The Mahabharata Home
"Sanjaya said, 'That foremost of car-warriors, O monarch, thy son, riding on his car and filled with the courage of despair, looked resplendent in that battle like Rudra himself of great valour. With the thousands of shafts shot by him, the Earth became completely covered. Indeed, he drenched his enemies with showers of arrows like the clouds pouring rain on mountain breasts. There was then not a man amongst the Pandavas in that great battle, or a steed, or an elephant, or a car, that was not struck with Duryodhana's arrows. Upon whomsoever amongst the warriors I then cast my eyes, O monarch, I beheld that every one, O Bharata, was struck by thy son with his arrows. The Pandava army was then covered with the shafts of that illustrious warrior, even as a host is covered with the dust it raises while marching or rushing to battle. The Earth then, O lord of Earth, seemed to me to be made one entire expanse of arrows by thy son Duryodhana, that bowman possessed of great lightness of hands. Amongst those thousands upon thousands of warriors on the field, belonging to thy side or that of the enemy, it seemed to me that Duryodhana was then the only man. The prowess that we then beheld of thy son seemed to be exceedingly wonderful, since the Parthas, even uniting together, could not approach his single self. He pierced Yudhishthira, O bull of Bharata's race, with a hundred arrows, and Bhimasena with seventy, and Sahadeva with seven. And he pierced Nakula with four and sixty, and Dhrishtadyumna with five, and the sons of Draupadi with seven, and Satyaki with three arrows. With a broad-headed arrow, he then, O sire, cut off the bow of Sahadeva. Laying aside that broken bow, the valiant son of Madri, took up another formidable bow, and rushing against king Duryodhana, pierced him with ten shafts in that battle. The great bowman Nakula, possessed of courage, then pierced the king with nine terrible arrows and uttered a loud roar. Satyaki struck the king with a single straight shaft; the sons of Draupadi struck him with three and seventy and king Yudhishthira struck him with five. And Bhimasena afflicted the king with eighty shafts. Though pierced thus from every side with numerous arrows by these illustrious warriors, Duryodhana still, O monarch, did not waver, in the presence of all the troops who stood there as spectators. The quickness, the skill, and the prowess of that illustrious warrior were seen by all the men there to exceed those of every creature. Meanwhile the Dhartarashtras, O monarch, who had not fled far from that spot, beholding the king, rallied and returned there, clad in mail. The noise made by them when they came back became exceedingly awful, like the roar of the surging ocean in the season of rains. Approaching their unvanquished king in that battle, those great bowmen proceeded against the Pandavas for fight. The son of Drona resisted in that battle the angry Bhimasena. With the arrows, O monarch, that were shot in that battle, all the points of the compass became completely shrouded, so that the brave combatants could not distinguish the cardinal from the subsidiary points of the compass. As regards Ashvatthama and Bhimasena, O Bharata, both of them were achievers of cruel feats. Both of them were irresistible in battle. The arms of both contained many cicatrices in consequence of both having repeatedly drawn the bow-string. Counteracting each other's feats, they continued to fight with each other, frightening the whole Universe. The heroic Shakuni assailed Yudhishthira in that battle. The mighty son of Subala, having slain the four steeds of the king, uttered a loud roar, causing all the troops to tremble with fear. Meanwhile, the valiant Sahadeva bore away the heroic and vanquished king on his car from that battle. Then king Yudhishthira the just, riding upon another car (came back to battle), and having pierced Shakuni at first with nine arrows, once more pierced him with five. And that foremost of all bowmen then uttered a loud roar. That battle, O sire, awful as it was, became wonderful to behold. It filled the spectators with delight and was applauded by the Siddhas and the Charanas. Uluka of immeasurable soul rushed against the mighty bowman Nakula, in that battle, shooting showers of arrows from every side. The heroic Nakula, however, in that battle, resisted the son of Shakuni with a thick shower of arrows from every side. Both those heroes were well-born and both were mighty car-warriors. They were seen to fight with each other, each highly enraged with the other. Similarly Kritavarma, O king, fighting with the grandson of Sini, that scorcher of foes, looked resplendent, like Shakra battling with the Asura Vala. Duryodhana, having cut off Dhrishtadyumna's bow in that battle, pierced his bowless antagonist with keen shafts. Dhrishtadyumna then, in that encounter, having taken up a formidable bow, fought with the king in the sight of all the bowmen. The battle between those two heroes became exceedingly fierce, O bull of Bharata's race, like the encounter between two wild and infuriate elephants with juicy secretions trickling down their limbs. The heroic Gautama, excited with rage in that battle, pierced the mighty sons of Draupadi with many straight shafts. The battle that took place between him and those five, resembled that which takes place between an embodied being and his (five) senses. It was awful and exceedingly fierce, and neither side showed any consideration for the other. The (five) sons of Draupadi afflicted Kripa like the (five) senses afflicting a foolish man. He, on the other hand, fighting with them, controlled them with vigour. Even such and so wonderful, O Bharata, was that battle between him and them. It resembled the repeated combats, O lord, between embodied creatures and their senses. Men fought with men, elephants with elephants, steeds with steeds and car-warriors with car-warriors. Once more, O monarch, that battle became general and awful. Here an encounter was beautiful, there another was awful, and there another was exceedingly fierce, O lord! Many and awful, O monarch, were the encounters that took place in course of that battle. Those chastisers of foes (belonging to both armies), encountering one another, pierced and slew one another in that dreadful engagement. A dense cloud of dust was then seen there, raised by the vehicles and the animals of the warriors. Thick also, O king, was the dust raised by the running steeds, a dust that was carried from one place to another by the wind. Raised by the wheels of cars and the breaths of the elephants, the dust, thick as an evening cloud, rose into the welkin. That dust having been raised and the sun himself having been dimmed therewith, the Earth became shrouded, and the heroic and mighty car-warriors could not be seen. Anon that disappeared and everything became clear when the Earth, O best of the Bharatas, became drenched with the blood of heroes. Indeed, that dense and awful cloud of dust was allayed. Then, O Bharata, I could once more see the diverse single combats that the combatants fought at noon of day, each according to his strength and his rank, all of which were exceedingly fierce. The blazing splendour of those feats, O monarch, appeared full in view. Loud became the noise of falling shafts in that battle, resembling that made by a vast forest of bamboo while burning on every side.'"
Next: Section 23