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Chapter 107

Mahabharata English - BHISHMA PARVA

Sanjaya said, “Then thy sire, excited with wrath, began to strike theParthas and their troops all round, with excellent shafts of greatsharpness. And he pierced Bhima with twelve shafts, and Satyaki withnine. And having pierced Nakula with three shafts, he pierced Sahadevawith seven. And he pierced Yudhishthira in the arms and the chest withtwelve shafts. And piercing Dhrishtadyumna also, that mighty warrioruttered a loud roar. Him Nakula pierced (in return) with twelve shafts,and Satyaki with three. And Dhrishtadyumna pierced him with seventyshafts, and Bhimasena with seven. And Yudhishthira pierced the grandsirein return with twelve shafts. Drona (on the other hand), having piercedSatyaki, pierced Bhimasena next. And he pierced each of them with fivesharp shafts, each of which resembled the rod of Death. Each of thosetwo, however, pierced Drona, that bull among Brahmanas, in return, withthree straight shafts. The Sauviras, the Kitavas, the Easterners, theWesterners, the Northerners, the Malavas, the Abhishahas, the Surasenas,the Sivis, and the Vasatis, did not avoid Bhishma in battle although theywere incessantly slaughtered by him with sharp shafts. And similarlykings coming from diverse countries and armed with diverse weapons,approached the Pandavas (without seeking to avoid them in battle). Andthe Pandavas, O king, surrounded the grandsire on all sides. Surroundedon all sides, yet unvanquished by that large body of cars, Bhishma blazedup like a fire in the midst of a forest, and consumed his foes. His carwas his fire-chamber; his bow constituted the (flames of that fire);swords, darts, and maces, constituted the fuel; his shafts were thesparks (of that fire); and Bhishma was himself the fire that consumed theforemost of Kshatriyas. Indeed, with shafts furnished with golden wingsand vulturine feathers and endued with great energy, with barbed arrows,and nalikas, and long shafts, he covered the hostile host. And he felledelephants and car-warriors also with his sharp shafts. And he made thatlarge body of cars resemble a forest of palmyras shorn of their leafyheads. And that mighty armed warrior, that foremost of all wielders ofweapons, O king, deprived cars and elephants and steeds of their ridersin that conflict. And hearing the twang of his bow-string and the noiseof his palms, loud as the roar of the thunder, all the troops trembled, OBharata. The shafts of thy sire, O bull of Bharata’s race, told on thefoe. Indeed, shot from Bhishma’s bow they did not strike the coats ofmail only (but pierced them through). And we beheld, O king, many carsdestitute of their brave riders dragged over the field of battle, Omonarch, by the fleet steeds yoked unto them. Fourteen thousandcar-warriors, belonging to the Chedis, the Kasis, and the Karushas, ofgreat celebrity and noble parentage, prepared to lay down their lives,unretreating from the field, and owning excellent standards decked withgold, having met with Bhishma in battle who resembled the Destroyerhimself with wide-open mouth, all went to the other world along withtheir cars, steeds, and elephants. And we beheld there, O king, cars byhundreds and thousands, some with their axles and bottoms broken, andsome, O Bharata, with broken wheels. And the earth was strewn with carsbroken along with their wooden fences, with the prostrate forms ofcar-warriors, with shafts, with beautiful but broken coats of mail, withaxes. O monarch; with maces and short arrows and sharp shafts, withbottoms of cars, with quivers and broken wheels, O sire, with innumerablebows and scimitars and heads decked with ear-rings; with leathern fencesand gloves and overthrown standards, and with bows broken in variousparts. And elephants, O king, destitute of riders, and slain horsemen (ofthe Pandava army), lay dead. The valiant Pandavas notwithstanding alltheir efforts, could not rally those car-warriors, who, afflicted by theshafts of Bhishma, were flying away from the field. Indeed, O king, thatmighty host while being slaughtered by Bhishma endued with energy equalto that of Indra himself, broke so completely that no two persons fledtogether. With its cars, elephants, and steeds overthrown, and with itsstandards laid low in profusion, the army of the sons of Pandu, deprivedof senses, uttered loud exclamations of woe. And at that time, sire slewson, and son slew sire, and friend smote dear friend, impelled by fate.And many combatants of the Pandavas army, throwing aside their armour,were seen flying in all directions with dishevelled hair. Indeed, thePandava troops looked like bulls running wild in fear, and no longerrestrained by the yoke. Indeed, loud were the exclamations, we heard ofwoe that they uttered.

