The Mahabharata Home
"Sanjaya said, 'Those Kshatriyas, O monarch, harbouring feelings of animosity against one another and longing to take one another's life, began to slay one another in that battle. Throngs of cars, and large bodies of horses, and teeming divisions of infantry and elephants in large numbers mingled with one another, O king, for battle. We beheld the falling of maces and spiked bludgeons and Kunapas and lances and short arrows and rockets hurled at one another in that dreadful engagement. Arrowy showers terrible to look at coursed like flights of locusts. Elephants approaching elephants routed one another. Horsemen encountering horsemen in that battle, and car-warriors encountering car-warriors, and foot-soldiers encountering foot-soldiers, and foot-soldiers meeting with horsemen, and foot-soldiers meeting with cars and elephants, and cars meeting with elephants and horsemen, and elephants of great speed meeting with the three other kinds of forces, began, O king, to crush and grind one another. In consequence of those brave combatants striking one another and shouting at the top of their voices, the field of battle became awful, resembling the slaughter-ground of creatures (of Rudra himself). The Earth, O Bharata, covered with blood, looked beautiful like a vast plain in the season of rains covered with the red coccinella. Indeed, the Earth assumed the aspect of a youthful maiden of great beauty, attired in white robes dyed with deep red. Variegated with flesh and blood, the field of battle looked as if decked all over with gold. Large numbers of heads severed from trunks and arms and thighs and earrings and other ornaments displaced from the bodies of warriors, O Bharata, and collars and cuirasses and bodies of brave bowmen, and coats of mail, and banners, lay scattered on the ground. Elephants coming against elephants tore one another with their tusks, O king. Struck with the tusks of hostile compeers, elephants looked exceedingly beautiful. Bathed in blood, those huge creatures looked resplendent like moving hills decked with metals, down whose breasts ran streams of liquid chalk. Lances hurled by horsemen, or those held horizontally by hostile combatants, were seized by many of those beasts, while many amongst them twisted and broke those weapons. Many huge elephants, whose armour had been cut off with shafts, looked, O king, like mountains divested of clouds at the advent of winter. Many foremost of elephants pierced with arrows winged with gold, looked beautiful like mountains, O sire, whose summits are lighted with blazing brands. Some of those creatures, huge as hills, struck by hostile compeers, fell down in that battle, like winged mountains (when clipped of their wings). Others, afflicted with arrows and much pained by their wounds, fell down touching the Earth, in that dreadful battle, at their frontal globes or the parts between their tusks. Others roared aloud like lions. And many, uttering terrible sounds, ran hither and thither, and many, O king, uttered cries of pain. Steeds also, in golden trappings, struck with arrows, fell down, or became weak, or ran in all directions. Others, struck with arrows and lances or dragged down, fell on the Earth and writhed in agony, making diverse kinds of motion. Men also, struck down, fell on the Earth, uttering diverse cries of pain, O sire; others, beholding their relatives and sires and grandsires, and others seeing retreating foes, shouted to one another their well-known names and the names of their races. The arms of many combatants, decked with ornaments of gold, cut off, O king, by foes, writhed on the ground, making diverse kinds of motions. Thousands of such arms fell down and sprang up, and many seemed to dart forward like five-headed snakes. Those arms, looking like the tapering bodies of snakes, and smeared with sandal paste, O king, looked beautiful, when drenched with blood, like little standards of gold. When the battle, becoming general, raged so furiously on all sides, the warriors fought with and slew one another without distinct perceptions of those they fought with or struck. A dusty cloud overspread the field of battle, and the weapons used fell in thick showers. The scene being thus darkened, the combatants could no longer distinguish friends from foes. Indeed, that fierce and awful battle proceeded thus. And soon there began to flow many mighty rivers of the bloody currents. And they abounded with the heads of combatants that formed their rocks. And the hair of the warriors constituted their floating weeds and moss. Bones formed the fishes with which they teemed, and bows and arrows and maces formed the rafts by which to cross them. Flesh and blood forming their mire, those terrible and awful rivers, with currents swelled by blood, were thus formed there, enhancing the fears of the timid and the joy of the brave. Those awful rivers led to the abode of Yama. Many plunged into those streams inspiring Kshatriyas with fear, and perished. And in consequence of various carnivorous creatures, O tiger among men, roaring and yelling on all sides, the field of battle became terrible like the domains of the king of the dead. And innumerable headless trunks rose up on all sides. And terrible creatures, gorging on flesh and drinking fat, and blood, O Bharata, began to dance around. And crows and vultures and cranes, gratified with fat and marrow and other animals relishing flesh, were seen to move about in glee. They, however, O king, that were heroes, casting off all fear which is so difficult of being cast off, and observing the vow of warriors, fearlessly did their duty. Indeed, on that field where countless arrows and darts coursed through the air, and which was crowded with carnivorous creatures of diverse kinds, brave warriors careered fearlessly, displaying their prowess. Addressing one another, O Bharata, they declared their names and families. And many amongst them, declaring the names of their sires and families, O lord, began to crush one another, O king, with darts and lances and battle-axes. During the progress of that fierce and awful battle, the Kaurava army became strengthless and unable to bear up any longer like a foundered vessel on the bosom of the ocean.'"
Next: Section 53