Chapter 19

Mahabharata English - BHISHMA PARVA

Dhritarashtra said,–“Beholding our ten and one Akshauhinis arrayed inorder of battle, how did Yudhishthira, the son of Pandu, make hiscounter-array with his forces smaller in number? How did Kunti’s son, OSanjaya, form his counter-array against that Bhishma who was acquaintedwith all kinds of arrays, viz., human, celestial, Gandharva, and Asura?”

Sanjaya said,–“Seeing the Dhritarashtra divisions arrayed in order ofbattle, Pandu’s son of virtuous soul, king Yudhishthira the just,addressed Dhananjaya, saying,–‘Men are informed from the words of thatgreat Rishi Vrihaspati that the few must be made to fight by condensingthem, while the many may be extended according to pleasure. In encountersof the few with the many, the array to be formed should be theneedle-mouthed one. Our troops compared with the enemy’s are few. Keepingin view this precept of the great Rishi, array our troops, O son ofPandu.’ Hearing this, that son of Pandu answered king Yudhishthira thejust, saying,–That immovable array known by the name of Vajra, which wasdesigned by the wielder of the thunder-bolt,–that invincible array isthe one that I will make for thee, O best of kings. He who is like thebursting tempest, he who is incapable of being borne in battle by thefoe, that Bhima the foremost of smiters, will fight at our head. Thatforemost of men, conversant with all the appliances of battle, becomingour leader, will fight in the van, crushing the energy of the foe. Thatforemost of smiters, viz., Bhima, beholding whom all the hostile warriorsheaded by Duryodhana will retreat in panic like smaller animals beholdingthe lion, all of us, our fears dispelled, will seek his shelter as if hewere a wall, like the celestial seeking the shelter of Indra. The manbreathes not in the world who would bear to cast his eyes upon that bullamong men, Vrikodara of fierce deeds, when he is angry.’–Having saidthis, Dhananjaya of mighty arms did as he said. And Phalguni, quicklydisposing his troops in battle-array, proceeded (against the foe). Andthe mighty army of the Pandavas beholding the Kuru army move, looked likethe full, immovable, and quickly rolling[103] current of Ganga. AndBhimasena, and Dhrishtadyumna endued with great energy, and Nakula, andSahadeva, and king Dhrishtaketu, became the leaders of that force. Andking Virata, surrounded by an Akshawhini of troops and accompanied by hisbrothers and sons, marched in their rear, protecting them from behind.The two sons of Madri, both endued with great effulgence, became theprotectors of Bhima’s wheels; while the (five) sons of Draupadi and theson of Subhadra all endued with great activity, protected (Bhima) frombehind. And that mighty car-warrior, Dhrishtadyumna, the prince ofPanchala, with those bravest of combatants and the foremost ofcar-warriors, viz., the Prabhadrakas, protected those princes frombehind. And behind him was Sikhandin who (in his turn) was protected byArjuna, and who, O bull of Bharata’s race, advanced with concentratedattention for the destruction of Bhishma. Behind Arjuna was Yuyudhana ofmighty strength; and the two princes of Panchala, viz., Yudhamanyu andUttamaujas, became protectors of Arjuna’s wheels, along with the Kekayabrothers, and Dhrishtaketu, and Chekitana of great valour–ThisBhimasena, wielding his mace made of the hardest metal, and moving (onthe field of battle) with fierce speed, can dry up the very ocean. Andthere also stay, with their counsellors looking on him. O king, thechildren[104] of Dhritarashtra.–Even this, O monarch, was what Vibhatsusaid, pointing out the mighty Bhimasena (to Yudhishthira).[105] And whilePartha was saying so, all the troops, O Bharata, worshipped him on thefield of battle with gratulatory words. King Yudhishthira, the son ofKunti, took up his position in the centre of his army, surrounded by hugeand furious elephants resembling moving hills. The high-souled Yajnasena,the king of the Panchalas, endued with great prowess, stationed himselfbehind Virata with an Akshauhini of troops for the sake of the Pandavas.And on the cars of those kings, O monarch, were tall standards bearingdiverse devices, decked with excellent ornaments of gold, and endued withthe effulgence of the Sun and the Moon. Causing those kings to move andmake space for him, that mighty car-warrior Dhrishtadyumna, accompaniedby his brothers and sons protected Yudhishthira from behind. Transcendingthe huge standards on all the cars on thy side and that of the enemy, wasthe one gigantic ape on Arjuna’s car. Foot-soldiers, by many hundreds ofthousands, and armed with swords, spears, and scimitars, proceeded aheadfor protecting Bhimasena. And ten thousand elephants with (temporal)juice trickling down their cheek and mouth, and resembling (on thataccount) showering clouds,[106] endued with great courage, blazing withgolden armour, huge hills, costly, and emitting the fragrance of lotuses,followed the king behind like moving mountains.[107] And the high-souledand invincible Bhimasena, whirling his fierce mace that resembled aparigha[108] seemed to crush the large army (of thy son). Incapable ofbeing looked at like the Sun himself, and scorching as it were, thehostile army (like fire), none of the combatants could bear to even lookat him from any neat point. And this array, fearless and having its faceturned towards all sides called Vajra, having bows for its lightningsign,[109] and extremely fierce, was protected by the wielder of Gandiva.Disposing their troops in this counter-array against thy army, thePandavas waited for battle. And protected by the Pandavas, that arraybecame invincible in the world of men.

“‘And as (both) the armies stood at dawn of day waiting for sunrise, awind began to blow with drops of water (falling), and although there wereno clouds, the roll of thunder was heard. And dry winds began to blow allaround, bearing a shower of pointed pebbles along the ground. And asthick dust arose, covering the world with darkness. And large meteorsbegan to fall east-wards, O bull of Bharata’s race, and striking againstthe rising Sun, broke in fragments with loud noise. When the troops stoodarrayed, O bull of Bharata’s race, the Sun rose divested of splendour,and the Earth trembled with a loud sound, and cracked in many places, Ochief of the Bharatas, with loud noise. And the roll of thunder, O king,was heard frequently on all sides. So thick was the dust that arose thatnothing could be seen. And the tall standards (of the combatants),furnished with strings of bells, decked with golden ornaments, garlandsof flowers, and rich drapery, graced with banners and resembling the Sunin splendour, being suddenly shaken by the wind, gave a loud jinglingnoise like that of a forest of palmyra trees (when moved by the wind). Itwas thus that those tigers among men, the sons of Pandu, ever takingdelight in battle, stood having disposed their troops in counter-arrayagainst the army of thy son, and sucking as it were, the marrow, O bullof Bharata’s race, of our warriors, and casting their eyes on Bhimasenastationed at their head, mace in hand.”

Chapter 20
Chapter 18
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