The Mahabharata Home
"Sanjaya said, 'When the loud noise of battle had somewhat subsided and the Pandavas had slain large numbers of their foes, Subala's son (once more) came for fight with the remnant of his horsemen numbering seven hundred. Quickly approaching his own soldiers and urging them to battle, he repeatedly said, "You chastisers of foes, fight cheerfully!" And he asked the Kshatriyas present there, saying, "Where is the king, that great car-warrior?" Hearing these words of Shakuni, O bull of Bharata's race, they answered saying, "Yonder stayeth that great car-warrior, the Kuru king, there where that large umbrella of splendour equal to that of the full moon, is visible--there where those car-warriors, clad in mail, are staying--there where that loud noise, deep as the roar of clouds, is being heard! Proceed quickly thither, O king, and thou wilt then see the Kuru monarch!" Thus addressed by those brave warriors, Subala's son Shakuni, O king, proceeded to that spot where thy son was staying, surrounded on all sides by unretreating heroes. Beholding Duryodhana stationed in the midst of that car-force, Shakuni, gladdening all those car-warriors of thine, O king cheerfully said these words unto Duryodhana. Indeed, he said the following words in a manner which showed that he regarded all his purposes to have been already achieved. "Slay, O king, the car-divisions (of the Pandavas)! All their horses have been vanquished by me! Yudhishthira is incapable of being conquered in battle unless one is prepared to lay down his life! When that car-force, protected by the son of Pandu, will have been destroyed, we shall then slay all those elephants and foot-soldiers and others!" Hearing these words of his, thy warriors, inspired with desire of victory, cheerfully rushed towards the Pandava army. With quivers on their backs and bows in their hands, all of them shook their bows and uttered leonine roars. Once more, O king, the fierce twang of bows and the slapping of palms and the whiz of arrows shot with force was heard. Beholding those Kuru combatants approach the Pandava army with uplifted bows, Kunti's son Dhananjaya said unto the son of Devaki these words, "Urge the steeds fearlessly and penetrate this sea of troops! With my keen shafts I shall today reach the end of these hostilities! Today is the eighteenth day, O Janardana, of this great battle that is raging between the two sides! The army of those high-souled heroes, which was literally numberless, hath been nearly destroyed! Behold the course of Destiny! The army of Dhritarashtra's son, O Madhava, which was vast as the ocean, hath, O Achyuta, become, after encountering ourselves, even like the indent caused by a cow's hoof! If peace had been made after Bhishma's fall, O Madhava, everything would have been well! The foolish Duryodhana of weak understanding, however, did not make peace! The words that were uttered by Bhishma, O Madhava, were beneficial and worthy of adoption. Suyodhana, however, who had lost his understanding, did not act according to them. After Bhishma had been struck and thrown down on the Earth, I do not know the reason why the battle proceeded! I regard the Dhartarashtras to be foolish and of weak understanding in every way, since they continued the battle even after the fall of Santanu's son! After that when Drona, that foremost of all utterers of Brahma, fell, as also the son of Radha, and Vikarna, the carnage did not still cease! Alas, when a small remnant only of the (Kaurava) army remained after the fall of that tiger among men, Karna, with his sons, the carnage did not still cease! After the fall of even the heroic Srutayush, of also Jalasandha of Puru's race, and of king Srutayudha, the carnage did not still cease! After the fall of Bhurishrava, of Shalya, O Janardana, and of the Avanti heroes, the carnage did not still cease! After the fall of Jayadratha, of the Rakshasa Alayudha, of Bahlika, and of Somadatta, the carnage did not still cease! After the fall of heroic Bhagadatta, of the Kamboja chief Sadakshina, and of Duhshasana, the carnage did not still cease! Beholding even diverse heroic and mighty kings, each owning extensive territories, slain in battle, the carnage, O Krishna, did not still cease! Beholding even a full Akshauhini of troops slain by Bhimasena in battle, the carnage did not still cease, in consequence of either the folly or the covetousness of the Dhartarashtras! What king born in a noble race, a race especially like that of Kuru, save of course the foolish Duryodhana, would thus fruitlessly wage such fierce hostilities? Who is there, possessed of reason and wisdom and capable of discriminating good from evil, that would thus wage war, knowing his foes to be superior to him in merit, strength, and courage? How could he listen to the counsels of another, when, indeed, he could not make up his mind to make peace with the