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Chapter 9

Mahabharata English - SHALYA PARVA

“Sanjaya said, ‘Then commenced the battle between the Kurus and theSrinjayas, O monarch, that was as fierce and awful as the battle betweenthe gods and the Asuras.Men and crowds of cars and elephants, andelephant-warriors and horsemen by thousands, and steeds, all possessed ofgreat prowess, encountered one another. The loud noise of rushingelephants of fearful forms was then heard there resembling the roars ofthe clouds in the welkin, in the season of rains. Some car-warriors,struck by elephants, were deprived of their cars. Routed by thoseinfuriate animals other brave combatants ran on the field. Well-trainedcar-warriors, O Bharata, with their shafts, despatched large bodies ofcavalry and the footmen that urged and protected the elephants, to theother world. Well-trained horsemen, O king, surrounding greatcar-warriors, careered on the field, striking and slaying the latter withspears and darts and swords. Some combatants armed with bows,encompassing great car-warriors, despatched them to Yama’s abode, themany unitedly battling against individual ones. Other great car-warriors,encompassing elephants and foremost warriors of their own class, slewsome mighty one amongst that fought on the field, careering all around.Similarly, O king, elephants, encompassing individual car-warriorsexcited with wrath and scattering showers of shafts, despatched them tothe other world. Elephant-warrior rushing against elephant-warrior andcar-warrior against car-warrior in that battle slew each other with dartsand lances and cloth-yard shafts, O Bharata. Cars and elephants andhorses, crushing foot-soldiers in the midst of battle, were seen to makeconfusion worse confounded. Adorned with yak-tails, steeds rushed on allsides, looking like the swans found on the plains at the foot of Himavat.They rushed with such speed that they seemed ready to devour the veryEarth. The field, O monarch, indented with the hoofs of those steeds,looked beautiful like a beautiful woman bearing the marks of (herlover’s) nails on her person. With the noise made by the tread of heroes,the wheels of cars, the shouts of foot-soldiers, the grunts of elephants,the peal of drums and other musical instruments, and the blare of conchs,the Earth began to resound as if with deafening peals of thunder. Inconsequence of twanging bows and flashing sabres and the glaring armourof the combatants, all became so confused there, that nothing could bedistinctly marked. Invulnerable arms, lopped off from human bodies, andlooking like the tusks of elephants, jumped up and writhed and movedfuriously about. The sound made, O monarch, by heads falling on the fieldof battle, resembled that made by the falling fruits of palmyra trees.Strewn with those fallen heads that were crimson with blood, the Earthlooked resplendent as if adorned with gold-coloured lotuses in theirseason. Indeed, with those lifeless heads with upturned eyes, that wereexceedingly mangled (with shafts and other weapons), the field of battle,O king, looked resplendent as if strewn with full blown lotuses. With thefallen arms of the combatants, smeared with sandal and adorned withcostly Keyuras, the earth looked bright as if strewn with the gorgeouspoles set up in Indra’s honour. The field of battle became covered withthe thighs of kings, cut off in that battle and looking like the taperingtrunks of elephants. Teeming with hundreds of headless trunk and strewnwith umbrellas and yak-tails, that vast army looked beautiful like aflowering forest. Then, on the field of battle, O monarch, warriorscareered fearlessly, their limbs bathed in blood and therefore lookinglike flowering Kinsukas. Elephants also, afflicted with arrows andlances, fell down here and there like broken clouds dropped from theskies. Elephant divisions, O monarch, slaughtered by high-souledwarriors, dispersed in all directions like wind-tossed clouds. Thoseelephants, looking like clouds, fell down on the Earth, like mountainsriven with thunder, O lord, on the occasion of the dissolution of theworld at the end of the Yuga. Heaps upon heaps, looking like mountains,were seen, lying on the ground, of fallen steeds with their riders. Ariver appeared on the field of battle, flowing towards the other world.Blood formed its waters and cars its eddies. Standards formed its trees,and bones its pebbles. The arms (of combatants) were its alligators, bowsits current, elephants its large rocks, and steeds its smaller ones. Fatand marrow formed its mire, umbrellas its swans, and maces its rafts.Abounding with armour and head-gears, banners constituted its beautifultrees. Teeming with wheels that formed its swarms of Chakravakas, it wascovered with Trivenus and Dandas. Inspiring the brave with delight andenhancing the fears of the timid, that fierce river set in, whose shoresabounded with Kurus and Srinjayas. Those brave warriors, with armsresembling spiked bludgeons, by the aid of their vehicles and animalsserving the purposes of rafts and boats, crossed that awful river whichran towards the region of the dead. During the progress of that battle, Omonarch, in which no consideration was shown by anybody for anyone, andwhich, fraught with awful destruction of the four kinds of forces,therefore, resembled the battle between the gods and the Asuras in daysof old, some among the combatants, O scorcher of foes, loudly called upontheir kinsmen and friends. Some, called upon by crying kinsmen, returned,afflicted with fear. During the progress of that fierce and awful battle,Arjuna and Bhimasena stupefied their foes. That vast host of thine, Oruler of men, thus slaughtered, swooned away on the field, like a womanunder the influence of liquor. Having stupefied that army, Bhimasena andDhananjaya blew their conchs and uttered leonine roars. As soon as theyheard that loud peal, Dhrishtadyumna and Shikhandi, placing kingYudhishthira at their head, rushed against the ruler of the Madras.Exceedingly wonderful and terrible, O monarch, was the manner in whichthose heroes, unitedly and as separate bodies, then fought with Shalya.The two sons of Madri, endued with great activity, accomplished inweapons, and invincible in battle, proceeded with great speed against thyhost, inspired with desire of victory. Then thy army, O bull of Bharata’srace, mangled in diverse ways with shafts by the Pandavas eager forvictory, began to fly away from the field. That host, thus struck andbroken by firm bowmen, O monarch, fled away on all sides in the verysight of thy sons. Loud cries of “Oh!” and “Alas!” O Bharata, arose fromamong thy warriors, while some illustrious Kshatriyas among the routedcombatants, desirous of victory, cried out saying, “Stop, stop!” For allthat, those troops of thine, broken by the Pandavas, fled away, desertingon the field their dear sons and brothers and maternal, uncles andsister’s sons and relatives by marriage and other kinsmen. Urging theirsteeds and elephants to greater speed, thousands of warriors fled away, Obull of Bharata’s race, bent only upon their own safety.'”

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