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Chapter 109

Mahabharata English - BHISHMA PARVA

Dhritarashtra said, “How did Sikhandin advance against the son of Gangain battle, and how did Bhishma also advance against the Pandavas? Say allthis unto me, O Sanjaya!”

Sanjaya said, “Then all those Pandavas, towards the hour of sun-rise,with beat of drums and cymbals and smaller drums, and with the blare ofconches of milky whiteness, all around, went out for battle, placingSikhandin in their van. And they marched out, O king, having formed anarray that was destructive of all foes. And Sikhandin, O monarch, wasstationed in the very van of all the troops. And Bhimasena and Dhananjayabecame the protectors of his car-wheels. And in his rear were the sons ofDraupadi and the valiant Abhimanyu. And those mighty car-warriors, viz.,Satyaki and Chekitana, became the protectors of the last. And behind themwas Dhrishtadyumna protected by the Panchalas. Next to Dhrishtadyumna,behind, marched the royal lord Yudhishthira, accompanied by the twins,filling the air with leonine shouts, O bull of Bharata’s race. Nextbehind him was Virata, surrounded by his own troops. Next to him marchedDrupada, O mighty-armed one. And the five Kaikeya brothers and thevaliant Dhrishtaketu, O Bharata, protected the rear of the Pandava army.Having disposed their vast army in such an array, the Pandavas rushedagainst thy host, prepared to cast away their lives. And similarly theKauravas, O king, placing that mighty car-warrior Bhishma at the head oftheir whole host, proceeded against the Pandavas. And that invinciblewarrior was protected by thy mighty sons. Next behind them was the greatbowman Drona, as also his mighty son (Aswatthaman). Next behind wasBhagadatta surrounded by his elephant division. And behind Bhagadattawere Kripa and Kritavarman. Behind them were Sudakshina the mighty rulerof the Kamvojas, and Jayatsena, the king of the Magadhas, and Suvala’sson and Vrihadvala. And similarly, many other kings, that were all greatbowmen, protected the rear of thy host, O Bharata. As each day came,Bhishma the son of Santanu, formed arrays in battle, sometimes after themanner of the Asuras, sometimes after that of the Pisachas, and sometimesafter that of the Rakshasas. Then commenced the battle between thytroops, O Bharata, and theirs, both parties smiting one another andincreasing the population of Yama’s kingdom. And the Parthas with Arjunaat their head, placing Sikhandin in the van, proceeded against Bhishma inthat battle, scattering diverse kinds of arrows. And then, O Bharataafflicted by Bhishma with his shafts, (many of) thy warriors, profuselybathed in blood, repaired to the other world. And Nakula and Sahadeva,and the mighty car-warrior Satyaki, approaching thy army, began toafflict it with great vigour. Thus slaughtered in battle, O bull ofBharata’s race, thy warriors were unable to resist that vast host of thePandavas. Then thy host, vigorously afflicted by great car-warriors andthus slaughtered by them everywhere, fled away on all sides. Slaughteredwith sharp shafts by the Pandavas and the Srinjayas they found not aprotector, O bull of Bharata’s race.”

Dhritarashtra said, “Tell me, O Sanjaya, what the valiant Bhishma,excited with rage, did in battle, upon beholding my host afflicted by theParthas. O sinless one, tell me how that hero, that chastiser of foes,rushed against the Pandavas in battle, and slaughtered the Somakas.”

