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Chapter 70

Mahabharata English - DRONA PARVA

“Sanjaya said, ‘When that terrible day, so fraught with the slaughter ofcreatures, departed, and when the sun set, the beautiful twilight of theevening spread itself. The troops, O bull of Bharata’s race, of bothparties, had retired to their tents. Then the ape-bannered Jishnu, havingslain a large number of Samsaptakas by means of his celestial weapons,proceeded towards his tent, mounted on that victorious car of his. And ashe was proceeding, he asked Govinda, with voice choked with tears, ‘Whyis my heart afraid, O Kesava, and why both my speech falter? Evil omensencounter me, and my limbs are weak. Thoughts of disaster possess my mindwithout living it. On earth, on all sides, various omens strike me withfear. Of many kinds are those omens and indications, and seen everywhere,foreboding dire calamity. Is it all right with my venerable superior,viz., the king with all his friends?’

“Vasudeva said, ‘It is evident that everything is right with thy brotherand his friends. Do not grieve, some trifling evil in another directionwill happen.’

“Sanjaya continued, ‘Then those two heroes (viz., Krishna and Arjuna),having adored the Twilight,[125] mounted on their car and proceeded,talking of the day’s battle so destructive of heroes. Having achievedfeats exceedingly difficult of accomplishment, Vasudeva and Arjuna, atlast, reached the (Pandava) encampment. Then that slayer of hostileheroes, viz., Vibhatsu, beholding the camp joyless and melancholy andeverything to be in confusion, addressed Krishna with an agonised heart,and said, ‘O Janardana, no auspicious trumpet blows today, its blastsmingled with the beat of drums and the loud blare of conchs. The sweetVina also is nowhere played upon in accompaniment with slapping ofpalms.[126] Auspicious and delightful songs fraught with praise arenowhere recited or sung by our bards amongst the troops. The warriorsalso, all recede hanging down their heads. They do not tell me beholdingme, as before, of the feats achieved by them. O Madhava, is it all rightwith my brothers today? Beholding our own men plunged in grief, I know nopeace. Is it all right, O giver of honours, with the ruler of thePanchalas, or Virata, or all our warriors, O thou of unfading glory?Alas, Subhadra’s son, ever cheerful, doth not today, with his brothers,come out with smiles to receive me returning from battle.’

