The Mahabharata Home
"Sanjaya said, 'Beholding then that unrivalled array of the Parthas made by Dhrishtadyumna which was capable of resisting all hostile armies, Karna proceeded, uttering leonine shouts and causing his car to produce a loud rattle. And he made the Earth to tremble with the loud din of musical instruments. And that chastiser of foes, that hero in battle, seemed to tremble in rage. Duly disposing his own troops in counter-array, O bull of Bharata's race, that hero of great energy made a great slaughter of the Pandava forces like Maghavat slaughtering the Asura host. Striking Yudhishthira then with many arrows, he placed the eldest son of Pandu to his right.'
"Dhritarashtra said, 'How, O Sanjaya, did the son of Radha dispose his forces in counter array to all the Pandavas headed by Dhristadyumna and protected by Bhimasena, viz., all those great bowmen invincible by the very gods? Who, O Sanjaya, stood in the wings and the further wings of our army? Dividing themselves properly, how were the warriors stationed? How also did the sons of Pandu dispose their army in counter-array to mine? How also did that great and awful battle commence? Where was Vibhatsu when Karna proceeded against Yudhishthira? Who could succeed in assailing Yudhishthira in the presence of Arjuna? That Arjuna who had vanquished, single-handed in former days, all creatures at Khandava, who else that is desirous of life, save the son of Radha, would fight with him?'
"Sanjaya said, 'Hear now of the formation of the arrays, the manner in which Arjuna came and how the battle was fought by both sides surrounding their respective kings. Sharadvata's son Kripa, O king, and the Magadhas endued with great activity, and Kritavarma of Satwata race, took up their position in the right wing. Shakuni, and the mighty car-warrior Uluka, standing on the right of these, and accompanied by many fearless Gandhara horsemen armed with bright lances, and many mountaineers difficult to defeat, numerous as flights of locusts, and grimlooking as Pishacas, protected the (Kaurava) army. 34,000 unreturning cars of the samsaptakas, mad with desire of battle, with thy sons in their midst, and all desirous of slaying Krishna and Arjuna, protected the left side (of the Kaurava army). On their left, the Kambojas, the Sakas, and the Yavanas, with cars and horse and foot, at the command of the Suta's son, stood, challenging Arjuna and the mighty Keshava. In the centre, at the head of that host, stood Karna, clad in armour with beautiful coat of mail and adorned with Angadas and garlands, for protecting that point. Supported by his own angry sons, that foremost of all wielders of weapons, that hero, shone resplendent at the head of the army as he drew his bow repeatedly. The mighty-armed Duhshasana, possessed of the effulgence of the sun or fire with tawny eyes and handsome features, riding on the neck of a huge elephant, surrounded by many troops, and stationed at the rear of the army gradually approached for fight. Behind him came Duryodhana himself, O monarch, protected by his uterine brothers riding on beautiful steeds and cased in beautiful mail. Protected by the united Madrakas and the Kekayas of exceeding energy, the king, O monarch, looked resplendent like Indra of a hundred sacrifices when surrounded by the celestials. Ashvatthama and the other foremost of mighty car-warriors, and many ever-infuriate elephants shedding temporal secretions like the very clouds and ridden by brave Mlecchas, followed behind that car-force. Decked with triumphal standards and blazing weapons, those huge creatures, ridden by warriors skilled in fighting from their backs, looked beautiful like hills overgrown with trees. Many thousands of brave and unreturning warriors, armed with axes and swords, became the footguards of those elephants. Gorgeously decked with horsemen and car-warriors and elephants, that foremost of arrays looked exceedingly beautiful like the array of the celestials or of the Asuras. That great array, formed according to the scheme of Brihaspati by its commander, well-versed in ways of battle, seemed to dance (as it advanced) and struck terror into the hearts of foes. Like ever-appearing clouds in the season of rains, foot-soldiers and horsemen and car-warriors and elephants, longing for battle began to issue from the wings and further wings of that array. Then king Yudhishthira, beholding Karna at the head of the (hostile) army, addressed Dhananjaya, that slayer of foes, that one hero in the world, and said these words, "Behold, O Arjuna, the mighty array formed by Karna in battle. The hostile force looks resplendent with its wings and further wings. At sight of this vast hostile force, let such measures be adopted that it may not vanquish us.' Thus addressed by the king, Arjuna replied with joined hands, 'Everything will be done as thou sayest. Nothing will be otherwise. I will, O Bharata, do that by which the destruction of the enemy may be compassed. By slaying their foremost of warriors, I will achieve their destruction."
