The Mahabharata

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Offline nusrat-diu

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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #90 on: July 14, 2011, 04:38:31 PM »
71. The Eighth Day

WHEN the eighth day dawned, Bhishma arrayed his army in tortoise formation. Yudhishthira said to Dhrishtadyumna:

"See there, the enemy is in kurma vyuha (tortoise formation). You have to answer at once with a formation that can break it."

Dhrishtadyumna immediately proceeded to his task. The Pandava forces were arrayed in a three-pronged formation.

Bhima was at the head of one prong, Satyaki of another, and Yudhishthira at the crest of the middle division. Our ancestors had developed the science of war very well.

It was not reduced to writing but was preserved by tradition in the families of kshatriyas. Armor and tactics were employed suitably to meet the weapons of offence and the tactics that the enemy used in those days.

The Kurukshetra battle was fought some thousands of years ago. Reading the story of the battle in the Mahabharata, we should not, having the practice and incidents of modern warfare in mind, reject the Mahabharata narrative as mere myth with no relation to fact.

Only about a century and a half ago, the English admiral Nelson fought great sea battles and won undying renown.

The weapons used and the vessels that actually took part in Nelson's battles, would seem almost weird and even ridiculous if compared with those of modern naval warfare.

If a hundred and fifty years can make so much difference, we must be prepared for very strange things in the procedure and events of a period, so long back as that of the Mahabharata war.

Another matter to be kept in mind is that we cannot expect, in the books of poets and literary writers, accurate or full details about weapons and tactics, although the narrative may be of battles.

Military affairs were in ancient times the sole concern of the military order, the kshatriyas. Their culture and their training were entirely their own charge.

The principles and the secrets of warfare and the science and art of the use of military weapons were handed down from generation to generation by tradition and personal instruction.

There were no military textbooks and there was not any place for them in the works of poets and rishis. If a modern novel deals in some chapters with the treatment and cure of a sick person, we can not expect to see such details in it as might interest a medical man. No author would care, even if he were able, to include scientific details in his story.

So, we cannot hope to find in the epic of Vyasa, precise details as to what is tortoise formation or lotus formation. We have no explanation as to how one could, by discharging a continuous stream of arrows, build a defence around himself or intercept and cut missiles in transit, or how one could be living when pierced all over by arrows, or how far the armor worn by the soldiers and officers could protect them against missiles or what were the ambulance arrangements or how the dead were disposed of.

All these things appertaining to ancient war, however interesting, will have to be in the realm of the unknown in spite of the vivid narrative we have in the Mahabharata epic.

Bhima killed eight of Dhritarashtra's sons early in the battle that day. Duryodhana's heart lost courage before this. It seemed to his friends as if Bhimasena would complete his revenge this very day, even as he swore in the assembly ball, where the great outrage was enacted.

Arjuna had a great bereavement in this day's battle. His dear son Iravan was killed. This son of Arjuna by his Naga wife had come and joined the Pandava forces at Kurukshetra. Duryodhana sent his friend, the Rakshasa Alambasa, to oppose the Naga warrior.

Iravan was slain after a fierce fight. When Arjuna heard this, he broke down completely. Said he turning to Vasudeva: "Vidura had indeed told us plainly that both sides would be plunged in grief unbearable. What are we doing all this wretched destruction up on one another for? Just for the sake of property. After all this killing, what joy are we or they likely to find in the end? O Madhusudana, I now see why the far seeing Yudhishthira said he would be content if Duryodhana would give five villages to us, keeping everything else to himself and he would not resort to fighting if that were agreed to. Duryodhana, in his obstinate folly, refused to give even these five villages and so, these great sins have to be committed on both sides. I continue fighting only because men would otherwise think me a coward, who could submit tamely to wrong. When I see the dead warriors lying on the field, my heart is filled with unbearable anguish. Oh, how wicked we are to carry on in this miserable, sinful way."

Seeing Iravan killed, Ghatotkacha uttered a loud war-cry which made all the assembled soldiers tremble. And with his division, he fell upon the Kaurava army ferociously. So great was the destruction he wrought that at many points the Kaurava formation was broken.

Seeing this, Duryodhana personally led an attack on Bhima's son. The king of Vanga joined Duryodhana with his elephants. Duryodhana fought most bravely on this eighth day of the battle. He killed a great number of warriors on Ghatotkacha's side.

Ghatotkacha hurled a javelin which would have ended Duryodhana's career but for the Vanga chief's prompt intervention with one of his elephants.

The missile hit the beast, which fell dead, and Duryodhana was saved.

Bhishma was anxious about Duryodhana and sent a large force under Drona to support the Kaurava prince.

Many were the veterans who were in this force that attacked Ghatotkacha.

So tumultuous and fierce was the fight at this sector of the battle that Yudhishthira feared for Ghatotkacha's safety and sent Bhimasena to his aid.

Then the battle became even fiercer than before. Sixteen of Duryodhana's brothers perished on this day.
 

 
 
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #91 on: July 14, 2011, 04:40:50 PM »
72. The Ninth Day

ON the morning of the ninth day, before the battle began, Duryodhana was closeted with the grandsire. He gave vent to his bitter feelings of disappointment over the way the battle was going. He uttered words that were like the sharp spears and pained the grandsire greatly but the latter was patient and said sadly:

"Like ghee on the sacrificial fire I am pouring my life out for you. Why do you seek to mortify me, who have been doing my very utmost for you? You speak like a man of no understanding, not knowing what is right and what is wrong. They say that, when a man is nearing his death, the tree appears to him to be made of gold. You see things now, not as they are. Your vision is clouded. You are now reaping the harvest of the hatred you deliberately sowed. The best course for you are to go on fighting, as well as you can. This is also the plain path of duty. It is not possible for me to fight Sikhandin, for I can never raise my hand against a woman. Nor can I with my hands kill the Pandavas, for my mind revolts against it. I will do everything barring these two and fight all the warriors opposed to you. Nothing is gained by losing heart. Fight as a kshatriya should and honor will be yours whatever the events."

Saying thus to Duryodhana and cheering him up with wise and affectionate words, Bhishma proceeded to issue instructions for arraying the forces for the day's battle.

Duryodhana was heartened. He sent for Duhsasana and said to him: "Brother, put forth all our strength in today's battle. I am convinced, the grandsire is fighting on our side with his whole heart. It is only against Sikhandin, he says, he cannot use his weapons. We should see that he is not exposed to Sikhandin's attacks, for you know, even a wild dog can kill a lion if the latter scorns to fight back."

There was a great fight between Abhimanyu and Alambasa. Abhimanyu demonstrated that his valor was no less than his illustrious father's. Alambasa had to flee on foot to save himself.

There were fierce combats between Satyaki and Aswatthama and between Drona and Arjuna. Thereafter, all the Pandavas attacked the grandsire and Duryodhana sent Duhsasana to support the old warrior. Bhishma fought furiously and beat the Pandavas back.

The Pandava forces were thoroughly demoralised and were flying hither and thither, like cattle that had lost their way in the forest.

Krishna halted the chariot and said to Arjuna: "Partha, you and your brothers were looking forward to this day, after thirteen years. Do not hesitate to kill the grandsire. Remember the duty of a soldier."

Arjuna bent his head down and, without looking up, replied: "I would much rather have continued to be an exile in the forest than kill the grandsire and the teachers whom I love, but I shall obey you. Drive on."

Arjuna's heart was not in the fight. Unwillingly and in great distress of mind, he proceeded to the combat. Bhishma, on the other hand, burnt fiercely like the noonday sun.

When the army saw Arjuna's chariot proceed towards Bhishma, it regained courage and order once again prevailed. Bhishma's arrows came thick and fast and covered the advancing chariot so completely that neither horses nor vehicles could be seen.

Krishna was unperturbed and drove on with circumspection and skill. Arjuna's shafts hit Bhishma's bow and shattered it many times. But the grandsire went on renewing his weapon.

"You are not fighting, Arjuna, as you should!" exclaimed Krishna, and jumped down in a rage from the chariot and, taking up his discus, he advanced towards the grandsire.

Bhishma saw Vasudeva approaching.

"Hail, O Lotus-eyed One!" he cried. "Blessed am I to be separated from the body by you! Come, come!"

Arjuna jumped down from the chariot and, rushing forward overtook and held Krishna, casting both his arms around him. "Stop, Krishna," he cried. "Do not break your pledge. You have promised not to use weapons in this battle. This is my work. I shall not fail. I shall send my arrows and kill the beloved grandsire myself. Pray, mount the car and take the reins."

Arjuna took Krishna back and the battle was resumed. The Pandava forces had been handled roughly, but now the sun was down in the west and the fighting ended for the day.
 
 
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #92 on: July 14, 2011, 04:41:45 PM »
73. The Passing Of Bhishma
IT was the tenth day of the battle. Keeping Sikhandin in front of him, Arjuna attacked Bhishma. When Sikhandin's darts pierced his breast, sparks flew from the grandsire's eyes.

For a moment the old warrior's anger rose like flaming fire and his eyes glared as if to consume Sikhandin. But, at once, the grandsire restrained himself.

