Shalya Parva

Created by Jijith Nadumuri at 01 Apr 2010 09:27 and updated at 01 Apr 2010 09:27


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Section 21

Sanjaya said, After the heroic Salwa, that ornament of assemblies, had been slain, thy army speedily broke like a mighty tree broken by the force of the tempest. Beholding the army broken, the mighty car-warrior Kritavarma, possessed by heroism and great strength, resisted the hostile force in that battle. Seeing the Satwata hero, O king, standing in battle like a hill pierced with arrows by the foes, the Kuru heroes, who had fled away, rallied and came back.

Then, O monarch, a battle took place between the Pandavas and the returned Kurus who made death itself their goal. Wonderful was that fierce encounter which occurred between the Satwata hero and his foes, since he resisted the invincible army of the Pandavas. When friends were seen to accomplish the most difficult feats, friends, filled with delight, uttered leonine shouts that seemed to reach the very heavens. At those sounds the Pancalas, O bull of Bharata's race, became inspired with fear. Then Satyaki, the grandson of Sini, approached that spot. Approaching king Kshemakirti of great strength, Satyaki despatched him to Yama's abode, with seven keen shafts. Then the son of Hridika, of great intelligence, rushed with speed against that bull of Sini's race, that mighty armed warrior, as the latter came, shooting his whetted shafts. Those two bowmen, those two foremost of car-warriors, roared like lions and encountered each other with great force, both being armed with foremost of weapons. The Pandavas, the Pancalas, and the other warriors, became spectators of that terrible encounter between the two heroes. Those two heroes of the Vrishni-Andhaka race, like two elephants filled with delight, struck each other with long arrows and shafts equipped with calf-toothed heads.

Careering in diverse kinds of tracks, the son of Hridika and that bull of Sini's race soon afflicted each other with showers of arrows. The shafts sped with great force from the bows of the two Vrishni lions were seen by us in the welkin to resemble flights of swiftly coursing insects. Then the son of Hridika, approaching Satyaki of true prowess, pierced the four steeds of the latter with four keen shafts. The long-armed Satyaki, enraged at this, like an elephant struck with a lance, pierced Kritavarma with eight foremost of arrows. Then Kritavarma pierced Satyaki with three arrows whetted on stone and sped from his bow drawn to its fullest and then cut off his bow with another arrow. Laying aside his broken bow, that bull of Sini's race quickly took up another with arrow fixed on it. Having taken up that foremost of bows and stringed it, that foremost of all bowmen, that Atiratha of mighty energy and great intelligence and great strength, unable to endure the cutting of his bow by Kritavarma, and filled with fury, quickly rushed against the latter. With ten keen shafts that bull of Sini's race then struck the driver, the steeds, and the standard of Kritavarma. At this, O king, the great bowman and mighty car-warrior Kritavarma, beholding his gold-decked car made driverless and steedless, became filled with rage. Uplifting a pointed lance, O sire, he hurled it with all the force of his arm at that bull of Sini's race, desirous of slaying him.

Satyaki, however, of the Satwata race, striking that lance with many keen arrows, cut it off into fragments and caused it to fall down, stupefying Kritavarma of Madhu's race with his activity and prowess. With another broad-headed arrow he then struck Kritavarma in the chest. Made steedless and driverless in that battle by Yuyudhana, skilled in weapons, Kritavarma came down on the Earth. The heroic Kritavarma having been deprived of his car by Satyaki in that single combat, all the Kaurava troops became filled with great fear. A great sorrow afflicted the heart of thy sons, when Kritavarma was thus made steedless and driverless and carless. Beholding that chastiser of foes made steedless and driverless, Kripa, O king, rushed at that bull of Sini's race, desirous of despatching him to Yama's abode. Taking Kritavarma upon his car in the very sight of all the bowmen, the mighty-armed Kripa bore him away from the press of battle. After Kritavarma had been made carless and the grandson of Sini had become powerful on the field, the whole army of Duryodhana once more turned away from the fight. The enemy, however, did not see it, for the Kuru army was then shrouded with a dusty cloud. All thy warriors fled, O monarch, except king Duryodhana.

