Mahabharata (abridged)

258,337 words | ISBN-10: 8121505933

The English translation of the Mahabharata: one of the two major Sanskrit epics of India. Besides its epic narrative of the Kurukshetra War and the fates of the Kaurava and the Pandava princes, the Mahabharata contains philosophical and devotional material, such as a discussion of the four "goals of life". NOTE: this is a Summary Study (...

Chapter 7 - The Seventh Day of Combat

Sanjaya said: O King, When the night had ended, the great Kaurava heroes were again seen in armor. Duryodhana was overwhelmed with anxiety, and with blood still flowing from his wounds, he went to his grandfather and spoke to him as follows, "In our army there are many great heroes who are invincible in battle. All these mighty warriors are protected and arrayed properly. This being the case, why is it that the Pandavas are penetrating our ranks and destroying my army, yet they escape unhurt? Yesterday, they have earned fame by routing my troops. Bhima has penetrated our army and caused great havoc. I was deprived of my senses and pierced with many sharp arrows. I cannot achieve peace of mind until I see the sons of Pandu slain and our soldiers victorious."

Responding to Duryodhana's anguish, the Grandsire Bhishma said, "O prince, I shall surely break the Pandava ranks and destroy their forces. Exerting myself with great prowess, I will bring you victory and joy. There are many great heroes on the Pandava's side who vomit forth their wrath and and know no fatigue. I will fight with those warriors and subjugate them, O King. It is within my power to destroy the three worlds if necessary. I will fight with the Pandavas and fulfill your desires for conquest. There is myself, Drona, Salya, Kritavarman, Ashvatthaman, Vikarna, Bhagadatta, Shakuni, Vinda and Anuvinda, Bahlika, Susharman, Bhrihadvala, Chitrasena and Vivingsati, who are able to defeat the demigods in battle. However, the Pandavas cannot be defeated in battle. They have Lord Krishna as their ally and are more powerful than the heavenly gods combined. Therefore, I shall either conquer the Pandavas in battle, or they will conquer me." After making this vow, the Grandsire gave a medicinal herb to Duryodhana. Applying those herbs to his wounds, he was cured, and he again prepared for battle.

When the dawn came, Bhishma arrayed his troops in the formation called Mandala, which was bristling with weapons. The Pandavas formed their army in an array known as Vajra. When the sun appeared on the horizon, both armies rushed at each other to the sounds of drums, kettledrums, conches, trumpets and war cries. The banners of the chariots waved in the wind as the beautiful chariots drawn by fleet horses galloped toward the enemy lines. The sun was reflecting off the combatant's beautiful golden armor, and as they rushed toward each other, dust rose up into the sky. Drona spotted Virata coming toward him and showered him with hundreds of arrows. Ashvatthama rushed against Shikhandi, Duryodhana against Dhristadyumna. Nakula and Sahadeva rushed against the ruler of Madras, Salya, and Vinda and Anuvinda fought with the son of Arjuna named Iravan. Many kings together rushed against Dhananjaya hopeless of their lives. Bhimasena fought with Bhurishrava, and Abhimanyu fought with the sons of Dhritarastra headed by Vikarna, Chitrasena, and Durmarshana. Bhima's son Ghatotkacha fought against the ruler of Pragjyotishapura, Bhagadatta. The powerful Rakshasa Alambhusha fought the invincible Satyaki, and King Yudhisthira fought against Kripa.

Rushing into battle, thousands of Kings riding on beautiful chariots surrounded Arjuna and showered their weapons upon him. Calmly, in the presence of those oncoming warriors, Arjuna addressed the lotus eyed Krishna, "Behold, O Madhava, all these brave warriors desiring battle with me. They have been sent here by the grandsire to finish my life. There in the distance is the King of the Trigaratas and his brothers. This very day I shall send them to the abode of death." Saying this much and rubbing his bowstring, he answered their onrush with his multitude of arrows. Those kings also released their arrows in thousands, like clouds releasing unlimited raindrops. Seeing Arjuna covered with those arrows, the demigods and rishis, who were witnessing the battle from the heavens, were struck with wonder. Then, Arjuna, excited with wrath, invoked the aindra weapon. Countering the arrows released by the kings, that weapon pierced those warriors, either wounding or killing all of them. The soldiers who were left in that army felt greatly harassed by Arjuna's arrows and sought Bhishma for protection. Bhishma then became the protector of those soldiers sinking in the ocean of the mighty Arjuna.

