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Chapter 24

Mahabharata English - SHALYA PARVA

“Sanjaya said, ‘When the loud noise of battle had somewhat subsided andthe Pandavas had slain large numbers of their foes, Subala’s son (oncemore) came for fight with the remnant of his horsemen numbering sevenhundred. Quickly approaching his own soldiers and urging them to battle,he repeatedly said, “You chastisers of foes, fight cheerfully!” And heasked the Kshatriyas present there, saying, “Where is the king, thatgreat car-warrior?” Hearing these words of Shakuni, O bull of Bharata’srace, they answered saying, “Yonder stayeth that great car-warrior, theKuru king, there where that large umbrella of splendour equal to that ofthe full moon, is visible–there where those car-warriors, clad in mail,are staying–there where that loud noise, deep as the roar of clouds, isbeing heard! Proceed quickly thither, O king, and thou wilt then see theKuru monarch!” Thus addressed by those brave warriors, Subala’s sonShakuni, O king, proceeded to that spot where thy son was staying,surrounded on all sides by unretreating heroes. Beholding Duryodhanastationed in the midst of that car-force, Shakuni, gladdening all thosecar-warriors of thine, O king cheerfully said these words untoDuryodhana. Indeed, he said the following words in a manner which showedthat he regarded all his purposes to have been already achieved. “Slay, Oking, the car-divisions (of the Pandavas)! All their horses have beenvanquished by me! Yudhishthira is incapable of being conquered in battleunless one is prepared to lay down his life! When that car-force,protected by the son of Pandu, will have been destroyed, we shall thenslay all those elephants and foot-soldiers and others!” Hearing thesewords of his, thy warriors, inspired with desire of victory, cheerfullyrushed towards the Pandava army. With quivers on their backs and bows intheir hands, all of them shook their bows and uttered leonine roars. Oncemore, O king, the fierce twang of bows and the slapping of palms and thewhiz of arrows shot with force was heard. Beholding those Kuru combatantsapproach the Pandava army with uplifted bows, Kunti’s son Dhananjaya saidunto the son of Devaki these words, “Urge the steeds fearlessly andpenetrate this sea of troops! With my keen shafts I shall today reach theend of these hostilities! Today is the eighteenth day, O Janardana, ofthis great battle that is raging between the two sides! The army of thosehigh-souled heroes, which was literally numberless, hath been nearlydestroyed! Behold the course of Destiny! The army of Dhritarashtra’s son,O Madhava, which was vast as the ocean, hath, O Achyuta, become, afterencountering ourselves, even like the indent caused by a cow’s hoof! Ifpeace had been made after Bhishma’s fall, O Madhava, everything wouldhave been well! The foolish Duryodhana of weak understanding, however,did not make peace! The words that were uttered by Bhishma, O Madhava,were beneficial and worthy of adoption. Suyodhana, however, who had losthis understanding, did not act according to them. After Bhishma had beenstruck and thrown down on the Earth, I do not know the reason why thebattle proceeded! I regard the Dhartarashtras to be foolish and of weakunderstanding in every way, since they continued the battle even afterthe fall of Santanu’s son! After that when Drona, that foremost of allutterers of Brahma, fell, as also the son of Radha, and Vikarna, thecarnage did not still cease! Alas, when a small remnant only of the(Kaurava) army remained after the fall of that tiger among men, Karna,with his sons, the carnage did not still cease! After the fall of eventhe heroic Srutayush, of also Jalasandha of Puru’s race, and of kingSrutayudha, the carnage did not still cease! After the fall ofBhurishrava, of Shalya, O Janardana, and of the Avanti heroes, thecarnage did not still cease! After the fall of Jayadratha, of theRakshasa Alayudha, of Bahlika, and of Somadatta, the carnage did notstill cease! After the fall of heroic Bhagadatta, of the Kamboja chiefSadakshina, and of Duhshasana, the carnage did not still cease! Beholdingeven diverse heroic and mighty kings, each owning extensive territories,slain in battle, the carnage, O Krishna, did not still cease! Beholdingeven a full Akshauhini of troops slain by Bhimasena in battle, thecarnage did not still cease, in consequence of either the folly or thecovetousness of the Dhartarashtras! What king born in a noble race, arace especially like that of Kuru, save of course the foolish Duryodhana,would thus fruitlessly wage such fierce hostilities? Who is there,possessed of reason and wisdom and capable of discriminating good fromevil, that would thus wage war, knowing his foes to be superior to him inmerit, strength, and courage? How could he listen to the counsels ofanother, when, indeed, he could not make up his mind to make peace withthe Pandavas in obedience to the words uttered by thee? What medicine canbe acceptable to that person today who disregarded Bhishma the son ofSantanu, and Drona, and Vidura, while they urged him to make peace? Howcan he accept good counsels, who from folly, O Janardana, insolentlydisregarded his own aged sire as also his own well-meaning mother whilespeaking beneficial words unto him? It is evident, O Janardana, thatDuryodhana took his birth for exterminating his race! His conduct and hispolicy, it is seen, point to that line, O lord! He will not give us ourkingdom yet! This is my opinion, O Achyuta! The high-souled Vidura, Osire, told me many a time that as long as life remained inDhritarashtra’s son, he would never give us our share of the kingdom!Vidura further told me, ‘As long also as Dhritarashtra will live, O giverof honours, even that sinful wight will act sinfully towards you! Ye willnever succeed in vanquishing Duryodhana without battle!’ Even thus, OMadhava, did Vidura of true foresight often speak to me! All the acts ofthat wicked-souled wight, I now find to be exactly as the high-souledVidura had said! That person of wicked understanding who, having listenedto the beneficial and proper words of Jamadagni’s son, disregarded them,should certainly be held as standing in the face of destruction. Manypersons crowned with ascetic success said as soon as Duryodhana was born,that the entire Kshatriya order would be exterminated in consequence ofthat wretch. Those words of the sages, O Janardana, are now beingrealised, since the Kshatriyas are undergoing almost entire exterminationin consequence of Duryodhana’s acts! I shall, O Madhava, slay all thewarriors today! After all the Kshatriyas will have been slain and the(Kaurava) camp made empty, Duryodhana will then desire battle with us forhis own destruction. That will end these hostilities! Exercising myreason, O Madhava, and reflected in my own mind, O thou of Vrishni’srace, thinking of Vidura’s words, and taking into account the acts of thewicked-souled Duryodhana himself, I have come to this conclusion!Penetrate the Bharata army, O hero, for I shall slay the wicked-souledDuryodhana and his army today with my keen shafts! Slaying this weak armyin the very sight of Dhritarashtra’s son, I shall today do what is forYudhishthira’s good!”‘