"'Yudhishthira said, "With that view, do thou proceed against the son of Radha, and let Bhimasena proceed against Suyodhana, Nakula against Virshasena, Sahadeva against the son of Subala, Satanika against Duhshasana, that bull amongst the Sinis, viz., Satyaki, against the son of Hridika, and Pandya against the son of Drona. I myself will fight with Kripa. Let the sons of Draupadi with Shikhandi amongst them, proceed against the rest of the Dhartarashtras. Let the other warriors of our army encounter our other foes.'"
"Sanjaya continued, 'Thus addressed by Yudhishthira the just, Dhananjaya saying, "So be it," ordered his troops (to do the needful) and himself proceeded to the head of the army. That car for which the Leader of the universe, viz., Agni, who derives his effulgence from Brahman, became the steeds, that car which was known amongst the gods as belonging to Brahman because it sprang first from Brahman himself, that car which in days of old had successively borne Brahman and Ishana and Indra and Varuna one after another, riding on that primeval car, Keshava and Arjuna now proceeded to battle. Beholding that advancing car of wonderful aspect, Shalya once more said unto Adhiratha's son, that warrior of great energy in battle, these words "Yonder comes that car having white steeds yoked unto it and owning Krishna for its driver, that vehicle incapable of being resisted by all the troops, like the inevitable fruit of work. There comes the son of Kunti, slaughtering his foes along the way,--he, that is, about whom thou hadst been enquiring. Since tremendous is the uproar that is being heard, deep as the roar of the clouds, it is, without doubt, those high-souled ones, viz., Vasudeva and Dhananjaya. Yonder ascends a cloud of dust that overspreads the welkin like a canopy. The whole Earth, O Karna, seems to tremble, cut deep by the circumference of Arjuna's wheels. These violent winds are blowing on both sides of thy army. These carnivorous creatures are yelling aloud and these animals are uttering fearful cries. Behold, O Karna, the terrible and portentous Ketu of vapoury form, making the hair to stand on end, hath appeared, covering the Sun. Behold, diverse kinds of animals, all around in large packs, and many mighty wolves and tigers are looking at the Sun. Behold those terrible Kankas and those vultures, assembled together in thousands, sitting with faces towards one another, in seeming discourse. Those coloured yak-tails attached to thy great car are waving unquietly. Thy standard also is trembling. Behold these thy beautiful steeds, of huge limbs and great speed resembling that of soaring birds, are also quivering. From these portents, it is certain that kings, in hundreds and thousands, O Karna, deprived of life, will lie down on the ground for eternal sleep. The loud uproar of conchs, making the hair to stand on end, is being heard. The sound also of drums and cymbals, O son of Radha, is being heard on all sides, as also the whizz of diverse kinds of arrows, and the din made by cars and steeds and men. Listen also, O Karna, to the loud twang produced by the bow-strings of high-souled warriors. Behold, O Karna, those banners of Arjuna, that are equipped with rows of bells, and decked with golden moons and stars. Made by skilful artists out of cloths embroidered with gold and of diverse hues, they are blazing with resplendence on Arjuna's car as they are shaken by the wind, like flashes of lightning in a mass of clouds. Behold those (other) banners producing sharp sounds as they wave in the air. Those car-warriors of the high-souled Pancalas, with flag-decked standards on their vehicles, are looking resplendent, O Karna, like the very gods on their celestial cars. Behold the heroic son of Kunti, the unvanquished Vibhatsu (Arjuna) with that foremost of apes on his standard, advancing for the destruction of the foe. There, on the top of Partha's standard, is to be seen that terrible ape, that enhancer of the fears of foes, attracting the gaze (of warriors) from every side. The discus, the mace, the bow called Saranga and the conch (called Panchajanya) of the intelligent Krishna, as also his gem Kaustubha, look exceedingly beautiful in him. The wielder of Saranga and the mace, viz., Vasudeva, of great energy, cometh, urging those white steeds endued with the fleetness of the