The Mahabharata Home
Vaishampayana said, "Even thus, O Janamejaya, did that terrible battle take place. King Dhritarashtra, in great sorrow, said these words with reference to it:
"Dhritarashtra said, 'Beholding Rama approach that spot when the mace-fight was about to happen, how, O Sanjaya, did my son fight Bhima?'
"Sanjaya said, 'Beholding the presence of Rama, thy valiant son, Duryodhana of mighty arms, desirous of battle, became full of joy. Seeing the hero of the plough, king Yudhishthira, O Bharata, stood up and duly honoured him, feeling great joy the while. He gave him a seat and enquired about his welfare. Rama then answered Yudhishthira in these sweet and righteous words that were highly beneficial to heroes, "I have heard it said by the Rishis, O best of kings, that Kurukshetra is a highly sacred and sin-cleansing spot, equal to heaven itself, adored by gods and Rishis and high-souled Brahmanas! Those men that cast off their bodies while engaged in battle on this field, are sure to reside, O sire, in heaven with Shakra himself! I shall, for this, O king, speedily proceed to Samantapanchaka. In the world of gods that spot is known as the northern (sacrificial) altar of Brahman, the Lord of all creatures! He that dies in battle on that eternal and most sacred of spots in the three worlds, is sure to obtain heaven!" Saying, "So be it," O monarch, Kunti's brave son, the lord Yudhishthira, proceeded towards Samantapanchaka. King Duryodhana also, taking up his gigantic mace, wrathfully proceeded on foot with the Pandavas. While proceeding thus, armed with mace and clad in armour, the celestials in the welkin applauded him, saying, "Excellent, Excellent!" The Charanas fleet as air, seeing the Kuru king, became filled with delight. Surrounded by the Pandavas, thy son, the Kuru king, proceeded, assuming the tread of an infuriated elephant. All the points of the compass were filled with the blare of conchs and the loud peals of drums and the leonine roars of heroes. Proceeding with face westwards to the appointed spot, with thy son (in their midst), they scattered themselves on every side when they reached it. That was an excellent tirtha on the southern side of the Sarasvati. The ground there was not sandy and was, therefore, selected for the encounter. Clad in armour, and armed with his mace of gigantic thickness, Bhima, O monarch, assumed the form of the mighty Garuda. With head-gear fastened on his head, and wearing an armour made of gold, licking the corners of his mouth, O monarch, with eyes red in wrath, and breathing hard, thy son, on that field, O king, looked resplendent like the golden Sumeru. Taking up his mace, king Duryodhana of great energy, casting his glances on Bhimasena, challenged him to the encounter like an elephant challenging a rival elephant. Similarly, the valiant Bhima, taking up his adamantine mace, challenged the king like a lion challenging a lion. Duryodhana and Bhima, with uplifted maces, looked in that bottle like two mountains with tall summits. Both of them were exceedingly angry; both were possessed of awful prowess; in encounters with the mace both were disciples of Rohini's intelligent son, both resembled each other in their feats and looked like Maya and Vasava. Both were endued with great strength, both resembled Varuna in achievements. Each resembling Vasudeva, or Rama, or Visravana's son (Ravana), they looked, O monarch, like Madhu and Kaitabha. Each like the other in feats, they looked like Sunda and Upasunda, or Rama and Ravana, or Vali and Sugriva. Those two scorchers of foes looked like Kala and Mrityu. They then ran towards each other like two infuriated elephants, swelling with pride and mad with passion in the season of autumn and longing for the companionship of a she-elephant in her time. Each seemed to vomit upon the other the poison of his wrath like two fiery snakes. Those two chastisers of foes cast the angriest of glances upon each other. Both were tigers of Bharata's race, and each was possessed of great prowess. In encounters with the mace, those two scorchers of foes were invincible like lions. Indeed, O bull of Bharata's race, inspired with desire of victory, they looked like two infuriated elephants. Those heroes were unbearable, like two tigers accoutred with teeth and claws. They were like two uncrossable oceans lashed into fury and bent upon the destruction of creatures, or like two angry Suns risen for consuming everything. Those two mighty car-warriors looked like an Eastern and a Western cloud agitated by the wind, roaring awfully and pouring torrents of rain in the rainy season. Those two high-souled and mighty heroes, both possessed of great splendour and effulgence, looked like two Suns risen at the hour of the universal dissolution. Looking like two enraged tigers or like two roaring masses of clouds, they became as glad as two maned lions. Like two angry elephants or two blazing fires, those two high-souled ones appeared like two mountains with tall summits. With lips swelling with rage and casting keen glances upon each other, those two high-souled and best of men, armed with maces, encountered each other. Both were filled with joy, and each regarded the other as a worthy opponent, and Vrikodara then resembled two goodly steeds neighing at each other, or two elephants trumpeting at each other. Those two foremost of men then looked resplendent like a couple of Daityas swelling with might. Then Duryodhana, O monarch, said these proud words unto Yudhishthira in the midst of his brothers and of the high-souled Krishna and Rama of immeasurable energy, 'Protected by the Kaikeyas and the Srinjayas and the high-souled Pancalas, behold ye with all those foremost of kings, seated together, this battle that is about to take place between me and Bhima!' Hearing these words of Duryodhana, they did as requested. Then that large concourse of kings sat down and was seen to look resplendent like a conclave of celestials in heaven. In the midst of that concourse the mighty-armed and handsome elder brother of Keshava, O monarch, as he sat down, was worshipped by all around him. In the midst of those kings, Valadeva clad in blue robes and possessed of a fair complexion, looked beautiful like the moon at full surrounded in the night by thousands of stars. Meanwhile those two heroes, O monarch, both armed with maces and both unbearable by foes, stood there, goading each other with fierce speeches. Having addressed each other in disagreeable and bitter words, those two foremost of heroes of Kuru's race stood, casting angry glances upon each other, like Shakra and Vritra in fight."
Next: Section 56