Meanwhile, the preceptor Drona rushed against the King of the Matsyas, Virata, and cut off his banner with one shaft, and his bow with another. Virata quickly picked up another bow that was more stout and pierced Drona with three arrows, his horses with four and his charioteer with two. Harassed by those arrows, Drona became enraged and killed the four horses of Virata's chariot and also his charioteer. Virata got upon the chariot of his son, Sankha, and together began to fight with the aggressive Drona. Resisting the arrows released by those warriors, Drona discharged a single arrow that was like virulent poison. That arrow pierced Sankha's armor and deprived him of his life. He fell from his chariot, and his bow and arrows slipped from his grasp. Seeing his son slain in front of his eyes, Virata fled the battlefield out of fear.

Shikhandi attacked Drona's son, Ashvatthama, and pierced him in the forehead with three arrows. Furious, Ashvatthama killed Shikandi's horses and charioteer. Jumping down from his chariot which was now useless, Shikhandi picked up a scimitar and shield and rushed against Ashvatthama like a hawk looking for its prey. Drona's son failed to find an opportunity to strike him and therefore, released thousands of arrows hoping to stop his forward march. However, Shikhandi cut all those arrows to pieces with his scimitar before they could reach him. Seeing that his trick had failed, Ashvatthama released more arrows that shattered the Shikhandi's sword and shield. Holding only the handle of his broken sword, Shikhandi threw it with all his strength at Drona's son. Ashvatthama quickly cut the weapon to pieces and tried desperately to kill Shikhandi as he moved on foot. At that time Satyaki appeared on the scene and took Shikhandi on his chariot, saving the life of that great fighter.

When Shikhandi was brought another chariot, Satyaki returned to the thick of the fighting and attacked the prince of the Rakshasas, Alambusha. That cruel Rakshasa shattered Satyaki's bow and pierced him with many arrows. Creating mystic illusions, he showered Satyaki's chariot with thousands of weapons. The fearless Satyaki quickly called for the aindra weapon that he had received from Arjuna and dispelled the Rakshasa illusion. That weapon covered Alambhusha's chariot with many arrows, and out of great fear, he fled to another part of the battlefield. Then without any powerful hero to oppose him, Satyaki, a descendent of Madhu, began to destroy the Kaurava divisions.

Dhristadyumna encountered the royal son of Dhritarastra and began to play with him as a lion plays with a mouse. Duryodhana, not tolerating the impudence of his enemy, released sixty arrows and then another thirty at the son of Drupada. Dhristadyumna quickly killed the four horses of Duryodhana and also his charioteer. Jumping down from his chariot, Duryodhana took up his sword and shield, and ran toward the son of Drupada. However, Shakuni quickly appeared on the scene and took the King to another part of the battlefield. After this Dhristadyumna began to destroy enemy troops in thousands.

Bhima, the son of Kunti, was then attacked by Kritavarman and covered with arrows. Laughing all the while, Bhima struck that fierce adiratha with many sharp weapons. He killed his horses and charioteer and forced him from his chariot. Kritavarman had arrows sticking out from every part of his body, and feeling greatly afflicted ascended the chariot of Vrishaka. Bhimasena, excited with rage, began to destroy the enemy ranks with his powerful club.

At this time the two kings of Avantipura, Vinda and Anuvinda, attacked the son of Arjuna, Iravan. They countered each other with many weapons, desiring to take each other's lives. So fierce was the encounter that those who witnessed it were struck with wonder. Then Iravan killed the four horses of Anuvinda and shattered his bow. Anuvinda was taken onto the chariot of his brother, and together they began to fight the son of Arjuna. Iravan proved too powerful an opponent, for he killed their chariot driver, and the horses reeling out of control, took them from the battlefield. Having no one to oppose him, Iravan began to slaughter the ranks of the Kauravas.

