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 - Satyaki Follows the Path of Arjuna

Dhritarastra inquired: O Sanjaya, what happened to my forces after the great Rakshasa Alambusha was killed? Did Drona succeed in capturing King Yudhisthira? What happened to the son of Kunti, Arjuna, who took a unattainable vow to kill Jayadratha before the sun set on the horizon?

Sanjaya replied: O King, for the offences your son committed against the Pandavas, one great maharathi after another was killed. The fructification of the cruel deeds in the gambling match took place in the form of the death of your kinsmen. Listen, as I describe the slaughter of your forces by the great Adhirathas, Arjuna, Satyaki and Bhima.

Beholding the great maharathis slain one after another, Drona flared up in anger. He rushed at Satyaki, and a mighty battle ensued between those foremost chariot fighters. In the course of the duel Drona began to gain the upper hand, and it appeared as if Satyaki would be devoured by the great ocean of the preceptor Drona. Seeing the situation, Yudhisthira ordered Dhristadyumna to assist the esteemed hero of the Vrishni race. He requested Drupada's son, "Drona is rushing at Satyaki like Rahu rushes toward the sun and moon. Dronacharya is a great bowman and is playing with Satyaki like a boy plays with his toys. All of you headed by Bhimasena should fight with the preceptor and save Satyaki from the jaws of death."

While Drona was resisting the Pandava forces, Yudhisthira heard the sound of the Panchajanya conchshell. Not hearing the sound of the Gandiva bow, the King became worried. The son of Pandu repeatedly thought, "All is not going well with Arjuna, for I hear the loud shouts of the Kauravas, but I do not hear the sound of the Gandiva bow."

After contemplating what to do, Kunti's first son requested Satyaki, "O grandson of Sini, it is now time to relieve our distress. O descendent of Vrishni, I will now lay a great burden upon you. Arjuna is your friend and preceptor, and I think that he may have fallen into great trouble. Alone he has penetrated the great divisions of Drona and is now proceeding toward the divisions of Jayadratha. I can hear in the distance the loud roars of the Kauravas engaged in fighting with Arjuna. I have just heard the sound of the Panchajanya conchshell, but not the sound of the Gandiva. I know that Lord Krishna is with Arjuna, and there should be no need to fear, but still I want to see Arjuna given all protection. I do not want to see him drown in the Kaurava ocean. Among all the chariot fighters of the Vrishni race two are regarded as adhirathas. They are Pradyumna and yourself. Therefore I request you to enter this vast army of the Kurus and assist Arjuna in achieving his goals. I know that you have been chosen to protect me from Drona, but there are many great warriors here to safeguard me such as Bhima and Dhristadyumna. I now order you to enter this vast Kaurava ocean and attain lasting glory."

Hearing Yudhisthira's command, Satyaki replied, "O great hero, these words befit a great King concerned for those who are committed to him. As for myself, I am prepared to cast away my life for the sake of Dhananjaya. What is there to say about the force of the Kauravas? I am prepared to fight with all the demigods and asuras united. Truly I vow to you that I can reach Arjuna in safety and again return. However, I was strongly ordered by Arjuna to protect you from Drona. Without leaving you in the hands of someone competent, how can I follow Arjuna as you have requested?"

"O mighty armed one," Yudhisthira said, "I think that Bhima will give me protection in your absence. Also there is Dhristadyumna who was born from the sacrificial fire for Drona's death. There are also many others such as the five sons of Draupadi, Virata, Drupada, Shikhandin, Ghatotkacha, Dhristaketu, as well as my other brothers, Nakula and Sahadeva. All these are here to protect me like the beech resisting the sea. Therefore, go, O grandson of Sini, and with an easy heart, free from anxiety, aid Arjuna in his attempt to kill Jayadratha."

After being ordered by the great King Yudhisthira, Satyaki readied himself for the task ahead of him. His horses were sufficiently fed and watered. Their arrows were plucked out, and their bodies decorated with golden mail and chains. All this was done by the younger brother of Daruka who was expert in guiding horses in battle. Satyaki's chariot was then filled with enough weapons to carve his way to the presence of Arjuna. There were many bows and thousands of arrows. Satyaki had access to all the celestial weapons, and they were also present in his chariot. Satyaki then worshiped the brahmanas and gave away in charity many valuable presents. He also worshiped the lotus feet of the King and then ascended his chariot. Proceeding towards the Kaurava host, he appeared like the sun in the sky dissipating the early morning fog. As he rushed at the Kaurava army, Yudhisthira, surrounded by his forces, followed Satyaki to help him penetrate the great array.

