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The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa

And by the energy of his weapons and the twang of his bow, and the preter-natural yells of the creatures stationed on his flagstaff, and the terrible roar of the monkey, and by the blast of his conch, that mighty grinder of foes, Vibhatsu, struck terror into the hearts of all the troops of Duryodhana. And the strength of every hostile warrior seemed, as it were, to be levelled to the dust at the very sight of Arjuna. And unwilling to commit the daring act of sin of slaying them that were defenceless, Arjuna suddenly fell back and attacked the army from behind by means of clouds of keen-edged arrows proceeding towards their aims like hawks let off by fowlers. And he soon covered the entire welkin with clusters of blood-drinking arrows. And as the (infinite) rays of the powerful sun, entering a small vessel, are contracted within it for want of space, so the countless shafts of Arjuna could not find space for their expansion even within the vast welkin.

Foes were able to behold Arjuna’s car, when near, only once, for immediately after, they were with their horses, sent to the other world. And as his arrows unobstructed by the bodies of foes always passed through them, so his car, unimpeded by hostile ranks, always passed through the latter. And, indeed, he began to toss about and agitate the hostile troops with great violence like the thousand-headed Vasuki sporting in the great ocean. And as Kiritin incessantly shot his shafts, the noise of the bow-string, transcending every sound, was so loud that the like of it had never been heard before by created beings. And the elephants crowding the field, their bodies pierced with (blazing) arrows with small intervals between looked like black clouds coruscated with solar rays. And ranging in all directions and shooting (arrows) right and left, Arjuna’s bow was always to be seen drawn to a perfect circle. And the arrows of the wielder of the Gandiva never fell upon anything except the aim, even as the eye never dwelleth on anything that is not beautiful. And as the track of a herd of elephants marching through the forest is made of itself, so was the track was made of itself for the car of Kiritin. And struck and mangled by Partha, the hostile warriors thought that,–Verily, Indra himself, desirous of Partha’s victory, accompanied by all the immortals is slaying us! And they also regarded Vijaya, who was making a terrible slaughter around, to be none else than Death himself who having assumed the form of Arjuna, was slaying all creatures. And the troops of the Kurus, struck by Partha, were so mangled and shattered that the scene looked like the achievement of Partha himself and could be compared with nothing else save what was observable in Partha’s combats.

And he severed the heads of foes, even as reapers cut off the tops of deciduous herbs. And the Kurus all lost their energy owing to the terror begot of Arjuna. And tossed and mangled by the Arjuna-gale, the forest of Arjuna’s foes reddened the earth with purple secretions. And the dust mixed with blood, uplifted by the wind, made the very rays of the sun redder still. And soon the sun-decked sky became so red that it looked very much like the evening. Indeed, the sun ceaseth to shed his rays as soon as he sets, but the son of Pandu ceased not to shoot his shafts. And that hero of inconceivable energy overwhelmed, by means of all celestial weapons, all the great bowmen of the enemy, although they were possessed of great prowess. And Arjuna then shot three and seventy arrows of sharp points at Drona, and ten at Dussaha and eight at Drona’s son, and twelve at Dussasana, and three at Kripa, the son of Saradwat. And that slayer of foes pierced Bhishma, the son of Santanu, with arrows, and king Duryodhana with a hundred. And, lastly, he pierced Karna in the ear with a bearded shaft. And when that great bowmen Karna, skilled in all weapons, was thus pierced, and his horses and car and car-driver were all destroyed, the troops that supported him began to break. And beholding those soldiers break and give way the son of Virata desirous of knowing Partha’s purpose, addressed him on the field of battle, and said, ‘O Partha, standing on this beautiful car, with myself as charioteer, towards which division shall I go? For, commanded by thee, I would soon take thee thither.’

