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Chapter 16

Mahabharata English - SHALYA PARVA

“Sanjaya said, ‘Then, O lord, thy troops, with Shalya at their head, oncemore rushed against the Parthas in that battle with great impetuosity.Although afflicted, still these troops of thine, who were fierce inbattle, rushing against the Parthas, very soon agitated them inconsequence of their superior numbers. Struck by the Kurus, the Pandavatroops, in the very sight of the two Krishnas, stayed not on the field,though sought to be checked by Bhimasena. Filled with rage at this,Dhananjaya covered Kripa and his followers, as also Kritavarma, withshowers of shafts. Sahadeva checked Shakuni with all his forces. Nakulacast his glances on the ruler of the Madras from one of his flanks. The(five) sons of Draupadi checked numerous kings (of the Kuru army). ThePancala prince Shikhandi resisted the son of Drona. Armed with his mace,Bhimasena held the king in check, and Kunti’s son Yudhishthira resistedShalya at the head of his forces. The battle then commenced once morebetween those pairs as they stood, among thy warriors and those of theenemy, none of whom had ever retreated from fight. We then beheld thehighly wonderful feat that Shalya achieved, since, alone, he fought withthe whole Pandava army. Shalya then, as he stayed in the vicinity ofYudhishthira in that battle, looked like the planet Saturn in thevicinity of the Moon. Afflicting the king with shafts that resembledsnakes of virulent poison, Shalya rushed against Bhima, covering him withshowers of arrows. Beholding that lightness of hand and that mastery overweapons displayed by Shalya the troops of both the armies applauded himhighly. Afflicted by Shalya the Pandavas, exceedingly mangled, fled away,leaving the battle, and disregarding the cries of Yudhishthira commandingthem to stop. While his troops were thus being slaughtered by the rulerof the Madras, Pandu’s son, king Yudhishthira the just, became filledwith rage. Relying upon his prowess, that mighty car-warrior began toafflict the ruler of the Madras, resolved to either win the battle ormeet with death. Summoning all his brothers and also Krishna of Madhu’srace, he said unto them, “Bhishma, and Drona, and Karna, and the otherkings, that put forth their prowess for the sake of the Kauravas, haveall perished in battle. You all have exerted your valour according toyour courage and in respect of the shares allotted to you. Only oneshare–mine–that is constituted by the mighty car-warrior Shalya,remains. I desire to vanquish that ruler of the Madras today in battle.Whatever wishes I have regarding the accomplishment of that task I willnow tell you. These two heroes, the two sons of Madravati, will becomethe protectors of my wheels. They are counted as heroes incapable ofbeing vanquished by Vasava himself. Keeping the duties of a Kshatriyabefore them, these two that are deserving of every honour and are firm intheir vows, will fight with their maternal uncle. Either Shalya will slayme in battle or I will slay him. Blessed be ye. Listen to these truewords, you foremost of heroes in the world. Observant of Kshatriyaduties, I will fight with my maternal uncle, you lords of Earth, firmlyresolved to either obtain victory or be slain. Let them that furnish carsquickly supply my vehicle, according to the rules of science, withweapons and all kinds of implements in a larger measure than Shalya’s.The grandson of Sini will protect my right wheel, and Dhrishtadyumna myleft. Let Pritha’s son Dhananjaya guard my rear today. And let Bhima,that foremost of all wielders of weapons, fight in my front. I shall thusbe superior to Shalya in the great battle that will occur.” Thusaddressed by the king, all his well-wishers did as they were requested.Then the Pandava troops once more became filled with joy, especially thePancalas, the Somakas and the Matsyas. Having made that vow, the kingproceeded against the ruler of the Madras. The Pancalas then blew andbeat innumerable conchs and drums and uttered leonine roars. Endued withgreat activity and filled with rage, they rushed, with loud shouts ofjoy, against the ruler of the Madras, that bull among the Kurus. And theycaused the Earth to resound with the noise of the elephants’ bells, andthe loud blare of conchs and trumpets. Then thy son and the valiant rulerof the Madras, like the Udaya and the Asta hills, received thoseassailants. Boasting of his prowess in battle, Shalya poured a shower ofarrows on that chastiser of foes, king Yudhishthira the just, likeMaghavat pouring rain. The high-souled king of the Kurus also havingtaken up his beautiful bow displayed those diverse kinds of lessons thatDrona had taught him. And he poured successive showers of arrowsbeautifully, quickly, and with great skill. As he careered in battle,none could mark any lapses in him. Shalya and Yudhishthira, both enduedwith great prowess