The latter, beholding from a near point that his own army was routed, quickly rushing, assailed the victorious enemy, alone resisting them all. Fearlessly that invincible warrior, filled with rage, assailed with keen arrows all the Pandus, and Dhrishtadyumna the son of Prishta, and Shikhandi, and the sons of Draupadi, and the large bands of the Pancalas, and the Kaikeyas, O sire, and the Somakas! With firm determination thy mighty son stood in battle, even as a blazing and mighty fire on the sacrificial platform, sanctified with mantras. Even thus, king Duryodhana careered all over the field, in that battle. His foes could not approach him then, like living creatures unable to approach the Destroyer. Then the son of Hridika came there, riding on another car Sanjaya said, That foremost of car-warriors, O monarch, thy son, riding on his car and filled with the courage of despair, looked resplendent in that battle like Rudra himself of great valour. With the thousands of shafts shot by him, the Earth became completely covered. Indeed, he drenched his enemies with showers of arrows like the clouds pouring rain on mountain breasts. There was then not a man amongst the Pandavas in that great battle, or a steed, or an elephant, or a car, that was not struck with Duryodhana's arrows.

Upon whomsoever amongst the warriors I then cast my eyes, O monarch, I beheld that every one, O Bharata, was struck by thy son with his arrows. The Pandava army was then covered with the shafts of that illustrious warrior, even as a host is covered with the dust it raises while marching or rushing to battle. The Earth then, O lord of Earth, seemed to me to be made one entire expanse of arrows by thy son Duryodhana, that bowman possessed of great lightness of hands. Amongst those thousands upon thousands of warriors on the field, belonging to thy side or that of the enemy, it seemed to me that Duryodhana was then the only man. The prowess that we then beheld of thy son seemed to be exceedingly wonderful, since the Parthas, even uniting together, could not approach his single self. He pierced Yudhishthira, O bull of Bharata's race, with a hundred arrows, and Bhimasena with seventy, and Sahadeva with seven. And he pierced Nakula with four and sixty, and Dhrishtadyumna with five, and the sons of Draupadi with seven, and Satyaki with three arrows. With a broad-headed arrow, he then, O sire, cut off the bow of Sahadeva. Laying aside that broken bow, the valiant son of Madri, took up another formidable bow, and rushing against king Duryodhana, pierced him with ten shafts in that battle. The great bowman Nakula, possessed of courage, then pierced the king with nine terrible arrows and uttered a loud roar.

Satyaki struck the king with a single straight shaft; the sons of Draupadi struck him with three and seventy and king Yudhishthira struck him with five. And Bhimasena afflicted the king with eighty shafts. Though pierced thus from every side with numerous arrows by these illustrious warriors, Duryodhana still, O monarch, did not waver, in the presence of all the troops who stood there as spectators. The quickness, the skill, and the prowess of that illustrious warrior were seen by all the men there to exceed those of every creature. Meanwhile the Dhartarashtras, O monarch, who had not fled far from that spot, beholding the king, rallied and returned there, clad in mail. The noise made by them when they came back became exceedingly awful, like the roar of the surging ocean in the season of rains. Approaching their unvanquished king in that battle, those great bowmen proceeded against the Pandavas for fight. The son of Drona resisted in that battle the angry Bhimasena. With the arrows, O monarch, that were shot in that battle, all the points of the compass became completely shrouded, so that the brave combatants could not distinguish the cardinal from the subsidiary points of the compass. As regards Ashvatthama and Bhimasena, O Bharata, both of them were achievers of cruel feats.

Both of them were irresistible in battle. The arms of both contained many cicatrices in consequence of both having repeatedly drawn the bow-string. Counteracting each other's feats, they continued to fight with each other, frightening the whole Universe. The heroic Shakuni assailed Yudhishthira in that battle. The mighty son of Subala, having slain the four steeds of the king, uttered a loud roar, causing all the troops to tremble with fear. Meanwhile, the valiant Sahadeva bore away the heroic and vanquished king on his car from that battle. Then king Yudhishthira the just, riding upon another car came back to battle, and having pierced Shakuni at first with nine arrows, once more pierced him with five. And that foremost of all bowmen then uttered a loud roar. That battle, O sire, awful as it was, became wonderful to behold. It filled the spectators with delight and was applauded by the Siddhas and the Charanas.

