The Mahabharata Home
"Sanjaya said, 'Then, O lord, thy troops, with Shalya at their head, once more rushed against the Parthas in that battle with great impetuosity. Although afflicted, still these troops of thine, who were fierce in battle, rushing against the Parthas, very soon agitated them in consequence of their superior numbers. Struck by the Kurus, the Pandava troops, in the very sight of the two Krishnas, stayed not on the field, though sought to be checked by Bhimasena. Filled with rage at this, Dhananjaya covered Kripa and his followers, as also Kritavarma, with showers of shafts. Sahadeva checked Shakuni with all his forces. Nakula cast his glances on the ruler of the Madras from one of his flanks. The (five) sons of Draupadi checked numerous kings (of the Kuru army). The Pancala prince Shikhandi resisted the son of Drona. Armed with his mace, Bhimasena held the king in check, and Kunti's son Yudhishthira resisted Shalya at the head of his forces. The battle then commenced once more between those pairs as they stood, among thy warriors and those of the enemy, none of whom had ever retreated from fight. We then beheld the highly wonderful feat that Shalya achieved, since, alone, he fought with the whole Pandava army. Shalya then, as he stayed in the vicinity of Yudhishthira in that battle, looked like the planet Saturn in the vicinity of the Moon. Afflicting the king with shafts that resembled snakes of virulent poison, Shalya rushed against Bhima, covering him with showers of arrows. Beholding that lightness of hand and that mastery over weapons displayed by Shalya the troops of both the armies applauded him highly. Afflicted by Shalya the Pandavas, exceedingly mangled, fled away, leaving the battle, and disregarding the cries of Yudhishthira commanding them to stop. While his troops were thus being slaughtered by the ruler of the Madras, Pandu's son, king Yudhishthira the just, became filled with rage. Relying upon his prowess, that mighty car-warrior began to afflict the ruler of the Madras, resolved to either win the battle or meet with death. Summoning all his brothers and also Krishna of Madhu's race, he said unto them, "Bhishma, and Drona, and Karna, and the other kings, that put forth their prowess for the sake of the Kauravas, have all perished in battle. You all have exerted your valour according to your courage and in respect of the shares allotted to you. Only one share--mine--that is constituted by the mighty car-warrior Shalya, remains. I desire to vanquish that ruler of the Madras today in battle. Whatever wishes I have regarding the accomplishment of that task I will now tell you. These two heroes, the two sons of Madravati, will become the protectors of my wheels. They are counted as heroes incapable of being vanquished by Vasava himself. Keeping the duties of a Kshatriya before them, these two that are deserving of every honour and are firm in their vows, will fight with their maternal uncle. Either Shalya will slay me in battle or I will slay him. Blessed be ye. Listen to these true words, you foremost of heroes in the world. Observant of Kshatriya duties, I will fight with my maternal uncle, you lords of Earth, firmly resolved to either obtain victory or be slain. Let them that furnish cars quickly supply my vehicle, according to the rules of science, with weapons and all kinds of implements in a larger measure than Shalya's. The grandson of Sini will protect my right wheel, and Dhrishtadyumna my left. Let Pritha's son Dhananjaya guard my rear today. And let Bhima, that foremost of all wielders of weapons, fight in my front. I shall thus be superior to Shalya in the great battle that will occur." Thus addressed by the king, all his well-wishers did as they were requested. Then the Pandava troops once more became filled with joy, especially the Pancalas, the Somakas and the Matsyas. Having made that vow, the king proceeded against the ruler of the Madras. The Pancalas then blew and beat innumerable conchs and drums and uttered leonine roars. Endued with great activity and filled with rage, they rushed, with loud shouts of joy, against the ruler of the Madras, that bull among the Kurus. And they caused the Earth to resound with the noise of the elephants' bells, and the loud blare of conchs and trumpets. Then thy son and the valiant ruler of the Madras, like the Udaya and the Asta hills, received those assailants. Boasting of his prowess in battle, Shalya poured a shower of arrows on that chastiser of foes, king Yudhishthira the just, like Maghavat pouring rain. The high-souled king of the Kurus also having taken up his beautiful bow displayed those diverse kinds of lessons that Drona had taught him. And he poured successive showers of arrows beautifully, quickly, and with great skill. As he careered in battle, none could mark any lapses in him. Shalya and Yudhishthira, both endued with great prowess in battle, mangled