The Mahabharata Home
"Vaisampayana said, 'There occurred a great battle between the diadem-decked Arjuna and the hundreds of Saindhavas who still lived after the slaughter of their clan (on the field of Kurukshetra). Hearing that he of white steeds had entered their territories, those Kshatriyas came out against him, unable to bear that foremost one of Pandu's race. Those warriors who were as terrible as virulent poison, finding the horse within their dominion, seized it without being inspired with any fear of Partha who was the younger brother of Bhimasena. Advancing against Vibhatsu who waited on foot, armed with his bow, upon the sacrificial steed, they assailed him from a near point. Defeated in battle before, those Kshatriyas of mighty energy, impelled by the desire of victory, surrounded that foremost of men. Proclaiming their names and families and their diverse feats, they showered their arrows on Partha. Pouring showers of arrows of such fierce energy as were capable of impeding the course of hostile elephants, those heroes surrounded the son of Kunti, desirous of vanquishing him in battle. Themselves seated on cars, they fought Arjuna of fierce feats who was, on foot. From every side they began to strike that hero, that slayer of the Nivatakavachas, that destroyer of the Samasaptakas, that killer of the king of the Sindhus. Surrounding him on every side as within a cage by means of a thousand cars and ten thousand horses, those brave warriors expressed their exaltation. Recollecting the slaughter by Dhananjaya of
[paragraph continues] Jayadratha in battle, O thou of Kuru's race, they poured heavy showers of arrows on that hero like a mass of clouds showering a heavy downpour. Over-whelmed with that arrowy shower, Arjuna looked like the sun covered by a cloud. That foremost son of Pandu, in the midst of that cloud of arrows, resembled a bird in the midst of an iron cage, O Bharata. Seeing the son of Kunti thus afflicted with shafts, cries of Oh and Alas were uttered by the three worlds and the Sun himself became shorn of his splendour. Then, O king, a terrible wind began to blow, and Rahu swallowed up both the Sun and the Moon at the same time. Many meteors struck the solar disc and then shot in different directions. The prince of mountains, viz., Kailasa, began to tremble. The seven (celestial) Rishis, as also the other Rishis of Heaven, penetrated with fear, and afflicted with grief and sorrow, breathed hot sighs. Piercing through the welkin, those meteors fell on the lunar disc as well. All the points of the compass became filled with smoke and assumed a strange aspect. Reddish clouds, with flashes of lightning playing in their midst and the bow of Indra measuring them from side to side, suddenly covered the welkin and poured flesh and bloods on the Earth. Even such was the aspect which all nature assumed when that hero was overwhelmed with showers of shafts. Indeed, when Phalguna, that foremost one among the Bharatas, was thus afflicted, those marvels were seen. Overwhelmed by that dense cloud of arrows, Arjuna became stupefied. His bow, Gandiva, fell down from his relaxed grip and his leathern fence also slipped down. When Dhananjaya became stupefied, the Saindhava warriors once more shot at that senseless warrior, without loss of time, innumerable other shafts. Understanding that the son of Pritha was deprived of consciousness, the deities, with hearts penetrated by fear, began to seek his welfare by uttering diverse benedictions. Then the celestial Rishis, the seven Rishis, and the regenerate Rishis, became engaged in silent recitations from desire of giving victory to Pritha's son of great intelligence. When at last the energy of Partha blazed forth through those acts of the denizens of Heaven, that hero, who was conversant with celestial weapons of high efficacy, stood immovable like a hill. The delighter of the Kurus then drew his celestial bow. And as he repeatedly stretched the bowstring, the twang that followed resembled the loud sound of some mighty machine. Like Purandara pouring rain, the puissant Arjuna then, with that bow of his, poured incessant showers of shafts on his foes. Pierced by those shafts the Saindhava warriors with their chiefs became invisible like trees when covered with locusts. They were frightened at the very sound of Gandiva, and afflicted by fear they fled away. In grief of heart they shed tears and uttered loud lamentations. The mighty warrior moved amidst that host of foes with the celerity of a fiery wheel, all the time piercing those warriors with his arrows. Like the great Indra, the wielder of the thunder-bolt, that slayer of foes, viz., Arjuna, shot from his bow in every direction that shower of arrows which resembled a sight produced by magic (instead of any human agency). The Kaurava hero, piercing the hostile host with showers of arrows, looked resplendent like the autumnal Sun when he disperses the clouds with his powerful rays.'"
Next: Section LXXVII