The prince of the Rakshasas, Ghatotkacha challenged the ruler of Pragjyotishapura, Bhagadatta, as he rode on his beautiful white elephant Supritika. The Pandava divisions were terrified of this huge elephant that seemed invincible. Wherever it went, it caused great havoc among the Yudhisthira's troops. Seeing the King of Pragjyothishapura releasing weapons from the top of his great white elephant, the Pandava soldiers fled in fear, leaving Ghatotkacha to fight with him. Rallying his troops, the son of Bhima, attacked Bhagadatta showering him with all kinds of weapons. Bhagadatta returned his attack with many arrows and pierced the son of Bhima causing him severe pain. The ruler of Pragjyotisapura then forcefully released seven javelins. They coursed through the sky like meteors, but Ghatotkacha cut them to pieces with his arrows. The son of Bhima then pierced Bhagadatta with seventy arrows, each resembling bolts of lightning. Laughing as if invincible, the Pragjyotish King released four arrows that killed the horses of Ghatotkacha. Countering, the son of Bhima released a powerful dart that scorched through the sky. However, before it could reach him, King Bhagadatta cut it into three pieces, and with this action the son of Bhima fled the battlefield. Finding no opposition, King Bhagadatta began to crush the Pandava troops with his huge elephant.

The ruler of Madras, Salya, confronted the sons of his sister, Nakula and Sahadeva. He deprived Nakula of his chariot, upon which Nakula ascended the chariot of Sahadeva. Sahadeva, greatly angered by his defeat, placed on his bow a broad headed arrow, and released it with full force at his uncle. Piercing through his body, that forceful arrow entered into the earth. Salya fell to the terrace of his chariot in a deadly swoon, and he was quickly taken from the battlefield. Sahadeva and Nakula then began to grind the Kaurava soldiers in hundreds and thousands.

King Yudhisthira encountered the very powerful Shrutayush and struck him with many arrows. Shrutayush then released seven arrows piercing Yudhisthira's armor and drinking his blood. Greatly enraged Yudhisthira killed his chariot horses and also his charioteer. He then released a long shafted arrow that hit Srutayush in the chest depriving him of his senses but not his life. Having achieved this feat, Yudhisthira began to slay the innumerable troops that had been supporting Shrutayush.

Chekitana, of the Vrishni race, covered the preceptor Kripa with many long shafted arrows. Kripa in turn cut the bow of Chekitana into pieces. The son of Saradwat then killed Chekitana's horses and also his charioteer. Taking up his hero slaying mace, that descendent of the Vrishni race, killed the horses of Kripa's chariot and also his charioteer. Coming down from his chariot, Kripa shot sixteen arrows at Chekitana. Those powerful arrows pierced the armor of the Vrishni hero and entered the earth. Not wavering when pierced in that way, Chekitana hurled his mace with all his strength at the son of Saradwat. Kripa very easily tore the weapon to pieces, and having no other weapon, Chekitana rushed at Kripacharya with his drawn sabre. Those two warriors began to fight with each other using their highly polished swords. Cutting each other and fighting vigorously, they both fell down upon the ground exhausted. Bleeding profusely, they were picked up by other chariot warriors and taken from the battlefield.

During the great battle, Abhimanyu fell upon three of Duryodhana's brothers, Chitrasena, Vikarna and Durmarshana, who were encased in golden mail and releasing their powerful weapons. Abhimanyu quickly deprived them of their chariots, but did not kill them remembering the oath his uncle Bhima had taken in the Kaurava court.

