The Mahabharata Home
"Sanjaya said, 'During the progress of that battle which was so destructive of men and steeds and elephants, Subala's son, Shakuni, O king, rushed against Sahadeva. The valiant Sahadeva, as Shakuni rushed quickly towards him, sped showers of swift arrows at that warrior as numerous as a flight of insects. At that time, Uluka also encountered Bhima and pierced him with ten arrows, Shakuni, meanwhile, O monarch, having pierced Bhima with three arrows, covered Sahadeva with ninety. Indeed, those heroes, O king, encountering one another in that battle, pierced one another with many keen arrows equipped with Kanka and peacock feathers, winged with gold, whetted on stone, and sped from bow-strings drawn to their ears. Those showers of arrows sped from their bows and arms, O monarch, shrouded all the points of the compass like a thick shower of rain poured from the clouds. Then Bhima, filled with rage, and Sahadeva of great valour, both endued with great might, careered in that battle, making an immense carnage. That army, O Bharata, was covered with hundreds of arrows by those two warriors. In consequence thereof, the welkin on many parts of the field became shrouded with darkness. In consequence, O monarch, of steeds, covered with arrows, dragging after them, as they ran, a large number of slain combatants, the tracks on many parts of the field became entirely blocked up. Covered with steeds slain with their riders, with broken shields and lances, O monarch, and with swords and darts and spears all around, the Earth looked variegated as if strewn with flowers. The combatants, O king, encountering one another, careered in battle, filled with wrath and taking one another's life. Soon the field became strewn with heads, beautiful as the filaments of the lotus, adorned with earrings and graced with faces set with eyes upturned in wrath and lips bit in rage. Covered also, O monarch, with the severed arms of warriors that resembled the trunks of huge elephants, that were adorned with Angadas and cased in leathern fences, and that still held swords and lances and battle-axes, and with headless bodies risen on their feet and bleeding and dancing on the field, and swarming with carnivorous creatures of diverse kinds, the Earth, O lord, presented a frightful aspect! After the Bharata army had been reduced to a small remnant, the Pandavas, filled with delight in that dreadful battle began to despatch the Kauravas to Yama's abode. Meanwhile, the heroic and valiant son of Subala's son very forcibly struck Sahadeva on the head with a lance. Exceedingly agitated, O monarch, in consequence of the blow, Sahadeva sat down on the terrace of his car. Beholding Sahadeva in that plight, the valiant Bhima, filled with rage, O Bharata, held the whole Kuru army in check. With his cloth-yard shaft he pierced hundreds and thousands of hostile warriors, and having pierced them so, that chastier of foes uttered a leonine roar. Frightened at that roar, all the followers of Shakuni, with their steeds and elephants, precipitately fled away in fear. Beholding them broken, king Duryodhana said unto them, "Stop, ye Kshatriyas, unacquainted with morality! Fight! What is the use of flight? That hero, who, without showing his back casteth away his life breath in battle, achieveth fame here and enjoyeth regions of bliss hereafter!" Thus exhorted by the king, the followers of Subala's son once more advanced against the Pandavas, making death their goal. Awful, O monarch, was the noise made by those rushing warriors, resembling that of the agitated ocean. At this, the field of battle became agitated all around. Beholding those followers of Subala's son thus advancing in battle, the victorious Pandavas, O monarch, proceeded against them. Comforted a little, the invincible Sahadeva, O monarch, pierced Shakuni with ten arrows and his steeds with three. With the greatest ease he then cut off the bow of Subala's son with a number of other arrows. Invincible in battle, Shakuni, however, took up another bow and pierced Nakula with sixty arrows and then Bhimasena with seven. Uluka also, O king, desirous of rescuing his sire in that engagement, pierced Bhima with seven arrows and Sahadeva with seventy. Bhimasena in that encounter pierced Uluka with many keen arrows and Shakuni with four and sixty, and each of the other warriors who fought around them, with three arrows. Struck by Bhimasena with shafts steeped in oil, the Kauravas, filled with rage in that battle, covered Sahadeva with showers of arrows like lightning-charged clouds pouring rain on a mountain-breast. The heroic and valiant Sahadeva then, O monarch, cut off, with a broad-headed arrow, the head of Uluka as the latter advanced against him. Slain by Sahadeva, Uluka, gladdening the Pandavas in that battle, fell down on the earth from his car, all his limbs bathed in blood. Beholding his son slain, Shakuni, O Bharata, with voice choked with tears and drawing deep breaths, recollected the words of Vidura. Having reflected for a moment with tearful eyes, Shakuni, breathing