“Sanjaya said, ‘Thus conversing, those two, (viz., Krishna and Arjuna),entered their own camp. And they saw that the Pandavas, all cheerless,were sitting, plunged in great grief. Beholding his brothers and sons,the ape-bannered Arjuna became very cheerless. Not seeing the son ofSubhadra there, Arjuna said, ‘Pale is the colour I behold of the faces ofyou all. I do not, again, see Abhimanyu. Nor doth he come to congratulateme. I heard that Drona had today formed the circular array. None amongstyou, save the boy Abhimanyu, could break that array. I, however, did notteach him how to come out of that array, after having pierced it. Did youcause the boy to enter that array? Hath that slayer of heroes, viz., theson of Subhadra, that mighty bowman, having pierced that array, throughnumberless warriors of the enemy in battle, fallen, at last in the fight?Oh, tell me, how that hero of mighty arms and red eyes, born (in ourline) like a lion on the mountain breast, and equal unto the youngerbrother of Indra himself, hath fallen on the field of battle? Whatwarrior, deprived on his senses by Death ventured to slay that dear sonof Subhadra, that favourite of Draupadi and Kesava, that child ever lovedby Kunti? Equal unto the high-souled Vrishni hero, Kesava, himself inprowess and learning and dignity, how hath he been slain on the field ofbattle? The favourite son of that daughter of the Vrishni race, alwayscherished by me, alas, if I do not see him I will repair to the abode ofYama. With locks ending in soft curls, of tender years, with eyes likethose of a young gazelle, with tread like that of an infuriated elephant,tall like a Sala offshoot, of sweet speech accompanied with smiles,quiet, ever obedient to the behest of his superiors, acting like one ofmature years though tender in age, of agreeable speech, reft of vanity,of great courage and great energy, of large eyes resembling lotus-petals,kind to those devoted to him, self-restrained, following nothing mean,grateful, possessed of knowledge, accomplished in weapons, unretreatingfrom battle, always delighting in fight, and enhancing the fears of foes,engaged in the welfare of kinsmen, desirous of victory into sires, neverstriking first, perfectly fearless in battle, alas, if I do not beholdthat son, I will repair to the abode of Yama. In the counting ofcar-warriors always reckoned as a Maharatha, superior to me one and ahalf times, of tender years, of mighty arms, even dear to Pradyumna andKesava and myself, alas, if I do not behold that son I will repair to theabode of Yama. Of beautiful nose, of beautiful forehead, of fair eyes andeyebrows and lips, if I do not behold that face, what peace can my hearthave? Melodious as the voice of the male Kokila, delightful, and sweet asthe warblings of the Vina, without listening to his voice, what peace canmy heart have? His beauty was unrivalled, rare even among the celestials.Without casting my eyes on that form, what peace can my heart have?Accomplished in saluting (his superiors) with reverence, and alwaysobedient to the behests of his sires, alas, if I do not behold him, whatpeace can my heart have? Brave in battle, accustomed to every luxury,deserving of the softest bed, alas, he sleepeth today on the bare earth,as if there is none to take care of him, although he is foremost of thosethat have protectors to look after them. He on whom, while on his bed,the foremost of beautiful women used to attend, alas, he mangled withshafts, will have inauspicious jackals, prowling over the field, toattend upon him today. He who was formerly roused from his slumbers bysingers and bards and panegyrists, alas, he will today be surely awakenedby discordant beasts of prey. That beautiful face of his eminentlydeserved to be shaded by the umbrella, alas, the dust of battle-fieldwill surely befoul today. O child, unfortunate that I am, death forciblytakes thee away from me, who was never satiated with looking at thee.Without doubt, that abode of Yama, which is always the goal of persons ofrighteous deeds, that delightful mansion, illuminated today by thy ownsplendours, is rendered exceedingly beautiful by thee. Without doubt,Yama and Varuna and Satakratu and Kuvera, obtaining thee as a favouriteguest, are making much of thy heroic self. Thus indulging in diverselamentations, like a merchant whose vessel has been sunken. Arjuna,afflicted with great grief, asked Yudhishthira, saying, ‘O, thou ofKuru’s race, hath he ascended to heaven, having caused a great slaughteramong the enemy and contended with the foremost warriors in the face ofbattle? Without doubt, while contending single-handed with foremost ofwarriors, countless in number, and fighting with vigour and resolution,his heart turned towards me from a desire of help. While afflicted byKarna and Drona and Kripa and others with sharp shafts of diverse kindsand bright points, my sons of little strength, must have repeatedlythought, ‘My father will in this press be my rescuer.’ I think, whileindulging in such lamentations, he was felled on the ground by cruelwarriors. Or, perhaps, when he was begotten by me, when he was the nephewof Madhva, when he was born in Subhadra he could not have uttered suchlamentations. Without doubt, my heart, hard as it is, is made of theessence of the thunder, since it breaketh not, even though I do notbehold that mighty-armed hero of red eyes. How could those mighty bowmenof cruel hearts shoot their deep-piercing shafts upon that child oftender years, who, again, Was my son and the nephew of Vasudeva? Thatnoble-hearted youth who, coming forward every day, used to congratulateme, alas, why doth he not present himself today to me when I come backhaving slain the foe? Without doubt, overthrown, he lieth today on thebare earth bathed in blood. Beautifying the earth by his body, he liethlike the sun fallen (from the firmament). I grieve for Subhadra, who,hearing of the death in battle of her unretreating son, will, afflictedwith sorrow, cast away her life. What will Subhadra missing Abhimanyu,say unto me? What also will Draupadi say unto me? Afflicted with grief asthey are, what also shall I say unto them? Without doubt, my heart ismade of the essence of the thunder, since it breaketh not in a thousandfragments at the sight of my weeping daughter-in-law, pierced with grief.The leonine shouts of the Dhritarashtras swelling with pride did, indeed,enter my ears. Krishna also heard Yuyutsu, censuring the heroes (of theDhritarashtra army in these words): ‘Ye mighty car-warriors, having beenunable to vanquish Vibhatsu, and having slain only a child, why do yerejoice? Why, having done what is disagreeable to those two, viz., Kesavaand Arjuna, in battle, why do you in joy roar like lions, when truly thehour for sorrow is come? The fruits of this sinful deed of Yours willsoon overtake you. Heinous is the crime perpetrated by you. How long willit not bear its fruits?’ Rebuking them in these words, the high-souledson of Dhritarashtra by his Vaisya wife, went away, casting off hisweapons afflicted with rage and grief. O Krishna, why did you not tell meall this during the battle? I would then have consumed all thosecar-warriors of cruel hearts.’