He decided not to be provoked into fighting Sikhandin, who was born a woman and to strike whom it seemed unworthy of a warrior.

He knew, however, his end was near and calmed himself. Sikhandin went on discharging his arrows, not minding the battle of emotions in his opponent's mind.

Arjuna also steeled his heart, and from behind Sikhandin aimed arrows at the weak points in Bhishma's armor, even while the grandsire stood still.

Bhishma smiled as the arrows continued to come down thick on him, and turning to Duhsasana, said: "Ah, these are Arjuna's arrows! These cannot be Sikhandin's, for they burn my flesh as the crab's young ones tear their mother's body."

Thus did the grandsire look upon his dear pupil's arrows and, while saying this to Duhsasana, he took up a javelin and hurled it at Arjuna. Arjuna met it with three arrows which cut it to pieces  even as it was speeding through the air.

Bhishma then decided to end the combat and made as if to dismount from his chariot, sword and shield in hand. But before he could do so, his shield was cut to pieces by Arjuna's arrows.

With arrows sticking all over his body so thickly that there was not even an inch of intervening space, Bhishma fell headlong to the ground from his chariot.

As he fell, the gods, who looked on from above, folded their hands in reverent salutation and a gentle breeze, laden with fragrance and cool raindrops, swept over the battlefield.

Thus fell the great and good Bhishma, the son of Ganga, who came on earth to hallow it and all it bears.

The blameless hero who, unasked, made the great renunciation to give joy to his father. The undefeated bowman who had humbled the pride of Rama of the axe. The selfless worker for righteousness' sake, thus repaid his debt to Duryodhana, and lay wounded to death sanctifying with his life-blood the battlefield. As the grandsire fell, the hearts of the Kauravas also fell along with him.

Bhishma's body did not touch the ground, on account of the arrows sticking out all over his body. His body shone more brightly than ever before, as it lay as on a bed of honor, supported by the shafts that had pierced his flesh.

Both armies ceased fighting and all the warriors came running and crowded round the great hero, who lay on his bed of arrows. The kings of the earth stood with bowed heads round him, as the gods round Brahma.

"My head hangs down unsupported," said the grandsire. The princes who stood near, ran and brought cushions. The old warrior rejected them with a smile and, turning towards Arjuna said: "Dear son Partha, give me a cushion befitting a warrior."

When Arjuna, whose arrows were just then burning the grandsire's flesh, heard those words addressed to him, he took three arrows from out of his quiver and so placed them that the grandsire's head found support on their points.

"Princes," said Bhishma addressing the assembled chiefs, "Arjuna's arrows were indeed what my head required to be supported on. This pillow gives me satisfaction. Now, I must lie thus until the sun turns north. My soul will not depart till then. When I pass away, those of you who may be alive then may come and see me."

Then the grandsire turned again to Arjuna and said: "I am tormented with thirst. Get me some drinking water." At once, Arjuna raised his bow, and drawing, it to the ear, shot a shaft down into the earth near the grandsire on his right side.

Upon the opening made by the arrow, there gushed a stream of pure sweet water to the very lips of the dying man. Ganga came up, says the poet, to quench her dear son's burning thirst. Bhishma drank and was happy.

"Duryodhana, may you be wise!" said Bhishma, addressing the Kaurava prince. "Did you see how Arjuna brought me water to quench my thirst? Who else in this world can do such a deed? Make peace with him without further delay. May the war cease with my exit. Listen to me, son, make peace with the Pandavas."

The grandsire's words did not please Duryodhana. Even when dying, the patient does not like medicine. He objects to the bitter taste. All the princes retired to their camps.
 

 
 
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #93 on: July 14, 2011, 04:42:37 PM »
74. Karna and the Grandsire

WHEN he learnt that Bhishma lay wounded and dying, Karna hurried to the place and fell at his feet and said:

"Eldest of the race. Radha's son, who, through no fault of his, incurred your great displeasure, humbly prostrates himself before you."

When after humble salutation Karna stood up, the grandsire, greatly moved, tenderly placed his hand on Karna's head and blessed him.

"You are not Radha's son, young man," he said in loving tones: "You are Kuntidevi's own first born. Narada, who knows all the secrets of the world, himself revealed this to me. Son of Surya, truly I entertained no dislike for you. But I was grieved to see your increasing hatred of the Pandavas although they gave you no cause for it. I know and admire your valor and your open handedness. And I know also that you belong to the class of Phalguna and Krishna in prowess. It is proper that you befriend the Pandavas. Therein lies the right path for you who are their brother. With the closing of my part in this war, may the chapter of your enmity also close. This is my wish, Karna."

Karna listened respectfully and replied: "Grandsire I know I am Kunti's son, and not charioteer born. But I have eaten Duryodhana's salt and must be true to him, to be true to my own lineage. It is impossible for me to go over to the Pandavas now. You must permit me to repay with my life, if it so be the debt I owe to Duryodhana for his love and trust. I have erred greatly in word and deed. You must forgive me for it all and give me your blessings."

The great acharya, who knew all the laws of right conduct and what Karna said, replied: "Do reflect for a while and then do as you wish, for that is the right way."

Even when Bhishma was mortally wounded and lay dying, the battle did not cease. Discarding the grandsire's words of wisdom, the Kauravas resumed the battle.

Deprived of Bhishma's leadership, the Kaurava forces felt like sheep without a shepherd when Bhishma no longer led them. Indeed, even as Bhishma fell wounded, the men shouted:

"O Karna, you are the one left to lead and protect us."

The Kaurava warriors felt that, if but Karna would agree to take up the command, victory was certain. During the first ten days when Bhishma led the forces, the son of Surya kept away from the battle.

As already narrated, deeply hurt at the grandsire's contempt, Karna had said: "So long as you are up fighting, I shall keep aloof. If you slay the Pandavas and bring victory to Duryodhana, I shall be glad. And I shall then, taking the king's leave, go to the forest. But, if you be defeated and go to the abode of the brave, I who am not deemed by you as an adhiratha (master of chariot warfare) will ride my chariot and oppose those whom you deem to be of greater prowess than myself. And defeating them, bring victory to Duryodhana."

Thus had Karna sworn and, with Duryodhana's consent, kept aloof from the battle during the first ten days. Now he went on foot to Bhishma who lay on his bed of arrows waiting for his end and, saluting him, addressed him thus:

"Veteran grandsire, vanquisher of Parasurama, you lie on the field of battle, struck down by Sikhandin. If you, who had reached the summit of right living and were an embodiment of purity itself, must lie wounded in this manner, it is clear that no one can attain in this world what he deserves by his merit. You were the one boat on which the Kaurava princes depended for crossing the flood of their troubles. Heavy indeed will be the blows that the Pandavas will now deal at the Kauravas and great will be their consequent distress. Like fire and wind burning down the forest, Arjuna and Krishna will destroy the army of Kauravas. This is certain. Turn your gracious eyes on me and bless me, who have accepted the command of the forces."

Bhishma gave his blessings to Karna."You are like the good earth to the seeds, like rain clouds to living beings, ever dependable, firm in your loyalty. Serve Duryodhana and save him. You vanquished the Kambojas for him. You put down the Kiratas of the Himalayan fastnesses for him. You fought the Girivrajas on his behalf and defeated them. Many more things you have accomplished for him. Take charge of the Kaurava army now as your own rich possession and guard it well. May you lead Duryodhana's forces to success! May you have every good fortune! Fight your enemies, go."

Karna, having received the benediction of the grandsire, mounted his chariot and rode to the battlefield. When the valorous Karna entered the field on his war chariot, Duryodhana's joys knew no bounds. His sorrow, at having lost Bhishma, was in some degree alleviated.
 
 
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #94 on: July 14, 2011, 04:43:16 PM »
75. Drona in Command

DURYODHANA and Karna held counsel as to who should be put in supreme command of the forces.

"Well, everyone of these princely warriors fighting on your side is great enough to be put in charge of our forces as supreme commander," said Karna.

"All these kings are of equal prowess, strength, energy, skill, courage, valor, ancestry and wisdom. They cannot all be put in joint command and, if any of them be chosen, each of the others would feel hurt and may not put forth his whole strength in the cause. Thereby we stand to suffer. So, my advice is that we install Dronacharya, the teacher of all these princes and warriors, as supreme commander. He indeed is the greatest of all those that carry arms today. No kshatriya equals him in the qualities required for leading our army. Let us therefore install him."

Duryodhana agreed that this was the right thing to do, and so it was decided.

Duryodhana went to Dronacharya and, in the presence of the assembled warriors and princes, bowed and addressed him:

"Revered Master, you are unrivalled among all those assembled here in caste, ancestry, knowledge of sciences, age, wisdom, valor and skill. I beg of you to accept the supreme command. Under your command, this army will be victorious." The assembled kings received this proposal with loud cheers and war cries that gladdened Duryodhana's heart.

Drona was installed in due form amidst thunderous acclamation. The praise of courtiers and the sound of trumpets that accompanied the ceremony, made the Kauravas feel as though they had already vanquished the enemy. So great was their enthusiasm and confidence in Drona's leadership.

