The Mahabharata Home
"Sanjaya said, 'Beholding that fight thus raging between those two foremost heroes of Kuru's race, Arjuna said unto Vasudeva, "Between these two, who, in thy opinion, is superior? Who amongst them hath what merit? Tell me this, O Janardana."
"'Vasudeva said, "The instruction received by them hath been equal. Bhima, however, is possessed of greater might, while the son of Dhritarashtra is possessed of greater skill and hath laboured more. If he were to fight fairly, Bhimasena will never succeed in winning the victory. If, however, he fights unfairly he will be surely able to slay Duryodhana. The Asuras were vanquished by the gods with the aid of deception. We have heard this. Virochana was vanquished by Shakra with the aid of deception. The slayer of Vala deprived Vritra of his energy by an act of deception. Therefore, let Bhimasena put forth his prowess, aided by deception! At the time of the gambling, O Dhananjaya, Bhima vowed to break the thighs of Suyodhana with his mace in battle. Let this crusher of foes, therefore, accomplish that vow of his. Let him with deception, slay the Kuru king who is full of deception. If Bhima, depending upon his might alone, were to fight fairly, king Yudhishthira will have to incur great danger. I tell thee again, O son of Pandu, listen to me. It is through the fault of king Yudhishthira alone that danger hath once more overtaken us! Having achieved great feats by the slaughter of Bhishma and the other Kurus, the king had won victory and fame and had almost attained the end of the hostilities. Having thus obtained the victory, he placed himself once more in a situation of doubt and peril. This has been an act of great folly on the part of Yudhishthira, O Pandava, since he hath made the result of the battle depend upon the victory or the defeat of only one warrior! Suyodhana is accomplished, he is a hero; he is again firmly resolved. This old verse uttered by Usanas hath been heard by us. Listen to me as I recite it to thee with its true sense and meaning! 'Those amongst the remnant of a hostile force broken flying away for life, that rally and come back to the fight, should always be feared, for they are firmly resolved and have but one purpose! Shakra himself, O Dhananjaya, cannot stand before them that rush in fury, having abandoned all hope of life. This Suyodhana had broken and fled. All his troops had been killed. He had entered the depths of a lake. He had been defeated and, therefore, he had desired to retire into the woods, having become hopeless of retaining his kingdom. What man is there, possessed of any wisdom, that would challenge such a person to a single combat? I do not know whether Duryodhana may not succeed in snatching the kingdom that had already become ours! For full thirteen years he practised with the mace with great resolution. Even now, for slaying Bhimasena, he jumpeth up and leapeth transversely! If the mighty-armed Bhima does not slay him unfairly, the son of Dhritarashtra will surely remain king!" Having heard those words of the high-souled Keshava, Dhananjaya struck his own left thigh before the eyes of Bhimasena. Understanding that sign, Bhima began to career with his uplifted mace, making many a beautiful circle and many a Yomaka and other kinds of manoeuvres. Sometimes adopting the right mandala, sometimes the left mandala, and sometimes the motion called Gomutraka, the son of Pandu began to career, O king, stupefying his foe. Similarly, thy son, O monarch, who was well conversant with encounters with the mace, careered beautifully and with great activity, for slaying Bhimasena. Whirling their terrible maces which were smeared with sandal paste and other perfumed unguents, the two heroes, desirous of reaching the end of their hostilities, careered in that battle like two angry Yamas. Desirous of slaying each other, those two foremost of men, possessed of great heroism, fought like two Garudas desirous of catching the same snake. While the king and Bhima careered in beautiful circles, their maces clashed, and sparks of fire were generated by those repeated clashes. Those two heroic and mighty warriors struck each other equally in that battle. They then resembled, O monarch, two oceans agitated by the tempest. Striking each other equally like two infuriated elephants, their clashing maces produced peals of thunder. During the progress of that dreadful and fierce battle at close quarters, both those chastisers of foes, while battling, became fatigued. Having