“Sanjaya continued, ‘Then Vasudeva, consoling Partha who was afflictedwith grief on account of his son, who was exceedingly anxious, whose eyeswere bathed in tears, and who was, in fact, overwhelmed with this sorrowcaused by the slaughter of his child, said unto him, ‘Do not yield so togrief. This is the way of all brave, unretreating heroes, especially ofKshatriyas, whose profession is battle. O foremost of intelligent men,even this is the goal ordained by the authors of our scriptures forunretreating heroes engaged in battle. Death is certain for heroes thatdo not retreat. There is no doubt that Abhimanyu hath ascended to thoseregions that are reserved for persons of righteous acts. O bull ofBharata’s race, even this is coveted by all that are brave, viz., thatthey may die in battle, facing their foes. As regards Abhimanyu, hehaving slain in battle many heroic and mighty princes, hath met with thatdeath in the face of battle which is coveted by heroes. Do not grieve, Otiger among men I The legislators of old have declared this to be theeternal merit of the Kshatriyas, viz., their death in battle. O best ofthe Bharatas, these brothers of thine are all exceedingly cheerless, asalso the king, and these thy friends, seeing thee plunged in grief. Ogiver of honours, comfort them in consoling words. That which should beis known to thee. It behoveth thee not to grieve.’ Thus comforted byKrishna of wonderful deeds, Partha then said these words unto all hisbrothers, with voice choked with sorrow: ‘O lord of the earth, I desireto hear how the mighty-armed Abhimanyu, how that hero of large eyes,resembling lotus-petals, fought. Ye will see that I will exterminate thefoe with his elephants and cars and steeds, I will exterminate in battlethose slayers of my son with all their followers and kinsmen. Ye all areaccomplished in arms. Ye all were armed with weapons, how then couldSubhadra’s son be slain, even if it were the wielder of the thunder-bolthimself with whom he fought? Alas, if I had known that Pandavas and thePanchalas would be able to protect my son in battle, I myself would havethen protected him. Ye were then on your cars, ye were shooting yourshafts. Alas, how then could Abhimanyu be slain by the foe, causing agreat carnage in your ranks? Alas, ye have no manliness, nor have ye anyprowess, since in the very sight of you all was Abhimanyu slain. Or, Ishould chide my own self, since knowing that ye all are weak, cowardly,and irresolute, I went away! Alas, are your coats of mail and weapons ofall kinds only ornaments for decking your persons, and were words givento you only for speaking in assemblies, that ye failed to protect my son(even though ye were clad in mail, armed from head to foot, and eventhough you had assured me in words of your competence)?–Having saidthese words, Partha sat down, holding bow and his excellent sword.Indeed, none could, at that time, even look at Vibhatsu who thenresembled the Destroyer himself in wrath, repeatedly drawing deepbreaths. None of his friends or kinsmen could venture to look at or speakunto Arjuna, as he sat there exceedingly afflicted with grief on accountof his son, and with face bathed in tears. None! Indeed could addresshim, save Vasudeva or Yudhishthira. These two, under all circumstances,were acceptable to Arjuna. And because they were highly reverenced anddearly loved, therefore, could they alone address him at such times. Thenking Yudhishthira addressing Partha, of eyes like lotus-petals, who wasthen filled with rage and exceedingly afflicted with grief on account ofthe death of his son, said these words.

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