Drona arrayed the army in circular formation. Karna, who had till then stood aside was now seen moving about in his great chariot on the battlefield and this put new courage and joy into the hearts of the Kaurava soldiers.

The talk went round in the army that the great Bhishma did not wish to slay the sons of Pandu and therefore had not put his whole heart in the fight. But now that Karna was in the field, it was certain that the Pandavas would be destroyed.

Dronacharya was in command for five days of the battle. Though of advanced years, he was everywhere in the field and displayed the fierce energy of a young warrior. Whenever he led an attack, the Pandava forces were scattered like clouds before a storm.

He personally engaged the greatest warriors on the Pandava side in battle. He fought Satyaki, Bhima, Arjuna, Dhrishtadyumna, Abhimanyu, Drupada and Kasiraja and defeated them on many occasions.

He harassed and inflicted severe punishment on the Pandava army during the five days he was in command.
 

 
 
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« Reply #95 on: July 14, 2011, 04:44:24 PM »
76. To Seize Yudhishthira Alive

AS SOON AS Drona assumed command of the Kaurava forces Duryodhana, Karna and Duhsasana sat in council and decided on a plan. And Duryodhana went to Dronacharya to put it in operation.

"Acharya, we desire that you should capture Yudhishthira alive and give him over to us. We desire nothing more, not even a total victory. If you achieve this for us, we shall all be exceedingly satisfied with your conduct of the war."

When Drona heard Duryodhana address him thus, great was his joy, for he hated the very idea of slaying the Pandava brothers. Even though, to fulfil his obligation, the acharya loyally joined the Kaurava side against the Pandavas, he loved the sons of Kunti and especially the pure-minded Yudhishthira.

So, when he heard Duryodhana request that Yudhishthira should be captured alive, he felt greatly relieved.

"Duryodhana, may you be blessed!" the acharya said. "Do you too wish to abstain from killing Yudhishthira? How it gladdens my heart! Truly, Yudhishthira is one without an enemy and the name Ajatasatru, which the people have given to Kunti's eldest son, has been justified by your great decision. When even you have made up your mind that he should not be killed but should be captured alive, his unrivalled glory has become ten times enhanced."

"I see, dear Duryodhana, what you intend," Drona continued. "You wish to defeat the Pandavas in battle and then give them their share in the kingdom and live in peace and amity with them. I see this clearly from your desire to capture Yudhishthira alive."

Drona was exceedingly glad and he said again: "Indeed Yudhishthira is the most fortunate man on earth. The gods are showering their favors on Kunti's good son. So has he won the hearts of even enemies."

But Duryodhana's motives in wishing to take Yudhishthira alive were far different. And as soon as Drona acceded to his proposal and gave his pledge that he would do his best to capture Yudhishthira, he began to reveal his real intentions.

If Yudhishthira were slain, nothing would be gained by it, and the anger of the Pandavas would be all the greater. The battle would rage more fiercely than before. And Duryodhana knew that it would only mean the utter defeat of his army.

Even if the fight were to be continued relentlessly until both armies were destroyed, Krishna would still remain alive and he would put either Draupadi or Kunti in sovereign possession of the kingdom.

What then was the point in killing Yudhishthira? On the other hand, if Yudhishthira was captured alive, Duryodhana thought, the war would end more speedily and victoriously for the Kauravas.

Thereafter, he could surely play on Yudhishthira's goodness and his loyalty to the traditional code of kshatriya conduct. It was pretty certain he could be drawn into the battle of dice again and sent to the forests once more.

Ten days of fighting had demonstrated to Duryodhana that further fighting would only result in the destruction of the race, not the fulfilment of the desires.

When Duryodhana made his motives clear to Drona, the acharya was greatly disappointed and he cursed Duryodhana in his heart. But whatever the reason for it, he was glad that Yudhishthira was not to be killed.

The news that Drona had given a solemn assurance to Duryodhana that he would take Yudhishthir a prisoner, was carried by their spies to the Pandava army.

The Pandavas knew that, when the acharya was determined on something and gave his pledged word for executing it, his unrivalled eminence in the art of war and his valor made it a most serious affair.

So, they soon got busy and so arrayed the forces that Yudhishthira was never left unsupported. Whatever movements might take place, they always took care to leave sufficient protection against any surprise attack on Yudhishthira.

In the first day's battle under the leadership of Drona, the acharya amply demonstrated his great skill and energy. He moved about destroying the Pandava forces like a fire burning up dry logs. His rapid movements made the Pandava army feel as if Drona was everywhere at the same time showering arrows like rain and converting the battlefield into a stage for the dance of the God of Death. He cut the Pandava army in twain where Dhrishtadyumna stood.

Many were the single combats among renowned warriors. There was a fierce battle between Sahadeva and Sakuni skilled in illusion warfare. When their chariots broke, they alighted on the ground. And, like two hills sprung to life and motion, they struck each other with maces and closed with one another in single combat. Between Bhima and Vivimsati there was a great battle in which chariots were broken on both sides. Salya fought his nephew Nakula and harassed him exceedingly, smiling most provokingly all the time. But, in the end, Salya had his car smashed and his flag brought down, and he withdrew admitting defeat. Between Kripacharya and Dhrishtaketu there was a battle in which the latter was worsted.

So also was there fierce fighting between Satyaki and Kritavarma and between Virata and Karna. Abhimanyu's valor was also demonstrated as he fought Paurava, Kritavarma, Jayadratha and Salya single-handed and made them withdraw.

Then there was a great combat between Salya and Bhimasena in which Salya was defeated and made to retire. The Kaurava forces began to lose courage and the Pandava army, who saw this, attacked the Kaurava army with renewed energy and broke its ranks.

 When Drona saw this, he decided to restore lost morale by leading a straight attack on Yudhishthira. His golden chariot went forward, drawn by four noble Sindhu horses, in the direction of Yudhishthira. Yudhishthira answered with barbed arrows, feathered with eagle-feathers. But Drona did not mind, and advanced at great speed. Yudhishthira's bow was cut down and Drona was coming very near.

Dhrishtadyumna tried to intercept Drona but in vain. The whole army shouted: "Yudhishthira has been taken!" So near came Drona.

Suddenly, then, Arjuna appeared on the battlefield, the earth rumbling under the wheels of his chariot, as it coursed swiftly over the bloody field, over bones and bodies lying in heaps. Drona held back, for Arjuna had come on the scene. From his Gandiva bow issued a continuous stream of arrows. No one could see the shafts taken out of the quiver or placed in position. It seemed as if, from out of the great bow, an unending flood of arrows issued without intermission. The battlefield was darkened by flying missiles.

Drona retreated. Yudhishthira was not taken. The battle was stopped for the day and the Kaurava forces went to their camp in chastened mood.

The Pandava army marched proudly to camp and behind them walked Kesava (Krishna) and Arjuna conversing. Thus closed the eleventh day of the battle.
 
 
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« Reply #96 on: July 14, 2011, 04:45:13 PM »
77. The Twelfth Day

THE attempt to capture Yudhishthira alive failed. Drona was speaking to Duryodhana about this. "It is clear we cannot succeed in our efforts to seize Yudhishthira so long as Dhananjaya is nearby. It is no want of interest on my part. If by some stratagem we could draw Arjuna away to some other part of the field, I could pierce the Pandava formations and capture Yudhishthira. I promise to seize him and deliver him to you provided he does not flee from the battle, renouncing honor. If he does that, then also we win indeed, do we not?"

The chief of the Trigartadesa who heard Drona say this talked it over with his brothers, and they made a plan. They resolved to take the samsaptaka oath and challenge Arjuna to battle and draw him away from Yudhishthira's side.

Accordingly, together with a large force, they gathered, and sat before the fire, dressed in matted grass, and went through funeral gifts and ceremonies for themselves as if already dead, and took their oath: "Not till we have killed Dhananjaya will we turn back. If we flee in fear from battle, may we be punished as for deadly sin!"

Having adjured themselves thus before the sacred fire, they marched south for that was the direction of Death, and shouted "O Arjuna!" challenging him to battle.

It was a great suicide squad organized to achieve what Drona had pointed out to be essential. Arjuna turned to Yudhishthira and addressed him thus: "King, the samsaptakas are calling me to battle. I am pledged to accept a challenge thus thrown out. Susarma and his men are calling me to battle. I shall destroy them all and return. Permit me to go."

"Brother beloved," said Yudhishthira, "you know Drona's intentions. Keep that in mind and do whatever you think fit. He has promised Duryodhana to take me alive. He is a matchless warrior, brave, strong and skilled in, every branch of archery. He knows no fatigue and nothing escapes his watchful eyes."

"King, here is Satyajit, standing in support of you," replied Arjuna. "As long as he is alive and by you, nothing can happen to you." So saying Arjuna asked the Panchala prince Satyajit to stand guard by Yudhishthira's side and marched off like a hungry lion to meet the samsaptakas.

"There, Krishna, see the Trigartas standing, cheerful under the intoxication of their oath, though they know they go to certain death. Indeed they are full of the exultation of approaching swarga." So speaking to his great charioteer, Arjuna approached the large samsaptaka force.

