The Mahabharata Home
"Sanjaya said, 'Hear, O king, with attention, how that great carnage of the Kurus and the Pandavas occurred when they encountered each other. After the Suta's son had been slain by the illustrious son of Pandu, and after thy troops had been repeatedly rallied and had repeatedly fled away, and after a terrible carnage had taken place, O foremost of men, of human beings in battle subsequent to Karna's death, Partha began to utter leonine roars. At that time a great fear entered the hearts of thy sons. Indeed, after Karna's death, there was no warrior in thy army who could set his heart upon rallying the troops or displaying his prowess. They then looked like ship-wrecked merchants on the fathomless ocean without a raft to save themselves. When their protector was slain by the diadem-decked Arjuna, they were like persons on the wide sea desirous of reaching some shore of safety. Indeed, O king, after the slaughter of the Suta's son, thy troops, struck with panic and mangled with arrows, were like unprotected men desirous of a protector or like a herd of deer afflicted by a lion. Vanquished by Savyasaci, they retired in the evening like bulls with broken horns or snakes shorn of their fangs. Their foremost of heroes slain, themselves thrown into confusion and mangled with keen arrows, thy sons, O king, upon the slaughter of the Suta's son, fled away in fear. Deprived of weapons and coats of mail, all of them lost their senses and knew not in which direction to fly. Casting their eyes on all sides in fear, many of them began to slaughter one another. Many fell down or became pale, thinking, "It is me whom Vibhatsu is pursuing!" "It is me whom Vrikodara is pursuing!" Some riding on fleet steeds, some on fleet cars, and some on fleet elephants, many great car-warriors fled away from fear, abandoning the foot-soldiers. Cars were broken by elephants, horsemen were crushed by great car-warriors, and bands of foot-soldiers were smashed and slain by bodies of horses as these fled away from the field. After the fall of the Suta's son, thy troops became like stragglers from a caravan in a forest abounding with robbers and beasts of prey. Some elephants whose riders had been slain, and others whose trunks had been cut off, afflicted with fear, beheld the whole world to be full of Partha. Beholding his troops flying away afflicted with the fear of Bhimasena Duryodhana then, with cries of "Oh!" and "Alas!" addressed his driver, saying, "If I take up my post at the rear of the army, armed with my bow, Partha then will never be able to transgress me. Urge the steeds, therefore, with speed. When I will put forth my valour in battle, Dhananjaya the son of Kunti will not venture to transgress me like the ocean never venturing to transgress its continents. Today, slaying Arjuna with 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, so becoming a hero and an honourable man, his driver slowly urged those steeds adorned with trappings of gold. At that time many brave warriors deprived of elephants and steeds and cars, and 25,000 foot-soldiers, O sire, proceeded slowly (for battle). Then Bhimasena, filled with wrath, and Dhrishtadyumna the son of Prishata, encompassing those troops with the assistance of four kinds of forces, destroyed them with shafts. All of them fought vigorously with Bhima and Prishata's son. Many amongst them challenged the two Pandava heroes, mentioning their names. Surrounded by them in battle, Bhima became enraged with them. Quickly descending from his car, he began to fight, armed with his mace. Relying on the might of his own arms, Vrikodara the son of Kunti, who was on his car, observant of the rules of fair fight, did not fight with those foes who were on the ground. Armed then with that heavy mace of his that was made entirely of iron and adorned with gold and equipped with a sling, and that resembled the Destroyer himself as he becomes at the end of Yuga, Bhima slew them all like Yama slaughtering creatures with his club. Those foot-soldiers, excited with great rage, having lost their friends and kinsmen, were prepared to throw away their lives, and rushed in that battle towards Bhima like insects towards a blazing fire. Indeed, those warriors, filled with rage and invincible in battle, approaching Bhimasena, suddenly perished like living creatures at the glance of the Destroyer. Armed with sword and mace, Bhima careered like a hawk and slaughtered those 25,000 warriors of thine. Having slain that brave division, the mighty Bhima, of prowess incapable of being baffled, once more stood, with Dhrishtadyumna before him. Meanwhile, Dhananjaya of great energy proceeded