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The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa
And the Pandava covered Bhishma, and Bhishma also covered the Pandava, with clouds of shafts. And, O king, wonderful was this combat that took place in this world of men. And the heroic warriors that protected Bhishma’s car, slain by the son of Pandu, fell prostrate, O monarch, beside the car of Kunti’s son. And the feathery arrows of Svetavahana, shot from the Gandiva, fell in all directions as if with the object of making a wholesale slaughter of the foe. And issuing forth from his car those blazing arrows furnished with golden wings looked like rows of swans in the sky. And all the celestials with Indra, stationed in the firmament, gazed with wonder upon another celestial weapon hurled with great force by that wonderful archer Arjuna. And beholding that wonderful weapon of great beauty, the mighty Gandiva, Chitrasena, highly pleased, addressed the lord of celestials, saying, ‘Behold these arrows shot by Partha coursing through the sky in one continuous line. Wonderful is the dexterity of Jishnu in evolving this celestial weapon! Human beings are incapable of shooting such a weapon, for it does not exist among men. How wonderful again is this concourse of mighty weapons existing from days of old! No interval can be perceived between his taking up the arrows, fixing them on the bow-string, and letting them off by stretching the Gandiva. The soldiers are incapable of even looking at the son of Pandu, who is like unto the midday sun blazing in the sky. So also none ventures to look at Bhishma, the son of Ganga. Both are famous for their achievements, and both are of fierce prowess. Both are equal in feats of heroism, and both are difficult of being vanquished in battle.’
‘Thus addressed by the Gandharva about that combat between Partha and Bhishma, the lord of the celestials, O Bharata, paid proper respect unto both by a shower of celestial flowers. Meanwhile, Bhishma, the son of Santanu, assailed Arjuna on the left side, while that drawer of the bow with either hands was on the point of piercing him. And at this, Vibhatsu, laughing aloud, cut off with an arrow of keen edge and furnished with vulturine wings, the bow of Bhishma, that hero of solar effulgence. And then Dhananjaya, the son of Kunti, pierced Bhishma in the breast with ten shafts although the latter was contending with all his prowess. And sorely afflicted with pain Ganga’s son of mighty arms and irresistible in battle, stood for a long time leaning on the pole of his car. And beholding him deprived of consciousness the driver of his car-steeds, calling to mind the instructions about protecting the warriors when in a swoon, led him away for safety.’”
And it was that those foremost of men, both born in the race of Ajamida, struck each other alike in the combat. And then (seated) on an infuriate elephant huge as a mountain and supported by four cars, Vikarna rushed against Jishnu, the son of Kunti. And beholding that huge elephant, advancing with speed, Dhananjaya struck him on the head between the temples with an iron arrow of great impetus shot from the bow-string stretched to the ear. And like the thunderbolt hurled by Indra splitting a mountain, that arrow furnished with vulturine wings, shot by Partha, penetrated, up to the very feathers, into the body of that elephant huge as hill. And sorely afflicted by the shaft, that lord of the elephant species began to tremble, and deprived of strength fell down on the ground in intense anguish, like the peak of mountain riven by thunder. And that best of elephants falling down on the earth, Vikarna suddenly alighting in great terror, ran back full eight hundred paces and ascended on the car of Vivingsati. And having slain with that thunder-like arrow that elephant huge as a mighty hill and looking like a mass of clouds, the son of Pritha smote Duryodhana in the breast with another arrow of the same kind.
And both the elephant and the king having thus been wounded, and Vikarna having broken and fled along with the supporters of the king’s car, the other warriors, smitten with the arrows shot from the Gandiva, fled from the field in panic. And beholding the elephant slain by Partha, and all the other warriors running away, Duryodhana, the foremost of the Kurus, turning away his car precipitately fled in that direction where Partha was not. And when Duryodhana was fast running away in alarm, pierced by that arrow and vomitting forth blood, Kiritin, still eager for battle and capable of enduring every enemy, thus censured him from wrath, ‘Sacrificing thy great fame and glory, why dost thou fly away, turning the back? Why are not those trumpet? sounded now, as they were when thou hadst set out from thy kingdom? Lo, I am an obedient servant of Yudhishthira, myself being the third son of Pritha, standing here for battle.
Turn back, show me thy face, O son of Dhritarashtra, and bear in thy mind the behaviour of kings. The name Duryodhana bestowed on thee before is hereby rendered meaningless. When thou runnest away, leaving the battle, where is thy persistence in battle? Neither do I behold thy body-guards. O Duryodhana, before nor behind. O foremost of men, fly thou away and save thy life which is dear from the hands of Pandu’s son.’”
And the mighty-armed Bhishma also, the son of Santanu, turning back his steeds decked with gold, enormous in size, and of tawny hue, rushed bow in hand, for protecting Duryodhana from Partha’s hand. And Drona and Kripa and Vivingsati and Dussasana and others also, quickly turning back, rushed forward with speed with drawn bows and arrows fixed on the bow-strings, for protecting Duryodhana. And beholding those divisions advance towards him like the swelling surges of the ocean, Dhananjaya, the son of Pritha, quickly rushed at them like a crane rushing at a descending cloud. And with celestial weapons in their hands, they completely surrounded the son of Pritha and rained on him from all sides a perfect shower of shafts, like clouds showering on the mountain breast a heavy downpour of rain, And warding off with weapons, all the weapons of those bulls among the Kurus, the wielder of the Gandiva who was capable of enduring all foes, evolved another irresistible weapon obtained from Indra, called Sanmohana.
And entirely covering the cardinal and other directions with sharp and keen-edged arrows furnished with beautiful feathers, that mighty hero stupefied their senses with the twang of the Gandiva. And once more, taking up with both his hands that large conch of loud blare, Partha, that slayer of foes, blew it with force and filled the cardinal and other points, the whole earth, and sky, with that noise. And those foremost of the Kuru heroes were all deprived of their senses by the sound of that conch blown by Partha. And all of them stood still, their bows, from which they were never separated, dropping down from their hands. And when the Kuru army became insensible, Partha calling to mind the words of Uttara, addressed the son of the Matsya king, saying, ‘O best of men, go thou among the Kurus, so long as they remain insensible, and bring away the white garments of Drona and Kripa, and the yellow and handsome ones of Karna, as also the blue ones of the king and Drona’s son. Methinks, Bhishma is not stupefied, for he knoweth how to counteract this weapon of mine. So, pass thou on, keeping his steeds to thy left; for those that are sensible should thus be avoided,’ Hearing these words, the illustrious son of Matsya, giving up the reins of the steeds, jumped down from the car and taking off the garments of the warriors, came back to his place. And the son of Virata then urged the four handsome steeds with flanks adorned with golden armours.