CLIX Sanjaya said, Thus addressed by Duryodhana, Drona's son, that warrior difficult of defeat in battle, set his heart upon destroying the foe, like Indra bent upon destroying the Daityas.
The mighty-armed Aswatthaman answered thy son, saying, It is even so as thou sayest, O descendant of Kuru! The Pandavas are always dear to both myself and my father. So also, are we both dear unto them. Not so, however, in battle. We will, according to the measure of our might, fearlessly contend in battle, reckless of our lives. Myself, Karna, Salya, Kripa, and Hridika's son, could, O best of kings, destroy the Pandava host within the twinkling of an eye. The Pandavas also, O best of the Kurus, could within the twinkling of an eye, destroy the Kaurava host, if, O mighty-armed one, we were not present in battle. We are fighting with the Pandavas to the best of our might, and they also are fighting with us to the best of their might. Energy, encountering energy, is being neutralised, O Bharata! The Pandava army is incapable of being vanquished as long as the sons of Pandu are alive.
This that I tell thee is true. The sons of Pandu are endued with great might. They are, again, fighting for their own sake. Why should not they, O Bharata, be able to slay thy troops. Thou, however, O king, art exceedingly covetous. Thou, O Kaurava, art deceitful. Thou art vainglorious and suspicious of everything. For this, thou suspectest even us. I think, O king, thou art wicked, of sinful soul, and an embodiment of sin. Mean and of sinful thoughts, thou doubtest us and others.
As regards myself, fighting with resolution for thy sake, I am prepared to lay down my life. I will presently go to battle for thy sake, O chief of the Kurus. I will fight with the foe and slay a large number of the enemy. I will fight with the Panchalas, the Somakas, the Kaikeyas, and the Pandayas also, in battle, for doing what is agreeable to thee, O chastiser of foes. Scorched with my arrows today, the Chedis, the Panchalas, and the Somakas, will fly away on all sides like a herd of kine afflicted by a lion. Today, the royal son of Dharma with all the Somakas, beholding my prowess, will regard the whole world to be filled with Aswatthamans. Dharma's son, Yudhishthira, will become exceedingly cheerless, beholding the Panchalas and Somakas slain by me in battle. I will, O Bharata, slay all those that will approach me in battle. Afflicted with the might of my arms, none of them, O hero, will escape me today with life' Having said so unto thy son, Duryodhana, the mighty-armed Aswatthaman proceeded to battle, and afflicted all bowmen.
That foremost of all living beings thus sought to achieve what was agreeable to thy sons. The son of Gotama's daughter, then addressing the Panchalas and the Kaikeyas, said unto them, Ye mighty car-warriors, strike ye all at my body. Displaying your lightness in the use of arms, fight ye with me coolly' Thus addressed by him, all those combatants, O king, poured showers of weapons upon Drona's son like clouds pouring torrents of rain. Baffling that shower, Drona's son in that battle, slew ten brave warriors amongst them, in the very sight, O lord, of Dhrishtadyumna and the sons of Pandu. The Panchalas and the Somakas then, thus worked in battle, abandoned the son of Drona and fled away in all directions. Beholding those brave warriors, viz, the Panchalas and the Somakas, flying away, Dhrishtadyumna, O king, rushed against Drona's son in that battle. Surrounded then by a hundred brave and unreturning car-warriors mounted upon cars, decked with gold, and the rattle of whose wheels resembled the roar or rain-charged clouds, the mighty car-warrior Dhrishtadyumna, the son of the Panchala king, beholding his warriors slain, addressed Drona's son and said these words, O foolish son of the preceptor, what is the use of slaying vulgar combatants. If thou art a hero, fight then with me in battle. I will slay thee.