This was the Twelfth Day of the great battle. It was a fierce fight. After a time, Arjuna's attack began to tell and the Trigartas fell in swathes before him but Susarma reminded them of their oath. "Heroes, we have taken our oaths before the fire and in the presence of the whole army of warriors. Having sworn terrible resolves, it is unworthy to flinch. Let us not fall into public ridicule." The samsaptakas cheered their leader, and faced Arjuna with the sublime courage of accepted deaths.

"Hrishikesa, they are resolved on fighting to the last. Drive on," said Arjuna.

Driven by Madhusudana (Krishna) Arjuna's chariot moved like Indra's car in the great war of the gods against the asuras. It went here and it went there and wherever it went, Arjuna's great bow, the Gandiva, scattered death among the doomed Trigartas.

The burst of blood in their compct ranks was like the burst of Palasa blossoms in a springtime forest. The fighting was severe. At one time Arjuna's car and flagpole were immersed in darkness under the downpour of arrows.

"Are you alive, Dhananjaya?" shouted Krishna.

"Yes," replied Arjuna, and pulling the string of his Gandiva, discharged shafts that dispelled the arrow-shower. It was like the Rudra dance of dissolution. The field was full of severed limbs and headless bodies and presented a terrible spectacle.

As Arjuna proceeded to oppose the samsaptakas, Drona gave orders for a violent assault on the Pandava forces at the point where Yudhishthira stood.

Yudhishthira saw this movement and spoke to the Panchala prince Dhrishtadyumna:

"The brahmana is coming to seize me. Look after the forces with vigilance."

The son of Drupada did not wait for Drona to advance but marched forward in his car himself to meet Drona. Dronacharya avoided Dhrishtadyumna, for well he knew that his death was destined to be at his hands and that death was not yet due. And he wheeled his chariot in another direction where Drupada was leading his forces.

Drupada's forces suffered heavy punishment at Drona's hands and blood flowed in streams on the battlefield. Drona, then, again turned his attention to Yudhishthira. The Pandavas stood firm and answered Drona's attacks with showers of arrows.

Satyajit made a charge on Drona's car and there was a fierce combat in which Drona's figure assumed the grimness of the Destroyer. Many a warrior was slain by him in succession. Vrika, a prince of Panchala, as well as Satyajit, fell dead.

Seeing this, Satanika, son of Virata, marched against Drona. In a moment, Satanika's severed head rolled on the ground with the golden kundalas shining in the earlobes.

Ketama, another chief, followed the attack but he too perished. Then, Vasudhana rushed forward to stop the advance of Drona, but he too fell dead. Yudhamanyu, Satyaki, Sikhandin and Uttamaujas who came to push Drona back, were repulsed and all these great warriors had to retreat. Drona was now almost within reach of Yudhishthira.

At that moment, Panchalya, another son of Drupada, rushed madly up to stop the acharya and fought most desperately. But, he too was mortally wounded and fell from his chariot like a failing star.

Then, Duryodhana was delighted and said exultingly to Karna:

"Radheya, do you see the valor of our mighty leader? No more will the Pandavas be inclined towards battle. See how their army reels under Drona's blows."

Karna shook his head. "Do not be so confident," he said. "The Pandavas are not to be so easily vanquished. They will never surrender. The wrongs they have undergone are too great to be forgotten. You tried to poison and kill them. You tried to burn them alive. You have grieved and humiliated them at the game of dice and you have forced them out to live in the forest for long years. They will not surrender. See there, their army has rallied and all their forces are leading a combined attack on Drona. There, see Bhima, Satyaki, Yudhamanyu, Kshatradharma, Nakula, Uttamaujas, Drupada, Virata, Sikhandin. Dhrishtaketu and other warriors have all come to protect Yudhishthira and are pressing Drona hard. We should not stand idly watching, when we have put such a heavy burden on the acharya. Great as he is, there is a limit to the load even he can carry. Even wolves combined in large numbers can harass and kill a mighty elephant, Let us proceed. It will not do any longer to leave Drona unsupported."
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #97 on: July 14, 2011, 04:51:34 PM »
79. Abhimanyu

EARLY next morning, Duryodhana went to Dronacharya in a state of bitterness and anger. After the customary salutation, he addressed him thus in the presence of a large number of generals:

"Esteemed brahmana, Yudhishthira was quite within your reach yesterday and, if you had really wished to take him no one could have prevented you. Yet, you did not take him, and to me the events of yesterday are inexplicable. I cannot understand what makes it hard for you to carry out your promise to me. Verily great men are not understandable."

Dronacharya was exceedingly hurt by this insulting insinuation.

"Duryodhana," he said, "I am putting forth on your be half all the strength and skill I possess. You entertain thoughts unworthy of a king. As long as Arjuna is present, supporting Yudhishthira, it is not possible for us to seize him. I have told you that already. It is only if we manage some how to get Arjuna out of the battlefield that we can hope to carry out this plan as you desire. And I am devising ways to attain this objective."

Thus did Drona nobly conquer his just anger and seek to comfort Duryodhana in his distress.

On the thirteenth day, the samsaptakas again challenged Arjuna to battle and he accordingly went to attack them, where they were arrayed to the south of the main battlefront. The battle that was fought between the samsaptakas and Arjuna was the fiercest that ever had been seen or heard of till that day.

When Dhananjaya left the main front for meeting the samsaptakas, Drona rearranged his army in lotus formation and attacked Yudhishthira fiercely.

Bhima, Satyaki, Chekitana, Dhrishtadyumna, Kuntibhoja, Drupada, Ghatotkacha, Yudhamanyu, Sikhandin, Uttamaujas, Virata, the Kekayas, Srinjayas and many others opposed him. But their resistance seemed paralysed by the violence of Drona's offensive.

Abhimanyu, son of Arjuna and Subhadra, was still adolescent, but had already won recognition as a mighty man-at arms even as the equal of his father and uncle in battle. Yudhishthira called Abhimanyu and said to him:

"Dear son, Dronacharya is attacking our army greatly. Arjuna is absent and, if we should be defeated in his absence, he will be grieved beyond measure. No one among us has been able to break Drona's array. You know you can do it and no one else. I ask you to take up this task."

"I can do it," replied Abhimanyu. "I have been instructed by my father how to penetrate this formation and can certainly do so. But if after forcing my way, it should unfortunately become necessary for me to come out, I shall be at a loss what to do, being as yet uninstructed in the art of extrication."

"Valiant boy, break this impregnable formation and open a passage for us. We shall all break in your wake. We shall be with you to face any danger and no question can arise of your having to come out."

Bhimasena supported Yudhishthira's proposal: "I shall be immediately behind you and enter when you succeed in breaking the enemy's formation. So also will Dhrishtadyumna, Satyaki, the Panchalas, the Kekayas and the forces of Matsyadesa. Only break the formation as you alone can do. We shall do the rest and smash the Kaurava army."

Abhimanyu thought of his father and Krishna. Feeling encouraged by what had been said by Bhimasena and Yudhishthira, and impelled by his own gallant nature, undertook the adventure.

"I shall please my great father and uncle," he said with enthusiasm. "Let my valor be staked on this."

"May your prowess grow," said Yudhishthira and blessed the youth.

"Sumitra, see Drona's flag flying there! Drive straight and fast to that point," said Abhimanyu to his charioteer.

"Faster, faster!" urged Abhimanyu as they sped along.

"May the gods protect you!" said the charioteer. "Yudhishthira has placed a very great burden on your young shoulders. Think well before you pierce Drona's array and enter. The acharya is unrivalled in skill and experience, while you, though his equal in valor, have not his long years to back it."

Abhimanyu smiled and replied: "Friend, I am Krishna's nephew and son of Arjuna, am I not? Which other has that advantage? Fear dares not approach me! These enemies here have not a sixteenth part of my strength. Drive fast towards Drona's division. Do not hesitate."

The charioteer obeyed.

As the golden chariot to which were yoked beautiful young horses approached, the soldiers in the Kaurava army shouted: "Abhimanyu is corning! He has come!" The Pandavas followed Abhimanyu close behind him.

The Kaurava warriors were perturbed as they saw Abhimanyu's chariot approach them with great speed.

"Here is one greater in valor than Arjuna," they thought and began to lose heart.

Like a young lion on a herd of elephants, Abhimanyu rushed on. There was a ripple in the Kaurava ranks which bent under his headlong onslaught.

The bend soon became a break and under Drona's very eyes, the formation was breached and Abhimanyu entered. But the breach closed under the inspiration of Jayadratha, king of the Sindhus, before the other Pandava warriors could force their way in according to plan and Abhimanyu was alone!

Kaurava warriors opposed him, but they fell like moths in the fire, one after another. Abhimanyu's shafts searched the weak points in the armor of his enemies. And the bodies of soldiers lay strewn on the field like Kusa grass on the sacrificial platform.

Bows, arrows, swords, shields, javelins, pieces of harness, chaiot canopies, axes, maces, spears, whips, conchs, along with severed heads and limbs of slain warriors, covered the field.

