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Chapter 44

Mahabharata English - BHISHMA PARVA

Dhritarashtra said, ‘When the divisions of both my side and the foe werethus arrayed, who struck first, the Kurus or the Pandavas?’

Sanjaya said, “Hearing those words of his (elder) brother, thy sonDussasana advanced with his troops, with Bhishma at their head, and thePandavas also advanced with cheerful hearts, desiring battle withBhishma, having Bhimasena at their head. Then leonine, shouts, andclamorous uproars and the noise of Krakachas, the blare of cow-horns, andthe sound of drums and cymbals and tabors, arose in both armies. And thewarriors of the foe rushed against us, and we also (rushed) against themwith loud shouts. And the uproar (caused by this rush) wasdeafening.[317] The vast hosts of the Pandavas and the Dhartarashtras, inthat awfully murderous encounter shook in consequence of that uproar ofconches and cymbals, like forests shaken by the wind.[318] And the dinmade by those hosts teeming with kings, elephants, and steeds, rushingagainst one another in that evil hour, was as loud as that of oceansagitated by the tempest. And when that din, loud and causing the hair tostand on end, arose, the mighty-armed Bhimasena began to roar like abull. And those roars of Bhimasena rose above the clamour of conches anddrums, the grunts of elephants, and the leonine shouts of the combatants.Indeed, the shouts of Bhimasena transcended the noise made by thethousands of chargers neighing in (both) the armies. And hearing thoseshouts of Bhimasena who was roaring like the clouds, shouts thatresembled the report of Sakra’s thunder, thy warriors were filled withfear. And at those roars of the hero, the steeds and elephants allejected urine and excreta like other animals at the roar of the lion. Androaring like a deep mass of clouds, and assuming an awful form, that herofrightened thy sons and fell upon them.[319] Thereupon the brothers,viz., thy sons Duryodhana, and Durmukha and Dussaha, and that mightycar-warrior Dussasana, and Durmarshana, O king, and Vivingsati, andChitrasena, and the great car-warrior Vikarna and also Purumitra, andJaya, and Bhoja, and the valorous son of Somadatta, shaking theirsplendid bows like masses of clouds exhibiting the lightning’s flashes,and taking out (of their quivers) long arrows resembling snakes that havejust cast off their sloughs, surrounded that mighty bowman rushing(towards them) covering him with flights of arrows like the cloudsshrouding the sun. And the (five) sons of Draupadi, and the mightycar-warrior Saubhadra,[320] and Nakula, and Sahadeva, and Dhrishtadyumnaof Prishata’s race, rushed against (those) Dhartarashtras, tearing themwith whetted shafts like summits of mountains with the impetuous bolts ofheaven. And in that first encounter characterised by the awful twang ofbow-strings and their flapping against the leathern fences (of thewarriors)[321] no combatant, either on thy side or that of the foe,turned back. And, O bull of Bharata’s race, I beheld the lightness ofhand of the disciples of Drona (in particular), who, shooting innumerablearrows, O king, always succeeded in hitting the mark.[322] And the twangof sounding bowstrings ceased not for a moment, and the blazing arrowsshot through (the air) like meteors (falling) from the firmament. And allthe other kings, O Bharata, stood like (silent) spectators witnessingthat interesting and awful encounter of kinsmen. And then those mightycar-warriors, with wrath excited and remembering the injuries sustainedat one another’s hands, strove in battle, O king, challenging oneanother. And the two armies of the Kurus and the Pandavas, teeming withelephants, steeds and cars, looked exceedingly beautiful on the field ofbattle like painted figures on a canvas. And then the (other) kings alltook up their bows. And the Sun himself was shrouded by the dust raisedby the combatants. And they fell upon one another, at the heads of their(respective) troops, at the command of thy son. And the loud uproar madeby the elephants and the chargers of those kings rushing to the combat,mingled with the leonine shouts of the combatants and the din made by theblare of conches and the sounds of drums. And the uproar of that oceanhaving arrows for its crocodiles, bows for its snakes, swords for itstortoises, and the forward leaps of the warriors for its tempest,resembled the din made by the (actual) ocean when agitated. And kings inthousands, commanded by Yudhishthira, with their (respective) troops fellupon the ranks of thy son. And the encounter between the combatants ofthe two hosts was fierce in the extreme. And no difference could beperceived between the combatants of our side or that of the foe, whilebattling, or retreating in broken array or rallying again to the fight.In that terrific and awful battle, thy father (Bhishma) shone,transcending that countless host.

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