“Sanjaya continued, ‘Thus addressed by Savyasaci, he of Dasarha’s race,reins in hand, fearlessly penetrated that vast hostile force for battle.That was a terrible forest of bows (which the two heroes entered). Dartsconstituted its prickles. Maces and spiked bludgeons were its paths. Carsand elephants were its mighty trees. Cavalry and infantry were itscreepers. And the illustrious Keshava, as he entered that forest on thatcar decked with many banners and pennons, looked exceedingly resplendent.Those white steeds, O king, bearing Arjuna in battle, were seen careeringeverywhere, urged by him of Dasarha’s race! Then that scorcher of foes,Savyasaci, proceeded on his car, shooting hundreds of keen shafts like acloud pouring showers of rain. Loud was the noise produced by thosestraight arrows, as also by those combatants that were covered with themin that battle by Savyasaci. Showers of shafts, piercing through thearmour of the combatants, fell down on the Earth. Impelled from Gandiva,arrows, whose touch resembled that of Indra’s thunder, striking men andelephants and horses, O king, fell in that battle with a noise like thatof winged insects. Everything was shrouded with those shafts shot fromGandiva. In that battle, the points of the compass, cardinal andsubsidiary, could not be distinguished. The whole world seemed to befilled with gold-winged shafts, steeped in oil, polished by the hands ofthe smith, and marked with Partha’s name. Struck with those keen shafts,and burnt therewith by Partha even as a herd of elephants is burnt withburning brands, the Kauravas became languid and lost their strength.Armed with bow and arrows, Partha, resembling the blazing sun, burnt thehostile combatants in that battle like a blazing fire consuming a heap ofdry grass. As a roaring fire of blazing flames and great energy (arisingfrom embers) cast away on the confines of a forest by its denizens, fireconsumes those woods abounding with trees and heaps of dry creepers, evenso that hero possessed of great activity and fierce energy and enduedwith prowess of weapons, and having shafts for his flames, quickly burntall the troops of thy son from wrath. His gold-winged arrows, endued withfatal force and shot with care, could not be baffled by any armour. Hehad not to shoot a second arrow at man, steed, or elephant of giganticsize. Like the thunder-wielding Indra striking down the Daityas, Arjuna,alone, entering that division of mighty car-warriors, destroyed it withshafts of diverse forms.'”

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