Seeing the destruction wrought by Abhimanyu, Duryodhana was wroth and rushed in person to oppose the youthful warrior. Drona, having leant that the king himself was engaged in battle with Abhimanyu, became anxious and sent veterans to protect Duryodhana.

With great difficulty, they managed to rescue the king from the boy-hero who greatly disappointed at the escape of Duryodhana, vented his anger on the warriors that had come to rescue him and put them to headlong flight.

Then, throwing away all sense of shame and chivalry, a large number of veteran warriors made a combined and simultaneous attack on the hero, who found himself alone, surrounded by enemies on all sides. But, even as on all sides a rock receives the rising tide of the sea, Arjuna's son withstood this united ouslaught.

Drona, Aswatthama, Kripa, Karna, Sakuni, Salya and many other great warriors in their chariots, equipped with all arms, surged in attack on the young hero, only to be dashed back, baffled and broken.

Asmaka rode his chariot at great speed against Abhimanyu's. But smiling, Abhimanyu sent his shafts and disposed of him in no time. Karna's armor was pierced.

Salya was badly wounded and sat, unable to move, in his chariot. Salya's brother came up in great wrath to avenge his brother's disgrace but he fell and his chariot was broken to pieces.

Thus did Abhimanyu, alone and unsupported, oppose a host of veteran warriors and show the skill in the use of arms which he had learnt from his illustrious father and from Vasudeva, his uncle. Seeing this, the poet says, Dronacharya's eyes were filled with tears of affectionate admiration.

"Was there ever a fighter to equal this boy Abhimanyu?" exclaimed Drona to Kripa, in the hearing of Duryodhana who could not contain his anger.

"The acharya's partiality for Arjuna prevents him from killing Abhimanyu," Duryodhana said, "and he sings his praises instead of fighting him. Indeed, if the acharya were minded to dispose of Abhimanyu, would it take him long to do it!"

Often did Duryodhana suspect and complain in this manner against Bhishma and Drona. Having undertaken a war of adharma, he was often led to speak in this manner and hurt the feelings of the acharyas who stood loyally by him, even when they saw the wickedness of his ways.

Duhsasana roared in anger and exclaiming: "This obstinate lad will perish now!" led his chariot forward to attack Abhimanyu. The chariots of Abhimanyu and Duhsasana made wonderful movement against each other and the battle raged long.

Duhsasana was struck senseless in his car, and his charioteer just managed to drive away from the field saving Duhsasana's life. Karna attacked Abhimanyu with his shafts and harassed him greatly.

But one of Abhimanyu's arrows felled Karna's bow and the young warrior followed up this advantage so vigorously that he put Karna and his supporters to flight. The Kaurava forces, when they saw this, were completely demoralised.

The army was in confusion and men fled in all directions, not caring for Drona's shouts of remonstrance. And Abhimanyu destroyed those that stood, as fire destroys a dry jungle in summer.
 

 
 
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #98 on: July 14, 2011, 04:52:25 PM »
80. The Death Of Abhimanyu

THE Pandavas, proceeding according to plan, had closely followed Abhimanyu when he broke into the Kaurava formation. But Dhritarashtra's son-in-law Jayadratha, the gallant king of the Sindhus, swooped down upon the Pandavas with all his forces and enabled the breach in the formation to be effectively and solidly closed up, so that the Pandavas found it impossible to force their way in.

Yudhishthira hurled a javelin and cut Jayadratha's bow. But in an instant, the Saindhava took up another bow and sent unerring shafts at Dharmaputra.

Bhimasena's arrows made deadly work, crashing down the canopy and flagstaff of Jayadratha's car. But the Saindhava, was alert and rearmed himself, each time his equipment was broken. He killed Bhima's chariot horses, and the latter had to go into Satyaki's car.

In this manner, Jayadratha, with stubborn valor, prevented the Pandavas from entering in Abhimanyu's wake. The young hero was thus isolated and surrounded by the Kaurava forces.

The son of Subhadra was however undaunted. He attacked all the warriors around him and slew them in great number. Like rivers losing themselves in the ocean, the soldiers that went to attack him, disappeared before his arrows. The Kaurava army reeled under Abhimanyu's onslaughts.

Duryodhana's son Lakshmana, a gallant young warrior, then charged on Abhimanyu. When they saw this, retreating soldiers came back and supported Lakshmana, showering arrows on Abhimanyu, like rain falling on a hill.

Still, Arjuna's son was undaunted and, his shaft came swift and shining, like a serpent fresh-sloughed, and pierced Lakshmana. The handsome youth, with beautiful nose and eyebrows and hair, lay dead on the field and the Kaurava soldiers were filled with grief.

"To hell with the wicked Abhimanyu," shouted Duryodhana, and the six great warriors, Dorna, Kripa, Karna, Aswatthama, Brihatbala and Kritavarma closed upon Abhimanyu.

"It is impossible to pierce this youth's armor," said Drona to Karna. "Aim at the reins of his horses and cut them off. Disable him thus and attack him from behind."

The son of Surya did accordingly. Abhimanyu's bow was broken by a shaft discharged from behind. His horses and charioteer were killed. Thus disabled, the young warrior stood on the field, with sword and shield, facing his enemies.

As he stood dauntless like kshatriya dharma incarnate, he filled the warriors around with amazement. Whirling his sword, he held his own against the numerous warriors who had surrounded him, with a skill that confounded them.

It seemed to them as if his feet did not rest on earth and he was on wings, in the air. Drona sent a shaft that broke Abhimanyu's sword. Karna's sharp arrows tore his shield into bits.

Then Abhimanyu bent down and taking up one of his chariot wheels and whirling it like a discus, stood up facing all the enemies that surrounded him.

The dust from the chariot wheel covered him and the poet says it enhanced the natural beauty of the young hero. He fought fiercely like a second Vishnu with the discus.

But soon, the combined onslaught of the warriors that surrounded him overpowered him. The chariot wheel was shattered to pieces. The son of Duhsasana came up then and closed with him in mortal combat.

Both went down together but Duhsasana's son rose again and, while Abhimanyu was struggling to his feet, struck him with his mace and killed him.

"Subhadra's son who, like an elephant in a lily pond, single-handed worked havoc in the Kaurava army, was thus overpowered by numbers and killed cruelly," said Sanjaya to Dhritarashtra.

"And, having killed him, your people danced around his dead body like savage hunters exulting over their prey. All good men in the army were grieved and tears rolled from their eyes. Even the birds of prey, that circled overhead making noises seemed to cry 'Not thus!' 'Not thus!' "

While there was blowing of conchs and cries of victory all over the Kaurava army, Yuyutsu, the son of Dhritarashtra, did not approve of all this. "This is ignoble," he angrily cried.

"Soldiers, you have forgotten your code. Verily, you should be ashamed but, instead, you shout brazen cries of victory. Having committed a most wicked deed, you revel in foolish joy, blind to the danger that is imminent."

So saying, Yuyutsu threw his weapon away in disgust and left the battlefield. This young son of Dhritarashtra feared sin. His words were not sweet in the Kaurava ears, but he was a good man and spoke out his mind.
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #99 on: July 14, 2011, 04:53:24 PM »
81. A Father's Grief

YUDHISHTHIRA was plunged in sorrow. "He has gone to the sleep that knows no waking, he who in battle overcame Drona, Aswatthama and Duryodhana and who was like a destroying fire to enemy forces. O warrior that made Duhsasana flee in fear, are you dead? What then is there for me to fight for or win? Why do we want kingdom now? What words of comfort can I offer to Arjuna? And what shall I say to Subhadra, quivering like a cow bereaved of her calf? How can I utter to them vain words of solace that serve no purpose? Truly, ambition destroys the understanding of men. Like the fool who, looking for honey, falls into a precipitous pit below and is destroyed, in my desire for victory I pushed to the battlefront this boy, whose life was all before him in love and joy. There is no fool like me in the world. I have killed Arjuna's beloved son, instead of protecting him during the absence of his father."

Thus was Yudhishthira lamenting in histent. Around him were sitting warriors, silent in sorrowful thought of the valor of the youthful hero and his cruel death. It was always the custom with Vyasa to come and comfort the Pandavas, whenever they were in great sorrow.

He was their great teacher as well as grandsire. So he appeared now before Yudhishthira. The sage was received with all honor and Yudhishthira, having made him sit, said: "I have tried very hard to find peace of mind, but I am unable to find it."

"You are wise and a knower," said Vyasa, "and it is not meet that you should allow yourself to be lost in grief in this manner. Knowing the nature of death, it is not right that you should grieve like the unlearned."

Vyasa proceeded to console the bereaved Dharmaputra: "When Brahma created living beings, he was filled with anxiety. These lives will multiply and soon their number will be beyond the capacity of the earth to bear. There seems to be no way of coping with this. This thought of Brahma grew into a flame which became bigger and bigger until it threatened to destroy all creation at once. Then Rudra came and pleaded for allaying this destructive fire. Brahma controlled the great fire and subdued it into the law that is known to mortals as Death. This law of the creator takes many forms, such as war or sickness or accident and keeps the balance between birth and death. Death is thus an inescapable law of existence, ordained for the good of the world. It is not true wisdom to be impatient with Death or to grieve immoderately for those who die. There is no reason to pity those who pass away. We may have reason indeed to grieve for those who remain." After saying these words of solace, Krishna Dwaipayana retired.