heavily, approached Sahadeva and pierced him with three arrows. Baffling those arrows sped by Subala's son with showers of shafts, the valiant Sahadeva, O monarch, cut off his antagonist's bow in that battle. Seeing his bow cut off, O king, Shakuni, the son of Subala, took up a formidable scimitar and hurled it at Sahadeva. The latter, however, with the greatest ease, O monarch, cut off in twain that terrible scimitar of Subala's son as it coursed towards him in that encounter. Beholding his sword cut in twain, Shakuni took up a formidable mace and hurled it at Sahadeva. That mace also, unable to achieve its object, fell down on the Earth. After this, Subala's son, filled with rage, hurled at the son of Pandu an awful dart that resembled an impending death night. With the greatest ease Sahadeva, in that encounter, cut off, with his gold-decked shafts, into three fragments, that dart as it coursed swiftly towards him. Cut off into fragments, that dart adorned with gold fell down on the earth like a blazing thunderbolt from the firmament, diverging into many flashes. Beholding that dart baffled and Subala's son afflicted with fear, all thy troops fled away in fright. Subala's son himself joined them. The Pandavas then, eager for victory, uttered loud shouts. As regards the Dhartarashtras, almost all of them turned away from the fight. Seeing them so cheerless, the valiant son of Madri, with many 1,000 shafts, checked them in that battle. Then Sahadeva came upon Subala's son as the latter, who was still expectant of victory, was flying away, protected by the excellent cavalry of the Gandharas. Recollecting, O king, that Shakuni, who had fallen to his share, was still alive, Sahadeva, on his car adorned with gold, pursued that warrior. Stringing his formidable bow and drawing it with great force, Sahadeva, filled with rage, pursued the son of Subala and vigorously struck him with many shafts equipped with vulturine feathers and whetted on stone, even like a person striking a mighty elephant with pointed lances. Endued with great energy of mind, Sahadeva, having afflicted his foe thus, addressed him, as if for calling back to mind (his past misdeeds), in these words, 'Adhering to the duties of a Kshatriya, fight (with me) and be a man! Thou hadst, O fool, rejoiced greatly in the midst of the assembly, while gambling with dice! Receive now, O thou of wicked understanding, the fruit of that act! All those wicked-souled ones that had ridiculed us then have perished! Only that wretch of his race, Duryodhana, is still alive, and thyself, his maternal uncle! Today I shall slay thee, striking off thy head with a razor-headed arrow like a person plucking a fruit from a tree with a stick!" Saying these words, O monarch, Sahadeva of great strength, that tiger among men, filled with rage, rushed impetuously against Shakuni. Approaching his enemy, the invincible Sahadeva, that foremost of warriors, forcibly drawing his bow and as if burning his foe with wrath, pierced Shakuni with ten arrows and his steeds with four. Then cutting off his umbrella and standard and bow, he roared like a lion. His standard and bow and umbrella thus cut off by Sahadeva, Subala's son was pierced with many arrows in all his vital limbs. Once again, O monarch, the valiant Sahadeva sped at Shakuni an irresistible shower of arrows. Filled with rage, the son of Subala then, single-handed, rushed with speed against Sahadeva in that encounter, desirous of slaying the latter with a lance adorned with gold. The son of Madri, however, with three broad-headed arrows, simultaneously cut off, without losing a moment, that uplifted lance as also the two well-rounded arms of his enemy at the van of battle, and then uttered a loud roar. Endued with great activity, the heroic Sahadeva then, with a broad-headed arrow, made of hard iron, equipped with wings of gold, capable of penetrating every armour, and sped with great force and care, cut off from his trunk his enemy's head. Deprived of his head by the son of Pandu with that gold-decked arrow of great sharpness and splendour like the sun's, Subala's son fell down on the earth in that battle. Indeed, the son of Pandu, filled with rage, struck off that head which was the root of the evil policy of the Kurus, with that impetuous shaft winged with gold and whetted on stone. Beholding Shakuni lying headless on the ground and all his limbs drenched with gore, thy warriors, rendered powerless with fear, fled away on all sides with weapons in their hands. At that time, thy sons, with cars, elephants, horse and foot entirely broken, heard the twang of Gandiva and fled away with colourless faces, afflicted with fear and deprived of their senses. Having thrown down Shakuni from his car, the Pandavas, O Bharata, became filled with delight. Rejoicing with Keshava among them, they blew their conchs in that battle, gladdening their troops. All of them, with glad hearts, worshipped Sahadeva, and said, "By good luck, O hero, Shakuni of wicked soul, that man of evil course, hath, with his son, been slain by thee!'"
Next: Section 29