During the course of this phenomenal battle, Arjuna, the son of Kunti, came upon the Grandsire Bhishma. He ordered Lord Krishna, "Drive the horses, O Hrishikesha, to the spot where Bhishma is releasing his arrows. He has many supporting warriors and appears invincible in battle." When Arjuna proceeded toward the enemy ranks, the Kaurava army wavered in fear. Coming up to protect the Grandsire was King Susharman. He was supported by many chariot fighters. They fell upon Arjuna with the force of a tempest. The mighty Dhananjaya quickly shattered the bows in their hands, and then severed their arms, legs and heads as they stood in their chariots. Seeing his supporting chariot fighters slaughtered, Susharman, the King of the Trigartas, called for thirty two of his best car warriors and together they attacked Arjuna. They released a cloudburst of weapons, but the son of Kunti dispatched all of them to the abode of death with sixty arrows.

Having conquered King Susharman and his division, Arjuna proceeded toward Grandfather Bhishma. Duryodhana and Jayadratha came forward to help the Grandsire, but Arjuna avoided them and quickly proceeded toward the son of Ganga. Yudhisthira, Bhima, Nakula and Sahadeva also joined Arjuna in attacking their grandfather. Bhishma did not waver although attacked with such force. Jayadratha and Duryodhana came forward to assist Bhishma, and the son of Dhritarastra released flaming arrows piercing each of the five Pandavas. Jayadratha also cut to pieces Shikhandi's mighty bow. Shikhandi started to retreat from the battlefield out of fear, but Yudhisthira called to him, "Do you remember the vow you took in the presence of all heroes to slay Bhishma. You have yet to fulfill that vow in as much as he still lives. Take care and do not run from the battlefield for the Grandsire is devouring my troops with his mighty arrows. Return and exhibit your prowess."

Hearing the encouraging words of Yudhisthira, Shikhandi returned and challenged the Grandsire. However, Salya came in between the two heroes and released many weapons that were difficult to defeat. As they came blazing toward him, Shikhandi invoked the varuna weapon, thus baffling those fiery weapons. Bhishma cut Yudhisthira's bow into pieces and also cut his chariot's banner. In order to protect his older brother, Bhima got down from his chariot, mace in hand. As he rushed toward Bhishma, Jayadratha pierced him with five hundred arrows from all sides. Disregarding those arrows, Bhima killed the horses of Jayadratha. Rushing to encounter Bhima was the son of Dhritarastra, Chitrasena. Bhima turned on him, and raising his mace, struck fear into the supporting soldiers that followed him. Bhima then released that mace with all his strength. Quickly descending from his chariot with sword and shield, Chitrasena watched as that mace destroyed chariot, driver and horses. Vikarna came up with his chariot, and Chitrasena quickly ascended it and was taken to safety.

Grandfather Bhishma attacked Yudhisthira, and all thought that the first son of Kunti had entered the jaws of death. Bhishma covered Yudhisthira with a curtain of arrows and made him invisible. Yudhisthira countered with a long shafted arrow that resembled blazing fire. Bhishma cut that arrow in two before it reached him. The Grandsire then killed Yudhisthira's horses, causing him to ascend the chariot of Nakula. Then Yudhisthira, Nakula and Sahadeva rushed at Bhishma with their supporting troops. Covering the onrushing warriors with thousands of arrows, Bhishma began a great slaughter. He appeared like a young lion amidst a herd of deer. The heads of many heroic chariot fighters fell to the earth, and this threw the entire army of the Pandavas into confusion. Then Shikhandi, who was born to kill Bhishma, rushed at the grandsire saying, "Wait, Wait!" Disregarding him on account of his once being a woman, Bhishma proceeded against the Shrinjayas. All the great heroes fought fiercely until the sun began to set on the horizon.

As darkness began to cover the battlefield, all the warriors returned to their camps. Bandaging their wounds and plucking out their arrows, they rested for the night. The slaughter took a great toll on both sides, and blood flowed like water. As the warriors left the battlefield, jackals and Rakshasas came to devour the dead bodies of the slain.

Thus Ends the Seventh Chapter of the Bhishma Parva, Entitled, The Seventh Day of the Great Battle.

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