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Chapter 157

Mahabharata English - DRONA PARVA

“Sanjaya said, ‘Thus addressed by Duryodhana, Drona’s son, that warriordifficult of defeat in battle, set his heart upon destroying the foe,like Indra bent upon destroying the Daityas. The mighty-armed Aswatthamananswered thy son, saying, ‘It is even so as thou sayest, O descendant ofKuru! The Pandavas are always dear to both myself and my father. So also,are we both dear unto them. Not so, however, in battle. We will,according to the measure of our might, fearlessly contend in battle,reckless of our lives. Myself, Karna, Salya, Kripa, and Hridika’s son,could, O best of kings, destroy the Pandava host within the twinkling ofan eye. The Pandavas also, O best of the Kurus, could within thetwinkling of an eye, destroy the Kaurava host, if, O mighty-armed one, wewere not present in battle. We are fighting with the Pandavas to the bestof our might, and they also are fighting with us to the best of theirmight. Energy, encountering energy, is being neutralised, O Bharata! ThePandava army is incapable of being vanquished as long as the sons ofPandu are alive. This that I tell thee is true. The sons of Pandu areendued with great might. They are, again, fighting for their own sake.Why should not they, O Bharata, be able to slay thy troops. Thou,however, O king, art exceedingly covetous. Thou, O Kaurava, artdeceitful. Thou art vainglorious and suspicious of everything. For this,thou suspectest even us. I think, O king, thou art wicked, of sinfulsoul, and an embodiment of sin. Mean and of sinful thoughts, thoudoubtest us and others. As regards myself, fighting with resolution forthy sake, I am prepared to lay down my life. I will presently go tobattle for thy sake, O chief of the Kurus. I will fight with the foe andslay a large number of the enemy. I will fight with the Panchalas, theSomakas, the Kaikeyas, and the Pandayas also, in battle, for doing whatis agreeable to thee, O chastiser of foes. Scorched with my arrows today,the Chedis, the Panchalas, and the Somakas, will fly away on all sideslike a herd of kine afflicted by a lion. Today, the royal son of Dharmawith all the Somakas, beholding my prowess, will regard the whole worldto be filled with Aswatthamans. Dharma’s son, Yudhishthira, will becomeexceedingly cheerless, beholding the Panchalas and Somakas slain (by me)in battle. I will, O Bharata, slay all those that will approach me inbattle. Afflicted with the might of my arms, none of them, O hero, willescape me today with life.’ Having said so unto thy son, Duryodhana, themighty-armed (Aswatthaman) proceeded to battle, and afflicted all bowmen.That foremost of all living beings thus sought to achieve what wasagreeable to thy sons. The son of Gotama’s daughter, then addressing thePanchalas and the Kaikeyas, said unto them, ‘Ye mighty car-warriors,strike ye all at my body. Displaying your lightness in the use of arms,fight ye with me coolly.’ Thus addressed by him, all those combatants, Oking, poured showers of weapons upon Drona’s son like clouds pouringtorrents of rain. Baffling that shower, Drona’s son in that battle, slewten brave warriors amongst them, in the very sight, O lord, ofDhrishtadyumna and the sons of Pandu. The Panchalas and the Somakas then,thus worked in battle, abandoned the son of Drona and fled away in alldirections. Beholding those brave warriors, viz., the Panchalas and theSomakas, flying away, Dhrishtadyumna, O king, rushed against Drona’s sonin that battle. Surrounded then by a hundred brave and unreturningcar-warriors mounted upon cars, decked with gold, and the rattle of whosewheels resembled the roar or rain-charged clouds, the mighty car-warriorDhrishtadyumna, the son of the Panchala king, beholding his warriorsslain, addressed Drona’s son and said these words, ‘O foolish son of thepreceptor, what is the use of slaying vulgar combatants. If thou art ahero, fight then with me in battle. I will slay thee. Wait for a momentwithout flying away.’ Saying thus, Dhrishtadyumna of great prowess struckthe preceptor’s son with many keen and terrible arrows capable ofpiercing the very vitals. Those swiftly-coursing shafts, equipped withgolden wings and keen points, and capable of piercing the body of everyfoe proceeding in a continuous line, penetrated into Aswatthaman’s body,like freely-roaming bees in search of honey entering a flowering tree.Deeply pierced and swelling with rage, like a trodden snake, the proudand fearless son of Drona, arrow in hand, addressed his foe, saying, ‘ODhrishtadyumna, wait for moment, without leaving my presence.’ Soon shallI despatch thee to Yama’s abode with my keen shafts.’ Having said thesewords, that slayer of hostile heroes, viz., the son of Drona, displayinggreat lightness of hands, covered the son of Prishata from every sidewith clouds of arrows. Thus covered in that encounter (with arrows) byDrona’s son, the Panchala prince, difficult to defeat in battle, said’Thou knowest not of my origin, O Brahmana, or of my vow. O thou ofwicked understanding, having first slain Drona himself, I will not,therefore, slay thee today when Drona himself is still alive. O thou ofwicked understanding, after this night passeth away and bringeth in thefair dawn, I shall first slay thy sire in battle and then despatch theealso to the region of Spirits. Even this is the wish entertained by me.Standing before me, display, therefore, till then, the hatred thoubearest towards the Parthas, and the devotion thou cherishest for theKurus. Thou shalt not escape from me with life. That, Brahmana who,abandoning the practices of a Brahmana, devoteth himself to the practicesof a Kshatriya, becomes slayable by all Kshatriyas even as thou, O lowestof men.’ Thus addressed by Prishata’s son in language so harsh andinsulting that best of Brahmanas Aswatthaman mustered all his rage andanswered, saying, ‘Wait, Wait!’ And he gazed at Prishata’s son apparentlyburning him with his eyes. Sighing (in rage) like a snake, thepreceptor’s son, then, covered Dhrishtadyumna in that battle (with ashower of arrows). The mighty-armed son of Prishata, however, that bestof car-warriors, surrounded by all the Panchala troops, though thusstruck with arrows in that encounter by Drona’s son, did not tremble,relying as he did on his own energy. In return, he sped many arrows atAswatthaman. Both engaged in a gambling match in which the stake was lifeitself, those heroes, unable to brook each other, resisted each other andchecked each other’s arrowy showers. And those great bowmen shot denseshowers of shafts all around. Beholding that fierce battle, inspiringterror, between Drona’s and Prishata’s son, the Siddhas and Charanas andother sky-ranging beings applauded them highly. Filling the welkin andall the points of the compass with clouds of shafts, and creating a thickgloom therewith, those two warriors continued to fight with each other,unseen (by any of us). As if dancing in that battle, with their bowsdrawn to circles, resolutely aspiring to slay each other, thosemighty-armed warriors, inspiring fear in every heart, fought wonderfullyand with remarkable activity and skill. Applauded by thousands offoremost warriors in that battle, and thus resolutely engaged in fightlike two wild elephants in the forest, both the armies, beholding them,became filled with delight. And leonine shouts were heard there, and allthe combatants blew their conchs. And hundreds and thousands of musicalinstruments began to be sounded. That fierce fight, enhancing the terrorof the timid, seemed only for a short time to be waged equally. ThenDrona’s son, O king, making a rush, cut off the bow, and standard, andumbrella, and the two Parshni drivers, and the principal driver, and thefour steeds, of the high-souled son of Prishata. And that warrior ofimmeasurable soul then caused the Panchalas in hundreds and thousands, bymeans of his straight shafts, to fly away. Beholding those feats ofDrona’s son, resembling those of Vasava himself in battle, the Pandavahost, O bull of Bharata race, began to tremble in fear. Slaying a hundredPanchalas with a hundred arrows, and three foremost of men with threekeen arrows, in the very sight of Drupada’s son and of Phalguna, thatmighty car-warrior, viz., the son of Drona, slew a very large number ofPanchalas that stayed before him. The Panchalas then, as also theSrinjayas, thus disconcerted in battle, fled away leaving Drona’s son,with their banners torn. Then that mighty car-warrior, viz., the son ofDrona, having vanquished his foes in battle, uttered a loud roar likethat of a mass of clouds at the end of summer. Having slain a largenumber of foes, Aswatthaman looked resplendent like the blazing fire atthe end of the Yuga, after having consumed all creatures. Applauded byall the Kauravas after having defeated thousands of foes in battle, thevaliant son of Drona beamed forth in beauty, like the chief of thecelestials himself after vanquishing his foes’.”

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