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Chapter 17

Mahabharata English - SHALYA PARVA

“Sanjaya said, ‘Taking up another bow that was very strong and muchtougher, the ruler of the Madras pierced Yudhishthira and roared like alion. Then that bull amongst Kshatriyas, of immeasurable soul, pouredupon all the Kshatriyas showers of arrows, even like the deity of theclouds pouring rain in torrents. Piercing Satyaki with ten arrows andBhima with three and Sahadeva with as many, he afflicted Yudhishthiragreatly. And he afflicted all the other great bowmen with their steedsand cars and elephants with many shafts like hunters afflicting elephantswith blazing brands. Indeed, that foremost of car-warriors destroyedelephants and elephant-riders, horses and horsemen and cars andcar-warriors. And he cut off the arms of combatants with weapons in graspand the standards of vehicles, and caused the Earth to be strewn with(slain) warriors like the sacrificial altar with blades of Kusa grass.Then the Pandus, the Pancalas, and the Somakas, filled with rage,encompassed that hero who was thus slaughtering their troops likeall-destroying Death. Bhimasena, and the grandson of Sini, and those twoforemost of men, the two sons of Madri, encompassed that warrior while hewas fighting with the (Pandava) king of terrible might. And all of themchallenged him to battle. Then those heroes, O king, having obtained theruler of the Madras, that foremost of warriors, in battle, checked thatfirst of men in that encounter and began to strike him with winged arrowsof fierce energy. Protected by Bhimasena, and by the two sons of Madri,and by him of Madhu’s race, the royal son of Dharma struck the ruler ofthe Madras in the centre of the chest with winged arrows of fierceenergy. Then the car-warriors and other combatants of thy army, clad inmail and equipped with weapons, beholding the ruler of the Madrasexceedingly afflicted with arrows in that battle, surrounded him on allsides, at the command of Duryodhana. The ruler of the Madras at this timequickly pierced Yudhishthira with seven arrows in that battle. Thehigh-souled son of Pritha, O king, in return, pierced his foe with ninearrows in that dreadful encounter. Those two great car-warriors, theruler of the Madras and Yudhishthira, began to cover each other witharrows, washed in oil and shot from their bowstrings stretched to theirears. Those two best of kings, both endued with great strength, bothincapable of being defeated by foes, and both foremost of car-warriors,watchful of each other’s lapses, quickly and deeply pierced each otherwith each other’s shafts. The loud noise of their bows, bowstrings, andpalms resembled that of Indra’s thunder as those high-souled warriors,the brave ruler of the Madras and the heroic Pandava, showered upon eachother their numberless arrows. They careered on the field of battle liketwo young tigers in the deep forest fighting for a piece of meat.Swelling with pride of prowess, they mangled each other like a couple ofinfuriate elephants equipped with powerful tusks. Then the illustriousruler of the Madras, endued with fierce impetuosity, putting forth hisvigour, pierced the heroic Yudhishthira of terrible might in the chestwith shaft possessed of the splendour of fire or the sun. Deeply pierced,O king, that bull of Kuru’s race, the illustrious Yudhishthira, thenstruck the ruler of the Madras with a well-shot shaft and became filledwith joy. Recovering his senses within a trice, that foremost of kings(Shalya), possessed of prowess equal to that of him of a 1,000 eyes, witheyes red in wrath, quickly struck the son of Pritha with a hundredarrows. At this, the illustrious son of Dharma filled with rage, quicklypierced Shalya’s chest and then, without losing a moment, struck hisgolden mail with six shafts. Filled with joy, the ruler of the Madrasthen, drawing his bow and having shot many arrows, at last cut off, witha pair of razor-faced shafts, the bow of his royal foe, that bull ofKuru’s race. The illustrious Yudhishthira then, taking a new and moreformidable bow in that battle, pierced Shalya with many arrows of keenpoints from every side like Indra piercing the Asura Namuchi. Theillustrious Shalya then, cutting off the golden coats of mail of bothBhima and king Yudhishthira with nine arrows, pierced the arms of both ofthem. With another razor-faced arrow endued with the splendour of fire orthe sun, he then cut off the bow of Yudhishthira. At this time Kripa,with six arrows, slew the king’s driver who thereupon fell down in frontof the car. The ruler of the Madras then slew with four shafts the foursteeds of Yudhishthira. Having slain the steeds of the king, thehigh-souled Shalya then began to slay the troops of the royal son ofDharma. When the (Pandava) king had been brought to that plight, theillustrious Bhimasena, quickly cutting off the bow of the Madra king withan arrow of great impetuosity, deeply