each other, like a couple of tigers fighting for a piece of meat. Bhima was engaged with thy son, that delighter in battle. The Pancala prince (Dhrishtadyumna), Satyaki, and the two sons of Madri by Pandu, received Shakuni and the other Kuru heroes around. In consequence of thy evil policy, O king, there again occurred in that spot an awful battle between thy warriors and those of the foe, all of whom were inspired with the desire of victory. Duryodhana then, with a straight shaft, aiming at the gold-decked standard of Bhima, cut off in that battle. The beautiful standard of Bhimasena, adorned with many bells, fell down, O giver of honours. Once more the king, with a sharp razor-faced arrow, cut off the beautiful bow of Bhima that looked like the trunk of an elephant. Endued with great energy, the bowless Bhima then, putting forth his prowess pierced the chest of thy son with a dart. At this, thy son sat down on the terrace of his car. When Duryodhana swooned away, Vrikodara once more, with razor-faced shaft, cut off the head of his driver from his trunk. The steeds of Duryodhana's car, deprived of their driver, ran wildly on all sides, O Bharata, dragging the car after them, at which loud wails arose (in the Kuru army). Then the mighty car-warrior Ashvatthama, and Kripa and Kritavarma, followed that car, desirous of rescuing thy son. The (Kaurava) troops (at sight of this) became exceedingly agitated. The followers of Duryodhana became terrified. At that time, the wielder of Gandiva, drawing his bow, began to slay them with his arrows. Then Yudhishthira, excited with rage, rushed against the ruler of the Madras, himself urging his steeds white as ivory and fleet as thought. We then saw something that was wonderful in Yudhishthira, the son of Kunti, for though very mild and soft, he then became exceedingly fierce. With eyes opened wide and body trembling in rage, the son of Kunti cut off hostile warriors in hundreds and thousands by means of his sharp shafts. Those amongst the soldiers against whom the eldest Pandava proceeded, were overthrown by him, O king, like mountain summits riven with thunder. Felling cars with steeds and drivers and standards and throwing down car-warriors in large numbers, Yudhishthira, without any assistance, began to sport there like a mighty wind destroying masses of clouds. Filled with rage, he destroyed steeds with riders and steeds without riders and foot-soldiers by thousands in that battle, like Rudra destroying living creatures (at the time of the universal dissolution). Having made the field empty by shooting his shafts on all sides, Yudhishthira rushed against the ruler of the Madras and said, "Wait, Wait!" Beholding the feats then of that hero of terrible deeds, all thy warriors became inspired with fear. Shalya, however, proceeded against him. Both of them filled with rage, blew their conchs. Returning and challenging each other, each then encountered the other. Then Shalya covered Yudhishthira with showers of arrows. Similarly, the son of Kunti covered the ruler of the Madras with showers of arrows. Then those two heroes, the ruler of the Madras and Yudhishthira, mangled in that battle with each other's arrows and bathed in blood, looked like a Salmali and a Kinsuka tree decked with flowers. Both possessed of splendour and both invincible in battle, those two illustrious warriors uttered loud roars. Beholding them both, the soldiers could not conclude which of them would be victorious. Whether the son of Pritha would enjoy the Earth, having slain Shalya, or whether Shalya having slain the son of Pandu would bestow the Earth on Duryodhana, could not be ascertained, O Bharata, by the warriors present there. King Yudhishthira, in course of that battle, placed his foes to his right. Then Shalya shot a hundred foremost of arrows at Yudhishthira. With another arrow of great sharpness, he cut off the latter's bow. Taking up another bow, Yudhishthira pierced Shalya with three hundred shafts and cut off the latter's bow with a razor-faced arrow. The son of Pandu then slew the four steeds of his antagonist with some straight arrows. With two other very sharp shafts, he then cut off the two Parshni drivers of Shalya. Then with another blazing, well-tempered and sharp shaft, he cut off the standard of Shalya staying in his front. Then, O chastiser of foes, the army of Duryodhana broke. The son of Drona, at this time, speedily proceeded towards the ruler of the Madras who had been reduced to that plight, and quickly taking him up on his own car, fled away quickly. After the two had proceeded for a moment, they heard Yudhishthira roar aloud. Stopping, the ruler of the Madras then ascended another car that had been equipped duly. That best of cars had a rattle deep as the roar of the clouds. Well furnished with weapons and instruments and all kinds of utensils, that vehicle made the hair of foes stand on end.'"
Next: Section 17