When Satyaki came upon the preceptor Drona, a fierce battle ensued in which neither of the great heroes could gain the upper hand. Both warriors fought to their best ability, and both covered the other with hundreds of arrows. While the fighting was going on, Drona spoke to Satyaki, "Your teacher, like a coward, avoided me while I was fighting with him. O descendent of Vrishni, if you stand before me for a little while, you will not escape with your life."

"At the command of King Yudhisthira," Satyaki replied, "I will follow the path taken by my preceptor. O great brahmana, I will lose time if I fight with you, and besides a disciple should follow the example set down by his martial guru."

Having said this much, the grandson of Sini proceeded on avoiding Drona. Satyaki then spoke to his charioteer, "Listen to my orders and proceed carefully. O suta, just in front of us is the division of the Avantis and next to them is the host of the Southerners. Beyond them are the Balhikas and beyond them is the division of Karna. All these great divisions are supporting each other. Take me to the point where the Southerners and the Balhikas are arrayed. Between them on the left is an open space. Guide the horses to that point for there I will pierce this Chakravyuha."

While Satyaki was heading in the direction of the Kaurava army, Drona chased him from behind releasing his deadly arrows. When Satyaki came to the point where he intended to penetrate the great formation, the Kaurava soldiers broke and fled. Seeing this, Kritavarman came forward to resist Satyaki. The grandson of Sini quickly killed his four horses and pierced Kritavarman with many arrows. Furious that he was hit with arrows, Kritavarman released an arrow that pierced the Satyaki's body and entered into the earth. He then shattered the bow and arrows of that great hero. Satyaki was not affected, but quickly killed Kritavarman's charioteer and covered him with hundreds of arrows. He then proceeded on piercing through the Chakravyuha. Kritavarman was outraged by his defeat. He ascended another chariot, but before he could proceed, Satyaki was out of sight. Drona placed him at the gate of the large formation and then he, himself set out to challenge Satyaki.

Meanwhile the Pandavas headed by Bhima fell upon Kritavarman's forces. The son of Hridika, Kritavarman, was enraged that Satyaki had defeated him, and he fought with superhuman force. He pierced Bhima with many shafts and caused him to fall down to the floor of his chariot in a deadly swoon. To protect their brother, Yudhisthira, Nakula and Sahadeva covered Kritavarman with hundreds of arrows. Recovering consciousness, Bhima picked up a dart and hurled it with all his strength. However, before it could reach him, Kritavarman cut it to pieces. Kritavarman was then attacke by many of the great Pandava generals. Shikhandin came forward to assist in the fight as well the sons of Draupadi and Dhristadyumna. Shikhandin released a mighty sword at Kritavarman that shattered his bow and arrows. Kritavarman quickly picked up another large bow and pierced all his opponents. He caused Shikhandin to fall to the floor of his chariot, and to save his life, Shikhandin's charioteer bore him away from the battlefield. The Pandavas headed by Bhima then came forward to fight with Kritavarman, but the son of Hridika kept them all in check.

When Satyaki heard the fierce uproar that was taking place behindhim, he ordered his charioteer to turn back. He then rushed at Kritavarman and killed his four horses and charioteer, shattered his bow and pierced him with many shafts. After vanquishing him in battle, he proceeded on his way. He then came upon the divisions of Drona. Satyaki said to his charioteer, "Behold, O Suta, the vast divisions of Drona. Its leader is the great chariot fighter Rukmaratha. It is filled with huge elephants and many chariots. The Trigartas also lie within this vast division. Head in that direction for I will subjugate them in the very sight of the preceptor."

Satyaki, also known as Yuyudhana, then rushed at Drona's divisions which were filled with elephants. Coming up to challenge him was the powerful Jalasandha, the ruler of the Magadhas. He quickly cut Satyaki's bow and pierced him with many arrows. Satyaki then countered by taking up a stronger bow and pierced Jalasandha and also shattered his bow. Jalasandha then picked up a lance and threw it with all his might, lacerating Satyaki's arm and entering the earth. Not affected by the King's javelin, Satyaki pierced him again and sent up a loud roar. Jalasandha then took up a huge scimitar and hurled it with full force at Satyaki. That sword cut Satyaki's bow and arrows, and fell to the earth like a circle of fire. Smiling all the while, Satyaki took up another bow and with a couple of razor faced arrows cut off the arms of the Magadha King. Those two arms fell off either side of the elephant, and while his enemy was still alive, he cut off his head with a third arrow. After Jalasandha was killed, Satyaki pierced the huge elephant on which the Magadha Monarch was riding. Bolting in the opposite direction, the elephant trampled chariots, horses and infantry in hundreds. After the fall of the Magadha King, Satyaki continued to make his way toward Arjuna.

