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Chapter 49

Mahabharata English - BHISHMA PARVA

Dhritarashtra said, “When the generalissimo Sweta, O son, was slain inbattle by the enemy, what did those mighty bowmen, the Panchalas with thePandavas, do? Hearing their commander Sweta slain, what happened betweenthose that strove for his sake and their foes that retreated before them?O Sanjaya, hearing of our victory, (thy) words please my heart? Nor dothmy heart feel any shame in remembering our transgression.[348] The oldchief of Kuru’s race is ever cheerful and devoted (to us). (As regardsDuryodhana), having provoked hostilities with that intelligent son of hisuncle, he sought at one time the protection of the sons of Pandu inconsequence of his anxiety and fear due to Yudhishthira. At that time,abandoning everything he lived in misery. In consequence of the prowessof the sons of Pandu, and everywhere receiving checks–having placedhimself amid entanglements–from his enemies Duryodhana had (for sometime) recourse to honourable behaviour. Formerly that wicked-minded kinghad placed himself under their protection. Why, therefore, O Sanjaya,hath Sweta who was devoted to Yudhishthira, been slain. Indeed, thisnarrow-minded prince, with all his prospects, hath been hurled to thenether regions by a number of wretches. Bhishma liked not the war, noreven did the preceptor.[349] Nor Kripa, nor Gandhari liked it. O Sanjaya,nor do I like it, nor Vasudeva of Vrishni’s race, nor that just king theson of Pandu; nor Bhima, nor Arjuna, nor those bulls among men, the twins(liked it.) Always forbidden by me, by Gandhari, by Vidura, by Rama theson of Jamadagni, and by the high-souled Vyasa also, the wicked-mindedand sinful Duryodhana, with Dussasana, O Sanjaya, always following thecounsels of Karna and Suvala’s son, behaved maliciously towards thePandavas. I think, O Sanjaya, that he has fallen into great distress.After the slaughter of Sweta and the victory of Bhishma what did Partha,excited with rage, do in battle accompanied by Krishna? Indeed, it isfrom Arjuna that my fears arise, and those fears, O Sanjaya, cannot bedispelled. He, Dhananjaya. the son of Kunti, is brave and endued withgreat activity. I think, with his arrows he will cut into fragments thebodies of his enemies. The son of Indra, and in battle equal unto Upendrathe younger brother of Indra, a warrior whose wrath and purposes arenever futile, alas, beholding him what becomes the state of your minds?Brave, acquainted with Vedas, resembling the fire and the Sun insplendour, and possessing a knowledge of the Aindra weapon, that warriorof immeasurable soul is ever victorious when he falleth upon the foe? Hisweapons always falling upon the foe with the force of the thunderbolt andhis arms wonderfully quick in drawing the bowstring, the son of Kunti isa mighty car-warrior. The formidable son of Drupada also, O Sanjaya, isendued with great wisdom. What, indeed, did Dhristadyumna do when Swetawas slain in battle? I think that in consequence of the wrongs theysustained of old, and of the slaughter of their commander, the hearts ofthe high-souled Pandavas blazed up. Thinking of their wrath I am never atmy ease, by day or by night, on account of Duryodhana. How did the greatbattle take place? Tell me all about it, O Sanjaya.

Sanjaya said, “Hear, O king, quietly about thy transgressions. Itbehoveth thee not to impute the fruit to Duryodhana. As is theconstruction of an embankment when the waters have disappeared, so is thyunderstanding, or, it is like the digging of a well when house is onfire.[350] When, after the forenoon had passed away, the commander Swetawas, O Bharata, slain by Bhishma in that fierce conflict, Virata’s sonSankha, that grinder of hostile ranks ever delighting in battle,beholding Salya stationed with Kritavarman (on his car), suddenly blazedup with wrath, like fire with clarified butter. That mighty warrior,stretching his large bow that resembled the bow of Indra himself, rushedwith the desire of slaying the ruler of the Madras in battle, himselfsupported on all sides by a large division of cars. And Sankha, causingan arrowy downpour rushed towards the car on which Salya was. Andbeholding him advancing like an infuriate elephant, seven mightycar-warriors of thy side surrounded him–desirous of rescuing the rulerof the Madras already within the jaws of death. Then the mighty-armedBhishma, roaring like the very clouds, and taking up a bow full sixcubits long, rushed towards Sankha in battle. And beholding that mightycar-warrior and great bowman thus rushing, the Pandava host began totremble like a boat tossed by a violence of the tempest. Then Arjuna,quickly advancing, placed himself in front of Sankha, thinking thatSankha should, then be protected from Bhishma. And then the combatcommenced between Bhishma and Arjuna. And loud cries of oh and alas aroseamong the warriors engaged in battle. And one force seemed to merge intoanother force. And thus all were filled with wonder.[351] Then Salya,mace in hand, alighting from his large car, slew, O bull of Bharata’srace, the four steeds of Sankha. Jumping down from his car thus deprivedof steeds, and taking a sword, Sankha ran towards Vibhatsu’s car and(mounting on it) was once more at his ease. And then there fell fromBhishma’s car innumerable arrows by which were covered the entire welkinand the earth. And that foremost of smiters, Bhishma, slaughtered withhis arrows the Panchala, the Matsya, the Kekaya, and the Prabhadrakahost. And soon abandoning in that battle, Pandu’s son (Arjuna) capable ofdrawing the bow with even his left hand, Bhishma rushed towards Drupada,the king of the Panchalas, surrounded by his host. And he soon coveredhis dear relative with innumerable arrows. Like a forest consumed by fireat the end of winter, the troops of Drupada were seen to be consumed. AndBhishma stood in that battle like a blazing fire without smoke, or likethe Sun himself at midday scorching everything around with his heat. Thecombatants of the Pandavas were not able to even look at Bhishma. Andafflicted with fear, the Pandava host cast its eyes around, and notbeholding any protector, looked like a herd of kine afflicted by cold.Slaughtered or retreating in despondence being crushed the while, loudcries, O Bharata, of oh and alas arose among the troops of the Pandavas.Then Bhishma the son of Santanu, with bow always drawn to a circle, shottherefrom blazing arrows that resembled virulent poison. And creatingcontinuous lines of arrows in all directions, that hero of rigid vowsslew Pandava car-warriors, naming each, O Bharata, beforehand. And thenwhen the troops of the Pandavas were routed and crushed all over thefield, the sun set and nothing could be seen. And then beholding Bhishma,O bull of Bharata’s race, proudly standing in battle, the Parthaswithdrew their forces (for nightly rest).”

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