The Mahabharata Home
"Sanjaya said, 'During the progress of that terrible and awful battle, the army of thy son was broken by the Pandavas. Rallying their great car-warriors, however, with vigorous efforts, thy sons continued to fight with the Pandava army. The (Kuru) warriors, desirous of thy son's welfare, suddenly returned. Upon their return, the battle once more became exceedingly fierce between thy warriors and those of the foe, resembling that between the gods and the Asuras in days of old. Neither amongst the enemies nor amongst thine was there a single combatant that turned away from that battle. The warriors fought, aided by guess and by the names they uttered. Great was the destruction that occurred as they thus fought with one another. Then king Yudhishthira, filled with great wrath and becoming desirous of vanquishing the Dhartarashtras and their king in that battle, pierced the son of Saradwat with three arrows winged with gold and whetted on stone, and next slew with four others the four steeds of Kritavarma. Then Ashvatthama bore away the celebrated son of Hridika. Saradwat's son pierced Yudhishthira in return with eight arrows. Then king Duryodhana despatched seven hundred cars to the spot where king Yudhishthira was battling. Those cars ridden by excellent warriors and endued with speed of the wind or thought, rushed in that battle against the car of Kunti's son. Encompassing Yudhishthira on every side, they made him invisible with their shafts like clouds hiding the sun from the view. Then the Pandava heroes headed by Shikhandi, beholding king Yudhishthira the just assailed in that way by the Kauravas, became filled with rage and were unable to put up with it. Desirous of rescuing Yudhishthira, the son of Kunti, they came to that spot upon their cars possessed of great speed and adorned with rows of bells. Then commenced an awful battle, in which blood flowed as water, between the Pandavas and the Kurus, that increased the population of Yama's domains. Slaying those seven hundred hostile car-warriors of the Kuru army, the Pandavas and the Pancalas once more resisted (the whole Kuru army). There a fierce battle was fought between thy son and the Pandavas. We had never before seen or heard of its like. During the progress of that battle in which no consideration was showed by anybody for anybody, and while the warriors of thy army and those of the foe were falling fast, and the combatants were all shouting and blowing their conchs, and the bowmen were roaring and uttering loud noises of diverse kinds, while, indeed, the battle was raging fiercely and the very vitals of the combatants were being struck, and the troops, O sire, desirous of victory, were rushing with speed, while, verily, everything on Earth seemed to be undergoing a woeful destruction, during that time when innumerable ladies of birth and beauty were being made widows, during, indeed, the progress of that fierce engagement in which the warriors behaved without any consideration for friends and foes, awful portents appeared, presaging the destruction of everything. The Earth, with her mountains and forests, trembled, making a loud noise. Meteors like blazing brands equipped with handles dropped from the sky, O king, on every side on the Earth as if from the solar disc. A hurricane arose, blowing on all sides, and bearing away hard pebbles along its lower course. The elephants shed copious tears and trembled exceedingly. Disregarding all these fierce and awful portents, the Kshatriyas, taking counsel with one another, cheerfully stood on the field for battle again, on the beautiful and sacred field called after Kuru, desirous of obtaining heaven. Then Shakuni, the son of the Gandhara king, said, "Fight all of ye in front! I, however, will slay the Pandavas from behind." Then the Madraka warriors, endued with great activity, amongst those on our side that were advancing, became filled with joy and uttered diverse sounds of delight. Others too did the same. The invincible Pandavas, however, possessed of sureness of aim, once more coming against us, shook their bows and covered us with showers of arrows. The forces of the Madrakas then were slain by the foe. Beholding this, the troops of Duryodhana once more turned away from the battle. The mighty king of the Gandharvas, however, once more said these words, "Stop, ye sinful ones! Fight (with the foe)! What use is there of flight?" At that time, O bull of Bharata's race, the king of the Gandharas had full 10,000 horse-men capable of fighting with bright lances. During the progress of that great carnage, Shakuni, aided by that force, put forth his valour and assailed the Pandava army at the rear, slaughtering it with his keen shafts. The vast force of the Pandus then, O monarch, broke even as a mass of clouds is dispersed on all sides by a mighty wind. Then Yudhishthira, beholding from a near point his own army routed, coolly urged the mighty Sahadeva, saying, "Yonder the son of Subala, afflicting our rear, stayeth, clad in mail! He slaughtereth our forces! Behold that wicked wight, O son of Pandu! Aided by the son of Draupadi, proceed towards him and slay Shakuni, the son of Subala! Supported by the Pancalas, O sinless one, I will meanwhile destroy the car force of the enemy! Let all the elephants and all the horse and 3,000 foot, proceed with thee! Supported by these, slay Shakuni!" At this, 700 elephants ridden by combatants armed with the bow, and 5,000 horses, and the valiant Sahadeva, and 3,000 foot-soldiers, and the sons of Draupadi all rushed against Shakuni difficult of defeat in battle. Subala's son, however, of great valour, O king, prevailing over the Pandavas and longing for victory, began to slay their forces from the rear. The horsemen, infuriate with rage, belonging to the Pandavas endued with great activity, penetrated the division of Subala's son, prevailing over the latter's car-warriors. Those heroic horsemen, staying in the midst of their own elephants, covered the large host of Subala's son with showers of shafts. In consequence of thy evil counsels, O king, dreadful was the battle that then ensued in which maces and lances were used and in which heroes only took part. The twang of bow-string was no longer heard there, for all the car-warriors stood as spectators of that fight. At that time no difference could be seen between the contending parties. Both the Kurus and the Pandavas, O bull of Bharata's race, beheld the darts hurled from heroic arms course like meteors through the welkin. The entire welkin, O monarch, shrouded with falling swords of great brightness, seemed to become exceedingly beautiful. The