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Chapter 1

Mahabharata English - BHISHMA PARVA

OM! HAVING BOWED down to Narayana, and Nara, the most exalted of malebeings, and also to the goddess Saraswati, must the word ‘Jaya’ beuttered.

Janamejaya said,–“How did those heroes, the Kurus, the Pandavas, and theSomakas, and the high-souled kings assembled together from variouscountries, fight?”

Vaisampayana said,–“Listen thou, O lord of the earth, how thoseheroes,–the Kurus, the Pandavas, and the Somakas,–fought on the sacredplain of the Kurukshetra.[1] Entering Kurukshetra, the Pandavas enduedwith great might, along with the Somakas, advanced, desirous of victory,against the Kauravas. Accomplished in the study of the Vedas, all (ofthem) took great delight in battle. Expectant of success in battle, withtheir troops (they) faced the fight. Approaching the army ofDhritarashtra’s son, those (warriors) invincible in battle[2] stationedthemselves with their troops on the western part (of the plain), theirfaces turned towards the east. Yudhishthira, the son of Kunti, causedtents by thousands to be set up according to rule, beyond the regioncalled Samantapanchaka. The whole earth seemed then to be empty, divestedof horses and men, destitute of cars and elephants, and with only thechildren and the old left (at home). From the whole area of Jamvudwipaover which the sun sheds his rays,[3] was collected that force, O best ofkings. Men of all races,[4] assembled together, occupied an areaextending for many Yojanas over districts, rivers, hills, and woods. Thatbull among men, king Yudhishthira, ordered excellent food and otherarticles of enjoyment for all of them along with their animals. AndYudhishthira fixed diverse watch-words for them; so that one saying thisshould be known as belonging to the Pandavas. And that descendant ofKuru’s race also settled names and badges for all of them for recognitionduring time of battle.

“Beholding the standard-top of Pritha’s son, the high-souled son ofDhritarashtra, with a white umbrella held over his head, in the midst ofa thousand elephants, and surrounded by his century of brothers, beganwith all the kings (on his side) to array his troops against the son ofPandu. Seeing Duryodhana, the Panchalas who took delight in battle, werefilled with joy and blew their loud-sounding conches and cymbals of sweetsounds. Beholding those troops so delighted, Pandu’s son and Vasudeva ofgreat energy had their hearts filled with joy. And those tigers amongmen, Vasudeva and Dhananjaya, seated on one car, having felt great joy,both blew their celestial conches. And hearing the blare of Gigantea andthe loud blast of Theodotes belonging unto the two, the combatantsejected urine and excreta. As other animals are filled with fear onhearing the voice of the roaring lion, even so became that force uponhearing those blasts. A frightful dust arose and nothing could be seen,for the sun himself, suddenly enveloped by it, seemed to have set.[5] Ablack cloud poured a shower of flesh and blood over the troops allaround. All this seemed extraordinary. A wind rose there, bearing alongthe earth myriads of stony nodules, and afflicting therewith thecombatants by hundreds and thousands. (For all that), O monarch, botharmies, filled with joy, stood addrest for battle, on Kurukshetra liketwo agitated oceans. Indeed, that encounter of the two armies was highlywonderful, like that of two oceans when the end of the Yuga is arrived.The whole earth was empty, having only the children and the old left (athome), in consequence of that large army mustered by the Kauravas.[6]Then the Kurus, the Pandavas, and the Somakas made certain covenants, andsettled the rules, O bull of Bharata’s race, regarding the differentkinds of combat. Persons equally circumstanced must encounter each other,fighting fairly. And if having fought fairly the combatants withdraw(without fear of molestation), even that would be gratifying to us. Thosewho engaged in contests of words should be fought against with words.Those that left the ranks should never be slain.[7] A car-warrior shouldhave a car-warrior for his antagonist; he on the neck of an elephantshould have a similar combatant for his foe; a horse should be met by ahorse, and a foot-soldier, O Bharata; should be met by a foot-soldier.Guided by considerations of fitness, willingness, daring and might, oneshould strike another, giving notice. No one should strike another thatis unprepared[8] or panic-struck. One engaged with another, one seekingquarter, one retreating, one whose weapon is rendered unfit, uncased inmail, should never be struck. Car-drivers, animals (yoked to cars orcarrying weapons) men engaged in the transport of weapons,[9] players ondrums and blowers of conches should never be struck. Having made thesecovenants, the Kurus, and the Pandavas, and the Somakas wondered much,gazing at each other. And having stationed (their forces thus), thosebulls among men, those high-souled ones, with their troops, became gladat heart, their joy being reflected on their countenances.”

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