pierced the king himself with acouple of arrows. With another arrow he severed the head of Shalya’sdriver from his trunk, the middle of which was encased in mail.Exceedingly excited with rage, Bhimasena next slew, without a moment’sdelay, the four steeds also of his foe. That foremost of all bowmen,Bhima, then covered with a hundred arrows that hero (Shalya), who, enduedwith great impetuosity, was careering alone in that battle. Sahadeva, theson of Madri, also did the same. Beholding Shalya stupefied with thosearrows, Bhima cut off his armour with other shafts. His armour havingbeen cut off by Bhimasena, the high-souled ruler of the Madras, taking upa sword and a shield decked with a 1,000 stars, jumped down from his carand rushed towards the son of Kunti. Cutting off the shaft of Nakula’scar, Shalya of terrible strength rushed towards Yudhishthira. BeholdingShalya rushing impetuously towards the king, even like the Destroyerhimself rushing in rage, Dhristadyumna and Shikhandi and the (five) sonsof Draupadi and the grandson of Sini suddenly advanced towards him. Thenthe illustrious Bhima cut off with ten arrows the unrivalled shield ofthe advancing hero. With another broad-headed arrow he cut off the swordalso of that warrior at the hilt. Filled with joy at this, he roaredaloud in the midst of the troops. Beholding that feat of Bhima, all theforemost car-warriors among the Pandavas became filled with joy. Laughingaloud, they uttered fierce roars and blew their conchs white as the moon.At that terrible noise the army protected by thy heroes became cheerless,covered with sweat, bathed in blood, exceedingly melancholy and almostlifeless. The ruler of the Madras assailed by those foremost of Pandavawarriors headed by Bhimasena, proceeded (regardless of them) towardsYudhishthira, like a lion proceeding for seizing a deer. KingYudhishthira the just, steedless and driverless, looked like a blazingfire in consequence of the wrath with which he was then excited.Beholding the ruler of the Madras before him, he rushed towards that foewith great impetuosity. Recollecting the words of Govinda, he quickly sethis heart on the destruction of Shalya. Indeed, king Yudhishthira thejust, staying on his steedless and driverless car, desired to take up adart. Beholding that feat of Shalya and reflecting upon the fact that thehero who had been allotted to him as his share still remained unslain,the son of Pandu firmly set his heart upon accomplishing that whichIndra’s younger brother had counselled him to achieve. King Yudhishthirathe just, took up a dart whose handle was adorned with gold and gems andwhose effulgence was as bright as that of gold. Rolling his eyes thatwere wide open, he cast his glances on the ruler of the Madras, his heartfilled with rage. Thus looked at, O god among men, by that king ofcleansed soul and sins all washed away, the ruler of the Madras was notreduced to ashes. This appeared to us to be exceedingly wonderful, Omonarch. The illustrious chief of the Kurus then hurled with great forceat the king of the Madras that blazing dart of beautiful and fiercehandle and effulgent with gems and corals. All the Kauravas beheld thatblazing dart emitting sparks of fire as it coursed through the welkinafter having been hurled with great force, even like a large meteorfalling from the skies at the end of the Yuga. King Yudhishthira thejust, in that battle, carefully hurled that dart which resembledkala-ratri (the Death Night) armed with the fatal noose or thefoster-mother of fearful aspect of Yama himself, and which like theBrahmana’s curse, was incapable of being baffled. Carefully the sons ofPandu had always worshipped that weapon with perfumes and garlands andforemost of seats and the best kinds of viands and drinks. That weaponseemed to blaze like Samvartaka-fire and was as fierce as a riteperformed according to the Atharvan of Agnirasa. Created by Tvashtri (thecelestial artificer) for the use of Ishana, it was a consumer of thelife-breaths and the bodies of all foes. It was capable of destroying byits force the Earth and the welkin and all the receptacles of water andcreatures of every kind. Adorned with bells and banners and gems anddiamonds and decked with stones of lapis lazuli and equipped with agolden handle, Tvashtri himself had forged it with great care afterhaving observed many vows. Unerringly fatal, it was destructive of allhaters of Brahma. Having carefully inspired it with many fierce mantras,and endued it with terrible velocity by the exercise of great might andgreat care, king Yudhishthira hurled it along the best of tracks for thedestruction of the ruler of the Madras. Saying in a loud voice the words,”Thou art slain, O wretch!” the king hurled it, even as Rudra had, indays of yore, shot his shaft for the destruction of the asura Andhaka,stretching forth his strong (right) arm graced with a beautiful hand, andapparently dancing in wrath.

