The Mahabharata Home
"Sanjaya said, 'Meanwhile the son of Drona (Ashvatthama), beholding Yudhishthira protected by the grandson of Sini (Satyaki) and by the heroic sons of Draupadi, cheerfully advanced against the king, scattering many fierce arrows equipped with wings of gold and whetted on stone, and displaying diverse manoeuvres of his car and the great skill he had acquired and his exceeding lightness of hands. He filled the entire welkin with shafts inspired with the force of celestial weapons. Conversant with all weapons, Drona's son encompassed Yudhishthira in that battle. The welkin being covered with the shafts of Drona's son, nothing could be seen. The vast space in front of Ashvatthama became one expanse of arrows. The welkin then, thus covered with that dense shower of arrows decked with gold, looked beautiful, O chief of the Bharatas, as if a canopy embroidered with gold had been spread there. Indeed, the firmament, O king, having been covered with that bright shower of arrows, a shadow, as that of the clouds, appeared there on the occasion. Wonderful was the sight that we then beheld when the sky had thus become one expanse of arrows, for not one creature ranging the sky could course through his element. Then Satyaki, though struggling resolutely, and Pandu's son king Yudhishthira the just, as also all the other warriors, could not display their prowess. Beholding the great lightness of hands displayed by the son of Drona, the mighty car-warriors (of the Pandava army) were filled with wonder. All the kings became incapable of even looking at Ashvatthama, O monarch, who then resembled the scorching Sun himself in the sky. While the Pandava troops were thus being slaughtered, those mighty car-warriors, viz., the sons of Draupadi, and Satyaki, and king Yudhishthira the just, and the Pancala warriors, all uniting together, cast off their fears of death and rushed against the son of Drona. Then Satyaki, piercing the son of Drona with seventy arrows, once more pierced him with seven long shafts decked with gold. And Yudhishthira pierced him with three and seventy arrows, and Prativindya with seven, and Srutakarman pierced him with three arrows and Srutakirti with five. And Sutasoma pierced him with nine arrows, and Satanika with seven. And many other heroes pierced him with many arrows from every side. Filled then with rage and breathing, O king, like a snake of virulent poison, Drona's son pierced Satyaki in return with five and twenty arrows whetted on stone. And he pierced Srutakirti with nine arrows and Sutasoma with five, and with eight arrows he pierced Srutakarman, and Prativindya with three. And he pierced Satanika with nine arrows, and Dharma's son (Yudhishthira) with five. And each of the other warriors he pierced with a couple of shafts. With some keen arrows he then cut off the bow of Srutakirti. The latter then, that great car-warrior, taking up another bow, pierced Drona's son, first with three arrows and then with many others equipped with sharp points. Then, O monarch, the son of Drona covered the Pandava troops, O sire, with thick showers of arrows, O bull of Bharata's race. Of immeasurable soul, the son of Drona, next smiling the while, cut off the bow of king Yudhishthira the just, and then pierced him with three arrows. The son of Dharma then, O king, taking up another formidable bow, pierced Drona's son with seventy arrows in the arms and the chest. Then Satyaki, filled with rage in that battle, cut off the bow of Drona's son, that great smiter, with a sharp crescent-shaped arrow and uttered a loud roar. His bow cut off, that foremost of mighty men viz., the son of Drona, quickly felled Satyaki's driver from his car with a dart. The valiant son of Drona then, taking up another bow, covered the grandson of Sini, O Bharata, with a shower of arrows. His driver having been slain, Satyaki's steeds were seen to run hither and thither, O Bharata, in that battle. Then the Pandava warriors headed by Yudhishthira, shooting sharp shafts, all rushed with impetuosity towards Drona's son, that foremost of all wielders of weapons. That scorcher of foes, however, viz., the son of Drona, beholding those warriors wrathfully advancing against him received them all in that dreadful battle. Then like a fire in the forest consuming heaps of dry grass and straw, that mighty car-warrior, viz., Drona's son, having showers of arrows for his flames, consumed the Pandava troops in that battle, who resembled a heap of dry grass and straw. That army of Pandu's son, thus scorched by the son of Drona, became exceedingly agitated, O chief of the Bharatas, like the mouth of a river by a whale. People then, O monarch, beholding the prowess of Drona's son, regarded all the Pandavas as already slain by him. Then Yudhishthira, that great car-warrior and disciple of Drona, filled with rage and the desire to retaliate, addressed Drona's son, saying "O tiger among men, thou hast no affection, thou hast no gratitude, since thou desirest to slay me today. The duties of a Brahmana are asceticism and gift and study. The bow should be bent by the Kshatriya only. It seems, therefore, that thou art a Brahmana in name only. In thy very sight, however. O thou of mighty arms, I will vanquish the Kauravas in battle. Do what thou canst in battle. I tell thee that thou art a wretch amongst Brahmanas." Thus addressed, the son of Drona. smiling, and reflecting upon what was proper and true, gave no reply. Without saying anything, he covered the son of Pandu in that battle with a shower of arrows like the destroyer himself in wrath while engaged in annihilating creatures. Thus covered by Drona's son. O sire, the son of Pritha quickly went away from that spot, leaving that large division of his. After Yudhishthira, the son of Dharma, had gone away, the high-souled son of Drona also, O king, left that spot. Then Yudhishthira, O king, avoiding the son of Drona in that great battle proceeded against thy army, resolved to achieve the cruel task of slaughter.'"
Next: Section 56