The Mahabharata Home
"Sanjaya said, 'King Duryodhana, O monarch, himself fearlessly received Yudhishthira, as the latter was engaged in shooting large numbers of shafts. The royal Yudhishthira the just, speedily piercing thy son, that mighty car-warrior, as the latter was rushing towards him with impetuosity, addressed him, saying, "Wait, Wait." Duryodhana, however, pierced Yudhishthira, in return, with nine keen arrows, and filled with great wrath, struck Yudhishthira's driver also with a broad-headed shaft. Then king Yudhishthira sped at Duryodhana three and ten arrows equipped with wings of gold and whetted on stone. With four shafts that mighty car-warrior then slew the four steeds of his foe, and with the fifth he cut off from his trunk the head of Duryodhana's driver. With the sixth arrow he felled the (Kuru) king's standard on the Earth, with the seventh his bow, and with the eighth his scimitar. And then with five more shafts king Yudhishthira the just deeply afflicted the Kuru monarch. Thy son, then, alighting from that steedless car, stood on the Earth in imminent danger. Beholding him in that situation of great peril, Karna and Drona's son and Kripa and others rushed suddenly towards the spot, desirous of rescuing the king. Then the (other) sons of Pandu, surrounding Yudhishthira, all proceeded to the encounter, upon which, O king, a fierce battle was fought. Thousands of trumpets then were blown in that great engagement, and a confused din of myriad voices arose there, O king. There where the Pancalas engaged the Kauravas, in battle, men closed with men, and elephants with foremost of elephants. And car-warriors closed with car-warriors, and horse with horse. And the various couples of battling men and animals, of great prowess and armed with diverse kinds of weapons and possessed of great skill presented a beautiful sight, O king, over the field. All those heroes endued with great impetuosity and desirous of compassing the destruction of one another, fought beautifully and with great activity and skill. Observing the (sanctioned) practices of warriors, they slew one another in battle. None of them fought from behind others. For only a very short time that battle presented a beautiful aspect. Soon it became an encounter of mad men, in which the combatants showed no regard for one another. The car-warrior, approaching the elephant, pierced the latter with keen shafts and despatched it to Yama's presence by means of straight arrows. Elephants, approaching steeds, dragged down many of them in that battle, and tore them (with their tusks) most fiercely in diverse places. Large numbers of horsemen also, encompassing many foremost of steeds, made a loud noise with their palms, and closed with them. And those horsemen slew those steeds as they ran hither and thither, as also many huge elephants as these wandered over the field, from behind and the flanks. Infuriate elephants, O king, routing large numbers of steeds, slew them with their tusks or crushed them with great force. Some elephants, filled with wrath pierced with their tusks horses with horsemen. Others seizing such with great force hurled them to the ground with violence. Many elephants, struck by foot-soldiers availing of the proper opportunities, uttered terrible cries of pain and fled away on all sides. Among the foot-soldiers that fled away in that great battle throwing down their ornaments, there were many that were quickly encompassed on the field. Elephant-warriors, riding on huge elephants, understanding indications of victory, wheeled their beasts and causing them to seize those beautiful ornaments, made the beasts to pierce them with their tusks. Other foot-soldiers endued with great impetuosity and fierce might, surrounding those elephant-warriors thus engaged in those spots began to slay them. Others in that great battle, thrown aloft into the air by elephants with their trunks, were pierced by those trained beasts with the points of their tusks as they fell down. Others, suddenly seized by other elephants, were deprived of life with their tusks. Others, borne away from their own divisions into the midst of others, were, O king, mangled by huge elephants which rolled them repeatedly on the ground. Others, whirled on high like fans, were slain in that battle. Others, hither and thither on the field, that stood full in front of other elephants had their bodies exceedingly pierced and torn. Many elephants were deeply wounded with spears and lances and darts in their cheeks and frontal globes and parts between their tusks. Exceedingly afflicted by fierce car-warriors and horsemen stationed on their flanks, many elephants, ripped open, fell down on the Earth. In that dreadful battle many horsemen on their steeds, striking foot-soldiers with their lances, pinned them down to the Earth or crushed them with great force. Some elephants, approaching mail-clad car-warriors, O sire, raised them aloft from their vehicles and hurled them down with great force upon the Earth in that fierce and awful fight. Some huge elephants slain by means of cloth-yard shafts, fell down on the Earth like mountain summits riven by thunder. Combatants, encountering combatants, began to strike each other with their fists, or seizing each other by the hair, began to drag and throw down and mangle each other. Others, stretching their arms and throwing down their foes on the Earth, placed their feet on their chests and with great activity cut off their heads. Some combatant, O king, struck with his feet some foe that was dead, and some, O king, struck off with his sword, the head of a falling foe, and some thrust his weapon into the body of a living foe. A fierce battle took place there, O Bharata, in which the combatants struck one another with fists or seized one another's hair or wrestled with one another with bare arms. In many instances, combatants, using diverse kinds of weapons, took the lives of combatants engaged with others and, therefore, unperceived by them. During the progress of that general engagement when all the combatants were mangled in battle, hundreds and thousands of headless trunks stood up on the field. Weapons and coats of mail, drenched with gore, looked resplendent, like cloths dyed with gorgeous red. Even thus occurred that fierce battle marked by the awful clash of weapons. Like the mad and roaring current of the Ganga it seemed to fill the whole universe with its uproar. Afflicted with shafts, the warriors failed to distinguish friends from foes. Solicitous of victory, the kings fought on because they fought that fight they should. The warriors slew both friends and foes, with whom they came in contact. The combatants of both the armies were deprived of reason by the heroes of both the armies assailing them with fury. With broken cars, O monarch, the fallen elephants, and steeds lying on the ground, and men laid low, the Earth, miry with gore and flesh, and covered with streams of blood, soon became impassable, Karna slaughtered the Pancalas while Dhananjaya slaughtered the Trigartas. And Bhimasena, O king, slaughtered the Kurus and all the elephant divisions of the latter. Even thus occurred that destruction of troops of both the Kurus and the Pandavas, both parties having been actuated by the desire of winning great fame, at that hour when the Sun had passed the meridian.'"
Next: Section 29