fury by the hurricane that arises at the end of the Yuga. Then Dhananjaya, the son of Pritha, careered in battle in such a way that he was seen at the same time to be present in all directions, displaying his wonderful weapons. Indeed, so light-handed was the son of Pandu that we could not mark when he took out his shafts, O king, when he fixed them on the bow-string, when he stretched the bow, and when he let them off. Then the mighty-armed one, O king, excited with wrath, invoked into existence the invincible Aindra weapon, frightening all the Bharatas. Hundreds and thousands of blazing shafts of fiery mouths, inspired by mantras with the force of celestial weapons, flowed from it. With those shafts resembling fire or the rays of the sun, coursing with fierce impetuosity, the welkin became incapable of being
gazed at, as if filled with flashing meteors. Then that darkness which had been caused by the Katirava with their arrows, which was incapable of being dispersed even in imagination by others, the son of Pandu, careering around and displaying his prowess, destroyed by means of those shafts of his that were inspired by means of mantras with the force of celestial weapons, like the sun himself speedily dispersing at dawn of day the darkness of night by means of his rays. Then the puissant Arjuna, with those blazing shafts of his, sucked the lives of thy warriors like the summer sun sucking with his hot rays the waters of tanks and lakes. Indeed, showers of shafts endued with the force of celestial weapons, (shot by Arjuna) covered the hostile army like the rays of the sun covering the earth. Other arrows of fierce energy, sped (by Dhananjaya), quickly entered the hearts of (hostile) heroes, like dear friends. Indeed, those brave warriors that came in that battle before Arjuna, all perished like insects approaching a blazing fire. Thus crushing the lives of his foes and their fame, Partha careered in that battle like Death in embodied form. Heads decked with diadems, massive arms, adorned with Angadas, and ears with ear-rings of the foes, Partha, cut off with his shafts. The arms, with spears, of elephant-riders; those, with lances, of horsemen; those, with shields, of foot-soldiers; those with bows, of car-warriors; and those, with whips and goads, of charioteers the son of Pandu cut off. Indeed, Dhananjaya looked resplendent with his shafts of blazing points that seemed to constitute his rays, like a blazing fire with incessant sparks and rising flames. The hostile kings, mustering all their resolution, could not even gaze at Dhananjaya, that foremost of all bearers of arms, that hero equal to the chief of the gods himself, that bull among men, seen at the same time in all directions on his car, scattering his mighty weapons, dancing in the tract of his car, and producing deafening sounds with his bowstring and palms, and resembling the midday sun of scorching rays in the firmament. Bearing his shafts of blazing points, the diadem-decked Arjuna looked beautiful like a mighty mass of rain-charged clouds in the season of rains decked with a rainbow. When that perfect flood of mighty weapons was set in motion by Jishnu, many bulls among warriors sank in that frightful and unfordable flood. Strewn with infuriated elephants whose trunks or tusks had been cut off, with steeds deprived of hoofs or necks, with cars reduced to pieces, with warriors having their entrails drawn out and others with legs or other limbs cut off, with bodies lying in hundreds and thousands that were either perfectly still or moving unconsciously, we beheld the vast field, on which Partha battled, resembled the coveted arena of Death, O king, enhancing the terrors of the timid, or like the sporting ground of Rudra when he destroyed creatures in days of old. Portions of the field, strewn with the trunks of elephants cut off with razor-headed arrows, looked as if strewn with snakes. Portions, again, covered with the cut-off heads of warriors, looked as if strewn with garlands of lotuses. Variegated with beautiful head-gear and crowns, Keyuras and Angadas and car-rings with coats of mail decked with gold, and with the trappings and other
ornaments of elephants and steeds, and scattered over with hundreds of diadems, lying here and there, and the earth looked exceedingly beautiful like a new bride. Dhananjaya then caused a fierce and terrible river full of fearful objects and enhancing the fear of the timid, to flow resembling the Vaitarani itself. The marrow and fat (of men and animals) formed its mire. Blood formed its current. Full of limbs and bones, it was fathomless in depth. The hairs of creatures formed its moss and weeds. Heads and arms formed the stones on its shores. It was decked with standards and banners that variegated its aspect. Umbrellas and bows formed the waves. And it abounded with bodies of huge elephants deprived of life, and it teemed with cars that formed hundreds of rafts floating on its surface. And the carcases of countless steeds formed its banks. And it was difficult to cross in consequence of wheels and yokes and shafts and Akshas and Kuveras of cars, and spears and swords and darts and battle-axes and shafts looking like snakes. And ravens and kankas formed its alligators. And jackals, forming its Makaras, made in terrible. And fierce vultures formed its