Pandavas in obedience to the words uttered by thee? What medicine can be acceptable to that person today who disregarded Bhishma the son of Santanu, and Drona, and Vidura, while they urged him to make peace? How can he accept good counsels, who from folly, O Janardana, insolently disregarded his own aged sire as also his own well-meaning mother while speaking beneficial words unto him? It is evident, O Janardana, that Duryodhana took his birth for exterminating his race! His conduct and his policy, it is seen, point to that line, O lord! He will not give us our kingdom yet! This is my opinion, O Achyuta! The high-souled Vidura, O sire, told me many a time that as long as life remained in Dhritarashtra's son, he would never give us our share of the kingdom! Vidura further told me, 'As long also as Dhritarashtra will live, O giver of honours, even that sinful wight will act sinfully towards you! Ye will never succeed in vanquishing Duryodhana without battle!' Even thus, O Madhava, did Vidura of true foresight often speak to me! All the acts of that wicked-souled wight, I now find to be exactly as the high-souled Vidura had said! That person of wicked understanding who, having listened to the beneficial and proper words of Jamadagni's son, disregarded them, should certainly be held as standing in the face of destruction. Many persons crowned with ascetic success said as soon as Duryodhana was born, that the entire Kshatriya order would be exterminated in consequence of that wretch. Those words of the sages, O Janardana, are now being realised, since the Kshatriyas are undergoing almost entire extermination in consequence of Duryodhana's acts! I shall, O Madhava, slay all the warriors today! After all the Kshatriyas will have been slain and the (Kaurava) camp made empty, Duryodhana will then desire battle with us for his own destruction. That will end these hostilities! Exercising my reason, O Madhava, and reflected in my own mind, O thou of Vrishni's race, thinking of Vidura's words, and taking into account the acts of the wicked-souled Duryodhana himself, I have come to this conclusion! Penetrate the Bharata army, O hero, for I shall slay the wicked-souled Duryodhana and his army today with my keen shafts! Slaying this weak army in the very sight of Dhritarashtra's son, I shall today do what is for Yudhishthira's good!"'
"Sanjaya continued, 'Thus addressed by Savyasaci, he of Dasarha's race, reins in hand, fearlessly penetrated that vast hostile force for battle. That was a terrible forest of bows (which the two heroes entered). Darts constituted its prickles. Maces and spiked bludgeons were its paths. Cars and elephants were its mighty trees. Cavalry and infantry were its creepers. And the illustrious Keshava, as he entered that forest on that car decked with many banners and pennons, looked exceedingly resplendent. Those white steeds, O king, bearing Arjuna in battle, were seen careering everywhere, urged by him of Dasarha's race! Then that scorcher of foes, Savyasaci, proceeded on his car, shooting hundreds of keen shafts like a cloud pouring showers of rain. Loud was the noise produced by those straight arrows, as also by those combatants that were covered with them in that battle by Savyasaci. Showers of shafts, piercing through the armour of the combatants, fell down on the Earth. Impelled from Gandiva, arrows, whose touch resembled that of Indra's thunder, striking men and elephants and horses, O king, fell in that battle with a noise like that of winged insects. Everything was shrouded with those shafts shot from Gandiva. In that battle, the points of the compass, cardinal and subsidiary, could not be distinguished. The whole world seemed to be filled with gold-winged shafts, steeped in oil, polished by the hands of the smith, and marked with Partha's name. Struck with those keen shafts, and burnt therewith by Partha even as a herd of elephants is burnt with burning brands, the Kauravas became languid and lost their strength. Armed with bow and arrows, Partha, resembling the blazing sun, burnt the hostile combatants in that battle like a blazing fire consuming a heap of dry grass. As a roaring fire of blazing flames and great energy (arising from embers) cast away on the confines of a forest by its denizens, fire consumes those woods abounding with trees and heaps of dry creepers, even so that hero possessed of great activity and fierce energy and endued with prowess of weapons, and having shafts for his flames, quickly burnt all the troops of thy son from wrath. His gold-winged arrows, endued with fatal force and shot with care, could not be baffled by any armour. He had not to shoot a second arrow at man, steed, or elephant of gigantic size. Like the thunder-wielding Indra striking down the Daityas, Arjuna, alone, entering that division of mighty car-warriors, destroyed it with shafts of diverse forms.'"
Next: Section 25