The Mahabharata Home
"Dhritarashtra said, 'What was the aspect of the Kuru and the Srinjaya host on that awful day while it was crushed with arrows and scorched (with weapons) in that encounter between Karna and Arjuna and while it was flying away from the field?'
"Sanjaya said, 'Hear, O king, with attention how that awful and great carnage of human beings and elephants and steeds occurred in battle. When, after Karna's fall Partha uttered leonine shouts, a great fright entered the hearts of thy sons. Upon the fall of Karna no warrior of thy army set his heart on rallying the troops or putting forth his prowess. Their refuge having been destroyed by Arjuna, they were then like raftless merchants, whose vessels have wrecked on the fathomless ocean, desirous of crossing the uncrossable main. After the slaughter of the Suta's son, O king, the Kauravas, terrified and mangled with shafts, masterless and desirous of protection, became like a herd of elephants afflicted by lions. Vanquished by Savyasaci on that afternoon, they fled away like bulls with broken horns or snakes with broken fangs. Their foremost of heroes slain, their troops thrown into confusion, themselves mangled with keen arrows, thy sons, after the fall of Karna, O king, fled away in fear. Divested of weapons and armour, no longer able to ascertain which point of the compass was which, and deprived of their senses, they crushed one another in course of their flight and looked at one another, afflicted with fear. "It is me that Vibhatsu is pursuing with speed!" "It is me that Vrikodara is pursuing with speed!"--thought every one among the Kauravas who became pale with fear and fell down as they fled. Some on horses, some on cars, some on elephants, and some on foot, mighty car-warriors, endued with great speed, fled away in fear. Cars were broken by elephants, horsemen were crushed by great car-warriors, and bands of foot-soldiers were trodden down by bodies of horsemen, as these fled in fear. After the fall of the Suta's son, thy warriors became like people without protectors in a forest teeming with beasts of prey and robbers. They were then like elephants without riders and men without arms. Afflicted with fear, they looked upon the world as if it were full of Partha. Beholding them fly away afflicted with the fear of Bhimasena, indeed, and seeing his troops thus leave the field in thousands, Duryodhana, uttering cries of "Oh!" and "Alas!" addressed his driver, saying, "Partha will never be able to transgress me standing bow in hand. Urge my steeds slowly behind all the troops. Without doubt, if I fight standing in the rear of the army, the son of Kunti will never be able to transgress me even as the vast deep is unable to transgress its continents. Slaying Arjuna and Govinda and the proud Vrikodara and the rest of my foes, I will free myself from the debt I owe to Karna." Hearing these words of the Kuru king that were so worthy of a hero and honourable man, the charioteer slowly urged his steeds adorned with trappings of gold. Then 25,000 warriors on foot, belonging to thy army, without cars and cavalry and elephants among them, prepared for battle. Bhimasena, filled with wrath, and Dhrishtadyumna the son of Prishata, encompassed them with four kinds of forces and began to strike them with their shafts. In return, those warriors fought with Bhima and Prishata's son. Some amongst them challenged the two heroes by name. Then Bhimasena became filled with rage. Alighting from his car, mace in hand, he fought with those warriors arrived for battle. Observant of the rules of fair fight, Vrikodara, the son of Kunti, came down from his car, and relying upon the might of his arms, began to fight on foot with those foes of his that were on foot. Taking up his massive mace adorned with gold, he began to slaughter them all, like the Destroyer armed with his bludgeon. The Kaurava warriors on foot, filled with rage and becoming reckless of their lives, rushed against Bhima in that battle like insects upon a blazing fire. Those infuriated combatants, difficult of being defeated in battle, approaching Bhimasena, perished in a trice like living creatures upon seeing the Destroyer. The mighty Bhima, armed with a mace, careered like a hawk and destroyed all those 25,000 combatants. Having slain that division of heroic warriors, Bhima, of prowess incapable of being baffled and of great might, once more stood, with Dhrishtadyumna before him. Possessed of great energy, Dhananjaya proceeded against the (remnant of the) car-force (of the Kauravas). The two sons of