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The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa


“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then, O thou of the Bharata race, all the great car-warriors of the Kurus, united together, began to assail Arjuna to the best of their might from all sides. But that hero of immeasurable soul completely covered all those mighty car-warriors with clouds of arrows, even as the mist covereth the mountains. And the roars of huge elephants and conchs, mingling together, produced a loud up roar. And penetrating through the bodies of elephants and horses as also through steel coats of mail, the arrows shot by Partha fell by thousands. And shooting shafts with the utmost celerity, the son of Pandu seemed in that contest to resemble the blazing sun of an autumnal midday. And afflicted with fear, the car-warriors began to leap down from their cars and the horse-soldiers from horse-back, while the foot-soldiers began to fly in all directions. And loud was the clatter made by Arjuna’s shafts as they cleft the coats of mail belonging to mighty warriors, made of steel, silver, and copper. And the field was soon covered with the corpses of warriors mounted on elephants and horses, all mangled by the shafts of Partha of great impetuosity like unto sighing snakes. And then it seemed as if Dhananjaya, bow in hand, was dancing on the field of battle. And sorely affrighted at the twang of the Gandiva resembling the noise of the thunder, many were the combatants that fled from that terrible conflict. And the field of battle was bestrewn with severed heads decked with turbans, ear-rings and necklaces of gold, and the earth looked beautiful by being scattered all over with human trunks mangled by shafts, and arms having bows in their grasp and hands decked with ornaments.

And, O bull of the Bharata race, in consequence of heads cut off by whetted shafts ceaselessly falling on the ground, it seemed as if a shower of stones fell from the sky. And that Partha of formidable prowess, displaying his fierceness, now ranged the field of battle, pouring the terrible fire of his wrath upon the sons of Dhritarashtra. And beholding the fierce prowess of Arjuna who thus scorched the hostile host, the Kuru warriors, in the very presence of Duryodhana, became dispirited and ceased to fight. And, O Bharata, having struck terror into that host and routed those mighty car-warriors, that fore-most of victors, ranged on the field. And the son of Pandu then created on the field of battle a dreadful river of blood, with waving billows, like unto the river of death that is created by Time at the end of the Yuga, having the dishevelled hair of the dead and the dying for its floating moss and straw, with bows and arrows for its boats, fierce in the extreme and having flesh and animal juices for its mire.

And coats of mail and turbans floated thick on its surface. And elephants constituted its alligators and the cars its rafts. And marrow and fat and blood constituted its currents. And it was calculated to strike terror into the hearts of the spectators. And dreadful to behold, and fearful in the extreme, and resounding with the yells of ferocious beasts, keen edged weapons constituted its crocodiles. And Rakshasas and other cannibals haunted it from one end to the other. And strings of pearls constituted its ripples, and various excellent ornaments, its bubbles. And having swarms of arrows for its fierce eddies and steeds for its tortoises, it was incapable of being crossed. And the mighty car warrior constituted its large island, and it resounded with the bleat of conchs and the sound of drums. And the river of blood that Partha created was incapable of being crossed. Indeed, so swift-handed was Arjuna that the spectators could not perceive any interval between his taking up an arrow, and fixing it on the bow-string, and letting it off by a stretch of the Gandiva.'”

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then while a great havoc was being made among the Kurus, Santanu’s son, Bhishma, and grandsire of the Bharatas rushed at Arjuna, taking up an excellent bow adorned with gold, and many arrows also of keen points and capable of piercing into the very vitals of the foe and afflicting him sorely. And in consequence of a white umbrella being held over his head, that tiger among men looked beautiful like unto a hill at sunrise. And the son of Ganga, blowing his conch cheered the sons of Dhritarashtra, and wheeling along his right came upon Vibhatsu and impeded his course. And that slayer of hostile heroes, the son of Kunti, beholding him approach, received him with a glad heart, like a hill receiving a rain-charged cloud. And Bhishma, endued with great energy, pierced Partha’s flag-staff with eight arrows. The arrows reaching the flag-staff of Pandu’s son, struck the blazing ape and those creatures also stationed in the banner-top.

And then the son of Pandu, with a mighty javelin of sharp-edge cut of Bhishma’s umbrella which instantly fell on the ground. And then the light-handed son of Kunti struck his adversary’s flag-staff also with many shafts, and then his steeds and then the couple of drivers that protected Bhishma’s flanks. And unable to bear this, Bhishma though cognisant of the Pandava’s might, covered Dhananjaya with a powerful celestial weapon. And the son of Pandu, of immeasurable soul, hurling in return a celestial weapon at Bhishma, received that from Bhishma like a hill receiving a deep mass of clouds. And the encounter that took place between Partha and Bhishma, was fierce and the Kaurava warriors with their troops stood as lookers on. And in the conflict between Bhishma and the son of Pandu, shafts striking against shafts shone in the air like fireflies in the season of rains. And, O king, in consequence of Partha’s shooting arrows with both his right and left hands, the bent Gandiva seemed like a continuous circle of fire. And the son of Kunti then covered Bhishma with hundreds of sharp and keen-edged arrows, like a cloud covering the mountain-breast with its heavy downpour.

And Bhishma baffled with the own arrows that arrowy shower, like the bank resisting the swelling sea, and covered the son of Pandu in return. And those warriors, cut into a thousand pieces in battle, fell fast in the vicinity of Falguna’s car. And then there was a downpour, from the car of Pandu’s son, of arrows furnished with golden wing, and raining through the sky like a flight of locusts. And Bhishma again repelled that arrowy shower with hundreds of whetted shafts shot by him. And then the Kauravas exclaimed.–Excellent! Excellent!–Indeed, Bhishma hath performed an exceedingly difficult feat inasmuch as he hath fought with Arjuna. Dhananjaya is mighty and youthful, and dexterous and swift of hand.

Who else, save Bhishma, the son of Santanu, or Krishna, the son of Devaki, or the mighty son of Bharadwaja, the foremost of preceptors, is able to bear the impetus of Partha in battle? And repelling weapons with weapons, those two bulls of the Bharata race, both endued with great might, fought on playfully and infatuated the eyes of all created beings. And those illustrious warriors ranged on the field of battle, using the celestials weapons obtained from Prajapati and Indra, and Agni and the fierce Rudra, and Kuvera, and Varuna, and Yama, and Vayu. And all beings were greatly surprised, upon beholding those warriors engaged in combat. And they all exclaimed,–Bravo Partha of long arms? Bravo Bhishma! Indeed, this application of celestial weapons that is being witnessed in the combat between Bhishma and Partha is rare among human beings.”

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus raged that conflict with weapons between those warriors conversant with all weapons. And when that conflict of celestial weapons ceased, then commenced a conflict with arrows. And Jishnu approaching his opponent, cut of with an arrow sharp like a razor the gold-decked bow of Bhishma. Within the twinkling of the eye, however, Bhishma, that mighty-armed and great car-warrior, took up another bow and stringed it. And inflamed with wrath, he showered upon Dhananjaya a cloud of arrows. And Arjuna, too, endued with great energy, rained upon Bhishma innumerable sharp-pointed and keen-edged arrows. And Bhishma also shot clouds of arrows upon Pandu’s son. And conversant with celestial weapons and engaged in shooting and each other, arrows of keen points, no distinction, O king, could then be perceived between those illustrious warriors. And that mighty car-warrior, Kunti’s son, covered with a diadem, and the heroic son of Santanu, obscured the ten directions with their arrows.

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