Dhananjaya and Krishna were proceeding towards their camp after defeating and slaying the samsaptakas.

"Govinda, I do not know why," said Arjuna, "but my mind is not at ease. My mouth feels parched and my heart is troubled with a great foreboding of loss. I wonder if any calamity has happened to Yudhishthira. Something makes me afraid, Krishna."

"Do not be concerned about Yudhishthira," replied Krishna."He and your other brothers are safe." On the way, they halted and did the evening prayers. Remounting the chariot, they proceeded to the camp. As they approached the camp, Arjuna's premonitions of calamity increased.

"Janardana, we do not hear the usual auspicious music in the camp. The soldiers, seeing me from a distance, hang down their heads and avoid my sight. This is strange behavior on their part. O Madhava, I fear greatly. Do you think my brothers are safe? I am confused. How is it Abhimanyu does not run out to meet us today as usual, accompanied by his brothers?"

They entered the camp.

"Why are you all wearing sad faces? I do not see Abhimanyu here. How is it I see no glad faces? I understood that Drona arrayed his army in the lotus formation. No one among you could pierce it as far as I know. Did Abhimanyu force his way in? If so, he is dead, for I did not teach him how to make his way out of that formation. Has he been slain indeed?"

When their mournful silence, and downcast eyes, that dared not meet his, had confirmed his worst fears, the bereaved father burst into heart-broken lamentation.

"Alas, has my dear boy indeed become Yama's guest? Yudhishthira, Bhimasena, Dhrishtadyumna and great Satyaki have all of you allowed the son of Subhadra to be slain by the enemy? Alas! What comfort shall I give to Subhadra? What shall. I say to Draupadi? And what solace can be given to Uttara and who shall give it?"

Vasudeva spoke to his stricken friend. "Beloved Arjuna," he said, "do not give way thus to grief. Born as kshatriyas we have to live and die by weapons. Death is ever the companion of those who have taken up the profession of arms and go into battle, determined not to retreat. Warriors must be ever ready to die young. Abhimanyu, boy as he was, has attained the happy regions above which grey haired veterans yearn to reach in battle. Abhimanyu's end is indeed the prescribed and much desired goal of all kshatriyas. If you give way to grief in this inordinate way, your brothers and other kings will lose heart. Stop grieving and infuse courage and fortitude into the hearts of the others,"

Dhananjaya desired to be told the full story of his brave son's end and Yudhishthira related it: "I incited Abhimanyu to enter the enemy's formation. For I knew that he alone could do it among all of us. 'Make your way into the lotus array and we shall follow immediately behind you. This great deed of yours will please the hearts of your father and your uncle,' I said. The youthful hero did accordingly and broke the great formation and made his way in. We went behind him according to plan. But, just then, the wicked Jayadratha came and effectively stopped us. He caused the breach in the formation to be closed up at once and we found ourselves unable to follow Abhimanyu. The Sindhu kept us out, and then, Oh, shame on kshatriyas who could do this! A crowd of redoubtable warriors hemmed him in, thus isolated, and slew him."

When he heard the full story, Arjuna was again over whelmed by grief and he fell on the ground in a swoon.

When he recovered, he took an oath: "Before sunset tomorrow, I shall slay this Jayadratha who caused my son's death. If Drona and Kripa come between him and me these acharyas also shall be overwhelmed and slain!"

Saying this, he twanged the Gandiva string, and Krishna blew the Panchajanya. And Bhima said:

"This twang of Arjuna's bow and this blare of Krishna's conch shall be, unto the sons of Dhritarashtra, the summons of Death!"
 
 
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #100 on: July 14, 2011, 04:54:13 PM »
82. The Sindhu King

NEWS of Arjuna's oath reached the enemy. The spies informed Duryodhana's friends that Arjuna, having learnt that Jayadratha was the cause of Abhimanyu's death, had vowed to kill the Sindhu king before sunset next day.

Vriddhakshatra, the illustrious king of the Sindhus, was blessed with a son, who was named Jayadratha. At the time of the birth of the prince, a voice was heard to say: "This prince will attain great glory and he will attain the happy regions above, slain in battle. One who, among the warriors of all ages, ranks among the most illustrious will, in the field of battle, sever his head from the body."

All living beings must die but hardly any, however wise or brave, welcome it. Vriddhakshatra was grieved to hear the voice declare his son's end.

In his disturbed state of mind, he uttered a curse: "He, who shall cause my son's head to roll down on the ground, shall have his head burst at that very moment into fragments."

Jayadratha grew up and, when he reached manhood, Vriddhakshatra handed over the care of the State to the prince. He retired to the forest, where he spent the evening of his days in austerities in an ashrama near the plain, which afterwards became the Kurukshetra field of battle.

When Jayadratha came to know about Arjuna's vow, he remembered the prediction about his death and feared his end was near.

"I do not want to be in this battle any longer. Let me go back to my country," he said to Duryodhana.

"Do not fear, Saindhava," replied Duryodhana. "Here are all these veterans and warriors who will stand between you and danger. Karna, Chitrasena, Vivimsati, Bhurisravas, Salya, Vrishasena, Purumitra, Jaya, Bhoja, Kamboja, Sudakshina, Satyavrata, Vikarna, Durmukha, Duhsasana, Subahu, Kalinga, the Avanti princes, Drona, Drona's illustrious son and Sakuni all these warriors and I myself are here and you cannot be in danger. The whole of my army will have but one task today, to defend you against Arjuna. You should not leave us now." Jayadratha agreed to remain. He went to Drona and said to him:

"Master, you taught me and Arjuna and you know us both well. What is your appraisal of us two?"

"Son, I discharged my duties as teacher and dealt with you both impartially. The instruction was the same to you and to Arjuna, but Arjuna excels because of his superior discipline and his own practice. But, you need not be discouraged by this. You will be placed behind a strong force that Arjuna cannot easily pierce. Fight according to the tradition of your ancestors. Death comes to us all, cowards as well as brave men. And the warrior dying in battle attains with ease the happy regions which others only attain with great difficulty. Discard fear and fight."

Drona, having spoken thus to Jayadratha, proceeded to marshal the forces for the next day. Twelve miles to the rear of the main army Jayadratha and his detachment were placed in a strongly guarded position.

Bhurisravas, Karna, Aswatthama, Salya, Vrishasena and Kripa were there with all their forces. Between them and the Pandava army, Dronacharya arrayed the main Kaurava forces in circular formation.

Durmarshana's army was beaten. Like clouds driven about by a gale, the Kaurava forces were scattered and fled in all directions. When Duhsasana saw this, his anger rose.

Leading a huge force of elephants he surrounded Arjuna. Duhsasana was a very wicked man but he was brave also. He fought Arjuna fiercely and the field was strewn with the dead. Finally, he withdrew defeated and went back to join Drona's forces.

Savyasachi's car swiftly proceeded forward and passed Drona. "Illustrious one, grieving for my son, I have come to wreak vengeance on the Sindhu king. I crave your blessings for the fulfilment of my vow," said Arjuna to the acharya.

The acharya smiled and said: "Arjuna, you must first fight and defeat me before you can reach Jayadratha." Saying this Drona discharged a shower of arrows on Arjuna's car. Partha also replied with his arrows but these the acharya parried with ease and sent flaming shafts that hit Krishna and Arjuna.

The Pandava then decided to cut Drona's bow and bent his Gandiva for that purpose. Even as he was pulling his bowstring Drona's shaft came and cut the string.

The acharya, still retaining the smile on his face, rained a shower of arrows on Arjuna and his horses and chariot. Arjuna fought back, but the acharya showered his arrows that covered Arjuna and his chariot in darkness.

Krishna saw things were not going at all well and said: "Partha, no more waste of time. Let us proceed. It is no use fighting this brahmana, who seems to know no fatigue." Saying this, Krishna drove Arjuna's chariot to the left of the acharya and proceeded forward.

"Stop, surely you will not proceed without defeating your enemy," said Drona.

"You are my guru, not my enemy, O acharya. I am in the position of a son to you. There is no one in the wide world that can defeat you," said Arjuna and they proceeded forward at a swift pace bypassing Drona.

Then Arjuna pierced the Bhoja army. Kritavarma and Sudakshina who opposed his passage were defeated. Srutayudha also tried to stop Arjuna's progress. There was a fierce battle in which Srutayudha lost his horses and he hurled his mace at Krishna.

His mother had obtained this mace as a result of her offering but the condition attached to the boon operated and it came back and struck Srutayudha himself dead. This is the story of the mace.

Parnasa went through penances that pleased Varuna and obtained from that god a boon that her son Srutayudha may not be killed by any enemy.

"I shall give your son a divine weapon. Let him use it in all his battles. No enemy will be able to defeat him or kill him. But he should not use the weapon against one who does not fight. If he does, the weapon will recoil and kill him. Saying this, god Varuna gave a mace. Srutayudha, when fighting Arjuna, disregarding the injunction, hurled the mace at Krishna who was not fighting but was only driving Arjuna's chariot.