Satyaki then came upon Duryodhana and defeated him easily. He killed his horses, charioteer and smashed his chariot. Duryodhana, not being able to fight with Satyaki, ran away like a coward. Kritavarman came again to fight with the grandson of Sini, but Kritavarman was defeated in his attempt. Satyaki, with an intense desire to find Arjuna, quickly pierced Kritavarman's armor with many arrows. Falling into a swoon, Kritavarman was taken from the battlefield.

Drona, who was following Satyaki from behind, caught up to him and began to afflict him with many arrows. A duel then ensued which caused great wonder to enter the minds of the Kaurava soldiers. Finally, in the end, Satyaki killed Drona's charioteer, and Drona's horse ran wild across the battlefield. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Satyaki continued making his way through the Kaurava host hoping to find his Martial Guru.

Satyaki then came upon a valiant King named Sudarshana. Sudarshana desired to stop Satyaki from achieving his goals. He covered Satyaki with hundreds of arrows and sent up a loud roar. Satyaki returned arrows as fast as lightning killing Sudarshana's horses. Then with a long shafted arrow, he severed his head.

Traveling through the Kaurava host like a meteor, the grandson of Sini killed the prominent division leaders. At Duryodhana's command, one thousand chariot fighters, one hundred rathas, two thousand elephants, and countless foot soldiers rushed at Satyaki to kill him. Seeing them approaching him, Satyaki sent them all to the abode of Yamaraja. Every warrior without exception was slain. Enraged at the complete rout of that mighty force, Duhshasana ordered the mountaineers to fight against Satyaki. The mountaineers were expert in throwing huge boulders at the oncoming enemy. Some soldiers carried boulders as big as elephant heads. They all ran at Satyaki and released their boulders with lightning force. Seeing the mass of boulders coming, the grandson of Sini cut them into fragments with his celestial weapons. The stone fragments lit up like meteors and fell back upon the mountaineers slaughtering great numbers of them. Those warriors fell down to the ground shrieking in agony.

Seeing Duhshasana hesitating to fight with Satyaki, Drona spoke harshly, "Why, O Duhshasana, are these chariot fighters fleeing from battle, and why are you hesitating to fight? Don't you remember the gambling match where you tried to disrobe the beautiful Draupadi. Having been the cause of this great war, why do you flee the battlefield like a coward? Where is your pride now, and where is your boastful tongue? All these warriors are fleeing because you are afraid to engage the enemy. This is only one warrior, and here there are many. What will you do when you come face to face with the wielder of the Gandiva bow? The arrows of Satyaki are not equal to the powerful arrows of Phalguna. Before the Pandavas kill all your brothers in battle, make peace with the Pandavas. Formerly Bhishma warned you that the Pandavas were undefeatable in battle, but your ignorant brother would not listen. Therefore, set your heart on combat. Go quickly and engage the enemy before he destroys the whole army."

Sanjaya said to Dhritarastra: When chastised by Drona, your son, O King, did not reply, but headed into battle with Satyaki, pretending not to hear the preceptor's words.

Dronacharya then engaged in battle with the Panchalas, the Somakas and the Shrinjayas. He came upon a son of Drupada named Viraketu. A fierce encounter arose between those two renowned warriors, catching the attention of all on the battlefield. In the end, however, Drona invoked a celestial weapon that resembled blazing fire. Released with a meteor's speed, and piercing the Panchala prince, it deprived him of his life. Then four of Viraketu's brothers rushed at Drona to avenge his death. Drona very easily stupefied them and cut off their heads like one picking flowers from a tree.

Dhristadyumna could not tolerate the death of his step brothers. He rushed at Drona and struck him with many shafts. Deeply pierced, Drona fell to the floor of his chariot in a swoon. Taking the opportunity, Dhristadyumna descended from his chariot and rushed at him with sword in hand. He quickly ran to Drona's chariot desiring to sever his head. Drona regained consciousness as Dhristadyumna was approaching. Taking up his bow, he pierced him with short range arrows. Dhristadyumna was weakened and retreated to his own chariot to engage Drona in battle. In the end Drona killed his charioteer, and the horses, lacking a driver, ran uncontrolled over the battlefield.