Sanjaya said, “I will tell thee, O king, what thy sire did when thy sons’host was afflicted by the Pandavas and the Srinjayas. With cheerfulhearts, the brave sons of Pandu, O elder brother of Pandu, encounteredthy son’s host, slaughtering (all whom they met). That carnage, O chiefof men, of human beings, elephants and steeds, that destruction by thefoe of thy army in battle, Bhishma could not brook. That invincible andgreat bowman, then, reckless of his very life poured upon the Pandavas,the Panchalas, and the Srinjayas, showers of long shafts and calf-toothedand crescent-shaped arrows. And with weapons, O monarch, he checked withhis shafts and with showers of other weapons, both offensive anddefensive, all sped with energy and wrath, the five foremost of mightycar-warriors of the Pandavas, who had been struggling vigorously inbattle. Excited with wrath, he slaughtered in that battle countlesselephants and steeds. And that bull among men, O monarch, throwing downmany car-warriors from their cars,[473] and horsemen from their horses,and crowds of foot soldiers, and elephant-warriors from the backs of thebeasts they rode, struck terror into the foe. And the Pandava warriorsall rushed together upon Bhishma singly, upon that mighty car-warriorstruggling in battle with great activity, like the Asuras rushingtogether upon him with the thunderbolt in hand. Shooting on all sides hiswhetted arrows whose touch resembled that of Indra’s thunder, he seemedto the enemy to have assembled a terrible visage. While fighting in thatbattle, his large bow, resembling that of Sakra himself, seemed to bealways drawn to a circle. Beholding those feats in battle, thy sons, Omonarch, filled with exceeding wonder, worshipped the grandsire. TheParthas cast their eyes, with cheerless hearts, upon thy heroic sirestruggling in battle, like the celestials upon (the Asura) Viprachitti(in days of old).[474] They could not resist that warrior who thenresembled the Destroyer himself with wide-open mouth. In that battle onthe tenth day, Bhishma, with his sharp shafts, consumed the division ofSikhandin like a conflagration consuming a forest. Him resembling anangry snake of virulent poison, or the Destroyer urged by Death himself,Sikhandin pierced with three shafts in the centre of the chest. Deeplypierced therewith, Bhishma saw that it was Sikhandin (who was piercinghim). Excited with wrath, but unwilling (to fight with Sikhandin) Bhishmalaughingly said, ‘Whether thou choosest to strike me or not, I will neverfight with thee. Thou art that Sikhandin still which the Creator had madethee first’,[475] Hearing these words of his, Sikhandin, deprived of hissenses by wrath, and licking the corners of his mouth addressed Bhishmain that battle, saying, ‘I know thee, O mighty-armed one, to be theexterminator of the Kshatriya race. I have heard also of thy battle withJamadagni’s son. I have also heard much of thy super-human prowess.Knowing thy prowess I will still fight with thee today. For doing what isagreeable to the Pandavas and is agreeable to my own self, O chastiser offoes, I will today fight with thee in battle, O best of men. I will, of acertainty, slay thee. I swear this before thee by my troth! Hearing thesewords of mine, do that which thou shouldst. Whether thou choosest tostrike me or not, thou shall not escape me with life. O thou that artever victorious, O Bhishma, look thy last on this world.

Sanjaya continued, “Having said so, Sikhandin in that battle piercedBhishma with five straight shafts, having already pierced him with hiswordy shafts. Hearing those words of his, the mighty car-warrior Arjuna,regarding Sikhandin to be Bhishma’s Destroyer, urged him on, saying, ‘Iwill fight behind thee, routing the foe with my shafts. Excited withfury, rush thou against Bhishma of terrible prowess. The mighty Bhishmawill not be able to afflict thee in battle. Therefore, O mighty-armedone, encounter Bhishma with vigor. If, O sire, thou returnest todaywithout slaying Bhishma, thou wilt, with myself, be an object of ridiculeto the world. Seek to do that in battle by which, O hero, we may notincur ridicule in this great battle. Stay the grandsire. O thou of greatstrength, I will protect thee in this battle, checking all thecar-warriors (of the Kuru army). Do thou slay the grandsire. Drona, andDrona’s son, and Kripa, and Suyodhana, and Chitrasena, and Vikarna, andJayadratha the ruler of the Sindhus, Vinda and Anuvinda. of Avanti, andSudakshina the ruler of the Kamvojas, and the brave Bhagadatta, and themighty king of the Magadhas, and Somadatta’s son, and the brave Rakshasaswho is Rishyasringa’s son and the ruler of the Trigartas, alone with allthe other great car-warriors (of the Kuru army). I will check like thecontinent resisting the surging sea. Indeed, I will hold in check all themighty warriors of the Kuru army assembled together and battling with us.Do thou slay the grandsire.’

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