The missile hit Janardana's chest and immediately rebounded fiercely back to Srutayudha. And like a demon recoiling fatally on the magician, that commits an error in uttering the spell of power that holds it in thrall, it slew Srutayudha and laid him dead on the field, like a great forest tree blown down by a storm.

Then the king of Kamboja led his forces against Arjuna. After a fierce fight, he lay stretched dead on the field like a great flagstaff after the festival is over.

When they saw the strong warriors, Srutayudha and the king of Kamboja, slain, the Kaurava force was in great confusion.

Srutayu and his brother Asrutayu then attacked Partha on both sides trying to save the situation, and greatly harassed him. At one stage of this battle, Arjuna leaned on the flagstaff, dazed with the wounds he received.

But Krishna spoke to him encouragingly and Arjuna recovered and resumed the fight, slaying the two brothers as well as their two sons who continued the struggle. Arjuna marched on and, killing many more warriors successfully made his way to Jayadratha.
 
 
Nusrat Jahan
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #101 on: July 14, 2011, 04:55:25 PM »
83. Borrowed Armor

WHEN Dhritarashtra heard Sanjaya relate the success of Arjuna, he exclaimed: "Oh Sanjaya! When Janardana came to Hastinapura seeking a settlement, I told Duryodhana that it was a great opportunity and he must not lose it. I told him to make peace with his cousins. 'Kesava has come to do us a good turn. Do not disregard his advice,' I said. But Duryodhana heeded not. What Karna and Duhsasana said seemed to him better advice than mine. The Destroyer entered his mind and he sought his own ruin. Drona deprecated war, so also did Bhishma, Bhurisravas, Kripa and others. But my obstinate son would not listen. Impelled by inordinate ambition, he got entangled in anger and hatred, and invited this ruinous war."

To Dhritarashtra thus lamenting, Sanjaya said: "Of what avail are your regrets now? The life-giving water has all run to waste and you now seek to stop the breach. Why did you not prevent the son of Kunti from gambling? Had you done the right thing then, all this great grief would have been stopped at the source. Even later, if you had been firm and stopped your son from his evil ways, this calamity could have been avoided. You saw the evil and yet, against your own sound judgment, you followed the foolish advice of Karna and Sakuni. Kesava, Yudhishthira and Drona do not respect you now as they did before. Vasudeva now knows that your rectitude is only hypocrisy. The Kauravas are now doing their utmost as warriors, but they are unequal to opposing the strength of Arjuna, Krishna, Satyaki and Bhima. Duryodhana has not spared himself. He is putting forth his utmost strength. It is not meet that you should now accuse him or his devoted soldiers."

"Dear Sanjaya, I admit my dereliction of duty. What you say is right. No one can change the course of fate. Tell me what happened. Tell me all, be it ever so unpleasant," said the old king convulsed with grief. And obedient to the old king's behest, Sanjaya continued his narration.

Duryodhana was greatly agitated when he saw Arjuna's chariot proceeding triumphantly towards the Sindhu king. He rushed to Drona and complained bitterly:

"Arjuna has effected a breach in the great army and has advanced to Jayadratha's position. Seeing our discomfiture, the warriors, protecting the Sindhu king, will surely lose heart. They had believed that it was impossible for Arjuna to get past you and that has now been falsified. He advanced before your eyes and nothing was done to prevent it. You seem indeed bent on helping the Pandavas. I am in great distress of mind. Sir, tell me, in what matter have I offended you? Why are you letting me down in this way? If I had known that you would do this, I should not have asked Jayadratha to stay here. It was a great mistake I committed in not letting him go, as he desired, back to his own country. If Arjuna attacks him, it is not possible for him to escape death. Forgive me. I am talking foolishly, distracted by grief. Do go in person yourself to save the Saindhava."

To this frantic appeal Drona made answer: "King, I shall not take offence at your thoughtless and unworthy remarks. You are like a son to me. Aswatthama himself is not dearer! Do what I ask you. Take this coat of armor and, donning it, go and stop Arjuna. I cannot do so for my presence is necessary in this part of the field. See there, the clouds of arrows! The Pandava army is attacking us in great force. Yudhishthira is here unsupported by Arjuna and is this not just the opportunity we wanted? Our very plan has borne fruit and I must now take Yudhishthira prisoner and deliver him to you. I cannot give up this objective and run after Phalguna now. If I go after Arjuna now, our battle array will be hopelessly broken and we shall be lost. Let me put this armor on you. Go in confidence. Do not fear. You have valor, skill and experience. This coat will protect you against all weapons. It will not let any blow pass through your body. Go forth to battle, Duryodhana, in confidence as Indra did, clad in the armor given by Brahma. May victory be yours." Duryodhana's confidence was restored and, as the acharya directed, he went, dressed in magic armor and accompanied by a large force of soldiers, to attack Arjuna.

Arjuna had crossed the Kaurava army and gone far ahead towards where Jayadratha had been kept for safety. Seeing that the horses were somewhat fatigued, Krishna stopped the chariot and was about to unyoke the tired animals, when the brothers Vinda and Anuvinda came up suddenly and began to attack Arjuna.

They were defeated and Arjuna scattered their forces and slew them both. After this, Krishna unyoked the chariot and let the horses roll in the mud. The horses rested for a while and were refreshed. Then, they proceeded again according to plan.

"Dhananjaya, look behind! There comes the foolhardy Duryodhana. What good luck! Long have you suppressed your anger, and now is the time for you to let yourself go. Here is the man who caused all this grief, delivering himself into your hands. But remember he is a great archer, well-versed in bow lore, and also a keen and strong-limbed fighter." Thus said Krishna and they halted to give battle to the Kaurava.

Duryodhana approached without fear.

"They say, Arjuna, that you have done acts of prowess. I have not seen this myself. Let me see if your courage and your skill are indeed as great as your reputation," said Duryodhana to Arjuna as he began to battle.

The combat was fierce indeed and Krishna was surprised.

"Partha, I am astonished," said Krishna, "How is it your arrows do not seem to hurt Duryodhana? This is the first time I see the shafts proceeding from the Gandiva bow strike their targets without effect. This is strange, Have your arms lost their power? Or has the Gandiva bow lost its quality? Why do your arrows strike Duryodhana and drop to the ground without piercing him? This is most puzzling."

Arjuna smiled and replied: "I understand. This man has come dressed by Drona in charmed armor. The acharya has taught me the secret of this armor, but this man wears it as a bullock might do. You will see some fun now!"

Saying thus, Arjuna proceeded to shoot his arrows, first depriving Duryodhana of his horses, his charioteer and his car. Then, Arjuna broke his bow and disarmed him completely. There after he sent needle-eye darts which pierced just those parts of Duryodhana's body that were not covered by armor, until he could bear it no longer and turned and fled.

When Duryodhana was thus discomfited, Krishna blew his conch and it sent a thrill of fear in Jayadratha's army. The warriors around the Sindhu king were surprised. They at once got ready in their chariots and Bhurisravas, Chala, Karna, Vrishasena, Kripa, Salya, Aswatthama and Jayadratha, eight of them, arrayed their forces against Arjuna.
 

 
 
Nusrat Jahan
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #102 on: July 16, 2011, 02:38:22 PM »
Thanks Nusrat for giving information on Gandhari

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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #103 on: July 23, 2011, 01:51:35 PM »
84. Yudhishthira's Misgivings

WHEN the Pandavas saw Duryodhana proceeding in the direction of Arjuna, they attacked the Kaurava army in force so as to hold Drona and prevent him from going to Jayadratha's rescue.

So, Dhrishtadyumna led his forces repeatedly against Drona. As a result of all this, the Kaurava army had to fight on three fronts, and was greatly weakened.

Driving his chariot right against Drona's, Dhrishtadyumna attacked him violently. Drona's chestnut horses and the Panchala's dove-colored ones were entangled with one another and presented a picturesque sight like the clouds at sunset.

Dhrishtadyumna threw away his bow and, sword and shield in hand, he sprang upon Drona's chariot. Now standing on the shafts of the vehicle, now on the horses and now on the yoke, he attacked Drona bewilderingly, all the while seeming to scorch him with baleful and bloodshot eyes.

Long did this fight go on. Drona pulled his bow in great wrath and sent a shaft, which would have drunk the Panchala's life but for the unexpected intervention of Satyaki who sent an arrow and diverted the acharya's shaft.

Drona then turned and attacked Satyaki, which enabled the Panchala warriors to take Dhrishtadyumna away. Drona, hissing like a black cobra, his eyes red with anger, advanced on Satyaki who was among the front rank warriors on the Pandava side and who, when he saw Drona desiring battle, went forward to accept the challenge.

"Here is the man who, giving up his vocation as a brahmana has taken up the profession of fighting and is causing distress to the Pandavas," Satyaki said to his charioteer. "This man is the principal cause of Duryodhana's arrogance. This man fancies himself a very great soldier and is ever bursting with conceit. I must teach him a lesson. Take the chariot up quickly."

