Chapter 157

Mahabharata English - UDYOGA PARAVA

“Vaisampayana said, Dhritarashtra’s son, accompanied by all the kings,then addressed Bhishma, son of Santanu, and with joined hands said thesewords, ‘Without a commander, even a mighty army is routed in battle likea swarm of ants. The intelligence of two persons can never agree.Different commanders, again, are jealous of one another as regards theirprowess. O thou of great wisdom, it is heard (by us) that (once on atime) the Brahmanas, raising a standard of Kusa grass, encountered inbattle the Kshatriyas of the Haihaya clan endued with immeasurableenergy. O grandsire, the Vaisyas and the Sudras followed the Brahmanas,so that all the three orders were on one side, while those bulls amongthe Kshatriyas were alone on the other. In the battles, however, thatensued, the three orders repeatedly broke, while the Kshatriyas, thoughalone, vanquished large army that was opposed to them. Then those best ofBrahmanas enquired of the Kshatriyas themselves (as to the cause ofthis). O grandsire, those that were virtuous among the Kshatriyasreturned the true answer to the enquirers, saying, ‘In battle we obey theorders of one person endued with great intelligence, while ye aredisunited from one another and act according to your individualunderstanding.’ The Brahmanas then appointed one amongst themselves astheir commander, who was brave and conversant with the ways of policy.And they then succeeded in vanquishing the Kshatriyas. Thus people alwaysconquer their foes in battle who appoint a skilled, brave, and sinlesscommander, observing the good of the forces under him. As regards thee,thou art equal to Usanas himself, and always seekest my good. Incapableof being slain, thou art, again devoted to virtue. Be thou, therefore,our commander. Like the sun among all luminaries, like the moon unto alldelicious herbs, like Kuvera among the Yakshas, like Vasava among thegods, like Meru among mountains, Suparna among the birds, Kumara amongthe gods, Havyavaha among Vasus, thou art amongst ourselves. Like thegods protected by Sakra, ourselves, protected by thee, will assuredlybecome invincible by the very gods. Like Agni’s son (Kumara) at the headof the gods, march thou at our head, and let us follow thee like calvesfollowing the lead of a mighty bull.’

“Bhishma said, ‘O mighty-armed one, it is even so, ‘O Bharata, as thousayest. But the Pandavas are as dear to me as ye yourselves. Therefore, Oking, I should certainly seek their good as well, although I shallcertainly fight for thee, having given thee a pledge (before) to thateffect. I do not see the warrior on earth that is equal to me, exceptthat tiger among men, Dhananjaya, the son of Kunti. Endued with greatintelligence, he is conversant with innumerable celestial weapons. Thatson of Pandu, however, will never fight with me openly. With the power ofmy weapons, I can, in a trice, destroy this universe consisting of gods,Asuras, Rakshasas, and human beings. The sons of Pandu, however, O king,are incapable of being exterminated by me. I shall, therefore, slay everyday ten thousand warriors. If, indeed, they do not slay me in battlefirst, I will continue to slaughter their forces thus. There is anotherunderstanding on which I may willingly become the commander of thyforces. It behoveth thee to listen to that. O lord of earth, either Karnashould fight first, or I will fight first. The Suta’s son always boastsof his prowess in battle, comparing it with mine.’

“Karna said, ‘As long as Ganga’s son liveth, O king, I shall never fight.After Bhishma is slain, I shall fight with the wielder of Gandiva.’

“Vaisampayana continued, ‘After this, Dhritarashtra’s son duly madeBhishma the commander of his force, distributing large presents. Andafter, his installation in the command, he blazed forth with beauty. Andat the king’s behest, musicians cheerfully played upon drums and blewconchs by hundreds and thousands. And numerous leonine roars were sentforth and all the animals in the camp uttered their cries together. Andalthough the sky was cloudless, a bloody shower fell and made the groundmiry. And fierce whirl-winds, and earthquakes, and roars of elephants,occurring, depressed the hearts of all the warriors. Incorporeal voicesand flashes of meteoric falls were heard and seen in the welkin. Andjackals, howling fiercely, foreboded great calamity. And, O monarch,these and a hundred other kinds of fierce portents made their appearancewhen the king installed Ganga’s son in the command of his troops. Andafter making Bhishma–that grinder of hostile hosts–his general, andhaving also caused by abundant gifts of kine and gold to the Brahmanas topronounce benedictions on him, and glorified by those benedictions, andsurrounded by his troops, and with Ganga’s son in the van, andaccompanied by his brothers, Duryodhana marched to Kurukshetra with hislarge host. And the Kuru king, going over the plain with Karna in hiscompany, caused his camp to be measured out on a level part, O monarch,of that plain. And the camp, pitched on a delightful and fertile spotabounding with grass and fuel, shone like Hastinapura itself.'”

Chapter 158
Chapter 156
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