aspect presented, O chief of the Bharatas, by the lances hurled all around, became like that of swarms of locusts in the welkin. Steeds, with limbs bathed in blood in consequence of wounds inflicted by horsemen themselves wounded with arrows, dropped down on all sides in hundreds and thousands. Encountering one another and huddled together, many of them were seen to be mangled and many to vomit blood from their mouths. A thick darkness came there when the troops were covered with a dusty cloud. When that darkness shrouded everything, O king, we beheld those brave combatants, steeds and men, move away from that spot. Others were seen to fall down on the Earth, vomiting blood in profusion. Many combatants, entangled with one another by their locks, could not stir. Many, endued with great strength, dragged one another from the backs of their horses, and encountering one another thus, slew one another like combatants in a wrestling match. Many deprived of life, were borne away on the backs of the steeds. Many men, proud of their valour and inspired with desire of victory, were seen to fall down on the Earth. The Earth became strewn over with hundreds and thousands of combatants bathed in blood, deprived of limbs, and divested of hair. In consequence of the surface of the Earth being covered with elephant-riders and horsemen and slain steeds and combatants with blood-stained armour and others armed with weapons and others who had sought to slay one another with diverse kinds of terrible weapons, all lying closely huddled together in that battle fraught with fearful carnage, no warrior could proceed far on his horse. Having fought for a little while, Shakuni, the son of Subala, O monarch, went away from that spot with the remnant of his cavalry numbering 6,000. Similarly, the Pandava force, covered with blood, and its animals fatigued, moved away from that spot with its remnant consisting of 6,000 horses. The blood-stained horsemen of the Pandava army then, with hearts intent on battle and prepared to lay down their lives, said, "It is no longer possible to fight here on cars; how much more difficult then to fight here on elephants! Let cars proceed against cars, and elephants against elephants! Having retreated, Shakuni is now within his own division. The royal son of Subala will not again come to battle." Then the sons of Draupadi and those infuriate elephants proceeded to the place where the Pancala prince Dhrishtadyumna, that great car-warrior, was. Sahadeva also, when that dusty cloud arose, proceeded alone to where king Yudhishthira was. After all those had gone away, Shakuni, the son of Subala, excited with wrath, once more fell upon Dhrishtadyumna's division and began to strike it. Once more a dreadful battle took place, in which the combatants were all regardless of their lives, between thy soldiers and those of the foe, all of whom were desirous of slaying one another. In that encounter of heroes, the combatants first eyed one another steadfastly, and then rushed, O king, and fell upon one another in hundreds and thousands. In that destructive carnage, heads severed with swords fell down with a noise like that of falling palmyra fruits. Loud also became the noise, making the very hair to stand on end, of bodies falling down on the ground, divested of armour and mangled with weapons and of falling weapons also, O king, and of arms and thighs severed from the trunk. Striking brothers and sons and even sires with keen weapons, the combatants were seen to fight like birds, for pieces of meat. Excited with rage, thousands of warriors, falling upon one another, impatiently struck one another in that battle. Hundreds and thousands of combatants, killed by the weight of slain horsemen while falling down from their steeds, fell down on the field. Loud became the noise of neighing steeds of great fleetness, and of shouting men clad in mail, and of the falling darts and swords, O king, of combatants desirous of piercing the vitals of one another in consequence, O monarch, of thy evil policy. At that time, thy soldiers, overcome with toil, spent with rage, their animals fatigued, themselves parched with thirst mangled with keen weapons, began to turn away from the battle. Maddened with the scent of blood, many became so insensate that they slew friends and foes alike, in fact, every one they got at. Large numbers of Kshatriyas, inspired with desire of victory, were struck down with arrows, O king, and fell prostrate on the Earth. Wolves and vultures and jackals began to howl and scream in glee and make a loud noise. In the very sight of thy son, thy army suffered a great loss. The Earth, O monarch, became strewn with the bodies of men and steeds, and covered with streams of blood that inspired the timid with terror. Struck and mangled repeatedly with swords and battle axes and lances, thy warriors, as also the Pandavas, O Bharata, ceased to approach one another. Striking one another according to the measure of their strength, and fighting to the last drop of their blood, the combatants fell down vomiting blood from their wounds. Headless forms were seen, seizing the hair of their heads (with one hand) and with uplifted swords dyed with blood (in the other). When many headless forms, O king, had thus risen up, when the scent of blood had made the combatants nearly senseless, and when the loud noise had somewhat subsided, Subala's son (once more) approached the large host of the Pandavas, with the small remnant of his horse. At this, the Pandavas, inspired with desires of victory and endued with foot-soldiers and elephants and cavalry, all with uplifted weapons, desirous of reaching the end of the hostilities, the Pandavas, forming a wall, encompassed Shakuni on all sides, and began to strike him with diverse kinds of weapons. Beholding those troops of thine assailed from every side, the Kauravas, with horsemen, foot-soldiers, elephants, and cars, rushed towards the Pandavas. Some foot-soldiers of great courage, destitute of weapons, attacked their foes in that battle, with feet and fists, and brought them down. Car-warriors fell down from cars, and elephant-men from elephants, like meritorious persons falling down from their celestial vehicles upon the exhaustion of their merits. Thus the combatants, engaged with one another in that great battle, slew sires and friends and sons. Thus occurred that battle, O best of the Bharatas, in which no consideration was shown by anybody for anyone, and in which lances and swords and arrows fell fast, on every side and made the scene exceedingly terrible to behold.'"
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