sharks. And it became frightful in consequence of the howls of jackals. And it abounded with capering ghosts and Pisachas and thousands of other kinds of spirits. And on it floated countless bodies of warriors destitute of life. Beholding that prowess of Arjuna whose visage then resembled that of the Destroyer himself, a panic, such as had never occurred before, possessed the Kurus on the field of battle. The son of Pandu, then, baffling with his weapons those of the hostile heroes, and engaged in achieving fierce feats, gave all to understand that he was a warrior of fierce feats. Then Arjuna transgressed all those foremost of car-warriors, like the midday sun of scorching rays in the firmament, no one amongst the creatures there could even look at him. The shafts issuing out of the bow Gandiva of that illustrious hero in that battle, seemed to us to resemble a row of cranes in the welkin. Baffling with his own the weapons of all those heroes, and showing by the terrible achievements in which he was engaged that he was a warrior of fierce feats. Arjuna, desirous of slaying Jayadratha, transgressed all those foremost of car-warriors, stupefying them all by means of his shafts. Shooting his shafts on all sides, Dhananjaya, having Krishna for his charioteer, presented a beautiful sight by careering with great speed on the field of battle. The shafts in the welkin, by hundreds and thousands, of that illustrious hero, seemed to course incessantly through the sky. We never could notice when that mighty bowman took out his shafts, when indeed, that son of Pandu aimed them, and when he let them off. Then, O king, filling all the points of the compass with his shafts and afflicting all the car-warriors in battle, the son of Kunti proceeded towards Jayadratha and pierced him with four and sixty straight arrows. Then the Kuru warriors, beholding the son of Pandu proceeded towards Jayadratha, all abstained from battle. In fact, those heroes became hopeless of Jayadratha's life. Every one amongst thy warriors that rushed in that fierce battle against the son of Pandu, had his body deeply pierced, O lord, with a shaft of Arjuna. The
mighty car-warrior Arjuna, that foremost of victorious persons, with his shafts blazing as fire made thy army teem with headless trunks. 1 Indeed, O king, thus creating a perfect confusion in thy host consisting of four kinds of forces, the son of Kunti proceeded towards Jayadratha, And he pierced the son of Drona. with fifty shafts and Vrishasena with three. And the son of Kunti mildly struck Kripa with nine arrows, and he struck Salya with sixteen arrows and Karna with two and thirty. And piercing the ruler of the Sindhus then with four and sixty arrows, he uttered a leonine shout. The ruler of the Sindhus, however, thus pierced by the wielder of Gandiva with his arrows, became filled with rage and unable to brook it, like an elephant when pierced with the hook. Bearing the device of the boar on his banner, he quickly sped towards Phalguna's car many straight shafts equipped with vulturine feathers, resembling angry snakes of virulent poison, well-polished by the hands of the smith, and shot from his bow drawn to the fullest stretch. Then piercing Govinda with three shafts, he struck Arjuna with six. And then he pierced the steeds of Arjuna with eight arrows and his standard also with one. Then Arjuna, baffling the keen arrows sped by the ruler of the Sindhus, cut off at the same time, with a pair of shafts, the head of Jayadratha's driver and the well-decked standard also of Jayadratha. Its stay cut off and itself pierced and struck with arrows, that standard fell down like a flame of fire. Meanwhile, the sun was going down quickly. Janardana then quickly addressed the son of Pandu and said, 'Behold, O Partha, the ruler of the Sindhus hath, by six mighty and heroic car-warriors, been placed in their-midst! Jayadratha also, O mighty-armed one, is waiting there in fear! Without vanquishing those six car-warriors in battle, O bull among men, thou wilt never be able to slay the ruler of the Sindhus even if thou exertest thyself without intermission. I shall, therefore, resort to Yoga for shrouding the sun. Then the ruler of the Sindhus will (in consequence) behold the sun to have set. Desirous of life, O lord, through joy that wicked wight will no longer, for his destruction, conceal himself. Availing yourself of that opportunity, thou shouldst then, O best of the Kurus, strike him. Thou shouldst not give up the enterprise, thinking the sun to have really set.' Hearing these words, Vibhatsu replied unto Kesava, saying, 'Let it be so.' Then Krishna otherwise called Hari, possessed of ascetic powers, that lord of all ascetics, having taken recourse to Yoga, created that darkness. Thy warriors, O king, thinking the sun to have set were filled with delight at the prospect of Partha's laying down his life. Indeed, thy warriors, not seeing the sun, were filled with gladness. All of them stood, with heads thrown backwards. King Jayadratha also was in the same attitude. And while the ruler of the Sindhus was thus beholding the sun, Krishna, once more addressing Dhananjaya said these words, 'Behold, the heroic ruler of the Sindhus is now looking at the sun, casting off his fear of thee, O foremost one among
