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Chapter 117

Mahabharata English - BHISHMA PARVA

Sanjaya said, “Abhimanyu, O king, displaying his prowess for the sake ofBhishma, fought with thy son who was supported by a large force. ThenDuryodhana, excited with wrath, struck Abhimanyu in the chest with runestraight arrows, and once more with three. Then in that battle, Arjuna’sson, inflamed with wrath, hurled at Duryodhana’s car a terrible dartresembling the rod of Death himself. Thy son, however, that mightycar-warrior, O king, with a broad-headed arrow of great sharpness, cutoff in twain that dart of terrible force coursing towards him with greatspeed. Beholding that dart of his drop down on the earth, Arjuna’swrathful son pierced Duryodhana with three shafts in his arms and chest.And once more, O Chief of the Bharatas, that mighty car-warrior ofBharata’s race struck the Kuru king with ten fierce shafts in the centreof his chest. And the battle, O Bharata, that took place between thosetwo heroes, viz., Subhadra’s son, and that bull of Kuru’s race, theformer fighting for compassing Bhishma’s death and the latter forArjuna’s defeat, was fierce and interesting to behold, and gratifying tothe senses, and was applauded by all the kings. That bull among Brahmanasand chastiser of foes, viz., the son of Drona, excited with wrath in thatbattle, forcibly struck Satyaki in the chest with fierce arrow. Thegrandson of Sini also, that hero of immeasurable soul, struck thepreceptor’s son in every vital limbs with nine shafts winged with thefeathers of the Kanka bird. Aswatthaman then, in that battle, struckSatyaki (in return) with nine shafts, and once more, quickly, withthirty, in his arms and chest. Then that great bowman Of the Satwatarace, possessed of great fame, deeply pierced by Drona’s son, pierced thelatter (in return) with arrows. The mighty car-warrior Paurava, coveringDhrishtaketu in that battle with his shafts, mangled that great bowmanexceedingly. The mighty car-warrior Dhrishtaketu, endued with greatstrength, quickly pierced the former with thirty arrows. Then the mightycar-warrior Paurava cut off Dhrishtaketu’s bow, and uttering a loudshout, pierced him with whetted shafts. Dhrishtaketu then taking upanother bow, pierced Paurava, O king, with three and seventy shafts ofgreat sharpness. Those two great bowmen and mighty car-warriors, both ofgigantic stature, pierced each other with showers of arrows. Eachsucceeded in cutting off the other’s bow, and each slew the other’ssteeds. And both of them, thus deprived of their cars, then encounteredeach other in a battle with swords. And each took up a beautiful shieldmade of bull’s hide and docked with a hundred moons and graced with ahundred stars. And each of them also took up a polished sword ofbrilliant lustre. And thus equipt, they rushed, O king at each other,like two lions in the deep forest, both seeking the companionship of thesame lioness in her season. They wheeled in beautiful circles, advancedand retreated, and displayed other movements, seeking to strike eachother. Then Paurava, excited with wrath, addressed Dhrishtaketu,saying–Wait, Wait,–and struck him on the frontal bone with that largescimitar of his. The king of the Chedis also, in that battle, struckPaurava, that bull among men, on his shoulder-joint, with his largescimitar of sharp edge. Those two repressors of foes thus encounteringeach other in dreadful battle and thus striking each other, O king, bothfell down on the field. Then thy son Jayatsena, taking Paurava up on hiscar, removed him from the field of battle on that vehicle. And as regardsDhrishtaketu, the valiant and heroic Sahadeva, the son of Madri,possessed of great prowess, bore him away from the field.

“Chitrasena, having pierced Susarman with many arrows made wholly ofiron, once more pierced him with sixty arrows and once more with nine.Susarman, however, excited with wrath in battle, pierced thy son, O king,with hundreds of arrows. Chitrasena then, O monarch, excited with rage,pierced his adversary with thirty straight shafts. Susarman, however,pierced Chitrasena again in return.[480]

“In that battle for the destruction of Bhishma, Subhadra’s son, enhancinghis fame and honour, fought with prince Vrihadvala, putting forth hisprowess for aiding (his sire) Partha and then proceeded towards Bhishma’sfront. The ruler of the Kosalas, having pierced the son of Arjuna withfive shafts made of iron, once more pierced him with twenty straightshafts. Then the son of Subhadra pierced the ruler of Kosalas with eightshafts made wholly of iron. He succeeded not, however, in making theruler of the Kosalas to tremble, and, therefore, he once more pierced himwith many arrows. And Phalguni’s son then cut off Vrihadvala’s bow, andstruck him again with thirty arrows winged with feathers of the Kankabird. Prince Vrihadvala then, taking up another bow, angrily pierced theson of Phalguni in that battle with many arrows. Verily, O scorcher offoes, the battle, for Bhishma’s sake, that took place between them, bothexcited with rage and both conversant with every mode of fight, was likethe encounter of Vali and Vasava in days of old on the occasion of thebattle between the gods and the Asuras.