in battle, mangled each other, like a couple of tigersfighting for a piece of meat. Bhima was engaged with thy son, thatdelighter in battle. The Pancala prince (Dhrishtadyumna), Satyaki, andthe two sons of Madri by Pandu, received Shakuni and the other Kuruheroes around. In consequence of thy evil policy, O king, there againoccurred in that spot an awful battle between thy warriors and those ofthe foe, all of whom were inspired with the desire of victory. Duryodhanathen, with a straight shaft, aiming at the gold-decked standard of Bhima,cut off in that battle. The beautiful standard of Bhimasena, adorned withmany bells, fell down, O giver of honours. Once more the king, with asharp razor-faced arrow, cut off the beautiful bow of Bhima that lookedlike the trunk of an elephant. Endued with great energy, the bowlessBhima then, putting forth his prowess pierced the chest of thy son with adart. At this, thy son sat down on the terrace of his car. WhenDuryodhana swooned away, Vrikodara once more, with razor-faced shaft, cutoff the head of his driver from his trunk. The steeds of Duryodhana’scar, deprived of their driver, ran wildly on all sides, O Bharata,dragging the car after them, at which loud wails arose (in the Kuruarmy). Then the mighty car-warrior Ashvatthama, and Kripa and Kritavarma,followed that car, desirous of rescuing thy son. The (Kaurava) troops (atsight of this) became exceedingly agitated. The followers of Duryodhanabecame terrified. At that time, the wielder of Gandiva, drawing his bow,began to slay them with his arrows. Then Yudhishthira, excited with rage,rushed against the ruler of the Madras, himself urging his steeds whiteas ivory and fleet as thought. We then saw something that was wonderfulin Yudhishthira, the son of Kunti, for though very mild and soft, he thenbecame exceedingly fierce. With eyes opened wide and body trembling inrage, the son of Kunti cut off hostile warriors in hundreds and thousandsby means of his sharp shafts. Those amongst the soldiers against whom theeldest Pandava proceeded, were overthrown by him, O king, like mountainsummits riven with thunder. Felling cars with steeds and drivers andstandards and throwing down car-warriors in large numbers, Yudhishthira,without any assistance, began to sport there like a mighty winddestroying masses of clouds. Filled with rage, he destroyed steeds withriders and steeds without riders and foot-soldiers by thousands in thatbattle, like Rudra destroying living creatures (at the time of theuniversal dissolution). Having made the field empty by shooting hisshafts on all sides, Yudhishthira rushed against the ruler of the Madrasand said, “Wait, Wait!” Beholding the feats then of that hero of terribledeeds, all thy warriors became inspired with fear. Shalya, however,proceeded against him. Both of them filled with rage, blew their conchs.Returning and challenging each other, each then encountered the other.Then Shalya covered Yudhishthira with showers of arrows. Similarly, theson of Kunti covered the ruler of the Madras with showers of arrows. Thenthose two heroes, the ruler of the Madras and Yudhishthira, mangled inthat battle with each other’s arrows and bathed in blood, looked like aSalmali and a Kinsuka tree decked with flowers. Both possessed ofsplendour and both invincible in battle, those two illustrious warriorsuttered loud roars. Beholding them both, the soldiers could not concludewhich of them would be victorious. Whether the son of Pritha would enjoythe Earth, having slain Shalya, or whether Shalya having slain the son ofPandu would bestow the Earth on Duryodhana, could not be ascertained, OBharata, by the warriors present there. King Yudhishthira, in course ofthat battle, placed his foes to his right. Then Shalya shot a hundredforemost of arrows at Yudhishthira. With another arrow of greatsharpness, he cut off the latter’s bow. Taking up another bow,Yudhishthira pierced Shalya with three hundred shafts and cut off thelatter’s bow with a razor-faced arrow. The son of Pandu then slew thefour steeds of his antagonist with some straight arrows. With two othervery sharp shafts, he then cut off the two Parshni drivers of Shalya.Then with another blazing, well-tempered and sharp shaft, he cut off thestandard of Shalya staying in his front. Then, O chastiser of foes, thearmy of Duryodhana broke. The son of Drona, at this time, speedilyproceeded towards the ruler of the Madras who had been reduced to thatplight, and quickly taking him up on his own car, fled away quickly.After the two had proceeded for a moment, they heard Yudhishthira roaraloud. Stopping, the ruler of the Madras then ascended another car thathad been equipped duly. That best of cars had a rattle deep as the roarof the clouds. Well furnished with weapons and instruments and all kindsof utensils, that vehicle made the hair of foes stand on end.'”

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