the Bharatas! This is the hour, O mighty-armed one, for the slaughter of that wicked-souled wretch. Speedily cut off the head and make thy vow true.' Thus addressed by Kesava the valiant son of Pandu began to slaughter thy host with his arrows resembling the sun or fire in splendour. And he pierced Kripa with twenty arrows and Karna with fifty. And he struck Salya and Duryodhana each with six. And he pierced Vrishasena with eight arrows and the ruler of the Sindhus himself with sixty. And the mighty-armed son of Pandu, O king, deeply piercing with his arrows the other warriors of thy host, rushed against Jayadratha. Beholding him in their presence like a swelling fire with its tongue of flame outstretched, the protectors of Jayadratha were sorely puzzled. Then all the warriors, O king, desirous of victory bathed the son of Indra in that battle with torrents of arrows. Shrouded with incessant showers of arrows, the son of Kunti, that mighty-armed and unvanquished descendant of Kuru, became filled with rage. Then that tiger among men, viz., the son of Indra, desirous of slaughtering thy host, created a thick net of arrows. Then those warriors of thine, O king, thus slaughtered in battle by that hero, abandoned the ruler of the Sindhus in fear and fled away. And they fled away in such a manner that no two persons could be seen flying together. The prowess that we then beheld of Kunti's son was extremely wonderful. Indeed, the like of what that illustrious warrior then did had never been nor will ever be. Like Rudra himself slaughtering creatures, Dhananjaya slaughtered elephants and elephant-riders, horses and horse-riders, and (car-warriors and) car-drivers. I did not in that battle, O king, see a single elephant or steed or human warrior that was not struck with Partha's shafts. Their vision blurred by dust and darkness, thy warriors became perfectly cheerless and unable to distinguish one another. Urged on by fate and with their vital limbs cut open and mangled with shafts, they began to wander or, limp, or fall down. And some amongst them, O Bharata, became paralysed and some became deathly pale. During that terrible carnage resembling the slaughter of creatures at the end of the Yuga, in that deadly and fierce battle from which few could escape with life, the earth became drenched with gore and the earthy dust that had arisen disappeared in consequence of the showers of blood that fell and the swift currents of wind that blew over the field. So deep was that rain of blood that the wheels of cars sank to their naves. Thousands of infuriated elephants endued with great speed, O king, of thy army, their riders slain and limbs mangled, fled away, uttering cries of pain and crushing friendly ranks with their tread. Steeds destitute of riders and foot-soldiers also, O king, fled away, O monarch, from fear, struck with the shafts of Dhananjaya. Indeed, thy soldiers, with dishevelled hair and deprived of their coats of mail, with blood streaming out of their wounds, fled away in terror, leaving the field of battle. And some, deprived of the power of motion as if their lower limbs had been seized by alligators, remained on the field. And others concealed themselves behind and under the bodies of slain elephants Routing thy host thus, O king, Dhananjaya began to strike with terrible
shafts the protectors of the ruler of the Sindhus with his arrowy showers, Karna and Drona's son and Kripa and Salya and Vrishasena and Duryodhana. So quick was he in the use of weapons that no one could mark when Arjuna took out his arrows, when he fixed them on the bowstring, when he stretched---the bow and let them off. Indeed, while striking the foe, his bow was seen incessantly drawn to a circle. His arrows also were seen incessantly issuing out of his bow and scattered in all directions. Then cutting off Karna's bow as also of Vrishasena's, Arjuna felled Salya's driver from his niche in the car, with a broad-headed arrow. With many arrows that foremost of victors, viz., Dhananjaya, then deeply pierced in that battle Kripa and Aswatthaman, related as uncle and nephew to each other. Sorely afflicting those mighty car-warriors of thy army thus, the son of Pandu took up a terrible arrow of fiery splendour. Looking like the thunderbolt of Indra, and inspired with divine mantras, that formidable arrow was capable of bearing any strain. And it had been always worshipped with incense and garlands of flowers. Duly inspiring it (by mantras) with the force of the thunderbolt, that descendant, of Kuru, viz., the mighty-armed Arjuna, fixed it on Gandiva. When that arrow of fiery effulgence was fixed on the bowstring, loud shouts, O king, were heard in the welkin. Then Janardana, once more addressing Arjuna, quickly said, 'O Dhananjaya, quickly cut off the head of the wicked-souled ruler of the Sindhus! The sun is about to get at the mountain of Asta. Listen, however, to the words I say about the slaughter of Jayadratha. The father of Jayadratha is Vriddhakshatra known all over the world. It was after a long time that he got Jayadratha, that slayer of foes, for his son. (At the birth of the son) an incorporeal and invisible voice, deep as that of the clouds or of the drum, said unto king Vriddhakshatra. 