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Chapter 17

Mahabharata English - BHISHMA PARVA

Sanjaya said,–“Just as the holy Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa had said, inthat very manner the kings of the Earth, mustered together, came to theencounter.On that day on which the battle commenced Soma approached theregion of Pitris.[92] The seven large planets, as they appeared in thefirmament, all looked blazing like fire.[93] The Sun, when he rose,seemed to be divided in twain. Besides, that luminary, as it appeared inthe firmament, seemed to blaze forth in flames.[94] Carnivorous jackalsand crows, expecting dead bodies to feast upon, began to utter fiercecries from all directions that seemed to be ablaze. Every day the oldgrandsire of the Kurus, and the son of Bharadwaja, rising from bed in themorning, with concentrated mind, said,–‘Victory to the sons ofPandu’–while those chastisers of foes used (at the same time) yet tofight for thy sake according to the pledge they had given. Thy fatherDevavrata, fully conversant with every duty, summoning all the kings,said these words (unto them). ‘Ye Kshatriyas, this broad door is open toyou for entering heaven. Go ye through it to the region of Sakra andBrahman. The Rishis of olden times have showed you this eternal path.[95]Honour ye yourselves by engaging in battle with attentive minds. Nabhaga,and Yayati, and Mandhatri, and Nahusa, and Nriga, were crowned withsuccess and obtained the highest region of bliss by feats like these. Todie of disease at home is sin for a Kshatriya. The death he meets with inbattle is his eternal duty.’–Thus addressed, O bull of Bharata’s race,by Bhishma, the kings, looking beautiful in their excellent cars,proceeded to the heads of their respective divisions. Only Vikartana’sson Karna, with his friends and relatives, O bull of Bharata’s race, laidaside his weapons in battle for the sake of Bhishma. Without Karna then,thy sons and all the kings on thy side proceeded, making the ten pointsof the horizon resound with their leonine roars. And their divisionsshone brightly, O king, with white umbrellas, banners, standards,elephants, steeds, cars, and foot-soldiers. And the Earth was agitatedwith the sounds of drums and tabors and cymbals, and the clatter ofcar-wheels. And the mighty car-warriors, decked with their bracelets andarmlets of gold and with their bows (variegated with gold), lookedresplendent like hills of fire. And with his large palmyra-standarddecked with five stars, Bhishma, the generalissimo of the Kuru army,[96]looked like the resplendent Sun himself. Those mighty bowmen of royalbirth, O bull of Bharata’s race, that were on thy side, all took up theirpositions, O king, as Santanu’s son ordered. (King) Saivya of the countryof the Govasanas, accompanied by all the monarchs, went out on a princelyelephant worthy of royal use and graced with a banner on its back. AndAswatthaman, of the complexion of the lotus, went out ready for everyemergency, stationing himself at the very head of all the divisions, withhis standard bearing the device of the lion’s tail. And Srutayudha andChitrasena and Purumitra and Vivinsati, and Salya and Bhurisravas, andthat mighty car-warrior Vikarna,–these seven mighty bowmen on theircarts and cased in excellent mail, followed Drona’s son behind but inadvance of Bhishma. The tall standards of these warriors, made of gold,beautifully set up for adorning their excellent cars, looked highlyresplendent. The standard of Drona, the foremost of preceptors, bore thedevice of a golden altar decked with a water-pot and the figure of a bow.The standard of Duryodhana guiding many hundreds and thousands ofdivisions bore the device of an elephant worked in gems. Paurava and theruler of the Kalingas, and Salya, these Rathas took up their position inDuryodhana’s van. On a costly car with his standard bearing the device ofa bull, and guiding the very van (of his division), the ruler of theMagadhas marched against the foe.[97] That large force of the Easternerslooking like the fleecy clouds of autumn[98] was (besides) protected bythe chief of the Angas (Karna’s son Vrishaketu) and Kripa endued withgreat energy. Stationing himself in the van of his division with hisbeautiful standard of silver bearing the device of the boar, the famousJayadratha looked highly resplendent. A hundred thousand cars, eightthousand elephants, and sixty thousand cavalry were under hiscommand.[99] Commanded by the royal chief of the Sindhus, that largedivision occupying the very van (of the army) and abounding with untoldcars, elephants, and steeds, looked magnificent. With sixty thousand carsand ten thousand elephants, the ruler of the Kalingas, accompanied byKetumat, went out. His huge elephants, looking like hills, and adornedwith Yantras,[100] lances, quivers and standards, looked exceedinglybeautiful. And the ruler of the Kalingas, with his tall standardeffulgent as fire, with his white umbrella, and golden curass, andChamaras (wherewith he was fanned), shone brilliantly. And Ketumat also,riding on an elephant with a highly excellent and beautiful hook, wasstationed in battle, O King, like the Sun in the midst of (black) clouds.And king Bhagadatta, blazing with energy and riding on that elephant ofhis, went out like the wielder of the thunder. And the two princes ofAvanti named Vinda and Anuvinda, who were regarded as equal toBhagadatta, followed Ketumat, riding on the necks of their elephants.And, O king, arrayed by Drona and the royal son of Santanu, and Drona’sson, and Valhika, and Kripa, the (Kaurava) Vyuha[101] consisting of manydivisions of cars was such that the elephants formed its body; the kings,its head; and the steeds, its wings. With face towards all sides, thatfierce Vyuha seemed to smile and ready to spring (upon the foe).”

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