towards the car-division (of the Kurus). The twin sons of Madri and the mighty car-warrior Satyaki, all endued with great strength, cheerfully rushed against Shakuni with great speed from desire of slaying him. Having slain with keen shafts the numerous cavalry of Shakuni, those Pandava heroes quickly rushed against Shakuni himself, whereupon a fierce battle was fought there. Then Dhananjaya, O king, penetrated into the midst of the car-division of the Kauravas, stretching his bow Gandiva celebrated over the three worlds. Beholding that car having white steeds yoked unto it and owning Krishna for its driver coming towards them, with Arjuna as the warrior on it, thy troops fled away in fear. Deprived of cars and steeds and pierced with shafts from every side, 25,000 foot-soldiers proceeded towards Partha and surrounded him. Then that mighty car-warrior amongst the Pancalas (Dhrishtadyumna) with Bhimasena at his head, speedily slew that brave division and stood triumphant. The son of the Pancala king, the celebrated Dhrishtadyumna, was a mighty bowman possessed of great beauty and a crusher of large bands of foes. At sight of Dhrishtadyumna unto whose car were yoked steeds white as pigeons and whose standard was made of a lofty Kovidara, the troops fled away in fear. The celebrated sons of Madri, with Satyaki among them, engaged in the pursuit of the Gandhara king who was quick in the use of weapons, speedily appeared to our view. Chekitana and the (five) sons of Draupadi, O sire, having slain a large number of thy troops, blew their conchs. Beholding all the troops flying away with their faces from the field, those (Pandava) heroes pursued and smote them like bulls pursuing vanquished bulls. Then the mighty Savyasaci, the son of Pandu, beholding a remnant of thy army still keeping their ground, became filled with rage, O king. Suddenly, O monarch, he shrouded that remnant of thy forces with arrows. The dust, however, that was then raised enveloped the scene, in consequence of which we could not see anything. Darkness also spread over the scene, and the field of battle was covered with arrows. Thy troops, O monarch, then fled away in fear on all sides. When his army was thus broken, the Kuru king, O monarch, rushed against both friends and foes. Then Duryodhana challenged all the Pandavas to battle, O chief of Bharata's race, like the Asura Vali in days of yore challenging all the celestials. The Pandavas then, uniting together and filled with rage, upbraiding him repeatedly and shooting diverse weapons, rushed against the roaring Duryodhana. The latter, however, fearlessly smote his foes with shafts. The prowess that we then saw of thy son was exceedingly wonderful, since all the Pandavas together were unable to transgress him. At this time Duryodhana beheld, staying at a little distance from him, his troops, exceedingly mangled with shafts, and prepared to fly away. Rallying them then, O monarch, thy son, resolved on battle and desirous of gladdening them, addressed those warriors, saying, "I do not see that spot on plain or mountain whither, if you fly, the Pandavas will not slay you. What is the use then in flight? The Pandava army hath now been reduced to a small remnant. The two Krishnas have been exceedingly mangled. If all of us make a stand here, we are certain to have victory. If, however, you fly away, breaking your array, the Pandavas, pursuing your sinful selves, will slay all of you. Death in battle, therefore, is for our good. Death in the field of battle while engaged in fight according to Kshatriya practices is pleasant. Such death produces no kind of grief. By encountering such a death, a person enjoys eternal happiness in the other world. Let all the Kshatriyas assembled here listen to me. It were better that they should even submit to the power of the angry Bhimasena than that they should abandon the duties practised by them from the days of their ancestors. There is no act more sinful for a Kshatriya than flight from battle. You Kauravas, there is not a better path to heaven than the duty of battle. The warrior acquires in a day regions of bliss (in the other world) that take many long years for others to acquire." Fulfilling those words of the king, the great Kshatriya car-warriors once more rushed against the Pandavas, unable to endure their defeat and firmly resolved to put forth their prowess. Then commenced a battle once more, that was exceedingly fierce, between thy troops and the enemy, and that resembled the one between the gods and the Asuras. Thy son Duryodhana then, O monarch, with all his troops, rushed against the Pandavas headed by Yudhishthira.'"
Next: Section 4