Madri, and Satyaki, filled with joy, rushed with speed against Shakuni and slaughtered the troops of Subala's son. Having slain with keen shafts his cavalry and elephants in that encounter, they rushed impetuously against Shakuni himself, upon which a great battle took place. Meanwhile Dhananjaya, O lord, proceeding against thy car-force, twanged his bow Gandiva celebrated over the three worlds. Beholding that car having white steeds yoked unto it and owning Krishna for its driver, and seeing that Arjuna was the warrior standing on it, thy troops fled away in fear. 25,000 soldiers on foot, deprived of cars and mangled with shafts, had perished (at the hands of Bhima and Dhrishtadyumna). Having slain them, that tiger among men, that great car-warrior among the Pancalas, viz., the high-souled Dhrishtadyumna the son of the Pancala king, soon showed himself, with Bhimasena before him. That slayer of foes and mighty bowman appeared exceedingly handsome. Beholding Dhrishtadyumna's car which had steeds white as pigeons yoked unto it and whose lofty standard was made of the trunk of a Kovidara, the Kauravas fled away in great fear. The twins (Nakula and Sahadeva) of great fame, and Satyaki, having pursued with great speed the king of the Gandharvas who was possessed of lightness of hands in the use of weapons, re-appeared (amid the Pandava ranks). Chekitana and Shikhandi and the (five) sons of Draupadi, O sire, having slaughtered thy vast army, blew their conchs. All those heroes, although they saw thy troops flying away with faces turned from the field, still pursued them, like bulls pursuing angry bulls after vanquishing them. Pandu's son Savyasaci of great might, O king, beholding a remnant of thy army still standing for battle, became filled with wrath. Possessed of great energy, Dhananjaya, rushed against that car-force, drawing his bow Gandiva celebrated over the three worlds. Suddenly he shrouded them with showers of arrows. The dust that was raised darkened the scene and nothing could any longer be distinguished. When the earth was thus shrouded with dust and when darkness covered everything, thy troops, O king, fled on all sides from fear. When the Kuru army was thus broken, the Kuru king, O monarch, viz., thy son, rushed against all his foes advancing against him. Then Duryodhana challenged all the Pandavas to battle, O chief of Bharata's race, like the Asura Vali in days of yore challenging the gods. At this, all the Pandava heroes, uniting together, rushed against the advancing Duryodhana, shooting and hurling at him diverse weapons and upbraiding him repeatedly. Duryodhana, however, filled with rage, fearlessly slaughtered those enemies of his in hundreds and thousands, with keen shafts. The prowess that we then beheld of thy son was exceedingly wonderful, for alone and unsupported, he fought with all the Pandavas united together. Duryodhana then beheld his own troops who, mangled with arrows, had set their hearts on flight, gone not far from the field. Rallying them then, O monarch, thy son who was resolved to maintain his honour, gladdening those warriors of his, said these words unto them: "I do not see that spot in the earth or on the mountains, whither if ye fly, the Pandavas will not slay you! What use then in flying away? Small is the force that the Pandavas now have. The two Krishnas also are exceedingly mangled. If all of us stay for battle, victory will certainly be ours. If we fly in disunion, the sinful Pandavas, pursuing us, will certainly slay all of us. For this, it is better that we should die in battle. Death in battle is fraught with happiness. Fight, observant of the Kshatriya's duty. He that is dead knows no misery. On the other hand, such a one enjoys eternal bliss hereafter. Listen, ye Kshatriyas, ay, all of you, that are assembled here! When the destroyer Yama spareth neither the hero nor the coward, who is there so foolish of understanding, although observant of a Kshatriya's vow like us, that would not fight. Would ye place yourselves under the power of the angry foe Bhimasena? It behoveth you not to abandon the duty observed by your sires and grandsires. There is no greater sin for a Kshatriya than flight from battle. There is no more blessed path for heaven, ye Kauravas, than the duty of battle. Slain in battle, ye warriors, enjoy heaven without delay.'"
"Sanjaya continued, 'While even these words were being uttered by thy son, the (Kaurava) warriors, exceedingly mangled, fled away on all sides, regardless of that speech.'"
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