“Bhimasena, fighting against the elephant-division, looked highlyresplendent like Sakra armed with the thunder after splitting largemountains.[481] Indeed, elephants, huge as hills, slaughtered byBhimasena in battle, fell down in numbers on the field, filling the earthwith their shrieks. Resembling massive heaps of antimony, and ofmountain-like proportions, those elephants with frontal globes splitopen, lying prostrate on the earth, seemed like mountains strewn over theearth’s surface. The mighty bowman Yudhishthira, protected by a largeforce, afflicted the ruler of the Madras, encountering him in thatdreadful battle. The ruler of the Madras, in return, displaying hisprowess for the sake of Bhishma, afflicted the son of Dharma, that mightycar-warrior, in battle. The king of Sindhus, having pierced Virata withnine straight arrows of keen points, once more struck him with thirty.Virata, however, O king, that commander of a large division, struckJayadratha in the centre of his chest with thirty shafts of keen points.The ruler of the Matsyas and the ruler of the Sindhus, both armed withbeautiful bows and beautiful scimitars, both decked with handsome coatsof mail and weapons and standards, and both of beautiful forms lookedresplendent in that battle.

“Drona, encountering Dhrishtadyumna the prince of the Panchalas indreadful battle, fought fiercely with his straight shafts. Then Drona, Oking, having cut off the large bow of Prishata’s son, pierced him deeplywith fifty arrows. Then that slayer of hostile heroes, viz., the son ofPrishata, taking up another bow, sped at Drona who was contending withhim, many arrows. The mighty car-warrior Drona however, cut off all thosearrows, striking them with his own. And then Drona sped at Drupada’s sonfive fierce shafts. Then that slayer of hostile heroes, viz., the son ofPrishata, excited with rage, hurled at Drona in that battle a maceresembling the rod of Death himself. Drona however, with fifty arrowschecked that mace decked with gold as it coursed impetuously towards him.Thereupon that mace, cut into fragments, O king, by those shafts shotfrom Drona’s bow, fell down on the earth. Then that scorcher of foes,viz., the son of Prishata, beholding his mace baffled, hurled at Drona anexcellent dart made wholly of iron. Drona, however, O Bharata, cut thatdart with nine shafts in that battle and then afflicted that greatbowman, viz., the son of Prishata. Thus took place, O king, that fierceand awful battle between Drona and the son of Prishata, for the sake ofBhishma.

“Arjuna, getting at the son of Ganga, afflicted him with many arrows ofkeen points, and rushed at him like an infuriate elephant in the forestupon another. King Bhagadatta, however, of great prowess then rushed atArjuna, and checked his course in battle with showers of arrows. Arjunathen, in that dreadful battle, pierced Bhagadatta’s elephant comingtowards him, with many polished arrows of iron, that were all bright assilver and furnished with keen points. The son of Kunti, meanwhile, Oking, urged Sikhandin, saying,–Proceed, proceed, towards Bhishma, andslay him!–Then, O elder brother of Pandu, the ruler of Pragjyotishas,abandoning that son of Pandu, quickly proceeded, O king, against the carof Drupada. Then Arjuna, O monarch, speedily proceeded towards Bhishma,placing Sikhandin ahead. And then there took place a fierce battle, forall the brave combatants of thy army rushed with great vigour againstArjuna, uttering loud shouts. And all this seemed extremely wonderful.Like the wind dispersing in the summer masses of clouds in the welkin,Arjuna dispersed, O king, all those diverse divisions of thy sons.Sikhandin, however, without any anxiety, coming up at the grandsire ofthe Bharatas, quickly pierced him with great many arrows. As regardsBhishma, his car was then his fire-chamber. His bow was the flame of thatfire. And swords I and darts and maces constituted the fuel of that fire.And the showers of arrows he shot were the blazing sparks of that firewith which he was then consuming Kshatriyas in that battle. As a ragingconflagration with constant supply of fuel, wandereth amid masses of drygrass when aided by the wind, so did Bhishma blaze up with his flames,scattering his celestial weapons. And the Kuru hero slew the Somakas thatfollowed Partha in that battle. Indeed that mighty car-warrior checkedalso the other forces of Arjuna, by means of his straight and whettedshafts furnished with wings of gold. Filling in that dreadful battle allthe points of the compass, cardinal and subsidiary, with his leonineshouts, Bhishma felled many car-warriors, O king, (from their cars) andmany steeds along with their riders. And he caused large bodies of carsto look like forests of palmyras shorn of their leafy heads. Thatforemost of all wielders of weapons, in that battle, deprived cars andsteeds and elephants, of their riders. Hearing the twang of his bow andthe slap of his palms, both resembling the roll of the thunder, thetroops, O king, trembled all over the field. The shafts, O chief of men,of thy sire were never bootless as they fell. Indeed, shot from Bhishma’sbow they never fell only touching the bodies of the foe (but pierced themthrough in every case). We saw crowds of cars, O king, deprived ofriders, but unto which were yoked fleet steeds, dragged on all sides withthe speed of the wind. Full fourteen thousand great car-warriors of nobleparentage, prepared to lay down their lives, unretreating and brave, andpossessed of standards decked with gold, belonging to the Chedis, theKasis, and the Karushas, approaching Bhishma, that hero who resembled theDestroyer himself with wide-open mouth, were despatched to the otherworld, with their steeds, cars and elephants. There was not, O king, asingle great car-warrior among the Somakas, who, having approachedBhishma in that battle, returned with life from that engagement.Beholding Bhishma’s prowess, people regarded all those warriors (whoapproached him) as already despatched to the abode of the king of theDead. Indeed, no car-warrior ventured to approach Bhishma in battle,except the heroic Arjuna having white steeds (yoked unto his car) andowning Krishna for his charioteer, and Sikhandin, the prince of Panchala,of immeasurable energy.”



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