The Mahabharata Home
"Dhritarashtra said, 'Thou didst mention to me before the name of Pandya, that hero of world-wide celebrity, but his feats, O Sanjaya, in battle have never been narrated by thee. Tell me today in detail of the prowess of that great hero, his skill, spirit, and energy, the measure of his might, and his pride.'
"Sanjaya said, 'Bhishma and Drona and Kripa and Drona's son and Karna and Arjuna and Janardana, those thorough masters of the science of weapons, are regarded by thee as the foremost of car-warriors. Know, however, that Pandya regarded himself superior to all these foremost of car-warriors in energy. Indeed he never regarded any one amongst the kings as equal to himself. He never admitted his equality with Karna and Bhishma. Nor did he admit within his heart that he was inferior in any respect to Vasudeva or Arjuna. Even such was Pandya, that foremost of kings, that first of wielder of weapons. Filled with rage like the Destroyer himself, Pandya at the time was slaughtering the army of Karna. That force, swelling with cars and steeds and teeming with foremost of foot-soldiers, struck by Pandya, began to turn round like the potter's wheel. Like the wind dispersing a mass of congregated clouds, Pandya, with his well shot arrows, began to disperse that force, destroying its steeds and drivers and standards and cars and causing its weapons and elephants to fall down. Like the splitter of mountains striking down mountains with his thunder, Pandya overthrew elephants with their riders, having previously cut down the standards and banners and weapons with which they were armed, as also the foot-soldiers that protected those beasts. And he cut down horses, and horsemen with their darts and lances and quivers. Mangling with his shafts the Pulindas, the Khasas, the Bahlikas, the Nishadas, the Andhakas, the Tanganas, the Southerners, and the Bhojas, all of whom, endued with great courage, were unyielding and obstinate in battle, and divesting them of their weapons and coats of mail, Pandya deprived them of their lives. Beholding Pandya destroying with his shafts in battle that host consisting of four kinds of forces, the son of Drona fearlessly proceeded towards that fearless warrior. Fearlessly addressing in sweet words that warrior who then seemed to dance on his car, Drona's son, that foremost of smiters, smiling the while, summoned him and said, "O king, O thou with eyes like the petals of the lotus, thy birth is noble and learning great. Of celebrated might and prowess, thou resemblest Indra himself. Stretching with thy two massive arms the bow held by thee and whose large string is attached to thy grasp, thou lookest beautiful like a mass of congregated clouds as thou pourest over thy foes thick showers of impetuous shafts. I do not see anybody save myself that can be a match for thee in battle. Alone thou crushest numerous cars and elephants and foot-soldiers and steeds, like the fearless lion of terrible might crushing herds of deer in the forest. Making the welkin and the Earth resound with the loud clatter of thy car-wheels thou lookest resplendent, O king, like a crop-destroying autumnal cloud of loud roars. Taking out of thy quiver and shooting thy keen shafts resembling snakes of virulent poison fight with myself only, like (the asura) Andhaka fighting with the three-eyed deity." Thus addressed, Pandya answered, "So be it." Then Drona's son, telling him "Strike," assailed him with vigour. In return, Malayadhwaja pierced the son of Drona with a barbed arrow. Then Drona's son, that best of preceptors, smiling the while, struck Pandya with some fierce arrows, capable of penetrating into the very vitals and resembling flames of fire. Then Ashvatthama once more sped at his foe some other large arrows equipped with keen points and capable of piercing the very vitals, causing them to course through the welkin with the ten different kinds of motion. Pandya, however, with nine shafts of his cut off all those arrows of his antagonist. With four other shafts he afflicted the four steeds of his foe, at which they speedily expired. Having then, with his sharp shafts, cut off the arrows of Drona's son, Pandya then cut off the stretched bow-string of Ashvatthama, endued with the splendour of the sun. Then Drona's son, that slayer of foes, stringing his unstringed bow, and seeing that his men had meanwhile speedily yoked other excellent steeds unto his car, sped thousands of arrows (at his foe). By this, that regenerate one filled the entire welkin and the ten points of the compass with his arrows. Although knowing that those shafts of the high-souled son of Drona employed in shooting were really inexhaustible, yet Pandya, that bull among men, cut them all into pieces. The antagonist of Ashvatthama, carefully cutting off all those shafts shot by the latter, then slew with his own keen shafts the two protectors of the latter's car wheels in that encounter. Beholding the lightness of hand displayed by his foe, Drona's son, drawing his bow to a circle, began to shoot his arrows like a mass of clouds