“Arjuna replied, ‘O Uttara, yonder auspicious warrior whom thou seest cased in coat of tiger-skin and stationed on his car furnished with a blue-flag and drawn by red steeds, is Kripa. There is to be seen the van of Kripa’s division. Take me thither. I shall show that great bowman my swift-handedness in archery. And that warrior whose flag beareth the device of an elegant water-pot worked in gold, is the preceptor Drona–that foremost of all wielders of weapons. He is always an object of regard with me, as also with all bearers of arms. Do thou, therefore, circumambulate that great hero cheerfully. Let us bend our heads there, for that is the eternal virtue. If Drona strikes my body first, then I shall strike him, for then he will not be able to resent it. There, close to Drona, that warrior whose flag beareth the device of a bow, is the preceptor’s son, the great car-warrior Aswatthaman, who is always an object of regard with me as also with every bearer of arms. Do thou, therefore, stop again and again, while thou comest by his car. There, that warrior who stayeth on his car, cased in golden mail and surrounded by a third part of the army consisting of the most efficient troops, and whose flag beareth the device of an elephant in a ground of gold, is the illustrious king Duryodhana, the son of Dhritarashtra. O hero, take before him this thy car that is capable of grinding hostile cars.

This king is difficult of being vanquished in battle and is capable of grinding all foes. He is regarded as the first of all Drona’s disciples in lightness of hand. I shall, in battle, show him my superior swiftness in archery. There, that warrior whose flag beareth the device of a stout chord for binding elephants, is Karna, the son of Vikartana, already known to thee. When thou comest before that wicked son of Radha, be thou very careful, for he always challengeth me to an encounter. And that warrior whose flag is blue and beareth the device of five stars with a sun (in the centre), and who endued with great energy stayeth on his car holding a huge bow in hand and wearing excellent fences, and over whose head is an umbrella of pure white, who standeth at the head of a multitudinous array of cars with various flags and banners like the sun in advance of masses of black clouds, and whose mail of gold looks bright as the sun or the moon, and who with his helmet of gold striketh terror into my heart, is Bhishma, the son of Santanu and the grandsire of us all. Entertained with regal splendour by Duryodhana, he is very partial and well-affected towards that prince. Let him be approached last of all, for he may, even now, be an obstacle to me. While fighting with me, do thou carefully guide the steeds. Thus addressed by him, Virata’s son, O king, guided Savyasachin’s car with great alacrity towards the spot where Kripa stood anxious to fight.’”

“Vaisampayana said, ‘And the ranks of those fierce bowmen, the Kurus, looked like masses of clouds in the rainy season drifting before a gentle wind. And close (to those ranks of foot-soldiers) stood the enemy’s horses ridden by terrible warriors. And there were also elephants of terrible mien, looking resplendent in beautiful armour, ridden by skilled combatants and urged on with iron crows and hooks. And, O king, mounted on a beautiful car, Sakra came there accompanied by the celestials,–the Viswas and Maruts. And crowded with gods, Yakshas, Gandharvas and Nagas, the firmament looked as resplendent as it does when bespangled with the planetary constellation in a cloudless night. And the celestials came there, each on his own car, desirous of beholding the efficacy of their weapons in human warfare, and for witnessing also the fierce and mighty combat that would take place when Bhishma and Arjuna would meet.

And embellished with gems of every kind and capable of going everywhere at the will of the rider, the heavenly car of the lord of the celestials, whose roof was upheld by a hundred thousand pillars of gold with (a central) one made entirely of jewels and gems, was conspicuous in the clear sky. And there appeared on the scene three and thirty gods with Vasava (at their head), and (many) Gandharvas and Rakshasas and Nagas and Pitris, together with the great Rishis. And seated on the car of the lord of the celestials, appeared the effulgent persons of king, Vasumanas and Valakshas and Supratarddana, and Ashtaka and Sivi and Yayati and Nahusha and Gaya and Manu and Puru and Raghu and Bhanu and Krisaswa and Sagara and Nala. And there shone in a splendid array, each in its proper place the cars of Agni and Isa and Soma and Varuna and Prajapati and Dhatri and Vidhatri and Kuvera and Yama, and Alamvusha and Ugrasena and others, and of the Gandharva Tumburu. And all the celestials and the Siddhas, and all the foremost of sages came there to behold that encounter between Arjuna and the Kurus. And the sacred fragrance of celestial garlands filled the air like that of blossoming woods at the advent of spring. And the red and reddish umbrellas and robes and garlands and chamaras of the gods, as they were stationed there, looked exceedingly beautiful. And the dust of the earth soon disappeared and (celestial) effulgence lit up everything. And redolent of divine perfumes, the breeze began to soothe the combatants.

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