Satyaki's charioteer accordingly lashed the silver-white horses and took the car at a great pace. Satyaki and Drona shot shafts at one another so quick that they covered the sun, and the battlefield was in darkness for a while. The steel shafts swished glimmering like newly-sloughed snakes rushing about.

The chariot hoods and the flagstaffs on both sides were battered down. Drona as well as Satyaki were bleeding profusely. The warriors on either side stood still watching the duel and they did not blow their conchs or raise their war cries or sound their lion-roars.

The Devas, Vidyadharas, Gandharvas and Yakshas watched the great battle from above. Drona's bow was broken by a well-aimed shaft from Satyaki, and the son of Bharadwaja had to take another bow and, even as he strung it, Satyaki shot it down again. Drona took up another bow  that too was shot down.

And so it went on till Drona lost a hundred and one bows without being able to shoot an arrow. The great acharya said to himself: "This man Satyaki is a warrior in the class of Sri Rama, Kartavirya, Dhananjaya and Bhishma,"and was glad he had an opponent worthy of him.

It was a craftsman's professional joy at skill displayed in the art he loved. For every specially-charged shaft that Drona sent, Satyaki had a ready answer of equivalent quality. Long did this equal combat continue. Drona of unrivalled skill in archery then resolved on killing Satyaki and sent the fire astra. But Satyaki saw this and, losing no time, sent the Varuna astra to counteract it.

But now Satyaki's strength began to fail and, seeing this, the Kaurava warriors were glad and shouted in satisfaction. When Yudhishthira saw Satyaki was hard pressed, he told those nearby to go to Satyaki's relief. "Our great and good hero Yuyudhana (Satyaki) is being overpowered by Drona. You should go there at once," he said to Dhrishtadyumna.

"The brahmana will otherwise slay Satyaki in a few minutes. Why are you hesitating? Go at once. Drona is playing with Satyaki as a cat plays with a bird. Satyaki is indeed in the paws of the Destroyer." Yudhishthira ordered the army to make a powerful attack on Drona. Satyaki was saved with difficulty. Just then, the sound of Krishna's conch was heard from the sector where Arjuna was fighting.

"O Satyaki, I hear Panchajanya," cried Yudhishthira; "but the twang of Arjuna's bow does not accompany it. I fear Arjuna has been surrounded by Jayadratha's friends and is in danger. Arjuna is opposed by forces both in front of him and in his rear. He pierced the Kaurava ranks in the morning and he has not come back yet though the greater part of the day is gone. How is it that only Krishna's conch is heard? I fear Dhananjaya has been slain and therefore Krishna has taken up arms. Satyaki, there is nothing you cannot accomplish. Your bosom friend Arjuna, he, who taught you, is in mortal danger. Often has Arjuna spoken to me admiringly of your great skill and prowess. 'There is not another soldier like Satyaki,' he said to me when we were in the forest. Oh, look there! The dust is rising that side. I am certain Arjuna has been surrounded. Jayadratha is a powerful warrior, and there are many enemy warriors there helping him and resolved to die in defence of him. Go at once, Satyaki." Thus did Dharmaputra speak in great trepidation.

Satyaki, who was weary after his battle with Drona, replied: "Faultless among men, I shall obey your command. What would I not do for Dhananjaya's sake? My life is the merest trifle in my eyes. If you order me, I am ready to fight the gods themselves. But allow me to put before you what the wise Vasudeva and Arjuna told me when they left. 'Until we return after slaying Jayadratha you should not leave Yudhishthira's side. Be vigilant in protecting him. We entrust this to you in confidence and go. There is only one warrior in the Kaurava army whom we fear, and he is Drona. You know his sworn intention. We go leaving Dharmaputra's safety in our hands.' Thus said Vasudeva and Arjuna to me when they went. Arjuna laid this trust on me, believing me fit for it. How can I disregard his command? Do not have any fear about Arjuna's safety. No one can defeat him. The Sindhu king and the others cannot cope with a sixteenth part of Arjuna. Dharmaputra, to whom shall I entrust your safety if I must go? I see no one here who can stand against Drona if he comes to seize you. Do not ask me to go. Consider well before you command me to leave."

"Satyaki," replied Yudhishthira, "I have thought over it. As I have weighed the danger against the need and I have concluded that you must go. You leave me with my full permission. Here is the powerful Bhima to look to my safety. There is Dhrishtadyumna also, and there are many others besides. There is no need to worry about me."

So saying, Yudhishthira placed a boxful of arrows and other weapons in Satyaki's chariot and got fresh horses yoked thereto and sent Satyaki uttering benedictions on him.

"Bhimasena, Yudhishthira is your charge. Be vigilant," said Satyaki, and went to join Dhananjaya.

Satyaki met with violent resistance as he proceeded to dash through the Kaurava forces. But he cut his way through bearing down all opposition. But the resistance was very stiff and his progress was slow.

When Drona saw Satyaki part from Yudhishthira, he began to assault the Pandava formation without rest or interval, until it began to break and retreat. Yudhishthira was greatly agitated.
 

 
 
Nusrat Jahan
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #104 on: July 23, 2011, 01:52:11 PM »
85. Yudhishthira's Fond Hope

"ARJUNA has not returned, nor has Satyaki, who was sent after him. Bhima, my fear grows. I hear the Panchajanya, but not the twang of Arjuna's bowstring. Satyaki, that bravest and most loyal of friends, has not come back with any tidings. My anxiety is increasing every moment," said Yudhishthira to Bhima in great perplexity of mind.

"I have never seen you so agitated," replied Bhimasena. "Do, not let your fortitude grow less. Command me as you please. Do not let the wheels of your mind stick in the mud of anxiety."

"Dearest Bhima, I fear your brother has been slain, and it seems to me Madhava has now himself taken up arms. I hear the conch of Madhava but I hear not the resounding twang of Gandiva. I fear Dhananjaya, the unrivalled hero, in whom were centerd all our hopes, has been killed. My mind is confused. If you would do as I tell you, go at once to where Arjuna is. Join him and Satyaki, and do what needs to be done, and come back. Satyaki, under orders from me, pierced the Kaurava ranks and proceeded in the direction of Arjuna. You go now, and do likewise and, if you indeed see them alive, I shall know it by your lion-roar."

"My Lord, do not grieve. I shall go and let you know they are safe," said Bhima, and immediately turning to Dhrishtadyumna said: "Panchala, you know very well that Drona is seeking, by some means or other, to seize Dharmaputra alive. Our foremost duty is to protect the King. But I must also obey him and fulfil his command. And so I go, trusting him to your care."

"Bhima, do not be concerned. Go with an assured mind. Drona cannot take Yudhishthira without first killing me," said the heroic son of Drupada, sworn enemy of Drona. And Bhima hurried away.

The Kauravas surrounded Bhima in full force and vowed to prevent him from going to Arjuna's relief. But like a lion scattering less noble beasts he put his enemies to flight, killing no less than eleven of the sons of Dhritarashtra. Bhima then approached Drona himself. "Stop," cried Drona. "Here I am, your enemy. You cannot proceed further without defeating me. Your brother Arjuna went in with my consent. But I cannot let you go." Drona spoke thus believing that he would receive the same courtesy from Bhima as he did from Arjuna. But Bhima was furious at hearing these words of Drona, and answered scornfully.

"Oh brahmana, it was not with your permission that Arjuna went. He broke your resistance and pierced your battle lines fighting his way through, but he did not hurt you out of pity. But I shall not, like Arjuna, show mercy to you. I am your enemy. Once upon a time, you were our preceptor and were like a father to us. We respected you as such. Now, you have yourself said you are our enemy. May it be so!" Saying this, Bhima aimed his mace at Drona's chariot that crumbled to pieces. And Drona had to take to another chariot.

The second chariot too was broken to pieces. And Bhima forced his way through overcoming all opposition. Drona lost eight chariots that day. And the army of the Bhojas, that tried to stop Bhima, was completely destroyed.

He proceeded mowing down all opposition and reached where Arjuna was fighting Jayadratha's forces.

As soon as he saw Arjuna, Bhima roared like a lion. Hearing that roar, Krishna and Arjuna were exceedingly pleased and raised yells of joy. Yudhishthira heard these roars and, relieved of his doubts and anxieties, he pronounced blessings on Arjuna. And he thought within himself:

"Before the sun sets today, Arjuna's oath will be fulfilled. He will slay the man who caused Abhimanyu's death and will return in triumph. Duryodhana may sue for peace after Jayadratha's death. Seeing so many of his brothers slain, it is possible that foolish Duryodhana may see light. The lives of numerous kings and great warriors have been sacrificed on the field of battle and even the stubborn and narrow-visioned Duryodhana may now see his fault and ask for peace. Will this indeed happen? The great grandsire Bhishma has been offered as a sacrifice. Will this wicked enmity end with it and shall we be saved from further cruel destruction?"

While thus Yudhishthira was fondly hoping and dreaming of peace, the battle was raging with great fury where Bhima, Satyaki and Arjuna were engaging the enemy.

Only the Lord knows through what travail the world must evolve. His ways are inscrutable.
Nusrat Jahan
Assistant Professor
Department of English
Daffodil International University