'This thy son, O lord, amongst men in this world will become worthy of the two races (viz., the Solar and the Lunar) in respect of blood, behaviour, self-restraint and the other attributes. He will become one of the foremost of Kshatriyas, and will always be worshipped by heroes. But while struggling in battle, some bull among the Kshatriyas, some conspicuous person in the world, excited with wrath, will cut off this one's head.' That chastiser of foes, viz., the (old) ruler of the Sindhus, hearing these words, reflected for sometime. Overwhelmed with affection for his son, he summoned all his kinsmen and said, 'That man who will cause the head of my son to fall on the earth while the latter, struggling in battle, will be bearing a great burthen, I say that the head of that man will certainly crack into a hundred pieces.' Having spoken these words and installed Jayadratha on the throne, Vriddhakshatra, repairing to the woods, devoted himself to ascetic austerities. Endued with great energy, he is still engaged in the observance of the austerest of penances outside this very Samantapanchaka, O ape-bannered one! Therefore, cutting off Jayadratha's head in this dreadful battle, thou, O slayer of foes, shouldst, O Bharata, by thy fierce celestial weapon of wonderful feats, quickly throw that head decked with car-rings upon the lap of Vriddhakshatra himself, O younger brother of the son of the Wind-god! If thou fellest Jayadratha's head on
the earth, thy own head, then, without doubt, will crack into a hundred fragments. Aided by thy celestial weapon, do thee deed in such a way that the lord of earth viz., the old Sindhu king, may not know that it is done. Truly, O Arjuna, there is nothing in the three worlds which thou canst not achieve or do, O son of Vasava!' Hearing these words (of Krishna), Dhananjaya, licking the corners of his mouth, quickly shot that arrow which he had taken up for Jayadratha's slaughter, that arrow, viz., whose touch resembled that of Indra's thunder, which was inspired with mantras and converted into a celestial weapon, which was capable of bearing any strain, and which had always been worshipped with incense and garlands. That shaft, sped from Gandiva, coursing swiftly, snatched Jayadratha's head away, like a hawk snatching away a smaller bird from the top of a tree. Dhananjaya, then, with his shafts, sent that head along in the welkin (without allowing it to fall down). For grieving his foes and gladdening his friends, the son of Pandu, by shooting his shafts repeatedly at it, sent that head outside the limits of Samantapanchaka. Meanwhile, king Vriddhakshatra, the father of thy son-in-law, endued with great energy, was, O sire, engaged in his evening prayers. Decked with black locks and adorned with ear-rings, that head of Jayadratha was thrown upon Vriddhakshatra's lap, as the latter was saying his prayers in a sitting posture. Thus thrown on his lap, that head decked with car-rings, O chastiser of foes, was not seen by king Vriddhakshatra. As the latter, however, stood up after finishing his prayers it suddenly fell down on the earth. And as the head of Jayadratha fell down on the earth, the head of Vriddhakshatra, O chastiser of foes, cracked into a hundred pieces. At the sight of this, all creatures were filled with wonder. And all of them applauded Vasudeva and the mighty Vibhatsu.
"After, O king, the ruler of the Sindhus had been slain by the diadem-decked Arjuna, that darkness, O bull of Bharata's race, was withdrawn by Vasudeva. Thy sons with their followers, O king, thus, came to know subsequently that the darkness, they had seen, had all been an illusion produced by Vasudeva. Even thus, O king, was thy son-in-law, the ruler of the Sindhus, having caused eight Akshauhinis to be slaughtered, himself slain by Partha of inconceivable energy. Beholding Jayadratha, the ruler of the Sindhus slain, tears of sorrow fell from the eyes of thy sons. After Jayadratha, O king, had been slain by Partha, Kesava blew his conch and that scorcher of foes, viz., the mighty-armed Arjuna also blew his; Bhimasena also, in that battle, as if for sending a message to Yudhishthira, filled the welkin with a tremendous leonine shout. Yudhishthira, the son of Dharma, bearing that tremendous shout understood that the ruler of the Sindhus had been slain by the high-souled Phalguna. With sounds of drums and other instruments he gladdened the warriors of his own army, and proceeded against the son of Bharadwaja from desire of battle. Then commenced, O king, after the sun had set, a fierce battle between Drona and the Somakas, that made the very hair stand on end. Desirous of slaying him, those mighty car-warriors after the fall of Jayadratha, fought with the
son of Bharadwaja, exerting themselves to their utmost. Indeed, the Pandavas, having got the victory by slaying the ruler of the Sindhus fought with Drona, intoxicated with success. Arjuna, also, O king, having slain king Jayadratha, fought with many mighty car-warriors of thy army. Indeed, that hero decked with diadem and garlands, having accomplished his former vow, began to destroy his foes like the chief of the celestials destroying the Danavas, or the sun destroying darkness.'
318:1 The second line of 94 I render a little freely to make the sense clearer.
321:1 A Kavandha is a headless trunk moving about as if endued with life. Tales are told of these headless beings drinking the blood of victims falling within their grasp.
Next: Section CXLVI