The Mahabharata Home
"Sanjaya said, 'Then commenced the battle between the Kurus and the Srinjayas, O monarch, that was as fierce and awful as the battle between the gods and the Asuras. Men and crowds of cars and elephants, and elephant-warriors and horsemen by thousands, and steeds, all possessed of great prowess, encountered one another. The loud noise of rushing elephants of fearful forms was then heard there resembling the roars of the clouds in the welkin, in the season of rains. Some car-warriors, struck by elephants, were deprived of their cars. Routed by those infuriate animals other brave combatants ran on the field. Well-trained car-warriors, O Bharata, with their shafts, despatched large bodies of cavalry and the footmen that urged and protected the elephants, to the other world. Well-trained horsemen, O king, surrounding great car-warriors, careered on the field, striking and slaying the latter with spears and darts and swords. Some combatants armed with bows, encompassing great car-warriors, despatched them to Yama's abode, the many unitedly battling against individual ones. Other great car-warriors, encompassing elephants and foremost warriors of their own class, slew some mighty one amongst that fought on the field, careering all around. Similarly, O king, elephants, encompassing individual car-warriors excited with wrath and scattering showers of shafts, despatched them to the other world. Elephant-warrior rushing against elephant-warrior and car-warrior against car-warrior in that battle slew each other with darts and lances and cloth-yard shafts, O Bharata. Cars and elephants and horses, crushing foot-soldiers in the midst of battle, were seen to make confusion worse confounded. Adorned with yak-tails, steeds rushed on all sides, looking like the swans found on the plains at the foot of Himavat. They rushed with such speed that they seemed ready to devour the very Earth. The field, O monarch, indented with the hoofs of those steeds, looked beautiful like a beautiful woman bearing the marks of (her lover's) nails on her person. With the noise made by the tread of heroes, the wheels of cars, the shouts of foot-soldiers, the grunts of elephants, the peal of drums and other musical instruments, and the blare of conchs, the Earth began to resound as if with deafening peals of thunder. In consequence of twanging bows and flashing sabres and the glaring armour of the combatants, all became so confused there, that nothing could be distinctly marked. Invulnerable arms, lopped off from human bodies, and looking like the tusks of elephants, jumped up and writhed and moved furiously about. The sound made, O monarch, by heads falling on the field of battle, resembled that made by the falling fruits of palmyra trees. Strewn with those fallen heads that were crimson with blood, the Earth looked resplendent as if adorned with gold-coloured lotuses in their season. Indeed, with those lifeless heads with upturned eyes, that were exceedingly mangled (with shafts and other weapons), the field of battle, O king, looked resplendent as if strewn with full blown lotuses. With the fallen arms of the combatants, smeared with sandal and adorned with costly Keyuras, the earth looked bright as if strewn with the gorgeous poles set up in Indra's honour. The field of battle became covered with the thighs of kings, cut off in that battle and looking like the tapering trunks of elephants. Teeming with hundreds of headless trunk and strewn with umbrellas and yak-tails, that vast army looked beautiful like a flowering forest. Then, on the field of battle, O monarch, warriors careered fearlessly, their limbs bathed in blood and therefore looking like flowering Kinsukas. Elephants also, afflicted with arrows and lances, fell down here and there like broken clouds dropped from the skies. Elephant divisions, O monarch, slaughtered by high-souled warriors, dispersed in all directions like wind-tossed clouds. Those elephants, looking like clouds, fell down on the Earth, like mountains riven with thunder, O lord, on the occasion of the dissolution of the world at the end of the Yuga. Heaps upon heaps, looking like mountains, were seen, lying on the ground, of fallen steeds with their riders. A river appeared on the field of battle, flowing towards the other world. Blood formed its waters and cars its eddies. Standards formed its trees, and bones its pebbles. The arms (of combatants) were its alligators, bows its current, elephants its large rocks, and steeds its smaller ones. Fat and marrow formed its mire, umbrellas its swans, and maces its rafts. Abounding with armour and head-gears, banners constituted its beautiful trees. Teeming with wheels that formed its swarms of Chakravakas, it was covered with Trivenus and Dandas. Inspiring the brave with delight and enhancing the fears of the timid, that fierce river set in, whose shores abounded with Kurus and Srinjayas. Those brave warriors, with arms resembling spiked bludgeons, by the aid of their vehicles and animals serving the purposes of rafts and boats, crossed that awful river which ran towards the region of the dead. During the progress of that battle, O monarch, in which no consideration was shown by anybody for anyone, and which, fraught with awful destruction of the four kinds of forces, therefore, resembled the battle between the gods and the Asuras in days of old, some among the combatants, O scorcher of foes, loudly called upon their kinsmen and friends. Some, called upon by crying kinsmen, returned, afflicted with fear. During the progress of that fierce and awful battle, Arjuna and Bhimasena stupefied their foes. That vast host of thine, O ruler of men, thus slaughtered, swooned away on the field, like a woman under the influence of liquor. Having stupefied that army, Bhimasena and Dhananjaya blew their conchs and uttered leonine roars. As soon as they heard that loud peal, Dhrishtadyumna and Shikhandi, placing king Yudhishthira at their head, rushed against the ruler of the Madras. Exceedingly wonderful and terrible, O monarch, was the manner in which those heroes, unitedly and as separate bodies, then fought with Shalya. The two sons of Madri, endued with great activity, accomplished in weapons, and invincible in battle, proceeded with great speed against thy host, inspired with desire of victory. Then thy army, O bull of Bharata's race, mangled in diverse ways with shafts by the Pandavas eager for victory, began to fly away from the field. That host, thus struck and broken by firm bowmen, O monarch, fled away on all sides in the very sight of thy sons. Loud cries of "Oh!" and "Alas!" O Bharata, arose from among thy warriors, while some illustrious Kshatriyas among the routed combatants, desirous of victory, cried out saying, "Stop, stop!" For all that, those troops of thine, broken by the Pandavas, fled away, deserting on the field their dear sons and brothers and maternal, uncles and sister's sons and relatives by marriage and other kinsmen. Urging their steeds and elephants to greater speed, thousands of warriors fled away, O bull of Bharata's race, bent only upon their own safety.'"
Next: Section 10