Uluka of immeasurable soul rushed against the mighty bowman Nakula, in that battle, shooting showers of arrows from every side. The heroic Nakula, however, in that battle, resisted the son of Shakuni with a thick shower of arrows from every side. Both those heroes were well-born and both were mighty car-warriors. They were seen to fight with each other, each highly enraged with the other. Similarly Kritavarma, O king, fighting with the grandson of Sini, that scorcher of foes, looked resplendent, like Shakra battling with the Asura Vala. Duryodhana, having cut off Dhrishtadyumna's bow in that battle, pierced his bowless antagonist with keen shafts. Dhrishtadyumna then, in that encounter, having taken up a formidable bow, fought with the king in the sight of all the bowmen. The battle between those two heroes became exceedingly fierce, O bull of Bharata's race, like the encounter between two wild and infuriate elephants with juicy secretions trickling down their limbs. The heroic Gautama, excited with rage in that battle, pierced the mighty sons of Draupadi with many straight shafts. The battle that took place between him and those five, resembled that which takes place between an embodied being and his five senses.

It was awful and exceedingly fierce, and neither side showed any consideration for the other. The five sons of Draupadi afflicted Kripa like the five senses afflicting a foolish man. He, on the other hand, fighting with them, controlled them with vigour. Even such and so wonderful, O Bharata, was that battle between him and them. It resembled the repeated combats, O lord, between embodied creatures and their senses. Men fought with men, elephants with elephants, steeds with steeds and car-warriors with car-warriors. Once more, O monarch, that battle became general and awful. Here an encounter was beautiful, there another was awful, and there another was exceedingly fierce, O lord! Many and awful, O monarch, were the encounters that took place in course of that battle. Those chastisers of foes belonging to both armies, encountering one another, pierced and slew one another in that dreadful engagement.

A dense cloud of dust was then seen there, raised by the vehicles and the animals of the warriors. Thick also, O king, was the dust raised by the running steeds, a dust that was carried from one place to another by the wind. Raised by the wheels of cars and the breaths of the elephants, the dust, thick as an evening cloud, rose into the welkin. That dust having been raised and the sun himself having been dimmed therewith, the Earth became shrouded, and the heroic and mighty car-warriors could not be seen. Anon that disappeared and everything became clear when the Earth, O best of the Bharatas, became drenched with the blood of heroes. Indeed, that dense and awful cloud of dust was allayed. Then, O Bharata, I could once more see the diverse single combats that the combatants fought at noon of day, each according to his strength and his rank, all of which were exceedingly fierce. The blazing splendour of those feats, O monarch, appeared full in view. Loud became the noise of falling shafts in that battle, resembling that made by a vast forest of bamboo while burning on every side Sanjaya said, During the progress of that terrible and awful battle, the army of thy son was broken by the Pandavas.

Rallying their great car-warriors, however, with vigorous efforts, thy sons continued to fight with the Pandava army. The Kuru warriors, desirous of thy son's welfare, suddenly returned. Upon their return, the battle once more became exceedingly fierce between thy warriors and those of the foe, resembling that between the gods and the Asuras in days of old. Neither amongst the enemies nor amongst thine was there a single combatant that turned away from that battle. The warriors fought, aided by guess and by the names they uttered. Great was the destruction that occurred as they thus fought with one another. Then king Yudhishthira, filled with great wrath and becoming desirous of vanquishing the Dhartarashtras and their king in that battle, pierced the son of Saradwat with three arrows winged with gold and whetted on stone, and next slew with four others the four steeds of Kritavarma. Then Ashvatthama bore away the celebrated son of Hridika. Saradwat's son pierced Yudhishthira in return with eight arrows. Then king Duryodhana despatched seven hundred cars to the spot where king Yudhishthira was battling.

Those cars ridden by excellent warriors and endued with speed of the wind or thought, rushed in that battle against the car of Kunti's son. Encompassing Yudhishthira on every side, they made him invisible with their shafts like clouds hiding the sun from the view. Then the Pandava heroes headed by Shikhandi, beholding king Yudhishthira the just assailed in that way by the Kauravas, became filled with rage and were unable to put up with it. Desirous of rescuing Yudhishthira, the son of Kunti, they came to that spot upon their cars possessed of great speed and adorned with rows of bells. Then commenced an awful battle, in which blood flowed as water, between the Pandavas and the Kurus, that increased the population of Yama's domains. Slaying those seven hundred hostile car-warriors of the Kuru army, the Pandavas and the Pancalas once more resisted the whole Kuru army. There a fierce battle was fought between thy son and the Pandavas. We had never before seen or heard of its like. During the progress of that battle in which no consideration was showed by anybody for anybody, and while the warriors of thy army and those of the foe were falling fast, and the combatants were all shouting and blowing their conchs, and the bowmen were roaring and uttering loud noises of diverse kinds, while, indeed, the battle was raging fiercely and the very vitals of the combatants were being struck, and the troops, O sire, desirous of victory, were rushing with speed, while, verily, everything on Earth seemed to be undergoing a woeful destruction, during that time when innumerable ladies of birth and beauty were being made widows, during, indeed, the progress of that fierce engagement in which the warriors behaved without any consideration for friends and foes, awful portents appeared, presaging the destruction of everything. The Earth, with her mountains and forests, trembled, making a loud noise.

