The Mahabharata Home
"Vasudeva said, 'O thou of Vrishni's race, I have repeatedly heard men speaking of the wonderful battle (between the Kurus and the Pandavas). Thou, however, O mighty-armed one, hast witnessed it with thy own eyes. Do thou, therefore, O sinless one, describe the battle in detail. Indeed, tell me how that battle took place between the high-souled Pandavas (on the one side) and Bhishma and Karna and Kripa and Drona and Salya and others (on the other side), between, in fact, numerous other Kshatriyas well-skilled in aims, differing from one another in mien and attire, and hailing from diverse realms.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Thus addressed by his sire, he of eyes like lotus-petals narrated, in the presence of his mother also, how the Kaurava heroes had been slain in battle.'
"Vasudeva said, 'The feats were highly wonderful that were achieved by those high-souled Kshatriyas. In consequence of their large number, they are incapable of being enumerated in even hundreds of years. I shall however, mention only the foremost of them. Do thou listen, therefore, to me as I mention in brief those feats achieved by the kings of Earth. O thou of godlike splendour. Bhishma of Kuru's race became the generalissimo, having eleven divisions of the Kaurava princes under his command, like Vasava of the celestial forces. 1 Sikhandin of great intelligence, protected by the blessed Arjuna, became the leader of the seven divisions of the sons of Pandu. The battle between the Kurus and the Pandavas (under these leaders) raged for ten days. It was so fierce as to make one's hair stand on its end. Then Sikhandin, in great battle, aided by the wielder of Gandiva, slew, with innumerable arrows, the son of Ganga fighting bravely. Lying on a bed of arrows, Bhishma waited like an ascetic till the sun leaving his southward path entered on his northerly course when that hero gave up his life-breaths. Then Drona, that foremost of all persons conversant with arms, that greatest of men under Duryodhana, like Kavya himself of the lord of the Daityas, became generalissimo. 2 That foremost of regenerate persons, ever boasting of his prowess in battle, was supported by the remnant of the Kaurava force consisting then of nine Akshauhinis, and protected by Kripa and Vrisha and others. Dhrishtadyumna conversant with many mighty weapons, and possessed of great intelligence, became the leader of the Pandavas. He was protected by Bhima like Varuna protected by Mitra. That high-souled hero, always desirous of measuring his strength with Drona, supported by the (remnant of the) Pandava army, and recollecting the wrongs inflicted (by Drona) on his sire (Drupada, the king of the Panchalas), achieved great feats in battle. In that encounter between Drona and the son of Prishata, the kings assembled from diverse realms were nearly exterminated. That furious battle lasted for five days. At the conclusion of that period, Drona, exhausted, succumbed to Dhrishtadyumna. After that, Karna became the generalissimo of Duryodhana's forces. He was supported in battle by the remnant of the Kaurava host which numbered five Akshauhinis. Of the sons of Pandu there were then three Akshauhinis. After the slaughter of innumerable heroes, protected by Arjuna, they came to battle. The Suta's son Karna, though a fierce warrior, encountering Partha, came to his end on the second day, like an insect encountering a blazing fire. After the fall of Karna, the Kauravas became dispirited and lost all energy. Numbering three Akshauhinis, they gathered round the ruler of the Madras. Having lost many car-warriors and elephants and horsemen, the remnant of the Pandava army, numbering one Akshauhini and penetrated
with cheerlessness, supported Yudhishthira (as their leader). The king Yudhishthira, in the battle that ensued, achieved the most difficult feats and slew, before half the day was over, the king of the Madras. After the fall of Salya, the high-souled Sahadeva of immeasurable prowess slew Sakuni, the man who had brought about the quarrel (between the Pandavas and the Kurus). After the fall of Sakuni, the royal son of Dhritarashtra, whose army had suffered an extensive carnage and who on that account had become exceedingly cheerless, fled from the field, armed with his mace. Then Bhimasena of great prowess, filled with wrath, pursued him and discovered him within the waters of the Dwaipayana lake. With the remnant of their army, the Pandavas surrounded the lake and, filled with joy, encountered Duryodhana concealed within the waters. Their wordy shafts, penetrating through the waters, pierced Duryodhana. Rising up from the lake, the latter approached the Pandavas, armed with his mace, desirous of battle. Then, in the great battle that ensued, the royal son of Dhritarashtra was slain by Bhimasena who put forth his great prowess, in the presence of many kings. After this the remnant of the Pandava army, as it slept in the camp, was slaughtered at night time by Drona's son who was unable to put up with the slaughter of his father (at the hands of Dhrishtadyumna). Their sons slain, their forces slain, only the five sons of Pandu are alive with myself and Yuyudhana. With Kripa and the Bhoja prince Kritavarman, the son of Drona represents the unslain remnant of the Kaurava army. Dhritarashtra's son Yuyutsu also escaped slaughter in consequence of his having adopted the side of the Pandavas. Upon the slaughter of the Kaurava king (Suyodhana) with all his followers and allies, Vidura and Sanjaya have come to the presence of king Yudhishthira the just. Even thus did that battle occur, O lord, for eight and ten days. Many kings of Earth, slain therein, have ascended to Heaven.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'The Vrishnis, as they heard, O king, that dreadful account became filled with grief and sorrow and pain.'
108:1 Chamu here is used in a general sense, viz., a division. Of course it stands for an Akshauhini.
108:2 Kavi or Kavya is another name of Sukra, the preceptor of the Daityas.
Next: Section LXI