rested for a while, those two scorchers of foes, filled with rage and uplifting their maces, once more began to battle with each other. When by the repeated descents of their maces, O monarch, they mangled each other, the battle they fought became exceedingly dreadful and perfectly unrestrained. Rushing at each other in that encounter, those two heroes, possessed of eyes like those of bulls and endued with great activity, struck each other fiercely like two buffaloes in the mire. All their limbs mangled and bruised, and covered with blood from head to foot, they looked like a couple of Kinsukas on the breast of Himavat. During the progress of the encounter, when, Vrikodara (as a ruse) seemed to give Duryodhana an opportunity, the latter, smiling a little, advanced forward. Well-skilled in battle, the mighty Vrikodara, beholding his adversary come up, suddenly hurled his mace at him. Seeing the mace hurled at him, thy son, O monarch, moved away from that spot at which the weapon fell down baffled on the earth. Having warded off that blow, thy son, that foremost one of Kuru's race, quickly struck Bhimasena with his weapon. In consequence of the large quantity of blood drawn by that blow, as also owing to the violence itself of the blow, Bhimasena of immeasurable energy seemed to be stupefied. Duryodhana, however, knew not that the son of Pandu was so afflicted at that moment. Though deeply afflicted, Bhima sustained himself, summoning all his patience. Duryodhana, therefore, regarded him to be unmoved and ready to return the blow. It was for this that thy son did not then strike him again. Having rested for a little while, the valiant Bhimasena rushed furiously, O king, at Duryodhana who was standing near. Beholding Bhimasena of immeasurable energy filled with rage and rushing towards him, thy high-souled son, O bull of Bharata's race, desiring to baffle his blow, set his heart on the manoeuvre called Avasthana. He, therefore, desired to jump upwards, O monarch, for beguiling Vrikodara. Bhimasena fully understood the intentions of his adversary. Rushing, therefore, at him, with a loud leonine roar, he fiercely hurled his mace at the thighs of the Kuru king as the latter had jumped up for baffling the first aim. That mace, endued with the force of the thunder and hurled by Bhima of terrible feats, fractured the two handsome thighs of Duryodhana. That tiger among men, thy son, after his thighs had been broken by Bhimasena, fell down, causing the earth to echo with his fall. Fierce winds began to blow, with loud sounds at repeated intervals. Showers of dust fell. The earth, with her trees and plants and mountains, began to tremble. Upon the fall of that hero who was the head of all monarchs on earth, fierce and fiery winds blew with a loud noise and with thunder falling frequently. Indeed, when that lord of earth fell, large meteors were seen to flash down from the sky. Bloody showers, as also showers of dust, fell, O Bharata! These were poured by Maghavat, upon the fall of thy son! A loud noise was heard, O bull of Bharata's race, in the welkin, made by the Yakshas, and the Rakshasas and the Pisachas. At that terrible sound, animals and birds, numbering in thousands, began to utter more frightful noise on every side. Those steeds and elephants and human beings that formed the (unslain) remnant of the (Pandava) host uttered loud cries when thy son fell. Loud also became the blare of conchs and the peal of drums and cymbals. A terrific noise seemed to come from within the bowels of the earth. Upon the fall of thy son, O monarch, headless beings of frightful forms, possessed of many legs and many arms, and inspiring all creatures with dread, began to dance and cover the earth on all sides. Warriors, O king, that stood with standards or weapons in their arms, began to tremble, O king, when thy son fell. Lakes and wells, O best of kings, vomited forth blood. Rivers of rapid currents flowed in opposite directions. Women seemed to look like men, and men to look like women at that hour, O king, when thy son Duryodhana fell! Beholding those wonderful portents, the Pancalas and the Pandavas, O bull of Bharata's race, became filled with anxiety. The gods and the Gandharvas went away to the regions they desired, talking, as they proceeded, of that wonderful battle between thy sons. Similarly the Siddhas, and the Charanas of the fleetest course, went to those places from which they had come, applauding those two lions among men."
Next: Section 59