Meteors like blazing brands equipped with handles dropped from the sky, O king, on every side on the Earth as if from the solar disc. A hurricane arose, blowing on all sides, and bearing away hard pebbles along its lower course. The elephants shed copious tears and trembled exceedingly. Disregarding all these fierce and awful portents, the Kshatriyas, taking counsel with one another, cheerfully stood on the field for battle again, on the beautiful and sacred field called after Kuru, desirous of obtaining heaven. Then Shakuni, the son of the Gandhara king, said, Fight all of ye in front! I, however, will slay the Pandavas from behind Then the Madraka warriors, endued with great activity, amongst those on our side that were advancing, became filled with joy and uttered diverse sounds of delight. Others too did the same. The invincible Pandavas, however, possessed of sureness of aim, once more coming against us, shook their bows and covered us with showers of arrows. The forces of the Madrakas then were slain by the foe.

Beholding this, the troops of Duryodhana once more turned away from the battle. The mighty king of the Gandharvas, however, once more said these words, Stop, ye sinful ones! Fight with the foe! What use is there of flight At that time, O bull of Bharata's race, the king of the Gandharas had full horse-men capable of fighting with bright lances. During the progress of that great carnage, Shakuni, aided by that force, put forth his valour and assailed the Pandava army at the rear, slaughtering it with his keen shafts. The vast force of the Pandus then, O monarch, broke even as a mass of clouds is dispersed on all sides by a mighty wind. Then Yudhishthira, beholding from a near point his own army routed, coolly urged the mighty Sahadeva, saying, Yonder the son of Subala, afflicting our rear, stayeth, clad in mail! He slaughtereth our forces! Behold that wicked wight, O son of Pandu!

Aided by the son of Draupadi, proceed towards him and slay Shakuni, the son of Subala! Supported by the Pancalas, O sinless one, I will meanwhile destroy the car force of the enemy! Let all the elephants and all the horse and foot, proceed with thee! Supported by these, slay Shakuni At this, elephants ridden by combatants armed with the bow, and horses, and the valiant Sahadeva, and foot-soldiers, and the sons of Draupadi all rushed against Shakuni difficult of defeat in battle. Subala's son, however, of great valour, O king, prevailing over the Pandavas and longing for victory, began to slay their forces from the rear. The horsemen, infuriate with rage, belonging to the Pandavas endued with great activity, penetrated the division of Subala's son, prevailing over the latter's car-warriors. Those heroic horsemen, staying in the midst of their own elephants, covered the large host of Subala's son with showers of shafts. In consequence of thy evil counsels, O king, dreadful was the battle that then ensued in which maces and lances were used and in which heroes only took part. The twang of bow-string was no longer heard there, for all the car-warriors stood as spectators of that fight.

At that time no difference could be seen between the contending parties. Both the Kurus and the Pandavas, O bull of Bharata's race, beheld the darts hurled from heroic arms course like meteors through the welkin. The entire welkin, O monarch, shrouded with falling swords of great brightness, seemed to become exceedingly beautiful. The aspect presented, O chief of the Bharatas, by the lances hurled all around, became like that of swarms of locusts in the welkin. Steeds, with limbs bathed in blood in consequence of wounds inflicted by horsemen themselves wounded with arrows, dropped down on all sides in hundreds and thousands. Encountering one another and huddled together, many of them were seen to be mangled and many to vomit blood from their mouths. A thick darkness came there when the troops were covered with a dusty cloud. When that darkness shrouded everything, O king, we beheld those brave combatants, steeds and men, move away from that spot. Others were seen to fall down on the Earth, vomiting blood in profusion. Many combatants, entangled with one another by their locks, could not stir.