“Then that delighter of the Yadavas, beholding the Pandava army breaking,reined the excellent car (that he guided), and addressing Vibhatsu theson of Pritha, said,–That hour is come, O Partha, which thou hadst hopedfor. Strike now, O tiger among men, or thou wilt be deprived of thysenses. Formerly, O hero, thou saidst, O Partha, in that conclave ofkings in Virata’s city, in the presence also of Sanjaya, these words:–‘Iwill slay all the warriors of Dhritarashtra’s son, all of them with theirfollowers, including, Bhishma and Drona, that would fight with me inbattle–O son of Kunti, O chastiser of foes, make those words of thinetrue. Remembering the duty of a Kshatriya, fight, without any anxiety.’Thus addressed by Vasudeva, Arjuna hung down his head and looked askanceat him. And Vibhatsu replied very unwillingly, saying, ‘To acquiresovereignty with hell in the end, having slain those who should not beslain, or the woes of an exile in the woods,–(these are thealternatives). Which of these should I achieve? Urge the steeds, OHrishikesa, I will do thy bidding. I will overthrow the Kuru grandsireBhishma, that invincible warrior.’–Thus asked, Madhava urged thosesteeds of a silvery hue, to the spot where Bhishma, incapable of beinglooked at like the Sun himself, was staying. Then that large host ofYudhishthira rallied and came again to the fight, beholding themighty-armed Partha proceeding for an encounter with Bhishma. ThenBhishma that foremost one among the Kurus, repeatedly roared like a lion.And he soon covered Dhananjaya’s car with a shower of arrows. Within atrice that car of his with its steeds and charioteer, became entirelyinvisible in consequence of that thick shower of arrows. Vasudeva,however, without fear, mustering patience, and endued with greatactivity, urged those steeds mangled with Bhishma’s shafts. Then Partha,taking up his celestial bow of twang loud as the roar of the clouds,caused Bhishma’s bow to drop from his hands, cutting it (into fragments)by means of his sharp shafts. Then thy sire, the Kuru hero, whose bow hadthus been cut off, stringed another large bow within the twinkling of theeye. Arjuna, however, excited with wrath, cut that bow also of his. Theson of Santanu applauded that lightness of hand displayed by Arjuna,saying, ‘Well done, Well done, O mighty-armed one. Well done, O son ofKunti.’–Having addressed him thus, Bhishma took up another beautiful bowin that battle, and shot many arrows at Partha’s car. And Vasudeva showedgreat skill in the management of steeds, for, displaying the circlingmotion he baffled all those arrows (of Bhishma). Mangled with the arrowsof Bhishma, those two tigers among men looked beautiful like two angrybulls marked with scratches of horns. Then that slayer of hostile heroes,viz., the mighty-armed Vasudeva of Madhu’s race beholding that Partha wasfighting mildly and that Bhishma was incessantly scattering his arrowyshowers in battle, and that stationed between the two hosts, he latterwas scorching everything like the Sun himself, smiting down the foremostof Yudhishthira’s combatants, and, in fact, achieving feat onYudhishthira’s army like unto what happeneth at the end of the Yuga,could not any longer bear it. Abandoning then, O sire, Partha’s steedsthat looked like silver, and filled with wrath, that great lord of Yogapowers jumped down from that great car. Repeatedly roaring like a lion,the mighty Krishna of great energy and immeasurable splendour, the Lordof Universe, with eyes red as copper from rage, and having his bare armsalone for his weapons, rushed towards Bhishma, whip in hand, desirous ofslaying him and seeming to split the universe itself with his tread.Beholding Madhava in the vicinity of Bhishma and about to fall upon himin that furious battle, the hearts of all the combatants seemed to be ina stupor. ‘Bhishma is slain, Bhishma is slain.’