Sanjaya continued relating the activities of the battle to the the blind King Dhritarastra. He said: O King, your son Duhshasana then assaulted Satyaki with the intention of killing him. He was surrounded by five hundred mighty chariot warriors who covered Satyaki's chariot with hundreds of arrows. Within a short span of time, Satyaki killed every heroic fighter that was supporting Duhshasana. Greatly enraged, Duhshasana pierced Satyaki with nine arrows and then again with three. Satyaki countered by killing the charioteer and horses of your son. He then cut off the wheels of his chariot and killed the soldiers protecting those wheels. Duhshasana quickly ascended the chariot of the King of the Trigartas and fled away. Satyaki did not endeavor to kill him remembering Bhima's oath.

Sanjaya continued: In the afternoon of that day, O King, a dreadful battle took place between Drona and the foremost Pandava heroes. The five Keykaya brothers headed by Vrihatkshatra attacked the preceptor Drona. Drona released fifteen arrows at the Kekaya Prince but they were shattered by Vrihatkshatra's arrows. Drona then invoked the Brahma weapon which issued from Drona's bow like lightning. However, Vrihatkshatra released a Brahma weapon of his own that baffled Drona's weapon. Drona, stretching his bow to its fullest extent, pierced Vrihatkshatra's armor. The Kekaya Prince was furious with Drona and pierced him with many shafts. He also killed his chariot driver. Dronacharya then killed Vrihatkshatra's horses, and with a single arrow, the preceptor pierced his heart, taking the prince's life.

Upon the death of the Vrihatkshatra, Dhristaketu, the son of Shisupala, came forward to fight with Drona. He had brought to Pandava's cause an akshauhini division of soldiers. After the Rajasuya sacrifice, when Shisupala had been killed by Lord Krishna, Dhristaketu was enthroned as King, and he became a subordinate ruler to the Pandavas. He was one of the seven commanders on the Pandava's side and was a great maharathi. He soon came upon Drona and lacerated him with many shafts. He then hit the horses and charioteer of the preceptor with flaming arrows. Smiling all the while, Drona quickly killed his four horses and with a single shaft severed his charioteer's head. He then pierced Dhristaketu with twenty five arrows. The King of the Chedis descended from his chariot and released a mace with all his strength. Drona countered that weapon by striking it with hundreds of arrows. The sounds of the colliding weapons echoed all over the battlefield. Dhristaketu then released an iron javelin and then a dart covered in gold. Drona cut up the javelin with five arrows and the dart with four. Having no mercy upon his enemy, Drona released a long shafted arrow that pierced Dhristaketu in the chest, causing him to fall to the ground mortally wounded. With the death of that great maharathi, the supporting soldiers fled in different directions.

There then came to fight with Drona the son of Jarasandha, Sahadeva. After Jarasandha's death by Bhima, Lord Krishna enthroned Sahadeva as King of Magadha. He became a subordinate King under Yudhisthira. When it came time for the Kurukshetra war, he brought to the Pandava's cause one akshauhini division, consisting of chariot fighters, calvary, elephant warriors, and infantry. Sahadeva was a respected fighter like his father, but unlike his father he was very affectionate toward the Pandavas. He rushed toward the preceptor Drona like a fly rushing towards a fire. He covered Drona with many arrows and uttered a loud roar. However, within a twinkling of an eye, Drona killed the son of Jarasandha within the sight of all bowmen. Drona then became like Yamaraja himself killing all who opposed him. He began to kill thousands of elephants, horses and men. The Chedis, the Panchalas, the Matsyas and the Shrinjayas then rushed at Drona, exclaiming, "Drona is slain! Drona is slain!" They fell upon him fighting with their greatest effort.

The son of Dhristadyumna, Ksatradharman, then came upon Dronacharya releasing his formidable weapons. He quickly cut off Drona's bow and pierced him in the chest with five arrows. Not minding those arrows, Drona picked up another bow and pierced Ksatradharman in the chest with a single arrow depriving him of his life. The great preceptor then made a mountain of heads around his chariot as the hosts of the Panchalas came forward to fight with him. Indeed, Drona roamed in the midst of the Pandava forces causing the annihilation of thousands upon thousands of men. Soon the battlefield became like a nightmare as if Drona had been appointed by Yamaraja himself to take away the lives of all living creatures.

Thus Ends the Seventh Chapter of the Drona Parva, Entitled, Satyaki Follows the Path of Arjuna.

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