wind. Yonder twangs Gandiva, drawn by Savyasaci. Those whetted shafts, sped by that strong-armed hero, are destroying his enemies. The Earth is strewn with the heads of unretreating kings, with faces beautiful as the moon at full, and decked with large and expansive eyes of coppery hue. There the arms, looking like spiked maces, with weapons in grasp, and smeared with excellent perfumes, of warriors delighting in battle and contending with uplifted weapons, are falling. Steeds with eyes, tongues, and entrails drawn out along with their riders, are falling and fallen and deprived of life lie prostrate on the Earth. Those lifeless elephants huge as mountain summits, torn, mangled, and pierced by Partha, are falling down like veritable hills. Those cars, looking like the changeful forms of vapour in the sky, with their royal riders slain, are falling down like the celestial cars of the denizens of heaven upon the exhaustion of the latter's merits. Behold, the army is exceedingly agitated by the diadem-decked Arjuna, like herds of countless cattle by a maned lion. There the Pandava heroes, advancing for the attack, are slaying kings and large numbers of elephants and steeds and car-warriors and foot-soldiers of thy army engaged in battle. There Partha, shrouded (by friends and foes and weapons and dust) is not to be seen, like the Sun shrouded by clouds. Only the top of his standard may be seen and the twang of his bow-string may be heard. Thou art sure, O Karna, to behold today that hero of white steed with Krishna for his driver, engaged in slaughtering his foes in battle. Thou art sure of beholding him about whom thou hadst been enquiring. Today, O Karna, thou art sure to behold those two tigers among men, both of red eyes, both chastisers of foes, viz., Vasudeva and Arjuna, stationed on the same car. If, O son of Radha, thou succeedest in slaying him that hath Keshava for his driver and Gandiva for his bow, then thou shalt be our king. Challenged by the samsaptakas, Partha now proceedeth against them. That mighty warrior is engaged in making a great slaughter of his foes in battle." Unto the ruler of the Madras who was saying so, Karna, in rage, said, "Behold, Partha is assailed on all sides by the angry samsaptakas. Like the Sun shrouded by the clouds, Partha is no longer visible. Plunged, into that ocean of warriors, O Shalya, Arjuna is sure to perish."
"'Shalya said, "Who is there that would slay Varuna with water, or quench fire with fuel? Who is there that would seize the wind, or drink off the ocean? I regard thy act of afflicting Partha to be even such. Arjuna is incapable of being vanquished in battle by the very gods and the Asuras united together and having Indra himself at their head. Or, suffer thyself to be gratified, and be of easy mind, having said those words (about thy capacity to slay Partha) Partha cannot be conquered in battle. Accomplish some other purpose thou mayst have in thy mind. He that would uplift this Earth on his two arms, or burn all creatures in wrath, or hurl the gods from heaven, may vanquish Arjuna in battle. Behold that other heroic son of Kunti, viz., Bhima, who is never fatigued with exertion, blazing with resplendence, mighty-armed, and standing like another Meru. With wrath ever kindled and longing for revenge, Bhima of great energy stands there desirous of victory in battle, and remembering all his injuries. There that foremost of virtuous men, viz., king Yudhishthira the just, that subjugator of hostile towns, stands difficult of being resisted by foes in battle. There stand those two tigers among men, the twin Ashvinis, the two uterine brothers Nakula and Sahadeva, both invincible in battle. Yonder may be seen the five sons of Krishna, that have the features of Pancala princes. All of them, equal to Arjuna in battle, are standing, desirous of fight. There the sons of Drupada, headed by Dhristadyumna, swelling with pride and energy,--heroes endued with great energy,--have taken up their stand. There, that foremost one among the Satwatas, viz., Satyaki, irresistible like Indra, advanceth against us, from desire of fight, like the destroyer himself in wrath before our eyes." While those two lions among men were thus addressing each other, the two armies mingled fiercely in battle, like the currents of the Ganga and Yamuna.'"
Next: Section 47