Shalya, however, roared aloud and endeavoured to catch that excellentdart of irresistible energy hurled by Yudhishthira with all his might,even as a fire leaps forth for catching a jet of clarified butter pouredover it. Piercing through his very vitals and his fair and broad chest,that dart entered the Earth as easily as it would enter any water withoutthe slightest resistance and bearing away (with it) the world-wide fameof the king (of the Madras). Covered with the blood that issued from hisnostrils and eyes and ears and mouth, and that which flowed from hiswound, he then looked like the Krauncha mountain of gigantic size when itwas pierced by Skanda. His armour having been cut off by that descendantof Kuru’s race, the illustrious Shalya, strong as Indra’s elephant,stretching his arms, fell down on the Earth, like a mountain summit rivenby thunder. Stretching his arms, the ruler of the Madras fell down on theEarth, with face directed towards king Yudhishthira the just, like a tallbanner erected to the honour of Indra falling down on the ground. Like adear wife advancing to receive her dear lord about to fall on her breast,the Earth then seemed, from affection, to rise a little for receivingthat bull among men as he fell down with mangled limbs bathed in blood.The puissant Shalya, having long enjoyed the Earth like a dear wife, nowseemed to sleep on the Earth’s breast, embracing her with all his limbs.Slain by Dharma’s son of righteous soul in fair fight, Shalya seemed toassume the aspect of a goodly fire lying extinguished on the sacrificialplatform. Though deprived of weapons and standard, and though his hearthad been pierced, beauty did not yet seem to abandon the lifeless rulerof the Madras. Then Yudhishthira, taking up his bow whose splendourresembled that of Indra’s bow, began to destroy his foes in that battlelike the prince of birds destroying snakes. With the greatest speed hebegan to cut off the bodies of his enemies with his keen shafts. With theshowers of shafts that the son of Pritha then shot, thy troops becameentirely shrouded. Overcome with fear and with eyes shut, they began tostrike one another (so stupefied were they then). With blood issuing fromtheir bodies, they became deprived of their weapons of attack and defenceand divested of their life-breaths. Upon the fall of Shalya, the youthfulyounger brother of the king of the Madras, who was equal to his(deceased) brother in every accomplishment, and who was regarded as amighty car-warrior, proceeded against Yudhishthira. Invincible in battledesirous of paying the last dues of his brother, that foremost of menquickly pierced the Pandava with very many shafts. With great speed kingYudhishthira the just pierced him with six arrows. With a couple ofrazor-faced arrows, he then cut off the bow and the standard of hisantagonist. Then with a blazing and keen arrow of great force and broadhead, he struck off the head of his foe staying before him. I saw thathead adorned with earrings fall down from the car like a denizen ofheaven falling down on the exhaustion of his merits. Beholding hisheadless trunk, bathed all over with blood, fallen down from the car, theKaurava troops broke. Indeed, upon the slaughter of the younger brotherof the Madras clad in beautiful armour, the Kurus, uttering cries of”Oh!” and “Alas!” fled away with speed. Beholding Shalya’s youngerbrother slain, thy troops, hopeless of their lives, were inspired withthe fear of the Pandavas and fled, covered with dust. The grandson ofSini then, Satyaki, O bull of Bharata’s race, shooting his shafts,proceeded against the frightened Kauravas while the latter were flyingaway. Then Hridika’s son, O king, quickly and fearlessly received thatinvincible warrior, that irresistible and mighty bowman, as he advanced(against the beaten army). Those two illustrious and invincible heroes ofVrishni’s race, Hridika’s son and Satyaki, encountered each other liketwo furious lions. Both resembling the sun in effulgence, they coveredeach other with arrows of blazing splendour that resembled the rays ofthe sun. The arrows of those two lions of Vrishni’s race, shot forciblyfrom their bows, we saw, looked like swiftly coursing insects in thewelkin. Piercing Satyaki with ten arrows and his steeds with three, theson of Hridika cut off his bow with a straight shaft. Laying aside hisbest of bows which was thus cut off, that bull of Sini’s race, quicklytook up another that was tougher than the first. Having taken up thatforemost of bows, that first of bowmen pierced the son of Hridika withten arrows in the centre of the chest. Then cutting off his car and theshaft also of that car with many well-shot arrows, Satyaki quickly slewthe steeds of his antagonist as also his two Parshni drivers. The valiantKripa then, the son of Saradwat, O lord, beholding Hridika’s son madecarless, quickly bore him away, taking him up on his car. Upon theslaughter of the king of the Madras and upon Kritavarma having been madecarless, the entire army of Duryodhana once more turned its face from thebattle. At this time the army was shrouded with a dusty cloud. We couldnot see anything. The greater portion, however, of thy army fell. Theywho remained alive had turned away their faces from battle. Soon it wasseen that that cloud of earthy dust which had arisen became allayed, Obull among men, in consequence of the diverse streams of blood thatdrenched it on every side. Then Duryodhana, seeing from a near point hisarmy broken, alone resisted all the Parthas advancing furiously.Beholding the Pandavas on their cars as also Dhrishtadyumna the son ofPrishata and the invincible chief of the Anartas (Satyaki), the Kuru kingcovered all of them with sharp arrows. The enemy (at that time)approached him not, like mortal creatures fearing to approach theDestroyer standing before them. Meanwhile the son of Hridika, riding uponanother car, advanced to that spot. The mighty car-warrior Yudhishthirathen quickly slew the four steeds of Kritavarma with four shafts, andpierced the son of Gotama with six broad-headed arrows of great force.Then Ashvatthama, taking up on his car the son of Hridika who had beenmade steedless and carless by the (Pandava) king, bore him away fromYudhishthira’s presence. The son of Saradwat pierced Yudhishthira inreturn with eight arrows and his steeds also with eight keen shafts.Thus, O monarch, the embers of that battle began to glow here and there,in consequence, O king, of the evil policy of thyself and thy son, OBharata. After the slaughter of that foremost of bowmen on the field ofbattle by that bull of Kuru’s race, the Parthas, beholding Shalya slain,united together, and filled with great joy, blew their conchs. And all ofthem applauded Yudhishthira in that battle, even as the celestials indays of yore, had applauded Indra after the slaughter of Vritra. And theybeat and blew diverse kinds of musical instruments, making the Earthresound on every side with that noise.'”

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