pouring torrents of rain. During that space of time, O sire, which consisted only of the eighth part of a day, the son of Drona shot as many arrows as were carried on eight carts each drawn by eight bullocks. Almost all those men that then beheld Ashvatthama, who at the time looked like the Destroyer himself filled with rage, or rather the Destroyer of the Destroyer, lost their senses. Like a mass of clouds at the close of summer drenching with torrents of rain, the Earth with her mountains and trees, the preceptor's son poured on that hostile force his arrowy shower. Baffling with the Vayavya weapon that unbearable shower of arrows shot by the Ashvatthama-cloud, the Pandya-wind, filled with joy, uttered loud roars. Then Drona's son cutting off the standard, smeared with sandal-paste and other perfumed unguents and bearing the device of the Malaya mountain on it, of the roaring Pandya, slew the four steeds of the latter. Slaying then his foe's driver with a single shaft, and cutting off with a crescent-shaped arrow the bow also of that warrior whose twang resembled the roar of the clouds, Ashvatthama cut off his enemy's car into minute fragments. Checking with the weapons those of his enemy, and cutting off all the weapons of the latter, Drona's son, although he obtained the opportunity to do his enemy the crowning evil, still slew him not, from desire of battling with him for some time more. Meanwhile Karna rushed against the large elephant force of the Pandavas and began to rout and destroy it. Depriving car-warriors of their cars, he struck elephants and steeds and human warriors, O Bharata, with innumerable straight shafts. That mighty bowman, the son of Drona, although he had made Pandya, that slayer of foes and foremost of car-warriors, carless, yet he did not slay him from desire of fight. At that time a huge riderless elephant with large tusks, well-equipped with all utensils of war, treading with speed, endued with great might, quick to proceed against any enemy, struck with Ashvatthama's shafts, advanced towards the direction of Pandya with great impetuosity, roaring against a hostile compeer. Beholding that prince of elephants, looking like a cloven mountain summit, Pandya, who was well acquainted with the method of fighting from the neck of an elephant, quickly ascended that beast like a lion springing with a loud roar to the top of a mountain summit. Then that lord of the prince of mountains, striking the elephant with the hook, and inspired with rage, and with that cool care for which he was distinguished in hurling weapons with great force, quickly sped a lance, bright as Surya's rays, at the preceptor's son and uttered a loud shout. Repeatedly shouting in joy, "Thou art slain, Thou art slain!" Pandya (with that lance) crushed to pieces the diadem of Drona's son adorned with foremost of jewels and diamonds of the first water and the very best kind of gold and excellent cloth and strings of pearls. That diadem possessed of the splendour of the Sun, the Moon, the planets, or the fire, in consequence of the violence of the stroke, fell down, split into fragments, like a mountain summit riven by Indra's thunder, falling down on the Earth with great noise. At this, Ashvatthama blazed up with exceeding rage like a prince of snakes struck with the foot, and took up four and ten shafts capable of inflicting great pain upon foes and each resembling the Destroyer's rod. With five of those shafts he cut off the four feet and the trunk of his adversary's elephant, and with three the two arms and the head of the king, and with six he slew the six mighty car-warriors, endued with great effulgence, that followed king Pandya. Those long and well-rounded arms of the king, smeared with excellent sandal-paste, and adorned with gold and pearls and gems and diamonds falling upon the Earth, began to writhe like a couple of snakes slain by Garuda. That head also, graced with a face bright as the full Moon, having a prominent nose and a pair of large eyes, red as copper with rage, adorned with earrings, falling on the ground, looked resplendent like the Moon himself between two bright constellations. The elephant, thus cut off by that skilful warrior into six pieces with those five shafts and the king into four pieces with those three shafts lay divided in all into ten pieces that looked like the sacrificial butter distributed into ten portions intended for the ten deities. Having cut off numerous steeds and men and elephants into pieces and offered them as food into the Rakshasas, king Pandya was thus quieted by Drona's son with his shafts like a blazing fire in a crematorium, extinguished with water after it has received a libation in the shape of a lifeless body. Then like the chief of the celestials joyfully worshipping Vishnu after the subjugation of the Asura Vali, thy son, the king, accompanied by his brothers approaching the preceptor's son worshipped with great respect that warrior who is a complete master of the science of arms, after indeed, he had completed the task he had undertaken."
Next: Section 21