The Mahabharata Home
"Sanjaya said, 'Having heard of Duryodhana's fall from the messengers, those mighty car-warriors, the unslain remnant of the Kaurava army, exceedingly wounded with keen shafts, and maces and lances and darts, those three, Ashvatthama and Kripa and Kritavarma of the Satwata race, came quickly on their fleet steeds to the field of battle. They beheld there the high-souled son of Dhritarashtra prostrate on the ground like a gigantic Sala tree laid low in the forest by a tempest. They beheld him writhing on the bare ground and covered with blood even like a mighty elephant in the forest laid low by a hunter. They saw him weltering in agony and bathed in profuse streams of blood. Indeed, they saw him lying on the ground like the sun dropped on the earth or like the ocean dried by a mighty wind, or like the full Moon in the firmament with his disc shrouded by a fog. Equal to an elephant in prowess and possessed of long arms, the king lay on the earth, covered with dust. Around him were many terrible creatures and carnivorous animals like wealth-coveting dependants around a monarch in state. His forehead was contracted into furrows of rage and his eyes were rolling in wrath. They beheld the king, that tiger among men, full of rage, like a tiger struck down (by hunters). Those great archers Kripa and others, beholding the monarch laid low on the Earth, became stupefied. Alighting from their cars, they ran towards the king. Seeing Duryodhana, all of them sat on the earth around him. Then Drona's son, O monarch, with tearful eyes and breathing like a snake, said these words unto that chief of Bharata's race, that foremost of all the kings on earth, "Truly, there is nothing stable in the world of men, since thou, O tiger among men, liest on the bare earth, stained with dust! Thou wert a king who had laid thy commands on the whole Earth! Why then, O foremost of monarchs, dost thou lie alone on the bare ground in such a lonely wilderness? I do not see Duhshasana beside thee, nor the great car-warrior Karna, nor those friends of thine numbering in hundreds! What is this, O bull among men? Without doubt, it is difficult to learn the ways of Yama, since thou, O lord of all the worlds, thus liest on the bare ground, stained with dust! Alas, this scorcher of foes used to walk at the head of all Kshatriyas that had their locks sprinkled with holy water at ceremonies of coronation! Alas, he now eateth the dust! Behold the reverses that Time bringeth on its course! Where is that pure white umbrella of thine? Where is that fanning yak-tail also, O king? Where hath that vast army of thine now gone, O best of monarchs? The course of events is certainly a mystery when causes other than those relied upon are at book, since even thou that wert the master of the world hast been reduced to this plight! Without doubt, the prosperity of all mortals is very unstable, since thou that wert equal unto Shakra himself hast now been reduced to such a sorry plight!" Hearing these words of the sorrowing Ashvatthama, thy son answered him in these words that were suited to the occasion. He wiped his eyes with his hands and shed tears of grief anew. The king then addressed all those heroes headed by Kripa and said, "This liability to death (of all living creatures) is said to have been ordained by the Creator himself. Death comes to all beings in course of time. That death hath now come to me, before the eyes of you all! I who reigned over the whole earth have now been reduced to this plight! By good luck, I never turned back from battle whatever calamities overtook me. By good luck, I have been slain by those sinful men, by the aid particularly of deception. By good luck, while engaged in hostilities, I always displayed courage and perseverance. By good luck, I am slain in battle, along with all my kinsmen and friends. By good luck, I behold you escaped with life from this great slaughter, and safe and sound. This is highly agreeable to me. Do not, from affection, grieve for my death. If the Vedas are any authority, I have certainly acquired many eternal regions! I am not ignorant of the glory of Krishna of immeasurable energy. He hath not caused me to fall off from the proper observance of Kshatriya duties. I have obtained him. On no account should anybody grieve from me. Ye have done what persons like ye should do. Ye have always striven for my success. Destiny, however, is incapable of being frustrated." Having said this much, the king, with eyes laved with tears, became silent, O monarch, agitated as he was with agony. Beholding the king in tears and grief, Drona's son flamed up in anger like the fire that is seen at the universal destruction. Overwhelmed with rage, he squeezed his hand and addressing the king in a voice hoarse with tears, he said these words, "My sire was slain by those wretches with a cruel contrivance. That act, however, doth not burn me so keenly as this plight to which thou hast been reduced, O king! Listen to these words of mine that I utter, swearing by Truth itself, O lord, and by all my acts of piety, all my gifts, my religion, and the religious merits I have won. I shall today, in the very presence of Vasudeva, despatch all the Pancalas, by all means in my power, to the abode of Yama? It behoveth thee, O monarch, to grant me permission!" Hearing these words of Drona's son, that were highly agreeable to his heart, the Kuru king addressing Kripa, said, "O preceptor, bring me without delay a pot full of water!" At these words of the king, that foremost of Brahmanas soon brought a vessel full of water and approached the king. Thy son then, O monarch, said unto Kripa, "Let the son of Drona, O foremost of Brahmanas, (blessed be thou), be at my command installed as generalissimo, if thou wishest to do me the good! At the command of the king, even a Brahmana may fight, specially one that has adopted Kshatriya practices! Those learned in the scriptures say this!" Hearing these words of the king, Kripa, the son of Saradwat, installed Drona's son as generalissimo, at the king's command! The installation over, O monarch, Ashvatthama embraced that best of kings and left the spot, having caused the ten points to resound with his leonine roars. That foremost of kings, Duryodhana, profusely covered with blood, began to pass there that night so frightful to all creatures. Wending away quickly from the field of battle, O king, those heroes, with hearts agitated by grief, began to reflect anxiously and earnestly.'"
The End of Shalya-parva