Chapter 119

Mahabharata English - BHISHMA PARVA

Sanjaya said, “When the combatants of both armies, strong in number, werethus disposed in battle array, all those unretreating heroes, O Bharata,set their heart upon the region of Brahma.[485] In course of the generalengagement that followed, the same class of combatants did not fight withthe same class of combatants. Car-warriors fought not with car-warriors,or foot-soldiers with foot-soldiers, or horsemen with horsemen, orelephant-warriors with elephant-warriors. On the other hand, O monarch,the combatants fought with one another like mad men. Great and dreadfulwas the calamity that overtook both the armies. In that fierce slaughterwhen elephants and men spread themselves on the field, all distinctionsbetween them ceased, for they fought indiscriminately.

“Then Salya and Kripa, and Chitrasena, O Bharata, and Dussasana, andVikarna, those heroes mounted on their bright cars, caused the Pandavahost to tremble. Slaughtered in battle by those high-souled warriors, thePandava army began to reel in diverse ways, O king, like a boat on thewaters tossed by the wind. As the wintry cold cuts kine to the quick, sodid Bhishma cut the sons of Pandu to the quick. As regards thy army also,many elephants, looking like newly-risen clouds, were felled by theillustrious Partha. And many foremost of warriors too were seen to becrushed by that hero. And struck with arrows and long shafts inthousands, many huge elephants fell down, uttering frightful shrieks ofpain. And the field of battle looked beautiful, strewn with the bodies,still decked with ornaments of high-souled warriors deprived of life andwith heads still decked with ear-rings. And in that battle, O king, whichwas destructive of great heroes, when Bhishma and Dhananjaya the son ofPandu put forth their prowess, thy sons, O monarch, beholding thegrandsire exert himself vigorously, approached him, with all their troopsplaced ahead. Desirous of laying down their lives in battle and makingheaven itself their goal, they approached the Pandavas in that battle,which was fraught with great carnage. The brave Pandavas also, O king,bearing in mind the many injuries of diverse kinds inflicted upon thembefore by thee and thy son, O monarch, and casting off all fear, andeager to win the highest heavens, cheerfully fought with thy son and theother warriors of thy army.

“Then the generalissimo of the Pandava army, viz., the mighty car-warriorDhrishtadyumna, addressing his soldiers, said, ‘Ye Somakas, accompaniedby the Srinjayas, rush ye at Ganga’s son.’ Hearing those words of theircommander the Somakas and the Srinjayas, though afflicted with showers ofarrows, rushed at the son of Ganga. Thus attacked, O king, thy sireBhishma, influenced by wrath, began to fight with the Srinjayas. In daysof old, O sire, the intelligent Rama had imparted to Bhishma of gloriousachievements that instruction in weapons which was so destructive ofhostile ranks. Relying on that instruction and causing a great havocamong the troops of the foe, that slayer of hostile heroes, viz., the oldKuru grandsire Bhishma, day after day, slew ten thousand warriors of theRatha. On the tenth day, however, O bull of Bharata’s race, Bhishma,single-handed, slew ten thousand elephants. And then he slew seven greatcar-warriors among the Matsyas and the Panchalas. In addition to allthis, in that dreadful battle five thousand foot-soldiers, and onethousand tuskers, and ten thousand steeds, were also slain by thy sire, Oking, through skill acquired by education. Then having thinned the ranksof all the kings, he slew Satanika, the dear brother of Virata. And thevaliant Bhishma, having slain Satanika in battle, felled, O king, fullone thousand Kshatriyas with his broad-headed shafts. Besides these, allthe Kshatriyas of the Pandava army who followed Dhananjaya, as soon asthey approached Bhishma, had to go to Yama’s abode. Covering the Pandavahost from every side with showers of arrows, Bhishma stayed in battle atthe head of the Kaurava army. Achieving the most glorious feats on thetenth day, as he stayed between the two armies, bow in hand, none of thekings, O monarch, could even look at him, for he then resembled the hotmid-day Sun in the summer sky. As Sakra scorched the Daitya host inbattle, even so, O Bharata, did Bhishma scorch the Pandava host.Beholding him thus put forth his prowess, the slayer of Madhu, viz., theson of Devaki, cheerfully addressing Dhananjaya, said, ‘There, Bhishma,the son of Santanu, stayeth between the two armies. Slaying him byputting forth thy might, thou mayst win victory. There, at that spot,whence he breaketh our ranks, check him, putting forth thy strength. Olord, none else, save thee, ventureth to bear the arrows of Bhishma. Thusurged, the ape-bannered Arjuna at that moment made Bhishma with his car,steeds, and standard, invisible by means of his arrows. That bull,however, among the foremost of Kurus, by means of his own arrowy showers,pierced those showers of shafts shot by the son of Pandu. Then the kingof the Panchalas the valiant Dhrishtaketu, Bhimasena the son of Pandu,Dhrishtadyumna of Prishata’s race, the twins (Nakula and Sahadeva),Chekitana, and the five Kaikaya brothers, and the mighty-armed Satyakiand Subhadra’s son, and Ghatotkacha, and the (five) sons of Draupadi, andSikhandin, and the valiant Kuntibhoja, and Susarman, and Virata, theseand many other powerful warriors of the Pandava army, afflicted by theshafts of Bhishma, seemed to sink in an ocean of grief, Phalguni,however, rescued them all. Then Sikhandin, taking up a mighty weapon andprotected by Kiritin, rushed impetuously towards Bhishma alone. Theunvanquished Vibhatsu then, knowing what should be done after what, slewall those that followed Bhishma, and then himself rushed at him. AndSatyaki, and Chekitana, and Dhristadyumna of Prishata’s race, and Virata,and Drupada, and the twin sons of Madri by Pandu, all protected by thatfirm bowman (viz., Arjuna) rushed against Bhishma alone in that battle.And Abhimanyu, and the five sons of Draupadi also, with mighty weaponsupraised, rushed against Bhishma in battle. All those firm bowmen,unretreating from battle, pierced Bhishma in diverse parts of his bodywith well-aimed shafts. Disregarding all those shafts, large in number,shot by those foremost of princes belonging to the Pandava host, Bhishmaof undepressed soul penetrated into the Pandava ranks. And the grandsirebaffled all those arrows, as if sporting the while. Frequently looking atSikhandin the prince of the Panchalas with a laugh, he aimed not a singlearrow at him, recollecting his femininity. On the other hand, he slewseven great car-warriors belonging to Drupada’s division. Then confusedcries of woe soon arose amongst the Matsyas, the Panchalas, and theChedis, who were together rushing at that single hero. With large numbersof foot-soldiers and steeds and cars, and with showers of arrows, Oscorcher of foes, they overwhelmed that single warrior, viz., Bhishma theson of Bhagirathi, that scorcher of foes, like the clouds overwhelmingthe maker of day. Then in that battle between him and them, whichresembled the battle between the gods and the Asuras in days of old, thediadem-decked (Arjuna), placing Sikhandin before him, pierced Bhishma(repeatedly).’

Chapter 120
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