Wait for a moment without flying away' Saying thus, Dhrishtadyumna of great prowess struck the preceptor's son with many keen and terrible arrows capable of piercing the very vitals. Those swiftly-coursing shafts, equipped with golden wings and keen points, and capable of piercing the body of every foe proceeding in a continuous line, penetrated into Aswatthaman's body, like freely-roaming bees in search of honey entering a flowering tree. Deeply pierced and swelling with rage, like a trodden snake, the proud and fearless son of Drona, arrow in hand, addressed his foe, saying, O Dhrishtadyumna, wait for moment, without leaving my presence' Soon shall I despatch thee to Yama's abode with my keen shafts' Having said these words, that slayer of hostile heroes, viz, the son of Drona, displaying great lightness of hands, covered the son of Prishata from every side with clouds of arrows. Thus covered in that encounter with arrows by Drona's son, the Panchala prince, difficult to defeat in battle, said Thou knowest not of my origin, O Brahmana, or of my vow. O thou of wicked understanding, having first slain Drona himself, I will not, therefore, slay thee today when Drona himself is still alive. O thou of wicked understanding, after this night passeth away and bringeth in the fair dawn, I shall first slay thy sire in battle and then despatch thee also to the region of Spirits. Even this is the wish entertained by me.
Standing before me, display, therefore, till then, the hatred thou bearest towards the Parthas, and the devotion thou cherishest for the Kurus. Thou shalt not escape from me with life. That, Brahmana who, abandoning the practices of a Brahmana, devoteth himself to the practices of a Kshatriya, becomes slayable by all Kshatriyas even as thou, O lowest of men' Thus addressed by Prishata's son in language so harsh and insulting that best of Brahmanas Aswatthaman mustered all his rage and answered, saying, Wait, Wait' And he gazed at Prishata's son apparently burning him with his eyes. Sighing in rage like a snake, the preceptor's son, then, covered Dhrishtadyumna in that battle with a shower of arrows. The mighty-armed son of Prishata, however, that best of car-warriors, surrounded by all the Panchala troops, though thus struck with arrows in that encounter by Drona's son, did not tremble, relying as he did on his own energy. In return, he sped many arrows at Aswatthaman. Both engaged in a gambling match in which the stake was life itself, those heroes, unable to brook each other, resisted each other and checked each other's arrowy showers. And those great bowmen shot dense showers of shafts all around.
Beholding that fierce battle, inspiring terror, between Drona's and Prishata's son, the Siddhas and Charanas and other sky-ranging beings applauded them highly. Filling the welkin and all the points of the compass with clouds of shafts, and creating a thick gloom therewith, those two warriors continued to fight with each other, unseen by any of us. As if dancing in that battle, with their bows drawn to circles, resolutely aspiring to slay each other, those mighty-armed warriors, inspiring fear in every heart, fought wonderfully and with remarkable activity and skill. Applauded by thousands of foremost warriors in that battle, and thus resolutely engaged in fight like two wild elephants in the forest, both the armies, beholding them, became filled with delight. And leonine shouts were heard there, and all the combatants blew their conchs. And hundreds and thousands of musical instruments began to be sounded. That fierce fight, enhancing the terror of the timid, seemed only for a short time to be waged equally. Then Drona's son, O king, making a rush, cut off the bow, and standard, and umbrella, and the two Parshni drivers, and the principal driver, and the four steeds, of the high-souled son of Prishata. And that warrior of immeasurable soul then caused the Panchalas in hundreds and thousands, by means of his straight shafts, to fly away. Beholding those feats of Drona's son, resembling those of Vasava himself in battle, the Pandava host, O bull of Bharata race, began to tremble in fear.
Slaying a hundred Panchalas with a hundred arrows, and three foremost of men with three keen arrows, in the very sight of Drupada's son and of Phalguna, that mighty car-warrior, viz, the son of Drona, slew a very large number of Panchalas that stayed before him. The Panchalas then, as also the Srinjayas, thus disconcerted in battle, fled away leaving Drona's son, with their banners torn. Then that mighty car-warrior, viz, the son of Drona, having vanquished his foes in battle, uttered a loud roar like that of a mass of clouds at the end of summer. Having slain a large number of foes, Aswatthaman looked resplendent like the blazing fire at the end of the Yuga, after having consumed all creatures. Applauded by all the Kauravas after having defeated thousands of foes in battle, the valiant son of Drona beamed forth in beauty, like the chief of the celestials himself after vanquishing his foes