Many, endued with great strength, dragged one another from the backs of their horses, and encountering one another thus, slew one another like combatants in a wrestling match. Many deprived of life, were borne away on the backs of the steeds. Many men, proud of their valour and inspired with desire of victory, were seen to fall down on the Earth. The Earth became strewn over with hundreds and thousands of combatants bathed in blood, deprived of limbs, and divested of hair. In consequence of the surface of the Earth being covered with elephant-riders and horsemen and slain steeds and combatants with blood-stained armour and others armed with weapons and others who had sought to slay one another with diverse kinds of terrible weapons, all lying closely huddled together in that battle fraught with fearful carnage, no warrior could proceed far on his horse. Having fought for a little while, Shakuni, the son of Subala, O monarch, went away from that spot with the remnant of his cavalry numbering Similarly, the Pandava force, covered with blood, and its animals fatigued, moved away from that spot with its remnant consisting of horses. The blood-stained horsemen of the Pandava army then, with hearts intent on battle and prepared to lay down their lives, said, It is no longer possible to fight here on cars; how much more difficult then to fight here on elephants! Let cars proceed against cars, and elephants against elephants! Having retreated, Shakuni is now within his own division.

The royal son of Subala will not again come to battle Then the sons of Draupadi and those infuriate elephants proceeded to the place where the Pancala prince Dhrishtadyumna, that great car-warrior, was. Sahadeva also, when that dusty cloud arose, proceeded alone to where king Yudhishthira was. After all those had gone away, Shakuni, the son of Subala, excited with wrath, once more fell upon Dhrishtadyumna's division and began to strike it. Once more a dreadful battle took place, in which the combatants were all regardless of their lives, between thy soldiers and those of the foe, all of whom were desirous of slaying one another. In that encounter of heroes, the combatants first eyed one another steadfastly, and then rushed, O king, and fell upon one another in hundreds and thousands. In that destructive carnage, heads severed with swords fell down with a noise like that of falling palmyra fruits. Loud also became the noise, making the very hair to stand on end, of bodies falling down on the ground, divested of armour and mangled with weapons and of falling weapons also, O king, and of arms and thighs severed from the trunk. Striking brothers and sons and even sires with keen weapons, the combatants were seen to fight like birds, for pieces of meat. Excited with rage, thousands of warriors, falling upon one another, impatiently struck one another in that battle.

Hundreds and thousands of combatants, killed by the weight of slain horsemen while falling down from their steeds, fell down on the field. Loud became the noise of neighing steeds of great fleetness, and of shouting men clad in mail, and of the falling darts and swords, O king, of combatants desirous of piercing the vitals of one another in consequence, O monarch, of thy evil policy. At that time, thy soldiers, overcome with toil, spent with rage, their animals fatigued, themselves parched with thirst mangled with keen weapons, began to turn away from the battle. Maddened with the scent of blood, many became so insensate that they slew friends and foes alike, in fact, every one they got at. Large numbers of Kshatriyas, inspired with desire of victory, were struck down with arrows, O king, and fell prostrate on the Earth. Wolves and vultures and jackals began to howl and scream in glee and make a loud noise. In the very sight of thy son, thy army suffered a great loss. The Earth, O monarch, became strewn with the bodies of men and steeds, and covered with streams of blood that inspired the timid with terror. Struck and mangled repeatedly with swords and battle axes and lances, thy warriors, as also the Pandavas, O Bharata, ceased to approach one another. Striking one another according to the measure of their strength, and fighting to the last drop of their blood, the combatants fell down vomiting blood from their wounds.

Headless forms were seen, seizing the hair of their heads with one hand and with uplifted swords dyed with blood in the other. When many headless forms, O king, had thus risen up, when the scent of blood had made the combatants nearly senseless, and when the loud noise had somewhat subsided, Subala's son once more approached the large host of the Pandavas, with the small remnant of his horse. At this, the Pandavas, inspired with desires of victory and endued with foot-soldiers and elephants and cavalry, all with uplifted weapons, desirous of reaching the end of the hostilities, the Pandavas, forming a wall, encompassed Shakuni on all sides, and began to strike him with diverse kinds of weapons. Beholding those troops of thine assailed from every side, the Kauravas, with horsemen, foot-soldiers, elephants, and cars, rushed towards the Pandavas. Some foot-soldiers of great courage, destitute of weapons, attacked their foes in that battle, with feet and fists, and brought them down. Car-warriors fell down from cars, and elephant-men from elephants, like meritorious persons falling down from their celestial vehicles upon the exhaustion of their merits. Thus the combatants, engaged with one another in that great battle, slew sires and friends and sons. Thus occurred that battle, O best of the Bharatas, in which no consideration was shown by anybody for anyone, and in which lances and swords and arrows fell fast, on every side and made the scene exceedingly terrible to behold

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