–These loud exclamationswere heard there, O king, caused by the fear inspired by Vasudeva. Robedin yellow silk, and himself dark as the lapis lazuli, Janarddana, when hepursued Bhishma, looked beautiful as a mass of clouds charged withlightning. Like a lion towards an elephant, or the leader of a bovineherd upon another of his species, that bull of Madhu’s race, with a loudroar, impetuously rushed towards Bhishma. Beholding him of eyes likelotus petals (thus) rushing towards him in that battle, Bhishma began tofearlessly draw his large bow. And with a fearless heart he addressedGovinda, saying, ‘Come, come, O thou of eyes like lotus petals. O God ofthe gods, I bow to thee. O best of the Satwatas, throw me down today inthis great battle. O god, slain by thee in battle, O sinless one, greatwill be the good done to me, O Krishna, in every respect in the world.Amongst all, in the three worlds, great is the honour done to me today inbattle, O Govinda. Strike me as thou pleasest, for I am thy slave, Osinless one.’ Meanwhile, the mighty-armed Partha. quickly followingKesava behind, seized him by encircling him with his two arms. That bestof male beings, viz., Krishna, of eyes like lotus petals, seized byPartha, still proceeded with great speed, bearing the latter away withhim. The mighty Partha, that slayer of hostile heroes, however, forciblycatching hold of his legs, stopped Hrishikesa with great difficulty atthe tenth step. Then Arjuna his dear friend, filled with sorrow,affectionately addressed Kesava, who was then sighing like a snake andwhose eyes were troubled in wrath, saying, ‘O thou of mighty arms, stop,O Kesava, it behoveth thee not to make those words false which thou hadstspoken before, viz., I will not fight. O Madhava, people will say thatthou art a liar. All this burden resteth upon me. I will slay thegrandsire. I swear, O Kesava, by my weapons, by truth, and my good deeds,that, O slayer of foes, I will do all by which the destruction of my foesmay be achieved. Behold this very day that invincible and mightycar-warrior in the act of being thrown down by me, with the greatestease, like the crescent moon at the end of the Yuga (when the destructionof the universe comes). Madhava, however, hearing these words of thehigh-souled Phalguni, spoke not a word, but in anger once more mountedupon the car. And then upon those two tigers among men, when stationed ontheir car, Bhishma the son of Santanu, once more poured his arrowyshowers like the clouds pouring rain upon the mountain-breast. Thy sireDevavrata took the lives of the (hostile) warriors like the Sun suckingwith his rays the energies of all things during summer. As the Pandavashad been breaking the ranks of the Kurus in battle, so thy sire broke thePandava ranks in battle. And the routed soldiers, helpless and heartless,slaughtered in hundreds and thousands by Bhishma, were unable to evenlook at him in that battle,–him who resembled the mid-day Sun blazing inhis own splendour. Indeed, the Pandavas afflicted with fear, timidlygazed at Bhishma who was then achieving super-human feats in that battle.And the Pandava troops, thus fleeing away, O Bharata, failed to find aprotector, like a herd of kine sunk in a shoal of ants while being troddown by a strong person. Indeed, the Pandavas could not, O Bharata, lookat that mighty car-warrior incapable of being shaken, who, furnished witha profusion of shafts, was scorching the kings (in the Pandava army), andwho in consequence of those shafts looked like the blazing Sun sheddinghis fiery rays. And while he was thus grinding the Pandava army, thethousand-rayed maker of day repaired to the setting hills, and thetroops, worn with fatigue, set their hearts on withdrawal (from thefield).”



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